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the hawthorn halls – power lines

Power Lines

I was disappointed that the anesthetist didn’t ask me to count to ten so that I could try to beat the drugs so instead I focused on the clock directly in front of me as I felt the familiar sharp scratch on the back of my hand. It was ten past nine exactly as I began to count the seconds. I think I got to seven before they pulled the tube from my throat and offered some more oxygen. It was ten to ten. A heavily bandaged knee gave the game away – the operation was done and so, hopefully, was two years of increasing pain and decreasing miles.

It turns out a pesky little bit of bone (now gone) and a twangy little Plica – no neither had I – (also now gone) had been the root cause of my ever increasing vicarious lifestyle over the past couple of years.

Whilst I don’t often blog bout walks and adventures – there are far more better blogs out there already, see Mark Kelly’s excellent halfwayhike for instance – they do remain the backbone of this blog (title, clue) and the source of inspiration for much of my creative work. So it’s fair to say that I’ve been getting a little grumpy and not being that productive.

Hopefully a course of physiotherapy should deliver me back on to the hills by late autumn. In the mean time I’m using the time to finally get to grips with Lightroom – I still miss the old darkroom techniques – and for the first time in over twenty years I’m exhibiting photographic work alongside some excellent photographers from the Marsden Photographic Group. The exhibition runs throughout July at Marsden Mechanics Hall. For those unable to make the show both my prints, Power Lines and Crosby Sands are also available through the excellent photo4me.com site where you can purchase the images as canvas and framed prints.

I’m also delighted to be part of holmfirthartweek which runs from the 5th to the 11th of July by exhibiting two brand new paintings in the main exhibition. This is the first time I’ve exhibited in the main hall during art week so apart from not being able to walk, the last couple of weeks have been very exciting. News of the paintings which I’m displaying are on my Facebook page here, facebook.com/davidcoldwellart.

Whilst I usually like to finish by pointing towards some music that I think all the world should hear, this post is a little different. In the wake of Kanye’s performence at Glanstonbury I couldn’t help thinking that, from an armchair point of view, this year’s festival was missing something. I then came across this video which somehow seemed to fill the gap.

Flight Dream

Flight Dreams

Flight Dream

Look closely and you can just about make out the three para-gliders. Flight Dream is just one of a number of photographs that are now available to purchase online at Photo4me.com – please look at the Gallery page for more details and also new information about the launch of my Artfinder shop where a selection of paintings and limited edition giclée prints will be made available. The photograph was taken just off the Pennine Way at Marsden, West Yorkshire and features the famous Pule Hill.

At a similar time last year some friends introduced me to the wonderful music of Bill Callahan who was playing live in Manchester. Unfortunately work commitments forced me to miss the show and the name slipped to the back of my mind until a year later when, in these post-Yule tide days, I started to scour the furthest recesses of my music collection looking for something to inspire. Fortunately I only needed to get to B for Bill; music collections are like that.

I’m please to say that I’ve now re-discovered Dream River and think that the rest of the world should also do the same. Headphones ready…

 

The many layers of landscape photography

andyhemingway

What is it about landscape photography that makes me keep going back for more?

I spent much of one Sunday morning asking myself this question, as a ferocious wind did its damnedest to blast me off of Marsden Moor.

A wind blasted morning at Millstone Edge A wind blasted morning at Millstone Edge

Crouched behind a large rock, which provided at least a little shelter from the grasping fingers of the Pennine wind, waiting for a break in the clouds, I began to ponder just what it was that had coaxed me out of bed at 4.00am and up on to the moor on a day like this. I spotted a jogger approaching, the only other living soul that I saw all morning. We waved at each other in grim solidarity, in recognition of each other’s battle with the elements.

It was this that made me realise that it was a question of motivation. I could have…

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The Hawthorn Halls – the Oscar and Tony edition

Just why I had left it so late to buy the usual array of books, CDs, DVDs and the much hinted perfume to go with the big present (similar to the big light or the big shop) for the better half back in 2007 is beyond me now but there I was, waiting in the queue on Christmas Eve of our now dear departed HMV, with arms full and a budget stretched to almost breaking point. That’s when I saw the DVD for the first time.  A film that, over the course of the next six years would lead me on a quest overseas to Dublin, New York and back to Manchester and London. Well, almost. Certainly Dublin, Manchester and most recently London but New York, well, that was for another Marsden lad.

Regular readers will know, any film that claims to be ‘the best music film of our generation’ is going to grab my attention and in the twenty seconds (see there are themes for regulars) whilst in that queue I couldn’t think of one reason not to buy the film, Once. The characters looked good, he was carrying a guitar, it was set in Dublin and I was vaguely familiar with the song, Falling Slowing by The Frames which in fact was found later languishing in a dark corner of the Halls.

Starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the film was written and directed by one time Frames bassist, John Carney and filmed on a budget of around £100,000. Every film, music and performing arts student needs to see this film. It became an instant January Saturday birthday night hit and possible one of the best music films I’d seen in a very long time. Falling Slowly went on to win an Oscar in February for best original song. The music sits somewhere between folk rock singer song writer piano pop grunge which is general why no one has ever actually heard it.

Glen and Markéta went on to form The Swell Season. This, a couple of years later, is when our quest took us to Manchester where, in the intimate surroundings of the Lowry, the stage became a curious space where reality slipped back and forth into the realms of Once fantasy which was fascinating. Glen currently tours solo. During the intervening years, our quest as also taken us to Dublin where open top buses have assisted with grand tours of the city and locations used in the film. I know, I’m stretching the point but yes, we are fans.

A history lesson:

In the mid eighties my parents took on the task of running the Marsden Bandroom, locally known as the Band ‘ole; a large club with members’ bars and rehearsal rooms. It is home to the Marsden Silver Prize Band who are one of Yorkshire’s finest bands and have recently celebrated their 125th anniversary.  You can find out more at http://www.marsdenband.com/

There are many fond memories from those days: the reward of half of Tetley mild for bottling up every Sunday morning and the free game of pool on a Tuesday night but none more so than the people involved both with the band and the club. Christmas mornings would be filled with bandsmen filing through our small terrace for ‘a little sommat to keep cold out’ before shuffling off ‘round streets while we went and opened up for the regulated two hours. With community and the club came children and lots of them and as such there was never any shortage of friends. The children’s Christmas party was legendary for two points: that it was held in mid-February when all band commitments where over and that there seemed to be hundred of us.

John was the son of a bandsman. He was a couple of years younger than me, which is a big deal when you’re thirteen and fourteen, but as he had a sister my age we all seemed to be friends. He seemed to be a musical lad.  That’s the last I heard.

Until:

That John was staging Once the musical in London. The fact that John Tiffany had left Huddersfield and gone off to become a world famous theatre director had somehow passed me by. The fact that he had won a Tony award for the Broadway version of Once seemed a nice way to find out. The fact that the show was now coming to London seemed an opportunity (as part of our quest) too good to miss. I happened to mention it to Mrs C. So it was with bated breath on Christmas morning that I opened the envelope to reveal two tickets to the show and a night in London, together with a flutter of coupons from the Yorkshire Post to ensure our ten pound return rail travel.

There is nothing better than a mid-winter trip to hearten the soul and remind you that life goes on outside our valley. The fact that we travelled through one of the worst winter storms the country has ever seen seemed to cause little fuss. It was a whirlwind tour, quite literally. Starting off with David Bailey’s (almost) retrospective, Stardust at the National Portrait Gallery before a craft beer with a tester on Shaftsbury Avenue (was it me or is London much happier and more welcoming nowadays?). Next day was the Constable collection at the V and A before lunch at the Troubadour – a special treat because I keep reading about all these great events and can never get down – and then on to the show. I’m not going to spoil a thing; you can do that by You Tubing. All I’ll say is arrive early to enjoy one of the most innovative creative devices I’ve ever seen employed by a musical performance. I can see where he gets his Tony from.

A standout moment from the soundtrack, enjoy.

Ammon Wrigley

As mentioned in Mark Kelly’s brilliant Marsden Poetry Trail: http://halfwayhike.com/2014/02/03/a-marsden-poetry-trail here’s Andy Hemingway’s fantastic original piece about Ammon Wrigley.

andyhemingway

Ammon Wrigley Ammon Wrigley

If you venture up on to Millstone Edge, at Standedge on Marsden Moor, you will be in good company. This little corner of the Pennines was so loved by local poet, writer and historian Ammon Wrigley, that his ashes were scattered near the Dinner Stone.

The views over Saddleworth overlook the places where he was born, raised and lived his whole, long life. Look closer and you will spot his memorial plaque. Now sat between those of his two daughters.

The Wrigley Plaques

THE ASHES OF
AMMON WRIGLEY
BELOVED WRITER OF SADDLEWORTH
FOLK-LORE, PROSE AND POEMS,
WERE SCATTERED FROM THIS SPOT

ON THE 14TH SEPTEMBER
— 1946 —

HIS WAS THE SWEET AND GENEROUS SOUL
THAT LOVED NOT SELF ALONE
BUT TO OUR POORER NATURES GAVE
THE FRAGRANCE OF HIS OWN.

