Monday 31 December 2012

Grappelling reading

I was pleased to be asked recently to write a piece for the excellent Stupefaction blog. A big thank you to Head Honcho, Tim Brown, for posting my Appreciation of Stephane Grappelli. 

Saturday 29 December 2012

Lift up your skirt and fly

Desdemona by John's Children was (Smashed) Blocked

We live in an age where we can say and broadcast almost anything. If the footage had existed the BBC would have reveled in showing us Andrew Mitchell cycling up to Plod and calling him a fucking pl*b. But it wasn't always thus. From George Formby to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the Beeb have banned numerous recordings. This collection brings together 75 of them.

Friday 28 December 2012


After the ups and downs of the last two years (a roller-coaster ride doesn't even come close), it was with a positive spring in my step that I came down the stairs in our new home this morning. Yes, a year older than yesterday morning but, with a sense, finally, of being in the right place (and, it feels to me, as near to the right time as powers higher than me have probably preordained*).

But, hey, it's just another birthday. Although not significant - but I would argue that any birthday is significant - I shall probably do all the usual things I've done on previous birthdays, shoehorned as it is between Christmas and New Year.

Before that I'll go around the house straightening all the pictures to this soundtrack. Well, I would if we'd got round to hanging them. But it is a stunning piece of music.

Igor Stravinsky: Pulcinella Overture

* Apologies if this comes across as pompous, it's just how I felt at 8 o'clock this morning.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Even walls fall down

Writing and performing your own songs is great fun - you can fluff the words and/or tune and nobody's any the wiser. It's only when they take on a life of their own and people start singing them back to you that I'll start worrying. I'll get back to you on that one.

Therefore I'm a bit picky when it comes to covering other people's stuff: I avoid popular songs like the plague: the one cover on my Pickering Place EP is a very obscure Slade B-Side which even the writer Jim Lea would struggle to recognise as one of his.

But when I play Tom Petty's Walls, I don't change it at all. And the last time I saw Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby they played it with a straight bat too. It's just such a good song. Who couldn't be moved by the last verse:

Some things are over
Some things go on
Part of me you carry
And part of me is gone

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Exterminate: going postal

Time was, you either had to be dead or the Monarch (or married into the Monarchy) to appear on a British postage stamp. Now you don't have to die at all; you just have to be able to regenerate. Either that or be a race of extraterrestrial science fiction mutants.

Daleks don't climb stairs. They level the building.

Monday 24 December 2012

Forget me not

If you never received a Christmas card from us this year, please don't get bent out of shape. We've only just got straight after moving house and writing cards wasn't exactly our number one priority.

But if you did, I'd like to think that we would have at least put your name(s) in the card and, maybe, even a little note personal to you.

Anyway, normal service will, I hope (if the fates allow) be resumed come Christmas 2013. And, anyway, I might surprise you by sending you a postcard before then. I may even ring you.

Happy holidays.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

A *Likely* story

Terry Collier John Medd and Bob Ferris

For one very brief moment, in the absence of James Bolam, I was a Likely Lad. Rodney Bewes was Bob and I was Terry; a surrogate Terry, anyway.

We had no script, so I improvised:

Terry: So, Bob, these rumours about you and Deidre Birchwood.

Bob: I couldn’t possibly comment.

Terry: Relax man. Thelma’s not here.

Bob: Do I know you?

The End  

Saturday 15 December 2012

'It felt like 2005 again'

The delightful Holly Taymar headlined the main stage at Pickering Acoustic Music on Wednesday night; those who stuck two fingers up to the freezing temperatures outside were rewarded with one of the finest singers ever to appear at North Yorkshire's most revered music venue.

Joined by the obscenely talented Christopher Bilton she played some tasty covers, not least a stripped down version of Sheffield anthem Common People, as well as some of her own sensuous tunes - many from the new CD Never Winter Mind (Part Two). From which she sang the best song I've heard all year. And I've heard a few. It's called The French One; Holly says it's because it sounds French. (Naming songs may not be her forte: the first song on the album is titled Song One).

Holly Taymar - The French One (2012)

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Telling tales

One of these men is innocent

A couple of weeks back, on a social networking site no less, I all but accused one of the people in the above photograph of stealing a guitar. A very expensive guitar at that. And, I thought, he'd done it in a very Robin Hood sort of way. Some thirty years later he now informs me that he'd got an alibi for the night in question.*

This non-story together with, I hope, some real stories may well. one day, form the backbone of the tale of a very loud band who resided in a very quiet town. This is a story that will, If I can get my facts straight, chart the rise and fall (and rise again) of three likely lads who, back in the day, from the moment they turned on their Orange amps, made this young man's pulse positively race.

My research will be meticulous and my questions will be probing. I will leave no stone unturned. I may even have to buy two of the protagonists strong liquor to loosen their tongues. I say two, as nobody knows where the third one lives.

It's a tale that's been left untold for too long.

* Sorry Rocky!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Bloody Terrible

They say that getting a BT engineer appointment is like pushing a wet mattress up a spiral staircase. And they're not wrong: we moved house last Friday and still we have no phone or internet. Broken promises and faceless voices on the sub continent mean that we'll soon be entering week two without a service we were assured would be in place last week. Anyone who reads the Twitter feed on the sidebar to the left of this blog can get a flavour of how BT are handling this.