Archive for January, 2009

Warwick Folk Festival 2009

January 30, 2009

I have just been thinking that it’s about time I had a check on what’s lined up for Warwick Folk Festival 2009

Artists for 2009 – Latest confirmed list


Artists for 2009 – Latest confirmed list

As in previous years we’re putting together a great programme with something for everyone. See below for the artists confirmed so far – and check here regularly to see the latest news as there are more to come!

Scroll down or click a link to see artist information, then click the images or links below to go to the artist’s website. All artists are subject to contract.



Kate Rusby

Kate Rusby


Eric Bogle

Eric Bogle



Teresa Teggin bows out.

January 30, 2009

“The aim of leadership should be to improve the performance of man and machine, to improve quality, to increase output and simultaneously to bring pride of workmanship to people. Put in a negative way, the aim of leadership is not to find failures of men, but to remove the causes of failure, to help people do a better job and with less effort”

W. Edwards Deming Out of Crisis


The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


William Butler Yeats  The Second Coming


The best tribute I can think of paying to my long-time colleague, Teresa Teggin, who today leaves the company for which we both worked for two decades, is that she is the living embodiment of the kind of leadership Deming described. She’ll be missed by all of us who continue to believe that such inspirational leadership is possible.


On a personal basis, I’ll miss her because with me, and a few like us, she shares the conviction that a person’s worth is not to be measured in the way Auden’s “unknown citizen” has has his worth measured. And that’s as it should be.


The Unknown Citizen


by W. H. Auden


(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be

One against whom there was no official complaint,

And all the reports on his conduct agree

That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a


For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.

Except for the War till the day he retired

He worked in a factory and never got fired,

But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.

Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,

For his Union reports that he paid his dues,

(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)

And our Social Psychology workers found

That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.

The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day

And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.

Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,

And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.

Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare

He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan

And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,

A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content

That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;

When there was peace, he was for peace:  when there was war, he went.

He was married and added five children to the population,

Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his


And our teachers report that he never interfered with their


Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:

Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

Robert Burns & the cinema.

January 26, 2009


It has been rumoured for some time that it would happen, but now it seems that now it’s about to go ahead. I’m talking about a filmed biography of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. It was announced yesterday, to coincide with the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the poet’s birth, that a planned film biography of the poet , scripted by Alan Sharp, directed by Vadim Jean and starring Gerard Butler  in the leading role will commence shooting in Scotland later this year following the launch of a government-backed campaign to raise some of the funding required for the £5m production.

 The Times Sunday 25/01/2009

Butler to star in Burns movie


The long-awaited film based on the life of Scotland’s favourite son is to start filming this year

Stuart MacDonald


A biopic of Robert Burns, starring the Scots actor Gerard Butler, will begin shooting in Scotland this year.

The £5m production, which has been beset with financial difficulties, will begin filming following the launch of a government-backed campaign to raise funding.

Glasgow-born Butler, 39, has starred in blockbusters including The Phantom of the Opera and 300. The script has been written by Greenock-born Alan Sharp, who penned Rob Roy, the 1995 blockbuster starring Liam Neeson.

The film, which will be directed by Vadim Jean, a French film-maker, and produced by James Cosmo, a Scots actor, will be shot on location in Edinburgh and Burns’s native Ayrshire.

Most of the budget, which includes investment from Scottish Screen, is already in place. The remainder will be raised by signing up 250 “subscribers” to the project.

Each will commit a sum to the project in the same way that investors backed the publication in 1786 of the famous Kilmarnock Edition of Burns’s poetry. The success of the collection convinced Burns to stay in Scotland rather than emigrate to Jamaica, as he had planned.

Alex Salmond, the first minister, will host a dinner at Edinburgh Castle in May to help raise funds.

The film, titled Burns, will be the first big-screen biopic of the poet since the 1930s. It will focus on his love affairs with his wife Jean Armour and Agnes McLehose, also known as Clarinda, an Edinburgh society hostess.

“Robert Burns is rightly regarded as Scotland’s favourite son,” said Salmond.

“It would be great for Scotland if Burns could be immortalised in modern film, particularly as we mark the 250th anniversary of his birth this year and celebrate his genius through Scotland’s Year of Homecoming.”

One wonders why it has taken cinema so long to get around to thinking of Burns as a suitable subject for a film biography.  The only other attempt at filming anything about him is the lack-lustre 1947 production Comin’ Thro’ the Rye:


Not a remake of the famous Cecil Hepworth silent film, Comin’ Thro’ the Rye is the life story of 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns. Within an incredibly brief 55 minutes, director Walter C. Mycroft manages to pack most of the significant events in Burns’ existence, “illustrating” certain transitional scenes with still pictures and narration, and throwing 19 songs based on Burns’ best works into the stew. Most of the film is shot silent, utilizing actual locations and nonprofessional actors. Burns himself is played by Terence Alexander, who seems to have been cast primarily on the basis of his resemblance to the original. More of a valentine to the Robert Burns Society than a feature film, Comin’ Thro’ the Rye was evidently never intended for a mass audience. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Burns’ night 2009

January 25, 2009

Today, around the world, people gather to celebrate  250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet.

