Thursday, April 16, 2009

On arriving in the country

It's hard to start this without hearing the Whitsun Weddings in mi head.

"We were late leaving Whitley Bay... "

Anyway, got here. Bliss. Walked down to the pub, drank lovely beer in lovely sun and had lovely sandwich. Then went for a walk down the river to Skelwith Bridge and had lovely date cake.

It was lovely. And walked back. Still lovely.

And now i'm very happy. I hope you are too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Elterwater by the pub.

I am so pleased to be going to Elterwater for a few days. Hip hip hooray.
Oh, a pal just asked me about Elterwater .. so here's a few snaps, higgledypiggledy. Elterwater top, the River What's It next to top, the Britannia Inn above left and Chapel Style above right.
See you there.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What comes around ...

It's funny stuff, industrial heritage.

One century you're waving placards, getting up petitions and demanding the truth.

"Out demons OUT..."

And the next, you're waving placards, getting up petitions and demanding a different truth. A chapter in the KeyStage 3 history curriculum, perhaps.

There's no way of knowing when or where it will strike, industrial heritage.

Take Seaton Sluice, for example.

Back in 1860 it was the largest bottle maker in the UK. It says so on a plaque.

Now, i don't know much about bottle making but i'm prepared to bet that it wasn't a very nice process. Hot things, smokey things, kill you when you're not looking, things.

I bet too that the Duke of Northumberland had a finger in those bottles; shaking them up, making them fizzy - and getting money back on the empties.

But just how bad was bottle making? Was it worse than mining, for example?

Well, the folks of Seaton Sluice could easily find out because just across the field, was Hartley village and its pit.

"Was" because in 1862 the colliery beam engine fell down the shaft; the only shaft, blocking the only shaft - and 204 men and boys suffocated. Slowly. Helplessly.

And that was the end of Hartley.

Perhaps it was the pit disaster that also spelled doom for the bottle factory in Seaton Sluice - it closed eight years later.

Or maybe Wimpey built some smart new hovels in Seaton Sluice and the incoming residents objected to the bottle factory.

"We prefer Evian..."

Anyway, today they're all gone.

There's just the plaque that i mentioned. And in Earsdon church yard there's an overgrown, tear-stained memorial to the people who died down Hartley pit.

Maybe they're your tears. It's impossible not to weep.

Oh, and out in the middle of the field, there's a bloody great big, cold, dark monument. But i never go there.

In 1862 they took up a collection for the people of Hartley and Queen Victoria sent a few bob. I bet the Duke put his hand in his pocket too.

I think that's how they built the monument. I bet the bereaved families of Hartley were grateful.

They're generous people, the rich. Oh ... and parliament passed a regulation saying that henceforth all pits had to have two shafts. Thoughtful.

But by then, Hartley was just about gone.

And soon, soon without its bottle factory, Seaton Sluice would be a 'nice place' for a walk, for a pint and for fish and chips.

Today people living there look happy. Blokes in boats look happy. I was happy.

How do we measure these things? Dunno.

But take it from me, me up-north, someday, when all the placards, spit, venom and unhappiness have gone, the yet-to-be-built third London airport will also be, 'gone'.

Gone, perhaps to open space. Or gone, but remembered at local insistence - by a 'living heritage centre'. Or maybe recalled by just a plaque - like the one for Seaton Sluice bottle factory

Funny stuff, industrial heritage.
* Seems that some of my guesses were right .... which ones? Have a look here, it's an interesting read, i promise

An account of the Hartley Disaster

Photo, 204 names on church memorial

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Baltimore IE

If you're at a loose end and have no where to go this Easter, here's a splendid place.

Baltimore is about as far as you can go in Europe without setting off for the USA; to the left of Cork, without the over-sourced foodies of Kinsale and just below Mizzen Head.

In 1631 some pirates turned up from Algiers and kidnapped everyone. Really. There's a book that tells the story - The Stolen Village by Des Ekin.

