About Me

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Lewes, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Hello and welcome! I am Colin Bell, a novelist and poet, previously a TV producer-director of arts programmes, also known as the blogger Wolfie Wolfgang. I hope you find something here among my daily blogs. I write about anything that interests me - I hope it interests you too. Let me know.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

... and the rain came to Lewes

Yep, after all that sunshine here in Lewes, UK, things changed.....but remember....

...rain has its charms and, anyway...

...every time it rains, don't run under a train or anything like that, it's time to sit yourself down and watch an old film in black and white....

Monday, 24 August 2015

Virtual Writers ask me to remember why I wrote Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love.

The lively online writers' community, Virtual Writers, has asked me to do a questions and answers session about my novel Stephen Dearsley's Summer Of Love (published by Ward Wood Publishing). It was enjoyable thinking back over the time when I wrote it just when I'm finishing my new novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames (soon to be published by Ward Wood Publishing), and working on the third one, Over The Hills Is A Long Way Off.  All three novels are based in Brighton, UK, but in different decades - 1967, 1994 and 2017. Sometimes, it's difficult to remember what year I'm living in.

I'm grateful to Virtual Writers for encouraging me to go back to my first published novel and to remember or try to remember the impulses that led me to write it. If you'd like to find out what I said, here's the link:

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Death and fireball horror for travellers on my regular Sussex weekend drive.

A lot of people here in Sussex feel shaken by the horrific air-crash on the A27 road at Shoreham yesterday. So far the police have confirmed seven deaths after a plane attempting a loop at the annual Shoreham Airshow crashed into Saturday afternoon traffic on the busy road between Brighton and Worthing.

Horrible accidents happen every day all over the world but when they happen in such familiar surroundings, the reality of such things quite literally strikes home. This is the route I often take at weekends when driving from my home in Lewes to visit my mother in Worthing. I imagine that some of those killed yesterday were about just such a trip on a beautiful summer's afternoon.

We decided not to go this weekend because of the expected traffic build up around the Shoreham Air Show where you can often see the planes flying over head as you drive past. Instead of driving into that accident, I was sitting in my garden at home.

The pilot of a vintage Hawker Hunter was opening the afternoon session at the show with a loop which went very wrong ending with the plane coming too low and then struggling to avoid the trees lining the busy A27 road.

Former RAF pilot, Andy Hill, was seen at close quarters as he tried to gain height but he was now much too low.

The plane crashed into the side of the road creating an enormous fireball which resulted in the multiple deaths on the road. Extraordinarily the pilot wasn't killed and was rescued from the crash site and taken to hospital in Brighton where he is reported as being critically ill. The police say other bodies may still be found.

The whole event was watched by hundreds of spectators at the Shoreham Airfield and, of course, by hundreds more from their cars driving along the A27.

One of my sons rang telling me about this horrifying incident as he was worried that we mighty have been driving there at the time. He reminded me that when he was young I'd said we wouldn't go to an airshow because I'd told him that they were too dangerous.  That may well have been over-cautious on my part but I do wonder about the wisdom of having risky aircraft gymnastics next to a busy major road

One eye-witness said that there could have been even more traffic in the area of impact if the traffic lights hadn't just changed to red.

When the smoke cleared it became evident just how devastating the crash had been.

My sympathies are with those who have lost friends and family and for all those who were injured or shocked by this terrible event. Hopefully, action will be taken to prevent similar incidents here in the future. I know that I'm not alone today feeling lucky but also oddly guilty about not making that journey yesterday.

Monday, 10 August 2015

My poem On Gloucester Road and two persuasive Americans.

Wolfgang Glinka in On Gloucester Road

My prose poem, On Gloucester Road, has had an interesting life so far. I wrote it after being contacted with the Moscow-based American publisher, Marco North who was compiling an anthology and asked me if I would write him a prose poem.

Marco North

 I told him I didn't really know what a prose poem is but he was very kind about my writing here on these blogs and insisted that I should try my hand at one.  Well, thanks to the charismatic and highly persuasive Marco North, the poem was born and published in a splendid collection called In The Night Count The Stars Night  published by Bittersweet Editions http://www.bittersweeteditions.com/

Recently, I was approached by another persuasive American, the Californian composer and film-maker, Tim Risher, who said he'd like to make a short animated film of the poem for which he intended to write the music too. So my poem has born again, this time as a movie made with the computer graphics as supplied by the vibrant artistic community from the virtual computer world, Second Life, where I do weekly poetry events under the name of Wolfgang Glinka. Tim Risher has a presence there too as Joseph Nussbaum. Here's a link to his other music:  http://www.wehrs-music-house.com/?page_id=613

Tim Risher (aka Joseph Nussbaum)

This is my third collaboration with Tim and i'm really pleased, yet again, with the results. You can see the others on the right hand column of this page. The film is out on YouTube today. Here it is - hope you enjoy your dinner at Sloppie Joe's.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

My three Fibonacci poems about the composer Tchaikovsky published in The Fib Review.

Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)

My three new Fibonacci poems about the Russian composer Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893) were published yesterday in that pioneering and Fibonacci-dedicated online journal, The Fib Review. I hope you'll take a moment to follow the link and read them and the other poems there. My poems were written as I came to the end of  Tchaikovsky's life in my seventeen year chronological journey through the history of classical music from the year 1100 until my planned ending date 1897 (Brahms' death) - this project has been often discussed in these blogs. I have now moved on to 1894 - only three years to go - and with the closing of 1893 came the end of Tchaikovsky after I have listened to almost all of his works in time order.  I used to sneer at Tchaikovsky when I was a teenager, thinking him a tunesmith but little more. I've changed my mind and now, while still recognising that his worst works are extremely dull, his greatest pieces are truly original and very great indeed. I'm listing some of the very best here and they stand up as powerful works of genius. So, if for nothing else and if you still don't believe me, listen (or listen again) to the 6th symphony (Pathetique), the ballet score for The Sleeping Beauty,  the opera Eugene Onegin and, for all its organisational flaws, the always brashly brilliant, First Piano Concerto.  I shall return to them often. It was a tough project to try and say anything worthwhile about the man in the challenging miniature form of Fibonacci poetry.

Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck (1831 - 1894)

I've also written a Fibonacci poem about Tchaikovsky's patroness, the enigmatic Baroness Nadezhda von Meck (1831 - 1894) who supported Tchaikovsky for years after hearing an early performance of the First Piano Concerto in a concert only weeks after the death of her husband. It was a passionate relationship conducted by letter because the Baroness insisted that they should never meet. 

Pierre Moskaleff

The third Fibonacci poem deals with the dedication of one of the composer's last piano pieces, the melancholy Berceuse, Op. 72 No. 2 written in the last year of Tchaikovsky's life. This lullaby is dedicated to a man called Pierre Moskaleff from Odessa. No one has managed to trace this man so all we have is his name, the town he came from and this lovely piece. We can only guess at the nature of their relationship but the piece has a feverish passion which certainly supplies a few clues.

So, please take a look at my three Tchaikovsky poems and enjoy The Fib Review. This is its 21st issue and my sixteenth consecutive appearance in it. Thanks are due, yet again, to its editor, the always energetic Mary-Jane Grandinetti.


If you'd like to hear that piano piece, Tchaikovsky's Berceuse Op. 72 No. 2, here it is played by the young Russian pianist Konstantin Shamray:

And, go on, I know you want to hear at least the opening of the First Piano Concerto and here it is performed by the legendary American pianist Van Cliburn in Moscow, 1962. He was accompanied by Kirill Kondrashin:

Monday, 29 June 2015

The amazing grace of Barrack Obama.

You could say it was only a church service but it was more than that.

You could say it was just about a wedding service but it was more than that.

You could say it was just a lot of fuss about a flag but it was much more than that too.

It was quite a week, last week, in the United States of America and, just possibly, it will be seen as the week that made the year 2015 historically significant. The Supreme Court didn't just rule in favour of Same-Sex Marriage but, the day before, put its seal on the long fought Obamacare. Is equality really bursting out all over this June?

In that church in Charleston, mourning the murders of those nine black American Christians, President Obama didn't just sing a song and intone an emotional homily, he was calling for a turning point in American - and World - inequality. As the man said: "For too long we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present." He repeated that phrase "for too long" and it was echoed emotionally by the gathered congregation but, more than that, the televised speech, inspired many, many more people of good heart to echo the sentiment world-wide. For too long indeed.

He was talking about racial inequality and its place in America's 'original sin' - he was also talking about social inequality and, goddamit, he might just have made almost everyone sit up and think.

We all knew that slavery was wrong but he said it. We all knew that the difference between the rich and the poor was wrong but he said it. We all knew that the inequality perpetuated in questions of gender, sexuality, class and race were wrong but he said it. We all knew that gun violence was wrong but he said it. It was quite a speech. He didn't just say it but, whether you agree that his presidency has been a success or not, he has made a difference already and, who knows, he may have chosen just the right time in American history to make the best speech of his career.

So, yes, America is now celebrating same-sex marriage equality and the old prejudices that prevented such a thing in the past are a' tumbling down, opening the way for more, and bigger, equalities for all regardless of sexual orientation. For too long this inequality.

Now the nation appears to be acknowledging the pain that is symbolised by the Confederacy flag - 150 years after the American Civil War. As the president said. For too long. And now it's probable that the flag will be lowered for good outside the capitol building in South Carolina and, soon, I hope, it will be lowered everywhere recognising that it is a poisoned symbol and that not just slavery was wrong but all resistance of civil rights for the people was wrong too.

Could the nation now even change its mind about gun laws? I hope so. For too long 30 people a day are being shot down in the USA.

Whatever happens next, one thing is for sure, last week was a great week in the long march towards the ending of prejudice. It is still a battle though as I'm sure Barrack Obama knows - prejudice has long roots and grows even in the ranks of some of those people celebrating same-sex unions and into the very ranks of that AME church where the President preached civil rights. There is still a long way to go but we have all been helped on our way by the amazing grace of Barrack Obama. If saying these things wasn't enough, he also sang it: