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



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Please DON'T reproduce stuff from these pages without permission. And if you do, please give us credit (!! and a LIVE link. Cheers ! Bri

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**Sun 14 Oct 12**

It's a big day for me tomorrow … and a big day for Team Badger - trying to stop the killing of British Badgers.

Tomorrow we have a meeting of ministers who are interested in a debate in the House on the issue of the Badger Cull. I have personally invited every MP in Parliament, and we've had a great response … so the room is going to be pretty full, it seems. Nothing like a sold-out house !

We have all our 4 leaders for the debate already confirmed. They will take our cause into the Commons in the debate, which we HOPE we will get in Parliament in the next couple of weeks. I'll be able to tell you who they are tomorrow after our meeting. They are from Conservative, Labour, LibDem, and Green - a true cross-party initiative.

We also have, as of now 26 MPs committed to support the motion, and we hope sign up others tomorrow.

All I can say is … who knows what the outcome of all this will be.

But we go in there not only with the support of every scientific expert on TB in the country, and the support of every animal charity and NGO ...

but also with the support of 155,000 of you … the people of Britain.

THANK YOU. We will try to be worthy of your support.

I believe we are in the right … no question. So we have to win in the end.




**Sun 14 Oct 12**

Wonderful. We can see what Owen Paterson's priorities are. I'd say worrying about the murder of thousands of healthy, intelligent, sentient beings on his watch would put him in a better place, when the history of this sad affair is written.

Badger punctuation

I'm almost amused … but not quite.




**Sat 13 Oct 12**

A very predictable stereotyped bit of anti-badger propaganda, here in the Telegraph. ["The murky 21st-century tale of Tommy Brock and Mr Grant"]

It's worth reading just to see how transparently the trumped-up claims are made, the smears on these wonderful and utterly innocent animals. The assumption that badgers are the cause of the spread of bTB (refuted by the John Bourne, and an ncreasing number of farmers alike). The misinformation about culls overseas - the facts cherry-picked to try to make a point. The assertion that the 'rise' of badgers (there is not a shred of evidence that badger population is on the increase in the UK) 'has led to the decline of hedgehogs, ground-nesting birds and bumblebees.' All completely unsubstantiated claims. Look in your garden shed, Mr Charles Moore, to see why these animals are disappearing - you will see the reason in the poisons - slug pellets, weedkillers, pesticides, that we throw recklessly on our land.

There are disgraceful slurs on the RSPCA here, and its brilliant new CEO, Gavin Grant, a man who not only cares, but has the courage to go into battle for the welfare of animals, just as did Wilberforce when the Society was founded. And of course, while this kind of writer tries to dismiss animal advocates as emotionally motoivated and 'fanatical', he spends the first four paragraphs on Beatrix Potter!

This is a deeply irresponsible, inflammatory, and worse than worthless article, Mr Moore. Shame on you.



**Sat 13 Oct 12**

Born Free - alternative cover

I wish singles were still 12" across … this looks so nice BIG ! Can we put it up big on site - CLICK HERE




**Sat 13 Oct 12**

The Badger Trust had a general meeting today [Friday 12 October], and David Williams, their Chairman, asked me to send a message.

The Badger Trust are now trusted friends, of course - we have worked together a lot over the last couple of years, battling away to try to stop the badgers from being persecuted …

Now they are also part of our consortium of animal groups, Team Badger.

This is what I wrote.

Dear Badger Trust.

This is Brian May. I’m happy to be able to address you, courtesy of your Chairman, Dave Williams.

I wanted to take this chance to salute all of you in the Badger Trust, who have been dedicated for so long to speaking up for one of Britain’s most loved, yet most abused residents, the Badgers. You have led the fight for so long, for the right of these wonderful creatures, to live and breathe and raise their familes in the countryside that we share, free of abuse and persecution.

You have been fighting callousness and disregard in those who would cover our planet in concrete, destroying the habitat of our wild creatures; you have been fighting ignorance and cruelty in the despicable badger-baiters, and in sporadic vengeful attacks on badgers from people who unfairly blamed them for their troubles. Now you have to fight a government, with the same old mistaken beliefs, hell-bent on a morally and scientifically unjustifiable course of slaughter, which will destroy the badger community forever, through the senseless slaughter of 70 per cent of their number.

