Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Welcome to the Casbah: A Beatles ghost story



Hey all,


If we can agree that ghosts are shadows of the past, then I have what I feel is a ghost story to share..

My wife and I decided to makeover our basement from sunny yellow to dark red walls with a black floor,give it the feeling when you walked down the stairs you were walking into a night club or an old movie theater. I spent the next few long days getting up at dawn and working after everyone had gone to bed. In between breaks I had finished reading a very detailed book on the early days of the Beatles and in particular the Casbah club.

In the summer of 1959 Mona Best , the mother of soon to be trivia answer Pete Best opened up her cellar to the young people of Liverpool as a coffee house and a place to hear bands play. When Pete’s pals failed to show up his young friend George Harrison invited his pals Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe to play. The boys became regulars there jamming all the time and at Mona’s request they pitched in and painted the place. The room still stands today as Beatle landmark of their early days before they kicked Pete out for their pal Richie and moved to the Cavern, but that’s another story.

Around that time the Beatles managed to put out a recording called “Cry for a Shadow” an instrumental that was a poke at the popular band The Shadows..

So all this is going through my mind as I paint away, and its getting late so I put down my brush for a cup of coffee and sit back to take in my work. I picked up a near by electric guitar unplugged and started to work out how to play “Cry for a shadow”.  Now the song is not much of a challenge but Johns part did not sound right and I know that the other guys use to laugh at his chord fingering because he would make broken ukulele/banjo chords his mother Julia taught him. I tried some simple variations and came up with “the Lennon Chord” ..no sooner than I found out it I started to feel odd. Now its 2am the house is quiet and I’m feeling something like stage fright all alone in my basement.

The room appeared to be getting darker and crowded with people milling about, I saw all of these people looking at me waiting for me to do something, my room was gone and I was in The Casbah.  I was overwhelmed with how much I did not belong here and that I was trespassing through someone else’s memory.

I could smell sweat and dampness of a much older basement and when I released the chord the room was filled with thick shadows. I slowly got up and headed down the back hall to my studio and put the guitar away. I was filled with dread at the notion I now had to turn back up the hall to the stairs.

My hallway felt claustrophobic, thick with shadows and just the feeling of being watched, as I climbed the steps. I was so scared I would hear a “scouse accent “ come from a voice behind me.

Once up stairs again I poured myself a coffee and refused to be frightened in my own home, so to prove to at least myself I went down the stairs again and left the lights off and sat in the dark and tried to make sense out of what I had just gone through. Nothing happened, just an empty basement. I turned the lights back on and started painting again. Cry for a shadow was thumping in my head and I started to feel that I was being watched again, It got so bad I said “enough!” out loud and the room was once again still.

Its been several years and nothing more had happened, my daughter received a ukulele from her great uncle and along with it a chord book. I flipped through the pages and there was Lennon’s chord shape just as I had figured out.

I have no explanation for what I went through, tired, paint fumes, head full of stories all a good recipe to mix together and make a haunting. I do know that for as much as I treasure the Beatles work I do not listen or play “Cry for a shadow” anymore..that feels too much like trespassing to me.

Peace and Love

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Self pity is bullshit


Hey all,


There’s so many ways we mess with ourselves, but none come to mine that due more damage than self pity. What we need from time to time is someone to hold up a mirror to us so we can (to quote Bob Dylan) “ see what a drag it is to see you coming”! 

When I was lonely teenager on my road to becoming a lonely adult, I spent so much time self loathing everything about me that I did not notice what an amazing ass I was becoming. My main sport of choice was to spread some more gloom. The truth can hurt and be painful,but self pity is just a lie we make up and tell ourselves until we make it true. The cool dark people I read about in books or saw in films were most likely a real kill joy to spend any time with. Yes they do look cool in a photo looking out the window with a fucking scarf on in the middle of summer but in real life..wankers!

The moment I quit feeling sorry for myself and took action, my life got better..not easier but I started to enjoy it more.  Life is not fair, good the odds just got a little better I decided.

Someone once said tell a Zebra on the brown plains of the Serengeti where everything else is brown and your decked out in black and white stripes..about feeling sorry for yourself.

I gained some weight back this summer in spite of all my efforts to be fit, I spent about 5 seconds feeling sorry for myself until I snapped out of it and got my head out of my ass and moved off the couch. My fault, get back to work!

There is always someone who has it tougher than you, a lot more and the best of them never show it. The triumph over the pain, the poverty etc..

I don’t regret much in my life because I try and learn from my past,but if I was going to change one thing it would be all that self pity that made me pass on so many chances because I just felt that I did not deserve to be as happy as everyone else and that my friends is bullshit!


