Friday, 19 March 2010

All in a days Thought....

What a busy time I've been having of late. I'm so happy that Chris Evans gave us the thumbs up on radio 2 on thursday morning. Thank you Chris!
I'm feeling tired this weekend. So I'm off to sit in silence on sunday.

My week has been busier than most,, radio interviews, rehearsals, gigs, photo shoots and teaching at school!

I gave a performance last night at the Cafe de Paris and had an early start. I found the crowd hard to perform to.. but good experience. My heels were so high I felt a little as I do when travelling on london underground.. in high heels on the escalators.. sometimes I have to hold on for dear life and look down and not move for fear of toppling backwards...

yesterday I had a moment of inspiration on the tube and now it's left me.... as I try to recall it it has disappeared. Perhaps it will come again....

So this weekend I've decided to be kind to myself as I feel tired. I'm going to do a one day meditation course on sunday and float in the evening. I should come out of sunday night a totally renewed person! at least that's what I'm hoping!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Musical Etiquette

Last week I performed at a gig on the same billing as Guy Chambers, Katie Melua, Faith SFX and Kirsty Almeida.

Kirsty and I had already agreed that I would help her out and play a little harp and do some singing with her. We had arranged to go over chords in sound check and squeeze in a little rehearsal. I played the harp on her last album and we've spoken more times than we've actually met.

I'm seated behind my harp and this girl walks in, pretty as a picture with shot cropped hair and a hat on her head. Not sure if she is Kirsty or not.. I greet her half enthusiastically,, more checking her response to me.. and a few mintues later it's her turn on soundcheck.

As I'm standing there staring at her I'm thinking, I'm just not sure if that is Kirsty.. I forgot how beautifully she sings.. she's much prettier than I remember....

Then the conversation that promptly follows between is the following..

Me: HI, I'm sorry I didn't recognise you you've cut your hair you look great. It's soo lovely
Girl on stage: Oh thanks, I just cut it a few days ago, pleased you like it.
Me: so... er do you still want me to do the songs...
GOS: ( long pause,, look of bewilderment) ... Oh .. er.. if you have the songs I'm happy to do them
Me: (that's wierd i thought she wanted me to do the songs for her) Oh.. so do you have the songs?
GOS: WEll if you get the songs I'll have a go for sure
Me: So do you know what chords there are? do you have chords?
GOS: If you bring me the chords I'll have a look? ( she's probably thinking .. nutter!)
Me: ( not wishing to e rude or let her down) But I think we probably needed to rehearse right?
GOS: yes I agree I think if we'd had time for the rehearsal it would have been better do them right?
Me: ( slight relief,, clearly this is Kirsty she's making reference to our rehearsal..) Yes... so I think we should leave it this time them if that's ok with you?
GOS: yes I agree with you,, that's fine by me.. maybe next time?

Of course 5 minutes later, the real Kirsty shows up and I realise It was Katie M and not Kirsty A with whom I was talking too.
I later went on to laugh about with Katie who must have thought I 'd gone totally insane,, but Hats off to you Katie.. you handled yourself with true grace, style and professionalism.

A lesson to you those of you out there in Musical Etiquette between two terribly polite artists not wishing to offend!

I later went on to embarass myself again in a brand new case of mistaken identity with somebody else that night, whom I merrilly insisted that I knew and had met last year and Steve and David's Christmas party. Clearly I'd drunk just a bit too much water that night!

Thursday, 1 October 2009




Turkey and the EU – Will it or Can it Ever Happen?
Lucinda Belle

Good Evening, Bonsoir, Hello United Kingdom and Nasilsin European Union. This is Turkey speaking, Abdullah Gul, President and leader of the AKP (Adalet ve kalkinma Partisi). We enjoyed this year’s show very much and some of us appreciated the suggestions and reforms put forward by the Eurovision countries (although some are out of tune with our current position). Having looked at our reforms, here are our results awarded to those countries most enthusiastic about Turkey’s accession towards the EU. Merci and Teşekkür ederim:

United Kingdom : Douze points
Spain: Dix points
Bulgaria: Neuf points

Portugal: Huit points
Ireland: Sept points
Italy: Six points
Greece: Cinq points

Denmark: Quatre points
Netherlands: Trios points
Germany: Deux points

Austria: Un point
France: Nil points

Eurovision song contest it isn’t but the issue of Turkey’s accession is not unlike a game of chess. Turkey’s earliest right of entry into the European Union is not until 2014 and so far the wrestle between the EU and Turkey is proving them both worthy opponents in a game that began in October 2005 (when EU - Turkey accession began) the question is will it be Turkey’s check mate five years from now?

