Saturday, 31 October 2009

Trafalgar Square Vigil

Vigil for Victims of Hate Crimes 
Trafalgar Square 30th Oct 2009.
More pictures here
Here's my views from the other day.

And some Johnny C because the version last night was lost into the night air.

 Johnny Cash - Danny Boy

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

5am eternal

Not sure if it was the sound of the fridge going off (it's a small flat)or the mess of the clocks going back that means i'm a wake. After the usual sleepless stuff pillows,cold feet or cold shoulders i end up wondering if john humphries is awake yet . In his car being driven through the finally empty streets of west london.
Then the first plane goes over full of weary travellers ready for 24 hour croissants ,bad coffee and the chug of taxis at Heathrow.
Then the woman that shouts in our block wakes up and starts shouting.
Just then the fridge comes back on and the next plane full of bad pastry eating cab riding hopefuls comes over and i reach for my phone to write this.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Parklife episode 234!

Yesterday I sat out in the surprisingly warm wind in my back garden (or as the council insist on calling it the park) it was quite lovely. Across the fence from me a family were playing mostly happily. The mother was telling her partner/ brother/ son to pull his trousers up, the family’s caramel covered bull terrier complete with harness was happily pulling a toddler’s trike across the grass by the wheel (what is it with dogs and tyres?). All the while the toddler was happily chasing leaves and whacking the ground with a stick the way the children do.

In the hedge between us was to my mind one of the most elegant trees, a willowy (?) Rowan. Not the proudest specimen but elegant in a scrubby twisted way, it’s precise fractal canopy tricking your eyes as the tiny pinnate leaves make moiré patterns against the blue and cotton bud cloudy sky.

Even to my dodgy colour blind eyes the rowan leaves where fading through beautiful colours from dusty faded green to sour yellow at the tips. The trees branches are laden with clusters of berries, no longer the acid harsh almost fluorescent red of a few weeks ago but a hotch potch of dark reds, browns and mellow oranges; full of ripeness. The ripeness of the fruit attracting in the few minutes I was there several male & female black birds, great and blue tits, also a wren and Jay flew through too. The day must be lucky because even the pigeons are the sleek beautiful type with the glossy plumage of prized racing birds rather than the battered greasy KFC fed examples you often get in town.

It’s a cliché that local wildlife is as good as TV nature programmes but I’m not sure HD TV shots of hungry sharks mauling sea lions quite beat the rustling of the wind in hedge filled with so much colour and movement.

Across the grass a grey squirrel is hoping along , his (he just look a bit more butch ok) perfectly bushy tail doing that wonderful thing where one twitch sends a quiver of motion down its length as every hair reacts in perfect wave.

I know brer grey is much maligned but I doubt his cuter red cousin ever did that well in Deptford and it would hard heart in deed who could take against such poised creature. If only we could hang from our feet head down the trunk and effortlessly look around seemingly without effort or pop up in the grass head twitching like the much more cherished meerkats. This one just now was a beautiful russet browny red as if blushing from forcing out their more loved red story book cousins. And then to further endear itself it acts out more “Autumnwatch” fare by carefully bearing berries in the grass. Looking up as it digs in case anyone spots where here’s hiding his winter snacks.

I do like my garden.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Only the Lonely

Alone again naturally
I was sorting through my photos and remembered I had this shot of some wall writing in Covent Garden. In my less than consistent way this is the sort of graffiti is the sort I approve off someones intense daubings on walls random slogans or even love tokens. Seeing the shot spark another memory of obscure seven inch I found.
The title the Loneliness of London intrigue (I buy most things unknown to me with London in title)

It's a weird late sixties sub JacqueBrel/scott walker not so swinging London pop tune.It starts of bleakly but I think the ending is a bit of cop out but well have listen. It may sound slightly weird as the anti-crackle software can be harsh.I can find nothing out about Peter Reeves so if you know anything please share.

Peter Reeves: the Loneliness of London

Friday, 23 October 2009

More questions than answers

Troubling times
Not sure what to make of the whole Question Time thing, it had far too much of X-factor hype about it for my liking. I'm all for challenging and defeating racist bullies but the "hoo ha" sidesteps many of the real issues that are leading to the BNP's rise. Oh and not many of the BNP's supporters watch QT.

In fact the fight against intolerance is a dual strand (at least) firstly the ongoing fight against deep seated prejudice that still sees people kicked to death in our towns for being perceived as different in some way. Be they a Goth couple on their way home from the pub, Gay men out celebrating or a black lad in the "wrong" place. This and all the humdrum prejudice of those we meet day to day (which can be hard to confront when it comes from people  that in other ways we like or even respect).

