Thursday, 18 October 2018

Unsummer


Woke up at  quarter to six, drinking coffee and the first song on the radio is "Hurt" by Johnny Cash. Last night I watched Pointless, Letterbox and two episodes of "Black Sails" and had a butter pie for tea. Nights and mornings are drawing in and there is more dark than light. Summer is definitely gone for this year.

Having said that yesterday was like a summer's day .... minus the heat.

We have now hit Thursday this week and as you can tell by what I am writing, not much is happening at the moment, although I noticed signs of screen burn on my Google Pixel, so I changed the picture to The Huntress of Skipton Castle Woods which looks almost ghostly and ethereal on the phone. My friend Helen noted that that it might be scary to come across in the dark, which reminds me of a ghost story told to me by my good friend Chris who we lost six years back.

One night he was walking back from helping out bailing on a farm. It was late but was walking back over fields and it took him through a smallish wood. A way ahead of him he saw some rectangular grey shapes floating about a foot off the ground. He had had a few pints but started to get more perturbed as he looked round not having a clue what these things were. In the end he broke into a run and then ran into one of the shapes.....

...as he was brought down , all was revealed, the creature was a sheep with a black head and black legs. Another logical explanation for a supernatural ghostly event.

I found "Mad Alice Lane(A Ghost Story)" by Pete Lawlor (ex of Stiltskin) to go with this. I don't know if this is readily available but was used in a Land Rover advert in 1996, still a very atmospheric song. I love it. It's on a "Spirit of New Age" compilation and this is what Pete says:

"Mad Alice Lane. I named this after a spooky alleyway I walked past before doing a gig in York. It was used in the Landrover commercial made by Nils and Roland (Harfensixpence is better than Harfenpenny is better than...) at Dorlands."

Enjoy your Thursday.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Television....Another Time Vampire


Over the last two evenings I could have done many things, but what I actually did was catch up on a few TV shows and also watch a few entertaining quiz shows. Pointless and Letterbox are entertaining and make you think (not too hard)  but are hardly essential viewing, but do pass an entertaining half hour. You watch both and that's an hour of your evening disposed of.

I don't know if this is affecting my social life, but the option of pressing a couple of buttons and actually being at home dos hold certain attractions, in that it's a lot easier, doesn't require any efforet and you can just go to bed when you finish. You probably have all the food and drink you like on hand and I have the added convenience of two  six til eleven convenience stores and several excellent takeawys and restaurants a short walk away.

It not so much me being anti social as me being lazy, there are events to attend, and people to share time with but more and more I am showing a preference for staying in and watching TV. This may have also been exacerbated by my anaemia / iron deficiency and I have been trying to address that and certainly I am feeling more energetic but not perfect. My recent illness may also have contributed but I do need to start getting out more, which may mean my "To Watch" list starts to grow to an unwatchable length.

Anyway it's Wednesday so I will continue on my way, and would be interested to hear what you think.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

This Strange Thing Called Life


No it's not anything deep. I find it strange that Facebook keeps suggesting friends because they're friends of people who would probably wish I wasn't their Facebook Friend anyway. Sometimes I spend a couple of minutes removing these suggestions and then let it revert to what it was. Basically I respect others privacy and they certainly wouldn't want  me intruding on them.

I've also regressed to my teenage years in my reading, revisiting Michael Moorcock's "History of the Runestaff" and while the writing is a bit clunky the storytelling more than stands up for me but it's probably not up to GRR Martin's standard, but Moorcock is both influential and a cracking story teller. I have six hundred pages in this book then another twelve hundred pages of a couple of related volumes that I want to revisit so we are talking Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" and Stephen King's "The Stand" in sheer volume, And at some point I want to revisit the former, I always found "The Stand" a bit bloated and could have been wrapped up in three hundred pages.

So it's Sunday night and today, among other things I ripped the live Springsteen 15 CD set so I can listen to it on my travels, and I have been impressed with what I have heard so far,

I'm going to choose another Moorcock / Blue Oyster Cult collaboration "The Great Sun Jester" from "Mirrors" based on the novel "The Winds of Limbo", it is a wonderful song and I still play it regularly, though when I first got the album this was the only song I liked, but the album has since grown on me as I posted here.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

An Appreciation of Half Man Half Biscuit on National Album Day


I'm not a fan of National anything Day, and I'm sure Nigel Blackwell is of the same opinion, he did write "National Shite Day", the closer on "CSI Ambleside" . When people say "Oh I'm only into 80's or 90's" music , if you mention Half Man Half Biscuit they just gawp and go on about ABC or Duran Duran (both fine bands).

I cant't remember the first song of their's I heard , whether it was "Trumpton Riots" or "All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit", but the latter made me go out and buy their their first album, and I just loved "Dickie Davies Eyes" and was disturbed when they split after that hit number one in the Independant Charts.

There is a lot in the Guardian about the band and until I read this I didn't know Nigel did advert voice overs, the article is here but there are quite a few see here. This is the bit about how the first album came about.

"Their record label then, as now, is Probe Plus - as ramshackle and free-spirited an independent as one could find anywhere. Probe operates from the Liverpool home of its proprietor, Geoff Davies, whose rambling Sefton Park manse is cluttered with Biscuit ephemera. Some of HMHB's more celebrated merchandise includes collectors' item teatowels (Some Call It Godcore tour - six dates in eight weeks) and the almost unobtainable McIntyre, Treadmore & Davitt mugs. They are an unusual pop group. Blackwell is a most unusual fellow.

Davies vividly remembers him coming into the Probe shop with his demo tape. "I looked at the back of the cassette and it was full of things like The Len Ganley Stance and Venus In Flares. I said to him: 'If the songs are half as good as the titles, we'll do it.' I was listening to the tape with my partner that night as we drove home and neither of us could believe what we were hearing. The lyrics and the subjects were astonishing, and probably actionable - but I called Nige the next day to say that we'd do an album."

