The Last Call Tour – Mary Black supported by Sharon Shannon

The Farewell Tour of Mary Black supported by Sharon Shannon. Held at St Davids Hall, Cardiff on 15th May 2015.

They both perform Celtic folk music. Mary sang mostly ballads supported by her band but I preferred Sharon’s completely instrumental support/warm up act where she played the melodeon (diatonic button accordion) and had one very skilled guy playing the guitar and piano simultaneously. It was a very enjoyable evening although it had more of an older crowd if I am honest. Certainly I would go see Sharon Shannon again albeit I think such music is better suited to a venue where you can get up and dance a bit if you want as a few did in the aisles eventually.

Although Mary said she would still be performing in Ireland after this farewell tour the entire concept of farewell tours means nothing nowadays considering how many artists have said it was their final tour only to then have a few more and joke about how each one with definitely be the final one. She’ll be touring again soon enough no doubt. If anything the final tour or performance often doesn’t get recognised until far later when there is no further concerts.

As for the venue the auditorium has good seating with plenty of leg space however I think sometimes some sound technicians have a bit of an issue with the venue’s acoustics during some performances I have attended here in the past. The bar refused to take orders for the interval until they were ready – which was two minutes after they were asked as apparently the protocol is they announce it over the intercom at a set time first then take the orders which is poor customer service when they had at best 5 people at the bar to be serving. After the event they had Mary signing and taking photos in a very low lit area which was bad enough to happen except the theatre manager himself was stood right there for over 15 minutes fully aware of this and made no effort to move the stool and free standing background to a nearby well lit area which was shameful. He later went to help advise how to set up the next day’s Punjabi community event offering anyone interested a taste of their culture but did not lift a finger to help them. There is a ‘friends corner’ which doubles as a autograph table and very well lit merchandise area where Sharon Shannon could be found both during the interval and after the show signing and taking photos with everyone whether they bought anything or not. Poor effort by St David’s Hall on the night but it didn’t spoil anyone’s enthusiasm. The musicians themselves exemplified that Irish informal friendliness and charm you hear so much about.

A great evening of Irish folk music only slightly marred by poor venue management decisions.

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Mary Black (born 23 May 1955) is an Irish singer. She is well known as an interpreter of both folk and contemporary material which has made her a major recording artist in her native Ireland, and in many other parts of the world. For a number of years, ‘What Hi-Fi?’ magazine considered Black’s voice to be so pure, that it was used as an audiophile benchmark for comparing the sound quality of different high fidelity systems. Music critic and lyricist Michael Leahy once said: “Over the years, Mary Black has come to define what many people see as the essence of Irish woman singers: profound, slightly ethereal and beyond the reaches of trends.” Today, Black is held in high esteem in her native Ireland and beyond and is regarded as one of the most important Irish vocalists of her generation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Black

Sharon Shannon (born 12 November 1968 in Ruan, County Clare) is an Irish musician. She is best known for her work with the accordion and for her fiddle technique. She also plays the tin whistle and melodeon. Her 1991 album Sharon Shannon is the best selling album of traditional Irish music ever released there. Beginning with Irish folk music, her work demonstrates a wide-ranging number of musical influences, including reggae, cajun music, Portuguese music, and French Canadian music. Her single What You Make It (da, da, da, da) featured hip hop music artists. She won the lifetime achievement award at the 2009 Meteor Awards.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharon_Shannon


There was a longer draft but my computer shutdown suddenly and I lost it all. You may not have heard of either of these Irish musicians so its a good introduction to them at least.

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Why People ‘+1’ Your Achievements During Conversations

You know the type. You are having a conversation and they come along with the express intent of one upping anyone else in the conversation.

They’ve been there and done more than you. No matter how much you did they had done that little bit extra which was beyond you or you had been ignorant of at the time. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt is their mantra. They thought nothing of it, as if it were a stroll in the park, and had totally forgotten about it until you mentioned it just now. It was that mundane an event to them though it was something you had felt achievement in until a moment ago.

