Sunday 30 September 2018

The Value Of Music (Again)

A few weeks ago I noticed a Bruce Springsteen box set. It was good quality bootlegs from 1978, comprising five complete concerts backed by the E Street Band, and the tracks are obviously the same for each concert, but this clocks in at fifteen discs, which is more sixteen hours of music and the cost of this set? Thirteen Pounds. Even if you class it as a single three disc concert that's still a lot of music for your money. That's less that a pound per disc.

In 1975 albums were around £2.75, at that time Job Seekers Allowance or the equivalent was £2.75 a week, so if albums had kept pace with inflation we would be paying £80 for an album, but even I think a tenner is the norm for a CD these days. A vinyl album is around £20 and I did pay £25 for Hawkwind's "Space Ritual" on vinyl with the original fold out artwork.

I also bought a box of Phil Collins' first eight albums in a presentation box for £7.99, again less than a pound an album, and a Graham Parker set for the same price for his first five albums.

Rhino have a series of Original Albums consisting of five albums in replica card sleeves for around a tenner, less than two quid an album. Although this is already recorded material so there may not be any production costs apart from the printing and pressing it's still a remarkably cheap way of getting your hands on music and I do wonder whether the artists are getting their just rewards for this music.

So this is the last post for September and tomorrow my number of years on this planet increases  by one. Luckily I don't have to go to work but think I may be off to Ambleside,weather permitting.

Friday 28 September 2018

That Was Close

This was the first month that I thought I couldn't hit my 340K step target. The main reason was the amount of time I was ill in bed. I hit my record all time low daily step count at less that 1.5K, that is half the very low national average. Many days I struggled to hit 5K and I needed to average 5k, but today I hit the target with two days to spare.

I think October should not be a problem but it's all based on the weather being OK and me being fit enough to walk.

As I write this I'm checking for updates for my laptop as it hasn't been used for a couple of months so that may take some time, last time I did it via my phone and it wiped out my data.

So it's Friday and this must be the most boring post I've ever done although it's my 250th this year.

So we'll go with The Pet Shop Boys "Being Boring" then I'll drop into the realms of Morpheus.

Throwing Darts In Lovers Eyes

Over the last couple of days I've been listening to "Christian F" and I have posted about it here and here in the past. It's a cherry picking of Bowie songs from the Berlin era and quite short although that may be just me wanting more and more.

It opens with the excellent istrumental "V2 Schneider" which like most Bowie songs, once it starts you have to listen to the end, although this is effectively an instrumental with background vols chanting the title.

It contains a live take on "Station To Station" which is possibly my favourite Bowie song, although it is split in a few brilliant sections after opening with the electronic steam locomotive sound, finally hitting the excellent coda of "It's Too Late ... The European Canon is Here"

Also the title of the post comes from that song and it's a violent image that has stayed with me since I first heard it, another example of Bowie's excellent poetry. I have found another live take to share with you, for you to enjoy and the weekend closes in on us.


Thursday 27 September 2018

The Sydney Opera House Illusion

I'm still coming to terms with "The Sydney Opera House Illusion", seeing it out of every window in my office, with the realisation that this is not just what my eye / brain combination is doing, but it can be caprured by camera, so it is real, but I'm still at a loss to understand how it happens. Yes I understand he effect of frams and angles but surely they should dot cause items to appear nearer the further you move from the frame. You don't even have to try, and the thing is, because you see it every day you become immune to it until you actually notice it.

Most people don't notice it, but I am not most people, as you know I often go off on tangents and lots of my thinking is very lateral, so I am the sort of person who will notice things like this. The thing is I am 60 and this is the first time that I have actually noticed this. Sometimes it means you see things that you normally wouldn't see because it magnifies small details (though you don't actually realise this is happening). When you are next in a room with a view you should try it.

I think "Just An Illusion" by Imagination is a pertinent accompaniment for this post.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Flash O' Fire

Last night as I got into bed I thought I saw a flash of fire across the room. I didn't, of course, but thought I did. This happened twice. One of the things is that our our eyes only see bits of what we actually see, and our brains fill in the rest, so it's no wonder that that we get optical illusions and hallucinations.

