This year we:
- got well into spinning around on bikes - going to Brighton, Box Hill, Brasted, between Seville and Cordoba, 47.5 mph down Titsey Hill and through London at night (occasionally without lights or a full complement of contact lens – neither recommended)
- got sonically sliced and reassembled by a blistering Autechre and .snd gig in Hearn street car park. Had to leave early, but could still hear the beats a good five minutes walk away
- started a dangerous habit of European city breaks, and had a series of glorious meals in Paris, broken only by some serious dancing in the original Favela Chic
- tried to keep rock climbing, semi-successfully
- left one career; got another job after visiting the pub
- saw (and loved) my first Chagall at From Russia, an exhibition teeming with quality, exhilarating to see Kandinsky’s and Malevich in the flesh
- marvelled at Richard Serra’s malleable steel playground
- shook out some demons at various dread sound systems at my first Notting Hill carnival
- grasped and gasped my way round Roger Hiorn’s Seizure
- tasted madelines (metaphorically) at a Mogwai gig
- cried at a Rod Stewart song
- probably reached the crux of hipsterdom seeing a poet do a reading along to Gang Gang Dance in Hoxton. Whilst wearing jeans that were probably on the skinny side.
- got even more hipsterish when watching some free jazz in Dalston, including a man playing a bin bag filled with gas. It was a furious, exhilarating concert though
- politely clapped to a man prancing around on a JCB
- spontaneously combusted to Herbie Hancock encoring with a Keytar
- pestled my own pesto
- visited Riverside for some World Championship darts, discovered that it’s really not my sport
- still haven’t used the mango destined for that fish curry
- sat on cushions in the Tate's turbine hall and got assaulted by some early computer animation, it was well techno
- completed Crysis on a 32" LCD
- saw Public Enemy at Brixton Academy; Alva Noto at the ICA; 808 State, Arthur Baker and IF at Jacks; Squarepusher and LFO at the Astoria; Loefah and Hijak, Mala and Skream at Black Sheep Bar
- Stuart Lee at the Hen & Chickens and at the Soho Theatre
- Richard Herring, Phil Nichol, Josie Long, Bridget Christie, Will Adamsdale, Pappy's Fun Club and Dave Goreman with free bangers at Battersea Arts Centre
- Steve Coogan at Apollo
- Elizabeth and Rayleigh at Croydon Library Theatre
- lots of Bug at the BFI with Adam Buxton
- Sean Locke at Hammersmith Apollo
- Mighty Boosh at the O2
- Frank McGuiness' Oedipus with Ralph Fiennes at NT
- lost my father
- felt like I was having a heart attack from grief and fury at 3am
- played a lot of Mass Effect
- bought an iPhone
- got a massive boil on the right eyebrow which had to be surgically removed
- moved offices and employer without changing jobs
- properly got into podcasts (Collings and Herrin, Dream Chimney, TwiT, The Tone Generation)
- got Miró, Calder, Giacometti and Braque in some perspective at the Royal Academy
- worked as a teaching assistant
- in the same 6-hour period: attended York Museum of Popular Culture, dressed like a hippy and swore at numerous children despite it being my jobsworth and met Tom Baker while eating a penguin
- had the drummer from the Housemartins and the Beautiful South give a workshop for da kids
If I was being brutally honest, the five best eating experiences this year have probably all been ice-cream based, eaten after midnight having consumed a few beers. But that would be a very boring list, and the photos of me dribbling down myself should probably never find their way onto the internet.
(5) Birthday Fishcakes
Great because they’re almost a meal on their own, and they neatly combine the comfort aspect you get from fried food, but with the health kick of eating fish. Bonus.