But why do they do this? Where did this habit come from?

At least in Britain, and places later influenced by it, we have the traditions of the Celtic culture to blame. Warriors would take part in boasting contests while sharing a drink. You would make as big a boast as you could with the aim of outdoing all the others’ claims in order to gain prestige. Much of the entertainment came from how ridiculous and unachievable some of these claimed would get. But you could never call someone a liar as that was completely inappropriate during this communal event. As long as you could back up your boast e.g. I killed 20 Romans then it was okay and if you died in the effort of doing this then it was considered an honourable death and no one would dare call such a brave man a liar or fool as he had led, what for them, was a good warrior life (plus you were going to Annwn/the otherworld which was like the Norse Valhalla but more peaceful). If however you lived and were proven wrong in your claims then you were ripe to be humiliated. Admittedly there is more to it but that is the basic origin of it and it should be remembered that this was part of the traditions and culture of the Celts and though not as easily recognised as things like ‘the green man’ or the Eisteddfod it is part of the heritage of Celtic life which remained ingrained in the later Christianised Britons.

So how does this tradition of boasting continued into modern life? The most obvious example can be seen in the ‘Four Yorkshire Men’ sketch by Monty Python showing how this tradition of boasting parties where you one up your contemporaries is still well and alive in the modern era.

So when you encounter someone ‘+1ing’ your conversation just remember it might be part of their cultural heritage!
(They are still being incredibly rude though…)

Real Life Lessons: Is It Better To Be An Introvert Than An Extrovert?

A child should be seen and not heard. Introverts are rarely the first to get culled in times of group conflict.

Today’s real life lessons for little children: You know when the teacher asks the class a question and you don’t put your hand up to volunteer an answer? That’s instinct and it is what ensured the survival of many a species over the course of history. ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ eliminates the most visible first not those who keep their heads down and who keep their personal agendas to themselves. You can still excel past your peers but you will not be as recognised as others in your lifetime. It has happened many a time in the sciences most notably between Thomas Edison, the extrovert showman of science, and Nikola Tesla who has now become semi-mythologised.

But where in real life history did this apply? Stalin’s purges of course! When he got rid of the best and brightest in Russian society because he considered them a threat to him! Some intelligentsia survived through the sheer instinctive ability to lay low and not promote themselves in such a way that attracted his attention such as the curators at the Hermitage. They protected it’s abstract art collection, which was of course in storage, by citing that none other than Lenin himself had commended the pieces as examples of exemplary art (and thus it was beyond question to consider destroying them in line with the social realism expected of Soviet artwork as Lenin’s opinions were a quasi-deified ‘law’ in the early Soviet society). An extrovert would be unable to do this and ultimately would have ‘disappeared’ under their own power to foreign lands in exile or through government agencies’ enforcement for a sojourn in a Siberian gulag they would never return from.

“But I didn’t come here for lazy generalisation about the Soviet Union” I hear you cry!

Of course not, but it demonstrates a situation where behaviour associated with introversion aided survival albeit via ‘blat’ i.e. blackmarket dealing and knowing the right people in positions of authority (which you could argue required charisma usually associated with the extrovert of society). Ultimately knowing who to trust and not betraying others intentionally, or by having a big mouth, was key to many affiliations. Also it should be said Russians, and perhaps Slavs in general, are not all stony faced xenophobes but, due to their histories, need their trust gained first but then will stick with you through thick and thin. Tough exteriors with a soft centre. Like a particularly luxuriant caramel chocolate bar. Or an egg… yes, they’re good eggs.

