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2007/12/02 18:42 - Winter Muses

Above is a moment of hapiness captured last week....Lamp light...new books...Chivas...Interview magazine....

(Thanks for coming to Cardiff, Borders)....

This is Miles circa early seventies...whoever it is that repackages Miles' stuff. thankyou thankyou thankyou...The new 'On the corner' boxset is as sumptious and lush as J Johnson and The Gil sets...
Why would anyone want only a copy of this stuff? With packaging like this...?

Travelling so early, through so harsh a climate, I once again realised that this planet is no more suited to us than MArs.
But if we went to mars, right, we'd have to wear spacesuits or somesuch...

Well, that's what are our bodies are I think. organic spacesuits to allow us to live in a inappropriate climate.

And they break down and wear out.

Colin Wilson once told me that we were in this realm only by choice and that if we knew that we would give up at the merest troubl. Which is why we forget. We're pioneers...and any trouble..any grief...is part of our voluntary service...

I don't like living alone. I dont like feeling like Im the focus of the place I live. I dislike walking into an empty, silent, cold flat and dislike waking in one too.

I like teaching though...or attempting too...

2007/11/12 12:14 - Bryan Ferry cross the Mersey

I've spent most of the week at the above. A ten to seven train from Cathays station every morning, checking out the crescent moon and the morning star en route. I guess you'll have to wait for my Biography (In what ? 30 years time? - to find out why. I'm more inclinded of late to keep these diaries and blogs - if at all - for cultural ruminations only.

That said haven't had much time for films as i've been falling asleep fully dressed as soon as I get home. (I leave in the dark, return in the dark).

But I have been reading Michael Bracewell's Roxy music book and loving it, although for its perversity more than its actual content.

You see, the book ends as Roxy begin. Now this is weird for me, as I usually skip the 'origins' chapters of biographies. (When I wrote my Walker brothers biography - which incidentally chugged back into a minor fit of activity this month -(I mean in terms of being edited. it was written 2 years ago)....I found the origins stuff the hardest to write. i just find it dull. Not sure why.)
But bracewell's book is nothing BUT origins, and it's fascinating in its detail of post war newcastle and how Bryan Ferry came from such.
(Another difficult thing in writing a good biography is to make sure one includes the cultural context within which your subject exists. Most fail at this. if you read say, a Herman and the hermitts biography you often get the idea that herman and chaps existed in a vacum...)

So Im thrilled at the perversness of this book and the fact that its out on a mainstream publisher like Faber.

Been listening to little music other than immersing myself periodically in Brel and Aznavour...(sadly a recent French deal for BB and a follow up album fell through. I was apparently offered another Black session too, but without a proper french label its unlikely we'll be able to fund this. We'll see).

Norman Mailer died, as we know. And he really did. 'Cos he really lived too. (Nine children! Six wives)!
I've always related to Norman. When he came home battered by sailors 'Cos they called my poodle a fag'. Drunkenly diving guests at parties into two camps. 'Those for me and those against me'.
And although i browsed through his Hitler book with some interest at Newark airport earlier this year, I've mostly liked everything about Norman but his books.
I couldn't get through 'em.
But I loved his prescenceas an interviewee. I have the missippi publishers 'Conversations' edition of norman's interviews. (This is my all time favourite book series. I also have capote, crumb, carver....love it).
I also have too few episodes of mailer on Johnny Carson. Rivetting stuff. Basically he's one of those duded that makes you feel better about yourself and the table in front of you.
kinda the opposite, then, of most people.

One of the nicest things about great men dying is that you usually get wonderful retrospectives on TV and radio.
It was lush to soak in a candlelit bath last night listening to one of Mailer's final interviews broadcast on radio 4's 'front row'.

I'm sure there was something else but for now, i forget.

I think I'll shave my jesus beard off tonight.

Whenever i do, I think I look like orson Well'es decription of himself when shaven.

I look like an 'obscence baby'.

'tis true...

2007/10/22 16:21 - Sad in Sun Sorrowful in Snow...

An intense week...Monday I caught up with an old friend which was pleasant and bittersweet.
Too bittersweet actually.

Sometimes I feel really old. Other times like a kid. Or an elderly child.This weather compliments a particular type of sweet sadness...leaves dying all ovah the place...breaths emerging as steam...high contrast light...I thought I smelt Christmas the other day.

Walked through llandaff fields for the first time in a age and felt like I was in a David Sylvian or more accurately a Charles Aznavour song, full of limpid regret and a happy queer sadness...

To be just the right side of melancholy is a seductive place to be...
a friend recently asked me 'Must you be so sad'...but it's intensity of feeling that I'm attracted to, not just melancholy or depression. Extreme joy seems a rarer happening of late...

Wednesday I went to see the Philip Glass/Cohen premiere of 'Book of longing' at the Millenium centre. My first visit. Stupidly I asked the cab driver en route when it was built : 'The year 2000 mate'. I took along another old chum, Meins. Hearing Len Cohen's voice boom and rumble across this beautiful venue was really something but again ! Made me sad 'cos at the same time I thought 'Sheeit...this is the closest I'll ever get to seeing him Live'...but the concert was ..impressive but...hard work for a pleb like me I guess...I don't dig that 'Stagey' singing, you know the musical type stuff. Even if the singer's have decent ..ok, let's say half - decent voices...the phrasing and delivery is abominmal. I'm thinking specifically of Michael Ball and that death dwarf Aled Jones in particular...both of these demons have a habit of turning up on one of the only radio 2 shows I listen to, The Jon Ross show. Everytime these monsters start vomiting my soul curdles and puckers...

Anyway. The Glass show was nothing near this, I'm not saying that for a moment but my point being is hearing Cohen's words sang by 'proffesional' singers even managed to drain some of their power...It was errie to be in the prescence of a living legend but my eyes are getting so bad I had to squint to recognize Mr Glass...

Thursday I caught up with Ed harcourt at the point. I was a bit blasted by the time I got to say hello, prior to the gig...but sheit..the lads only 30! He was a gent as ever...a shame I was gone...but managed to catch most of his and 'The veil's' set...corking. Rare talent if that's enough...

