Welcome to my blog, ‘Now and Then, and then again…’

I have turned 70 years old – quite a feat for anyone on the Barnes side of our family, as longevity isn’t a characteristic.  

Having seen and done a lifetime’s worth of seeing and doing, I have views on all that is around me.  I’ll expand upon some memorable episodes of my life, experiences, themes, and bêtes noires.  I hope you enjoy reading these short essays as much as I enjoyed writing them, and that your life is that little bit richer for the reading.


@hangonrose.  My Twitter handle is @hangonrose.  Is it one word or three?  One, from the point of view that it’s a memorable username (for me, anyway), but three – Hang On Rose – in its original incarnation.

Hang On Rose is the title of a song written by Gary Brooker, the legendary vocalist and pianist of the rock band Procol Harum.  He released it on his 1982 solo album, Lead Me To The Water.

Back in September 2000, as part of the Web Arts Festival, Procol Harum gave a free concert in Stoke Park, Guildford, UK, billed as their ‘Millennium Concert’.  The very active http://www.procolharum.com website put out an all-points message suggesting that fans from around the world might like to convene the night before, and play some of the band’s songs to original settings, in the Civic Centre in Guildford.  If anyone wanted to be a part of this, they should let the organisers know which songs they could play/sing, and what instrument(s) they played.

It was actually touch and go whether many participants would actually make it to the venue, as this was the time of a mass blockade of fuel distribution centres around the UK, due to the high prices of fuel.  At one point 90% of fuel stations had run dry!!  I only managed to get to Guildford because I took the train to London, and collected a colleague’s car handily left for me in Surbiton with enough petrol in it to take me the 20 miles to Guildford.  I was able to fill up on the Monday morning,  as the blockades were over, and fuel deliveries had resumed.

I was one to volunteer to play my part with guitar and voice, along with others from as far afield as Australia and North America.  Most of us had never met before, so, having pre-decided a set-list based on individuals’ preferences, it was handshakes and tea all round, rehearse, and then gig.  Since that original get-together, there have been many other such gigs organised around the world by Palers – as the fans are known – to coincide with the band’s tours.

The upshot of the Guildford Civic Centre party was a double CD recording of the occasion, followed by a further three “Palers’ Project” CDs, for which fans submitted their own ‘studio’ versions of Procol Harum songs, some of which were way removed from the originals.

There were some inspired ‘re-imaginings’ – as I would like to think ‘my’ Hang On Rose, which appeared on CD#3 in the series, Trace of a Feeling, is.  It was recorded under the band name Mad For Bread, a convenient anagram of Adam, Rob (and) Fred – Adam Barnes (drums), Rob Barnes (guitar and vocal), and Fred Purser (guitars).  You can hear the original by Brooker, and the Mad For Bread take, by listening to these two attachments in this order.

@hangonrose stuck as an easy to remember ‘handle’.

Gary Brooker – Hang On Rose

Mad For Bread – Hang On Rose