Debenhams soak homeless man on Boxing Day – ruin his clothes, donated food

UPDATE: Debenhams now claim the soaking of a homeless man by a store security guard who then laughed and said the man deserved it – was “an unfortunate accident”. Posted on Facebo…

Source: Debenhams soak homeless man on Boxing Day – ruin his clothes, donated food

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Words for Friends #14

This is part of a new series of blogs entitled Words for Friends, in which I will try to acknowledge some people in my life for whom words of thanks are not nearly enough.

These living epitaphs to my true and lovely friends are published in a random order as fancy takes me.

#14  Jayne

This July I took a long overdue holiday with my wife Gill, in my old haunt of Chichester, West Sussex.

Whenever returning home – as I still call Sussex – I always made a point of catching up with one of my oldest friends.

Jayne and I met as teenagers while nursing together way back in 1978.

But any hope I may have had of a romantic attachment disappeared quickly when on our second date, and after a couple of beers and an attempted snog, she told me she was gay and lived happily with her partner Julie.

She was the first openly lesbian woman I had ever met – in a time when personal sexuality was more closely guarded.

I was gobsmacked and in typical 1970s’ misogyny I said something like: “How can you be gay, you are too attractive?”

Horrid words, which ought to have choked me, there and then.

But, there was something deeper between us and instead of romance, we became lifelong friends.

Over the next 30 years on my each visit to Sussex, we would meet for a beer and swap stories about the directions our lives had travelled and how much weight we had both gained!

While my life and career took my all over the UK, Jayne remained my constant point of return.

This summer I had not seen Jayne for over 10 years, so this holiday visit was going to be an extra special catch-up.

But, before I set off for the drive down south, I cried myself empty, when I discovered that Jayne had died some 30 months earlier, aged just 56.

Her partner Julie was with her to the end.

Time, life and death waits for no one.

But my friendship and memories of Jayne will always remain.

 

Words for Friends #13

This is part of a new series of blogs entitled Words for Friends, in which I will try to acknowledge some people in my life for whom words of thanks are not nearly enough.

These living epitaphs to my true and lovely friends are published in a random order as fancy takes me.

#13 Ann

Ann is the type of friend who comes into your life just once.

We first met 30 years ago while I was in hospital undergoing radiotherapy, following surgery for a malignant cancer to my right shoulder.

It was in so many ways “true love”… for while my first wife visited me just twice in my 10 weeks (my cancer ensured our marriage, which was already on the rocks, was over) in Velindre Hospital, Cardiff; Ann was with me every day. She was my saving grace, and a real-life Angel.

As a nurse she tended my mundane daily needs and dressed the slowly healing flap and skin grafts, which the surgeons had used to repair my shoulder and back. She also treated the suppurating skin on my neck and shoulder, caused by the radiation burns, ensured I took painkillers and sleeping tablets, and listened quietly to my fears and growing angst about my uncertain future.

We maintained close contact after I left Velindre, and she visited me regularly, when I was readmitted to another Cardiff hospital in April 1988, after the cancer spread to my right lung.

At this time the oncologists gave me a 1 in 10 chance of surviving five years. Yet Ann stayed close by, checking on my welfare by letter and phone almost every week. Her love was immense.

When my marriage finally ended, Ann and I enjoyed an all-too-short romantic relationship. She regularly told me that my horrendously scarred body was “beautiful” and urged me to “keep living”.

But, when I moved to Scotland in the winter of 1990, the geographical distance between us (this was before the days of email and mobile phones) meant we lost touch.

Seemingly forever.

Then suddenly, 26 years later, and thanks to the blue and white monster called Facebook; we found each other again.

We now maintain touch and banter by email, as if time had stood still.

Life and relationships for both of us have moved on.

But, Ann is, and remains, one of my most important and lovely friends and I genuinely do, owe my life to her!

 

Life Is Brief

I carried you in my arms

On that long hot summer’s day

Under the waxing crescent moon

I promised I would stay

Twenty-one years have now passed

Since your sapphire eyes

Looked into mine

Twenty-one years under a darkening sky

Your reflection does still shine

 

Grey hair tumbles into crow’s feet lines

Tears smart memories

As age defines Tears of pain, tears of grief

I’m so alone And life is brief

 

I cuddled you in my arms

On a frosting winter’s night

You held me tight and smiled

Before I gave up the fight

Twenty-one years have now passed

Since your little hand

Fell softly into mine

Twenty-one years under a darkening sky

Your reflection does still shine

 

Grey hair tumbles into crow’s feet lines

Tears smart memories

As age defines Tears of pain, tears of grief

I’m so alone And life is brief

 

