Sunday, 30 September 2012

Positively Procrastinating! Live Life~Love Life WK 40

What is procrastination?
Procrastination means to 1. postpone something; 2. to hold off on doing something; 3. to wait till later to do something. Procrastination is to put things off, as in not doing things in a timely manner.

There are times in life when we are not firing on all cylinders. Very often it is during these periods that others appear to be making huge strides forwards with their projects which has the effect of creating a tough attitude towards ourselves. We may feel that we need to push even harder and progress more quickly yet at the same time our bodies are telling us that they’re just not up for it.

Generally speaking our first port of call is to stay in touch with ourselves- our feelings, health, energy levels friendships; everything that is a part of us. When we fail to listen to ourselves things can go seriously wrong. What happens if we push ourselves just to keep up with others? If we are exhausted and burning the candle at both ends our performance will suffer. It is better to analyze the reasons for your current state before deciding how to continue. Sometimes we suffer classic ‘burn out’ when we have worked far too hard for far too long. Maybe you need a proper rest yet at the same time have targets to meet. Simplify your work load and focus on the necessary whilst making a note of future ventures. We all need a balance between work and relaxation so sometimes a little juggling will achieve this.

During these periods of reduced activity you may wish to procrastinate a little. This can be positive. Why make serious decisions when you are not in a clear frame of mind? Anything involving money and life changes need to be considered when we are functioning well. An easy way to look at this is to compare them to shopping. When you are in a mood to buy new clothes you are keen to select them, try them on and make purchases. When you don’t really feel like it you are more likely to wander around picking clothes up and putting them back as you cannot make your mind up. This amounts to time wasting when you could be relaxing elsewhere! Sometimes it is best to make the decisions you need to make and put others aside to address later when you are in a better frame of mind. There will always be things that need to be done and it is best to get them out of the way! If you find that you are unable to make decisions it is possible that you are suffering serious exhaustion or even depression in which case you may need help from those around or even medical advice... or maybe you just need a holiday!

Now we will address the guilt trip. How guilty do we feel when we have work to be done but choose to sit down and listen to music or relax in front of the TV? How often do we feel guilty when we work flat out day in day out and neglect to rest? Most of us will feel more guilt with the first example! Life is about balance and relaxation is an important element which enables regeneration of our minds and bodies. Power naps are all very well but good leisure activities allow us to relax mentally and have enjoyable experiences which enrich our personalities. If we find that we are becoming ill much more than usual we may be over tired or under too much stress. Of course, we might need to adjust our diets and exercise routines. Both over or under eating/exercising will take their toll on our energy levels and sustainability.

QUESTION: What happens when we really need to get something done and still continue procrastinating?
ANSWER: nothing or disaster!

If you have something to do that is essential you have to get on with it or you will go nowhere. If you have a decision to make, project to plan or work to complete, procrastinating is unhelpful however you can approach it in a positive way to make things easier for yourself. The golden rule is to make a quick assessment and decide how you can minimize the task. Bite size chunks are useful. Instead of writing an essay from beginning to end, break it down into sections. Projects can be drawn up in stages and decisions can be looked at from different perspectives. The best time to think and act is when you get up to start the day. Your mind and body are fresh so you will get more done. Aim to reach a certain point before leaving a task. Having people to support and encourage you can be helpful and delegate where possible... that’s a very positive way of moving things forwards when you are lacking energy or will power.

We don’t procrastinate for ever and we will soon return to our usual state of positive energy and clear thinking. Sometimes it is best to go with the flow in life and appreciate that we do need to slow down and recuperate now and then. Don’t feel guilty, don’t fight it... just do what you can to keep things ticking over and fill your mind with positive thoughts and feelings to rebuild your internal energy!

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article for Its Braap~Its Life contact:


Its Braap spoke with Gary Morgan recently as part of the Everybody Dreams initiative which has been running throughout the summer- Everybody Dreams being a high profile campaign by Gladesmore school pupils (Tottenham) in response to last year’s riots. Gary Morgan has spent most of his working life with bus company Arriva and is Performance Manager at Tottenham Garage.

Can you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself & the bus driving industry?
I have been with the bus company for just over 30 years. I was here for 15 years as a driver, moved on to become a controller for 10 years and am currently a performance manager- for nearly 6 years.

What was it about driving buses that really appealed to you?
When I was driving buses nearly 15 years ago it was the actual community. People of all nationalities boarded the bus and I liked dealing with the public. It was just an enjoyable job to do at the time.

Can you tell us about some of the major challenges in your job?
My biggest challenge in line with my title is route performance. We are given targets we need to perform to so that we continue to run a good service. In doing so, the challenge is ensuring the controllers who supervise the routes for us perform to a high level. Getting the headways on high frequency buses ‘even’ is a big part of it and this is affected by road closures and various other incidents; but we have to keep the buses running as near to time as possible.

Hence, ‘the destination on this bus has now changed?!!'
Yes, it happens for various reasons. Normally the traffic on the road has made the bus late and there is another bus behind it so the bus can be curtailed to put it on time in the opposite direction. The bus behind can pick up the passengers and take them to the end of their journey. That is how it should work.

Do you think that the job has actually changed in the last few years?
Yes. When I first started with the company there were not so many nationalities in the area. This has increased, not for the worst but it has actually altered the vision of the people so the staff we employ within the company come from many nationalities.

