The Vegan Sausage Roll Is Here To Stay

Some time ago this month, I heard the news that the UK food takeaway store, Greggs, introduced a new food product; that was a vegan sausage roll. Sometime after its introduction, I purchased a roll from a local Greggs store and it tasted nice.

The vegan sausage roll is very much like a regular sausage roll. To me, it didn’t taste any different to the non-vegan one. True that it’s actually quorn inside the roll and not actual sausage meal, but when the roll made contact with my teeth, it was like I couldn’t tell it was quorn and I guess quorn isn’t supposed to taste different to actual meat.

I know a number of friends who are vegetarians/vegans and of course I may not be a vegetarian myself. But I respect their views and motives for becoming vegetarians, so I personally welcome the arrival of the vegan sausage roll and feel that it’s a great opportunity. This is unlike one particular person; an English TV host and journalist who has caused quite a lot of trouble over the years. I of course am referring to Piers Morgan.

Through reading a news article, I noticed how much he whined and whined about the roll’s introduction, calling it Greggs’ excuse to be ‘Politically Correct (PC)’ just for the sake of being PC. Seriously, is that his problem? The next thing I hear is that another man purchases the vegan sausage roll and throws it straight in the trash can. I remember a Twitter user commenting that it was a waste and that a homeless person would’ve wanted it. I can safely call his comment justifiable.

Let me make clear that despite not being a vegetarian (maybe I might become one in the future, I don’t know), I’m grateful that Greggs is selling food that is suitable for vegans. To introduce such a food product isn’t about being PC. As a matter of fact, over the last few years, a large percentage of UK residents have turned to veganism and even Greggs is aware of that. It shows how much they care about the public and their requirements. I’m guessing the same for the fact that their an economical food store with low prices. All Piers Morgan did was make a huge fuss over nothing. He may have felt sick at one point, but to blame it on a vegan sausage roll? I may not like kidney beans, but that’s a personal taste and I don’t go round expressing my disgust like that.

One thing I’d say to Piers Morgan; I liked the sausage roll. If you don’t like it, then don’t buy and/or eat it. But whether you like it or not, it’s staying on display in Greggs. You seriously need to chill out.

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Another Top 11 David Bowie songs

We’re in-between the anniversary of the death of and what would’ve been the birthday of one of the most awesome artists in music history. I, of course, am referring to David Bowie.

Some years ago following his demise, I had constructed what I considered the Top 11 greatest songs David has ever released. Unfortunately, he has released so many awesome songs in his life that it’s impossible not to call any of the following 11 that I’ve listed great. So here’s my personal Other Top 11 David Bowie Songs. Why top 11? Because I like to go one step beyond.

#11;

Cat People (Putting Out The Fire)

Album: Cat People soundtrack [1982] / Let’s Dance [1983]

Written as the theme tune to the remake of Cat People and also found on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) is a chilling masterpiece and I have to admit that I prefer this film version to the 1942 one, not only due to the storyline, but the song is a definite part of it.

I know that horror exists as a genre for films/TV shows/books, but I’m wondering if there’s such a thing as a ‘horror song’. If people agree, I’m guessing they’d bring up Michael Jackson’s Thriller or the Monster Mash song. I think Cat People could be classed as one, helped by David’s baritone voice and the lyrical content. Through the opening lyrics “See these eyes of green”, you can sort of sense that you’re picturing a panther who looks on the verge of committing an attack. “Don’t you know my name?” senses that the narrator recognises that the panther was once a human. This also relates to the film’s synopsis. And do I even need to mention the line “I’ve been putting out the fire with gasoline”.

I’m a little surprised that this song never got an Academy Award nomination for Best Song. It did get a Golden Globe though. But I can’t believe none of his film songs ever got recognition from the Oscars; not even Underground, or When The Wind Blows, or Absolute Beginners.

#10;

Station To Station

Album: Station To Station [1976]

The longest track on this list lasting just over 10 minutes and from the album of the same name, Station To Station is quite famous for introducing one of David’s characters, the Thin White Duke, who was a bit of a dangerous creation, hence the time he made statements about Adolf Hitler and his fellow Nazis in Germany and when he made what looked like a Nazi salute.