It's a bit sad (I'm not a Leavisite) but Baltimore today is good fun.
There are islands to visit - filled with never-sprayed plants and wildlife. And walks. And pubs and Irish things.
If you like sailing, you will think you've been delivered.

Nearby, there's Castletownsend with really posh people, Range Rovers and that chap who thinks a lot of himself from Newsnight. But the food in the pub is extraordinary.

The landsape is softer than further north.

Despite, or because of, a splendidly republican history, County Cork has always been very cosmopolitan and today is packed with rich Germans, Italians, French and English. Well they were rich.
The islands seem dotted with people in denim shirts who say they run some net business or other.

Why am i writing this? Oh to be sure, go to Baltimore.

One-way dialectics

I love shopping in Currys.

All trainees have to learn the company's approach to customer assistance as part of a challenging corporate induction process.

This is their side of the conversation.

"No such thing ..."

"It's discontinued ..."

"It's rubbish ..."

"We don't stock it ..."

"We don't stock it anymore ..."

"You got the last one yesterday ..."

"That will be £19.50 ..."

Oh blimey.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Recipe for watermelon birthday cake

This is a delightful recipe. Quick and simple, but it can take a lifetime to perfect.
  • Put watermelon on table
  • Folk come
  • Like them

There are a few variations and you're welcome to try them. Laughter works well we find, and you can try hoots of laughter, if you're feeling extravagant.

Children are especially good, if you can manage to find them, in season

Saturday, April 4, 2009

There's a man on the pitch ...

It may not feel like it. Of course it doesn't feel like it. But it's just possible that we are living in some heady days.

Ok, maybe like lovely Robert Kee in old East Berlin, i've got my eyes a little crinkled up. Or maybe like Leonard Cohen, i'm getting this democratic vibe through the wall on a flood of alcohol.

Or just perhaps.

Just perhaps, the reason the right is going quite so nutty here and in the States is that they're terrified this could all come right. I mean left.

In the USA, the attacks on Obama read more like a plot from the X Files. Or something. Listening to web radio is bizarre.

There's straight-faced discussion of the claim that Obama is the puppet of a left wing cabal set to introduce a world currency. That's the woolley-brained IMF to you and me.

And of course the new president is giving all the USA's money to ... well somebody.

Trouble is, most US citizens name a celebrity as their major source of information.
Now we may think that's Oprah - but the big O is a little too high brow for many. Truth is, for many of our cousins, the celebrity to whom they refer / defer is the Rev Cleetus Awreetus. Or somesuch. And he's white, he's right and he's barking.

The real plot in the USA - just as it was here when Blair won - and just as it was when Labour was elected in 1945 - is the plot of the right. The difference is that, in the States the right just gets madder and even more forthright.

Not quite so, here.
Sixty years ago in the UK, in the face of mass rejection, the Tories went underground. They infiltrated every organisation they didn't already own. And then they invented a few more.

The League of British Housewives - supposedly a non-political campaign to take bread off rationing - was in fact a Tory puppet.

And 50 years later, Tory candidates whipped their party off the ballot paper and became .... independent something or other. But it was the same old dowager duchesses who turned out as number takers on election day.

Then, with the apparent nose-dive of Gordon Brown, they threw off their masks and took up, once more, their Daily Mail 'Mr Hiter is not all bad' chants.

There is nothing better than an over-confident Tory. Their smugness is like cheap melting chocolate; it's messy, difficult to shift and ... tastes crap.

Where was i?

Oh yeah ... the good news is that Obama, for a few lovely moments, has turned the UK clocks back. We are in summertime again. (That would be forwards but never mind).

And the good news is ... well ... the good news is that Gordon Brown just got called "Brilliant Brown" by Bob Geldof.

And the good news is, Gordon just pissoir'd on the French. Err, and the Germans.

And the good news is we'll be out of Iraq (kind of) in a couple of months and the good news is ...
Well ok , i'm pretty sure there's some worse bank stuff to come. And Afghanistan is stupid and Obama may be digging in Dennis Healey's hole.
Or maybe not. Maybe Obama can work some sexy magic on the war lords. Err no. Even i can't dream that. But he does seem very very bright. And for once, as an ENTJ, he may just have the right personality to see the job through.

