It seems like only yesterday that I was last over there in that Southwest of France. But it is now more days than weeks before I will be back... and boy am I looking forward to it. I am in need of a break, having spent the past couple of months getting a house ready to go on the market - no time for blogging - and thinking about working on another one. There is a whole lot more work ahead. But what a lot of fun it is to be setting up a new home! New shelves for CDs, new places for Tobias to play, a new backyard...
So extremely belatedly I would like to say thanks to some people before we see them again. And let them know that we are looking forward to a brief re-union. To all the great people that made Linzi and I feel welcome in Toulouse for New Year. Especially Yohan for sharing his home, giving me his copy of Agora Fidelio's stupendous new record and telling Murray to have a holiday. Also to Pauline for being cool and providing a great subterfugepartyvenue and the lovely Emilie for loaning Murray her car to pick us up and for being so complimentary of my photographs - I am glad that you enjoyed them and I am looking forward to seeing more of yours!
And yes, there will be pictures of a very special band. Alors, a très bientôt!
Well I am doing quite well with just putting some pictures here occasionally. It is quite easy, but helpful. I am near the internet more often again, mainly at a different house, and I feel at home blogging.
I am thinking a lot about pictures at the moment. I do at the best and the worst of times, but this is slightly different, because right now I don't have a job. OK, so I do go out each morning and sit in an office. But rather than an actual job, it is nothing but a way of earning some money, or trying to pay bills as I mainly think of it. Not great then, not how I want to continue for a minute further than is absolutely necessary and more to the point, not how I intend to live anymore. Whether here,
Indeed anywhere really.
I want to take pictures. I need to not just find a new job, but turn around how I combine working and living. Because to tell the truth, I have never felt more satisfied than when unemployed of late - hey, are they the times when I get to do what I want?... - and there is something not quite right with that. Have I put my finger on something? I have had time to think, time to use a camera, time with loved ones. There are a lot of dark colours and deep shadows in these photographs. But I think it is a just reflection of the season, of things that have to be worked through. Spring is almost within reach.
And Tobias likes the idea. So long as I don't stop getting up on time to get his cat-breakfast.
It is not true. The world is far from being a small place. It may not matter whether friends, family, close ones are an hour down the road or in a different country because we can jump in the car, get on a plane, pick up a phone or write or read a blog post. But none of that is like spending real time with them. Time to just sit and drink coffee before a day starts properly. Time that doesn't have to be measured, time to do stuff in a day as the fancy takes and there is always tomorrow if it doesn't all fit. Time that includes long evenings and mornings and then more. And when there is time like that to find a bar and sip a beer or just drive a bit further up the valley, as far as a ruined abbey or a signposted cave, it can be the best time in the world.
It was so good to spend a bit of time like that with my brother for the first week in January. We struggle to stay in touch, busy lives, different countries and suchlike. Equally we both had a hard time last year. But now is time to be different and I hope he feels as optimistic as I do about this year.
February and I think that I should really be in gear for 2007. So here is to more contact... I know you called last night and I will try and get you at home tomorrow. I hope to see you over here before too long Murray too, come and see Hull. I'll check to see when Fonda 500 are playing.
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This is where I was at the start of the month, happy days, clearer air. I have a clearer head too, full of plans and excitement for 2007. And this is a promise to return to relatively regular blogging. Soonish then, when I spend more time near an internet connection. There is plenty to tell, pictures to share. I am looking forward to it.
It is true that I didn't write cards this Christmas. There are reasons for that, in my head they are good enough so that is fine. But to those who thought they might get a cheery greeting through the post from me this season, I apologise. I have good intentions for the New Year, you will hear from me and hopefully more than just
Is it all really relative? Time that is... I have driven, I have been on buses, I have been on trains oh a lot of trains and it seems like a long time since. I have been in Hull, in the same few houses, but I have also been to York and Doncaster and London, to Kings Cross a lot of times, and for all manner of reasons. So I have been round in circles and up and down in straight lines, but in the same place for very long? Well, no. It all seems like really rather a long time since I accomplished half of the things I set out to do at the start of any given week.
Time to write again? I am sure it should come more easily than this. Or maybe it is just that I am too busy to sit back and reflect? Anyhow, it has been a good week or so and, ooh look, we are already well into another one.
At the weekend I decided that going to the seaside not-in-the-summer (I didn't want to call it winter yet - it is not that bad) is a lovely thing to do. We strolled on the firm damp sand and had a pot of tea with fish and chips and the grey sky was quite fitting for the run down air that Bridlington sadly has these days.
