Sunday 22 October 2023


The news coming out of Gaza isn't good. The indiscriminate loss of life on both sides is nothing short of heartbreaking. And what are they fighting for? Religion? Land? Territory? Power? Who knows. As long as I continue to draw breath I have no earthly understanding as to why anyone would chose to pick up a weapon and kill his fellow man. I'm currently watching Once Upon Time in Northern Ireland and to see the deep rooted hatred that fuelled Catholics and Protestants alike over 50 years ago (and, in some cases, still fuelling them now) defies comprehension. What would the big man upstairs have to say if we were to put a call in?

The Chi-Lites - There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God is Seated at the Conference Table*) - 1974


Speaking of God. I was at a rather lovely beer festival yesterday (yes, I know, all beer festivals are lovely). But this one was being held in a rather spectacular church. An imaginative way of utilising a building that probably lies dormant six days of the week. And if I felt in any way uneasy about strapping a few on in the House of the Lord (which I didn't, but let's for argument's sake say that I did) then this note in the front of yesterday's Festival Programme written by the Parish Priest, would certainly have allayed  any fears I may have had: 

"So why allow beer in church? Well, the church has had a long history in the creation of beer, and some of the finest beers in the world are still brewed in monasteries, and so we always start our festival by blessing the beer - 

'Bless, O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast designed to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.'"

Amen, indeed. I'll drink to that. And, indeed, I did.


You may or may not be interested to learn that I have a new collection of photographs published this week. It brings together for the first time many of my favourite images; from Art Deco buildings in Dublin to palm trees in Los Angeles. It's called Battersea & Beyond and can be ordered directly from yours truly for £9.99 + shipping. (PayPal or Postal Order!)
Ping me an email - - if you'd like a copy. I'll even sign it if you so desire.

* I very nearly went with Nick Lowe's version; stripped down and stark. As you'd expect.

Friday 20 October 2023


The three tickets for last night's Supersuckers gig at The Rescue Rooms had been sitting in my phone for weeks. As soon as I saw they were doing a few UK dates I grabbed 'em quick. And so, on what turned out to be one of the wettest nights of the year, Steve, Neil and yours truly aquaplaned to the venue, and after a few beers and a catch up, made our way to the stage. Showtime.

The band's lineup may have changed (multiple times) in the thirty something years they've been going but singer and bass-man Eddie Spaghetti has remained constant. His trademark cowboy hat never* leaves his head all night and the band play a rabble rousing set that rarely falls below 100mph; though as you can see from the clip below, sometimes they can drop a gear (Coattail Rider normally sounds like this) and sometimes they play acoustic (sometimes they even go full on country). But whatever the lineup, whatever means of amplification are to hand and whatever head gear is or isn't worn the Supersuckers remain The Greatest Rock and Roll Band In the World.

Supersuckers - Coattail Rider (Live on The Fox 101.7 in 2017)

 *Never say never

Tuesday 17 October 2023

People, take my advice

In 1976 there was a musical hurricane approaching. What had started out in a few north London watering holes was now gathering momentum and making inroads in the provinces - the blue touch paper that had been lit by pub rock, via high energy R&B acts like Doctor Feelgood and Eddie & The Hot Rods, was about to explode in a cavalcade of three chord punk hedonism and gob; with a few safety pins thrown in for good measure. Step forward Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer (and bring your contingent with you). 

There was only one snag, however: not everyone got the memo. Or if they did, it got lost in translation. Or, maybe, just maybe, some recipients just chose to ignore it. Which leads me nicely to the Rubettes. In 1976 the wheels had well and truly come off their hit-making machine. As had their trademark white berets. Sugar Baby Love couldn't save them now. The red warning light was flashing angrily and they were in what can only be described as limp home mode.

So what do they do? Not having read said memo, they blagged their record company into letting them record a fourth album (bearing in mind platters 2 & 3 had tanked) and in so doing recorded this rather fetching folk rock (minor) classic with, listen for yourselves, some proggy noodlings in the middle. Did it save them? Of course it didn't. It too tanked. Spectacularly.

