Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blossom falling

A few weeks ago i was about to leave for work but returned inside to get my camera cos the blossom on the tree outside looked beautiful against the deep blue morning sky. Most of the blossom is now on the pavement and blowing onto my entrance. Or it was, mostly yesterday, the tree being almost bare i decided it time to get to sweeping it up. Some of it had got wet and begun to degrade and stick to the tarmac and it took quite some effor to sweep it up and bag it up. Two bin bags full, and it weighed quite a bit too. Felt like i'd accomplished something and i went to read in the back garden. After about 15min ct called, she was in the area and wondered if i was free to meet up for a drink. I was and as i left i noticed that it hardly looked like i'd spent ages sweeping the pathways! thank you wind. Oh well, most of it is swept, i'll just wait the final petals to slip their grasp and float to the floor and begin the task again.

in the country of men

Picked this up on the cheap at tescos. Liked the front cover, shortlisted for the man booker, and the synopsis sounded good. Hooray, it was a good on the spot purchase as i enjoyed this story. It's set in post revolution libya, late 70s and is a story told from the perspective of a nine year old boy who's father is involved in anti-gadaffi propoganda. The story is thus interpreted from the snippets of conversation and scenes viewed by the nine year old. Which i like as it keeps you guessing as to what is actually happening, it's not an unreliable narrator, but some things take a while to make sense. In addition it is well written, though i wonder if some of the descriptions and metaphors are those of a nine year old, am i showing my writing prowess, or am i writing as a nine year old, that seems to be the dilemma of the author (hisham matar). The imagery is good and you feel like you are in arabic north africa. Being fairly short it didn't take long to read.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

not making the grade

My mstu teletext review has not made the grade - boo, especially as i find it difficult to review a band i like so much that most people have never heard of. So just for you I'll recreate it here, just imagine it in those beautiful blocky graphics:

Monkey Swallows the Universe - live Sheffield Lantern 21/4

Tonight a small Victorian playhouse nestled in suburbia is awakened by
the magic of mstu. Utilising the tools of twee: acoustic guitars,
strings, recorders, the product is more substantial. Hovering around
the territory of the delgados and camera obscura producing songs of
instant impact and longevity. Nat's achingly beautiful vocals
compliment the delicate folky-pop, a sound that is ambrosia for the
ears. Whilst the world's attention is tuned into Sheffield's more
famous monkeys, they're missing the jewel – don't fall into the same


Sunday, April 22, 2007

the fields

My review of the fields gig, and i feel i should add the tag 'as read by nat of monkey swallows the universe'. Cos it is, after the gig on sat she mentioned that she had seen it. To be honest this review pretty much sums the gig up. If you click on the image you can see it larger, if you want to read it at all! I think i may get their album if it's cheap in fopp. Thanks to ad for scouting teletext this week for my review.

Monkey Swallows the Universe - lantern

There is nothing better than an evening listening to some of the finest music currently being penned. I'd had a fairly good day, book writing, milling in town, more work in the garden. And then chesterfield lost (not quite so good), so relegation is now inevitable, though not least predictable from this years performance. Just finished eating tea when ad came round to give me a lift. Never been to the Lantern theatre before, and had found the address from the internet, somewhere in the hinterland of netheredge. Map in hand we attempted to find the venue, but if you're familiar with that area you will know that a map is pretty useless. Roads run into each other, they change names, keep names though bear off on a tangent, and even as many as five roads can converge in a chaotic junction. A spiralling journey eventually took us past a road name that was recognised and the venue was located. An old victorian building, built by some rich cutler in order to have private viewings. I guess the equivelent to having your own cinema these days. It fell into disrepair and was renovated in the 1920s, and it made for a nice quaint venue. Holding no more than a hundred. The culmination of an easter tour that has seen mstu claim record of the week in the sun and bagged appearances on 6music and loose ends. The evening commenced with a fairly awful, if i can be conservative with my critique, stand up act. Obviously a friend of someone, who may well be funny in a pub after a few beers, but tonight told rambling stories that lacked humour or punchline. The musical support was from rory mcvicar, a singer songwriter of significant guitar playing talent. I'm afraid his music doesn't grab my attention and the pleasent tunes float gently by. He is joined by members of mstu for some tracks which is nice, and you get the sense that they've all enjoyed touring together. MSTU are superb, and already have a considerable set of tunes from which to draw. A number of new tunes are given their debut airing, and the quality remains high. All suggesting that the new album is going to be well worth the wait. The intimate venue and appreciative crowd really suited. Without dissecting each song, there is not much else to write without covering old ground. Suffice to say this band are great and i hope they get the recognition they deserve. Here's a little clip of a song likely to be on the new album to whet your appetite.

