Monday, 30 September 2013

Season of mists and mellow freakiness

I found my way to this after buying a Psychic Ills album (on the same label, also good in a sub-Spacemen 3 way and such good sleeve design). But Lower Mind is maybe my track of the year as far as this sort of thing goes. It reminds me of something, probably another track, possibly another life. I don't think I've ever loved such a murky album before. Slightly disappointed that Amen Dunes isn't the guy's real name and that he isn't the frightening Joey Ramone/Bette Davis lovechild on the cover there.

Amen Dunes Lower Mind

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Will we never be free

I read yesterday in the local paper that 200 things have been added to a list of protected things in the borough, buildings mainly I think but one caught my eye: an Edward VIII pillar box. One of perhaps only 130 survivors from 1936, the famous year of the three kings, the British Empire's lamer version of the Roman Empire's year of the four emperors in AD69. (Itself exceeded in AD193, the year of the five emperors. But by then multiple-monarch fatigue had set in.)

Anyway, the prospect saw me up and dressed before 9am on a Sunday morning and rocketing off on my bike (my pyjama clad wife forlorn, "But...what's for breakfast?"). My destination: the mysterious, relatively unexplored bit of Twickenham sandwiched between the railway lines and the A316 (near the Stoop stadium).

There's something very Victorian about pillar boxes, mainly I suppose because they emerged in that era and generally the design hasn't been changed and perhaps because even now they're Elizabeth II boxes, and she exists as a living link to the last vestiges of the Empire. I was going to throw in the fact that they're painted bright red, which is our imperial colour, only I read that originally they were painted green. And, according to the lovely British Postal Museum & Archive, "the colour green proved too unobtrusive and people were unable to find them".

Saturday, 28 September 2013

slo mo autumnal nostalgia trip catastrophe



A nice fuzzy, tripped out picture of Marianne Faithfull with Spacemen 3 pounding their way through Mary Anne on top.

I don't listen to their first album as much as I should. I don't know why not. I had a little Spacemen 3 session the other day actually. It all started with Playing With Fire, track one Honey will always send me to a very special place and time, but I'd completely forgotten about track two Come Down Softly To My Soul. It's such a simple, polished pop song, your mum would probably quite like it.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Aurelian

I love the name Aurelian. Its popularity in France is one of those little things that make me think that, if I were ever to be banished from the UK, France is where I would choose to live. And did you know that the name of Orleans is derived from Aurelian's reconstruction of that city? I didn't until I read it in wikipedia.

Emperor from 270-275. Not much of a reign you might think, but by the standards of the third century that was pretty good going. Compared to the incredible detail we have of events in the late republic we don't know what the hell's going on for a lot of the time in the third century, it's even possible there were emperors we don't know about (if the case of Domitianus II is not unique).

Aurelian's time was taken up with incessant warfare - he reconquered the breakaway provinces of the Gallic empire and the Palmyran empire, earning him the legend: Restitutor Orbis. Restorer of the world. It's actually written Restitutor Bis on the coin, which could also be translated Restorer twice. Perhaps they intended the double meaning. The vendor I bought it from identified it as the coin type RIC 386 Antioch and that certainly matches the reverse design. The portrait there though seems more stylised than any of the other examples I've seen. More modern looking somehow. He looks cool anyway. (He looks a bit like Lee Mavers.)

Queuing for coffee the other day I whiled away the time studying a 50p piece. The reverse bore a decent enough design commemorating something or other. But the portrait, in contrast to Aurelian's troubled visage, was so incredibly bloody boring. As befits our monarch I suppose. Maybe it comes down to the fact that Aurelian wielded real power, dashing about hither and thither vanquishing barbarians. His cuirass - actual armour that almost certainly fended off blows from enemies' swords and arrows etc. I am of course down on autocracy and imperialism, but you've got to concede that Aurelian served the empire, I'm fairly sure he put in a lot more than he got out. Our own dear, drab queen's bland irrelevance on the other hand shines through in her portraits. Why oh why can't we be rid of them?

After his name and this portrait of him the third thing I like about Aurelian is the wall he built around Rome. When I went to Rome my mind was anyway in a state of continuous blown-ness, but the proximity of our hotel to a decent section of the wall made me very happy indeed. The impressiveness of the wall was added to a generation or so later by the emperor Maxentius, another of my favourite emperors.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Music by which to sign death warrants (regretfully)

There are a few versions of this about. I found one today actually, in a cache of consort music lps in my favourite vinyl hunting ground. A bit sad, clearly an enthusiast had popped his or her clogs.

