Classic Singers 10 – Cyndi Lauper (she’s pretty amazing)

So, on to the last of my 10 classic singers. It has to be Cyndi Lauper. Like most people I first heard her in 1984 when Girls Just Wanna Have Fun roared up the charts. What an energising song it is. The album She’s So Unusual was packed with great songs – it’s still one of my favourite albums. Before she hit the big time, Cyndi as with Blue Angel – a sort of country, rock-billy band. I chose one of their songs in my 5 songs below.

So after her first album she carried on with True Colours which included the song of the same name, since recorded by zillions of other artists, as have many of her songs. And on and on from there.

Later on Cyndi Lauper branched out and recorded At Last an album of cover versions, and she has since go on to release Memphis Blues. I heard her sing on her 2011 concert in Perth on the supporting that album. I was no disappointed – I was in awe, thought she was fabulous and generally excellent. I was on a high for a while afterwards. She played the blues songs and some of her earlier hits. I really enjoyed her a-Capella version of Sally’s Pigeons. I even wrote a poem about that concert which you can find on this blog – it’s called When She Sings.

I won’t go into too much detail, because it’s all written in many places on the internet.

I could happily have picked 20 songs, it was hard to choose five. And I couldn’t – so, I chose 6 songs for Cyndi– I do like her voice a lot. She deserves an extra song!

Sally’s Pigeons – I didn’t hear this until recently, well a few years ago, but what a song, a story about childhood. I love the simplicity of the introduction – it shows how good Cyndi’s voice is. There is a lot of emotion and feeling in this, a hark back to childhood. A really beautiful song.

All Through the Night – I first heard this on Radio one when they were reviewing new singles. I thought, ‘this is a hit.’ Not in the UK it wasn’t – at least not a major one. I was gobsmacked, but itdid better elsewhere. It is one of my favourite Cyndi Lauper songs. I just love it, and it was a treat when I heard her sing it live too.

Time After Time – this is a great song. I never get tired of listening to it. There is a gentleness to it that crossed the airwaves. Like All Through the Night, this is off She’s So Unusual and another reason that album is so good. This song inspired my poem When She Sings

I’m Gonna Be Strong – from her time with Blue Angel, Cyndi Lauper made this Gene Pitney song her own, thanks to her stellar voice. A great song, but Cyndi sings it, it just cuts right through you. I’ve chosen a video of her singing with Blue Angel – it gives me goosebumps every time.

It’s Hard To Be Me – A bit of a change of pace. I can‘t remember the movie that I first heard this song in. I’m sure it was during a movie. It’s upbeat, satirical, and made me laugh, as well as just lovin’ that voice of hers. A bit of punk influence in this.

At Last – The bonus 6th song! A cover version, but a great song. Cyndi Lauper shows that she can sing other styles. So laid back, so cool, so Cyndi…

So that’s it for now, although I have a couple of others in mind that I might do later on. But for now I’m going to 10 Classic Albums, starting next year.





Bandar-e Anzali

I have just about begun thinking about my trip to Iran last year…some poems are coming out. This a draft – probably.

Bandar-e Anzali

Bandar-e Anzali hummed,
ships unloaded, loaded –
meandered, or sat
at rest, unemployed
sailors sipped covert brews
stray cats prowled the port’s
unwary fishermen for scraps
of bait, discarded, staring
out into the grey
Caspian Sea morning.


We boarded a small wooden boat
cruised past the steel giants
on through the town,
into the lagoon beyond,
fifteen thousand hectares of wetland
thick with reeds, birdlife,
interrupted silence,
and the aroma of diesel
brought with us, its rainbow
colours reflecting off
still murky waters.


As we headed back to port
the outboard motor drowned out
the bird’s calls.

Silence… is coming soon

My collection of awesomely fabulous poetry should be available next week on Amazon (see cover below) hopefully as a print-on-demand paperback as well as an e-book.



A Message From the Director-General

The Department for Avoiding the Blame (DAB) is recognised as one of the world’s leading government departments.

By virtue of DAB’s size, experienced directors, incomprehensive and random policies, and resolute stance on not making any significant decisions, it has maintained a world class bureaucratic system that defers or ignores at least 80 percent of decisions it is asked to make or questions it is asked to respond to. This level of inefficiency has not been achieved anywhere else in the world.

Our knowledge of our politicians is by no means complete. We are learning how our new cabinet, and we are still trying to understand the short and long term consequences of the various intellectual capability of the various Ministers, such as those including health, climate change, and treasury.

The Annual Report (2012) provided a snapshot of our indicators. It showed that we were achieving an acceptable level of hot air output and that there was an increasing level of confusion in the general community about the purpose of DAB. While our structure was in reasonable shape, the report did indicate that there were emerging opportunities to add additional layers of bureaucracy to the system and that a sound strategic plan should identify where DAB can act on these opportunities.

The Government has made recent statements about reviewing and restructuring the government machine, including making risky changes to speed up decision-making within the bureaucracy. It has also flagged merging and splitting departments.

All of this creates potential risks for DAB and other departments, however DAB’s leadership team are committed to maintaining it aim of succeeding at the expanse of everybody else and will continue to work towards that goal.

