A Musical Relief

It's been a while since I've written a blog. It seems to be that way lately. I have every intention of writing at least once a week but things take over. Life takes over. I worry about missing the next thing because I'm stuck at my laptop writing the about the last thing. Every once in a while though things slow down and I can shuffle all the thoughts bouncing around my head into some sort of order and get a blog written. I'm not sure if anyone reads them, but as I've said before it's cathartic. So I'll keep doing it. As er...often as I can!

This week boys and girls, I want to talk to you about my other passion in life, besides photography, which I do bang on about and for anyone I put to sleep, I apologise. No photography talk in this one. This one is about music (that's the other passion).

What a lot of you reading may know is I'm a drummer. I have the long hair, the slightly mental temperament, and the tinnitus. What a lot, or even all of you may not know, is I'm also a Saxophonist.

Since February of this year I've been fortunate enough to be involved in something pretty special. A band called Frontline. I'm the drummer. There was no place for a Saxophone!

I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's been an easy road. It hasn't. There's been a lot of 'settling in' with each other. The frontman/rhythm guitarist - Mr. Allan Robb - and I do have some previous musical history (sidetone: we're also family). I mention this because we were already used to each others ways. Allan has a particular style of play that while sounds great, is an absolute nightmare to try and synch with. Took me a long time and I'm still prone to difficulties even now. Eight years after we played our first notes together.

Let's face it. Life can be a pain in the arse. It can be an unholy struggle and it can get you down and kick you while you're on the floor. But in the studio, once you close that door, the troubles and trials, stresses and strains, worries and weariness of life fall away. They just don't exist and for a few sacred hours you're among friends, doing what you love, and stuff the outside world. We'll deal with you tomorrow, because right now is our time. So leave your baggage at the door.

Since it's inception in February, all four members of Frontline (Allan, myself, second rhythm guitarist Kiel Miller, and Bassist Dave Davies) have all worked really hard to 'gel'. To lock in with each other and get onto each others wavelengths.

Initially there were problems. Differences of opinion, and a meeting of different styles and ideas did cause a little friction at the beginning.

As the drummer I have a unique perspective on how the dynamics have changed. I sit there watching. There's an ebb and flow that maybe the others have noticed, maybe not. I have though, and things are definitely changing.

One thing I do think helped us all kind of fall into step with each other is that there were already some songs there for us to learn together. Songs from a previous venture Allan and I were involved in.

So we had that time to work on those tracks while we all found our feet with each other. For a while we played them straight. As written all that time ago. Then we began to feel comfortable around each other. Any awareness began to fall away. So much so that we began to put our own little flavours in, and those songs were given a new lease of life. We had a solid base to begin working from. To my mind it worked really well.

So well in fact that by the time this blog is published, we’ll have begun recording our first demo. Not of the updated tracks, but new stuff. Our stuff. Frontline!

There’s something special about it. Getting into a room with three other people and a bunch of instruments. Bringing together all that talent and beginning to weave a song together. Putting notes and beats together to lay a foundation for words that will (hopefully) stick in peoples heads and make them feel something. Whether it’s sad, chilled, or so pumped up and happy their head might explode. Making it all fit and flow together. That’s the magic. That’s exactly the right word to use: magic. Because it is magic.

Conjuring something from silence. Creating it from nothing. Nurturing it, bringing it to life, giving it a power all of its own. Ok, I might be waxing lyrical but that’s how it feels. At least to me. When you get it right, when it clicks, you don't just play a song, the song takes over and plays you. You get lost in it, you're not just sat behind a drum kit hitting it with sticks, or holding a guitar plucking the strings. As corny as it sounds you're dancing. And there’s not much that can top the feeling of dancing your way through a brand new song for the very first time.

It’s not easy to explain and I guess not so easy to understand. You may be reading this thinking ‘yep, he’s finally flipped’ or ‘have you been sniffing the laundry softener again Dave?’ but trust me, finishing a song you’ve helped create is a special moment. Those last few beats as you approach the outro, the energy, the tension, the desire not to trip up in the last few seconds is intense, and it gets me every time!

However, playing through a new song is one thing. Hearing it played back after being recorded, mixed and professionally produced is something else entirely, and I don't have the facility to explain how amazing that feels, but it’s better than any drug out there.

So long may this continue, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be blogging from a tour bus, backstage at Wembley, or even a private jet. A dream needs chasing. And we’re chasing it hard!

Cheers all!

Crowd Stupidity

I don't tend to lose my cool often. I try to just let things pass. Why get het up? There's a few things in this world that do wind me up though. Shop-keepers who're too busy on their phones to give you the right change. Loquacious people who think everyone's interested in their opinion, and mothers who think it's perfectly acceptable to block passageways on public transport with empty pushchairs. I know you have the right to ride the bus, but the pram's empty so why not fold it down then people don't have to risk breaking their necks climbing over it do they?

These, and a few other things are small, and soon forgotten about once I've lit a cigarette and finished quietly swearing to myself. One of the big ones though, one of the few things that are likely to send me into a near-homicidal rage are crowds. I hate them.

Let me be clear, I don't mean at a concert, or a football match, that's a bit different, what I'm on about  are things like events, the Giants visit last year for example. Crowds in that context give me the red mist and my jaw starts to clench involuntarily. I can't help it. Why? Because people are stupid!

Oh, and horrendously ill-mannered.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I'd planned to go to Sunderland to a concert, but I've injured my back, so that was that out of the window. So not wanting to waste the Bank Holiday, I decided to go into Liverpool City Centre. This weekend commemorated the 175th anniversary of the Cunard shipping line (check out my Facebook stream - www.facebook.com/saysathousandwords for photos, or click the link above) and three of their largest cruise liners, the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, collectively known as the 'Three Queens', were meeting on the River Mersey. It doesn't happen often, might never happen again.

So, being the snap-happy shutter-bug I am, off I went with camera in hand, and my girlfriend beside me (to potentially carry me home - or to the hospital should that need arise) and we soon found the crowds. Didn't we just.

We started on the Sunday afternoon, and to be fair the crowds weren't too bad. Yes there were crowds all heading to see the QM2 berthed at the cruise terminal, but it was bearable. People milling about, taking photographs, the usual stuff, and I was there too, doing exactly the same. The weather was good, there was a fairground set up near the ship, happy days. So that was alright. No red mist.

Monday however, was a different tale entirely.

I'm not a rude person, most of the time. I'm genuinely not. I try to be polite and courteous, especially to the older generation or that poor woman with four kids, a pram, and a husband who isn't helping. I step out of the way, I let them pass, I stand up and give my seat where I can, it doesn't cost anything to be polite, smile, and we all get on. Not everyone thinks like this though.

We go to a vantage point near the Liverpool Museum on the Pier Head, and the crowd was huge, easily a few hundred thousand people, lots of children (fair enough) and people with cameras (like me).

One thing that struck me was a lot of the children didn't seem to want to be there. I think they'd have much rather have been home on their iPads or X-Boxes. But I understand that if you've got a couple of kids you're going to seize the chance for some free entertainment and get them some fresh air. At least if you care about your kids.

Another thing that didn't so much strike me as annoy me (and here comes the first rant) was the idiot, buffoon, FOOL of a man pushing his was to the front with his, frankly not very good, camera. I'm sorry, I'm not a gear snob, a lot of my stuff at the moment is second hand, but I wouldn't have even bothered bringing what he had. He wasn't even polite about it, just barged through and almost knocked one little girl right off her dads shoulders. At leat I'm assuming it was her dad. But this goes back to what I was saying about people being stupid and rude.

I had enough gear on me that I could get some shots without being a dick. Would I have liked to get closer? Of course! Would I have shoved my way through and potentially hurt someone? Absolutely not! If I'd have been that child's father I would not have been so restrained, so well done that man!

Now, I just want to pop things into perspective for anyone who hasn't seen these ships. A cruise ship is inherently large. The Queen Mary 2 is definitely on the bigger side, at 1,130 feet long, that's as long as 36 double decker buses, or nearly four football pitches. It's 200 feet above the waterline, equal to the height of a 23 storey building. What I'm trying to say is, no matter where you stand you're going to see this thing! You'd have to be an extra special, almost vintage brand of stupid to miss it! Even if you somehow did manage to miss this one, there were two more!!!

The other two ships were almost as big, almost as long, just as loud and right there on the river for you to look at! Why oh why was this idiot pushing to get through?

Ok, rant over. For now. But don't worry, I have more.

Once we'd seen the ships do their manoeuvres on the river (a 360 degree turn and then move into something called a three-a-breast formation) it was time for coffee. We just missed the Red Arrows, wasn't happy about that but I was craving caffeine and a seat. I've hurt my back remember? We began to pick our way through the crowds and move away from the river. Here comes the next rant, a bit quicker this time.