Felt rough Friday and and had found out my wallet was gone, to boot...goddammit to hell...still, Opium were kind enough to send me a copy of Steve Jansen's new album 'Slope'. As I came to feeling better on my sun dappled chesterfield, I was quietly blown away by 'Slope'. It suited the wooden piney light just so. Its awesome, bristling with detail and huge and tiny spaces. Is there any summary of 'Albums by drummers'? Not that one would have to box Jansen in particularly as a 'mere' 'Drummer' but I found this album so expansive and suprising in its depth and perverse beauty that it surely must rank as the most 'undrummy' album by someone known for their drumming, like ever.

I was never convinved by the Jansen/Barbieri album, or JBK. They were too entrenched in a particular version of the 80's somehow..(although Dolphin brothers was great fun)...but 'Slope' transcends all and is not easily placed as a result. I love records that jump from ball bearings to orchestras within a bar...and this does so splendidly. What a suprise.

Finally, went on a major Nostalgia trip and watched all 5 'Omen' films. I cried when the Antichrist was killed at the finale of 'The Final Conflict'. Does this make me a wrong 'un?

Currently reading :
It’s About That Time: Miles Davis On and Off Record
By Richard Cook
Release date: 09 January, 2007

2007/09/29 14:55 - London Loves

A busy few weeks. I've started a music degree and it's all rather intense in a good way. Although being among people without a drink in my claw reminds me of how terminally shy I am. (I'm one if those shy people who come across as haughtily aloof unfortunately).

But found time to go to London last weekend. Simon Phipps (Long, long time readers will know that Simon and I have worked musically together since 2000. He's a bit of a wunderkind, like his pal Julian who can play seemingly anything)...was leaving for San Fransico, so I attened his farewell fancy dress party. Helen, my London host went as Thelma from Scooby Doo and I went as...Inspector Chilsom! From Minder. Yes, I know, I know...Oh, I haven't explained. The theme was 'TV Dectective'.
Joke shops in Cardiff were out of Bald Wigs, (something about a Duncan Goodhew convention being in town)..So I wore a tan stocking on my head. Etc
It was Fun. In fact, regular readers may think I see only Dame Tweebs, my adorable Pussycat. So I tried to make more of an effort to take pictures of other people. Again, I'm rather shy in doing so...
Anyhoo. Saturday was hangover day, lovely walks through camberwell Park and massive breakfasts...and..Gosh. I rediscovered Bike riding! (as if I'm not fit enough already)!
I saw a Fox too! Aptly, at a pub called 'Fox on the Hill'. I, like many no doubt, feel a deeply mystical connection with Foxes. Whenever I've met one it's always heralded a new life for me.

More bikeness on Sunday, where we cycled to Wandsworth and back! (For the car boot sale). I thought I was beyond bikes because when I lived in the country it would kill me to cycle to even tesco's and back. (I remember looking at the satchel of Booze and Kettle chips I'd laboured under and seeing a connection).
So I'm gonna' get a bike, man. Do a Henry Miller.

Sunday evening we went to meet my old friend Sarah and her new husband Kieran. I met..Sarah was the first person I befriended when I moved to london in 1993 and although we don't see enough of each other she is a constant prescence. But it felt strange, y'know? She's married! I'd met Kieran before and he is of course a top chap. The four of us had drinks in the swanky new BFI bar on the south bank.
On the way home my host momentarily became a Francis Bacon painting, but never mind.

By Monday I was struggling through rush hour London traffic..and the tubes to Paddington were down...struggling to get a bus I bumped into Fiona Brice! We shared a bus to the train station ... How lovely. I gave her the copy of the album she played on.

Was home by Monday. I actually fell asleep on the train for five minutes! Now I know I'm getting old...

Been watching some movies too..'This is England' (Like a more harcore Mike leigh)..'me you and everyone we know' (progressive and excellent) and Altman's last movie last night. I forget the title. It was Ok. Touching I guess, because I guess he knew he was dying and thus...etc

Peter Bogdanovich appeared on my Radio this morning and I was immensley cheered.
I should interview this chap...

Oh and speaking of Hollywood, my Fante piece is in this month's Stop Smiling magazine..everyone reading this should subscribe. It really does vibrate one's spheres.

2007/09/15 14:06 - You must travel far just to come back home

As I write, this woody attic room is drenched in an incandescent Roath sunlight. The roof terrace door to my right is open and a cool air hangs thereabout. The air has shifted in secret this last week and the sounds of children playing, of dogs barking and of aircraft and windcimes have a metallic clang to them, unbuffeted now by warm air. The sky is Hockney Blue and it is my favourite time of year, Autumn.



Some may laugh when I say that Roath, the slightly boho neighbourhood of Cardiff that I live in has its own light. But it really does. Paris and New York do to of course, famously so. But so does this place. No doubt it’s to do with the age of the huge houses, the endlessly long streets and the arteries of alleyways and gulleys that are perhaps unique to this part of Cardiff. Maybe it’s to do with my own body chemistry, my cell memory, and my well developed sense of personal mythology. Because my first home away from my parents house was in Roath and it seemed to me then that the sun actually lived at the end of that long, long road.
And in that same year, 1987, I attended sixth form college in penylan, beyond the Rec' and Roath Park. This was another new neighbourhood to me, one of even bigger houses and driveways and endless leafy streets. That was September, too of course and the sky and clarity of light and contrast was as it is now - superbright and rich with life and possibility, nostalgia and hope. I have never been so in Love with the seasons as I was that Fall, never so in tune with the own push and pull of my changing chromosomes and the destiny they channeled. It was the year I discovered my love of walking, the private joy of wrapping up in Scarves and wearing gloves, the year I came to sex...

Exactly twenty years on now..(Ahem...the year celibacy discovered me)...and I feel a similar sense of rebirth approaching, as I did back then. My old life has been leaving me this year and finally a new one appears in the offing...I feel open and ready to change again.

Who would have thought I could find my Birthplace...mysterious and occasionally magical...but I do and it is. I am currently re reading 'Bloody Valentine - A killing in Cardiff' a book by my friend, John Williams. It evokes some foreign Noir town but merely reports from streets and flats around the corner from where I type. The power of writing? Revealing the hidden magic in the everyday. (John and I had a meeting with Chapter arts centre last Monday. I want to adapt this book for stage and write an original score to it. Chapter Theatre dude, James Tyson is up for it and so we're now trying to find funding. I'm jolly excited by this. Among other things I've long wanted to make something musical that isn't a record or that revolves around my voice).
Yesterday I met for a drink with Sean Burke, another writer who wrote a Cardiff fiction called 'Deadwater'. He kindly gave me a signed copy - More local magic to be revealed.

