Sunday 31 December 2017

Two Thousand and Seventeen Years So Far ... and I Want More

Five years ago I published a pretty good post about getting older here  with one or two useful profundities (if that's a word, well it is now) , and as we come to the end of 2017 we start thinking about what we will do in the new calendar year. Personally it's going to be another year of doing more, rising to challenges , rediscovering my social mojo, actually playing on the virtual orchestra I have stashed in our back room, actually watching TV series , seeing films and reading books.

I have four recent books of fiction to get through two by Philip Pullman and two by John Niven which I'm looking forward to, and well as numerous new challenges at work which will be great fun to take on.

Some days I would like a longer lie in, but today was typical, I woke up at seven and thought I may as well get up wash and shave and shower , then maybe go back to bed, but then I think I may as well get up.

This year I have started walking maintaining a rolling Million Steps every three months and that has reduced my insulin intake by over sixty per cent. I might do even better if I lived off cucumber lettuce and kale but that would be very boring indeed, although cucumber subs are a great alternative to bread subs and therefore better for you , even though they may not seem that appetising. They are best eaten in summer and I used to make them a lot when I worked from home.

I've got to give thanks to everyone who has been there for  me , helped me, made me laugh , encouraged me , played  games with me , eaten with me, and made this a great year for me. I know 2018 will be even better.

So what is a great playout record for 2017. In September we lost Holger Czukay, but in the seventies I remember him and Can lighting up Top of The Pops with the brilliant "I Want More" which is a perfect sentiment to see out the old year and see in the new.

Happy New Year everybody .... Make it Brilliant.

Saturday 30 December 2017

Tiny Steps

Today was the day I expected to record my lowest step count (the lowest is 2,800 last year at Helmsley), the footpaths are icy with melted frozen snow, and that is melting, leaving a treacherous skid pad and I had something fairly heavy to bring back from Aldi about a mile away. That's nomally about 2,500 steps but when I got there I'd covered over 4,000 steps and at first that my step recorder is screwed, but then I thought..... becaus the paths are so bad I am staking smaller steps to make sure I don't end up slipping, so although the distance is the same the steps are double what I expected.

I'm back home now but thought I would post this as an example of something becoming clarified when you look and the whole picture. These days so many people are reactionay and focus on a very small area without looking at the bigger picture, I nearly did today.

Anyway I know this is a short post but it's an excuse to include the amazing "Tiny Steps" by Elvis Costello, have a brilliant last Saturday of 2017 everyone.

Friday 29 December 2017

La Belle Sauvage

As you know a lot of my writing and posting is influenced by the books I am reading. Recently all the books have been factual or biography, but I an glad to be reading a hefty slab of fiction that Fiona got me for my birthday (two months back). It's La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust Vol 1) by Philip Pullman, it seems to be a prequel to the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, and half way through is absolutely brilliant , though I am sure it will never be made into an American financed film, give it's portrayal of religious authority and the Church. I'm currently watching SSGB and can see certain parallels between the two, with group manipulation and spy rings.

The intro from the book flap reads:

"Philip Pullman returns to the world of His Dark Materials with this magnificent first volume of The Book of Dust."

"Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . "

So that should give you a taste for it

It's the day after the coldest night of the year so I am not sure if I will walk all the way into work, though I only need to do 2K steps to hit my month's targer which is good.#.

As we have a little snow and it's the fifth day of Christmas I am going to play my favourite Christmas song ever "The Christmas Song" by The Raveonettes. It's Friday the last one of the year , enjoy your weekend , I hope it;s a long one and a great one for you all.

Thursday 28 December 2017

Coldest Night Of The Year

They're saying it will be the coldest night of the year. When I was coming home it certainly felt like that. There are dustings of snow and lot's of ice, and I am not certain I will get to walk in tomorrow. I thought I would take the bus but I ended up walking while listening to David Bowie's "Christane F" soundtrack.

My page views have doubled over the past week or so. I'm not sure if it's because of the holiday or something that pushes it to the top of some queue so that more people see it and read it. It's probably the former but would be interesting if it was the latter. Sort of reward for effort, the more I write the more you read. I would have thought that a greater volume of output would dissipate my readership.

Anyway I intend to stay warm and well wrapped up tonight and enjoy being wrapped up in bed, and my favourite evocation of glacial cold is "Hoppipola" by Sigur Ros. Enjoy , sleep well and keep warm.

Getting Colder

This morning I got out of a warm bed , and theough the heating was on I could feel the cold. According to various temperature gauger it's 15º which may be warm to some. It's the shower I managed to get warmed up and once dressed it seems fine now, I know the central heating will do it's job. Fiona is suffering from 'flu' symptoms while still recovering from her op and I think I may now be coming down with a cold, but I will and keep going.

December was when I was expecting to miss my walking target, but with four days to go until the new year I need to do 15K steps to hit my 340K, it theory I could do that today, although it looks very cold outside. I think this will be a day using my headphones as ear warmers. I never liked the in ear headphones, I find them too intrusive and they drop out, which makes me wonder about the Apple wireless ones which have the added benefit of making you look decidely uncooll , like cigarettes, I can really only think of Humphrey Bogart who could look cool while smoking.

Anyway today I am going to try walking into work again, although I may decide to go for the bus if the footpaths are too frosty.

I found an excellent live take of "Slipping & Sliding" by John Lennon which he covered on his "Rock'n'Roll" album, and that may be appropriate for today. Be careful out there everybody.

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Ice,Ice Baby

I was out for a walk about 6pm tonight and noticed my neighbours and others cars seemeingly iced up. I checked the windscreen of one to make sure it wasn't just condensation, and it was definitiely ice. It has been cold today and is obviously getting much colder. I'm not sure what walking into work is going to be like tomorrow, but I am not looking forward to have to walk on iced footpaths while dealing with cold wind.

At least it's not raining or snowing yet, but who knows what might happen. It has been grey and this sort of weather does bring out the SAD in me, sapping positivity and good feeling. I don't know why but it just does, although I won't let it get me down, and writing about it is one of the ways I actually deal with it.

Anyway the main aim of the break has been to relax, and that is what I have done. Actually I wish I was off for another week, but I know I need to do something that gets me out of the house, and work is a good way of achieving this. I am sure that the werther will improve, and I know the days are getting longer, so there is that to look forward to and that will help kindle the positivity in me.

I've included a short fascinating National Geographic documentary about ice instruments, including some familiar songs , but not "Ice,Ice Baby". Enjoy it , it's very interesting.

Almost A Ghost Town

Went out for a walk today and was surprised that I never had to wait to cross a road, the traffic was so sparse. Yesterday there was far more traffic, but today it's very sparse. Shops are open as was the chemist I had to visit (just, I got there as they were opening the shutters).

Yesterday was spent watching a few recording of MR James Ghost Stories , one a dramatisation the other two read by Christopher Lee, plus a dramatisation of Charles Dickens' "The Signalman".

I also watched the new Doctor Who and cannot get over the small minded irritati who's minds are so small that they can't grasp the concept of a two hearted metamorphosing alien transforming into a woman, although it's not really a woman it's an alien assuming the form of a women. It's really like these complainants are throwbacks to the seventies, sad people.

I am going to enjoy the last day of the break (where did those four days go?) before going back to work for three days, I mean I could live with a three day week permanently.