As we were picking our way through hordes of people, who can see us approaching, they continue to walk on their course, meaning that if I didn't change my course, they'd have walked straight into me. This, to me at least, is confusing. If I'm walking towards someone and I sense there's going to be a collision, I take a few easy steps to avoid it. I slow down or switch direction a little so I don't walk into them.


After a few minutes of this my jaw was going good style and I gave up being polite. If you ain't moving then neither am I! You want to play chicken? You're on! I'll win! I knocked into more than one person this way but I'd given up. I'd joined the rude race, the 'I'm the only person on this street so fuck you' crowd but I didn't care. Older people and youngsters were off limits, I moved. Everyone else? Fair game! Walk into me I DARE YOU! I managed to bounce a few people out of my way by just not caring. A few people saw me coming and moved. A lot didn't. Tough. I'd had enough by this point.

We found a coffee shop. Thank god! After a very swift (and by swift I do mean fast) table grab, the other couple just weren't as quick as my girlfriend, we were settled down to a coffee and something to eat.

After we left we went into Liverpool One for a quick look at camera bags (I'm looking for a new one) and on the way over Beth made mention of people bringing little dogs out into crowds. It wasn't the first time she'd mentioned this and if she mentions something more than once then it's a legitimate gripe, my smoking is a most definite legitimate gripe of hers.

I began to notice that ridiculous amounts of people had brought there little dogs. So here comes rant number three. Sorry.

I'm a dog-lover. I have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and I love him to bits. He's a cheeky little git with a fetish for socks and hair bobbles. I take him for long walks, nearly always share my meals with him, but never mushy peas. That's a mistake I won't ever repeat! I try not to be too soft with him but he's spoilt rotten.

He's not very big, so one thing I wouldn't ever do is take him into a crowd of people where he could so very easily be trodden on and hurt. That would of course cause me to smack the snot out of whoever wasn't looking where they were going and it's just stress nobody needs. Yet everywhere I looked I saw these little dogs. Some were getting a little excitable with the crowds and one in particular looked downright distraught.

Why bring them?

You can't leave kids, fair enough, but surely the dog doesn't need to attend the event. Seriously, unless it's Krufts the dog doesn't need to go! Leave it at home! If it got hurt you'd have a fit! I know I would, and once I'd physically assaulted whoever stood on my little mate I'd come to realise that it was actually my fault for taking him. Responsible dog ownership isn't hard.

After a crowded bus ride home we were out of the crowds and could breathe again, and this post makes me sound like a right nark, but seriously, I'm not that bad.

If people were a little more considerate, took a little more time to think of others and weren't so ignorant then being in a crowd wouldn't be so bad. People pushing and jostling to get five feet closer to something you can see from two miles away is massively infuriating, especially when I'm the one being pushed and jostled. It's not necessary.

This post makes the day sound horrendous. t really wasn't. Seeing the ships together like that was really impressive and I'm glad I went, but it was the attitudes of the people around me, the ignorance, the impatience and the general bad manners that took a little bit of the shine off it.

Sort your heads out people, and bloody well play nice!

Night all!

Dave C. Bannerman


Ok, so anyone who knows me had to know that at some point this blog was coming. So, here it is. I've been taking photographs properly (almost obsessively) now for around six months now. So I figured it was a good time to think about where I'm at and kind of reflect on the er...story so far.

I've always liked taking pictures, but I've always only ever used my phone. I was given a 10 mega-pixel Kodak digital camera for Christmas about 10 years ago but didn't really use it. I found it in a drawer a few days ago, and it inspired me to write this post.

As I said, I like taking photographs, but they were always of nights out, or me pulling stupid faces, or candids when my mates weren't looking. My first camera phone was a Sagem MY-75 and it was second-hand when I got it. I'd take pictures of random things just because...well, I could. It had a two, three, or maybe a four mega-pixel camera, certainly no more than that, and a fifteen second video capacity. Fifteen seconds. Primitive by today's standards, but back then? State of the art dahling!

Before I go on let's hold our horses a minute. Some of you may not be familiar with the term 'mega-pixel', which is fine, because I'm going to explain it really quick. Ready? Here we go.

A digital image is made up of millions of tiny, microscopic coloured squares. These squares are the 'pixels' and are arranged into specific patterns to form the image, which our brains translate into  something we recognise as a picture. It's like a giant jig-saw puzzle. I did say this was a basic explanation!

If an image is 'pixellated' these squares are really obvious to see.

The term 'mega-pixel' (MP) means a million pixels. So, for example, if your phone has an 8MP camera, that means your phone captures images at eight million pixels and uses them to build the photograph you see on the screen. A photograph taken with a 20MP camera will be a lot clearer, sharper and more detailed than a photograph taken on a 12MP camera, simply because there are more pixels to build the image. The image will be the same size as the one out of the 12MP camera, but they'll be packed a lot closer together.

Still confused? Ok, let's try another analogy.

Think of a computer. A computer stores information in 'bytes', terabytes (TB), gigabytes (GB), and megabytes (MB). Each byte is a small piece of information amongst millions of bytes. A byte is a single unit of computer memory, so a pixel can be likened to a single unit of a whole picture. Pixels are also how screen resolution is measured, but I'm not going into Pixels Per-Inch (ppi) or whether AmoLed is better than LCD because I'm really not that bothered.

Inevitably phones got better and the cameras improved with more and more mega-pixels, which just meant I was taking higher quality images of the same crap, pint glass, take away food, my mates drunk. I carry a phone with a 14MP camera now. Not that you care.

I still wasn't really that bothered about photography though, as a hobby or maybe even a profession. It just wasn't something I was into. All that started to change however, in June of 2014.

I was at home flicking around on YouTube, as you do when you can't sleep - or is it just me? Anyway, I came across a video on something called 'Smartphone Photography.' What the hell is 'Smartphone Photography'??? I clicked the video and stated to watch it. By the end of it I was even more curious. I remember looking at my phone thinking 'the camera on my phone was better than his...and he got some nice pictures there.' After about two hours or so I'd watched two short(ish) documentaries and loads of five-minute snippet videos on this 'Smartphone Photography.' My interest was aroused.

So feeling inspired I downloaded the app that this lot seemed to be using. It was free, but later I discovered my phone had virtually the same software already built-in, it just looked a bit different. Nice! I took a selfie and started to edit in inside the app.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but it happened. I suddenly found myself wanting to take photographs. I was literally looking for things to take pictures of. My dog flees the room every time he sees my phone now, bless him.

As I was looking for better quality editing apps I discovered Photoshop (some say the pinnacle of image editing software) had an app for Android. I bought it and began to put the images of my poor, harassed dog through the wringer.

I needed to take more photographs. I had to find other things to shoot. I headed into Liverpool City Centre with my (long-suffering but ridiculously patient and supportive) girlfriend, and we wandered about all afternoon taking pictures, right up until it got dark.

And I loved it!

The pictures from that day were all processed through the Photoshop app on my tablet. I still use it, but not much anymore.

So it went on. I bought a notebook and began to make lists of places I wanted to go and take photographs. I asked people if they knew of anywhere. I shyly showed a few photographs to some trusted, honest people and their responses gave me the little bit of confidence I needed to stick my nose through this intriguing door. And it smelt good!

I began to watch tutorial videos on light, composition and editing. Suddenly I'd found videos on all kinds of different photography fields and styles. Landscape, portrait, product and macro photography. Street photography, cloudscape photography and something called 'Bokeh" which is Japanese for 'blur'...blur photography? What??? I soaked it all up and couldn't stop. I scribbled page after page of notes in this little notebook I'd bought which has now become my bible, and I don't go anywhere without it.

The last weeks of summer 2014 (which was an amazing year for me by the way) literally vanished as I sat at my computer transfixed by all of this.

My girlfriend and I were planning a trip to Rome around Christmas time. It wasn't our original idea, but it sure beat the Isle Of Mann - not that there's anything wrong with the Isle Of Mann.

I decided I didn't want to be taking pictures of one of the worlds most ancient cities on a phone. I was getting serious now. I wanted a DSLR. I needed a proper camera! I found one too.

After agonising and arguing (with myself) for something like 20 minutes over a milkshake I strode across the street to the camera shop, slapped £130 on the table and got my trembling hands on my first DSLR, a Sony A300.

It didn't have many bells and whistles but it looked like it had the basics to get me started. My child-like excitement was severely tempered when I got it home though. Looking at it on the table, all shiny and refurbished I realised that...I had NO CLUE how to work it!


I smashed through tutorial after tutorial. The controls of the camera, the best set up, lenses, triggers, lighting, flashes, soft boxes, diffusers, filters, reflectors oh good god! What had I been missing out on here?!?

I acquainted myself as much as I could with controls on the back of the camera. This was no Kodak point and Shoot. It's a heavy, monster of a camera. I had to go and take photographs. It was the only thing to do. Off I went, alone this time.

I'd heard photographers in the videos I'd watched describe taking pictures alone as a zen-like, soothing experience. and it kind of was, I didn't exactly become one with nature but it was relaxing, although the pictures I took were horrendous! Some were too dark, others were too light, most of them were out of focus and all of them were boring. I needed some more help. So I bought a book, and read it cover to cover.

