I have been in the habit of posting blogs and comments on several of the available social networking sites, most of these postings betray my tendency to sound off whether in possession of the relevant facts, or not. I do not intend to noticeably alter my habits, I am not a great researcher, and I have never been able to hang on to a half baked opinion until it is entirely baked,  but I will in future, try to channel most of my ponderings through this website.

 


Wednesday March 9th 2017


Loudon Wainwright III has a new show about his dad. I might expand a little on that less than astonishing revelation. Loudon Wainwright III, who has probably been a bigger influence on my own far less successful musical endeavours than anybody I can think of, has yet more material relating to his dad. As, by his own admission, the vast majority of his output is driven by unresolved dad business, it would appear that we at least have that struggle in common, even if there is very little else to connect us.
There were two classes of dad in our little bunch of thirteen prefabs, the dads that joined us to  play cricket in the cul-de-sac, and the ones that didn't. The cricketing dads had Christian names, Charlie Whitlock, Tommy Bamfield, Jack Marquick, Arthur Hall, Jack Gosling, Phil Smith, the remaining dads, which according to my calculations must have numbered seven, were rather judgementally referred  to as Mister, Mr Kestle, Mr Packer and so on, my dad was a mister.

My dad was never in the street, on any occasion, except for his daily trudge to the bus stop and back, the epitome of quiet desperation, he never revealed himself, even to me.
There was one tiny moment of glory I would have loved him to witness. I was hardly ever involved in the crucial cricketing moments, out second or third ball for a duck, rarely allowed to deliver my off-break, studiously perfected against the coal shed door, then despatched to the necessarily small outfield. On this vividly remembered occasion, I was lounging sullen and unused against Mr Miller's wire fence, when a Jack Gosling swipe flew high in the air and reached it's zenith immediately above my head. The ball was in the air long enough for there to be clearly heard imprecations to "Catch it Scotty!", "It's your Michael", "Don't drop it!". My gaze was fixed on that tiny sphere for what seemed like an age, and somehow I knew that the God I still believed in at that juncture, had chosen me for a moment of glory. I didn't move, still lounging with my legs crossed, I formed a small cup against my scrawny chest, with steady hands, and the ball plopped soundlessly, magnificently, into my store of childhood memories. I don't believe I ever told my dad how important that moment was to me, because I never told him anything, only on the arrival of his granddaughter, did we have any meaningful interaction, and then I was able to see what might have been available to me, had either of us known how to release it.

 

 


 

Wednesday December 7th, 2016


Stumbling towards the end of a year that will inevitably be remembered as the year of Brexit and Trump, it is very tempting to add to the already mountainous stack of analysis constructed by those who claim to have some sort of grasp of the implications. I resist that temptation because I am aware that I only have a vague understanding of my own peculiarities, and consequently, would be the least reliable witness if called upon to pass judgement on the machinations of sharper and more devious operators. I am more preoccupied with what the year has wrought in the tortured little domain that I cart around with me every day, my scrawny carcass and ever diminishing intellect.
There must be some kind of seldom addressed motivation in the largely unproductive efforts of the creative struggler, some deeply ingrained belief, against all the evidence to the contrary, that one day the genius will be recognised. Defence mechanisms which prevent the recognition of the hopelessness of this belief, crowd around the deluded individual, nurturing ever more unrealistic expectations, preventing the penetration of even the slightest sliver of doubt. If this was not the case, if there was suddenly delivered from on high, perfect understanding of the limitations of the average bonce, the internet would be drained of the vast majority of it's content in minutes, including my largely ignored contributions.
I think that this year, at last, I have reached a healthy accommodation with my own status, I have had a brief glimpse into that rarefied zone which the more confident souls would call self knowledge, a kick up the intellectual arse, which has propelled me beyond insubstantial ambition, and into the land of comfy obscurity. But on the other hand, if I were to be offered a spot at a festival next year, the whole bloody self deluding farce would start up again! Dooohhh.

