Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts & Musings’ Category

Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names

September 22, 2010

Wow. Just wow. Click to enlarge.

via The Daily Swarm.

James

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Sofi Soap

August 27, 2010

Artwork I just came across for Sofi Soap, thought it was pretty nice!!

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James

Lights, Camera, AÇÃO!

July 29, 2010

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During the making of ‘O Divino, De Repente’ (2009)

Brazilian cinema, as an artform, is known for experiencing large fluctuations in terms of frequency of releases, due to the industry’s reliance upon the State for funding and incentives.

Despite this, the country has been responsible for some incredibly evocative and moving content over the past few years. Several key films have done much to lift the profile of Brazilian cinema overseas, showing the world an urban lifestyle far removed from the glamorous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

In the 1940’s American genre films were very popular and many Brazilian production companies began to emulate them. The Cinematográfica Vera Cruz was one of the most prolific; established in 1949, Vera Cruz cinema represented the highly commercialized content that was beginning to characterize mainstream Brazilian cinema. Significant investment was made to these production houses, leading to large scale Hollywood-style studios that many felt produced films with high budgets but low on content.

As a result, many film-makers began to feel disillusioned and started experimenting with independent cinema. In the 50’s and 60’s a group of Brazilian directors began to practice a particular style and technique of film-making which became known as Cinema Novo.

Characterised by the Portuguese phrase ‘Uma câmera na mão e uma idéia na cabeça’, or ‘A camera in the hand and an idea in the head’, Cinema Novo was a retort, inspired by Italian Neo-Realism and French ‘Nouvelle Vague’ movements, against the output of the Vera Cruz, and aimed to authentically represent Brazilian life. Even today, with Brazil’s rise as a global economic power, the distribution of wealth is tremendously unbalanced; rich playboys party in the clubs of Rio de Janeiro while slums filled with the poor cover the hills overlooking the city.

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Cinema Novo addressed this by using Brazilian poverty as a main focus of the story-telling; a focus which, although the movement ended in the early 1970’s as a result of political oppression, can still be seen in contemporary works such as Carandiru (2003) and the Academy Award-nominated City of God (2002).

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Scenes from City of God (2002)

Brazil’s varied and engaging artistic output means that the country is constantly recognised as being a unique and rich cultural hub; for example, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, (MoMA), held a film exhibition between 15-29 July entitled ‘Premiere Brazil!’

Held every year in conjunction with the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, the event provides a platform for both new and established Brazilian film-makers to have a chance to premiere their works to American audiences.

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An image from Waste Land (2010) Directed by Lucy Walker. Image courtesy of moma.org

Over on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival (LABRFF) has just finished its third edition, running from 27th April – 2nd May. LABRFF aims to provide a link between Brazil and Hollywood, raising the profile of Brazilian film-makers in the industry and promoting their films to a wider audience.

February saw the 2nd annual Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival, held over three days in the heart of Hollywood. HBR FEST is, according to their website, ‘a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the cultural and commercial exchange between Hollywood and Brazil.’

Much like LABRFF, the aim of the festival is to raise the profile of Brazilian filmmakers in Hollywood and elicit production and financing opportunities for international filmmakers; the first edition of the show in 2009 was held at the Egyptian Theatre and Mann Chinese 6 Cinemas, and was reportedly a great success for those involved. A total of eight feature films, documentaries and shorts are all given an enviable platform from which to air, many of them premieres.

Such cultural exchanges are very important; with the majority of the world’s cinema emanating from Hollywood it would be very easy for content to become homogenised and repetitive. By bringing in influences from countries such as Brazil, the industry can be sure of plenty of inspiration from a variety of global cultural capitals.

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With a landscape such as this, it is little wonder that Rio de Janeiro has inspired generations of Brazilian film-makers

In London earlier this year, Nike Sportswear premiered the release of Cadência, a major new film documentary and exhibition by director Daren Bartlett at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix exhibition centre. According to a review in Don’t Panic magazine, “Cadência sets out to articulate the ambiguous essence of Rio de Janeiro’s symbolic identity through its people, passions and traditions by exploring the underground phenomena of traditional kite culture, the masquerade of Clovis and of course, football.”

