brian's soapbox
JULY 2013



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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**Sun 14 Jul 13**
(Clare Day - Badger John Clare's Birthday)

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I want to share with you a poem which follows on from George Monbiot's commemoration a couple of days ago of the poet John Clare (he was born at this time of year 200 years ago, and poetically wrote about the destruction of the Natural World by Man).

George Montbiot's piece is well worth reading, reminding us of the terrible effect we as a race have had on the countryside, not to mention our building of ever-expanding sterile cities.

My friend Jane Evans (with thanks also to Bob Blizzard) sent me this - one of Clare's most heart-breaking pieces … recounting how, even in those days, the poor badgers were being persecuted. How unutterably sad that this barbarity is still going on today. The human race has so much to be ashamed of.

OK. The poem.

Badger. by John Clare
(13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864), the son of a farm labourer.

The badger grunting on his woodland track
With shaggy hide and sharp nose scrowed with black
Roots in the bushes and the woods, and makes
A great high burrow in the ferns and brakes.
With nose on ground he runs an awkward pace,
And anything will beat him in the race.

The shepherd's dog will run him to his den
Followed and hooted by the dogs and men.
The woodman when the hunting comes about
Goes round at night to stop the foxes out
And hurrying through the bushes to the chin
Breaks the old holes, and tumbles headlong in.

When midnight comes a host of dogs and men
Go out and track the badger to his den,
And put a sack within the hole, and lie
Till the old grunting badger passes bye.

He comes and hears "they let the strongest loose".
The old fox hears the noise and drops the goose.
The poacher shoots and hurries from the cry,
And the old hare half wounded buzzes bye.

They get a forked stick to bear him down
And clap the dogs and take him to the town,
And bait him all the day with many dogs,
And laugh and shout and fright the scampering hogs.

He runs along and bites at all he meets:
They shout and hollo down the noisy streets.
He turns about to face the loud uproar
And drives the rebels to their very door.

The frequent stone is hurled where e'er they go;
When badgers fight, then every one's a foe.
The dogs are clapt and urged to join the fray;
The badger turns and drives them all away.
Though scarcely half as big, demure and small,
He fights with dogs for bones and beats them all.

The heavy mastiff, savage in the fray,
Lies down and licks his feet and turns away.
The bulldog knows his match and waxes cold,
The badger grins and never leaves his hold.

He drives the crowd and follows at their heels
And bites them through ”the drunkard swears and reels.
The frighted women take the boys away,
The blackguard laughs and hurries on the fray.

He tries to reach the woods, an awkward race,
But sticks and cudgels quickly stop the chase.
He turns again and drives the noisy crowd
And beats the many dogs in noises loud.

He drives away and beats them every one,
And then they loose them all and set them on.
He falls as dead and kicked by boys and men,
Then starts and grins and drives the crowd again;

Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies
And leaves his hold and cackles, groans, and dies.

Some keep a baited badger tame as hog
And tame him till he follows like the dog.
They urge him on like dogs and show fair play.
He beats and scarcely wounded goes away.

Lapt up as if asleep, he scorns to fly
And seizes any dog that ventures nigh.
Clapt like a dog, he never bites the men
But worries dogs and hurries to his den.

They let him out and turn a harrow down
And there he fights the host of all the town.
He licks the patting hand, and tries to play
And never tries to bite or run away,

And runs away from the noise in hollow trees
Burnt by the boys to get a swarm of bees.

John Clare

I can't read this without tears coming to the eyes. To me it seems to sum up the insanity of the awful cruel world we have created, apparently without anyone to teach us what is right or wrong. Or maybe we just have not listened.



**Fri 12 Jul 13**
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[Replying to another on the subject - See LETTERS]

Nich, honestly, I'm very bored with this subject now.

This was not in any way my decision. All I did was try to find out what really had happened, because I had been asked.

I have done that, and I've also given my opinion, as you saw, but that is all it is - an opinion. I'm certainly not going to try to tell Freddie's estate what to do, and I suggest you don't either - it's none of our business - either of us.

From the responses I have had, I think it's fair to say that the 'silent majority' seem to agree with my analysis, and that the paint job was opportunistic and in bad taste.