 

 

 


Wednesday July 27th,2016.


Having considered the disaster that has become known as Brexit, I have decided that I have nothing useful to add to the reams of analysis it has engendered. I am as confused and apprehensive as most people of modest intellect must be, and perhaps a tad less hopeful. I have been in the presence of the peculiar Mr. Corbyn twice in recent years, once at a Radical History Day in Chippenham, he was one of four speakers who each had about forty minutes on four different subjects. He was the least impressive of the four, and I am to this day unsure what his subject was, unless it was a master class in name dropping. Last week I was in the crowd at the biggest Tolpuddle Martyrs Day gathering ever, and good ol' Jesser was the main speaker. It soon became apparent that the vast majority of the multitude were hard line Corbynites, he could have read them extracts from the Bumper Book of Vegan Recipes, and he would have been cheered to the rafters, (there were no rafters to be fair, but had there been.....). I have previously found that Tolpuddle is an inspirational event, and I usually come away resolved to be more active in some idealistic sphere, but this year, I was surrounded by some deeply disturbing, and largely negative vibes, not to mention some numbskull chanting in the style of the less endearing Chelsea supporters. The nature of the event has changed, some might say Corbyn has engaged millions who didn't really care before, to be honest, I felt less threatened when they didn't care.

 


Wednesday March 2nd 2016.

 

Delivering the Parish Magazine, a small favour for my partner, who was otherwise engaged. A neighbour who had obviously been keeping an eye on things from his window, came to his door to enquire about this departure from the normal. He said, "I didn't know you were involved with the church." I said, "I'm not, I'm an atheist, but we atheists are allowed to disseminate false information." It was meant to be a joke, though I confess I am not exactly sure how the joke works, so it was not surprising that the attempted wit should land on his countenance like a blow from a feather pillow. He retreated into his cosy abode no wiser, and confirmed in his doubts about the wisdom of any interaction with me. The brief exchange will probably not alter the course of our respective lives more than a smidgen, but I did begin to think that I might have sown a very small seed, if not in his perceptions, then in my own ponderings. With the dubious privilege of a referendum having been bestowed upon us, we will doubtless be burdened with an avalanche of false information, misinformation and intellectual trickery. The vast majority of us are completely incapable of interpreting this carefully constructed junk with any great success. If the day of the crucial poll should arrive before the fog of confusion has cleared, the small mark you make on your ballot paper is unlikely to be the result of a considered view, it is more likely to be an eeny meeny miny mo job, which renders all the information, false or otherwise, utterly ineffective. I am currently inclined to vote 'Out', simply because of the utter bollocks the European Parliament has made of the fisheries policy, with thousands of tons fish being hauled pointlessly from the ocean, and dumped lifeless back into the ocean. But what do I know? I'm just an atheist performing a small Christian act. 

 

 

 

Friday September 25th 2015.


I have realised over recent months, that behind the multitude of things that drain my occasional optimism, is one common factor. Marketing. This insidious profession, which barely deserves the word 'profession', is all pervasive, nibbling away at every aspect of human endeavour, seeking out the worthwhile, extracting the profitable, and leaving the detritus to be eagerly gobbled up by the enslaved consumer. "So." I hear you mutter, "What does he imagine this website is?" Ah, now, you have a point. I can only say in my defence, that my motivation is slightly different. Although I am in the end trying to elevate my own profile, I hope my efforts are not enormously damaging to anybody or anything, though I concede that some small harm might inadvertently be done, simply by waking up in the mornings. The marketing that I believe is doing irreparable harm is the cynical soulless tactics of the Corporate World, which is peddled as 'Growth'. The word makes me shudder. Every time I see a picture of a child who's portion of the 'Growth' is a bowl of mealie meal and a Coca Cola 'T' shirt, or the environmental disaster that is a Copper Mine, essential for the components of our indispensable Smartphones, I feel an overwhelming shame, that I am not quite bright enough to understand the concept of eternal 'Growth'. Well, it seems that we might at last have shot ourselves up the ass, we have done such a successful marketing job on the benefits of our Northern consumer culture, that the entire Southern Hemisphere has decided to beat a path to our sustainably sourced Oak Panelled Door, and demand "A bit o' that please." Good luck to 'em, we might have to endure a few uncomfortable decades whilst a New World Order is established, but it serves us bloody well right, for not refusing the temptations of the detestable Marketing Men.

