brian's soapbox



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.

- Lame Claims
- Stereo and Freeview Notes


Please DON'T reproduce stuff from these pages WITHOUT PERMISSION. And if you do, please give us credit (!! and a LIVE link. `
Cheers ! Bri
- Also applies to FOREIGN LANGUAGE sites,

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**Wed 15 Jan 14**

[In answer to a letter and questions - SEE LETTERS - about his guitar solo on "You Don't Fool Me",
Brian opens up and gives an insight into making of the track, during the Made In Heaven sessions...]

Made In Heaven



**Tue 14 Jan 14**
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[Brian posted a question about a picture yesterday "Does anyone know who this is, in tragic state? - See end of item below HERE - and there has been a little response... SEE LETTERS]

Ha Ha ! Yes, Terry, well done. You are the first to guess the identity of my mystery picture.

(apart from one of my close pals, who is just too cultured!)

Yes, the Death of Chatterton indeed, though strictly speaking, this is a photograph … from life … so actually not the (at the time) famous oil painting by Henry Wallis !

So what is the story ?

Well, all will be revealed !

Cheers and thanks for getting in touch.



**Tue 14 Jan 14**
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This guy is great !

Cancer sufferer pens charity song
13 Jan 2014
Mal Wood wrote Reaching Out to raise cash for Macmillan after being diagnosed with colon cancer

Let's Support his work.

"Copies of the [Mal Wood's] CD can be bought at the Disley Parish Council offices on Buxton Road, by emailing or at Blythe House reception, Eccles Fold, Chapel-en-le-Frith."


**Mon 13 Jan 14**
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[Brian shares his welcome medical news - having had a great phone call from his specialist this evening - also progress with Queen current project....]





**Sun 12 Jan 14*
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Written early hours:

Astronomy and Music in Good Measure - with Stephen Hawking.

The amazing Stephen Hawking visited our Dominion We Will Rock You show tonight [11 January]. He said he enjoyed it very much and called it 'Stellar' - a great compliment I think ! Afterwards we had dinner … and spoke of many things … of Music, Food, The Extent of the Universe compared with the Observable Universe, Marilyn Monroe, Badgers … It was in the nature of a birthday celebration. Yes, I consider myself very lucky.

Brian and Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking and Brian May

Infinite Dinners
Infinite dinners

Stephen Hawking on badgers
Stephen Hawking - on badgers

Birthday cake for Stephen Hawking
Birthday cake for Stephen Hawking

By the way, check out this great piece of his writing – about wormholes and the possibilities of Time Travel. It takes Stephen about 5 minutes to write a sentence, using only minute movements of a muscle in his cheek. So you can imagine how long this article took him to write. He has developed an extraordinary ability to distil miles of meaning into inches of text, and the result is lucid, penetrating and often very funny, too …

DAILY MAIL: STEPHEN HAWKING: How to build a time machine
27th April 2010

The power of a great mind over matter was never so evident …

Happy Sunday to all !




Watch the first 54 seconds. That’s all I ask. You’ll be hooked after that, I swear.

The Landfill Harmonic Orchestra -

… Thanks Mr Crook


**Fri 10 Jan 14**
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Hi folks.

I'm conscious that I've been quiet … but really when things get really intense, I don't find I have time or energy for standing on my well-worn Soapbox, or tweeting.

Also I was a bit shocked at all the media attention that my 'Health Scare' piece got – all around the world. I suddenly realised how uncomfortable it feels to be getting attention for those kinds of reasons.

And I just couldn't deal with the responses, from so many people who showed they cared, but … it's been overwhelming, and I feel bad I still haven't anything like got through them all. So - apologies, folks.

I do begin to feel that I owe you guys some kind of update, and I'm comforted by the thought that 'probable good news' spreads a lot more slowly than 'probable bad news' ! I was advised not to say anything more until the matter was clear, but it seems that it won't be crystal clear for a while yet, and mainly – it's GOOD news.

I really don't want to burden you with every detail; basically I am still in diagnostic-land, but hopefully not for much longer. Strangely enough, my Urology specialist - Professor Mark Emberton - is in the news today in the (normally scurrilous, but not in this case):

Invasive tests for prostate cancer are failing to spot the disease: Thousands of men forced to have painful biopsies
10 January 2014

- speaking about the very procedures I've been going through, as do so many in his care.

