Some interesting facts and anecdotes from the life and career of Michael Hockney .

The Mayor of Taipei and the next President of Taiwan

In the months leading to The 2000 Taiwan Presidential Election, Michael was invited to Taiwan along with co-producers Christian Lloyd Bell and ex CBC reporter Steve Housser as a guest of the Taiwanese Government. The three, known as The Pi Group, was obstensively put together as a Canadian news team to report on modern Taiwan to a Canadian and Western audience. The Group made two production trips.

Upon a fractious entry into the country which will not be elaborated upon here, the Group was put-up in the Lai Lai Sheraton and work began on arrangements to interview a new political figure that look to upset the long-standing KMT party which had been in power since the setting up of the ROC in Tiawan in 1949. The new figure was none other than Chen Shui-bian 陳水扁. who at the time was the Mayor of Taipei.

The GIO or Government Information Office was charged with making arrangements for the Pi Group and a formal request was made to interview Taipei City Mayor Chen Shui-bian and the Secretary-General of the National Security Council of the Republic of China, Dr. SU Chi. The schedules were prepared and cameras and film made ready for the interviews and portrait photography. Michael chose to use Black and White film and his Fuji GW690 for the shoot. Taipei City Hall is a modern monstrocity which stands on its own and the mayor's office is perched near the top in lofty offices. Shuffled into the lift the group squeezed in with all the camera gear. The doors opened to a scene of organized chaos. A dozen well-armed security personnel brandishing sub machine guns met the group as they exited and introductions and security clearance was granted. The Group, somewhat surprised by the welcoming party were informed this was a busy day for the Mayor, he was due to bulldoze some slums in a risky, unpopular and contentious political move. It was not exactly the perfect stress-free day. That being said, the Group was special in that Western journalists rarely reported on Taiwan affairs and this was a unique opportunity for Chen to speak to the World about China and give a hint about his Presidency if elected.

Steve Housser was first put in the hands of "Gary", Mr Chen's media and PR man and Steve ran through his questions and appropriate embellishments were applied. Once this was done Michael and Christian were summoned to film the interview and take pictures. Michael was keen to photograph Chen as a small figure against the backdrop of the might of Taipei. The picture would convey strength as awell as the degree of isolation that comes with power, rather than a "behind the desk shot" which his office wanted, Michael insisted he take a picture of Chen looking out of his office window. No! was the answer from security. Michael made a second and then a third request in English and at which point Chen personally indicated that it was alright with him. He over-ruled his security for the picture to be taken by the main window. His security was worried he might be shot by a sniper. Michael hurridly made the pictures and the session was quickly over.

Months later, Chen Shui-bian rocked the Taiwan political system as the first non KMT politician to rule the country. He was President of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008. On September 11th 2009, Chen received a life sentence and was fined NT $200 million (USD 6.13 million) for embezzlement, bribery and money laundering involving a total of US$15 million (NT $490 million) in funds while in office from 2000 to 2008. Supporters of Chen contended that the prosecution was politically motivated.Chen is the first ROC president to receive a prison sentence.

The Official Portrait

Chen Shui-bian beside the window of his office, Taipei

A lonely figure

Deciding questions, Steve Housser and Chen's PA, Mayoral Office, Taipei

The President of Libya

Michael Hockney is CEO of Hicon Consulting Corporation HCC, a small bespoke media agency based in Canada.

In 2011 Michael met a number of exiled Libyan nationals who had fled persecution by the Ghadaffi regieme in the 1980's. During the course of the rebel uprising in Libya and the ongoing civil war in 2011, Michael was engaged to provide a website for Dr. Al Magariaf to enable him to campaign for foreign support in the United Nations and embassies around the World. Dr. Magariaf was the behind-the-scenes political face of the freedom fighters for the engagement of the international community.

After the final overthrow of the regieme Dr. Al Magariaf was invited back to Libya to begin the difficult task of preparing the foundations for elections. Elections to a General National Congress were held on 7 July 2012, and the NTC handed power to the newly elected assembly on 8 August with Dr. Al Magariaf as President of the General National Congress. The position made Dr. Al Magariaf the de facto Head of State and President. The assembly has the responsibility of forming a constituent assembly to draft a permanent constitution for Libya, which will then be put to a referendum.

The official website of Dr. Al Magariaf

Sadly this website remained active for only just over a year and by 2014 Libya was struggling with feuding militias to keep its fragile govenment intact. The situation there today in 2017 is no better and remains a living nightmare for the people of Libya.