Out of interest, why have we gone back to seeing open back buses?
The open back bus NB4L came back on route 38. This initiative came as Boris didn’t like the bendy bus and wanted to re-instate the old style hop on/off bus back in London. Due to protocol and regulations, now there are certain things buses have to have- like a ramp for disabled people which the NB4L bus has, and doors that can close on the back platform. It’s a very expensive bus but they are looking at bringing more into service so we will see what the challenges are ahead!

As we are looking at the Tottenham Riots today and everything that has stemmed from the riots, have you noticed any increase in aggression on the buses or has it remained much the same?
It has been much the same- if anything it has probably lowered somewhat in this actual area. Not only hasn’t there been an increase, it has actually become very quiet over the last 12 months and I hope it continues.

Do you think that the majority of people in the area are more upset and disturbed by the riots than we tend to imagine?
People in the area, they remember it well and that’s the trouble. The majority of them don’t want to see it again. We have various people who have been affected by it in the company; being local people who lived around here when the riots started. The people not only remember but it will take a long time for them to forget, if ever, but they are trying to put it to the backs of their minds and move forwards- which is where we all want to go.

Could you give us an example of how Ken Bowen, one of your employees I was speaking with recently, was affected by the riots?
I haven’t known Ken for all that long but I was aware at the time that his flat was above Carpetright and it was actually burnt out. He lost everything except the clothes he was actually standing up in. It is only just recently that the council and insurance company have decided that they are going to rebuild and his flat will be new but all his memories and that will be gone. The start of the rebuilding was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the riots. Hopefully Ken will be moving back into the premises in September 2013, but it’s a night he won’t forget because he lost everything; all his memories and all his possessions went, just like that, so it’s hard for him.

At the same time, Ken just loves the area doesn’t he and has absolutely no wish to live anywhere else.
Yes, Ken’s a Tottenham man through and through. He’s had to move into temporary accommodation while this is going on but he wants to come back and take up residence where he was before. Likewise with many of the people here, they don’t want to move out because they are all Tottenham people. If you’re born and bred in an area you generally want to stay unless you emigrate abroad.

ABOVE: Left to Right- Peter, Ken & Gary attending the flashmob event.

Is that the same way most of your drivers have reacted- and have you lost any staff due to the riots?
Yes it is and we haven’t lost any of our drivers.

Were you on duty the first nights of the riots?
The actual night of the first riot, no I wasn’t. I learnt about it from the news that evening. I then made a phone call, being a manager, as I was concerned and as part of my duty. I called the night controller and we had an area controller who was on the scene at the time called Peter Middleton who became an MBE because of his actions that night. I asked if there was anything I could help with and he said no not really due to the fact that it was now coming to the end of the incident.

What did Peter Middleton do to be awarded the CBE?
Peter worked throughout the evening and well into the night. There was a demonstration at Tottenham Police Station which disrupted the local bus services which is why Peter was present. When the riot started Peter got pushed to the ground landing on his hand and he broke his wrist, which he was not aware of at the time. He continued working throughout the night and it wasn’t until the following day that he went to the hospital where it was discovered. Peter’s wrist didn’t heal correctly and he underwent an operation to have it pinned.

What happened in the next couple of days?
The following morning all managers received a call from our general managers to ask if anyone could come into work because they were expecting further trouble that day so I voluntereed. We received a tip off that there were going to be problems in the Enfield Town area, so I went to Enfield Town on the Sunday evening and we were confronted by another riot taking place there. This spread through to the retail park at Enfield on the A10 and then down to the Hertford Road. This continued for a couple more nights, so I worked every day and night that incorporated the riots. I was at the frontline diverting the buses away from the incidents as they occurred along the roads.

What are the major concerns for bus drivers in relation to passenger safety?
The safety of the passengers is the drivers’ main responsibility. If there is anything unsafe, especially with regard to the rioting aspect, the driver calls in a code red to inform CentreComm of what’s happening and CentreComm will divert the buses away from the area as soon as they know about it. As we were being tipped off, we were very upfront and able to divert our vehicles quickly and save them from being involved.

Did most of your buses come out of it unscathed?
No. Unfortunately on the first night of the rioting in Tottenham we did lose a bus that was burnt to the ground and in South London a couple of buses had windows broken in attacks that we didn’t know anything about beforehand. That was the only damage suffered by the company.

Out of interest what is the cost of a new bus?
It depends upon the type of bus but anything up to a hundred & eighty thousand pounds.

Moving on to Gladesmore School...

Had you heard of Gladesmore School before the riots?

No I hadn’t.

Were you surprised when Mark Galloway approached you to discuss the Everybody Dreams campaign with you?
Yes I was quite surprised. Obviously, due to company protocol, I had to get permission to be involved with it. The company was willing to back anything that it believed would help improve the area, help the schools and try to get the community back together. We play a big part in the community by actually moving people around the boroughs; so it was a big surprise when Gladesmore approached us. We first found out about it from our local ATC (Area Traffic Controller) who works for CentreComm saying that there was an NOE (notice of event), about a short road hold as a video was going to be made by the school. Two days after this I was approached by the school to see if we would like to be involved as well; that’s how we came to meet.

You attended the flashmob live video event... what did you think about the song Everybody Dreams?
I thought it was good. The thing that actually appealed to me greatly was that the children gave their own time up to perform this in their school holidays- to perform this and to get together and rehearse it. That shows they really want to be involved and help the community. The song was very good. It was well done and there were some interesting people that turned up for the video. The Police Commissioner came. There was a police officer as well and also what appeared to be a Tottenham player doing ball tricks there- various people of all nationalities got involved. It was good to see everyone together wanting to get involved.

