European football championship, Wales and rock music


This music video says about itself:

Manic Street Preachers – Together Stronger (C’mon Wales) [Official Video]

12 May 2016

The Manics‘ Wales Euro 2016 anthem ‘Together Stronger (C’mon Wales)’s is out now.

By James Walsh in Britain:

Naff, but catchy

Tuesday 24th May 2016

It’s Euro football championship time again and, true to past form, anthems are being penned that are so bad they’re good, writes James Walsh

THE MANIC Street Preachers have written a song about the EU referendum. A soaring, anthemic number, interspersed with audio of the band’s favourite Jacques Delors’ speeches, which they hope will inspire voters to turn out and keep Wales in the European Union.

No they haven’t, I’m being silly. Instead, their song is about the Welsh football team, who are playing in the European Championships.

A soaring, anthemic number, interspersed with commentary of the team’s past sporting failures, which they hope will inspire the team to glory this summer.

The song is called Together Stronger (C’mon Wales), so you can see where the confusion came from.

It is extremely naff but quite catchy. With this, the Manics join a proud tradition of indie bands writing football songs destined to become strange curiosities to culture-miners of the future.

Who could forget Echo & The Bunny Men teaming up with Space, Ocean Colour Scene and the Spice Girls for 1998’s (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World? Well, Space singer Tommy, for one, who didn’t turn up to the recording but does appear in the video.

Or Scotland’s Del Dmitri, with the self-fulfilling prophecy of calling their tournament song Don’t Come Home Too Soon?

True to tradition, Scotland departed after the group stages.

Embrace’s official England song from 2006, World At Your Feet, was so bad the FA declined to have an official song for the following World Cup.

The only band to get it right was New Order, because they’re New Order. World In Motion is a wonderful tune even with the involvement of Keith Allen, John Barnes rapping and the line “We’re playing for England. We’re playing the song.”

Ten years ago, the London-based radio station XFM launched a competition for listeners to write their official song for Euro 2004.

The winner was a sub-Oasis lady anthem with the slightly sinister, Skippy title of Born in England, which would have come as a surprise to the team’s midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who was born in Canada.

Much more intriguing was the rejected song with the sensible name, European Championships 2004, which was a Streets-style lo-fi rap with the brilliant chorus: “The England fans and the England team abiding by the law.”

Which sure beats The Lightning Seeds.

England haven’t announced an official song for this summer at the time of writing but the bookies are bandying around terrifying names like Fabians and The Kaiser Chiefs, the latter once memorably described as being “like a shit Blur in hats.”

Meanwhile the Welsh are overflowing with talent. As well as the Manics’ cheesy official number, fans can also enjoy the return of the Super Furry Animals.

The band, who once sponsored Cardiff City, have released a football-themed song as their first single in seven years “to bring colour and hope to Europe’s footballing, and semi- or non-footballing, nations,” according to the press release.

“Sing Bong isn’t a song of victory or defeat but a beacon of faith to return to when your best centre-forward gets sent off, or it rains at your festival. Keep it in a safe place for a time when you will need it.”

I’ve stuck my copy behind glass and will break it in an emergency, such as Boris Johnson becoming prime minister. It’s a strangely hypnotic communal disco number, with lyrics to the minimum, and in Welsh.

In the video, the band are shown eternally looped playing pick-me-up. It is nonsensical, profound and warmly internationalist.

Perhaps it’s secretly about the EU referendum.

New opera on World War I butchery


This video series from Wales is about the new opera In Parenthesis.

By David Nicholson in Britain:

Superb commemoration of Somme slaughter

Thursday 19th May 2016

In Parenthesis
Millennium Centre, Cardiff
4/5

NEW operas are rare events and even rarer are ones that are as good as In Parenthesis.

Eagerly anticipated, it’s being staged both to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Welsh National Opera and mark the centenary of the slaughter at the Battle of the Somme.

Iain Bell’s moving and visceral new opera about the great war, based on Welsh poet David Jones’s epic poem, is an ambitious project, with WNO director David Pountney, Emma Jenkins and David Antrobus’s libretto combining to brilliant effect with Bell’s music.

Through the eyes of tenor Andrew Bidlack’s Private John Ball, we watch a band of Welsh soldiers embark for France, journey to the horror of the trenches and perish in the final bloody battle at Mametz Wood.

Under the assured direction of David Pountney, aided by set designer Robert Innes Hopkins, this is a brilliantly staged production that captures the terror and claustrophobic atmosphere of a troop ship and the trenches of northern France.

But, as ever with the WNO, it is the sublime choral singing that pulls all the strands together. They are a perfect match for the drama of the reckless death of young men, in which Mark Le Brocq as a convincingly gruff sergeant and George Humphreys as a sensitive and caring young lieutenant take the acting honours.

The cafe scene before the men move off to the Somme is a thrilling highlight as the brilliant Welsh song Sosban Fach is sung with all the power at the disposal of the WNO.

The mythic return to the earth of the slaughtered band of Royal Welsh Fusiliers is touchingly realised by the nymphs who haunt Mametz Wood.

It’s a superb rendition by the women’s chorus who, dressed in an abundance of foliage and twigs, return the torn and bloodied bodies of Ball’s fallen comrades to the earth. Their heavenly singing moved many of the opening night audience to tears.

In Parenthesis ticks every box when it comes to music, acting and production values, though whether Bell’s opera will still be performed in years to come is the real acid test.

