Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Edwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell were on the Simon Mayo* show (talking to Richard Bacon I know it’s confusing it’s the holidays) about Grace’s new book “Falling & Laughing”. You can download the podcast via I-tunes.
If you go to Edwyn’s website you can hear “Low Expectation” on its own (this wasn’t working when I tried so if you have problems drops us a line and I’ll send you my own DIY version of the song but you have to promise to buy the book!)
*I can recommend the Daily Mayo podcast its radio Five without the endless racing results and phone ins with “Terry from Altringham” whinging about Alex Ferguson just grown up talk with most of the time interesting types. Also every sane person listens to Kermode’s film review don’t they?
Monday, 27 July 2009
As the train rumbled on I was reading a new compilation of John Betjeman’s TV scripts (I got it for a quid in the book frenzy as Borders on Oxford St. closes). It’s good if a slightly odd read, as some of passages refer to montages on the TV films we can’t see. It’s worth a look though.
I would have been in a Betjeman state of mind anyway; heading out of Paddington on the GWR does this to me for some reason. Changing trains at Didcot (I think it’s could be the name) is an essential JB moment particularly if a steam engine is puffing by.
In one passage in the book JB’s praising some alms houses and describes the beauty of a cupola/lantern/dovecot built above their communal dining hall. As I read this bit the train sped past some out of town shopping centre, a Tesco centre and there topping off this temple of “best of Tuscan-style tomato & Parmesan vine grown organic frittata & Value range savoury egg multipack” over consumption was a cupola. You’ll see it’s like sprinkled all across this part of the country; seemingly the last cynical click of the mouse designed not to flood the interior with light and air or even host cooing doves but to ensure the fall of the rubber stamp of some beleaguered council planner and the subsequent nod from the misguided acquiescent local councillors. They give an arrogant finger to their neighbours; my heart always sinks whenever I see them.
A Taxi tour of Midsomer County via the breakfast bar.
After dropping my bags off at my travel lodge, 75 quid a night but “the “premier breakfast” is 8 quid extra (how can a breakfast without say kippers or black pudding be “premier”? What’s “premier” about a thimble sized shot glass of sugary orange juice and what service exactly would I get if I asked the pimply but friendly staff “to warm my croissant”?) I got a cab to the church where my friends were getting married.
Along the way the “local lad” driver got lost! While he tried to find his way he inevitably informed me of the inadequacies of the one way system (does anyone ever care about this? No but cabbies the world over insist of telling you about it “you see you use to be able to turn right here but the pillocks at the Council blocked it off...”). He wasn’t a bad soul and dropped the price down for us having cruised the mean streets of Wallingford twice looking for the church. (My map was right it turns out “there is a church down there” after all).
Pre-wedding Butterflies and Romanesque musings
I was in plenty of time however and sat in a patch of sunshine in the otherwise shady church yard. The church I think would have please old John B being as its impossibly old (a list of former Rectors on the wall goes back to 1200’s). Its walls curving to little towers and also at the east end of the nave. It was really a very bucolic setting, patches of the grounds had been left to grow long and where filled with wild flowers providing nectar for buzzing butterflies and bumble bees. Above me somewhere a black bird serenaded us all. Inside the choir (Don’t listen to anyone who says the English can’t sing!) were practising and for moment avian and human voices were entwined. Over come by it all I was just about to go next door and ask if there was still honey left for tea!
Reluctantly I went inside, the church was filling with tiny hats and impossibly high heels, new suits and freshly shaved chins. Being Romanesque (in design) the church has a wide curved arch across the nave delicately carved with simple repeating floral cross reliefs. At times like these my mind drifts off to thoughts of the people who built these places. Not strangely the fresh off the boat Norman using his ill gotten wealth to glorify God (and himself along the way) but the put upon nameless mason chipping away at the honeyed stone. I doubt he would've imagined I would be sat here all these many years later in my tight collar and tighter best shoes looking up at his delicate work. His simple open carving out lasting the vanity of his patron. I’ll have to stop now the brides arrived and the blackbirds struck up again.
27th July erm 1885/2109 Leather lane:
In the space of 10 yards a "bollywood" film has taken over the local porn bookshop for a shoot.
Across the road a Mexican food stall is selling branded t-shirts. (Think on greggs!)
Between them walks a local diamond dealer (?) Dressed like it's 1870 oh and he's on his blackberry!
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Friday, 24 July 2009
I think this massively helped by the size. There are parts of Glastonbury so distant that no one would sensibly trek their through all the mass of humanity let alone the inevitable mud. But at Latitude most stages are close together so when we heard Pet Shop boys start their set fortunately just as BLBW finished his successful stint in the literary tent we where watching Neil and Chris and their cardboard box headed singers by the end of the first number.
Other highlights included: Magazine, Nick Cave, Camera Obscura, St Etienne, Sitting drinking in BBLW & L’s pleasure dome while the thunder rumbled and the sky lit up, the free draining soil oh and lots of other things.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
One of the most chilling things that probably goes unremarked by most people passing this statute is the inscription half way down that says.