What do you think you would like to see come from the Everybody Dreams project in the long term?
More commitment and more gatherings of schools and companies. People getting together to put the community back together. It’s probably a long time overdue in many boroughs and it’s good to see that Tottenham has taken the approach; the lead in it, especially a school taking the lead role and trying to get this together. That is unusual from a school’s point of view and an example to many schools in many boroughs. I don’t think it’s been done before.

Following discussions, what is the offer that your company has made to Gladesmore?
We have said that we will support anything Gladesmore wish and in particular will supply a bus for any of their engagements for this event. Anything they want they can ask for and we will put it by our directors for approval. Arriva is a company that is very good at supporting the community and ventures of this nature are right for us.

Is there anything else you wish to mention?
On behalf of Arriva I would like to congratulate Gladesmore on their hard work and hope they achieve everything they set out to do.

Its Braap would like to thank Gary for taking the time out of his busy schedule to enlighten us a little about Arriva and to share his views on the Everybody Dreams campaign.

Jaz McKenzie

If you are involved in an interesting project and would like to tell us about it contact:

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Feeling Good - Nina Simone (1965)

This song was originally written for a musical back in 1964 by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, yet look how well suited it is to Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, daughter of a preacher man, whose major musical inspiration was Johann Sebastian Bach!

Originally Nina dreamed of being a classical concert pianist and found herself experiencing classic racism when she heard that she had been refused a scholarship, despite her obvious talent, to Curtis Institute of music solely because she was black.This is one of the reason that she later became a civil rights activist after 20 years as a singer, attending many meetings and  using her songs in support of the cause; 'Mississippi Goddam,' highlighting the Alabama Bombing in which 4 children were killed and it was Nina Simone who turned,'Young Gifted and black,' into a civil rights song. All was not lost however as Nina did go on to study at the world famous Juilliard School of Music.

Many singers have been nurtured within their church environment and started out singing gospel music, Whitney Houston  being a great example. Surprisingly this was not exactly the case with Nina. Instead, Nina played piano in the church from the age of 6 and only started singing because it was a necessary requirement of her job when playing at a small club in raise finance for her musical training.

It was Nina's aim to produce top quality songs by blending her classical approach and African-American roots with the lyrics which definitely enriched the natural material. In all, Nina made 40 albums. Having considered the serious side of Nina's music let's not overlook the lighter side- 'My Baby Just Cares For Me.' and recognize that Nina's music was a clever fusion of styles including some pop.

Nina Simone is without doubt one of the greatest talents we have been blessed with. Sadly she passed away in April 2003 having suffered breast cancer for several years and many, many tributes from around the world were paid to her.

Returning to, 'Feeling Good,' I have to add that the lyrics of this song are so lively and in touch with all the best things life has to offer.. extremely clever writing and you can take any sad experience and use this song to set yourself up on the road to happiness- a reminder of all the good things we can experience~ for free~ expressed as her notes fly towards the end - and that says it all!

Jaz McKenzie

Meet Carly Rose Sonenclar - THE X FACTOR USA- ITS BRAAP!

The word phenomenal is frequently used these days but in this instance is almost not strong enough. 13 years old standing on the stage, looking like a 13 year old with no make- up and no fuss. So how does Carly manage to connect with Nina Simone through this song?

I think L.A. Reid provided a lead to answer this question when he said, ' you may be 13 but your soul is OLD.' Carly is mature beyond her years and has the flame of ambition truly on fire, evident when she said that everything she had been doing all her life paid off.

Nina Simone used her life experience to the maximum and Carly is doing exactly the same at a far younger age. We have a worldwide talent stage available which presents opportunity for all yet how many people fail to prepare? Carly has clearly sung this song hundreds of times to get it exactly as she wants and worked at her presentation. Clearly she has a musical background and is gifted with the ability to sing beautifully combined with the power to put her song across in a modern style. Superstar is the aim and it would appear to be well within her grasp.

I will put the original version up and a little more information about Nina Simone so that we can all appreciate the true origin of this song.

Jaz McKenzie

Friday, 28 September 2012

Romantic Sax - When A Man Loves A Woman

The saxophone is such a beautiful instrument and this very familiar, romantic tune certainly shows this off! What a great sound for a Friday evening, those chilled notes creating their own ambience. Percy Sledge certainly wrote a classic with 'When a Man Loves a Woman,' and this is sung over and again by the ever hopeful in modern day talent shows, the lyrics enabling men and woman to express themselves.

Unfortunately I have been unable to locate information about the artist but no matter, it's the vibes we're tuned into!

Jaz McKenzie

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Prayer for an End to Violence~ St Ethelburga's

ABOVE: St Ethelburga's Garden

Prayer taken from a card at St Ethelburga's

God of life,

Every act of violence in our world,
between myself and another,
destroys a part of your creation.

Stir within my heart
a renewed sense of reverence
for all life.

Give me the vision to recognize your spirit
in every human being,
however they behave towards me.

Make possible the impossible
by cultivating in me
the fertile seed of healing love.

May I play my part
in breaking the cycle of violence
by realising that
peace begins in me

London 7th July 2005

The relationships that we can have are highlighted within this prayer- between God and amongst ourselves both individually and worldwide. We need to cultivate the skill of seeing God in others and ask for help with forgiveness and all the challenges that prevent us from being at peace within ourselves. There are many organizations who aim to increase peace and understanding in our society, including Peacekeepers USA & UK. Knives not Lives is a UK organization started by youth to educate and reduce knife crime. In order to create a peaceful society we need to increase understanding and acceptance of one another, so start with your own attitude and perceptions on all levels. It is good to be a great example and inspire others to do likewise!

