Saturday, 28 May 2011

Pigeons and Bay Leaves - our first cook up for the year

Ok ... we are about to commence our first cook up of the year. The menu is:


Crispy Pig's Tail


Celery Consomme


Roast Pigeon with Sausage & Peas
Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad
Colcannon (ok .. mashed potatoes and herbs)


Butterscotch Pots de Creme

Friday, 27 May 2011

"My Popularity was left dying in its final spasms"

Ok ... I'm juggling 2 books at the moment. My bedside read is Jasper Fforde's One of our Thursdays is missing - the latest in the Thursday Next series - literary agent extraordinaire!!. And my Train read is David Mitchell's Black Swan Green.

I'll get round to posting about my love affair with anything and everything that Jasper Fforde puts out, but its to Black Swan Green that I now turn my thoughts. The book centres round the adolescence of budding young poet, Jason Taylor, who like Mitchell himself, has a stammer. Its set in the 80s and the cultural and music references are so redolent of my own growing up, that it can be a difficult read for me at times.

But this morning in the train I reached a point in the narrative where Jason finally loses his tenuous position in the teenage hierarchy and is relegated to the position of "oily fuckin' maggot" ... back in the very doldrums of social activity. Over 2 pages and in about 6 paragraphs, Mitchell managed to scrunch my insides into a tight fisted ball of paper. The walls of the train dissappeared and I was back in a classroom somewhere, trying hard to keep breathing, eyes wide, head hot and heavy, someone has my schoolbag and is theatening to chuck it out a window, someone else accuses me of liking cock, all I can hear is laughter and then I just start to feel the whooshing air of someone's first punch but the change in lighting as the train hits the tunnel pulls me back in ... damn you David Mitchell ... love you David Mitchell!!

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Ok ... I hated Gaga when she graced my little TV screen singing "Just Dance" on So you think you can dance. The furore over her lip synching tantrum on the Morning Show didn't help matters much, and the fact that she seemed to be on high rotation on every fucking music tv show imaginable did not endear me to her pop flossing beats!! (and lets not mention DW drunkenly raving on about bluffin with his muffin).

Then Speechless happened!!! And suddenly I was a convert to Mother Monster!!! Here was the perfect modern pop record stripped back to its basic elements ... full of pathos with a world weary lovelorn attitude this side of every conceivable pop record from the 60s chanson, through 70s folk to 80s sheen AOR.

Born this Way, the first indication of Gaga's proper sophomore, burst on the scene with an amazing video and a Madonna controversy to boot. Judas didn't quite impress, but slowly wormed its way into my subsconscious and I find myself going "Judas Juda-ah-ahs" all through the house. As for the Edge of Glory ... all we need is a sax solo and the imaginary 80s John Hughes soundtrack is complete.

But the final clincher that had me reaching for my credit card with the new album was this gem of an electro number. I give you Lady Gaga's Government Hooker:

Monday, 23 May 2011

the fortiness creeping in the night ...

Ok ... Insight recently did an expose on turning 40. Alas I have already passed that milestone and am trudging my way ever quickly towards the open grave (yes I over drammatise!), but this song captures the very essence of leaving all that youthful energy and wild abandon behind, and embracing experience in all its complexities and weathered lines ... fatalistic with regret.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

mmmm ... yes!

Ok ... so I've finally got it, listened to it and started an FB post that garnered the sum total of 221 comments!!! Its Kate Bush - Director's Cut.

I can't tell if I got a dodgy copy or not, or if my speakers have finally carked it (last time it was Radiohead's Karma Police that did it, this time it could be that damn Wynton Marsalis Trumpet!!!),  because Flower of the Mountain (aka Sensual World), which is the opening track to Kate's faux new CD, sounded really muddy and the bass notes were booming to the point of detuned static. Track 2 - Song of Solomon didn't fare much better ... but the sound quality hit its strides on Track 3 - Lily.

