Friday, 29 November 2013

Jones: Spotlight UK Artist: UK Country Radio

You might be interested to know that this weekend I am honoured to be the 'Spotlight UK Artist' on 'UK Country Radio'.
This means that Friday afternoon through to Sunday evening they will be playing one of my songs every hour.
There will also be an interview (just done) with DJ, Jerry Scott, played in two parts between 12.30 - 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.
You can find the station here at www.ukcountryradio.com
The first tracks will be played from 17.00pm today (Friday) on Allan Watkiss's show.
Just hit the big 'LISTEN' button top right of their Home Page and there I'll be.
Yes folks, I am a little bit country.
This of course means that I write sad songs, drink coffee and (very occasionally) play live behind chicken wire.
Small change is acceptable but please don't throw soft fruit...

Thursday, 28 November 2013

To the Bone: The Third Sessions (Wednesday)

Sleepless; I finally get off by reading the late John O'Donohue's blessings in 'Benedictus'.  Lucinda has nudged this my way a few times. There's a fine line between preaching and teaching but the writer's Celtic lilt adds poetry to the piety. He presents wisdom and goodness so keenly and kindly that you can't help but admire his enthusiasm as you melt into the prose:

"There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life. Without this subtle quickening our days would be empty and wearisome, and no horizon would ever awaken our longing. Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us that is welded to the energy and excitement of life. This shy inner light is what enables us to recognize and receive our very presence here as blessing. We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us and will now enfold, nourish, and sustain us. The gift of the world is our first blessing."

Willow wakes me from my uneasy slumber with an unearthly howl; apparently a love song for Luce who is on the other side of a closed door. Breakfast (coffee with peanut butter and jelly soldiers) then we head for the studio. Marcus plays a double bass part on 'Cabin Fever' and we think it's done. As Melvin is confirmed in sick bay we decide to start mixing any non pedal steel tracks; we might as well start with 'Cabin Fever' as it's up. The Scientist has to disappear behind the desk to rewire the thing; "lineoutlineinfucketybollocks" is his song as he brandishes a soldering iron...
One hour later Marcus pronounces that 'it's sounding good' and To the Bone's first track is in the bag.
A quick brew to celebrate then onwards.
Next up is 'Pardon Me'. This was the first thing that we recorded for these sessions. It was a live take, just vocals and piano. I shouted out the chords and after one run through we recorded it. Marcus added an electric guitar part and that was it. It was therefore just as easy to mix, so much so that I was dismissed to the shops for bread rolls and batteries. Talk about an energy sandwich!
'To the Bone' is our next mix, a bit more challenging this; like Tom Waits singing for the Salvation Army. I might change the title as I'm not sure that it's up to the pressure of being the title track. How does 'Holy Din' sound? Lots of stomping bass drums and cymbals and... a sousaphone. When I suggest this new title and circus freaks for the video Marcus glowers at me with those knitted scientist eyebrows. I get a similar reaction from Willow and go in search of Cadbury's chocolate fingers...

                                           

To the Bone: The Third Sessions (Tuesday)


Tuesday: I've changed the title of 'Somewhere North of Here' to 'Huckleberry Dear'. I had initially played a chugging acoustic as a guide to sing against; we decide that, although a bit rough around the edges, it's a keeper and commit to using it as the essence of the track; there's a meditative quality that's quite hypnotic. We then add some Mellotron flutes and voices. Affecting and effective; it sounds like Sparklehorse galloping through Strawberry Fields... is that a good thing? We rub our chins and decide to have a cuppa. When I return with the brew and a cheese butty Marcus has a retro 70s Roland Space Echo and a Wurlitzer reverberating. Lovely! The Scientist then plays a shaker which loosens things up nicely; ironic as it's home made from a coffee bean tin...
'Some Kind of Surrender' sounds Tex/Mex and unlike anything we've ever done before; this should dash the Blue Nile comparisons for a while at least. It's ready to go; just needs a bit of Melvin's magic.
'Fireworks' provides a moment of serendipity; on our first listen through Marcus mishits a mute button and there are no direct drum sounds, only the room overhead mic's which give the song a lovely, late night lonely ambience. It's a High 5 moment for sure. We decide to leave it as it is...
'Dream Horses' sees some spikey chords from the Epiphone semi-acoustic and then sends Marcus back to the house in search of his double bass and dog food for Willow.
We're getting messages that Melvin might be cancelling tomorrow; struck down by 'Man Flu', which is a bummer as he is the final brick in the wall before mixing commences in a couple of weeks...
We have a listen to 'Cabin Fever' which is an odd little thing; part spoken, part sung. We try and emulate the reverbed snare sound from 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. We find a snare sound that is mighty, record it in place, turn the reverb up to '11' and then remove the snare, keeping just the ghostly echo of the reverb; it works really nicely. We'll add some double bass tomorrow but it's now time for curry and beer...