Martin Peerson The Fall of the Leafe 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Mr September

To cheer up those delicate souls who get all bummed out at the sight of the natural world decaying all around them, here's a photograph I took today in the car park at work. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cafe news

When you walk to the end of your road you generally have two options: left or right. I usually turn left, only turning right to post birthday cards from a pillar box up that way or to fetch late night pints of milk from a petrol station. Also on the right though is a greasy spoon that, incredibly, in the eight years I've lived here, I have never sat down and eaten in. (I don't know why not, my wife's theory is that it doesn't look very inviting.)

Anyway, and you may have seen this coming, I went there last Friday. This is how it went down. The chips were truly excellent. Thin and with a slight crunch but by no means dry. The sausages were the usual greasy spoon sausages. No doubt made of reconstituted gubbins, but yummy enough all the same. The egg, writing this three days later I have no strong recollection of the egg. There was nothing bad about it, I'm sure of that. Decor-wise, the tables and seats are of the sturdy, bolted-in variety. The spacing between tables is just right. There might have been a cheese plant, though that could just be my memory playing tricks on me. Overall the atmosphere was friendly and warm. This could be the best cafe in Twickenham.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Marmalade

One of the more recent effects of my slow transmogrification into my dad is the development of a taste for marmalade. And just as I share with you songs and other things that I like, here, on this fine autumnal morning, is my marmalade recommendation. I've been through a few on my journey but I've put the lesser marmalades out of my mind. There was quite a nice one with whiskey in it. But the best to date has been Wilkin & Sons. I realise it may be regarded as decadent, or even heretical to say it but I most love their no peel variety.

Ob La Di Ob La Da by Marmalade would be a good track to post at this juncture. But I haven't got it. You'll just have to hum it to yourselves. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

Tis Friday... let us dance

Only 1 minute and 56 seconds long, any longer and I think the shawm player might expire, or the drummer's arms fall off. In this short space of time you get not only the pleasurable rush of hedonism but also, in the droning wails, a taste of the weariness and sense of futility that eventually catches up with even the most hardcore of revellers.

Anon Saltarello

Monday, 26 August 2013

Zouzou

I wish I'd discovered this in time for the France for F bit of the Around the World. Not easy to acquire on cd, nearly impossible on vinyl. I think it's most unlikely a copy will turn up in the raggedy 7" boxes in the usual charity shops (I have started looking in them though).

Zouzou Ne Cherche Pas 

Monday, 19 August 2013

In R'lyeh

I knew about this exhibition for the best part of a year before it opened and was looking forward to it a great deal, and so, after the usual amount of dithering, I finally got down there today, with a mere week to spare. The initial draw was the inclusion of some work by Paul Laffoley, Thanatos III mainly. In the end I didn't really like his stuff, I found it all a bit phoney. One piece in particular, that gave instructions on how to construct a time machine, my attitude was, "Well, why haven't you then?". It looks good in a kitsch sort of way but I just didn't buy what I was reading in the information on the wall or the text included in the pieces themselves. And I just get a feeling that Laffoley doesn't either. Having said that, he did do an hour long talk about it at the opening of the exhibition. So I could be dead wrong about that.

The good news is that this is a large exhibition and there's a ton of other, much more interesting stuff to see. My favourites were completely new to me: Marcel Storr. The first thing of his that you encounter is a giant, vertical triptych. Well over ten feet tall I would estimate. It looks a lot like Gaudi's Sangrada Familia. Insanely detailed for such a large drawing, god knows how long it took him to do it. There's a diptych right next to it, but that isn't as impressively gothic.



The picture above is one of his. It and fourteen more can be found in a darkened room at the gallery. I was in there for about an hour. They're the most absorbing artworks I've seen since the Moebius exhibition and I strongly urge anyone who likes intricate depictions of other worlds (everyone, surely) to get down there quick. Straight off I was put in mind of Gormenghast, but after looking at all of what was on display I decided that wasn't quite the vibe. I've plumped in the end for Cthulhu, but this is slightly compromised by the fact that his cityscapes are populated by lots of little people going about their business (happily as far as I can tell) amid such un-nightmarish amenities as commuter trains, pleasure boats and pleasantly tree-lined avenues.