Peace and Love

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A haunting we will go,the Mcpike Mansion



Hey All,

So what better way to start off the Fall season then a trip to a real haunted house, in this case the Mcpike mansion in historic Alton, Ill.

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The mansion must have been something else in its prime, built in 1869 with 16 different rooms and a lower level basement wine cellar. Even today the building is impressive and the latest in a long line of owners Sharyn and George Luedke are doing their very best to restore it to its former glory. One thought Sharyn had was to make it a bed and breakfast not unlike St. Louis’s Lemp mansion (also reported to be haunted).


The mansion boasts no less than 4 or 5 spirits that have been known to roam the empty rooms and halls of this fading building on Alby street. One spirit is thought to be that of Sarah Wells who when she makes an appearance one can smell lilac’s perfuming the air. Faces have shown up in photographs peering out of windows and footsteps have been heard from the floor above the wine cellar while investigators were the only people in the house.
So with that in mind my wife and I along with our 16 year old daughter drove over to Alton on a pleasant Sunday evening to join a group of 50 photographers and see if we just might catch something on film.

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It was warm all day in the low 80’s but it being October I took a jacket with me, we parked across the street and walked over for our first up close look at the Mcpike mansion. A small group of photographers were already there milling about with tripods and cameras strapped over their shoulders. I noticed as well a few folks with ghost hunting gadgets you would see the guys use on TV (my only gadget was a small pink flashlight I bought on sight there from a nice lady who was selling tee shirts and sweatshirts, my daughter picked out a white fluffy sweatshirt and claimed the evening a success right then and there).  I was just approaching the house when I felt an icy cold spot on my back, I slipped on my jacket but it would not go away, a few seconds later I was warm again and had to carry my jacket, not saying supernatural just a moment I noted.

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The house is eerie up close, on one of the side walls twisted metal sheets covered in rust were blocking a window and were bent in such a manner that it looked like a great force was trying to escape.  We found a foot path in the back that led to a small section where two slabs stuck from the ground and we were told they were grave markers thought to be of children.
We were allowed to walk into the front door and take a few pictures of open rooms and a stair case, the house is not considered safe to have folks stroll about so we had to content ourselves with this brief glimpse.

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  Later on after everyone  had their sneak peek inside of the house Sharyn set up some display boards and shared some history and even had an actor come out dressed as Henry McPike give us a quick background on the man, all very entertaining. A lady was introduce to the crowd as a medium ( I also noted she was the lady selling tee-shirts) and gave out some friendly advice of what to expect out of the spirits, things like cold spots or maybe someone tugging at your hair or playing with your earrings (I felt safe on both counts). The medium gave a demonstration on dowsing rods and handed out sets to anyone interested. My wife was handed a set of the dowsing rods ,so we were all prepped and invited to go the basement wine cellar!McPike Mansion-1982-3McPike Mansion-0192-4


We were led to the back of the house and through a cellar door, the basement was cool and we took a quick turn and down a few steps to the wine cellar which had a large rusted metal door.
Once inside the wine cellar we all took a seat and the medium said to prepare yourself and we will shut off all the lights.

It was a very strange feeling to be in such absolute darkness. The room was cramped and filled with people yet with the cool air and the darkness I felt like I could have been in a field.
Some people started to see flashes here and there, the medium would announce things like Henry has joined us “say hello Henry” and so on. I was busy being a skeptic, so I tried things like closing my eyes and then open them to see if it caused any flashes etc.. My wife claimed she saw some blue flashes on the ceiling and my daughter who was now holding the dowsing rods felt that someone was trying to pull one of them out of her left hand at one point.
I did see a dull glow move along the left side of me, but it turned out to be a women’s glow in the dark watch face.

I was enjoying the darkness and trying my best to notice anything when a very strong smell of candy like perfume filled the air. No one said anything but it got so strong I spoke up and the lady next to me said she smelled it as well, but no else seemed too. The scent just as quick as it appeared went away, was this this Sarah Wells and her lilac perfume??

A lot of people said things like Henry just walked past me, or I think someone touched my hand. We all got a jolt when a man nearby us had his cell phone light up and we were told they like to turn things on as well as drain the batteries of things.
They turned the lights back on and said feel free to take pictures, soon they were crazy flashes going everywhere and my wife noted that one of her two cameras had drained all its battery life. I took a selfie of the three of us and one two shots of the frenzy of camera flashes.McPike Mansion-0199-2

We walked outside and people were telling me they had caught orbs and mists etc.. from the sessions.