I find it hard to believe that Turkey will have matured in the ways required of it in just five years. Indeed sceptics question whether Turkey will ever actually make it into the EU at all. This is a difficult question and in order to answer it, one must first understand Turkey’s motivation for wanting to join by looking at its internal dynamics and history that led it here.

Turkey’s constitution has until recently prioritised secularism over democracy. With the Republic of Turkey under Ataturk came an imposed modernising revolution. He insisted that the country’s future was to be a progressive modern and secular European State. This responsibility was at the military’s behest and not the government’s.

The military took on this role with a mighty fervour and have run with it ever since ensuring that secularism is the dominant force in Turkish politicking. With any sniff of Islamic rule or whiff of Sharia law the weight of the army’s fist has been felt through military coups, government overthrows, threats and corruption.

In 2008 the government changed the law to allow women the rights to wear a headscarf in universities. In response certain military heads and high-ranking officials tried to bring down the government. Their attempt failed and they were arrested and reprimanded. The officials took their case to court on the grounds that the government was not upholding Turkeys cherished principle of secularism. The military lost but the attempted coup forced the EU to threaten to end all accession talks. The Turkish government was ordered to take control of its military.

Turkey’s acceptance into the EU would drive forward secularism through modernisation. In the mid eighties Turkey’s Anatolian province, Kayseri (population 1 million and responsible for much of Turkey’s textile and furniture exports), proved that through the emergence of new industry and economic growth, a largely peasant society could be transformed into urban dwelling wage earners with modern requirements.

Turkish accession would also bring about a European globalisation, creating socialisation between countries through NGO’s, PPP’s, Universities and business co-ops. The more individuals and communities overlap the less they will be bound by their religious authority.

This desire for secularism through modernisation is a main contributing fact that continues to drive Turkey in its accession towards the EU. It shifts the balance of power towards the EU, for the effect of modernisation in its country through EU membership is currently worth so much to Turkey, it is almost a weakness that can be exploited by the EU.

Since having met the Copenhagen criteria in 2004 (the preservation of democratic governance, upholding of human rights and a functioning market economy) Turkey has stalled in furthering its reforms and obligations relating to the Acquis (the negotiating framework, the reforms necessary for accession, 35 chapters). This has further spurred on the Euro-sceptics giving them more opportunity to slap the wrists of their already unwelcome Islamic neighbours and causing contention among the Turkish Elite.

Turkey has adopted an inflexible stance more recently; having begun to appreciate the bargaining chips they hold through their geopolitical role. Turkey is tired of the EU treating it as a second rate candidate. They are demanding more respect and attempting to lay down their demands. But are they playing too dicey a game? How will entry into the EU affect their geopolitical position?

Turkey’s pivotal geographic location between Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus makes it the gateway between the West and the East. It is close to 70% of the world’s oil and gas resources and thus a natural energy bridge between oil producing countries and European consumer markets. This is of course one of the main advantages that the EU are set to gain from by granting Turkey membership and one of the reasons as to why they both need each other.

During his recent visit to Turkey President Obama praised it as not the country ‘where East and West divide’ but rather ‘where they come together.’ Since accession talks began, Turkey has received direct foreign investment from European companies in Germany, Austria, Greece and France (all countries less enthusiastic about EU membership) and is emerging as a key energy distributor with the development of the blue stream gas pipeline (Russia-Turkey), the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (Caspian Basin- Turkey). The fact that Turkey has received heavy foreign investment since accession talks began proves that they need each other. This developing relationship can act as a facilitator in the Turkish accession.

