Sunday 16 February 2014

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

As I wrote on this blog a couple of weeks ago I was recently invited to attend an event about Hispanic bloggers. Especially those based in London who write about this great city. It was a lovely affair. There were probably between thirty and forty people in the audience and five bloggers in total: three Spaniards, one Argentinian and yours truly, the only Cuban in the house. The event was very well organised, the food gorgeous and the afternoon networking session productive.

On the way back home I kept thinking about my fellow bloggers and the circumstances that had brought them to London. There was a word that cropped up often in my thoughts: synchronicity. Despite the fact that we all had different motives to relocate to the Big Smoke, we all shared a common desire to make sense of our new surroundings through the magic of blogging.

So, there I was, pensive behind the wheel when all of a sudden the traffic slowed down almost to a halt. It happened as soon as I hit Shoreditch High Street. Sometimes when I find myself in a situation like this, completely unexpected and beyond my control, I go with the flow. Other times I lose my patience little by little. Luckily it was the former mood that got hold of me first. Since I had already written my post about hipsters in my new section, Urban Dictionary, but lacked an image to go with it, I thought to myself that here was the perfect occasion to take that picture. I pulled over and got my camera out.

I went back to the main thoroughfare, this time Kingsland Road. The scenery around me, however, owed more to a little market town in another country. Women with multi-coloured headwraps crossed the road slowly. Men wearing drainpipes waved drivers like me to stop as they manoeuvred their way through the dense, almost stationery traffic. Bandanna-ed old geezers sashayed on the pavement. A dreadlocked couple (hair length about the same in both man and woman) clad in gold, black and green carried what seemed to be heavy Tesco plastic bags, eyes set on each other. No one was in a rush. This wasn’t the London I was used to. The one with the frantic pace, horn-tooting and swearing. Maybe it was because it was Saturday, maybe because it wasn’t raining (for once!) or maybe because in the absence of rain we had been allowed a tiny bit of sunshine. The truth is that everyone was in chill-out mode.

The traffic build-up was total. It felt as if somebody had cast a spell over our engines. You could almost hear the soft purr of them, but it was all in vain, we weren’t going anywhere. I reflected more on what happened earlier on the day. So many people from different Spanish-speaking countries (Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Argentina and Cuba) sharing our experiences. Again, the same word flashed before my eyes: synchronicity. I remembered then an e-mail I had received some months ago.

If, like me, you  have been blogging for a long time you might recognise the following scenario: a message pings into your inbox telling you that the sender has been following your blog for quite a while and do you think it would be possible to plug such and such product for a modest sum? My response is usually the same: no, I’m not interested. I haven’t even got Google Ad Sense on my blog. I want people to come to read me not to buy stuff from me or a company with which I am not familiar. Unless what I am flogging is that book that I keep meaning to write but always manages to elude me (note how I always blame the inanimate object).

Over time this type of correspondence has increased. From the odd e-mail I used to get every two or three months six or seven years ago, now I receive almost two or three per week. Occasionally, though, I find a little gem amidst the unsolicited mail.

Synchronicity: unexpected but pleasant
That was what happened last September when a message from someone called Darragh (I really didn’t know whether it was a bloke or a woman. I’ve never been very good at Irish-sounding names, sorry) arrived at my virtual doorstep. Darragh was promoting an up-and-coming singer called Roisin O. There was a link to a youttube clip which I clicked and I was immediately hooked. Not only was Roisin gifted with a crisp, clear, beautiful voice, but the video of the song (Hold On is called. Click here to watch it) was highly imaginative and creative. In its simplicity lay a well-thought message.

I must admit that when it comes to acknowledging correspondence I have always been on the procrastinating side of things. It was only recently that I got back to Darragh. However, instead of telling me off – quite rightly – for being so slow to respond, Darragh sent me a link to the whole album, The Secret Life of Blue (link to album here). And as I sat on Kingsland Road I suddenly recalled that there was a song in the record named Synchronicity. As soon as I got home that night, I logged onto my e-mail and listened to the melody again (clip below). Roisin O’s mellow tones completed the picture I’d been trying to sketch in my head all day long following the Sharehoods blogging workshops. When she sings: See the zig-zag of a shoelace/The way a jigsaw fits into place/When our hands tightly knit/I think of all the ways we fit I immediately go back to that room at Google Campus where all the pieces of this gigantic Ibero-American “jigsaw fit into place”.

The Secret Life of Blue probes the depths of pop music. It is a very well-balanced record. Opener Here We Go has a lovely, foot-tapping groove with highly sophisticated multi-layered vocals that show off Roisin O’s versatility as a singer. Climb High foregrounds an expressive, otherworldly piano which matches Roisin O’s own otherworldliness note by note. Let’s Find Some People reminded me of Tori Amos but with a KT Turnstall twist.

Altogether the album is a reinterpretation of Irish music, mixing the craic with soulful ballads. Roisin O is one of those artists who bridges the gap between modernity and tradition. In her case she leans more on the former than the latter. To me that was also what the event about the Ibero-American blogosphere was: a way to bridge the gap between the culture we left behind (but which never left us) and the culture to which we are adapting now. That all this brings like-minded people together, it’s a bonus. Then, again, that’s synchronicity for you, totally unexpected but usually pleasantly surprising.

© 2014

Photo taken from Roisin O' website

Next Post: “Of Literature and Other Abstract Thoughts”, to be published on Wednesday 19th February at 11:59pm (GMT)


  1. I don't want to put ads on my blog either, but I sometimes think I should be trying to "classify" myself a bit better than I do. I ma considering - well, not quite reinventing myself, but showing different sides of myself more in my blog.