To the library now through this crystal liquid light. Somewhere out there my future wife is drinking coffee and reading Nabakov. My unborn children hover in limbo waiting to be born. A new life has come for me and I have surrendered to it...

2007/09/15 14:02 - Ballad for Andrea B

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ballad for Andrea
Current mood: chipper
Category: Music


I've added a new tune to this profile and to youtube. Latter link above, or scroll down my profile.

I'm dedicating it to my wonderful Italian friend, Andrea Bruschi of the group 'Marti'.


Thanks for the hat, friend.

And...completed, finished, etc copies of 'British Ballads' my final debut album came back from the factory yesterday. I've yet to see a copy but will hopefully receive some tomorrow. I'm suprised at how satisfied I am at this. I'm quietly and deeply happified by simply making it. More of which later.

Currently listening :
By Sufjan Stevens
Release date: By 05 July, 2005

15:25 - 4 Comments - 2 Kudos - Add Comment - Edit - Remove


...Andrea is one lucky man.


Posted by Paulette on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 15:47
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Bard of Ely

Great song and nice cap!

Posted by Bard of Ely on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 16:56
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the brotherhood of the hat

i am honored and lucky to have such a friend

Posted by marti on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 23:21
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Jaime From America


I played hooky from work today, just sitting home relaxing. I wish i had a copy of B.B. to hear, but i'll be playing " To Stars " instead....


Posted by Jaime From America on Friday, September 14, 2007 at 20:08
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2007/08/29 15:54 - Drifting


My old review of 'The drift' if you missed it....

2007/08/29 15:51 - Scott Walker And who shall go to the ball and what shall go to the ball review

Scott Walker
'And who shall go to the ball? And what shall go to the ball?

In late 2006, Scott Walker was commissioned by London's South Bank centre to write music for a contemporary dance piece. (Two albums in as many years! Is Scott now the hardest workingman in Showbiz?) Anyone familiar with the Maestro's last two albums, 'Tilt' and 'The Drift' could bet that the results would not be encroaching on Michael Flatley’s 'Riverdance' territory. In this regard, 'And who shall...' doesn't disappoint. The concept itself is Burroughs via Philip K Dick. Scott:
"...the music is full of edgy and staccato shapes or cuts, reflecting how we cut up the world around us as a consequence of the shape of our bodies. How much of a body does an intelligence need to be potentially socialised in an age of overdeveloping A1'? Perhaps this is something the Kowalski brothers could ponder on whilst considering the next Matrix movie. Or to quote (English comedian) Eric Morecombe: "There's no answer to that".
The actual music is, for a dance piece, appropriately kinetic. But it’s an often harsh and brutal dynamic suggesting an aggressive, complex movement. Perhaps perversely, what percussion there is is used sparsely and figuritvley. There are no beats or explicitly stated percussive rhythms. Instruments usually associated with melody and sweetness -strings - are used to pulsing, hammer like effect. This music sounds inverted, upside down, inside out. No coincidence then that the dance group working with this commission are untypical. Choreographed by Rafael Bonchela for the 'Candoco' dance company, whose ranks include both able bodied and disabled dancers.
One wonders if Scott's musical future lies purely within the metaphysical instrumental. There is a sense on his last two solo albums that the ideas and emotions he wishes to convey are somehow beyond the English language.
Paradoxically, for an artist who has seemed to eschew obvious melody in his recent vocal work, some of his most tuneful and ‘pretty’ music of late has been exclusively instrumental. His score for Pola X came closest to recalling in places the sumptuous melodic luxury of his late 60's solo albums.
The score for "And who shall...'is an instrumental work in four parts, (and like much of 1984's 'Climate of Hunter' the pieces are untitled). These 30 minutes of music recall many of Scott's usual references - Bartok, the musique concrete of Stockhausen and Cage and the opening piece, 'A slow movement given over to solitude' with its clicks and pops and loud silences, recalls later period Toru Takemitsu. But there is nothing 'ambient' about this score. It bears no relation at all to Eno's sulphuric noodles. 'Who shall...' is full of dirt, blood, oil and come and dark electricity. Cellos seem to gouge and tear alongside what sounds like Hard drives puking up pea green MP4 files. Scott, of late seems to have the patent on transcribing nightmares into music.
In developing a style as recognizable as say, Bernard Hermann or Danny Elfman there is a familiar and omnipresent strain of horror and terror in Scott's latest work...on this and ‘The Drift’ in particular, there is a sense of something very horrible and nasty banging on the door wanting to be let in and worse. The sudden sonic shift from near to far, from somnolent to panic, from quiet to very very loud has been a signature since ‘Tilt’. Its arguable that the voice Scott walker was most beloved for - that noirish, effortless Sinatraesque croon - is a voice he outgrew and lost decades ago. And it seems to me that its only in the last decade that he's started to find a new voice - albeit a disembodied one and given life in particular by his unique abuse of Cello's, silence and percussion.
This work is the sound of an artist continuing to flower well into late middle age, someone for whom even the option of 'selling out' no longer exists. In some regards, Scott’s artistic life now reminds me more of a painter than a musician. If sometimes his themes seem incomprehensible its amusing to remember that the first ever Walker brothers single – in February 1965 and several lifetimes ago - was also a dance number. (The Scott penned 'Do the Jerk'). So in some sense, there is a tangible musical link between the Scott of then and now, no matter how tenacious. The man is still making music after all. Yet there are hordes of Scott fans today that couldn't get past 1976's 'Lines' album. How they wish their Scott would refrain from this perplexing and alienating path and in effect return to the ...uh...Ball. But its precisely because of the way the Scott of then was moving toward the Scott of now that allowed us 'Boychild' and 'Orpheus' and all the rest. This latest work maybe a figment compared to the totality of the previous albums, but its still the proof of a pioneer. At his best, from 'Mrs Murphy' up to 'Clara' Scott was always out there, reporting from something beyond the mere boundaries of his own personal frontline.
To those who refuse to listen any longer, I quote the Philosopher Schopenhauer: 'A man of talent is like a marksman who hits a target others cannot hit, but the man of genius is like a marksman who hits a target others cannot see.'