But enough of that. I think it’s amazing that David was able to write something so enduring and interesting at the same time. It commences with a smooth train acceleration sound followed by a slow and steady keyboard riff and a beautiful harmonica melody. After about two-ish minutes, in comes David’s vocal statements on the Duke. During the second half, it soon speeds up a bit as David quotes how “It’s too late to be hateful” and that “The European cannon is here”.

Station To Station is a classic album opener.

#9;

1984

Album: Diamond Dogs [1974]

1984 is named after George Orwell’s dystopian novel which is set in a state where a lot of people become victims of perpetual way, omnipresent government surveillance and propaganda. To top it all, there is a guy known as Big Brother who acts like some sort of cult figure and puts harsh control on a group of residents.

David originally wrote this song for a planned musical which was supposed to highlight similar themes to the story, but the musical never came into production. So he put it in the equally dark dystopian album Diamond Dogs instead. With that said, the next track that follows is called Big Brother.

What I especially love about 1984 is the funky keyboard and what sounds like a string ensemble during the intro and the breaks. I also love the way David sings “Beware the savage jaw of 1984”. Them two elements reflect the dramatic subject matter. 1984 may come from a glam rock album, but it was an album that’s truly different to most albums relating to the genre which is considered a light-hearted one. Plus, Diamond Dogs was meant as David’s final album to contribute to the era.

#8;

Under The God

Album: Tin Machine [1989]

Under The God is one of two songs on this list which David released with his short-lived band from the late 80s/early 90s, Tin Machine. At that time, David’s material was failing to make much sales, so he went on to form the Machine, which I feel is quite underrated. Maybe they weren’t totally marketable, but the artistry within the music and lyrics certainly remained with David.

Under The God is one of David’s most political songs. You can sort of get the feel through the lyrics, although rather potty-mouthed, i.e. “Right wing d**ks in their boiler suits”, and the way he points out the “skinheads”, “beating on blacks with a baseball bat”, leading to “racism in the rule”.

David may not exactly have been viewed much as a political figure and it’s possible that stuff from this band and his album, Never Let Me Down, are overlooked, because the majority of his fans think apolitically when they think of David and that kind of stuff is less commercial compared to his huge hits, but David was all about being different and I’m sure he was a lefty in his personal life, let’s not think about the Thin White Duke’s infamous salute right now. So let’s give it some credit.

#7;

Miracle Goodnight

Album: Black Tie White Noise [1993]

If fans wasn’t keen on much of Tin Machine’s material, I guess they considered David’s next album Black Tie White Noise greater in a way. And it’s one of the greats from the 90s. Never mind Take That or the Spice Girls.

Miracle Goodnight is definitely one of the songs that proves exactly how awesome the album is. Whereas Jump They Say is about mental illness despite its groovy rhythm, Miracle Goodnight is a more gentle piece which highlights the beauty of the time when David married Iman Abdulmajid. Accompanied by a slow and smooth yet funky saxophone riff, Miracle Goodnight is a truly beautiful experience, which I often imagine hearing during the aftermath of my wedding, stargazing with my future bride from a balcony and I feel that I want this song played at my wedding.

That and the album was both considered a wedding present to Iman. Iman was certainly a lovely wife to David and I congratulate her for looking after him through the remainder of his life. Speaking of which,…

#6;

Lazarus

Album: Blackstar [2016]

If Miracle Goodnight is a song that would put smiles to faces, Lazarus is one that would spark tears to eyes.

Released from my all-time second favourite David Bowie album, Lazarus came out on David’s 69th birthday and a very short time before his end. From the opening lyrics “Look up here, I’m in heaven”, we can sense that he’s dangerously close to death. “Everybody knows me now” expresses the fame he achieved all through the years and we know how David lived a good life, that he lived “like a king” when he got to New York. Even the slow-paced saxophone contributes to the sadness of what’s about to happen to him.

I’d recommend you watch the music video, which is filmed with an unusual 1:1 aspect ratio, and pictures David with buttons sewn over his eyes, in bandages and lying on what appears to be his deathbed. He certainly looks like he’s wasting away as well by the way he’s shaking.

There is also a musical called Lazarus which was produced around the same time as the album, which I still have yet to see.

#5;

Tin Machine

Album: Tin Machine [1989]

And here we have another one of Tin Machine’s masterpiece, their self titled theme tune(?).