Anyway. The right are worried.

In the States they will have to put up a laughable Really Really Right candidate in four years time. (Although the American constitution almost guarantees that Obama will be struggling for a majority in Congress very quickly.)

And over here, Cameron, looks increasingly like last year's Tracy Island, Pokemon, Ben Ten. So what, he won the X factor. He's lost his record contract already and must rely on Labour hanging itself. (Which admitedly is what happens to most governments.)

Anyway. Look, we know G20 wasn't that great. But your average newspaper editor is too thick to work out that detail.

And they certainly can't afford to take the fragrant Mrs Obama off their pages. Crumbs, she's the Jackie Kennedy / Mrs Diana they were praying for. Something has to go in between the adverts they're trying to flog.
Sorry Mrs Obama, it's up to you. She's good too. Better than Hillary. Gosh, there's a thought.

Now i know the Guardian isn't the Sun. It isn't even the Guardian. But it's more than a start.

So. Steady as she goes, Brilliant Brown. "Four more years, four more years, four more .... " Oh Blimey.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Big trouble on the beach

Now i'm for it. Seems Alexander and Sammy left their bucket and spade on the beach yesterday. Tourism chiefs are looking for the culprits; folding their arms and putting their hands in their pockets.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wish you were here ...

Someone once wrote, "Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on for ever." (I think it was Pete Brown, bless.)
Any way, we don't have enough art school dances in Cullercoats. Hardly any, in fact. Nothing much to frighten the horses.
And i suspect that Winslow Homer wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs in the Queens Head pub on a Bank Holiday weekend.
"I'm just praying for rain and gloom, Julian."
"Is that a pint or a half, Winslow?"
But never mind. The place does have its moments and here's one of them.
Having just paid £20 for a 2cm Lego figure of Two Face (he's in Batman, i'm told) who should i find on the beach but ... well ... One Face?
(That's his pal peeking out from behind, so it could be Two Face.)
One day I was in the backwoods of some northern Californian town, miles from anywhere and idling away some moments. I picked up a book, opened it and there was a painting of Cullercoats bay by Winslow Homer (DOH!) .
"Well, that's synchronicity," i said.
And here's some more. Arthur Koestler and G Sumner would be proud.
Lego people now seem to be filling up my life (and emptying my pocket).
So now i wonder if one day, i'll open a book in Grass Valley CA and find this rather more cheerful vision of Cullercoats.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Drawing in the kitchen

Sunday morning; drawing pictures of Two Face -and Poison Ivy and Joker and Penguin and ...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Caption competition

OK, put pen to paper and come up with a fab caption for this photo taken in the the back lanes of Barcelona.

Cheerful bloke in Barcelona market

Thursday, February 12, 2009

See, Emily plays - the Fender Telecaster

Why does the Fender Telecaster give me so much pleasure? I mean, I know there are better guitars. (*)
There are those who claim that it's just a posh banjo. (Actually there aren't, I made that up.)
OK, but like the banjo, the Tele plunks and plonks a lot: it's to do with the single coil pick ups. I'm told.
And like the banjo, its aficionados all wear beards, plaid shirts and sandals.
No, i made that up as well.
Sid Smith once said to me that it didn't matter what i plugged my Tele into, it still sounded like my Tele. Always polite, Sid didn't mention that it also sounded like everybody else's Tele. Only not so good.
I guess that's true ... plunk plonk, clonk.
One of the lovely thing things about a Fender Telecaster is that it's dead simple. Just stop and go, really.
Stratocasters have wiberly woberly controls - five positions to choose from. And then some knobs and a whammy bar thing. What's that about?
And Gibson Les Pauls, well, look what happened to Paul Kossoff. He's dead. And I'm not prepared to change my name, anyway.
My bank manager (yep) was telling me the other day that her pal bought a £4,000 Les Paul called the Jimmy Page.
Which is weird because, as legend goes, Jimmy played a Fender Tele on Led Zep's famous first LP. (It's kak, btw.) And Jimmy isn't called Paul. Or Les.
So, of all the famous Tele players, who's my fave?
Well, the chap from Booker T and the MGs who did all those minute masterpieces for Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, et al is really good. He played In the Midnight Hour one way ... and then backwards for Dock of the Bay. And he's not dead.
But no, not him.
Oh there's an endless list. Keith Richard? Oh crumbs, no, he's a rare beast. A dull Tele player.
No, my top of the pops has to be Syd Barrett. Oh bliss.
All those lovely noises, rattles and trips.
The lovely Syd is another example of that, when it comes to the Fender Telecaster, the less you do, the better it gets.
And, as Sid Smith said to me, no matter what you do, it still sounds like a Tele.
(*)This article first appeared in my head. Only it was better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why do we get up?