Trouble in Kinmen 金門

Michael was detained by the Taiwanese Military and the Chief of Police of Small Kinmen Island along with the entire production team consisting of a driver, production guide, producer/videographer and television presenter.

The incident happened in late February 1998 in the militarized islands of Kinmen just off the coast of Mainland China- The Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Kinmen (Jinmen), formerly known as Quemoy has an infamous history during the retreat of Chiang Kai shek's Republican Army to the island of Taiwan in the latter days of the Chinese Civil war. The islands were the stepping stone to safety for the Republican forces and have remained heavily fortified ever since. Indeed, the islands hold the distinction of being one of the most heavily bombed areas in the World. The PRC sent nearly half a million shells into Kinmen Island territory. As such they remain a symbol of pride and defiance for the people of Taiwan as they occupy territory barely 5000 metres from the PRC coastline.

In the late 1990's the islands were "opened-up" for tourists and travel to the islands was no longer restricted. Michael and the Canadian Production team consisting of Christian Lloyd Bell and Steve Housser had for some time contemplated doing a story on the militarized islands of Kinmen but had put the project on the back burner because of cost and complexity. The islands, although part of Taiwan (Republic of China ROC), are a considerable distance from Taiwan and are nestled right against the communist PRC mainland (see maps below).

The decision to go to Kinmen was made on a balcony in Taipei after the production team had just covered the crash of an Airbus at CKS Airport. Bludgeoned by the brutality of the crash the team no longer was phased by the dificulty of making a story in Kinmen. Although "open" to tourists and for the most part Taiwanese tourists, what the team was undertaking was the first Western news piece on the newly "opened-up" islands. The team wanted to explore the sentry posts and forts deep in the jungles to show the realities of protecting a threatened democracy, interview conscripts and show the bizarre history of the archipelago.

Location of The Kinmen Islands (ROC)

Detail of highlighted inset area on main map

The only way to undertake the project was by direct liaison with the Taiwanese Military and Michael as production liaison made a call to The Government Information Office in Taipei requesting to speak to a military official about he proposed trip. In addition a friend of the team's Taipei host was a journalist in Kinmen and arrangements were started to have him brief the team on arrival and help liaise directly with Army officials. The Military replied quickly and was enthusiastic to have a western news team cover their islands and their story in a positive way. A Colonel "L" was assigned to the team and upon landing Michael was to call Colonel "L" to arrange the logistics of the production under the auspices of the military. The instructions were clear but the arrival of the production team in Kinmen was not as straight forward. Firstly the aircraft landing in Large Kinmen engaged in a powered descent, a very unusual manoeuvre but normal in this part of the World. The DC10 did this to give it some airspeed and evasive ability in the event a PRC battery opened fire. Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) missile installations line the Chinese Fujian coast in their hundreds. No plane has been shot down in recent years but airlines take no chances. On arrival the production team was met by the local Kinmen journalist who had been instrumental in persuading the Military to let the team do a story in Kinmen. Immedialely on arrival he whisked Michael, Steve and Christian to the journalist's head office where refreshments and introductions were made with the editor. As with everything in Taiwan this was a family affair. The refreshments consisted of the 90 proof local liquor, Kaoliang. It was early afternoon. The team new the essential importance of showing respect to their hosts and once this was completed Michael would be calling Colonel "L". This was to prove a fateful mistake.... two hours after landing Michael and the Team returned to the airport and the call was made. It was not good, the Colonel was literally screaming at Michael over the phone about not having been contacted immedialely on arrival. He flatly refused to offer any help whatsoever and at the end of the call it was decided he would possibly meet the team the next day; no promises. On no account was the production team "to do anything". After a brief discussion as to what to do next the journalist said he would simply show us around as a Kinmen resident would do any visitor, after all the islands were open to tourists with cameras.

The production team made its way to Small Kinmen on the ferry and was driven from sentry post to sentry post where each time soldiers would raise their weapons the moment they spotted camera equipment. Pointing their weapons directly at Christian and Michael who were holding cameras, screaming and shouting in broken English...."No Camera, No Camera", the soldiers were nothing short of dangerous and menacing. Michael and Christian continued to roll cameras with Steve demanding rather than urging, "keep shooting"! The soldiers continued to be animated at every encounter and for Steve there were no weapons drawn on his torso, he wasn't holding a camera and drew little attention. Attempts were made to interview senior personnel when they appeared agreeable. Only once was a soldier willing to be interviewed. The team was pushing the boundaries in a distinctly foolhardy way. Nothing has been sanctioned with the military and 90 percent alcohol had a way of numbing the realities of what was happening. It was reckless to say the least. These were soldiers on active sentry duty with live weapons. Then a crew member decided to go for a walk.... in a mined area. The entire team shouted and searched in the snake infested jungle driving in designated safe areas. To no avail; an hour later the prepetrator emerged totally unaware of what he had done and how close he had been to being blown-up.

