In 1982, I am working for the Crown Court by day and slinging hot metal for Sounds Magazine at night. I’d been doing this for 6 years, so I knew nearly every musician of note in the whole Wales and South West region. And as our hospitality is legendary, quite a few have passed through our portals, to sample our fine food and wine (and those little rock n roll extras), and to find that the lady of the house is a pretty damn fine musician herself, on keyboards and vocals.
So I got this call from a Sax playing friend, Tony Wrafter, saying he’s blagged his way onto a Compilation album but he hasn’t got a band, just the name for one… Vital Excursions. He has to get his track recorded in the next 24 hours, or he loses the contract. Can he borrow Vanessa (Ness) ?
Well Ness, in those days, was painfully shy, so when I put the proposition to her, she was scared shitless; not because of her uncertainty of her own talent (she knows how good she is) but for being a bit bland or not living up to expectations. But she finally agreed.
We picked up a bloke in the car who was going to play Bass, but in fact what he played was a cello, and headed for some dark dank basement Studio in a Georgian House in City Road, it may have been Mushroom studios, I don’t remember. What I do remember is getting the beers and the Takeaway in.
All improvised, well except for Tony’s overdubs, and frankly there are a lot. The intro for instance… Nobody starts out with a riff like that in his pocket, he listened to Ness and layered over it, then picked up on her every mood and tempo change. No harm in that mind, except Ness never saw a red cent in royalties or even got a writing credit, and 80% of the heavy lifting is down to her.
Wrafter was a complete shit, who still owes me money and married a friend of mine, Gabby. Everybody at the wedding were taking bets as to how long it would last… 3,6,9 months? Because we knew our Wrafters from our beams of sunshine, didn’t we? It lasted 9 months actually. But he is a bloody good Sax player!
I was going to do a screed about Glasto in response to Samizdata’s post, but things have gotten away from me rather this weekend. For one we have been at a Nephew’s wedding in Cardiff last weekend, and the bloody dongle wasn’t working anyway…
Is Glasto better or worse than it used to be? Is it too Middle Class? Is it this… Is it that? Well if you want an honest answer, then it is ineffably better than it was.
I wrote that (hope you can read it, click to enlarge) for Sounds Magazine back in 1979. Back then Glasto was a half arsed hippy dippie festival that you had to provide all the jollies for yourself, there weren’t even bars back then( except for us Back-stagers). There were hot dog and burger vans and folks knocking out Falafal and curries. All kinds of alternative lifestyle stalls and two stages… The Pyramid and the Other Stage. There were theatre, cinema and comedy tents/stages too, but this was all in its infancy then. Now there are over a hundred stages catering from everything from Jazz to folk to Indie to Rave to… well you just cannot imagine what Glastonbury is like unless you have experienced it. In sunshine or in rain, in hail and mud (the British spirit of the blitz really kicks in with the mud!). It is truly Alice through the Looking Glass for three days or so. A world you would love to live in but like Brigadoon, vanishes oh so quickly and you have to get back to mundane reality and the 9-5 come Monday morning.
Now the above piece has an anecdote attached (don’t all your pieces?… Ed) I was a freelance and new kid on the block for Sounds Magazine when they commissioned me to do the first day and a half of the 79 Glasto. So off we set with our tent and provisions and it was just about possible to cover it as a music event with only two main stages. We had a wonderful stoned time and I went home to Bristol and wrote up my copy on the Sunday night.
Well I’m an Executive Officer in the Crown Court by day and a journalist at night at this time in my life, aren’t I? So I roll into the Crown Court around 9.30 ( I have always been allergic to mornings) with my pristine copy in my hand.
Sounds had a deadline of 12 noon on Mondays. So I made myself a cup of coffee and got on the phone to the Printers. Now my Seniors were always very indulgent with me, it must be my natural charm or something, because I used to get away with a hell of a lot. I even used the Chief Clerk’s office now and again because the Sounds secretaries were chosen for the size of their boobs and the shortness of their skirts, not their Shorthand skills, and took a fuckin age to get copy transcribed, and even then they often misheard it.
But anyway I’m through to the Printers with professional copy takers, people who can transcribe as fast or faster than you can talk… So did you stay the whole weekend and see all the bands? says the copy taker. Well of course we did! You don’t go home half way through a festival do you?… Great! says he… It’s like this… The Staffer who was supposed to cover the last day and a half, got so wasted he never even got out of the cark park, let alone saw the bands, so can you re-write your stuff and expand it to cover the whole festival?