I can’t believed how overlooked Tin Machine is, compared to ‘classic’ guitar rock songs. C’mon, you can hear the magnificent guitar riff. I’ve had a go at trying to play that riff on my guitar and it’s rather difficult to do. How does Reeves Gabrels manage it?

I call it the band’s theme tune, not only does it have anything to do with the self-title, but despite it being the second track on Tin Machine… 1(?), it’s a sort of introduction to the music and the lyrical themes that Tin Machine would focus on for their next songs, ranging from the right-wingers’ abysmal schemes (“Working horrors-humping Tories”) to the other things that infuriate them, such as “The guy that beats his baby up” and “One sick deathless duty to remain endangered species”.

I repeat. Tin Machine deserve a bit more credit.

#4;

Where Are We Now

Album: The Next Day [2013]

For some time after his release of Reality, David Bowie took a lengthy hiatus from show-business, aside from his one-off duet with David Gilmour and cameo appearances in Extras and Sponge Bob Square Pants. He surprisingly returned on his 66th birthday with this nice gentle ballad, Where Are We Now.

It was lovely to see David come out of retirement and back into the music business. For this song, he reminds the listeners of the time he spent in Berlin during the late 70s (“Had to get the train / from Potsdamer Platz”). He also adds a reminiscent of time wasted (“just walking the dead”). Personally though, I don’t think he’s wasted time at all or his life. I don’t call art a waste. But what can I say? From what I get from the chorus, I get the feeling that he’s expressing the truth about now he ain’t getting no younger and feeling that because of that, life is getting shorter.

Where Are We Now is one of the greatest ballads which I definitely recommend checking out.

#3;

Everyone Says Hi

Album: Heathen [2002]

Next we have a space sounding song from the album, Heathen.

Apparently, fellow former Tin Machine member, Reeves Gabrels, stated that Everyone Says Hi makes him cry and it was the only one he heard of David’s at the time since he quit working with him. I’m not too sure whether he meant cry in a sad way or a happy way, but with that said, Everyone Says Hi does put a smile to my face. Maybe it’s the keyboards and synthesizers that place me in a space-like atmosphere every time I hear ’em.

In a way, I do get a feeling that the song centers on a couple living a long distance separately (“Said you took a big trip / They said you moved away”). The trip could be so long that maybe the protagonist’s friend moved so far away that one even moved through the universe. Further into the song, “Said you sailed a big ship” suggests obvious transportation, unless of course David’s referring to the giant flying ship in Disney’s Treasure Planet, which came out the same year. Or it could be a space ship he’s talking about. After all, it’s not like the friend literally “sailed away”, is it now? Later on, he reminds the friend that one’s always welcome home – “If the money is lousy / You can always come home”.

Everyone Says Hi – a truly underrated masterpiece.

#2;

Blackstar

Album: Blackstar [2016]

The second longest track on this list which is literally just under ten minutes, Blackstar is another glorious opener for the album of the same name.

The first time I came across the music video for Blackstar was from a film-making friend of mine who posted the YouTube link on Facebook. He described it as scarier than Labyrinth. I thank him for the introduction to the song, because although Blackstar is one of the very last songs David released, it’s also one of his best. It’s kind of like Queen’s Innuendo, except the music is obviously different.

Blackstar is a truly dark and haunting song. What I get from the title is that it’s about a celebrity who’s about to fade away. If you look at the video, we can see how much David has changed, age-wise, not in the way we often pictured him before then. Later in the video, we see a skeleton lying on the ground, which apparently resembles Major Tom, his old creation through Space Oddity. Even the lyrics sound like the song is resembling death – “In the villa of Ormen / Stands a solitary candle”. During the middle, David senses the beginning of the end and what he wants after death – “I see right, so wide, so open-hearted pain / I want eagles in my daydreams, diamonds in my eyes”.

And all the way through, David cleverly experiments through a variety of music genres including jazz, blues, avant-guarde, electronica and drum & bass.

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

Man Who Sold The World

Loving The Alien

Black Tie White Noise

Little Wonder

Valentine’s Day

 

And the number one song by David Bowie is;

I Can’t Give Everything Away

Album: Blackstar [2016]

And Thunderbirds are go! And yes, another song from Blackstar.

Yeah, I know. But Blackstar contains so much awesome material, even though it’s much darker and more dramatic than David’s previous material. I say that from and artist’s point of view.

