Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Last night The Imagined Village were like ….

21 January 2010

..the Tackhead Sound System, The Albion Country Band, The Beatles and Ravi Shankar colliding somewhere in outer space and falling to earth with stardust still attached. Such a seriously massive sound at times. Just fantastic. Sweet Jane, Scarborough Fair and My Son John seem to be the live highlights from the new album. At the end of the latter I thought the roof of the Theatre was going to lift off. I had at least three shivers down the back nearly leading to tears moments during the course of the evening.



16 September 2009

Only people who are not interested in gardening or just lazy want someone to make over their garden. If you want to change your garden, then get on with it. Nothing beyond the limitations of health, time and money is stopping you. [….] The truth is that if you are lazy then you will never garden. Gardening is hard work. Gardening can be difficult, confusing and frustrating. It demands a commitment and a desire to learn and to keep learning. You have to accept that you will get wet and cold, hot and sweaty, sore, tired and depressed. It will cost you money and will take up more time than you have to spare. And this will make you feel, at times, as fully alive and as content as body and mind can be.

Monty Don, 2000


16 September 2009

If you pay someone to come in ‘do’ your garden for you, it will not be true, and you can spot a phoney garden the minute you set eyes on it. Anyway, ‘doing’ a garden is like shovelling the tide, because a garden is never ‘done’ any more than a river or the breeze is done. Gardening is something you do privately and without inverted commas.

Monty Don, 2000


15 September 2009

There is no doubt that after a certain age one puts into the garden the hopes and aspirations that youth put into the wider world.

Monty Don, 2009

Life can be so nice

11 November 2008

Still fully dark at 6am: 1st October 2008

First frost of the year: 6th October 2008. Windscreen scraping time.

The owls haven’t even started their dawn hooting at 6am these days but by about 6.20 they are making themselves heard. Rather than resent the first frost I really relish it. There is something entirely magical about the crunch of grass underfoot and the wisps of cream and pink flecking the sky in the east and gradually lightening the whole of the big sky which is visible out from the top of the hills.  The view of the eastern plain at 7.50am on Monday on the way down through Pant Glas was just spectacular. A sea of pink mist with the trees and woods poking up out of it in layers going back and back to the horizon for 30 miles. It was one of those nothing gets better than this moments. Unfortunately we were on the way to the station so couldn’t stop and ten minutes later some of the magic had dissipated but the  fact that such views are so fleeting make them even more precious.

Today (Three days ago in fact)

6 May 2008

Heading down the garden first thing on Saturday morning to collect eggs and feed chickens, dampness still in the air but the morning filled with the brightness of a sun already risen and just about to make its presence known above the trees of neighbouring gardens.  Four screeching black slashes in the air screamed past about  five metres above my head.  The first swallows of the year.  I saw a single swift above the fields on the way home from work over a week ago but this was the first sighting on home territory. A heartlifting way to start a bank holiday weekend and a definite signal that summer is on it’s way if not already here. I still wonder at the fact that these small birds were hawking across the skies above African plains and deserts just weeks, in fact days ago. By Sunday evening the skies above my house were filled with tens of them, now a fixture until at least early September.

And further evidence by the way that the beech hedge immediately in front of the house on Thursday of last week was still completely covered in last years crisp brown leaves but by Sunday morning had been reclothed with the luminous lime green glow of the new season. The freshness of the trees and plants at this time of year is hard thing to beat for lifting the spirits.


Watch: Atonement

4 January 2008

I went to see Atonement last night and it was very good indeed. Yes, 6 months after everybody else I know. It had an excellent and perfectly believable storyline, plenty of surprises (even if I did guess the end result before it finished), great acting and exquisite cinematography(which was almost of a Peter Greenaway/ Sacha Vierney intensity). Some of the scenes of Dunkirk were incredible. Don’t know whether I was feeling particularly emotionally vulnerable last night but I was completely choked by the end of it.  Something I am particularly susceptible to with films about the Second World War (or the First for that matter).

