Sunday, 27 June 2010
* The farmer in the fields out the front is cutting and baling his grass. Dust and pollen fills the air. The bats boldly dive bomb me when I step outside into the not-quite-dark night.
* I seem to have been mainly reading books by authors that have actually sold copies - James Ellroy, Jim Crace, Denis Johnson, Bret Easton Ellis - or non-fiction about medieval Britain. I don't know why. It's a mysterious impulse. Perhaps it is an attempt to identify and distinguish the difference between good books and good books that sell.
* All work on Richard now appears to be done. Edits, proofs, copyright clearance, jacket copy. The small print. If you're a journalist or blogger and would like an advance copy please get in touch.
* I'm re-writing (for the second time) a novel that I began writing in July 2009, and which kept my hands warm through that last long sub-zero winter that seems such a long time ago now. I'm currently wearing a vest. This morning I considered - then dismissed - the idea of wearing shorts. Best not get carried away. Anyway, I imagine the re-write will take as long as it takes. So far the book seems to be about violence and caravans and trees and ice cream.
* Matthew Coleman has new photographs.
* On the pond a heron ascends.
* Yesterday Adelle and I walked the Pennine Way. About two miles of it anyway, by a reservoir and across dry, mud-cracked moorlands that looked like the surface of the moon. A hosepipe ban no doubt beckons.
* Darran Anderson has signed his new book to Hesperus Press. Congratulations Darran.
* Adelle's Dad, "one of the greatest living Yorkshiremen", is pulling out of a near-death illness and 7 weeks on a nil by mouth - not even water - diet. Tough as pig iron.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
My friend Lee Rourke's new novel The Canal is out this week in the US via Melville House and available to pre-order in the UK now.
It is described thusly:
"The underground literary sensation and author of Everyday tells the tale of a man who finds his life so boring it actually frightens him. So, in response, the man leaves his job and takes time out to sit on a park bench next to a canal in a quiet corner of London. But his tranquillity is disturbed by a jittery woman who comes to sit by his side every day. Although she won't even tell him her name, she slowly begins to tell him a chilling story about a terrible act she committed and now the man finds himself more scared than ever..."
It has a beautiful cover too.
Monday, 21 June 2010
Seeing as it's the height of British summer time - the summer solstice, in fact - I've been wandering fields, following streams and listening to John Betjeman.
Here he is reading 'Licorice Fields Of Pontefract' and 'In The Public Gardens', from his Late Flowering Love album of 1974.
Friday, 18 June 2010
I was back in Sunderland recently for the first time in...years actually. Which reminded me that I really like Frankie & The Heartstrings. They're as classically English indie as all hell of course, but in the best possible way (Smiths, Pulp etc).
Here is their recent single 'Tender'.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
I've recently written the lyrics for a musical project entitled The Gulag. Actually it has been an on-going collaboration with my friend Doc Throberts for some time now. We have recorded an album entitled The Shadow Of The Bomb which is constructed as a four-part symphony.
At some point soon we hope to release it, or give it away, but in the meantime you can hear an excerpt here: www.myspace.com/thegulag. The tracklisting is below.
The Shadow Of The Bomb
In Eyeball Doorways
Smile Like A Sundial Shadow
The Mercy Killing
Shadow Of The Bomb
Shoots And Scores
This Friendly Fire
See You In
Ticker Taper Welcome
Tongue In Open Wound Song
To The Watery Grave
Captains Of Industry
Death Sonata (The New Gulag)
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
Here is my latest Message From The Country postcard for Caught By The River.net. The cut-up words are taken from MD Entwhistle's excellent biography of Millican Dalton, mountaining pioneer, free-thinker and cave-dwelling folk hero of Borrowdale, near Keswick in the Lake District.
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Monday, 7 June 2010
Stuart Cable, former drummer with Stereophonics has died. It is very sad.
I first met Stuart in December 1996 and interviewed him and the band many times over the years following that. The first interview I did as journalist was with Stereophonics (one of their first too, as I recall) and what started out as press trips to cover the band ended up simply as hanging out and getting drunk. In Coventry, Swansea, London, Newcastle, Glasgow, Cardiff, Glastonbury, Amsterdam, Turin...and many more. Video shoots, festivals, restaurants, aftershow parties. More nights than I can recall. (This must have been before Stereophonics gained the reputation as having a 'difficult' relationship with journalists. That was certainly never my experience.)
Stereophonics were never considered a 'cool' band and I'm sure colleagues took the piss over my endless early championing of them in Melody Maker, Kerrang! etc, but I didn't care. I still enjoy that first album and watched as they went from doing shows for thirty people to selling millions of albums and playing gigs as seen below (one of the few stadium gigs I've ever actually been to).
Tastes change, bands change, but Stuart was always the life and the soul of the room; the first to throw his arm around you, get you a drink, crack a joke. Larger than life in all ways. He'll definitely be missed.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
"Starting long before his days as Chumbawamba's guitarist, Boff Whalley's footnote* is about being saved from a dying industrial mill town and mormonism by girls, punk rock and lower division football. footnote* is funny and bittersweet, cynical and optimistic."