This is how you hone the craft of Journalism ladies and gents… Not by going to Journalism School and learning about pyramid leads, it’s born of fear, adrenaline, and a ferocious deadline looming. I now had about 2 hours to re-write my copy to cover the whole festival and phone it in. I had no notes just memory and inspiration.
So sheepishly I asked my boss if I could take an early lunch…. Lunch! Lunch! you only just got here! It’s only ten o’clock for Christ’s sake!…. I explained, and again they were incredibly indulgent with me. I repaired to the tavern across the other side of Broad Street, got one in and set about my task in a sweat driven frenzy. The above is the result. Not my most pristine prose by any stretch, but I did the job.
The Glastonbury Festival is one thing you all should do before you die, it is like nothing else you will ever experience. provided you can afford it these days of course. I have never paid to get in.
Go home and put your best music on. Turn it up as high as it will go, and know that is something the Darkness can never take away from you…
Detective Inspector Fred Thursday.
Yes been watching the Agatha Christie channel (ITV3) again, twiddling my thumbs till the site came back up. And in the spirit of the message…
It’s nice to be back!
Yes, well you all know me well enough by now, a computer illiterate like me is hardly offering it now is he? Once again I’m asking the commenters advice.
The laptop has pretty much gone tits up. It is an 18” Toshiba that is about 6 years old and has served us very well. But now you can pop out for a pint in the time it takes to boot up, and when it does you’ve only just got into your emails when it crashes, and you get the “Will start normally in 28…27..26.. etc message. A pain in the arse quite frankly.
It has always been a bit of a clunker. It is big and heavy and the battery life has never been more than 2 hours, but the screen resolution is very good indeed, and the keys are comfortable to type on. The operating system is Vista.
So folks, what would you all recommend as a replacement? I don’t need it to be as big as the old Tosh, because it is a pain to lug around especially for travelling, but I do want it to have very good screen resolution, and a decent battery life and a keyboard that you don’t have to have the fingers of and Elf to type on.
I’m not against Tablets per se, except when I have used a friends iPad typing on it drives me out of my mind, almost as bad as typing on smart phones and sat/navs. And what of the operating system? Our current two computers run on Vista and I’m not wildly happy with it, to be frank I preferred Windows XP. What is Windows 8 like? And what of RAM and hard drive? The old Tosh is 3g RAM and 250g hard disk. I see some advertised now with 8g RAM and a bleedin Tetrabite of storage. What is that all about? I’d like to play games on it too, but the old Tosh was never very good at coping with them. So if you lovely people could help me out, it will be very much appreciated. I won’t say money is no object cos I is a tight arsed git, but I can afford top end of the range stuff if it is actually worth it.
PS… Oi Kitty Counters, get your fingers out and get some posts up! Yes I know there’s no news out there, and no news is good news, and good news is no news at all… But momentum momentum momentum chums
It is one of the best loved Christmas movies of all time, (it’s certainly one of my top five favourite films) but back in 1947 it was being accused of being Communist propaganda because the Banker character Potter, is portrayed as an evil money grubbing bottom line Capitalist. A bit far fetched for me I’m afraid.
Capitalists have never had a good Press have they? Can anyone name me a film or book where a Banker is the hero?
“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? no it’s Venture Capital Man and he has saved the day again! With his timely injection of cash the Dam was repaired, the Valley saved from flooding and all our children can sleep easy in their beds, well fed and prosperous for evermore. You’re my hero Venture Capital Man!”
It just doesn’t happen, does it?
Now don’t get me wrong, McCarthy was right ( if rather too paranoid and heavy handed), Hollywood was stuffed full of Luvvy Communists who were trying to push a Marxist agenda, but they were not hugely successful in getting the message across, because the essence of most films is the triumph of Good over Evil. The White hats win and the Black hats lose, it’s pretty crude at best, but hey that’s entertainment. What’s important is that the little people like us, the ones who provide the bums on seats, feel that we are on the winning side. However small and insignificant our lives that if we have friends and family who love us, and who we love back and help out when the going gets tough, then we are as important and consequential as Kings and Queens.