My next favourite thing: a load of architectural models by somebody called Body Isek Kingelez. A funny name that didn't suggest any particular nationality to me. The models though looked Soviet. Turns out the artist is from The Congo (I forget which republic) and until recently hadn't seen so much as a photograph of any other country. Staring at one of his buildings (my favourite, Bodystand) I overheard a woman telling some children in her company that, of course, these buildings could never actually be constructed. A funny thing to say, I thought, having brought them to such an exhibition.

Much of the artwork on display involves numbers or formulae or schematics of various kinds and even before I read it in a blurb (for one of Alfred Jensen's artworks) it had struck me that in many cases what I was looking at were attempts to impose order on the universe. As far as the big stuff's concerned I'm content to let physicists and other boffins do the heavy lifting. This is clearly not an option for those troubled souls whose work is on display here. I loved seeing what they've come up with, but ultimately it's cargo cult stuff. We're all a bit fucked up one way or another and artists traditionally more so, but the stench of neuroses hangs over this exhibition more heavily than most. I can't remember being as fascinatedly disturbed by art as I was by Morton Bartlett's photographs at this exhibition. They're on the top floor. Of dolls he made, and then dressed in little outfits (that he also made) and then took loads of photo's of them. He was an orphan. 

Friday, 16 August 2013

2.09

Remember a bit back I'd rediscovered Julian Cope? I was going to explore his back catalogue? I think I'd already bought Fried and Droolian. They're pretty good albums. I was poised to snap up Peggy Suicide several times but when it came to the crunch.... I didn't. Need I say that this was intended to be a vinyl only exercise? So it saddens me that his best album Jehovahkill, in its full on incarnation with all the extra tracks, is only available on cd. When I start my vinyl reissues label this may well be the first wrong I address.

I reckon it'd be a quadruple album. I've got a couple of triple albums and the sleeves are fairly manageable, but the rule seems to be that four discs and upwards require a boxed set. I'd have the sleeve done like an ordnance survey map with a massive fold out poster of a megalithic map of Britain maybe. Like really massive, eight feet by six or so. And the sleeve would be a nice matt black with the symbol in gold and no writing on it whatsoever.

I saw him a few months ago. It was a good gig. He played twenty odd songs from all points in his pop career. Mainly just him on an acoustic guitar or at a keyboard. The between song banter was engaging (but his political humour was a little heavy handed I thought). He was pretty much as I'd expected him to be really, though I was surprised at how uptight he got about a technical problem, having a bit of a go at the sound people. Speaking as a member of it, as if a Julian Cope crowd gives a fuck about such matters. So, yes, very fleetingly, he seemed like an old man. Other than that though he was indeed a dude. A member of the audience* yelling for Reward at the end of every track perhaps caused one of his facial muscles to twitch on the fourth or fifth repetition. But he kept his cool.

Anyway, here's the track. In addition to the brevity that is the sine qua non of this series the other crucial pop ingredient at work here is simplicity.

Julian Cope Jellypop Perky Jean

* One of my friends, for a Sunday night he'd completely overdone it. I love him dearly but there's no telling him.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

2.09

Another series, likely to blaze a similar trail to Beermat of the Month and Alphabetically Around the World. This one is Songs That Are 2 Minutes 9 Seconds Long. Started because I noticed recently that two songs I really like are that length. In this digital age it would be easy I suppose to filter tracks by duration. But I consider that cheating and shall rely solely on chance discovery. Expect part 2 tomorrow and part 3 sometime in 2015 maybe.

You remember ages ago Drew and Davy H did a top ten pop songs ever? I left my list in the comments. I did write a post giving some explanation behind my choices, but, by the time it was drafted the moment had passed and it remains unpublished. Anyway, in the course of writing it I discovered the following important ingredients of pop:


i) originality
ii) simplicity
iii) brevity (reduces the chance of boredom)
iv) distortion (it's got to be a bit fucked up)
v) emotional torment (it's got to be a bit fucked up)
vi) harpsichords (add a touch of class)

All the entries in this series will tick the brevity box, this opening entry also kicks things off with some mild emotional torment.

