Friday 30 August 2013

I need a Saga

There are approximately 180 million regularly maintained Blogs on the Internet. All of life's fauna and flora can be found there. As Fraser Lewry, writing in September's Saga magazine, comments - folks are writing about anything from politics to polenta, from socks to sex. I don't know how the age demographic of Blog writers breaks down, all I do know is that Saga have, in their wisdom, included this Blog in their Top Fifty Over-50 Bloggers. A pdf version is available here - with thanks to Simon Longcroft for the very appropriate artwork. And, though maybe not in keeping with Saga magazine's demographic, here's some appropriate music.

Thursday 29 August 2013


Every now and again I slip anchor from Even Monkeys Fall Out of Trees and scribble a few words for other like minded coves. Moonlighting, if you will. It never did Leo Sayer any harm. This week I put in a shift with The Rocking Vicar.
If you take a stroll over to the vicarage you'll see how the Angora goat joins the dots between jazz crooners and punks. That's right, this hillside roaming grass muncher is the missing link between Frank Sinatra and Johnny Rotten. Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Ramblin' Man

Welcome to the Heffer Dome

Left to my own devices, and home alone, my default position is invariably sitting in a favourite chair with a glass of something and reading a book with a cat on my knee. But when the mood takes me I love to walk. Into the great wide open. And living where I do, the great wide open is nearer than it’s ever been.

On Saturday the Lady of the house went on a 48 hour smash and grab raid in search of shoes and handbags. I went rambling. And  I was joined by two wingmen. Well, one of them was a wingman – he sported a black beard and seemed to instinctively know where he was going. She was a vision in red ankle socks.

We rambled up hill and we rambled down dale. The views were stunning and the weather held. We swapped stories, cups of tea and chocolate bars. And we saw some cows, 12 to be precise. It was a figure of eight route with more follies, monuments and gargoyles than you could shake a shitty stick at.

Three hours later and we repaired to a hostelry for a well earned flagon of frothing ale. Note to self: I must do this more often.

Monday 26 August 2013

To Remind Me

I know I can be outspoken when I've got the bit between my teeth; but even I am invariably on the losing end of any argument that sees me trying to defend Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep as a credible pop single, a worthy Number One and, not, in any way, the template for Agadoo.

Sally Carr's clarion call, all the better for its discernible Lanarkshire lilt, enthralled me then and enthralls me still. Her yellow crochet hot pants may or may not have played a part also.

And although Middle of the Road were seen by many as a one trick pony, you'd be hard pushed to find any current recording artist out there who has shifted a combined 7 million copies of their first three singles.

I rediscovered this well woven little number yesterday while trying in vain to introduce some semblance of order into a record collection which, let me assure you, has never been described as middle of the road.

Middle of the Road - To Remind Me

Sunday 25 August 2013


I was raised as a Catholic and can remember spending (too) many Sunday mornings in cold churches. Our priest, as I recall, was always sermonising against the sort of thing you see on display here. I've always loved this tune but don't know, and choose not to know, anything about The Civil Wars; the whole are they/aren't they? thing isn't really my bag. But I'm guessing when they recorded this they were more than close.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Poster Boy

I’ve been a bit tardy, I know, but I’ve finally got around to having a little launch party for Pickering Place, my debut EP. It’s at The Kirk Theatre, Pickering, just outside York, on Saturday 7 September.

Joining me on the night will be the fabulous award winning songwriter, David Swann: he’ll be performing solo and with his new band Freefall. Also playing, spreading their intoxicating brand of feel good vibes, all the way from Manchester, are Frozen Gin. I’m particularly looking forward to their set as I taught the guitarist everything he knows.

And, finally, our MC for the evening, keeping the whole thing together, will be my good friend Martin Robertson. If I talk to him nicely he may even sing a song or two himself.