At this point the sun was setting and the journalist suggested we go to a beach. Most of Small Kinmen is mined and going to a beach is not something you do unless you have perfect local knowledge. The beach began to fog over. At this point the journalist took Steve Housser aside. What was being discussed was that he (the journalist) could take the team across the narrow strait to Mainland China. No passports, totally illegal, totally open to arrest at the other side if caught. The team would certainly be charged with spying which carries quick justice and a one-way inanimate boxed trip back to Canada. No Embassy involvement. Thats if caught...it was very foggy and the little zodiac would surely not show on radar? Steve, Christian and Michael mulled the offer over. "The cameras are Taiwanese government property" said Christian, "There's no way to cover that up". A couple of minutes later the idea was abandoned, clearly the Kaoliang was wearing off.

Hungry and now cold it was time for the host to pamper the team with hospitality and from the beach to a large empty restaurant, the eventful evening moved on. At the table another 5 or so guests joined the project for dinner and once again the Kaoliang flowed and the "Gom Bai" salutations ensued. In Taiwan it is rude to drink with yourself, you must stand and raise a glass to the person opposite you. This follows the rapid consumption of the salutatory alcohol. The greetings follow one after another. With 90 percent alcohol, it takes only minutes to become dangerously drunk.

Michael did what he could to be a grateful guest and began pouring the Kaoliang shots over his back to avoid getting any more inebriated. To no avail. After 2 hours of this the entire team was beyond help. As the team got up to go back to their hotel they were met by half a dozen uniformed Taiwanese military officers and The Chief of Police of Small Kinmen dressed in civilian clothes. Bundled into cars, the team was driven back to their hotel and placed under house arrest with a guard at the door. It was late evening and no one knew what was going to happen other than there was serious trouble ahead and the next morning was going to be more than a challenge. Christian, who was at the time near fluent in Mandarin began explaining to the Military that the group were friends of Taiwan and making a positive report for Canadians. Michael was passed out on a table while the initial interviews took place. An hour later, disoriented, he made his way upstairs to the room and momentarily toyed with the idea of how to hide, or whether to hide, his film and Christian's beta video cassettes outside on the roof and replace new film and blank tapes in the eqipment. At this point, he passed out again. This proved to be very fortunate for the production team.

The next morning followed with Christian Bell and Steve Housser explaining the circumstances and trying to save the situation. Michael remained upstairs and could clearly hear the tone of the conversations coming from below. It was intense; the Military needed to be convinced the team were not spies or in any way compromizing military operations of the Taiwanese Armed Forces. The exchanges were heated and Christian's Mandarin was put to the ultimate test. Once identities had been verified and the intent of the project was deemed friendly, attention turned to the video tapes. Reluctantly Christian agreed to showing the Military every piece of footage from the camera and to accepting censorship of any sensitive materials. There was no choice in the matter. Over the course of 2 hours the Military sifted through the tape and removed five items. Most of the footage was deemed useable. Strangely Michael's stills pictures were never looked at and not wishing to complicate matters he kept quiet.

The actual military cap given to Michael by the arresting party after his release.

Once the interrogation was successfully completed the Taiwanese Officers became very apologetic.One even gave Michael his army cap. Many Taiwanese have family in North America so they know Canada and the US. However, to find a news crew wanting to show modern Taiwanese reality, is basically unheard of. The officers talked amongst themselves and decided to take the team out to lunch, a big expensive feast costing a couple of hundred dollars, as a way of saying thank you for bringing Taiwan's situation to the mass media. The story is rarely, if ever told. Western news nedia never like to mention the hundreds of PRC missiles in Fujian pointing at the democratic peoples of Taiwan. It annoys the Communist Chinese and Western media wouldn`t want to upset the PRC with some real truth, would they?

The video footage was released as a 10 minute mini-doc on CBC's "Pacific Rim Report" with Ian Hanomansing later in 1998.

The irony is that 15 years later one can Google "Kinmen" and look at a detailed satellite map of the sensitive islands. The material censored in 1998 you can see from the comfort of your living room. I doubt the current Taiwanese Military is happy with this, the island's are still pivotally strategic should hostilities ever erupt again.

Jason, our loyal chain smoking Taiwanese production guide photographed in Large Kinmen in 2004, Jason could polish-off a carton of "Long Life" cigarettes in a day.No matter, his skills in production made up for any bad habits.