Then there's the support for BNP some of it from racists and bigots but other support is from the benighted and confused; the "what about me" vote.  A weird mixture of people's natural parochialism, small town isolation and misdirected socio/economic grievances. When governments have been doling help to all sorts of vested interest (the banks,the hedge funds,those in high tax bands) this group  has looked around and thinks they've lost their place in the queue and their bitterness can lead them to BNP.  Of course there are people in this situation who don't turn to fascists but who give of themselves to others in their communities in all sorts of ways and maybe it's these people our senior politician should be working with instead of hanging out with billionaires on their yachts all summer.

The problems we face are serious but not insurmountable we do  live in a more tolerant country, for instance my friends who teach tell of openly gay schools kids who even though it's not completely problem free feel able to come out at school. This would have been unthinkable when I went to school.

It's not all perfect and we take steps backward as well as forward all the time. We all just have to find the little ways to make a difference, like I say no massive answers from me but if you hear of ways to help let me know.
La Lucha Continua!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Sad News : Liam Maher (Flowered UP)

Oh, these things are never easy particularly when people are caught in your memory in their and your youth . But for a steamy mad evening  the cover of NME had come to visit  Leeds and we Bezed away to "it's On" (twice because they ddin't have many songs) with Liam's distorted vowels and the bands lazy lope it was the place to be. Oh and "weekender" played out for the following years distiling the thrill of going out better than most other things. So here's a some joyful nonsense from ITV oh and aren't kids always cooler in pop videos than popstars.

Space Shuttle External Tank Above Earth (NASA, File Photo)

We heart Nasa:
Another great image from flickr of the space station project. Go to flickr and see the next one of the new rocket taking off in long exposure.

Four of hearts

four of hearts
Originally uploaded by bltphoto

Every Cloud:
Found another street cards. This one with a slight twist, I had to go to a Careers fair yesterday for boringly obvious reasons and as I was leaving on the stairs of Earl's Court I found a pack of cards (a promtional hand out) that someone had dropped. So I have taken one at random to include in my pack. The're my rules I'll break 'em if I choose!

Down the Vic

Eagle Brand brand
Originally uploaded by bltphoto

One of London's many pubs that are slipping away it does seem sad. More pics here

Friday, 16 October 2009

The Third Man still quite good shock!!!

How much did Orson Welles pay the cinematographer on theThird Man?

Went with S and W to Crystal Palace to the increasingly excellent Crystal Palace Pictures Film Club to see TTM and even though I've seen it before was blown away again. It's audacious, famously Orson doesn't turn up for a hour and Joseph Cotton and Alida Valli have to hold the film. The fact that Vienna looks great in all it's crumbling shiny cobbled wonderfulness helps. But it's the fact that every shot Orson Welles is in looks fantastic that makes the film so great the last 20 minutes are startling. Oh and last scene is great too.
The only stumble in the whole film is the scene when Cotton and the British Officers enter the sewers and they are surrounded by rushing water and well you know what and there are rats running in the distance and Cotton turns and asks "What is this place?" sorry I had to laugh. That quibblette aside it's a joy from end to end.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Off with 'er head!

Little Princess
Originally uploaded by bltphoto

AKA: Temple Of Diana.
Here's a photo project I've been working on everytime I'm in the centre of town. I was struck at how you always saw Lady Di in the postcard racks but then agian she always did get around abit.
Anyway here's the collection so far.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Down and out in North London

I got to Angel a little early yesterday and so walked up to Highbury Corner via the delights of Upper Street or “Didn’t that use to be” Avenue as only I call it. I’m sure some of the shops have revolving signs to keep up with the trends. I imagine the restaurant owners do what we all do, get up and think what shall we have for dinner tonight “shall we do Thai” “ no we had that last week... how about fusion Greek....”

When did buns start being called “cupcakes”?

I thought everyone in North London was gluten intolerant so how come Upper Street has marginally more fancy dan bakers than it does aspirational toy shops 5 to 3. All along the road people in big scarves where chasing olives round plates and talking loudly. Including one stunningly done up girl (high pony tail, aviator classes lilac coat and fuck off boots “) exclaiming loudly into her mobile“ya, yah I want to go to Primrose Hill to that Cupcake shop to get some things “(presumably cakes?).

