Saturday, 31 October 2009


One aspect of being a bit hectic and having lots to (constructively) think about recently is that I worry less. My level of worry is perhaps currently not too far from what might be considered "normal" or even "healthy." I think this is partially what I was referring to in the previous post.

There are a couple of things happening at the moment which would otherwise, I think it's reasonable to say, be exercising me far more than they actually are, but which are thus contained - though not ignored or diminished.

One of these is the health of my mother. I spent the day in London yesterday but had asked her to ring me and let me know how things were once she had been to the hospital - she had an appointment in the afternoon, the outcome of which was potentially cause for concern.

I didn't get a call on my mobile, but thought I may as well wait until I got home: she usually leaves messages on my landline. I didn't get home until very late last night, however there was no message, nor did she appear to have actually called in the first place. It was too late to ring her and I was too tired anyway.

So this morning when I got up I could feel myself tapping into the worry. Things which have been there in the back of my mind, starting to head into view and, in the not-knowing, a hint of extrapolation of anxiety-provoking scenarios.

It was the latter that made me tell myself to get a grip and just get on and make the phone call. So I got a grip and made the phone call and (not for the first time), things are ok and suitably contained in themselves for the time being - and what had happened was that my mother must have misdialled my number. She had left a message for me, unfortunately on someone else's phone.

Worry has thus been put back in its place. But it reminded me in stark terms just how much better I'm functioning, the fact that there's been so little opportunity to allow it to flourish.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Tired but

I had a long day at work yesterday, I didn't get through my door until midnight precisely. It wasn't a bad day by any means, but tiring due to the sheer number of hours involved.

Today I knew I had plenty of things to do, but I also know what I'm like when I'm tired. I'd expected that the day would drag and that my various coping skills and ability to deal with situations would be diminished and that I would wallow in my lack of energy. Also that I would put many things off until sometime later (as in, not today).

The alarm went off this morning, and in the immediacy of that moment it felt like I made a snap decision: just get up and do what you need to do - starting now - or let the day go to waste through sheer avoidance. I chose the former. I hate the phrase I'm about to use,'s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

I'm not saying I had a day of massive achievements or anything like that. Because I didn't. But I got into work early and faced all the things I actually had time to deal with today: interestingly I felt like there was less pressure on me with regard to a particular situation, one which would normally be playing on my mind. I left work later than usual as well.

What I am actually saying, is that it's encouraging to me to know that I can be just as capable (more so, is what it feels like on the strength of today) in circumstances in which it would be understandable if I allowed myself not to make the effort.

Tired as I am, it's a source of comfort.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

21 years later

...I searched for, and found this earlier on today. One of those songs which had a real impact on me at the time: mainly the chord sequence and the vocal melody, I have never paid particular attention to the lyrics. So it's the first time I've heard it since around 1988, though the chords and melody have never really been too far from my consciousness in the interim.

It is, for me, an absolute gem, and it was a delight to hear it this morning. To my mind it hasn't dated at all badly.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


So I just played a gig this evening. I didn't mention it on here, which was part of wanting to keep it low-key.

It was indeed a low-key affair, not many people there, which I was absolutely fine with: to a large extent, I was viewing it as more valuable practice in anticipation of the gig I'm playing in December. It had certain frustrations: I'm happy with the material I played, but it already feels like old material, and I need to develop and consolidate the new stuff I'm working on.

I felt a little like a fish out of water. Whatever the merits or otherwise of my music, I was playing alongside two other artists who do very improvisational, noise and texture-based work - it made my stuff feel (to me) conventional and structured by comparison. I had melody (in parts), they had drones and walls of noise. I had beats, they had nothing of the sort.

It wasn't as black and white as that, there are elements aplently that I had in common with what they did, and between us we had an interesting discussion about just who was, taking everything into account, the most experimental amongst us.

I enjoyed playing my set, regardless, and I don't think it was quite so contrasting to the rest of the evening's music as my self-consciousness would try and persuade me. But what was really delicious was that, after I'd finished, all three of us returned to the stage to fill the remaining time with further improvisation.

What I really enjoyed was that - whatever the differences in form of the music we'd individually played earlier - we gelled together really well as an improvisational unit. It reminded me how much I like that side of performance and I appreciated that the three of us were able to meet, musically speaking, at a similar level. It feels like a bit of a confidence booster that I was able to change from one mode to another. I said I would be up for doing more of the same.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Following the signs and not, for once, misreading them (I hope)

Come December, I know that after the slog of the next few weeks, I'll be needing a break. I booked some time off work accordingly, after which it was a case of wondering where to go.

I had a number of ideas, but I wasn't sure.

I was musing on this - and many other things besides - one day last week as I walked a wayward route home from work. There'd been a lot for me to take in that day as regards work, most of it positive: potential, planned developments which may mean that I'm able to head in more of a creative direction and which would possibly formalise my role in that respect.

I sat discussing this on the phone with a colleague as I sat having some food in a waterside cafe, after which I embarked on what became quite a long (two hours) but lovely walk home: I took a turning away from the familiar route and along a road which skirted the university grounds.

It was truly autumn at its best, the russet of the leaves contrasting with the extensive grassland: the trees and various other flora simultaneously masking and adding a decorative flourish to the stately buildings, the latter's neo-classical stylings already beginning to dissolve gracefully into silhouette against the late afternoon sky.