 

 

Friday April 24th 2015.

 

Two news items I have noticed recently reminded me of my blissful days as a jobbing locksmith. One of my duties in those balmy times was to attend with officials of the Post Office when they raided a suspected fiddler in some almost forgotten sub-branch. We would convene at 7-30a.m., and surprise the poor miscreant whilst he was still munching his Cocoa-pops.
He would then have to be present at the poring over of his doubtless chaotic figures by these disgustingly eager accountants, whilst I busied myself changing every lock on the premises, including the safe and the tills. I was probably not as sympathetic to the suspect as I might have been, because it never occurred to me that he might be totally innocent, this trembling dishevelled cereal stained villain was already condemned, and I never heard of, or was present at the exoneration of the target of a raid. If you were raided, you were by definition, guilty. This week, an exhaustive investigation into the computer system in use at that time, has decided that a very large percentage, in all probability the majority of the Sub Post Masters targeted in this appalling fashion, were in fact totally innocent, and the computers, and probably the officials, entirely unreliable. In my current state of scepticism concerning the nature of authority, I would have been extremely uncomfortable with my role in the charade, and I am slightly ashamed at the small part I played. The second incident was the raid on the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, carried out by some outrageously daring and probably jolly unpleasant characters. I have nothing good to say about the raiders, but opening safe deposit boxes was another job I frequently was called upon to do. Usually because the key had been lost, sometimes for more obscure reasons, but the abiding memory I have of the people who rented the boxes, was an air of shiftiness and secrecy, this might also be due to my own unsympathetic inclinations at the time, rich bastards squirreling away their ill-gotten gains. So what have I learned since I was that surly safe-cracking tradesman? Probably a healthy need to avoid judgement, and officialdom, and embarking on blogs that come to no useful conclusion. 

 

 

Friday February 5th 2015.

 

The Assistant, Bernard Malamud, has been a constant in my adult life. I read it approximately once a decade, and it always leaves me in a better place. About thirty years ago it spawned a song which, though I say it myself, has that same quality. I somehow contrive to never have a copy, as even this most valuable item falls prey to my need to be rid of stuff, but then after an absence of many years, it will catch my eye in the tray outside of a struggling second hand book shop, always the Penguin edition, always in almost perfect, though obviously constantly handled condition, sometimes still bearing the pencilled shillings and pence price on the first page. It would seem that those of us who have read it, are compelled to handle it gently, and pass it through the most likely avenue for it's adoption by a similarly appreciative custodian. I don't imagine this to be an unusual phenomenon, other books will have the same relevance to other readers, the unsettling feeling that comes with the territory, is the apparent desire to be free of books altogether, the unspoken assumption that the Kindle is a great advance, freeing us from the need to turn pages and fashion bookmarks from pipe cleaners and bootlaces, (though I would advise against pipe cleaners, they stretch the spine). Technical advances are astonishing, the ingenuity of man breathtaking, but I wish we were bright enough to decide that we don't have to do everything that we can do. I consider myself fortunate to have lived through the best possible era, I just missed the Second World War, and I shall be long gone before the loony's have dominion over us and the person spotted in the street without a device to stare mindlessly into, is locked away as a subversive. God bless Bernard Malamud, even though he probably had serious misgivings about his God.

