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Sunday, 31 July 2016


Beware of the Bull

The full title of this book is really ‘Beware of the Bullshit’ because bs is all around us. We are swimming, sometimes drowning in an ocean of political correctness + made-up rules by officialdom + opinions shouted, tweeted et al to sound like facts from every Dick and Dora + bandwagon-jumping politicians sounding tough or smarmy + advertising executives scaring us to death in a bid to get us to buy cure-all stuff + daily frustrations and irritations to drive us to the brink of insanity, and on and on and on. We must be on our guard because every second of every day someone is trying to manipulate us to hand over our votes, our loyalties, our personal information and especially our money, or they are just annoying oiks getting in the way of a simple life. Resist this nonsense. Beware of the bull. This book identifies some of it in my humble and, at times, not so humble opinion. But above all else, with a few serious jabs, this is a joke book. Feel free to laugh at my funny random thoughts about modern life. Laughing is still allowed, at least for the time being.
ISBN: 9781786106902
Type: Paperback
Pages: 88
Published: 27 January 2016

Thursday, 28 July 2016


The veteran broadcaster James Naughtie, when talking about Hillary Clinton on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, remarked that she had a "shrill tone" when making speeches, thereby igniting apoplexy as only social media can. It became a debate about how the media describes female politicians. But, in its triviality, it was nothing of the kind. It was one person's opinion.  Yes, Naughtie is a man and Clinton is a woman but why (bad word here) genderise it for the sake of stupid argument.

Over the past few weeks and months, commentators, male and female, have described the Trump guy as a blusterer with enough bleugh, blether and blah to nuke a chat room but it's just taken as comedy, panto and part of the deal when you put yourself so prominently in the public eye.

Trump is dangerous hot air but he has his tone. Clinton is experienced hot air but she too has her tone. He can be a shouty specimen (blaring, caterwauling, droning, high-pitched, piercing, screamy, screechy, sharp, squawky, squeaky, yelpy, etc, etc) and she can be shrill (blaring, caterwauling, droning, high-pitched, piercing, screamy, screechy, sharp, squawky, squeaky, yelpy, etc, etc). It's what politicians do when talking to thousands of people. They have to project. They all shout. The shout can be at various pitches on the Richter scale. But they shout according to the strength of their own voice boxes.

If James Naughtie, in a live radio interview feels that Hillary Clinton can be shrill, then, in his op-ed way, he can say it, he should say it and that's that. Disagree if you will, if you must, but do not deny him the option to use any description he sees fit. What word should he have used to make the same point? I've helped you in the above brackets.

On a tangent and in a sexist moment, if you want great examples of shrill, turn on Fox News and other US news outlets and listen to female presenters and pundits. Some of them make your ears bleed. Others can outdo dog whistles.

Jim should not be sent to the Naughtie step for something so trivial.

Friday, 22 July 2016


Today is the 5th birthday of this blog. It started out as a workshop for my own poetry and then developed into all sorts of meanderings. We are heading towards 105,000 views. Amazing.

I am particularly proud in recent times to have championed quite a number of creative Northern Irish writers and musicians and the all-time most viewed posts appear below.

Thank you to everyone who took an interest. I hope to continue to keep things interesting in the future.


The Good Son by Paul McVeigh
Full Throttle by Liam Beckett
The Beginning of the End by Ian Parkinson
Down to Earth Cookbook by Paula McIntyre
Feeling' Good by Kaz Hawkins Band
They Killed The Ice Cream Man by George Larmour
Spirit of '58 by Evan Marshall


Tuesday, 19 July 2016


“Multi award winning Kaz Hawkins is Northern Ireland’s very own blues and soul darling. The Belfast born singer-songwriter is fast becoming a performing icon across UK & Europe with the United States temptingly beckoning her over. Her high energy, original shows with her 1950s style swing-dress-meets-Dr Martens look and ability to closely connect with her public contribute to make Kaz one of today’s most popular blues artists in the UK and Ireland, as she continues to play to full houses.  Kaz has been compared to Etta James & Janis Joplin to name but a few. Mixing through the genres of music for over 20 years, she finally found her niche in roots and blues………”

Feelin’ Good
Kaz Hawkins Band

Recorded at Millstone Studios, Comber, Northern Ireland
Produced and mastered by David Jamison.

