When James rang the other day and said he'd really like us to do another round of recording, it was, quite literally, music to my ears. We've done a few sessions together over the years and he really has helped shape a lot of my songs. I may have provided the playground, but James was the one who put the swings and roundabouts in.
That's not my quote by the way - when Nigel Clark walked out on Dodgy 20 years ago I remember Matt their drummer saying it might be Clarks's name on the records, but they all know how the songs really got written and recorded. Ouch.
That said, I know this time around we'll be doing a couple of covers. James and I both love the Eiderdowns' version of From the Beginning by ELP. Bernard, who played fiddle on Pickering Place would certainly be my Number One choice for this along with Nat: Nathaniel plays sax with local shit kickers Slumb Party, but it's his banjo I want to hear on this:
The Eiderdowns - From the Beginning
And another one I'd like to have a crack at is My Brother Jake. Free had a huge hit with it in 1971, but, again, I want to do it more like the Eiderdowns; so chilled we may all end up getting hypothermia. Let me make a few phone calls and see if we can't fix this up for early in the New Year.
Waking up to find there's an extra hour in the day can't be a bad thing can it? Unless you're in chokey. Don't we all dream of being able to wind the clocks back? As I type this my wrist watch tells me it's not even nine o'clock. A full day ahead. A blank canvas to fill - in anyway I choose.
And, if I go to bed an hour later tonight I've grabbed another hour; time really is going nowhere.
My great niece Scarlett, 4, is something of a TV star. She's currently the face of Channel 4's 'Old People's Home for Four Year Olds'. Scarlett lost her mother last year to cancer and is currently finding new friends in all sorts of places - Old People's Homes, ITV studios - even Eamonn Holmes wants to be her friend. Her father Tim, who also doubles up as Nottingham's Robin Hood, is doing a fabulous job of bringing her up on his own. And through the sadness, as well as keeping the memory of Scarlett's mum, Sally, alive, Tim is keen for her to appreciate just how special Gerry Anderson was, not least his 1967 creation, and Scarlett's namesake.
I've said here, on more than one occasion (and quite recently, too), that when it's quiet, I like to post nothing more taxing than, say, a library picture of Helen Mirren, or a random girl from Amsterdam riding her bike. A modern day Test Card if you will.
The idea came originally from a fellow blogger - whose name I forget, sorry - who, during a fallow period, said that rather than cancel the milk and papers he was just going to put up a photograph of Joan Collins in her 'snorkelling gear'.
Well, as you can see, here is said photograph of Joan Collins in her, ahem, snorkelling gear. It dates from the 1950s, so that would put her somewhere in her mid-twenties. Collins was already something of a Hollywood starlet around this time having played a number of sultry roles in a number of so-so movies. She had yet to put her name to the two projects I particularly remember her for. Namely, that episode of Star Trek:
Star Trek - The City on the Edge of Nowhere (1967)
And this, my favourite movie of 1978 in the category 'Best Trashy Film Adaptation of Equally Trashy Novel Written by Sister of the Leading Lady'.
Gabriel Fauré wrote his Pavane in 1887. Originally conceived as a solo piece for the piano, it soon gained traction amongst his musical peers and became an orchestral tour de force, before transmogrifying into a renowned choral work.
It's a tune (and melody) that works on so many levels and, as you can see from the three versions I've chosen below, there is neither an orchestra or, indeed, choir to be seen.
Acclaimed keyboard player Brian Auger reworked it in 1970 as a crossover classical/jazz infused, Hammond led instrumental. I defy you to keep still while you're listening to it. Would Fauré approve? I'd like to think so.
Next up a trumpet led take on it by horn player Markus Hoerhan. Not really straying too far from the original dots, it's not unpleasant at all. Toot toot.
And finally, a more traditional approach. Straight from the concert hall, but with just guitar (Craig Lake) and flute (Sian Fenn). It's probably how Fauré heard it in his head when he was writing it.
If I had to rank them I think I'd struggle to be honest. What do you think?
It's that time of year - betwixt Goose Fair and Guy Fawkes - which means it must be Nottingham Beer Festival. A pleasant distraction for some, a pilgrimage for others, this huge beer and cider festival casts its net far and wide and brings in thousands of punters from the NG postal district and beyond.
It's moved to a new venue this year (not for the first time - I can still remember when it was held at the local swimming baths), but a bit like the proverbial moth, I care not where the lightbulb is: I'll be there.
You should get down too if you are anywhere near. Friday afternoon is always the optimum time for a gander - busy but not rowdy (the office nitwits are still holed up in their cubicles), 99% of the beers are still on (and in great condition), and the floor hasn't yet turned into a sea of beer slops.
It's been a quiet day today. On days like this I usually post something along the lines of this. Or even this. Today I found a beautiful photograph on my Twitter feed. As the fella who posted it @stuarthumphryes said, it's got nothing whatsoever to do with Doctor Who. It was from a fashion shoot in the 1960s. London still had loads of these Police Boxes knocking around at the time - they were integral pieces of the capital's street furniture.