I leave you with my slideshow of Christopher Lee's definitive metal take on "My Way".  . Enjoy your day my friends.

Monday 25 December 2017

How To Start Christmas Day

As a kid Christmas Day started for us at 1 minute past midnight on Christmas Eve, by that time Santa had left some small presents at the bottom of our bed, though we couldn't go down until much later, like when it was light but there were things to eat and play with and by that time mum and dad had gone to bed and didn't complain about us having lights on at night.

I remember when I was living in Southport (and working at Littlewoods in Liverpool) the train line ran back and forth from Southport to Liverpool Central Station. My friend Jim had been out for a few drinks and left for home at 2 pm as they had visitors coming at 5 (it was a half hour journey). He fell asleep. ..... When he woke he was disorientated and then realised he was back in Central Station, so thought he would just just wait for the train to head back to Southport. He waited, and waited, and waited and then a uniformed train   person came down the carriage and Jim asked what time the train was leaving. The guy looked surprised and said "It isn't mate, the trains stopped running half an hour ago" . Jim looked at his watch, it was 11:30pm , he was twenty miles from home on Christmas Eve, five and half hours late for his guest, and this was way way before mobil phones. I never found out what the aftermath was..

Roll forward a bit further and Juliet and Kirsty have graduated from Duplo to Lego and I have been out for Christmas drinks so am not exactly the mot coherent and focussed and then remember I have two Lego Constructions to put together one was definitely a castle and the other maybe a Space Station. This was a very daunting task, but I did manage to complete it, but the lesson was don't drink and do Lego.

Today as I am so old I tend to wake up at odd times and today was no exception, but I thought well I can do a blog post and then go back to bed, there's no pressure , and the obly thing I need to do is check on my neighbour's fish. It's dtill dark and windy out (as it should be at 5:30 am on Christmas Morning) and there are no signs of a White Christmas (although it did rain a bit yesterday evening).

So these are a few tales of how Christmas has been for me previously, and I hope your Christmas turns out to be absolutely perfect.

My #SuddenlyItsChristmas moment is going to be the greatest Christmas song of all time "A Fairy Tale of New York" by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, despite the latest outrage about the lyrics (see here), it's about two flawed people who are maybe not the Christmas paragons of virtue you might expect. I would never use those words as insults and sure all MY gay friends love the song , sing ALL the words and don't take offence because it's a self contained story, and to be quite honest it's probably nothing more than a convenient rhyme in the song (and often poetry does rhyme)

Anyway have a brilliant day

Sunday 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas Everybody

It's Christmas Eve and I am trying to have a relaxing break although part of me is saying "Ah but you only did 7K steps today", but it is good to think of yourself to make sure you are 100% there for others. I've donated to various charitable endeavours and tried to be there for friends, seen and spoke to family and wrapped presents and sent cards and I'm sure we've all done similar things.

Had a gang knock on my door tonight looking for someone who'd stolen a bike. They seemed good natured and Isaid I was 60 and to lazy to ride a bike but I'd keep an eye out and they were complimentary saying I didn't look my age (maybe they thought I looked 70!!).

Today has been Christmas films and overindulging on the Christmas food, so I think I will soon be in bed. I am feeling very physically tired, although my mind is wide awake. I hate that feeling, but I will get some rest tonight I'm sure.

Tomorrow will be more festive frivolities, including checking my neighbours' new pet fish and looking forward to the new Doctor Who.

Anyway for #SuddenlyItsChristmas I'm going to choose Greg Lake's "I Believe In Father Christmas" lifting it's instrumental motif from Prokofiev's "Lieutentant Kije" suite ("Troika") also featuring unuasually restrained lyrics from Pete Sinfield with only one "Veil of Tears". While it's not the greatest Christmas song (we all know what that is), it is a great Christmas song.

Now enjoy the song and get ready to wake early and open your presents, I'm looking forward to mine.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Christmas Eve Eve

Well tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and it's just an excuse to post another vaguely seasonal song, though as I write this I'm not sure exactly what it will be.  I watched the last leg and they pointed out that there are 14 million people in this country in poverty, that's over 20% which shows how completely incompetent our government are.

Did you know that the  two most important things that leavers want from Brexit are Blue Passports and The Death Penalty, and Th eDaily Mail are having a meltdown because the new passports may not be produced in the UK.

I've given some stuff to our local foodbank and it pains me that I have had to do that., but I hope my contribution can help to brighten a few people's Christmas, but it's what happens after that.

Anyway enough of my gloom at the state of things, and I am ridiculously tired, so bed is calling me. I've enjoyed a reasonably relaxing day meeting with my daughter and son in law and discussing sound and TV with them while drinking tea.

It's dark and windy out and for #SuddenlyItsChristmas I think I will choose something not by  Jethro Tull, we should have Bob Dylan's piece of seasonal silliness "Must Be Santa Claus", sleep well my friends.

Friday 22 December 2017

The Chrismas Spirit

It's funny how at Christmas it's always peace and goodwill to all men, but my attitude is that is how should be all the time. We should care for and look out for each other all the time. Unfortunately it seems that money is far more important that working together and helping each other, well that what the government and media pushes.

I despair at the existence of organisations such as "Help For Heroes" and foodbanks but current economic policy is aimed at lining the pockets of the already well off and expecting the rest of the country to clear up the mess. These organisation are laudable and should be supported, but the six richest country in the world should not need thenm to exist, but we are saddled with governments who are unable to manage the economy while claiming £40 for breakfasts.

Yesterday I took the contents of our Reverse Advent Calendar to the Newcastle Food Bank in The Grainger Market, they were grateful and when I pointed out that the Metro free paper was published by The Daily Mail they said "Burn It, we won't have fascist papers in here", they were unaware of it's publishers. They were shutting at four o'clock so I nipped to Poundland to grab some selection boxes. I picked up ten and then thought I'd hadn't got any tampons or related stuff so I added those and so small boxes of chocolates and dropped them back into the foodback , and they were grateful. I just bought some stuff the people at the Foodbank are distributing it where it's needed, there are the real heroes.

Anyway this is an excuse to play Jethro Tull's "Christmas Song" and another for #SuddenlyItsChristmas . Remember .....

"Once in Royal David's City stood a lowly cattle shed,
 where a mother laid her baby.
 You'd do well to remember the things He later said.
 When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
 you'll laugh when I tell you to take a running jump.
 You're missing the point I'm sure does not need making;
 that Christmas spirit is not what you drink. 

 So how can you laugh when your own mother's hungry
 and how can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
 And if I messed up your thoughtless pleasures, remember,
 if you wish, this is just a Christmas song. "

Have a great time, but if you can help someone who needs it.

Winter Solstice - The Longest Night

I thought this was the 23rd of December but it's actually the 21st, yesterday. That means the days are going to start getting longer and we will have more light. It's dark outside at the moment but it's good to know the days are getting longer as we nudge towards Christmas Day for a Cool Yule. Here's the Wikipedia entry for the Winter Solstice , make of it what you will.

I do prefer the thought of Druids at Stonehenge to Coke lorries crashing through towns , and I've previously mentioned on how Coke put their red and white all over Christmas.