    And yes, London has a lot of chilled out people. Or actually maybe they are just showing their chilled out sides sometimes! :)

  2. I'll join you in the 'no ads' corner - tho I'll check out this music, just for the craic!

  3. Una salida así es siempre un lugar de placer y encuentros, Roisin O me gusta su voz dulce.
    Un abrazo

  4. Yes...there is synchronicity running through your post today....such a laid back feel to it, from the chilled-out people passing by, to the fact that the engines of cars were forced to slow down...and then your mind followed!
    And now...I will check out the music!
    Equally calming I imagine!:)
    Many thanks.

    Happy Sunday :)

  5. haha oh i get those nuts time and time again, but screw that, unless they pay me tons of dough, no way

  6. To serve as an advertising medium is the primary purpose of some blogs; others have a few incidental advertisements; most (I think) have none at all. At times when I have been an active newspaper journalist, I have despised advertising because it took space away from news.

    I guess the bottom line for me, CiL, is a fine line: I distinguish between opinions and recommendations; I enjoy the former and pay no attention to the latter.

    I also am a bit surprised to see you and Carl Jung driving along the same roadway. Perhaps, you were going in opposite directions and simply passed by each other.

  7. i have always tried to keep a clean of ads...i have had offers...and some of the text link ones were intriguing allowing me the freedom not to put up banners and such...they dtract from the writing in my opinion...

    i enjoyed the song and will quite possibly get that album i enjoyed it such.

  8. I love the way that synchronicity and serendipity (two words I am very fond of) have held hands to give you this post.

  9. oh - a cool song... enjoying her voice... and cool how a traffic jam can slow us down but then gives also space for us to ponder different things... the hispanic blogger event sounds rather cool as well

  10. Nice to be visiting you again.
    Enjoyed this post and song.

    Take care


  11. Lovely video and song. Synchronicity happens so often and it always makes me smile at the similar energies running through us all.

  12. The relationship with my blog friends seems more valuable that the $ to be earned with ads.

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

    =^..^= <3

  13. I read once about bloggers meeting up to discuss where they were at in the blogging world. I didn't realise it was almost an industry... smiles. As for advertising, I confess I did think about but quickly discarded the idea. For a start my referred blog layout is not geared to adverts and secondly I didn't want to get involved with money! Not that I don't like money... but I think you know what I mean. An enjoyable post, Cuban, with lots to mull over.

  14. So glad you introduced me to this wonderful artist. She has a beautiful voice. Like you I decided against advertising. One day maybe but not for the time being. Enjoyed your post very much and love how you write. Have a great week.

  15. Your event sounds wonderful and it is so great that you promote music that you discover and like.

    I don't know much about these things, but my sense is that there is a smaller hispanic community in London compared to ethnic or linguistic groups from other places--Asia and Africa--I would think that there would be a very interesting sense of community in the hispanic group. Here there is a different dynamic I think--a certain sense of fellow feeling among some hispanics--but there are fairly large communities from very different hispanic countries, which creates its own differences and synchronicities--anyway--all intresting to read about. Thanks. K>

  16. I have read about blog-fests, and am glad you enjoyed the one you visited. Seeing that you were looking for connections, you found them; or, the stars were aligned somehow to get you to pay attention to certain things. All this reminds of a book I once read and re-read, The Celestine Prophesy, a book that had me believing these connections were all about me.

    Since then, I've become a true skeptic these days.

  17. I have always wanted to keep my page clean and I am happy that I have. :) great post and happy you got invited to this event. :)

  18. Elephant's Child beat me to the punch. As I was reading your post, I was thinking about serendipity, too.

    I'm not interested in putting ads or reviewing products on my blog, either. But it was serendipity that led you to listen to that music. It's lovely!

  19. I enjoyed that track!

    I know what you mean about all the marketing emails, i get a lot and mostly ignore themn but occasionally there's a good one. And I'm more than happy to review things (specially books) on my blog if i think they're worth writing about...

  20. It definitely has a haunting tune to it. I think it fabulous you were able to meet up with other bloggers in London! Part of the fun of blogging for me is to find others who share my same interests and meeting up with other bloggers is an awesome thing!

  21. Your Sunday mornings are always interesting. Thanks for the musical suggestion too. Cheers.

  22. loved the video. Loved the song and how they played with the movie. :)

  23. Im agree with Claudia, Brian and others I don't like ads, I don't have ! only sometimes I have spams that I try to delete always!
    Love my Little blog with my récipes, my ideas and pictures lol

  24. Many thanks for your kind comments. Serendipity is also one of my favourite words. I just love the way it rolls off one's lips. However, to me serendipity means a chance encounter, whereas synchronicity is more the coming together of different minds, fortuitous or not. Like the evening I have just spent on Aculco Radio with two of the five bloggers who attended the Sharehoods workshops. We talked about blogging, culture (our own Ibero-American and the British one) and London, of course. It was marvellous.

    Greetings from London.

  25. I'm pleased to hear that your blogging conference went well and that you used your time stuck in traffic for reflections Instead of swearing. I pay more attention to your recommendations because you aren't a paid promoter and thanks for sharing this music video of a singer new to me. She does have a nice voice. I also ignore the promote my product requests, other than for books and then I only review the ones I like without compensation.

  26. You have such a wonderful way with words! I agree with you on ads on blogs. Blogging started out a fun way to chat with people of similar interest. But over time, they have grown and now companies are taking note and trying to get their products out there via blogs. To each his/her own but I would rather keep it simple with a blog....



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