Hours before the detention, Small Kinmen Island, at the closest sentry post to Mainland China. Michael is wearing a coveted official Taiwan GIO press badge. The accreditation, however,did not prove valuable during the interrogations with the Taiwanese Military.

Professor Benoir Mandelbrot

Michael Hockney is the son of the late physicist and computer scientist Professor Roger Hockney. R. W. Hockney was snapped up by NASA after a ground-breaking Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966. An Englishman, an "Alien", he was removed from the Apollo Space Programme in 1968 as were many other scientists to make it an All-American moon landing. IBM research in Yorktown Hieghts, New York gained NASA's loss and Dr. Hockney began working on galaxy computer simulations and models. In the office down the hall was another genius at work. He made more colourful printouts than Dr. Hockney's super-computer simulations, which were all in black-and-white....

The Mandelbrot Set

The set is a part of the complex plane. It is created by iterating the simple complex quadratic polynomial  f c:C→C, defined by

f c(z )=z 2+c.

For each point  c of the complex plane,  f c is iterated starting with  z =0. This creates a sequence of points  (z n). If theorbit of these points does not escape to infinity, then  c is part of the Mandelbrot set. It’s that simple. A few examples, for different values of  c:

In 1970 Dr. Hockney invited Dr. Mandelbrot for supper at 610, Viewlands Drive, Yorktown Hieghts, New York and the young Michael Hockney learnt all about fractels.

Leonid Shebarshin and Gorbachev

While researching for the 2007 documentary project Colours of Russia, Michael met the last acting head of the KGB, Leonid Shebarshin, in his retirement. The meetings were arranged through a brilliant journalist and a highly respected businessman who were impressed with the concept behind Hockney's "Colours of Russia". Michael was in awe of Shebarshin's knowledge and open-minded attitude to the idea of a Canadian wanting to show modern Russia to the world. Shebarshin arranged a meeting with the Governor of a region Michael was interested in photographing, Lake Baikal. Looking back to the extraordinary meetings Michael reflects:

"Shebarshin was, above all, the quintessential gentleman, a very refined man who carried himself as someone who had a very distinguished background. If I was to make a characterisation he was a modern symbol of the Soviet "Old School". It was Shebarshin who single-handedly provided the essential bridge and framework between the defunct Soviet establishment and Yeltsin's New Russia. No one else was mutually revered and it was Shebarshin who saved many lives by preventing any possibility of violent dissent and civil war following the collapse of the USSR. He had seen it all but clearly he was a profound humanitarian. Rarely does one meet someone who so definitively brings their presence into a room, his persona was one of a great man, unquestionably great. Name me another country that could survive such an almighty transformation and not be destroyed. Shebarshin was the un-sung hero of the transition and it is a story not told in the West".

Interestingly, Michael, who did his banking at the offices of International Moscow Bank (IMB) in Park Kultury, briefly bumped into Mikail Gorbachev while in the elaborate security entrance at the Bank. Mikhail Gorbachev was also a customer of the Bank as well as being the person who appointed Shebarshin to his prestigious post in the last hours of the Soviet Union.

The fact that Michael, a foreigner, had such meetings at all is testament to the freedoms that modern Russia bestows on its citizens and how Soviet era power brokers have graciously adapted to the new reality for the common good of the Country. The world has indeed changed.

Leonid Shebarshin
Photographer Unknown/ Fair Use

Mikhail Gorbachev
RIA Novosti archive, image # / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Buying LP's for Soviet Russia's preeminent computer scientist

In 1971 a young Michael Hockney was living in Reading, England. Professor Roger Hockney had for many years been following the achievements of Soviet computer scientist, Andrey Ershov and the two men became friends after Ershov visited Hockney at Stanford's Computer Science Department in 1967. Now head of Reading University and the UK's first Computer Science Department, he wanted Ershov to be allowed to attend a major UK conference.

The Soviet establishment gave permission for a second foreign visit and the preeminent Soviet scientist came to the UK. Last minute private arrangements were made for Ershov to stay with the Hockney family rather than a hotel arranged by Reading University. In 1970's cold-war politics this was unheard of and considerable secrecy was involved.