We don't have snow and it is quite mild, but we shouldn't complain too much, we are at the weekend and for lazy people like me it's a sort of four day weekend. As a bonus the guy who was coming to fix my boiler flue tomorrow (between 7am and 7pm) came today, so that means I don't have to wait in tomorrow for him , and he get's a less fraught day before Christmas Eve.

So this is the third #SuddenlyItsChristmas post and it's another excuse to share Jethro Tull's "Ring Out Solstice Bells" which is a wonderful seasonal song, and still sounds wonderful. Enjoy and tomorrow maybe I'll post another seasonal classic.

Cheap Trick - Geek Talent - It's Friday and It's Christmas

..and a good start to the morning, listening to Chris Hawkins on 6Music he played a Cheap Trick song "I Want You For Christmas" (a reword of the excellent "I Want You To Want Me") and that cheered me up no end.

This is the first post on my new PC, and was surprised to find that mainstream shops only stock laptops and tablets these days, I don't need much and picked up an HP for £250 from Argos which just plugged into my set up although I could have an HDMI display now but my own screen may have an HDMI connection but I'll check that out this weekend.

Geek Talent
Back to Cheap Trick , "I Want You For Christmas" appeared on "A Very Special Christmas", acharity album, but I always liked Cheap Trick who went against the normal rockers featuring two pretty boys and two geeks in theory capturing or alienating fans who saw looks as important. Their music was always good too and the first album I bought was their "Live At Budokan" on yellow vinyl.

Just thought of an excellent caption for the Cheap Trick, Geek Talent , a brilliant compny who I worked with a few years back, I think it's perfect.

Have a totally splendiferous Christmas everybody.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Edinburgh 2017 #3 - Vinyl Villains

The final new shop I visited in Edinburgh was Vinyl Villains, just a bit closer to the centre and down the road from Elvis Shakespeare. It opens around 10:30 on Saturday and again the uy who runs it is very helpful and very knowledgeable about his stock.

On Friday night on BBC4 Danny Baker was presenting a seventies show with a rock slant including Brian Eno's "Seven Deadly Finns" the clip you can see here is from a Dutch pop program, but later in the show was Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Two Tribes" , one of the most vicious and agressively brilliant dance tunes you will ever hear. I loved the video featuring "Boris Yeltsin" and "Ronald Reagan" in a fighting pit , and really that's the way any war should be fought but we all know what cowards politicians really are, they always get someone else to fight for them.

Anyway back in Vinyl Villains  (they are on Facebook too) they had a lot of albums suspended from the ceiling and I noticed a picture disc of "Two Tribes" and thought "That has my name on it". The guy said he thought it was an interview disc but he got his ladder out and brought the disc down to check, It turned out it was "Two Tribes" backed with their take on Edwin Starr's "War" so I parted with a fiver for an excelent slice of vinyl.

Again this place is not too far from Edinburgh centre and will be on my list when I am next there.

I revisited Coda who are just off the Royal Mile and came across Underground Solu'shn next to The Malt Shovel when we were out with Maureen and Scott , but that's one for the next visit to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh 2017 #2 - Elvis Shakespeare

When I was last in Edinburgh I researched where there were any record shops in Edinburgh other than FOPP (who are owned by HMV I believe) and found a a few that looked more than interesting. HMV had been moved out to Leith in their shopping centre and while I went there last time that area really didn't bear a repeat visit, but on the bus to and from there I did notice Elvis Shakespeare which is one of the best names for a shop ever.

Elvis Shakespeare is full of music and printed words and theguys in the shop were great to talk to and one of them reckoned I was the same age as him (53). There is lots to browse and I walked there on Saturday morning so this was helpful in me hitting 20K steps on Saturday. We chatted and I said the problem now is finding something interesting, ideally on vinyl when I saw a copy of The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" EP , and I loved the film when I saw it as a kid (it had the Bonzo Dog Band and strippers) but remember my uncle's friends bringing it to a party at my parents.

It was released as an album, and I have the DVD of it and now I have it as the 1981 reissue vinyl double EP.

I was talking to the guy and I mentioned that I'd bought the "Star Wars:The Force Awakens" soundtrack on vinyl just for the 3D Tie Fighter and Millenium Falcon hologram etchings which, while they are not hugely impressive to look at, the very fact that someone thought of it , did it, and it works still has my mingd in knots. You can see it here.

As I was leaving I saw a green vinyl copy of "Happy Christmas: War Is Over" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono so I took that as well.

On the Sunday I was in FOPP and heard someone asking about a Star Wars soundtrack with a hologram, the assistant wasn't sure so I told him what it was and it turned out that the guy asking was the guy from Elvis Shakespeare , so that was a coincidence.

So maybe I will go for "Happy Christmas:War Is Over" for you to listen to. Have a great Tuesday everybody.

Monday 18 December 2017

Edinburgh 2017 #1 - A Quick One For Hogs Head

The thing I love about Edinburgh is that it's easily walkable while being spaced out . It reminds me a little of Whitby. This weekend I coverd over 50K Step which is a fairly hefty rate for me. Anyway I had intended to visit the numerous record shops in Edinburgh that I had missed on my previous visits.

First on my list was Hog's Head Music which was closed last time I went (it was Sunday morning) and this time I managed to walk past it , so I turned round to head back and stopped outside the place.

I went it and they had a lot of stuff but it's difficult to decide what to buy for these days as I am very old and have most of the stuff worth having. I say a limited endition (limited to how many they can sell probably) copy of  "A Rough Guide to Bottleneck Blues"  which was a bargain in my opinion at a tenner. I was talking to the guy who runs it and we had a good craic , but was sad to hear that he's closing the place in two weeks. Essentially he's been doing it for thirty years and wants to have a holiday and decide what to do next.

We shouldn't HAVE to work forever and places like this are a joy to have but even when you have been doing something you love for that long , you may still want a change. You can find them on Facebook here.

So basically if you want to see this brilliant record shop you need to get yourself to Edinburgh in the next fornight, befor New Years Eve's 2017/18, and it really would be worth your time and effort. I'll leave you with "Jitterbug Swing" from the album, just think if I hadn't visited Hog's Head Music I would have never heard this great song and neither would you, and it's not even the best song on the album.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

There's Nothing On TV

That is a line I hear almost daily. I do find it amazing how narrow mindedness actually seems to stop people from knowing about things (though I suppose sales of The Sun and Daily Mail and Election Results in the UK and UK mean that I should be surprised). I've been denigrated because I don't watch Top Gear, Eastenders of Coronation Street and because I watch BBC2 and 4 (and a bit of 3) , Channel 4, More 4 and Sky Arts. But I suppose it's each to their own, and if you don't want to stray from your own chosen TV path then that's fine but don't complain about it.

The weather today has been warmer and the snow has gone, but tonight ther was a frost as the temperatures started to drop again. The good thing was that I got to walk into work , even though it was dark and cold (the walk not work) so I am keeping up my required steps. As we move towards the shortest day I'm not even getting to see a sunrise or sunset, but again that's just nature, in winter the days are shorter and we get Christmas Day just when the days start to lengthen.

One benefit of my Emopeak headphones is that as well as sounding excellent and being wireless, in cold weather they keep your ears very warm as well as maintaing a decent bass sound.

