Monday, July 6, 2015

Ricky Banks, Music Star!




On the road

Ricky Banks is a rock star. He is tall and thin and attractive (good-looking, handsome). He is 26 years old. At the moment he is sleeping. He is in a big bed in a big bedroom in an expensive hotel in Manchester in the north of England. It is eleven o’clock in the morning.

Ricky is rich. He has expensive clothes. He wakes up. He gets up and puts on a white shirt and orange trousers. He drinks some strong black coffee. Then he plays his electric guitar quietly. He plays and thinks. He is not happy.

Ricky is a famous rock star. His group is the Rockers. They are always on tour. Ricky and the Rockers usually play in student clubs and at discos. They go to universities in many different countries every year. They are on television a lot.They are in the newspapers a lot.

Ricky’s wife is a writer. Her name is Donna. She works at home. She does not go on tour with Ricky. She doesn't like trains and planes. When he is away, Ricky calls Donna on the telephone every day. He loves her. Ricky and Donna don't have any children. They live in a beautiful house in the center of London.

Their house has lots of rooms and an indoor swimming pool. But they do not have a garden. Ricky likes gardens.


Big news!

It is eleven-thirty (11:30) in the morning. Ricky is talking on the telephone. He is talking to a young woman. Her name is Zoe.

‘Good morning, Mr Banks,’ Zoe says.

‘Hello,’ Ricky says. ‘How can I help you?’

‘I work for a television company,’ Zoe says. ‘We’re making some programs called Pop Music People. We want to make a program about you. Ben Turner, your manager, says you like to talk about your music.’

‘That’s very interesting,’ Ricky says. ‘What do you want to know?’

‘Can I meet you at the hotel today?’ Zoe asks. ‘We need some information for the program. I want to ask you some questions.’

‘Come about one o’clock. Would you like to have lunch in the hotel restaurant?’

‘Oh yes, that’s a great idea!’ Zoe says. ‘I can be there at one o’clock.’

‘Good,’ Ricky says. ‘Let’s talk then.’

He puts the telephone down.

‘What’s she going to ask me?’ Ricky thinks. ‘What am I going to say?’

Ricky and Zoe are sitting in the hotel restaurant. It is two o’clock in the afternoon and they are talking. She is 25 years old and very beautiful.

They are drinking coffee after their lunch. Zoe asks Ricky questions about his life. She writes down his answers.

‘Are you from London?’

‘Yes, I am,’ says Ricky.

‘Tell me about your school,’ Zoe says.

‘I don’t remember my school,’ Ricky says. ‘I like music. I like singing and playing the guitar.’

‘Tell me about your group,’ Zoe says. ‘Ricky and the Rockers are famous in Europe and America.’

‘We go to a lot of different cities and towns on tour every year,’ Ricky says. ‘Manchester - Milan - Madrid - Montreal. We go by train and by plane. We usually visit three or four universities a week. It’s hard work. But we like singing and playing our music.’

‘Do you like your job, Ricky?’ Zoe asks.

‘Yes, Zoe, I do,’ Ricky says. ‘But sometimes I feel tired. I work hard. Donna, my wife, doesn’t like my life. She wants to live in the country. She doesn’t like living in a city.’

‘Are you going to leave the group?’ Zoe asks.

‘Maybe. I want a house with a big garden,’ Ricky says. ‘I want to grow flowers and vegetables.’

‘This is big news! Thank you, Ricky,’ Zoe says.

‘I’m going to talk to the camera people. They want to film you this evening.’

Zoe leaves the restaurant.

‘She’s nice,’ Ricky thinks.


Talking to the Rockers

It is four o’clock in the afternoon. Ricky Banks is in his hotel room. He is talking to the Rockers. Their names are Mick, Larry and Don. Mick is sitting on a sofa. He is 26 years old. He is wearing a green shirt and brown jeans. Larry is sitting on a chair. He is 27 years old. He is tall. He is wearing a blue shirt and black jeans. Don is standing near the window. He is 28 years old. He is wearing a yellow shirt and red jeans.

‘When are we going home?’ Mick asks.‘We’re in a different city every night - Manchester or Milan or Madrid or Montreal.’

‘Yes, I feel tired,’ Larry says. ‘I want to go home.’

‘I want to see my family,’ Don says. ‘I want to see my children.’

‘We’re all tired,’ Ricky says. ‘But the last concert is in two weeks. We can have a holiday next month. Our contract with Ben ends then. Perhaps we don’t want to sign a new one ...’


The Rockers are happy.

‘We can have some time at home,’ Mick says.

‘We can talk to our friends,’ Larry says.‘We can go to restaurants with them. We can go to the cinema in the evening.We can go to discos and night clubs. We can have normal lives.’

‘We can see our families,’ Don says.‘We can sleep and read books and listen to music – other people’s music.’

‘Yes, let’s have a holiday,’ Ricky says. ‘Let’s think about the future.’

. . . . . . . .


‘What should I do?’

Ricky Banks is at home in London. He is talking to his wife, Donna. She is young and thin and attractive. Ricky and Donna are sitting on the sofa, drinking tea.