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I reviewed all the pictures and nothing jumped out at me, the cold chill I felt at the start I shrugged off, the smell of perfume from the wine cellar was odd. Perhaps the oddest thing to happen to me was I left the house feeling sad, which filtered into my dreams that night just extreme sadness.
I love a good ghost story, but the haunting here to me was that of a bygone era. The people who lived and died at the Mcpike mansion may have left some traces of themselves behind,what will you find when you visit there? A relic, a couples dream of a B&B or maybe you might find one side your body very cold as Henry Mcpike stands next you in what was once his front yard looking up at his home.

Peace and Love all

Thursday, October 8, 2015

When you gain weight back


Hey All,

I want to share this with you and I hope it helps someone out there. I have had a good year with my fitness and topping it off with completing a century bike ride in September. I have been taking it easy since the ride and giving my Achilles' tendon time to heal. So for three weeks I did nothing, no walking or bike riding,kettle bell etc.. nothing.

Well I did start working on my mother’s recipe of short bread, I got pretty good at that.



I also drank a lot  of beer and wine and  told myself I am doing just fine for a 52 year old guy.

My wife picked out a shirt for me and it was form fitting and showed off my recent rewards for all that shortbread and doing nothing! I had gained 13lbs of fat (almost a stone in the UK) in the past two months.


So what do you do? You forgive your self and move forward. I know what I did wrong and I let it get out of control. I started walking again this week,this has always been my go to workout. I’m going back to basics and intend to be wearing this shirt instead of taking it back to get a larger size. So today is October 8 2015 lets see how long it takes for me to get back on my path.

We all make errors and fall off the wagon, I was due a misstep but now I’m back on path. Thanks to everyone who reads my posts and I will keep you posted .


Peace and love all!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Here be Trolls


Hello all,

I have written about “energy vampires” in some earlier posts a more insidious version of these creatures live on the internet and go by the common name of Trolls, because Fuck Face has been over used.

I tend to post things on social network that are inspirational or funny, a grand day arrives when I can find an quote that does both. I have been dealing with a few trolls of late and its funny because I put them down to being misinformed or just having bad taste because I was too naive to think someone could gain pleasure by poking at someone in a cowardly fashion from the comfort of their mothers basement.

A simple example on the ever crowed Facebook someone says name your favorite book, film or song. You write down your favs and a troll would then say “ I tried to read that book but I started to vomit or that film put me to sleep and I demanded my money back. Trolls don’t actually do a lot of reading so that is normally a dead give away. You also will not find trolls watching films with sub-titles (again reading) and most of their taste in music requires a marching tempo not unlike Europe in the 1930’s.

I have been told the best way to handle these Gollum like types is to just ignore them, which might do in some cases. I prefer to lift the rock they hide under and shine the light of facts upon them and watch them scatter back into ignorance and hateful depths from which they dwell.

A particular funny side note, these trolls tend to look the same, crazed eyes with an expression that shouts “ I never meant anything by that , I was just joking” A troll would not recognize a joke if it went to their door and went Knock Knock..(that was joke just now in case any trolls or having this read to them).

Trolls count victories in odd ways compared to lets say people. A troll victory can anywhere from being blocked or removed from Face Book, to stealing a parking space that someone else was waiting for.

Nothing is off limits for a troll except for you proving them wrong and like a bug they go away for awhile but like said insect they scurry back and once again make your skin crawl.

Trolls believe in a world that never really was they refer to as “the good old days”.  In this world it was OK to look down on people and treat them with disgust because of anything that did not fit into the narrow mind that guides the troll.

As a child I dealt with bullies and then I thought well they  will grow out of it sooner or later. I did not at the age of seven have the foresight to see that would not be the case. Trolls. bullies or fuck faces if your prefer will not be going away anytime soon. So you can choose your form of pesticide and good luck in dealing with them.

Trolls here’s a list of things I personally believe in and hold in high regard, feel free to jab away, I have a life to enjoy.

Family, Friends, Dogs, The films of Wes Anderson, the Music of Django Reinhardt,The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, People of all races just want respect, Love does not care about sexuality , Truth over authority , hard work, laughing at yourself, being kind, firm handshakes and welcome hugs, the writing of John Irving, Bike riding, hiking, playing guitar, cooking, crying when I say goodbye to someone I love, being alone in the woods, standing in a crowded bar with friends,binge watching Netflix with my wife,educating myself to lift my self higher,and shortbread cookies!


Is there more to life than this? sure there is, go out and enjoy it and when the trolls stick their pointy heads out of a hole, give em a smack it will not stop them, but Its something fun you can add to my list.

Peace and love