This is probably the reason why people see ghosts, apparitions and UFOs and aliens, sometimes you see what you want to see rather than what is actually there. I often see things which I know cannot logically exist where I see them. It's always and instantaneous thing, that I see for a split second, though I am not sure what I would do if the apparition became persistent to the point of me believing that it was actually real, but some people are less fussy.

Another optical effect I've come across is that way objects that are further away seem nearer the further away from them you are when you view them though a window. It is a real mind bender when you first notice it and even when it is explained to you, which makes perfect sense, your mind still rails against the actual effect. Here is my Instagram post about it. Here is the Sydney Opera House Illusion explained.

Again this gets me to those 3D Magic Eye drawing images which  were big in th e1980s, though most of the time I really couldn't be bothered to concentrate to see the images. Then we go to th emind bending art of MC Escher which again bend reality for you and did inspire a scene in "Labyrinth" which bring David Bowie into play for this post.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Codes and Ciphers

Why am I writing at 1AM on a school night. I've woken up to prevent another coughing fit, as well as feeling queasy still. Yesterday was spent in bed sleeping so I was expecting to be fit and back to work today, then about 5PM I woke and started coughing again.

I've finished my course of antibiotics, but none of the standard remedies seem to be working for me. The worst thing is I'm sort of able to do things (I can write this) but then when I start coughing, feeling sick then I get out of it and am not fit to do anything and would certainly not be appreciated in work.

When I am trying to occupy my mind I am reading Simon Singh's "The Code Book", possibly his most unassuming title. THhs is third of his books that I have read, the first being "The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets" which is an entertaining observations on why The Simpsons is jammed for of mathematical asides, the second being "Fermat's Last Theorem" which is a remarkable detective story about a conceptually simple but complex theorem and much of the side effects of of that area of mathematics then there is this....

"The Code Book" means to read it and understand it you have to think, it explains the development of codes and ciphers from the beginning of time to the present day, though I am only half way through the book. One of the things the book does explain is the difference between a cipher and a code:

"The difference between a cipher and a code is: a cipher changes a message on a letter-by-letter basis, while a code converts whole plaintext words or phrases into other words or numbers. That’s it, question answered."

Full explanation here. The book has taken me through the story of Mary Queen of Scots and the continual development of more and more complex code/ciphers each time with accompanying examples of how these work up to the Enigma machines and how Alan Turing drove the team that broke it, developing what became the computer I am typing this on on you are reading this on today, and probably shortening World War Two by two years.

Ofne very frightening part of this is that if the authorities that be had known of his homosexuality, Turing would have been jailed and Britain would have lost the war, remember that when someone is not the same as you. Society still drove him to suicide after the war.

Essentially this is another excellent Simon Singh book, and the work of Turing is leaving my tiny intellect floundering and I am only half way through.

I was trying to think of an accompanying piece of music for this and thought maybe something from Public Service Broadcasting's "The War Room" and a tribute to another major contribution to Britain's War Effort, "Spitfire".

Right now time to try and get some sleep.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Chas and Dave

I've been woken up again by a coughing fit. I don't feel bad other than the coughing but it does give me the opportunity to pen my own  short remembrance of Chas Hodges who we sadly lost to Cancer yesterday. The older we get, the more this happens, it's the nature of life and time but it still affects us all.but I think thanks top the digital age we still have their filmed memories immortalising them for us.

I never saw Chas and Dave live but saw lots of them on TV and probably have several of their singles in my collection managing to span rock and roll, cockney knees up, music hall, pub sing-a-long music and Londay Folk in to their own unique brand of music call "Rockney".

Their Wiki page is here and there are more in depth tributes such as this one here.

They had worked in many sixties bands and formed in 1975 , opening for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979. They were loved by everybody regardless of your own musical tastes, if Chas and Dave came on the radio or on Top of The Pops, you never complained because it was a breath of fresh are and a fun interlude and they could also talk.