The Rubettes - Sign of the Times (1976)

Thursday 12 October 2023

The boy's back in town

Just got back from an amazing four days away in Dublin. It'll probably come as no great shock to learn that Dublin is my favourite European city; since 2016 and the whole Brexit shitshow, the affinity I have to my maternal home (on both sides of its border) has just got stronger and stronger. 

So, I thought it would be cool to wrap a little holiday around the Unthanks gig at the Liberty Hall Theatre on Monday night; and so it came to pass. Fifty minutes from East Midlands Airport and I was rubbing shoulders once more with fellow Europeans. Everything seemed to fall into place. From the first day when we caught the opening of a visiting Andy Warhol exhibition at the Hugh Gallery (over 250 original pieces including some of his most iconic* work to his earliest pencil sketches when he was still finding his style) to the fascinating conversation I had with our taxi driver on the way back to the airport.

Anyway, you know the griff, time's too tight for gushing reviews; here are my Match of the Day highlights with a few snaps thrown in for good measure.

Best pub. Oh, come on, really? OK, well, it's a toss up between John Kavanagh a.k.a. The Gravediggers, Neary's, The Flowing Tide and The Confession Box. And tI'm barely scratching the surface. But if I had to choose one, I'd go Gravediggers. Run by the same family for seven generations it's a pub that defies anything and everything to do with the modern world. And I got to meet the actor currently playing Peter Pan at the Gate Theatre. 

Our digs were on Camden Street: home to plenty of bars, music clubs and restaurants, but I must mention a fabulous independent book shop Last Bookshop (with an equally splendid coffee shop out back) and a splendid camera shop run by a fella called John Gunn who has been operating from the same premises for 43 years. A delightful man who kindly allowed me to take his photograph.

As you can imagine, eating out is a huge deal when you'e away, so two very quick shout outs to Sofia's - the best breakfast caff in Dublin bar none (their Full Irish takes no prisoners) and Montys of Katmandu whose Nepalese food was, to quote Greg Lake, "spectacular, spectacular.''  

Best non Warhol exhibition of the holiday - American Portrait Photography at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This sculpture typified their equally sculpted gardens.

Best 'graffiti' - that's easy. PHIL!

Best train journey; the great little train journey from Dublin's Connuolly Station to Greystones - a small seaside town an hour down the coast.

The building trying its hardest to look like Battersea Power Station. Ah, that would be the distillers Roe & Co. (Exquisite brickwork btw.)

The best Art Deco building in Dublin. Archer's Garage, as was. Here's the back story. (That's right, not all is at it seems.)

Two quick asides. The best vintage car spot and the best front doors in Dublin. The car was easy - this classic Citroen with its engine idling outside Benneton was a photo op I couldn't pass on. And the doors. Let me tell you about Dublin doors: I could spend a whole month photographing nothing but the front doors of Dublin. Seriously. Every style, type, size and, yes, colour. Here's four off the bat, but I could easily have posted a hundred and four.

And finally, the main event. I've seen the Unthanks a couple of times now (and indeed I've been lucky enough to have met them) but I always knew seeing them in Ireland would be special. And it was. Very moving. Very uplifting. Very intimate. Almost spiritual. As you might expect, it was a sell out (I think I blagged the last two tickets) and everyone in the room, I know, was as transfixed as I was, such is their stage precence. So, no, I wasn't going to break the spell and take their photograph. Nobody wants to be that guy.

* Sorry, C!

Sunday 1 October 2023

What I find is pleasing and I'm feeling fine

For October's Photo Challenge I sent out an APB which simply read "Expanses of glass. Windows; round, square, arched, stained, big, small, old, new, broken..."

After last month's amazing collection I really thought 2023's continuing exploration into all things pictorial had peaked; surely the quality of photographs couldn't continue on an upward trajectory. How wrong could I be? Seems like the only way really is up!

In time honoured tradition our friend Rol is first out of the traps: "Hi John, I struggled a bit this month - I don't seem to have taken many photos of glass edifices. I had a few stained glass windows, but the shots were rather unremarkable. Then I found this, which I have named Summer Glass. It should at least provide a little variety. Take care, Rol." Yep, this is pretty much how I'll remember Summer, Rol. Thank you, as ever.