Over the past five years Turkey has also re built relations with other surrounding Islamic countries. It hosted a joint working group between Pakistan and Afghanistan, supported the EU with regards to the Iran nuclear program and the Middle East peace process and it saw relations improve positively with Syria. It is because of this and ongoing positive relations with these neighbouring Islamic countries that Turkey has an important strategic role in terms of Europe’s security.

But by joining the EU and leaning away from the middle east countries, will Turkey undo what its’ strived so hard to achieve? Are some of the Islamic countries likely to look at Turkey with biased eyes? Will they be inclined to withdraw given Turkey’s obvious allegiance with the West? If Turkey does achieve membership it instantly loses its neutrality. By joining, it is openly declaring alignment with Western values and joining the Christian club that is the EU. Turkey is walking a thin line and will have to tread very carefully if it is to continue to exert its influence in the Middle East whilst appeasing the EU.

But what of European public opinion on Turkey’s accession? There is still much fear surrounding the prospect of an Islamic migrant invasion. However, with a booming economy and new opportunities it’s perfectly possible that migration away from Turkey will not match the hype and that the overwhelming majority will seek a better life at home and not elsewhere in the EU.

It is the view of Islam and its place in a modern Turkey that some EU countries cite as a reason to oppose Turkey’s membership, despite the AKP’s vision of Turkey as a democratic-Islamic state. There is not much getting away from the fact that Turkey’s membership is unpalatable to those who see it as the end of the EU’s Christian club. The idea of an official Muslim voice and identity within the Union frightens many people.

My view is that both sides would benefit if the process of integration were carried forward successfully.

Turkey needs to work harder at continuing to make the necessary reforms, the largest problem being their unwillingness to incorporate Cyprus into their agreement. It needs to mature as a country and reshape its constitution. It has to do more than pay lip service to itself as a modern democratic-Islamic state – it must start believing it too. It should put more effort into promoting this image to Europe. Above all, if Turkey really does want membership, it must recognise that entering into this game with the EU means playing by the rules. If it’s going European it’s got to be prepared to surrender to the European way.

The EU needs to recognise Turkey’s full potential. It does need a shift in attitude and would benefit from taking on Barak Obama’s vision of unity. Apart from free access to a booming and growing economy, with any foresight the EU would be crazy to continue to patronize Turkey and would gain much from its membership. Turkey can prove to be a valuable and influential player on the world stage. It could offer assistance in achieving a peace deal between Israel and Syria, act as go between in dealings with Afghanistan and Iraq and play a pivotal role in other security related issues. It offers an important alternative for the EU’s energy options and should be embraced as an ally and not as some kind of Islamic threat.

Whether or not Turkey will achieve membership remains to be seen. Whilst researching this article I asked an eminent businessman his views on Turkey and this was his response: “it’s so unlikely to happen it’s not even worth discussing, I’d bet on a Mars Invasion over Turkey joining the EU.’ He thought some kind of economic alliance more beneficial.

I vote for a forward thinking approach and hope that the EU and Turkey can adopt one too. In order to move forward with the accession talks what is needed is positivity, faith and hope, ensuring that we are ahead of the game in this ever changing world.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


In Radio Years, I am at the age where I have grown tired of Magic FM - if that even still exists - with its BeeGees replays and Lionel Richie Songs that can still - at the appropriate moment - really mean something and hit you right in the heart. In true Bridget Jones style you want to sing out and cry all at the same time in your car… ‘Hello .. Is it me you’re looking for?’… And for those three magical minutes the song you’ve heard over a thousand times suddenly takes on new meaning and you realise the pure genius of it’s simplicity. Blah blah… Switch over and it’s some reggae pirate station. I outgrew that a decade ago when it finally dawned on me that it was better just to say ‘hello’ than ‘wa g’wan’ or ‘w’appnin’.