The had a TV series in 1983 set in an East End pub, but I don't think they ever appeared on EastEnders but it is sad that the duo is now split, but we do have a lot of lovely memories.

Hopefully now I have calmed down enough to try to get  back to sleep, but I'll leave you with their breakthru single "Gertcha" from 1979.

Sleep well.

Saturday 22 September 2018

Not Strictly

While I don't begrudge anyone who watches "Strictly Come Dancing" I do find it's treatment of music very annoying , refining often good songs to be acceptable for an audience that generally doesn't care what music is. Tonight an impressive dance opening, in setting, costumes and execution was let down by the sur refinery hatchet job on Elton John's "Your Song". Why not stick to the original arrangement if you are going to cover it.

Needless to say that was it for tonight for me, but it is a failing of all these types of shows, though at least with Strictly you can see the effort the contestants put into it, and they do get recognition, unlike say "X-Factor" and "Britain's Got Talent" where all you remember are the judges, althe Jedward and Lost Voice Guy are two that I do know.

The Strictly lot were on tonight's "Pointless" and one song I'd forgotten about was the the answer to one of the questions, the excellent "No Matter What" written by the tragic Pete Ham and performed by Badfinger where were one of a handful of bands who signed to the Beatles' Apple label. SO I will leave you with some great music to listen to.

Friday 21 September 2018

Endless Night

It's four AM and tonight has been punctuated by waking up with serious coughing fits. Not painful or coughing up blood bad but enough to make sure I haven't had a decent nights sleep, also ensuring that I will not be in a fit state for work tomorrow morning. Sitting up and typing seems to give a little respite from this so I'm hoping the antibiotics actually do their job and sort me out.

I don't have a headache but have a runny nose which streams back into my throat causing the tickle and therefor the cough. In the dry air conditioned office environment this also gets exacerbated, so. again another reason not to go into work.

The fact that I'm writing this is a result of being under the weather, but it shows that I am not completely laid low by this, just unable to do anything useful. Maybe a day of rest today, followed by the weekend and Monday my help that. Total rest can help you recuperate, although most of the time you feel you should be doing something.

I chose the title because that is what it feels like, but it's the title of one of my favourite Graham Parker songs from my favourite album of his, and it was co-written with Bruce Springsteen so as good as it gets really, featuring The Boss on backing vocals. I thought found a version by Bruce as well but a different song same title, so waking up and sharing this with you is a positive point of this cough waking me up.

Thursday 20 September 2018



I'm not going to work tomorrow, or Monday and not going to do anything this weekend. The doc says I have something unpronounceable on my left side and has provided me with a five day antibiotics course. The situation is that I have the most aggressive tickly cough which waits til I'm about to sleep then kicks in causing and coughing fit, not the most restful situation.

I was in bed at eight and it's now ten thirty and sitting up writing this is giving me some respite,, although the chunks of Galaxy plus Buttercup Syrup and other sundry druggy things are keeping it at bay though not sure for how long.

I really had no intention of writing this but I am just hoping it can lull my whole body into a sense of sleepiness. I really can't take any more chocolate and I am not sure what other options I have.

If I do drop off I don't have to get up tomorrow, the doc recommended a couple of days off and spoke with a couple of bosses today before tidying things up and setting my OOO.

I will leave you with the excellent "Take The Skinheads Bowling" by Camper Van Beethoven which is just a wonderful song and can bring a ray of brightness into the most mundane of situations.


In October 1979 an AOR band released an album that was reviewed by the NME. The band was Fleetwood Mac, sitting duck targets for the punk driven NME ethic at the time. Even worse this was a double album, the absolute eptome of self indulgence for the bloated dinosaur rockers of the time. This was shooting fish in a barrel.

Meanwhile somewhere in the  USA record execs listened to the follow to the multi million selling "Rumours" and saw their bonuses going up in smoke.