It's tough being a human. You get born, you die; it rains on your holiday, cats puke and the plants need watering.

So, after a couple of million years, you'd think we'd have given up and just bought a caravan, or something.

But no, we keep on keeping on, rubbing the sticks together and having haircuts.

Surprisingly, while there have been umpteen attempts to lend sweetness and explanation to the experience of existence - God, mammon, the Fender Telecaster, for example - there have been surprisingly few attempts to explain our basic human behaviour, which we might typify with the question, Why do we get up? (*)

In truth, for many years I tended toward the simple get-out answer, Because we can't find the off switch.

But of late i've puzzled further, consulted widely and stood in the queue at Marks and Spencer. And as a result i am now prepared to make an attempt to move the debate forward.

I am indeed prepared to submit that there are, in fact, three unique human dispositions UHDs.

These powerful forces may be likened to the fundamental forces of physics which acting together, shape our universe. They are of course, gravity, the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism and err... the hunt for spangles.

Anyway, there are three, much clearer forces at work which underpin all human behaviour:-

  • Self-pity ... known as the dark force and which may yet prove to be the unifying force long-sort by philosophers and Sunday magazine editors.
  • Self-delusion ... unique in the whole universe to the human experience, it has, for example, the capacity to generate a billion twitters and blogs every day. So strong indeed it is thought that self-delusion created IKEA within the first few seconds of the human condition.
  • Bad taste ... considered for many years to be a simple by-product of existence, but bad taste is now understood to be one of three pillars of all human motivation and experience. Without it (and it's twin, self-delusion) we would have long ago run out of excuses for all those tile shops, the continued production of German pop music ... and tinned spaghetti hoops.

Now i recognise there may be some among us who would prefer the more comfortable, traditional answers to the Why do we get out of bed? question ...

  • we need a new mattress
  • my partner farts
  • the cat puked

... honestly, i know, i've tried out those answers. But believe me, in the end they are unsatisfactory, hollow ... self-delusional.

Be brave. Open your mind. NO ! More than that, open your Yellow Pages and see the truth for yourself. Really, only my new three UHDs can explain all those kitchen show rooms, tile shops and the continued success of IKEA.

Oh crumbs (self pity) back to my banjo practice (bad taste, self delusion). Be of good cheer.

(*) OK. All those aged 12 -19years are excluded. They are aliens, never get out of bed and therefore lie outside the scope of all human explanation.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Childhood #1

I only ever wrote one poem...

What a lot of red cars there are in the yard
The teachers are coming!
The teachers are coming!

What a lot of red cars all shiny and bright
That come in the morning
And go home at night.

...I was soundly ignored.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The pressure in my chest ...

BBC something or other has been running early 1970s tapes of American ancients; James Taylor, Crosby/Nash, Neil Young et al.

And Joni Mitchell.

Crumbs she is so good. A stunning body of work, headed by Blue - which is what she played chiefly on this show; recorded just before the record was released, I think. She sings 'My old man' and says it's not yet finished.

I'm really sorry she seems to have been fed up with things in recent years. Her achievement is huge. Of course, lots of records have the capicity to move us, inform our lives and to be cherished. Heavens, J Martyn just popped his clog.

