Friday, 31 August 2007

So tired...

...that this is all I'm going to write, until September.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Project (1)

Or, to give its full title, Projects I Would Love To Do But Will Never Ever Get Round To (Probably). The first in an irregular series of posts which will be published as and when I think of equally stupid/pointless/unfeasible ideas.

So, having a drink with friends last night at a pub where a quiz was taking place (we weren't taking part), I suggested the following idea.

  • We form a quiz team, and we go to pub quizzes a minimum of three times a week.
  • For every single answer in every single quiz, we write the same answer: Spartacus.
  • We do this for a year, and then we tot up how many times Spartacus was the right answer.
  • Er, that's it.
Oddly, nobody seemed willing to give it a go. Somebody did say it sounded like an Art Project though.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Swings and roundabouts

A lovely, sunny, extended weekend. Shame I've been in such a crap mood. I think it's partially (but not only) the aftermath of being under the weather for most of last week, such things take their toll. I went to see my mother for a couple of days up in Derbyshire and was so tired and preoccupied that I imagine she felt like she had a sullen, monosyllabic teenager staying in her house.

Still, as I was travelling back on Sunday, I decided to have a lunchtime pint at Derby train station. I went up to the bar and waited for a moment: the barman was facing in the other direction and gazing at nothing in particular until he noticed that I was there. He apologised, but I explained to him that I'd not been waiting for long.

"You looked as though you were miles away," I said to him.

"Yes, completely in my own world," he replied.

I nodded, thinking about my own searing introspection, telling him I knew that feeling pretty well. As he poured my pint, he said it had not been the best of weekends. His mate had been killed in a car crash.

Not the best of weekends - quite an understatement.

I raised my glass to him, and inwardly I thought, that pretty much puts my own mood into perspective doesn't it?

After getting back home I went out to a party which was being held at a nearby allotment, a really nice occasion thankfully. I took these photographs while I was there.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Product placement (2)






Thursday, 16 August 2007


Damo Suzuki is playing in my local pub tonight. Yes, as you'll all know, the very same Damo Suzuki wot played in legendary band Can. Yes, as you'll all know, Can were an underground, excellent, and downright massively influential band from Dusseldorf from the late sixties through to the late seventies.

I don't know if I'm going to go and see him though.

There was a real buzz round this here way a couple of years ago when he first played: not only was it the first time he'd played in the vicinity for around 3 decades, But It Was At Our Local Pub. How unlikely and amazing was that? I was seriously considering getting a taxi there and back (surely a 15 second journey either way) just for the sake of it. It was great as well: the place was packed, full of atmosphere, and musically the goods were very much delivered.

Last year he played again at the local pub (I can imagine the headlines: Legend Plays Twice At Local Bar!). I've failed to mention that part of what he does is rely on the merits of local musicians wherever he plays, as part of an extended network: the ethos is to play music which is raw, unbridled and improvisational. Whatever impression this gives in theory, in practice it is often hypnotic and soaring. So at last year's bash, the bass player had absented himself from his duties for a few minutes, and I was expecting him to come back at any given moment. He didn't reappear for some time though so, aided by more than a couple of pints of Abbots, I found myself onstage weaving a few basslines into the ebb and flow of the music.

I don't get starstruck like I used to in my younger days, but here I was onstage right next to Damo Suzuki, it was quite something. I wasn't there for very long since the bass player finally came back a few minutes later, but it was enough for me, I felt like I'd had my moment.

I doubt that I'd get such an opportunity to do the same tonight, and so maybe after scaling such giddy heights last time round I might just feel a little disappointed, regardless of how good the gig will probably turn out to be.

That's not the reason I'm not going though.

Main reason is, I'm bloody skint.

Saturday, 11 August 2007


Shit. I was all at sea after John Peel died. Here's another.

Rest in peace Tony Wilson.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Champagne (well, whisky actually)

I won an award! Courtesy of anna mr, I am one of five lucky recipients of the Creative Blogger award. I'm especially lucky that she has chosen not to do this as a tag - so I salute you anna, not for nothing are you a thoughtful blogger.


Monday, 6 August 2007

Tags (3)

I'm employing diversionary tactics here, since my mood has dipped with uncommon fierceness following such a sublime weekend. So now seems as good a time as any to respond to the fact that Charlotte tagged me the other week with her "5 Things" Meme, bless her.

Chances are I'll delay or avoid doing any further tags in the near future since this is the fourth I've done in a fairly short space of time - which is enough for any pair of trousers, even the hard-wearing denim variety. Still this "5 things" did look like fun so maybe it'll give me a bit of a lift. Thanks Charlotte!

What were you doing ten years ago?

Spending my weekends in a beautiful flat (more like a huge rambling old cottage) in the huge grounds of a heritage site in Derbyshire where my girlfriend was staying, since she had moved there to work. We were coming to the end of our relationship after several years but this was rather a fine swansong. Our break-up seemed inevitable under the circumstances but was about as amicable as it could possibly be. I was also taking antidepressants and having bereavement counselling: in the main though I remember this being a good time (which might sound odd having said what I've just said), albeit with a pretty intense edge to it.

I was listening obsessively to "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" by Spiritualized throughout the whole summer, which in a way sums up its bitter-sweetness.