2007/08/29 15:51 - when autumn leaves turn..
Something is happening to Time.
Too much is happening too quickly. It is accelerating. All these deaths leave me feeling as if I've been pushed forward toward somethign in some way. Too much seems to be happening.. the chapters are getting shorter but are still chapters.
The week was mostly spent with Paul Cook, here at Samo studio, shropshire. He converted the music room into another annexe and I was surprised at how little disruption occurred. We recorded 3 pieces toward the colin W project and i'd say two were contenders. I must admit that i wasn't sure Paul would make it, so many flake out on their way here but he did. So I had little prepared but we dived in and blackened some pages.

Perhaps I was a bit casual in some attitude though... I am always struck with the wonderful image that Brian Eno resented of John Cale recording; At the piano while on the phone and reading. I believe in this, and of course there is the seperation of the brain... so some of my compositions were done i a similiar vein.

I did of course fall off the wagon for this and some part of me was sad to see sobriety go.
Yet I didn't suffer as much as my usual going to bed at dawn shenanigins usually cause me too... not in the short term. Have had weird feelings in the heart area of late. Of course the doctor's were full and i couldn't rightly claim it as an emergency...

Spent most of the time in bed following Paul's depature, reading through old and varied Walker brothers clippings..

http://www.photofeatures.com/scottwalker Fun indeed. I love this new discipline of working on a book. Already I have the idea of doing one a year...
British Ballads move forward somewhat although never at my ideal pace and dissapointments abound in some arena's...
The idea of singing fills me with nothing today but I will be singing next week in a part of Italy I have never been to before: http://www.apt.rovereto.tn.it Awoke in a middly mood and read the Hughes/Plath feature in yesterday's Guardian. This paper seems obsessed with this couple. Still, it spurred me on to choose the film http://www.sylviamovie.com From "Sky box office". It was as disspointing as I had every right to expect. but it was photographed well.
Ultimately, this took me to "Difficulties of a bridegroom" again, by Ted hughes: http://www3.sympatico.ca/sylvia.paul/hughes_announcements.htm And I was struck by how much these stories reminded me of Raymond Carver: http://world.std.com/~ptc/ Sothis was my day, tucked up on the Sofa with a sleeping bag over myself. Cracking and eating hazelnuts and sipping red wine as the beautiful day withered behind my noggin. 'have I seen one too many sunsets/Too lazy to turn my head/Does this mean I.. "nuff said"

2007/08/29 15:51 - There is a sad, sad song
Just read a lovely parable.

Someone is speaking to someone about recently dying;
'I was in the fucking market at Markeresh when...who woulda fucking thought it...there was death....making a fucking nasty sign at me! I shit there and then and I got straight in my car and fucked off to Istanbul. I was in such a tizz that I fucking crashed coming off the interstate. And now I'm here dead. Fucking dead'.
When asked about this Death responded; 'It wasn't a nasty sign. I was merely freaked... You see it was just that I was surprised to see him in markaresh. because I had an appointment with him that same day in istanbul!'

This is what 'Sleeping makes me thirsty' was about.
That is; Nothing causes you to suddenly fall asleep. But it does to make you awake. be it an alarm clock, a milkman, a postman, a phone. Waking is usually violent-unlike falling asleep. (Unless you take a zimmervane). And the same for dying. no one usually dies because of old age. It's almost always something that 'could have been avoided'. Hardly anybody merely 'slips away'.
Least of all, of 'old age'.
('Down in Space it's always 1982')...
And that's why I thought that parable almost perfect. Except for the obvious.
That is; never mind death making a threatening sign toward you-isn't it e-fucking-nough that you're seeing DEATH in the market, anyway?

Back to life, back to reality;
Am just finishing up Peter bogdanovich's 'Who the Hell's in it'!


Oh sweet Lawdy, what a beautiful, magical book. I don't want to finish it....It's like relationships, I guess. You know there are other ones waiting for you, out there somewhere, but you're so into this present one...even if it's all used up...it's hard to put it down and pick up the next. Sometimes.
But, yeah. Guess what I want to do now?
I want to make a FILM. A MOVIE.
That's right. I wanna work in PICTURES and go to HOLYWOOD. (again).
But where to begin? I wonder if there's some low key, minor, indie movie maker somewhere who's thinking; 'i wanna make AN ALBUM..'etc?

But next up, reading wise, is Jeffrey Masson's: 'Nine emotional lives of the cat'...
If you haven't read his 'Pig who sang to the moon', please do so.
That means YOU Michaela.

Speaking of which, I went to italy again.
New parts of italy.
What was particulary nice about this trip, was that I had my own apartment for the duration; loaned to me by Hollow Blue's violinist, Chiara.
I guess it's not that different to staying in a Hotel suite but of course, me being an underachiever, I get to stay in Hotel ROOMS at best. So it was a change of pace for me. (i once worked as a labourer, in 1993 in the...one of the suites of the Hotel intercontintal, in london. Sheeit. this is how the dead Live)?

My travel book/Companion was the autobiography of that Anthony guy from'the Red hot Chili peppers'. (when I bought it at Standstead-the cute shopgirl said; 'Oh, I Love it when people buy this book. Are you a Chilli's fan'? me; White and pasty and bloated, was touched by this in some indicipherable manner. 'I like reading about people getting ripped' I retorted. I could instantly tell that she misheard or didn't understand the word 'Ripped' and that killed it there and then. But killed what? And what did I care. I had a bottle of 15 year old Scotch in my travel bag along with some salted (any other flavour makes you puke)... pringles and a Romeo and juliet Cuban Cigar)...
This guy-the OTHER anthony-he comes across as a deeply isolated but sort of pure kinda chap...and his drug binges are truly monstrous. As a consequence I went on a bit of a binge myself when I visited london recently...whith some of the peppers' songs as my soundtrack; 'by the way', 'Zephyr', 'Give it awaynow'..
Sadly and mortifiyingly, I embaressed myself with one of my colleagues during this trip...
Oh, be sush my Potty Mouth...
And this is because of dualisim...
For instance, Watching 'Some come running' a few days later..


This movie is a perfect illustration of two or men within one person. A splendid performance by Sinatra too...
But this is the problem when you have a crowd inside you and you do artificial intoxicants. it splits you up more decicively than ever, until one is running against the other. And like jekyl and hyde, one awakes to face the consequences of the other, more ass-like fellow.
Oh no,' are those my teeth'...'Why did I say that when I meant'....'must I alienate anyone who was ever polite'...'I feel nauesous...may I turn Blue in your Bathroom, please? It's not YOUR Bathroom'?
Oh..Oh, I like that outfit...It's NOT an outfit? Let me sing you a song, boys...
What is it with this urge to Cha cha..
Ach, now I know how Charlie Sheen got a Hole in his Fucking THROAT..