 

 

 

 

Sunday August 10th 2014

 

First night of the Bath Folk Festival, Deuair, Welsh duo Elsa Davies and Ceri Owen Jones, playing exquisite violin and Welsh harp. I'm seldom entirely positive in demeanour, but I don't think it would be over critical to say, this gig was ill-conceived. To set them up less than ten paces from a perpetually intrusive pool table, armed with one inadequate microphone, and an amplifier modelled on the Bakelite radio, was predictably awkward. The crack, clatter and tumble of a set of pool balls does not conform to any known musical time signature, and pool players are given to sudden outbursts of frustration and elation, which add little to the subtle cadences of the Welsh language. I have to say that Elsa and Ceri endured the difficulties with commendable equanimity, I would have been spitting nails. I suppose the fourteen or fifteen of us that were attentive, made it bearable for them. I turned down a small gig in this years festival, mainly because I was offered it ten days ago, which smacks of being a desperate afterthought, but also because every year it is hailed as having been a huge success, which it might have been for the 'Headliners', but the experience of being in the lower eschelons of the programme has been entirely depressing. Small, or non-existent audiences, in unhelpful venues, with minimal publicity. I am prepared to accept that me and my ilk probably get the treatment our relative talents merit, but I reserve the right to have a blast at slack organisation on behalf of a pair of skilled performers, who displayed dedication and integrity in the face of undeserved misuse, even though they have not sought any solace from me, or anyone else, as far as I am aware. Being a festival organiser is a thankless task, almost impossible to get exactly right, but there are those who cling to the addictive power of the position, to the detriment of the festival. Well, that's me, ranted out for a bit longer, and probably wasting time I could have used to improve my own performance.

 

 

Tuesday April 2nd, 2014.


Trying to persuade a five year old that it is not good to cheat at Snakes'n'Ladders. Never having considered the matter in any great depth, my initial reasoning was unimpressive, as indicated by his puzzled frown. Doting relations had previously only made token objections to his shameless pursuit of victory by whatever means necessary, my resistance to his ambition was unwelcome, and needed to be based in some understandable perception of the honourable, if it was to be of any lasting value. By stumbling degrees I brought him round to a fragile agreement, that we would play a game by the accepted rules. Perfidious fate then poked it's interfering nose into the scenario. My progress up the board by repeated sixes landing me at regular ladders, and speeding past hungry snakes, was in stark contrast to his frequent digestion by very long serpents, and lingering anguish in the lower reaches, deprived of even the meanest set of rungs. I won in minutes, though winning is hardly an appropriate word for the merciless pounding of a developing intellect that had taken place. Another game was sulkily declined, and I was left to do the examination of standards that I should have undertaken long before. Most rules, laws and accepted practices are formed with a large degree of self interest at work. The most obvious examples, religious organisations, turn ethical somersaults in order that they might arrive at a predetermined answer, wriggling around in ever more complex sophistry, until they become impossible to oppose with any success. Business practices don't even bother to hide the injustice of their rules, imposing interest rates and conditions that make you giggle, until you realise they mean it! Anyhow, I won't be as cavalier with my morality from now on, I might just skip a square, just past a ladder, so what?

 

 

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

 

 

Got this year’s accumulation of stuff together with hours to spare, I must start in the summer next year. It’s been a strange year in terms of output, the flow has turned to a trickle, but there are a couple I’ve allowed myself to be pleased with. I’ve had to pad them out with some older songs, things that people have asked me to put on an album, but I’ve never been convinced that they would work, other than in a live situation. But what the hell, I’m not trying for that polished article which would propel me into the upper reaches of any charts, I just want to register the fact that these songs exist. Hope you will have a listen, and may be point a few other people in my direction. Happy New Year.