Jaz McKenzie

St Ethelburga's- Centre for Reconciliation & Peace

I discovered St Ethelburga's last Sunday by chance as part of the Open London Weekend & what a find! St Ethelburga's was bombed in 1993 by the IRA and has been re-built however it has functioned as a centre for hospitality and peace since the 14th Century. Here is their wonderful ethos:

'To address the pressing issues of our time, we need to transcend the things that divide us. By building and renewing relationships across divisions of conflict, culture and religion we can release new energy and hope.'

St Ethelburga's itself is very small however their work is phenomenal. I am very keen to discover more about it and possibly spend some time taking part in one of their programmes, all being well. The centre is truly international and hosts a range of events for groups and individuals including music and poetry from around the world- along with serious training, projects & opportunities for prayer & reflection. They recognize diversity yet focus on similarity in order to reconcile us one to another. I loved the atmosphere and it was a blessing to sit in their meditation room and experience such tranquility; the word 'Peace' etched into the many windows in different languages.

To subscribe to various mailing lists and for more information on St Ethelburga's highlight and follow the link:

I hope you will check out this little oasis of peace & reconciliation in our crazy mixed up world!

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article for Its Braap~Its Life contact:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Be Braap~Be Inspired!!! Real quotes from Real People #15

”An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” - M.K. Gandhi

I love the twist that Gandhi has given to the saying, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ -another great saying along the lines of, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ When you stop to consider the enormity of Gandhi’s comment it’s quite mind boggling because Gandhi is applying his saying worldwide rather than on an individual basis and in doing so highlights the consequence of retribution rather than forgiveness. Forgiveness makes us richer and we remain in control whereas retribution is simply a form of retaliation disabling us physically and spiritually. Think about this next time you feel like getting your own back and stop to consider more edifying options!

Jaz McKenzie

BE BRAAP! Send us your favourite quotes or sayings with a few words... you can include a photo of yourself (optional) to: These can be your own quotes or famous sayings and we will include them in this section: 'Be Braap~ Be Inspired.' NOTE: you do not have to be a great writer, simply send YOUR quote with YOUR thoughts in 10 or more words as the aim is to inspire others!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ella Henderson's performance - Cher's Believe - The X Factor UK 2012

This young girl at 16 is such a naturally gifted artist who is not contented with singing her own songs but chooses to display her versatility by taking a hot, up-tempo track and slowing it right down to bring new meaning and depth to the words. Ella has a very classy voice and way of putting over a song that grabs your attention and makes you listen. Regardless of whether she wins, Ella clearly is set to storm the charts.

Lucy Spraggan, who struggled at Boot Camp, gave a great performance when she sang another of her original songs and told a sad tale in her own style with such an expert manner. Lucy is quite unique in her approach & creates an atmosphere that is almost tangible.

I think that this year there is such unique talent that the series will prove to be well worth watching... here's hoping they have changed the format to allow natural talent to shine!!

Jaz McKenzie

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Entering the Dragon’s Den! Live Life~Love Life WK 39

The Dragon’s Den is an interesting programme that many of us are familiar with. People entering the den have a range of ideas (between them) which they believe to be highly innovative and worthy of huge investment. Regardless of the actual products the inventors are confident upon entering the den, ready to face the dragons and inevitably having a great level of self belief. What happens next predominantly depends upon a number of factors including preparation, which can have a major effect upon the outcome.

Once the inventor has made his pitch the questioning begins and it is at this point the preparation, or lack of, becomes evident. Very often huge gaps are revealed in the inventors own knowledge, sometimes pertaining to aspects of the product but more frequently to their inability to estimate spending, sales and profit margins. A lack of knowledge regarding intellectual property rights and patents are quite common, often leading to zero investment. Another huge barrier preventing investment can be the attitude of the people pitching... arrogance or an inability to listen being the forerunners.

The Dragon’s Den can teach us a few little lessons about life and give us some points to consider. This can be from a practical perspective if we have responsibility for a product or project. By listening to the types of questions asked and jotting a few down we can create a basic tick list to work from. Firstly, how well do we know our own product and what is the competition? Do we know production costs for our product/project? -Materials, time, suppliers, the market, resources etc. Who are our consumers? We need a budget, we need a time line, we need to know how to resource at all levels. Once we have the answers we can move ahead with confidence and cope with the questions that may be asked of us.

This principle also applies to individual planning even on a small domestic scale. What do you wish for yourself or your family and how will you go about achieving it? Sometimes we dig deep holes for ourselves, especially financially and may needs some assistance in planning a way to ease our own burdens. Whereas the Dragon’s Den is all about borrowing other people’s money and using their expertise, we may need some basic money management and thankfully there are experts around who are available to help us. Sometimes our friends can come up with excellent suggestions to help streamline our ideas and move our project forwards. The best advice is to be open to guidance, listening and acting on good advice.

Of course, the very words Dragon’s Den conjour up an austere image making it sound as if you will have a job achieving your goal- the dragon is such a fierce animal! You do not enter life's dens lightly and only a fool goes in totally unprepared because they will definitely get burnt! This is a useful analogy when facing any type of scary experience. When you feel the fear you know 100% preparation is required. For example, there is no point taking a driving test after 3 lessons if you have never driven a car! Infact, you need to study the theory alongside the practical and most of us will prefer one aspect or another. This is the case with many situations and we just have to take time to study our subject so that we can do our very best. If you are a leader other people rely on your knowledge and guidance, so you will need to keep your skills up to date as the world is changing constantly. Whatever results we achieve in life they are usually of our own making, however there may be an element of luck swinging things our way or otherwise.