These are the grimmest of times. But now you are not alone. In recent months, under the banner of TeamBadger, the whole animal-aware community has come together in a way that has never, ever, been seen before, to stand alongside you in your fight for what is right. You now have, behind you, the hearts and minds of the RSPCA, The League Against Cruel Sports, the Humane Society International, Stroud 100, Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, Animal Aid, Network for Animals, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Blue Badger (Conservatives against the Badger Cull), Born Free and Peta, and now the RSPB, as well as my own campaign, Save-Me. All of these organisations are dedicated to winning this war, working in different areas in a coordinated way. You also have the support of over 150,000 British people who have signed our petition on the Government’s own website.

Because of this support, we have been able to ask for a debate in Parliament on the issue. I have personally invited all interested MPs to a meeting this Monday 15th, in the House of Commons, to consolidate our initiative to bring the debate in. The following day, the 16th October, our leading MPs, from all political parties, will represent Team Badger at the Back Bench Business Committee Meeting with a view to getting a full commons debate in the chamber. With full cross-party support, we are very optimistic that we will be granted the debate.

At this point, it would be a good time for all of us to write to our MP’s one more time, asking them to attend the debate, and vote to stop the cull.

I, along with my CEO Anne Brummer and Gavin Grant of the RSPCA, have been in Brussels this week seeking support from the European Parliament and the European Commission. We found great enthusiasm from everyone we met, and have every hope that Europe will be our ally in finding a humane solution to the Bovine TB Problem in cows, rather than the appalling route of the destruction of badgers. All these initiatives, along with great work from our TeamBadger colleagues in the field in Gloucestershire and Somerset, will combine to increase the pressure on David Cameron, to the point where he will hopefully reconsider and reshape this ill-conceived policy.

The forces we face are very powerful, but we have the power of the certainty that we are in the right.

I have finally been moved to tweet, as of this week, and my favourite rallying call these days is borrowed from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I firmly believe that it will be all right in the end, and if it is not yet all right, it is not yet the end!!

With love, from Save Me and Team Badger.

Brian May

Now that we are close to getting our debate in the House of Commons … now is the time to get writing, please, one more time, folks. I've met a lot of MPs of all parties in recent weeks, and I have learned that it DOES make a difference to an MP when he or she gets a load of letters on a subject in the mail. It makes them pay attention, and get a little jolt, wondering if there is something important going on which might affect the number of votes they get next time ! So please DO write to your local MP, in the next few days, asking him in the strongest possible terms to vote against the awful, misguided badger cull. OK? That way, perhaps they will be encouraged to stay and listen to the debate - maybe even take part - and hopefully vote on the side of justice for our black and white friends.

And … pray. For we are so close to bloody butchery.



Team Badger badge


**Sat 13 Oct 12**

We're still kicking the artwork around for our Born Free single …

This is the kind of thing I love playing with, building up in Photoshop, in the middle of the night !

Well, here's what's on my desktop right now …

the version without Kerry and Me … only the lion … he's called Brutus .. one of Virginia McKenna's rescued animals … a wonderful creature … a ghost in the Dawn Light.

Born Free artwork ?

Usually all this is done in private … but I don't think Kerry will mind … we'll make our final decisions this week. The music tracks are all done … mixed and mastered … I'm well proud of them.



**Wed 10 Oct 12**

It was a fascinating day for me at the Conservative Party Convention.

Even though we were there to lobby against an official party policy, we, representing TeamBadger, were received warmly by almost everybody. Even those who were not warm were still, on the whole, civil ! We used the day to lobby in the old style, face to face, in the corridors of the conference buildings. We were able to consolidate our team to (hopefully) take our debate into the House of Commons this month, and though the heads of department seemed intransigent in their resolve to go ahead with the killing of thousands of badgers, we got a very different feeling from almost everyone else. They were open and honest, and in many cases immediately expressed their support for what we were trying to achieve. I'd love to be able to tell you that we are closer to saving those innocent creatures, but all I can really say is that we're doing all that we can in this area … dovetailing into what other members of our TEAM BADGER 'consortium' are doing in Gloucestershire and Somerset, and in other areas where this battle of life and death is being fought.

I'm battling a cold and an injured knee as well right now - lots of fun - but, knackered or not, we are headed to Brussels in the morning to take up the matter of vaccinating British cows with the European Parliament.

One day this will all be over, for better or for worse, and I will just make music again … and a bit of Astrophysics, and some Stereoscopy, and … be with my family …

Well, that is the dream.