New CD "May Contain Nuts"    Listen on the Songs page

 

 

Sunday November 24th, 2013

Listening to a Mistle Thrush, atop a distant conifer. I have always been in the entirely pointless and obsessional habit of identifying every bird song I hear, and saying the name of that particular bird. It would be too tedious an exercise to examine why, and I don't especially want to stop doing it. It can be hugely irritating for a constant companion though, and I have tried to make it less so by getting my partner to recognise a few birdsongs herself. This has involved the invention of a few accessible images to remember and apply, for instance, the Mistle Thrush song conjures up the cardigan wearer who comes to Sunday tea in his showroom shiny Citreon, and spends the first forty minutes of the visit listing the road numbers involved in his journey, B1056, B1057, A639, A47M, B2589. This is an infallible image, she can now pick out a Mistle Thrush from half a mile away. The Robin is the consummate musician, who has decided that he prefers to knock off the odd pop tune, gets audibly bored with it after five or six bars, and invents another. The Blackbird's luxurious song is undeniably beautiful, but does have just a hint of the Mantovani about it, sweeping strings and dripping honey. The Songthrush has a more credible claim to be top composer, often mistaken for a Nightingale, but he gives himself away by being so pleased with his composition, that he sings it twice. The Wren comes closest to avian punk, rattling out incredibly loud phrases, and then seeming to frighten himself with his abilities, and doing three short halting skids. These basic clues have other add-ons that harden up the identification, and other species also have their unmistakable characteristics, the tumbling waterfall of the Willow Warbler, the bugle blast of the Blackcap, and some will doubtless say "It's nothing like that.", and some will be quite happy with the fact that there is birdsong that they don't need to identify, that's O.K. too. Just thought I'd bore you shitless with my little musings. See you somewhere, unless of course you see me first.

 

Sunday September 29th, 2013

The late, great Dave Angus, once gave me a book of poetry by John Hegley, without explanation, and for no obvious reason. It was not my birthday, or any other significant anniversary, the book was not wrapped or labelled, almost certainly brand new, and most probably had never been opened. My puzzlement was compounded by the fact that I don't give people things, not because I am mean, I let people have things all the time. If somebody tentatively enquires about a C.D., but is uncertain about the expenditure, most times I will say, "Take it", not in exasperation, but because the object of the exercise is to get the songs heard, and the money is just an irritating convention, it is liberating to be able to consign it to the unimportant. I don't give people things, because I am not entirely comfortable with being given things. Most times, the things I am given, are not what I would choose to have, and ownership of them is a tiny burden. The accumulation of small burdens is an avenue I would prefer not to travel, the last time I moved to a new address, I got all my worldly possessions into four television boxes, and a guitar case. Admittedly, at that time I was financially embarrassed, but it is my preferred state of being. Over the years, I have occasionally opened the John Hegley volume at random, and chuckled at, or mused on it's observations. Today, blessed with a placid, cloud covered, silent few hours, I read the entire collection, beginning to end, including credits and closing comments. I know exactly why he gave it to me, I regret that he doesn't know............that I know.

Tuesday July 2nd, 2013

Thirty seconds that change your life, I might not have believed that a particular thirty seconds could be more significant than any other bunch of ticks, until last Friday. Thirty seconds confronted by a snarling, spitting, venomous, evil-minded shit, with eyes like thimblefuls of acid, appears to have changed my demeanour more radically than any event I can recall in the last couple of decades. The details of the spat are unremarkable, not worth recording, the effect has been surprising. I managed to delay my collapse into sweating, trembling feebleness until he had departed, satisfied he had another dubious victory under his belt, but thankfully unaware that it had been so traumatic for me. The subsequent hours found me running the whole thing through my head, over and over again, unable to find any virtue in my part in the proceedings, and desolate beyond reason.
The evening of the same day, seeking oblivion in a small bar, an assorted clientele supping absorbedly, chatting predictably, laughing ostentatiously, farting secretly. Me, unnoticed, observing, ruminating, despairing, and suddenly experiencing another thirty seconds, of an entirely different character. A guy several inches taller than me, considerably hairier than me, much more comfortable with himself than me, said "Hello, my name's John". He stood there just long enough to pay for his ale, exchange the expected banterings, bestow a "Thanks love." on the barmaid, and return to his companions, but I was sorted.
I have always been unreasonably critical of the habitual behaviour of ordinary people, ready to disapprove initially, maybe reconsider eventually, but in recent days I have sought out, and rejoiced in, that exact quality. Delighting in the tedium! What is happening?