I looked at cross-sections of cameras and learned how they actually worked. From the aperture blades to the shutter-doors, the lens cap to the pentaprism, and what the hell is a Diopter? I learned it all! Which mode was best to shoot in at what time? When did the best light occur during the day? What was hard light? Why was it hard? What was soft light? What made it soft? What was the difference? I chewed through all of this quicker, and with greater effect than I've ever disseminated anything. It was sticking! I could remember the tips, tricks and lessons I saw after just one run-through.

I'm sure you'll appreciate how amazing this was for me when I tell you that I have to check my watch twice for the time, and I never know what the date is.

After I little while I was starting to see how the 'golden triangle' or the 'photographers trinity' worked and began to learn about apertures, shutter speeds and ISO numbers. I started to understand, recognise and appreciate how these three things were intricately connected, and how they all affected each other. I kept finding new things to study. F-stops, focal length, depth of field. every time I started to get a grip on one thing, I found three more things I needed to learn about.

No doubt about it now, I was well and truly hooked. I was waist-deep in photography quicksand and I was preparing to hold my breath.

I started to work on the pictures I'd taken (remember, Photoshop on my tablet?) I won't try to hide it. I can't. They were awful! They were shockingly bad, and you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear, but it was practice. I forced myself not to care about the images so I wasn't bothered if I lost them. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, I tried this, I had a crack at that, I give the other thing a go and whoops! image deleted. It was trial and error, and if was definitely a trail and there was a lot of error but I was starting to learn. Looking back now my first 100 or so attempts weren't very good at all. Over-saturated, under-exposed, completely the wrong colours. They were like little mini accidents all in a row on my screen. Remember, this was all completely new to me, I'd never done this and I was trying to teach myself. My eye was getting better though. Slowly, but surely, I was getting better at it.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you I got it right first time. I didn't. I nearly packed the whole thing in more than once. One particular evening, after I'd been out all day battling with the camera to get it to do as it was told, I came home, cold, tired and hungry - with a huge blister on my foot from all the walking I'd done - sat down, uploaded my images...and accidentally deleted the lot! I almost cried that night in anger and frustration. I think that was the closest I came to binning the camera and forgetting about the whole thing.

I kept at it though. I was determined I was going to get at least a basic understanding of how to do this no matter what, and for a few weeks everything else be damned! I didn't want to eat, had to force myself to sleep and I hated leaving the house to go to work. I sat for hours and hours tinkering, fiddling with the settings in the Photoshop app, experimenting with every kind of alteration I could find. I was officially obsessed! The only other thing I remember making a conscious effort with during those few weeks was my relationship. Thankfully.

Then, by chance, I found a better camera. I was on now! I started using it and within a couple of days my New(ish) Nikon D3100 (yes, another entry-level one) became my primary camera. The Sony (which I do still use) was relegated to second place. I started accumulating gear after this. Lenses, flashes, tripods. I went into Liverpool City Centre for a haircut and a shave at a new gents' barbers, and came back with a camera lens! After a while I bought a new laptop and the full Photoshop program, and a graphics tablet. I began to freak out at how complicated Lightroom seemed to be and I wasn't getting anywhere with it.

Then I had a bit of a revelation. I realised I was trying to go too fast. I was trying to learn everything in a few months and it wasn't going to happen. So I relaxed. I slowed right down and went back to basics. Taking photographs.

Now, when I go out to take photographs I take photographs. I try not to worry about the post-processing bit. Just get out, with the camera and capture what I see. Once I did that I found out what they were talking about in those videos. The 'Zen' of photography if you like.

So, with patience, practice, gritty (yes, gritty) determination and more focus (excuse the pun) than I've ever thrown at anything in my whole life, my photography is, hopefully, improving. Even if it's only slightly. I'm under no illusions. I'll probably never stop learning. I hope I don't, because learning is half the fun right? People I've spoken to, people who've seen my work seem to like it, but then they may just be being kind. Either way I'll be sticking with it.

The addition of a brand new editing suit, a Facebook page, this website, and hopefully a dedicated Twitter account, plus some personal projects I have planned will all, fingers crossed, spur me on to improve and learn.

It's not often I'm gripped by a passion. If something's too hard, or takes too long I tend to give up. Not a trait I'm proud of. Photography though, whether you like my images or not, has become an all-consuming obsession! And I'm not giving it up for anybody.

At the end of the day though, the gear doesn't matter, it's the photographs that count.

Ok, left a bit...chin up a little...lovely, look over there...beeeeaaaauuuuutiful!


Dave C. Bannerman

The Night Christmas Was Saved...

You might think this title is a little bit dramatic, and at first glance you could absolutely be forgiven for that. But read on dear reader, and you'll discover how my dad and I really did save Christmas for our neighbours. Ok, so it's Christmas Eve. I'd finished my shopping, all the gifts were wrapped, the stress and headaches were slowly melting away as I sat on my sofa Xbox control pad in hand.

I was called out into the back yard by my dad with quite a sense of urgency. I dropped the game controller and went to see what was up. He asked if I could hear a noise. I became aware that I could hear something. It was a high-pitched, but fairly faint, beep-beep-beep-beep. Thinking back on it I think I became aware of the noise as I was making my way through the dining room, but my mind might just be adding that in, I can't be sure.

I confirmed I heard the noise and we both began to look about. Just why we did this I'm not sure. Two blokes stood in a yard looking around for a beeping we could both barely hear.

I admit to having absolutely no idea what it was. Then my dad made a suggestion: "Do you think it could be next doors smoke alarm?"

I don't know why I looked, but I'll be forever glad I did.

As I peered over the shoulder-high wall separating the two back yards into next doors kitchen window I saw it. Smoke. Thick. Black. Smoke. It was starting to go quite dark out, but I could still see the smoke. The Christmas lights around the kitchen were in a kind of foggy haze. It took a couple of seconds for my brain to register what was going on:  


Within a second we were both running back through the house to the front door. My dad had the good sense to grab a spare set of keys to the neighbours he keeps for emergencies.

All of the fire training I'd sat through bored to tears came flooding back. I checked the handle of the front door with the back of my hand, it was cold. Good sign. I inserted the key and opened the door an inch. No rush of heat. Good sign. I pushed the door open and we headed down the hall.

The smoke detector was going bezerk! It was almost deafening this side of the wall. The hallway was filled with smoke and we were coughing within seconds. I pushed on through the dining room door, my dad right behind me. Scanning, searching for any indication of a fire. Archie, the family dog suddenly appeared through the smoke. Poor little thing was beside himself. My dad calmed him down and got him out of the room while I kept looking. I couldn't find anything openly burning.

My eyes were starting to stream and my lungs were really starting to starting to complain. My dad was the same. I could hear him coughing and retching from somewhere behind me. I turned this way and that and saw the cause of all this noxious horrible smoke.

There, on the stove, a saucepan was smoking fitfully. Plumes were gushing up from whatever was inside, lit underneath by one of the gas rings. My dad had gotten the dog away from the worst of the smoke but I was really starting to suffer now. My mouth had dried out and I wasn't so much coughing as dry-vomiting by this point. I switched the gas off and felt the dog knock into the bottom of my legs. He'd gotten away from my dad and had come back into the kitchen. By the time I'd grabbed his harness my dad was at the back door fumbling with the key to get it open. Once we'd opened it poor Archie, the beloved family guardian, was unceremoniously tossed into the yard and ordered to "Stay!" 

So the main danger was dealt with, but we were still choking in the smoke-filled house. At this point more neighbours had arrived and we set about opening windows and trying to clear some of the fumes. Every room was thick with the stuff, and I struggled for every breath as I opened every window possible upstairs. Coming back down the stairs I tried to switch the howling smoke detector off and couldn't. I ended up punching it off the ceiling. Crude, but effective.

While this was happening my dad phoned the lady of the house, let's call her Jo, who thought he was having a heart-attack due to the coughing and choking, and began to freak out herself.

Within a few minutes of every window and door being opened the smoke had dissipated and we tried to get our breath back. A few minutes after that Jo arrived with one of her sons. They'd been last-minute shopping.

It transpired that after being asked to put the slow cooker on while they finished the last of their shopping, Jo's son had accidentally turned the hob on instead. 90 minutes earlier. Accidents happen.

So aside from a rather nasty smell and a huge laundry pile there was no real damage done. The saucepan was destroyed, as was the smoke alarm probably, but that was it. Archie the dog was no worse for the experience.

So the house was saved, and as I said, so was Christmas. At least for our neighbours...

Merry Christmas!

Dave C. Bannerman


I bought a MacBook...

