'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lives Of The Great Belgians - Part II

Undeterred by the hostility of the lanolin-daubed fiends in the field outside, I took up the saxophone once more. Right thumb under the rest. Fingers of the left hand poised lightly. Deep breath, and . . .
The Gressingham duck resumed its mortal agony. Ben the Trailhound stared at me balefully, but did not move. Gradually, the crass honking emanating from the sax began to take on some sort of consistency.
Buoyed up by the illusion of competence, I kept on breathing and blowing, until my lip gradually took on the feel of lacerated rubber.
Now I felt ready for something a little more advanced. I stood in front of the window and sneered at the sheep. This time, as I blew on the sax, I lifted it up and leant backwards. Then I dropped it down and leant forwards. Pause. As I blew again, I turned to the left . . . and to the right . . . Splendid! I was beginning to get the hang of this. With a little concentration, I found I was soon able to execute a little four-step dance routine, backwards, sideways, forwards, while playing. After twenty minutes or so, I slumped in the chair, elated. My sax playing was clearly coming along swimmingly well.
I've noticed that the sides of the instrument are adorned with a series of rather complicated-looking keys and levers. Tomorrow I hope to find out what happens when I press one of them.

Stop This Retail Madness

Whitehaven, Sunday morning. Fear stalks the aisles of the nation's favourite greengrocer.
Promptly at 10.00am the doors open and a crowd of West Cumbrian happy shoppers flood into the store, your bloggist among them. I execute a well-planned raid on the paper stall and fresh vegetable section and present myself at the checkout. The girl takes one look at my shopping and throws down the 'This Checkout Is Closing' sign behind my bananas. Evidently, I'm her last customer of the day. I look at the clock on the wall. It is 10.04am.
Is it just me?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Banjaxed do Civic Duty

This coming Friday – banjaxed (the wake up to wogan tribute band) are playing at the Allerdale Civic Dinner to mark the end of Margaret Jackson's year as Mayor. Though I can find little to confirm it on the world wide web thingie – starting to worry a little now as I've lashed out £6.50 on a new dickie bow tie.

As the guitar and banjo (sorry) player with banjaxed I am also charged with coming up with the set-list. Having carried out an intensive survey of the 200 or so guests (i.e. thought about who is likely to be there) and a risk assessment of who we are likely to offend I've come up with this little lot. It's very much stream of unconsciousness so I hope there's nowt subliminal. Would any of our reader-ship like to order them. Bear in mind that although I list the origin of the version they will be heavily banjaxed.

  • Dancing in the Street (Bowie Jagger version ) – linking straight in to.. Walk in the Room (Jackie de Shannon version almost)
  • Stop Your Sobbin (Kinks/ Pretenders mix) linking in to a folk rock version of the Supreme's Stop in the name of love – ends with a fast Irish jig I kid not!)
  • Runaway (the Bonnie Rait version of the Del Shannon song modified to suit the band of course )
  • Under My Thumb (the Stones with mandolin, drums, bass and re-gendered for twin female chauvinist vocals)
  • Under African Skies (Paul Simon Ladysmith Black Mombasa with Cape Jazz Kwela overtones) – I see a theme building Dance .. Walk …Stop … Under Under…
  • Let's Spend the Night Together (Stones meets Queen with Young Tradition harmonies
  • All Over Now (Stones to a reggae beat partly unaccompanied – finger in ear!)
  • Under the Board Walk ( I forget who just now – but fairly straight other than the mandolin)
  • Out of Time (The Chris Farlow version nearly !) linking in to Moon Dance (Van the Man but a bit more frantic and louder)
  • Aint No Cure for love (Cohen via Jennifer Warnes and then banjaxed to hell)
  • Beeswing (driving beat version of the Richard Thompson number – pretty close to the original at least as I remember it)
  • Just One Look (Doris Troy -Mandolin lead)
  • Stoopid Coopid (yeh – but a penny whistle version of the one Di remembers from the Juke Box in the pub in 1962)
  • Room at the Top of the World (Tom Petty – with Banjo and Stratocaster and some nice harmonies)
  • Knock On Wood (more or less straight lift of the Eddie Floyd version – at least the drum part is!)

And that's it.

