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Thursday, 27 April 2017


Thanks to social media, there are more gurus and experts than at any time in the past. We are awash with wisdom. We are wading in waves of wondrous advice, We are clobbered daily with cliches to assist our well-being. We are coaxed to get out of our comfort zones. And we are encouraged to think outside the box.  

A lot of this "change your life" stuff is cobblers but the box thing has always interested me.

Who owned the first box and who was the first thinker outside of it? What was in the box before it was an empty box that we could climb into, get a mental block and then get out of it to think things through?  When was the decision made to get in and out of a box as a process of contemplation? What happened to the original thinker’s box? When did thinking inside the box become such an untrendy thing to do?  We hear this “outside the box” stuff so often that is has become pretty meaningless, rather like that rocket science blah.  If we all thought outside the box, some guru would start to encourage us to do the opposite.  

We never seem to elaborate on the “think tank” idea by suggesting that people should think outside of the tank, do we?  If we had our thinking cap on, no one suggests we think with the cap off.  The inventor of exterior box thinking thought he was onto something and I wonder if he ever considered thinking about his invention inside or outside of another receptacle altogether – a bin, a carton, a crate, a chest, a basket, a hamper, a cauldron, etc, etc.

To take it to extremes, what about a tropical fish thinking outside the aquarium, or a dog thinking outside the kennel, or a bird thinking outside the nest, or an undertaker thinking outside the hearse or a window cleaner thinking outside the bucket? Okay, I’ll stop this nonsense.

Let’s get rid of the box and just, er, think inside our heads!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


We are what we are,
time to get over ourselves,
thinking as human beings,
thinking we are important,
thinking we have a say.

We are till receipts,
official statistics,
economic units,
ballot papers,
at the end of any day.

We have no say,
no sway.

Time to get over ourselves.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


I was born and raised in Belfast. I have family and friends there. I keep in touch with the creative arts and brilliant talent from there. I try to blog and support local artists. I listen to BBC Radio Ulster. I love a lot of the output. Occasionally, no frequently, I realise how much I miss Gerry Anderson.

I haven't lived in Belfast for 40 years. But it still has a power over me, it still influences me and its still personal because I have a lot of family there. The Internet allows me access to the wonders thriving in my home town, and there are more positives than negatives in that great city.

I love the work of John Toal, Gerry Kelly, Kerry McLean, Marie Louise-Muir, Ralph McLean, Mickey Bradley, Hugo Duncan and many more.

I don't listen to the phone-ins. Blood pressure!!!

I have been lucky enough to have been interviewed by John Toal, Gerry Kelly and Michael Bradley, lovely moments. In my own orbit, I feel a personal connection to BBC Radio Ulster. Others in their orbits might think differently. Whatever. I'm a fan.

Gerry Anderson left us in 2014 at 69 and, along with me, a huge number of listeners were , no are, bereft.

He was unique. A brilliant broadcaster who could ramble for half an hour on something that from the outset sounded trivial. He sparred beautifully with his compadre Sean Coyle.

Now  Sean has the plum mid-morning slot on Radio Ulster and he does it superbly in his unassuming and very down-to-earth manner.

But, and I am not being disparaging in any way to Sean, I keep thinking about the next rebel broadcaster, the next free spirit on Radio Ulster who could match Gerry. Is that possible? Is that impossible?

Is there a Gerry Anderson for the next decade out there, someone who could master a radio microphone, someone with the skills to be on the edge, over the edge, fearless, frightening and, above all, funny?

I don't know, but I hope so.

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Ink by Anthony Toner

Track Listing:

Let the River
An Alphabet
The Shepherd's Daughter
Sleep like a Soldier
The Night Prayer of Saint Augustine
Square Eyed Boy
The Candidate
All the Winds
Still Your Man
Cotton Anniversary
Light from the Stars
Exit Wounds
Sometimes the Night
The River Road
The Pictures

A new album by Anthony Toner is always something to get excited about. He is a singer/songwriter/musician who just gets better and better.

Ink is a collection of reflective songs and some instrumentals that combine to produce, and I am not disparaging using these words, a nice, pleasant easy-listening album. To me, it is a Sunday morning record (although you can listen to it any day of the week!)

The songwriting is confident, although I must say I did wince a little at An Alphabet, anticipating a lot of forced and clunky A to Z references but Anthony pulls it off rather well. The production, arrangements and musicianship are all excellent, so hats off to everyone involved for a fine record.

The standout track for me is the opener, Let The River. It is a beautiful, thoughtful song with hints of blues, jazz and a dash of gospel, enhanced by perfect piano playing.

Towards the end, I wanted this album to rock a bit but the intention was, perhaps, to maintain a mood of melancholy, nostalgia, memories and dreams. In that regard, it is a triumph.

Radio should love Ink. It deserves attention and wide exposure.

Link to Anthony Toner's website:

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