The buildings along the sea front are worn out and shabby - paint work peeling, windows empty, colours washed out - so running Bridlington through the CS2 lomo action from CODA throws away any pretence of subtlety or reality even and instead offers an alternative - saturated, colourful, kind of like fast food. I like the perverse idea of taking pictures with a relatively expensive camera, then using equally pricey software to make the pictures look like they are from a cheap Chinese Holga. And this is the sort of thing that you end up with when you turn it up to 11:
I guess it makes me think a little further about photography as an expression of my individual vision of the world - a conversation I was having the other evening. A few days ago I posted a similar but totally different picture to the one above on my other blog. That black and white version is pretty much what I felt like saying that day. It was a beautiful autumnal Saturday afternoon, with dry, crisp light. I saw contrast and shapes and shadows and took a handful of pictures of Skidby mill that I thought captured that, kind of.
And then this morning I was looking for pictures and an excuse to write and my interpretation of that day seemingly changes. We now have super saturated blue skies in winter, dream like clouds all glowy and without depth and blown out detail that - this morning - just doesn't matter. Maybe nothing to do with what really happened, nothing to do with how I feel about it now either... but just because it is possible to see the same thing in many different ways.
OK, I just like taking pictures.
I do like words. Putting them together to make sense of ideas that are sometimes just vague shapes of thoughts in my head. And I kind of know who reads this - and even when they are reading it - thanks to the ooh so creepy voyeuristicity that is the tracking code written into the html of the page template (hey, you read about my life, I know where and sometimes who you are, what computer you are sitting at, which web site you came from...). There are passers by out there, coming in from all over the world, Canada, India, France all the time. There are occasional visitors, some of whom I know and some who are total strangers please say hi if you pause to read me catching a glimpse of this description of the aspects of my life that I choose to portray - and who knows how real that is? Then there are the regulars, those that I know - mostly by real name and face too, which is a nice thing. So when I want to say something in particular to one of them either I can call them on the phone or suggest it here for all to see.
But sometimes I find myself making a decision; whether or not to write about things that are private. Not necessarily things that I don't want others to know about, but perhaps just that I don't want to express inadequately. I am an open person and I don't really have secrets, though there are times when no words seem good enough.
But there is a place in my life right now. A lovely place that I like to go and for which I might just have found a description. It is the very apex of beauty, I can almost feel it within my grasp as I write, and it is very nice indeed. I can't wait to be there soon, so until then, goodnight. Goodnight.
What a blissful way to start the day...
It made a wonderful, misty October morning even more magical. And then I hear on Radio 4 that it was 'One Day In History' day and that the whole country is invited to blog about their day and how it relates to history. History, as in a narrative of events that have happened, I suppose is essentially about how you tell it. And my Tuesday? Well it was an exceptional day, supernormal, a day to be narrated about in the future even. Even by breakfast time there were funny anecdotes to store away for sharing maybe, one day, a fuzzy warm feeling more special even than that inspired by Bod's overdriven bass sound, and soon after, a short drive through rush hour where sitting in traffic was calming, serene, and I hope set the opening lines of a new chapter.
The nice thing about days like that is when it continues and starts to turn into a week - and I am having a fine week. Funny how things turn round. Oh, and do listen to Mogwai's EP +6 because there are moments of sheer brilliance. And I used to wish I was a Superhero of BMX, but now there is no need.
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Life is good. At the end of last week I had a few days in a city that is totally new to me with the fellow who introduced me to GusGus by getting me lie with my head at same level as the bass speakers of the floorstanders he had crammed into his small student room and playing Polyesterday at the appropriate volume (amongst other things). Bristol meant lots of music, conversation, a few photos and a little spot of red wine. Thanks H, it was a great couple of days and I will be back to see the new house. Question is, will Bob get to go too?
But there is real life to return to, and as the 230 miles back up the road north passed motorway trance I had chance to think, and actually get rather excited about what the future seems to be bringing. After three days of fun, the return was no anticlimax.
Sometimes I am lost for words, not really sure what to write, because it is difficult to build a sentence or two that summarises just how I feel. But I also know that it is quite alright to reflect and just know that everything is going to be OK. Monday today, and that is a good thing.
Well it is a long old hike from the Lamp to My House, but this evening every step was like strolling through, er, hay or something. And it is time to draw things to a conclusion in some ways, so here is an end to the Clerks plagiarised post titles of course there is a reason for everything. Yes I stole them all...
Was it because after a damp, misty, sad kind of a day, the glowy warmth of the Lamp was just what I needed to pick me up? Was it because the company was exceptionally good this evening? Was it because Fonda 500 were on rare ontheedge form, living the rock dream to each feedbacking fuzz bass climax? Well probably all those things...
So thanks guys, we tapped our feet, it was nice to hear you all properly, we had a rather lovely time. Wednesday rocked in just the way that I hoped it would. Shame the pictures aren't quite up to scratch, but you can't get everything right...
Soy un perdedor
I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?
What a nice couple of days it has been for meeting up with new friends and hearing unexpectedly from old ones. One thought long lost in East Anglia, another freshly returned from the southern hemisphere... Sometimes that makes you think about choices that you make along the way. Life could so easily be different, other stories would be told, other memories shared with those we know or are about to meet.
The group round the table, my Vans high tops, a bag with a large camera, a bike ride home, a music collection built over the years that tells a thousand stories, young Tobias cat waiting by the back door. They are all things that make me who I am. Acquaintances, gifts, accumulated stuff, choices, accidents, the things that make a person, that help mould their future, that define a lifetime. And I am happy enough with how it has turned out.
Not only is it going to be an exciting restofweek, with a trip south to visit this chap, listen to hip hop, go to drum and bass gig, talk about Macs, take pictures but it will be equally exciting to come back and see one of aforementioned long lost friends.
And the other things that I did over the weekend? Sunday evening was special because there was interesting music and sitting round that table at the Lamp. The series of Seeds & Bridges gigs that are happening through the autumn are turning out to be rather wonderful. We have seen insane theremin playing roller skater Pamelia Kirstin, Fonda 500 sitting down and last night The Rocky Nest even more unplugged and shambolically folksily popsically charming than ever and McWatt combining upright bass and accordion not unlike Mogwai combine warm beauty and utter noise in making you want to cry into a pint, or a cup of tea, or a shoulder. But for once just this once mind I was not so sure that the sad songs were the best songs.
Let's see if Puplet posts any pictures, as I didn't just this once mind have my camera. Any shots small dog?
Wonder what tomorrow will bring? Or Wednesday for that matter...
Amongst other things this weekend I found out a little more about this beer.
It turns out that the reason it is traditionally served in a distinctive tall glass (one with a rounded bottom that will not stand up un-supported), is that it was sometimes served outside to coachmen who struggled with a behandled mug when wearing thick coachman gloves. Good old Pauwel Kwak realised that having mugs of beer sliding about and coachmen who couldn't get hold of the handle anyway was just not good enough and not content to being a brewer of fine beer, he also designed tall, slim glasses that hung on a hook on the side of the coach. What a guy.
So drinking and driving is clearly not a recent invention. Oh, and Kwak is really rather wonderful by the way, as is the equally lethal Tripel Karmeleit from the same brewer.
OK, I finally sent some pictures off to Imogen Heap's Moblog. I was in two minds (who would want to upset purist mobloggers?) as my pictures are not strictly speaking mobile phone pictures. But I don't think that was a reason to not share... For anybody that comes from there, thanks for passing by! Here is a last picture from that night.
It was good to hear from Immi's webmaster (check the comment on the M62 songs post below), with his view on taking pictures at gigs. Thanks James for taking the time to comment - I do understand that any artist would want control over what pictures are taken. Of course I am simply a dedicated fan, happy to share a few pictures with others.
On a more modest scale, last night went over to the Wellington Inn to catch Emma who it seems had to break out of a house to get there. Luckily she made it on time, was lovely as always, shame it was such a short set. It was also great fun to see Joesolo who put on a lively performance after a very enthusiastic and well deserved welcome.
So in total agreement with him, it is the simple things that make you happy. The Wellington was cool, at least in terms of their choice of beer - not quite like being at L'Ancienne Belgique, but I didn't think I would ever see Kreik on tap or a four page list of bottled beers in such an unassuming looking Hull pub. It turns out I was right in yesterdays post - it turned out to be a great day. There were even some shoe pictures taken later on at the Lamp... but I did once make a promise.
Today is a sad day. Just another Thursday for me this year, but that wasn't always the case. Times change. And while autumn rain comes down outside, reminding me that leaves will soon be falling, evenings closing in, Tobias and I decide what we are going to do for the rest of the day. Or for the rest of the week, or just 5 minutes.
