Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Musical Interlude : Mr Springsteen and Mr Mizrahi

Bruce Springsteen`s current single We Take Care of Our Own has sparked a lively debate among music lovers as to the origin of the distinctive jingly motif or `hook line` as I believe they used to be known.

Some claim the musical phrase concerned first appeared on a track by The Lightning Seeds, others that it it originates with early `80s band A Flock of Seagulls.

Us old folk, however, would direct you to the track Every Boy and Every Girl by Sylvain Sylvain (of New York Dolls fame) from his eponymous first solo album. The songwriting credit for that tune goes to Sylvain (real name Sil Mizrahi), Johnny Rao and Lee Crystal.

No doubt Bruce will be putting a cheque in the post to them !

However that may be, if you like polished-but-lively `50s-influenced rock `n` roll/pop performed with a genuine love of music and with the odd ballad thrown in for good measure, check out the aforementioned Sylvain album, which features a number of excellent originals (one or two dating from the last days of the Dolls, I believe) and a couple of vintage covers, including a particularly good rendition of Clarence `Frogman` Henry`s Ain`t Got No Home.

As I recall, the album caused few ripples at the time, possibly because it didn`t gel with people`s preconceptions of what an album by an ex-New York Doll would sound like. If ever an album was ripe for rediscovery, this is it !

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Non-Conformist Chapel, Marlpool Cemetery

I am neither a great photographer or a great authority on architecture, but I can tell you that this is a photograph taken by myself of the empty Non-Conformist Chapel at Marlpool Cemetery. Looking at it, I would think I was standing by the Donovan Monument (see previous posting) when I took it.

The building dates from 1859 when the cemetery was established on what had previously been an area of private land known as The Hallows. In addition to deciding to buy the land from it`s owner, a Mr Howitt (possibly a relative of local writers/social reformers William and Mary Howitt ?)  , the authorities made provision for two chapels of rest to be built, one Church of England, the other Non-Conformist. Only the latter now remains.

Non-Conformists trace their roots to the Dissenters, Christians of various denominations (Puritans, Presbytarians and others) who were non-Church of England and who agitated for reform of the established Church in the period leading up to the English Civil War. They prospered briefly under Cromwell`s rule, as he very literally put their slogan "no bishop, no king" into practise.

After the restoration of the monarchy, they found their rights limited as state and church (Church of England) were once again united. As the Act of Uniformity (1662) required all clergy to be ordained Anglicans, many withdrew from the state church altogether.

Strictly speaking, the Act of Uniformity defined a Non-Conformist as a believer in  a non-Christian religion or a Christian who was not Church of England. In this case, the chapel was almost certainly intended for the latter group. It may well be that Non-Conformism had deep roots in the area, as there is still a functioning `Free Church` locally today. As I understand it, nearby Nottingham was something of a magnet for Dissenters in period leading to the English Civil War.

This posting is undoubtedly a simplification of a rather more complex history and based on fairly hasty research by myself. I am a humanist myself, so you`ll appreciate that my grasp of the theological issues is rather hazy ! I`d hope it is broadly accurate nevertheless. If anyone wants to clarify any points or correct any errors on my part, I`d be only too glad if you`d add a few comments.

I don`t know when the chapel fell into dis-use. I do know that from 1991 - 2005 it housed Heanor Heritage Centre, a project run by Heanor and District Local History Society. Subsequently it has not been used at all, as far as I know.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Reflection and Celebration of Life

I`ve mentioned before that a couple of years ago my oldest friend Chris died from having been exposed to asbestos whilst working as a roofer in years gone by.

For that reason, I like to do my bit to promote awareness of the dangers of asbestos as much as I can.

`Reflection and Celebration of Life` is an asbestos awareness event due to take place 29 Feb 2012 at Derby Cathedral, and will focus on the many local people who have died from industrial illnesses related to exposure to asbestos.

For more information and useful links, see Asbestos Awareness 2012, posted yesterday at