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In addition, an exhibition inspired by the film took place across the road at Nike’s 1948 store, featuring large-scale visual and audio projections taken from the film, a selection of art stills by Jiwon Park and catering by Brazilian restaurant Raizes.

Elsewhere in London, the HSBC-sponsored ‘Festival Brazil’ at the Southbank Centre runs from 19th June – 5th September, and celebrates Brazilian heritage in a vibrant and dynamic way. Although the event does not specifically feature cinema, it is an incredible celebration of Brazilian culture, from food and dance to literature and art.

Brazilian culture is unique in that its inclusive nature makes it feel accessible by people all across the world; the energy, vibrancy and richness of picture-postcard beaches and festivals juxtaposes with the gritty romance of the Cinema Novo favelas, providing beauty for those of all tastes. Given the ‘A camera in the hand…’ philosophy that underpins independent Brazilian cinema, there are arguably fewer places in the world where you’d rather be holding a camera.

James

Devlin – freestyle (produced by Z-dot)

July 20, 2010

Ripped from Logan’s show on Monday. This is getting quite a bit of attention on GrimeForum, and rightfully so. There are some killer lines in here, I like the Ancient Egyptian similies best, pure fire.

Devs is goin’ in right now.

Gwaan Devs!

Kristian

Let’s Get Lost: Racism in the Fashion Industry

May 24, 2010

Last week a colleague forwarded me a link to an article on refinery29.com regarding a recent shoot for Interview Magazine featuring model Daria Werbowy, shot by Mikael Jansson. The story itself has caused a fair amount of controversy regarding alleged racist undertones within the shoot.

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Personally, I think this shoot is one of, if not the most evocative fashion story I have seen all year. The lighting, poses, clothing and colour all contribute to an overall ambience which I find simply captivating. You can almost taste the salty tang of sweat, the earthy and metallic grease and engine oil, the cold bottled beer and the acrid, lingering smoke.

As a big fan of dancehall music and dingy, sweaty yet atmospheric clubs in general, I cannot envision a more perfect setting to hear one of my favourite genres of music. All of the models, not just Daria, look beautiful, and while there is the faintest nuance of menace in the air, that is thanks mainly to the setting; it certainly, to my eyes anyway, does not reinforce any negative stereotypes of black people.

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However, this is where the allegations come pouring in. According to its many detractors, it places black models in the shoot merely as ‘props’, dressing them in ‘tough’ leather and knits, while placing Daria in ‘ethereal’ and ‘angel-like’ gowns.

Looking at these images as objectively as possible, I’m still not entirely sure of the validity of this statement. I mean sure, Daria is the main focus of many of the images – although not all, it is important to note – but I think that the images would be just as strong without her in them at all; the shoot is about capturing an atmosphere, a moment in time in some faraway place that many of us Western Europeans will never experience.

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It is antithetic escapism in a way; instead of providing something typically beautiful and aspirational, it does the opposite and shows us a world of vice, sleaze and depravity, which, due to its obvious id-based appeal, is just as alluring.

The fact remains that clubs like this do exist; from grimy dancehall venues in the backstreets of Kingston to basement dubstep clubs in East London, the ‘dive’, as many of these places are known, represents a coming-together of people for one thing – a love of music. All the pretentious trappings of so-called nightlife – dress codes, expensive cocktails, and condescending attitudes – are forgotten; the venues aren’t pretty but they are brimming with energy, both sonic and sexual. In my opinion, that is what this shoot conveys perfectly.

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Of course, this isn’t the first time in recent months that the fashion industry has been accused of racism. Last year, the October 2009 issue of Vogue featured a shoot – shot by Steven Klein, styled by Carine Roitfeld – in which model Lara Stone was depicted covered in brown paint, in a move dubbed by many as ‘contemporary blackface’. The outrage over this shoot is, in my opinion, fairly justified.

