Amy’s Place (The Amy Winehouse Foundation)

Image result for image of amy winehouse                                                                                                                          Image:The Independent

 

Amy Winehouse. My goodness, she was quite something. Amy Winehouse was the sort of person that even though you did not know her personally (and the likelihood of meeting her was practically nil) you felt like you knew her. She felt like a friend. Or a friend of a friend. Or she felt like a distant cousin from the side of the family that you saw infrequently, but still had loads to talk about upon seeing again. There was something so familiar about Amy Winehouse that you liked her immediately, loved her deeply, worshipped her madly, agreed with her, adored her style and much more.  She was unashamedly herself and because of that, she was loved by so many.

When Amy laughed, you laughed. When Amy lashed out-you understood why and you wanted to lash out too. When Amy wore her hair in a fantastic exaggerated beehive hairdo from the 60’s with lashings of thick mascara and matching eyeliner-you mightily approved and wanted to do the same and you teased your hair- along with patiently practicing your feline flick…so that it looked like Amy’s.

I never met Amy Winehouse, but I, like many, just adored that Camden girl. Amy Winehouse was a BOSS. Yup. Further, Amy Winehouse was a real human being who was fragile, strong, weak, bold, bodacious, funny, loving and kind. Like I said, Amy Winehouse was quite something.

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Amy’s Place

Amy’s Place is the UK’s only recovery house in the UK dedicated to helping young women overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol. Set up in the memory of the late singer, Amy Winehouse, by her step-mother, Jane Winehouse. The aims and objectives of Amy’s Place include helping young women stay clean once they have left rehab. Consider Amy’s Place like a helping hand that squeezes your own hand in friendship, reassurance and no judgment-that is Amy’s Place.

Amy’s Place was set up in partnership with Centra, a housing provider, and is the ONLY recovery house in the UK which is designed specifically to assist young women under age 30, to overcome their addictions. Amy Winehouse tragically died in July 2011 at age 27 from alcohol poisoning. So terribly young to die, her death at such an early age must have been awful for her family and friends. Winehouse had previously and publicly struggled with drug addiction for a number of years and had also spent time in rehab.

In brief, Amy’s Place has 16 occupants-each woman gets her own flat (paid for using housing benefit) and can stay for up to two years. There is a strict policy of no drugs, alcohol and no overnight guests and also, all guests must agree to random drugs tests. In addition, the women who reside at Amy’s Place must take part in activities outside of the house that will help and encourage them to stay clean and which will ultimately prepare them for living by themselves and independently. So, this means: doing voluntary work, re-entering education, et al.

In addition, Amy’s Place will pioneer a programme that will address the needs of female addicts (often times, their needs are more complex than their male counterparts). Amy’s Place is hoping that its efforts will provide a lasting legacy- that will translate into support for young women to reintegrate into society post-rehab, as they strive towards a life filled with recovery and hope in equal measure.

Even in her death, Amy Winehouse, through the Amy Winehouse Foundation and Centra Care and Support are doing good things. Because that is what friends do. And given half the chance or opportunity, me and Amy Winehouse would have been friends. I just know it.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Nations 2017 (What the heck is going on? Someone…please tell me.)

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Hello and hi. On Sunday, like many here in the UK, I turned on the telly and expected to see a ‘normal’ rugby game. Actually, I expected to see a fast moving game where England would show the Italians how the game is played with style, finesse and great speed. Oh sure, Italians can play rugby at a pretty good level, but let’s face it..England knows how to ‘throw it down.’

The England national rugby union team represents England in rugby union and have won the Six Nations Championship on a total of 27 occasions (13 times winning the Grand Slam) making them the MOST successful team in the tournament’s history.  The belaboured point I am trying to make here is…those boys know about rugby and play it awfully well. So….I was expecting an easy win over the Italians last night. Yes England won but…holy cow! What the heck was going on? Someone…please tell me.

Image result for image of England and Italy six nations

So, this happened….

