Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Lola

Dolores Medd (1934-2015)
On what turned out to be the hottest day of the year, mum passed away this morning just after nine o'clock: the fight had gone out of her. And, anyway, she wouldn't have thanked you for being stuck in hospital with the temperature outside nudging 100 degrees - like all Medds, mum spoke in Fahrenheit not bloody Centigrade. She was a formidable woman, and that's putting it mildly. We never always saw eye to eye, but in the last few years we were closer than we'd probably ever been. When I was poorly after first moving up here she worried about me like a new mother would worry about her sick baby in an incubator.

I need to gather my thoughts properly before the funeral, as I want to say a few words; I know dad would want to speak, but he said he'd lose it. I might still.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Chip Off The Old Block

My latest CD - Chip Off The Old Block (An Acoustic Anthology) - is about to be let loose into the big wide world. Test pressings will be going out to friends and family at the weekend and, as you can see from the artwork the whole operation has got a very back to basics feel about it.

Some of the songs are new, some of the songs I've had kicking around for a while. Most of them are done in one take, two maximum. And all of them are fun to sing; even the one about my father.

As with most releases these days it'll go up on Soundcloud - sooner rather than later. If you want a hard copy c/w groovy cassette inserts, drop me a line.


Here's the title track:



Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Mum

Smiling on the inside - us Medds are made of stern stuff
Mum was rushed into hospital at the weekend. How long she'll stay there is anyone's guess at the moment. She's on oxygen and morphine so isn't always on the same page as everyone else. It's knocked my dad off his perch - but like my mum, he's made of stern stuff. They'll get through this. I hope.

Friday, 19 June 2015

It's a Jungle out there

KEXP 90.3 is a rather FAB little radio station operating out of Seattle. I try and catch up on their live sessions whenever I remember. What makes them special is the fact the sessions are filmed in their small but perfectly formed studio with a twinkly lit backdrop. And the acoustics are perfect.

Jungle, the London soul collective, swung by recently and tore the place up. Jungle are that rare thing - they could easily have parked up as a minimalist synth duo but, and fair play to them, they've beefed up their sound and gone out on the road as a seven-piece. And the sound they make is, I don't know, Soft Cell meets James Brown. If you've not heard them yet, take a listen:

Sunday, 14 June 2015

No Gold or Silver

I'm feeling quite mischievous today. The story behind my song No Gold or Silver, told here, meant that if I ever performed it in public or recorded it I could expect to see out my days in chokey. Probably in solitary confinement.

But, you know what, I don't care. So here it is - No Gold or Silver. If this blog suddenly goes off air, you'll know why.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

It's about time

Since discovering Netflix earlier this year we've been filling our boots with Fringe. The Number One Son introduced us to this most quirky of series - a cross between Diagnosis Murder and Invasion of the Body Snatchers - when he lent us the first season on DVD. Now, thanks to Netflix, and three seasons of Fringe later, I can see DVD box sets going the same way as video and the 8 track cartridge.

With parallel universes and time travel being a staple of Fringe (one of the reasons James pointed me in this direction) I've been rediscovering Jack Finney, one of my favourite authors. His excursions into the past - through such portals as a hidden level at Grand Central Station or time travel sold through travel agents - have always fired my imagination. Re-reading his short stories again after a number of years hasn't lessened the vibrancy and genuine excitement of his storytelling. If you've never read him, you must. Start with his About Time collection. I promise you'll be hooked.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Stamp of approval


Earlier this week The Number One Son tweeted a recent blog post superbly written and researched by James Hazeley about the BBC sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles (1984-1989). In particular, persistent rumours about a missing episode. A vital missing episode, you could say, as the pivotal situation in this particular sitcom hinges around the romantic tension between Ann (drowning in a stale marriage and played by Penelope Wilton) and Paul (the new, single and urbane next door neighbour played by Peter Egan). In the missing episode Paul and Ann are reported to have shared more than knowing glances.

Hazeley's blog tells the full story and the relevance of this missing script (it was never filmed) and how, if it had ever been recorded (and Paul & Ann had got it on) the programme would, at a stroke, have lost one of its major pot boilers; think of Frasier - the episodes after Niles and Daphne docked - the trajectory of the story line changed overnight. Not necessarily for the worse, but not for the better either.

A modern day equivalent is Peter Kay's wonderful Car Share. A simple idea - two colleagues sharing a car journey to and from work each day. John and Kayleigh have more in common than they know and by the end of its six episode run they could just as easily have copped off. But Peter Kay knows that for Car Share to stand any chance of coming back for that all important second season, their relationship must remain platonic and that both protagonists must remain in their designated driver and passenger seats. For now, at least.