Basically all the tests I've had have come back with good reports, and so most of the ills that were possibilities a couple of weeks ago are now ruled out. My friendly Prof, true to what he says in the newspaper story today, took me through the prostate part of it very methodically. The first exploratory MRI scans weren't really aimed at the prostate, but at the spine, so he did manual and ultrasound explorations and said he was pretty sure that there was nothing seriously wrong, but … he wanted to see a dedicated prostate MRI. I did that over New Year, and it showed up some small possible problem areas. I then had a choice. He said I could either wait for a few months and have another similar scan, and see if anything was developing, or he could put a needle in and take samples … a biopsy. So, rather than sit worrying for months, I opted for the latter. That happened today, and though it's not a joyride, I was unconscious for most of it, and it wasn't as bad as I expected ! I'll get the results next week, and then things should hopefully be much clearer. Don't send me any more messages yet … OK ?

As I sit, only slightly bruised tonight, on my favourite sofa, I reflect how lucky I have been to be in such great hands. And I ponder on the thought that without prostates, none of us would be here. Not one. Because the prostate is the place where those wriggly little swimmers are 'born'. Born to fight - to win the race to get to an egg first - to fertilise and make their mark on the world. And finally, I'm happy to report, for any of you out there who are worrying: it's not as scary as you might think to get checked out if you have doubts about these areas. Medicine is advancing very fast, and the doctors are much better at explaining what is going on than they used to be.

Finally … overall, the worldwide prostate news is mostly good. I'm told that over 90 per cent of men will have some cancer cells in their prostate when they die. But only two per cent actually die because of it. And those two are the ones that didn't catch it early enough. My advice to anyone with doubts is - don't be shy - to go to your GP and chat about it, sooner rather than later. It CAN save your life.


Well, I'm working on Queen tracks this coming week … brushing the dust off … surprising how shiny they are underneath, after a bit of polishing !

But over the weekend, I'm working 'from home' on a great new stereoscopic book project with the Tate Gallery. More details soon.




**Sun 05 Jan 14**
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In case anyone is getting complacent about this Government's badger cull, this, from a World expert on bTB, is sobering.

3rd January 2014
Fears that badger cull will resume
- Letter from Dr Chris Cheeseman, Brownshill



**Sat 04 Jan 14**
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So Sad

Phil and Don Everly around 1958?
Phil and Don - around 1958 ?

Somehow, although it might seem corny to use this song title, I can't get it out of my mind tonight. It's about 3 am, the time when normally I'm awake writing or E-mailing, or restoring photographs, or just keeping the fingers in trim on my old acoustic guitar. It's the oddest thing, and so sad. Only last night at about this time I was strumming the old Everly Brothers hit of that name, and in my head I could still hear every note played by every instrument on the track, and sing every nuance of the two parts that Don and Phil Everly sang all those years ago. When we're young, we soak up up the things we love like a sponge, and the music of the Everlies, which thrilled me to the core when I was a boy, will be in my head til I die. Kerry Ellis and I agreed a couple of weeks ago that So Sad was going to be one of the new songs in our set, when we resume the Candlelight concerts in February. So I was working on some arrangement ideas, but keeping very close to the essence of the original - I'm a purist when it comes to things like that. Even the way the Everlies performed the song in their reunion days didn't feel right to me. I wanted the wonderful unblushing naive bite of the way it was done on that 7-inch piece of black vinyl in a blue and white lined sleeve, probably in one take, and certainly with no overdubs, auto tune, or edits. So I was singing the parts one at a time, planning to record some ideas.

And tonight, about 3 am, I hear that Phil is gone. I feel like a huge piece of my youth just melted away. I loved, loved those guys, and still do. From the Everly Brothers I learned to play rhythm guitar (a lot of people don't have that experience these days), and I learned every note of both parts they sang - normally Phil taking the top part and Don the lower. From this I learned how two-part harmonies work - how different emotions are evoked using different sequences of intervals, how to find the moments that chill your spine, and avoid the 'easy' too-sweet harmonies that would make it sound trite. I know for sure that The Beatles learned a lot from the Everlies too - they too had a powerful innate understanding of how these things could be made to work (I knew it the first time I heard 'Love Me Do' on the radio - and compare the wonderful diverging harmonies of Please Please Me with the Everlies' Cathy's Clown).