The Shangri Las Heaven Only Knows

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Jesus track

If Jesus came back, appeared right there in your living room there are probably a few questions that'd run through your mind, the chief being, in my opinion, what track would you play him? Tough one eh? Anyway, it came to me the other day: Shine On You Crazy Diamond. I'm convinced it'd go down well. With a beer and also, given the occasion, I think I'd break my no spliffs in the living room rule.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Beermat of the month

Another holiday spin off, at long last I have found a beermat worthy of the accolade. There was a series of cute otter cartoon mats, but I deemed this the finest. While the quality of the beer is neither here nor there for the purpose of attaining beermat of the month status, the beer was pretty nice as well.

Monday, 12 August 2013

What a beast you are!

Part two of my holiday lighthouses. Here we have the low lighthouse at Burnham on Sea. I thought I was quite conservative as far as my appreciation of lighthouses went, that to win a place in my heart one would have to be a great stone tower sat atop a rocky headland. But no, I really love this funny looking, nine-legged monstrosity. Check out also his mod-style stripe.

Loping across the sand towards this lighthouse was, compared to the approach to Lynmouth, a doddle. Only later did I read about the quicksand and oozing mud that I potentially braved. Probably a bit further out I imagine. Other cool information gleaned from a beachfront sign: if you go in for the whole Jesus-Glastonbury-feet-in-ancient-times thing apparently Burnham on Sea is where he and Joseph of Arimathea are believed to have disembarked. Worth a statue, I'd have said.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Let there be lighthouses

I've been on holiday at the seaside, the north Somerset coast. First time I've ever been down to this part of the country, very nice. Anyway, the obligatory check of Lighthouses of England & Wales had me most excited at the prospect of an expedition to Lundy, with its three lighthouses and population of puffins.

But we went with friends and, I was told, I couldn't just fuck them all off and disappear to look at lighthouses the whole time. So Lundy was off, but in return I was allowed to visit some of those nearer at hand. Nearest was Watchet, but I declined to make the piffling detour on the grounds that, truly, Watchet lighthouse looks rubbish.

So that brings us to Lynmouth Foreland. The cliff top path to this lighthouse is described on the Trinity House website, confusingly I think, as "hazardous, but not dangerous". This gave cause for some apprehension but mere hours later I was nervously edging my way along the path. After twenty minutes or so I found myself stood at the cliff edge with no lighthouse in sight. As I stood, glumly contemplating a wasted journey, it occurred to me in my dejected state that this was probably just the kind of spot where you might be bitten by an adder (I was wearing sandals).

Unusually for lighthouse spotting I knew my quarry was somewhere below me. I dared not get too close to the cliff edge for a peek as it was very gusty. I back tracked thinking all was lost. Anyway, there was another path (embarrassingly, sign posted: Lighthouse). After a knee-punishing descent I was disappointed not to be able to get right up to the tower (authorised personnel and lighthouse cottage guests only). I took the above snap from a viewing platform.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Here, hair, here

I was up at my parents the weekend before last. Sitting on the sofa in the morning, going through the papers with them I became aware that my mum, sat at my side, was studying my head. "Have you had your hair cut?", she asked. I nodded. "Hmm...it's not as good as usual" was her verdict. I had to smile.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Mermen we should turn to be

Listening to a Jason Pierce interview I was interested to hear his view that Slippin' And Slidin' by Buddy Holly is the most psychedelic recording ever made. It seemed unlikely, but I checked it out and sure enough 30 seconds in thought to myself "What the fuck is he on about?". It might be a contender for one of the catchiest songs ever perhaps and, after the quick Everly Bros intro, certainly goes into a very Thirteenth Floor Elevators descending riff. But no, not what I would deem psychedelic.

Slippin' And Slidin'

But then quite recently I heard this version and, of course, the desiccated one knows his eggs.

Slippin' And Slidin'

So just what is it that makes a track psychedelic? I've grappled briefly with the question before, the last time it cropped up here was in reference to the guitar solo in Tame Impala's It Is Not Meant To Be, which, if you remember, I dubbed sub-aquatic. And that, in a nutshell, covers many aspects of the psychedelic experience: the air seems denser, the pressure seems higher, vision may be susceptible to wave-like, shimmering distortion. Stuff like that.