At this small distance from the original incident, I am able to analyse what actually happened, what might have happened, what didn't happen, and see that I have come out of the experience, (dare I say it), changed! I could be persuaded that the God I have raged against for so long, has choreographed the whole thing, to this purpose.

But on the other hand.................

 

 

Tuesday January 15th, 2013.

Bit late getting 2012's songs up for downloading, but they will be there shortly. May I also point out that they are available on C.D., if you would prefer the entire skilfully assembled package, but with HMV going down the tubes this week, it seems the C.D. might be on the decline, which would be a shame, I like 'em. My latest is called 'S'Know What?', and was delayed more by indolence than any artistic consideration, but now it's done, I'm quite pleased with it. One of the songs on there, 'Glow', was brought into sharp focus last weekend, at the new Bradford Roots Festival, which was a huge success. Combining every kind of music imaginable, it introduced me to the genre which the Wiltshire Music Centre was specifically designed for, the unamplified human voice. I was listening to a solo tenor singing Mozart arias, a new and very moving experience for me, as it is not a thing I would seek out under normal circumstances, but I was there, and it was happening, and I was enjoying it. Two rows down the darkened auditorium from me, was a guy who was also apparently captivated by the performance, but on his thigh, he had a  mobile which, although silent was glowing brightly and obviously switched on for some unaccountable reason. I was not able to ignore it, or keep my eyes from straying in that direction, and I allowed it to ruin the whole experience for me. My irritation was based in the fact that, if I had taken the trouble to clamber across seats to ask him to switch it off, I would be perceived as the 'nutter' who couldn't cope, whilst his habit off never being parted from a live screen of some description, would be regarded as normal. This all ties in with the demise of HMV, an ordinary old fashioned shop, unable to compete with the accelerating crassness of successful marketing. Having a live 'phone in your hand is the new displacement activity, as habitual as lighting up a fag, which was arguably less irritating, if more injurious to health. As mindless and unproductive a passtime as picking your nose or scratching your balls, but hugely more important to the numbskull economy, I consume, therefore I am.  Happy New Year!!!

 

Saturday September 1st, 2012.
Recent events have relegated this blog to the lower reaches of my priorities, Trollope put it thus:-
"There are such whips and scorns in the world to which a man shall be subject as to to have the whole tenor of his life changed by them. The hero bears them heroically, making no complaints to those around him. The common man shrinks, and squeals, and cringes, so that he is known to those around him as one specially persecuted."
What you 'ave yer, is a common man, pretending to be heroic.
Recording has suffered the same loss of attention, but that is for more practical reasons. I have lost the services of my good ol' mate Chris Davies, who has recorded my last five collections of songs, bin an' got 'imself a job, 'an 'ee? But another avenue has opened up, and I should be starting to record this month, so with a fair wind, some 2012 songs should be posted here in late autumn.
Been a good year so far gig wise, brilliant reborn Village Pump Festival, and one or two stonking small jobs, and a debut at Chippenham Festival, which fulfils a long held ambition. Voice needs a bit of protecting these days, some would say that's because I've been singing 'from the wrong place' all these years. Some would say that I sing pretty much from the same place that I talk, through my ass.

 

 

Thursday May 24th, 2012

Well, just when you had decided that my blog is unrelieved moaning, something positive crops up. Tim Edey has been voted Folk Musician of the Year! This guy is by nature chaotic and disorganised, except when he is in possession of a musical instrument, he then becomes transcendent, producing exquisite and exciting sounds whilst apparently, himself, having been transported to some other sphere. On one occasion he somehow contrived, whilst on a cross channel ferry, to leave his guitar case where it filled with sea water. The saturated guitar swelled and dismembered itself, and would have been left for dead by many lesser individuals, but good old Tim set to work with glue and clamps, and resurrected the sodden pile of distorted timber, and was able to play it again to a standard that many of us could only dream of. Apparently, he was awarded this accolade for him melodian playing, which is equally staggering, he confesses to not being able to read a note of music, but he doesn't need to, he is music, from head to toe, and they could not have chosen a more deserving winner. Well done Tim.

