Hill Billie Blues


I’ve had one of the most gruesome weeks its ever been my fate to witness recently. Basically I took on the role of Project Manager of a think-tank set up to come up with ideas to revive my online bridge club.

The Think-tank was known as the Hill-Billies and was an unmitigated disaster, and reminded me why I was quite relieved to leave the world of IT when I did, some 10 years ago

But at least 2 good things came out of it. Here’s one of them

Hillbillie Blues
Oh!! Come let me tell you of heroes and thieves
Of bravery and cowardice you would not believe
Of working so hard that you lose who you are
And murder your lover because she’s the Star

Come lift up your glasses to idiots and dolts
Who take all the credit for being at fault
And ask why you’re leaving when you are First Class
And think that know their elbow from their arse

When hatred is love and loyalty is stupid
And love is for dreamers and followers of Cupid
When you’re in this world, I warn you: Beware
For men get the glory and women don’t care

For I’ve lived in this world, but just for a week
Where mind-games are played while you play hide-and-seek
There’s danger here certainly just take a peek
At the blood on the tracks and the dead body’s reek

So lift up your glasses and let’s have a toast
To heroes and lovers who gave you their most
While weeping inside as their world crashes down
As the circus moves on to the next sleepy town
And cowards daren’t look in the eyes of the clown

For I am Lord Janus, the God of the Gates
And portals and hourglasses and chaotic states
When love is for losers it just demonstrates
How fucked up this world is, and so full of hate

copyright Ian Cropton 19 July 2015



A Tail of Dodgy Deals and Dodgy Dealers

Well here’s a little thing that’s  just cropped up in my real life.

On Facebook, one of my activities  is as  founder, lead editor and owner/Administrator of a page called ‘Proper Gander News and Views’. The page aspires to be the ‘Newspaper for the Global Village’ and falls far short of its aim due to lack of resources, but I do like to think that we offer alternative news and views on most of the really important issues of what’s really going on in the UK and in the wider world. The page is staffed by a team of about 20 friends and volunteers, though currently there are only 5 or 6 people actively posting links to alternative news articles or writing their own original articles. We also have a sister page, ‘Proper Gander Green’ which just concentrates on green issues and items of interest.

I couple of days ago, I posted a link to an article about Monsanto Corporation’s bright ideas on how to address its increasingly negative image worldwide. The main plan, it seems, is apparently fiendishly simple. They propose changing the Company name.

My  friend and fellow PG-editor (PG-Peter) runs an FB group called ‘Seeds of Resistance’ which is primarily a home gardening page advocating use of Heritage seeds and organic practises, but also addresses holticulture and the wider green issues. So I posted the link there, too, as well as the PG Green Page.

Peter is a High School Teacher in Canada and has a very quick, dry wit. Shortly after I posted to the ‘Seeds’ group, he commented on the post:

Well, let’s offer some suggestions then:
Dr Mengele’s Travelling GMO Show

And I offered:

and The Swinging Blue Genes – a reference to a well loved 60s Britpop group.

Which got me thinking. The readership of the PG Pages has remained about 230 for some time now. This is mainly because of Facebook’s relatively recent policy of limiting postal traffic and making the unfettered service a paid-for subscription service. As a page owner you also have the opportunity to boost individual post’s circulation by paying through the nose oops I mean by paying an equitable sum of money into to the ‘Zuckerberg Holiday and Retirement Fund’.

So I decided to repackage our little bit of banter and turn it into a fun competition for our readers, and just to make it interesting I threw in a hint of cash prizes, though we’ll have see about that one.

Anyway I came up with this:

Monsanto rename suggestions pt1

Monsanto rename suggestions pt1

Monsanto rename suggestions pt2

Monsanto rename suggestions pt 2

And then I thought, let’s push the boat out and clicked on the Boost button.

It came up with a screen asking you to nominate your budget and had conveniently preset it to £3 or 3 pounds sterling. ‘Well that sounds pretty reasonable, thinks I, lets run with seeing what 3 quid will get me. And I hit the agree button, and up comes another screen asking you to add tags to the post, picking out those tags that are most relevant to the post. So being as it was about Monsanto, I found quite a few tags that seemed relevant to me. All sorts of humanitarian issues, the threat to wildlife and the food supply, it all added up and soon there weren’t very many tags left to choose from.

