Monday, 30 May 2016

Jessica Messica

The adorable Jessica
Suit you Sir (1)

Quite a day: it had been far too long since I'd last seen my step-daughter Claire. Far too long; we vowed not leave it so long again. And I got to meet Jessica for the first time - and was totally smitten.

I also gave my new whistle its first outing. You'd think I'd have at least smiled once. Maybe it looked better on the hanger.
Suit you Sir (2)

Christopher Holland: Jessica Messica

Friday, 27 May 2016

A close shave

I can’t really tell you why it’s taken me so long to visit a proper Turkish barber and have a full hot towel shave. But that’s precisely what I did yesterday afternoon. And my skin is still singing, can I just tell you (let’s hear it for lemon balm). What a fabulous experience. Even when they set fire to my tabs to remove all unwanted ear hair I enjoyed every minute of the full hour I was in the chair - a full haircut, face-line with blade, cut throat shave and eyebrow trim. I’ll be back.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Pretty girls at bus stops - an occasional series

Taking photographs in Madrid is like shooting fish in a barrel - everything (and nearly everybody) practically begs you to point your camera at them. Five days away and my Canon's memory card was reaching capacity: from the Royal Palace and Puerta del Sol to the Plaza Mayor and Gran Via I've snapped it all. I've even got an offbeat bunch of themed shots of shop & bar fronts which I may put up here sometime in the future.

But, my favourite photo of the whole week comes courtesy of a respectable business man waiting patiently for his bus. I saw him directly opposite the little tapas bar where we were having breakfast.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

I was too blind to see

Carl Hetherington has presided over all my recordings since 2012. Pickering Place and Chip Off The Old Block were both recorded at the congenial Oakwood Studios - on the outskirts of York - with Carl at the helm. Not only is he a fabulous producer (his knob-twiddling skills are legendary in this part of the world) but also a fine piano player. We recorded three songs just before I went to Madrid – Hey Hey Hey, Days Like This and Fool. Fool is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever written. And that’s saying something, by the way. I asked Carl to tinkle the ivories on this one and in so doing I think we’ve succeeded in really swathing it in melancholia.

John Medd - Fool (© John Medd 2016)

Sunday, 15 May 2016


My head's a shed at the moment: it's full. I need to get away for a few days and uninstall some stuff. My flight to Madrid leaves in a little while.
Last time I was there I saw Nick Lowe at La Riviera and I bought a loud shirt. This time round I'll settle for keeping my sanity.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

I Could Be Happy

Clive Gregson & Christine Collister in happier times
My admiration of Clive Gregson and his fabulous songs is well documented on this blog. And when a couple of years ago he was throwing songwriting titbits from the top table I made sure I filled my boots (don't you just love mixed metaphors?).
He wrote the haunting I Could Be Happy for the very last Gregson and Collister album and selflessly gave the lead vocal to Christine Collister. Clive recently resurrected a lot of the Gregson and Colllister songs he'd not sung for twenty odd years - since he and Christine split up - and took them on the road with Liz Simcock; unfortunately when the tour came to my local town I had to body serve it as it clashed with another gig on the same night. But Clive's back on tour so I'm sure I'll make up for it.

Gregson and Collister: I Could Be Happy

Monday, 2 May 2016

Saturday, 30 April 2016

She Makes Me Laugh

It may well be fifty years since The Monkees first topped the Billboard 100 with Last Train to Clarksville and I'm a Believer, but the three remaining 'boys' - Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork - have just released their latest single. Written by Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, She Makes Me Laugh comes complete with all the usual Monkee matching accessories: you know - jangly guitars, catchy choruses and that feeling that you've heard it before somewhere. I like it. A lot.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

My favourite sister-in-law

Megan is Jenny’s half-sister. They are linked by their father's indiscretion in the early 1960s (I’m sure, with Jenny’s permission, I will tell the full story here one day).
But they only met for the first time five years ago. However, in that time Megan has enriched Jenny’s life more than she’ll ever know. She’s also become my favourite sister in law – we’ve shared stories, shared holidays and shared good times. And she’s talked me down off the ledge a couple of times when times haven’t been so good.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Former Railtown Bottler

Mark Kermode - sporting neither his trademark bins or Harrington jacket

Mark Kermode’s Celluloid Jukebox is one of many regular podcasts that makes its way onto my iPod on a regular basis. Many hours spent behind the wheel or on solitary Sunday walks positively fly by listening to Kermode’s mix of sage cinematic critique and accompanying soundtrack nuggets. Kermode’s show rubs shoulders with a raft of equally excellent recorded audio output I listen to on my travels, including, but not limited to:

* 99% Invisible
* The New Yorker - Fiction
* The Allusionist with Helen Zaltzman
* Rhod Gilbert’s Saturday morning show on BBC Radio Wales
* Soho Radio
* The Moth
* Desert Island Discs (including the now gargantuan back catalogue of old programmes going back 50 years or more)
* Serial

But back to Kermode. He first appeared on my radar as the incisive fast-talking film critic on Danny Baker’s Breakfast Show in the early nineties on Radio 5 (as it was called back in the day) and again with Baker on his Saturday TV show. Kermode was stand-up bass player with Baker’s house band The Railtown Bottlers. His current band, The Dodge Brothers, combine the sound of the Solent with pure Americana. They even went out to Memphis to record an (excellent) album (live, of course) at Sun Studios. Here’s a short film they put together to record the momentous event. Keep 'em peeled for the ultimate Bono putdown.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Doctor Doctor

Junior doctors in England are striking again today. And tomorrow; leaving precious little in the way of emergency cover. Is this a good thing? No, of course it’s not. Are patients going to suffer? Oh yes – try not to get knocked down by a bus in the next 48 hours. Will people die who under normal circumstances would pull through? Probably – it’ll be standing room only in hospital morgues. Will the junior doctors do to Cameron what the miners did to Ted Heath in 1974? Maybe, maybe not - I don’t really give a monkey’s chuff. All I do know is that it gives me the perfect opportunity to shoehorn Doctor Doctor by UFO into my Blog. And that can’t be a bad thing.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Giving it 90

Paul McCartney reckons that despite Her Majesty being a pretty nice girl, she doesn't have a lot to say; perhaps later on this evening, when she’s walked the corgis, kicked off her wellies, thrown the tiara on the back of the sofa and had a couple of gins, she’ll open up. Happy Birthday Queenie.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Silent Sigh

When Nick Hornby's About a Boy was given the big screen treatment in 2002 it would have been so easy to fill the soundtrack with pop fodder  - in the same way as, say, Sliding Doors did a couple of years earlier. (Other films with identikit soundtracks are available). But Hornby wanted a bespoke audio backdrop. Definitely not off the peg. And with the dozen or so original selections Badly Drawn Boy gave him, the project couldn't fail.
The standout song for me, Silent Sigh, is a haunting piano led tune that also cropped up near the end of an episode of House I watched last week. And it does that thing that all stunning songs do. It floors me. Every time.