I'm not interested in getting into any more discussions on this topic.

All the best



**Fri 12 Jul 13**
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[In reply to a mail from a fan in Norwich area See LETTERS]

Thanks Annabel.

I'm sure we have not heard the end of this little escapade. As you say, a close look at the Freddie Gorilla doesn't inspire confidence. The Freddie Lion was done with great respect and obviously was a labour of love. On the other hand, it's hard to look at that Gorilla and not think that, in this case, someone was trying to 'take the piss' ! So, in my humble opinion, it was fitting that someone blew the whistle. But I would be surprised if there were not other little sub-plots lurking around.

We shall see. But thanks for your vote !

Cheers !



**Fri 12 Jul 13**
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[In reply to question about unreleased tracks - See LETTERS]

We did have a great time in Manchester. We are learning all the time.

As for unreleased material with Freddie singing … strangely enough I was working on some tapes this evening - with William Orbit. There are a few items in progress. We will have something for folks to hear in a couple of months' time, hopefully.

Thanks again.

See ya out there !



Great evening with William Orbit working with some Queen/Freddie/Michael Jackson tapes. Exciting, challenging, emotionally taxing. But cool.

Bri and Michael Jackson
Me and MJ



**Thu 11 Jul 13**
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Well, I had a lot of enquiries about the Great Freddie Gorillagate scandal, and I promised to try to find out what really happened. I have done my best ! This is not an 'official' account by any means, just a rough summary of the way I now understand it.

Freddie Gorilla


As so often in these things, it seems the stories that found their way into the media didn't really tell it like it was.

When all the shouting began on Twitter, I knew nothing about it and I said so, but, as you'll see, there was actually no real reason I would know, because the true source of the story had nothing to do with myself, or the Mercury Phoenix Trust, or Born Free.

I'm told 'Break' are the charity who have organised this Gorilla Trail event, and the returns they get from it will be used to benefit children with learning difficulties, among other things. They're based in the UK. The link between this cause and gorillas is perhaps a bit tenuous ! But that's not a problem. Born Free were apparently only involved as consultants, to ensure the project gets the information about Gorillas right.

The organisation that actually puts the whole scheme of 'painted statue animals' together is a company called Wild in Art. These guys are not in any sense a charity. They mount these projects on a purely commercial basis (they also mounted the South Africa Lions project - Pride of Cape Town - which Kerry and I launched for Born Free last year). The way it works is - these projects they create enable charities to make some money, a well as bringing visibility. So it was Wild In Art who produced this particular gorilla-shaped effigy, which they evidently had someone paint up in a yellow Freddie Wembley outfit and stick some teeth and a moustache on. Now: far be it from me to make an artistic judgement on this - you can form your own opinion - but when the model was first seen, a number of people thought it was a crude and insulting effort - probably to both Freddie and the Gorilla !

So when word of this got to Freddie's estate, they asked for an approach to be made to Wild in Art, to ask them if they'd have another go at the painting of the Freddie Gorilla. The way it was reported, it looked as if the MPT (Mercury Phoenix Trust) had 'blocked' the deployment of the statue altogether, but actually the issue had nothing to do with the MPT; plus it wasn't a block at all - simply a request for an update to the paint job, to which Wild in Art kindly agreed.

Now there were accusations of 'pettiness' in the media and on Twitter, but you have to ask yourself how you'd feel if suddenly people were making effigies of your dearly departed dad or son or brother, and you felt they were disrespectful. You'd want to feel you had some kind of a right to say yes or no, to protect his reputation. That's exactly what the people who run Freddie's estate do. They try to safeguard Freddie's reputation, just as if he were still around. They will pursue anyone who tells a lie about him, or does something which could impugn Freddie's integrity or image. So Freddie's estate were quite within their rights to ask that this 'portrait' be improved - especially since the company who created it stand to make a lot of money out of exploiting Freddie's likeness. Yes, the estate could have taken a more lenient view, but if they had, it would be open season. There would be nothing to stop any number of companies like this making Freddie Elephants or Antelopes, or whatever, distorting Freddie's features just as they felt inclined, and making loads of money from lots of well-meaning people who might well feel they were contributing directly to a charity.

