Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Animal magnetism

Off to see the Super Furries at the sumptuous, elegant Leeds Town Hall (and oh to see Cian Ciaran making some pounding Joey Beltram Hardfloor-esque tune out of the giant pipe organ behind the stage). Having first seen the Furries in 1996, and traipsing off down Ealing High Road to buy Hometown Unicorn, I've grown up with the Welsh oddballs, seen them adopt Golden Retriever suits and Manson beards, and become part of the alt-furniture. Gruff Rhys sidles up to the side of the stage to watch support Jim Noir (who has the look of the Hitcher from Gilliam's Fear And Loathing) wearing a bobble hat n' beard combo. That's good 30s. The band delivered their most trad set yet, a kind of Spanish and bee-bop flavoured prog and freak out melee, with carrots and helmets obviously. And Slow Life, watched by an overwhelmed Noir mere feet from us in a kind of "I'm never gonna do anything as good as this, ever, no way", cooked with gas.

Track highlight: Northern Lites in the style of Husker Du. Receptacle For The Respectable (with home grown carrots), Juxtaposed With U (lounge singer meets vocoders meets Goat Boy)

Monday, 29 October 2007

The deep south

Ventured to the deep south for the first time in aeons for a virtual/actual blogface interface with fellow blogger StoneFee in Bedford. A great night it was too, as Bedders, as we always affectionately called it, looks to uptrendify itself with swank new apartments and rugby and gastro pubs that used to be known as prison-locals, as they were so close to Bedford nick, which acts as an ad-hoc Victorian crack n' porn roundabout in Bedford town centre. There's still parts of the old town that need bulldozing however. The bus station is indeed, as a Facebook group has it, the gateway to hell, and Midland Road is a challenge to get to from one end to another without an aggressive in-yer-face beggar slashing you up for shrapnel. We went into the sensitively named Pilgrims Progress pub, which, unlike in John Bunyan's day, is a place where you can get a pint for 89p and your head koshed for even less. On the way to another pub, a bloke sidled up to us, slovenly and looking like Rory McGrath on hard times. He wanted to know where the bus station was and we were only too glad to tell him, hoping he'd sidle back out of our lives. He did indeed slope off, into the drivers seat of an E-type jag parked nearby. I guess thats where the north-south divide still counts.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Hostage telly

Watched the highly impressive and incredibly BBC Alan Johnston talking through his Gaza kidnap ordeal last night. Not wanting to take anything away from this remarkable and gracious, literate man. But why was the interview conducted in a dim, pokey, "hostage-chic" building, clearly designed to mirror his captivity? And was the hostage set borrowed from Dragon's Den? I mean, you wouldn't see Terry Waite chatting to Gloria Hunniford chained to a radiator, would you?

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Stick it to 'em

Got a brochure today for the very swank Normanby Hall, a potential wedding reception venue for me and the Dee. Beautiful grounds, walled gardens, boar statues, perfect wedding fare. Except the very deceptively priced and rather injudiciously named food packages. We love you - our intended guests - and that's why we're looking at receptions at places like NH rather than the bleedin' Campanile, bedding down with the waifs and adulterers. But the pricey Rose Garden Finger Buffet, at £17 a head, is insane. The food includes "items on sticks", "cheese cubes" and "chicken and vegetarian nuggets". Campanile quality at a class A location is still Campanile. Although the items on sticks are seperate from the cheese cubes, tellingly. Maybe its fivers on sticks. Or gimps. Nonetheless, the hunt goes on ...

Sub-species subway

So, by the year 3000, "man" will be divided into two sub-species due to technology and being choosier about your mates. I'm guessing the under-class will be banned from using Facebook (although MySpace would probably be fine). But what's all this about the year 3,000. Surely, a cursory look around Louth, Grimsby, Hull or Leamington Spa would reveal many people who already bear resemblance to the smaller depiction here? I mean, isn't it the strange creature from the end of Don't Look Now? Or the woman behind the counter at Everyman Newsagents?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Stranger than fiction

I'm reading Patrick Hamilton's The Slaves Of Solitude. Typically exemplary fare by the writer of Gaslight and Rope, all seedy and murky and frustrated. But the intro by Doris Lessing, her of the Nobel Prize indifference, makes me want to read more about Hamilton's father, Bernard. Take this paragraph for example ...

"He was an impressionable traveller, amateur actor, fascist and dogged religious controversialist. At the age of 21, he had inherited a fortune and married a prostitute who threw herself in front of a train at Wimbledon Station. His second wife, the sexually frigid daughter of a fashionable London dentist, filled her time copying oil paintings, singing music-hall songs and writing romantic fiction. She found compensation for a loveless marriage in the possessive love of her three children"
Heady stuff - some one should write that adaptation!
Listening: 100 Broken Windows - Idlewild; Now I'm A Cowboy - The Auteurs; What's Going On - Marvin Gaye; Live At The Apoll0 - James Brown; Third (Sister Lovers) - Big Star
Watching: Spooks (isn't everybody); The Wire Season 3 (Stringer Bell is Machiavellian evil personified)

Monday, 22 October 2007


I saw my first wannabe jumper as I drove across the Humber Bridge in the half-light, muggy over river. Strange the way your mind registers a potential death - it wasn't until I studied the scene in my rear view mirror, crawling towards Hull, that I confirmed the double tragedy of a man the wrong side of the railings, in a jumper the wrong shade of orange. Of late there's been talk of raising the safety barriers at the Humber Bridge, although my guess is people who are that way inclined may well find a way through even those sort of cordons. It was bizarre to observe the people surrounding the jumper tho'. A man ran across the A15 to get to the emergency phone, another furtively extending his hand in the jumper's direction, at a distance. Bikers, unaware of what lay ahead, continued their journey. I hope it all resolves itself.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Fayre and present danger