there's also a small clip of rory mcvicar and nat here

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hush the Many

I've a few gigs to report on, but I'll start with this one, cos it was on teletext (thanks to ad for the photo). On wednesday I heard a track by the fields on 6music that I enjoyed. Discovering that they were playing at the leadmill I bought an impulse ticket and persuaded ad to come along too. That same eve I went for a meal with my family to celebrate my sister's b'day before heading down to the leadmill where a band were just setting up on the steel stage. We were stood near the stage and the bass player came over and we had a chat, discovering that they were the support act called hush the many. Once on stage it was apparent from their opening track that they were excellent. I really enjoyed the mix of guitar and cello, with intricate guitar noodling noises from the guy on lead. Add in a mix of driving bass and drums and it formed a beautiful soundscape. Moving effortlessly from quiet through to loud in a mogwai-esque style. We enjoyed it a lot, so i was pleased to get my review on teletext. My first for an unsigned band (though they do have a single deal with fierce panda). check them out at their myspace page too.
Click my review to see it full size.

Update: I've put a little clip on youtube. This is them perfoming the end of a track called Revolve. If you like, you can hear the rest of the track on their myspace page

Books I've been reading

The sailor who fell from grace with the sea by yukio mishima
Picked up this book at fopp for a bargain £1. Money well spent. I really enjoyed this translation of a japanese novel, it is written with such poetic language, and is nice and short. The story revolves around a widow and her young adolescent son. A son who, with friends, have formed a view on the futility of life as expressed by their parents (whether pre-teens actually sit around discussing Nietzche is another matter, but it is fiction). Along comes a sailor who seems to embody the carefree approach to life with no ties so longed after by this group of boys. However their illusion is dashed as he falls in love with the widow, leaving his nomadic lifestyle to 'settle down'. Angered by this action the boys have a macabre scheme to keep the image of the heroic sailor they wish to have.

Children of Men - PD James
I got this after v told me about the film. I wanted to read it and check that it didn't cover ground that the book i'm writing covers. It doesn't. I was a little disappointed by this book, it's an interesting idea, the human race can no longer reproduce. In the novel it seems to be down to barren men and women, but the focus seems to be on defective sperm. To be honest the technology is around that obviates the need for sperm anyway, the most important thing is the ova. You can use some kind of cloning technique. Anyway, that is a flaw that is by the by. The novel is written part as the diary of the lead character and part as third person narrative. The diary entries I sometimes found too full of background setting information, the kind of things you really wouldn't put in a diary. The story continues and is punctuated with twists that are obvious a mile off, which added to my frustration of the read. It's an interesting story, but could've been told better, and I look forward to seeing the movie, which may well be better.

There'll be more later

Sunday, April 15, 2007


there's been a bit of a back blog of things i've been meaning to report, but just not been in the write frame of mind (sic). Briefly, I was involved in setting up a meditative space for good friday, late into the eve of maundy thurs. Although it was not well attended, the actual act of preparing the room on the thursday felt like an act of worship. Creating and interactive art space, that did have the odd few drop in off the street. There's some pics and words of explanation on my good friday flickr set. Also enjoyed a walk around the river don, steeped in industrial history and a longer more challenging walk around lose hill and mam tor. There was some work undertaken in the garden as I fought the dicotyledens in my lawn in a battle I seemed to be loosing, leaving sparse clumps of monocotyleden grass clinging to the soil like wisps of hair on a balding mans head. Which annoyed me until my housemate reminded me that it wasn't as if I spent hours outside admiring my lawn. True. There's been some gigging too, and I'll write about that in due course, after submitting some reviews to teletext. So keep a look out this week, I may get something published. i hope so.