  • England beat Italy 36-15. Applause. Woot woot!
  • England rugby head coach Eddie Jones was pretty steamed at the visitors’ rucking tactics
  • Initially, England struggled a bit against Italy’s ‘tactics’
  • Italy played a strange, tactical game…was it even allowed? Was it legal? What the heck was going on? Someone…please tell me
  • There was a tackle…and an offside line. I was confused.com while watching (and so was EVERYONE ELSE)
  • The Italians were not off side-Italy was not committing anyone else to the tackle area-Poite (the referee) could NOT call a ruck…

Still confused? Me too. In brief, a ‘ruck’ is formed when at least one player from either team compete at the breakdown above the ball after a tackle (I am told). In that situation-any opposition player has to come from the CORRECT side of the ruck-and through an imaginary one metre gate. Hence players being penalised for coming in from the side, or not through the gate. IF THERE IS NO RUCK FORMED…the only offside line is directly around the tackle area. So, imagine an England and Italian player collide and a spotlight is shining on them (in a darkened stadium-for argument’s sake)…that is the tackle area and the ONLY offside line is directly around them.

The opposition (the Italians) can then stand where they want-and they did.  Once one or more players from either side come through the gate correctly from their own try-line side of the pitch-then that becomes a ruck as they then compete for the ball. And that is when the width of the pitch offside rule comes in. In that particular scenario…the Italians could NOT stand on the England side as they would be offside.

But is this a new law in rugby? Nope. It has been around for years. But the Italians deployed this little plan and everyone was bewildered…including the England players and they even asked Poite (the referee) for an explanation. Please read that sentence again. They actually asked the ref what the heck was going on.  Then England players (along with the UK) were left totally befuddled, confused and a lot more too. Referee, Poite had a pretty hilarious response: “I’m not your coach, I’m the referee. It’s not for me to work out your strategies.” Yes. Indeed. Well said. I mean…hot damn.

Hartley and Haskell asking Pointe what the heck was going on as they asked the ref to explain the rules…and Poite said: ‘I’m not your coach…I’m the referee…’

 

So, what gives? Why didn’t England not know about this particular law/aspect of the game? Actually no one did. Or did they? I am confused.com. So, was it in the spirit of the game to use this little known tactic? Dunno. Basically, rugby is similar to a game of chess…in the sense that any breakdown position a side, will have 6 moves they can choose from-but seeing a member of the opposition stand between nine and ten disrupts that.

I hope I explained that well. Please know that I tried really hard but still confused.com.  Also..and this is important although not relevant but…yellow and blue make GREEN. That I know for sure. In short, it was a weird, wacky and interesting game. England won and that is the crux of it. And this American blogger is going back to her BREXIT posts. Rugby is real hard to understand. Yes, yes it is. That is all.

Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

Manny Pacquiao & Amir Khan to fight in April

Image result for image of pacquiao and khan

Hello and hi. Do you follow boxing much? No? No worries at all. I ain’t even mad ‘atcha! Nope. Boxing is not for everyone… but it is certainly for me. Yes. Yes, it is. So, this happened..

It has just been announced that WBO world welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will fight Great Britain’s Amir Khan on 23 April. Oh gosh. Please read that again. This is MAJOR news. Apparently, back in 2015-Khan was being lined up to fight Pacquiao but it was reported that the veteran (Pacquiao) did not want to fight him. Hmm. Did not want to fight or perhaps not enough money was involved? I know the answer and if you follow boxing, you know the answer too.  Because sadly, the great sport of boxing (pugilism) is all about money. ‘Show me the money’ has become the mantra of every.single.boxer on this planet. Sigh.

Image result for image of show me the money cuba

 

Image result for image of show me the money cuba

Pacquiao, 38, in response to the upcoming bout said: “This is what the fans wanted.” Yes, perhaps they did, Manny. But am guessing money played a major role-more so than the fans. Yup. Khan, 30, also confirmed the fight-but no venue has been announced.