Attending a wedding "fayre" (don't you just hate these misplaced American spellings?) in the lush grounds of Normanby Hall, with its giant boar statues, walled gardens and herds of marrauding deer and marrows. There was more originality and heart on display in the grounds than the fair, which was booming out with the sounds of Deafman DJ and some woman dressed as a Narnian snow queen playing nonsense on a white violin, under some pink and white balloons shaped into a ceremonial archway, next to a magician called Uncle Dudley, probably. The PA was blasting out tunes that no-one likes but are played at weddings regardless (Hold Back The Night by the Traaaaaamps for example) which would give my 91-year-old grandad a double hearing hernia, and out front, you could take a ride in a pink limo. We resolved to have nothing to do with limos, or brainless DJs or ice queen violinists, and do it our way. You'll be getting our invites to the reception at the local allotment society soon ...

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Schizoid life

Sorry to leave you in the company of a myriad of satsumas, regular (all three of youse) readers. Its just that life's been a bit mental of late with the move. We ventured back into Hull for the first time since installing ourselves in the "yellow" belly of Lincolnshire, trepidatious and trying to make sense of a city that we appear to have lost our survival instinct for. Returned to Dee's old house, where it appears her feral neighbours have moved into her old property, and I'm sure, have built a tunnel between the two houses for easy access. Outside, a gang was throwing an iron bar across the road, at each other. Spring Bank was a mess of badly parked cars, Polish supermarket competitions (Polski Smak or the lurid pink of Polski Market, can't decide), and St Stephen's a rigid grey of faceless optimism. I kinda missed it.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Tangerine dreams

Our creative writing degree teeters on the brink of cliche often, but last night's lesson really took the pith. In two-and-a-half hours, my notebook consists of a page, all about my reaction to a satsuma. All the students were given a satsuma (I'd like to see the expense claim for that), asked to describe it, touch it, sniff it, peel it and eat it. My contribution, a knowing treatise on how ridiculous the whole exercise was, was described as "typical Laurie" by the teacher. Other contributions, after I'd picked myself off the floor looking at a load of middle-ageds sniffing small discoloured fruits, were eliptic, involved and traumatic, with one woman magaing to weave the satsuma into her troubled home-life and Christmas in a scullery. Another called it a dank sphere (the orange, not Christine's home life). I'm hoping my creative instincts are right, otherwise there's gonna be a whole lot of fruit sniffing round our new place.

Listening: New Radiohead downloads (£1.74 paid); Alison Moyet new stuff; Steve Earle

Watching: The Wire Season Three (genius)

Reading (still): Wait Until Spring Bandini; Patrick Hamilton's Slaves Of Solitude

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Hull Fair, from my car

Always love this view. Like a neon city of perils, neer-do-wells, fortunes and folly, with added chip spice. I didn't stop the car.

A sign o' the times

The moment when Loz met Wyatt. The eagle-eyed amongst you woill notice that he signs the name Wyatt in the form of a girl's body, the W doing most of the work. This signature obviously necessitates the need for a giant chequebook, and reminds me of Jackie Treehorn in the Big Lebowski. As I've said before, it's nice when your hero is 61, wears a bodywarmer and tugs on one of those fag replacement jobbies. Wyatt, I salute you...

Pipe down

On the way back from meeting my idol, I was brought down to earth by this 20-something pipe smoker, sat with his equally awful pipe-smoking parents on the town square. I got his picture by pretending to "work for pipe smokers weekly". He obliged, rather than questioning the sustainability of a weekly pipe magazine.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Wyatt Last

I see my hero smoking, cackling, chatting about olives and tugging at old women's polyester slacks most days in Louth. But mostly smoking. When you see your hero most days up close, you become distanced from his star appeal. But today was my chance to finally meet Robert Wyatt, at a record signing in Louth for his new album Comicopera, released today, pop pickers. And I'm pleased to say I was nervy as hell, as he signed my new vinyl, wearing a body warmer and puffing on one of those fag replacement jobbies in the back of Off The Beaten Tracks in Louth, watched by an ancient woman clutching a Soft Machine CD. Pleasantaries exchanged, I returned to work, past a man in his 20s, wearing plaid and smoking a pipe. Heroes and strange-ones do turn up in the weirdest of locations.

Director's note: Due to being at the University of Hull library, I am unable to download pics at the moment. But a Wyatt shot, with my back and his front, thankfully, will appear when my boss's back is turned tomorrow.

I'm well back

Yes, I've been away, but as if some bloke making squelching noises through the powers of only his hands was gonna be my last contribution to the blogosphere. Pah!! No, me and Dee are "installed" in our new Lincolnshire abode, with no communication method yet established apart from shouting, so we've been stood on foreshore at set hours of the day, hoping our communication will carry on the wind and bridge to our old Hull haunts. Its not been a total removal-heavy, gashed fingers, to-me to-you type odyssey tho. I've been applying for jobs, developing a love of Pedro Almadovar (again, I know I should abide the restraining order), Thai "style" crisps, Talking Heads vids, and the weird ways of the brute and beastly shire of Lincs.

Listening: The Go!Team, MIA, Joy Division Live at Manchester Factory, various Studio One stuff.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

manualist plays bohemian rhapsody on his hands!

I will be back soon ... in the meantime, enjoy the Manualist