“To the glorious memory of the 22000 Royal Fusiliers who fell in the Great War
1914 – 1919.”
That’s 22,000 dead or a well attended football match or maybe Oxford Street when it’s very busy.
The list of Royal fusiliers regiments (they were a London based Battalion) all have regiment names like the bankers, lawyers, public schools, sportsmen, East ham and of course “Young soldier” which serve further humanise the loss.
Being opposite the Inns of Court I suppose “subsequent” is appropriate cold legal term the sort you find in a lease “the landlord reserves the right... any subsequent damage...”
It almost seems like they couldn’t face counting once they’d reached 22,000.
Like I say I’m not sure if I have point really just that when it comes to people dying it’s too easy to get lost in statistics (putting aside Stalin's pithy remarks on the subject) each death on any side is tragedy worth remembering.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
The second to last train pulls in and we grateful get on board dripping in the emptyish carriages; the train dawdles for a minute making expectant chugging pinging noises. Just as the doors start to close “lieutenant love” stumbles into my carriage and messily slumps across the train and bangs into the opposite door. As the train begins to move off he unsteadily makes his way to the seat opposite me and as he lowers himself down he salutes me.
I’m not as drunk as he is but I see no reason not to salute him back which raises a smile. He’s in his late twenties casually dressed wetter than me fuzzy eyed and a bit confused.
“Is this the Epsom train?”
“No mate London Bridge” I reply removing one of my earphone buds.
“S’ok that’s the one I wantss”
He offers his hand to shake, again I see no reason not to shake it.
This makes him smile and he nods for a moment.
“S’want ya listening to?” he asks pointing at my phones.
“I feel love by Donna Summer” I tell him.
This raises another of smile and he half sings a techno doo doo doh high energy riff in his slow drunken way pointing with his fingers in the air.
“thatss the bollocks that is “
I nod in agreement.
He then tries to sing the main refrain
“I feel love”
but gets closer to Jimmy Summerville than Ms Summer.
More smiles and a small laugh.
“You alright you are” he says betraying his lack of judgement.
We rumble on through the night.
“Are you sure this isn’t the Epsom train?” he slurs.
I say “I’m sure” and point to the indicator at the end of carriage which is scrolling through the stops.
Half turning he at least pretends to read the illuminated screen and seemingly reassured turns back to me.
“Thank fuck for that!” he’s says “don’t wanna end in Epsom”
“It’s not that bad “I say with smile.
“ No s’true but my ex and ‘er mother lives in Epsom and I'm in their bad books”
“She found me in bed with ‘er sister”
I’m about to say “that’ll do it” when he adds
“And ‘er cousin!”
We both laugh.
He half sings “I feel love” again
“That’ll be in me head all night now” he says tapping his head partly as if to make sure it was still there.
The train is slowing he salutes me again and starts to stand up unsteadily while offering me his hand to shake again.
“Is this Forest Hill?”
I nod as we shake
“Think I’ll give it ago here then” he continues standing almost fully up and turns holding the hand rails, he slowly edges off the train singing his “doo doo” refrain and offering me one more salute as he carefully gets off the train and the doors close behind him.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Meanwhile in the square
They clump across the square in matching “hotel” uniform, skirts and jackets, dirty blonde hair and heels, each one talking on their phones and each swinging a brown paper lunch bag from chain food outlet.
Calls over they tuck in.
(I can’t see whose talking but they proceed to talk relatively loudly)
1st woman: “Well, smoothies are perfect for me, coz you know how I don’t like chewing”
2nd woman: “Ermm yeah.”
2nd woman: “And ‘suppose it’s too hot for soup?”
1st woman: “yeah it’s strange I don’t really go for soup, its hard being a veggy, there’s not many flavours.”
Her friend then proceeds to reels off a list of increasingly exotic flavours all of which are rejecting for one reason or another; they both do this in an oddly serious manner.
2nd woman: (at last) “Well, that only leaves tomato and oxtail!”
1st woman: “Don’t really like tomato on its own”.
They pause for a moment
2nd woman: “So is that why you have porridge everyday, y’know the chewing thing”
1st woman: “No not really it’s because I come on the tube.”
At this the 2nd woman’s phone rings and I leave them to their ruminations.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Jonsi & Alex 'Riceboy Sleeps'
Got an email from sigor ros the other day it was about meeting up for the quiz……well actually it was mailing list thing ,Jonsi their lead singer and his boyfriend Alex have put out an album (are they now the Icelandic wings ?) and you can have a track for free (in return for your e-mail). At the danger of turning into a melody maker writer it is full on “cathedral of sound” seeming starting off like “Allegri Miserere ” with distant synths and processed choral voices (update on having read the email in full it’s uses a recording of the last know castrato!) all with pleasing crackles and pops. Hopefully Jonsi may sing on other tracks.