Khan

British Amir Khan, won silver as a lightweight at the 2004 Olympics.  Of course, winning the silver put Khan ‘on the map’ of the boxing world. He is a decent boxer. But he is young and I fear he does not know his own mind.  Khan’s last fight was in May 2016 when he was KNOCKED OUT by Mexican Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Oh dear. Best let the big boys play, Khan. This is not play-play time and you are not a serious boxer. And further, you are easily mesmerised by shiny, gold objects (like fancy cars and diamonds) and as a result-this makes you a terribly poor boxer but a completely normal human being-so there’s the silver lining. Yay. Boxer=bad. Human=good.

 

Canelo v Khan

Alvarez  knocked out Britain’s Khan in the 6th round in NV back in May, thus retaining his WBC middleweight title

 

As for Pacquiao…well, what can I say?  Pacquiao retired in April last year but returned to claim  his belt by beating Jessie Vargas in November.  Pacquiao is the WBO welterweight world champion and some say he is ONE of the greatest boxers of all time (of course we know who the real GOAT was…Muhammad Ali. Yup. Respect).

Manny Pacquiao

So, veteran Pacquiao will fight Khan in April. April is around the corner-this is kind of a tight timescale and I for one am looking forward to the trash talking which will no doubt take place. In brief, it is going to be one helluva a fight. Yes, yes it is. Team Pacquiao. That is all.

 

Image result for image of pacquiao and khan

 

Image result for image of pacquiao and khan

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Cheers

A Scottish pair doing yoga in kilts…yes, really. (SWOON)

Finlay Wilson, left, and Tristan Cameron-Harper at The Hermitage near Dunkeld

 

Hello and hi. We live in uncertain times. Yes, yes we do. 45 has lost the plot. 45? Oh please know that me and my fellow Americans-do not call Donald Trump by his birth name. We also do not say: ‘President Trump.’ We just call him ’45.’ He is the 45th President. Gasp. We do not say his name. It would be like invoking the devil. Truth. The point I am trying to make is that we here on EARTH are having a hell of a time with pretty much everything-including 45. So, the point IS…the point is…just watch this video-I have provided the link below. You can thank  me later. I think you will. In fact, I am certain of it.

The video features Finlay Wilson-a Dundee-based forest yoga instructor (please read that sentence again) and his mate, Tristan Cameron-Harper, who is a former professional ice hockey player.  The video shows these lovely looking chaps doing yoga…in kilts. Yoga in kilts. Watch the video. Please and thanks. That is all.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39076023

Cheers

 

 

 

TWENTY ØNE PILØTS (Heavydirtysoul)

Image result for images of twenty one pilots band

 

Hello and hi. I had a busy, challenging and full week. But it was basically good. PLUS, I had a bad cold. So, with a busy week with lots to do and a cold, I was less than my usual friendly, garrulous self. There were no jokes to be had and I was less than impressed with a variety of people for a variety of reasons. It was that kind of week.

Anyway, as usual, I listened to loads of different types of music throughout the week. Yes. Yes, I did. Oh sure I listened to my usual stuff (Haim, Florence + The Machine and Sara Barellies) but I also listened to loads of TWENTY ØNE PILØTS. They are pretty cool and originally hail from Columbus, Ohio. Sorry, but that is all I know about them. I guess based on that-my limited knowledge of them, they are NEVER going to hire me to write any publicity materials for them. And I am perfectly ok with that.

Anyway, I have enclosed the link to Heavydirtysoul by TWENTY ØNE PILØTS – sometimes shortened to TØP,  way down at the bottom of this post. Hope you like the song-but it is not for everyone and the video is a bit intense. If you don’t really like the song, that’s ok-we still cool. Yup.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

Murals in Belfast

Hello and hi. Do you like murals? No? Then it is possible that we can’t be friends. Sorry (not Sorry ). Personally,  I happen to like murals-especially if they stop me dead in my tracks and subsequently cause me to look up in admiration with equal amounts of awe and wonder.