To Davies's astonishment, Blackwell turned up on his doorstep a couple of days later with the finished master tapes of the album. "He just said to me: 'This is it. I've done it. That'll be £40, please.'"

"I might've told him it was 40," concedes Blackwell, "but I think it was more like 30. We recorded at Vulcan Studios. They'd just got in this eight-track studio upstairs and Half Man Half Biscuit were the guinea pigs. We went in. We did it. We put it out." "

Their site here has a list of a lot of radio sessions , and the Brampton one contains the definitive version of "24 Hour Garage People" and a three way interview between Andy Kershaw, Geoff Davies and Nigel Blackwell, in which Andy describes them as England's premier folk band. These were available for free download but removed when people started selling them when John Peel passed on, but I do have copies of the sessions and if you want a copy please contact me.

I love their very black humour "Blood On The Quad" , social observation "Lord Hereford's Knob" and pure charm "What Is Chatteris" and they always leave you with a smile on your face.

The lyric project here allows you to read their lyrics and enjoy the sheer poetry of Nigel's penmanship.

If there's a record of their's missing from your collection today is a good day to fill that hole.

Have a good one.

The Book Problem and The Clock Stopped at Midnight


I have an Owl Clock that I got from Whitby, and this week I noticed it had stopped, at midnight... or it could have been mid day as it's a standard analogue twelve hour clock. For some reason my mind is awake, my body is tired, and it's 3AM Saturday morning, ideally I should be asleep, my body says yes, my mind says no, so as I compromise I am writing this blog post in the hope that I can send my mind to sleep.

Bar Loco - Beef Stew
And here is what I was planning to write about yesterday but didn't get round to.  Yesterday I had a birthday lunch with my two brilliant daughters at Bar Loco, and went for the beef stew. I'm supposed to be eating iron rich food and was surprised when it came with mashed potato and long stem broccoli, and it was very scrumptious indeed.

You can see it to the right and didn't realise that the broccoli seems to be the biggest portion on the plate! It wasn't but it was all enjoyed.

Anyway now to the main point of this post, and I am starting to feel a little tired.

Yesterday I finally finished Simon Singh's "The Code Book" . It was hard going but a great great read, particularly twisting my melon like mind when it hit the quantum theory play out section (which was followed by ten coded messages to solve which I looked at and then shut the book).

Next I wanted something that was going to be entertaining but easy reading, and decided to go back to my teenage years and The Runestaff sequence by Michael Moorcock, which I was drawn into because of his affinity with Hawkwind one of my favourite bands of the time. The individual books come in at around 150 to 200 pages, and I was sure I had a reduxed anthology of the first four book but where the hell could it be, ad did I even have it. I wouldn't say I am a book hoarder, I know people who have a far greater affinity with books than I, but I wasn't sure where to start.

I cleared the pile next to my bedside cabinet and luckily it was there in the cabinet. But it was a far thicker volume than I expected, nearly seven hundred pages of quite small text. This is part of Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" and "Multiverse" (which incidentally is part of quantum theory) series which spans maybe a hundred books, most of which I have read and now I am going to read again hopefully.

I am on the second chapter and while the writing may not be perfect, the ideas are still stimulating and I am looking forward to continuing on. When I was working at Oxfam I came across "The Dreamthief's Daughter" and Elric novel and found that absolutely wonderful, so I will leave you with "Black Blade" by Blue Oyster Cult which features lyrics by Moorcock about Elric's sword, Stormbringer, the Stealer of Souls.

Have a brilliant Saturday,  I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Quantum


I was going to initial just write about dipping into the Bruce Springsteen "Complete 1978 Radio Broadcasts" 15 CD box set but this morning I read a bit more of "The Code Book" by Simon Singh and it has wandered into quantum theory.

Someone said about quantum theory, if you your mind is not bent and you are not confused by it then you don't get it. Well my mind is still bent and confused by it and I still feel that I don't get it. Taking into account possible simultaneous states of quasi matter and the concepts of multiverses and things be the same and the opposite of themselves my mind is a little twisted to say the least.

It's come up because of the concept of quantum computers, which if implemented will wipe the floor with current computers and effectively destroy the sort of digital privacy we currently have, which is based on  DES and  RSA encoding (I won't explain as it doesn't matter). To combat this cryptographers are working on quantum codes and cyphers but as yet do not have quantum computers to actually implement these concepts.

Anyway back to Bruce Springsteen and I listened to the first album and it's just a feed from a radio broadcast so it's like a bootleg and the crowd are fairly prominent but it is a wonderful experience. The opener of Buddy Holly's "Rave On" for me doesn't really work, but by the time you hit the closer of "Thunder Road" you are totally immersed. Absolutely wonderful. I now am looking at another fourteen discs which I am sure will be just as excellent.

Have a great Thursday everybody.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Iron Man


I am not. Had my annual check up and it turns out I'm anaemic and iron deficient among other things. Some hard skin is stopping feeling on my foot which is not good if you are diabetic. So need to eat more greens and get some moisturiser on my feet. This could explain why, this year, I'm usually to tired to go to things at night, social events , gigs, quizzes etc. So I may let you know what happens. I've loved the Sunday afternoon gigs at The Cluny because I've not been feeling shattered.

Last two days I've been on bed by nine, and most nights I am in bed by ten where I used to be able to stay up very late and still get up early for work. This morning I forgot to set my alarm so ended up getting up half an hour later, but glad to get some information on what's actually wrong with me.

I think for the first "Iron Man 2" film was soundtracked, sort of appropriately, by AC/DC so I'll include "Shoot To Thrill" for this very short Wednesday post.