brian's soapbox
APRIL 2012



As always, the opinions expressed in these pages are purely and personally those of myself, Brian; they are not the official views of Queen, or of any other organisation or individual.

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**Mon 30 Apr 12**

Are you Angry at Angry Birds? Does this look familiar?

Angry Birds In Space screen

I have had a lot of pleasure from Angry Birds - I find it therapeutic, and I enjoy the creativity of the puzzles.

I recently got the new version …. SPACE. I was going to write a rave review of it, because the ingenuity of the gravitational fields is definitely amazing.

However, I find myself feeling a little less enthusiastic, now I've got into it. The thing is, in the past, if you got stuck on a level, you could bring in a giant bird who would come and wipe out the whole problem. Very funny, and also useful because it moved you on, to the rest of the screens. Now I did think it was a bit cheeky that you had to actually PAY for this giant bird, but it was a one-off thing, and he kept coming back every hour or so, so you could use him over and over again.

Now … in the new version, they are offering SPACE EAGLES to do the same thing, but they seem to be usable only once, and they are trying to sell you loads of them, for ever-increasing amounts of money. Now I have to say this now beyond a joke. Kids everywhere are going to be lured into spending more and more money, even though they've already bought the game in the first place. It's actually worse, because they've made a couple of the levels almost impossible to crack, and in the event when you do invoke the SPACE EAGLE, it's not guaranteed to wipe out all the enemy. It's a trap.

In short, these people have now made it almost impossible for you to go on enjoying the game you have bought, unless you keep paying them more and more money. I think this is taking advantage … I think it's a rip-off. The makers of Angry Birds cannot be short of a few bob - so why are they being so greedy ?

I think maybe we should all demand a refund on SPACE, unless they make the SPACE EAGLES free. Or maybe complain to the APPLE people, who license these apps.

Any thoughts ? Am I wrong ?



**Fri 27 Apr 12**

The last two performances of this gentleman with the BBC Concert Orchestra just happened to be both shows where I was playing with them … at the Oliviers, and at Watford Coliseum with Kerry for Friday night is Music Night.

His name is Richard Watson - and he has, for an astounding 38 years, been the Double Bass player for this superb orchestra. We were caught gossiping at the Royal Opera House, and I rather like this picture !


Wishing you a wonderful retirement, Richard !




**Thu 26 Apr 12**

A shocking crime has been committed by a minority of the Welsh farming community, as detailed in the two-part report below.

Following the Welsh Government's recent decision to vaccinate badgers, Welsh Shadow Agriculture Minister Elin Jones made a disgraceful and irresponsible statement which appeared to constitute incitement to break the law by advocating violence against badgers, a native species protected in primary law.

She said: "Do you agree with me that farmers will now have to consider how best to protect their cattle? I, for one, would not blame them however they choose to do that."

The inference is clear, and Jones must now be held responsible for the consequences of her statement, which was both callous and ill-advised, . It falls well below the standard one would expect from an elected Assembly Member, who also represents the many Welsh farmers who oppose culling and support cattle and badger vaccination as the way forward.

A group of farmers have taken the law into their own hands and hired a gunman to massacre badgers on their land and according to these reports, have exterminated whole families of the creatures. This behaviour is reckless on many counts.

Firstly, the killing of these entirely innocent creatures is an appalling act of cruelty. Even if it were proven that badgers were the main cause of the spread of Bovine TB, which it is not, all available scientific evidence has shown that culling 'cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of bTB in cows' (RBCT report). Morally and scientifically this action is completely unjustifiable, and is a crime under British law, for which the perpetrators must be brought to justice. The complete eradication of badgers in this way, when there is a satisfactory alternative to culling, may breach the European Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife.

But, apart from the tragedy for these ancient badger families, the worst news of all is for farmers. This piecemeal, uncoordinated, criminal killing of badgers is exactly the kind of action which will have the same consequence as reactive culling in the RBCT research - it will make the problem of Bovine TB in cows WORSE and spread the disease.

There is no doubt that severe disruption will have been caused in badger communities, and the prediction is that, because of this 'perturbation', the risk to neighbouring farms of breakdowns due to bTB will be substantially increased. In short, this foolhardy act has now put surrounding farmers directly at increased risk. The price is distress for farmers and their families, and an increased bill of compensation, which is ultimately borne by taxpayers.

We call for an apology from Elin Jones, and for the full weight of the law to be brought to bear on all the culprits.

This tragedy also shames the British Government. Their recent insistence on pursuing a course of badger culls flies in the face of both the scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion. Unfortunately, it also risks giving the false impression that it is now legal to kill badgers without proper cause, and may have encouraged these renegades to take the law into their own hands.

It is time for the senseless vendetta against badgers to stop;
a statement from the Farmers Unions to this effect is now urgently needed.

24th April 2012

S4C’s programme ‘Y Byd Ar Bedwar’ (The World at 4), which was broadcast on April 17th 2012.

This is the link for the program with subtitles Badger Report [Subtitles] S4C Y Byd ar Bedwar 17 Apr 12 Pt1`Badger Report [Subtitles] S4C Y Byd ar Bedwar 17 Apr 12 Pt2


**Tue 24 Apr 12**

Isn't it time the Farming Press abandoned all this claptrap about Wind in the Willows? Research? Cultural attitudes? Baloney.