If you fancy it, come on down (or up) and say hello – I’d love to see you. And it’s all in aid of charity. I’ll even let you buy me a drink.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Black is the Colour

When Paul Weller decided to cover Black is the Colour he strayed as far from his mod credentials as he'd ever done in his career; unfortunately he'd bought a return ticket. Imagine if he'd stayed in that folky netherworld and not come back. His voice really does suit ballads and dirges. A friend of mine has got his 'phone number - I'm very tempted to blag it and give The Bard of Woking a call: 'Paul, do you fancy coming up to our acoustic night and playing a few tunes? No, I'm perfectly serious. We're only a little club so we'd only be only to pay your petrol. But we've got a spare bed if you want to crash the night. Don't worry, you don't have to sing any shanties. Well, not unless you want to.'

Sunday 18 August 2013

White Supremacy

This post could just as easily have been called I'm Dreaming of a White Album or The Future is White. In the world of Venn Diagrams I'm not sure what the crossover between Beatles fans and right wing fanatics is, but if any of the latter have found this site by mistake I hope they move along - there's nothing to see here.

We all have a favourite album. That piece of plastic you pull out to get you through the bad times; as well as the good. An album, in all likelihood, you own more than one copy of - the original, the remastered limited edition anthology version including demos by the band when they were still in short trousers and even shorter on ideas. New York artist Rutherford Chang is, as you can see in this short film, rather partial to The White Album by The Beatles. Part of me admires him. And part of me thinks he's barking.

Saturday 17 August 2013


When an injustice unfolds under your very nose it's hard not to speak out and say something; keeping quiet is not an option. I can't say too much about this particular episode because, even as I type, an investigation is under way.

So what, precisely, is this wrong that needs righting I hear you ask? Unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to divulge such information. But what I can tell you is that a gentleman from Cromarty, in the North East of Scotland, was robbed. In broad daylight. Don't worry, he wasn't hurt. Just a little shaken.

Pending the outcome of the aforementioned investigation I will be able to report back and tell you how this whole sorry affair was resolved. In the meantime, why not have a listen to this cracking little song from David Cowan:


Friday 16 August 2013


There are some bad people out there; they don't always creep up from behind and cosh you 'round the back of the head with a length of lead piping and throw you in the cut. But they're still bad, all the same. If you don't keep all your savings in pound notes under the mattress and insist on carrying plastic, then make sure you're aware of the courier scam.

Thursday 15 August 2013

A hill of beaNZ

Uprooting your family and moving to the other side of the world is not for the feint hearted. It takes fortitude. And lots of it; leaving friends, close relatives and those you love behind would, I'm sure, test anyone's mettle. I don't think I could do it. No, let me rephrase that: I know I couldn't do it. But that's precisely what our friends did just after the millennium. They circumnavigated the globe and pitched up in a country they'd only ever seen in National Geographic magazine and television documentaries. They had no friends or family in Australasia - they'd never set foot there. A mere detail. They liked the look of it; they liked the possibilities it presented. So they made the 12,000 mile journey and New Zealand's North Island became their new home. Twelve years later and now residing on the South Island they came back last week on one of their infrequent jaunts to the UK.

Despite numerous invitations we've still not seen them in their new hemisphere. So I'm forever quizzing them about life on the other side: Climate, population, economy, petrol prices, beer - all the usual stuff. And, fair play, they humour me; they know that by the time we finally do acquese they'll have started their next new adventure across the Tasman Sea in Oz.

But the main thing I've learned about life down under is far more profound than I could possibly have envisaged. Earthquakes, Maoris, Milford Sound, volcanoes and basking sharks are all well and good but, when it comes to buying tins of baked beans in the local supermarket, they don't drop Heinz in their shopping basket. It's Wattie's. I know, you can't get your head round it can you?

