Monday, 2 August 2021

You've got Mael


Yesterday was something of a red letter day: I crossed the threshold of Nottingham's fabulous Broadway Cinema for the first time in nigh on 18 months. That's right, I went to the pictures; who would have thought in those halcyon days of 2019 (seems lik
e a lifetime ago) we would have considered a pastime so (seemingly) normal to something we now shout from the roof tops.

Arriving at the venue 30 minutes before showtime for a coffee and I could see that they've not been sitting on their hands during Lockdown - the foyer, cafĂ© and mezzanine bar have all had makeovers - following on from the pre-Covid screen room upgrades. Our tickets were booked online so I knew where I'd be sitting (front row - always the front row), and with adjacent seats either side blocked out and every other row temporarily out of commission it meant that everyone felt really safe.

The Sparks Brothers is everything a you'd expect a big screen documentary movie about Ron and Russell Mael to be. Brash. Clever. And very funny. How many bands improve with age? The answer to that rhetorical question is, I can tell you, not many. But after 50 years, 25 albums and almost 400 songs, Sparks just go from strength to strength. Their tour bus certainly shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Showing in selected cinemas now.



Monday, 26 July 2021

The places where we go


I tweeted recently that during a visit to a local churchyard I'd found peace; literally - see the photo above. Let me explain, my latest lunchtime ritual is walking to the local churchyard and sitting on a bench sitting in a tranquil part of the grounds under the canopy of a gorgeous ash tree whilst eating my sandwich. I generally stay for twenty minutes or so and cogitate (mindfulness for slackers). I've been mulling over a few things that haven't been sitting right with me lately. To be honest I'd rather do it in the middle of the day than toss and turn at night and lose valuable shut eye.

As I say, it's a relatively new ritual but I find it helps me compartmentalise a lot of the crap that's currently going round in my head. And today I had something of an epiphany: just as the church bell chimed one something pretty amazing happened. A white feather fluttered down from the tree above my head and landed on my shirt. Now, whether I believe in angels is a subject for another day, but what I heard in my head as I picked the feather up and let it fall to the ground was "All will be right for you soon." At least I think that's what I heard... 

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Backlit



A few weeks away from the blog and, apart from opening a couple of windows to let some fresh air in & quick whizz round with the antibacterial wipes, everything's pretty much as it was when I was last here. I've pulled in a couple of mini breaks during my layoff resulting in me spending more than one night away from Medd Towers: not since 2019 have I rested my head on someone else's pillow for two or more nights on the bounce. And, because my humble blog is nothing more than random keyboard ejaculations, I figured I could slink away for a couple of weeks and no one would report me as a missing person.
So, what do you want? Would you like to see footage of the badgers that took up residence in my back garden and scared Doris (my cat) shitless? Tales of Devon and a beautiful week spent with James and Janneke? Drunken shenanigans in York with two of my oldest and dearest friends who knew me when I could still touch my toes and stay out till five in the morning - all whilst wearing a pair of 32" waist trousers. Or, perhaps, the demise of my old part time freelance gig and a return to more, ahem, regular employment? Or the tune I told you I was going to run by you the next time I dusted off my turntable?

The truth is, at this present time, I'm really struggling to summon up the enthusiasm to wax lyrical about anything. Maybe because it's still over 20 degrees outside my office window as I'm splurging these scattergun thoughts at *looks at watch* 1.05am I'm feeling a little lethargic and a lot tired (I know, that last sentence doesn't even make sense). So, as I thought all along, with the exception of this little update, I think I'll write July off and come back again next month - harder, better, faster, stronger. See, that's just daft. Back soon. J x

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Spiky


Before I get back into my writing groove (looking at my 2021 timeline it may appear, to the untrained eye, that I've forsaken my trusty quill and parchment but I really haven't) I'd like to quickly share with you a couple of recent lockdown discoveries I hope you'll find agreeable. Tell you what, I'll do one now and another one next week (when I return from Devon). 

Yard Act are a four piece from Leeds - they've not played many gigs (then again who has in the last 18 months?) but the recently formed west Yorkshire combo have released a couple of blinding singles that seem to have gone down well in all the right places; not least The Guardian, who called them spiky. Yep, I think spiky sums up their minimalist, deadpan shtick quite well.

Yard Act - Fixer Upper (2021)



Monday, 14 June 2021

Two of a Kind


I have absolutely no idea if today's highly unimaginatively titled post will be a blink and you miss it one-off or a jumping-off point for a feature I'll wheel out on high days and holidays. Or, even, Mondays. 

I've been going through my photographs and theming them. At the risk of telling you how to suck eggs they can be by subject, location, time, colour, texture; you name it - it may even just be a feel. So what I thought I'd do today is give you a couple of photos I took in Nottingham recently. The first is a tunnel which is cut into the sandstone not far from the city centre; it's still one of the best kept secrets that many Nottinghamians are blissfully unaware of. This shot is quite literally the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tunnel Road, Nottingham NG1 (2021)


Its photo buddy for purposes of today's 'Two of a Kind' was taken in the pub (quelle surprise) last week. The light streaming thru the open door was too good an opportunity to miss.

The Abdication, Daybrook, Nottingham NG5


...

To round up this one-off/feature (watch this space) I'm also looking at two records that are thematically linked. This brace are both well known Top 10 UK singles from the 70s and have been joined at the hip thanks to a rather lovely pub quiz question. I'm sure you all know the answer, tho' I will slip it in at the bottom of the page*.

Roxy Music - Virginia Plain (1972)



And then a mere seven years later these lads from Deptford in South London came up with a perfect three minute kitchen sink drama. From the Difford & Tilbrook songbook -

Squeeze - Up the Junction (1979)



And finally, a further bit of connectivity that joins the dots between Roxy and Squeeze - both Chris Difford and Phil Manzanera have recently been guests of David Hepworth and Mark Ellen on their splendid antidote to lockdown, Word in Your Attic. Give them a coat of looking at if you get a spare minute.

* The title of both songs are mentioned only once, and in the final line.