In my continuing search for something to satisfy my soul I pass by the relentless grinding of the endless dance stations that seem to be playing garage music. I thought we left that fad behind back in 2000. Along with two step, speed garage and Craig David, but it seems I’m mistaken. I pause on a local radio station to listen to Tracey Sharpe from Tring and John Mooring offering their for and against arguments on the “ importance of Morris Dancing”. Mooring’s dull, monotone voice - enough to put me to sleep - is offset by Tracey Sharpe’s hearty enthusiasm for the subject. Mastermind awaits her…

I find myself almost hypnotised, but just in time the horn from the car behind snaps me back to my senses and I scan the radio again, settling on old and rather familiar territory. On a journey such as this one, with a minimum of two and half hours left to drive, you’re going to need that safe shoulder to prop you up at the wheel… to keep your eyes from sagging (we hope) and stimulate your mind until you hear the gravel of the driveway crunching under your wheels. I could only be referring to Radio 4. That’s right, Radio 4. Two words which beg more than two questions.

What does that say about me? The first time you listen to radio 4 and take pleasure from it can only be described as a rebirth, a losing of virginity. You are so filled with this new found intellectual adrenaline that you can’t understand how or why you didn’t come to it sooner. What’s more, you can now proudly count yourself part of the Radio 4 listeners club. This enables you casually to drop into conversation some fact or titbit… something along the lines of ‘Green papaya helps to reduce cancer’ … giving you immediate Radio 4 status. But hang on. As it turns out you don’t really want this status do you, because in Radio years, you’re not Radio 4 are you? You’re not in your forties or fifties. Nor are you a stiff, intelligent, perhaps frustrated type in your mid-twenties either. It’s not until you tune in a second time that this occurs to you.

This time around it’s a program on the Australian yellow spotted frog. Professor Jack Jones from the Georgia Shwartz Institute of Biological Research, who recently won a Nobel prize for his works on the Australian yellow spotted frog and his finding that it could prove a cure for cancer by 2020, is being interviewed for at least an hour. An hour of your not so precious time, where you find yourself still listening to Jack Jones, trying to be interested, trying to wean another Radio 4ism… Just in case you ever find yourself discussing the varied habits of frogs. Perhaps you might be able to sway a conversation in that direction in order to impress upon your listener or – even better - listeners this life-changing information.

This of course is the awful moment you remember that you don’t want to be a part of the Radio 4 club after all, you’ve outgrown Magic, there’s a time and place for Heart FM (and now isn’t it) and Radio 1 has just become noise (a tell tell sign of age and proof that you are in fact heading towards the Radio 4 club). Radio 2 is acceptable, but let’s face it, pretty unpredictable in its output which changes with the time of day. And anyway, how many times can you listen to Five million bicycles in Beijing really? And Eva Cassidy hasn’t been dead long enough to justify the number of plays. And although you recognise that you too have fallen in love with her voice, her music just has not been out in the ether long enough for you to have your Lionel Richie epiphany moment.

Where do you go? Which wave can you ride? You’re lost. What do you do when you’re lost in your part time radio 4 listener thirties with no A-Z on radio routes? Well, you ponder this whilst driving comatose along the M3 in your car. You think about your life, where you are at, and you carry on getting lost, lost in your dreams and aspirations about all that you could be and could do. All the things you have not done too. And you start to compile a mental list. On that list is this one very important thing. Something that could reawaken something inside of you, that could get your brain ticking over faster than any Radio 4 scientific discovery ever could… what is it? It is of course to write a book! It goes without saying that the whole world is definitely going to want to know all about your life. Because you are so different, clever, witty, funny, why not?

In truth, the reason why you, reader, find yourself reading this is because I, the part time radio 4 listener, a woman almost mid thirties, found myself driving one day on my long distance journey pondering all I could be and thought to myself that very thought… light bulb moment… “I could write a book”… What type of book though? A novel would be too hard… Perhaps some short children’s books? No, the celebs have all done that…Perhaps some well researched book on the area where I live, Notting Hill. Nope, that’s been done… But I must write a book…. What can I write about, I’m not an author, am I ? Could I be?... Yes, of course I could!

As I ponder my new potential I’m drawn back to another Radio 4 interview. And what does the comedian being interviewed say? He says that when you hit 30 you suddenly feel the urge to write a book. It’s absolutely imperative. It’s urgent that we must at this juncture in our lives express our intellect through words. Not stop at contented ramblings in our diaries - if indeed we are sensible enough still to keep one. I’ve been trying to start a diary for about three months now. I even went to the largest Paper Chase in Tottenham Court Road and bought some fancy pink velvet book. I was tempted by the official teenage girl diary with its fluffy pom-pom pen attached and padlock that could be picked with your teeth, not to say a tooth pick. Back to the comedian’s thoughts on the subject of a book though. This desire suddenly to expose your great insights to the world apparently stems from the outgrowing of the teenage diary and a belief that you are now someone serious to be reckoned with in the world. You have status. A book would confirm this, wouldn’t it?