I also understand how more pop-ish I Can’t Give Everything Away sounds compared to both the title track and Lazarus, but nevertheless, it’s a beautiful closing to what would eventually become David’s final album. And considering that it’s also one of David’s final singles to be released, before I say this though, I’d just like to point out that it was released exactly on my 26th birthday. I was extremely traumatised when I heard about David’s death, considering that he was my favourite singer.

The accompanying video sparks a tear to my eye. All that’s required is swilling stars and pictures of David himself. Consider I Can’t Give Everything Away to be a final farewell to David.

So that was my secondary top 11 list of David Bowie songs. Don’t feel too disappointed if I’ve left any of your favourites out. Do feel free to leave your comments below. And may David continue to rest in peace.

2019 Begins

It’s that time again when we finish an old year and enter a new year.

I can’t really say a lot about 2018. It’s gone pretty quick. There have been some great moments and some not-so great moments. I suppose I liked it a little better than 2017. Both of them, I’d take any day over 2016, which was an incredibly sucky year and there’s nothing we can say to defend it. Right?

I, myself, have experienced some changes and events in life. Firstly, I’m currently earning enough money to keep the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) out of my way. The jobs I have may not exactly be linked to my dream career or ideal work schedule, but at least I don’t have to keep going to the job centre each week or put up with any stress that they gave me. On the other hand, I do feel for those suffering through their hands, which I shall get to later on.

I have also begun studying an MA in Creative Writing at De Montfort University. I had graduated four years before then, though I was getting quite little experience in the film industry. Don’t get me wrong, I did expand my resume in camerawork, editing and so forth, though I did have large gaps in-between. My ideal career is to be a script-writer for feature films and I feel that this course will give me a further hand.

I also attended some very interesting events, including a couple of cosplay events; one of which I dressed as Agent Smith from the Matrix films, a Gerry Anderson themed event at the National Space Centre, where I met Shane Rimmer, the same bloke who voiced Scott Tracy in Thunderbirds and as Dick Spanner in the show of the same name. He also wrote episodes for some of Gerry’s other shows. I even saw Slade live at the O2 Academy in Leicester. Of course, there are only two of the original members still performing. I even had a brief chat with one of them, Don Powell, the drummer. They was supported by Mud 2, the second generation of Mud members.

But every year’s had low points. Obviously, we’re still in the middle of dealing with Brexit. Worse of all, Theresa May keeps holding the final decision back, whether to go ahead with the scheme or not. Quite frankly, I wanted Brexit to sod off and die ever since it crept into the UK or any part of the world. To top it all, the homelessness rate in the UK has doubled compared to 2012. Partially accountable for the high rates is DWP, who have ignored the fact that not all claimants of Universal Credit are fit to work, due to certain conditions, ridiculed them and stopped their benefits. Those who are fit to work do their very best to get a decent job, but DWP could at least be more reasonable. I remember coming to a public meeting and there was a lady who lacked mobility in her legs and emotionally stated how she was mistreated for years and had tried to reason with the department that she couldn’t work due to her disability to no success. She was almost in tears and I don’t blame her for that. DWP, if you’re reading this, you need to rethink your actions and the hurt you’re causing to the claimants. You’ve made so many of them homeless and some of them have committed suicide as a result.

Just a few months ago, we lost Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the chairman of Leicester City Football Club, through a helicopter crash. The helicopter belonged to the Club which I sometimes work for as a steward. It had occurred sometime after I finished work and after the helicopter left the stadium. It was quite a surprise to hear about it when I got home. I also remember passing through a memorial that took place outside the stadium.

And of course, other celebrities we lost through 2018 include;

Barbara Bush

Barry Chuckle

Burt Reynolds

Chas Hodges

Dale Winton

Danny Kirwan

David Ogden Stiers

Dolores O’Riordian

Emma Chambers

Geoffrey Hays

George H.W. Bush

Harry Leslie Smith

John Bluthal

June Whitfield

Leslie Grantham

Lewis Gilbert

Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy

Milos Forman

Monserrat Caballe

Nicholas Roeg

Penny Marshall

Pete Shelley

R.L. Ermey

Stephen Hawking

Verne Troyer

Vinnie Paul

There’s too much more to say about 2018, but let’s welcome 2019 and see how it goes.