October 25th, 2011

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A very personal statement

Photo credit: http://www.skyscanner.net/news/articles/2009/06/002561-foreign-visitors-flocking-to-uk-says-skyscanner.html

The Union Jack. The Union Jack is my flag. I define myself as Black British and I take great pride in that identity.

My personal statement is not directed at the Coalition Government or its Ministers. It is directed at a very particular line management chain within the Home Office. For the sake of argument, let us call them the three Js.

I am bequeathing this very personal and heartfelt statement to them as my leaving present - what they do with it is up to them.

True leaders welcome and value constructive challenge; they are not afraid of it; it helps them to grow and develop.

True leaders nurture and empower diverse voices; they do not seek to silence them; diversity makes for a rainbow not dull monochrome.

I was born in England, brought up in England, educated in England, and have lived in England all my life; it is my "home" and I am proud to call it so. Freedom of thought, speech and expression is my birthright and my entitlement. It is the foundation and the cornerstone of all Western liberal democracies. Freedom of speech and expression is what Britain stands for (rightly or wrongly) in my eyes.

I have spent the best part of four decades honing and perfecting my written and oral communication skills. Over time, I have developed a resilient personality and a strong and powerful voice. Why would I renounce my birthright? To do so, would mean giving up on everything Britain stands for - I will never do that.

Attempting to silence me and take away my voice only strengthens my resolve. I have always used my voice to speak up and have every intention of continuing to do so. If you think differently, you really do not know me at all!

Best wishes

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The House Of Silk by Anthony Horowitz: Continued

Thank you to Roger Johnson, the Editor of the Sherlock Holmes Journal, at the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, for this information.

Anthony Horowitz will be making public appearances in various parts of the UK to promote his Sherlock Holmes novel "The House of Silk".

The first event is on 26 October at St Columba's in Pont Street, London, where he will be "in conversation" with Mary Ann Sieghart. On 1 November he will be signing copies at Waterstone's in Piccadilly. He will be in Belfast on 2 November, where he will be conversing with Ian Sansom at the Ulster Museum; Manchester Town Hall on 3 November, with Jenni Murray; St Swithin's in Bath on 4 November; and the British Library on 27 November, with Roger Johnson.

Follow the link for full detals:

To read my feature on "The House of Silk" follow the link:
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A tribute to James

Yesterday I was at a James concert at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. They were, as always, outstanding. I am going to run a full feature on it later today but, in the meantime, I am running this - "Just like Fred Astaire". It is one of my favourite James songs of all time. They rarely play it live. They played it last night!

Photo credit: http://jesslovesillustration.blogspot.com/

Just like Fred Astaire

What is happening to me?
My mind's diseased
Even my vision is impaired
I'm losing my hair
Cos when I hold her in my arms
I feel like fred astaire

My temperature's high
Just met a girl
Who believes we can fly
I'm a bull not a bear
I'm a millionaire
Cos when I hold her in my arms
I feel like fred astaire

I believe in happiness
I believe in love
I believe she fell to earth
From somewhere high above
I believe in hollywood
Don't believe that love must bring despair
Cos when I hold her in my arms
I feel like fred astaire

He said love is just a disease
A plague for the naïve
These days no one believes

Meteors may strike the earth
Nations live and die
I'm the boy who got the girl
And now we're gonna fly
We can cross the race divide
Bridge a gap that wasn't really there
Cos when I hold her in my arms
I feel like fred astaire

I’m gonna hold her in my arms
just like fred astaire
I'm gonna hold her in this charm
like fred astaire
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55th BFI London Film Festival: Wuthering Heights

I have just seen the new version of Wuthering Heights at the London Film Festival. It is billed as Andrea Arnold's radical and beautifully filmed adaptation of this classic tale of obsessive love and is here:

As is quite clear from the promotional image above, the difference between this and other versions of Wuthering Heights, is that they have made Heathcliff in this version Black.

Wuthering Heights and me. I love the novel Jane Eyre with a passion - and I loved the latest film adaptation. See here:
Wuthering Heights is a totally different story. I read the novel when I was a lot younger and found it very complex and totally impenetrable! I have never really "got" it or understood why so many people are so passionate about the novel and feel so strongly about it. This film changed all that.

Having a Black Heathcliff obviously heightened Heathcliff's alieness and his otherness, raising it to a new level. Hindley's cruel and brutal treatment towards him reminded me of the treatment meted out to Shylock and Caliban (also both aliens and others). Given what was going on in the slave trade at the time, Heathcliff's treatment really spoke to me powerfully and resonated with me in a way it had not done previously.

Two actors play Heathcliff and two actors play Cathy - one set of actors play them as young adults and the other set of actors as grown-up adults. For the majority of the film, Heathcliff and Cathy are young adults, which I think is true to the book, and both young actors were outstanding. What I would say about both sets of actors is that they really conveyed the passion between Heathcliff and Cathy, their deep and undying love for eachother, and the searing pain, grief and torment their love for eachother brought them.

There were many other things that I loved about this version. The isolation and remoteness of living out on the moors was powerfully conveyed. The landscape was definitely a character in its own right, in particular I loved the endless torrents of torrential rain. The cinematorgraphy was beautiful and truly breathtaking; I loved the close-ups on points of detail. And I loved the juxtaposition between the past and the present at key moments, conveying exactly how the human mind, and specifically memory, works.

In a nutshell, this film blew me away. For the first time I "got" Wuthering Heights and understood what the fuss was all about. It is a masterclass in how you can take a well-worn classic that has had countless adaptations, add in a new and unusual twist, and yet still remain true to the heart, spirit and the soul of the novel and the source material (Sherlock anyone?!). Highly highly highly recommended, even in preference to the Tom Hardy version!

London Film Festival. Browse the full programme and book tickets here:
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James with Orchestra of the Swan & The Manchester Consort Choir, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Photo credit: http://www.thsh.co.uk/view/an-evening-with-james

Yesterday I went to An Evening with James, with the Orchestra of the Swan & The Manchester Consort Choir at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham. I am DESPERATE to write about it so here goes!

James are one of my top three favourite bands - the others being Underworld and (embarassingly!) Wet Wet Wet. I have seen James live between 15-20 times over the years - they are truly outstanding live.

Why do I like them? They are exceptionally talented musicians and I love their musicianship and their musicality. I love Tim Booth's soulful, lyrical and melodic voice. Tim's movement and dancing is very hard to describe - it has to be seen to be believed! It is clear that he feels the music very deeply in his soul.

Most people know James because of their seminal hit "Sit Down". My favourite James album of all time is actually an unusual one to choose - it is one of their most recent ones, "Hey Ma". It is crammed to the brim with anti-war songs. James never put up and shut up. They always speak up through their music. Whilst I love their love songs, such as "Just like Fred Astaire", I also adore their political songs. They inspired me to finally publish my very personal statement.

This was a totally different James concert. They took their already outstanding product and took it to the next level by appearing on stage with a full orchestra and a choir. It was mind-blowing.

James are innovative and they think outside the box. They push the boundaries. They take risks. They do not stand still. They are always doing something different and trying something new. They are always thinking about how to improve their product, and make it bigger and better. That is what makes them special. That is why I love them.

They pulled this one off big style!

My personal highlight was when they played "Just like Fred Astaire". This is one of my favourite James tracks of all time, but they very rarely play it live. Tim Booth got down off the stage and did a walkabout around the audience, singing to various female audience members. It was a bewitching and a very special moment. I loved it!

I want a CD with a live recording of one of these concerts on sale and in the shops in time for Christmas!

James are here:

Future tour dates are here: