I have finally started wading through some of the books long listed for this year’s Man Booker prize. I do enjoy a random read and you are guaranteed at least a decent standard of writing, although it does annoy me that books not even published yet somehow manage to make the list, partly because I look like a total idiot walking round a bookshop during my lunch hour looking for something that doesn’t exist. A short break in Italy provided me with the opportunity of reading Ned Bauman’s The Teleportation Accident and Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse. The Teleportation Accident is utterly crammed with ideas and fantastic moments of comedy, real genuine laugh out loud moments which probably explains why it never made this year’s shortlist it’s just too funny. Last year I loved the gentle humour in Patrick Dewitt’s The Sister Brothers and it was by far my favourite book, but I guess they are a bit of a humourless bunch. At first Beauman goes all out Booker and the first chapter is really hard going, flitting around and being ultra descriptive. The story crackles through the 1930’s multi-located in Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles I won’t bore you with all the details, its brilliantly written, highly original and creative and very funny, really worth a look.
Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse is completely bereft of any laughs and is brooding and intense. It manages a neat trick of being very simply written but highly evocative. Moore uses plain accessible language that builds into an intriguing landscape that you reflect upon. It is from experience a book you can knock off in the afternoon with a glass of wine and feel really satisfied with. It’s about a divorcing man going on a walking holiday reflecting on the mistake and misery of his life and through a series of coincidences getting obliviously embroiled in a tempestuous relationship of a another couple, it’s too simple to win the Booker but it’s a fine read. At the moment I’m pulling out my own teeth reading Will Self’s Umbrella, no chapter’s long paragraphs and the kind of multiple syllable bollocks you expect and an advertising pitch in London, all the characters Will Self evoke sound like Will Self giving a lecture. At the moment I’m a third of the way through and nothing has clicked with me, it’s leaving me cold, making me feel stupid and therefore probably bloody win.
I want to be your frisby baby throw me off the cliff,
I wanna be you air guitar elaborate windmill riff,
I want to be your revolutionary hand grenade,
I wanna be your arab spring kosher pig babe,
I wanna be your Cantona I know you don’t like sport
I want to be your taxiing aircraft in an over scribed airport
I want to be you carousel your battered oversize luggage
I want to be your testosterone pulled tug of waragge
I want to be your battenburg your fondant fancy cream
I want to be your milkshake big mac large fries dream
I want to be your health kick your running up the hill
I want to be the forgiving elasticised pants you fill
I want to be your pencil sharpener
I want to be you pen
I want to be your once upon a time
And your happy end
I want to be your ever ready your Duracell your endless power source
I want to go all night of course
I want to be your keyboard your backspace and delete
I want to be your any key the one you want to keep
I want to be your wake up shower
I want to go to sleep
I want to be your bee gee baby
You know my love is deep
I have definitely taken Stormy on some weird and wonderful dates, but last night was possibly the one of the strangest and as it turned out the most fun. I sometimes feel a bit weird that so many of our date nights land up on line when sometimes you want to keep a little bit to yourself ( actually we do, but still) it’s very occasionally I’d ask her to edit her blog to leave something out and yet here I am taking about one of dates so publically. After a long day with the kids, bless them, I managed to cobble a few ingredients and the bucket BBQ together and after packing the kids off we headed over to Worth Matravers. The idea was to have a BBQ inside the caves at Windspit.Once used as the abandon planet of Skarvo on Doctors Who’s Destiny of The Daleks (don’t worry this date get stranger). Anyway Windspit is a disused Purbeck Stone Quarry so all the caves are cut out its quite beautiful. It’s about a mile away from Worth Matravers and somewhere if you want just a little walk with some breathing taking views of the Jurassic Coast is really worth visiting. This did mean I had to lug a lot of stuff down the hill, being shockingly unprepared I have to carry real plates, glasses food, Olive oil etc and by the time I got to the cliff face my arms were about two foot longer.
It was while choosing a spot I noticed a guy asleep in my favourite smaller cave and so we decided to make camp in one of the larger caves, I say make camp we had a rug and a bucket BBQ. As I am a spectacular romantic I did bring about a hundred tea lights and after I’d set the fire! (Basically crumbled fire lighters everywhere) I spent at least twenty minutes trying to arrange all the tea lights into a heart shape, however even at 8;30 in a cave it wasn’t dark enough and obviously it’s not called Windspit for nothing and they kept constantly blowing out. It was at this point I remembered I also forgotten the top of the BBQ, the actual grill to place things on. It was at this point a hungry Stormy pointed out that I wasn’t really the outdoors type. Then the guy in the next cave woke up came over for a potential chat and I closed that one off quite quickly and he retrieved his giant water bottle from inside the back of our cave ( much to the relief of Stormy who honestly thought he come over to murder us both) . Then we got stalked by some weirdo in a leather jacket. I think maybe he was hoping we were going to rip each other’s clothes off (must have recognised us), anyway I glared at him and continue to half cook and burn everything. I made the decision to cook some massive jacket potatoes earlier in the day and wrap them in tin foil, sticking them in the fire we had enough heat to reheat them and bringing Boursin with me I set about putting large chunk of that in to jazz them up, rather lovely. The night was drawing in as I’d also failed to locate a torch so we packed up and headed up the hill to The Square and Compass a 16th Century hatch serving pub. Upon arriving there seemed an extraordinary amount of people there was a scaffold stage erected in the garden with twinkling fairy lights and a lovely little Sheppard’s hut serving local cider.