The NME review was shocking in that it acknowledge the absolute brilliance of this double album, driven by the eccentric genius of Lindsey Buckingham with huge contributions from Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood. It was album of the week, this was as unexpected as Brian Clough taking over Leeds United.

I bought the album and totally loved it, and still play it today , end to end. The advent of CD and digital means that you can listen without haveing to flip the vinyl, but music is excellent and it doesn't matter what the medium is.

In 2003 Camper Van Beethoven decided to cover the whole double album (see here) and I was listening to this excellent cover when I was drifting off to sleep the other night. As "Not That Funny" was playing I thought that sounds like Camper Van Beethoven on "Take The Skinheads Bowling" before realising who I was actually listening to.

So I will leave you with 

Wednesday 19 September 2018

I Think I'll ......

How many times do you decide to do a trivial task and it turns into a hell of a lot more than you expected. Today was bin day so I thought I'd just empty the bin in the bedroom last night, this then turned into every bin in the house before dragging out the bin to the the street for the binmen's convenience.

Then there was a couple of days washing up to deal with and one small fabric wash turned into three biggish loads which have to be hung to dy after they've finished, but to make room had to take a load of towels off the drying racks to make room.

Then dug dug out my only two unripped Cracker albums, "Kerosene Hat" and "Redux - Greatest Hits" and I use iTunes to rip CDs. Remember in the early days of Java, when every time you wanted to use a Java enabled app you had to download and install the latest 2 Mb installation and this was pre broadband, it was bloody painful. Well that's what iTunes (and probably all other Apple updates) is like today, 250 Mb to give you the same as you had before with probably more advertising.

The I start ripping "Kerosene Hat" and find it has a hundred tracks on it, most of which are blank spacers, decided it would be quickest to rip and then delete.

So taking a lot longer to do things I expected to do yesterday and today.

ALso my lurgi (I'm off to the docs tomorrow) is causing me to fall behind on my walking targets, so September maybe the first month where I fail tohit the 340K target. It's not bothering me too much as I think it's maybe taking energy that should be going towards recuperation, but we shall see.

So I'll leave you with another Cracker song "Low".

Enjoy your Wednesday

Saturday 15 September 2018

Get Yer Bloody Lawn Mowed

My lawn does need mowing but it is looking lush and healthy at the moment and I think I will be overdoing it if I try it today, so I will let it continue to be lush. The title is inspired by the title of the latest Half Man Half Biscuit album " No-one Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fvckin' Hedge Cut", the title is starred out on Amazon and I've replaced the "U" with a "V" so hopefully people won't be too offended. The thing is starring things out doesn't hide anything really, people what F**k and Bu**er mean given the context, and it's unlikely the second word will be Butler, Bugker or Butter.

Anyway more of my thoughts on the album, it's much like most of their albums, ie excellent and the instrumentation, playing and productions seems much improved, possibly to the detriment of the lyrics, which are incredibly important in the effect of Half Man Half Biscuit songs sponting the references , connections, ambiguities and hilarities and Shakespearean class word play in there, although Nigel Blackwell may not thank me for that comparison, though him and John Cooper Clarke should be Poet Laureate at some point, two of our greatest populist wordsmiths.

I've chosen "Every Time A Bell Rings" which contains a refrain of the album title, checks in with David Bowie in the first line, takes swipes at Artisan stuff and wannabe cyclist and "It's A Wonderful Life". It's this sort of song that makes them an absolute joy to listen to.

Yes there is darkness in there but it's a sort of loveable darkness, and they are still one of my favourite bands and always will be.

A New Low

Yesterday I did about 1100 steps, that's 2K under the national average and the lowest I've done since starting my rolling three month Million Step Challenge. For the first time since I can remember I never left the house, and virtually never left  my bed apart from to have a hot bath the ease my aches. For the last three days I've been suffering from cold and 'flu' like symptoms. It's not real 'flu' because I can actually move.

It's three AM and as yesterday was spent sleeping and resting I thought I could just write a blog post to say what has been happening to me.

