Michael Brook

You may not know the name Michael Brook, composer, producer, musician, but it’s very possible you have heard his music or seen a film where he has contributed to the soundtrack. Films like “An Inconvenient Truth”, “Brooklyn” or “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower”.

We first heard Mr B when he opened a concert for Fripp and Sylvian at the Royal Albert Hall. He also played with the band, using his “infinite guitar“. His solo set is not available, but the Fripp/Sylvian concert is on CD.

He has done a lot of film and production work, and many collaborations, but we want to commend his solo albums.

Cobalt Blue/Live At The Aquarium are both great albums and are available together (1992).

We love the album RockPaperScissors (2006) or Bellcurve (2007), a mixture of orchestral, guitar, songs, poetry. Bellcurve is technically a remix of the other but both are great to listen to, full of invention and a great overall sound.

The only problem with Mr Brook is that his music is hard to find on physical media, but it can be found. Even finding clips is hard:

But not impossible:

Scams 2

we are very aware that the more we write about scams, the worse it seems, so, a few more words of advice:

  • don’t panic – it’s very unlikely it’s personal, they have probably sent the same scam to millions of people
  • if it’s vague, imprecise etc, it’s wrong.
  • if you panic, you will say or do something that may make the situation worse. It’s what they want you to do.
  • if it seems to be from a company you do use, eg Amazon (sorry Amazon) saying eg your account has been charged tonnes of money, don’t follow any link, don’t reply or ring any number, first just look at your account on-line and see what state it’s in. If all looks fine, change your password and forget it (or maybe report it).
  • be aware that there are companies who sell on your information to others to mis-use, so quoting something basic to you like a first name or postcode is no proof it’s not a scam.


Christmas is nearly here, and everyone is full of peace and joy. Oh well, maybe not.

One thing for sure is that the scams are on the increase. There are many people out there who give advice on how not to get caught, but we still see news everyday on the BBC and elsewhere of people being relieved of thousands of their pounds.

We like Atomic Shrimp, and commend you to his site on YouTube. Here is a really good recent video about what to look out for in e-mails:

We wanted to say a few words too.

Scams can take many forms, not just e-mails. We get scam phone calls, text messages and even printed snail mail. One of the reasons we left all social media was the scams (and the advertising). We set up accounts on Whatsapp the other day, told no-one and yet we’re still getting daily spam and scams. It’s non-stop.

We suggest that you start with the assumpton that anything you get is spam or a scam, and then ask yourself questions about it. If you still are not 100% certain at the end that it’s genuine, then forget it.

If it is a genuine communication from eg your bank, and you ignore it, then they will try again. They will understand. If it’s not something you were expecting, or might reasonably expect, be suspicious.

I get many scams ‘from’ Sky, Amazon Prime, NatWest bank and more. I know they are scams because I use none of these companies. Of course, they are not from those genuine companies at all. And no, I have never won a lottery, no-one has millions to send to me. These scammers rely on your greed. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

If my bank wants to send me something, they warn me beforehand with a message to my phone. It helps. Others do the same.

Do It Yourself

Is it possible to do any piercing on yourself? Technically yes. Putting a needle through your skin and adding some jewellery is not the hardest thing in the world, but doing it properly is not so easy.

Doing a couple of nostril piercings, say, means working with one or more mirrors. It’s all upside down and backwards. You can’t see what you are doing, only a reflection, and that makes it harder, though not impossible, to get good results.

This is one reason you go to a professional piercer. They can measure you up, but also cast a critical eye over the markings, to decide where it should be placed to look right, given the wonkiness of your anatomy.

However, it can be possible to pierce your own anatomy with real results, provided you can see it and have easy access.

Red and Blue

THE BEATLES is an album by The Beatles which many people find hard to name, so they call it “The White Album”.

After the group ground to halt, manager Allen Klein decided to milk their back catalogue by producing two double albums of reasonably random tracks named 1962-1966 and 1967-1970. Beatles’ fans cannot manage this either, so they call them Red and Blue.

The songs were good, of course. They were presented in roughly chronological order. The sound quality was, um, OK and the packaging was minimal, but they both did well.

Jump forward to today and these have been re-mixed and expanded and are now out, either singly (as two 3 vinyl disc sets) or in a box. Also two double cds and streaming.

Just to be clear, the originals were two vinyl discs each, these are three. The early songs have been re-mixed and both sets have an extra disc of, er, extras. The box is selling for £150 upwards.

So many commentators have spoken or written about it, so here are some of their thoughts:

  • the price – there are no new tracks here, indeed the second set is simply tracks that have already been re-released and recently, just repackaged. At least the first discs have new re-mixes that people seem to be 50-50 about. That’s an awful lot of money for nothing really new. The cds are more ‘normal’.
  • the track order – the cd versions add new tracks in the correct chronological order. The vinyl adds a complete extra disc. You can understand why this was done – to have two vinyl discs in each faithful to the original releases
  • the second set (blue) – 1967 to 1970, yet it includes Now And Then. 2023, surely? The title is misleading. And where is Free As A Bird, or Real Love?
  • extras – none to speak of, same covers, same pictures, not glossy.
  • more of George – well, that’s good.
  • improved ‘proper’ stereo – again good.
  • variable mixes – lack of consistency (maybe that’s a personal choice)
  • altered songs – the end of I Am The Walrus, for example.
  • too loud percussion
  • tracks left off – well, we can all say ‘why wasn’t XXX included’. If we carry on like that, we have the full Beatles’ catalogue. Releasing these does not prevent us buying anything else.
  • gullible Beatles’ fans…