Sunday, 31 July 2022
Tuesday, 26 July 2022
Swedish house DJ and producer Axel Boman may well have dedicated today's non-Monday Long Song* to German footballer Jürgen Klinsmann a.k.a. The Dive Bomber; or he may not; it really doesn't matter. What does matter, however, is that there are very few pieces of music that, from the moment the needle catches the first groove, cause as many simultaneous muscle spasms in my right leg as this. Dance music, huh?
Axel Boman - Klinsmann (2013)
Wednesday, 20 July 2022
|How it started / How it's going|
As I write this, a little before midnight on Tuesday in nothing more than my shorts - form an orderly queue, ladies - the temperature has finally dropped below 20 degrees for the first time in I don't know how long; still uncomfortable, but compared to yesterday's apocalyptic high of 40 (higher in some places), I'll take it all the way to the bank.
Anyway, I hope you managed to stay out of harm's way and lived to tell the tale. I know London took a battering - some of the scenes coming out of the capital were unreal.
This exquisite piece of synth pop sums up exactly how I've been feeling for much of the last 72 hours. It's from a time when Sheffield was still annexed to East Germany. And, God, it still sounds brilliant.
Human League - Being Boiled (1978)
Sunday, 17 July 2022
Saturday, 16 July 2022
Twofer: two for the price of one. Never let it be said you don't get value for money at Are We There Yet; here are a couple of musings threaded together by the music of Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat.
They're predicting eye watering temperatures in the next few days in England; I say England, and not the UK, as Scotland and Northern Ireland will probably escape the predicted high of 40 degrees. As a result of this barmy weather the country is about to go into crisis mode with schools closing down, railway tracks about to buckle and a plague of locusts due to descend on London sometime around Tuesday lunchtime; I may have been messing with you there but, hey, you get the picture: forty eight hours of 'above seasonal average temperatures' and we're fucked. Call in the army. 1976 (and '75 before that, come to think of it) was also filed under 'Phew, what a scorcher!') though back then we just took our school ties off and continued to cycle round the estate on our Raleigh Choppers whilst sucking on an ice pole. We lived in another world back then. Yes, the grass turned brown - but it grew back again. Yes, the hosepipes were turned off but they were soon turned back on again. And we all put our ties back on again in readiness for the new school year. I hope you survive the next week. Don't forget to drink plenty of beer; it doesn't have to be a cruel summer.
'It's too close for comfort, this heat has got right out of hand'
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Cruel Summer (2011)
The Copper Top
When I sent the next song to James earlier in the week I said 'Life and death in a little over five minutes. Perfect.' To which he replied 'Another cheery one then!' Wait till he gets to my age, I thought; I've worn that suit. I've drunk that pint in that bar, conjuring up memories of the deceased away from the fake reverence happening round the corner at the wake - the fake wake, if you will. Yes, it is sad, but it's also quite uplifting too: he didn't stay all afternoon in the pub (for what it's worth, I probably would have done) but I too would have made a mental note about its roof. (Well you do, don't you?')
'I look up and see the pub's once brilliant copper roof has oxidised over the years and now it's a dull pastel green. Everything's getting older.'
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - The Copper Top (2011)
Tuesday, 12 July 2022
In June 1981 the good people of New Holland in Lincolnshire were finally joined up - permanently - to their Yorkshire neighbours over the water. Although there'd been a ferry in operation since 1848 (various paddle steamers had navigated the shallow shifting sands of the mile wide Humber Gap), it was only when the Humber Bridge became a reality that Hull, and East Yorkshire in general, formally cemented relations with the country's second largest county. Measuring 1.38 miles in length it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world for a while; these days it doesn't even make the Top 10.
I was in Hull again at the weekend visiting family and, as always, came back over the bridge; I pulled in at at Barton-on Humber for an ice cream (Wall's and bridges, anyone?) and took a couple of photos. These two were my favourites. As I tweeted later - I too could quite easily sit on a bench all day and just gaze at this most brilliant of structures.
Postscript - 16 July 2022
Playing to my passion for all things philatelic, in addition to the commemorative stamp at the top of my piece, there were also a couple of interesting First Day Covers from the time which I thought I'd share with you below. I acquired these in the week and love them both; as you can see, the top one has been signed on the back by Coun. Alex Clarke, Chairman of the Humber bridge Board, no less.
Wednesday, 6 July 2022
I've just recaptured a feeling I haven't experienced for some time and, quite honestly, didn't think I'd ever experience again: I'm currently half way thru reading Slow Horses by the supremely talented Mick Herron and am absolutely loving it. And, the reason for my euphoria, I've found out there's another seven books in the seres. Seven! Joy! Something tells me it's gonna be a great summer.
(Yes, I am aware that it's also a hit TV series. But that can wait.)
Friday, 1 July 2022
Last night was special; in fact the whole of yesterday was special. I got to spend some quality time with James: we revelled in each other's company in Manchester visiting several choice hostelries in what has, for the last 10 years, been James' adopted home city. Our Big Boys Beano culminated not in the Bamboo Club (if you know, you know) but at the Castlefield Bowl, a quirky outdoor pavilion venue situated in the heart of M3, where it played host to the last night of Crowded House's 2022 UK tour.
James originally bought these tickets in 2019 but Covid meant that the gig - and its original rearranged date - was pulled. So last night, in more ways than one, was a case of unfinished business; nether of us had seen the band live before1 but we both have Woodface living in our heads2 24/7. I mentioned a couple of months ago that the majority of gigs I've been to this year have been very intimate shows - shows in small venues where inevitably I've been on the front row; so seeing a 'stadium band' in an amphitheater really did mean stepping out of my comfort zone. However, I needn't have worried. The sound was brilliant, our view was perfect and crowd were amazing (even waiving at the trains on the overhead viaduct as they trundled in and out of Oxford Road station). And the band didn't disappoint. I was putty in their hands from the opening bars of set opener Distant Sun to the final coda of Chocolate Cake and everything in between3. Who wouldn't be? So, outdoor gigs - I'm not saying it's the way forward - who knows where that might lead - but as an occasional antidote fto the confines of sweaty rock clubs and upstairs rooms in pubs it was certainly a breath of fresh air. Literally. Let's do it again soon, James!
1 Tho' I did see Neil Finn play a live set on a boat on the Thames in 2011
2 Where it flat shares with the entire Beatles back catalogue
3 James had to prop me up emotionally when they played Four Seasons in one Day (I could write 500 words alone on how that song affected me last night)
As PSs go this is a zinger: did I mention that Johnny Marr4 joined them on stage for Weather With You?
4 Manchester rock and roll royalty