One of the albums I've been listening to is Genesis "Extra Tracks 1970-5" (part of a boxed set that will set you back a few hundred quid these days) which just confirms that Genesis virtually lost their way when Steve Hackett left. Gabriel's departure was a major blow but commercially benefitted the band, though having said that they really started coining after Hackett's departure, but artistically they missed more than hit after that. Typicall example are the songs from the "Spot The Pigeon" EP , "Pigeons" is awful, "Match of the Day" musically good lyrically awful , and "Inside and Out" is a piece of totally brilliance so I will leave you with that one.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Snow, Laziness, Apathy,Lethargy and Ethiopiques

.. and it's cold. Back from Litton, and back to work . This is the part of the year where I thought my walking would take a hit, you can wrap up but sometimes the biting cold and wetness can get to you and you just want to get on a bus or get in and keep warm.

I don't know if it;s an age thing or my natural laziness, but I seem to find it increasingly difficult to do things that need preparation. This can be getting the laptop and mouse out the bag to do a blog post when I'm on holiday. Another is playing a DVD, you have to get up , find the DVD , take it out of the case, switch on the DVD player , tune the TV to the DVD channel, and play the DVD. It's far too easy to take the alternateive route and click a few buttons on the remote and play something on the TIVO, or on demand. Although strangely I still like  playing things on vinyl, and that is very incovenient and labour intensive.

Cooking is similar, I am alwasy tempted to chuck a frozen pizza in the oven, though last night it was mashed normal / sweet potato and bean burger which meant cooking but it was worth it. I still don't do ready meals, although part of that is that ready meals often take as long to cook as it would to prepare from scratch.

I like to be able to walk into a situation and start doing what I want to do, I don't like the preparation , so maybe I'm not lazy , just selective.

I am still hitting my rolling monthly million steps despite the weather, though part of the motivation for that is the fact it helps with keeping my blood sugar under control.

While on holiday I picked up a Best of Ethiopiques album , and I remember listening to some of this music and actually being frightened by it, it was so other worldly atmospheric, but disturbing. I corresponded with Nadine Shah about it, so will include "Yegelle Tezetta" byMulatu Astatke which is a great piece but I find there is a strage menace behind it. Have a great Tuesday everybody.

Friday 8 December 2017

Snow and Wait

It's te last full day in Litton for this year, and we have had snow. At the sametime my Pixel XL is doing a half a gigabyte system update. In 1990 I was working on a DEC mainframe which was running accounts for a biggish company which had 4 Mb of memory, that's enough room for four minutes of basic MP3 music.

Prior to  that my Cambridge Lynx computer had 3K of memory, I'd bought it because it ran CP/M which was an early competitor for MS/DOS but when IBM came calling the CP/M guy was outflying his plane so Bill Gates got the IBM gig and the rest, well you know the rest, I'm writing this on an ASUS laptop running Microsoft Windows 10.

Did you know that Microsoft have a patent on the technology for SD card slots which apparently is why so many phones don't have SD card slots.

Anyway my walking has been hit by the weather, yesterday it was rain and hail and today it may be the snow, so I will have some catching up to do when I get back.

I've had a brilliant breakfast at High Nelly's in Tideswell, and finally found out that a Derbyshire Oatcake was basically an oat pancake, and they are rather excellent too. There's a picture of my breakfast here.

I'm listening to 6Music and today's Album of the Year choice is Tom Robinson's and it's Nadine Shah's "Holday Destination" which I pre ordered about three months in advance. I have written about it before and it's not cheerful but addresses a lot of current serious issues especially on the title track which I will include here.

Have a great Friday everybody, the weekend is upon us.

Wednesday 6 December 2017


With this post (number 245 this year) 2017 has become my most prolific year for posting on this blog. Maybe my other blogs have suffered but this is my main one. I still have 25 days of 2017 left and, as I say , I have just passed 2013's total. While it would be nice to hit 300, that would mean posting more than two a day til the end of the year, and that is not going to happen. I've posted two posts every three days and I think that is a decent output. I average maybe 250 words a post so that means I have done over sixty thousand words, which may sound like a lot , but it's like when I tried to do the Million Step Challenge, and people go "Wow, that's a lot" when really it's just maintaining 11K steps a day which for me is about five miles a day, so not exactly impossible but that is close to two thousand miles on foot, and I am no athlete, I have friends who will do tens of miles a day showing my efforts to be fairly puny, but they are constant.

I have been keeping up my walking steps and hit 12K today, and one of the albums I have listened to is Public Service Broadcasting's "The Race For Space". Listening to any of their albums you managed to learn something about the past and this album is about the space race in the sixties, using sound samples from the various events, including Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin and the Apollo program. Live they are one of the greatest current experiences you can have.

So I am going to take one of the most positive songs from a brilliant album , the wonderful "Go", live at the 6Music Festival at The Sage in 2015, and I was in the crowd watching them. Enjoy, and I shall soon slip off to bed. By the way this post runs over three hundred words so if you have read all my posts this year you have read over 60K of my words.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Sleepless In Litton

Not exactly, but my sleep patterns this week have been a little weird, going to bed around ten, then wakig up every two to three hours untill about fuve am then drifting into vivid dream sequences, which in themselves are fairly mundane mixing up familiar places and people , like work environments, before waking about eight o'clock and sort of wanting to go back to sleep, but knowing I am awake so getting up shaving and showering and getting dressed.

Today I've been in Bakewell, and managed to do 11K steps with a walk from Litton to Tideswell and back, and was surprised in how quickly darkness fell.

I got back to Music In The Green in Bakewell (I first wrote about it here - February 2016) and bough a rare Five Hand Reel vinyl album "A Bunch of Fives" which I have never seen before, so I added that to my collection. It was a 1979 album after the departure of Dick Gaughan, I can't find any digital music from the album so I will leave you with "Bratach Bana" from their first incarnation.

It Wasn't Tuesday

For some reason I spent yesterday thinking it was Tuesday, I suppose that can happen when you are away on holiday, and the benefit is that as today is Tuesday , in a way I've mentailly gained a day. I have been trying to keep up my steps and didn;t think I would make it yesterday.

I realised that effectively just walking to hit the number of steps is a bit boring like all the things that I don't like doing, but I usually have to have a place to go to or something to see or a place at the end to , but do realise that I need to keep walking to stay reasonably healthy.

Yesterdaywas spent at Chatsworth and generally relaxing, and today will be a trip to Bakewell.  There's some instagram pictures here.

It's strange how there is often a psychological block that stops you from doing things, I thought that Tideswell was too far to walk just because it's a featureless country walk but itturns out it's not so featureless or far as I thout there's some more pictures here and here.

I was thinking of including songs based on what day it is, until I can't think of anymore, so the #SuddenlyItsChristmas sequence has not lasted that long has it.

So today I'll include "Tuesday Aftertoon" by The Moody Blues from "Days of Future Passed" , which is the first in this maybe not to lengthy sequence

Sunday 3 December 2017

Still Loving Bowie's Music

I'm in Litton and the weather is very mild, not wintery at all. I easily walked from Litton to Tideswell and back , twice , ensuring I am on top of my step target fr December.

In the Red Lion I met a 96 year old who looked extremely well regaling us with tales of being called an old codger by people who were actually older than him. I remember the first time I became aware of age thinking that sixteen was old, then it slowly crept up with the evenual realisation that there was sweet nothing you could do about your body aging but you can make sure your mind doesn't get old by doing the things you enjoy and keeping as active as you can.