You see, normally in London Town when I getting from point A to point B-an awful lot is involved. I am usually rushing (as I am late or lost or both). Also, I am putting my hair in a clip (while being late and getting lost) or I am looking at my watch and subtracting 12. Yes. I have a digital 24 hour watch so I have to subtract 12 just to find out what the time is. Normally I would look to the sun’s position in the sky…but it is February in England. The sun is mostly absent. So, if you didn’t know already 14:00 is 2:00pm. Did you subtract the 12?

The belaboured point I am trying to make here-is that I am sometimes a busy, frenetic person (but I am nice!) and sometimes when/while all this is happening-I will see a mural on the side of an office building or a brick wall adjacent to a disused property and I will just stop.and.stare. and drink it all in. Yes, some murals are THAT powerful. Yes. Yes, they are.

Interestingly, you will find such murals in Belfast. Been to Belfast? I have not-I hope to go but it looks unlikely. As you may or may not know, Belfast is a city better known for its history-not artwork. But a new generation of artists are changing this concept and claiming public spaces as their own. Respect. For ages, the streets of Northern Ireland have been inundated with political murals highlighting and depicting the religious divisions of the region. But all that is changing now as a new wave of contemporary mainstream murals are popping up in areas of Belfast long neglected as well as the more up and coming areas in Belfast.

A large scale hyper-realistic portrait of a chef holding a lobster on a gable wall

A portrait in Belfast city centre by Australian-born artist ‘Smug One’

As reported in the BBC, the art in the city’s Cathedral Quarter has become so popular that local art curator, Adam Turkington now runs a tour around the area. Turkington added, “There’s over a 100 pieces of street art within a very short walking distance.” Oh gosh. How terribly cool. Turkington ended by saying “I grew up in the Troubles. If you have environments where walls are political then public art becomes accentuated and more important.”

Of course the tradition of street art as an active protest against political positions, events etc. are nothing new-just look at Berlin or Bethlehem. Turkington also commented, “We already had a tradition of murals and writing on walls here, which is more often than not associated with division. So to create a body of work that is counter narrative to that is really powerful…so much of the path to creating a shared cultural identity is creating visuals and architecture that everybody can take ownership of.” Indeed.

 

colourful painting of a pitbull

A graffiti piece in the city centre by artist, Verz

 

Many of the local artists who started out as amateur mural painters have now gained commercial contracts as Belfast’s businesses attempts to brighten up their premises- with their own commissioned stylised graffiti. Interesting collaboration and it means: recognition, respect and money, honey. Anyway, below, you will find their work. Enjoy.

Dean Kane-under his alias Visual Waste, specialises in pop culture designs, painting portraits of celebrities that have not become local tourist attractions. Have a look-see:

Portait of Heisenburg from Breaking Bad                                                                                                                                          Image: Visual Waste

a girl reaching up to a hashtage held by a portrait of kanye west                                                                                                                                          Image: Visual Waste

Eon McGinn (aka Emic) is from County Tyronne is a street artist and gave up working a normal job after losing two in a month. Yikes. I think we have all been there-or not. In any case, McGinn cottoned on pretty quickly a career as a street artist was the life for him. Respect.

A rough sketchy portrait of a woman on shutters                                                                                                                                                      Image: Emic

A mural of two hands on a coloured background                                                                                                                                                       Image: Emic

Next up is Mariah Noone, who is originally from County Sligo, Ireland. And while she originally studied animation, she never properly went into that industry. Noone, moved to Belfast 11 years ago and quickly found that she fell head over heels in love with spray painting. Noone says, “I paint, maybe subconsciously, powerful strong looking women.” Yass. Noone also added that she is inspired by nature and Celtic mythology.

A portrait of a mythical cartoon woman wearing a bear hat with animal features.                                                                                                                                     Image: Marian Noone

a side portrait of a mythical woman                                                                                                                                     Image: Marian Noone

So, while I have probably left out a few other equally as important and relevant street artists-I think you get the point. The point being: wow. Just, wow. Hope you enjoyed these murals. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get a chance to see them up close and personal if you find yourself in Belfast. That is all.