Time to do the bullet points as you probably skipped reading the paragraphs…

Introverts will put up with you shit and laugh at your crap jokes – just what everyone wants in a partner though they only ask for world travelling adventurers on dating sites.
• An introvert is not distracted by petty things and can focus on a task. Like a trained army sniper. Like a hypnotised chicken.
They will value interaction. ’SOMEONE’S ACTUALLY SPEAKING TO ME! I DO ACTUALLY EXIST’ they will think.
• Incredibly naïve due to not learning the unwritten, unspoken, ‘rules of society’ at the school of hard knocks/life. Want to borrow something? Sure, of course, no questions asked! Then you need never return the item. Start little by borrowing pens and eventually you will be borrowing cars and squatting in their house, rent free, eating them out of house and home like a loveable little farting gremlin.
People love an underdog. Introverts are underdogs by nature. Eyore is the icon of such in children’s literature. People like Tigger in short bursts but often consider him to be an annoyance. Everything ‘a tigger does best’ turns out to be done badly. People adore Eyore and the house at Pooh Corner was built for him by the others as he was so loved by them despite being a sarcastic and bitter old soul.
If raising an introvert child they will likely not run off and become the subject of news regarding their disappearance. In fact they probably won’t leave your side once their spirit is properly broken and of course due to this they will always fail to have successful relationships as people aspire to partners who improve their station in life which first and foremost requires confidence i.e. extrovert tendencies. Therefore with an introvert child you will have an on hand servant for all occasions for the rest of your life.
They don’t need to be supervised constantly. Stick them in a cupboard for nine months to work and you won’t hear a word of complaint and all the work will be completed anyway without you contacting them once during that entire period. Matilda, Harry Potter, there are many examples of such noble figures in children’s literature they should aspire to be like.
• An introvert, not actively seeking to have their existence validated by others every single moment of the day, will be able to learn new skills quicker if taught properly in a formal situation. If you say jump they don’t ask how high because they already overheard you say what height you desired in a conversation you had earlier in their presence.
• ‘Good Communication Skills’ means that people don’t ignore what you say because you say so little there must some value to it. Except if you say the building is capable of turning into a giant kaiju fighting robot. Then they will either be unsure if you are telling the truth, as you are not one to make general joking banter, or if you are quietly insane and hence there is a reason why people do not speak to you. No the building does transform. It’s the only explaination for it’s design…
An introvert thinks first then speaks. They usually make more constructive points compared to extroverts who adopt a ‘throw everything and see what sticks’ mentality because they ‘work the numbers’. However they will also probably say the boring common sense answers too which an extrovert will have not said as it is obvious and thus admonish them for even wasting their time stating.
An introvert will listen to your problems but there is no onus on you to reciprocate this. Their lives are mostly fantasy in their head, not doing anything actually interesting in the real world as they are so used to sitting in a room alone, so it would be hard to communicate anyway as its all theory. They’re a sounding board for all life’s griefs.
Ultimate team players. Will listen and co-operate with others. Unquestioning cannon-fodder. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir! Like dunking a hobnob biscuit they just keep going absorbing more and more and want more still without breaking! Challenges are welcomed not moaned about. More, more, more! Masochists to the end!
• Spend so much time imagining all the variables they are over prepared for many things. Introverts are the real world equivalent of Batman!
Easily fade into the crowd. Super spies are not like James Bond but that person who face and name you can’t remember but you know was there for a long time in the place you used to work at but made absolutely no impression on you. Like Harry Palmer played by Michael Caine in the Ipcress File.
As leaders they are the type to bring out the best in individuals as they consider others views, even if they do not agree, as they want the best outcome… but then they are so poor at self-promotion they will not be a leader without a senior staff member noticing, while the extrovert is vocally announcing each minute task they have completed in order to be praised, or by being the founder of the organisation.
To introverts the happiness of others takes precedent over their own desires. They will not be able to communicate this. It is traditionally the Celtic/Gaulish notion of love i.e. if you truly love something let it go / their happiness makes you happy, even if it is with another/ love is free not something to be locked away / etc. Hence the annoyance from locals when all those padlocks were placed on the Pont de Arts Bridge in Paris by foreign visitors. To the locals it was as if the people who did this completely misunderstood the notion of love. Obviously this means introverts are very lonely people who will wind up caring for their parents in their old age as carers while their peers have gone off having families. End of a blood line but then the world is over populated as it is.
• Introverts will suffer multiple small failures rather than single big failures like extroverts leaping in before they look. Easier to cover up and more forewarning before everything goes to hell.
You can push and push an introvert but be aware: they may be a ticking time bomb and you don’t want to be there when they explode! But most introverts internalise their anger and so will suffer depression long before expressing their anger outwardly. So you probably shouldn’t worry at all. In fact if you hate them just start the snowball rolling and the rest of it will take care of itself. Win/win situation.
Very often the heroes in popular stories are introverts with poor communication skills e.g. Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, many of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western roles, protagonists in computer games (although in this case they are supposed to be a ‘blank slate’ the player imprints themselves on) and most other action hero roles. Men of action not empty words.
• Ironically though in real life there is a contrast due to the cliché of ‘he was a quiet man, kept to himself…’ regarding murderers in media reports usually the truth is that the person involved was very socially skilled and highly active in their community thereby gaining peoples’ unquestioning trust which they go on to later betray. The most famous and, in a dark way, ‘successful’ serial killers like Ed Gein or Ted Bundy were highly socially skilled sociopaths not introverts at all but dangerous outsiders in society will always be portrayed as introverts as it goes against the basic nature of Homo Sapiens as a social animal living in co-operative communities.
• They will be prone to sarcasm or constant attempts at humour to express disagreement before stating it bluntly and offending others like an extrovert would.
• More often than not they are likely to have taken the moral lessons learned in childhood and maintained them into adulthood. Stupid things others grow out of like telling the truth, being honest, putting others before yourself or superstitions like not screwing others over otherwise it will come back to you three fold.
Will work to the best of their ability and take personal responsibility for their actions. In fact to such an extent they will be hyper sensitive to any minor criticism and likely offer to commit seppuku (also known as hara-kiri) at a moment’s notice to retain the team’s honour. Paranoia and an ever present dread of criticism will likely only aid in motivating they to provide only the highest level of service.
Will work with anyone. Even the most antisocial and aggressive people without uttering a word of complaint. Again may lead them to internalising and self-destructive behaviour but then there are plenty of other people you can employ to replace them aren’t there?
‘Hell is other people’ – Introverts can and probably will prefer working alone for the most part but having people to speak to will remind them they are disposable and ensure their compliance. You may be lucky and they actually get on with the people they work with. Anyway you play it it’s a win/win situation with introverts.