I turned sixty two months back and still feel and act like I did forty years ago, I just ache a bit more and take a bit longer to recover from things but that is just life . I knew someone once who was sixteen going on sixty fiv, I intend to stay the opposite.

Tomorrow I think it's the Chatsworth Christmas Fair, but essentially this week is about doing nothing mainly.

I am not posting a seasonal song today but have been listening to "Christian F" a soundtrack consisting of third period Bowie songs , which includes a live take of "Station To Station" which as I listened to it became my favourite Bowie song. I know others will replace it, but that's Bowie for you so I will leave you with "Station To Station" as you prepare for another day of work and I prepare for a day of relaxation.

Saturday 2 December 2017

Suddenly It's Christmas

Oh I do love Loudon Wainwright III, and this really sums up the commercialisation of Christmas and it's funny too. I mean you have those Coca Cola lorries, what really has that got to do do with Christmas.. but remember that Coca Cola stuck their brand on Christmas so well that Santa dresses in Coca Cola colours.

Christmas is a time for reinforcing good things , looking out for people , connecting with those you haven't seen , and spreading happiness, although personally I would like that to be permanent m, not just at Christmas.

At work they're doing a Secret Santa, but I have opted out of it , not because I'm a curmudgeon or anything , but I don't need anything and so I'm gonna spend a tenner on a bag of goodies and drop it it to the Food Bank in the Grainger Market (and I'd rather not be doing that but while we have this government it's one way of helping those affected by their spiteful bullying)

This morning I went to the post office to pick up a letter that contained a code for me to download Office 2016. It cost me a tenner off Amazon here and I had to contact support to get a link for the 64 bit version , but all seems to be good now.

So if you want the Loudon Wainwright song it's here, have a brilliant Saturday my friends.

Friday 1 December 2017

Winter Is Here ... The Magic's Back

Today is the first day of winter and I will theme December on #SuddenlyItsChristmas (taken from the title of a Loudon Wainwright III song. Yesterday we had snow as Autumn drew to a close, and today that snow is frozen making it difficult to walk , so I am wearing boots with soles like tractor tyres in the hope that I won't slip and end up on my bum.

Today there is a disco at Kommunity that started twenty minutes ago at 6:30 am so I will visit that before work. I did , and I'm completing this at 9 pm because I didn't want to be late , and enjoyed a vegan breakfast burrito and a coffee before work. The dancefloor was full and I hope there will be more of these events.

Anyway my first set of seasonal songs were on "The Ghosts of Oxford Street" by Malcolm Mclaren , which features a beautiful version of "Silent Night" by Sinead O'Connor as well as many other appropriate songs, but the one I will choose is "Magic's Back" by Alison Limerick, to usher us into this Winter Season.

If you can find the video of the show , it is worth watching, educational and interesting. McLaren's talent is for getting other people to do things (sometimes joining in) with never less than interesting results.

Thursday 30 November 2017

When You Have No Plan

After Bowie released "Blackstar" and shortly after left us, we realised that was his parting gift or parting shot depending on your viewpoint. Either way it was, and still is a stunning album. After his death rumours have surfaced about a series of albums to be released in the future but this may just be hope or rumour, lots of Jimi Hendrix material appeared after his death but nothing that could be deemed essential.

Then an EP appeared called "No Plan" consisting of three songs led by "Lazarus" a stand out from "Blackstar" and an amazing song , he knew where he was bound. I made the assumptions these were songs that failed the cut for "Blackstar" and so have put off buying it .... until last week.

Over the last few days I have had it on repeats and , in my opinion the three "new" songs are stunners, not quite up to "Lazarus", but brilliant nonetheless , featuring awesome bass and guitar arrangement with top notch vocals and lyrics from Bowie himself. This is a man and band at the top of their game.

The tracklist is:
  • Lazarus
  • No Plan
  • Killing A Little Time
  • When I Met You

You can pick up "No Plan" for a few pounds, do it and you will be in possession of a masterpiece.


Winter starts tomorrow (see here), I have a cold , it's dark and wet and cold outside and snow is forecast. As I've said this is the weather that actually stops me walking. Because of the rain , you need an umbrella , but the wind sometimes makes that difficult, but I know that walking is good for me because it's exercise and helps me control my diabetes, and has significantly caused a huge reduction in my need for insulin , so I have to keep doing it.

I am considering do a #SuddenlyItsChristmas sequence of posts for December but did a similar one in 2013 here , but maybe it's a time for revisiting and it gives me something to aim for , or maybe I will just be lazy and not bother. That sequence was seasonal non standard songs to celebrate Winter and Christmas, so my mind is considering how to theme this and weave it into my daily routine.

Yesterday I was listening to XTC's "The Big Express" , XTC giving us their own unique take on the world , this is a particular muscular take and sondgs like "I Bought Myself A Liarbird" and "Train Running Low On Soul Coal" sounding a fresh as when I first heard them. The opening two songs "Wake Up" and "All You Pretty Girls" announce the album in emphatic form and it keeps up the quality to the end.

So as I brave this last day of Autumn I'll leave you with "All You Pretty Girls" , but check out the whole album , it is excellent.

Tuesday 28 November 2017


Today is the sort of day that will stop me hitting my walking target, biting cold , rain and wind that is just enough to make an umbrella almost unuseable. It's still raining outside, and today we even had some snow. Luckily for me I am 100 steps short of my monthly target so for November I will hit it, but December, January and February may be a little more difficult, although I knew that was a distinct possibility.

It's still raining outside, and it's still cold, getting into bed is definitely inviting as the heating shuts off for the night.

We even had a short snow flurry today, so we have had a lot of inclement weather.

Today I decided to check if my Office 2010 was 64 bit to go with my PC, it isn't and the official download image is only 32 bit , no option for a 64 bit switch. So that will have to wait.

There are cold drafts in the house, which are caused by the wather outside but feel like ghostly presences.

Anyway the latest album on the player has been Blue Oyster Cult's "Agents of Fortune", titled from a quote that stated that playing cards were fifty two agents of fortune. This was the band's third studio album although they had broken through with the excellent live double set "On Your Feet, Or On Your Knees", and the production on this was far superior to what had gone before.

The was polished heavy metal with a pop sensibility that took no prisoners. Opening with "THis Ain't The Summer of Love" , lulling us into a slight respite with "True Confessions" before hitting us with the tour-de-force of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" not letting up with "ETI" before bringing in Patti Smith on "The Revenge of Vera Gemini". By this time you know you have been hit.

Side two doesn't keep up the attack apart from "Tattoo Vampire" but it's still all high quality music.

So there is only one choice of song from this album (but you can easily check out the rest) , but it  really is time for bed now, see you tomorrow.

Monday 27 November 2017

.... And The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

My old Bluetooth headphones went the distance and I bought these Emopeak foldable headphones . I am pleasantly surprised at the quality improvement from my previous phones and have been listening to quite a lot of good music. They are a lot bigger than my previous set so don't easily drop into a pocket, but the benefits are worth the inconvenience.

I must say also I am a little annoyed that the blog software no longer does auto highlighting of potentially mis spelled words , so I apologies for spelling and grammar mistakes that appear to be slipping through more frequently these days. The is a spell check button, but that doesn't give the option to add words to the dictionary. I would have though a blog linked dictionary would have been a simple obvious addition.