Cheers

Christine and the Queens (Tilted)

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Hello and hi. So the song ‘Tilted’ by Christine and the Queens is erm…ok. It is not for everyone. Maybe it might appeal to you if you are French. I have no idea. I can’t decided if I like this song or not but they are playing it non stop here in the UK. Allow me to rephrase that, here in the UK they are playing a song by a French artist. Ok, weird.

This is weird because the English just love to talk rubbish about the French. At least 3 times a day I will hear a complete stranger on the tube mumble ‘Bloody French.’ And it is never just one particular French person who has caused English said grumblings- it is the entire nation of France that Brits are not too keen on. There are loads of reasons for this. Too many to list here, but the historical ties between England and France includes a myriad of conquests, wars and alliances in various parts/points of history. In brief, all you need to know is that Brits are not exactly BFF’s with France because…history.

Christine and the Queens

Héloïse Letissier was born 1 June 1988. Baby! Her stage name is Christine and the Queens, and she is a French singer, songwriter and producer. Born in Nantes and signed to the independent record label Because Music since 2012. Her work combines music, performance, art videos, drawings and photography. How terribly French of her. Respect.

Letissier studied theatre at ENS Lyon then moved to Paris in in 2010, where she concluded her studies. On a trip to London Town in 2010, she was inspired by the work of the local drag queen musicians, including Russella (who accompanied her in one of her early concerts). Later, her group became her ‘Queens’ as a backing band. Letissier has dedicated many of her creations to them and to ALL transgender individuals-this has subsequently meant that her genre has been described as “freakpop.” Hmm…am not entirely sure if that is even a compliment…’freakpop.’

 

 

Anyway, Christine and the Queens released their debut EP Miséricorde independently followed by another EP in 2012 called Mac Abbey with the minor hits “Narcissus is Back” and ‘Cripple.’ In 2012, Christine and the Queens won the Best Discovered Act known as Découverte du Printemps de Bourges. And she has received loads of other awards as well-just way to many to list.

So, here is the song below for your audible pleasure. Oh and wait until the end when the French rapping bit starts. Have you heard French rap? It is not for everyone. No. No, it is not. That being said, hope you like the video. One last thing-I like it when she sings: ‘I am actually good-can’t help it if we are tilted.’ I think that describes each and every one of us. It sure does. And now for the video…

 

Cheers

Meanwhile at Cambridge University…

 

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Hello and hi. If you read my blog on the daily (and I am guessing you do…am really hoping you do. Say you do) you know that I have mad respect (read: nothing but amazement) for Oxford and Cambridge Universities. I would have liked to have attended either Oxford or Cambridge, but I know my limits, and did not apply. Anyway, that being said. This is what happened this week at Cambridge. I hope after reading this, you are as shocked and visibly shaken as I was. For real. So, this happened….

As reported in the BBC, Cambridge University Conservatives have expelled their communications officer, Ronald Coyne, of Pembroke College. Expelled. Yes. Wow. Of course you have to do something pretty bad to be expelled. Yes. Yes you do.

Coyne was filmed on 2 February taunting a homeless man by burning a £20 note right in front of him. Uggh. What a bastard. Oh, I have other words to describe Coyne but my parents read this blog so I will keep it clean. Yup. Images from a video were sent to the student newspaper, The Tab, who reported that images showed a student, in white tie, trying to set fire to cash, before the camera panned to a homeless man. The homeless man asked for spare change and could not believe his luck when Coyne pulled a £20 from his pocket-followed by Coyne setting it alight and allegedly saying, “Here’s some change, I’ve turned it into flames.” Coyne is first year student from West Lothian. The formal evening dress, as seen in the video, is no longer commonly worn-but maybe he was coming from a fancy dress party and was subsequently blind drunk. Not that that is an excuse. I mean, come. on.

Currently, the allegations are being investigated by university officials. Well, I certainly hope so. In a statement, a spokeswoman said the university was “aware of an incident” but could not comment further while the disciplinary process was under way.

