Wednesday 17 July 2024


It had to happen - a band come along who, whether knowingly or not, effortlessly meld the sound of three of my favourite artists and get right under my skin: they go by the moniker Parcels and, being blunt, sound a lot like Daft Punk (who they've worked with in the past), Air and maybe shades of Jungle too. Normally, I hate these blanket definitions but rather than dance on the head of a pin I may as well tell it like it is. But I love the noise they make. It's infectious and it puts a smile on my face (which I really need right now, let me tell you). And, I don't why why, I also love the fact that a lot of their song titles are elongated into one word; I shouldn't but I do. This being a case in point. (I could just as easily gone with IknowhowIfeel or Tieduprightnow.) Hopeyouenjoyit.  

Parcels - Somethinggreater (2021)  

Sunday 14 July 2024

Second city?

Birmingham is one of those places; I want to love it, really I do. Maybe when they've finished building it I'll get to like it a bit more. Who knows, I can't see any sign of them getting anywhere near to completion; not in my lifetime anyway. I was over in the West Midlands purely for pleasure you'll be pleased to know. Standby for Action 2 - the music of Barry Gray - was at the Syphony Hall. Here's what went down at Stand by for Action 1 in 2022. Also, Baz & I did When Barry Met Johnny 2. This is what happened at When Barry Met Johnny 1. also in 2022.

I also took a few snaps, you won't be surprised to learn...

Saturday 13 July 2024

Would you credit it

I love Dallas by the Silver Jews and now I love it even more, having seen some wag on Twitter (with way too much time on their hands) overlay it onto the opening credits Dallas the TV soap. I guess it was only a matter of time. Pure genius. I'm sure if I looked hard enough on social media I'd find more examples of this kind of nonsense. If you come across any be sure to let me know.

Silver Jews - Dallas (1996)

Wednesday 10 July 2024

No bombing

I posted recently a photograph I came across online that I'd not seen before. It was of Shirley Jones and her then husband, Jack Cassidy, together with her stepson David Cassidy. Turns out it wasn't the only photo of hers I'd not clocked before. Here she is, probably taken high up in the Hollywood Hills, on a diving board. Which got me thinking; you know what's coming next don't you; that's right, and purely in the name of research I hasten to add, I then began to find more photographs of other starlets taken in their local baths...

Barbara Stanwyck

Rita Hayworth

Marilyn Monroe

Phoebe Cates

Deidre de Peyer

I think now would be a good time to stop (after all, I do have a reputation to think of). 

If you've been affected by any of the content in this blog post I would strongly urge you to take a cold shower. 

Monday 8 July 2024

High Voltage

My friend Neil had a spare ticket for Electric Six last night. Of course I went; it would have been churlish not to. We met in good time (very good time) and so went from a boozy Sunday afternoon to Chinese meal to gig. To my shame I  didn't really know an awful lot about them prior to showtime (apart from a couple of standout hits 20+ years ago), but in the course of their 90 minute set I was absolutely bowled over. Echoes of the Hives and Turbonegro if you wanna know roughly what page they're on. (Kicking myself now for not getting a tee shirt.)


I particularly got off on their version of Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Murder on the Dance Floor - a contemporary in so many ways of their their own monster single Danger! High Voltage. This is from last Tuesday night at the Brudenell in Leeds.

Saturday 6 July 2024

Gone to the wall

In July of last year I and countless other volunteers helped contribute to a giant work of art that took over a year to complete: a huge mosiac mural that when installed (about half a mile from where I live) would dominate an entire wall over 5m long x 3m high. It's called The Sherwood Tree of Knowledge and is the brainchild of local artist Anna Dixon. The piece was broken down into bite size chunks and each of us worked on small sections approximately 12" square. 

My 'bit' was the poppy you can see above. Until  I walked into Anna's garden studio 12 months ago on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon I'd never mosaiced(?) in my life, so I had to learn fast. With nothing more than a tile nibbler and hundreds (thousands!) of broken tiles & porcelain fragments at my disposal, off I went. Everyone in the room was dead friendly and very helpful.

A few hours later and after consuming countless cups of coffee and chocolate biscuits I had my poppy in the can (or whatever mosaicists say when they've broken the back of the thing they've been working on all day.) I loved doing it and loved being part of something very special. Sadly, I missed the grand unveiling a couple of weekends ago as I was out of town, but the picture below taken from the local rag gives you an idea of the buzz it's created.   

A big thank you to Mike Douglas & everyone at Sherwood Business Centre for helping to fund this fantastic installation.

Friday 5 July 2024

It's a new dawn, it's a new day

Spoiler alert - we did

After Adam's heartfelt (and beautifully written) demolition of the Tories yesterday I realised, as starkly as I've ever realised, that my hatred of the Conservatives and everything they've stood for over the last fourteen years, is as nothing compared to how Adam and millions more like him have been directly affected by them.

So after a very long night (I personally stayed up till 5:30am this morning) we have all woken up to Day 1 of a five, if not ten, year Labour plan. What pitfalls lie ahead can only be best guessed as I'm sure the recently departed blue rosetted cunts have left many, many UXBs along the way.

James O'Brien threw out a left field question this morning: "Do you feel euphoric?" To which I thought the best reply, paraphrasing massively, was: "Not yet. We've just escaped from a 14 year abusive relationship. Euphoria, I'm sure, will follow. But, right now, it's a massive sense of relief coupled with a large helping of guarded optimism." It's also how I feel. You may feel totally different. But, you know what, I am feeling good. Ask me again in 3/6 months and I'm sure I'll update you...


Wednesday 3 July 2024


When it comes to living a purposeful life I subscribe to Ikigai (translated from the Japanese  生き甲斐 as 'A reason for being'). One of its 10 doctrines, 'Surround yourself with good friends', has always been a constant in my life. Several of those friends were in Newcastle last week. And one of them very kindly painted me this beautiful handmade card. Thank you, C. I was struggling to put into words how I felt when you gave it to me (most unlike me I know!). But please know that I love it (I did tell you that much), and every time I look at it I know it will bring me joy. Thank you so much x.

Robohands - Ikigai (2021)

Monday 1 July 2024

It's a date

Mary - She hath done what she could

Welcome to July's Photo Challenge. This month I was asking for anything with a date. A headstone, a gig ticket, a tax disc, a tombstone. You get the picture; you always do. For a long as I can remember Rol has been at the front of the starting grid. In pole position, if you will. I don't see any reason to change that. Rol, what have you got for us?  

"Hey John, Here's a blue plaque I pass every Friday on my way into work... although when I went to photograph it I realised it had recently been replaced by a rainbow plaque. Take care." Cheers, Rol. You've said hello, now wave goodbye. 

Jo Shreeve next: "I have this from when I was younger and less wise! We missed the train back and had to walk to the hotel in torrential rain!! ☔️ 😂 Certainly sobered us up 😂 xx." Thank you, Jo. It's one London venue I've never been to. See you next month. 

Pete Zab always finds something quirky: "Abel Collin died in 1705 and his will included provision for some 'little houses' and coal for the poor people of Nottingham. The charity that was created still exists and operates today. The gravestone is currently leaning against a wall in St. Nicholas' churchyard in Nottingham." Thanks, Pete. I know St. Nic's - I must go and have a butcher's.

Alan Dawson, a friend from the vinyl days, has got a story to tell: " An unused ticket? Not so. This was a memorable trip to London as a 15 year old. A mate and I (big Bowie fans) had heard about Devo and bought their first album. Tickets were advertised in the NME and bought via an exchange of postal orders (remember them?). Now we were off on a train to London with our pocket money. We got to Hammersmith in the afternoon and found a cafe in the shadow of the fly-over. I can't remember how much the steak pie, chips, peas and gravy cost but I paid with a £1 note. Remarkably I was given change for a fiver. This meant that the whole trip had been paid for. We looked around the outside of the venue. The fire exit doors to the old cinema were held open to allow cabling for the gig. Naturally we had look inside. No one challenged us so we sat in the stalls and watched the band do their sound check. Still no one challenged us so we moved up to the balcony that overlooked the foyer and entrance doors. There was now a sea of teenage faces waiting outside and we watched as they rushed in when the doors opened. The gig itself was an anti-climax. The band couldn't cut it as a live act and for all Bowie's interest in them, they weren't ready to tour. Nevertheless, it was a day to remember." I love the memories that gigs ignite, Alan. Thank you.

Nottingham Tim has found a couple of blue plaques: "Plaque #1 was in London."

"And Plaque #2 is on Charles Street, Manchester - got a feeling the surrounding area is actually still used a pissotiere most weekends." I couldn't possibly comment, Tim. Though my son James is in the Northern Quarter (not far away); maybe he would know?!

Tim's got a gig ticket too: "Hawkwind, my first gig. Really miss tickets. Online Q codes just don't do it for me." I know what you mean, Tim.

"And finally, the rise of Stoke City: from playing the likes of Chesterfield and Wycombe to an FA Cup Final & the Europa League! Again, loving the hard copy tickets. Cheers, Tim. Didn't have you down as a Clayhead!