On Saturday for the first time in ages we went round to Nicolle and Ian's and had a wonderful time (time just flew) and Ian has a small portable Bose Bluetooth speaker which delivers astonishing sound for it's sise and we were treated to an evening of Neil Young songs , familiar and new to me as well as a live version of Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat" which had featured in the last episode of "Peaky Blinders".

One of the albums I revisited was "The Lamb Lies Down Down On Broadway" by Genesis. It was a double album and very often that is just a sign of self indulgence, but at the the time it was the peak of teh Genesis / Peter Gabriel years. The outside of the cover consisted of half a dozen images related to the libretto , on a white background. Insode was the story (you can find a detaled annotation here) which even on a 12" vinyl album consisted of a lot of small print , based on a dream sequence from Peter Grabriel starting on Broadway and about two brother Rael and John, Rael trying to continually save John and losing himself in the process.

Listening to the ninety minues of music I was surprised how coherent it actually is with lots of stand out songs and instrumental sequences and the lyrics standing up remarkably well for a concept album. I was lucky enough to see it live on stage performed by Canadian band The Musical Box at Newcastle City Hall using the original stage set. I found a live performance of "Back In New York City" by an Italian tribute band called Garden Wall that is definitely worth a watch.

The album is definitely worth going back to, and has lost not of it's wonder for me.

With that it's Monday morning, and time for work. Have a great day everybody.

Friday 24 November 2017

Trains and Peel

Yesterday was spent on Trans Pennine trains to an from Leeds and while they look nice, the seats are not the most comfortable, and though they run from Liverpool to Newcastle there are only three carraiges so they do get fairly packed , though I managed to get a seat there and back so that was a plus. Coming back from Leeds, which is an awful design of a station there was meant to be an Aberdeen train on platform 9D which never appeared, must have been a ghost train.

yesterday I didn't hit my rough daily walking target but I'm still on target to hit 340K for November, though looking out of the window cars are frozen up, so although it's not raining or snowing (yet) it may be a very cold walk in to work, though I may end up taking the bus, we shall see.

Peel It
The other morning I was listing to the first Velvet Undergound album (well actually the first disc of the "Peel Slowly And See" box set , named after the peelable banana skin cover designed by Andy Warhol) . The album didn't sell that well but reputedly caused more bands to be formed than any other album. Of course now it sells by the barrowload and in varies from the siophisticated influence and drone of John Cale "Venus In Furs" , to the garage band / drug mentality of Lou Reed "Run Run Run"/ "Heroin" with the Germanic influence of Nico "Chelsea Girls" / "All Tomorrows Parties"with descents into pure noise "European Son" / "Black Angel's Death Song".

One thing really hit me is the monster drum sound on "All Tomorrows Parties" which combined with Nico's vocals and the manic piano is an awesome sounding song today. So to kick of Friday, that's the song I will leave to enjoy.

Have a good one.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Vandalising Album Covers

Was just reading about the design of the cover for David Bowie's "The Next Day" and how a lot of people said it was just vandalising a Bowie cover, and anyone can do that. Well yest anyone can do that, but very few think of doing that. Bowie thought the reactions were hilarious but it has been done before, and Bowie is a great one for lifting ideas.

I'm sure there are many examples of this but one of my favourites is "Another Monty Python Record" featuring a vandalised sleeve of Beethoven's 2nd Symphony , very simple but very effective.

I couldn't find a copy of the original album , so they may have created that themselves so as not to offent the original artist.

Anyway while I have all of David Bowie's albums I realised I had never listened to "Heathen", so put that on the player to check it out. One of the problems with Bowie is that I know all the songs on the albums I grew up with but that stopped when "Let's Dance" came out and I though that's enough for me.

The thing is I  stilled enjoyed the singles and "Everyone Says Hi" is a class song. From the opener "Sunday" through "Cactus" the album is excellent , maybe possibly dipping on "I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship" but it will be getting repeated plays in future.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

The War Room

Yesterday I was thinking that this might be a day when my walking targets go out of the window, it  was cold and raining slightly, but it turned out the rain was light and I could use an umbrella so the target was met and surpassed, which was good.

Had a visit to doctors and blood pressure was slightly high, which may be due to drugs trial that I am on, but will nip over and get blood pressure checked again next week. Everything else was fine though there was an issue with white blood cells but a second sample was fine.

The latest album I listened to was the excellent "War Room" by Public Service Broadcasting . There songs are soundtracks to soundbites from films and recording archives and are usually educational.

This is what they say about themselves:

J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth sample old public information films and archive material and set them to new music. Live, the films are screened simultaneously as laptops are fiddled with, drums are pounded, theremins are wafted at, guitars are bashed and banjos furiously plucked. Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future.

The central piece to the five song album is "Spitfire" based on the film "The First of The Few", based ironically on a driving motorik beat (motorik being a German musical style which I first became aware of listening to Neu!)

The album opens with "If War Should Come" atmospheric and scary government announcements which leads us into "London Can Take It" which feature an American style commentary likening the bombing of London to a boxind match , before we are hit by "Spitfire".

The album quitens down with "Dig For Victory" and "Waltz for George" (about Dunkirk) anlthough I do thing "Lit Up" sort of belongs on "War Room" as it is a wonderful description of a fleet, but you can find that on "Inform Educate Entertain" their full length debut album.

Last night I put "The War Room" on three times to get to sleep to, and never got past "If Watr Should Come" so it certainly helps me get to sleep quickly (because it's relaxing not boring).

Anyway it's time to go and we shall see how today's weather is.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

You Don't Have To Save Up For Music Any More

This is is quote from David Bowie about the way music has become ubiquitous, easily available, effectively free if you want to steal it and even if you buy it you can buy a brand new CD or download for the price of a pint of beer or glass of wine.

I think part of this is that if you got into music as a ten year old, you didn't have an income except maybe a paper round. I remember working for a week for my dad and getting a "Best of T Rex" as a reward from my dad.

While music was available on the radio and when cassettes became available you could tape stuff that you heard, but there was no digital catch up, and if you missed stuff it was missed. Given that I was a fan of a lot of European music often the only way to get an album was to send off a postal order to an import company such as Virgin when it was good and richard Branson actually did some good work. Then you would wait a week or two and eventually the postman would drop it off at your house.

When you get older you get an income and that makes things more affordable, but the digital revolution means we don't have to wait, it's on Vevo or Youtube and you can often download it for maybe a pound , or free if you have certain software.

When Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were here" was released I was claing the eqivalent of Job Seekers Allowance and that was £3.25 a week. "Wish You Were Here" cost me £3.25. If albums had kept pace with JSA we's be paying £80 for an album and I'd still have to save up for it.

These days the combination of cheapness and ubiquity means that music is freely and easily available to everybody in mainstream society, and maybe that sort of taks away the preciousness of it for most of the population.

I  was never a big fan of the Gallaghers but "Holy Mountain" by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds is really good and just to illustrate how easy it is to share I've included in this post but if you do want to buy it, it's here.

Have a great Tuesday everybody.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Worn Out, Loud and Heavy

On Your Knees
I just got a new Google Pixel phone , but my Bluetooth headphones were having problems connecting. I read there were issues with the Pixel and Bluetooth but it just seemed to get worse. Yesterday the connection packerd up totally so I thought I would try a cheap pair of Bluetooth headphones from HMV, and the connection was perfect, so basically my old headphones had just died on me, nothing more, and the phone is absolutely fine.