Anyone who's known me for any length of time will probably know that I like technology. I embrace it and try to utilise it as much as I can. I've been called a geek and I've been called a nerd but that's ok. I believe technology is the future. Granted, there are some technologies we definitely don't need. My Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch mint fall into that category, but I find it quite useful. Being such a supporter of technology, it may surprise you to know that I've never owned an Apple product in my whole life. I'm very much an "Android guy". I've been a staunch supporter (and user) of the platform since it began operating. iOS has never interested me.

While I'm not going to turn this post into an Apple advert, millions of people can't be wrong can they?

As I'm slipping deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit of photography - my girlfriend and my wallet can definitely attest to that - I found myself needing something with a bit more kick than my Samsung Note 10.1 2014 tablet. As much as I love that device it really isn't up to the job anymore. I needed raw processing power. I needed more than 32 gigabytes of onboard storage. I needed a bigger, higher resolution screen. I needed all this power in a lightweight, sleek, strong package. I needed a Mac!

At least...that's what they told me in the Apple Store in Liverpool One...but then again, they would wouldn't they? My head was swirling as I left the store. I'd been through an in-depth-ish demonstration of the new 2014 13" Macbook Pro Retina, instead of the MacBook Pro. The one I was interested in looking at to start with. Still not quite sure how that happened.

I still wasn't sure about buying an Apple product though, considering how much I've bashed them over the years. I began to wonder if there was an alternative (by wonder I mean it was suggested to me). I went to another store (which I won't name) and asked about it. There was an Apple rep in the store and he was far more helpful. Probably because he was a rep not a salesman but anyway, moving on.

The guy explained to me that to get the same power and everything else I needed in another brand of computer would be expensive, unreliable and probably wouldn't las any longer than 12 months. Then I got him to go over a few of the features that had intrigued me the day before. He also said all (near enough) the same stuff the other guy had said but, and this is the strange part, in a completely different way. Which I liked. A lot. Whether he was more skilled in sale-speak, whether it was because he in fact wasn't chasing a commission, or maybe he was genuinely trying to help a confused Android user, who's platform and operating system of choice didn't seem to be working for him, I don't know. I don't care either. I found the salesman in the Apple store to be a little pushy, and the moment I said "photography" that was all he seemed to focus on.

The rep however, did a much better job of explaining how a Macbook would help me, and not just why. He didn't force it on me. He wasn't pushy, and I felt I was able to take my time. The best bit is, once he'd finished explaining, not telling me, how and why a Mac would suit my needs better than other brands he buggered off and left me alone to think it over, instead of standing there gorping at me mentally spending his commission. I didn't feel pressured at all.

I tinkered with the display model. I did a quick picture edit. I opened up some apps, typed a note, had a little play with the camera, closed the lid, picked it up, put it down and went for a walk around the other laptops.

So after some coffee and a lengthy "should I shouldn't I" discussion both with myself and my ever patient other half, I bit the bullet and bought a shiny 2014 Macbook Pro with Retina Display.

And I f*****g LOVE it!

The rep was right. He explained it all to me, laid it out and finished his pitch with, and I quote -


And he wasn't wrong.


At the time this post is published I'll have been a Mac user for maybe 50 or so hours. So not very long but y'know what? In that short space of time the things I've been able to do with it have literally blown me away. Editing photographs is a breeze. Blogging is a breeze. I'm truly amazed at how sleek and nice it all is. There's a bit of a learning curve to it, I'm getting over the fundamental differences, I finding it really easy.

Now if you're reading this and thinking "You're easily impressed Mr. Bannerman" please remember something: I've never used an Apple product. I tried an iPhone. Hated it. Used it once and didn't ever bother with it again. My last "dedicated" laptop was a Dell Inspiron 1520 running Windows XP that I bought second-hand for £120. When that packed up I got a Google Chromebook. Great little machine for web browsing but not much else.

So to have this monster of a laptop with a quite frankly alien operating system is both amazing and confusing. I've been like a small child trying to wrap his brain around an old Magic-Eye picture, but I'm embracing it as fast as I can because it works.

So have I been converted? Will I ditch my Android devices for iOS? Will I buy an iPad? Will I be queuing all night for the next bi-annual iteration of the iPhone? Certainly not.

While I'm ridiculously impressed with the MacBook and all it can do, I still have a problem with iOS. My mobile devices (phone and tablet) will remain Android based. I like the platform, I know it, I understand it and I've been using it for years. When it comes to laptops though, I think Apple just might have a new life-long customer.


Dave C. Bannerman

Ahhh a nice day off...oh wait!

We've all done it. You're warm, comfortable, and very asleep in your bed. Your alarm starts to sing. You groggily open your eyes, cack-handedly swing your arm in the general direction of that hideous noise, hoping to stop it on the first pass so you can drift off back to sleep. It takes you a couple of attempts but you finally manage it. The silence is golden, order is restored. You roll over, pull up the covers, wriggle a bit and start to slide. After all, today's your day off. No work. No having to get up, drag yourself into the shower, brush your teeth, pull on your work clothes (whatever they may be), and schlep to that place in which you toil. Today, blissfully, wonderfully, and absolutely without doubt, is your day off. 

You're almost positive it is. Almost.

Then, reality sets in. You suddenly realise with horror that in fact, it's not your day off. It's ok though, because you only closed your eyes for five minutes right? Wrong. The alarm went off an hour ago! You're going to be late! 

With a volley of swear words, curses and all round profanity you jump from your bed and try to do everything at once. You run around your bedroom frantically gathering your clothes, which get dumped onto the bathroom floor before you hurl yourself into the shower toothbrush in hand.

Hurry up! Get a move on!

In the shower it doesn't get any better. You fumble, drop things, soap in yours eyes? Fight through it. Move! Scalded, half blinded and with a mouth full of soap flavoured toothpaste you only just about manage to get out of the shower without doing yourself a mischief.

After you've found the towels, dried yourself off (sort of) and finished cleaning your teeth, you need a second to get over the shock of seeing what's looking back at you in the mirror before reaching for the hairbrush or comb. After a bit of faffing about and some more swearing your throw the brush or come away and turn to the pile of clothes on the floor with a "that'll do" snort and start to get dressed.

By dressed I mean your clothes are at least on your body, whether they're on the correct way around isn't something you concern yourself with at this point.

Come on! Get a shake on! 

Next order of business is coffee or tea. Everyones morning routine differs at this point. For the smokers, it's kettle on, fags out, light your first happy moment of the day. For the non-smokers it might be something else. Whatever your routine is you're doing it, and you're doing it fast.

Ok, smokers have had their fag, non-smokers have done their thing. Kettle's boiled, so you make a cup of whatever it is you have. And burn the gob (mouth - for anyone outside of Liverpool) off yourself as your try to drink it in one gulp. Oh happy times! Today's going to be great! You can feel it already.

Right, so scalded, half blinded, severely irritated, with no feeling in your tongue or lips, you give yourself a quick look in the mirror and instantly wish you hadn't. Final adjustments done it's time to go.

You've missed your bus, the traffic is terrible, the train is packed to bursting. Now you're really starting to wish it was your day off.

So after all this you make it in to work. Just about. If you just slip in quietly and start no one'll notice. Until the tool who thinks he's being clever shouts:

"Oh, good afternoon, what time d'you call this?"

Now, hey, listen, calm down. We all have to resist the urge to stab this gobshite, every workplace has one, so you're not alone.

But that's it. You're late. Youre day is now completely out of sync. And it's going to feel like you're playing catch up all day. You don't fully wake up and spend the day in a kind of haze. You're easily irritated, and short tempered, wishing they'd all just leave you alone. It's not going to get any better. It never does. So all you can do is try and get through the day.

Most of this happened to me this week. I've had a fairly busy one, with work, setting up my website, and one or two other things I have going on at the moment. We all get mixed up from time to time. There's nothing worse than being late though.

The walk of shame into your workplace, looking, quite literally, like you've just fallen out of bed, carrying a 'not quite right' feeling in your gut. You've had no time to prepare. No chance to psyche yourself up for the day ahead. Your routine disappeared and you're just in a bad mood. Why?

Because you thought you had a day off! 

Are you in tomorrow? Better check.


Dave C. Bannerman.   

Here we go!

So my first website is alive and kicking! It's taken a while to set this up but here it is. I'm still not so sure about the er...pastel purple/pink background though. Anyway, why's this site here?

Because I've recently been told need to organise myself a little bit!

If you've seen the welcome page you'll probably be aware that I write the occasional blog, and take the occasional photograph. I blogged on Wordpress (admittedly not much) and posted my photographic efforts to my facebook page: www.facbook.com/saysathousandwords which you should definately check out, just click the link.

If you'd like to see my blog on Wordpress just click this link: www.davecbannerman.wordpress.com

So why build this website?

Well everything is starting to seem a little bit all over the place. I have blogs here, photo galleries there, and nothing central.

Until now that is!

I've purpose built this website so I can keep everything in one place. All together. Blogs, photographs, and things I'm hoping to add in the future. It'll hopefully make life easier, I'll be able to create more content, and you, you lovely people, will be able to find it and view it quickly and easily with no fuss. That's the theory anyway! I will absolutely keep the Facebook page going going as well as all my other social media stuff

So that's it! Enjoy the site, stick it in your bookmarks, and I'll be posting to Facebook as more content appears.