WINDS OF THE PENNINES FRESH AND FREE
YOU WERE EVER GOOD FRIENDS TO ME
OUT ON THE…

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The Hawthorn Halls (the silent edition)

As the eighties tripped into the nineties, almost without warning my soundtrack of life suddenly derailed towards an E before I coloured landscape where I was suddenly the one out of time.

U2 did the honourable thing and bowed out declaring that they would have to go away and dream the whole thing up again, Echo and the Bunnymen rode away on horses, The Cure disintegrated, The Smiths turned the light out and, in an Orwellian twist, no one was allowed to mention the words, Brothers in Arms. Things were changing and even in the spot lit fog of the Broken Doll pub at Newcastle, The Stones’ Gimme Shelter failed to impress the afternoon grant funded drinking club.

We were only months away from the real world and without warning friends began to get their hair cut, started to wash, stopped drinking and, most alarmingly, started to dance. Whatever Charly said then anyone cool enough to be listening to The Prodigy did. We were in the North East but under the shadow of the West. Joy Division was dead and Madchester reigned with New Order in full club spangled party mode.

I have to admit that I was quickly becoming disillusioned and retreated back to Floyd, Zeppelin and Sylvian in the comfort of the not very expensive quayside student rooms. I tried to hide away but room mates constantly hopped into my darkening days with luminous anthems such as Come Home, The Only One and Fools Gold. Perhaps I was homesick; longing to watch the sun sink behind the Pennines with Shine On You Crazy Diamond in the background or sitting on the floor of the cellar bar in The Zetland with Lemmy shouting about his Silver Machine. Whatever the reason, the ideology of Madchester left me as cold and colourless as the very streets where it was born.

Days were getting longer and the inevitability of work was looming. First year students were beginning to find their feet muscling in on the secrets of Indie Nightclubs with their fake denims and floppy hair. Getting drunk was becoming unfashionable; as was pogo dancing. And just when things couldn’t get any worse a smiley face appeared. ACEEED! Whistles, Poppers, shoe gazing and hapless DJs trying to keep the whole thing together was the re-write. No longer could you whip a crowd to frenzy with The Only Way is Up: Fool’s Gold was the new cool!

Into this environment we enter the land of the Darling Buds. Recently downloaded as a good value greatest hits (hence the zero play), this week’s track finds a visitors pass to the great halls.

It was Indie night at Walker’s nightclub (Tuesday) and A Guy Called Gerald was playing with Voodoo as the soon to be inspired DJ began to loop the opening sequence of this week’s track into the acid house buzz. Suddenly, as the song burst into life all thoughts of Dexy’s begging Eileen to come and save the day faded to a euphoric chant of all I ever wanted/all I ever needed/is here in my arms. The music was intoxicating and for a moment I couldn’t think for the life of me who it was until the realisation that the south had invaded and left Madchester standing in its own shoe gazed polish.

Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode re-awakened the soul. True, the vinyl of Speak and Spell had been on the shelves for several years but it was the extraordinary re-invention of the Violator album that charged my senses. The music coupled with the art and film work of Anton Corbijn gave the music scene a genuine sense of purpose that would soon snuff out the mad spin of Mad.

I was already a big fan of Anton Corbijn following his work with the likes of David Sylvian, Propaganda and, of course, U2. Who doesn’t think of the iconic gatefold with the metaphorical tree and desert when you here the Eno and Lanois inspired opening to what fans call ‘Streets’.

Corbijn’s work for Depeche Mode was as groundbreaking; still rooted in the American Interior, this time the black and white was washed with Technicolor – a style that would soon follow U2 to Berlin where dreams where re-worked with a Trabant. Unless you’re lucky enough to track down an original version of the Violator film, Strange Too, which includes the inspired –this is how you make a pop video (clowns and donkeys included) – film for the track, Halo then opt for Videos 86 – 98.

Another time:

In December 2011, Amanda and I returned to Newcastle to see the wonderful Unthanks perform the songs of Robert Wyatt and Andrew and the Johnsons at the homecoming show at the Gateshead Sage Theatre.

The Broken Doll is long demolished so after the show we escaped to another old favourite haunt of mine, the Red House. There we were met by a group of students challenging each other at the jukebox. Thankfully there was no Happy Mondays or Inspiral Carpets. Stone Roses made a guest appearance as the soon to be new millionaires of rock and roll and then in the dark of the night, Silence. All I ever wanted was the shout from the bar.

How did it get so late?

We laughed at the circle of life being witnessed in real time. I then had the realisation that Enjoy the Silence was as old as Gimme Shelter had been in those black and white days of The Broken Doll. We finished our drinks; it was getting late. As we walked back to our hotel I was reminded of the poem, Evening by Simon Armitage: home seemed so far away and so did our past.