I voted for drinking tea, enjoying a surprise packet of magic biscuits, listening to the patter on the window in safe cosy dry indoors. That will do for now.
Tobias is content with his towel (because he did get wet earlier) and a new perch atop the laundry basket.
Could be worse then.
In fact, it is going to be a great day.
"I'm just trying to work out how sober Andy is".
It is an interesting concept to me, that of level of perceived sobriety in relation to perceived ability to drive safely. I grew up - at least for the interesting learning-to-drive-stage of my life - in the most rural backwater that south western France has to offer. Where road traffic is a concept only vaguely embraced and never really fully understood. Where wild boar and falling rocks are as common as other motorists on an October evening drive up the valley. Where the night clubs are miles from anywhere - so as not to disturb civilisation - and where drinking and driving I fear is as likely as picking a bottle of black Cahors wine to accompany a piece of magret de canard at your favourite restaurant.
Well at just after 1am I was at home, still with the smell of smoke in my nose, the sensation of movement from the car M62 homebound and many happy memories of Imogen Heap in Manchester earlier that evening. What a beautiful gig.
But I nearly got thrown out, because my camera was too big apparently. Not because it flashed distractingly, or because it makes an irritating, artificial shutter releasing sound. No, just because it was of too high quality for a simple member of the public to be wielding.
Was it because security thought that I was taking shots that should be reserved for members of the press? Because holding such a large camera was preventing me from enjoying the performance more than if I was struggling to get a decent picture with my phone? Who knows? But while it was just fine for the dozens snapping away with digicams and phones all around me, I was firmly beckoned from my seat (in the middle of a row, disrupting everyone I had to push past...) by a sternly officious looking security-usher who then asked me to put away the D100. Because the artist had requested that 'professional cameras' not be used in the theatre.
Because Immi only wants grainy, blurry shots on her Moblog?
Because she hates nice kit?
Is taking pictures of a performance rude? OK, maybe we should just sit back and give 100% of our attention to what is going on? But perhaps part of the fun is taking something other than memories away?
I guess it doesn't really matter. Anyway, I didn't get my kit confiscated. And nor did it stop me from enjoying a wonderful set, by an artist whose albums have me totally captivated, and whose intimate live performance was a step up from that, just out of this world. Not least because of her mastery of the piles of kit on her stage, or because she mutters to herself in a most endearing way between songs. How nice to see another great artist who so loves playing for her fans.
Good like the old days is what we said. And now I remember just why I liked going to see Emma Rugg play so much two or three years ago when I first saw her down at the Adelphi.
Because Wednesday evening’s gig was a classic. Not because of any mystical note perfection set list choice venue atmosphere alignment, but just because it was brilliant in the way that a solo artist should excel.
It was being in a room with someone singing songs just for you.
Thanks Emma, because playing guitar and singing is something that a lot of people can pull off convincingly. But your sets are special because there is more to it than that and on Wednesday you captured something magical. Because while it is hard to stand up there and be nothing but yourself, it is just what you did. Armed with those deeply personal songs, with your Taylor that is more of a friend than a tool of your trade, a set list at your feet that morphs into whatever you want to make it and hopefully an audience that made you want to sing from your heart... It was good to be there and I look forward to next time.
They say misery loves company
We could start a company and make misery
Well I know just what you need
I might just have the thing
I know what you'd pay to see
Put me out of my misery
I'd do it for you, would you do it for me
We will always be busy making misery
We could build a factory and make misery
We'll create the cure; we made the disease
Well I know just what you need
I might just have the thing
I know what you'd pay to feel
Put me out of my misery
All you suicide kings and you drama queens
Forever after happily, making misery
Did you satisfy your greed, get what you need
Was it only envy, so empty
(Put me out of my misery)
(I'd do it for you, would you do it for me)
(Forever after happily)
(I know just what you need)
Soul Asylum, Misery, from Let Your Dim Light Shine - 1995
See, I said there would be something to cheer everybody up... Saw Clerks II on Sunday, it is slowly sinking in. I am not sure that I entirely agree with Lee on this one, but all in all I was glad that Dante and Randal are OK in the end. I love those guys.
Everything will be OK in the end. Even if it takes a decade to get there. And that is quite OK.
It is always nice to go somewhere new. Sunday evening I found myself with a select group at the Santiago Bar in Leeds accompanying good friend Emma Rugg who was playing at their Sunday Session. Having offered to drive should Emma get a booking outside of Hull, I was glad to be of assistance. Hoorah for being useful.