I said goodbye and kissed your cheek

On that last time that we met

And cried a veil as I drove away

How can I ever forget

Twenty-one years have now passed

Since your gentle laugh

Made life seem sublime

Twenty-one years under a darkening sky

Your reflection does still shine

 

Grey hair tumbles into crow’s feet lines

Tears smart memories

As age defines Tears of pain, tears of grief

I’m so alone And life is brief

 

(With reference to Bob Dylan’s Tears of Rage)

Don’t Look Away

Sionnan I love you dearly

Don’t look away

I never left you

Sionnan I long to see you

Don’t look away

I am still waiting

Sionnan I long to hear you

Don’t look away

I still need you

Sionnan I long to hold you

Don’t look away

I am not leaving

Sionnan I long to kiss you

Don’t look away

I am not running

Sionnan I long to sense you

Don’t look away

I am still pleading

Sionnan I will not leave you

Don’t look away

This is your father

 

A Grief Observed

Oh to leave behind this

Feeling

The lost souls are still

Bleeding

I watched you

On the beach

The white horses

Crashed

Vein hopes

Dashed

But in my dreams

You were calling

But still

Out of reach My Shannon

 

Oh to leave behind this

Feeling

The lost souls are still

Bleeding

The years

The fears

The broken raven

Dies

At my window

While time

Ticks

The years passing

But not love

Without you

My Shannon

 

Just Take a Pebble: a fanfare for a Trilogy of amazing musicians

THE death of Greg Lake has left me numb.

Kids from my generation all grew up with at least one Prog Rock band as a personal backdrop to adolescence… and for me the choice was simple: it was always Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Keyboard player Keith Emerson was a local lad from my home area of Worthing and at once drew me and many school friends to his experimental classical, jazz, rock band.

We loved them, and I still treasure one abiding memory of four of us sixth formers cramming into the back row of the Worthing Odeon to watch the movie of their live Pictures at an Exhibition – a glorious pastiche of Mussorgsky’s symphony.

So, Keith Emerson’s untimely death in March this year, hit hard, as part of my youth was lost forever.

Now his band mate Greg Lake has also gone, before his time, after a long and stubborn battle with cancer.

One of the founding fathers of progressive rock, he is known for songs including In the Court of the Crimson King and I Believe in Father Christmas.

But I will remember him and Keith Emerson for much more than that.

Lake’s manager Stewart Young said this morning: “Greg Lake will stay in my heart forever, as he has always been.”

Born in Bournemouth – just along the south coast from Worthing – Lake was given his first guitar at the age of 12 and took lessons from a local tutor.

He formed a close friendship with fellow student Robert Fripp, with whom he formed King Crimson in 1969.

Their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King featured such songs as 21st Century Schizoid Man.

It set a standard for progressive rock and received a glowing, well-publicised testimonial from The Who’s Pete Townshend.

But their success was short-lived. Within a year, founding member Mike Giles quit and Lake refused to work with the band.

He was then approached by Emerson, who had supported King Crimson on a North American tour and needed a singer for his new band.

Joined by Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer, ELP made their live debut at the Guildhall in Plymouth in 1970 before giving a career-making performance at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Unusually, the band combined heavy rock riffs with a jazz and classical influence. They scored hit albums with Pictures at an Exhibition, Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery – many of them produced by Lake.

The band went on to enjoy chart success in 1977 with their version of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

They sold more than 48 million records, and Lake continued to be an influential and popular touring musician even after the band wound down in the late 1970s.

“The greatest music is made for love, not for money,” Lake said on his official website.

“The early ELP albums were pioneering because there is no standing still; time is always moving forward.”

Although this year has just 23 days left to run, it has been a tragedy for the shocking loss of so many wonderful musicians.

When a musician dies it’s always sad.

No matter what they were like in their personal lives, their music probably helped at least one person get through a hard time.

Music has saved my life more than once.

So I tip my hat to remember some of the horrid losses of some of my favourite musicians from 2016:

7 Dec 2016  Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake and Palmer), 69

22 Nov 2016  Craig Gill (Inspiral Carpets), 44

13 Nov 2016  Leon Russell, 74

07 Nov 2016  Leonard Cohen, 82

21 Apr 2016  Prince, 57,

19 Apr 2016  Pete Zorn, 65

06 Apr 2016  Merle Haggard, 79

05 Apr 2016  Dave Swarbrick, 75

29 Mar 2016  Andy Newman (Thunderclap Newman), 73

10 Mar 2016  Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake and Palmer), 71

25 Feb 2016  John Chilton (The Feetwarmers), 83

18 Jan 2016  Glenn Frey (Eagles), 67

17 Jan 2016  Dale Griffin (Mott the Hoople), 67

10 Jan 2016  David Bowie, 69