 Practically everyone in the English speaking world knows something of Burns , even if it is only few words of the chorus of Auld Lang Syne.  


 Julie Andrews


However, for the sake of making the familiar unfamiliar, and maybe restoring the song to some of its former glory, I’m including it here in the setting that Burns himself may have intended.


Kev Thompson 


One of my own favourite Burns songs is the hauntingly beautiful Ae Fond Kiss. Down the years I have had the priveleged to listen to some very good versions of this song, two of which, one by my friend, the folk singer  Seán Cannon, and the other by another friend, the jazz singer Christine Tobin, always remain etched in my memory long after I’ve listened to them.


This is how Wikipedia describes the genesis of the song.

At the suggestion of his brother, Robert Burns published his poems in the volume Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect, known as the Kilmarnock volume. First proposals were published in April 1786 before the poems were finally published in Kilmarnock in July 1786 and sold for 3 shillings. Brought out by John Wilson, a local printer in Kilmarnock, it contained much of his best writing, including The Twa Dogs, Address to the Deil, Hallowe’en, The Cotter’s Saturday Night, To a Mouse, and To a Mountain Daisy, many of which had been written at Mossgiel farm. The success of the work was immediate, and soon he was known across the country.


Burns was invited to Edinburgh on 14 December 1786 to oversee the preparation of a revised edition, the first Edinburgh edition, by William Creech, which was finally published on 17 April 1787 (within a week of this event, Burns sold his copyright to Creech for 100 guineas). In Edinburgh, he was received as an equal by the city’s brilliant men of letters and was a guest at aristocratic gatherings, where he bore himself with unaffected dignity. Here he encountered, and made a lasting impression on, the 16-year-old Walter Scott, who described him later with great admiration


His stay in the city resulted in some lifelong friendships, among which were those with Lord Glencairn, and Frances Anna Dunlop (1730-1815), who became his occasional sponsor and with whom he corresponded for the rest of his life. He embarked on a relationship with the separated Agnes ‘Nancy’ McLehose (1758-1841), with whom he exchanged passionate letters under pseudonyms (Burns called himself ‘Sylvander’ and Nancy ‘Clarinda’). When it became clear that Nancy would not be easily seduced into a physical relationship, Burns moved on to Jenny Clow (1766-1792), Nancy’s domestic servant, who bore him a son, Robert Burns Clow in 1788. His relationship with Nancy concluded in 1791 with a final meeting in Edinburgh before she sailed to Jamaica for what transpired to be a short-lived reconciliation with her estranged husband. Before she left, he sent her the manuscript of Ae Fond Kiss as a farewell to her.

Karen Matheson with Paul Brady – Ae Fond Kiss: from Transatlantic Sessions series 2 -1998 – BBC.

90th anniversary of first meeting of Dail

January 20, 2009

Members of Irish parliament, the Oireachtas, gathered at the Mansion House in Dublin today to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first Dáil Éireann.

The first meeting of Dáil Éireann occurred on 21 January 1919 in the Round Room of the same building in January 1919 and 27 of the 70 deputies (TDs) of which it was composed were present. Thirty four were unable to attend because they had been imprisoned before the election and eight others were unable to attend. Cathal Brugha acted as deputy for its incarcerated President, Éamon de Valera.

 Today’s commemoration was attended by members of the Dail and Seanad as well as a number of former Taoisigh (Irish Prime Ministers) and members of the international diplomatic corps.



Danny (Horace Eldred) Dill, Sept. 1924 -23 Oct. 2008

January 19, 2009

More than two months have elapse before The Guardian printed an obituary for the Danny Dill, the country performer and songwriter, whose best known song, Long Black Veil, composed with pianist Marijohn Wilkin, has become something of a standard, especially with country and folk performers.

 When he set out to write what became his best-known song, Danny Dill, who has died aged 84, had it in mind to create “an instant folksong”, somewhat in the idiom of Burl Ives. He succeeded so well that many people, in the 50 years since it was written, have taken Long Black Veil to be just that: a page from the great authorless volume of traditional American folk balladry.

Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell  sing Dill and Wilkin’s Long Black Veil

(Johnny Cash TV Show – 1969-1971)

Darwin and economics.

January 18, 2009

In his column in today’s edition of The Observer, Management editor Simon Caulkin warns us against presuming that  the concept of “the survival of the fittest” (a phrase adopted by Darwin from polymath Herbert Spencer), which has helped to shape much business and economic thinking in the  20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, shoud go unexamined, or be taken on trust:  

This mentality persists, especially in the US, and indeed the idea of the inevitability, and desirability, of individual struggle in weeding out the strong from the weak is what distinguishes Anglo-American from Rhine capitalism. It perfectly informs the ethos of the financial sector over the last two decades, as well as the rise of the Russian oligarchs and the development of the virulent Chinese strain of capitalist competition.