I had visions of going back to a wired connection but I'm glad that I don'tt have to.

The album I was listening to was Blue Oyster Cult's "On Your Feet Or On Your Knees" , I loved the original cover with the limousine outside the church and the vaguely Ku Klux Klan hooded
audience (meant as a sinister / threat image rather than a right wing Christian statement),  and remember getting this as a teenager and being disappointed as it was meant to be HEAVY. It wasn't. Then I thought heavy metal is meant to be LOUD and turned the player up to full volume. This was what it was meant to be like!

My parents were not too enamoured and I then had to resort to headphones to fully appreciate the album, and listening to the album via Bluetooth walking across Leazes the volue was turned up to FULL again. As yet I've not got any noise limiters like on the Sony, but the album does sound good.

It opens with "Subhuman" which sets the mood before the lyrically ridiculous but musically brilliant "Harvester of Eyes"before finishing off with the freight train rush of "Hot Rails To Hell", and that is just side one.

The album continues in the same culminating in two excellent covers "Maserati GT" (Yardbirds I think) and "Born To Be Wild" which has some great dynamics and love the separation of vocals and instrumentation.

Anyway it's almost Sunday so I will hit my pit and see you tomorrow.

Friday 17 November 2017


Ravensword is a fantasy RPG , and I thought of the word after I thought of Ravesward in a kind of word meddling that the english language allows you do to do. Due to my English laziness I only have smatterings of French, Italian , German, Spanish and Dutch and am not sure if it's as easy in other language. Ravesward could be Raven Sward or Raven's Ward, while Ravensword could be Raven Sword or Raven's Word, and I blame the likes of William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde for the fact that I think like that. Will the overall story is good I find "Romeo and Juliet" tremendously tedious with it's continual word play. I do love the Monty Python sketch where Wilde, Whistler and Shaw trade insults and witticisms in this genre.

Today I woke up and couldn't get to sleep because of a problem at work. It's not a bad thing, but there is a situation with I think I may have a solution to. I don't know if it's age, but when we had mainframe systems, things were so nailed down that you never had to bother about things failing. If it did, systems were designed to catch failares and then easily be rectified.

These days we have distributed processing which is full of so many points of failure because no one seems to bother testing any more, UAT seems to be just assuming what you are given by your outsourced resource will be correct, which is totally wrong.

Anyway I have been listening to Genesis' second album "Trespass" (their first was the awful Jonathan King produced eponymous offering with the odd glimpse of what was to come on Decca), and this connects with Monty Python as both Genesis and Monty Python were on the Charisma label.

"Trespass" has a pastoral feel and lyrically does not fail from being too clever or confident. It is full of memorable melodies that stay with you long after you have listened to them and culminate in the keyboard riff driven assault of "The Knife" which incidentally closes "Genesis Live" which was a budget release with a typical Peter Gabriel surreal piece of grotesquerie and the rear of the sleeve, which I found here:

4:30 p.m. The tube train draws to a halt. There is no station in sight. Anxious glances dart around amongst the passengers as they acknowledge each other’s presence for the first time.

At the end of the train, a young lady in a green trouser suit stands up in the centre of the carriage and proceeds to unbutton her jacket, which she removes and drops to the dirty wooden floor. She also takes off her shoes, her trousers, her blouse, her brassiere, her tights and her floral panties, dropping them all in a neat pile. This leaves her totally naked.

She then moves her hands across her thighs and begins to fiddle around in between her legs. Eventually, she catches hold of something cold and metallic and very slowly, she starts to unzip her body; working in a straight line up the stomach, between the breasts, up the neck, taking it right on through the centre of her face to her forehead. Her fingers probe up and down the resulting slit finally coming to rest on either side of her navel. She pauses for a moment, before meticulously working her flesh apart. Slipping her right hand into the open gash, she pushes up through her throat, latching on to some buried solid at the top of her spine. With tremendous effort, she loosens and pulls out a thin, shimmering, golden rod. Her fingers release their grip and her crumbled body, neatly sliced, slithers down the liquid surface of the rod to the floor.


The rod remains hovering just off the ground, a flagpole without flag.
The other passengers have been totally silent, but at the sound of the body dropping on the floor a large middle-aged lady wearing a pink dress and matching poodle stands up and shouts, “STOP THIS, ITS DISGUSTING!”

The golden rod disappeared; the green trouser-suit was left on a hanger with a dry-cleaning ticket pinned to the left arm.  On the ticket was written-


So I'll leaveyou with the "The Knife" , the story and the poets, it's Friday, it's the weekend, have a good one.

Wednesday 15 November 2017


I haven't a clue what that word means or is. It sounds like a house or place is a gothic or fantasy novel, so given my general musical and reading propensity maybe it's not surprising if I have heard it and it has stuck. This is the result of a Google search and it is a place and a charater in Final Fantasy. So I must of heard of it before, or heard it mentioned.

I'm still getting over Shiva's death rescuing Ezekiel in The Walking Dead, it's funny I dealt with Negan's vicious evil but this really made me hurt and sad. I was thinking it had finally run it's course but the is, ironically, life in The Walking Dead yet. I know it's only a story, but it still has power, so it is still on record, along with so many other programs.

So in memory of Shiva I'm including Jah Wobble's take on the William Blake poem "Tyger,Tyger", which I have always loved. William Blake's poetry is amazing, and I've included it for you to read:

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright 
In the forest of the night 
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand dare seize the fire? 

And What shoulder, and what art, 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 
And when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand? and what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain? 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? what dread grasp 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 
And watered heaven with their tears, 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the lamb make thee? 

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? 

Wonderful , read , listen , enjoy

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Thirteen Ways To Kill A Poet

This is not about "Thirteen Ways To Kill A Poet" but it's another thing that leapt out at me while ready "David Bowie: A Life" by Dylan Jones. It was an idea for a film that Martin Scorses had, to get thirteen directors to direct sections of a film with that title. He had in mind Terry Gilliam (my favourite director), Wim Wenders and David Bowie (due to stuff like "Ashes To Ashes" and other Bowie videos) but Scorsese due to timings and availability was unable to make it happen, so it remained a dream project.

I also discovered that Duncan Jones (aka Zowie Bowie and director responsible for two of my favourite science fiction films of the last ten years "Moon" and "Source Code") worked on building the puppets for Labyrinth. David had tried to get him to learn a musical instrument saxophone or guitar, but Duncan was always more interested in film.

One of the reasons to read, you can always discover fascinating facts about people who interest you.

Yesterday on my walk to work I put on Genesis' "Selling England By The Pound". I suppose that has been the Tory policy for the UK since I've been aware of politics. Genesis at the time were the acceptable face of progressive rock, but parts of this have not dated that well although overall it is still at excellent album. "The Battle of Epping Forest" was the epic centrepiece to the album but suffers from some sub "Carry On" character humour. Peter Gabriel using the song for several characters , some right down embarrassing now, though OK at the time.

The album is bookended between the gentle but strangely eerie "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" and the list of supermarket names for "Aisle of Plenty" a beautiful coda but the lyrics while sort of clever do grate a bit.

