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How Bullshit Works

An Easy Lesson in Keeping Your Shoes Clean

Joe Bennett has had me laughing out loud reading his articles and now his treatise Double Happiness – How Bullshit Works.

Born of the generation, just a tad before Joe’s, I had often wondered why the lauded clothes, hairstyle, toothpaste etc. did not work their magic on me and help me achieve lifelong happiness and success. For example: Coke did not launch me into magical beach holidays with lots of friends; I did not achieve a svelte figure: and I never found time to write that block-buster novel I planned. I cannot blame my friends (or Coke); in my memory my friends were all trying the same promoted products with similar mediocre or skewed results.

Now I have found out why. JoeBennettDoubleHappiness15981191

I’ve just read Joe Bennett’s Double Happiness – How Bullshit Works. I can’t say it has been an awakening – more an “I understand now” revelation. For some reason being outside the mainstream, or looking at things differently, I took as not having the tenacity to follow through like film stars do. Now, thanks to Joe, I realise that, deep within, I harboured a simple distrust of the promises of nirvana.

Life for most is mediocre

Life for me would be a struggle outside the world of lovely (rich) people, I decided. And so it turned out. Not that life has been without happiness – on the contrary, I have been blessed with much joy and some heartbreak. I presume, (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that has been similar to the lives of most Baby Boomers who ploughed through life after the even-Greater World War.

New age temples

But back to Joe Bennett’s book. On the subject of sport, let me quote  (p153-154): “In many parts of Europe temples are temples no longer. For most visitors they’re now little more than historical theme parks with gift shops. Today’s temples, where people still go to find the meaning and purpose through ritual, are, most commonly, sports stadiums.”

And so Joe goes on to disassemble the great business of international sport.

It’s not only sport that comes under his perceptive eye. Ever been suspicious about the use of the word ‘natural’? Ever wondered why you let things grab your emotions? Ever noticed how music is used to heighten that emotion? Answer, says Joe, is that someone is trying to sell you a product, or belief, that allows them to grow their coffers and power.

Worth a bedtime read

‘Stern stuff’, you might say. ‘Not something I want to read before bedtime.’

The joy of Bennett’s book, however, is that these unpalatable home truths go down with a dose of humour – laugh aloud humour. He is happy to share examples where he has fallen for the entrapment of the conflation, the slither of expertise, parochial milking, the tyranny of image and other bullshit. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you get hold of a copy of Double Happiness – How Bullshit Works for bedtime reading.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

PS: As I went to edit this blog my email clicked and there was a request from Neilsen to take part in a survey on sport. If only they knew who they were giving this extended chance to in ‘in the draw’ for one of three Prezzie cards. Luckily I have been vaccinated against such advertising bullshit. Thanks Joe!

Review: His Father’s Will

By Suzanne Clark

You know you’ve read a good book when you start slowing down because you don’t want the book to end. That is how His Father’s Will by Suzanne Clark gripped me.

Mainly based on Sue’s own grandfather’s life story, the book is written as a novel, yet it brings home so clearly the contrasts of pioneer life in New Zealand and the life risks faced by so many children in the early 1900s at an age when today’s youngsters are joyfully anticipating a transition from pre-school to primary school. Nowadays the rules of Health and Safety may be seen as restrictive, but the comparison offered by the life journey of Will and his five siblings will fill you with awe.

Family Skeletons

The novel is filled with iconic New Zealand scenery, history, pioneer trappings and tools which add to the flavour of the tale. There are good and bad or ‘trapped’ characters as well as the helpful and kind – each helping to flesh out the story of Will son of William Tyrell.

Sue’s writing is easy to read and the storyline holds your attention, which is probably a challenge when based so closely on the real life actions of a real life family. Family skeletons are unmasked, as are the institutions that were supposed to care for deprived children. Considering their tough upbringing most of the children lived beyond their three score years and 10.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Old Records Herald a Story

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

A little left behind the tide of Spotify and iTunes, I purchased a couple of years ago a turntable on which to play the records I had collected in the 1060s and 1970s.

Back to the future

What fun I’ve had as I’m flooded by the memories and melodies of those decades – the lyrics full of promise and blind faith that life would always be filled by the sentiments expressed within the tracks. As you can imagine there were a lot of golden oldies. But how I enjoyed the sounds, coloured as they were by the filter of those good old days. (I never thought I’d EVER say that!)


Music changes as the decades pass and newer generations have also marked their special moments with songs of significance. Often it’s the singer not the song that matters. And realising this I embarked on a remarkable journey into the life-story of one of the singers in an album I purchased – Four Strong Winds by Ian and Sylvia Tyson. I wanted to know what became of these singer song writers who were equally at home singing songs penned by Bob Dylan as blue grass and folk.

Sylvia Tyson as a member of the group Quartette

Early lyrics set their stars

Originally Sylvia Fricker, Sylvia started performing in 1959 and then joined Ian Tyson in the folk duo, Ian and Sylvia. The first song she wrote that gained acclaim was “You Were On My Mind”. It hit the charts in 1962, and three years later it reached #3 on the Billboard chart for a group called We Five, and then rose through the British charts as a hit for Crispian St Peter.

Contemporaries of Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, The Band, and Janis Joplin, the Tysons continued as a duo from the early sixties until 1975 when they broke up(personally and professionally), but both remained active in musical circles. Ian, a longtime rancher and cowboy country singer, still lives on the same south-of-Calgary ranch he bought with royalties from Young’s cover of “Four Strong Winds.” Sylvia became (eventually) a member of Quartette, a collaboration of four women and singer-songwriters.

Quartette formed in the early 90s, and used their distinctive voices to create amazing harmonies in country and folk styles. Click Here for a little sample.

From left: Gwen Swick, Sylvia Tyson, Caitlin Hanford and Cindy Church.

Not surprisingly, in 1994 Quartette won the Canadian Country Music Association‘s award for best vocal collaboration. The following two years the group was nominated in the category of best country group at the Juno Awards.

More than just a songwriter

One of the more unusual outputs from Sylvia Tyson has been the recent release of a novel and related MP3 – Joyner’s Dream. A mixture of folksy strings and guitar with voice thrown in, I can imagine the music being used as background music for a film version of the novel. Maybe that is what Sylvia, now in her seventies, had in mind.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author