Sunday, 13 December 2009

Music and Life

The principles of Music and Living aren't all that different, we think,
"Wouldn't you say, Pooh?"
"Say what?", asked Pooh, opening his eyes.
"Music and Living - "
"The same thing", said Pooh.

From The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff.

Far as I can see, there is only one good thing about The Rolling Stones and that's their music. But since the mid-70s it's been almost entriely dull.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Milking it for All it's Worth.

I was very disappointed to find that the Belgian firm, Alpro had recently been bought out by Deans Foods, a North American multinational up to its grubby neck in the exploitative unkindnesses of the dairy industry. So when buying soya milk I transferred our modest patronage to the reputedly excellent Plamil. Plamil make their soya milk using beans grown in Europe organically. At Single Step, a shop I like very much, 1 litre of Plamil costs £1.50. (Deans Foods are behind certain brands of soya milk which are very much less costly).

So we've bought a soy milk maker, found it on Amazon and it came directly all the very long way from China. It cost £45 + £22 p&p, a more than trifling expense, yet cheaper than most if not all of its competitors. And how quickly can one spend £67 on milk produced by very soon worn-out, antibiotic-overdosed, land misusing, arable crop-scoffing, dirty cows pumping shedloads of methane into our overheated planet?

Our new machine, a Joyoung (a good model, so says a Chinese student staying nearby and whose parents have one), makes 1 litre of soy milk from 40g (less than 2oz), of dry organic soy beans, water and nothing else. But I am embarrassed to find that our beans from Suma which previously were grown in the USA, are now grown in China, but at least that's not the South American rainforest.

The machine takes about 10mins to do its job and costs (a short blast of GoodEnergy's electricity plus), £0.10 for the beans. You wouldn't be far wrong if you said that making our own organic soya milk is 93% cheaper than buying it. A litre of soya milk generally lasts the two of us 3 days. It would take a stronger man than I am not to smirk. Inwardly, of course.

I don't have room to grow my own (although it's quite possible in the UK), so all I want to do now is to find a closer, European source of organic soya beans.

We took this course of action because we could afford it. Too often, especially in the opulent West, it is folks on relatively lower incomes who find it more difficult to live inexpensively. Green-ness is almost always relatively "unfair" in application and I suspect that this unfairness, i.e. inequality, is used by many well-off folks as another overworked excuse not to take (m)any green actions at all.

Well, soon I'll be making our own tofu. Really.

Bread, Milk and Oil, and Who's Ruling the World?

The smell of tomorrow's bread reminds me we've bought only two loaves since we left Le Guerrat six weeks ago.

And today our very smart machine made our first soya milk. (We'd had the machine for several days and had entered into a dispute with the Chinese seller, but now he's given us £20 to compensate for the operating instructions being in Chinese only, and the mains plug being utterly useless in Britain. A Chinese student in digs next door to Jo's mum translated the booklet for us, and I'm using the "kettle lead" from our old pc to connect to the mains).

I've been using ready mixed bio-degradable chain oil for the saw and, as at Le Guerrat, the smell of the hot oil makes me hungry. But the smell is much reduced when I find myself cutting below water level! I'm clearing a line of trees overhanging, and many long ago fallen into, a field ditch and am frequently surprised at how deep into the water the saw can go and keep running, making froth with the chain and bubbles from the exhaust!

My full attention has been just drawn to Jarvis Cocker's Quantum Theory and the excellent song which comes in at 29.35mins:

Well, did you hear, there's a natural order?
Those most deserving will end up with the most,
That the cream cannot help but always rise up to the top,
Well, I say: Shit floats.
If you thought things had changed,
Friend, you'd better think again,
Bluntly put in the fewest of words,
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world.

Now the working classes are obsolete,
They are surplus to society's needs,
So let 'em all kill each other
And get it made overseas.
That's the word, don't you know,
From the guys that's running the show,
Let's be perfectly clear' boys and girls,
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world.

Oh, feed your children on crayfish and lobster tails,
Find a school near the top of the league,
In theory I respect your right to exist,
I will kill ya if you move in next to me,
Ah, it stinks, it sucks, it's anthropologically unjust,
But the takings are up by a third, oh, so
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world.

Your free market is perfectly natural,
Or do you think that I'm some kind of dummy?
It's the ideal way to order the world,
Fuck the morals, does it make any money?
And if you don't like it, then leave,
Or use your right to protest on the street,
Yeah, use your rights, but don't imagine that it's heard, oh, no, no,
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world......

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Wind Turbines for Lancaster University.