(Watching 'Less than Zero' again-first time in a decade-yesterday-with fluey Anna. When Robert Downey Jnr DIDn't get the $15 Grand for the club I said in all innocence;' Oh, that's a shame. He could have gor even more fucked up with that money'..
I either miss the point or get it completely.)

but back to Italy, the highlights were good conversation over dinner....the train journey from Rovereto with MArco....Very Lovely company...and...Italian trains are so civilized. Seperate carriges with doors and curtains, making you feel like you're somewhere...with someone...'Boundries'..private reading lights and the like...
I feel so at home during a Long train Journey, especially when the announcements are foreign.
it's more relaxing than being in a cinema even, cos they got Lee Harvery oswald at the flicks..

the gig was good....as it seemed to me, mainly being an audience member...But by the time I stomped on...I dunno...i just can't take my singing seriously at present. I feel more like an ape in a dinner jacket doing some 'turn'. I feel very far away from what joseph beuys calls 'the most essential part of ourselves'..,ie, creatitivity...but the band were good-the rythmn Section I liked in aprticular... and we did 'Io Bevo' and-for the first time without matthew; 'My world' and 'Nico's Children'...and, well, cosmetically, it didn't feel so different.
Which is..a-hey-testemant to how good those are as songs.

(have just tried to watch 'the Gang that couldn't shoot straight'. Holy Toledo.
What a sack of shit. What a queer fucking movie, in the original verbal. Shit. it's shit.)..

And that's it for now, methinks.

Am running out of change, fren'...

You corny, dissapointing, cliched, shallow fuck, you...

'Oh, we the dissapointed.
Sex smothjered under cotton
Dreams are sorry that we dreamed them..
aborted and forgotten'...


2007/08/29 15:51 - between lines
Am currently drinking Jura scotch:


I do believe this is my favourite. I have at last found it.
beautiful, vaguely chocolate that imbibes with a clear head. Please. Sponser me. Please.

To accompany it, I've been reading:


raplh Steadman is a....underated writer, to be sure. probably because he's such a wonderful...illustrator. This book is gorgeous yet not as readable as


I also love his 'Jones' book. About Hunter's cat.

Listening to:

'You are the quarry'. Patchy as ever, but when it's good it's sublimer.
'Let me kiss you'. What a corker. Nancy's version is good but weird-like she sang to the demo. The best version would be a duet between her and Steve over his instrumental.

Moz has become a truly fine singer-he really knows how to end a phrase. Yet the melodies are as slight as ever. But when they hit; as in 'You'll try anything twice' they do like no other.
This and the jura put me in mind to listen to 'used to be a sweet boy'-a song that I always thought was written for Matthew. But I' have lost it.

glad to see my piece in the mind's construction magazine. Surprised to see it shoots blood up the ass of the competition, too.
neil's phjotography though, is very very good.

Lots of lamps on. Dark at 3.
Mostly eating walnuts. Cannot find brazil nuts anywhere.

2007/08/29 15:51 - A piece of earth
Christmas morning breakfast was scrambled eggs, fried in butter and cream, with grilled tomatoes and toasted muffins. Washed down with my current soft drink invention: White grape juice and fizzy mineral water with ice.
We needed some fuel you see, as our next stop was Llangollen Mountain.
Llangollen is about a 45minute drive from our house and as well as being an astonishingly beautiful part of Wales, also boasts one of the best bookshops I have ever encountered: (‘Maxines’).
(Oh-and weirdly-it is also home to ‘JESSIE’-an old locomotive that ‘lived’ in the childhood (splott) Park of Leonard and I. We spent the ages of 5-12 playing on it together. And it’s ended up here. We recently took a nostalgic trip and you know, it wasn’t disappointing at all).
However, it’s Christmas day and the ONE day the shop is closed, so we bypass the town completely…enroute we are treated to a splendid Blizzard…(As it is we awoke to Snow) and also a field full of llamas. As someone who has finally given up on any particular ‘meaning’ in Christmas, I must admit to feeling rather festive.
The walk to our favourite spot…which are some kind of Arthurian ruins, atop a mountain…(I plan to do more research), is through bright clean cold sunshine, snow, and air that yields like water. I am wearing an old officer’s Army coat that I bought in a Highgate charity shop back in 1997 and a 30ft scarf recently bought in a Surfer shop (?)….and it’s the weight of both that causes me to reel exhausted as we approach the summit…Anna, for once, nimbly jogging ahead like some red headed Mountain Goat…
We are lucky enough to have the peak to ourselves, (this place is often rife with ramblers)…the view and sense of exhaustion/tranquility is almost religious. Deep snow and still blue air. I feel as far away from the tawdry tinselation of Christmas as I want to and very much in Love.
After seeing to Cally, our Horse, darkness falls and Anna cooks the enormous vegetarian dinner as we sip champagne, listen to Dean Martin and I read ‘A Miles Davis reader’…(A bit academic but with it’s moments). Our three cats tumble and bound around, spooked by the falling snow; alternately lazy in the indoor heat or crazed by excess energy caused by fear of cold outside.
The further we move from religion, TV and money each Christmas, the more perfect they seem.

We visited my parents and Leonard on Boxing day.


Tremorfa is more depressing than ever but after enough rum/Scotch, sitting in my parent’s cosy front room is bearable; despite the teenage neighbour playing drum and bass at a hideous volume. (Pissed, I went next door to confront him, having morphed into a hard man myself..effing this and bloody that)…:’I don’t wanna fucking come here agin-capiche’!
Anna and I were awoken from our boozy slumber by someone bashing up a telephone box across the road, and this was good, as we forsooked sleep and ended up watching Rupert Everett in his interpretation of inspector Holmes. Which was fine although not nearly as druggy as I’d been led to believe. (One of the main tipples of the original character was injecting a cocaine and water solution).
Anna returned to our house and I stayed on a while…spending jolly times with Leonard and his cousins and watching Pacino in ‘Scent of woman’ with my ma, accompanied by peanuts and white Rums and cokes.
On returning here my health is an issue. Something wrong with my stomach which has become distended and bloated to the point of discomfort. I hate going to the doctor’s. I’ve noticed that if you put it off and then end up going wanting to discuss say 3 different symptoms, their face falls off. As if you are only allowed ONE issue per visit.
(I also have heart and cold sore problems).
This visit reinforced my love for HBO’s ‘Curb your enthusiasm’- My current TV fave.