Friday, April 13, 2007

what's that

Started my drive to work this morning and oddly I could only see about 20m ahead. Well, I tried washing the windscreen, but it made no difference. Even the usual land marks were obscured, only becoming visible as I got closer, like they hiding, and then jumping out to reveal themsleves at the last minute. When I got to the motorway it all made sense. Those great big signs that tell you not to drink and drive etc today proclaimed 'FOG'.

Of course

That's why I couldn't see very well, it was foggy.

In other news, I recently bought a new razor. In fact this story starts years ago, when I used to use a Gillette razor that contained two blades. I bought it cos the advert said it was the best a man can get. It worked fine. Then they invented a razor with an extra blade that they claimed enabled you to travel three times the speed of sound, or somesuch. That also worked, but was slightly more expensive. Now they have five blades, where will it stop. I thought three was excessive. What next, I'll soon be using a razor as big as my face with a hundred blades in it. No more. I recalled my dad saying he also had had enough with the expensive razors and was now using disposable ones from tesco that were equally as good and cheaper. Excellent I thought, and purchased some to try this week. Three blades as well. Yesterday I tried gliding the blade across my face and I kid you not a wood planer would have been better. Had to check in the mirror that my face was still there! It was uncomfortable and worse than using a bic razor. There's a lesson here, don't accept frugal advice from your dad, you'll end up eating no frills food, scraping your face off and wearing abbibas trainers with wrongler jeans. They're just as good as the originals.

yeah - right (!)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Alchemist

Went to the lyceum last night to watch a performance of the alchemist. You may recall I read the novel last year. It's a delightful little story about chasing your dreams, and the fortunes and struggles that ensue. Being a highly narrative story I had wondered how well it would transfer to the stage, but the adaptation worked wonderfully, performed by 5 actors, interchanging between narration and characters. Using movable blocks as stage props worked wonderfully too.

It was a whole different experience to when I went to see the cherry orchard. This time the audience was mainly under 35, which was refreshing. I'd booked an aisle seat for added comfort, cos I find the leg room quite small in that theatre. As I took my seat before the performance, some of the actors were roaming around in character selling programmes. I don't usually bother wasting my money on such things, but I really enjoyed the 'hard sell'. The programme came in a bag with sand from the dessert, a stone and a chocolate. I had to bargain hard with the girl, who was really quite attractive, who played fatima. I'd argued that she should be selling them cheap as they only had a few dates of the tour left. It was fun.

Seeing the story all in one go reminded me of its simplicity, it really does have an uplifting theme. Being led to chase ones dreams, but not a quest of pre-ordination where everything falls into place, but one that demands decisions and endurance. A path that includes loss and suffering, but one in which all things conspire to ultimately help achieve your aim. Along the way we meet others who have become comfortable in their routine and have forgotten their dreams. It's inspiring. Whilst there I bumped into an older lady who i know from churchy stuff. We were at conference together a few years ago. It was nice to see someone I knew and have a good chat. She had actually come thinking it was another play called the alchemist! However, despite that she had enjoyed it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Little things

CC came over on sunday and we went for a wander around the bole hills after lunch, meeting up with ss. Good to see them both and to hear their stories of uni life. As we were meandering along the footpaths we passed a guy carrying a hoe, he'd obviously been out in the allotments. Following him was an attractive girl, probably his girlfriend. I turne to cc and said, 'check out that guy, out with his ho'. It amused me for ages, did that. Talking of amusing tales, I remembered one from work that I was retelling to cc and ss. I was down on site in Mansfield working in the site cabin, showing some of the guys how to work this computer package. We were all huddled around my computer at a desk in the cabin when in walked the cleaner. She had in her hand an upturned broom, it was a huge stage broom, almost a metre in width. 'Sorry to bother you', she said, 'but I can't seem to find my broom, I can only find this one and it is too big. My broom is much smaller, if you see it can you let me know'.
No one had seen her broom,
'I don't know where it could be, but we'll buy you another one', said the project manager and as she left and shut the door he turned to us all and said 'it'll be the guys out on site, they'll have had it at lunch time to play quidditch.'