I know I'm six foot tall. I've been six foot since I turned 16. It says six foot on my passport. Just because the nurse at my local GP surgery recently clocked me in at 5'-11" does not mean I'm 5'-11". No way Pedro. If you look carefully at the above photograph (taken on Saturday at James and Janni's wedding party) I'm kinda leaning in - and down - at the same time. James is not a seven foot giant - he is a mere 6'-4". Just to set the record straight. And, to set it straight even further, dad is not taller than me. He must be standing on a book, or something. Must be.
I'm glad I got that out of the way.
A big thank you to my friend Adele who texted me earlier this evening and put a smile on my face. I'd sent her the photo and she replied back:
When I posted recently this photograph of my mother feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square in the 1950s it prompted a number of people to get in touch - they shared similar photos (mainly of parents) from a similar time. Probably even taken by the same photographer.
Grab him, nab him
However, the snap above is a tad more contemporary. Well, by tad, I mean it was actually taken in 1970, but it's in colour and, dare I say, groovy. And there's not a single collar and tie to be seen. The times they were a-changing.
I don't know if it was choreographed or not. Either way, the scaffolders working on St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in the background would almost certainly have whistled at the girls 'approvingly' when they walked past: it was written into every builders contract at the time; don't tell me it wasn't.
Westminster City Council prohibited the feeding of the birds in 2003 (wolf whistling at pretty girls probably around the same time) when their numbers reached 35,000 (who was counting them?*) and everywhere in the WC2 postcode was knee deep in guano.
Me & James
The photograph on the right was taken a few years before the ban. James looks to be around three or four so, I'd say, 1993/4. We'd been to the Natural History Museum that day, if memory serves, and afterwards we seemed to gravitate towards Trafalgar Square (in true pigeon style).
He loved it. I think that comes through loud and clear. But, as with any rite of passage, he just did it the once.
I don't know where the birds went for bush tucker after 2003. One day they were everywhere, sh*tting on your head, next thing you know they'd buggered off. All things must pass. But not before I leave you with this exquisite slice of Vaudevillian glam from 1972. It was never hip, granted, but this is the missing link between Mrs. Mills and Gary Glitter. And you can quote me on that.
I drove down to London on Saturday morning pretty much on auto-pilot. I wasn't feeling 100% - and that's putting it mildly. The rain was torrential; biblical, almost. I pulled in at Cherwell Valley Services for breakfast. The coffee saved me. It made me almost human again. And the rain stopped.
"Is there a brew pending?"
When I got to my favourite sister in law's*, I was almost feeling a five, if not a six, on a scale of 1 to 10. Instead of cracking open the bubbly, I was more than happy with a pot of tea and 40 winks. When I woke up the Prof was telling me all about the ales he'd bought in - specially for me. "Tea will be fine, David." He looked crestfallen. "Who's going to drink all this beer?" "Sorry Prof, start the party without me." That's when he knew I wasn't faking it.
But it was OK. We didn't leave the house once - and it was still OK. We played cards. And board games. And more cards. And I drank gallons of tea - while everyone else drank fizz, and gin. I know what you're thinking, this isn't his usual No Sleep Till Hammersmith hedonistic weekend. And you'd be right. But needs must.
However, I came home cleansed and, here's the thing, with a passion for Sequence. I'd never heard of it before Saturday and now I'm addicted. I ordered a copy on Amazon while I was down there. Should be here tomorrow. Those winter evenings are going to fly by...
You'll be pleased to know normal service has been resumed. My rock and roll lifestyle - such that it is - has been rebooted.
* Megan knows how to fix me: Saturday's evening meal (and Sunday lunch too) both had her to die for homemade custard on the menu. A throwback to when I was freelancing in London a few years ago and lived with Megan and David for three months.
Another gig for 2019 - Joe Jackson is going on the road with his Four Decade Tour. He's pulling tracks from just five of his albums spanning, that's right, four decades, including Look Sharp (1979) and Night & Day (1982).
I've been a huge fan right from the get go, and have seen him live countless times. He's only playing a handful of gigs in the UK, but it's the two nights at Amsterdam's Paradiso Club that I've got my eye on. I'm very excited. Who wants to come with me?
Joe Jackson - You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) (1984)
I absolutely love this - it's got banjos, it's got finger clicking, and it's got a tune to die for. It also appears that the Dead South are coming to a venue near me not long into the the New Year; there never were such times.
Comic actor Matt Berry (Toast of London, House of Fools, The IT Crowd etc.) isn't frightened of recording studios. Not only does he write and perform a lot of his own TV themes, he has also, over the years, knocked out six albums on the Acid Jazz label. Like I say, no musical slouch he.
So, I guess, it was only a matter of time until he decided to record some vintage TV themes (and by vintage I mean seventies) and give them a couple of coats of jazz funk.
Tony Hatch would, I know, be very proud.
I read a review of the album recently which said you only have to take one look at the sleeve to know you want to own it, hear it & devour it.
Here is Berry's take on Are You Being Served? Bet you can't listen to it without thinking of Mrs. Slocombe's pussy at least once.
James and Janneke are getting married early on Saturday morning. It will be a very private ceremony: just the bride and groom, and their witnesses. No two people have ever been so in love.
I can't wait till I toast my Number One Son and his beautiful new bride.
Postscript - 7 October 2018
A few photos from yesterday. More to follow next Saturday when the mums and dads take them out for a champagne lunch - and toast the new arrivals into our respective families.