Of certainties and doubts

Still continuing with my experiment, in writing on medium and cross-posting here. I tried it the other way some years ago and it died a death. Let’s see.

View story at Medium.com

The Web and serendipity

Another cross-post from Medium. Still investigating how that pans out.

View story at Medium.com

Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music. [Take two]

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

It remains one of my favourite quotations. So much so I felt like using it again, having already started a post with it nine years ago.

A close friend sent me a music-related link a few hours ago, and I wanted to write about it straightaway.

I wanted to.

But I couldn’t.

The link wouldn’t let me.

Every time I decided I’d had enough, I’d get enticed to wander down another rabbit hole. With glee. Considerable glee.

There was, (and still is) a part of me that wondered whether I should share the link. I thought about it. Thought hard. And found myself singing along to Mama Cass: Was I to blame/for being unfair? And chuckling as I went down another rabbit hole.

Unfair. Yes, unfair.

If you like the kind of music I like, you may be in for a wasted weekend. An enjoyable wasted weekend. A very enjoyable wasted weekend.

Musicmap.

There. I’ve gone and done it.

I did warn you.

 

 

Father and son: a post for the cricket-mad

Cat Stevens, Father and Son, Tea For The Tillerman, 1970

One of my favourite songs, from one of my favourite albums, written and performed by one of my favourite musicians. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him perform “live” a couple of times, and I treasure those memories. [I was really looking forward to watching a performance of Moonshadow the musical, but it didn’t quite work out. Don’t think it made it out of Oz.]

Father and son. My father passed away very early morning on 20th May 1980; not surprisingly, he was on my mind these past few days. I still think about him every day, I still miss him every day, I still celebrate memories of times with him. I was one of five siblings, and our mother is still alive; we all continue to remember him with sadness and with joy. My youngest sibling turned 50 earlier this year; my mother turned 75 only a few years ago; I’ll be 60 next year; as the anniversaries stack up, I spend more of my time reminiscing about the joy.

Joy there was, and joy in plenty. Joy across the splendid time that was guaranteed for all while he was around, a splendour the family has been able to hold on to through times since, times hard as well as times easy. And we’ve known enough of both.

This post is tangentially about some of those joys. Cricket. A warped sense of humour, more warped than normal when it came to wordplay. And a level of obsessive-compulsive behaviour. These are a few of my favourite things.

And so to the post.

There was a time when pubs were pubs, filled mostly with regulars, where everyone knew you by name and where the person behind the bar would know what you normally drink. A pint of the usual, Dave? That sort of thing.

It was a time of saloon bars and public bars, of dartboards and of unhealthy snacks and even more unhealthy oodles of cigarette smoke.

It was a time when landlords and landladies had to find creative ways of pulling the locals in during the early part of the week, rather than just relying on Friday and Saturday doing their bit for God and country, aided and abetted by bits of Thursday evening and Sunday lunchtime.

Or, to quote the title of another wonderful Cat Stevens song, Tuesday’s Dead.

The pubs tried many techniques to resuscitate Tuesday. One of which was the pub quiz.

This meant that for a couple of hours every Tuesday evening, one part of the pub would be full of would-be Masterminds earnestly arguing about obscure things and occasionally hitting on the right answers. A splendid time was guaranteed for all.

Not everyone was earnest, and not everyone took it seriously. There was a regular undercurrent of chatter and banter, often asking questions that weren’t quite kosher. [Example of a kosher question: Sunderland in 1979, Villa in 1981, who in 1980? Or, name 3 England captains that played for Scunthorpe. The non-kosher variety? Which is the odd one out? 17, 29, 33, 47, 54. I won’t tell you the kosher answers, they’re good, nice questions. But the answer to the last question is unfair-by-design. Basically it’s whatever the others don’t come up with. And then, as you prepare for a quick getaway, you say to the others “Number xx. Doesn’t come with rice”.

Many of the questions of the not-quite-fair variety had to do with sport. Usually football, but not necessarily restricted to football.

One of my favourite such questions was very tongue-in-cheek. Which father-son combination scored the most runs in Test cricket?

The answer was — yes, you have my full permission to cringe now— Miandad. Javed Miandad, to be precise. Pronounced, for the sake of this answer, Me-and-dad. Cringe away.

The first time I heard that monstrosity was in the mid-late 1990s, a time when we were all getting used to the phenomenon of being connected to the Web.

I was intrigued by the mock and unfair question. Could it be? After all, Miandad was no mean bat, he’d scored an entirely respectable 8832 runs. At the end of 1996 (around the time I’d checked on the data) he was 4th on the all-time individual list.

The imp in me asked myself, I wonder if any father-son combination in history has scored more than Miandad. So I checked. And the answer was a resounding no.

Me-and-dad was the undisputed “father-son” champ.

And then I forgot all about this.

Today, while reading something else, I saw a reference to the Me-and-dad  question, by now a chestnut.

And I said to myself, I wonder. Is it still true? Has no father-son combination beaten good old Javed?

So I checked. Again.

Went through the whole list of father-son combinations that have played Test cricket. All 45 of them.

And.

Oh frabjous day.

Found that Javed had been deposed.

We have a winner.

Micky and Alec Stewart scored 8846 Test runs between them. 14 more than Me-and-dad. And, in the bittersweet way all such statistics are formed, it took Alec till his very last Test innings to score the runs that would take Stewart father and son past Miandad.

The Me-and-dad question won’t work any more. Hasn’t worked since 2003.

Anyway, for those who are interested. Here are the 45 father-son combinations that have played Test cricket, and the runs they’ve scored between them, as of today.