Michael recollects what happened next:

"I was asked to take Andrey downtown into Reading to find and purchase some western music, basically rock music for him to smuggle back into the USSR. All I knew was I was charged with the job because no one else in the family had a clue about the music scene; I did. We took a number 18 bus to Broad Street and sat at the back downstairs on the new double deckers that had entered service. I took him directly to a well known independent store in the alleyway with the fish shops. There I bought him every Beatles album, several Stones albums and Joni Mitchel's "Clouds". He was ecstatic and the pile of albums found there way to Novosibirsk at a time when there were considerable penalties for owning such things. I suspect the albums are still in the Ershov family to this day"

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4 Parkhill Dr., Tilehurst, England 1971. Michael, left, Andrey Ershov is third from Left, Prof. Hockney second. The '69 Ford Mustang is now registered in Florida and has been across the Atlantic twice and is still in the family.

The email revolution was in 1971 not 1993

Michael was one of the very first people to send electronic mail. When some well-off British families in 1971 might have a second black and white telly in the master bedroom, the Hockney family had a Teletype model asr33 in the upstairs bedroom. In those days all phones came under the GPO (Post Office) public/state network and they were very expensive.

One day Michael's father said he had something to show him. He said, "This Michael, is a modem". It was a green lump of plastic the same colour as the phone with some rubber cups. "What we are going to do is send a message to Andrey in Russia using the Teletype machine and the phone". Curious Michael watched his father fire up the ticker tape machine and write a message onto paper punch tape...

"Hello Andrey, This is Roger in England, how are you? The weather here is fine"

That's about all he could say because Andrey was in the Novosibirsk Institute in the USSR, thousands of miles away in Siberia, a very cold city in a very forbidden place.

Michael watched the receiver go into the modem cups and the tape was fed once connection was made. Several minutes passed then the Teletype fired up and printed a message back...

Thank you. It is snowing. All is well and good wishes to the family" Andrey

It took another 25 years for the rest of the world to catch up to what two leading computer scientists were doing in 1971.

 Teletype model asr33 Photo: Unknown

Early Modem

The Prime Minister

In 1988 while working on the Bank of Scotland calendar, Michael met James Callaghan in rather unusual circumstances. Returning to Glasgow late one night the photographer pulled off the A74 at the Gretna Green services. Walking towards the gents in the cafeteria area he noticed a well built tank of a man in a dark suit standing beside the door. Thinking not too much of it and wanting to make an urgent deposit he entered the facilities only to notice a very tall, strangely familiar, well dressed man washing his hands. While staring at the white tiles on the wall the penny dropped....that's the ex PM, James Callaghan! Hockney wanted to quip "So,,, how's the country doing?....." but the two just acknowledged each others lavatorial presence and that was that.

The Right Honourable James Callaghan
Photographer Unknown/ Public Domain

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Michael was the corporate photographer for Occidental Oil in The North Sea from 1988-1991. During this time he made numerous trips the Oxy's HQ in Buckingham Palace road to discuss marketing matters with the head of PR and Marketing, Alex Blake-Milton. Alex had decided to sponsor Ranulph Fiennes (at that time) for his quest to walk to the North Pole using skis and sleds only. Probably the greatest British explorer of modern times and the last of a dying breed, "Ran" was given a production office at the Oxy HQ in Buckinham Palace Road.

"Do you want to meet Ran Fiennes", asked Alex? Sure, replied Michael, and he was escorted down the hall to the explorer's operations room. "I want to introduce you to our Photographer", said Alex and Michael sat down for a ten minute chat with Fiennes. What struck him the most was the sheer size of the man, his hands where large and very strong judging from the numbness following the handshake. " When he stood up behind his desk I was greeted by a towering torso of a man", Michael remembers.

Interestingly Feinnes probed Hockney on his attitudes and he asked "So, what do you think of the Queen?" Taken aback by such a question Michael answered that she was a "fine lady" to which Fiennes took a little offence to the wording. Clearly Michael was no staunch monarchist and he (Fiennes) made a strong pronouncement of his commitment to preserve Queen and Country.

There could be no better person for the job.

Sir Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes
Photo: B Milnes (CC-by-sa 3.0)

"How dare you!"... Annie Lennox and Dave Sewart

In the summer of 1979 a relatively unknown band was playing The Reading Hexagon, in England.....The Tourists. Still an undergraduate at The University College of Swansea Michael was a big fan of 12 string electric guitar player, Dave Stewart. In 1979 the band was reaching the end of the road and this was one of their last concerts. After a couple of intermission Southern Comforts Michael decided to go backstage after the concert to discuss 12 string guitar with Dave Stewart. He took his then girlfriend Penny Tooke with him after the concert and what greeted him was a long line of teenagers. Feeling somewhat empowered by his guitar playing skills and mature years, Michael went directly to the front of the line where a very blonde Annie Lennox was sitting on a green steel folding chair, directly in front of the artist's entrance. Michael was towering over Ms. Lennox when he asked:

"Is it okay to go back and talk to Dave Stewart? I'm a 12 string guitar player."

