April 2007 Archives

Waste bins (small) 75x141.jpg AWC (Alternate Weekly Collection of recyclable and non-recyclable household waste) has a bad reception in the UK, although it increases the extent of recycling. But why is something designed to sustain our environment - an ambition held by most of us - producing such hostility?

Latest in the endless list of Things People Don't Like is the idea of alternate weekly collection of recyclable and non-recyclable domestic waste. There is evidence that this is effective in getting people to think more carefully about what they can and cannot recycle (rather than just bunging the lot in the dustbin) but everyone seems to be in uproar about it.

'Why?' is always a complex question to answer in environmental matters. What seems self-evidently sensible to the scientists and policy-makers (not to mention the demanding officials of the European Union, who are rightly leading a very serious environmentally conscious charge) is far less evident to Mr & Mrs Suburbia or Mr & Mrs InnerCity. The dialogue has got lost on the way, or perhaps has simply never existed.

People suspect that the bi-weekly collection of their 'normal' waste, even though it is to be interspersed by alternate weekly collection of what's recyclable, is actually the result of a financial 'cut', and that it must therefore be bad. No-one seems to have thought to explain that there's good evidence that AWC increases recycling - albeit at contested levels of efficacy.

Cynicism is the only winner
So there is Big Fuss. Nobody seems to believe something could be being done for 'good' reasons; and in that local politicians have often not helped. This situation benefits no-one.

The sooner the powers-that-be learn they must share rationales with 'ordinary' people right from the start of their thinking, the better. This is an issue which goes beyond what used to be called the 'public understanding of science', to an even more pressing issue - the sustainability of our planet.

Be straightforward
So let's ask our media, policy-makers and politicans to be braver and more honest in how they present these things. It would be good for everyone.

Read the debate which follows then...

Prague Old Town Ceramics Shop (small) 70x125.jpg Controversy has arisen about how much of a contemporary style Prague's Old Town (Stare Mesto) should have. Modern commercial pressures inevitably vie with the demands of centuries of architectural tradition. Brilliant sunshine here blends these features into a whole.

Prague Stare Mesto Celetna Shop Window, late afternoon 480x613.jpg

See also:
Camera And Calendar
Snowstorm And Magic In Prague At Night
Impressions Of Prague
Carbon-Neutral Villages, British And Czech Alike

Rainbow 2 (small) 85x89.jpg 16, 17 and 18 are when it really starts to buzz. What you choose now will have impact for a long time to come. Horizons are expanding as comfort zones are challenged. Opportunities grasped now, at work and at play, will shape the adventure to follow. So go for it, looking forward and with a zest for life.

This is a time for action, but it’s also the time to set yourself some groundrules for the future – not ‘don’t do this’ restrictions, but an approach to life which will serve you well in years to come. If you haven’t already, check out the general Be Happy Rules for some ideas; happiness (or at least peace of mind) is often a matter of choice.

Then, future chemist, carer or caterer, you might like to give these suggestions a try.....

Get moving
You’re finally old enough to get a Driving Licence! So do it properly, and learn to drive with pride and care. Those driving lessons are about one of your first adult responsibilities; please take good advice and use your newly-won freedom skilfully.
And maybe you’d also like to sail, ski, horseride, hill-walk, who knows...? Get out and about, using your strength and stamina to explore a whole new world.

Keep what you’ve got
Perhaps you’ve been having football, music, hockey, dance, chess or other lessons along with your school studies; and maybe the demands of exams are pushing these aside. Fair enough, but don’t lose it altogether. Keep your hand in where and when you can.
These interests are investments in your future – and excellent ways to spend a bit of ‘me time’ now, if you’re feeling stressed out.

Plan and enjoy
Is there something you would especially like to have or do? Give this one a bit of thought, and plan how you’ll do it. Maybe you’ll do it alone, or maybe with others, but now’s the time to get the act together; manoeuvre, save, persuade – and then be sure to enjoy!
And, whatever it is, big or small, it will look good on your CV too.

Be vote-wise
Somewhen soon you’ll have a chance to vote. Make sure you are ready for this, that you know the actual practicalities of voting (where to go, which forms to complete etc) and that you understand the party-political options on offer.
‘They’re all the same’ is not an adult way to respond to politics and our hard-won right to vote; so if you don’t like what’s being said, be sure your voice is heard and do your best to make things better.