And if you're wondering why there's a CCCP postage stamp bearing the image of Dimitri Shostakovich at the top of this post, it's for the simple reason that he (unwittingly) wrote the delightful theme tune for Ever Decreasing Circles. Take it away comrade:

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Why did the hens cross the road?

It was Race Day and the sun was shining. But it wasn't just race goers who piled off the train in their droves in search of an early doors drink; there were more hen parties in town than you could shake a shitty stick at. How some of them would have made it beyond sundown is a mystery - some of them would have been early fallers long before teatime. But despite many wearing heels higher than your average house and L plates being the accessory of choice, it looked like most of them would have been worth an each way bet on staying the course.


Friday, 29 May 2015

One song to the tune of another

The Man in Black
The Other Man In Black
MashUps: regular readers will know I'm rather partial to them. The Number One Son, on the other hand, can't abide them; that said, he does rather like that one where Hall and Oates get jiggy with Metallica.

I think he may like this one too. As with a lot of them I put up here, this one's been out a while but I've come to it late. Ring of Smoke (see what they did there?) is very clever, not least because they've dispensed with that riff: you know, the one played by the (other) man in black - the one they don't allow you to play in guitar shops. And yet it works. Perfectly.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Loved the book

I've just read Romany and Tom by Ben Watt. I took it on holiday and devoured it in two sittings. I doubt very much if there has been a finer book written about parents from the perspective of their offspring.

From Watt's preface: We only see the second part half of our parents' lives - the downhill part. The golden years we have to piece together. It's hard to think of our parents as young - or maybe I mean young adults - when everything was stretched out in front of them and was possible. The versions of them we we see and judge everyday have been shaped by experiences they've had, but which we have never known: the times they were hurt; the days they won; the times they compromised. For much of it we were simply not there.
We need to read the things they will eventually throw away, to listen out for the offhand remark and the moments of lucidity. We might even learn something. About them. And ourselves.

I was so moved by this book that I got it into my head that I must contact Ben Watt: I know, I'll write him a letter. I'll tell him just how moving I found it and how well written it was. How well researched it was.  How so many references struck a chord with me. And that I think he's brilliant and everything. In fact just how he describes in the book where, on a family holiday in 1971, Watt found himself staying in the same hotel as his hero, Peter Osgood. Watt went up to the Chelsea and England centre forward and told him how big a fan he was, about the replica Number Nine shirt he owned, the posters on his bedroom wall, how great his recent Cup Final diving header was. And everything. Osgood, non plussed, just looked down at him and said 'Oh, yeah?'

I may just send him a Tweet instead. 'Loved the book' it will probably say.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

O brother, where art thou?

I read the news today (Oh, Boy) and was mildly alarmed to read that Liam Gallagher thinks he can 'get the band back together' without Noel. Hmmm: what Liam Gallagher is blissfully unaware of is that he's a Number Two. In the same way that Art Garfunkel is a Number Two. And John Oates.

Unlike Liam, I have a soft spot for his big brother. Noel is the brains behind the operation. Without Noel there isn't an Oasis. Without Noel it's just another Beady Eye. Or worse, a Beady Eye tribute band, And as any right minded individual will tell you, the best part of any Oasis gig was always in the interval when Liam and his cronies went to the bar for twenty minutes, leaving Noel out front sat on a stool playing his acoustic.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

A day at the seaside



Yesterday's trip to the seaside was a joy from start to finish. From the mug of builders tea in the railway station caff to the last beer 'for the road', we saw the sights and then some.






A wedding on the beach, beer with disturbing pumpclips, fright wigs, fish and chips, gulls from hell, telephone boxes that worked, a madly in love couple playing cards and road signs that, not to put too fine a point on it, look like kn*bs. A fun day out. Thanks to Posh Bird and Boss Man - our pacemakers for the day.






Wednesday, 6 May 2015

I'm looking for the wessel


It was Saturday lunchtime and Lee and I were blowing the froth off a couple of cold ones, when in walks a total stranger and makes his way to our table. He reached for his inside pocket and pulled out a faded black and white photograph. Pictured was a very old ship. 'I'm looking for the vessel' he said pointing at the photo profusely. 'Do you know where it went down?' I looked at Lee. Lee looked at me.

If only he'd been Russian and couldn't pronounce his Vs.