I was looking through my digital music collection and noticed I hadn't ripped any of my Cracker albums so I will extract them from the box tomorrow and ad them to my digital collection, so I have shared the brilliant "Teen Angst" with you for this post.

I am finding Simon Singh's "The Code Book" extremely interesting about the history of code making, code breaking and the ingenious ways of passing secret messages from the time we actually started to write.

It is amazing how much time we spend online these days, when I switched the computer on it was 2.22 it is now 3.02, and I will soon be going back to bed, though I really do hope that getting up and writing this doesn't knock me back, but it's Saturday morning so I can have a day of relaxation, though hopefully won't hit another all time low on the step front.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Some Lines

Suffering from a cold, runny nose , headache and the like, what certain softies call 'flu' or man 'flu' . It's a cold, a head cold, it's unpleasant and I want it to go away.

Sitting downstairs this popped into my head for some reason. It has before, but I thought I would formalise it as one of my Non-Poems, just thinking of what we have that we will probably never use, but we still collect:

We have films
We will never watch
We have books
We will never read
We have records
We will never listen to
We have devices
We will never use


Or Will We?
What we have
Gives us choice
We Justify it
As Planning
For The Future


I Will
Watch That Film
Read That Book
Listen To That Record
Use That Device
I Will
I Will

I am going through tissues and headachey so will leave you with "Legend of A Mind" by The Moody Blues from "In Search of The Lost Chord" which references Timothy Leary the LSD guru.

Morning Darker

Looking out my window the sky is full of grey clouds scudding across the skyline. Yesterday I was feeling very down, I'm not sure why, but I'd run out of some of my tablets unexpectedly and they were are related to blood pressure so maybe that was something to do with it. Also valious friends are suffering from physical and mental pain and barring supportive texting there is absolutely nothing I can do for them.

Added to this I had various meetings and things that needed to be sorted at work and an, at times, painful hacking chesty cough.

When I got home I got by drugs stash replenished and loaded up with chocolate to ease my throat and started watching "Spectre", which is rather enjoyable but the title song is half decent but ruined by the strangled cat vocals of Sam Smith. Still that was just a couple of minutes at the beginning.

I also finished "The Fourteenth Letter", the debut novel by Claire Evans, I didn't think it was my cup of tea, it wasn;t it was the whole teapot, highly recommended despite recommendations on the back cover from Heat and Good Housekeeping which would have put me off. I suggest to you get yourself a copy.

That's been replaced by "The Code Book" by the excellent Simon Singh, the choice may have been influenced by me watch the brilliant "Imitation Game" the incredible story that showed how the British Government drove the genius Alan Turing to suicide and it's the sort of thing that would happen under today's US and UK governments.

Looking out of the window and there is now blue sky appearing and the clouds blow away.

Spo what to play, maybe Jonathan Richman's "I'm A Little Dinosaur" which is a cuteness injection for a fairly downer post, but I know today wiill be an improvement on yesterday for me, I hope it is for all my friends.

Have a great Wednesday.

Monday 10 September 2018

Morning Dark

When I left my bed this morning it was dark. I had to put lights on. It was 6AM. Autumn and grey skies are here.

In the shower I seldom want to come out, hot water on your body feels so nice, knowing that when it stops you will be cold and wet and have to dry yourself off.

The other thing is you know it's Monday and have to go to work. Will I walk or will I take the bus? I will start walking but my give up and get the bus eventually.

Yesterday I did 18K steps so that was a bit more than I expected to do, but it was fairly.

I must say I am very impressed by Claire Evans novel, "The Fourteenth Letter"  and although the clues are strewn throughout I didn't see the endgame coming and I still have 25 pages to go, so I'm well impressed with that and I only bought it to get myself free delivery on something.

Also in the last couple of weeks I heard a great song on 6Music called "Chevrolet Van" by The Nude Party. The record is great, but you get some interesting results on Amazon,Google and Youtube when you search for Nude Party.

Anyway have a great Monday everybody.

