Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

Archive for August, 2007

Does CO2 cause global warming?

without comments

Dear Son,

it is stated as a fact now that humans pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is responsible for global warming and if we don’t cut our carbon emissions then the world is doomed.

Not everyone believes this to be the case and some of the people who don’t believe that there is a link between CO2 emissions and global warming made a TV program that I videoed and got around to watching again the other day.

They pointed out that during the 1970’s the world was worried about global cooling and the start of another ice age. So much so that a Swedish guy proposed pumping CO2 into the atmosphere to heat things up a little. At the time many scientists thought pumping CO2 into the atmosphere would achieve nothing.

The program looked into the history of the global warming debate and found that the inventor was Margaret Thatcher. She fought a bloody battle with the coal miners and wanted them out of the picture, also she didn’t trust the Middle East oil producers so she decided we needed nuclear power and needed a bloody good excuse for it. With environmentalism gaining a foothold during the later part of the 1980’s she offered money to those would could prove that CO2, produced from burning coal, oil and gas, was bad. According to the program it was at this point that, on smelling the money, scientists came up with global warming caused by CO2.

They also pointed out the hypocrisy that many aid agencies and governments show when it comes to the third world having the things we take for granted – transport and electricity. The program makers visited a clinic somewhere in Africa powered by solar power. The doctor running the practise could either have the lights on, the AC on or the fridge on. And when it got dark or cloudy he had the choice of none.

The program offered solid evidence that global warming is not down to CO2 but down to the star that the earth orbits and that humans have very little control over: the sun. But the program failed on several levels. Even if CO2 doesn’t cause global warming and/or global warming is not necessarily a bad thing there is only a finite amount of oil, coal and gas left. We shouldn’t be wasting it because we don’t have a plan b to generate all the energy we currently use. Also burning fossil fuels gives off many pollutants that can cause cancer and breathing complications so using less energy is a good thing whether global warming due to CO2 exists or not as is recycling and making goods last longer before having to replace them.

The program seemed to hint that rampant consumerism could continue unabated but I don’t believe this to be the case unless we are prepared to live on an earth that is nothing more than a giant landfill site.

Whether global warming is a actually a myth, whether global warming because of human CO2 emissions is a myth, we can’t go on the way we are; throwing away millions of tons of usable things while many millions of people have nothing. A point the program failed to make.

Written by Administrator

August 29th, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Politics,Technology

Market Square Heros

without comments

Dear Son,

I saw something on the BBC web site yesterday that triggered enough memories to fill a whole book.

Way back in 1988 a singer called Fish split with the rest of a band named Marillion, a band I had followed for a few years before. I got into Marillion when my brother (your uncle Phil) was given a tape of “Misplaced Childhood” by a friend of his and it was played constantly. The album is still a fantastic listen, I’ll be putting it on my iPod tonight so I can listen to it tomorrow.

The album that came after that was called “Clutching at Straws” and was about Fish’s alcoholism. The songs are all about self pity and fitted in well with my raging 17 year old hormones. I bought the album the very day it came it out from HMV in Durham. A University and Polytechnic fair had been organised at a school hall in Durham and as Sixth formers we were all encouraged to go along and meet with people from different Universities and polytechnics. Most of us used it as an excuse to go to Durham for the day and hang out although I did pop into the fair and pick up a couple of Prospectuses.

That day in Durham was gloriously hot and fantastically rebellious – buying an album in the morning and then I ended up spending the afternoon in the cinema watching a film rated 18 called “Personal Services”. The film was based on the life of Cynthia Paine who had run a brothel. The film would be thought of as quite tame these days but then it was close to the edge of scandal. I also took the decision that day to drop A Level maths as I was spending all my time working on it but not getting anywhere – the other subjects I was doing were suffering as a result, as I was way behind with the other reading and work I needed to do for my Computers and History A-levels.

We had a shared record player in the front room so when I got home I simply taped the album and then put it away so that it wouldn’t get scratched and then played the tape until it wore out.