PS. You will notice on reading the article that Ayn Rand is mentioned as sitting on a committee that reported to the House Un-American Activities Commission. She gave evidence personally. Now quite what an upfront Libertarian is doing reporting to J Edgar Crossdresser and McCarthy is beyond my understanding of her Libertarianism. I wouldn’t have gone near Big Government witch trials myself. But then I have never read her and very likely never will. In fact the few details of her life and circle that I know of, I know for certain that she would never have been a friend of mine in real life. Do click on the link at the bottom of the Mail article, very illuminating.
So it only leaves me to say… for the day is almost upon us… A very Happy Christmas to all the Kitties that Kount, all our faithful Commenters, and yes to you, as yet unannounced, Lurkers in the Dark. Happy Christmas one and all!
Yesterday the Fail would have us believe that we are only a dream imagining ourselves, or perhaps someone or thing imagining us for us.
Today they are at it again. It makes the possibility of the Yellowstone Park super volcano blowing look positively mundane doesn’t it? And a couple of degrees increase in Celsius fade into comparative obscurity.
So what do you scientific types think? There is someone round here who has a bit of Physics under his belt but I can’t for they life of me remember who now, he is very reluctant to mention it you see.
Well bugger it, I’m going to live, and live and live again, until I die with a smile on my face. And we’re off out to have a drink with my old friend Jerry Dammers, who’s doing a little DJ-ing in town tonight. Merry Christmas all!
Yep that’s my mum. Born in Bedwas, a mining village across the valley from Caerphilly, in 1923. And yes she’s 90 today.
She almost didn’t make it past 5 though. My Grandfather, her father, the Welsh speaking one, was a manager at the Colliery there, and she and her two brothers lived in a company house. There were directly under the cable that took the huge cast iron skips full of slag and waste up to the top of the mountain and deposited it on the huge spoil tips that scarred all the Welsh Valleys. Well one early morning the cable snapped and several tons of cast iron bucket and slag practically demolished the house, took the roof right off, went through two floors and ended up in the kitchen. They moved to Caerphilly, sharpish.
There, of course, she eventually met my dad, which led to this little event in 1952. My Christening party in our garden in Caerphilly.
Now you can see that all of the folks in that picture are pretty old, except for my parents. Gramp Llewellyn on the left was already 90 there, and gramp Dan (the Welsh speaking one, looking like a pensive Woody Allen, on the right) had just retired from the Colliery aged 70. So I’m afraid that barring Comet strikes, unfortunate accidents and the like, given my gene-pool, you are likely to have to suffer my insane ramblings for another 30 years or so. Oh what joy I hear you all cry!
So please raise your glasses to a grand old Dame, the She Elephant of Heath Cardiff, my Mum. A lifetime of sparring with her verbally and mentally has made me the man I am today, and I love her to bits!
Click on the Pics to enlarge.
Almost inevitably it is… Experts warn… Scientists warn… Uncle Tom Cobbley and his Nanny warns, but this one is different, it modestly celebrates the raising of the wrist.
We tipplers have always known that the safe Units crap was made up on the back of an envelope, much like that secondary smoke will laser its way through walls and kill entire families while they sleep, especially the Cheeeldren!
And on the cure for a cold being alcohol (with a little bit of spicy help), I can concur…
Many years ago the Gay Buddhist, my wife and I were working our way down a bottle of Tequila. I had a stinking cold, and I mean really stinking , coughing up stuff that looked like well masticated Pistachios. Ness curled up and went to sleep, but the GB and I decided to go out for a curry, Cardiff Curry houses staying open till 3 in the morning in those days.
We both had a Vindaloo, and mine was so goddam hot my eyeballs were sweating. Then we went back to the flat and polished off the rest of the Tequila. The next day I woke up and the cold had completely gone.
So raise your glasses ladies and gentlemen…
You are all no doubt familiar with our bonkers dog, Saffie. She normally looks like this…
What do you think of my newly re-grown beard by the way? I used to have one as a young man to make myself look older. When I was 21 I visited the USA for the first time. I used to walk into bars and clubs with my American friends and they passed without any trouble, but I used to get a restraining hand on my chest accompanied by… Where do you think you’re going sonny? I used to have to carry the old Zulu Shield British Passport everywhere I went, and even then they didn’t quite believe me. Ness forced my to re-grow it, saying it would tickle her fancy. I have no idea what she meant by that!