It reminds me of evenings in Cahors back last century, when it would get to 9pm with nothing to do and Toulouse was just a 160kph hour down the motorway. Though it turns out that Leeds on a Sunday night was decidedly less exciting. No tapas restaurants open til 2am, no lively crowds milling in the streets, it was even quite easy to park and Burger King was closed by 9. Did we miss something? Oh, probably.
The Santiago was a cosy little bar but had the darkest stage ever, with just a few chandeliers to light the room and no stage lights at all. Without resorting to flash, the only way I got any pictures at all was thanks to f1.8 with the 50mm. Yes I am glad that I got that little lens. Light is kind of important to making photos, and the 50mm doesn't need very much of it.
On a more general scheme of things, well, I am just deciding what to do next. And what I should do next and why I want to do it. And Monday has not been helping, having brought rain and general melancholy. Yes I realise that this blog is a little downbeat at present, so my ambition for the next post is to write about happy things. I promise that I will be back with something nice to talk about. Really. Oh and we are going to see Emma play at the Tiger's Lair on Wendesday. Come on, it will be fun.
Thanks Den's brother! I have just got a new lens to play with. A lens, had my love of photographs stretched to real cameras, say 15 rather than just 10 years ago, that I would probably already be familiar with. But I am of a generation of photographers of which many have never owned a prime lens. It is a very small thing on the front of a D100, but then it just does the one job. I guess the theory is that while only doing that, it should at least do it rather well.
That is the idea anyway. I will test that later on at some almost but not entirely random gig at a shabby bar on Beverley Road. It will be interesting - I do like taking pictures in the dark and up to now that has meant a combination of 1000ASA, holding my breath and sheer luck. And I do love the tiny depth of field thing that f1.8 creates, like being able to cut out all those things you don't want to really see. Which once again confirms to me that taking pictures is not about what is actually there in front of you, but rather which bits of it you like.
Oh, a bit like real life then.
Why is it that 2am just seems to be the right time to write a blog post? Daylight doesn't seem to help. Yesterday evening I went out to kill some time, stretch my legs, will the morning closer. Armed with a tripod and no deadlines, a car and just the edge of the city to aim for, I set out to take some pictures. I drove past unlit houses, where people no doubt asleep were dreaming the same dreams as I.
Just an empty road ahead, the city was soon behind. I always love to stop the car and stand out in the middle of the night. Breathe in the space, take in the sound of darkness. Eyes slowly acclimatise and start to capture details that a camera, shutter open for 10 seconds, allows you to take home.
And again there was beauty in all this ugliness. Maybe next time I will get far enough away from light polution to see the stars? One day I will tell you all about lying on the cliffs above St Gery looking at the night there. Where you can see the milky way strike clear across the sky, follow satellites as they trawl from one horizon to the other and in the summer wait, trying not to blink, for shooting stars on which to make a wish. Ooh, and the glow worms and the chorus of insects, it is magical. The night sky is something precious, I think of open topped cars and stopping in the middle of nowhere, bike rides by moonlight, growing up sitting on bridges, sharing a bottle of wine... I guess I miss it.
Now the car is outside, ticking hot in the cool air, my shoes kicked off in the hallway, and it is time for sleep.
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Come on a road trip. An adventure down a long road, that takes us far beyond the poplar trees on that hill to who knows where. Saturday night, Sunday morning, headlights cutting through the 3am mist, time to escape beyond the horizon.
It has been a day. A day of the kind that leaves me wanting to do what I do best, that is to say cook chili and drink red wine. And eat chili and drink red wine and listen to loud hip hop like a white boy. But oh, I love the bass lines...
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But what if they haven't got their glasses?
That would be a problem, and one that photographers often don't so much as face, but actually create. Because we are fond of trying to pick fights with aesthetes everywhere we go. To most it is just a rusty gate, but I see texture, symmetry, a story (like why is there a gate? who wants to keep me out?). Indeed I would say that I saw beauty.
Just as Calvin decided that playing in the mud made him an aesthete - because it annoyed his mother (that is Calvin is as in Calvin and Hobbes, the small boy and his tiger, rather than the 15th century theologian). I would like to think that pulling a striking image out of a '60s tower block in Hull city centre is something that the eyes of the beholder alone would struggle to accomplish. But with a D100 and a dodgy copy of Photoshop CS2, anything is possible.
Blogs really are for writing a load of crap.