 

Sunday February the 26th, 2012
I never really got Elvis. I'm prepared to concede that it might simply have been that I didn't really understand, but I think the more likely explanation is, that he didn't really understand. (Howls of outrage from the devoted!). This is of course as casually formed an opinion as most of mine are, but I thought it would be interesting to back up the supposition with a little gentle surfing.

 

Nothing diligent enough to warrant the label 'research', you understand. As far as I have been able to discover, Heartbreak Hotel first appeared in the British charts at number eighteen, on the 19th of May 1956, at one two and three in that chart were Ronnie Hilton, Kay Starr and Winifred Atwell, innocent times indeed. The next week it crept up to thirteenth, and Blue Suede Shoes appeared at number eighteen, just above Perry Como's Hot Diggety Dot Diggety, how did we cope with the excitement!

 

In September of that year Hound Dog crashed the charts and stormed up to fifth, just behind Anne Shelton's Lay Down Your Arms, and it never got past her, even at third, she was there at second, with Doris Day on top with Que Sera Sera.

 

Then in July 1957, at last a number one, All Shook Up, with Lonnie Donegan's Putting On The Style at number two, and in the same chart, Elvis with Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear at thirteen.

So in a little over a year, the man so often credited with bringing us Rock'n'Roll, had abandoned it in favour of songs about cuddly toys. Harsh? I think not, during that same period, Bill Haley, Little Richard and the esteemed Mr Donegan, had been storming up and down the charts on a regular basis with far more authentic offerings.

 

So what has brought on these musings? Probably my complete inability to get excited about the 'Brits', I think I'll go and put on my Dan Reeder album, to remind me that there are still a multitude of staggeringly good artistes out there, that I have yet to discover. I must order that Sam Amidon album too.

 

  

Friday January 6th, 2012
I love this time of year, as January creeps apologetically into double figures, the late autumn mayhem is a fading memory, the retail ransom visited on us by a fear of not living up to festive expectations, has not yet been compiled into a final bill, the broad beans so accurately spaced to ensure a maximum crop, have poked their inaugural shoots through the frost crumbled soil, only to be nibbled off by foraging rabbits, or yanked from their roots by hooligan pigeons, and the bright mornings are a greater gift than anything carefully wrapped and ribboned in the previous weeks.
One surprise that I never expected, was that I would come up with a Christmas song, that was apparently enjoyed by most of the the people that have been exposed to it. As I am very unlikely to record it, for reasons to obvious to reiterate, I thought I might offer it to you as a poem, that you may or may not attach a tune to, should you feel inclined.

AUNTIE JULIA
It's Christmas day the family who came to dinner stayed for tea
and my digestive system feels peculiar.
We've pulled the crackers, read the jokes, then on her fourteenth rum and coke,
granny said, "Let's all sing Hallelujah".
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelu-u-u-u-u-jah.

I've heard it sung so many times, that litany of dodgy rhymes,
it's even sung by Natalie Imbrughlia.

We get up to verse nine or ten, then you suggest we start again,
but I'm afraid I had to overrule yah.
Overrule yah, overrule yah, overrule ya, overru-u-u-u-u-ule yah.

The gift I gave you was quite nice, but you had got the same thing twice,
I've still got the receipt, I'll post it to yah.
At Christmas we must show we care, and that's the reason I must wear
this cardy knitted by your Auntie Julia.
Auntie Julia, Auntie Julia, Auntie Julia, Auntie Ju-u-u-u-u-ulia.