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Although I am a big fan of Steven Klein, it is surprising that anyone would allow this kind of photoshoot to go ahead. While I don’t think that a depiction of ‘neo-minstrels’ was necessarily the aim of the shoot, it was nonetheless a naive move by those in charge, and actually detracts a lot of attention from the other images in the shoot, which are otherwise very cool indeed.

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I guess your outlook on this whole debate depends on your views on what is considered racist. Personally, with regard to the Daria Werbowy shoot, I think that most of the outrage has been generated by whites who think it is up to them to dictate what people from other ethnic backgrounds find offensive. Sure, there are black people who will find it offensive but there are also plenty who don’t (Kiah, the colleague who forwarded the images to me, is Jamaican and loves them) which wouldn’t be the case if the images depicted were overtly offensive.

Another big factor is the way in which fashion chooses to politicise itself. Many people speak of fashion as being very politically and socially motivated, something which I don’t agree with at all. Any kind of political or social commentary embued within a collection that I’ve seen has been very trite and contrived at best; certainly nothing that has made me want to make any rash lifestyle changes.

Fashion makes itself political because people that design want it to be taken seriously as an art, which it is not. It may be conceptual, but fashion design is a craft, not an art. Clothing, in my opinion, cannot express any kind of political statement; it can express an opinion, an outlook on life – look to the Dadaist, make-do-and-mend aesthetic of punk, or the often prison-related fashions present in hiphop style – but when it comes to fashion, the only real politicisation comes through depiction in a context, through mediums such as photography or film.

It is only when clothing is placed within a context that it is given meaning; the ‘Guide to Successful Living’ campaign started by Diesel in 1992 is, to me, one of the most satirical and provocative advertising campaigns ever made, and marks a true milestone in terms of the politicisation of fashion advertising.

When you consider that there are so many actual examples of racism and persecution in the world that continue to cause pain and suffering to people all over the world, getting worked up over a perceived slight in a magazine editorial seems, to me at least, to be fairly out of perspective. Let’s concentrate on fixing some of the other evils in the world before blaming fashion for all of the world’s problems, shall we?

James

Celebrities & Diffusion Ranges: An Analysis

May 12, 2010

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The Kardashians, who have designed a capsule collection for Bebe

How involved are celebrities in the design of their diffusion ranges?

In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes criticised the stars who put their names to fashion collections, stating “they have taken things out of their wardrobes — by Balenciaga or some other brand — and had it knocked up by the chain, which is why [some of these] places lost a lot of their designers.”

If indeed Ms. Rhodes is correct, are such collaborations necessary? In a world of seemingly endless opportunities for consumption, are these ranges needed to ensure a brand remains visible to the public, or are they simply further adherence to the modern cult of celebrity?

Zandra Rhodes: Role Models From World of Fashion Fail Our Children

Of course, it’s fairly obvious to suggest that celebrities don’t know what they’re talking about. For example, the placement of Lindsay Lohan as creative adviser to established fashion house Emanuel Ungaro – and the resulting, devastating criticism of her first collection – has done much to damage the idea of bringing in a famous name to enhance a brand’s standing in the public eye.

It certainly seems as though every ‘celebrity’ in LA has turned their hand to designing – from Paris Hilton to J.Lo to… well, virtually any mainstream hiphop artist you care to mention. It is almost as if there is some kind of ‘fame hierarchy’ in place, in which different forms of talent are considered more reputable than others, and everyone is just trying to move up the food chain – reality TV stars want to sing, singers want to act and just about everyone wants to be a designer.

However, the fact remains that much designer fashion remains blissfully out of reach for many – and lest we forget that diffusion lines, as well fragrances, underwear and other less expensive but nonetheless branded items are where labels get their lion’s share of income from. Fashionistas (myself included, sometimes) may sneer and turn their noses up at overtly-branded diffusion T-shirts and other rudimentary items that are given astronomical price tags because of conspicuous logos, but thanks to the twin miracles of consumer capitalism and mass media, a three-pronged fork of self-definition through possession, a push towards instant gratification and commodity fetishism strikes many consumers straight through the heart – and often the wallet – leaving them powerless to resist.