But Blue is one of a very few records which maintains its capacity to delight, surprise and connect deeply on every occasion. Maybe the McGarrigle's first record does the same. But there are two McGarrigles! And frankly they don't have anything like the same body of work in depth.
Joni M has done it dozens of times.

Blue is ... transcendental or something, the kind of event which justifies the whole planet...

ZOG: "And what did you achieve, Earth?"
EARTH: "Well, from time to time we thought that we ought to behave better toward each other ... and we gave the universe Joni Mitchell."

Friday, February 6, 2009

With one bound

A lovely evening.
Fish, rice and peas for supper with the boys; then the 'original' Superman comics, with Alexander doing all the voices.

"THE MAN OF TOMORROW" leaps giant chasms in a race against time and the raging torrents. Al, of course, has plans already to collect every Superman comic ever published - and wants to order them from Amazon in the morning. I suspect he knows my account details.

Meanwhile, Sammy opens his own Amazon package and is delighted with the new Pigeon story, in which , "The pigeon finds a hot dog."
Sammy loves these stories - especially the bits where the pigeon shouts out in frustration,
"PLEASE LET ME DRIVE THE BUS" etc. and this 5year-old clearly identifies with his feathered anti-hero. He is now as fearless at reading as he is at crimefighting, bug splatting and Darth Vader battling.

Both boys are cute readers - and demonstrate hilarious vocal skills as well as a rather worrying capacity to typecast and stereotype their pals from the CMYK world. "Vee 'av vays of eating wo yoh-gutte, Thoopermann."
I'm under some pressure as the family's over-actor.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Jade Goody

I really don't care a fig about Carol Thatcher. She's just another Prince Phillip act-a-like who has run into one of those all-too-few, 'gets what she deserves' situations.

In brief, a bad egg masquerading as a good egg.

Same applies to Jonathan Ross, who let's be honest, is dull and well past his sell-by date.

Chuck Jeremy Clarkson into the same pot. Oh, and also that tosser who writes just about everything in the Sunday Times. Who cares if he didn't like his lunch?

But I am upset about Jade Goody.

She was on some TV programme, was taught to scream in pain for the viewers - and now seems to be dying for the benefit of some newspaper editor and his circulation figures.

I'm fortunate. Mostly these people don't impact on my world. I don't see them, don't know them and usually, don't care. I live on a different island.

For the most part these people are professionals who take their chances and take the money. If at some stage they get caught in bed with Frank Bough or John Major, well that probably gets turned into cash and paid into their pension fund.

That's not Jade Goody.

Certainly no role model. God forbid. But this woman will not be paying much into her pension fund. And even less will she have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of her fame and notoriety.

Are there any of us who don't believe that her illness is a direct result of her last few years? Of being turned over, laughed at and buggered by 'the editors' into whose clutches she fell. OK, leapt.

She is no innocent and the racism parallel with Carol Thatcher is not lost on me. But the Jade Goody story fills me with terror, with horror.

For, on a day that cervical cancer vaccine became available for all teenage girls in the UK, it seems that women like Jade Goody still can expect no protection from the media men.

Higher education

Happiness is big business nowadays but at Chipping steam fair you can get a degree in it. So i'm going to get a little engine too, when i grow up.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What's it all about, Alpha?

What's the point of the alphabet?
And have you ever considered that we could get rid of it?
I mean, at least, we could get rid of A,B,C, etc.
Is there any advantage in being able to recite those 26 things in that particular order?
Would it make any difference if we learned the letters backwards? Or from the middle outwards?
And is there any particular significance in having A at the front and Z at the end? Forgive me, perhaps those with Greek will know the answer to that.
But what if we all did learn it backwards. Would that be ok?
Well, wait for it, here comes another one.
What if from tomorrow, we all had to learn our QWERTY .... instead of our ABCs? See where i'm going?
If it doesn't matter which way round you say the letters, then why not learn them in a way which iwould be helpful throughout our lives? Crumbs, we're all at the keyboard from the age of 6months nowadays.
And hang on.
We could extend the idea. Throw in a few extra bits like ; and @ and //.
In fact, why don't we extend the new QWERTY to cover the whole keyboard? OK, that would be more than 26 things to remember - but think of the advantages.
Don't know about you, but I can never find % and $ and # on my keyboard. In particular I can never find the #. Well here's the answer. A veritable revolution in education - and one that actually has a purpose.
Wouldn't that be useful? I mean really useful.
OK, there you go.