Lennox replied in her thick brogue:
"Sure, not a problem"

Just as he was setting off to go into the artist's area he stopped and went back to Lennox...

"Why do you do this? Your music is above playing to a bunch of teenie-boppers."

Absolutely furious, Annie screamed back;

"How dare you....these are my fans!"

Sheepishly Hockney asked;
So....can I still go back and see Dave?

Lennox looked at Hockney in a manner that showed she actually understood what Michael had meant and said "Yes. alright, go on then!"

18 months later Lennox and Stewart formed the band that defined the 1980`s, The Eurythmics.

Annie Lennox
Photo: Manfred Werner (CC-by-sa 3.0)

Dave Stewart
Photo: Eva Rinaldi (CC-by-sa 3.0)

Skullsplitter Beer

Michael was the model (inadvertently) for The Orkney Brewery Company's "Skullsplitter" beer label. The shot was taken in 1990 at Broch of Gurness in the north of The Orkney Mainland. The original model backed-out at the last minute, the man was a Shetlander working at Orkney Islands Council and had agreed to model a full Viking Jarl costume. At trhe last minute he changed his mind and Michael modelled the outfit. The brewery owner took the shots on a 35mm camera dispensing with the Fuji 690W that Michael Had set up. The deerskin moccasins were a size 7 and Michael had to force his feet into them. Originally the shoot was to make a small local poster for the celebration ale. Within a few months the picture became the new label for Skullsplitter Ale and survived until a few years ago when the label was sold to the North American distributor. Skullsplitter with the "old" label now adorns product in North America and is widely available. The beer has won many prizes internationally and is a favourite of real ale aficionados, including John Thaw (Inspector Morse) who knew a good tipple when he saw one. This has been Michael's one and only modelling shoot.

While in Helsinki in 2006 Michael was stopped by a gang of students who couldn't understand why they knew him. Eventually they figured it out after they questioned him where he had lived. "....London,Orkney" he said."Ah, Skullsplitter!!!)

The Orkney Island Brewery Company
The Home of Skullsplitter

Seredina Dnya

On his first visit to Russia in October 2004 Michael was invited to open a concert for the Russian band, Seredina Dnya, famous for "Full Moon" released in 2003 and signed to ACM records. He was invited by the band to join as lead guitarist in February 2005 for his evocative full sound Gibson lead work. Seredina Dnya played at Lujniki Stadium in 2006. Michael worked on a number of songs with Sergey Pesechnik in 2007, notably collaborating on the arrangement for "End of Summer" which was later released as "Illusion" after Michael left the band in 2008.

First week in Russia, October 2004 , Pussy Riot could have saved a lot of fuss and bother and simply chopped down a Lenin Blue Spruce for Christmas.

Opening for Serdedina Dnya in November 2004- Moscow

Seredina Dnya Sergey and Sergey announcing the Canadian act to follow, November 2004- Moscow

2003 Полная луна (Full Moon)

Seredina Dnya Rehearsals -Шаболовская

The school behind the famous Shabolovskaya (Shukhov) Radio Tower was the site for countless rehearsals for Seredina Dnya from 2004-2007.

The almighty Sergey Pasechnik

The incomparable Alexander Lobanov

The powerman Alexander Gondyurin

The soulful Elena Kachurina

The Canuck

After rehearsals, Shabolovskaya School Top Floor rear

Rehearsals, Shabolovskaya 2006

Sergey teaches the repertoire

"End of Summer", Strongforest (Michael Hockney) English Vocals and Lead Guitar, original version recorded in Moscow 2007.

Illusion, The brilliant Sergey Lyaptsev returns as lead guitarist for the Russian version of End of Summer released in 2010

Live at Lujniki, 2006

In the middle of FULL MOON, Lujniki Stadium, June 2006

Security, Lujniki Stadium July 2006

Main Stage, BOTB Russia 2007

Main Stage, BOTB Russia 2007, Sergey and Michael

Club Sexton, Moscow December 2007, Battle of the Bands, Russia, Gibson in full song, the club is a massive Hell's Angels compount in Moscow built in steel and is extravagant to the extreme. A Russian nuclear power submarine crankshaft turns in the floor of the main building. In the summer numerous outdoor stages hold concerts.

Here is the history of the band.

Narrator, Moscow 2008

Michael was the narrator for three children's CD's featuring famous American horror stories. The publisher selected Michael for his transatlantic accent and the recordings were done in an all night session at a Moscow sound studio. Russians love Edgar Allen Poe and Mark Twain.