Lancaster University is set to significantly reduce its carbon footprint following a £5m funding award from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The University is one of only three out of the 37 applicants to win the funding from HEFCE's £10m Transformational Fund. The fund has been made available specifically for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across England to radically transform their approaches to energy consumption and reducing emissions.

The proposed project is to develop two 2.3MW wind turbines on the university's Hazelrigg site to the east of the M6 motorway. Click here to view a map of the proposed location:

Lancaster University would be the first in England to install two 2.3mw wind turbines which would reduce its electricity consumption by approximately one-third, equivalent to the residential requirements of all students who live on campus.

A series of public exhibitions will be held at the University and in the local community for anybody interested in finding out more about the Wind Turbine project to attend.

* Monday 14 December 2009, 12:00-15:00 Lancaster University, University House reception

* Monday 14 December 2009, 17:30-20:00 Ellel War Memorial Institute, Stoney Lane, Galgate

* Tuesday 15 December 2009, 14:00-19:30 St Pauls Parish Hall, Scotforth Road, Lancaster

* Wednesday 16 December 2009, 16:00-20:00 Quernmore Methodist Church Hall, Quernmore

* Thursday 17 December 2009 10:30-16:00 Lancaster Central Library, Market Street, Lancaster

A scoping request has been submitted to Lancaster City Council, which set out the technical and environmental assessments that would be undertaken as part of a planning application.

To view the Scoping Opinion PDF document please click here:

Please give your feedback on the Scoping Opinions document by emailing the uni using the Your Opinions form: or writing to the uni or calling – see contacts:

A planning application will only be submitted following agreement on the scoping request by Lancaster City Council and the completion and assessment of the community consultation process. If the application is successful, construction would start in early 2010.

Video - Free Electricity for Welsh Hill Farmers to Sell !!!

Click on the title. Very hopeful story and related article here.

Now all they need to do is plant (native) trees for biomass where at present there are methane stinky | stoopid | no-use | harmful sheep.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Tour of France - July '09

three-week trip down the right hand side of France, into the Alps, (we popped into Italy), down to Carcassonne, on into the Pyrenees to watch the Tour de France, and back through the Cevennes.

Probably best to “F11” for really full screen.

You can start, pause and remove captions as you wish.

And here's a sometimes factually inaccurate route map linking all the campsites (town) locations in the right order. (You might find it slow to load).

Friday, 27 November 2009

John Mayall's Jazz Blues Fusion

I bought this album when it was new, played it long and hard, and in the '90s bought it on CD too, and still enjoy it.

(If you weren't already), relax.

And enjoy.

N.B: No pictures, so perhaps not suitable for folks with ADHD.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Tim Minchin - Storm

"Trapped in the blinding headlights of vacuous crap..."

A work of utter genius.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Big Baby Ernie

Big Baby Ernie were so damn good that I nearly drove an hour down the road to see them play for what would've been a third time in four days.

Their first album's on Spotify and, like many a very good one, is less immediate in its impact than one might expect. The second is v good too. You can find them at Myspace and on Youtube, but be patient because several of the clips there are of live performances poorly recorded.

BBE sound variously and sometimes altogether Motowny, Gil Scott-Herony, MGs-y, Allmans-y, Stonesy, Ike and Tina-y, Stevie Wondery, and look to be in their late mid to late 20s.
If you've time, see what you think. They'll be "back in the summer".

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


It's a doddle.

Big Baby Ernie

I'm not long back from seeing the amazing, really, Big Baby Ernie at The Pub and they'll be back on Wednesday at The Penny Bank (Penny Street, Lancaster, UK).

PS. In November 2009 they no longer have beards, have v short hair and a tendency to wear hats.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


Today my wife, Jo came home with a 1979 Bang and Olufsen record deck, cassette and tuner combination with 2 fatly solid speakers. The weight of the unit is similar to that of a small car. She'd found it all in a junk-type shop at £80 and paid £70. With it came an identical unit which is for spares and doesn't work, we're told.

It seems styluses (styli?) cost £50-60, but so far when I put on my less scratchy LPs (I guess we have about 100 LPs in all), the result is by a very long way the best recorded sounds I've ever heard in any place in which I've been living. Ever.

Fortunate, aren't we.

Using headphones I listened to, amongst a few other things, Buddy Guy's "The Blues Giant" recorded in 1979 on my son's real birthday (Halloween) in Toulouse (around which city we were driving last weekend).