If you think about it, the world is pretty much a Dragon’s Den, so develop as many strategies as you can to cope & work at developing your skills... who knows, you may slay a few dragon’s along your way!

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article contact:

Friday, 21 September 2012

Loving London!! 'The Queen'- a work of art.

This is an unusual work of art currently on display within the Croydon Clock Tower. As you can see the concept is very interesting- the brain child of Hannah Payne, created with the help of Daniel Richardson and Elaine Monteith together with pupils from the New Life Christian School.

This work of art goes a lot deeper than simply Queen Elizabeth 2nd being depicted as a collage of buttons. The buttons have been supplied by the community and evidently each button has its own stories from travels during the Queens reign. Wouldn't it be fantastic if buttons could talk!

When you think about it the concept is fascinating. Many of us have well travelled garments, some with buttons that we may have worn to the Queen's recent Jubilee celebrations. This could form the basis of an amazing project if some of the stories were actually told- with a numbered picture grid to refer to positioned next to the collage for instance!If you are artistic you could even make your own button timeline... now there's an idea!

Back to the Queen- this work of art has been beautifully constructed with great attention to detail leaving me wondering what the long term plan is for it? Maybe it should be presented to the Queen when it leaves the Clock Tower and put on public display in Buckingham Palace!

Jaz McKenzie

If you are an artist and would like your work featured contact:

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

I Shot The Sheriff (Live from Crossroads 2010)

In 1975... on this day... Eric Clapton received a gold for his version of  'I Shot the Sheriff'... never quite understood how he got away with singing this song when you consider the lyrics!! A Bob Marley classic with a very deep message yet very easy to sing along to which is where the talent really comes into play.
Great opportunity to re-run this track.

Jaz McKenzie

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Smuggler's Song- By Rudyard Kipling

Today we're featuring Kipling & we're not talking cakes!! Storytelling is quite an art and here is a great poem written many years ago which does this very successfully... it is full of atmosphere and covertly encourages us to peep at the forbidden activities from the safety of our homes!

A Smuggler's Song

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again -- and they'll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm -- don't you ask no more!

If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be carefull what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you "pretty maid," and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house -- whistles after dark --
You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty's here, and Pincher's here, and see how dumb they lie --
They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,
You'll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood --
A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie --
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen bo by!

By Rudyard Kipling

Monday, 17 September 2012

Rough Copy's audition - Kings Of Leon's Use Somebody - The X Factor UK 2012

Time for some real fun on the X-Factor... and yes they want to be THE biggest band... well, with the way One Direction have taken off that's quite a challenge however this is definitely a truly great start for Rough Copy so we'll see. Some great competition is set to roll this year, across all the categories in a climate where the boy band is back at the top & last year's winner was a girl band... interesting!!

Jaz McKenzie

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Giving Life The Thumbs Up Live Life~Love Life WK 38

Appreciation of life is a great gift and to some comes entirely naturally. At the same time there are others who find life a continual challenge and wish they had never been born. This does not necessarily mean that they have a dreadful life however they will clearly have reasons for thinking in this manner.

You do not need to have a reason to be thankful for life as it is more of a personal thing ... often a state of mind. Some people simply love life and it is a fair comment that society seems to expect us to want to live forever. In general, the better things are the more thankful most people are likely to be. Life breeds hope- as long as we are alive we are in a position to make changes and better our situation with regards to work, leisure, relationships, ambition etc.

Being thankful for all the good in our lives helps us to appreciate who we are and what we have. The positives in life can be looked upon as tiny natural generators that emit the energy we need to feed off in order to approach life in a pro-active way. Positive vibes encourage us to act whereas negative vibes have a tendency to sap what little energy we do have and keep us in a loop of constant complaint, being pre-occupied with our situation rather than trying to rise above it.

When we give life the thumbs down by being too introspective and negative we often forget the effect that we have on others. Discussing difficult situations in a positive way is a very necessary part of life and helps us to build friendships and learn more about ourselves. The flip side is constantly grumbling and complaining which effectively sends out negative energy to those around and either drags them down or alienates them... usually through choice because genuinely positive people surround themselves with other positive people and may pay less attention to you.

There are events in our lives that are so good we are automatically happy and thankful for them. New jobs, the right relationship, a great holiday, special talent- all of these things fall into this category. The trick in life is to be able to assess what is happening on a daily basis and draw the positives from each situation. Sometimes it is good to be accepting of challenges and put downs, giving thanks where possible, as the benefits may become clear in the long term. Life can weave an unexpected course making it much richer than we ever imagined. It can be a good exercise to look at the mundane aspects of your life and appreciate the value that they add. Example: if you hate doing a pile of ironing you can reflect on the fact that you have clothes and also the joy of shopping. There are many people even in the richest countries of the world who are unable to enjoy this privilege. As my sister says, you can even play your favourite music whilst doing some of your least favourite tasks or use the time for thought and meditation.

You dictate the quality of your life by the quality of your thoughts and actions. There is a wealth of resources available to help boost our thought power and enjoyment of life, much of it free. Most of us are linked to the internet which puts us in a position to explore multiple genres of media and learning. Likewise, towns and cities often host a variety of free entertainment that we can observe or take part in. There is a lot of joy to be found out in the streets- as well as sorrow!