One last thing, if you're reading this on Wordpress and fancy a glimpse at the  then click the link: www.davecbannerman.com

The site is still a work in progress so bear with me, and check back often!

Dave C. Bannerman

"Well, this is awkward"

I was on a night out recently, getting my groove on and shaking my erm...boo-tay, and something happened which had never happened before. I was recognised by a gentleman who'd recently had surgery at the hospital I work at and had spent some time under my care.

Let's call him Bob, and I'll tell you what happened.

So there I was, doing my impression of an electrocuted chicken. Fully believing of course that I was gods gift to the dancefloor, and Michael Flatly wouldn't stand a chance in a one-on-one dance-off with me, when Bob spots me.

He came over and asked if I was Dave. I, slightly suspicious, said I was. Bob then made things a little clearer by explaining who he was.

Bob, it seems, was a previous patient on my ward.

So me being a compassionate and caring kind of fella, I instinctively asked him how he was doing and before I knew it he was trying to show me his scar.

Now please bear in mind I was on a night out with my girlfriend, we were in a relatively busy nightclub and I wasn't in uniform. Also, the scar from the particular type of surgery Bob had is in quite a... sensitive area. Yet, he proceeded to show me anyway. This made me uncomfortable for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, a fully grown man exposing parts of his body he wouldn't normally expose to another fully grown, and at the moment very hairy, man in a nightclub, while hairy mans girlfriend looks on is giving, absolutely and without question, the wrong impression. Thankfully my girlfriend is in the same line of work as me so completely understood.

Secondly, I wasn't on duty. We'd enjoyed a nice meal and were well on the way to being happily sozzled. I was on a night out. Time away from my job. My time. Our time. The truth is I didn't want to see his scar.

Now if any of that sounds strange to you then it's about to get weirder. But if you're reading this and understanding then see how you feel about this next bit.

Bob, having recognised me, announced who he was, and come within literally millimeters of exposing his backside, offered to buy me a drink. I politely refused his offer. But it only served to send my uncomfortable-o-meter into overdrive. I suddenly had an almost overwhelming urge to drain the drink I had and leave the club.

And I don't know why.

It was a lovely thing to do. I know he was only trying to show his appreciation and express his gratitude but it didn't feel right accepting his offer of a drink.

If you're reading this thinking "weirdo, why not just accept the drink and enjoy it?" then you have a valid point, but let me try to explain.

The first thing I need you to understand is that I wasn't on duty. I know I've said it previously but that's the main point. We were in a nightclub I couldn't fathom why this obviously well-rounded, intelligent, tough-looking guy felt it it necessary to almost drop his trousers in front of me. I was "off the clock" if you like. I was drinking and being my usual suave, spohisticated self. By suave I mean dancing like I had fireants down my trousers, and by sophisticated I mean having to concentrate on getting my drinks in my mouth and not down the front of my shirt, in my hair or anywhere else a drink doesn't belong.

The second thing is... I didn't recognise Bob. I couldn't swear to ever having met him. I can't recall if I accidentally made this obvious. A suspicious look when he said my name, or a blank stare when he told me how he knew me. Had I offended him? Did he believe I should remember him?

I unwillingly found myself in an unenviable position. On one hand I didn't want to offend Bob, had I done so the situation might've gotten out of hand - drink is a powerful and dangerous catalyst. On the other hand I was slightly irritated with the whole sequence of events, and was doing my best to hide it. It's a fine line I was treading and just for an instant I was wishing myself anywhere else.

I suppose I was shocked he remembered me, and was able to pick me out in a dark nightclub. Also, I'm not used to men, particularly men I don't know, showing me parts of themselves in nightclubs. It's a strange little idiosyncrasy I have. I don't like it, and I don't want it to happen.

People in my line of work come into contact with so many people it can get a bit ridiculous. We see hundreds of faces, hear hundreds of names and hear thousands of facts about peoples lives. Ninety-nine per cent of these faces, names and facts don't stick. It's not possible to remember everyone. There are exceptions. A particularly amusing patient, a particularly poorly patient, perhaps one with a big personality, or one who's not particularly pleasant -yes they do exist- or a patient you care for for an extended period. In my particular field though, these exceptions are rare, but they do happen.

But, and here's where I began to maybe understand a little better, for the patient it's potentially (hopefully) a once in a lifetime experience. And it's seldom enjoyable. So that patient is obviously going to remember the person who maybe made them laugh, or sat and chatted with them for a minute, or alleviated a fear or concern they had. So maybe I'd done one of the above or something similar for this patient. But I had no way of knowing because I didn't remember him.

It's not that I didn't appreciate Bob thanking me, or offering me a drink, I did. I thought it was a really nice gesture, but where does it end?

If you work somewhere like a hospital you run the risk of coming into contact with patients outside. But I feel there still needs to be that distance. That separation. It's a tricky gray area that's not really covered by any policy or procedure. Everyone handles it a bit differently. Everyone has different views on it.

If you take care of someone after major sugery you're in a singularly delicate position. You give highly personal care. You help people in ways that mortifies them. You have to be respectful, tactful and above all understanding. You should take an interest in the person. This all helps you to be more effective at your job and give the patient the best care you can.

Getting to know a patients likes and dislikes, their feelings on different things, a little bit of their history. It all helps. I'll give you an example.

One particular patient of mine revealed that he hated the smell of latex gloves. We were discussing cars and how he used them once while working on his engine. He told me the smell on his hands afterwards made him feel queasy. This patient needed help to eat. So, knowing that he didn't like the smell of latex I asked him how he felt about me assissting him to eat his meal without me wearing the gloves. He agreed. Meal enjoyed. No sick bowl necessary.

I only found this out because I saw he had a motoring magazine in his bag and I used that to start a conversation.

"Oh, are you a car man Mr. Smith? What's your favourite? Do you watch motor racing?"

See? It's easy.

But just because the guy dancing with his girlfriend took an interest in you, or the lady at the bar helped you get back on your feet doesn't mean you're friends for life. You needed looking after at that moment, and that person gave you the help you needed and if they were any good, asked certain questions to get the information they needed to look after you properly.

Once you leave the hospital though,  that's it. End of relationship. Don't be offended if they don't remember you. If they see you and recognise you and ask how you are then great, but chances are they probably won't. Because since he helped you that guy dancing like he's got an itch he can't reach has helped a hundred other patients, given a hundred other bed baths, which all mix in with the five thousand he gave before yours. That lady has most likely forgotten all about the help she gave you because she's been busy helping others.

Wondering if I'd offended Bob played on my mind the rest of the night. My job is hard enough, anyone who does it will tell you that. Once we're out of uniform we tend to just let go of it. If we had to remember all of the faces we've cared for in our careers in case we bump into one of them in a nightclub we'd be dribbling wrecks. It's just not possible.

So if you see someone who's looked after you, please, leave them alone unless they recognise you. Show your gratitude another way. Send a card to the ward. Take a box of chocolates in so that the staff can accept your gratitude in the context and environment most comfortable to them. Keep the staff-patient barrier. We need it, because if that barrier comes down... we'd never be off duty.

Of course, everyone thinks differently. You may think I'm being harsh, over sensitive or even a bit of a bastard, but as I've said on this blog in previous posts these are my personal feelings. I would never ignore a patient outside of the hospital, and I do take an interest in how patients get on after their operations, we all do, we like success stories. That doesn't mean we want to drink with them.

So to wrap up I'll leave you with this. Keep it in context. If you see someone who's looked after you think twice before you approach them. If you really must approach them then maybe just smile and say hi, but let us buy our own drinks. You know how hard we work for them!

Cheers all!

Dave C. Bannerman.

The Night Shift

If you're a shift worker, or have been in the past, then this blog will (hopefully) ring true with you. If you're not, and never have been, if you're part of the 9-5 brigade then read on, and spare a thought for that grumpy, bleary eyed, slightly mental-looking person in a uniform you glance at on the the bus. You're traveling to your office, in your suit and tie, all fresh and ready to face the day. But, pull your eyes away from whatever gadget you're engrossed in and look around. You'll generally see at least one. It's normally the one who's yawning and nodding off on the back seat where it's (usually) nice and warm. In most cases that person isn't a fruitloop, that person has probably just finished a night shift, and all they want to do is go home, have a hot drink, and get into bed.  

Working nights is part of any shift workers job, be it permanent on intermittent. Many people work permanent nights, and many people, like me, work them periodically. This blog is based on, and written from, my personal feelings about working nights. Still, I'm sure my feelings and experiences aren't unique. I would like to stress again, just be clear, I'm not a permanent night shift worker.


So first thing's first. The strangest thing for me about working nights, and potentially the most obvious for you dear reader is this: You sleep through the day and work through the night! Right away it's unnatural. Human beings weren't meant to work nights. Night time is, or was, for sleeping.