The Swede, who was sadly not present at the recent #BlogCon24 gathering, has a story I think I last heard told by Justin Hawkins - he of the Darkness: "Hi John, according to local folklore, a ghostly devil dog (aka The Black Shuck) is said to roam the quiet lanes and lonely country footpaths of Suffolk and, on August 4th 1577 as a fearsome storm raged, it burst into St Mary's Church in Bungay, killing two parishioners. The Reverend Abraham Fleming vividly described the terrifying episode at the time in his essay 'A Straunge and Terrible Wunder'. Nearly 450 years later the event is commemorated in art, story and song via the town's annual two-day Black Shuck Festival, organised by the artist Stewart Pearson Wright. Last year Martin Newell, Stewart Lee, Will Power and The Feathered Thorns were among those providing the entertainment. The 2024 line-up is due to be announced any day. This small plaque sits on the side of a pedestal located a few yards from St Mary's Church, though, contrary to the description, The Black Dog of Bungay is conspicuous by its absence on top of it. So if one day you happen to find yourself out walking in the Suffolk countryside, take heed of this advice - beware the hedgerows and dark places." I will, TS. I will.

K from Gloucestershire is next up: "Hello John, a couple of examples from a recent visit to Gloucester. I think I’ve got some other ‘date’ contenders in the archive. I’m hoping to get to Newent for a work trip next Tuesday (25th) where I believe there’s a blue plaque for Joe Meek, which would be great. I’ll email some further efforts - and accompanying text - over the next week. Hope all good with you! K." Get the others over to me as and when & I'll slot 'em in. Thanks!

Next we have our International Man of Mystery, aka David Cooper: "Hi John, first a photo taken earlier this year on the Hohenzollern Bridge in Köln. (There are dates on some of the locks - honest!)." 

David gos on: "Scooters have been the main subject of my photography over the years. Some of the owners like to retain an old Tax Disc or three as in this case taken at Cromford, Derbyshire." Perfect, Coops! I never know which part of the world your snaps are gonna come from.

Ernie, what have you got? "Hi John, as something of a cemetery buff I have many photos of tombstones but only these two succeed in making the occupant look cool - one from Addis Ababa..." 

"...and the other from Plovdiv in Bulgaria." 

Still Ernie..."And this gig poster brings back happy memories of when I saw Sweet in Rostov-on-Don (Russia) about ten years ago. It's a long story, Ernie." Ernie did in fact tell me the full story when we met up in Newcastle last week at #BlogCon24. Thank you, Ernie. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

The always enchanting C now follows - C was another disciple at BC24: "Hi John. two musical ones here. First this album cover, featuring four of the coolest people on the planet at the time, surely!" 

 "...and secondly, a special little artefact here from a rather special gig. I do love the fact that it's very much not in the style one might expect! A transcription of some of it here in case it doesn't come out very well: "Steve Ignorant performs The Feeding of the 5000 and other Musical Hall Favourites with carefully selected Friends and Guests. Two Nights Only Sat 24th & Sun 25th Nov '07. With all the comical humours of Master Ignorant, and all the original Jokes, Farts, Burps, Songs, Dances, Battles, Kickings, etc. Boxes 3'/- Pits 2'/- Gallery 1'/- The tea-kettle will boil at Seven-Thirty in the evening & Master Ignorant will mount exactly at Ten." Hope these are ok! C x." Thank you, C. Spot on!

Next up, Miss Turner, the coolest teacher I know: "Two historical school related items. The colours on the back is the ticket we still use when teaching Year 7 about light; we never throw anything away!" Thank you, MT. Hope to see you again next month...

Charity Chic, also fresh from pressing the flesh in Newcastle, with a couple of zingers: "Taken  at a small  exhibition of British Black music at Glasgow's Mitchell Museum; unfortunately, I was not at either event." Neither was I, CC. But I remember reading all about the TRB/Steel Pulse rally in the music press at the time. And, sadly, very apposite given the times we're living in.

Former Manc & now my Gladstone drinking buddy Dave has a few gig tix to show and tell:

"The Amy Winehouse gig was in the period when she was either great or not so good in concert. Unfortunately we experienced the latter; luckily the Academy in Manchester is in walking distance of the Curry Mile in Rusholme, so we left early and  consoled ourselves with a lamnb jalfrezi." You've just described my perfect evening, Dave.

(Swiss) Adam: "The reasons why 18th century Methodist preacher John Wesley chose to preach under the M56 in Little Bollington in Cheshire are lost in the mists of time. Maybe he liked the traffic noise thundering overhead. But on this spot in 1747 he was here. The Methodists then built a chapel here in 1854 which was later demolished in 1972. It has since become a meeting place for a variety of local artists." Thanks, Adam. Looks to be well worth a detour.