If your child is extrovert and you would prefer an introvert child then you need to do a few things. First break their will. Sit them in silence at meals. Isolate them from other children to ensure their social skills are those of an adult and so they have a hard time acclimatising with people of their own age and generation for the rest of their lives. If they rebel use excess force. You only have to do it once as it will be like a nuclear deterrent. Everyone saw what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and so the atom bomb only ever had to be used once to make sure everyone knew their place despite and the gesturing nuclear powered nations make towards one another. Occupy the child’s time. Get them after school lessons that ensure not only are they indoctrinated into measuring their live via achievement but also during this time you have a bit of peace and quiet for yourself as they are being baby sat. Don’t do anything deemed ‘child friendly’. They are there to serve you. Go to places that don’t cater to children. Insist on sitting around for long periods of time with no activities for them to do. The boredom will make them use their imagination more and more until it overtakes their social skills and they are like a little pack mule you have trundle along after you though of course, like many mules, if you chose to use your introvert child this way they will likely be for all intent and purposes infertile as they will be unable to form successful relationships so do not expect any grandchildren.


This is a satirical companion piece to my previous ‘be extrovert rather than introvert’ entry. https://ramblingatthebridgehead.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/real-life-lessons-be-extrovert-not-introvert/

Both have their benefits and their problems. Most people exist somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the two extremes. Isuppose the stereotype is that extrovert are living life to the full while introverts leads a somewhat tragic existance not achieving their potential.

Regarding the ongoing ear ache saga: Keeping a hot water bottle on my ear for hour upon hour until my ear was bright red has done wonders. Not fully overcome the ailment but leaps and bounds beyond where I was yesterday. At least I can sit vertically and use a laptop this evening.