We live in a 24-hour society now, where we're all starting to get used to supermarkets being open all night for example, but in certain lines of work night shifts have always been there. I'm not going to get into higher arguments about the pros and cons of a 24-hour society. I'll work from one simple premise: Night shifts are necessary. Anywhere that members of the public need to be either looked after or locked up, like hospitals and prisons, as well as infrastructure like the emergency services, travel or construction. Places like factories, shipping offices, newspaper companies, delivery firms, the Post Office and many more. These are the areas of our now 24-hour society you'll find the night shift workers. These, as well as many others have always been 24-hour societies.

You already knew all that though, right? Of course you did, being the intelligent human being you are.

But! If you've never worked through the night, I'm going to try and take you through it. Sitting comfortably? Got a cuppa? Yes? Ok, here we go!

The first thing I want to talk about is the feeling of working nights. Personally, working nights feels totally different than working the day shift. I don't mean in the obvious way, the fact that it's not light outside. I've never been able to put my finger on exactly what it is, but there's a definite difference. It can feel pretty surreal depending on how you prepare, but we'll get to that. For now, just take my word for it, it's different.

I don't know if it's the same for everyone who works nights, but when I work them I don't feel in sync with the rest of the world. There's a feeling of disconnection, like you take a break from life. Strange I know but these are my experiences don't forget. They vary from person to person.

Another thing I find difficult to get used to is having breakfast when almost everyone else is having their evening meal. On the flip side of that, it's an even stranger feeling having cravings for a takeaway and a beer at 8 o'clock in the morning. I generally just settle for toast.

Speaking of food, working nights is usually when you eat more junk food and...well I'm going to say it, crap, than any other time in your working life. You tend to eat a lot of sugar, and most people justify that by saying it gives them the energy they need to get through the shift. Fair enough. Microwave meals or sandwiches are a night staff food-favourite, as well as cakes, chocolate, and crisps. My diet changes radically during my night shifts because the time there's a proper meal available to eat is usually exactly 10 minutes after I've just woken up and can't even look at it nevermind eat it.

But it's not just what you eat, another consideration is how you eat all this stuff that's ultimately really bad for you. Rather than just having one sitting, like you would at home around the dinner table, you graze. Food is picked at all night long, so you usually end up eating three or even four times the amount of junk than you would if you were to sit down and eat constantly for thirty minutes or so.

All this junk food, and for some people unusually high amounts of caffeine, adds to the yucky, uncomfortable feeling of having to stay awakeall night in the first place. Yes, you might get the burst of energy you want or need, but it doesn't last, so to keep it going you eat more junk, and eventually you just end up feeling sick. I am, however, aware that there are some night shift workers who do try to eat healthily, but they still have a go at any goodies left for the staff by a grateful, recently discharged patient and don't let them tell you otherwise.

Ok, let's try something. For the next thirty seconds I want you to close your eyes and think of a hospital.

Hello? Down here! Hi. Did you do it? You probably saw busy waiting rooms, bustling corridors, noise, clatter and activity right? Doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and porters all rushing around quite busy and needing to have finished what they're doing five minutes ago yes? Well, at night, that doesn't happen.

Ok, in some places it does, like A&E departments, but for the most part, a hospital is a completely different place at night. Empty corridors, unmanned desks, no ancillary staff, cleaners, physiotherapists, secretaries, pharmacists, all gone home. For the most part there's only silence. Hospitals at night are quite frankly, very eerie places.

Except...except when there's that particular doctor who insists on wearing his clicky-clacky winkle-pickers. You know the one, he sounds like a tap-dancing baby elephant as he struts down the ward and proceeds to shout instead of speak to the nurses and shows a complete disregard for the ill people who are trying to sleep less than twenty feet away. He clearly either chose the noisiest shoes ever created, and was never told that he has something called in 'indoor voice' and really doesn't need to shout to the nurse sitting three feet away from him because, after all, she isn't deaf, or he's just not particularly well mannered.

Rant over. If you're reading this Dr. Loudmouth Clacky Shoes please sort yourself out.

Ok. Deep breath.

A lot of night shift workers, the permanent ones that is, will often mention the 'wall'. The wall is a point in the night where you are so tired you have to stop for a few minutes. For me this usually happens around 4am but it varies from person to person. If you can make it through this particular event you can look forward to your 'second wind'. Second wind is the term given to that inexplicable burst of energy you get once you get through the 'wall'. Often this burst of energy is accompanied by a type of giddy hysteria, where you will generally find the most ridiculous things ridiculously funny, and some of that energy you've suddenly been granted is dispelled through fits of laughter. I'm not sure if there's a name for this but I quite like the sound of 'funny 5am', so we'll go with that.

After 'funny 5am' it's time to steel yourself and push on with the most difficult part of the shift. The Final Push. 

This is by far the worst part of the shift for me. Summoning up the energy to do all those time-dictated jobs that can't be done before hand, but need doing now. It turns into a race between you and the clock. It happens all of a sudden and if you're not careful, can catch you completely off guard. It's a slog and no mistake.

In the end it comes down to personal preference. Yes, the money can be better on nights and yes, you get more time off depending on how many you work. There are no visitors to deal with, and scans and other procedures are rare, usually only in emergencies. and night shifts tend to run to a little more of a routine than day shifts do. But personally, I prefer days. I'm not built for nights. Nights are for sleeping, and other activities. A list on which work doesn't appear voluntarily.

A colleague of mine put it best this week when she said...


While I will always do my share of nights along with the rest of the shift-working world, I wholeheartedly agree with what my colleague said, and to be quite honest, I couldn't have put it better myself!

Night all!

Dave C. Bannerman.







It's been a while...

Having fallen woefully short of a target I set myself in a previous post, it's been another year since my last appearance. Yes, I have considered closing this blog, but decided against it for one reason: I want to write a blog. I do find it difficult to keep a blog going but I'm feeling a new determination or this now. I could give you the standard excuse. "I HAVE NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT, AND WHEN SOMETHING DOES HAPPEN I DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO WRITE A BLOG"


Time waits for no blog

But I won't, and here's why. While the second part of that "reason" could be, to an extent, viewed as somewhat valid, the first part, the part about having nothing to write about, simply isn't true. Let me break it down, dealing with the second part first. Ready? And we're off!


We all have time constraints. Jobs, deadlines, families, pets. A lot of people have kids (I don't but a lot of people do) and all of these things and many many others pull us in one direction or another. Everything we do costs us time and there's only so many hours in the day. So to find the time to sit down, think about, and write a blog can be difficult. Here's the counter argument. Other people manage it. People who have far busier lives than me. People with far more demands on their time manage to sit down and write stunning blogs on any topic you can think of. Some people even manage to do it on a daily basis!

So not having time to write is no excuse. I have the time. If I didn't, considering I've already stated that I want to write a blog, it would be up to me to find the time to do it. So, now I've deconstructed that part of the excuse, let's see if I can dismantle the first part. Here we go.


This is the part of the excuse that would crumble like a dried out meringue. Once I'd finally decided that yes, I do want to write a blog, the next logical question to ask myself would be well, why haven't I been writing? This took a little thought.

Initially, I'd considered citing a lack of things to write about as my reason for not writing. But this simply isn't the case. During the last 12 months I've had no shortage of experiences, problems and life developments, both good and bad, to write about. The heartbreaking loss of a beloved pet. An epic battle with depression that I almost didn't win (I'm not arrogant enough to believe that war is over yet either). A brand new relationship. Discovering a brand new passion and rekindling an old one (photography and writing respectively). So I can't truthfully say that I've had no material to write about.

Then I tried to excuse my lack of enthusiasm by convincing myself that nobody would be interested in anything I had to say. That I would be writing all this and no one would ever see it. The more I thought about that though, the more I thought so what? It's my blog. If nobody reads it is that going to negatively impact on my life? Will I lie awake at night worrying about it? The answer was really quite simple: Nope.

When you start a blog you 'pays your money and takes your chances'. Nobody giving a fig about what you write, or how you write is a risk you run. I could pander to the masses and write about what everyone's talking about or reading or watching on television. Or I could write for me. If people take an interest, great! If they don't, well so what?

A lot of people write for cathartic reasons. It makes them feel better. I think I might be one of those people. At this point I would like to mention that at the time of writing this post my life is in the best shape it's been in for years and I'm hopeful that's going to continue. But it still may be a useful thing to do. When I consider that I could've had a record of all the things that I've been through in the last year, it makes me sad to realise I haven't recorded any of it with words. It just seems like such a waste. I've always quite liked the idea of recording my experiences. Not in a teenage "dear diary" way, but rather something I can look at and remind myself of things that have happened.

Ok, so if you're still awake and reading this then your staying power is to be commended. But where are we at this point? Shall we have a quick recap? Let's do that. Just to refresh you (and me!)