Peel and boil your potatoes, then start grilling your fish, for which I prefer salmon. I generally have too high a potato-to-fish ratio, but you need at least 40% potato if you want the cakes to hold together when you’re frying them. Mash the spuds, flake the fish. Stick them in a bowl and combine with a handful of fresh coriander, garlic, some chilli, a dash of soy sauce and the zest of a lime. You can chuck in the juice of the lime as well, but probably not all of it. Beat an egg and then tip a bit onto a plate, while waiting for the mixture to be cool enough to handle. Get another plate and make a bit pile of breadcrumbs. I’m an unreserved ponce, and so like to use Tesco’s ready made ciabatta breadcrumbs with parmesan, but this is a bit silly given the amount of crusts we have knocking around.
Place a fair wack of oil in a pan and heat, around a centimeter deep. It depends on the size of your cakes – the oil needs to come up halfway.
Wet your hands. Get the mixture and roll into fist-sized balls, then gently squish both ends. Place on the eggy plate, then turn over, then place in the breadcrumb pile, again turning it over.
Place in the pan. All the ingredients are already cooked, so you’re just waiting for the breadcrumbs to turn golden really. Place on kitchen roll to get rid of any excess oil. Serve with peas.
(4) Weekday Randomness
We’re home, and the fridge is full. More often than not, this results in two or three meals on the same plate, but occasionally it comes together. This photo is of some girolle and enoki mushrooms sautéed in white wine vinegar and white wine, some gnocci in tomato sauce with some fresh basil, and some wilted spinach. Does anyone know what they put in gnocchi to make it so good? Potato doesn’t normally taste that good.
This is an institution. Everyone is invited. Guest speakers each week, rotating membership.
This is the name a friend gave to the practice of having yoghurt after a meal. He went to public school and found in constitutionally impossible not to give acronyms or nicknames to almost everything in his life. It is pretty contagious though (both the eating of yoghurt, and the habit of giving things nicknames that are no quicker to say and only serve to confuse the uninitiated).
Popular guests include YCF (fruit), YC neat, and YCH (honey). The picture shows YCF (figs), which was very well received. Heat the oven to 200°C, half the figs, place on a baking tray, and drizzle with honey and white wine. Leave for about 10 minutes. The flesh should start to be oozing out of the skin. Place in a bowl with some Y. Get involved.
(2) Chocolate Fudge Cake
Baking. Good for the soul. We also had cookies, beetroot brownies, normal brownies, and cheese cake.
Osaka omelette style yumminess, cooked on a hotplate in your table by a waiter/waitress. Garnished with fish flakes, and mayonnaise and sweet chilli type sauces. Awesome.
Honourable mentions to the brownies of both Riverside Terrace and St John’s, the first time we went to Fisherman’s Catch on Southend Road, dukka and butternut squash, rhubarb crème brule, gazpacho, and the numerous four-hour stews after a session at Scream studios. Out to all the cashew nuts. Beers of the year: Kwak did constantly surprise me, although Duvel is becoming a firm favourite. Big up all triples, and everyone keeping it Trappist.
Quotes from The Boys from Brazil (1978) starring those well-known comic turns, Gregory Peck as Dr. Josef Mengele and Laurence Olivier as Ezra Lieberman, all backed by a wonderfully melodramatic score by Jerry Goldsmith.
Lieberman - Feel free to ignore your responsibilities while my property is being ruined!
Landlord - You have no right to bring these heavy cabinets in here.
Lieberman - All right, all right! So next time rent to a feather merchant!
Lieberman - Mr Kohler, it may be a blinding revelation to you that there are Nazis in Paraguay, but I assure you, it is no news to me. And if you stay there much longer, there will still be Nazis in Paraguay, but there will be one less Jewish boy in the world.
Lieberman - He's been there... some weeks. I told him to go home and he hung up. What did he want? Applause?
Beynon - How are you getting along?
Lieberman - Can't complain. Who'd listen?
Beynon - I'm so sorry, I'm late for lunch.
Lieberman - Always such a prodigious appetite!
Beynon - What?
Lieberman - Eight times last week I called you, and each time you were at lunch. Maybe you have a tapeworm?
Beynon - Have you any idea how many men in their mid-60s die every day?
Lieberman - I try not to think about it.
Simon Harrington - Don't you understand English, you arse?
Lieberman - If you want to ask the questions, you pay for the phone call!
Gertrud - Get a doctor!
Mengele - I am a doctor, idiot!
Gertrud - Don't you come near him!
Mengele - Shut up, you ugly bitch!
Doctor - Then he was nothing more than a sadist, really.
Lieberman - A sadist with an MD and a PhD.
Lieberman - Well, some people would say that's a perfect definition of a scientist.
Lieberman - Did you kill Wheelock?
Mengele - No... he's in the kitchen, mixing us some cocktails!
Mengele - A Hitler tailor-made for the 1980s!
That's not even to mention the bit with the puppet. imdb defines the genre as "Drama / Horror / Sci-Fi / Thriller". We could add Comedy to that list, but it is better to consider if great drama always invokes comedy (and vice-versa).
This year we;
- got a banjo for xmas
- got fined fifty quid for littering
- rode the Paris tube one hot summer night, listening to Burial on headphones
- helped arrange a workshop at the Tate Modern (and then failed to show up)
- signed on
- didn't have a sauna
- paid tuition fees late
- got fatter
- got chatted up on the Leeds-Kings Cross train
- got some kittens
- went boating in Cornwall
- got a violin for xmas (and broke the string already)
- got punched for being foreign (we're not)
- used a bottle as a weapon
- played Dungeons and Dragons (well... some of us)
- fluffed our lines at an interview
- puked in a plastic bag... in a moving car
- got recognised by a stranger
- moved out
- moved back in
- watched Edward Scissorhands completely pissed at five in the morning*
- upset a load of people
- listened to Joanna Newsum and got real sad
- disapproved of someone's girlfriend
- made a promise then broke it
- snorted derisively
- didn't visit the cow roast
- got a Master System
- and a NES!
- slept with someone then regretted it
- signed off
- applied for a job we didn't want
- got a scar
- witnessed a burglary
- got Wii Elbow
- experienced the two faces of Mitchell and Webb (at Grimsby Sports Hall)
- had a picnic in Yorkshire amongst statues
- got a train to Truro... with Luke Vibert!!!**
- saw the pretty side of Birmingham
- went to DMZ in Leeds and didn't get in
- took acid in the Derbyshire Dales (not all of us did this, we've got reputations to, erm, build)
- got closer
- drifted further apart
- heard about James Brown first thing Christmas morning
- remembered a dream in which we are killed
- got mistaken for criminals by the local constabulary
- fell out with a stranger in the pub
- bought drugs
- sold drugs
- got eye-deed
- refused to let someone in
- walked along the banks of Warrington canal
- drank cider from the Brandy Wharf
- learnt about insects
- went to a strip-club
- and discovered it was all a front for an illegal drugs syndicate
- and that they served the best pint of Carlsberg Export in town!
- quit without serving notice
- grew our hair long
- didn't buy a single cd
- got free latte at Greggs
- drove to Meadowhall in the fog
- did all our Christmas shopping in one day, at the last minute
- made friends with someone new
- played tennis near Messingham
- played in the snow
- went down to Colchester
- stuck stickers all around Oval
- recommended the Kode 9 album every time someone mentioned Burial
- went record shopping in foreign countries
- visited Berlin
- got a new job
- played with our nephews
- went into town for some boutique beers, then back to leeds DMZ, nonchalantly strolled past the bouncers and danced around our bag for two hours before going to the train station for a four hour wait
- got fitted for a gown
- played guitar until our fingers bled
- played another person’s records in a bar in Nottingham and got a hi-five over the decks for selecting aaliyah’s “try again”
- listened to radio four late into the night and used the information gained to secure a pupillage, which we celebrated by hugging our dad in our underwear
- got cross cross-examining someone
- schooled some fools at jurisprudence and got schooled ourselves in the ways of equity, tax and company
- really dug snow, the book
- repeatedly swum 100 lengths in under an hour, or occasionally a bit over an hour, all the while in speedos
- danced a bit half-heartedly at grosvenor house
- wished we had more vinyl
- composed and disseminated a motto for swim club
- cringed watching ourself on video
- cooked a superb series of pies, both savoury and dessert
- quizzed a butler about the possibility of "beating the light" whilst holding a makeshift staff and trespassing on a wedding reception on a country estate
- sat outside and smoked alone
- had bits of our teeth fall off
- sang along to the gossip in the car with our little brother
- hugged a friend who had returned from basra
- got called a tosser from the top window of a bus in an estate in hull
