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The Hawthorn Halls (the hitchhiker and the accountant)

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,

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.

The Hawthorn Halls (the thief’s edition)

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 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.