Here's Buddy Guy last year:

Monday, 26 October 2009

The Black Crowes in '96

The Black Crowes
10/5/96 BC Roadshow, Chicago, IL

Click below to preview tracks from this show


Sunday, 20 September 2009

"Poetry Please" and John Betjeman

How difficult I found it not to place a comma between Poetry and Please.

More here.

Bulb-us US

I'm fairly sure that North American scientists will quite soon do wonderfully clever and effective things to reduce climate change's consequences, but for now it seems to me it would be hard to find a better example of dumbing down?

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Read it? I haven't. Yet.

Monday, 17 August 2009

United World Colleges

Back in the '60s and '70s I was aware of the Atlantic College (my dad was running voluntary conservation work for its students), but I didn't realise the college was part of a much larger organisation.

Only recently while reading Horation Clare's truly excellent "
Truant" was I reminded of its existence.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Running of the Bulls at Pamplona

Click the title.

Or here.


Impressions of North Americans

The few North Americans with whom I've ever had more than passing contact have struck me as being good company, but generally on the most superficial levels only. I'm always shocked, perhaps frightened even, by the thought that their country might well be populated by a majority of people just like them. And I think I should be shocked too.

Not being effectively and collectively concerned about the so-called questionable activities of (powerful) nations is probably what allows such nations to do bad things. Again and again.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Slip-sliding away......

From the railway station of the very sad Mer de Glace (near Chamonix Mont Blanc). Taken in July 2009 by me.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Friday, 7 August 2009

Blimey, Booker T

Just a little frighteningly exciting - and that's rare. Do watch it.

Mark Ford (Robben Ford's brother), his style reminds me a lot of poor old Roy Buchanan's. BRILLIANT!!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Adlestrop - Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name because one afternoon
Of heat the express train drew up there
Unwontendly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
On 23 June 1914 Edward Thomas took his uneventful journey on the Oxford to Worcester express. In July 1915 he enlisted into the Artists Rifles. (Two of my great uncles did the same - one survived the war). At 7.30am on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917, the first day of the battle of Arras, Thomas was standing at the Beaurains Observation Post when he was killed by the blast of a shell exploding nearby.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Clearly he is no Voodoo Chile.

On BBC4 I'm watching Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood's gig recorded at Madison Square Gardens last year. SW is on fine form, but clearly EC has lost very nearly all the blues he ever had. This is not news - he's been losing them ever since late 1968 when Cream broke up and Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce were no longer there to drive him along, I reckon. Anyway, for this 2008 gig EC had managed to find somewhere (inside himself?), what he felt was necessary to cover Jimi Hendrix' Voodoo Chile. Damn, it is such a very sickly pale imitation of the very powerful and almost frightening style in which, with SW on organ, Jimi had recorded it forty years earlier.
Voodoo Chile.
Well, I'm a voodoo chile,
Lord, I'm a voodoo chile.

Well, the night I was born,
Lord, I swear the moon turned a fire red,
The night I was born,
I swear the moon turned a fire red,
Well, my poor mother cried out, "Lord, the gypsy was right!"
And I seen her, fell down right dead. (Have mercy).

Well, mountain lions found me there waitin'
And set me on an eagle's back,
Well, mountain lions found me there,
And set me on an eagle's wing,
(It's the eagle's wing, baby, what did I say?).
He took me past to the outskirts of infinity
And when he brought me back
He gave me a Venus witch's ring. Hey!
And he said "Fly on, fly on......"
Because I'm a voodoo chile, yeah, voodoo chile, hey!

Well, I make love to you
And lord knows you'll feel no pain,
Say, I make love to you in your sleep
And lord knows you felt no pain, (have mercy),
'Cause I'm a million miles away
And at the same time I'm right here in your picture frame,
(Yeah! What did I say now?),
'Cause I'm a voodoo chile,
Lord knows, I'm a voodoo chile, (yeah!).

Well, my arrows are made of desire
From's far away as Jupiter's sulphur mines,
Say, my arrows are made of desire, desire
From's far away as Jupiter's sulphur mines,
(Way down by the Methane Sea, yeah),
And I have a humming bird and it hum so loud,
Lord, you'd think you were losing your mind, hmmm...

Well, I float in liquid gardens
And Arizona new red sand,
(Yeah) I float in liquid gardens
Way down in Arizona red sand,
Well, I taste the honey from a flower named Blue,
Way down in California
And New York drowns as we hold hands,

'Cause I'm a voodoo chile,
Lord knows I'm a voodoo chile.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Hugh Coltman

Does pop music get any better than this??? Hugh Coltman entertaining the French (because in Britain we're too silly to allow him to entertain us?) on Taratata last week. It's no longer of any importance, but throughout most of the '90s Hugh was frontman in The Hoax, an astonishingly successful British blues band (who Sum Doood saw performing seven times).