It reminded me of my many wanderings around and beyond Museuminsel, Unter den Linden and other such places besides and beyond. I felt a hankering, but wouldn't it be a little too safe to head back to what now feels like familiar territory? Wouldn't it be worth being more adventurous, throwing caution to the wind and heading off to somewhere I've never been before?

I was weighing this up as I continued on my walk, the urge to broaden my horizons battling for space with the urge to renew my acquaintance with a place I already know and love. Just round the corner from home, I crossed the road and squeezed through the gap between two parked cars to get onto the pavement. I happened to look down at one of the cars. Berlingo was the name/brand of the car.

That decided it - well why not? - and I booked my flights and accommodation the following evening.

Sure, it is familiar territory, but it will be the first time I will have headed overseas and been on my own for the duration of the holiday. I believe it will stand me in good stead for a couple of further, more adventurous trips I intend to take next year.

Anyway, I hope I shall enjoy what Berlin has to offer in early December.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Football in the future (or is it the past?)

So tonight in a little while I shall be watching England play their last game in the qualifiers for the world cup finals in 2010. Football, that is (or soccer, if you will). It's a rare luxury to be able to watch such a game in the knowledge that we've already qualified and so nothing rests on this game except that hopefully we play well and do ourselves full credit as far as possible.

I also have the luxury of being able to watch the game live, online, as I did when we sealed our qualification in the game against Croatia a few weeks ago. The only thing is, it's not quite live: online, it's delayed from real time (and tv broadcast time) by about 30 or 40 seconds. Not a problem, such a short delay isn't going to make any difference to me as I watch the game.

Well, that's what I thought in the aforementioned England - Croatia match. Not that I was thinking about it as Frank Lampard readied himself to take on the Croatian goalkeeper from the penalty spot: always a tense and exciting moment. I sat agog, watching the screen as the referee blew the whistle, the signal for Lampard to step forward and take his shot.

Just as he was about to do so, I picked up a text message on my phone - me and a friend always exchange dozens of messages during these matches, providing our own commentary. Just before Lampard approached the spot and took his kick, I read the text.

*yes! great goal!!*

How does he know? I thought to myself, as I looked up to watch Lampard's shot hit the back of the net. Then I remembered about the time delay, which meant from my perspective that my friend was watching the match more than half a minute into the future. I had to urge him to count to 30 before he sent me a text in the event that England scored again (which they did, of course). Our exchange of messages then went off at ridiculous tangents as I quizzed him about what it was like to be living in the future (*oh, you know, jet packs, food pills, that kind of thing*).


Watching the football tonght will also serve as an evening off for me - I've been spending a lot of my evening time working on more music. New stuff, and brushing up some existing ideas. I've already found myself with a little bit of insight into the near future, knowing what my mental processes are like when developing such ideas: they feel exciting and fresh and worth pursuing right now, and I'm pretty sure that in a couple of weeks time I'll think they're all nothing more than various grades of absolute tedious shite, and that's when I'll start worrying, as the time gets ever nearer.

Thankfully, what I've just described has (so far) never been the final stage of said process.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Ok I'm being silly, the title is because this is my 300th post, and there were (supposedly, but not actually) 300 Spartans up on the mountain pass of the same name fighting a spirited but doomed fight in the face of overwhelming odds. Etc. Don't correct me if I'm getting mixed up already*.

Anyway, could somebody tell me how you pronounce Thermopylae? It's one of those words I've never said out loud, as far as I remember - mainly because it's not often it tends to crop up in conversation -

Going on holiday?

Yes, heading off to Thermopylae for a stag weekend at the end of the month.

Really? Oh, and I never thought you pronounced Thermopylae like that: sounds odd.

Oh just fuck off.

Anyway to go off on a tangent, I'm looking forward to playing a support slot for one of my favourite bands in a few weeks' time (use the Spartan analogy here too if you wish, but I won't necessarily endorse it), it's pretty thrilling in fact. Not that I'm going to say which band it is - on the off-chance you may have even heard of them - what with wanting to keep my anonymity and all that. I may find a way of posting an indirect, sneaky kind of link at some point.

An acquaintance of mine asked me the other day how the music was going - this was before I had the exciting news of the aforementioned support slot - and then asked what kind of music I do.

Never an easy question to answer, but another friend who was with me interjected at this point, and said, stressful. He makes very stressful music.

I quite like that description.

*I recommend, by the way, Persian Fire by Tom Holland, for a highly readable and engaging account of the Greco-Persian wars.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Dipping my toe in again

May I say that it's a rather refreshing change to be pretty hectic in that there Real Life thingy. Such a state of affairs will be continuing at least for the next few weeks, and I have a couple of things coming up which are potentially very exciting for me personally.

However, I do miss blogging - or, more precisely, I miss the interaction with my fellow bloggers - and so I aim to begin to incorporate bloggy-type things into my time once again: maybe in a low-key kind of way for a little while.

I should (well, there's nothing to say that I should: nonetheless, I will) point out that since I last posted here, I am now the owner of a pair of reading glasses, having been for an eye test for the first time in perhaps nearly a quarter of a century.

Oh, and I seem to remember saying last time that I would be catching up with a small number of people to whom I owe emails, etc. Have I done so? Bollocks have I. Oops. Hope no one's been holding their breath...