I can see that Alyson, another blogger in residence at the recent Newcastle Summit, nabbed her photo whilst up in the North East: "Hi John, this plaque is at the entrance to a castle with staircases that could have been designed by  Escher. Lots of ups and downs, and squeezing through narrow entrances. Fabulous views of Newcastle from the top, though, so well worth the effort." Thanks, Alyson. I missed this, but will definitely seek it out next time I'm visiting the toon. (Which, hopefully, will be sooner rather than later.)

My old school friend and now San Diego resident, Riggsby: "Hi John, a couple of very different entries. Their Next Band, our local band, very generously played in our back garden for our going-away party on July 15, 1978, when we moved from Grantham to Norfolk. I put this onto the gig listings in Sounds and the NME!" Brilliant, Richard. As you know, I was there - what a great night that was!

"Thomas L. Smith aka 'Peg Leg Smith' (1801-1866) was a mountain man, prospector and a spinner of tall tales. Quite a character by all accounts (well worth a read). Every year the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park attracts storytellers from all over the globe to compete in the annual Peg Leg Smith Liar's Contest. This hilarious contest honours Peg Leg - a master in the Western tradition of telling tall tales. I took this picture during a recent weekend in the desert." Love it! I think I'd have liked Peg Leg! 

Martin just gets in under the wire with this beauty: "Blast, I meant to send this to you before, John. This is the Sidney Cooper Gallery (and sometimes school & college) with commemorative plaques from different organisations for two very different artists." Thank you, Martin. I love the juxtaposition of the pairing.

As is customary I'll quickly go thru a few of mine before we draw a close to proceedings. They were all taken in the last few weeks and, as you can see, I was lucky with the light. First up is the seafront at Burnham-on-Sea.

Feel free to insert your own derivation but NCHA is Nottingham City Housing Association.

I've snapped this VW campervan a few times on my travels (it's not a million miles from where I work), but I don't think I clocked the 1966 GB plate before.

AC Milan was founded by Nottinghamian Herbert Kilpin in 1899.  If you don't believe me please read The Lord of Milan. It's a cracking read. This is where he lived. I'm sure there was a plaque here at one time but it's obviously long gone. 

The oldest pub in Torquay.

A weather station outside someone's house in Totnes in Devon. This is so Totnesian.

A tax disc on a Nissan Figaro, Bingham 2024. I miss tax discs.

Yours truly in front of Nick Lowe. I liberate a lot of gig posters from venues. The Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank in 1998 was no exception. It's what I do.

And finally, a keepsake from the above mentioned BlogCon 24 meet-up: a huge thank you to Alyson & Roddy for this. I was quite emotional when they gave it me, I don't mind telling you. If you fancy signing up for BlogCon 25 please don't hesitate to get in touch. We haven't worked out where we're going yet (maybe London?) but if it's anything like the last three years it'll be a hoot.

Well, that's all she wrote. Thank you so much to everyone who sends me their photos. I really do appreciate it. I'll post August's theme in the comments section below in a couple of days. In the meantime, stay safe. Till next time...

Postscript 2.7.24

I must apologise profuseley to our Gloucestershire & Cotswold correspondent, Khayem: K emailed me the rest of his photos (as he said  he would - see above) but I totally missed them in my inbox. So here they are, better late than never. 

"Gig posters in Perth, Western Australia, April 1991. I’d been living and working in the city for a few months to earn enough to travel. A week or so later I was on a Greyhound bus heading east, so I didn’t get to see The Church (or Bjorn Again, for that matter), though I did catch the Ramones supported by Ratcat a couple of months before. Happy times!" Nice one, K. Bet you'd kill for the Ramones poster tho'?!

"Newent is a lovely town on the edge of the Forest of Dean in Gloucester. Head to 1 Market Square and you’ll find a blue plaque marking this as the birthplace of legendary producer Joe Meek. Sadly, things did not end well for him (and his landlady) and there is a corresponding black plaque at the home where he died in Holloway Road, London in 1967, aged just 37." Must be the angle you took the photo from but it looks like a film set!

"Who needs a community noticeboard when a telegraph pole, a plastic pocket and some drawing pins will do? This was spotted in Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire. I didn’t stick around to hear Angie explain Rosemary’s legacy, but I’ve read that she designed gardens for Elton John’s current gaff, King Charles’ Highgrove estate and the New York Botanical Gardens. Beat that, Titchmarsh!" 

"Another one from Wotton, adorning the entrance to Perry and Dawes Almshouse and Chapel, which dates back to the 17th century. Still in active use, as far as I can gather." Thank you, K. A great selection.