Should fill 90 minutes, with a break for string repairs after Beeswing. Suggestions please for the encore.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lives Of The Great Belgians - Part I

Back in Beghan days, V decided that for a man of my advanced age & musical ineptitude the only sensible course of action was to take up the saxophone. This struck me as a counsel of despair. But in the course of a rendez-vous in Soho last December I acquired one of Professor Sax's inventions from my old friend The Defrocked Priest, who in his more lucid moments likes to imagine himself a member of the Glen Miller Orchestra.
The sax lay untouched till the other day when I finally resolved to give it a blow. The first obstacle to be overcome was assembling the various bits. Once accomplished, I carefully took it in my hands, hooked the strap to the back of it, brought the mouthpiece towards my lips and took Lauren Bacall's advice to Humphrey Bogart.
Nothing happened.
I tried again. Still nothing.
I put the sax down & took a long look at it. After about five minutes I removed the mouthpiece and turned it so that the reed (a Rico #3, jazz-fans) was on the underside. Then I picked up the instrument, put my lips together, and blew.
The effect was astonishing.
A sound very like a Gressingham duck in terminal agony echoed from the walls of the cottage. Ben the trailhound stared at me balefully, got up off the couch and ran downstairs.
Undeterred by this enthusiasm from my audience, I persevered. By now the reed was vibrating in a truly alarming fashion, making my lower lip feel as if it was being massaged by a coffee grinder.
Exhausted, panting for breath, I put the instrument aside & staggered to the window. Out in the fields the sheep were staring up at me with expressions that occupied that dangerous no-man's land between Wild Surmise and Bored Resignation.
I picked up the sax and blew. That'd show the woolly bastards.
Just give me some of that rock and roll music . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Get Your Kicks On The B5301

Driving to Aspatria the other day I was ambushed by rock & roll - the radio started playing Dirty Water by The Standells, possibly the finest 3 minutes of trash ever to emerge from that musicological country The Clash christened garageland, and a song which has the built-in advantage of a hook that's infinitely adaptable to present circumstance -
Oh - Cumbria, you're my home

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mad Scientists Stole My Dad's Radioactive Kidney

The local media are running a story about our county's world-leading hi-tech industry which simply has everything you could wish for in a news item.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Rap, With A Capital 'C'

Oh dear, oh dear. I'm grateful to the Herr Doktor Professor for bringing to my attention the latest cultural outrage perpetrated by those geniuses at the Cumbria Tourist Board. Just click on this link to be treated to their giant red squirrel rapping his way through William Wordsworth's Daffodils. OK, so the poem's not exactly one of the man's finest moments, but as someone at least slightly responsible for marketing one of the county's major cultural events with a significant youth audience, I'm really at a loss to see how this sort of inanity helps us. Maybe they thought that it would show that they're really, like, down with the Cleator Moor massive, innit? Perhaps someone from GoLakes would like to come on the blog and explain it all to us? If not, I may be forced to use this material in my forthcoming 'Grumpy Old Men' slot on Radio Cumbria . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pebbles From Heaven

A previously undiscovered blog has arisen in the Cumbrian hinterland - PebblesFromHeaven is damned fine stuff. The perpetrators also have a rather good Rock Art Blog devoted to a genuinely fascinating bye-way of rural psychogeography.

Pay Sex

New horizons in social embarrassment enabled by technology - don't ever mention to anybody that you've been searching for 'pasche eggs' on the internet. They're likely to mis-hear you . . .

Friday, April 06, 2007

Pasche Eggs Redux

This blog has been getting many hits from readers searching for information about Pasche Eggs, a vital part of any Cumbrian Easter.
So in a spirit of public service - here's a brief guide to improving your Easter celebrations with a genuinely Cumbrian experience.
First - buy a dozen fresh eggs. Free range please, and preferably from a farm shop somewhere in the county.
Then click on this link, this one and this one. Here you'll find everything you need to know about preparing your pasche eggs (hint - you'll need some onion skins too), the joys of egg dumping, and (if you're unfortunate enough to be Bear Ghrylls) participation in Pasche Egg Extreme Sports.
If anybody wants to send in a photo of themselves egg-dumping from a belay half-way up Napes Needle, they're very welcome to the public humiliation that will inevitably result.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

One Dog Nights

Ben The Trailhound, readers will be delighted to hear, has been enjoying his excursion to The Deep North far more than is strictly good for him: days spent charging across desolate fields in pursuit of distantly-scented deer and terrorising rough-cats in the neighbouring steading; nights spent curled up on the centre of a warm bedspread driving the present writer, lying beneath it, to the margins of the mattress. Ben's lean good looks and raffish charm have made him the absolute sensation of le tout Aberdeenshire, so it is probably just as well, and entirely for his own good, that I'm taking him back to Cumbria in the morning.