All that is needed is a decent respect for sentient creatures. Unfortunately we seem to be up against fear and superstition, and a complete disregard for the values which make us worthy to be called human. Really, Farmers Guardian, you should know better - you are now insulting the intelligence of your readers.

'Heroic' Mr Badger has clouded TB debate, research concludes
23 April 2012 | By Alistair Driver



*Mon 23 Apr 12**

This BBC series goes back countless years ! I'm sure I remember it when I was a kid. Its audience expects the kind of comforting music our parents listened to from the Sinatra era and early musicals. Kerry was asked to present a whole show and sing some songs. So she was able to present a very broad range of subjects. I provided the loud bit ! Well, not just that - we did tender ballads too !

Here's us backstage [20 April 2012] - me and Kerry and Steve Sidwell, who was my interpreter on the Anthems album … translating arranging ideas into dots for orchestras to play. It was a damn good orchestra ! And Steve is very talented. As for the unique Ms Kerry Ellis, well, I think it was a triumph !

Photo cred: Kerry Ellis

Kerry Ellis - Friday Night is Music Night

Brian May - Friday Night is Music Night

Kerry Ellis, Brian May and Steve Sidwell - Friday Night is Music Night

Kerry Ellis - Friday Night is Music Night

Brian May - Friday Night is Music Night
Photo Creds: Francyne Carr

And next ??? Well, Los Angeles is only 4 hours away from where I am right now.


**Mon 23 Apr 12**

I took a trip to Malvern, a charming, peaceful place, that reminds you that life is good.

Malvern, a place I am very fond of, this weekend, to see my lady wife who was appearing there in the play "Bette and Joan".... my Dad visited the town many times when I was young, working with the Royal Radar Establishment.

I found David Hockney, in a way … noticing this delightful remnant of a tree, on the way up to the Worcester Beacon, not far from St Anne's Spring - where some very early photography was done. If you want to see what else I found ….. please click here - it will take you to the site, where I occasionally post some modern Stereo pictures … alongside the many ancient 3-D photos that I've been studying ….. including the dangerous Diableries !

This picturesque tree stump is nice in mono …

Tree Stump - mono

But VERY nice in Stereo ! (Stereo Viewing hints can be found here and here.) Yes, I have attempted to 'see' the colours as Mr Hockney does, here. He says you have to really try hard to see colours as they really are. So I did.

Malvern - Tree Stump

OK … the rest are at

This little escapade distracted me from the pain of learning that farmers have been, cruelly, ignorantly, unutterably selfishly, taking the killing of innocent badgers into their own hands. I find this so appalling, I am tempted to lose faith in human nature altogether. I have been struggling, in the campaign to save our badgers, trying NOT to paint farmers as bad people. How far can you go … ?

The British countryside is beautiful. But more and more, I look at it with a shudder, now that I now know, more and more, how much abominable cruelty goes on, concealed behind the pleasant meadows and trees and flowers. If we could see its true colours, it would be stained with endless blood. And if the present government has its way, it's about to get much worse.



**Fri 21 Apr 12**

This is a hard one for me.  

Bert Weedon was a huge influence on all of us budding guitar players in the 50s and 60s. When Radio Luxembourg was channelling the first explosion of electric guitar-driven American Rock and Roll into our young ears, Bert was already an accomplished player, and could stand up beside these new stars on their own terms.  Indeed he did, being generally the first phone call that many American artists made when they visited England to play.  He was also a part of the birth of so many great British acts of the day - playing guitar for Adam Faith, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Cliff Richard, and many other top new British artists of the day. He was the first successful British electric guitarist - and scored an instrumental hit in his own right with his Guitar Boogie Shuffle which ushered in a new era of electric guitar-led music in the British charts, and his number one album 22 Golden Guitar Greats established Bert as a leading big selling instrumental artist - a distinction he held all his life.

However, the sad loss of Bert Weedon is only partly about his playing and his highly successful career.  The other side of Bert was his hugely generous and supportive nature, and the legacy he leaves in terms of those musicians he encouraged and inspired is almost impossible to quantify.  In fact, really it's Bert who first showed us all that it could be done.  When we were young, he was on TV, demonstrating first steps on the guitar, already sharing his insights and skills, and inspiring thousands of young kids to take up guitar playing.  He wrote the surely the all-time most successful guitar tutor - a book called "Play in a Day" - I imagine copies of that will be very sought after in these days when we all have to adjust to Bert no longer being around.   Teaching remained a big part of his activity all through his life, and Bert's public generosity was matched by his giving nature in his private life.  He was a member of the Grand Order of Water Rats, and as he rose through the ranks, he was a tireless worker for the Children's and other charities the Rats support.  Later on, it was Bert who invited me to become a Rat, a great honour for me, since in those days there were no Rock Stars as such in the Order - it was all about the Old British Music Hall - I was the new boy.   Later on, Bert became King Rat, and on the big night of Bert's departure as King, he organised a huge Ball, a Ladies Night, to which he invited all his guitarist friends.  So at the end of the evening, I found myself on stage with many of my other heroes as well as Bert - Joe Brown, Lonnie Donegan, George Harrison, among others - one of the most memorable moments of my life.  

Anita and I have so many great memories of evenings with Bert and his lovely wife Maggie. This is a terrible blow for her, of course, and we are hoping we can bring her a bit of distraction and comfort in the coming weeks.   

RIP Bert - Great Man. 



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