I've decided that I want to write a blog. I've determined that I need to find time to do it. I've realised that I've missed so many opportunities for a good blog post, maybe even some great ones. I can't help that now. Those posts never were and never will be. I've worked out, all by myself, that writing a blog may be useful to me, as I'm the kind of person who likes to record things.

Right, ready for more? On we go.

The next potential reason (excuse) my mind latched onto was the blogging wasn't at the forefront of my mind. When something happened the idea of blogging about it didn't occur to me. It was only after the event that I thought oh, I'll write about that. By then though the details were fading and I just didn't bother. This brought me back to my original question: do I really want a blog? After more thought and introspection, I came back to the same answer. Yes. But now I had a plausible, but not excusable reason for not writing. It was something I could work on.

So how do I go about changing this? Do I constantly ask myself is there a blog in this everytime something happens? Will I remember to do that? I use mobile apps, so maybe I could do it that way? Make notes for a once-a-week-blog? I like the idea of that.

Another result of my introspection was this: I lack the discipline to sit and write a blog.

That's a hard thing to admit. Nobody likes admitting their faults but this is a big one of mine. I have a very short attention span and I'm easily distracted. While hard to admit, I believe admitting there's a problem, especially to yourself, is the first step in solving it. So step one? Done!

I mentioned I'd discovered a new passion, that passion is photography. It's still very early days - a little over three weeks by the time this post is published- but so far I'm really enjoying it. I'm enjoying the learning process and I get a thrill out of seeing my photographs slowly improve as time goes on. Still, they won't be winning any awards but I'm ok with that. I'm still only learning. I do a lot of post-process work on my photographs. I edit to try to bring out the best in a photograph, and there's nothing wrong with that. I want the photographs I've put time and effort into capturing to look as good as they can look. So I edit. I have a facebook page. Go to www.facbook.com/saysathousandwords if you'd like to see the best of my photographs to date. I'm also considering setting up a website but that's still in the planning stages.

My point is, I have to sit down and put the photographs through post-process which means I have to be disciplined and do it. Otherwise what's the point? Exactly. There wouldn't be one. So maybe I can transpose that discipline into a blog? It's worth a try right?

Let me learn to walk before I can run. I'll limit it to one a week for a couple of months (unless I have a burning desire to write about something) and see how I go with that. I've written that before, more than once in fact. So until I actually produce a weekly blog, that's just an empty statement.

I've been told my mind needs organising. I completely agree. So for the third year in a row, and with the best of intentions I'll say:

Let's give this another go!


Dave C. Bannerman.


Finally joined the reading revolution!

Alas, 'tis true. After declaring point blank that I would never buy an e-reader I caved. I'm now the proud, and somewhat amazed, owner of a shiny Kindle Fire. Why am I amazed? I'm amazed it's taken me this long to get one if I am to be totally honest. I like reading. I have to admit I'm a very slow reader though. I get distracted. I can't help it. I've always been that way. I find it hard to settle down and focus, but I maintain that I enjoy reading. Some people buy books because they like the idea of having them. Some people buy books because they think they look nice on the shelf. Others buy books to make themselves appear more intelligent than they actually are. I buy books to read them. It just takes me a bit longer than everyone else.

Most people I know own a Kindle. My GRANDMOTHER owns a Kindle. They swear by them. They're always saying how good they are. 'Oh you can carry so many books'. What the hell for? You can only read one book at a time!

I'm halfway through the Song of Ice and Fire series, and if you don't know the books, they're pretty big, heavy and bulky. I recently took a trip and took the current book I'm reading with me. Big. Heavy. Bulky. It began to annoy me having to carry it around. I'd have to get it out of my bag, find my page, I'm sure I read this bit...Oh the book marks fell out! Hassle.

So when I got home I started thinking about Kindles. I'd seen a few people with them while I was on my travels and I have to admit they did look easier to handle than my 600-page hulking paperback.

I went online and read some reviews. Watched a couple of videos, the usual stuff. I was liking what I was seeing. So I decided to go for it. Went to the nearest outlet and purchased one.

Within a couple of hours I was off and reading. Account set up, Kindle set to how I wanted it, and a couple of book's downloaded after a bit of fumbling about. I'm actually writing this blog on it as I lay in bed. I can hear seagulls in the distance and the dogs snoring in the hallway downstairs.

What took me so long? I should've learned from previous experience. When touchscreen phones came out I avoided them. Then I got one and loved it. When tablets came out, I avoided them too. Until I got one. Now I wouldn't be without it. This particular Kindle is a tablet as well with many more features than your basic Kindle. I didn't buy it to show off though. It's just the one I liked.

Will I be using it as a tablet? Will I sync my email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts? Short answer: no. My tablet and phone are cluttered enough with that lot. I have enough trouble keeping on top of those, clearing junk mail and adding and removing people. This is a Kindle first. So that'll be it's primary function. I say that now though, ask me again in a few weeks.

All in all I'm very happy with it, If and plan on taking it wherever I go. If there are any typos in this blog I do apologize. It's 2:30 in the morning and I'm very tired. I did read a whole book yesterday afternoon. That's a massive achievement for me :) 


Crowd Sourcing: Should we be concerned?

Following the horror of the Boston Marathon bombings I read a particularly iteresting news article. The article detailed how internet users decided it would be a good and noble idea to begin their own investigations using social media/netowrking sites. Reddit  apparently being the main one, but Facebook and Twitter played their part of course. The author of the article called it 'crowd-sourced inestigation'. Using these sites the general public began to hunt for clues and evidence to ascertain the identity of the bomber(s). A just and noble idea you might think? People pulling together and working autonomously towards a common goal? Taking their civic duty seriously? All potentially acceptable responses. Now here's the rub, they got it wrong.

These optic-fibre Federales, these Columbos of the information superhighways, armed with their laptops, Macs, tablets and smartphones messed up.

Instead of passng any leads they found straight to the authorities, these internet sleuths accused the wrong person. More than once. Anyone and everyone became a potential suspect. Pictures appeared online with accusing captions. Suddenly something as simple as not watching the race became a good enough reason fo be accused of planting and detonating bombs.

One case in particular is that of 22 year old Sunil Tripathi, who has been missing since March. Mr. Tripathis picture was flung across the world wide web amid a torrent of conjecture and speculation. Anyone else think this is wrong? One Reddit user did, calling it a "disaster", stating it had done "more harm than good" and finishing with "let's never do this again".

There were some defenders of this 'crowd-sourced investigation' though. A 22 year old man in Virginia was praised by Reddit users for the speed at which he made information public. Information sourced from television screens and police scanners.

The media isn't innocent either. Setting upon any tidbits of informatiom and reporting them directly to the world. I was chastised for tattling as a child. But that's the monster that is the media. If you don't feed it, it won't regurgitate rubbish.

We have law enforcement for a reason. This kind of mob behaviour can't lead us anywhere good, or can it? Does it have a place? They say Rome was ruled by the mob and look what happened there. How long before vigilantism starts, and people start hunting for criminals in packs? It might sound far fetched now, but when Gene Rodenberry created Star Trek back in the Sixties mobile phones were unheard of. Confused? You can always call Scottie and ask him to beam you up.

There are potential benefits to the idea of crowd-sourcing though. Medicine. More specifically diagnosis. A US-based company has launched a web tool they're calling 'CrowdMed', which will use the '"collective knowledge of the public to solve rare medical mysteries". Obviously this can be very useful, if used correctly.

In the end though, it was a good old fashioned phonecall from a concerned and outstandingly brave member of the public that helped authorites capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Nothing else.

A Week To Recover From?

This week hasn't exactly been quiet has it? With Margaret Thatchers funeral costing British taxpayers an estimated £10 million, a subject of great division in the UK.  The sad passing of Hillsborough campaigner Ann Williams. The explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. A potential measles outbreak in Wales. The US struggling with gun control votes, and of course the horrific bombings in Boston, Massachusetts and the subsequent events surrounding it. After all that the world deserves a week off from tragedy, horror, heartache and disappointment. I think it does anyway.

Time to recover and get our bearings back. Time which we probably won't get.

If you're reading this though, why not take just a little time? A few minutes to think about what's important to you. Doesn't matter what it is, as long as you appreciate it.

Why? Because as events around the world this week have proven, it only takes a minute to lose something or someone special. So take your minute, before someone or something takes it from you.

Let's Try This Again

It's been very nearly a full year since my last post. In that time I've moved house, got a new job, sold my car and got another motorcycle. I've also had one grandparent turn 70, and another one turn 80! All the blogs that could've been! I've also tried to get my head around nearly every social media site there is (except tumblr - couldn't even log in to that one). 

I tried them for a while, but then, inevitably got bored. Passwords were forgotten,  comments went unanswered,  accounts got dusty and people probably thought I was just downright rude. 

To be fair though, they're probably right.

Now though, I've decided to focus my efforts and attempt to produce something worth reading. I'm not promising a monthly masterpiece or a prize winning blog, I'll leave that to the masters such as gnostic bent. I will try to give honest and fair opinions though. If you like what you read let me know, if you don't,  well still let me know, and feel free to tell me why. 

