Monday, 30 August 2021

Where the air is good and the day is fine


Nearly all my walking these days falls under the banner urban walking; living in the 9th largest city in the UK it's hardly surprising. Steel and concrete outnumber trees and grass 10:1, probably. During LD1 especially, all walks begin and ended at my front door; escaping to the countryside was, at that time, simply not an option. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Moving back to Nottingham in 2017 for all the reasons I left in 2010 says it all. I traded in living on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors for a bustling city - no questions asked. (What's the point in having a mind if you're not prepared to change it?)

Which is all a long winded preamble for me telling you that I went on a country walk yesterday. And barely saw another soul the whole time. Field after field of...nothing. A distant tractor was the only sign of human existence for the whole trek. Though the pub half way round was full of real people drinking real beer (talking real bollocks, too - some things never change).

The town where I started the walk is well served by both trains and buses so I may well be making a habit of this particular route; at least until Winter arrives. It'd be a shame not to. 

...

A word to the wise - they keep their beer particularly well at the Royal Oak in Car Colston; you won't be disappointed. However, if you want to order food after 2.30pm, you may well be.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Bacaruda


I don't think I've led a sheltered life; when people say you need to get out more, I don't think they ever said it to me. So how come I'm only now* just hearing about the Brian Jonestown Massacre? And in particular the song I'm spending every waking** hour listening to? It's called Anemone (a word I struggle to both spell and say***). And it sounds like this. But you knew that already. (You obviously got out even more than me.)

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Anemone (2004)


* I'm 60 years of age for Christ's sake

** And non waking; I swear it's featured in two of my dreams already this week

*** In the same way an old work colleague of mine could never say "trigger mechanism"

Monday, 23 August 2021

Getting the band back together


The Reunion

It's Friday evening in a sleepy Lincolnshire market town. Pop Medd is playing host to his two sons - they're jetting in from nearby Nottinghamshire and Rutland - and making up the quartet is his grandson -  training it all the way from Greater Manchester. It'll be the first time all four of them have been in the same room since January 2016 - that's  five and a half years in anyone's language. Added to which it's the first time young James has had a beer in Grantham on a Friday night; his last visit being his grandma's funeral back in July '15.

So what brought about this multigenerational gathering of 'lads' - age range 31 to 85 - all bearing the same four letter surname? As has been touched upon round these parts previously, apart from me and James (my son, Pop's grandson) we Medds are not what you'd call tight knit; not by a long chalk. However, I think, deep down, we all wish we probably were; it's just that nobody wants to admit it. 

And was the night an unqualified success? No, not really. But it was good fun nonetheless. There was plenty of laughter - mainly at Pop's expense - he was (quite literally at one point) the fall guy. Did the two brothers bicker; yes, of course they did. But, and here's the thing, they both regretted it deeply afterwards. Always the way. Bloody drink. But James was the glue that kept the whole thing together; if he reads this he'll probably say "was I?", but his presence probably kept the evening on the rails. 

Best gag of the night? Well, that would be mine - obviously: in one of the many hostelries we frequented the subject of where we'd be dining later was discussed: it was decreed that we'd go to a Nepalese restaurant called Everest - "So that would make this place Base Camp," I said. These are the jokes, as Ronnie Scott used to say.

My duck curry was perfect. The taxi back to Pop's was eventful. And the Mario Lanza and Jimmy Young on the sterogram fitted the mood at the end of the night perfectly. We'll skip over the last bit when the brothers tried to turn everything serious over too many tumblers of whisky and fast forward instead to 9am...

After a Full English, and hugs all round, we parted company, still bleary eyed, with flimsy promises about "doing it again" and "not leaving it so long next time." Maybe, let's wait and see shall we?