A good place to begin appreciating the joy in live is through observing others. If you find life tough, take a look at the people you know who seem to have an easier time of it. In all probability they have as many problems to face over the years as you do... the difference is likely to be in their attitude and approach to each situation. Many people are determined that life will not get the better of them and make every effort to rise above the lows and create new highs.

SUGGESTION: Take a fresh approach to each day regardless of how you felt yesterday and try to live in the present. If you know something is likely to upset you, try to avoid it where possible unless it is in your best interest to deal with it quickly and effectively. If you have too much time to think, make a positive effort to fill your day and keep busy. Sometimes our routines can do with an overhaul, especially if we have decided to avoid certain people or situations until we are better equipped to handle them. Most of all, make a few minutes to count your blessings and be genuinely thankful for all of the good things you experience before you go to sleep each night. This will help your mind to relax more and puts you in the driving seat!

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article on your area of expertise contact

Saturday, 15 September 2012


Today we start the weekend, a time to relax and enjoy a little break if you're lucky !!?!?!

Saturday is a good day to challenge ourselves and focus on having an encouraging attitude to others, creating a special flavour for the day. This is not difficult however requires a little thought and is actually a great basis for forming a new habit if you wish to take it further!

We all know how important positive comments and kind words are to all of us, so let's give back a little of what we receive and keep the good vibes circulating.

Incidentally, Mother Teresa was mentioned in a film on TV last night, so seeing this bright poster whose words are spot on, especially for a beautiful day, is clearly not a coincidence. I am sure it is also a personal challenge for somebody out there and for the rest of us- a great reminder!

Jaz McKenzie

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

portrait sculpture (Philippe Faraut)...... This is fascinating!!

When Michael Jackson first did videos showing faces blending from one to the next it was fascinating and totally novel. This video is based on the same idea however it takes things in a different direction and almost puts animation into inanimate objects... IE: the beautiful and at times, pretty scary works of art! Great video.

Jaz McKenzie

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Suburbs on a Hazy Day~ D. H. Lawrence + Quiz!

Today, 1885, was D H Lawrence's Birthday... Time for a little quiz... just to present the facts differently! Answers below:
Q1 What do the D. H. stand for?...
Q2 Where was he born?
Q3 Besides poetry, what else was he known for?
Q4 What was, 'The Rocking-Horse Winner?
Q5 What was the focus of his work?
Q6 What did his opinions earn him?
Q7 Approximately how many poems did he write?
Q8 During the latter part of his life D.H. Lawrence was officially persecuted... how did he refer to this period?
Q9 Who described him as, 'The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation?'
Q10 How old was he when he died & where?


O STIFFLY shapen houses that change not,
What conjuror's cloth was thrown across you,
and raised
To show you thus transfigured, changed,
Your stuff all gone, your menace almost rased?

Such resolute shapes, so harshly set
In hollow blocks and cubes deformed, and heaped
In void and null profusion, how is this?
In what strong aqua regia now are you steeped?

That you lose the brick-stuff out of you
And hover like a presentment, fading faint
And vanquished, evaporate away
To leave but only the merest possible taint!

1) David Herbert... never stopped to think about that before & incidentally after Herbert comes Richards.
2) Nottinghanshire, England
3) Novelist, playwright, essayist, literary critic, painter
4) A short story
5) The de-humanizing effects of industrialization
6) Enemies!!
7) 800
8) 'Savage Pilgrimage'
Q9 E.M. Forster.. Edwin Forster English Novelist.
Q10 Aged 44 in France

Quiz Reference: The Wikipedia

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article or quiz for Its Braap~Its Life contact:

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Wizard of 'OZ FACTOR' Live Life~Love Life WK 37

Acknowledging your inner greatness

Many of us may recall watching ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ a children’s film which, over time, has become a Christmas Special- there was even a re-make starring Michael Jackson! The film is delightful with a fantasy angle children find really appealing, along with the red shoes of course and the biggest surprise of all... no real magical wizard; instead, a little guy who created a huge myth. The cleverest part of the film is when the wizard breaks down the Scarecrow, The Cowardly Lion and Tin Man’s perceptions of themselves followed by the beauty of their self realisation as they become aware of their achievements and magically ‘fix’ their flaws.

As adults, we all have flaws however we should be able to identify some ‘OZ’ in ourselves and make time to find the ‘OZ’ in other people. We have already studied ways of challenging our own self perceptions and trying to see ourselves as others see us, so how about finding ways of helping others to identify their strengths?

Whatever situation you are in ... work or play... you have the privilege of being able to listen to others, observe how they operate and give the benefit of your opinions to them in a skilful way to enhance their confidence. Observation enables you to make valid assessments and comments. For instance, if a friend believes that they are no good at standing up for themselves you may be able to give an example of when they stood up for their child or challenged an alternative point of view. You may be able to identify the factors that helped them to do this. Factors may include: compassion for another person, a good knowledge of the subject, the certainty that they were right, a natural way of getting along with others that they may need to fine tune.