Люди рассказывают друг другу страшные истории вот уже тысячи лет. Многим нравится, когда их пугают, если на самом деле никакой опасности нет - мы считаем всё это весёлым розыгрышем. Первопоселенцы Америки часто рассказывали такие истории. По ночам они любили собираться в чьей-нибудь хижине или вокруг костра и проверять, кто сумеет напугать остальных сильнее всего. Некоторые из этих историй очень старые и их рассказывают по всему миру, у большинства - общие корни. Все они основаны на том, что люди слышали, видели или испытали... или думали, что слышали, видели, испытали. Есть даже истории, которые настолько ужасны, что все вокруг смеются. Многие девочки и мальчики и сейчас любят рассказывать друг другу истории. Они собираются у кого-нибудь дома, ставят в середине комнаты свечу, садятся вокруг неё в кружок, даже не подозревая о том, что многие из этих историй таким же образом рассказывали друг другу их дедушки и бабушки, когда были детьми. Программа, кроме историй на русском языке и звуковых эффектов, создающих впечатление "присутствия", включает специально подобранные фрагменты американской народной музыки кантри. Гражданин Канады Michael Hockney любезно согласился записать эти рассказы и на английском языке, чтобы желающие могли поупражняться и посоревноваться в понимании текста со слуха, а также по достоинству оценить ритмику, энергичность и выразительность английского произношения.

The Orkney Dragon

Scotland is a land of great peculiarities and there is nothing more peculiar than the nuances of status that befall those that distinguish themselves. One man that has done just that is John D M Robertson, CBE, DL, FRSE. from the Orkney Isles.

J.D. Robertson had seen Michael's work in the Bank of Scotland Calendars and wanted to commission him to photograph St. Magnus Cathedral for a book he was working on at the time, "An Anthology of Orkney". A meeting was set-up and Michael turned up for the appointment at Shore Street in Kirkwall and was summoned to J.D's office. In the 1980's Michael never wore suits, he would simply turn up in a German bikers jacket and jeans, not out of disrespect but because it was expected of an artist to be a little eccentric. Michael entered the office with staff in tow, it was a wood panelled style decor with studded leather chairs, a room you might find in a fine gentleman's club ( if they still exist).

The staff were noticeably obedient and they never turned their backs to JD. After Michael was shown his seat they retired by unusually walking backwards. It was clear they were surprised by the leather jacket before the revered boss. After some straight forward business conversation Michael accepted the commission to photograph St. Magnus Cathedral for the book.

A few weeks later the job was done and Michael returned. He took the same seat before the big oak desk and JD was shown the transparencies. Quite satisfied he said....

"Excellent work Michael, however (pregnant pause) I cannot pay you".

A little taken aback Michael was wondering how to reply, perhaps the jacket was a bad idea. Then with a wry Scottish smile he reached behind his chair and brought forth a brown paper bag.

"However, perhaps this will do" ...

Michael looked into the bag and inside was a hand labelled bottle. It was 20 year-old single malt "Orkney Dragon". What JD had done for remuneration was well above the cost of the commission. This was a limited bottle of Highland Park that he had self-bottled as a member of The Scottish Whiskey Distillers Association. It is so fine and rare it is listed at Bonhams Auctions where connoiseurs vie to procure the very best malts for their collections.

In Scotland this is the equivalent of the "Names" at Lloyds of London when it comes to having influence. To be able to self bottle a single malt is the ultimate pinnacle of Scottish society. Only a very few have permission to do it.

Close to Christmas, Michael took the bottle home and swore to make it last years and only open the bottle on the most special of ocassions. Unfortunately it was so good Michael consumed the entire bottle in just 5 days, after all it was Christmas. A priceless payment in kind with a priceless single malt.

The trips to Number 1 Arbat

Most tourists who visit Moscow, or if you are a lazy Western journalist, you spend time on the Old Arbat. It was Hockney's least liked parts of Moscow but it was a place he spent a good deal of time. Just at the start of the street, at the corner, was the headquarters of TNK -BP, a major vertically integrated Russian oil company. Michael was assigned to privately tutor a number of senior executives. The security at number 1 Arbat was, well, quite intense and arriving at the building and being on time at a meeting took sometimes 10 minutes. The elegant building had lifts which were lined in beautiful marble and everyone used the system, even top management like.Bob Dudley. Mr. Dudley was CEO of TNK-BP at the time and he went on to head BP in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster..