Oh, and this can be U.S.A. part 2. You know, in the around the world thing.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Astro-zombies do furnish a room

When fitting out their studies some people go in for busts of Napoleon or Caesar. Those of a more playful nature might opt instead for Mozart or Shakespeare. When I acquire a study I'm thinking more along the lines of Astro-Zombie.  He's not cheap but then I spent nearly that much on a wardrobe the other day. 

You don't have to be a decaying spaceman to get into my aesthetic good books, but clearly it helps.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Miserable bastards

Living as I do in xxxxxxxxxx I do spot the odd minor celebrity every now and again. Just the other day the woman who played xxxxxx xxxxxx'x xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx in Eastenders was behind me in the queue at the bank. That's the kind of calibre I'm talking about. A few years ago I lived in the same block of flats as the woman who played xxxxxxx in Eastenders. On the day I moved in she helpfully declined to open the gate for me and my brother in law. She just stood there, puffing away on a fag. And remember the bloke who played the xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx'x xxxxxx xx xxxxxxx in Allo Allo? I once saw him put on a most petulant display in the local video shop when charged for three late items. Oh, and I saw xxxxx xxxxxx the other month, he looked bloody miserable.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Knock knock

These are the doors on a church down the road. When I build my dream home I'll either buy these off the church or have some made exactly the same. Unless the dream home swings away again from subterranean hobbit dwelling back to space age pod cluster. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

U.S.A.

There are a few countries that begin with U, mainly due to the popularity and importance of the word United in this matter. Perhaps a bit predictably it was always going to be the USA that occupied this alphabetical slot. Obviously I hate America's imperialistic warmongering and brutal promotion of free market fundamentalism as much as the next whining commie limey, but it would be foolish to deny that the Great Satan has produced most of the greatest music of the twentieth century.

Rather than rack my brains for hours and hours over the hundreds of bands/songs I was going to go for the first band that popped into my head when I thought: American Band! And that was The Velvet Underground, but who needs that? I'll probably post a few tracks, but I'll start with Margo Guryan.

Her album kept popping up a few years ago and I had a listen but it didn't really grab me. Then the other day I heard her album of demos (25 Demos) and it was the most wonderful music ever. Strange isn't it, how that happens.

Anyway, according to wikipedia, Margo was totally into Max Roach etc. and then Bam!! someone played her Pet Sounds and she packed in that jazz noise and took effortlessly to pop.  I find the story refreshing. As is the fact that the winsome Margo was once married to a trombonist. There's hope for us all.

Margo Guryan The 8:17 Northbound Success Merry Go Round 

Saturday, 11 May 2013

F.U.N.

This blog is happy to endorse the balloon bending powers of Rodneys Balloons (balloon modelling for every occasion). He was doing his stuff down at the local fair (every year held on the first rainy Saturday in May). Incredibly, some people were not buying them.

Friday, 10 May 2013

New feature random words

Car crash Carlos - he sounds like an amusing fellow.
Exploring Fabienne Delsol - I wish.
Jazz Jesus & Mary Chain - the direction they should have taken after Darklands.
Weird war Welsh Wendy - doesn't mean anything, I just like the sound of it.
Flook folk music - like sweet soul music but hairier.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Jonathan Livingston Parkbench

Exploring, I found this today. Lovely isn't it? Almost too nice to sit on. Overlooking a lake as well. It's in a good bird spotting area, I spotted a Jay (which I class as a minor bird spotting treat) and additionally a largish, green bird. In the brief glance I got I think it was probably crested. Colour and size-wise it could have been a woodpecker. But I didn't notice a bright red head. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

With the beetles

Tempted by the presence of David Attenborough I wandered down today to a local mini wildlife safari. I didn't catch the great naturalist in the end, but I did have a pleasant time. The first things that caught my attention were some slow worms, such lovely little creatures. Just like little snakes really, apparently they're all over the place if you look hard enough. They were good but I probably spent longer at a table displaying beetles.

I've been fairly keen on beetles ever since I saw a documentary about dung beetles years and years ago. The programme mentioned a theory that the ancient Egyptians may have formed some of their ideas about mummification and reincarnation from observing the dung beetles' antics. I was persuaded.

I love the look of them as well. I bought one once (Acrocinus longimanus it says on the label) stuffed and mounted in a glass case from a shop on Portobello Road, and which my wife won't let me hang on the wall. I've some sympathy - I can admire them aesthetically under glass or at a safe distance, but I admit I do freak if they try to get in the bath with me, or otherwise invade my personal space.