Sunday 9 September 2018

Observations on The Great North Run Finishing Line

Today we went to give a little moral support to our friend Helen who was partaking of her fifth Great North Run (same as Sir Mo Farah) with her friend Suzanne. The weather held and we were thinking of seeing her off at the beginning, but she was one of around 43,000 participants.

I was surprised to see that the wheelchair winner covered the course in 40 minutes (that's an average of 20 mph) and Sir Mo Farah did it in under an hour therefore averaging 13 mph for the duration of the race.

The organisation was excellent with public transport providing egress and ingress for God knows how many people to the finishing line near Bents Park in South Shields. Given that there were 43,000 participants then each one of those must have averaged say 5 well wishers and support staff so you are probably looking at 200K-250K people in the area.

There were many charities represented, and Helen was running to raise money for St Oswald's Hospices and you can text STOS18£5 to donate £5 to them,

The Red Arrows did a start of race fly past over Newcastle as the runners went over the Tyne Bridge and did a full display after most of the runners had finished. You can see my short far away footage here.

On leaving the number of buses for travellers was phenomenal, and the queues for the Metro and Ferry were extremely long. Luckily Suzanne's sister came and picked us up although we walked a fair way to meet her, but she probably saved us about six hours of queueing, an absolute angel.

Although the organisation was excellent I was surprised that there was absolutely no Mobil Phone Company presence. Duracell were sponsoring and had charging points, and I'm with EE who generally have the best Network coverage, but the sheer number of people meant that they shut down data services and calls were limited to Emergency. I don't know if other providers were the same but I would have thought for such an important event there would have been a presence with signal boosting towers, but there was nothing.

This meant that I couldn't post any video at the time and it may have stopped people from texting donations as well, because that sort of thing is a spur of the moment thing and  once you leave then it's forgotten about. So EE and probably all other mobile phone companies copybooks are blotted, but the day was a huge success and charities did benefit from huge contributions.

Saturday 8 September 2018

Blakk and Whyte

Today I shared a couple of posts with The Half Man Half Biscuit(HMHB) Appreciation Society on Facebook, because I'd been listening to Half Man Half Biscuit this week, and the likes and visits on those two posts are like ten times my normal number of visits. I think there are maybe twenty of my Facebook friends who visit my blog regularly and the rest are just robots but the visits today have really gone through the roof for me.

Maybe I don't put myself about enough, although I always hope that my titles and preamble will tempt in visitors, although that's obviously not working.

I love it when people read my stuff and make (ideally positive) comments about my stuff. Yesterday I wasn't going to write about Burt Reynolds and today I didn't expect to be writing about this but I am.

I expect this post to get maybe twenty or thirty hits but that's what I'm used to. It would be nice to have a million followers but I just have three, not very many for a twelve year old blog is it.

Today I saw an amazing young band called Trilogy busking in Northumberland street. I took a minute of Instagram video here so you can see how good and young they are, even younger than The Strypes and General Fiasco when I first saw them. They literally blew all the other buskers off the street very impressive.

So I will leave you with The Strypes covering The Beatles' "Taxman", the opener from "Revolver", in their youth , sleep well my friends.

Eno Collaboration

I was going to write this yesterday but with Burt Reynolds (see last post) leaving us I thought that more appropriate. Anyway I have been listening to a lot of Half Man Half Biscuit this week and started with "And Some Fell On Stony Ground" through "Achtung Bono" to "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Road".

The first album is is an excellent ragbag collection of non album songs including a banjo driven version of "Trumpton Riots" retitled (appropriately) "On Finding The Studio Banjo".

However it also contains the single version of "Eno Collaboration" and the last album contains, well,  the album version. Nigel Blackwell's dexterity with lyrical apposition is so brilliant on this singalong classic that I had to share it with you as one of the #SongsYouveNeverHeard and if you take the time to listen to it you will love it. Lines like:

"I know Bono and he knows Ono and she knows Eno’s phone goes thus:
Brian’s not at home, he’s at the North Pole
but if you’d like to leave a weird noise”

You can read the full lyrics here.

Enjoy your Saturday everybody