When I Graduate, I’m Buying a Fiat

Alpha KeysThis weekend my sister got married, which means I got the special job of chauffeuring the brides maids. In taking on that job, I got to realize one of my life’s ambitions: to drive dad’s Alpha Romeo.

Across the weekend, I made two drives to church, as well as to the reception in Rogerthorpe and the Temple in Chorley.

From the experience I made two observations: 1) fast cars are significantly restricted in residential areas, and 2) fast cars are severely restricted on the motorway.

When driving from my home to church I crossed three 20mph zones, half a mile of ring road and a billion mini-roundabouts. In a car designed to reach 130mph this meant I seldom left second gear, or touched the accelerator. With minimal speeding up to do, there wasn’t much slowing down to do either. All in all, the GT carried me in supreme comfort with all the kicks of driving round the supermarket car park.

What about the motorways?

It’s a bigger car, and has less room to look round, so after carefully navigating Leeds city centre, and then patronising the new managed motorway at 50mph, I got to the open road. I put it into sixth gear and that was it. 2,500rpm the rest of the way. My elegant carriage succeeded entirely in mediating the feedback of the road into a nothing.

After it all, I got back into my old dented up Rover, reopened to the entire spectrum of its performance, with all the feedback of the road and with enough room to drive with feeling. And it leads me to consider: maybe my Italian stallion should be a Fiat, not a Ferrari.

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What Is Your Legacy

When I were a lad,
I’d hear my old Dad,
He’d say
“These cars all look’t same.”

When the students are out,
they drink and they shout,
will you stand out?
What is your legacy?

In this new modern age
of minimum wage
Now we’re all the same
will you up your game?
What will you stand for?
What is your legacy?

What was the bully’s tag line in school?
“You make me look bad, I’ll make you the fool”
Now when you work hard while I relax,
I’ll still get one up, we’ll call it a tax.

Now people seldom write poetry about money,
It’s usually about a cat, or a violin, or a bunny.
Because money is not the thing that matters,
it’s actually just left the world in tatters.

You don’t need to be rich, or vested academically
or in a famous band, or well trained up medically.
In case you hadn’t heard we live in a society,
where too many think that legacy means piety.
It’s no wonder the world is under commotion
when half of society sucks on that potion.

He’s woolly
She’s eccentric
They’re biggots
they say…

They’re misfits,
left wingers
who smoke weed all day.

There’s not an organization in this world that couldn’t use creativity,
except for the Church, as it’s lead by divinity.
And just like a muscle needs activities that stretch,
by the same token, our character is etched.

Brunel wasn’t mediocre, inventing industry,
it wasn’t a toff in his drawing room who invented TV
And when we say leaving the middle ground is a danger
Margret Thatcher definitely did not die a stranger.

Nobody is excused from this course of improvement
we depend in it for civilizations on-upward movement.
Whatever you do, just please do it well,
lest our society rot in a quite average hell.
The nature of life is it’s not always fair
but keep scrambling up, and I know you’ll get there.

By Christopher Barker

Image Credit: Worldofcoins.eu

Image Credit: Worldofcoins.eu

22 going on 50

If you are indeed a loyal reader who regularly checks back, then you will have noticed that my name has changed on the title. No longer does it say ‘Chris J. Barker’, but C. James Barker. And the reason for this is simple. Since arriving here at Bangor for University, my friends see me as someone with ‘James May-like’ tendencies. The type of fella who would organize his tools, spend time planning and executing procedures, and who’s idea of an epic Saturday is a country stroll. And I don’t deny it, actually I’m quite proud of it, so I embraced the change.

My reason in writing today is to commence a series of posts telling you a bit about what I do, and what makes it so good, and today we’re going to start with music.

This evening, I was driving back across Wales with some friends. Usually, I don’t make a resounded effort to dictate the music. When I do have something I want to play, I usually put it on, see peoples reactions, and then let it play a few tracks before letting someone else DJ. But not tonight. With thoughts of ABBA rolling around in my head after playing Rockband there was nothing for it, but to lay the law down and take command of the iPod.

Fortunately I wasn’t alone. I observe that many of my American friends also have a similarly varied and delightful taste of music to myself, and one such friend was in the car tonight. And so we sailed along the 40 minute journey with only the occasional quip coming from those in the back.

My critics usually argue that my music is ‘not cool’, that it’s the stuff that our parents listen too, and therefore must be rubbish, but that’s just not true.

A companion on my mission once said that ‘about 80% of the best music in the world has already been written’, and he’s right. You’ll notice the paths that popular music has taken over the years. Back in the 1930’s you had Cab Calloway and Frank Sinatra, singing to very traditional musical instrumentals. By the 1960’s, blues was coming our way. The Beetles helped rock music was emerge, which developed through in to the 70’s, giving us Pink Floyd, Queen, Meatloaf, Billy Idol and so forth. The 80’s introduced to us the idea of computer synthesized music, the Phil Collins, The Human League and MC Hammer.

But these days, the music that’s popular, I think I could only like if I was taking drugs. Which is probably why so many people do so when they go out partying. The music feels dark and heavy, with every track resembling the last. This drum and base, this dub-step, the party music of today is just boring. When I listen to music, I listen to it because I want to be happy. I want to enjoy the picture that it’s painting in my mind. I love music that has a feel-good factor to it. I like variety, I want something new with every track. And the golden oldies do that for me. They let my mind sail away, they remind me of happy memories, they make happy memories, they feel warm and joyful. Put simply: they make life a fun.

So that’s the reason why I do mostly listen to music that was likely first released on vinyl record. Because I don’t need to be doped up to enjoy it.