She wasn’t the only dressed up person, I obviously spend too much time Deptford (where people only seem to dress up on Sunday mornings) but the parade of done up couples and families was impressive I’m fairly sure I saw some 5-6 year old bridesmaids with fake tans.

Further up a vuitton of yummy mummies had taken over a bar to run their own craft bazaar selling knitting and carefully chosen tat (ladybird books for a tiny burst of nostalgia). This place was sandwiched between the other things that are in excessive high end cook wear shops. Cook wear being what people who don’t like music spend their spare cash on. I like a decent pan but one suspects most of this foodiealia is to be looked at rather than used. Oh and spare us from postmodern kitchen tat a “picnic table ketchup and mustard stand” anyone at least the toy shop is honest about selling toys.

I must admit I was glad to get up to Union Chapel as I had started to notice that even the kids were better dressed than I was and it was too nice a day to be grumpy.

It might be a while before I’m back (unless there’s another good gig) can someone let me know if they change the names of buns again I like to keep up.

My Lunch time with Epic45 & July Skies

Epic45, July Skies & Yellow Six Union Chapel Islington 10/10/09

12 noon prompt the email said and not too long after that the studded doors of the Union Chapel swing open. It seemed a little shame to heading inside on such a bright sunny day thankfully the next couple of hours proved worth missing a few milligrams of vitamin D for.

As we shuffled in music was already playing, the last few bars of the sound check. While people took a pew and after a little bit of tweaking July Skies begin. Now before we start this is a huge vaulted church all the bands today play looped swirling intense guitar music so the only problem with using the “cathedrals of sound” cliché is I think the Union Chapel is a nonconformist congregation and so they don’t have bishops!

All the bands today are from the Make Mine Music label, July Skies and Epic 45 being linked by personnel.
July skies music is an open gently intense guitar sound mixed with keyboards and recorded found clips. They are unashamedly nostalgic , the impetus for some of their songs coming from their responses to visiting old air force bases, costal defence stations etc and even the building of Harlow new town. Live and on record their music feels like it’s playing in down the other end of echoey dusty corridor, adding to the dislocated atmosphere their singer Antony Harding half whispers in a high register. The music is very beautiful and fills the space wonderfully. After 4 or 5 song and with the odd “thanks” and “cheers” they finish and pack up.

Next up is Yellow 6 (I have a confession to make I was cueing for tea and bacon rolls* when this set started) but heard most of the songs. Yellow 6 turns out to be a solitary chap Jon Attwood, hidden beneath the brow of a black army hat playing looped and swelling repetitive chiming sometimes twanging guitar instrumentals. I think oddly this kind of music is better to listen to than to watch. There is something slightly disconcerting about seeing the only musician on stage stoop to have swig of tea while all the time his delicate music continues to play. I’m afraid I spent some of the set wondering why the frieze of stone behind the alter had Romanesque arches and not pointy Norman ones like the rest of the church. I feel Yellow 6’s music like a lot on ambient tunes may be better after it’s had time to seep in a little.

Then in short order on amble Epic45,  two or three members already familiar from July Skies (singers Benjamin T Holton and Robert Glover). The way to separate the two bands sounds is the “the Epics” have more beats and grooves than the more palatial JS and although they have a similar semi-rural “edgeland” feel to their music it feels more modern. Mixing familiar songs and at least one new one their swirling (there’s no other word for it) sounds and vocals build magically, the drummer mixing with the electronics beats and synth sounds organically. There’s even some toy xylophone which never fails to please.

Sadly just as they were hitting their stride and with the glow of the autumn sun still bursting through the dusty stained glass they finish and amble off again to warm applause of the couple of hundred strong crowd.

Short and sweet all round.

Good things:
July skies and Epic45 both have new lps out.
Free gigs on Saturday lunch time must be a good idea, as is using spaces like Union Chapel out of hours.

Not so good things:
The hard pews!
Onions in a bacon sandwich!!!
Oh and I was in such a good pleasant relaxed mood that coming out into the bright sunshine into the "yummy mummy" fancy bakery random cuisine eatery 3 wheeled pram foccacia stuffed hell that is Upper street was a bit of a shock. Fortunately jumping on a bus lead to better things elsewhere.

*yes I’ve reached the point where the gig staple overpriced luke warm pint of Carling in a plastic glass is no match for a brew and some salty hot pork,

Friday, 9 October 2009

Is It Tunesday already?

Two advances in the world of tunedom this week:
Now the science bit:
first is  a geek update. I finally managed to stream music from my lap top through my stereo. I bought a Motorola DC800 a while ago but being daft  I only spent 3 quid on a bluetooth dongle and it only worked intermittently. Well, I was on TCR the other day and for a whole 8 quid more bought a belkin class one usb bluetooth dongle and they worked together straight out of the box.