Brian in Press Interview, Birmingham Conference Centre
Bri in one of his press interviews inside the Conference Centre.
(Photo: Anne Brummer)


**Wed 10 Oct 12**

Ah … I promised news of yesterday's Queen band meeting. Well, it was just Roger and Jim Beach and myself … we are a small cottage industry !! Our main agenda was the Freddie film … which, I'm happy to tell you, is on course. Much of our discussion was about contractual things … it's pretty complex …. and determining who is responsible for what. The pieces are all falling into place, though we are now on a slightly later schedule - filming is now scheduled to start in the Spring, with Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie. The film should be ready for release early in 2014. We did make some other plans, but they will have to stay under wraps for now. Being in Queen is – bizarrely – as full of surprising twists and turns as ever - 40 years since we first got together, and 20 years after losing Freddie. But of course Freddie is in so many ways very much alive. He must be wryly smiling somewhere !!!



**Tue 09 Oct 12**

Brian and Badger by Julia Sharapova
by Julia Sharapova

I love it Julia ! We will put it up on Soapbox - OK ?!

Many thanks … made me smile at the end of a hard day.

Bri x

See note from Julia in LETTERS


**Mon 08 Oct 12**

Here's a little something for all you crazy Kerry fans, while she's zooming off to Eastern climes ...

She sent me this pic from our soundcheck on the last night of her stint at the Hippodrome - but I don't think she tweeted it.

This is us in working gear - not at all scrubbed up; though, having said that, one of us looks fabulous scrubbed or not, and for one of us, it's a hopeless case, so why bother !! ha ha.

Spot the band members !! It was a great night, I thought … a very warm atmosphere, and the sound is good in that room … it's a nice intimate venue - one of London's best, I think, for a close-up interaction. We played Born Free, I Who Have Nothing (becoming a huge favourite with us !) and a nice impromptu Crazy Little Thing, with the whole band. It was very smiley !

I'm off to be Queen today … one of our still very frequent band meetings.

Take care out there

Bri x

Brian and Kerry at The Hippodrome.


**Fri 05 Oct 12**

Hey folks !

Dr Bri here. Well, I finally took the plunge. On the eve of British Badger Day I opened up my beak and tweeted.

So - if you are visiting as a result of twittering around, I can answer the first question - is this me ?

Well, since you're reading this on my 'home' page … Bri's Ancient Soapbox, I think you can now be fairly sure that it is I, Bri.

I am tweeting. Well, learning !

I'm sure, even if I get drawn into regular tweeting, this Soapbox will always be the place I stand, making a noise about issues that I feel need urgent attention, spreading unusual information about Music, Astronomy and Stereoscopy and other oddities, and, these days, fighting for the right of wild animals to live in our country in peace.

Please, if you tweet with me, occasionally take a moment to visit this page, and the other delights that my redoubtable Web-Lady offers on | @BrianMayCom

AND …. right now …. please make sure, if you care about our badgers, or the wild animals that your grandchildren will be able to enjoy …

Click here to go to ... where there is a big button to press, which will take you to the Government's own website.

There you will see my petition … to STOP THE AWFUL TRAGEDY OF THE BADGER CULL.

Please sign up, and then tweet to everybody in the Universe to do the same ! OK ? I thank you most sincerely.

Cheers !


P.S. We will be hopefully linking up so my tweets appear here too … but for the time being, I'm happy to 'freewheel' for a while to see what happens.


**Fri 05 Oct 12**

[In answer to question of how Brian had modified his pickups over the years- see LETTERS]

All I did originally to the Burns pickups was fill them up with Araldite – to stop them whistling – screaming – feeding back by themselves.

Feeding back via the string is, of course, nice, and what I wanted. I actually think my guitar was the first one to be designed to feed back in this way. All the Gibson Les Pauls and Fenders were designed with solid bodies so that they would NOT feed back. It's just that Hendrix and Clapton and all those great innovators used a much higher amp gain when playing live than the inventors of those guitars had anticipated!!! I will never forget seeing Jeff Beck take his guitar off his back at the Marquee (must be about 1967 with the Yardbirds) and spin it slowly on its end strap button, making it feed back a whole symphony of notes!

The only other modification I made, some years later, was to turn the innards of one pickup (the Bridge one, I think!) upside down - and reverse the wiring.

This has the effect of making the bridge pickup and the centre one HUMBUCKING (ie cancelling out local radio noise) when they are in phase - which is the position I use the most (for Tie Your Mother Down, Hammer to Fall, etc .. )

This modification also allows the fingerboard and centre pickups to hum-buck when they are out of phase - which is another favourite combination I use … for the Bo Rap solo, for instance.

This means that, even though most of the other pickup combinations do anything BUT hum buck, if I am in a situation where the noise signal in the air is strong, I can get by for the gig, by just using those two favourite settings. It still works ! but these days usually someone is clever enough to minimise the noise pick up too.

Good luck!!



