Friday, 26 June 2009
Lots of people talk about 'getting closer to nature' or 'living off the land', especially when sitting in hot offices in London or jam-packed into tube trains - something I've had my share of. It's an easy thing to do.
But now that I am living closer to nature I am going to do my best to replicate the dreamy imaginings that filled my head through all those years living in a tiny studio flat in Peckham. I feel I owe it to myself and to those who don't get to fully experience the British summer.
I also want to avoid being one of those feckless wankers who arrives from London and steamrollers over everything. My get-out clause is that I am from the north and am merely returning after a long stint (15 years) of drinking, writing, interviewing bands, running a record label, publishing books, getting up to mischief and avoiding being shanked by my hot-headed south London brethren.
So, in between the journalism stuff and the book-writing stuff, I am intending to clean up the pond (below) that has gone to seed, been filled with litter, treated as dumping ground and just generally left in a state of minor disrepair. What was once a popular swimming and fishing hole (and before that an overspill pond from the mill, now long-since gone) has now been left.
The aim is to encourage more wildlife (there is already bird life, thousands of tadpoles, roach, rumours of pike, mammal holes and a huge heron that lives in the rushes) without messing with things too much. I think it needs to be left while - who wants sanitised, ordered nature?
It's a secret place and should stay that way - but it would be an even greater idyllic oasis without the broken bottles, cans, rusted oil drums and that enemy of the countryside: plastic.
I've just spend three hours down there, surveying the land, shifting abandoned tyres and palettes, hanging bird feeders and getting stung to buggery by the shoulder-high nettles. I could think of no better way to pass the time and intend to keep getting my hands dirty
We have already nicknamed it Walden Pond, in tribute to Thoreau.
Watch this space.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Steven Wells, once of the most singular, hilarious and memorable individuals in British journalism of recent times has died.
I grew up reading his vitriolic energised pieces since my mid teens - Swells was a human bullshit detector and one of the best swearers in the business. A great writer who never did anything by halves. Though I never had a conversation with the man but our paths neared one another's many times - in the lifts at IPC (I was at Melody Maker, he at NME), at gigs, in magazines, in print anthologies. The music business is a fairly small place.
I'm not going to get all sentimental but the afterlife has just welcomed a guy with a really big mouth. It probably needs a shake up up there anyway.
If he exists, God has his work cut out dealing with this mad fucker.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Monday, 22 June 2009
The Last Mad Surge Of Youth (pictured) by Mark Hodkinson
86'd by Dan Fante
Thongs by Alexander Trocchi
Appetite for Self-Destruction... by Steve Knopper
Selected Poems by Ted Hughes
Let The Dominoes Fall - Rancid
Maggot Brain - Funkadelic
Mariachi El Bronx - The Bronx
Best Of - Django Reinhart
Now For A Feast! - Pop Will Eat Itself
Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A.
Here is an article I wrote for The Guardian about the infamous US 'Disco Sucks!' gathering / record smashing session of 1979.
And here is a somewhat indulgent recollection of the heady days of mid 90s Britpop, neatly disguised as a review for The Quietus.com of Common People, a new compilation album.
Friday, 19 June 2009
The copper-bottomed stream
carries messages from the
mind of the troubled wood
to the field's green pages.
It holds secrets in its bubbles.
It is June and the mayfly is
four weeks late but on a day
like this, who is counting?
Back in 1991 when I was 15, I was big into this band Five Thirty. Looking back, they were clearly Britpop precursors who, after some early flirtations with baggy, also predated the much feted New Wave Of New Wave bands by about three years. They released one album on a major label, then split - under-rated, unacknowledged. This seems to be a recurring theme with the bands that I tend to like - the ones I tip always fail where watered down versions of them succeed. Singer Tara was also briefly in Supergrass early on, then formed a band called The Nubiles who were the first band I ever interviewed, circa 1994. So technically Five Thirty are indirectly responsible for me becoming a music journalist.
Here's a live clip from a show at the Marquee in 1991, which was headlined by the Manics. Though hardly original, Five Thirty were at least ahead of the rest of the indie hordes. While everyone else were grunging it up, they were dressing like mods.
It's these little details that matter.