Listening wise, I’ve been cloning my vinyl to cd via LIMEWIRE which is an awesome file sharing thang.
This allowed me to revisit two of the classics of my youth; Thomas Dolby’s ‘The golden age of wireless’ and ‘The flat earth’.
Patchy as these are, when they are good they are great. Oddly timeless songs in analogue amber. And of course! Never mentioned in Mojo, Q’s endless retrospectives.
But what a fine voice and writer…odd he has been so overlooked…
(Except for here, obviously):

Reading wise, apart from The Miles book, I greatly enjoyed Mr. Bogdanovich’s ‘Welles on Welles’. Had a go at ‘A Faulkner reader’ last night but the words were so heavy.
Am embarking on a recent Sean Penn biography, struggling to start at the beginning. (I usually begin a quarter through).

London life next week. A mixture of dread and gladness. British Ballads must be made and yet the domestic part of me is scared a the idea of sleeping in a strange bed…(I will be staying with Julian Simmons and Bryan Mill’s)…
I am uncomfortable outside of solitude (and often within it) and know that this will send my booze/drug/Cigar quota through the roof.
But-hey. Whenever I feel this fear I immediately see Marlon Brando in The Godfather slapping the Sinatra character about; ‘Be a man’! And this is supposed to be my final debut solo record after all.
Sop enjoy the craziness one last time, eh.

2007/08/29 15:51 - London Loved me
I've been in london a week tonight.
Have been drunk, sober, pickpocketed, had my bank a/c cleared out, woke up, came to, fell asleep and the music is a lovely fiery train through Cotton countryside.
Beyond all this, 'British Ballads' is being born.

I sleep with North london banging against the window. bryan Mills banging in the room next to me.
baNG bang.
Another bullet in the chamber. And all good.

2007/08/29 15:51 - Ratso returns
.....collapsed home last night.
How different the air felt as I got off the train. The black mucus in my throat London's last trace.
The songs, the recordings of songs, the songs that will make up 'British Ballads'...the rough bones and skin I have to listen to, sound muscular in their destiny...strong and sad and old and not yet born.
I am happy with many of the performances..there is a love in the drums of Paul Cook and Bass of bryan mills and Will Foster's Piano is rippling sunny corn across the Hardin-esque hymn of 'I Know you know'...
But all this and more in 'Writings' soon, as I want to get the account down proper while it's in my head. So, off for coffee. First.

London is just one big trove for objects I like. Despite the death of the more 'Trad' bookshop, I still found enough places to satisfy my hunger.
Was so happy to find a copy of:

A Chequered Past

My Visual Diary of the 60s and 70s

Peter Schlesinger


This book has not shown in Shropshire or on e-bay..and I jumped on it when coming across it in Soho last Sunday.
Also found 'Raymond carver-an Oral Biography' in Borders', at Angel..I went there looking for my old flatmate and friend and sometime Jacques guitarist, MArtin Spencer..(he now works there). It was his day off but I found this lovely book..


And It's taken me back to Carver's writing.
Glad to see lots of carver extras on the criterion DVD edition of Altman's 'Short cuts'.
maybe someone wuill get it for my birthday?

But anyways.
My account of the first recording session of 'british Ballads' will appear in 'Writings' section late this week.

Oh..My furry babies!

2007/08/29 15:51 - 

Whilst stomping gingerly around the interesting bleakness of Crewe last friday-I was attempting to wade through long ago self imposed mire and what this now means in terms of letting institutions borrow your money-amongst the more glamouressness of the days tasks-I suddenly and publically ejaculated with delight and ectasy to come across a copy of 'The naked Civil Servant' as a bargain priced DVD in cruddy HMV...
Oh Joy! For those that don't, this is a BBC movie based on the autobiography of one of my childhood heroes, QUENTIN CRISP: http://www.crisperanto.org/

I had been searching the net for this a year ago and given up...
And now (clasps hand together in Joy, beams into middle distance)-it had found ME!!

Of course, I was instantly reminded that I had the oppertunity to meet mr Crisp in london, 1998, via someone called Dave who worked for GAYTIME TV...but alas, come the date, I woke up puking beneath duvets. Nowt to do with nerevs, just..well. Say it. Drinking heavily the night before.
Anyhoo, Anna and I watched it Saturday night and it was even better than I remembered...
John Hurt was ...it was great. Not at all dissapointing.
it got me thinking, that since i stopped wearing Make-up, in about, yeah...1999...I have become more agressive...is there a colleration, methinks?

Caught 'Do the right thing' last night, on TCM...
brilliant. Again, even better than I remembered.
I very rarely stay up late but...I almost did.
Oh! I should have been Gay African American already. OYE VEY!


Currently listening to a long dead Italian opera pop guy whose name I cannot recall, and reading 'Out of the Cool', another Biog of the Jazz saint Gil Evans.
Oh, I also had a nice chat with Vashti Bunyan in a rare (for me) telephone call. I do go on.

I am SO LOOKING forward to John Howard's show this Saturday in Manchester at:
The Briton's Protection on January 29th...
Oh Man, I cannae wait..I do love being a fan, so...

2007/08/29 15:51 - Erm Manchester

.....Jesus, what a day was Saturday.
Anna and I had planned a rare day out...of the house, never mind Town.
At 9-43am the plastic pipe that feeds our boiler exploded. The attic annexe, where Anna keeps her clothes and I keep my photos and films started filling with hot water...before it made it's way through the floor into the TV room...
there was barely enough time to run down stairs and empy the full buckets we hastily place beneath the outporing and repleace them with a pan...while much of the water missed pots pans and buckets altogether, runninmg down the wall and through the ceiling below...
Of course, the tap things in the kitchen,hidden beyond some obscure placing, these tap things that were supposed to turn off the House water supply-didn't work. Would not move even.
Finding a plumber...Oh fuck it, forget it.
We did eventually. And now the house...well the fron room stinks of damp and the insurance people come today and...blah blah...
Still, were excited about the evening-John Howard's first Manchester show in 30 years.


