Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Is there anybody alive out there?

Radio. Justify the reason behind your style.

So. That's Springsteen and Teenage Fanclub already and I've not even started my story yet. Seems everyone loves a bit of radio.

More to the point, and admirably demonstrated in Fort William on Monday night, everyone (still) loves Auntie Beeb.

In these times of voter apathy and the supposed 'me first' culture, I was truly gratified to hear such a groundswell of opinion in favour of what is, for me, the classic communication medium. It very near brought a tear to the eye.

Before anyone starts to worry, I've not simply been approaching random people and asking whether or not they listen to the radio. No sir. I was the one approached in the street and asked that very question.

How rude!


Various Malarkey...

Hmm. Possibly some of the above to be hosted at tumblr in the near future.

Poems, stories...who only knows what. We shall see.

We all love a bit of malarkey...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Watercolaaar studios...

On International Talk Like A Pirate Day it was fitting that the brilliant Mt. Desolation gig at Nick Harper and Mary Ann Kennedy's Watercolour Studios in Ardgour should be identified by an old dodgem car flying the Jolly Roger.

I love the idea of Captain Jack Sparrow, Long John Silver or Captain Hook thundering around with a pikie on the back trying to ram the Admiralty...

Arr me hearties, walk the plank and avast behind...scream if you wanna go faster!

Wee Edit: Simon Willis has blogged the gig here...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Are Friends Eclectic?

I would just like to point out that, since the last post, I've finished my 'mix tape' : it includes contributions from people covering Madonna, Thin Lizzy and Leonard Cohen.

Don't say you weren't warned...

and I love the PRS cheques that you bring*

image via

I'm currently involved in the setting up and organising of a book festival in the village. On the whole it's been an interesting and rewarding process, though the committee structure and the two-and-a-half-hour meetings are beginning to grate now.

We've got some great stuff happening. The most eagerly anticipated - by me at any rate - is certainly our "Evening of Uisge Beatha" featuring the oft-mentioned (on this blog) Tom Morton presenting his Malt & Barley revue, a whisky tasting with an Islay, Speyside and a Lowland malt and a showing of the 1949 classic "Whisky Galore!"

Having finished all of Ian Rankin's books (obviously those would be the ones he's written, I've not been and ransacked his shelves or anything) some weeks ago now I've recently discovered the joys of a further two Caledonian crime writers: book festival guests Allan Guthrie and Stuart MacBride and they're both appearing at the festival, reading and leading a writers workshop so that's all to the good...

I've landed (albeit at my own suggestion) what - for me - is the plum job: choosing the music to play in the background. Great stuff. Regular visitors to the blog and my Twitter feed will be aware of my fairly catholic tastes but, as a former hospital radio presenter, I know that personal proclivities must oft be subserviant to the tastes of the people. Why else would self respecting DJ's play Michael Buble?

So it is that I'm tasked with setting the mood, creating - if you will - a suitably literary ambience. I'm thinking that The Vaselines "Rory Ride Me Raw" might not quite set the right tone.

Obviously the sweary words are out, which kind of puts half my record collection in the Family Fortunes "uhh uhh" bin. But I'll try to be as obscure as possible.

At hospital radio (and when I'm playing stuff in the house for one of our Deuchars IPA fuelled dancing about sessions) I like to try to get from song to song as subtly as possible - not in a Fatboy Slim mixing style or in an obviously linked way like Maconie&Radcliffe's Chain. Though I do love how the Chain can get you from, say, Fools Gold by the Stone Roses to California Girls by Dave Lee Roth.

Gold-Aztecs were big on it-Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera brilliantly covered Van Halen's Jump on an early EP-Dave Lee Roth sang the original version, since you asked...

I digress, as is often the way.

Yeah, getting from song to song subtly isn't necessarily of the utmost importance here. No; what I'm looking for is more of a vibe - a sense that all of the songs are right and that it doesn't matter where in the sequence of songs you come in, or indeed zone out.

That philosophy is the kind that might get me from, say Thirteen by Big Star to Nina Simone covering Leonard Cohen's Suzanne: two tracks and artists with, apparently, little in common but on closer inspection both carrying the same languid, leisurely, thoughtful delivery which - I hope - will mark the whole "set" at the book festival.

I, for one, am looking forward to the challenge. Now, how do I segue into NWA's F*** Tha' Police...?

*The Beautiful South, Song for Whoever

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz...

...I wonder where the burdies is? They say the burdz is on the wing, but that's absurd...the wing is on the burd.

I remember my dad and grampa telling me that wee rhyme. It came to mind this morning when I was hanging out the washing; the garden is awash with twittering swallows and blue tits. It might be just about time for the swallows to do their heading 'sarf thing and that means, for us here in the wild west, the nights will soon be 'fair drawing in...'

Aye. It'll be winter soon enough...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

We know he is a whizz of a wiz if ever a wiz there was...

I'll explain later...

Roaming (not very far) in the gloaming...

Originally uploaded by singletrackroads
That's the thing about low-light photography, it's tricky to get any quality to the shot and still capture the essence of what it was you saw that prompted you to get the camera out in the first place.
Or maybe it's just my crappy camera. Or my inherent lack of patience. Or photographic skill.
Anyway, this is the very jolly burst of nasturtiums (the kids call them variously 'nurse-tur-shrooms', 'mastushrooms' and 'nur-star-shums') outside the greenhouse.

There're lemony bits, deep reddy-oranges, golden yellows and some lip-sticky scarlet tones. The bees have been very taken with them and they add a wee splash of colour and a peppery twist to a salad...or, yes, 'tis true, a homemade fishcake.

I love my garden.