I could at least crank the volume at this stage without inducing an angina attack of the crackly variety. In fact, you pretty much have to turn it up to 11 in order to fully experience this CD. Lily has in fact put my fears to rest. I never liked the song when it was first released, but I love it now. So this revisionist jag is starting to look up. But the sound quality is still niggling away like a mild case of tinnitus.

I still don't understand why she eked out the ending of Deeper Understanding ... surely not simply to coddle atmosphere from a few slightly ho-hum harmonica riffs, (I have made peace with the auto-tuned effects), but Red Shoes, Moments of Pleasure and Top of the City certainly benefit from Kate's determined upgrade. That 80s Linn Drum sound is kept totally in check at least ... which is a good thing in my books.

This Woman's Work is going to polarise things a bit. Many, myself included, agree that the original was perfection. The update could sit easily on Tori Amos "Strange Little Girls" covers album. And I can't decide whether this is a good thing or not. I think the new version loses a little of the pathos of the original, but there's a hypnotic quality that I quite enjoy.

I've always liked Never Be Mine, and the new version does clear up the original production a bit, but its a little prosaic ... and there's that fretless bass again! I can see Stevie Nicks covering this one (again, not sure if that is a good thing or not).

And so is love still does nothing for me ... and the lo-fi blues treatment that Rubberband Girl gets denies the track its frenetic quest for pliability. All in all, its not the album to recommend first timers, but this is an artist that will always excite, thrill and aggravate. And thats better than most of the antipathic whitebread crap that spews across the airwaves these days.

Also, I'm glad that The Red Shoes was remastered (but why not Sensual World I wonder) because it always had an annoyingly tinny sound. It still remains my least favourite of all of Kate Bush's wierd and wonderful cannon, although I am dissappointed that she did not revise You're the One I want. Lets give this one a 7 out of 10.

Thursday, 12 May 2011


Ok ... SW at work waxes lyrical about coming home to a package on her doorstep after a bout of online ordering. These days I'm all about the online ordering. I've dipped my toes in gently and tested the waters and am now ready to brave the high end labels at the likes of Ssense and LuisaRoma ... Mr Porter even. Although in many ways PT has beat me to the chase ... bastard.

Anyhoo, I wasn't in the state to literally come home to a package on my doorstep, but M had it leaning against the sidetable as I walked into the house ... a pretty little box ...

Hiding pretty little bits of tissue ...

Covering 2 separate pairs of delights that I shouldn't really be attempting to pull off ... but whatevs!

Mondrian Cabinet Pt 3

Ok ... the cold weather has stymied things a little, but we are making progress with the Vinyl Dye.

But we had to concede and hook out our dinky little sander to prepare surfaces ...

Before spraying the paint on ...

And leaving it to dry, resulting in some unusuall kosmik-jive moonscapes ...

The adventure continues.

Speaking of Cosmic Jives ...

Friday, 6 May 2011

Ema - the alternative Kesha

Ok ... I'm always looking out for something new in the world of music which can be a somewhat isolating experience, but I invite you to listen to Ema with me, the latest lofi offering from achingly cool label Souterrain Transmissions. Let me know what you think.

Read full review of Past Life Martyred Saints - EMA on ©

Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star

Ok ... My Uncle was awarded the Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star which is a Swedish order of Chilvary.

I never really knew this, but my Uncle, in his capacity as the secretary-general to the Home Affairs Minsitry in 1975, offered himself as hostage to the Japanese Red Army in exchange for the release of 53 civilians and foreign diplomats including then Swedish Charge d’Affaires Fredrik Bergenstrahle and his secretary Ulla Odqvist.

Who knew that there was such heroism in my blood ... not the slightest inkling when I look in the mirror thats for sure. I remember my Uncle as being a gentle man, with that slight air of sophistication that a large house with an amazing orchard of fruit trees out the back affords. I could tell you a thing or 2 about his wife, and a funny story about his son, but why rake up the mud when such an act of bravery is there to hold up to the light.

I must admit that I am a little chuffed and quite a bit proud! And doesn't my Uncle cut a dashing figure in his slim tie and tie pin. And yes that is a safari jacket in the picture above ... it was all the rage ... once.

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