I had managed to amass the Marillion back catalouge by this point with the exception of one album. I used to buy my records for a stall on Chester-le-Street market. I forget the man’s name who ran it but he some really good stories. He had gone to see Led Zeppelin at Newcastle City Hall but had only been able to get seats in the Choir stalls that was behind the stage – this was in the days when the band would turn-up on stage and play, without fancy lights and shows. He had to leave early to get the last bus back to Chester-le-Street and on his way out he got a little lost back stage and bumped into Jimmy Page who has just finished playing. He asked Jimmy, who still had his guitar around his neck, for his autograph. Jimmy patted his hands around his trousers, looked at the guy, shrugged and said: Sorry mate, I’ve got no pen.

The other story he told was when he met Jimmy Hendrix. He was going into a night club in Gateshead when someone on the way out bumped into him. The guy apologised for not looking – the guy in question being Jimmy Hendrix.

The one album I was missing was called Fugazi. The term comes from the Vietnam war and means a type of madness that would affect American soldiers. I’m not sure if the album was rare or not but the man on the market stall never had it, I suppose it was the album that nobody wanted to part with as most of his stock was second hand. Or perhaps it was the album that was hardly ever bought and then stolen – if his stock was in fact nicked goods. I was going to have pay full price for this one and I saved really hard. By Christmas 1997 I have enough money to finally go out and buy the album and I made a day of it.

The only place to buy albums was in Newcastle as Woolworths in Chester-le-Street didn’t sell it. I would have a large choice of shops once I was in Toon and might even spoil myself with some cakes from Greggs.

My favourite record shop at the time was Virgin in Eldon Square. The place hadn’t had a make over for years and was very dark and dingy but that just gave it an arty feeling. If you wanted bright and well lit you could always go to WH Smiths or even HMV on Northumberland Street. Seriously weird people lurked in the dark of Virgin and being a teenage Marillion fan made me seriously weird to my contemporaries. Although no where near as weird as the people who haunted the darkness of Virgin records – goths, punks and rockers.

Buying music in those days was very different from how it is now. Within a few years CD’s has replaced vinyl and now downloads are replacing CD’s. The thing about albums in general was that the packaging had to house a piece of vinyl that was 12 inches in diameter. This left loads of room for pictures and artwork and all the thank you’s or equipment lists. Marillion albums were two twelve inch pieces of card with a fold in the middle and had fantastically detailed artwork on all four sides. In the inside would be the lyrics printed above more artwork. I don’t remember which shop I bought Fugazi from but I do remember sitting on the bus back home and spending a good long while looking at each every detail and being enthralled by it all. You don’t get the same enthrallment with CD artwork because it is so much smaller and all you get with an iTunes download is very small cover artwork that appears on the computer or iPod screen – you don’t even get to hold the thing, turn it over in your hands, see it in different light at different angles. So much of the creative process of creating a package that envelopes the artistic process of making music has been lost with digital technology. And that is a shame.

Instant gratification is no gratification. The very fact that I saved for many months to buy the album and then had to wait for an hour to get home before I could play it, an hour studying every nuance of the cover art and lyrics to songs, only added to my enjoyment when I finally listened to it. Some of them I had heard before on Real to Reel, the live album, but most were new to me including the stunning eponymous song Fugazi.

I was lucky enough to see Marillion with Fish on their last tour together at Newcastle City Hall around Xmas 1997, nearly 20 years ago. I still have the t-shirt and program from that night. So when I read the BBC news story that Fish had been joined on stage by his old band mates I was excited and then saddened that I hadn’t been there. In the story one woman says that grown men were crying and I understand why. My Marillion years are long behind me but I still long to be a Market Square Hero.

Written by Administrator

August 29th, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Culture,Memories

An old home

without comments

Dear Son,

Your Uncle Phil called me last night and told me that he had visited a house in Church Gresley that we (the Caudle family) used to live in. We lived in the house from 1971 until 1974 and only being a few days past my fourth birthday when we left, I don’t remember that much about the house or our time there but here are the things that stand out; I’m sure that as I am reminded of this time then more memories will flow.

