Saturday, September 10, 2005

So where's the backbone?

Might as well take this opportunity to get back on the bicycle. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I won't be getting back on my real bicycle for a little while yet.

The story is that one recent Saturday morning, I was heading to West Kensington to help Prof carry some things from a friend's flat. Coming out of the tube station, I bent over to unfold my folding bike and felt an ominous twinge in my lower back. Thought to myself, "What the heck? It'll loosen off if I just work it a bit" - I've tried to impress you with my formidable level of intelligence before, haven't I?

So I got on my Brompton and cycled away, looking now and then at my A-Z, my back feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Found myself on Old Brompton Road (on my Brompton bicycle) outside Brompton Specialist dry cleaners, where my incompetent brain and body finally agreed to let me drag myself onto the pavement and collapse (slowly, slowly!) against a wall. The dry cleaner saw me and helped me into his shop, gave me a cup of tea, and used me as a conversation piece with his customers. Thanks, John! If you ever need something cleaned in Chelsea, look him up.

So I ended up being carried rather than carrying things, but hey!, at least I got to see an osteopath. That's not something you do every day. The moral is clear: if you're an old fat bastard, don't be stupid as well.

Like I said, searching for the backbone Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Place Marker

The striking thing about my fellow bloggers (by this, I mean the conceptual (rarefied, held together only by virtue of sub-atomic forces and the fact of sharing the same universe) network of people who post and comment upon each other's blogs (please don't get confused by these multiple nestings of parentheses, I _am_ a computer guy)) posts, is that they impart a keen sense of a life lived, of stories to tell, of Hey I'm here and I'm an exemplar of human experience so screw you buddy 'cos my life means something!, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of living your life with no regrets. So, this is a short note of thanks for taking me in. When my life calms down enough, I'll post a little more to entertain and divert.

Here's the no regrets link.


Sounds like ketchup, doesn't it?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Cat Sings

I'm listening to Doc Watson as I write this. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name, Arthel "Doc" Watson is one of the reasons people want to learn the guitar, rather than being forced to learn the guitar because the band's already got a fiddle player. He was born in 1923 and he's still going. Now, you might think, of course he can play good, he lost his sight at the age of one, and started playing when he was five years old. Not everyone is that lucky, you say, or perhaps unlucky, or er.. there's no way out of this one. Leaving that aside, I think the single most interesting fact about Doc's life is that his father made him his first banjo out of his grandmother's cat. That's all I need to say really; any more would be gilding the lily.

Monday, May 09, 2005

James Joyce time

Today I lack a subject, but I do have red wine, and so let us take a journey into the barren hinterlands of a place that is nowhere at all. Be warned, even though my avowed intent is to numb all my readers with egregious and unrequested nonsense, what follows will not even reach these high standards. May I take this opportunity, then, to give thanks to the anonymity I enjoy, albeit illusorily, as a nameless blogger.

Think then, as we walk down this curiously crooked lane, hedged by skinny trees and oddly featureless flowers that would spring into colour if you only knew their names, this lane that narrows into a cul-de-sac, a space betwen cheap restaurants, smelling of vegetables rotting inside tied-off black plastic sacks, as we get to the end of the alley and push through the the viscous grey brick wall at the end, into..

..Your local library. What!? Why aren't we in my local library? Well, improvise, improvise. Come, this stack over here, which in my continuum would be filled with the orphaned middle volumes of all the SF & Fantasy trilogies ever written, but in yours carries all the finest books written about regional cooking. Look, this recipe has a picture of the most delicate of all chillies, the chili padi, native to Thailand and Malaysia, small, concentrated, and almost unconscious of its rapier-like potency and narcotic flavour. And here, this one tells you how to use Jerusalem artichokes! Oh, so that's what you do..

I catch my breath. There was a sensation of falling, of vacuum. We're sitting in an English pub that never existed. There are beams of polished oak, an open wood-burning fireplace, and by the taste of the pint which I now sip on, no recycled slops. The landlord's face is friendly, but knowing, arch, but open. He subtly arches an eyebrow towards the grandfather clock standing opposite the fire. I look at the clock, then over at you. Your eyes are heavy-lidded, and it would do you no good to fall asleep here. I pay, and call a taxi.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

How to write about music

Tom Waits is becoming a hero of mine. He's taken in language like a pet, and then left it to forage and growl at intruders and friends alike. Read what he has to say about his 20 favourite albums.

