A VIEW FROM SRI LANKA Number 80
Sunday 23 October 2011.
Welcome to readers far and wide. Some Beatle connections this week, because of an extraordinary encounter.
In my varied career as a writer I was once a reviewer of pop music records for a magazine and one of the first 45 rpm records sent to me to review in 1963 was a Beatles’ number. Playing on my laptop now as I type these words is a just-released album with a bass player by the name of Paul McCartney.
This CD was given to me during my recent visit to the Maldives when by chance I met a dynamic, multi-talented young man from New Zealand who was taking photographs for a commercial shoot at the resort where I was staying, singer/musician/photographer Glenn Aitken (www.glennaitken.com).
This photo from Glenn’s album was taken by Kaushar Aitken, whom he married after meeting her while he was working in the Maldives a few years ago. They are now based in London where Glenn devotes his life to music (he still tours with famous bands) and photography.
Paul McCartney plays bass on the title track of this, Glenn’s first album, Extraordinary Lives. Glenn met Paul by chance and it’s easy to guess they got on well when you listen to the nuances and easy rhythms of Glenn’s music. He confesses to being influenced by Paul adding “to have him as a friend and playing on my album is simply a dream come true.”
Glenn has written the lyrics of all 14 songs on the album and plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano and saxophone as well as singing on all tracks, most of which also feature strings by the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra. The lyrics are remarkably profound with the theme of chance encounters and what they lead to, being paramount, clearly based on Glenn’s own eventful life.
Some concerned readers have wondered if there was any connection between my nightly dose of a couple of Virega capsules (see Newsletter 78) with my passionate desire to possess a love seat (Newsletter 79).
Who, they ask, is to share the love seat with me?
Alas, I have no choice in the matter as Ollie, the cat, has assumed squatter’s rights.
Made In Sri Lanka
Tomato Juice? Well, why not. Tomatoes grow here so why not produce tomato juice here too? It’s a welcome change from the thick, canned imported stuff. With the brand name “Pasha” and manufactured by the local company Edinborough Products (www.edinboroughfoods.com), this juice is sold in one litre bottles at Rs170 (97p; US$ 1.59). The label claims “no artificial colour added” and that it is “Halaal.”
With the local Worcester Sauce I mentioned in Newsletter 77 and Tabasco Sauce (alas not made in Sri Lanka) plus a squeeze of garlic, onion and lime juice, pepper and salt, shaken vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker, it makes a rousing “Bloody Mary.” Oops, that’s a “Bloody Shame” – I forgot the vodka.
There will be a full report on the wine tasting at the Silk Route Restaurant on Saturday 22 October quaffing wines from South Africa, Australia and Chile imported by Rockland Distilleries (Pvt) Ltd, next week (when I’ve recovered!)
Apollo Magazine gave a glowing review to the exhibition of portraits at the National Portrait Gallery that I attended in March this year. I especially liked this bit: “My favourite was a portrait of London Beat-poet Royston Ellis, a poet and friend of John Lennon who inspired the song ‘Paperback Writer’. Ellis gave a reading of one of his poems at the opening of the exhibition.”
The poem I read was called “Gone Man Squared.” It was written in 1959 as one of the poems I used to perform to music. It is included in my new eBook, BEAT: THE COLLECTED POEMS. This photo shows me performing in 1960 with a beaming Jimmy Page in the background.
Jimmy has written the introduction to the eBook. The eBook consists of several sequences of poems centred around the jazz clubs and night life of Soho and its street life. Many were published in book form during the 1960s and those books are unobtainable now unless you pay huge sums to rare book dealers.
There is a poem “Burn Up” that I wrote for backing by chamber music, about two motorcyclists “doing the ton on the M One motorway.” It was performed once but has never been published.
There are also poems set in Berlin when the wall dividing east and west was being built. Another sequence — “The Cherry Boy” — is set on the beaches of the Canary Islands, while the epilogue poem is a reflection inspired by Sri Lanka.
Andrew, my dedicated webmonster, has formatted all these poems into an eBook and set up a page on my website from which the eBook can be downloaded to your own computer. It took me a while to figure out how to do it on a test run, but it does work. If not, let me know.
Simply go to www.roystonellis.com/shop, click on the image of the cover of the book. That will take you to a page telling you a bit more about the book and to a sign that says ADD TO CART.
Click on that and a note will pop up saying you have successfully added the book to your shopping cart. Next go to check out and authorise the payment process (quoting a credit card number via Paypal; don’t worry, it’s safe).
The book only costs £ 2.99 and once payment is confirmed, you’ll receive an email with a link. Click on the link and the eBook will download to your computer.
I hope you enjoy the poems.
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