My 1988

22 November 2007

I have been getting nostalgic over the last few days, thinking about my years in Manchester from 1988 to 1992, and in particular my first year there in 1988/1989. Music has always been an important part of living and I still listen to a lot of music from that era. I think for many people, their college years play a massive part in determining the music they will be listening to for the rest of their life and that was certainly the case for me, if not by way of specific bands then certainly styles of music. I spent a while earlier in the week casting my mind back to what I was listening to then and the albums and songs which will always take me back to that time. Wednesday night The Ritz, Thursday night the Hacienda Temperance Club, gigs in the Student Union bar,  beer in Jabez Clegg, veggie grub in On the eighth day, heading into town on my bike at least once a week to Piccadilly Records and Eastern Bloc to check out what had come out that week, food shopping in Rusholme – Kwiksave, Greggs the bakers seconds store, the Indian shops (completely fazed by the fact that the students from London could afford to shop at a big name supermarket like Sainsburys), saving up to buy the latest cool t-shirt from Afflecks Palace, going over to Sheffield to see a schoolmate to watch the Wedding Present, furnishing the flat with cheap plants from the poundstore on Piccadilly gardens which used to be just down from Piccadilly Records next to that really whiffy chippy, the weekly student market in the union selling indian drapes, multicoloured hippy clothes, and loads of bootleg vinyl and cassettes, weekend trips out to the moors,  the taste of Rusholme for the first time, the Ducie Arms, visiting mates who lived in those weird halls of residence above the precinct, a bit of culture in the art gallery in Whitworth Park, going to all the places recommended in the various student guides, visiting all these strange halls of residence which mates had moved into. In retrospect just seeing how all these different eighteen year olds reacted to total freedom was amazing. Some withdrew, some got depressed, some just carried on as if mum and dad were still watching and some went of the rails completely, indulging in major drink and drug fests. I think everyone found out a lot more about themselves though. Going north was the best thing that had ever happened to me and it’s scary just how much of that time has stayed with me – I can literally hear, smell and taste it at times.

1998 was perhaps my most interesting year musically as there is a clear split between the period when I was still at school and the period after I had started at university.

At school, my inspiration came from my mates in the sixth form and what was being played on the radio by John Peel. There was also a lad I worked with on Saturdays in Superdrug who I discovered on his first day was also really into The House of Love and the Wedding Present and who lent me records which was great. Awfully I can’t even remember his christian name but he was ace. We were both heading into a major adventure at university at the end of the summer and keeping in touch was never a priority.

At university the influences came from all directions, not least from flatmates like Sharpey and Andy Skateboard and the girls in the flat upstairs. Possibly the biggest influence was the fact that I was in the city where everything was happening. The ecstacy fuelled “second summer of love” had just happened and house music was everywhere, The Smiths, the Hacienda and New Order had already put the name of Manchester on the map (and were probably the main reason for a good percentage of the student applications to Manchester at that time – I certainly knew a lot of people for whom they had been a big factor) and the scene was set for a new generation of Mancunian revellers and hangers on to make their mark. Consequently I would find myself at a James and Happy Mondays gig in the Ritz one night, dancing to indie music in the Cellar bar the next, watching Spacemen 3 at the Hacienda the next and getting drunk at a local Irish pub the next after a curry on Oxford Road.

Yes, I am a compulsive list making bloke.  Sorry, I can’t do anything about it. I love lists.

Whilst at school.

Sugarcubes – Life’s too good/The House of Love – the House of Love & Destroy the Heart & Christine/The Smiths – Rank/Morrissey – Viva Hate/Prince – Lovesexy/The Primitives – Crash/AR Kane – 69/Scritti Politti – Provision/The Fall – The Frenz Experiment/Michelle Shocked – Short Sharp Shocked/Talking Heads – Naked/Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – Mainstream/Everything but the Girl – Idlewild/Erasure – The Innocents/Pet Shop Boys – Introspective

Once at university.

Dinosaur Jr – Bug & Freak Scene / Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation / Pixies – Come on Pilgrim, Gigantic  & Surfer Rosa/Happy Mondays – Wrote for Luck & Bummed/The Fall – Kurious Oranj/Butthole Surfers – Hairway to Steven/My Bloody Valentine – Feed me with your kiss & You made me realise & Isn’t anything/Martin Stephenson – Gladsome Humour and Blue/The Wedding Present – Nobody’s twisting your arm/Loop – Collision/Big Black – Songs about Fucking & Atomiser/A Guy called Gerald – Voodoo Ray/New Order – Fine Time/James – Stutter & Strip Mine/Cocteau Twins – Bluebell Knoll/Electribe 101 – Talking with myself/Rapeman – Two nuns and a packmule

There was a definite change in September 1988.


16 November 2007

– 2 all the way to work. Gorgeous skies though.


12 November 2007

First ground frost of the year this morning. Clear skies and the most incredible blue and pink sunrise, the sky criss crossed by vapour trails. The frost covered trees grasses and bracken at the side of the road were stunning and passing through the Corvedale a great skein of at least fifty geese crossed the sky. The temperature was still -1 by the time I reached my destination at 8am.