Picked and mixed

So, the Barclay Brothers have bought the Woolworth brand name. Some would say a good portfolio match with the Daily Telegraph which they already own. Cold, empty and deserted.
And what a track record they have....
  • Bought the European newspaper - closed
  • Bought Littlewoods - with their mates at HBOS. Ha ha
  • Bought Scotsman - 7 editors in nine years. Sold it
  • Relaunched Sunday Business paper - sank
  • Bought Telegraph - 100 journos sacked
  • Bought channel island. Held election. Lost. Sacked island.
Only issue is, amid all this slapstick, how did they ever find the time to make that Crazy record?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Darts for art

I was going to do one of those list things. Films, i thought, that's what i'll do.

Well there's Aliens, in which Sigourney W makes both a promise to a child and a dead-exciting film.

Then there's Blade Runner, best watched while eating Ben & Jerry's Phish Food and drinking Gold Label Lanson. And err, that's it.

Oh, I could run off a few Euro oldies .... The Fireman's Ball (was that Milos Forman?) and stuff like that. But I haven't seen them in years. And then I thought, 'why not?'

I mean, when I was a little lad they used to play them all the time on BBC2. French, Italian, Czech, Japanese films. They ran the mesmerising Strike by Eisenstien which made a huge impresion on me - and the whole of Ivan the Terrible. Yep, BBC2 showed the whole thing.

But now, not a jot. What happened? Squeezed out of the schedules by darts and estate agents?

Washed up

I read that on planet Zog their top-of-the-range washing machines have special paper hankie dispensers.
Just in case the owner forgets to leave a kleenex in their pants pocket, this clever little gadget automatically dispenses attractive sticky white bits throughout the Zogian wash. Smart egh?

Plink, plink

Seriously, what IS the point of the mandolin?
It sits in the corner of my room like a pet pekingese; snuffly and disinterested - doesn't even respond to dusting.
Now, the ukulele is up for fun. It bites your ankle and demands a romp. SO cheerful. Everyone loves it. Reggae Leonard Cohen? No problem. Chuck Berry - easypeazy. Mozart horn concerto? (Well, maybe not)
And even the banjo has its moments. More like a big wet labrador. Comes in, shakes itself and slobbers hello. Wags tail, knocks your tea over. And everyone in the street knows you've got one.
But the mandolin. Why, oh why, oh why?
It seems to have two possible functions. Either it's the snare drum in a band that can't afford a drummer. Or it plays ridley-didley-didley-didley while someone else does the real work. And in that respect - and only that respect - it's like the clarinet chap in a trad jazz band; mindlessly playing scales and filling up all available spaces.
The wonderful Miles D said it was what he didn't play that made the music great. Well, I've learned from that.
And I don't play the pekingese.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Germany calling

If you live in the north east of England you get used to hearing lots of foreign channels on your radio. German, Dutch, Danish et al. Very nice too.

I guess folks down south are equally well-resourced by the likes of Radio Free Jersey or the Barclay Bros morning show ("You're all sacked, now then, now then".)

But many must wonder why their favourite BBC stations are so often drowned out by this pan-galactic jibber jabber. Well, we say to ourselves, Europe's kind of close and err ... well that's probably as far as we get.

But then we go west. To the far west of Ireland as far away from mainland Europe as we can get. And we hide behind some big lumps of Connemara Bens where no one in their right mind would expect to pick up a radio station.

And we're half right. No BBC 2,3,4 or five or world service. Not a peep. Oh, lonesome nights.