Kaz Hawkins Band enquiries:
Track Listing:

Pray (Hawkins)
It Ain’t You (Hawkins)
Don’t Make Mama Cry (Hawkins)
This Is Me (Hawkins)
Belfast Town (Hawkins)
Feelin’ Good (Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse)
Don’t Run Away (Hawkins)
Because You Love Me (Hawkins)
Soul Superstar (Hawkins)
I Just Wanna Make Love To You (Willie Dixon)

Kaz Hawkins – Lead vocal, acoustic guitar. Keys
Nick McConkey – Lead guitar, acoustic guitar
Peter Uhrin – Drums, percussion, backing vocals
Jan Uhrin – Bass
Deanne Jones – Backing vocals

I’ll get to the singing shortly. But first, hats off to the production team and the musicians. Every note, every second of this magnificent album just oozes perfection. The arrangements are superbly thought through and delivered with confidence and expertise. Each musician is a vital ingredient and when they all combine, man, what an astounding piece of work.

I have listened to Feelin’ Good six times and each time I have jotted down words like power, energy, drive, authority, confidence, force, dynamism, supercharged, compelling, infectious, irresistible, mind-blowing – you get the idea. It is as mighty a recording as you are ever likely to hear. It will have equals as an album but you’d be hard-pressed to find much better than this, and that includes you, Adele.

And so, specifically to Kaz Hawkins, a soul and blues hurricane, to rattle your contact lenses before turning it down a notch and hugging you in a sweet embrace. Kaz has an amazing vocal range from the edgy gospel opener Pray to the rocking It Ain’t You.

The first words you hear from Kaz are: “Lost ma mojo.” Sorry to contradict you, KH, but this album just drips mojo. (I know what I mean!) Pray is a full power track, perfect played loud to gain the full benefit and to absorb the vibe. It lifts the spirit and stirs the soul, an anthem for troubled times.

We hop aboard a driving riff on It Ain’t You, a rock ‘n’ roll-soul-blues combo that has classic written all over it. Add that to the slinky, sassiness of Don’t Make Mama Cry and I’m thinking, if Tom Jones plans any more duets, Thomas, look no further.

This Is Me and Soul Superstar, both brilliant slower, but no less stunning songs, underline who Kaz Hawkins is – a Belfast girl with a gift of a voice and a talent to behold that has universal appeal. She is from a particular place but she can go any place, if I can write those words like an old blues guru! Radio stations should be falling over themselves to play this album.

On Belfast Town, the foot is back on the accelerator, this time with quite brilliant drums played expertly by Peter Uhrin, the beats and rhythms staying with you long after the track ends. Apart from anything else, it is a masterclass in percussion. And it is always nice when the old home town gets a mention.

Of the ten tracks, eight are Kaz Hawkins originals and two are covers. Feelin’ Good, the old standard, is in safe hands here and it fits in beautifully with the texture of the album. Kaz doesn’t put a foot wrong on any track and it is to her credit that she can include covers in such a seamless way. I Just Wanna Make Love To You benefits from a large dose of funk and the arrangement takes the song to a whole new level. She was born to sing these songs, just as she was born to write new ones and perform them as new classics.

Kaz Hawkins is a world class performer with a voice to enjoy and treasure. The Kaz Hawkins Band is a composite of individual talents that combines here to make an outstanding album.

Feelin’ Good deserves much success and maybe, just maybe, it will be a launching pad to greater international recognition. KHB – you’ve achieved something very special here.

Good luck with it.

Here's a YouTube link to the band performing Belfast Town