Further, a statement posted on the Cambridge University Conservative Association’s (CUCA) website said the “committee was made aware of the private behaviour of an individual member (of the club) which we considered to be abhorrent and repugnant.” Indeed. CUCA also added, “we took immediate action to revoke his membership and expelled him from the association.” As his actions were not representative of the group, they later added.

Now that the incident has been widely publicised, Pembroke College has restricted comments on its official Facebook page. Restricted, you say? Hmm…I say, let the people speak. Let the people say exactly what kind of dastardly person, Coyne really is. But Pembroke College has indcated that the move (to restrict comments) was done so, in order “to allow a period of calm reflection about an incident by a student which has caused distress and outrage to many people.” Indeed it has. They also added, that “social media is not the most suitable media for every type of discussion.” Well, of course they are entitled to their opinion and they control their own Facebook page-so they can restrict comments, if they feel it is best to do so.

In closing, Cambridgeshire Police have said it had not received any reports or complaints about the incident and also added that it was not a crime to burn a banknote. Not sure what the outcome will be for Coyne but the University will decide in time. So, watch this space. That is all.

Cheers

 

 

 

Some thoughts on Ed Sheeran (and a video too)

Hello and hi. Ed Sheen is pretty fab. But really now, he is not exactly going to win any beauty contests. Yikes. How mean was that? Very. But I did not mean it. That being said, despite his ok looks, he seems like a nice guy and one who does not take himself too seriously. In short, he seems like a regular guy. His videos are funny, wacky, poignant and beautifully sad. I guess you can tell I am a big fan. Yes. Yes, I am. Here is his new video for ‘Shape of You.’ I really dig this song with its rhythmic beat(s) and its painfully perfectly honest, lyrics. Also, the video is pretty fab. I hope you like it as much as I do. Yes. Yes, I do. Here you go. Welcome, mate!

Cheers

 

The Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee (65)

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Hello and hi. This week, Queen Elizabeth, became the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee. Woot Woot. Shout out to the Queen. Respect. On 6 February , The Queen celebrated 65 years on the throne-hence the ‘Sapphire’ anniversary. She spent the day privately with family on her Sandringham Estate, Norfolk-and there were no official engagements for the day. Royal salutes were staged for Accession Day and were marked by a 41 gun salute (as tradition dictates) by the King’s Troop Royal Artillery, in Green Park. In addition, the Band of the Royal Artillery dropped some dope beats (read: played rather lovely celebratory music) as 89 horses pulled 6 WWI era 13 pounder field guns into Green Park and fired away as they saluted their mighty Monarch. In addition, there was a 62 gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company which was fired at the Tower of London at 1pm on Accession Day/February 6.

Further, The Royal Mint will be marking the 65th anniversary with a range of specially designed Sapphire Jubilee commemorative coins, as the Royal Mail issued a sapphire blue £5 stamp. A stamp that costs £5 does not actually surprise me-stamps are expensive here but at least you get the option to send something first or second class (with second class stamps being considerably cheaper but letters take longer to arrive at their intended destination).

Royal Mail's Sapphire Blue £5 stamp

In addition, a portrait of the Queen, by David Bailey, has been reissued. It shows the Queen wearing a sapphire necklace set, given to her by King George VI (her father), as a wedding present. Wow. She kept it all that time. I bought some earrings last week and I have already lost them, as the backing fell out, but I digress…

David Bailey's portrait of the Queen

Our Prime Minister, Theresa May (now largely tired of speaking about Brexit) offered the Queen a hearty and heartfelt congratulations and said that the Queen was an “inspiration to all of us” May also added, ” Today’s Sapphire Jubilee marks yet another remarkable milestone for our remarkable Queen…I know the nation will join with me today in celebrating and giving thanks for a lifetime of service Her Majesty the Queen has given to  our country and the Commonwealth.” Indeed. And of course, it is only fitting to end with the British National Anthem. Here ya go. You are welcome.

 

Cheers