Five Snacks You Enjoy:

Pine kernel




Alpen cereal bars (strawberry and yoghurt flavour)

Five songs you know all the lyrics to:

Pale Blue Eyes by The Velvet Underground

Mutual Friend by Wire (very odd words, worth checking out)

Teenage Daughter by Fat Truckers (hope this isn't cheating, the only words in the song are "Teenage Daughter")

Careless Soul (traditional, arranged by Daniel Johnston)

No Expectations by The Rolling Stones

Five things you would do if you were a millionare:

Buy or rent an apartment abroad

Set up somewhere to record, paint and write


Get needlessly anxious

Carry out random acts of senseless generosity

Five Bad Habits:

Constantly drumming on tables, chairs and any other hittable surfaces

Grinding my teeth

Picking my nose (when I think no-one is looking)


Being pedantic

Five Things You Like Doing:





Creative things

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again:

Things which don't fit - otherwise, never say never (this answer is a cop-out, since this is something I would hardly think about)

Five Favourite Toys:



Endless cheap keyboards

Digital camera

George Foreman Lean Mean Low-Fat Grilling Machine

Once again, thanks to Charlotte for providing the means to some distraction during a rather melancholy moment. In a bid to get him off his backside and writing something, I'm tagging a certain welder.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Weekend (3)

I had a shit weekend.

Far from being in a pleasant rural area, it was a place of unrestrained urban sprawl.

There was no atmosphere.

The local buildings had no character.

The scenery wasn't much cop.

There was nothing worth going to visit.

Not even any decent walking routes.

The weather was terrible.

The pace of life was way too hectic.

I couldn't relax.

My accommodation was nowhere near a pub.

Thank goodness that wasn't this weekend though - as you can see from the photos everything was just fine and dandy. I found out when I arrived that I was staying at Willersey, a charming little place: pleasant, scenic and very relaxed. The last picture is through the doorway of my accommodation (which was lovely) looking across to the pub. I'd thought I was staying inside the pub but it was a separate little building less than a weakling's stone's throw away. I'd warmly recommend it to anyone.

The only odd thing about the weekend was, as I went for a late night wander round after several delicious pints of ale, I was sure I could see sparks and flashing lights in a clearing in the trees. In my semi-inebriated state, the only thing I could think was that this seemed to be consistent with spot-welding or arc-welding.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Weekend (2)

I'm off again, until Sunday. I'm not entirely sure where I'm going but it looks nice. Maybe I'll have some photos of I'm Not Sure Where This Is and the surrounding area to post up when I get back. Main thing is, I'm staying in a pub, so I'm sure I'll manage ok. Once again, have a good weekend all ye whomsoever enter here (eh?).

Wednesday, 1 August 2007


Back in the mid nineties, I moved into a shared house with five other people. I'd been at art college with all of them. By now we'd all been away from college for a couple of years or more, but being in this house together was like a throwback to student days, in some ways - albeit with much more housework and washing up being done on a regular basis.

There was something else which was to distinguish it from those earlier times as well: the six of us were soon to become seven, since two of those who had moved in were going to be parents. We'd already known before we moved in that she was expecting: she made sure we all knew about it so that if anybody was unhappy about the prospect of sharing with a newborn then they had plenty of notice to find somewhere else to live.

I wasn't unhappy about the prospect, I think I was indifferent. I didn't dislike kids (except those noisy bastards on the bus), but I didn't have any great fondness for them either. I wasn't sure what to expect really, and as the due date neared, I was more than preoccupied by my father's terminal cancer. At such a time it was quite easy for me to get sad and morbid about a lot of things, and I frequently did. So when I thought about my own childhood, I felt quite down about it - so many memories of many happy times playing seemed tainted by the thought that those adults around me might find it a chore to keep me entertained and occupied, rather than it being fun for them too.

The thought was upsetting, but I couldn't dispel it. This is, of course, the kind of perspective you can have on life when you're not exactly a happy bunny, and it serves to fuel your unhappiness (as if you needed it).

If and when I deviated from these miserable spells for any length of time, a reminder that I was about to lose my dad at any point in the coming weeks or months would kick in like a reflex action, as though to prevent me from experiencing anything other than disquiet and worry.

GY was born, brought home from hospital. I was happy for his parents, but inside I was still utterly indifferent. If he cried in the night, the house was large and sturdy enough for the sound not to carry. Chances are I wouldn't have been asleep for it to wake me in the first place.

Still, despite the fact that he seemed to spend most of his first weeks crying, shitting and sleeping (didn't we all), we all thought he was cute, heightened by the fact of his mixed heritage.

A few weeks later, me and him were getting on like a house on fire. I would laugh hysterically when the cat yawned, and he yawned in turn. He would laugh hysterically when I pulled stupid faces. He would be absorbed for ages when I played on a drumkit improvised from bottles and tin cans, and I would be amazed to watch him seemingly discover his left foot for the first time (it took him several more days for him to find his remaining foot).

It was great fun. It was a delight. It was, I realised, a boost for my sanity since it provided a necessary balance: my dad's deterioration grew ever more evident, as he lost the ability to do things for himself, was doing each and every thing for the last time. Here, in this house, was someone who was doing everything for the very first time, and it was all a magnificent revelation (not just for him). This had been the darkest time for me so far, and for the time being the privilege of witnessing all this, first-hand, was helping to lift me out of it.

After all this, when I reflected back on my own childhood, most of those dark, depressing thoughts had now been cast aside: because now I was able to see just what an amazing experience it could be for me, an adult, to let go of adult concerns and be a child again to my heart's content. It was cathartic, to say the least.

How nice it was last weekend, then, to spend a couple of days with two good friends and their own child, and to revisit such wonderful moments. More memories to be treasured.