Darwinism endows such phenomena with a veneer of scientific rationale. Republican senators’ reluctance to intervene to prolong the lives of US banks; the chilling belief of City traders in their own superiority, as uncovered in interviews by the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee and David Walker; the self-justifying arguments in favour of stratospheric pay rises for chief executives and cutbacks for the less fortunate – all have uncomfortable echoes of the crude social Darwinism that influenced not only the robber barons but also the far greater 20th-century monsters, Hitler and Stalin……….


Darwin cautioned: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”


As always with Caulkin, we get from fewer than a thousand words lots of food for thought.

The bean-counters’ software.

January 18, 2009

There is a nicely judged piece by John Naughton in today’s Business section of  The Observer explaining how the morphing of Dan Bricklin’s ‘spreadsheet analysis’  into Apple II’s VisiCalc and its imitators  Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Excel, those ubiquitous pieces of spreadsheet software that have taken the drudgery out of the every day tasks of  budgeting, planning, invoicing, cash flow analysis, accounting and other bureaucratic tasks involving calculations, has a long term effect that:

elevated the once-lowly bean-counter to the board and enabled accountants to run the world.


Dan Bricklin gave the bean-counters a sword, and boy have they learned how to wield it…..


The John Dvorak article to which John Naughton refers, and in which Dvorak argues at some length that not only did the spreadsheet software packages put power into the hands of bean-counters,  it actually enabled them to make “some truly horrible decisions”, is here.

See John Naughton’s online diary

Clive James on Kerouac (1959)

January 17, 2009

It’s reassuring to learn, as I did from seeing this video, that even as far back as 1959 Clive James was not taken by fashionable trends, and that just two years after its publication he could clearly see what might be wrong with Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road  which many were still praising as one of the defining works of the Beat Generation.

Kerouac stated his wish to be considered “a jazz poet blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam”.  A fairly typical passage of what some referred to as his poetic prose ran:

She’d cradle my broken head in her all healing lap that beat like a heart; my eyes hot would feel the soothe fingertips of joy, the cool, the stroke and barely-touch, the feminine the sweet lost bemused inward-biting far-thinking deep earth river-mad, April caress-the brooding river in her unfathomable springtime thoughts-The dark flowing enriched silty heart-Irish as peat, dark as Kilkenny night, sorcerous as elf, red lipped as red-rubied morn on the Irish sea on the east coast as I have seen it…

Maggie Cassidy (1959)

Interesting that James had already sussed out that rather than long blues, Kerouac’s much praised prose might well be full of hot air.


Stuff no longer posted to the Pete Atkin Web Form


Added 19.01.2009


My thanks to John Naughton for spotting and bringing to my attention the typos.

James Joyce – 14 January 1941

January 14, 2009

On this day 1941 the great Irish writer James Joyce died. To mark the anniversary today’s edition of The Guardian has retrieved from its achieves the report of his death  that had appeared in what then  The Manchester Guardian

The death of James Joyce

14 January 1941

With the death of James Joyce there passes the strangest and most original figure which Ireland gave to Europe in this generation.

The ban imposed for years upon his “Ulysses” gave a notoriety to his name without disclosing his true stature and strength. That he was a genuine artist, sincere, integrated, and profound is clear from the simplicity of his early short stories “Dubliners” and from the well-defined autobiographical narrative of “Portrait of the Artist.”

In “Ulysses” he attempted the difficult task of presenting a complete picture of the life of the individual in our time, both conscious and subconscious, the single, peccant, groping man with the hard unrelenting universe around him.

In “Finnegan’s Wake” he went farther, and in a strange inventive tongue he seemed to break through the barriers of time, though so complex is the medium that without commentary few can follow the meaning.

In his background were the old traditions of Dublin and of the Roman Catholic Church. He broke with them both as far as a man can ever break with so deeply grounded a past, and portrayed the chaos of a disorganised world. “Ulysses” has been sought by some readers because its pages contain words which rarely find their way into print. If that were Joyce’s sole achievement there would be many of his countrymen of humbler intellectual pretensions who could outdo him.

His originality lay in his discovery of a literary form for expressing the inconsequent complexity of the human mind and the dim resemblance that its migrations possessed to the orderliness of grammatical sentences or the appearances of time and space.

He annihilated the ordinary and the normal, and revealed a jungle world of the mental and emotional reactions which may come over men in a single day. Down that road his genius travelled as far as it is possible to go. If others had not strived for tradition or fought for an illusion at least of order Joyce’s nihilism would have been impossible, for his terms of reference would have disappeared. Europe appreciated him and yet he was at last locked out of Europe, as of Ireland, in some secret temple of his own mind, as removed from the great passage of events as his own countrymen are today.

The stranger may get the feel of the city from it, but “Ulysses” must be first a book for Dubliners, where the graces and the disgraces of their little life, bounded by the Hills of Howth, the Dargle and the Circular Roads, have capital magnitude.

To understand the “as removed from the great passage of events as his own countrymen are today” you have to understand that the writer was probably expressing his and hs paper’s strong disaproval of Irish neutrality during World War II.