- consumed, enjoyed, then made notes on ivanov, on beauty, blow up, kadare (x2), old boy, osama, the penelopiad, hidden, blue of noon, money, orphee, the line of beauty, rashomon, snow, the third policeman, portrait of a lady, the double life of Veronique, the great war for civilisation, never let me go, and so many ways to begin
- discussed the merits of gas-powered street lighting
- got the jitters listening to Miriam Makeba’s “Mbube”, even though it was subsequently used on a tv ad
- was taught the difference between moral and personal autonomy in a way which severely changed our world view
- remembered to use the phrase “are you dumb inna headpiece?” in conversation
- dj’d whilst dressed (badly) as a mummy
- refused to give in
- played with our existing nephew
- held our two new nephews
- learnt to play the drums
- drank too much
- finally made some real money
- got an ear infection
- and spent a fortnight on prescription opiates
- got our first parking ticket
- reached new lows on New Deal
- read the local paper regularly
- bought an Oyster card
- drank Dragon Stout stood next to Sgt Pokes
- learnt about the Dutch
How about you?
* that's us that were pissed, not eddie.
** ok, so he was in the same carriage. he had his kids with him. he also had a mr sparkle tee shirt on. look, it was definitely him, he's smoked scunny hash. we're mates. ahem.
Loads of solid vocal tracks and then Skepta, JME and Wiley* turn up! Karnage and Maximum pon deck - download it here.
There's a few tracks on ere which highlight the growing animosity between Newham Generals and Roll Deep... this clash could be e p i c - with JME and Dizzee on the sidelines, imagine those two clashing.... wow. My money'd be on JME - and I think I'd get good odds, too. Anyone fancy laying prices? Anyone wanna help me set up GrimeBet.com? Could be a nice little earner.
Anyway, Newham Generals can be caught filth-flingin here. Good clean fun.
* actually, Wiley doesn't turn up.
Rosy is a brusque opener (and quite clearly a man, which I wasn’t aware of. faceless laptronica eh?), delivering a terse set of drones. The initial emphasis on purity punctuated with the occasional tell-tale crackles of source material. This was an exploration of glitch as a fetishisation of error, the sinewy, supple tones courteously ceding territory to the surface noise. It was always a battle between two noises though, with little more than a cross-fade between the two. Too often the drones felt static, and were not elongated enough to start feeling the oblivion where you can’t imagine another sound, the sounds just sat on top of each other like oil on water. The shape of the set was disappointingly conventional – start quiet and tentative, get fuller, layer noises, crescendo end. I’m making it sound like Rosy is like a rancid jar of fat kept in a garage, whereas it was far more like a delicious tea with scones. Still, to be treated as a series of preparatory washes for…
An encounter with Philip away from the performance world would render an impression of a morose hoarder of anoraks, and yet he delivers the most impassioned performance of the three. The central conceit is the limited input, binding himself to two turntables, and the carelessly strewn vinyl scattered around his performance desk. (Last time I saw Philip Jeck I was struck at how he cultivates his surface noise, literally throwing his records around, no sleeves and shoved in a rucksack at the end of the set.) But this limitation of sources only serves to put pressure on other parts of the system, and so the tunnelling forays into the sounds from the records are expansive miniature dissertations; exfoliating the sound through distortion, piercing it with echo and using the loops to remind us of the one source-sound that runs through everything we hear. Sonic mittens on strings, tearing you away from the source, only to present it on a pallet to you later, like a kitten pleased with its first kill. No matter how far down Philip dives with the echo and squeal, he retains perspective; he will bungee from the depth of the most tweaked noise back to serenity and the reminder of the humble records, bearing their scars from previous sets. This is matched in the occasional sound outs (the aural equivalent of a black out) jarring the listener out of their reverie. This was the only set with images, mostly pastoral landscapes and sheep portraits, and the only common factor I could find was a lot of dappled sunlight shining through things. Non-narrative, inducing us to explore our own relationship to memory, as Jon Wozencroft urged? Or (just) pictures of sheep?