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Items such as fragrances are where fashion houses make most of their money

More importantly, however, it keeps the accounts of major fashion houses nicely topped up, so that they can continue to operate and produce more ways for people to feel like a part of something aspirational through consumption.

This may sound cruel, but unfortunately that is the way in which a capitalist society works. During my time at university I learned that fashion, rather than being a fluffy little ‘optional extra’, is actually a crucial pillar in ensuring that the economy continues to flourish. Many would fail to see the connection, as I did; fashion is not just about catwalk shows and haute couture, but deals with creating desirability for almost every consumer goods item you care to think of, from mobile phones to soft furnishings. Due to its cyclical nature, it ensures that objects are not replaced when they cease to be useful, but when they cease to be ‘fashionable’ or desirable. Fear of exclusion is a powerful thing, and many will maintain their consumption habits to remain within the group.

Not always as easy as it sounds though. Contrary to many people’s belief, and the sheer mountains of damning evidence, the general public is not stupid, particularly since the recession. Consumption habits have completely polarised; yes, you still have people queuing endlessly at quick-fix disposable stores such as Primark, but you also get people making much more informed choices about where they spend their money. As a result, companies have to coax and persuade people to buy their products – which is where advertising comes in, although that is a topic so vast in itself I won’t be going into it. Another way is through celebrity endorsements, which brings me neatly back to the aforementioned diffusion lines.

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Elle Macpherson, whose Intimates range, forged in a partnership with Bendon Limited Apparel, remains one of the most popular celebrity-endorsed lines

Celebrities are so explicitly public property these days that in many cases, a personal investment of emotion is made by the member of the public. How many times have you heard someone expressing strong feelings towards a celebrity, both positive or negative, despite the fact that they have never even been on the same continent, let alone met? The same applies with fashion collections. By attaching a known face to the brand, people can make an emotional connection between their feelings for that person and the brand they are associated with. Furthermore, if that celebrity is known for being particularly stylish, people can attempt to emulate their style by buying clothes that they supposedly designed.

When you look at it like this, I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether the celebrity in question sat down with the head designer and a pad and pencil and conceptualised the entire collection from scratch, or merely turned up one day, cast their eye over a bunch of potential designs and signed off the ones they liked. In the same way as you wouldn’t expect a musician that endorses Pepsi to be any good at making drinks, or a footballer that promotes certain foods to be a good cook, why expect an actor to actually be able to design?

How involved are celebrities in the design of their diffusion ranges? Well, as long as you like the clothes, what does it matter?

James

Logan Sama’s April 2010 Round Up

April 30, 2010

In terms of radio, Chosen Ones Part 2 was a great start to April. We worked with different MC’s and concepts this time, keeping the format fun and fresh. As I mentioned here last month, I wanted a Yardie set for Part 2 and I got one with Killa P, Badness, Shizzle and Jamakabi! It was definitely one of my favourite sets. Double S held down a set on his own (as the rest of Marvell couldn’t make it) for 25 minutes which was very impressive – I’m sure even his critics on the internet would have to agree.

We also had Trim and his Circle, as well as exciting new talent in the form of Dream Mclean, Teeza, Voltage, Onoe and Scruface – the latter an MC who I have high hopes for this year. We are going to keep the Chosen Ones series going and I know people are wondering why I haven’t opted for bigger names so far. However, I’m going to be doing a new Chosen Ones show every six weeks now and as such I don’t want to recycle sets. We are going to get sets from Ruff Sqwad, Cold Blooded, Boy Better Know, Movement and maybe Slew Dem in the summer…rest assured we’ll be doing what the people want to hear! I don’t want it to just be the same show with Newham Gens and Bloodline appearing every week – despite what some may demand!