  1. Micky and Alec Stewart 8848
  2. Colin and Chris Cowdrey 7725
  3. Len and Richard Hutton 7190
  4. Hanif and Shoaib Mohammed 6620
  5. Lala and Mohinder Amarnath 5256
  6. Vijay and Sanjay Manjrekar 5251
  7. Dave and Dudley Nourse 5194
  8. Everton Weekes and David Murray 5056
  9. Nazar Mohammad and Mudassar Nazar 4391
  10. Peter and Shaun Pollock 4388
  11. Alan and Mark Butcher 4288
  12. Lance and Chris Cairns 4256
  13. Chris and Stuart Broad 4226
  14. Jahangir and Majid Khan 3970
  15. Geoff and Shaun Marsh 3948
  16. Walter and Richard Hadlee 3667
  17. Ken and Hamish Rutherford 3220
  18. Vinoo and Ashok Mankad 3100
  19. The Nawab of Pataudi Senior and Junior 2992
  20. Pankaj and Pranab Roy 2513
  21. Datta and Anshuman Gaekwad 2335
  22. George and Ron Headley 2252
  23. Jim Parks Senior and Junior 1991
  24. Joe Hardstaff Senior and Junior 1947
  25. Yograj and Yuvraj Singh 1910
  26. Rod and Tom Latham 1511
  27. Lala and Surinder Amarnath 1428
  28. David and Jonny Barstow 1329
  29. Fred and Maurice Tate 1207
  30. Zin and Chris Harris 1155
  31. Walter and Dayle Hadlee 1073
  32. Roger and Stuart Binny 975
  33. Frank and George Mann 657
  34. Giff and Graham Vivian 531
  35. Rodney and Aaron Redmond 488
  36. Andy and Malcolm Waller 465
  37. Mac and Robert Anderson 428
  38. Brendon and Doug Bracewell 377
  39. Arnie and Ryan Sidebottom 315
  40. Ron and Dean Headley 248
  41. Jeff and Simon Jones 243
  42. Hemant and Hrishikesh Kanitkar 185
  43. Wynne and Grant Bradburn 167
  44. Charlie and David Townsend 128
  45. Malcolm and Kyle Jarvis 62

Rainmaker, make me some rain

Rainmaker, rainmaker

Make me some rain

Make all my crops grow tall

Winwood/Capaldi : Rainmaker, Side 2 Track 3

The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, Traffic, 1971

Perspective matters.

Every childhood memory of rain that I have is filled with joy, with energy, with positive things. The feeling of elation walking along the Maidan in Calcutta, being able to smell the rain before it reached me. Hearing, almost feeling, the earth get its thirst slaked. The utter shock of getting completely drenched in mere seconds, caught in a Bombay monsoon downpour. Walking serenely while getting seriously wet, stopping only to shake the drops off your eyelashes so you could see. Looking forward to the rough-and-tumble of an afternoon football match played in mud, glorious mud.

Rain was when the streets flooded and you fought your way to school, thigh-deep, occasionally waist-deep, in rainwater. Rain was when you knew the school would be shut when you got there, but it didn’t matter, because you then had the joy of splashing your way back home.

Rain was when you did crazy things like this.

Yes, when I think of rain, I don’t think stuff like “into every life some rain must fall” or “don’t rain on my parade”. I think Thank You God.

This is a thank you post. Not a Thank You God post: thanking God is something I do do, but mainly in private and not usually via a blog post.

This is a thank you Steve Winwood post.

Over the years, many of my childhood heroes have passed away; a disproportionate number appear to have done so this past year or two. That has made me feel sad. And it made me think I should make the time to say thank you to heroes of mine who are still alive while they are still alive, rather than linking to eulogies when they’re no longer with us.

So thank you Steve Winwood.

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 13.45.35

I’ve never met the man. But I’ve seen him in concert ten times, and loved it every time. In fact, over the last thirty years, I’ve watched Steve Winwood more often than I’ve watched anyone else, including the Dead or CSN/Y, which is saying something. I’ve seen him at the Odeon, the Empire (multiple times), the Royal Albert Hall, and even a couple of times as far away as Shoreline.

At the Roundhouse (one of my favourite venues) in 2010 I was in row one standing, pressed right against the barriers in front of the stage, touching distance from his piano. It was amazing. Until then the nearest I’d got to him was when I visited a pub somewhere out west, I think it was in a village near Gloucester, sometime in the early 1980s, and he was there.

I still remember my utter joy when I saw this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 14.39.20

Yes I know, it probably wasn’t him, it was more likely to be someone who looked after his account. But then again….. this filled me with child-like joy, enough to ping my siblings in India. That should tell you how much I really like Winwood as a musician and as a performer.

You should, too. If you haven’t already been converted, just listen to his stuff. Go here, to his website and to his vaults, explore, enjoy.

The early years, with the Spencer Davis Group; the incredible times with Traffic, both before and after Blind Faith; the superlative sessions that became Blind Faith; and the consistently delightful solo career since. Fifty years, thirty albums, a joy throughout. [I shall resist the temptation to say a Sea of Joy throughout].

From the “is this really a white man singing? ” raw power of Gimme Some Lovin’, through the gentle sadnesses of Evening Blue or (Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired, the soaring sequences of Had To Cry Today, the folksiness of John Barleycorn or Forty Thousand Headmen, the sheer poetry of Can’t Find My Way Home, the metamorphosis into Higher Love and Roll With It and Back In The High Life Again and When You See A Chance. A metamorphosis that continues today, over half a century since he began.

Make the time. Listen to Winwood. Go watch him in concert while you can. You won’t regret it.

I’ve been doing it for years, and I’m immensely grateful. Thank you Steve Winwood.

And (in advance of next Thursday), happy 68th birthday.