01 May 09: The original link became inoperable, so now please click here.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Strikes in France + '60s video

Until I left home and went to college I'd never lived in a house with a television. Therefore I listened a lot to the radio. And therefore, I suppose, I remember feeling quite well informed and very much interested in the huge strikes and "unrest" of students in 1968, even though I was only 11-12 years old at the time.

Forty years later I find myself still interested in the industrial and political activities of the French, so much so that it seems to me that all is closer to being well in the world, if (most of), the French are en grève.

My sister speaks French better than many natives, has lived in France on and off for a good long while and is there now. I asked her how it seemed to be.

'"Word on the street", as far as I can gather from the people I’ve spoken to, is that many on the Left (e.g. organic farmers) loathe Sarkozy and compare him with Berlusconi, saying he's a complete idiot who's totally unfit to hold power. Apparently, he says tactless things and upsets people (notoriously referring to inhabitants of Paris housing projects as racaille, or scum); he’s also criticized for being much more interested in showing off on the foreign scene than concentrating on internal affairs.

The Centre and Right tend to say that he's a sound bloke and that the Left should appreciate the fact that he's worked his way up through the ranks rather than being born to privilege like many other French presidents. They also say that the people who have been demonstrating have life incredibly easy since the majority of them are civil servants, many of whom do a 30-hour-week, have massive job security and some of the most generous benefits of any EU countries, then never stop moaning.

The minimum wage is France is €8.71 p/hour, i.e. £7.80 (UK, £5.73). Many civil servants receive the treizième mois – an end-of-year bonus equivalent to a month’s salary - and two years’ work for the State entitles employees to two years’ unemployment benefit at, I was told, 80% of their final salary; (similarly 6 months’ work will give them 6 months’ benefits). Needless to say, the civil servants don’t see their position in such a rosy light (see: ).

You've no doubt seen the protests at the oil refinery in Lincs (and elsewhere now) where they're kicking up a stink because the place has taken on Italian and Portuguese workers. People get nastily nationalistic when the going gets tough, don't they? I expect we'll see more of it, an’ all ...'

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I was shut down.

For eight days this site was shut down by Google and I don't know why. All "they" said was that the site looked like a "spam site", adding that it obviously wasn't, because I was able to communicate with "them" on the one occasion they allowed.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Nicks on, Nixon

Charlie: Jeez, Blonde on Blonde. Yes. That was another one I played until it literally buzzed. I even started liking the buzz after a while. There's such subtleties in it. Little bits of Texas Swing style picked guitar in the background, honky tonk piano, unashamed shit kicking rock and roll. And it's bloody funny. I remember playing Brand New Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat to the boys when they were little. My goodness that made them laugh - especially when they eventually figured out what was going on in the Garage.

SD: Yeah, smutty. Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet? That line bloody kills me with respect, followed by

We sit here stranded though we're all doin our best to deny it And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it. Lights flicker from the opposite loft, In this room the heat pipes just cough, The country music station plays soft, But there's nothing really nothing to turn off.....

A man could die happy if he'd written even half of those four lines, don't you think?

Charlie: Yes, but what about Hendrix too. Inspired! I knew there was something I was craving.
I remember a line that went something like "Pass me that bottle and I'll sing you a real song". What was that from?

SD: It's called "My Friend". Will Newman used to cover it very well, but he'd forget some of the lyrics, of course. Will's blues band, Lumber Puncture, did a gig last night in Leeds - I'd've invited you down, but I was stopping over in Leeds, then took the dude to Preston where he's best-manning on a stag do for his longtime schoolfriend.

Charlie: If regurgiture is not yet a word then it's only a matter of time. I read recently that the Oxford Dictionary is removing 7 words this year to make room for 7 new ones. I wonder if there's a place where they keep alll the old words that nobody ever uses anymore. Or are they shredded and then incinerated just in case they fall into the wrong hands? I think we should be told.

SD: It's a conspiracy, dude, a secret plan to achieve an evil or illegal end: cabal, collusion, connivance, intrigue, machination,,,,,,,

I've just purposely bought today's Independent because it's got the Frost v Nixon real interviews in it. Do you remember Peter Evans, the art teacher who did a swap with an American teacher who sheepishly told us of the slogan "Nicks on, Nixon"?

I think I should put all this straight into the blog. If folks don't understand it, they can do the research, or just bog off!!!