Leon Trotsky and Nikhail Kalashnikov

Michael Hockney met the great grand-daughter of Leon Trotsky and the grand-daughter of Mikhail Kalashnikov. in 2007

Russia takes part in many European sporting events and in 2007, at a balloon meet in the Moscow Region countryside, Michael was introduced to the grat grand-daughter of the founder and first leader of The Red Army, Leon Trotsky. The famous revolutionary met a violent end in 1940 in Mexico City. His great grand-daughter, 67 years later was very pleasant and was organising an international meet in a green field full of German, Swiss, French and other competitors.

The meeting with Kalashnikov's grand-daughter took place in Moscow. Said Hockney...."She was a fine representation of what modern Russian women are all about, beautiful, educated and worldly".

Leon Trotsky

Mikhail Kalashnikov - photo courtesy Kremlin.ru

A Russian Party with an Amati

What stands Russia apart from other countries is their reverence for the fine arts and especially classical music. The impromptu peformanxes of virtuoso musicians at Ohotny Riad metro station is well known but this excellence transfers to all aspects of Russian social fabric.

While working with Voice of Russia's Estelle Winters, Michael was invited to "a party", it was a last minute thing. Rushing to get across town he arrived at an apartment "under Remont", another way of saying you are filthy rich and are gutting an apartment for total renovation. This was one of those apartments. The owner was in a major orchestra and decided to throw a party. Well, just about every intellectual you could name was there to witness something extraordinary. A concert and art show in a concrete shell.

Several violinists and a cellist arranged chairs and they sat down. The violinist on the far left pulled out an Amati which was probably worth more than the price of the luxury aparment when it was finished.

Then this happened....

The Beautiful Russia license plate

Michael Hockney drives a British Columbia vehicle with the custom plate "RUSSIA". In the UK one would have to be filthy rich to have such a plate and quite likely someone who is a fugitive from The Russian Ministry of Justice would be driving it. Canada is a rather different place, custom plates are both affordable and common.

The platate came about because of the Vancouver Olympics, Michael registered the plate so it could be used by the Russian Olympic Team. After numerous calls to Moscow the "right" people were engaged but in the end time ran out for the completion of the paperwork at the Russian end

The car is driven daily and the reactions to the plate are priceless ranging from bemusement, surprise, adulation, high-fives to outright hostility. Michael, forever someone who likes to provoke a response, has the ultimate use for the plate and is currently working on a unique project.

The Abandonment

In the summer of 1985 Michael Hockney abandoned a scientific career as a fish biologist. Michael attended a final conference in Wageningen, Holland. Earlier in the year he had presented his one and only research paper based on his Ph.D research to the Fisheries Spciety of The British Isles in a symposium on Fish Immunology:

"An investigation of the skin of Rainbow Trout Salmo gairdneri Richardson, for antigen uptake mechanisms following Spray Vaccination"

The paper was published in The Journal of Fish Biology, vol 15, 1985

Within 5 years Hockney's career as a photographer had led to an international portfolio, over 30 solo public exhibitions, professional endorsement from Fuji and.....well, another book.

The Uriah Heep Doubleneck

Sometime in October 1981 Michael went for lunch and took a stroll down Tottenham Court Road in London from the Dickensian gates of the Uinversity College Zoology Department. This was nothing unusual and he made regular excursions to some of the famous music shops in the area. One was Chappells on New Bond Street.

October for a student is always a bad time because you are waiting on money and Hockney gad just received a 400 pound sterling government cheque.

Upon entering Chappells he ambled downstairs to the guitar department and right at the front of the centre floor area was an Ibanez Artist Doubleneck 6/12 guitar. He had been looking for the model for years and he had to have it. The sales assistant went back to the store room and said " The guitar has a bit of history, wait there..... He came back with a huge flight case and on the front was emblazed " Ken Hensley URIAH HEEP". The assistant said that Mr. hensley had found the guitar just too heavy and had just bought a Gibson Doubleneck from them.

The cost of the guitar....400 pounds of course, every penny of Michael's grant cheque went on it. Pennyless he walked away from Chappells with the Uriah Heep guitar.

The doubleneck stayed with Hockney until 2004 when he sold it to a collector in Arizona for $2500. He owned 12 guitars and well, Hensley was right, it was a monster to strap on. It seemed the right time to sell it.

Serious moments

Being a photographer has its serious moments from having army rifles pointed at you to moving body parts at an air crash or just being the centre of the wrong attention because you are holding a camera. You have to be able to stay calm and remind yourself you are really not, in any way, important at all. You must also be able to make fun of yourself or you are in the wrong business..