We go north of the border next with Stevie from Charity Chic. "Hi John, I suspect you'll receive a few stained glass windows (surprisingly not actually, CC). This belter is from the Holy Trinity Church in the centre of At. Andrews." Thank you, Stevie. She is, indeed, a belter.

Swiss Adam, our Manchester correspondent, writes: "Hi John, I haven't managed to take a new pic for you, which I've tried to do each month, so have had to go back into my folders. This one is a cafe window in Altrincham last winter, from inside looking out into the street. The condensation, lights and darkness and shadowy figures outside were too much for me to resist taking a photo. Despite the off looks I got from a couple at a table nearby table." Just what I'm looking for, Adam. I remember many years ago (in another life, when I lived in Yorkshire) a caff in Scarborough called The Rendezvous. It was a real dive but their winter warmers on freezing cold afternoons were to die for and the condensation on the inside of their windows was very akin to your place.

David, half Nottinghamian, half Londoner, next. "Hi John, down a backstreet in the City of London."

"And internationally renowned Nottingham jazz club Peggy's Skylight. Which has a skylight." Indeed it does, David. Love it.

It's about time we heard from C at Sun Dried Sparrows: "Hi John, A couple of old photos attached. I do love a spooky window! C x." Until now I've never really seen windows as spooky, or, indeed, non spooky; as I say, until now...

Khayem has been out and about this month: "I’m always fascinated by people who are unable to walk past a dirty window or vehicle without writing something with their finger. Usually it’s “Clean Me” or a picture of genitals or some such. I was quite struck by the collection of hearts in this particular window."

"I'm also morbidly fascinated by windows that are no longer windows, that previously had glass but now have boards or bricks. This example on the brilliantly named Slad Road is even better for the 'door' above it."

"Lastly a sad old house in Dursley with all the glass removed and replaced. How wonderful it might have been back in the day with the sun streaming through its glass portals."
K's right: I think some of the hidden gems are hidden in plain sight - we just don't see them. Thank you, K. 

To sunny California next and Riggsby's take on all things glass: "A few of the buildings I see when I go in the office, including a couple of reflections of glass buildings."

Richard goes on to say - ''This is more a concentration of glass rather than an expanse - it's one of Dale Chihuly's works from a museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. I doubt it qualifies for this month's theme (You couldn't be more wrong, Richard!) but it comes to mind when I think of glass. There is an expanse of his works in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas." Thank you so much, Richard. I can't begin to tell you how much I look forward to receiving your photos each month.

This month's Photo Challenge also sees the debut of Richard's wife. Welcome aboard, Jingyi! 
"This was taken in New York City." As you're probably aware, it's One World Trade Center, built on the site of Ground Zero. Thank you, Jingyi - a quite stunning photo.

In the same way that Rol invariably opens proceedings, so it falls to me to wrap things up.
First up is the beautifully etched window of one of my favourite public houses. The Blue Bell in York (known to all BlogCon23 delegates) is very photogenic, inside and out, not least when old boys with flat caps are captured blowing the froth off one of the boozer's many excellent hand pulls.

Whenever I'm out and about with my camera I'm always looking for that elusive Hopper shot; you know the sort of thing. Anything that remotely resembles Nighthawks always gets my pulse racing (I know, sad isn't it?). This restaurant in Tunbridge Wells came pretty close the night I walked by it earlier this year. 

Thank you to everyone who took the time - you're all very special people! Until next time...


P.S. 2.10.23

Just after I hit 'publish' I received a couple of late entries from Riggsby: ''Leaning tower of something, downtown San Diego. I liked the reflections of the clouds.''

''University of California, San Diego Medical Center. A bit different than the rectangular buildings. I must also tell you that I was shooed away from the Medical Center yesterday by a security guard! Apparently I needed a permit to take pictures due to patient privacy concerns with it being a glass building. Thankfully he didn't make me erase the shots I'd taken.''

Another latecomer, albeit a most welcome latecomer, is Ben Dakin: ''Am I too late?? I reckon no matter the theme I can crowbar a phone box into it!'' As I said to Ben in my reply, you can never have too many phone boxes!