One summer at college we were plagued by may bugs, really horrible things. Everyone was freaked out by them. As the link says, they made a really loud clicking noise when flying, which only added to the terror. And I remember what inexpert flyers they were. I was having an excellent go on Raiden in the games room one evening when we heard the clicking. Transfixed by the game I could see, reflected in the black glass panelling, my mate Syd ducking as the beetle repeatedly dive bombed him. After the last of my spaceships had been zapped I turned round to see that the frenzied bug had flown itself into one of the fluorescent strip light boxes and was stuck on its back.

Happily there were no may bugs on display today, instead we had a live specimen of a rose chafer and about four dead stag beetles. Perhaps not co-incidentally I have actually encountered both these characters in the wild. Well, if you can call the high street the wild. Walking down Twickenham high street (just outside Blockbuster) I saw a rose chafer wriggling away on its back. I know in these circumstances one should adopt an Olympian detachment, but instead, very carefully, with the tip of my shoe I nudged it the right way up. I was rewarded with the sight of a dazzlingly golden beetle which then took off almost vertically.

(I do my best to help little creatures in distress. Apart from big hairy spiders. They get hoovered up I'm afraid. I'd like to get over my fear of medium to large spiders. I have tried, once I staggered in drunk to find the missus cowering from a gigantic spider in the living room. I lunged at it and I remember touching one of its legs. But he sprinted off. He could smell my fearlessness. Or possibly the booze.)

Despite the fact that I always keep an eye out for them when I go to Richmond Park my only sighting of a stag beetle was on my way to a Chinese takeaway at Busch Corner a few years ago. Quite a busy street, there's Syon House over the road I suppose, but it's basically an urban environment. Anyway, I saw a stag beetle there making its way along the pavement. One of its antlers was damaged and it looked a bit confused. After a good gawp I moved on, only to be passed almost immediately by a group of teenaged boys. I feared for the beetle but when I looked over my shoulder the hoodied gang were coo-ing in wonder at the disorientated lucanid. A most uplifting experience all round.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

More cafes

The other day I set out to take some books back to Whitton library, but due to a local event the car park was full, so I drove around searching for alternative parking. And this is how I discovered secret Whitton. I returned there today on foot. Originally I thought I'd only stumbled on a decent looking pub (the White Hart). Then I realised there were a couple of cafes there as well. My eye was first caught by the highly intriguing Dick's Triangle Cafe. This is that most excellent of things - a ghost caff!

Peering through the net curtains you can tell the chairs were put up on the tables years ago. A tea towel folded and laid over the counter one closing time, obviously they expected to come back in the next day. But for whatever reason it was not to be. The Marie Celeste of caf├ęs. I'd put money on there being a copy of the Sun or the Mail in there, it'd be interesting to see the date on it. 

Anyway, back to the land of the living. The other cafe, Sam's cafe, is quite small but they've arranged nine formica tables with bolted on plastic seats very sensibly. It was empty when we walked in but filled up over thirty minutes or so, mainly with little, bald, fat men. The food, while not exceptional, was good. Another sausage would have helped balance the abundance of chips you see up there. Next time I'll specify two sausages. The place is done out in blue tiles (an Islamic influence?) which gives it a chilly vibe. This is only partially remedied by the slightly forlorn prints of Istanbul that adorn the walls. We sat under a good one of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

Whitton high street does okay for greasy spoons actually; the Whitton Cafe (I think it's called) which I would grade as okay, and the Golden Grill which is, all things considered, probably the best. Lighting not too bright, some nice exposed brick decor. I always go for the corner that has an accumulation of potted plants. And it's open till midnight. A bit unnecessary for my purposes, but it's nice to have somewhere that doesn't shut at 3 o'clock.