If there is something in life that you are fearful of, the reason you are fearful is usually relatively straightforward... we are not discussing phobias which are entirely different... even if you were locked in a dark cupboard for hours and need to sleep with the light on, this too can be addressed! I am thinking in terms of situations where we do not fully meet the specifications. The point is- that if you have never done something before that does not render you incapable of doing it. It simply means that at this point in time you are not YET competent to carry out the task. I am undergoing First Aid training. Yesterday I got quite a few things wrong... educated guesses are not always right!! Now that I have an understanding of basic injury I know which side to place the casualty on when putting them in the recovery position. Previously I may have exacerbated the damage whereas now I can minimize it. This does not mean I wasn’t capable before however I clearly wasn’t competent. The ‘OZ’ in this situation is knowledge. Personally I have held a resistance to doing First Aid for many years, having completed the course 20+ years ago & literally walked into an accident. I didn’t feel very competent & luckily a doctor came rushing up and took over BUT it was enough to put me off. Therefore, the second OZ I had to find to do this course was a mini dose of courage. As it turns out I enjoyed the session and am looking forwards to the next one!

Like the Cowardly Lion, I think we all have courage but sometimes we actively prevent ourselves from testing it. I agree with reggae artist Spoila Ranks who summarized in his status that everything we need in life is within us... and that is the key to OZ. We have it... and at different times in life we need to use it... whatever the IT of the moment is- you were born with IT. Life is a balance of nature/nurture but regardless it is mainly a challenge to yourself whatever your circumstances. We know this because children within a family often turn out very differently to one another and it’s not all about the genes or home situation... it’s about attitude- either letting go of the OZ or having the determination to grab it and work with it.

What is so beautiful about the Wizard of Oz is that is shows us OZ can be any number of things. It is not your inner spirit, concentration, patience, natural abilities... OZ is the very thing you need right now to move yourself forwards. Take love for example. If you need love, you have it in you... share it, spread it around and it will come back to you... maybe not as quickly as you would like but a generous person is attractive... likewise, active people are attractive; courageous people are attractive and so on. Whatever is holding you back in life, find your inner OZ and tackle it... & while you are at it, help others find theirs too.

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article for Its Braap contact:

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Joseph Calleja - The Maltese Tenor

The popularity of opera has risen greatly over the past few years with the rise of the 3 tenors quite some time ago and more recently, Susan Boyle's surprising audition on the X-Factor. In addition we have had more insight into opera courtesy of the show 'Pop start to Opera Star.'

Tonight is, 'The Last Night of the Proms'- a grand occasion broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall and also from 4 parks across the UK. Tonight Joseph Calleja is one of the guest artist and he sang his solo, 'Granada' before leading everybody in the popular sing-a-long of traditional songs. As I do not follow opera, I thought it would be good to share a little more about this magnificent tenor whom we are told is as at home in the UK as he is in Malta.

Joseph is a beautiful singer and there are many of his performances available on Youtube if you wish to hear more of him.

Jaz McKenzie

Friday, 7 September 2012

C.O.D.A. West Side Story~ Summary based on the Press Release!!

Origins: Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

The Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association (CODA) are proud to present
their production of ‘West Side Story’- always extremely popular and possibly the best musical ever to have been written- 12th-15th September, Ashcroft Theatre, Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

Although it was written many years ago this show is still incredibly relevant, depicting the terrible consequences of gang warfare; the effects of which can still be seen worldwide in all major cities today.

The story, inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ is set in New York in the mid 50’s and explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks; two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds- a highly familiar scenario to us all but with different mixes of nationality.

The members of the Sharks from Puerto Rico are taunted by the Jets from New York. Fate takes a strange turn when Tony- young protagonist with the Jets, falls in love with Maria, sister of Bernardo who is gang leader of the Sharks. The story has a dark theme based on the old adage 'opposites attract' and along with its sophisticated music combined with incredible choreography marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Bernstein's score for the musical produced some extremely popular classics contributing to public love of this rich art form including; "Maria," 'America,' 'Somewhere,' 'Tonight,' 'I Feel Pretty,' and 'One Hand, One Heart'... making this an absolute 'sing along' or hum in your head show!

The cast includes Dom Binefa as Tony and Charlee Simmons as Maria. Charlee is new to CODA unlike Dom who appeared last autumn as ‘Jose’ in our acclaimed production of ‘Fame The Musical,’... reviews included Its Braap (enter in SEARCH.) Other members of CODA who will appear in West Side Story include: Ziggy Szafranski as Bernado, Owen Moore as Chino, Chris Watson as Riff and Alice Bendall as Anita.

CODA was founded in 1943 and is Croydon's leading community theatre company. CODA performs three or four productions a year including both musicals and plays; always produced to a highly professional standard. In the last few years, in addition to Fame The Musical,' they have performed acclaimed versions of ‘Noises Off,’ Disney's ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘The Graduate,’ ‘Abigail's Party’ and in addition treated us to concerts and Old Time Music Hall.

‘West Side Story’ runs from Wednesday 12th to Saturday 15th September with nightly performances at 7.45pm and one matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday 15th September.

Tickets cost from £16 to £17.50 (with no additional booking fees)- concessions available- and can be booked as follows
Online: at
By phone: call 0208 688 9291
In person at the Fairfield Halls box office.

More details available on CODA's website at

Press Contact: Sophia Wilson (publicity manager),,
07814 135 191.

Please show your support!! Jaz McKenzie

Monday, 3 September 2012

The Porsche... a glimpse!

I couldn’t find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself~ Ferdinand Porsche

How great it must have been for Ferdinand Porsche to have the ability to achieve his dream and in so doing, create dreams for many people... to own their own Porsche. That is an incredible double achievement when we can not only achieve for ourselves but in addition set a marker for others.