It feature's Phil Collins debut Genesis vocal on "More Fool Me" which closes side one, and his similarity to Peter Gabriel is similar to the Roger Daltrey / Pete Townshend situation in the Who, the vocalists start to sound like each other.

"The Battle of Epping Forest" is followed by what I originally regarted as a throwawy instrumental "After The Ordeal" but that turns out to be an impressive pice, next up is "The Cinema Show" eleven minutes which doesn't start well with some very twee lyrical play but it builds into another brilliant instrumental tour de force.

After the quiet intro "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" it develops with a particularly vicious riff before drifting into the single "I Know What I Like" in which Gabriel hit's us with a West Country accent, but this is controlled and results in an excellent song. "Firth of Fifth" is essentially a nine minute piano driven piece which is one of the high points of the album.

So I'll leave you with a live take of the opening song, enjoy your Tuesday.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Because I Have A Pixel....

.. that's a Google Pixel phone, I have now got to rationalise what I download and put on the phone. No 50Gb of music like I could have on my Sony or Samsung because they have an SD card, no lot's of photos and videos, I need to utilise the space mor judiciously. I could pug a stick in but that would be sooo asking for trouble.

Every app uses up space, every picture , every instagram video, and all the music.

But say I limit the music to 10Gb, that's like fifteen to twenty albums, so isn't that enough, really?

I can only listen to one album at a time and twenty albums should see me through a week. I remember a friend telling how they had looked after a vicars house for four days , there was him , two girls, one record player and four albums including the first Velvet Underground album. If four albums was enough for three people for four days, then fifteen albums should be ok for me for five days.

So today's album was not the Velevt Underground , but David Bowie's "Low" , the first of the Berlin trilogy. When it came out I remember thinking that the melody of the opening song "Speed of Life" was very similar to Deep Purple's "Woman From Tokyo" and I still think that today. For some reason I thought that side one only had five tracks ( along with side two's four , the psychedelic Krautrock influence coming to the fore there), and tehre actually five songs bookended by two instrumentals. Whether it's me or my age , Bowie's music is timeless and sounds as fresh now as when it first came out.

Some of side two was appropriated for Philip Glass for his "Low Symphony", very atmospheric feating vocals in a non existent languaguage though "Weeping Wall" borrows the melody from "Scarborough Fair". Incidentally Philip Glass scored the film "Candyman" based on a Clive Barker short story and the music enhances an excellent nighties horror film.

I'll leave you with a live take on the opener from "Low" in 1978 , enjoy your Sunday night.

Saturday 11 November 2017


Was just wondering if my purchasing of vinyl was a sort of childhood regression. While I have never actually grown up, I do like to have actual things. Digital recordings are convenient to listen to music and watch video on the move, but it' gives a wonderful pleasure to have a wonderfull packaged item.

Albums like Hawkwind's "XIn Seach of Space" (See video here on my Instagram Channel where there are more examples. These include picture discs and I am still stunned by the holograms on the Star Wars - The Force Awakens soundtrack album (see here) which I now have on order.

Public Image Ltd's "Metal Box" shows that you can do similar things with CDs but often the size of things are scaled down, but that is still a beautifully packaged CD.

So basically I am still 15 at heart and I like a lot of the things I liked when I was 15. While a lot of music is coming out on vinyl I seldom see inventive and impressive packaging like the stuff that Barney Bubbles would come up with for Hawkwind or Hypgnosis' packaging for Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon" and "Wish You Were Here"

So what should I leave you with? I think Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" on vinyl featuring the Vertigo Swirl , still my favourite label , and you can see that on a CD, and at 500 rpm even if you could you would miss the hypnotic effect.

Have a great Saturday night everybody.

Thursday 9 November 2017


Yesterday while I was out and about I noticed how many places you can charge your device now, although I wouldn't be too happy about leaving an iPhone X at a charging station in Eldon Square, although they probably don't have Apple's latest non standard connector so that situation is probably a non starter. The iPhone X is probably the first extreme on this post costing above a thousand pounds. Most buses and trains also have a pluf for charging as well, although I find amausing how many places still have Wifi without internet access or demand you agree to terms and conditions every time you sign in . They already know who you are so whay do you have to keep agreeing? It's like Apple's Terms and Conditioons.

Today I  connected up my OVO Smart Meter to mi Wifi so I can now see how much I'm using at any time. It does save me submitting readings but I am a bit wary of how the data will be used by them, also it's a daily remeinder of how much things are costing.

Anyway yesterday I was listening to "Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine" by the Cosmic Rough Riders which is still a brilliant listen which opens with four absolute standout songs. One of them however is a pure evil control scenario which has an awesome tune but worrying lyrics about control, which follows on from The Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Peter Hammil's "I Will Find You" and you may be able to surmise the scenario from the title "The Gun Isn't Loaded". The protagonist controls the victim because they do not have the full picture, and how many times to we see that in everyday life. The  lyrics make feel uncorfortable but I have to listen because the music is so wonderful.

It's not a bad lyrics scenario like Rush or Abba sometimes hit , Abba having the excuse of being Swedish , and Rush are Canadian , but bothe produce some amazing music sometimes let down by lyrical ineptitude but that's something for another post.

One of the other standouts on "Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine" is "Glastonbury Revisited" probably my favourite song about Glastonbury, and it is lyrically to polar opposite of "The Gun Isn't Loaded", full of hope , love and inclusivity. I've had the CD for close on twenty years and still still sounds as good today as when I first heard it.

I'll include the two songs from the album which are extremes in the lyrical sense, and I will soon be taking myself off to see Jerry Sadowitz for the first time ever, which I suppose is another extreme.

Enjoy your Thursday night.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Lyrical Logic

Yesterday I really didn't want to get up. I feel the same today, I would love to lie in but at 6:30 AM I am showered, dressed, taken drugs and writing this, so normality is resumed, sort of. Last week I didn't do much listening to music but on my walk to work yesterday I was listening to Pink Floyd's "Meddle" and was struck by how sometimes the sound of lyrics is more important than logical analysis of them.

A prime example of this is Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak". The opening couplet is:

"Tonight there's going a jailbreak
Somewhere in this town"

Well the clue is right in front of your eyes, it's highly likely to be at the prison / jail. Still a brilliant song though.

One track on "Meddle" , "Fearless" has a similar construct:

"You say the hill's to steep to climb
 Try Me .......
You choose the place and I'll choose the time"

But again a wonderful song managing to incorporate the Liverpool Kop singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" so I am fine with the odd bit of lyrical non logic.

"Meddle" is probably the album that made Pink Floyd my favourite band as a teenager, and contans my favourite Pink Floyd song "Echoes" which took up the whole of ide two and is twenty two minutes long and was used for an amazing surfing sequence in the film "Crystal Voyager", a perfect combination of music and visuals and when the coda comes you really just want it to start again, for me it's that addictive still.

The album opens with "One of Thes Days (I'm Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces)", which comes in quietly on a breeze before going into a five minute two chord instrumental assault. "A Pillow of Winds" gives respite before the gorgeous "Fearless" described above.

"San Tropez" and "Seamus" wind the side down before the wonderful "Echoes on side two. You can tell I still love this album.

Anyway it's time for another walk into work. Have a brilliant Tuesday everybody and I will leave you with the "Crystal Voyager" "Echoes" seqience and "Fearless". If you have time watch both.