English Cold: July Skies
On similar ambient tip (if ambient musicians are ever on “a tip”) I got July Skies 2004 lp over the weekend. They are part of the confusing midlands collective that also makes up Epic 45 and Avro Car. As well as by band members they are all linked by the use of washes of guitar and electronics mixed in with a folk and a bucolic rural nostalgic feel. Some tracks here contain found recordings from 1940’s. The whole thing has a theme of war time air fields (much like Sonia’s 2nd lp!).
Both this and on their more recent disc (the weather clock 2008) have a sort of still hot summer’s day feel, the atmosphere of perhaps being in the school library out of term time or perhaps (bear with me on this) the aural evocative equivalent of the smell of an old caravan surrounded by nettles (ok I’ll stop now). I think their Staffordshire/West Midland’s grounding does come through this isn’t wind in your hair, ozone up your nose coastal music.
Of it’s kind and if you’re in the mood I think the best of it avoids the vacant noodling of most ambient music and has strong sense of trying to capture particular sense of time and place.
If it appeals I would try to buy it via their record company as Amazon took ages also check out Epic 45 and Avrocar.
Sunday, 5 July 2009
Buzz Aldrin: well that was great, I was worried it might be a bit odd, never meet your heroes and that but the whole thing was friendly and warm .
His book seems to be full of stuff like this that points as to why he ended up going to the moon and well I haven't
"amazingly, I found it relatively easy in our artificial environmentThanks to SA for the photo, the moon below is the marvellous lampshade Buzz "designed" for Habititat,
(to sleep). It hardly occurred to me that just an inch away, outside the
thin wall of metallic alloy, was a deadly, vast,airless vacuum."
Thursday, 2 July 2009
First up some Dutch style sitar pop freak out. I do think that any call to make love on the “hot sand” is always metaphorical, as most of us can’t munch a round of cheese and pickle in a deck chair without it getting the gritty stuff everywhere, let alone get it on with Deborah Kerr. Hot sand is the b-side to the original version of the global smash Venus. It’s got some peculiar lyrics written before appearance of Viz, isn’t the “sea gulls head” one of their summer annuals! I love it for being a full on sea weed stomping sensation.
“Summer day over
And darkness come with mighty wings
The sea gull's head is tired
And when he's tired then he sings”
Also I like the way that even hot sun, hot sand, hot love has a twist to it and not just the effect of amber solaire and silica between your Clark's sandal straps.
“ I'm waitin' for the hour
I'm waitin' for a place to stay
Some place where I can rest
And not think about the empty day”
Hot Sand by Shocking Blue
Speaking of melancholy and possibly darker summer thoughts it seems bladder rack and Punch and Judy shows aren’t the only slightly creepy things on the tide line. I recently found "Our party will be on the beach tonight" by Jonathon Richmond. Is it me or is this faintly sinister as if this particular beach blanket bingo hasn’t gone quite as planned. And you thought only Mozza wrote moopy marine melodies.
Our Party Will Be On The Beach by Jonathon Richmond
Seaside special: can I thank BLBW for my Battle-Action summer special all I need now is some gritty swimming trunks and a swig of some warm Ki-Ora and it will 1976 all over again!
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
If you need a fix of these mobile pop art explosions have a look here.
lastly I can hear someone playing a tinny version of “Clair d’lune” so mine’s a 99 with juice and nuts, the little’ns will have a cider lolly and a screw ball and Our Nan will have an Oyster with Cornish not whippy and be careful crossing that road.
Round up of the ones we’ve seen so far.
Swannage pier: rating 8/10
Style: Victorian/Edwardian(recently restored)
Cost: Entrance fee at some times of the day.
Attractions: pier, recently restored paid in part by hundreds of plagues to locals in the piers planks, nice display of old gaming machines you can play, people scuba diving & fishing, nice multi-height bit at the end, plenty of seats, some shade. Sadly no café at the end of the pier but you could carry a tea from the museum/shop I suppose.
Ideal for: trysts, moody introspection and sullen fishing.
Style:1950’s (?)with modern bits.
Cost:10 bob entrance fee.
Attractions: Small kid’s rides at the end. The amusements in front of the entrance where ok although there was only 2p’s and no tat in the penny falls!
Has a café/restaurant in modern dark wood cream walls latte friendly style but no shaded seating for drinking outdoors but does have free wi-fi. The views along the coast are excellent.
Ideal for: sun worshipping retired types perhaps with grandchildren to entertain.
Clacton (formerly clapton!): 9/10
Style: Edwardian Moorishly domed frontage with corrugated sheds and cafes behind the facade.
Cost : Free
Attractions: Excellent undercover amusements and rides. Plenty of tat in the penny falls and supposedly a “sooty and sweep” animatronics display.Outdoor rides for teenagers to scream on. Excellent pier end café that sold chips and little packet of biscuits etc with panoramic steamed up views of the endless briny nothingness that is the North Sea.
Ideal for: loud parties of teenagers, nice strolling couples in rain hoods and car coats, close to tears couples having “a moment”, daft types like me who like peeling corrugated iron anyone really except people who get excited about new ranges of food at M&S or anyone who knows the model number of their pressure washer .