Two new poems with audio are featured on-line at the excellent Clear Poetry. You can find them by clicking on the following link.
Whilst not in direct competition with the digital surfers who come across my site with weird and obscure search terms, I thought I’d give those boffins oiling the gears of the oodle doodle search engine a bit of a Murray return.
Injuries by a rubber mallet served up some surprising results and none more so than the wonderfully titled injury suffered by baseball players known as Mallet Finger. Here’s the link to everything you need to know about Mallet Finger if you feel the need, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-mallet-finger.htm
Too much time on his hands, I hear you say. Well, yes. Time and more specifically on the left hand a blue splint provided courtesy of A and E which is currently trying to do the job that my ligaments should be doing. It’s a long story but as a tease it involves an accountant, a drug, an ambulance, an insect and a spade. I may tell all one day but for now, suffice to say, the thumb looks like an extra from Wallace and Gromit and the radial nerve is doing a super job at disabling my whole arm. I’m hoping a visit to the consultant on Monday will alleviate my current daytime TV misery – It’s amazing how everything suddenly becomes a mountain and even with a mixture of Codeine, Paracetamol and Naproxen, anything other than watching Shane from Boyzone choose a new house in the country is proving a little too taxing.
The whole incident has reminded me of the career defining moment seven years ago when I was just finishing building a garden wall and becoming a little over confident with the use of the rubber mallet to tap stones into place. That time my thumb was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the block of rubber bounced off the tip leaving a shattered bone in its wake. I’m told it’s the same phenomenon that causes stadiums to crumble as the concrete fails against the movement of the crowd (don’t worry folks; the problem has now been designed out). Where a metal hammer just hurts, a rubber mallet will send shockwaves through the hand shattering bones and causing pain that even several pints of beer will be unable to moderate. On that occasion I couldn’t remember having a bet with the nurse but she seemed pleased with her success following the return of the x-rays in the sobering daylight.
Discovering new music is always a real delight. As a teenager it was fantastic to stumble across a band and then spend however many weeks it took to beg, borrow and sometimes buy all their previous releases. Age, together with a spotty computer crashing site, does limit this opportunity of discovery but every so often a band or artist comes along that deserves the investment. The National was probably the last band which sent me on a journey of discovery to see how a group of musicians had got to a place where chords and time changes sent hairs on neck skywards. Check out Terrible Love if not convinced.
Today the baton is handed to Peter Bruntnell following his new release, Retrospective. I’m wholly aware that his music will now be forever associated with splints, pain and suffering but with the tantalising prospect of the Azores high coming to visit together with the hammock needing to be aired then I’m sure he won’t mind me hitching a lift through his back catalogue.
‘Throw open the windows and let the outside in!’ was the battle cry from the Middlemoor clan of Ravenshook. It was the annual celebration of the Haw and this meant spring cleaning at the Halls.
Garlands of evergreen that had framed each wall and hung from the cloisters and porticos throughout the dark months were pulled from their hooks and carried to the greening fields. Here a bonfire would be built whose flames would signal for at least thirty miles to the east the news that spring had arrived on the high lands.
People of the low lands waited patiently, looking west towards the mighty Pen – the green goddess whose sleeping outline formed the horizon. Only when the cuckoo stole its first nest on Middlemoor could the Ravens light the fire – only then had spring truly arrived on Middlemoor.
And then it snowed, again!
And did it snow – for the last two weeks I’ve had the surreal experience of driving on roads carved out of ice and edged with walls of snow that in places reached over ten feet in height. Views that would normally reach as far as York and Selby have been stunted by the solid white mass. The road over Holme Moss (the new Tour de France) was closed for fourteen days.
So as spring waited in nature’s lay-by (no overnight parking) then so did all our Easter plans for the outside. The ground works optimistically created during the now infamous ‘March’ dig have, in the last two days, just become visible again in the melting snow.
There were some positive outcomes from the Arctic exploration experience of being trapped. The main being that I could no longer find any excuses not to tackle the wall papering on the stairs and landing. Unfortunately I’d put the job on hold so long that all the paint work needed a fresh coat but at least the daunting task of hanging four metre lengths of expensive wallpaper on walls that laugh in the face of straightness is now complete. Now we sit patiently waiting for carpet that has been in storage for twelve months.
In the midst of all this cold gloom I’ve decided to re-open the Halls and throw out some sunshine. As a reminder, the purpose of the Halls is to re-discover all those songs that sit quietly at the back of your digital library waiting, as patiently as our carpet fitter, to be played for the first time. Sometimes I cheat by playing a favourite that’s been purchased twice with one download remaining un-played. Other times I simply let the dart of fate land on any number it likes. We’ve also had visitors to the Halls and this is very welcome particularly if you think I’m missing a trick. The rules are quite flexible.
This week I’ve re-discovered a real treat from 2007. Taken from their debut mini-album, The Thief and the Heartbreaker, I’ve Known for Long by Alberta Cross is the song of the week. If you imagine a mix of My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon and Neil Young and get quite excited by the prospect then I would urge you to discover more at http://www.albertacross.net/. Not only is the website great but you can also currently download their first proper full album, Songs of Patience (2012) for the sum of £4.99 from a popular digital music download type company that also does phones and computers and things.
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