History B.Y. (Before You)
It’s never too early to start a habit which will serve you well for many decades.... get to know your neighbourhood, town or city and find out why it’s like it is. Who ‘made’ it? And who’s in charge now?
What’s behind the local names for streets and areas? Are there local stories passed down from generation to generation? There are some fascinating tales to be told, and it’s great to be in the know.

Become a people watcher
Late teens is a time when career choices loom large. It doesn’t matter whether your ambition is a steady job or a heady career, you need to know something about how it all happens – so remember to people-watch! How have people in occupations which interest you got there (or not)? What seems to make them happy, and what worries them?
It may be easy to find out, or it may require some work, but with luck you’ll discover everyone’s happy to share their personal take on chosen occupations. These are big career decisions you’re about to make.

Go camping
It might be your backyard (to practise), it might be a bus-ride away, or it could be another continent, but try life under canvas. In years gone by camping was a well-established and often very soggy part of growing up. Thankfully, modern arrangements are both more civilised and less regimented.
This is a brilliant way to adventures and self-sufficiency (plan before you plunge!), perhaps just for a day or two, perhaps for a whole summer somewhere really exciting and new.

Get involved
No matter what your background and experience to date, there are now comfort zones to breach and challenges ahead. Always value your family and friends, but also see where else you can go. Is there a ‘cause’ or charity you might support, or something you’d really like to help with? Are there younger children in your school you’d like to encourage? Or older people in your community who’d enjoy your company?
You’ll probably gain as much as you give, and it’s never naff to care enough to share.

Learn First Aid
This is a strictly practical aspect of your developing skills. If your school, college or workplace doesn’t teach First Aid, ask why not. And if it does, make sure you’ve done the course.
Learning how to save a life is a valuable investment of anyone’s time.

Get green gym-ing
Is there a green gym in your part of the world? A place with open-access exercise points, perhaps in the local college grounds or park, where everyone can get fit and enjoy fresh air at the same time? If there isn’t, are you going to get one installed, and then use it? ... maybe even help to construct it yourself?
‘Green’ themes are the future, and especially yours as a young person. If green gyms aren’t your thing, perhaps there’s another eco- / fitness project you would enjoy? Discuss and decide what’s best, and don’t take No for an answer! Good luck.

Have you read ...?
Things To Do When You're 11 - 15
Things To Do When You're 19 - 21
What To Do At Any Age - Be Happy

* Life is not a rehearsal
* Smile when you can
* Do acts of random kindness
* Try no-TV days
* Be cautious sometimes, cynical never
* Use your pedometer
* Treat yourself daily to a 'Went Right' list

And why not share your alternative ideas here, too? You can add your own take on Things To Do When You're 16 - 18 via the Comments box below...

Pianos For Peace

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Piano keyboard (small) 70x83.jpg Rarely are artistic installations truly inspirational, but the use by George Michael and Kenny Goss of John Lennon's piano, on which Lennon composed the song Imagine, is one such example. This travelling piano scenario is art, goodwill and common humanity all rolled into one.

George Michael is taking John Lennon's piano on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Or that, at least to my eyes, seems to be what's happening.

Singer-songwriter Michael acquired Lennon's piano, on which the song Imagine was written, at the turn of the Millennium, and he and his partner Dallas art gallery owner Kenny Goss have now resolved the question of what special use to put it to: It has been given the central role in the world-tour Imagine Piano Peace Project.

Genuinely inspired art
It is a stroke of genius to take that humble piano to troubled places - sites of gruesome events such as assassinations, state-sanctioned executions, bombings, multiple murders and the like. The piano and its associations bring to these grimly horrible and almost unthinkable acts a sort of dignity and calm.

The piano itself cannot and need not speak. It shows and incites no fear. All it has to do is occupy these sites as physical spaces. We can, each of us, work out the rest for ourselves.

John Lennon started life an unremarked child, attending our local school in Liverpool. He ended it a tragic victim of sudden very public violence in New York. As he himself might also have said of his travelling piano, just "Let it be."

John Peace

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John Peace John Peace is a Liverpool-based pianist, organist, lecturer and teacher of keyboard studies. He has an extensive solo, chamber and accompaniment repertoire across classical, opera and church music repertoires, and has taught piano at all levels; former students include Ian Hobson, winner of the 1981 Leeds International Piano Competition. John instigated the Merseyside area European Piano Teachers' Association. He performs with Live-A-Music and in the chamber group, Ensemble Liverpool.