While Rosy Parlance and Philip Jeck both seemed to tame their music, Fennesz was the only performer who seemed to be wrestling with the sound, straining to pin so the audience could admire it a fragment longer. Maybe this is because he was the most direct of the three artists. Rosy Parlane used only a laptop, and the dull light it emitted offered no clue as to what part the performer was playing. Jeck obviously has the turntables, and frequently gets busy with them, grabbing the platter, but his contact is always somewhat obscured by the layers of effects, the pea under many, many mattresses. Fennesz has his guitar, firmly strapped on this time for the duration of the set, and the audience is far more aware of the possibility of error. Given that error in the form of skips, or loops formed by warping is a big part of the other acts, it’s interesting that it is the human error on the guitar comes across as the most fragile. Fennesz wasn’t tentative as a whole, but there were notes of hesitancy, interspersed with chugging riffs, as if to eradicate the previous delicate moments. Sounds bleed into each other, leaching across the guitar/laptop divide, which is where I think Fennesz excels, the overtones and feedback melting into the burbling electronic brook beneath it.
All three played together at the end, which was probably the best thing of the night. Jon Wozencroft introduced it by invoking the spirit of Warhol and Joy Division ("there are some things we'll never understand"), but there was no blissful amalgamation of noise, but rather a respectful interaction.
“Strange enlightenments are vouchsafed for those who seek the higher places”
The face-slappingly obvious reference here is Kafka. Try repeatedly hitting yourself with a copy of “The Castle” until the link (and probably more than your recommended daily amount of ink) has sunk in. The similarity is superficial though. While the elements of authority’s intransigence, the meek individual faced with an establishment composed of numerous trivial obsessions and an indecipherable inner logic are all in place, there is one crucial thread that inverts the ultimate effect. Kafka never explained. The unquestioning servility of bureaucracy’s drones to the machine was mirrored in Kafka’s own silent obedience to this authority. The absurdities in the narrative were heightened by the author’s blithe acceptance. The Third Policeman doesn't follow this deference. Instead, a plot twist straight out of Night’s book is used to ensure that some comforting post-rationalisation can take place; it’s all right we’re told, there’s a reason for all this. In seeking to eke out some plausibility to events, Flann undermines the surrealism; he views the plot twist as necessary to give himself license to pursue the randomness. He needn’t have worried:
pg 35 “A bright thought came to me when I heard of these policemen. If they knew so much they would have no difficulty in telling me where I would find the black box.”
pg 58 “It was Sergeant Pluck himself…I decided now that he was a simple man and I would have no difficulty in dealing with him exactly as I desired and finding from him what had happened to the black box.”
A 23 page joke. That’s like a stand-up pausing for half an hour before the punch line, and far, far funnier.
Isn't it funny how much taller everyone is nowadays? Only the other day I was trying to buy a hat for a friend, when the hatter asked not only for the hat size, but the overall height of my friend. "Well I'm not sure" I was forced to admit, "why ever do you require that information?" It was, I was told, to ensure the wearer graceful passage through today's standard doorways and openings. This highlights a related problem: that of the lowering ceilings in modern buildings. A quick survey of ceilings from the oldest nearby residential building (1856), through one of later vintage (1936), common age (1964) and new housing (2002) reveals a clearly inversely proportional relationship of diminishing headroom to age of building.
One doesn't have to have surveyed the nation's average height, compared this with prevailing hat fashions in corresponding years and plotted it all against the narrowing profit margin of house building to see problems on the horizon, especially if one is very tall. If these trends continue, light fittings may overcome breezes as the chief cause of hat-loss, while milliners will be forced to reign-in the scale of their creations for indoor use.