A Cross Post

So, I'm sitting here working at the job that I should have left last Friday, except they really, really needed someone to do this one thing. This morning woke up at 5 a.m. full of guilt about sequentially losing my temper over the weekend with every single person who knows me. Drove Prof to airport, took a wrong turn into a forbidden zone, and got told off by a cop who you know, just wanted to inform me that the f.z. is camera-controlled and I may get a traffic ticket through the door, just letting me know, you know. Went back home through crawling traffic, AT 6.45 A.M.! Rush hour before the cows wake up! Went to aforementioned work, on soul-leeching London Transport, thanks guys, good job, no humanity on display. Don't tell me I haven't paid my dues, got to keep moving, keep moving, blues falling down like hail.. Bah.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Now that we've mentioned Deodato

That last post wrung blood out of me, oh it's so hard to deal with real things. I mentioned Deodato in there, but didn't mention that one of our favourites in those days was the guitar player for Deodato, John Tropea. Hey!

Kien at Bullet

We hurried, the Professor and I, at the last minute as always, to the bar where Kien Lim was booked as the main attraction. What was he like? Well, imagine Don Williams, Doc Watson and Gillian Welch melded together by eldritch energies, their very protoplasm being drawn out and intermingled to become one person who then loses some weight and becomes a wiry Malaysian. Pretty gross, huh? Also probably not very helpful. Let me explain.

Kien was very obviously wrestling with nerves when we got there, walking here and there in the bar while Prof and I listened to the acts on before him. The gig was running late, the usual technical problems. We sat there, enjoying the other performers, while Kien's posture slowly became more and more foetal.

Finally, it was time for our boy to take the stage. After a bit of fiddling and quiet tuning, Kien ambled unassumingly to the microphone with his D-28 slung oddly low, and then, well, took over. The first song started quietly, Kien barely tickling the strings, then swelled and receded like the tide coming in, a lonely song about chemicals. No-one else made a sound until he finished. Then we clapped. He carried on with a series of simple sounding, but craftily constructed tunes. No swagger, no fuss, the boy just stood there, picked his guitar and sang with a mellow low voice, songs about loneliness, songs about women, though no songs about lonely women that I could detect. He played, and after a while it seemed as if we had always been there, like living in a neighbourhood where you wave at every shopkeeper. Suddenly, it ended. We came back to ourselves, and life carried on.

That's not what you expect from an old schoolfriend, years after banging on cheap guitars and dreaming together about being Jimmy Page, playing Deodato covers, and generally being your random, scoffish, awkward teenagers. But it is what we all, those of us who have resisted a cynical acceptance of eternal mediocrity, it is what we all keep our little candles burning for.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Just a Minute

"You have one second to talk without hesitation, deviation or repetition about indoor sports."


The Hard Road

Let me tell you about the Professor. We all agree that anything worth doing is going to be hard to do. No pain, no gain, right? After a long time spent looking for the right human, in bars, in cars, on buses, up and down dale, journeying through rents in the very fabric of spacetime, I have finally found her. It took a long time, and she is Baby Bear's porridge.

"Now how can you be sure?", I hear you say, "You are naive, love is fleeting, things change, your hubris leads ineluctably to nemesis!", you expound. Thank you very much, I'm not taking that from you overeducated naysayers. Go away and predict the heat death of the Universe. Bad philosopher. No biscuit!

Harrumph. Well, to continue. With the Professor, although I said that my search is finished, I have no sense of finality, of ending. Deploy your sick bags now, please. I feel, instead, that my journey is finally beginning. When I think of the Brainy One, I think of possibility, of change, that a problem shared is a problem halved, of someone to watch my back. More roads open, and none are closed. Okay? Now wipe your mouth and listen to the rest of it.

The difference is, that this is not the dizzy, out-of-control, moonstruck passion that we all remember with varying degrees of nostalgia. No. We just help each other out, become better people, and make other people happier. No drama, just competent life judo. It was tough getting here, and we're tougher! It also helps that we can chatter away to each other until the cows come home. Almost a year on, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than hang with the Professor. It's just too much damn fun.