But this is a production to go and see now. As a sensitive, moving and visceral portrayal of the horror of war, it is a superb evening of pure theatre.

At the Millennium Centre until June 3, then tours until July 1, box office: wno.org.uk.

Starling murmuration in Wales, video


This video from Wales says about itself:

23 March 2016

Peregrine falcons causing an amazing but very quick starling murmuration at Pentraeth, Anglesey.

Ever wonder how European starlings came to the U.S.? Blame Shakespeare: here.

Refugees forced to wear coloured wristbands in Britain


This video says about itself:

Hungary: Remembering Jews forced to live in ‘Yellow-Star’ houses

21 June 2014

Exactly 70 years to the day since Jews in Budapest were forced to move to houses bearing a large yellow Star of David, some of the buildings still standing have been opened up to the public.

After the yellow stars for Jews in nazi Germany and its allies and occupied countries … and the G4S red doors for refugees recently in England … now this.

From daily The Independent in Britain, 24 January 2016:

Asylum seekers being ‘forced to wear coloured wristbands‘ in Cardiff

There have been allegations that asylum seekers were told by members of staff they would be reported to the Home Office if they refused to wear the wristbands

Shehab Khan

Asylum seekers in Cardiff are reportedly being forced to wear brightly coloured wristbands at all times.

Those housed in the Welsh capital by Clearsprings Ready Homes, a private firm contracted by the Home Office, have been told they will not be fed unless they wear the wristbands, according to the Guardian.

The wristbands entitle the asylum seekers, who cannot work and also receive no money, to three meals a day.

There were also allegations that asylum seekers were told by members of staff they would be reported to the Home Office if they refused to wear the wristbands.

Eric Ngalle, 36, who spent a month in Cardiff told the Guardian: “On the road we had to walk down there is often heavy traffic. Sometimes drivers would see our wristbands, start honking their horns and shout out of the window, ‘Go back to your country.’ Some people made terrible remarks to us.

“If you take off the wristband you can’t reseal it back onto your wrist so if you want to eat you have to wear it all the time.”

The news comes days after asylum seekers in Middlesbrough said they had their doors painted the red by G4S, the private firm responsible for housing them, resulting in harassment and abuse from the public.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Refugees have to wear wristbands

Monday 25th January 2016

HOME OFFICE private contractors are forcing asylum-seekers to wear neon wristbands or risk being denied food, it was reported yesterday.

Migrants newly arrived in Cardiff and living in the premises of Clearsprings Ready Homes have complained about the brightly coloured identifiers which exposed them to xenophobic abuse.

Former resident Eric Ngalle, who was granted refugee status last November, described his time there as “one of the most horrible experiences in my life.”

In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Ngalle said: “If we refused to wear the wristbands we were told we would be reported to the Home Office.

“I made a complaint about the wristbands to Clearsprings, but nothing was done.

“We had to walk from accommodation about 10 minutes away to Lynx House to get food and sometimes when we were walking down the street with our wristbands showing …”.

He added that people sometimes shouted at him after noticing the wristband: “Go back to your country.”

The report comes less than a week after a housing provider in Middlesbrough was forced to repaint the front doors of its asylum-seeking residents after being accused of marking them out with the colour red.

A spokesman for anti-racism campaign Hope Not Hate told the Star: “Coming off the back of the ‘red door’ debacle in Middlesbrough, the mind boggles at the insensitivity of these Home Office contractors.

“Refusing people access to food is just plain wrong and the means of identification used both clumsy and demeaning.

“Surely it’s not too hard to come up with a better solution than this?”

Jurassic dinosaur discovery in Wales


This video about Wales says about itself:

New dinosaur: Welsh dragon Dracoraptor hanigani discovered

20 January 2016

Scientists have discovered the fossilised skull and bones of a dinosaur on a Severn Estuary beach near the town of Penarth. Report by Sarah Duffy.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Ancient ‘dragon’ found in Wales, named Dracoraptor hanigani

The apparently youthful dinosaur was running around Wales about 200 million years ago

Andrew Griffin

Dragons really did roam around Wales. But about 200 million years ago.

Scientists have found the skull and bones of a huge beast near Penarth. The creature has been named Dracoraptor hanigani and is one of the world’s oldest Jurassic dinosaurs.

Dracoraptor is Latin for “dragon robber”, an apparent reference to the dragon on Wales’ flag.

Flag of Wales

The rest of the name comes from Nick and Rob Hanigan, the amateur fossil-hunters who found the bones while they were looking for ichthyosaur remains.

The dragon was related to the Tyrannosaurus rex. But it was a lot less terrifying, scientists say.

The bones aren’t yet fully formed, and so the specimen probably belongs to a youngster.

The dragon would have roamed before dinosaurs took over the world, when it was instead dominated by crocodiles and mammals.

Mammals just started their evolution during the early Jurassic, and were not dominant yet.

The climate of Wales would also have been very different and much warmer.

Dinosaur scientist Steven Vidovic, from the University of Portsmouth, one of the experts whose description of D. hanigani appears in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, said: “The Triassic-Jurassic extinction event is often credited for the later success of dinosaurs through the Jurassic and Cretaceous, but previously we knew very little about dinosaurs at the start of this diversification and rise to dominance.

“Now we have Dracoraptor, a relatively complete two metre-long juvenile theropod from the very earliest days of the Jurassic in Wales.”