John Peace BA, LRAM, ARCO was born in Wakefield and educated at Huddersfield College. Awarded scholarships to read music at University College, Durham University, he has subsequently followed a career as a soloist, chamber recitalist and teacher of the piano and organ.

John has been Director of Music in schools in Durham, Hereford, Wakefield and London, and was a part-time music tutor for the Open University from 1970 to '77. From 1973-1992 he was Senior Lecturer in Music and Head of Keyboard Studies at the Liverpool (Adult and Further Education) College's School of Performing Arts.

John has many years' experience of piano teaching at all levels. A former pupil, Ian Hobson (now Head of Keyboard Faculty, University of Urbana-Illinois, USA and international soloist) has subsequently won several important prizes including first place in the 1981 Leeds International Piano Competition. Earlier in his own career as a solo pianist, John took advice from distinguished concert pianist and Royal College of Music professor Gordon Fergus-Thompson.

In 1991 John inaugurated the Merseyside branch of the European Piano Teachers’ Association (EPTA) and has given a number of lecture-recitals at EPTA International Conferences in London. His workbook, The Complete Pianist, which discusses the distinctive approach and applications of the American teacher Abby Whiteside, and of Jaques-Dalcroze, was published in 1993. At the 2008 EPTA Conference (held in Liverpool), John was again a member of faculty, giving a recital centred around the pianistic heritage in Merseyside.

Church music, opera and Elegant Music
In the 1960s and '70s John was Organist at various churches in Hereford & London, and since then in Liverpool, where he was organist and choir director at St Mary's Parish Church, Walton for ten years until 2004.

John has been Musical Director of the Liverpool Metropolitan Opera and Liverpool Italian Opera Company and has worked with many leading opera and concert singers. For some years now he has been the pianist in the Elegant Music group, which offers fully professional performances and 'Palm Court' or 'lounge music' for corporate and celebratory occasions.

Soloist and recitals
From 1980 to 1992 John directed the lunchtime recital series at Liverpool Parish Church, reviving a tradition going back to the 1940s and featuring many eminent musicians. John was pianist with the Liverpool Chamber Music Group until 1988 and now performs with Ensemble Liverpool, whose members are drawn from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO).

John Peace has given numerous recitals as soloist, chamber music pianist and accompanist, with members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra and Ulster Orchestras, and St Helens Sinfonietta etc. He has made BBC broadcasts, and performed in RLPO recitals and concerts, at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall and St George's Hall, Liverpool, the Williamson Art Gallery in Wirral, Chester Town Hall, the Three Choirs Festival, the Horniman Museum Dulwich, both Liverpool Cathedrals, Cross St United Reformed Church Manchester, St Bride's and Ullet Road Churches in Liverpool, for the Wigan Music Society and St Helens Sinfonietta, and for many other events and venues.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Piano Quintet
John was the pianist for the first-ever known recording of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Piano Quintet, realised from a copy of the original handwritten score by his colleague Martin Anthony Burrage, and performed, probably for the first time in living memory, by their chamber group, Ensemble Liverpool (then known as Live-A-Music) in the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall at a public recital on 7 November 2001.

Contact emails: John Peace; Ensemble Liverpool; Elegant Music.

Read more about Ensemble Liverpool, Elegant Music and The Musicians.


Elegant Music JohnPeace SarahHelsby-Hughes TonyBurrage (small) 80x113.jpg Elegant Music is a long-established, independent free-lance ensemble of fully professional classically-trained musicians who provide high quality music and easy listening for private, family and corporate events, after-dinner and soiree concerts, and special occasions. As individual players and singers we appear in our own rights with the North West's most prestigious symphony orchestras and other performing arts organisations; and we come together as Elegant Music to offer classical music and lighter musical entertainment in venues across the region and beyond.
From Salon to Celebration, from Intimate to Corporate, we have music to suit your requirements. Please contact us, or read on...

Amongst Elegant Music's many previous engagements are concerts, dinners and weddings in venues as varied as Liverpool Town Hall, St. George's Hall, Blackburne House, Croxteth Hall, Sefton Park Palm House and many hotels in the region - including the opening event of the Liverpool Crowne Plaza - as well as at numerous private parties and exclusive corporate events.

In addition to the numerous events which have been organised by private individuals and families, our clients have included the the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, the University of Liverpool, Sefton Flower Show, Liverpool's Met Quarter and many professional and commercial organisations.

Every occasion is unique
Elegant Music treats every occasion as unique. We know that you, the client, will have particular requirements, preferences, themes or whatever which will make the occasion special for you, and we are happy to collaborate with you to produce a tailor-made programme of music, formal or light entertainment, which will be exactly right for that specific event.