Chosen Ones gives me the opportunity to feature people from across the UK too, MC’s outside of London – Midlands, up North etc. It’s otherwise hard for me to give exposure to these guys with a one hour show on a commercial station. Kiss management are still giving really positive feedback; they’re really happy with both the Radio listener figures and the web hits. Hopefully, if we can sustain the effort then we might have a two hour show again!

The Grime Forum awards were another April highlight for me. I didn’t even realise I had won the best DJ award – I naturally assumed Spyro had won. There are many things that make a DJ ‘good’ and in light of this award I‘d like to think I’m now alright at most of them! It was a pleasure to receive the award. The fact that the organisers had clubbed together and made a physical award that I can actually keep was special. I made a big deal of it and specifically invited P Money and Blacks down so we could give the awards credibility. Last year the awards came and went. This year, I felt that giving Grime Forum credence on the radio was needed.

People that are doing work should be rewarded for their efforts; Tempa T getting best song and best video, P Money winning best MC and best mixtape and Blacks winning best newcomer was all down to the Grime Scene – not the mainstream/playlist world. It was real fans saying what the hottest shit was this year. I heard Skepta say that for him, this was the first time he had seen a list of award winners and completely agreed with it. Unfortunately, the Grime Daily party didn’t go nearly as well. All I’ll say is it is a shame incidents like that still happen – they are a poignant reminder of what is really going on in the world at the moment. The name ‘Grime’ is very precious and we have to be careful what we attach it to…

Going back to Skepta, he’s currently remixing P Diddy’s ‘Hello Good Morning’ which is big news for Grime. I know Skepta wants to do a big Grime club smasher, so we’ll see what comes of it. As with anybody big dipping their toes in Grime, we’ll have to use it and get as much exposure as possible. It’s good that somebody like Diddy, coming from America, looks to the UK and picks a Grime artist to work with. It’s a step in the right direction when people look over here and see Grime as our equivalent of Hip Hop.

As you may have seen on here and on my own blog, I’m a bit of a Street Fighter fan! A nice surprise this week was D Double’s vocal of Swerve’s Street Fighter Riddim. I had no idea Dee was going to vocal it, in fact the first I knew was when I received a text from Laurence at Dirtee Stank saying ‘D Double’s Street Fighter Freestyle is Fucked!’ I rang him straight back! I got sent it and it was like two of my favourite things mixed together. A special made for me (almost)! In terms of the actual game, I’m really enjoying it. I actually want to get good at this version as me and Jamie are thinking about going to some tournaments and trying our luck.

I’ve been trying to work with Dudley, but like any new character it’s hard at first. As he only punches, using him effectively is quite technical, but once he gets in there he can do some damage!

As a final note, look out for B-Live’s Modern Warfare release this month, which comes with a massive, MASSIVE remix as well as the Sharky Major and Badness CD’s. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that supported the ‘Shark Attack’ single because it was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off. J Beatz, Nuklea and Z-Dot instrumental EP’s are coming soon. In terms of gigs, if you want to keep up to date with where I’m playing check my blog, http://www.keepinitgrimy.blogspot.com. I’m looking forward to playing Hip Hop Kemp in the Czech Republic this summer, as it’s all good fun and hopefully I shall be going to San Francisco in May…Fingers crossed!

Until next month…Keep it Grimy!

Logan.

Logan Sama’s New Blog Launch on WTTF!

April 5, 2010

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We are very pleased to announce that as from today, Kiss FM host and Grime DJ supremo Logan Sama will be contributing an exclusive monthly blog to Welcome To The Fold. Far from a conventional monthly summary, Logan’s WTTF blog will provide unique insight into the Grime scene as well as detailing his encounters, interests and observations over the past 30-or-so days – Grime related or not!

As a DJ, A&R, writer, commentator, gaming enthusiast AND ardent West Ham supporter, there will always plenty to read about! This month Logan talks Estonia, Chosen Ones, Street Fighter and upcoming releases on Adamantium:

Earlier this month I DJ’ed out in Estonia for an event called ‘UKG’ which was dedicated to the spectrum of Garage sounds old and new. It’s always interesting playing in Europe because each country will take different things from the music. In Estonia, as I played my 90 minute set, I could see some people going off to straight up-and-down Grime, whilst the others started jumping about to more Dubsteppy type stuff.