I could probably write a book on the music of the fabulous Everly Brothers, but you'll find echoes of their influence in a lot of our old Queen songs, and perhaps that is the best tribute. But if you're curious and want a real trip through a glittering canon of quintessential 1950s-60s era gold-plated Pop, right now, find the Everly Brothers hits some place, imagine the last 50 years never happened, and give yourself a treat. Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie, Dream (ouch!), Crying in the Rain, I Wonder If I Care As Much, Always It's You, Til I Kissed You … I'm sure they are all there on-line. I'm not looking at any lists … all this stuff lives in my head as one of my most treasured memories. It's pure joy.

I never met them. Wish I had. But they will always be my heroes. I don't think they will know who I am, but my heartfelt condolences to Phil's wife, his family and friends, and of course to Don. I can't imagine how that must be. So hard, So sad.

RIP Phil Everly … you were magic. I have tears in my eyes.



**Thu 02 Jan 14**
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Wishing you all a Happy New Year from Brian, Anne and the Save Me team – and thank you for all your support throughout 2013.

Badger Cull

In 2014 we will continue to work to stop the roll-out of the badger cull. 

We will take action through the courts if necessary, as the cull is unscientific, unethical and cannot work (and is probably making the TB problem worse). We await the report of the Independent Expert Panel, and expect it to condemn the cull, following the shambolic performance by the NFU in the two cull zones last year. 

Baby Badger

We send this appeal below openly to the gentlemen of the IEP – the Independent Expert Panel.


You are the arbiters of decency in the assessment of this unprecedented action of the Government, killing badgers on a large scale, in the certain knowledge that it may make TB breakdowns worse rather than better in British cattle. Only you stand between us and the ‘roll-out’ of wholesale senseless carnage the length and breadth of Britain. On behalf of over 300,000 British citizens, we ask that the IEP take a broad, truly independent view of what is humane and what is not. We ask that you apply moral standards of decency as high as those of the majority of the British public, who respect the rights of sentient creatures to a fair deal in life.   

You will have been assessing how long it took for the animals to die, though you have only been allowed to see a pitifully small percentage of the animals whose carcasses that ended up in the shooters' possession. You will not be able to assess the suffering of those badgers known to have escaped wounded, and crawled off to die slowly in some neglected corner.  

Badger in the grass

But whether these animals had a humane death or not, we ask you to ask the question of whether killing huge numbers of mostly healthy social wild mammals CAN be humane. How can such action fail to cause physical and mental suffering? Especially when cubs are left to die of starvation in the setts when their parents never return. Perturbation is the reason that culling is predicted to fail as a means of eradicating TB. But it is also a euphemism for the agony of families of badgers smashed forever. There is much more than physical pain involved here. This is mass slaughter of the innocent, and the destruction of an ancient society of highly evolved sentient creatures.

We have always believed that badger culling will be clearly proved to be scientifically unsupportable, practically unworkable and ineffective – even counte-productive – and an economic disaster. All of these statements are now emerging as true.

But we believe we have the right, after all the evidence is in, to insist that the decision to reject killing as a solution must rest on MORAL grounds. Because only when the public perception of what is no longer acceptable morally becomes clear – only then can British politics and law move on to a place in which the voices of the voiceless will be heard and will count. Only then does ALL this cruelty become forever unacceptable, and illegal, and some day cruelty itself will be eradicated from our country – our world.

After a passionate debate in Westminster Hall on 11th December, compassion is no longer a distant and unattainable dream in the UK. The edifice of the warped and wrong philosophy of culling is beginning to crumble. We believe a strong, courageous statement from the IEP can hasten that process, and help to bring about its long overdue demise, in favour of a policy of immediate vaccination of badgers, and, much more importantly, the prioritising of vaccination of cattle.



Ranald Munro, a forensic pathologist and former head of pathology at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, and former president of the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA),
Neville Gregory, a professor of animal welfare physiology at the Royal Veterinary College,
Piran White, a personal chair and deputy head of the Environment Department at York University, Timothy Roper, emeritus professor at the University of Sussex and an expert in badger behavior and Peter Watson, executive director of the Deer Initiative and a non-executive director of Deer Management Qualifications, complete the panel.



Badger and Cattle Vaccination

We will launch the Badger and Cattle vaccination Initiative ( later this month. Our first three zones to run vaccination programs will be Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, and we hope you will support these projects as an alternative to the slaughter of badgers. Badger vaccine has been used for many years and is shown to have been successful by the Government’s own data. Vaccination of just 30% of the adults means that 79% of the newborn cubs are protected. The Government have just one trial area looking into vaccination and have been heavily criticised by its own BTB select committee for missed opportunities. Many ‘Wildlife Trusts’ are now running their own vaccination programs, since they are opposed to the badger cull. We will continue to pursue the licensing and deployment of cattle vaccine, and will make sure our Government complies with EU directives, and prioritises vaccine trials, so that vaccination our cattle becomes a reality in the next 10 years. (By comparison, the flawed and failing badger cull has been described as a 25 year project by Owen Paterson.) 