A small but flexible group
Generally, Elegant Music comprises three to five performers (perhaps a string quartet - two violinists, a violist and a 'cello; or maybe a trio with keyboard, strings and / or a singer); but we can provide any number of performers from one (say, a pianist, singer, violinist or organist) or two up to, e.g., a whole Viennese or symphony orchestra, to suit your requirements.

Contact us early to discuss musical options
We suggest you contact us as early as possible in the preparation of your event planning, to discuss the sort of music you would like; with notice we can usually meet a wide range of requirements. But if you prefer, we can of course offer a ready-made package, should time or other pressures make this the best option.

Jazz or classical, modern or romantic, Beethoven or Beatles, we have the music to meet your needs.

Styled to suit
And similarly with presentation - we know that how things look is also important. The style of the event is yours to choose. Jazzy waistcoats to full evening dress, day wear to black tie, your Elegant Music musicians will be pleased to perform in whatever dress code you select!

Advice to help you decide
We will happily provide information on our fees, answer any questions and, if perhaps you are new to organising events (e.g. for a family wedding), guide you through the preparations which will ensure that the music for your special occasion is just as you want it.

We are also of course very pleased to discuss options and possibilities with the organisers of larger and / or corporate events.

No obligation discussion
For a no obligation discussion, please contact us with your phone number and information about your general requirements via this link.

We look forward to hearing from you!

LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5134b90x73.jpg The Live-A-Music Children's Workshops on 5 April in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Liverpool 18 were action-packed, with much creative sparking between the children, musicians and 'supporting cast' of accompanying (grand) parents and younger brothers and sisters. Themes included 'Music, Myth and Magic', 'Animal Samba' and 'Symphony' - with the children also performing a work of their own.

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These Live-A-Music workshops ran during the day on Thursday 5 April 2007, in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Rose Lane, Liverpool 18. Background information about the workshops is available on this website. Further workshops are planned for the Summer school holidays.

For more details of the Summer arrangements, or to discuss how Live-A-Music can work to support your own educational / social engagement proposals, please email us.

Compost bins (small) 90x110.jpg Recycling things we don't need or want anymore can be time-wasting and even counter-productive, if it's a big hassle to get done. So one very good idea is using the that global force, the internet, to share news of offers and requirements for items on a strictly non-commercial basis between people who live in a local area. This is what the Freecycle Network sets out to do.

I've just 'discovered' the Liverpool Freecycle Network - and all because I was bemoaning my recent failure to find a recipient for the vast number of old plant pots we (as in, my garden-hut-clearing other half) found when there was a big garden hut clear-out.

'What?!' cried my Monday Women companions when I mentioned trying to find a good allotment home for the pots. 'You should have used LiverpoolFreecycle!'.

Freecycle across the globe
And so I should. I've joined now, and have learnt that the Liverpool group of Freecycle is part of a huge chain of such local organisations around the globe. There are over 4,000 Freecycle 'Communities' with more than 3 million individual members across several continents - and it all started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Arizona USA, in Tucson's downtown, to help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills.

It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer. And, also just like Monday Women, membership is free.

How does it work?
When you want to find a new home for something - whether it's a chair, a fax machine, a piano, or an old door - you simply send an e-mail offering it to members of the local Freecycle group. (Keeping it local saves fuel and energy of course.)

Or, maybe you're looking to acquire something yourself. Simply respond to a member's offer, and you just might get it. After that, it's up to the giver to decide who receives the gift, and then to set up a pickup time for passing on the treasure.

But the first step is to join... so why not get Freecycling now, just in time for your own Operation Garden Shed / Spare Room / whatever over the coming Spring Bank Holiday long weekend?


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Yellow Lamb Banana's tail 06.8-9 072a (85x104).jpg SuperLambBanana may be kinda cute, but, made of steel and concrete and 17 feet tall, he's no lightweight. Created in 1998 by Taro Chienzo for the Art Transpennine Exhibition, he abides in Liverpool city centre, be/amusing all. He's been Friesian (black and white), pink and sometime graffitied, but 'really' he's yellow.

Super Lamb Banana (Tara Chienzo), Marybone Liverpool

See more photographs of The City of Liverpool here: Photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside;
and photographs of elsewhere, here: Camera & Calendar

Click here for more information on Super Lamb Banana, alias 'Superlambanana'.