Why are we looking at this today? Ferdinand Porsche was born on this date ... 03/09/1875 – 13/01/1951, quite some time ago yet his cars are as popular today as ever. Besides the Porsche he also created the Mercedes Benz & Volkswagen Beetle...the first hybrid vehicle, so quite a contrast there! Actually it was Hitler who requested Porsche to build a people's car and if you wish to know more, the Wiki has some well documented historical facts. The Hitler connection springs from the fact that Porsche was Austrian/German and initially worked in Vienna however, later in his career, had some involvement with building German tanks and artillery... not exactly another string to his bow!

It’s good to dream and even better if you have the skills to back it... for that reason the production of Braap-Mobiles may be somewhat delayed... LOL. In the meantime the Porsche continues its journey of development with the Porsche 911 now benefiting from a tri-turbo how many turbo's can be squeezed into a Porsche? Who knows, one day it might catch up with Gillette... is it 5 or 7 razor blades that they have managed to squeeze onto a razor head these days?

Here on ~IB~ we will leave you with Ferdinand Porsche's ultimate example providing the inspiration to follow your dream... over & out ~~~~

Jaz McKenzie

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror

Following our last post this is a great opportunity to take another look at one of Michael Jackson's most challenging songs. 

QUESTIONS for consideration: 
How happy are you with yourself? 
What improvements can you make? 
How can you go about these changes? 

One thing is for certain... there's no such thing as a perfect person!!

Live Life~Love Life and become a better person!

Jaz McKenzie

The Man in the Mirror. Live Life~Love Life WK 36

The Mirror of Change!!

From a physical beauty aspect the best place to examine ourselves is in the mirror... a nice clean mirror without smears or streaks that provides an accurate reflection of ourselves. We also need a traditional mirror as we would never consider taking our reflection seriously if the mirror happened to be warped- which would distort our view.

Most of us have a realistic view of ourselves however occasionally there are reasons why people have misperceptions. Anorexic people are a case in point, where the mind projects a strong mental image capable of obliterating the truth. Sometimes we just have differing views... people can dress in a way that shocks us, however this is simply a matter of taste as defined by the individual concerned.

Sometimes we need to use a ‘mental mirror’ so that we can take a good look at ourselves. When Michael Jackson was talking about ‘The Man in the Mirror’ he was referring to internal changes, not physical changes, although appearance was important to Michael even though most of us would consider him a little deluded in his need for continual surgery... whatever we think, the important aspect is the man in the mirror- the person we all need to address to make the most of ourselves from the inside out!

Another reason it is good to think in terms of mirrors pertains to a basic scientific fact... a mirror needs light in order to create an image, likewise we need to look at ourselves in the light of truth. Mirrors enhance our best features and highlight our worst which is a great consideration when examining ourselves. Awareness of our strengths and weaknesses enables action. If you discover a blemish on your face there are plenty of treatments available and the same applies to character weaknesses. There is never one way to treat a flaw and some flaws may take longer than others to correct.

There are 3 main steps to change:
1) Identification
2) Reflection
3) Opportunity

IDENTIFICATION: Decide what your good points are and how you might enhance them. Likewise prioritise your weaknesses... which weakness do you wish to tackle first and how?

REFLECTION: In order to change our future we need a good grasp of the present and how we have arrived at our current position in life. Making changes takes courage and we need to learn from the past, it can be our greatest teacher. Reflection can help us to understand why we are the way we are; how we see ourselves in relation to others, how we view others, how confident we are, whether we are pleased with the decisions we make & so on.

OPPORTUNITY: If you take a good look at yourself you might find that you have limited yourself to the familiar and there may be more opportunities you are capable of pursuing. Maybe you are busy now and up to your eyeballs with responsibilities- even so, it might be that you can still make a little time to learn new skills or expand existing skills with a view to using them in the future. If you put the right tools in the box you can undertake many more tasks!

The final reason for taking a look in the mirror is biblical... you can’t take a spec out of someone else’s eye when you have a plank in your own! A true picture of ourselves helps us to be less judgemental and more accepting of others. We can feel more empathy for others if we can try to put ourselves in their shoes. In addition, if we are trying to address our weaknesses it is a good idea to enlist the help of others who will probably appreciate the opportunity to share their knowledge and be encouraging- these are the people who may well ask us when they need assistance whether they are friends, family or colleagues. Sharing knowledge is a mutually beneficial process and empowers all concerned.

Next time you look in the mirror, take the opportunity to delve a little deeper and make some changes at a level exceeding skin deep.

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article for Its Braap contact

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The New Advert starring Stuart Pearce ~IB~ ANGRY ADS!!

This is the latest offering from Go compare & I guess some people will actually find this funny. Personally I consider it to be shocking, especially considering the rise in gun and knife crime we have experienced over the last few years. In view of this, most of us would prefer to teach our children ways to discuss and negotiate with others. Go compare's advert, whether they have stopped to consider it or not, tells our kids that if they don't like what another person is doing they are able to physically assault them. It teaches them that they have the right to exert their opinion over and above other people's opinions.

Surely Go Compare have a moral duty to consider the effects their adverts might have on young minds; after all, everything has been processed through the politically correct  codes within society... let's face it, we weren't even allowed to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep a few years ago, so why is this series of blatantly aggressive advertisements allowed to be aired during prime time TV? AND... why do Go Compare want to acquire a violent image in any form? Let's hope that they will come up with a new set of more suitable adverts before long, after all the aim of the business is excellent, helping us to save much needed time by doing the ground work.

Jaz McKenzie