Before I can decide on a title though, the comedian is gone and the sound of gravel drowns out the radio.
Men in Trousers (Part III) 

The other highwaisted man and more...

The Other high waisted creature is the antithesis to our first character. He is tall, a man of rather large but well proportioned stature. He wears a full trouser with front pleated pockets with half inch turn ups. He is averageing a height of 6ft 4 to which he must be thankful for he is able to carry off this classic 1950’s highwaist banded look only because of it.

I have tended to find this character on his way to work in Sothern Tennessee or Texas. I have yet to find him in Europe although I’m sure several must exist. He is a hard working and decent community fairing man who has done well for himself and stepped out of the mold in his own way. He is elegant and well groomed but he is not outrageous and will tend to wear this trouser in colours such as beige, burgundy, mustard or light tan. I would like to remind the reader that we are not in Europe and therefore must point out that in the southern states of America the above mentioned colour palette on a trouser or suit could with the right man and right style would easily be recognizable as smart and elegant. An acceptable unoutrageous colour palette.

There is little else to say about this man other than his smart but pragmatic leanings have lead him away from fashion and trend and so he can be found wearing a short sleeved shirts on a good day in white and on a bad day a paler shade of his chosen trouser colour i.e. khaki trouser, pale green shirt. Not nice! But somehow this man possible because of his nice disposition manages to supersedes the catwalks of fashion for he walks to his own southern step and sits comfortably in his heavy black leather brogues. In short he carries it off!

The Linen Man

1. The Creative Exec

This man is happy to wear linen because he is happy in himself. He is secure enough in his disposition not to allow the creases at the knees and thighs to affect his mood or day. He is taken seriously in the creative world in which he lives, therefore his casual linen look is allowed, almost preferred. He spends his days almost certainly in media and surrounded by media types be it TV, film or advertising but this man is a more bohemian linen wearer unlike his European contemporary. He is most probably aged 40+ but some youngers have been known to adopt this trouser look. He’ll be opting for the light beige or chocolate brown linen trouser or suit with loose tailoring, and a wide legged trouser, worn either with short sleeve but stylishly buttoned linen shirt or for the man in his younger years a plain round necked T-shirt. The trendy type can be found in opened toe smart leather sandals, stamping out their more bohemian identity or the more conservative type will settle for a suede or leather slip on brogue, suitable for street walking or perhaps chair sitting in Lords cricket ground with a panama propped on head to boot.

2. The European Aristocrat

This man too can be found sporting a panama to shade him from the sun as he sips a glass of rose from his own vineyard whilst seated at the head of the family table with views that look out on to Tuscan hills and valleys. He is wealthy and likes to enjoy life. He is naturally sophisticated and so to throw on a creaseless cream linen suit of which many hang in his wadrobe is indeed not at all an occasion for him. He is 65+ and chivalrous to younger ladies. His confidence supported by sharp tailoring and crisp white Italian shirts. His friendly laid back side is reflected in his brown suede tassled moccasins, most probably Salvatore Ferragano; accompanied by silk socks which suggest to the trained eye that here is a distinguished man who like the silk he wears is refined but strong. A man with texture with the inate ability to achieve great things, threading together the lives of others around him that he slips into with charisma and charm. His face, unlike his trousers bear the creases of time and character.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


‘Without Prejudice’
Incase of controversy I would like to pre empt my next paragraph with a statement of explanation. For the purposes of wit and fluency, I will be drawing from stereo-types which will require you reader to take in all the information with a lightness of mind. I would like to establish that I have dated men from all sizes, creed, colour, background and age and I am not in any way racist or prejudice.

The High Waisted Man

There are two obvious types of this creature. The small and the tall. So as not to offend our smaller man any more than his natural disposition denotes, let me begin with him.