But Sam's gets extra points for serendipity. And its location. It's very near Kneller Hall. that was another surprise a year or so ago, I was driving along (having got into the wrong lane coming back from the Royal Mail depot) and I clocked that rather impressive building. I parked up and got out to investigate. Noticed a pub on that occasion too, the Duke of Cambridge. Still not been in.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Propheteering

One of my favourite daydreams used to be imagining how I'd manage if I were somehow catapulted back in time. My brain, on autopilot, would most often take me back to ancient Rome. The first thing that occurred to me was that I could use my knowledge of (what would have become) future events to my advantage and become a famous prognosticator. But when it comes down to it, I don't know that many exact dates, accurate to the day. There's the Ides of March in 44 BC I suppose, I could try to save Julius Caesar. But he was allegedly warned by a soothsayer, who's to say he'd have taken any notice of me? (Maybe the soothsayer was me?) I used to know the regnal dates of the first however many emperors, I could perhaps go in for laying bets on who would succeed. But the whole area of seeming to anticipate an emperor's death would be fraught with danger - it was illegal to cast an emperor's horoscope I think. And of course there's the less mystical scenario of such knowledge possibly implicating you as a conspirator. Far better to steer clear of that sort of business.

Anyway, my favoured solution to this not really very pressing problem eventually came to me, I think, after reading somewhere that the Romans had had the potential to have invented the gramophone (i.e. it didn't require the precision tooling that only came in with the industrial revolution). I wouldn't have a clue as to how to make a gramophone, but it did get me thinking, and the result was that I'd invent the printing press. They'd have gone crazy for it, I just know it.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Newsflash

I was caught unprepared for Thatch's death today. The plan had always been to crack open a bottle of champagne. However, our emergency bottle of champagne was whisked off to a friend's engagement party a couple of weeks ago and hadn't been replaced. 

So I marched down to my local and had a couple of pints. You might think that these could be construed as the actions of one who admired the late baroness and I suppose they could. But that was not my intention. The idea was not to exult in an individual's death, she was, after all, a mother. The ritual quaffing of drink was instead just my small gesture against the oncoming tsunami of bollocks in the media, a definite rejection of the idea that she should be granted any sort of special funeral, and that I do not sign up at all to the idea that Mrs Thatcher was a good thing.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

How bible was my black

I found an old Welsh Bible in a bookshop a few weeks back, going for 50p, who could resist that? And here, picked for its sheer, eerie weirdness, is a verse: 

A'r pedwar anifail oedd ganddynt, bob un o honynt, chwech o adenydd o'u hamgylch ; ac yr oeddynt oddi fewn yn llawn llygaid : ac nid oeddynt yn gorphwys ddydd a nos, gan ddywedyd, Sanct, Sanct, Sanct, Arglwydd Dduw Hollalluog, yr hwn oedd, a'r hwn sydd, a'r hwn sydd i ddyfod.

A little bit of vocabulary to help you out. I've got a feeling Welsh spelling might have been revised at some point since this Bible was printed (an inscription by a D. H. Thomas of Treorchy gives us a terminus ante quem of 1915).

pedwar - four

chwech - six
llygad - eye
aden - wing

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Beermat of the month

Very pagan. I wasn't actually drinking the beer, they've not got it on at the moment. They did have their Summer Lightning a bit back, which, after four or five pints, I decided I wasn't that keen on. Somewhere else though I tried the Odyssey, which was one of the nicest beers I've ever drunk. But, looking at the website, I don't think they're making it anymore.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Peru too*

That's what the post title for the letter P was going to be. But I couldn't find the Peruvian track I had in mind. I thought I had a bit back in Static Records, he played a tune at one point and it sounded just like it. I asked what it was: the b side of Redbone's Witch Queen of New Orleans. But my Peruvian track was a proper field recording type thing. I've interrogated an old hard drive's favourites, but no luck. I remember I used to listen to a snippet of it over and over on a digital downloads site that had an orange background with white writing. The track was in the ritual/tribal section.

Instead we travel to Puerto Rico. I'd never really been quite sure where Puerto Rico was, nor had any knowledge of its constitutional arrangements. According to wikipedia it's sort of an American protectorate or something and will probably become a fully fledged state in due course. So, quickly, before that happens here are the not at all brilliantly named Davila 666. It's what I would call punk in the Pebbles, Nuggets, Garage Rock sense of the word rather than the more political and uptight British sense. I've no idea what they're on about (they may in fact be overtly political), but I like it.

Davila 666 Basura

* Name the track. No prize (other than the kudos, obviously).

Friday, 25 January 2013

Half price poetry

The delights of East Molesey are many, though sadly I discovered today, to be one fewer from the beginning of March. Books Bought and Sold is closing down. The blow was softened by the obligatory half price sale. I took the opportunity to score a couple of Spike Milligan first editions. I don't go out of my way to acquire first editions, but the dust jacket design is often better than that of subsequent editions. I also picked up a Flook anthology, which I may attempt to scan at some point.

