Tag Archives: noel

Letters to Father Christmas

I was walking past the central post office in São Paulo with my wife yesterday when we noticed a lot of people sitting around at tables reading letters. Wondering what was going on, we went in and asked.

It turned out that every time a child in Brazil writes a letter to Santa Claus or Father Christmas and puts it in a post box, it ends up at the central post office. The staff there assign a code number to each letter and make sure the address is not visible, then they allow the general public to read the letters.

If you find a letter you like, you can fill in a form that says you will buy the gift the child requested in their letter to Santa. All you need to do is go out and buy the gift then drop it off at any post office with the code number of the child’s letter. The post office will then make sure the gift is delivered.

So a child can write to Santa and the post office will deliver exactly what the child asked for! The post office staff told us that over half of all requests are answered – which I expect means that almost all ‘reasonable’ requests from children are actually answered.

Santa letters - Correios

We went through the letters and picked out five we said we would support… of course the kids asking for a new Playstation go to the bottom of the pile. We found kids asking for a toy train and one even asked for some clothes because she had not had any new clothes since the previous Christmas. It’s quite easy to spot the kids who actually deserve to be answered and those who are just asking for yet another video game.

What a great idea and how thrilling for a kid who drops a letter in the post box to ‘Santa’ to find that the postie comes a few weeks later with exactly what they wanted – and a Happy Christmas note directly from Santa!


Book review: A few kind words and a loaded gun

Noel ‘razor’ Smith has produced an amazing book. It’s a life story, but it reads like a London version of Goodfellas. It describes the need for crime, the ability to use crime as a career choice, and the downsides of time spent in jail – not least the fact that he never managed to create a stable family environment for his wife and kids.
Crime clearly doesn’t pay, but if you want to understand how someone finds crime to be the most attractive career option and then how the code of criminal honour works once inside that life then this is the book for you. Written in a frank and engaging style, it doesn’t pull any punches, but the violence is never glamourised – when punches connect in this book there is hospital and broken bones involved.
My only criticism of the book is that the editor should have looked more closely at some of the simile use. Razor sometimes uses a simile and then uses the same one again within a page of using it earlier. I noticed this a few times in the book, so it could be a little quirk of his writing style, or just that the editor didn’t want to delete any copy with ‘razor’ being the author…!

Oasis RIP

So, on Friday, Noel Gallagher posted this message on his blog:

“It’s with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.

Apologies to all the people who bought tickets for the shows in Paris, Konstanz and Milan.”

And now, Liam has taken off on holiday – along with Andy from the band. The newspapers see it as the genuine end of Oasis, a journey that started 16 years ago up in the north-west of England. Some commentators with connections to the band have suggested that the brothers have always had a fractious relationship, and this will be no different, but from the direct approach Noel has taken, and after listening to Noel a lot on the radio over the past couple of years talking about his work, I suspect this really is the end of the road for the band.

In much the same way as the rivalry of The Beatles and Rolling Stones created a musical dynamic for the 1960s, the interplay between rough working-class Northerners Oasis and university-educated Southerners Blur formed the bedrock for an entire music and art movement in the early 1990s – Britpop. The emergence of these bands, along with others such as Suede and Pulp, all at the same time created an enormous creative scene in the UK and I remember that even just as a fan, it felt as if the eyes of the world were all trained on what music would come from Britain next.

The impact of Oasis on rock and pop music cannot be understated. Yes, they themselves were heavily influenced by the writing partnership of Lennon and McCartney, but their first couple of albums helped to defined British music in the 1990s. Their third album in 1997, went on to be the fastest-selling album in British chart history, but it proved to be the beginning of a long fallow patch. In my own view, their output from 1997 to 2002 was ruined by the excess of too many Champagne Supernovae… and good old Charlie.

Many fans gave up on them – remembering them only for their Britpop classics, but once they settled into the new decade with a new line-up that focused on the two Gallagher brothers plus Gem Archer and Andy Bell, they created a new unit with shared writing responsibilities – though Noel always remained captain of the ship. From 2002 onwards, their output started becoming stronger and stronger – proving that as they matured, they could also improve.

Now, it seems Liam has not been able to apply himself to the life of a professional musician even after all this time – preferring the hotel-burning life of a rock star and model – thanks partly to his new clothing line. It’s a shame it had to come to this when they were creatively working so well together.

Noel will do well as a solo artist though. He is still writing well and he can focus more on the music itself if he can shed the concern that Liam will smash up his guitars at every gig.