**Thu 04 Oct 12**

Hello dear folks.

Just checking in. I get so little time to write these days - the campaign to save the badgers has become pretty much a full-time job for me - and really not the job I wanted in life.

But so many of you are pitching in and being so supportive. I just wanted to say thanks again.

Your reactions to the 'The Yelling Farmer" on the Titchmarsh Show have been very encouraging. (See HERE.) He seems to have done his own cause a lot of damage by behaving so badly … and, as many of you have said, it's good that people finally got to see the kind of mentality we are really up against.

The Petition is still growing - I'm amazed how much is going on out there … because every day these are not just the same people 'voting' - which would be impressive enough … every day NEW people are going to the trouble of clicking those buttons and filling in the form on the Government website, putting on record how they feel about the imminent killing of so many wonderful animals.

We do get news from various quarters, and it's not at all clear whether all the conditions will be met for the cull to go ahead. But the NFU is still talking confidently to its members - absolutely relishing the thought of finally getting their own way, and going on this incredibly pointless and vindictive killing spree. As you saw on Titchmarsh, many of the farmers are not the kind of people who can listen to logical arguments … they are utterly convinced that they know best - after all, they have been 'in the field' for years, so how could anyone presume to tell them what to do. But the sad truth is that they have been doing it for years, but they are now failing … and the attitude of 'we will not change' is exactly the attitude which may cause the death of the Farming industry. This is not what any of us wanted. But what would we 'townies' know?

We have a healthy and growing number of badger-friendly farmers now, and our friends at TB Rethink are putting together a new website for them to rally. It's been so hard for enlightened farmers to stand up and be counted … they have so much fear of ridicule and ostracisation from their pro-cull colleagues. But now they will be able to be sure that they are not alone. These are the new wave thinkers in Farming. They advocate better conditions for the animals they breed, and decent treatment of the wildlife that surrounds them. It may take a while, but they must be the winners in the end. We thank them for their courage.

And - yes there is still, even in the midst of these horrors …. music.

I will be on the road with KERRY to make some beautiful music in November … I've been rediscovering my love for the acoustic guitar .. and we have been working hard on new arrangements. Somehow the songs speak louder than ever with very simple treatments. When you have a great singer, who doesn't need to embroider for the sake of it, but just speaks from the heart … the more subtle and empathetic the accompaniment is, the more the beauty comes through. Well, so it seems to me. Kerry still has a couple of nights left in her week at the Hippodrome in London - you might still get a ticket if you're quick, for these very intimate nights … and … well, you never know who might turn up to play with her … ! Her last night is this Saturday. You have been warned!!

On a different subject … yes, I am still working hard on the Diableries (though it's been hard to keep making the time available). We will have our first set of Diableries STEREO CARDS hopefully for Halloween! This has been hard labour, but very exciting in itself. The cards WILL have magic eyes, not in the same way as the 1860s originals … but by a process which nobody has thought of before! We think you will love them!

One more word on the Petition. Please do keep telling everyone you meet about the fate of the badgers. I still meet countless people who still have no idea that it's going on … and they are outraged when they hear about it. I just keep saying 'please go to and press the button. If we all get even 5 new people every day, we'll eventually get to the whole population … and the people DO care. We just passed the number 3 live petition on the site … another milestone. It would be great, in a week or so, to overtake the other two, and be the top petition on the site. We might just do it. It will all help us get the issue debated in Parliament.

so … again …. a million … THANKS!!



Petition 3rd Place


**Mon 01 Oct 12**

Oh .. you know, you almost have to laugh. At a time when the NFU is desperately trying to convince the public it is justified in wholesale slaughter of our native badgers, it's so transparently obvious that here we have another pathetic ploy to blacken the name of Badgers.

There is only one reason for the decline of hedgehogs, apart from the gradual erosion of their habitiat by building. Poisons.

In the countryside, it's a number of poisons used in agriculture - nobody cares. In the towns, it's slug pellets … one of Man's most awful and senseless inventions.

Slug pellets don't just poison snails and slugs and give them an agonising death. They poison everything else that eats these unfortunate creatures. Birds, of course, and hedgehogs, along with many other small mammals that used to populate our islands.

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that numbers of badgers are on the increase. Or that that they have suddenly 'developed a taste' for hedgehogs. Why would that be ? Are hedgehogs suddenly peanut-flavoured?

But basically it is a lot worse than nonsense. It's clumsy propaganda designed to strengthen the case of those who are obsessed with killing badgers, whether or not it achieves anything good in the world. Which it absolutely will not.

Chip paper.




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