When Leonard heard my Christmas song, it didn't take him very long,
to figure out that this was Hallelujah,
he 'phoned his lawyer straight away, said "Get a letter off today,
tell him Mr. Cohen's gonna sue yah".
Gonna sue yah, gonna sue yah, gonna sue yah, gonna sue-u-u-u-u-ue yah

Pine needles dropping off the tree, whilst I am absentmindedly,
beginning to peel my thirty-first satsuma.
At Christmas I get overwrought, but even so I never thought,
that I would wind up singing Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelu-u-u-u-u-u-jah.

Thank you, and may 2012 be all you would wish.

 

2nd December 2011
Stagnation! That's the latest threat that the Scary Monsters are facing us with. Six or seven years of stagnation! Thought I'd better look it up, to see exactly what we're dealing with here.
Stagnation, adjective, still, standing, without current, foul, unwholesome, or dull from stillness.

Now who does that put you in mind of?

 
When the whole market driven mess is hurtling along, creating massive profits for the privileged few, the experience of those not lucky enough to be carried along with orgy of excess is.......Stagnation. But that is not seen as a problem, the poor are with us always, and, apparently, perfectly capable of coping with being dull from stillness, without current, still, standing. God forbid that we should have another experiment with the philosophies of the Marxist-Leninists, but they did take a hundred million people who had been wrapping their feet in tree bark, and turn them into farmers and engineers. Capitalism would have sold them tree bark in exciting new colours.

Just about to do the last gig of what has been a busy year, by my standards. Twice in the Colston Hall, (Well, hall 2), and many other very enjoyable gigs, some of which I look back on with quiet satisfaction, one or two which provoke a pained wince, and one which still makes me grab my own balls and scream!

I think I have probably learned one or two useful strategies for coping with the inadequacies of ability, which are my eternal tormentors, and at least two people have sought me out in corridors and back rooms of venues, to say, "I enjoyed that". You have no idea, good people, how much that means. Gushing is as unnecessary as it is unlikely, an unstudied and slightly self conscious word or two, muttered through a vulnerable smile, is gold dust.


I suppose these occasional 'blurts' are a sort of leisurely 'tweeting', delivered by an individual who lacks the stamina and motivation to indulge in the conventional form of the.......art? Apart from being a bit dubious about the butchery of language, I could never confine myself to so few characters. 
  

 

 

 

November 22nd 2011
There is a phrase which was frequently used at one time, and it was generally assumed that it carried great weight, that phrase was 'well adjusted', which was a cleverly contrived shorthand for 'in reasonably good mental health', or 'happy'. I always felt that I fell a little short of the qualifications required to be included in that elite band of fortunate individuals. Most of the supposedly normal happenings of the average day left me feeling singularly short of any kind adjustment, be it 'well' or 'ill', and floundering in a swamp of incomprehension.


The latest setback in my futile pursuit of adjustment, has been delivered by the esteemed Mr. Andrew Lansley, Minister of State for what used to be the Health Service, but is fast becoming a battleground for economists and ideologues. It would seem that if you are unfortunate enough to be occupying a hospital bed, you will have as your constant companion, a monitor, on which a looped message from that nice Mr. Lansley, will play continuously, and you will not be able to switch it off!

 

I cannot imagine anything more likely to destroy any 'adjustment' I might have attained, than having that coiffed imbecile spouting the same politically motivated drivel at me, at ten minute intervals, throughout a bedridden day. Wracked by broken limbs, failing internal organs and seeping bedsores, and no escape from his simpering platitudes. When confronted with the the possible unfairness of this slow torture, his response was, (and I have not inserted any of my own words here), "If you register, you can have it switched to Radio Three". What the fuck is the man on! You must subdue your preoccupation with the crippling pain, heave yourself up on your plaster cast, and focus your tear filled sleep shrivelled eyes on a registration form. The alternatives are Mr. Lansley or Radio Three, he is unable to conceive the possibility that you might prefer, like.......nothing?
I feel today, that I have witnessed 'adjustment' disappearing over the horizon, as I feebly wave a resigned goodbye, destined to soldier on without the benefits of that elusive panacea.

 




Contact by email danver63@btinternet.com

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