The normal way to approach this, of course, would have been for the event organisers to phone up Freddie's estate and ask their permission, and give them approval of the art work. Then there would have been no argument - no 'sensation'. But then, of course, the massive controversy around this inflated story wouldn't have happened. I'm sure this storm in a teacup has made the whole project a hundred times more visible in the media than it otherwise would have been. Now there's a thought.

So, in the light of all this, do we still think a bad decision was made ? Well, please tell me, if and when the new repainted Freddie Gorilla takes the stand next week. Either way, it won't go unnoticed.

I'll also update the story a little more at that point, if I know more. OK ?

If you're quoting me, dear Gentlemen of the Press, please mention the ancient institution of Bri's Soapbox, which I think was around long before the word 'Blog' was coined !

And, if you care about wild animals, please encourage folks to sign the Team Badger petition to save our badgers from the imminent massacre planned by our Government. Here's the link: there is still time to use your voice.

It's very sad that this 'cull' mess has been sold to farmers as a solution to their Bovine TB problems. The only 'cure' for the bovine TB disaster is vaccination - of badgers, but much more importantly, of cows. Yes, they'll tell you it's 'years away', so not practical. In fact it's probably 10 years away, realistically, but viewed beside Owen Paterson's 25-year plan for constantly culling wildlife, which CANNOT eradicate the disease anyway, 10 years sounds pretty good. Are the Government prioritising vaccination ? Not in the least. It's now rumoured that they are spending more money on 'Information' than on progressing vaccination. What's 'Information'? That's the constant stream of propaganda they're putting out to try to persuade us that the cull is not, as Lord Krebs has described it, crazy.

Propaganda ? Yes - have you noticed all these bogus stories about badgers being responsible for a decline in hedgehogs (try pesticides), being responsible for TB in seals (!) or eating ground nesting birds eggs (oh, yes, hedgehogs were accused of that a few years ago). Look at all these stories out there attempting to discredit the RSPCA, Team Badger, and … yes, folks, little ol' folks like me.

Who's paying for this propaganda ? You are. We are. We taxpayers, who seem to have no way of stopping the Government doing awful things against our wishes.

Hey ! Now there's a real scandal.




**Mon 08 Jul 13**
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La Tour Eiffel is mine ! We had an amazing night in La Cigale in Paris - I cannot remember an audience who gave so much for so long. Thank you !!! Merci beaucoup - and - à bientôt !


Paris Plectrum?


**Mon 08 Jul 13**
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I feel very lucky. A beautiful day, in a beautiful city, with this view from my window - and I get to make music with a wonderful singer tonight.

Hello Paris !!! Enchanté !!!


(For tips on viewing 3-D pics see here )

Paris view in 3D

And in mono...

Paris view - mono


**Sun 07 Jul 13**
BE MORE DOG !!! ???
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Be More Dog - or -

You have to see this ! It may be a bit cattist, but you gotta smile !

No idea what it's advertising !! ha ha.

Happy Sunday night.



**Sat 06 Jul 13**
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Stuart Winter, Joe Duckworth, Brian May

It was a day for the League to acknowledge great works today, and they did so with great sensitivity and a light touch of humour.

Among the honorees was myself. I was happy to accept the title of LACS Supporter of the Year.

League CEO Joe Duckworth prefaced the ceremony by saying the award was not so much for supporting the League as bringing new impetus to the world of Animal Welfare campaigning.

There's a video here (LINK TO FOLLOW) of what I said in accepting the award.

It's interesting that I was not the only one to stress the principle of zero tolerance - ZT for cruelty to children, cruelty to old people, and cruelty to animals.

There are a few photos knocking around of the presentation, which we will channel. And we'll follow up with a complete list of the award winners.

Thanks LACS ! Proud to be among you. You are a pillar of progress towards a humane world.


LACS 2013 Honorees
LACS 2013 Honorees

Brian May accepting LACS Supporter of the Year Award
Accepting LACS 'Supporter of the Year Award'


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