Bath time
This memory popped in this evening when you were having your bath. I remember being bathed by my mother and someone else. The other person was female and was either Mrs Clamp or “Auntie” Gladys. Uncle Phil went to see Mrs Clamp the other night and she has been a familly firend for years but I have no idea what happened to “Auntie” Gladys. I have used quotes around her name because she wasn’t a real Auntie, my parents didn’t like us calling people who were not real Aunties or Uncles “Auntie” or “Uncle” and I agree with them. If I child is sticking the word Auntie or Uncle in front of everyones name then it becomes meaningless. My hazy recollection of “Auntie” Gladys is that she was a bit mad and talked a lot. I don’t suppose my mother could get a word in edge ways to explain her thinking on the use of the word “Auntie” before some ones name.

The one thing I remember about having this bath is having my hair washed. I, just like you did tonight, used to scream when my mother leant me back into the water to wet my hair. But this particular night I remember screaming and being conscience of the fact that I was screaming and wondering why I was screaming. Maybe this is my earliest memory or maybe it was just another example of me becoming conscience of myself.

I remember the bathroom being very white and steamy.

Bashing Uncle Phil on the Head.
I remember picking up a lump of tarmac and being surprised at how light it was for something so big. Uncle Phil was sitting down so I bashed him on the head with it. Your grandmother Audrey told me that Uncle Phil had to go to hospital and it was only when I explained to the nurses what I had done did they actually stop questioning her as if she had done it. I don’t remember the hospital visit or much else about that incident.

Locking a child in the play room
I remember that we had a play room that connected to the kitchen. I think I remember the kitchen as well but it is very hazy and not possible to describe. One day I was in the play room with a child who was younger than me and seemed to enjoy hitting and biting me. I was old enough and tall enough to open the door to the play room and escape into the kitchen and close the door behind me. The other child wasn’t able to open the door and was effectively locked in there. When my mother asked why I had done what I had done and I explained, I remember her looking at me with affection and telling me I had done the right thing.

The child next door.
I remember that there was a child that lived next to us. I think he was older then me but younger than Uncle Phil. He had a toy rifle that had a bullet on a hinge that flopped in and out of the breach. He would ask me “Are yah playing?” His voice would go up on the word “playing” and he would do an exaggerated Gallic shrug at the same time.

Going on an adventure.
I remember taking my mother by the hand and leading her down to the trees at the bottom of the garden. I learnt about Scot of the Antarctic and I claimed we were going on an adventure to the North Pole.

Need any help?
I remember that part of the garden was set aside for growing vegetables. Your grandfather John has always made room in the garden of the house where he lives to grow his own vegetables. I remember him having a bonfire and asking him if he needed any help – a ruse to get to play with the fire but my father was having none of it.

The water sprinkler and the bucket.
It was a hot summers day and the garden sprinkler was switched on. I remember being mostly naked and playing with Uncle Phil. We were trying to get the bucket over the sprinkler and getting very wet at the same time. I remember my mother laughing and watching happily while my dad took photos. This is the strongest and happiest memory of this time, if I look back on my life as a child I think this was the perfect day.

I hope I can give you at least one memory as happy as this within the first 4 years of your life.

Written by Administrator

August 22nd, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

Throwing shapes.

without comments

Dear Son,

when ever your mother and I play music in the house you like to get up and have a dance, you enjoy it even more when one of us joins in.

I was listening to some music this morning on my iPod on the way to work and got carried away with the track. I was listening to an old Euphoria album and was taken back in time to a warehouse rave. I was very close to throwing some shapes on the train (small fish, big fish, small box, big box). Luckily I got a grip before taking someone’s eye out with a flailing hand.

This is not the first time that music has carried me away. The day before we were due to fly to Trinidad for carnival a few years ago I was getting my self in the mood with some sweet Soca on my iPod. Low Rise (by Traffik featuring Sean Caruth) came on and I put my arm out to slip it around the waist of the woman in front of me. In my own mind I was in Soca fete somewhere trying to “Teef a wine”, in reality I was on Stratford station waiting for a train into Liverpool Street on a cold February morning.

Luckily reality returned before I was arrested. Or even worse, laughed at by the young woman for my robotic wine action. Despite your mother’s best efforts my wine only really comes into its own when I am well and truly plastered and so is everyone else.

Unlike Denise Belfon.

Written by Administrator

August 10th, 2007 at 11:58 am

Posted in Culture