But there ... right there, just where they always are, are dozens of German, Dutch, Danish radio stations blasting away across AM / medium wave like there was no tomorrow.

What's going on?

WiFi winner

I don't know about you (well that at least is true) but i'm so disappointed with digital radio.

I mean, for just how long can the BBC justify recycling 'The Navy Lark' round a two week loop on Radio 7?

Now I admit that Andy Hamilton's 'Old Harry's Game' is the funniest thing ever produced at any time, in any place, on any planet. But even I don't think it warrants the complete restructure of the airwaves. And then there is the rather important matter of reception. It's rubbish.

Ofcourse I know that there are other channels on digital - however most of these seem to be made up of failed ex-panel members of some failed half-wit BBC tv show playing kak music.

BUT THEN there's Internet Radio.

Oh i'm in heaven. My perfect Pico WiFi (thing) picks up 15,000 stations, has more volume than a locked-out drunk, and works anywhere in the house, with or without mains. Err, i love it.

Christmas was spent listening to a chap in Samoa playing his two records and his one advert. (20% off surfboards at 'Jimmi's on the Beach' if you used your South Sea Airline loyalty card). Bliss.

This weekend, with our visitors, we played the new parlour game 'Spin the WiFi Dial' ...
  • Country ..STOP!
  • Form.......STOP!
  • Station....STOP! and then guessing what we'd tuned into.

Actually, usually it was someone or other singing 'Over the Rainbow' on a uke and in one of around 20 languages. But the Australian bush radio station feature on drought and 'difficult wives' was very informative over Sunday lunch. Guess what? It's rabbits next week.

I've read stuff from people who say that their WiFi radio doesn't work. In that case be careful what you buy but my Pico REVO (£150) is terif and was working in less than five minutes. So that's no more Navy Lark, then.

Recession - it's all over !

It's official.
Shops and OOTs were heaving over the weekend as UK citz and our own jolly pair of Irish visitors decided they were fed up, with being fed up.
JG Windows, where i got the new banjo throbbed with the cash-rich middle classes. Here at least autoharps and dobros seem to have replaced 'Smoke on the Water' and stomp boxes. Just for the moment, perhaps.
"We have more tills, downstairs" called the ecstatic cashier as half Jesmond elbowed the other half's kids in the scramble for old fashioned, analogue culture.
Meanwhile, Tony at Hound dog music in Whitley Bay declared that he was busier than pre-Christmas. "Been like this for two days", he said.
Anyway, we just had to join in, what with the afore-mentioned new 5string twanger for me - and Rob's beautiful Kala f hole electric ukulele from Hound dog.
But Suzie got the real bargain. A pink flying V ukulele, with a white V shaped gig bag ... all for £25! And even cheaper in her euros.
Now, that's culture.

Hair today

I've noticed that many male banjo players on You Tube wear checked shirts, have lovely deep Mr Sulu voices and big moustaches.
Haven't had a moustache since Stan Gamester took a photo of me playing at an after-show gig in 19XX. I shaved it off for the second set.
Synchronicity, but Rob mentioned that very photo yesterday - and he lives in Dublin. Where did he see it?
Do moustaches have after-lives ...? Do they hang around in some corner of the ether, waiting to confront you, years later? I stand accused.
Wait. If Stan took the photo, who was playing drums?


Why are banjos so loud? I conceive of little rubber finger covers - kind of the opposite of finger picks - so i can play more delicately.
Now for an attachment that will make me play well.

Out of sight

Not a day for dashing about but I must start to empty the rear attic. Six months of house moves and houseworks have made it a most unfriendly place. Yet somewhere in there are half a lifetime of musical instruments and delicate recording equipment.
More coffee, Vicar?

Up and ... away

Not an auspicious start.
Up at 5am to run P to the airport. Snow. All planes delayed.
So while P sits it out at NCL, I eat a toasted, wholemeal seedy bagel with crispy bacon - back here in Ilium.
Through slush and snow storm the plane eventually took off an hour or so late. Told P to sit next to Harry Gregg. Poor joke.