Monthly Archives: December 2010

Yet Another Year Remembered… Again

I’m running out of titles for my year in review entries, but we must press on. 2010 has been a bit of a rubbish one in many respects, but a lot has happened anyway. For the seventh time in seven years, I moved cities. The faithful Peug, still going strong, survived a fairly nasty hiccup in the middle of a frantic festival tour which coincided with moving house, but was eventually repaired (hundreds of miles later) by a loveable cockney. I discovered a disturbingly futuristic park and a pleasingly retro one, spent too long on tube trains and not long enough on the guitar, started an open mic night, gave my first lecture, opened for most of my favourite bands, lost three bikes, gained an air hockey table, played topless pingpong, swore at some libraries, got a free ticket to the pantomime, clambered up a haha in Bath, went bowling, got woken up by Americans watching basketball on my spare bed, sat on a white horse’s eye, slept in a service station, gave my first conference paper, woke in the attic of a fruit farm, toasted the king, and created a snow sculpture of a C19th prime minister.

Maybe it’s that there’s been less going on; maybe it’s simply that I’ve written less down (more likely), but 2010 has left an odd taste in the mouth. There have been many good things, but they’ve mostly been prose. Poetry has been somewhat lacking. The move to London can account for much of this, of course, and there are also time-budget issues. It will require resolve to hold the balance between romance and pragmatism more evenly.

Fortunately, this is a time of resolutions. I know I promised not to make any more, but sometimes it’s necessary to kick oneself into action. Broadly, “action” here means reaching higher, doing more, writing more, thinking more, feeling more. Specifically, “action” here means:

1) Write two more chapters (at least) of my thesis.
2) Release at least one new CD, possibly The Spooky EP with the Dapper Swindler and Sam Taplin, or possible Vibe, Drill and It with the Dapper Swindler.
3) Make Bright Idea popular.

These are dark times. Both my musical and academic lives are under serious threat from within and from without. Do I have what it takes???!?! Find out in 2011.

Happy New Year to you all.

Not necessarily the best things of this year, but the things that are most “this year” about this year-

‘Pandora’s Hope’ Bruno Latour
‘The Prefect’ Alistair Reynolds
‘The Line of Beauty’ Alan Hollinghurst
‘Dry Store Room No. 1’ Richard Fortey
‘His Dark Materials’ Philip Pullman

‘Jungle Blues’ C. W. Stoneking
‘Not on Top’ Herman Dune
Erin K. and Tash ‘Erin K. and Tash’
James Bell ‘Historical Pop’
Matt Sage ‘Let the Music Out’

‘Haircut’ Triple Rosie
‘On Melancholy Hill’ Gorillaz
‘Waterbound’ The Dapper Swindler
‘Green Grass’ Tom Waits
‘We’re Both Sorry’ Martha Rose

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The Christmas Messages

Blogdrive’s neolithic interface deleted a rather long and life-affirming
post which I was in the process of publishing about what a splendid
Christmas it’s been here in Birmingham. My first festive season in a
while in the second city (my first) was blue skies over snow, and
utterly beautiful, and has left in its wake a bevvy of socks, a new
guitar tuner, and a slight feeling of indigestion which promises to
persist into the New Year. I can’t be bothered to retype the whole of
the post, which was more words to that effect, but I did want to mention
that once again a few allies of mine (including the excellent Jay
Southwood and Parkes) spent yesterday revisiting the complete extended
Lord of the Rings – an almost twelve-hour-long procedure which remained
tremendous throughout, despite the fact that we’d already done it two
years previously. The cracks only started showing in the longer ‘Sam
Reminds Frodo Of The Shire Again’ sequences towards the end of Return of the King, which caused a
little irritation, but on the whole it’s still remarkable how smoothly
everything went down.

Jay won the ‘hardcore award’ for using the credits sequences of the
first two movies to catch up on World
of Warcraft
. John, meanwhile, loses points for falling asleep –
only for thirty seconds, but they happened to be the seconds in which
the ring actually gets thrown in to Mt. Doom.

I had to spend several hours pumping snacks out of my stomach early this
morning, but it was worth it. In these busy times it sometimes feels
hard to remain a legitimate nerd. I think this renews my qualifications.

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Just in time for Christmas

Folks, it’s been absolutely ages since the last fOld, and there’s no excuse. But hopefully all you naysayers who e-mail me in protest every morning will be silenced by this brand new episode fresh from the small town of Cheddar…

If you have a local delicacy you’d like me to eat one bite of, why not e-mail me?!

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Swimming Video

In the final part of the great Triple Rosie Tour Trilogy, we find ourselves “Going Coastal”…

You can see the entire series as a playlist here.

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Festive Season

It is now legitimate to start celebrating the midwinter.

And what better way to begin than by heading to the canteen at my university and taking advantage of their horrific christmas lunch offer? I went last Wednesday with a few select colleagues and we had a corking time, from overcooked sprouts right through to chewy christmas pudding. Afterwards, we wondered the corridors of the English department handing out mince pies.

But beautiful though this was, this was only the sequel to the previous weekend’s larks. On the friday evening I’d taken advantage of a friend’s offer of free tickets to the opening night of the pantomime. Sam Taplin and I went down. Photography was banned, but I did get this one little picture. Strangely, and despite what you might think from this picture, we are not actually paedophiles. It’s just that most of our better evenings begin with a good laugh in a urinal.

Pantomime, it turns out, is brilliant. I will write about this a little more elsewhere, but both Sam and I were in raptures throughout our post-theatre Nando’s, and not even the bus driver who deliberately drove past us at the stop (we ran to the next stop and got the same bus there) could dampen our spirits.

With temps at freezing and snow on the ground, we lit the fire in Witney and tossed away the hours on lewd humour and Agatha Christie novels (I read The ABC Murders). The next morning our form continued into crossword territory, then I spent a welcome afternoon in the Bodleian (my current research question – “Are Whales Aliens?”) whilst Sam preened himself and popped to the supermarket. Upon my return, we watched the old-school version of Death on the Nile (with a young Maggie Smith) as night fell around the cottage. Late into the evening, Max “The Dapper Swindler” Jones showed his wrinkled face in time for the large curry we had ordered. Sam and I had nearly crashed his car several times on the way to pick it up, so hard were we laughing about something or other, but it was only with Max’s arrival that things truly escalated:

In this picture you witness the three of us sporting hats made from the balloon-animal kit which Sam gave to Max as a seasonal gift. As the evening went on, things grew increasingly abstract:

Eventually we fell into a comatose state, arising on Sunday to eat a fancy breakfast, bathe, arse around with a football (we invented an interesting football/cheddar gorge combo game) and, not least, create an enormous roast dinner:

We played some extraordinarily frenetic musical arrangements, laughed a lot, ate a lot, and discovered how fun it is to toast the king repeatedly. Max and I took the night bus back to London in one of the quickest journies I’ve made on that route, playing Mario Kart DS the whole way (I had a lucky streak and am now a titanic 11 races ahead). It was a stellar time, provided with an ample and satisfying postscript just two days ago, when Mr. Taplin joined us in Railroad for an Erin K. & Tash show. I got to see a copy of his new book, and we spent yesterday morning strolling through Hackney talking about pretentious psychogeography.

This whole period is probably best summed up by this picture of our beloved pet owl here at Fingal Street, taken in college at the meal described at the beginning of this post:

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Train Video

It gives me some pleasure to introduce the latest short in the “TR/FaceOmeter on Tour” series. This one is about how we got lost when the M5 was busy and decided to try an alternative means of transport…

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