So let's try this again!

A BIG Experience

Between the 20th and 22nd of April 2012, the attention of an entire city was focused on a quite literally massive event.

The city was Liverpool, and the event was Sea Odyssey. A huge chunk of street theatre brought to life, as if by magic, by French theatre company Royal De Luxe. 

The Story (in a nutshell)

A young girl from Liverpool writes a letter to her father, a steward, or a stowaway depending on which version you like more, on the ill-fated Titanic. Before he could send his reply the ship hits an iceberg and sinks.

The girl waits and waits for her letter. It never arrives.

The story of Sea Odyssey is the finding and delivery of that letter by her uncle, who has spent the last one-hundred years searching the ocean floor for her fathers reply.

I first read about Sea Odyssey in one of those City Council magazines that, to be honest, I never pick up. They're usually just full of stuff that doesn't interest me. Anyway, it fell through the letterbox one morning and I began to idly flick through it. The centre pages caught my eye. The article title screamed: "The Giants Are Coming!"

More than a little intrigued I began to read on. By the time I'd finished the article I was buzzing! I saved the magazine for my girlfriend, who at first didn't know what I was on about. She read the article but I didn't get the same sense of excitement.

April approached and I was still thinking about this Sea Odyssey. I  was intent on going, even if it meant going on my own, I had to see this! I'd been to see La Princesse, La Machines 50-foot spider during its rampage around the city in 2008, when Liverpool was named the international Capital of Culture. How could I not go and see this??? Nearer the time though, my girlfriend, after twigging what it actually was, stated that she'd love to see it too. Sorted! Signs started appearing all around the city. Posters, adverts. I heard lamp posts were having to be removed from the streets along the intended route of the procession, which covered a large part Walton, Anfield and Kirkdale. How big was this thing???

I ended up working nights that weekend.

Undeterred I stayed up. We managed to squeeze onto a packed out train on the last day of the event, and arrived in the city centre among literally thousands of other passengers. We followed the crowd down to the Strand and got ourselves a spot just behind the Cunard Building, one of the world-famous Three Graces. We waited.

There were all sorts of people there, mainly children granted, but people of all ages had turned out. Roads through the city were closed, and before long it was standing room only.

We heard the music first. Pounding drums and blaring guitars, then we saw it, a giant! 50 feet of puppet, striding towards us! They disappeared around a corner and suddenly there they were, right in front of us!


Xolo the dog appeared first, ten-feet high and as big as a transit van, wagging his tail and flitting around between the cordons. His operators scurrying about and bringing him to life.


Next came Little Girl Giant, who by now had melted a city's heart. thirty-feet tall and brought to life by at least 20 operators, she strolled past the crowds to cheers and applause.


After Xolo, Little Girl Giant, and a truck load of musicians providing a vibrant, unique and exciting soundtrack to this "March of the Massives", Uncle came striding around the corner. Dressed in his deep-sea diving gear, he towered fifty-feet above the crowds and was operated by at least 32 members of Royal Deluxe, he was definitely something to see. Uncle was followed by a "truckboat" and a pair of huge cymbals 


The picture to the right is intended to give some idea of the size of this giant, and hopefully gives a little perspective. Due to his size there were two teams of operators working his legs, and they managed to make him move flawlessly. Leaping off platforms and pulling on ropes to commands of "right foot, down!" and "left foot, down!" they actually made it look easy. With perfect synchronisation, intense teamwork and split second timing, it was amazing to watch.

We followed the procession along the Strand to the Albert Dock, along with thousands of other spectators for the finale.

 The giants were leaving Liverpool.

They were to climb into a boat and sail off down the River Mersey.

ImageThey were hoisted into their boat by three huge cranes while other boats rocked the waterfront with more music from walls of amplifiers on their decks, or sailed around the dock pouring smoke onto the water, enveloping the crowds. Other boats and ships moored nearby blew their horns and whistles, the atmosphere was electric!

Once the giants were seated they gave the city one last wave as they made their way to the river, the music and smoke boats following in another wonderful procession as roaring crowds cheered them off, and little hands waved frantically as the last flurry of pictures were taken from the dockside.

Watching these giants walking through the city, it was so easy to forget that they were in fact just giant puppets. If you allowed yourself, however ridiculously, to imagine for an instant that there were no ropes, no pulleys, no frames, no support vehicles and no operators, then just for an instant, they seemed incredibly real. This was due in no small part to the amazing amounts of detail, time and effort that went into creating these larger than life puppets, as well as the skill and talent of their puppeteers. 

We only saw the very last part of Sea Odyssey, but it's not something I'll forget anytime soon. Just like La Princesse in 2008, the people of Liverpool took these giants into their hearts, and gave them the run of their town. Hundreds of people, months of planning, and a cost of £1.5m, Sea Odyssey, for me personally, and I'm sure for the thousands of people who witnessed it, was time and money well spent.

DCB - Liverpool.


I recently sat down with someone very special, and went through her photo albums with her. Although they weren't my pictures, and I wasn't in any of them, it was still a really powerful experience and I really enjoyed it. Looking at pictures isn't just looking at pictures. When someone goes through their photographs it can be a really personal experience, evoking memories which can cause some strong emotions. You're not just looking at someones pictures, they're taking you on a journey with them through their memories, their experiences, their life. That's what makes it special. This might sound silly to you. It's only pictures, I can hear you thinking it. But think about this for a minute: To just sit, with a hot drink, and go through a photo album with someone on a grey afternoon, listening to the excitement in their voice when they're explaining a certain picture, or watch their face light up when they see a really good picture of someone who's no longer around. To hear them laughing, either at themselves, or at someone else, or giggle while they're saying "oh, that was when...". To have the embarrassing pictures snatched away and hidden while the person goes bright red. When someone's feeling a bit low, a little bit down and needs a pick me up. When you think about that side of it, it's suddenly not so silly is it?

It's not just pictures though. The strangest, most abstract things evoke memories. It can literally be anything. A belt. A diary. A scribbled love letter from school. All of these things are normally put in a box in the attic, left to get dusty, and mostly forgotten about. It's when you get the box down, dust it off, and sit and go through it. For a couple of hours you can travel back in time.

Our experiences make us who we are. They define us as people, and they teach us. Memories are born from experience. We document those experiences and we tag memories onto them. It's human nature. There's all sorts of things we have to remember. From big things like birthdays and anniversaries, to the smaller stuff. Did I pay the phone bill? Has the dog been fed? Is the front door locked? Have I got milk in the fridge? Little, irritating everyday things. So the stuff we can't keep in our heads, mainly because we don't have room for it, goes into other things. Dusty boxes in attics and photograph albums kept in cupboards. If we let those things go, do we eventually lose the memories they bring? Do we forget about that trip to the theme park? Do we forget what that person looked like when they were younger?

You can make new memories, write new chapters, of course you can. But that's just it. They're new. Fresh. What about your 21st birthday party? Or the best night out of your life? What about the older memories? The chapters that were written in another place and time? Possibly when you were someone else? You can try to remember them, but after a while they'll fade, and if you don't keep hold of the things you associate with them, you'll forget. I'm not saying people should dwell on the past, I don't. I'm very much looking forward to the future. But everyone has a past, everyone has a story. We don't just appear. To forget that story, to not share it with someone, to not allow your book to be read by someone who cares about you, or someone you care about, to me is a crime.

I can keep going but I'll wrap this up by saying this: We can try to run from our past. We can try to block it out. Pretend it didn't happen. At the close of the book though, would you like to be forgotten?

So go phone a friend, put the kettle on, dust the box off, and take a trip, the results might surprise you!


My First Blog...

Hi! Welcome to my blog. Ok, before I go any further I have to admit something: I'm ver new at this, and to be honest I always thought blogging was ridiculous, I'll admit it. I did. I never saw the point of it. I use the internet all the time, news, travel, keeping in touch with friends, the usual stuff, and to be honest blogging never really appealed to me. I had nothing against those that blogged, it just never seemed worth the effort to me. Over time though, the more thought I gave it, the less ridiculous it got. I found WordPress and began reading random blogs, just clicking on anything and reading it.

I discovered a lot of really interesting blogs, some very nice photographs and some really nice stories. After reading them I decided I wanted to get involved. So yesterday, nearly a month after finding it, and after some serious reading. I set my own up. I'm still finding my feet with it granted, but what was I afraid of?

I suppose it could be the fact that I didn't feel I had anything interesting to say, but others do it. People blog about anything and everything, so any tips or pointers would be appreciated. I'll probably just keep it random until I find a thread though, or I might just keep it random full stop. Either way I've got a blog, and I never thought that'd happen. The next test will be to see if I can keep it up, and then a further test will be to see if I can keep it interesting. I can only do my best. For the moment I'm aiming for a weekly update, unless I really get the urge to write about something.