DAB can play an important role in the workings of government.  It has the duty – on behalf of all of the public and, more importantly, the many esteemed ancestors of the current bureaucracy, to rigorously refuse to make progress on any proposals or policies, and to determine what impact this will have in inconveniencing other departments and private companies, and whether those impacts and obstinate refusal to use common-sense are of sufficient bloody-mindedness to frustrate everybody to an acceptable level.

Based on its own analysis, and drawing on the best scientific advice from other areas of Government, academics and the private sector, DAB will then ensure that it has the required tool to avoid blame for any delays and or financial losses. If it does its job well it will remain largely anonymous.

DAB also provides strategic advice to Government on key issues so that it can engineer its continuing anonymity and gain large slices of funding at the expense of other departments and non-government organisations without being asked to produce anything of any substance in return.

The complexity and volume of matters now coming to DAB, and increasing community expectations about the rigour and timeliness of decisions, means that DAB is failing, to some extent, in its quest for anonymity, it must therefore continue to embrace, and even promote, reform to ensure that roadblocks are placed where most effective and that the development of Government Function Inhibitors (GFI) progresses in a timely and efficient manner.

This Strategic Plan outlines the context in which DAB currently operates and its strategies and priorities for the period 2010-2013.  The plan also articulates DAB’s vision for reforming its practices to stay abreast of the changing social and economic conditions in which it operates.

Finally, this Strategic Plan is not a static document. It will be regularly reviewed and refined to better focus the efforts of DAB in fighting needless and expensive efforts to smooth out the current administrative systems to ensure that it meets its obligations to enrage and frustrate the community, business and the Government of the day.


Bartholomew Menzies-Thatcher

Director General

March 2010

Classic Singers 9 – Sally Doherty

The voice is an instrument in itself and some people use it just so much better than others. And every now and then you come across a singer that makes you take notice, somebody with a voice that just catches you. I remember this happening when I bought Plant Funk’s album Non Zero Sumness. Three of the songs had a voice that hypnotised me with its quality. It gave me goosebumps. That voice belonged to Sally Doherty.

There aren’t many singers who can hold my attention with their voice, but she is one. I can imagine that she would be able to sing unaccompanied and still entrance an audience. I regret that I have never seen her perform, but I live on the other side of the world. If I still lived in Stafford, I’d be making a point of hearing her sing live. Such is life.

However, some research led me to discover that Sally has been singing for a while and has collaborated with many different musicians along the way. There have been albums by Sally Doherty, Sally Doherty and Paul Kilvington, Sally Doherty and the Sumacs, the Sally Doherty Quartet, and in addition to this she has sung on albums by Planet Funk, Richard Hawley, and Donald Grant among others.

She sings in a variety of styles including Latin Jazz, pop, a bit of club music, and I’m sure her voice is versatile enough to sing in many more styles. Forgive me if I haven’t got more to say, but I don’t a lot more than that. I just love listening her voice.

So, onto the 5 songs. There are a limited number of songs featuring Sally Doherty on youtube, but I have found five to link to – all excellent and varied in their styles:

1. Under the Rain – This is from Non Zero Sumness, by Planet Funk. Sally Doherty wrote the melody and lyrics as well as singing. It’s an entrancing song that is like being taken on a relaxing train ride while at the same time trying to resist the urge to get up and dance. I don’t have a lot of this style of music, but  I still play this a lot on my iPod because as a song, it’s the complete package.

2. All Man’s Land – Another one from Non Zero Sumness. This is slower than Under the Rain, but almost hypnotic. It’s the verbal equivalent of having a massage. If I listen to this on a tense day at work, it brings me down to an equilibrium. I can feel my muscles de-stress.

3. Historia de a Amor­ – This is one in the latin jazz style and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand Spanish, but I believe that this song title translates as something like A Love Story…but don’t quote me on that. However, I don’t need to understand the language to appreciate the voice on this. Have a listen and you’ll see what I mean. A good voice like Sally’s conveys the emotion and the ‘vibe’. You don’t need to understand the words.

4. The Very Thought of You­ – Another jazzy song. Another great exhibition of singing. Another song I could listen to again and again. It’s very mellow. It’s lovely. I could go on, but I won’t.

5. Watching the Horses – This is a great combination of piano and voice, along with some strings (cello?) A slow track with rhythm is almost like a swell washing up on the shore. Not sure what style I’d call this, but it’s a little bit folky, perhaps?


If you want to find out more about Sally, her website is

One more Classic Singer to go, before I get into some albums. Who will it be?

I have an idea for a song…

Maybe it’s been done before – but here goes

Politician’s promises

what are they good for

hah! absolutely nothing

say it again

What do you reckon?

I’ve Been Thinking…

I’ve been thinking, and that doesn’t happen too often. What I’ve been thinking about is how you know when you have made it as a Civil Servant (or Public) Servant.

You may find yourself asking yourself how you will know when you are fitting successfully into the government machine. You may question yourself about whether you are suitable for government service. This is only natural, as we all need encouragement from time to time. You should look out for the following signs that will show you to be successfully institutionalised.

  • You get nervous when your diary does not show at least three meetings organised for the coming day.
  •  You get uncomfortable at training courses where you are encouraged to write or speak without using jargon because your manager is always insisting you write gibberish.
  •  You find yourself gaining immense satisfaction when a member of the public yells at you down the phone.
  •  You immediately understand jargon, such as community capacity building, and even know how to fit it into a sentence.
  •  The idea of working more than 7.5 hours a day causes you to break out into a cold sweat.


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