Unlike others of average height and stature the underlying small foundations upon which he is built have created a man that needs to be seen, heard, recognised and above all stand out in a crowd. He is successful, witty charming, aggressive, all of which have earned him his desired achievements. However he is and will always be small and thus in his attempt to be taller has found himself outkast neither man nor woman for he has chosen this path, by the very trousers to which he clings.

He has learned from fashion experts and from the female species that highwaisted trousers are pretty much a flattering look all round. They synch in your waist, (I imagine for this man he believes this will enlarge his gym created pecks) and above all they elongate your legs. But there is one vital guidance rule that our creature has passed over . This applies to Women and NOT MEN. This is infact a NO GO ZONE for any creature in possession of a penis. Alas in his vain attempt to be taller and recognised he has shortened his body which he shows off in tight fitting round necked white or black long sleeved t shirts and his boot leg black jeanz that rest on a pair of heeled cowboy boots have all added to the demise of his taller attempts. On some occasions this quick thinking man will team this up with a sharp tailored Italian black suit jacket, worn button open. Once again beckoning the eye not to the length of his legs but only to his offensively high waist band as pronounced as the equator itself, causing not time confusions and jetlag but gender disorientation. His designer belt acts only as a combined light house/ chastity belt alerting women sailing through dark nights to steer clear and redirect for they have fallen off-course.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

MEN IN TROUSERS ( part 1 )

Having just return to London from a month away in the French countryside consequently I have found that I now possess the most curious powers of observation that allow me to idle away my time at traffic lights in my borrowed rather old red colt observing snap shot glimpses of other peoples’ movements and their imaginary lives.

The more I write the more apparent it is that my most creative amblings take place in my car, the upside of London’s traffic is that it allows me to do this. Normally on an everyday A –B journey from west to south London my powers of observation usually draw me to random faces in the street whom by some mysterious universal power unbeknown to me manage to connect eyes with me even perhaps when I’m travelling at 30. My other usual tendencies are to twist my head so far around whilst driving that one would think I’m trying to emulate an owl, all for the interesting display of antiques in a shop window in particular one shop on the corner of Wandsworth bridge road. Perhaps I might also find myself gazing with a mixture of admiration, regret and wisdom at some young girl who has tooth pick legs poking out of a ra ra skirt resting on a peachy bottom with everything that youth has to offer on her side. Whilst staring at her I also observe about 3 other men staring in her direction too.

Oh the powers of observation and imagination can make for a far more interesting time alone. On this particular day though such is the feeling of abnormality at doing my A-B from west to south after a month away, that my eye is caught by a mature gentleman on a back street in Chelsea who is filling his meter next to his rather old and inconspicuous silver estate. I noticed that he was balding but was the owner of a faded tan that had turned his crown golden. He had a friendly face that carried laughter lines and deep inset eyes that had soften at the edges through time flanked by crowsfeet all of which gave him an air of gentle sophistication and perhaps a man who had known wealth in his time. Then my eyes lowered and before I could even take in his shirt and and jumper I was overcome by the muted red trousers he was wearing. Red trousers! Well immediately I jumped to the assumption that he was of course a Sloane ranger, bohemian, clearly had money, had a creative streak (obviously being expressed in the wrong way) and most probably a member of the Chelsea Arts Club.

Seriously though what is it with men and red trousers? To be clear I’m describing a particular type of red trouser. The one that is either a jean, cheeno or cord, a shade of red that could not qualify trendy or even euro trash which would be more of a shocking lipstick red. This red is a deeper red that could even translate as odd shade of dark pink to the foreign eye once faded by the many spins and cycles it’s endured through the washing of time.

One of my father’s friends can also from time to time be found clad in these rather unstylish and pointless pantalons that are a beacon for all to see pointing to the rather obvious flaw in his character. Who in their right mind would choose to be seen in public wearing them? It was this question that spurred me on and caused me to pose the question what do trousers say about their owners? Women spend their lives being mercilessly judged on their appearance and we are all well aware that what we put on in the morning can affect how we are received during our day. Our clothes represent our mood, our personality, our sense of identity, our femininity, our sexual awareness and our empowerment. Our clothes say soo much about us so what do men’s trousers say about them?