Monday 12 August 2013


Just back from a most agreeable folk festival in the North East of England; for an area described by George Osborne's father-in-law last week as desolate and only fit for fracking, a more vibrant, friendly and cultural area I've yet to discover. With champagne moments too numerous to list here, a festival high was seeing Edwina Hayes on the Friday night and then meeting her the following lunchtime at a Meet the Songwriters session. She was, without doubt, one of the most charming, intelligent and funny women I've ever met. And she writes some intoxicating tunes to boot.


As a slightly quirky footnote Edwina talked briefly about her father, now residing in Argentina. Even by her own admission he's a bit of a lad. If you've got a spare five minutes click on his website for a brief bio and some of the craziest quotes attributed to anyone.

Thursday 8 August 2013


If Ben Kweller's Thirteen had been around when I was a youth this achingly beautiful song would have found its way on to every mix tape I ever did for a girl. Now, as a middle aged man, I find myself including it on compilation CDs and Spotify playlists for other middle aged men. No matter, that doesn't stop it from being an achingly beautiful song. If only I was still a flirt.

Monday 5 August 2013

Sky Ground

A lot of column inches been given over to the highly influential San Francisco music scene of the late 60s and early 70s. Bands like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane rode a psychedelic wave that would transport them seamlessly from one decade into the next. Others struggled: Fifty Foot Hose and The Chocolate Watch Band might have been tearing up trees in the Fillmore district at the same time as Jerry Garcia, but ran out of gas before they could show their full potential. Likewise the rather aptly named Sky Ground (left) could regularly be seen on the bill at The Bear's Lair, Cinnamon A-Go-Go, Mandrake's and Sugar Hill. Fronted by Phil 'Parsley' Woodlands (originally from Leeds by all accounts) and Berkeley resident Dill Dilbert they never found an audience outside of the Bay Area and sadly folded in 1973. Woodlands and Dilbert did, however, record an EP in the back of a Cantonese restaurant on the corner of Mission & Third a mere two weeks before they disbanded: One Tree was pressed on blue vinyl in a limited run of only 250 - one of the reasons why copies often exchange hands for hundreds of dollars. That and the fact that Carlos Santana plays on it.

Friday 2 August 2013

Lions, Peacocks and Magpies

Charlie Resnick's Nottingham

I lived in Nottingham for twenty five years and frequented many of the same haunts as Charlie Resnick: The Peacock on Mansfield Road was the perfect oasis for a pint and a gleg of the Evening Post and, like Resnick, I acquired many of my jazz records from The Music Inn tucked away in The West End Arcade. If I was hooking up with friends in town it was de rigeuer to meet them in Slab Square by the Left Lion (never the right) and every other Saturday during the football season you'd find me down the Lane: Meadow Lane, home to Charlie's team, Notts County (The Magpies). Other salubrious venues where our paths might have crossed would have included the Arboretum, Bentinck Hotel, Warsaw Diner, Victoria Market, Golden Fleece and The Bell.

But, of course, our paths never did cross. That's because Charlie Resnick never really existed. Well, he existed in my head. And in his creator's head, John Harvey. The reason for this sudden bout of melancholia is, in part, down to having just finished Cold In Hand the last in the Resnick canon - going back as it does to the late 80s. Charlie loved, in no particular order, jazz, sandwiches, cats, beer and Notts County. Ditto that. However, this surge of nostalgia may just be because a small part of me, every now and then, wishes I was back there. Charlie Resnick may not miss me. But I'm as sure as hell going to miss him.

Thursday 1 August 2013


A theme park just around the corner from us unveiled its new ride this week. It made the local paper; with speed/drop/G-force stats that would make your hair, quite literally, stand on end I think it's safe to say I'll be sticking to the tea cups. Or the dodgems. But I digress. Reading the feature I was more interested in who they'd got to open this end of pier attraction. *Drum roll* Peter Lorimer! Or to give him his full title Peter 'Hot-Shot' Lorimer. A former Leeds Utd striker with a shot so fierce he was once pictured in Rothmans with his right foot cooling down in a bucket of cold water.