I have to say I was getting kinda nervous as I fully expected such a wide and possibly enormous target audience might cost me a rather high extra tariff but the £3 stood there irresolute. And so I clicked OK again and came to the payments screen where it cheerfully told me that the generated audience was in excess of 26 Billion and yet there it was again, confirming the cost to me at £3. Amazingly good value for money, I think, and happily clicked to pay via my Paypal account. So clicketty-click and I get returned to Facebook, where a little popup is showing saying that the FB daemons were busy scanning the contents of the post to make sure it conformed to FB’s Terms and Conditions, and giving me the option to Pause the boost if I wished. It was at this point that I noticed a minute little window which seemed to contain a very long number and appeared to be associated with Paypal. Suddenly realising that I might be dangerously close to commiting myself to paying Mr Zuckerberg several umpteen squillion pounds I gratefully pressed pause.

So my dilemna is this:
Should I continue, and possibly bring Paypal and Facebook to its knees when my bank tells them I have insufficient funds, or do I risk the vultures coming after me  for the money irregardless, even as I’m heralded in public as the Guy with the New World Record for advertising budgets?

Mad dogs and Englishmen

Noel Coward performs his famous song

Mad dogs and Englishman
Go out in the midday sun.

I’m here to slightly amend this piece of accepted wisdom on the English psyche from the pen of Noel Cowerd  The bloody idiots will not only go out in the midday sun, but will also dress up in colourful clothing and perform relatively unknown traditional English dances throughout the evening having just had an hours kip after their noonday jaunt. And its not just the men these daze, its the wimmin too. They’re mad buggers the lot of them!!!!

post for Stevenage Sword page
SSWord at St Michaels Weds 1st July 2015

Stevenage Sword Dancers
barely made it through yesterday’s annual gathering of the morris, sword and other dance sides local to St Albans, at St. Michaels evening of folk song, music and dance. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, every side tried to perform as best they could, and to me our good friends and tour buddies Bricket Wood Border Morris Dancers did well to keep their enthusiasm and energy-levels reasonably high throughout the evening. Most of the Cotswold Dancers that I got a chance to see, seemed very good and fairly precise, given the conditions and they all seemed to move well together – the real key arts of what good Morris is all about. The Sword did their usual 3 spots in the road, performing 2 dances at each spot plus our traditional unofficial dance INSIDE the Rose and Crown, accompanied by the assembled folk musicians whose session we traditionally interrupt and temporarily take over.

Our main dance, the Newbiggin Rapper Sword dance used to be traditionally performed by a group of coal-miners working their way around the pubs and offering an impromptu floor spot in the hopes of collecting some beer money which all got spent at the last pub. In addition to our tip of the hat to tradition, rapper sword dancing is in our experienced view, always best seen in the relatively quiet confines of a pub, preferably one with a hard floor, but not carpeted. A major feature of all the rapper dances is the rapid-fire simple clog steps (mainly the single and double shuffles), which with 5 dancers well practised and syncopated can achieve a mesmerising counterpoint to the figures and shapes which evolve as the dance progresses. Anyway thats by the way. We, came, we saw, we all felt shattered after every dance.

Despite all the difficulties, eveyone loved it as we all usually do, every year.

Thanks especially to the St Michaels Festival Commitee, all the other teams, musicians and singers that took part, the food stalls and pubs, and everyone else who came along to enjoy the dancing. And last but by no means least, a big thank you for the wonderfully impeccable job done by St Albans Police in keeping the St Michaels Road area temporarily a pedestrian area only, enabling all the teams to dance in the road safely.

Thank you all, see you again next year, with luck!!!

No pics this year as no spare bodies there to take them
Newbiggin Rapper Dance 1-Neil Dunbar, 2-Tim Short 3-Alan Muhr 4-Joe 5-Alison
Betty: Ian Cropton Melodeon: Ian Chandler

Buffens 15th Century French Swordfighting dance Dancers: Neil Dunbar, Tim Short, Alan Muhr, Alison
Whistle: Ian Chandler

Final note: 3 of our regular dancers, David, Anna and Pete were away on their hols so we were very tight on numbers. But we had to laugh at the irony that they had all headed off for a bit of warm sunshine

St Michaels Community Evening Folk Festival


Stevenage Sword dancers performing the Newbiggin Rapper Dance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im6NYY-b2dg ,