Well five days ago she had to have a couple of operations. One to remove a lump of fatty tissue about the size of an egg from off her chest (biopsy benign) and a nasty cyst from the corner of her eye. So now the poor dab looks like this…
She is ecstatic about the HMV headscarf, as you can imagine, and she is now wearing a child’s T shirt to hold the bandage padding over the stitches on her chest. We took her to the Vet’s this morning for a check, and she is coming on very nicely. Five more days and she will be free of all that and playing frisbee in the park again and stealing food right off people’s BBQ’s like a bat out of hell. This dog costs us a lot of money (and that is just in replacement picnic food, let alone the operation) but she is the best dog in the world, so she’s worth it.
Get your comments in quick folks… It may be another hundred fuckin years before we appear again!
I hope a profuse and detailed apology from Cat’s will be forthcoming for this fiasco, but frankly I’m a bit pissed off myself. We cannot carry on like this. The friggin Difference engine has to go. I will contribute to the cost of a proper professional Server, and others here have indicated to me that they are prepared to do so too.
I have had at least half a dozen posts I wanted to put up in the last bastard ten days of invisibility, but all past their sell buy date now. Not fuckin good enough, not fuckin good enough at all.
Following on from Lynne’s post below, here’s one I have been toying with for a while.
Just before Xmas I asked you good folks for tips as to what to buy the Memsahib for a present to avoid ending up sleeping on the sofa, as I am crap at presents. Well you all came up with the goods and the sofa was but a bad dream for another year, but when I was in my corner shop buying her a Card I came across a rack of entitled “Pocket Money Toys” So I had a look, and my second childhood kicked in, and I came out with these. £1.99 each.
Ness thought I was as bonkers as the dog when she unwrapped them, but when I started to play with them, well she instantly wanted a “Go”. She’s a pretty damn good shot with real weapons (takes after her Dad: 2 Para D Day, and a Bisley Champion rifle shot thereafter ) and this little plastic toy is surprisingly accurate at a distance of 15 to 20 feet, which is the size of living room 2 .
We can both now take down the little targets (about an inch and a half tall) two shots out of three. So you can imagine how devastating we could be with a real handgun like a Glock or a Magnum, and it’s important to keep your eye in isn’t it folks? We may be almost totally disarmed in this once free and proud country of ours, but when things get nasty, and they may quite soon, the real things will be available for the right kind of money. We must be prepared! I am already in the market for a shotgun, and a decent Bow and Crossbow wouldn’t go amiss as backup either.
Oh and I bought myself an Airforce at the same time. Yes these little suckers actually loop the loop (due to our very high ceilings) and are great fun to play with. And as the Desert Rats have been stripped of their tanks, and the Parachute regiment of their jump training ( the Father in law is spinning in his grave enough to power half of South Wales by now) How do you run a Parachute Brigade without parachutes???
So you have to look after yourself in these dismal days and end of times haven’t you? Cos the fuckin Government is never going to do it for you, are they? Least of all ours.
And you American readers, don’t you let Barry and the boys in the band take your Assault weapons away, in fact stock up on RPG’s and Sam’s if you can, you may need them soon. Military exercises are already being conducted in American cities by armed troops and helicopter gunships and Barry is in the process of getting the Executive power to use armed drones against American citizens on American soil. What can that be all about I wonder?
Bugger! another good man gone.
I have at least 2 other posts going round in my head that I have been meaning to put up for you delectation, but I had to do this one when I heard the news.
So who was Kevin Ayers? I’m sure most of you will never have heard of him, but he was a founding member of Soft Machine, one of Britain’s first Psychedelic bands alongside Pink Floyd. The Floyd became world famous, Soft Machine didn’t. They went from being quirky avant-garde with lots of vocals to being almost totally instrumental Jazz by 1970. Kevin had left by then and continued to plough his own idiosyncratic furrow. He could have been a contender, he knew and worked with all the right names, but ultimately he couldn’t be arsed. Preferring to live the life Libertarian/Libertine in Majorca, Ibiza and the South of France.
Your humble Music Correspondent saw the Floyd support Hendrix, when he was just 15 (me not Hendrix) and naturally checked out where this crazy weird music that was then mainly driven by Syd Barrett’s wacky songs was coming from, and he discovered Caravan and Soft Machine and later Gong and Hawkwind. So when Kevin Ayers Joy Of a Toy came out in 1969, I bought it and loved it. Here’s one of my favourites that set me on the road to Libertarianism, anarchy and self discovery without knowing it…
And for those of you familiar with Robert Wyatt’s singing and phrasing, um who do you think stole what from whom, considering they were in the same band?