Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sticky Whimsy

These were on the seats on my station one morning in June 2014. People don't do things like that anymore.

How am I doing in my relentless drive to avoid anything political? Not too bad? I feel I'm about half-way through the detox. The longer essays on various but non-political subjects will return.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Never You Done That and Other Songs by Dave Wakling

Dave Wakling was the man behind many of the best songs of The Beat and General Public. He is, in my not-so-humble-opinion, one of the finest songwriters this Isle of Fine Songwriters has produced. Why he has not been inducted into Rock ’n Roll Halls of Fame is something that cries out for explanation.

I was listening to The Beat’s second album, Special Beat Service, recently, and as always was surprised and enchanted by this track:

The lyrics are wonderfully ambiguous. "She said to leave it till the end of the party / Do it now, you know there's never a next time / How come the feeling that it's only just started / Pull back your cover, I could love you for all time / But do it now, you know there's never a next time". Which exactly gets the ambiguity of what I and many others felt, back then in the Naughty Eighties, when meeting someone at a party for the first time and experiencing that immediate attraction. No-one else gets this the way he does.

He is the author of the best single lyric I know: “Each time we kiss you’re the perfect stranger”. You either know exactly what that means, or you won’t understand the explanation. Here’s the song.

This is about the perfect love. “Well who would have guessed, well I guess I should / The second night would be as good”. There are a zillion writers who tell us that sex gets better with intimacy and familiarity, and I have to say that was never my experience. The first night was always the best. Other nights may have many good and different moments, but a good first time is a moment unto itself. And Dave Wakling was the only songwriter (I’ve heard) who has spoken about this.

But maybe, as a commentator at a lyric site suggested, the song was about booze. (Drugs are never as good the second time, I am reliably informed. Booze can be. Each time I sipped a glass of Jack Daniels, it was the perfect stranger.) There’s nothing in Wakling’s biography to suggest he had a drinking problem. But even if he wrote it as a love-song to a woman, maybe my inner drunk heard it as a song about drinking?

In the end, do I care? These and others are wonderful songs, like no other written by anyone else. If you haven’t heard his stuff, go listen.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

But The Feltham Line-Man Is Still On The Line

This is one of the rarest sights you will see: a BT / Openreach engineer up a pole and replacing the drop wire into a house. In this case, mine.

It's important to thump the base of the distribution pole a few times with a hammer: this is to make sure it sounds, well, sound, as opposed to rotten. Don't want to strap yourself on and then fall backwards as the pole breaks.

The engineer tested the wire from my house and the magic box found a fault 17.4 metres from the termination box. It has to do with the fact that signals are reflected back from a physical fault in the wire.

The wire they ran into the house is less than a millimetre thick, far thinner than the original cable. This is because, as you will recall from your physics classes, while power is transmitted via current (amps), signals are transmitted by a change in voltage. You need heavy cable for power, but changes in voltage can be transmitted by the flimsiest of wires.

This was but one episode in the long-running saga of my crap internet connection from Talk-Talk, about which I will write more when it is eventually resolved.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Ah Yes, You Can Tell It's Summer

The Algae. 

St James's Park, 20:00 Sunday evening.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Somewhere in a Hotel In Somerset

Is a piano-body in a garden. The rest of the hotel was pretty fancy as well and the lunch was excellent. Well worth the diversion on the way down to the north coast of Somerset. This was several years ago.

Totally forgotten the name!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Real Men Do NOT Text In The Gym

At my gym, I'm seeing more and more young men sitting on weights machines, texting or flicking through their music collection, because I really hope they are not flicking through Facebook.

Oblivious to all around them, they need to be shifted by a tap on the shoulder and a request to work in. At that point a lot of say they have 'one more set', or just get off and move to another machine.

 I suspect these young men are not running on a full tank of testosterone.

Dom Mazetti agrees with me. Though he uses different words.


Thursday, 29 June 2017

SOHN: The Circle

You know that moment when you suddenly hear a song you’ve been playing as part of your train music?

Usually I get a song fairly quickly, but sometimes the mood and the emotion escapes me. Happened with The Human League’s Human which I finally understood at 09:00 on weekday morning on a northbound Northern Line train leaving Camden Town. Happened with this song recently. I was on the District Line westbound going into Turnham Green.

 It was so much that I heard it, but felt it. In all its Ecclesiastes-style mournfulness.


It’s by a singer / composer / producer who goes by SOHN. I’ll let you look it all up.