They didn’t really have a grasp of what the Grime classics are, as I suspect they have just started listening recently. But I can really see instrumental Grime spreading across Europe – more so than vocalled Grime – as inevitably, where English isn’t spoken as a first language, it just becomes a barrier. I had a great time and hopefully I’ll be going out there again sometime soon!

This month saw the release of the Palladium/Vice documentary ‘London Pirate Radio’, which yours truly was featured in. It was a really interesting piece and I liked how it went into the history of pirate radio and where it came from. Looking online, the feedback has been really good, not only for the film but for the accompanying mixtape I put together. Vice are really pleased with how it was all received and tell me it’s been the most popular item they’ve made so far!

Earlier this week I held a Street Fighter session at London Bridge and invited some Grime mandem down. JME, Shorty, Solo 45, Score Five and Dexplicit amongst others were in attendance, Dex just edging out Jamie in the final bouts for the title. We might hold a proper tournament sometime soon as there are some half-decent SF4 players in the scene.

We all enjoy playing it and it’s a good reason to get together other than music. I have to say now though that I doubt I’d take the title – I just don’t have that winners’ mentality! I can’t wait for the new edition to come out on April 30th – Dudley is gonna be the guy – his ultra animation looks sick!

Check Dudley Murking Here!

The Chosen Ones show was a big deal for me this month – the four sets (featuring Bloodline, OG’z, Newham Gens, Ghetts, Devlin, Dogzilla, Shrimpoz and Griminal) went well and the online listening figures (as well as the downloads) were really high. The KISS producers said it was a strong look and I can’t wait to air the next show on April 9th. We are recording the sets for it now and all I can tell you is that you can expect to see some promising young talent on there! I’m also trying to get a set recorded with all the Yardie MC’s on it as I know people have been itching to hear that!

Release-wise, ‘Shark Attack’ – which came out on my label Adamantium Music – did well, with some good feedback on the Grime Forum. Next up will be B-Live’s ‘Modern Warfare’ and that will be out as soon as we get the remix done. It looks like single releases is the way to go now – mixtape CD releases (and all the time-dalaying niggles inherent in them) aren’t really the one anymore. Saying that, Sharky’s and Badness’ CD’s will be out soon and once they are out, done and dusted, I’m going to be focussing on getting some producer EP’s released. Watch this space…

That’s it for this month. Next month I’ll be looking at putting the back catalogue online and some other stuff. Watch out for the Newham General’s new EP with Skitz Beatz and my Chosen One’s set on April 9th. It’s gonna be another big month!

Until next time, Keep It Grimy!

Logan.

Sunday, Mid-March… It Can Mean Only One Thing!

March 14, 2010

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As a tribute to those first ladies in all our lives, Welcome To The Fold is pleased to present what we hope will be the first of many poetic contributions to our little blog – a short and light-hearted piece by our friend Greg.

A Tribute To Mum

It’s morning, so time for breakfast in bed,
Have some toast and tea while you rest your head,
We got you a card and chocolates to show that we care,
But honestly, when it comes to the chocolates we hope that you share!
Then later in the day put your favourite film on the TV,
While me and dad try and cook dinner which ends in catastrophe!

So we end up going out for a meal,
Don’t worry about paying because we’ve got the bill,
Time to indulge yourself, what will it hurt?
Help yourself to a starter, main and dessert,
When you’ve finished and drank all the coffee from your cup,
Time to take you home so you can put your feet up!

You’re always there for us through rain, wind or shine,
Even though we can be a pain in the ass some of the time!
And when we’re feeling down, you help put us in a good mood,
Usually by feeding us with your delicious cooked food!
You keep us organised and lead like a boss,
Without you our family would be lost.
Mum…this day is all about you,
So we can say thank you for the things that you do!

Google’s Empire Visualisation

March 12, 2010

Food for thought…?

James