A drummer was assembling a massive drum kit that nearly took over the stage and seven other musicians joined him and within half an hour they were playing some pretty hardcore dub reggae, an extraordinary setting for a dub reggae gig.
I don’t think you could have planned a night like this, certainly I didn’t, I guess my point is, that my girlfriends patience saved the day, she didn’t care that I’d forgotten most of the stuff to make the BBQ perfect, she didn’t mind frog marching up the hill or the tea lights blowing out and she’s not much of a fan of Dub Reggae, she made the night by still having a good time and thats why I love her.
I guess like the other 27 million households I was actually captivated by Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony last Friday. I was also awash with a large amount of beer after a particular irksome week and some outrageously sunny weather. Let that not take away from what was a spectacular triumph despite my obvious drunkenness when Team GB finally walked in, it delivered where in fact all of us would struggle to define what Britishness is. Like a lot of big events the opening ceremony was also an enjoyable twitter fuck fest as the simmering crowd blurted out some hilarious stuff ( even funnier after the taking of cold drinks). Particularly focusing on Trevor Nelsons hapless but hilarious commentary, two actual examples; “Sierra Leone, that was my first car” when the team walked in and after mentioning that 3D coverage was on the red button “any of you got a 3d telly, they’re really good” to his fellow sombre presenters topping off an interesting fact about Stratford being the birthplace of Grime, right on so many levels. Where Danny Boyle got it right was focusing on the four major triumphs, we did practically invent everything, intrinsically as a nation we do like to take the piss (what other country would throw there head of state out of a helicopter for a giggle) the unmatched cultural heritage (Shakespeare, pop music and children’s stories) and our greatest success the NHS.
In some quarters using the NHS is seen as leftism, but I honestly believe as a civilised society it is our greatest achievement, if you get sick in this country, then all of us look after you. We may complain about mythical foreigners abusing it, fake boobs babes wasting money on it and all the other Daily Mail bollocks, but as a nation it should be celebrated that the British above all else are the greatest humanitarians on the planet.
There is no doubt that the whole thing made uncomfortable viewing for a conservative government so hell bent on dismantling the NHS. I was almost sure at one point a giant Thatcher was going to crush the smelting miners as well.
I seriously didn’t expect to watch the whole thing and if you’d would have asked me to express being British beforehand, it would be queuing for petrol, warm beer in plastic glasses and unexpected items in the baggage area, but now I have a drunkenly skewed definition and it feels slightly more positive about the whole being British (when it suits me, I’m welsh really and I love it that the welsh boys are refusing to sing god save the queen at footy). I also went out to watch the torch go by and I didn’t expect to be so moved and elated by that experience and I’m, not even sure I can articulate why I felt that way. Trudging down the road early with my son under the pretence that if I hadn’t of taken him I would have got a bollocking when he was older, but actually I really glad I did it, it touched me and I had a strange teary eye.
It was noticeable that a large element of Britpop was missed out of the music, I guess to distance itself from New Labour when we all last got this excited ( that ended in bitter disappointment), but then Blur are closing it, Christ knows we need to move on from the Beatles.
This is also the second major event to sort of pass me by, first the euro’s now this. I caught a bit the cycling time trials but the lovely Stormplum likes doing sport but has no interest in watching in it and I’m rather enjoying the fact of being free from Sport and enjoying her company, instead of becoming a couch potato shackled by the confines of sport, I’m sort of picking at it on the highlights using twitter as the new feed and dipping in where I fancy. The excellent online coverage by the BBC is another British triumph you can watch anything live or hit a highlight button and the choice is unparalleled and does make you wonder, wherever the next Olympics is will the BBC be able to offer the same level of coverage then?