Unfortunately, by the time I had done the logistics, I realised we would barely have time to see the show. Fuck it!
Still, we were set and looking forward to having dinner somewhere, plus Anna was gonna' get me a Birthday pressie from Waterstones in Manchester0one of the most incredible floors of any NEW bookshop I've ever walked dazed around.

The journey there, we drove to crewe, got a slow tedious train through a fantastic twilight-was fine.
We found Waterstones ok and it was as great as I recalled...I immediately punced upon

And was delighted when Anna found a Copy of


Unfortunately,her Debit card had a crack in it and was not accepted by either the Till thing or the cashpoint.
So, no pressies for Tony. (we've since got it from Amazon but it's not the same as finding it in a shop, like)...
By now we were running late, we still had to have dinner before the show...
A few dull fuck ups later, where we 'missed' the kitchen or whatever we settled in some generic bar thing...just started to relax when Anna realised she'd lost her Glasses...
By now we were running late, the idea of traipsing around Manchester looking for Designer Specs in the gutter, at the expense of a show...
By the time we got to 'The Briton's protection' Pub, anna was in tears and I needed Alcohol. More.
A lovely pub..a nice room upstairs...John was in fine voice, singing was surprisingly powerful and visceral...i was a bit dissapointed at the turn out. Confirms my thoughts on the Phantom power of reviews...but...we couldn't relax, because we had to leave before we'd got there...no time to buy John a drink orbe bought one...
Still, always a joy to hear 'Kid...' in the flesh...but before we could surrender, we had to rush out, find a cab and rush back to fucking Piccadily...even then we had to run and made the last train-a stupid 22-02...with 30 seconds to spare...and the journey to crewe was vile.hermitising.
Foul teeneagers with trainers between their pregnant girlfriends legs, drinking malibu and shouting...Rank...
I wanna be where the Action isn't..do things that hermits do...

And that was that.
how Morrissey made it into his teens, even...

Am completely in Love with Billy Mackenzie's 'Pain in any language'...


this may be his finest Vocal, I think...although he was often let down by the music, I feel...

I compiled a cop of similiar..(breakfast, best of 'Beyond the Sun' etc)...

gorgeous, heartbreakingly uplifting..
perfect listening when reading/Viewing helmut newton also..

Film wise, caught 'Collatoral' (Ok)..and 'Bubba Ho-tep'-wonderful...


Nic has been working on the artwork for british Ballads...I know it's gonna be the...bomb...
here's a pic of young Nic:

Thankyou Nic.

Hang in there.

I'm looking forward to getting back to this record...which I will in a week, I think...
be nice though, for once, to make an album where everybody involved was on..good terms...
or something...

hey! here come the insurance people...

2007/08/29 15:51 - As i sit here upon this Chesterfield...the richest Man on Earth...
I am in my studio, which is a sloped attic room. Indescribably warm, our three cats are stpefied in this tropical climate. My mother in law laughs loudly downstairs and Tom Waits-Hot beer on a cold night-live bootleg-plays as I sip from an official Elvis Glass holding a half pint of Jack daniels and Ice. Mostly the former.
I chug deeply and inhale from my remaining Romeo a Juliet Cigar and my feet...what about my feet?
Tomorrow, another train, to meet:


Who I will talk to about my W.B. Book.
I so love talking to these geezers.
it's a fucking hoot and a privelage.
Exscuse the spelling, spong.

I think of freddie mercury, Ted hughes and my remaining friends.

Of bearing children, raising Dogs and scoring goals in Badmington.

Of Dolphin Embargos and National newspaper columns.

I have a plan to take 'The kitten's' all the way.
I am looking forward to my final album.

And i forgot; Speaking of bryan/kittens;
Mr Mills turned me on to:

Roddy Lumsden:


A Poet-ALIVE!-who impresses me in that he moves me.

buy 'Is dead'. it's up there, when it is.

I am not, no, regarding that catalogue.

2007/08/29 15:51 - Some kind of loneliness
Either I’m changing or this society is. Anna suggests that it’s my situation. My role within it. I.e., for most of my adult life, I have had the privilege to live ‘outside’ of the norm. I have had a job that let me drink and do what thou wilt, as long as I come up with ‘the goods’-i.e. I sing vaguely in tune, write songs, stand up, keep breathing etc
But something is in flux. I have stepped or am stepping out of this bubble.
Let me give you some examples.
A week yesterday I took the train to billingsurst to see a chap called Big Jim Sullivan.

Big Jim has played guitar on some of the biggest songs in pop history and thus worked with some o’ them bona fide legends. Now. En route-an hour away from Bilingshurst-the bottle-J.D. number 7-began to take hold.
My visit with Big Jim is another story altogether and I thank him for his patience, generosity and for inviting me back.

But when he dropped me off at the station at about…8pm, I was pretty lashed. Most semblance of the chap writing this had gone. ‘Bad Tony’ had taken over and was running the body we share into choppy waters. (‘Bad Tony’ is causing me grief. He is losing friends, money and work for me. I had to stop and think the other day-did I ever ‘fall out’ with people before I drank?)
By the time I slumped into the train, I was utterly befuddled.
I hadn’t got a return ticket and had no idea of what was in my pockets. So. After some medium -hostile bickering with the ticket Guy, I volunteer to jump off the train at somewhere called Horsham, hit the cashpoint, buy a ticket to London, get the next train and Goodnight. Seems I was a couple of quid short of the fare.
Attempting to explain this perfectly reasonable plan to another inspector type-admittedly, something of an anal jobsworth sort-I am told that this is unlikely.
Upon which my innocent retort of ‘You gotta’ be fucking joking’ brings an alarm bell, a security guard and eventually, the police.
While waiting for the cops, I am nudged and pushed by the teenage Security guard who doesn’t seem to be able to speak English…all the while engaging in nasty patter with the deformed guy at the gate…(‘You’re a writer? Why don’t you get a real job)’…
It’s far from a one way dialogue and much more colourful at that…but, I don’t want to credit Bad Tony with any wit…
The feeling of helplessness is becoming stifling-I cannot move back or fore. I sense dominos and cards about to collapse. Deep within my nicotine and Alcohol stoked brain I consider the consequences of taking both these goons out with the empty JD bottle in my bag…Still, some moral soaked sanity wrestles the reins from demon Bad Tony and I keep my swaying self until the police arrive.
This is my second contact with the police in 6 weeks, more than I have had in my life. I have found them to be sympathetic and surprisingly personable…in fact I’ve been thinking about joining the Police force of late…yes…another story…
I am let off with a warning-if I swear again at the ticket guy I shall be arrested for being Drunk and disorderly. Swearing at Staff etc is considered abuse, on a par, I’m told, with physical abuse. I’m in no position to argue and within 20 minutes am on the train home, where I lose my new Italian Sisley scarf, numerous cd’s etc
I awake shocked the next day. The booze is, it seems, getting to me. Finally, I have to admit that on occasion, it is getting out of hand. Perhaps for some, drinking, like Sex, drugs and David Sylvian remix albums, are best enjoyed at home with closest ones.
With this in mind, I kept off the stuff for the rest of my stay in London. This was easy enough within the gentle and becalming prescence of my friend Maria, who I met over from Athens on the Friday. This though was partly due to a roaring fire in my stomach from the night before. Even a half at my favourite Pub ‘the French house’ hurt me.

