Exactly seven days ago saw the arrival of skirting boards and window blinds to the ongoing autumnal/yuletide/spring-like kitchen project currently known as Neck Weight. The absence of outside drainage (currently known as Nelly) does limit the end in sight celebrations somewhat but, with my feet firmly on the Yorkshire side of the Pennines, why spoil a good excuse for a party.

The euphoria of reaching kitchen making milestones was short lived as it was back to the real world the following day and grey clouds were massing – it was a bad mood day. I know we should embrace bad mood days – it’s what makes good mood days good, but waiting for the clouds to break can sometimes feel like tunnelling backwards. Now here is the irony. Unbeknown to me as I grumped up to bed was that in some parallel media city zone I was dictating the playlist on national radio.

Let me explain:  sometime back in November I was celebrating an earlier kitchen milestone. It had been a worrying few weeks and the three metre length of expensive solid oak work top had been haunting my dreams and waking hours; yes, it was time to cut the sink hole out. Nightmarish accounts of saw blades running wild, wood splintering and gremlin tape measures had hidden around every doorway and sheltered in every corner. I was right to be worried. After measuring, re-measuring and measuring again, I was ready to check the final measurements and then, yes, measure again. Three children watched expectantly from the across the room; it was feeding time and they weren’t happy with the delay to cooking procedures. Finally the time came and I lowered the jigsaw into the carefully drilled holes. Off we went.

Now if you can picture a mad wild bull kicking and jumping at a rodeo with some daft cowboy trying to hold on to the reigns then that is exactly what cutting solid oak block with a rubbish jigsaw is like. The blade jumped and grabbed at the wood before kicking me back to where three children had once stood but had now decided to return to the safety of their bedrooms. I was broken, beaten and deflated.

Our joiner neighbour saved the day (why I didn’t think to ask sooner I’ll never know) by lending me his own very professional looking jigsaw: the type you look longingly at in DIY shops before opting for the one ten times cheaper. Yes, let’s use hot knife and butter metaphors; the world was beautiful again and there were many a cold beer waiting in the fridge.

Later that same night, whilst admiring the pot sink securely in place and surfing the outside world, I stumbled across Mark Radcliffe’s Radio 2 Music Club on listen again. This is a listen again favourite and a programme that would normally only secure a real time listen whilst travelling on holiday to Cornwall or some other foreign land that requires an overnight drive. I began to read the feature, First, Last and Everything which very simply is the first record you bought, the last record you bought and the record that means everything to you. I decided to submit. Off I went, scripting away through the haze of Black Sheep ale. As you might guess, the first and last are fairly easy to choose if you stay true to your musical follies and try not to be cool or second guess what might get you on the show but to choose an Everything track is another story. As regular readers might have fathomed, I’m quite a music fan so have any number of everything tracks; firsts, lasts, holidays – you name it, I have a song for every occasion. A couple more Black Sheep helped me settle on Ray Lamontagne’s (I’m showing off being able to spell his name without Google) Empty for the very reasons that aired to the millions whilst I was being grumpy, falling to sleep in bed.

I only found out the following day that I’d hogged ten minutes of national airtime when Amanda got a barrage of texts and some very kind readers of this blog sent some quite heart warming comments. Broadcasting!  

You have about two days left to listen by following this link


Wednesday was also the first Dobcross (or DobX as it’s known in certain circles) Write Out Loud poetry, short story and music open mike night at the wonderful Swan Inn. This was a good excuse to try out some new poems on a new audience and a good opportunity to read in a real life busy pub. The experience was quite different to the normally well behaved library listeners but a real buzz that people in the room waited until I’d finished the last lines of The Cat Stone Cast before hopping off to the bar for another.

You can find out lots more about Write Out Loud and the hundreds of readings and events by following this link


Now to step into the rooms of the Spring Maidens whilst the battle of Kings rages across the frozen land and take shelter beneath the Happenstance branch and dream of summer.

Thursday saw Valentine celebrations and within the Hall it was a good opportunity to sit down and discuss all things holiday. A glass of Champagne and three Cumberlands later and the finger of fate pressed return and confirmed the south of France. It would be through sober eyes the following day that I realised just what a good choice fate had made. Phew!

Dreaming of summer and France led me to this week’s guest.  Found in the international/film score section there could be many reasons for zero plays but certainly no excuses. The music is stunning.

I saw the film Amelie many years ago and still can’t believe I didn’t track down the soundtrack then because it is exquisite. It was a different kind of fate that brought me back to the music and its composer a couple of years ago. I’d been following the progress of a new band called, Lanterns on the Lake whose music is sublime – real post The xx headphone moments. I’d been trying to see the band live for some time but always double booked on headliners so opted for seeing them as support act for a show at my favourite small venue, The Brudenell Social Club – yes it really is a social club in the best Yorkshire tradition; dominoes to the right and the best new bands to the left (tickets please!)

LOTL were supporting an unknown to me French multi instrumentalist by the name of Yann Tiersen who was promoting his latest album, Skyline. This would be interesting. It was. After researching the man it became clear that we were about to witness another Damien Rice moment (regular readers know all) and mad professor meets Jean Michel Jarre doesn’t quite do the show justice but does, just about, sum it up.

The track from the Amelie soundtrack, La Valse D’Amelie (piano) got one of the biggest cheers of the night amongst the Brudenell crowd and I’m sure a few domino knockers must have been thinking they’d missed out.

You can listen via YouTube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dyo4tNwNIvQ

Find out more about Yann, Lanterns and the Brudenell by following the links below.

All the best