Don’t worry I don’t see myself as an aspiring music reviewer but I thought I’d expand on a tweet I made earlier about this album “without being sexist this Dexys CD is a blokes only affair,the sort of album that drives girlfriends mental and is only played when they go out”. Basically it’s the musical equivalent of nipping into Dixon’s as she somersaults through Dorothy Perkins again even though you’ve already been in there twice. It’s the metaphorical potting shed cliche, although in fairness after an explosive meander it plods around very slowly for the first six tracks in the same way that proper blokes fanny around after being told they must sort out the garden, usually on pain of death that Barbara is coming over for a BBQ. When it’s does ignite, it should be said not in a too rye ay way, it kicks off with a sort of bit of hot chocolate style stuff then immediately erupts into a row between a woman and a man. They don’t make records like this any more and that’s not to say its fantastic or magnificent but I think like the farty funk of a dusty record shop these things should be preserved. The music gently soulfully and skilfully slides along side you and smooches around in a way that inspires that subconscious dad dancing dancing groove whilst simultaneously spewing swear words from a singers mouth that any sane woman would recognise couldn’t hold a fucking tune. The background sounds anything from accomplished polished Al Green to skipping 70’s soul pop whilst sounding like a cod opera the words jarring and sticky with spoken word passages crassly levelled over the top of beautiful woven music. It’s a turn off for women and so it should be, they’ve got Catlin Moran, 50 shades of Grey and tits, what have we got, bugger all, even football is androgynous via laddette in culture. Celebrate your difference, this has got switch it off written all over it from a vaginal perspective but as jarring and as strange this concept is there a beautiful man stood with a pint nodding quality about this piece that will only improve with age. It’s remarkable, because basically is doesn’t give a fuck, there’s a freedom in it that is liberating for men of a certain age and as sure as your wife, girlfriend and children will roll there eyes at you when you want to play it you will have the secret desire is to own it on vinyl and perform the strange ritual of slowly sliding out of an electrostaticly charged sleeve, blowing the dust of it and dropping the music centre needle on it and playing it so loud that your mother in law fucks off back to where she came from taking everyone with her. I’m giving it a second play of the night because I have a night free and I urge all men to do the same.
So 27 years ago today Live Aid was held. I clearly remember asking my sister if we should go, as we previously gone together to see Bowie in 1983 on the serious moonlight tour, I’m not forking out £25 and not knowing you I’m going to see she said and so legend was born. On the actual day I sat down in front telly with the full intention of watching the whole thing. My father enquired early on how long this shit was on for and upon finding out I intended to sit there, in fact I had a sleeping bag, so I fully intended to sleep there all day, he started complaining loudly. What a test of endurance it actually was, I remember them showing it again at some point when they brought it out on DVD and Christ a lot of it was crap. I would love to pretend to be really cool but actually I rather enjoyed Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones and thought U2 were totally shit. Queen of course blew everyone away, but only because they actually looked they had rehearsed the rest in comparison, looked like they had been dragged off the street and told to sing a hit. After Queen it was all rather downhill, The Who were awful , I thought Bowie was terrible, I couldn’t understand why he had a totally different backing band to the one I saw two years earlier. Then they rolled out the favourites that actually played this year for the queens Jubilee, Elton John and Paul McCartney, the latter virtually signing his entire song without the microphone turned on. It does make you wonder who will replace them in 27 years time, Gary Barlow, dear god what a thought. Then the American concert cracked on and I really wanted to see the power station as I loved Tony Thompson’s drums and Andy Taylor’s guitar. I think I just about managed it and crash out after a terrible set from Led Zeppelin. People I actually don’t remember seeing Run DMC, Kenny Loggins, Bryan Ferry or Ultravox. I guess it will be remembered the most for Queen inventing stadium rock after only about 20 minutes. For me I’ll remember waking up on the lounge floor with a stiff neck and seeing Tina turner and switching the telly off.
So with the rain hammering down in Bournemouth and the garden project temporarily on hold, Stormy and I decided to make the most of a rainy day and head of up to London to the national Portrait Gallery to look at the BP National award. I must admit to be suitably hung over from the previous night but this seems to be my default setting for art galleries as my last visit around the Louvre in Paris I was utterly hanging. I guess under these circumstances I take a lot more impressing. I also was rather hoping to take a look at Morgan Howell’s excellent super size art but according to the man himself there’s no exhibition until August unless I broke into Radio 2, but I do recommend checking out his web site, it’s the vinyl opposite of Slinkachu. Super Size Singles
BP award is always busy however I only remembered it was gay pride when I got off the train at Waterloo, so it was even busier than a normal Saturday. It’s fair to say that both Stormy and I were slightly underwhelmed, but then the last exhibition we visited was the utterly sublime The Virgin and the child with Saint Catherine by Da Vinci.
Standouts for me were the Hyper Photo Realism of Antonios Titakis where a staggering whole wall of just black and white looked just like a huge photo, only the closest viewing could provide a clue it was all painting which is a neat trick when you consider it’s only in black and white. Stormy also marvelled at the photo realism of Ivan Franco Gragas LeSalmacis amazing unflattering portrait of his girlfriend that almost required a microscope on an A0 framed size picture to see a brush stroke.
I loved the interpretation of how I was feeling in Iain Cumberland’s picture I also like how it’s realistic enough but completely unrealistic enough to be infinitely more interesting than the hyper realism viewed earlier.
The winner Aleah Chapin’s Aunty( right at the top of this page) I thought had the same deft touch, vivid enough to say something but strikingly, obviously painted as it almost rips through the canvas with the story of her sitter’s life displayed on the strokes of her body.
Enjoyable day and it’s also free, nice lunch and wonderful company.