As ever, new technology has the answer in the form of holographically-projected headgear, already the in-thing at the hippest parties for optical research scientists in Vienna and the US. But for those of us without long-term research posts or justification for diverting portions of massively inflated defense budgets, there is a simpler solution inspired by the skateboarders (or "sk8rz") who occupy the ramp near Netto or hang around down Winterton Park. Wannabe hattists finding themselves without the necessary space above their heads to place the stylish apex of a perfect outfit can strap protective pads to their knees and effectively walk around with an extra 2-3 feet of reclaimed hat-room. Not only is this a stylish and practical answer for the very tall indoor hat-wearer's nightmare, but an added credibility boost in the eyes of a highly disapproving youth for hat-wearing authority figures such as police officers, bishops or witches.
Big up the man like Turrell. It’s like a walk-in Rothko, a bath of colour where the attendants keep sponging you down until you’ve got washerwomen’s hands, only you’re wrinkly due to colour saturation, not water. Well, there are attendants, although unfortunately they don't sponge you down. The first piece requires the eyes adjust as you gradually descend into the room, the other senses lagging behind but just as keenly involved when the piece reveals itself. The colour infuses the room like a virgin teabag introduced to hot water, and it does feel physical; the purple tingling on bare arms. Though it could equally be the other punters fumbling into you as they make there way around the room. The colour is a presence though; people whisper as if a headmistress is present, they approach the edge as if they might suddenly topple off and generally edge around like they’re in Purple’s house and don’t want to displace anything for fear of being rebuked. Gazers grope around at the light end of the room, trying to capture some colour in their palm.
The second features slippers, but they’re the sort of slippers a factory-worker would be issued, flimsy static-ridden bags, not the enveloping pairs of comfort that BHS purvey. The slippers are meant to keep the white space-age loading-bay pristine, as it then opens up to a vast pink vista that extends indefinitely. You’re not meant to dangle your legs of the bottom, as it would spoil the vertiginous sense of being on the brink. It’s what I’d do though if I could sit on the edge of a 2001-esque space port.
The third is red and features a corner. I spoilt it by missing the attendant’s introductory warning and subsequently stepping into it. It’s never the same after that. From the edge the colour spills out, filing the pores, but given licence to roam, standing in the centre, you can no longer reach out. “Only what is seen sideways sinks deep”.
The skyscape squats in an old deer shelter, presumably the equivalent of a bus shelter for delinquent deer to deface and terrorise. The square room is encased in concrete cladding, forming a solid ledge for viewers, riddled with guttering at its edges and feet. It is topped by the ceiling, a large square omitted, framing the sky. Why do we need our attention drawing to something that is permanently hovering above us? Why does the artist feel the need to chop the sky into digestible chunks, like we’re children incapable of chewing? Can confining something, giving it borders and limits, make it more beautiful?
p.s. if the fizz-wizz is out there, would (s)he please identify themselves in the comment box.
Jason Forrest - Skyrocket Saturday (from Shamelessly Exciting. Ken and apfrod crew actually went on a Sunday, and so similar viewings cannot be guaranteed if you go on a Saturday. Or indeed, on a skyrocket, although I doubt they'll allow one of those on a footpath, or even a bridleway.)
* these were Andre Derain's last words when asked if there was anything he wanted.
Like gloves on a summer night, this album feels sticky like sin. It's a break from the past that casts all that has gone before into relief. It meanders enjoyably for 40-odd minutes. The artists involved met one year and forged a beautiful friendship. His instrument sounds like an animal in an extremely tense situation. The disclosure of an innocent mind comes at a high price. I don't like this record. I can't find an angle. What I like about other music, sometimes, is one can make claims on its behalf. The artists involved are happy about the charity. The album review is an economy of gestures organised around a system of taboos and governed by easily determinable (though historically variable) regulations. The dynamic of the relation between these taboos and their audience (target market) has yet to be explored by a naive mind unsullied by press releases and deadlines.