‘I’m happy to be at home, Donna,’ Ricky says. ‘The Rockers are tired. I’m tired, too. Five years on tour with no holiday is a long time. We all need a holiday.’

Donna drinks some tea.

‘I work very hard,’ Ricky says. ‘And I have a big problem with my work. I haven’t got any good ideas for new songs. People say my music is boring now. It’s always the same.’

‘I like your music,’ Donna says.

‘I want to change my life. We’re rich. We’re very rich. We can sell this house. We can go and live in the country.’

‘Ricky, that’s a great idea,’ Donna says. She puts her arms round him. ‘No more concerts tours! No more nights in hotels! We can leave London. You know that I don’t like cities. Let’s move to the country. Let’s buy a little house with a garden.’

Ricky and Donna have an invitation to a party the next day. Donna is ill. She does not want to go. She does not like parties. So Ricky goes without her.

Ricky sees Ben, his manager, there. He talks to him.

‘Ben, I’m tired,’ Ricky says. ‘I want to stop working.’

‘What!’ Ben says. ‘You’re famous! You’re rich! You can’t stop now!’ His face is red and he is very angry. Ricky and the Rockers are his number one client.

‘Ben, I have a serious problem with my music. Lots of people say my new songs are boring. They are no different from the old songs. I don’t have any new ideas.’

Ben says nothing (Ben doesn’t say anything).

‘I want to be with Donna,’ Ricky says. ‘Donna wants to leave London, Ben. We want to live in the country.’

‘You can’t live in the country!’ Ben says. ‘You’re a rock star! You have concerts in Europe, in England, in America, in Australia ...’

‘Ben, our contract with you ends next month. We are not going to sign a new contract. You have concerts in Europe, England, America and Australia. We do not have any concerts.’

Ben walks away.

Ricky knows other people at the party. Zoe is there. Ricky tells Zoe about his problems.

‘My wife wants to live with Ricky Banks, ex-rock star. My manager wants to manage Ricky and the Rockers, famous rock group. I can’t write good songs. What should I do?’

They dance. They have a good time.

Zoe tells Ricky about her husband.

‘We are very different,’ she says. ‘My husband likes sport:- football and Formula One. I like parties and music. I don’t see him much. He’s in Portugal now, watching the Grand Prix.’

Ricky looks at Zoe. He gets their coats. They go to Zoe’s house in a taxi. She sits near him in the taxi.

Ricky sees faces in his head. He sees his wife, Donna. He sees Ben’s face. He sees the Rockers’ faces. He sees the faces of the people at his concerts. He looks at Zoe’s face next to him...

. . . .


Listening to the birds

Ricky opens his eyes the next morning. He thinks about the night before.

‘What time is it?’ he asks.

‘Ten o’clock,’ Donna says. She puts a cup of coffee on the table next to the bed.

He calls Ben on the telephone. Ben doesn’t speak to him. He doesn’t call Zoe.

It is a hot day in June. Ricky is working in the garden. Birds are singing in the trees. The sky is blue. Ricky thinks he is happy.

He likes the country. He and Donna have a big house with lots of rooms. They have a very big garden. He and Donna eat the fruit and vegetables from the garden. Donna is happy too. She likes living in the country. She is happy because Ricky does not go away from home. He is not tired these days.

Ricky and Donna get up early. In the morning, Ricky works in the garden. Sometimes he thinks about Zoe. What is she doing now? He looks at the beautiful country. He looks at the beautiful river at the bottom of his garden. It is always there, it never changes. He thinks about London with its busy streets. He pictures (thinks about, imagines) Zoe: she is having lunch in an expensive restaurant, she is having a good time with her television friends, tonight they are going to a night club.

Donna works in her study (office). She writes. Ricky and Donna always have lunch in the kitchen. In the afternoon, they usually go for a long walk in the country. When they are walking, Ricky thinks about music and writes songs in his head. Donna writes stories in her head. They like their life in the village, far away from London. In the evening, they watch films on television or read or visit their friends in the village.

Ricky and Donna do not have any problems. They have a lot of money in the bank.

Sometimes now Ricky goes to a music group in the village. He likes singing and playing his guitar. He sings and plays country music with three other men.

‘Country music is different from rock music,’

Ricky thinks. ‘I like playing country music.’


Ricky and Friends

It is a cold day in November. There are no birds in the trees. The sky is grey.

‘It’s very cold again,’ Ricky says. ‘I can’t work in the garden today.’

‘What are you going to do today, then?’ Donna asks.

‘I want to play my guitar this morning,’ Ricky says. ‘I want to play my new song. I need to work on it.’

Ricky has a country music group now. His new country music group are Ricky and Friends. The Friends’ names are Fred, Ned and Ted. They all live in Ricky’s village. Fred is 33 years old. He is short and fat with brown hair. He plays the fiddle (violin) very well. Ned is 44 years old. He is tall and has a black beard. He can sing very well and he plays the accordion. Ted is 55 years old. He has a big mustache and a red face. He can sing and play the drums very well.

