Category Archives: Arts

The Gift of Idleness

Earning a living in middle-of-nowhere France used to be fairly easy. The housing boom in the UK produced a wave of Brits who came over here and bought rural properties, which were comparitively dirt cheap. Many of these properties needed … Continue reading

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Flowers, dense prose and Hand in Glove

I’ve just started reading Autobiography by Morrissey. The opening paragraph is four and a half pages long and contains lines like this: Past places of dread, we walk in the center of the road, looking up at the torn wall-paper … Continue reading

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Tomorrow belongs to me

This one’s for those jolly chaps at the NSA and GCHQ… It’s an oft asked question: how could the land of Schiller and Beethoven be taken over by a bunch of mass-murdering lunatics..? Actually, everything the Nazis did, including the … Continue reading

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Larkin around

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, ‘Monitor’ was a flagship arts programme on British television. In 1964, the year I was born, they put out an episode called Down Cemetery Road, which had John Betjeman interviewing Philip Larkin. Even if … Continue reading

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Happy in Hong Kong, Siberia and Tunisia!

In a previous post I was talking about the worldwide phenomenon that’s originated from a song called ‘Happy’, which was released by Pharrell Williams last November, and in particular how it has really caught on in France (here). France is … Continue reading

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We are happy!

I know that this blog might seem rather heavy duty at times. That’s because we are living through an amazing and momentous period of history. The human race really are at the crossroads:- with regard to the west, 9/11, the … Continue reading

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Salvador’s Trout

Ok, this will probably be the last ‘crown of sonnets’ for a while, because my brain is totally fried. Over the last four weeks I’ve bashed out three of the damn things; that’s a total of 21 sonnets, or 294 … Continue reading

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John Tavener and Princess Diana

Yesterday, the composer John Tavener died, aged 69. John had suffered very bad health throughout his life and he was probably surprised to have lasted so long. John Tavener had a very interesting career, and amongst other things his Song … Continue reading

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Socialist Sonnets

Socialist Sonnets Thank you for Last Rites and darkness at noon. Munchkins are singing the death of a witch. The coffin is placed in a greenback balloon, drifting away across avarice and kitsch. A young girl from Essex who’s flaky … Continue reading

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More on Mr Reed

Lou’s wife, Laurie Anderson, said this about him, in their local paper on Long Island, shortly after he died: To our neighbors: What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us. Lou … Continue reading

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Arrival & Departure

In a previous post I said that I don’t like to inflict my poetry on the reader of this blog. So, being contradictory, here’s another poem, and a rather long one at that. But first some background: I stopped writing … Continue reading

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Lou Reed – Kill Your Sons

Well, I have to give a nod to Lou Reed, who kicked the bucket last Sunday at the age of 71, thus beating all the bookmakers (here). Lou was a rather complex and somewhat damaged person. Not least because when … Continue reading

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A New Brand of Revolution

This week, BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman interviewed Russell Brand about politics and the present state of the world. Brand went into one and called for revolution. It was brilliant stuff. Whilst Brand might come across at times as being a … Continue reading

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Three Women (or: gawd, I’ve written a poem)

I don’t usually inflict my poetry on the reader of this blog. However, today, when I was having my morning cup of tea, I managed to write a poem. This is red letter stuff, because I all but stopped writing … Continue reading

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Neko Case – Fox Confessor

In 2006, Neko Case released an album called ‘Fox Confessor Brings the Flood’. One of the most interesting songs on the album is called Hold On, Hold On. Case said of it: “the song is actually about me. It’s not … Continue reading

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It’s the nuclear missile that Harrods would sell you

In his keynote speech yesterday at the Labour Party conference, Ed Miliband had a chance to confirm what he was hinting at earlier this year: that a Labour government would scrap the incredibly expensive upgrade of Britain’s Trident nuclear missile … Continue reading

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Sarah Neufeld – Forcelessness

Sarah Neufeld was born on Vancouver Island in 1979. She’s now based in Montreal and is best known as the violinist in Arcade Fire (you can find a post about Arcade Fire here). I’ll start off with the title of … Continue reading

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Where the Streets Have No Name

During the autumn and winter of 1987/88 I was living in Calgary, in western Canada. I was 23 years old and hopelessly in love with a girl who didn’t love me. In the subzero temperatures of a Canadian winter, this … Continue reading

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Excruciating chat show moments

I don’t watch much television, although, as is evident from this blog, I do watch a lot of stuff online. I used to watch the box a lot more when I was younger, and of course the best tv moments … Continue reading

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Lou Reed – Magic and Loss

I was amused to see that the Guardian have dug-up Lou Reed to comment on the NSA spying scandal (here). What I wasn’t amused to learn is that 71-year-old Reed has recently had a liver transplant. He kept that one … Continue reading

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Ray Manzarek RIP

I seem to be doing a lot of RIPs just lately; a sign of age, perhaps; and so we get on to Ray Manzarek, who died yesterday at the age of 74. Manzarek was of course a founding member of … Continue reading

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Paul Stevens RIP

Last Saturday, the poet Paul Stevens went to the Great Socialist Worker’s Party in the sky. He died after a brave fight against liver cancer. I mention the SWP because of course Paul was very left wing. The same label … Continue reading

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Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

The Small Faces were only in existence for four years, from 1965 to 1969. During this time they released just three studio albums. Their third and final album is called Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake and was released in 1968 (it … Continue reading

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Kevin Ayers – RIP

I would guess that most people haven’t heard of Kevin Ayers, who has recently died, aged 68. Ayers spent most of his adult life battling addiction problems, whilst making some of the most innovative and influential pop music of the … Continue reading

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Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

Released in 1966, Pet Sounds is often voted as one of the greatest albums ever made. It might be contentious to say that Brian Wilson was the only gifted musician in the Beach Boys. What is uncontested is that Wilson … Continue reading

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