Anyway, I notice there hasn't been any poetry here for 1,240 days and so, one of my all time favourites from The Little Pot Boiler:

Carrington Briggs
Cared not two figs
Whether he lived or died.
But when he was dead
He lay on his bed
And cried, and cried, and cried.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

M

The thought of the Nineteen Eighties usually evokes in me a depressed sort of feeling. It all seemed so dismal. The years 1980 to 1989 covered the latter half of my childhood which, as an experience ranged from being a bit boring at times to absolutely bloody fantastic at others. So I don't know why I should be so generally down on the Eighties.

Anyway, I will admit that of all the decades that we so arbitrarily clump music together in the Eighties were great for innovation and weirdness.  Looking it up (and to prove the arbitrary point) I see that the track below was actually released in 1979. But it is so not Seventies. The bouncy, squiggly sounds in this made me think of the Vince Clark remix of WFL. But, listening again to WFL, it seems incredibly sluggish in comparison.

M Pop Muzik

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Mr

Reading them now I realise that I received some, if not most, of my moral education from the teachings of Roger Hargreaves. I retain some affection for the hapless Mr Bump but I think the two stories that still really stand up are Mr Greedy and Mr Nosey.

As you may remember Mr Nosey's neighbours, tired of his peeking and prying, devise a simple enough course of aversion therapy. The punishments meted out to the offending nose escalate in severity and it comes as a relief that he has learned his lesson before Mr Herd (the farmer) is called upon to bring his saw down on the nose, in a scene that would probably have been too horrific for the book.

Mr Greedy features some very fine language, the similes used to describe the giant's furniture for instance and the line, "laughed a laugh as loud as thunder" I always feel would have gone down well with an Anglo-Saxon audience. On balance I think I probably prefer Mr Greedy, possibly as I identify more with his particular failing than Mr Nosey's.

On holiday once I remember my dad (an irrepressible bibliophile) pointing out a house, and telling me that it was the home of Roger Hargreaves, author of the Mr Men books. Aged ten or so, I was too cool to care by then.

Sort of on topic, I had a teacher called Mr Mann. He was a nice bloke, probably not far off retirement. He endured me for A level Early Modern History. He clearly knew the period inside out and he was one of those teachers who could, with a disingenuous question, be induced into veering off on wide ranging and lengthy monologues, which often had little to do with the Holy Roman Empire, Ignatius Loyola or Zwingli etc. I found his lessons quite relaxing but I remember the shock I felt once when one of his extended digressions ended with the words, "...and that is why Adolf Hitler will be burning in Hell." I hadn't really been paying attention, I can only think he'd started off somewhere with Martin Luther.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Mor

I have, so far, been unable to get into Felt and to be honest I have my doubts as to whether it's ever going to happen. The main stumbling block being that Lawrence, to borrow John Squire's immortal phrase, just strikes me as a tuneless knob. Why do I care? Well I don't really, I promise it's not simply a case of wanting to tick off a classic indie band, but instead a feeling that so many people rate them that it nags away at me that there must be something I'm missing.

Strangely though I do very much like Denim. I think it might be that there's less of a contrast between the music and the vocals. Or maybe a more detectable sense of humour? I dunno. Anyway, here's the track, chosen because I like it and also to fulfill a weird little post title conceit I came up with ages ago, which would have worked better had I carried it out in its entirety back then.

Denim Middle Of The Road

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

No evolution without resolution

As I was not out last night and not making a right tit of myself, there isn't quite the same impetus for New Years resolutions as usual. This year I think I'll probably make do with the perennial: To be a mensch.

Last year I made at least three resolutions, but such was my dedication and determination I can't even remember what two of them were. The one I do remember was: To read the Canterbury Tales. And do you know what? I did. Well, several bits of it anyway. Far more important than having read the whole thing is the fact that I've enjoyed very much what I've read so far. Which pretty much guarantees I'll polish it off at some point.

While I was reading it I remembered that I had a recording of some of it (in Middle English). So I gave it a spin, it's great. It reminded me strongly of the talking bits in Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. I suppose if this was any kind of a proper MP3 blog I'd give you a blast, with a snippet of ONGF for comparison. I might get round to it. I've got to do some ripping for one of the round the world posts.