Friday, 16 March 2012

Oscar Peterson

On holiday from college in 1975 I caught some late night TV programmes which I remember as being made in Canada and called Night Train. The piano playing was clearly jazz, but never obscure, and therefore like no jazz piano I'd ever knowingly heard. Returning to Ambleside (Cumbria, UK), for the autumn term I dashed to Fred Holdsworth's bookshop with some birthday money and bought The Trio Live. I played it semi-secretly because it wasn't like anything else I or my friends liked. Or thought we liked. Or admitted to liking.

One thousand years later the vynil's worn out, but mp3 versions are always nearby and the tunes are still amongst the music I listen to most frequently.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Actively Lazing

This morning I lay in bed and travelled from east to west across Russia reading Paul Theroux's excellent The Great Railway Bazaar (published 1975), then galumphed downstairs and ordered (secondhand again, of course), Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, his thirty years later follow-up.

Joanne Newman and I had a light-ish lunch at the inescapable Whale Tail Cafe, after which I popped into the Oxfam bookshop and was grabbed by an OS map of Leeds, now a present for Will Newman, and Anglo Saxon England by J & L Laing.

The blogger at Sutton Hoo, July 2010.

Jo was driving us towards a VW agency to look for a replacement for her Fox when I re-realised what madness it is to get involved with main dealers and persuaded her that we should be looking at the proper garage where over the years her family have bought several used cars, none of them bad. By mid-afternoon we were home.

Down our short garden the sun was shining into the 8' x 16' "house-shed" so I took my Anglo Saxons out there, put on Jack Bruce's Songs for a Tailor and soon afterwards sort-of accidentally lit the woodstove. Later, as the sun dropped between two menorah-like ash trees in the middle distance, I stood at a window and used my hands to carefully crop our neighbour's pebble-dashed garage, a street lamp, a powerline, and the intruding chimneys of bungalowland from an otherwise glorious view.

Jo and I prepared snacky teas and dashed back to our woodstoves. In the sitting room she was settling down to watch ice-dancing on TV. In the shed I caught  David Sedaris reading a couple of his excellent short stories on Radio 4. I'd only recently heard his Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and it had made me laugh so much it hurt.

After a couple of hours of Anglo Saxons by the woodstove I half-dozed and half-listened to 15 tracks of Blue Note bossa nova, yes, really, and was pleased to find trumpeter Blue Mitchell and, a particular favourite, guitarist Kenny Burrell on several of them.

About 10pm I returned to domestic conformity, but not without just standing for a few minutes. Beneath a plump half moon the night was so bright as to be almost glaring. And there was Orion on guard in a star-stuffed sky..... It occurred to me that I could have spent half of today driving to a dark sky park, out to Argyll perhaps, or to the Llŷn peninsula, not lazing around in a shed however enjoyable that might be.