Brian May with badger

CowsThe EU have made their position very clear, along with their willingness to support development of cattle vaccine for the UK. Our Government, shockingly, has not yet fulfilled its obligations to get the process started. Cattle vaccines have been trialled in Ethiopia and Mexico, and they should have been trialled here. Successive governments and the NFU have dragged their feet with the result that the vaccine is not approved here, and that must change. It is interesting that the Government incorrectly quotes the ‘success’ in many countries of wildlife culling, yet they ignore the success of cattle vaccine in other countries, including New Zealand. 

Badger and Cattle vaccine is available and we should be using it NOW.

Brian and fox cub


Fox Hunting

We will continue to oppose any return of legalised hunting with dogs. We do not support fox hunting but we do support the legal drag hunting that is practised by many hunts in the UK. We will continue to expose the truth behind fox hunting and those hunts that continue to flout the law. We will be getting involved with genuine Drag Hunting as more and more people chose this option. Drag Hunting is a popular and credible event in its honest form and we will endeavour to clarify the distinction between the two.

Fox cub

Fox hunting is inhumane and has no place in 2014 in the civilised world. More and more MP’s are confirming their opposition to fox hunting and do not wish to see it return. The pubic do not want to see the return of cock fighting, badger baiting or fox hunting and neither do we. 


Finally, we have decided for 2014 to reintroduce into mainstream the phrase "Animal Rights”. Animals deserve, need and must have rights.

Pro-cruelty lobbyists have attacked us in recent months for referring to our treatment of other creatures in human terms, and daring to suggest that the same rules of decency should apply. We've been comparing the badger cull to the indiscriminate massacres of human beings in history, and likening the fight for justice for animals to the fight against slavery, and discrimination against women.

Now Desmond Tutu has spoken in defence of animals and their rights. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the world's greatest fighters for justice and equality, and was a leader along, alongside Nelson Mandela, in the battle to rid South Africa of racial discrimination.

28th December 2013

“We must fight injustice to animals as we do injustice to blacks, women and gays."
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“I have spent my life fighting discrimination and injustice, whether the victims are blacks, women, or gays and lesbians. No human being should be the target of prejudice or the object of vilification or be denied his or her basic rights.

Desmond Tutu“But there are other issues of justice – not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.

“I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.

“It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God’s good Earth,” says Archbishop Desmond Tutu in his forthright foreword to the Global Guide to Animal Protection to be published by the University of Illinois on 30 December.

In his first major statement on animal welfare Archbishop Tutu says “Our dominion over animals is not supposed to be despotism. We are made in the image of God, yes, but God – in whose image we are made - is holy, loving, and just. We do not honor God by abusing other sentient creatures.

If it is true that we are the most exalted species in creation, it is equally true that we can be the most debased and sinful. This realisation should give us pause … There is something Christ-like about caring for suffering creatures, whether they are humans or animals.”

Archbishop Tutu concludes with his warm support for the Global Guide to Animal Protection and urges the reader to seek justice and protection for all creatures, humans and animals alike: “Churches should lead the way by making clear that all cruelty – to other animals as well as human beings – is an affront to civilised living and a sin before God.”

Desmond Tutu is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid work. Nelson Mandela described Tutu as: "sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu's voice will always be the voice of the voiceless”.


Scales of justice2014 will be another  very  busy year for Save Me. Please continue to support us into a future where wildlife has a voice, and our legal system protects the moral RIGHT of all creatures to a decent free life and a decent death.

Brian, Anne and the Save Me Team 


**Thu 02 Jan 14**
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I believe this is vitally important. Monstrous erosion of our supposed democracy by D Cameron.

This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy
4 November 2013 by George Monbiot



**Wed 01 Jan 14**
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Dear Folks

Well, it's that time again … renewal, reassessment. Thanks again for all your great support this year, for me, and my dreams and schemes, for the foxes and badgers, and for all the little Diableries skeleton souls, and for the Candlelit project with Kerry, and … oh yes, for that stupendous fiery old Dragon that refuses to lie down … Queen !


Here's wishing you all a great year in 2014

- with good health, good family, good friends, fulfilment, and …

all the love you need.




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