Sunday, 22 August 2021

Stripes and badges

When some friends recently stayed with us we didn't just take them around our favourite pubs and caffs; though there was a lot of that going on in the 48 hours they spent with us. No, we gave them a bit of culture and threw in a liberal helping of local history too. Nottingham Castle has had a makeover; not since the days of Robin Hood & Maid Marion has so much money been thrown at the place. A rather splendid Visitor Centre has been constructed in the grounds and at the time of writing this the Paul Smith exhibition is still in full swing.

Smith is something of a local hero. Born in Beeston, Nottingham 1946 he opened his first shop in the city in 1970. Fifty years later and he's got boutiques all over the world. I've always liked his style; his shirts are works of art and although his linen jackets crease like buggery I still like to wear them in summer. His badges, however, like all pins, probably work better on denim.


And although our recently fitted stair carpet may not be out of his stable, it's certainly influenced by him; definitely a Paul Smith bootleg.
Smith's use of stripes is something of a brand signature (seen on everything from wallets to Minis) and is a feature I always find visually pleasing. Almost as pleasing as walking down stairs in bare feet!




Thursday, 19 August 2021

It's the only way to live


I don't drive a flash car; not these days anyway (tho' I must dig out some of my old car photos to show you some time); no, my current set of wheels wheels is modest by anyone's standards. A head turner it is not. When I pull into a parking space nobody bats an eye. Until the other day that is. Manoeuvring into a tight spot I had this playing on the stereo. Very loud. And with the bass cranked right up. Passers by did then take a second look; not at the car, but at the emerging driver who, I'm sure they were thinking, was old enough to know better. Fuck 'em.

The Notorious B.I.G. - Hypnotize (1997)




Friday, 13 August 2021

ATMP



Nothing lasts forever; I guess it's inevitable. George Harrison probably put it best (he often did) when in 1970 he said, quite simply, All Things Must Pass.

A couple of things this week have knocked me off my perch; although unrelated they both fall into the ATMP category. El Goodo (Lazy welsh psychedelic band - their strap line, not mine) announced on Twitter this week that they were breaking up: 'We're sorry to announce that El Goodo is no more, we're calling it a day. Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the past twenty odd years. Adiois Amigos. Hyyl Fawr." To say I'm gutted is an understatement. Although I came to the party late, one of the albums that got me thru LD1 was their immaculate 'Zombie' from last year; chockablock full of glorious toe tapping tunes. As swansongs go it's perfect. Live fast, die hard and leave a good looking corpse; as somebody, not George Harrison, once said.

And then, as if this news wasn't bad enough, another Twitter announcement from the makers of one of my favourite podcasts. We Share These Streets (True tales of everyday folk in bygone Nottingham) dropped this bombshell yesterday: "A quick message to let you all know that episode 20 of We Share These Streets will be the final one one. As we all come out of lockdown and life returns to a sort of normality, we're finding it more challenging to make the time needed to research, write and tell the stories as a regular show. Thank you so much for listening and being part of the community." Again, gutted. These 20 minute vignettes of my hometown have been put together with such love, care and attention they are just perfect. But what can you do? All Things Must Pass. Whether it be Hillman Hunters or typewriters, Ceefax or Spangles, fax machines or white dog poo, honest politicians or Little Chefs - they don't make 'em anymore.

A bit like the threepenny bits I bought on a market stall last Saturday - one from 1938 and another, more shiny, from 1967. I asked the stall holder if he'd shined the later one up. He said no, explaining to me that the nickel content was much greater in '67 - it being the last year they were minted. You live and you learn, as somebody far wiser than me once said.

Heads


Tails





Friday, 6 August 2021

Czech Mate


My friend Vladka recently returned home to the Czech Republic for a few days to visit her family, so I mackled together a few tunes for her to listen to on the flight. I had no idea that so many of the selections would push her buttons (I haven't known her that long) and loved the stories she told about some of the songs when she got back this week. I've talked about it many times around these parts about how a record (sometimes it only takes the opening bars) can transport you back to a time and a place when you first heard it; and all the memories come flooding back. I don't know when I'll next be up in the air but if anyone wants to send me a playlist you're more than welcome.

...

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 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.