Basically the belkin dongle sends music via bluetooth to the Motorola box which si connected by normal audio leads to the "aux input" on my amp and music comes out of the speakers. The sound is plenty good enough for my little flat and ten times better than the tinny laptop speakers.

So what with spotify you can have unlimited tunnage loud and proud for £35 quid tops. (you can even stream music the other way with this set up although not sure of the point of this and also the dc800 will work with audio headphones and if I'm being ultra lazy from my phone!!)

"Sheffield so much to answer for"
And what have you been listening to? well mainly the new Richard Hawley True Loves Gutter lp. Which is chuffing brilliant ,no it is really good like really good. I didn't get into his last one but this one is real step up you have to listen to it and can I suggest it deserves listening in the open air not on ear buds. He uses weird atmospheric instruments and guitar playing and it sounds so  lush and spacious played through my stereo.

The lyrics are filled with paired down grown up poetry and his singing is just marvelous. So buy the lp and play it in order, fermented barley based drinks are optional but enjoyable.

Apart from that I have had a thing for Bryan Ferry Singing Carrick Fergus oh and Rod's version of  Tomorrow is a long time

alt title; How to stream audio / music using bluetooth from you laptop to your hi-fi amp.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Robert Kirby 1948-2009

Sad news: Composer and arranger on many of the albums we've loved Robert Kirby has died. His work especially with Nick Drakes has always had deep effect on me and I count my life blessed the day I walked into Selectadisc and walked out with the Compilation Way to Blue. The sound of Nick's singing and guitar carried along by Roberts beautiful strings and brass the whole sound  filling my dark room in our weird flat in Streatham are quite lovely. Here's "day is done" but well which one would you choose?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Stitch in time

aka Our Loose Knit Society:
Just as the doors closed she bundled through and found the seat opposite, youngish with as sort of “Siousie Sioux alternative kohl eyed hennaed top knot Macchu Picchu dangling earrings yet autumn brown coordinated” look (oh and of course purple heels). She then immediately rifles through her bag in a way that seemed to herald an urgent medical emergency or at least a “I did pick up on the tickets didn’t I “ trauma only to fish out some mauve and sequin udon thick wool and chunky needles and almost without missing a beat start clicking away.

I went back to my paper until a few minutes later the train jerking to a halt caused her wool to roll on the floor. As I passed it back (we thankfully avoided banging heads) I noticed as she dipped her head for her yarn that she had a silver barbell piercing through the nape of her neck. Of course I then spent the rest of the journey wondering that if she could do buttonholes whether she could use it as a toggle to keep in place her half finished sparkly new scarf.

Discoland is closed

Discoland is closed
Originally uploaded by bltphoto
Not going to the GO-GO: Spotted this on my magical mystery tour back from "In Bruges" the other night/morning/dawn. I think the Colonel foreclosed on them but don't fear we don't have to dance in the streets just yet.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Fillim Review

Biggish Screen Entertainent
To Gypsy Hill with R,W,S,T to excellent new idea the Crystal Palace Pictures. It’s a film club based in Gypsy Hill tavern and they are showing good films every two weeks for the next year. Last night was “In Bruges” and I may be the last person to say this but it’s brilliant. A wonderful small film with great acting even from Ralph (rhymes with malf honest) Fiennes, The only down side I was gagging for some Belgium beer afterwards ( had to “settle” for pint of Pride hardly a chore).

I think the whole thing is an excellent idea, we had a short film first an animation by John Shepherd (?) which was good and then he talked about the film which was fun. In a world of surround sound 5:1 flat screens and microwave popcorn it’s good to have somewhere where those of us who like seeing films with other people can go locally. It’s the Third Man next time so bring you world weary cynicism, some wellies and a zither!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Good & Bad

Mixed day:

Good: Got some applications done, did some washing etc , been for a walk, the sun's just come out. Off to see "In Bruges" at film club in Gypsy Hill .

Not so good: Got a rejection letter, Tescos opened on the high street, a huge dog did a massive jud right in front of me while I was having my lunch in the park.

Mixed: Big barny between slightly soft pigeon feeding woman and bossy woman with head phones. It was funny but a bit scary because they were so committed but every time pigeon woman gesticulated bread flew out of her bag and the birds made a dash for the crumbs.They both went off in huff I don't think it will be resolved either way .