Monday, 18 January 2021



I rang my best friend, Steve, this afternoon. Like me he's almost at the end of his rope with the lockdown; but needs must when the Devil vomits in your kettle - as a wise man once said. We listed all the things we miss (I'm guessing you do the same thing too) and how once this bloody war is over we'll never take anything for granted again (though in time, of course, we will).

Steve has a daughter currently living in Vancouver, Canada and he's missing her, I can tell. I miss James like crazy and he's only in Manchester - though to all intents and purposes Manchester may as well be in North America - the way this pandemic has confined us all to barracks. 

We always end our calls shouting "STAY IN YOUR HOME!" in our most demented of voices. It comes courtesy of the Stranglers' Curfew lifted from their Black & White album. You should try it; it's very cathartic. We've been doing it that long we probably won't be able to stop ourselves, even in peacetime.

The Stranglers - Curfew (1978)

Friday, 15 January 2021


Jake Bugg's new single is already shaping up to be among my Records of the Year - not bad going considering we're only 15 days in. Every time I've heard it it's caught me unawares. It makes me happy and sad at the same time if that makes sense. It's bouncy and full of hope, yet I fear that if it were a book or a film it wouldn't end well. Am I reading too much into this? I don't know. I probably need to get out more; wait, no. Fuck.

Jake Bugg - All I Need (2021)

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Espresso Martini

I've just finished watching Lilyhammer - to borrow a phrase from Charlie Brooker's Death to 2020 I binged the shit out of it. Accepting Steven Van Zandt as anyone other than Silvio Dante for me was always gonna be a big ask, though I guess Springsteen fans had to make their own leap of faith when they saw the former E Street Band guitarist transmogrify into a Jersey mobster the first time around; The Sopranos has got a lot to answer for.

Anyhoo, I thought it was terrific. Imagine Fargo meets Goodfellas and you won't be far off the mark. The soundtrack was none too shabby either. While I'm here I may as well confess that until a few days ago I've never heard anything by Van Zandt. However, this instrumental featured in the show (though I can't off the top of my head remember in what context) and it's really rather nice.

Steven Van Zandt - Espresso Martini (2014)

And here he is without his syrup. But with a rather tasty house band. I watched an interview he did for another talkshow this afternoon and I've got to say what a thoroughly nice fella Mr. Van Zandt is.

Espresso Martini - Live on the Aresenio Hall Show

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Sarah Shiels

Fast & Bulbous Records are a brilliantly titled new micro label based in Hull and are going to be releasing a digital single every month during 2021. Now that's what I call a New Year's Resolution.

This month's offering is 'Fruits of Life' by 24 year old songwriter and multi instrumentalist Sarah Shiels. Sarah, formerly of Ming City Rockers and Black Delta Movement, also plays bass with fellow Hull musician Sally Currie a.k.a. The Dyr Sister.

Sarah's list of influences is very interesting, name-checking Elliott Smith, Leonard Cohen and Suzanne Vega; glimpses of which can be detected in the DNA of this her stunning debut recording. Sarah describes the song as an ode to the modern world, capturing that feeling of watching those who have the world in their hands time and time again throwing away the chance of happiness.

Sarah Shiels - Fruits of Life (2021)


Sunday, 3 January 2021

Caravans as flags

I can honestly say (to the best of my knowledge) I've never knowingly taken a photograph of a caravan before. Which is why I can testify right here, right now - may God strike me down now - that this will not be the start of a regular feature; or even an irregular feature. When I stumbled upon this rather jazzy wagon this afternoon it did kinda put me in mind of a flag; which led me to think that there may well be other examples of mobile homes out there resembling nations' ensigns... 


I realise that this opening salvo may not be the most auspicious of starts to a New Year, but in keeping with a very quiet Christmas and an even quieter birthday, this is, for now anyway, how it crumbles, cookie wise. Bear with me, I'll hit my stride again before too long. You just see if I don't.