The following night I met up with the ever lovely Chris Roberts and we attended a Gig in a Piccadilly church by a chap called ‘Ed Harcourt.

I am dimly aware of this chap, which is more brightly aware than I am of other living artists, but I didn’t know any of his music at all, other than a Song I heard once on the Jon Ross show last Summer, that goes; ‘I’ve had a few/This one’s for you’, which I liked and which I can hear in my head now.
Anyway, the show was very impressive but not nearly ugly enough for my warped and embittered tastes. I do think if this chap is still singing in a decade’s time, his voice will be really something.
I was introduced to him backstage and he’s obviously a rare sort-i.e. real, present and beguiling.
I also met someone called Mary Ann Hobbs who turns out to be a radio 1 Dj. I was shocked to find (not because of who she is but because I feel I live in a vacuum) that she is deeply into Raymond Carver at the moment and could even quote one of my very favourite poems of his;
‘Late fragment’.


Maybe I should get out more.
However, the real star of the night was my sobriety. I managed to get by on one pint of Lager and about 5 silk cut.
Maybe my personality doesn’t come, genie like, out of a bottle after all.
Recording of B.B. was aborted, sadly, until March, when Julian returns from touring the U.S. with a girl called Eddy.

But this gave me plenty of time to work at the British magazine library on my Walker’s book. Lord! I LOVE working in a dark, cool room, chugging through years of microfilm…it was absolutely blissful for me, and only a few stops from Chalk farm too.
I could have happily spent the week there and will soon.

Not drinking meant I avoided going out in the evening- apart from Monday-when my old pal, Martin Spencer stood me up. We’d agreed to meet outside of Screen on the green in Islington to see ‘Sideways’.

And the fucker never turned up. The fucking rotter hasn’t phoned to explain either. This guy works five minutes from the bloody Cinema too. While he doesn’t have a mobile OR landline, he could have called me fro…oh what the fiddlesticks.
Anyway. This meant a night of two firsts for me, and as regular readers know, I’ll try anything, almost, once, perhaps. So. You heard it here first. I was stood up for the first time in my young life-by my ex flatmate no less/at least…and, also, really, really wanting to see this movie, I took advice via my mobile from my few remaining friends and went into see it anyway. IN THE CINEMA. ON MY TOD. ON MY ‘JACK JONES’.
Leonard D’onofrio, who haunts cinemas by his lonesome very, very frequently, assured me it was no big deal.
So I bit the bullet, bought a SOFT drink(!) and said in a booming voice: ‘ONE PLEASE’! and settled in the last seat, back row.
I didn’t like the experience.
It didn’t help that it was VALENTINE’S DAY and I was surrounded by Couples. Someone’s flowers kept poking me in my specs from the left. Another lot to my right got over excited and the guy’s foot, trembling knocked my Cola over. Lovely. While I, the boy once most likelt to, sat there, alone, shovelling popcorn into the grave of my mouth, the so-so film reflected in my spectacles. What was further weird that, as a result of not going out in the evening and there being no lounge where I was staying, by default, I had to go straight to bed as soon as I got in. To send me off to sleep, I needed an Anthology of Harvey pekar’s ‘American Splendor; each night.

I came to mr Pekar’s stuff about ten years ago through his association with my other fave, Robert crumb, (who I liked since seeing the BBC Doc’ on him in 1987)…and so it came to pass, pitifully, touchingly, off the bottle and propped up uncomfortably on one pillow, Mr pekar became a chum of sorts, his life-as portrayed in the pages of these Graphic graphic novels a balm, a real source of comfort and reflection…one work in particular also pushing me, through reading about him and his wife Joyce in ‘our cancer year’, further toward the idea of ‘Higher monogamy’…trouble is, I had to buy about 4 of his books during my stay, which is almost as expensive as boozing…
Anyway. The actor who plays the lead in ‘Sideway’s’ also played Pekar in the ‘American Splendor’ film…so…as a result, watching sideways, I couldn’t stop thinking..’Why is Harvey pekar playing this wine expert-guy’…


Asides from this, I couldn’t relax during the film because I had to be the first out of there, preferably before the lights went on at the movie’s end…so, yeh, this is mainly why I don’t like the Cinematic solo experience. I felt like an Olympic sprinter on his blocks for the last 15 minutes. I’m too self-conscious and egotistical in any situation, Yes! even in a darkened room where everyone is focussing on a giant illuminated screen opposite me, I think I’m the main focus of attention. Plus-there was no one to talk to about it afterward…(sucks on Magnum)

Tuesday was more relaxed. I visited Cambridge-for the first time, I think-to meet Nic Brennan-


And talk with him about B.B. artwork.
What a refreshing, quirky, lively fellow Nic is.
I’d raise a drink to him…If...oh-actually-I did have some red wine with him…maybe it’s Scotch I gotta keep off of.
Cambridge was a bit disappointing though. Don’t know what I was expecting. Some..one or two nice bookshops. (one called ‘The Bookshop’). But as a town- bit generic.

Back home now and with my loved ones. The room I sleep in while in London is alright-possibly the quietest I’ve ever known in London. And I’m grateful!!
But the absence of Anna, my animals, books and records sometimes manifests as a physical, crushing loneliness.
But anyway. Home last night-I spent the journey reading Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Stories and prose poems’


And another first-I got the National Express for once. With the rest of England’s sober and poor.

(This morning is the first day of the Fox hunting ban in Britain. And I noticed the first ever evidence of foxes in our Garden-something had tried to dig up the body of Cassie).

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