Ricky and Friends play in the pub in the village. Lots of people come to see them. One day Ricky telephones Ben. Ben comes to see them.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Back on the road

Ricky Banks is in a big bed in a big bedroom in an expensive hotel in New York. It is eleven o’clock in the morning. Ricky is sleeping. There is a guitar on the floor near the bed.

Ricky goes to lots of different towns and cities in Europe and America with Fred, Ned and Ted.

They play country music in clubs and hotels. Donna is at home in their house in the country. She likes the country. She does not like city life. She is writing a new story. It is about a woman. The woman’s husband is a music star. She leaves her husband. She goes to live with a man in the next village. He has a computer business.

The telephone rings in Ricky’s bedroom. It is Zoe.

‘Good morning, Ricky,’ Zoe says.

Ricky sits up. ‘Zoe? Hello, how are you?’ he asks.

‘I’m fine. I work for a different television company now,’ she says, ‘here in New York. We’re making some programs called Country Music People. We want to make a program about you.’

Ricky and Zoe meet for lunch. Zoe is very beautiful. Zoe asks Ricky lots of questions and

writes down his answers.

‘What are you doing this evening?’ Ricky asks.

‘I’m not playing a concert tonight. Let’s go to a restaurant and then a night club.’

‘Great!’ says Zoe. ‘Jack can come too. He’s my husband - my new husband. Let’s meet at nine.

The children are usually asleep by eight.’

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Throwback Thursday

The American bluegrass version:

"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"

Though I've tried before to tell her
Of the feelings I have for her in my heart
Every time that I come near her
I just lose my nerve
As I've done from the start

Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes on

Do I have to tell the story
Of a thousand rainy days since we first met
It's a big enough umbrella
But it's always me that ends up getting wet


I resolve to call her up a thousand times a day
And ask her if she'll marry me in some old fashioned way
But my silent fears have gripped me
Long before I reach the phone
Long before my tongue has tripped me
Must I always be alone?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Will the citizens of Barcelona revolt against soaring tourist numbers?

From The Guardian

With the Catalonian city hosting five times as many visitors as 20 years ago, there is a feeling among some locals that the financial benefits are not worth the hassle (bother, nuisance, trouble).

First there were mutterings (mumble, murmur, grumble) then there were street protests, but now Barcelona is showing signs of “tourist phobia”, the city’s guides are warning.

As many as nine million visitors are expected in Barcelona this year, crammed into a few small areas of a city of 1.6 million inhabitants, more than five times the number who visited 20 years ago. With the weak euro attracting ever more tourists, and as many as 2.5 million visitors disembarking from cruise ships a year, residents are feeling besieged.

“People push us, give us dirty looks and make nasty remarks when we’re showing tourists around,” said Mari Pau Alonso, president of Barcelona’s Association of Professional Tourist Guides.

Even Jordi Clos, head of the city’s hoteliers’ association, which wants to see visitor numbers rise to 10 million, says there is an “urgent need” to make citizens more sympathetic to tourists, given the “sense of being overwhelmed” that people have experienced in recent years.

“If we don’t want to end up like Venice, we will have to put some kind of limit in Barcelona,” said Ada Colau, the city’s new mayor, shortly after she was elected in May. She is proposing a moratorium on new hotels and licenses for apartments rented to tourists.

A survey for the Exceltur tourist group revealed that there are now twice as many beds available in tourist apartments – some 138,000 – as there are in hotels.

Tourist flats offer a more attractive and economic deal to visitors, and their owners can expect rents at least 125% higher than they would receive from long-term tenants. While many are let through large online organizations, such as Airbnb, others are offered by homeowners trying to make ends meet during Spain’s prolonged recession.

Tourists spend 25m euros (£18m) a day in the city, and the industry accounts for 15% of Barcelona’s GDP and about 120,000 jobs. No one wants to drive tourists away, says Colau, but if the city becomes a “theme park” people will stop coming.

Ciutat Vella, the heart of old Barcelona and one of the most popular districts among tourists, has lost 13,000 residents in eight years, driven out by high rents and the relentless noise of tourism. Many areas, such as the famous Las Ramblas or the area around the Sagrada Familia church, are in effect no-go areas for residents.

Colau suggests encouraging tourists to visit other parts of the city, but visitors are drawn to the old city, the Antoni Gaudí buildings and Barceloneta’s beaches. The city is the Mediterranean cruise capital and ships, some carrying thousands of passengers, have a huge impact. Passengers are disgorged at the city’s main sights and then leave, having bought little more than a souvenir and a bottle of water during their time ashore.

Their social impact is seen by many as hugely outweighing their financial contribution, leading some, Clos among them, to suggest a tax on cruises. So far (thus far = hasta ahora), the 7m euros annual tax on hotels has been spent on promoting tourism, but the Catalan parliament is now considering using it to alleviate the industry’s effects.

Francesc Muñoz, professor of urbanization at Barcelona’s Universitat Autònoma, goes further. “Why can’t hotel chains finance schools and nurseries?” he asks. “Why can’t cruise companies pay for roadworks?” That way, he argues, residents would see some palpable return for putting up with the tourist invasion.