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

To the Bone: The 3rd Sessions (Monday)

Monday: The Monday and Tuesday sessions will be nuts and bolts stuff; tidying up the vocals; adding a minimal amount of backing. The nature of the recordings needs to be refined and fairly... austere so we need to keep our fingers off the luxuriant button... On Wednesday we have Melvin Duffy booked to come in and play some pedal steel, something I always look forward to; it means that things are starting to come together.
Into the studio:
Marcus adds double bass to 'Row', 'To the Bone' and 'The Fullness of Time' and we end the day adding some high castrato backing vocals to 'To the Bone' which induces much mirth and Hinge and Bracket comparisons...
Lucinda cooks a cracking risotto for supper, featuring leeks and crispy chestnuts. Marcus suggests to Luce that she can't really call his bowl of rice a 'Risotto' if it doesn't feature parmesan and nearly ends up wearing it as a hat! The red of the night is a bottle of The Black Stump which takes the edge off nicely. Marcus puts on a yellow vinyl copy of 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' and we both play air guitar to 'Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding' whilst Luce looks on with a sympathetic gaze.
He was good was Elton.
Whatever happened?
Time for bed Zebedee.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

In Cassidy's Care: HiFi News: 'Albums of the Year'

'In Cassidy's Care' has received another 'Best of the Year' vote.
Every audiophile's bible, 'The HiFi News' has given us a 95% rating and deemed the album one of the best of 2013.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

In Cassidy's Care: Macwood Fleet's 'Album of the Year'

Nick Baker is a massive music fan with a huge knowledge of music and an even bigger record collection.
It is therefore a great honour for him to label 'In Cassidy's Care' his 2013 'Album of the Year'.
Please click here to connect with his Macwood Fleet blog and read his kind words.
Then why not click here and order a copy (direct from us) for a friend for Xmas.
If you don't do the PayPal dance you could always buy it from Amazon here.
Thanks Nick, from both The Hunchback and The Scientist!
I think that you can safely say that you're on our Xmas card list...

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica) 20: He Could See Nothing But Shadows

20: He Could See Nothing But Shadows

He didn’t know what he was doing.
There was a humming in his head.
Stepping out of the air-conditioned warmth he shuffled down wooden steps towards the lagoon.
The day was hazy and undefined, but surely beckoned.
Looking out to sea the only break in the silver canvas was a brown strip of sandbank.
He turned and headed upriver following a path until it left the water’s edge. There he stepped onto the sand, past a barking muzzled dog, past the vagrant fishing boats that hosted sleeping gulls. Bamboo and pine brush littered the shoreline; beneath his feet crackled a thousand broken shells, the corpses of crabs and inky cuttlefish were everywhere.
Out in the lagoon he could hear the idle chatter of fishermen digging for clams. They lent heavily on rakes, rocking like dancing bears as they dredged for bounty, sifting shells into floating baskets tied loosely to their torsos. They laughed easily, pausing occasionally to open a clam or two, tasting their catch, poverty’s fruit. As one worker broke into song a heron spread its wings to dry them and seemed to conduct the tuneless mantra.
The wrecks of small wooden boats lay strewn above the waterline like broken promises. A few could be repaired but would ever be sea safe again.
A toothless hag in a headscarf crouched upon an upturned wreck bellowing at a giant of a man who coiled a rope and smiled down at her affectionately.
‘This is what we gain when we learn to lose ourselves’ he thought, and wrote those words in a small yellow note pad before moving on.
A feeding fish broke the water nearby and gulls fell on the shadow. Other than the metallic whiff of seaweed the still air was odorless.
He climbed the pine steps of the sailing club where he’d been promised a bowl of coriander clams and a beer, but pressing his nose up against the window he could see nothing but shadows.
He sat on the top step gazing out across the pale gray and thought ‘if I just sit still for long enough something will happen’.
The heron had followed him and eyed him inquisitively from atop a broken flagpole.
The noise in his head suddenly stopped and there was a silence like he’d never heard before.
Behind him, a sharp bang. A smudge of blood and feathers stained the glass where he had previously pressed his nose. On the ground beneath was a brown bird. He looked down at the lifeless body and couldn’t give it a name. His temple twitched and the humming returned. He set off back towards town, in search of company.
This time as he passed the abandoned boats, they made him think not of broken promises but of forgotten dreams, before he realized that they were, of course, the same thing. He wrote this down and then winced at his dreary insight, ‘Bloody genius’.
The sun was at his back now and everything was so much clearer. Beyond his extended shadow he noticed that the only marks ahead were his own footprints outward bound. The prints he left now were those of a heavier man.
The singing fisherman was now aboard a small turquoise boat, the ‘Maria Alice’, diligently sorting his catch; mussels, clams, razor clams, smaller cockles and whelks. He stopped his song and turned, aware of another presence, maybe a customer. He reached into his muddy bucket offering a handful of shells, ‘Mariscos. Fresco. Saboroso. Quatro.’ he smiled and held up 4 fingers.
‘Please, yes, Obrigado’ he stammered and, reaching into his back pocket pulled out a crumpled 50. The fisherman’s eyes narrowed, he snorted and turned back to his sorting.
‘Always carry small change’ he thought, ‘you get to meet more interesting people that way’.
He stifled a yawn and felt a tightening in his chest. Stepping off the sand and back onto the path he slowly reached down to pick up a heavy piece of driftwood, holding it like a club. His back ached and the hum in his head was thunderous now.
“Fifty, a fifty, nothing but a fifty” he muttered as he moved towards the muzzled dog.
He raised the club above his head and held his breath.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica): 19: An Unsteady Hand

19: An Unsteady Hand

Mike Tehan’s funeral was unforgettable. The Catholic church of St Felix was full; people stood in the aisles and outside in the car park. The wake that followed at the Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club was a lively celebration of a quiet life. The club house sat at the ‘entrance’ of the river Debnen and offered stunning views both of the sea and upriver. It had been a haven to Mike and was the perfect setting for his send off: a place of function and easy laughter, with ‘Adnams’ on tap, heaven indeed.
Mike’s qualities were modest and intangible but I think that ultimately he reflected what most of us would want to call the best of ourselves. His serenity was a constant and, because of that, he was the perfect touchstone. For me, as a kid, Mike was the one I’d look to when things got a bit wobbly, or when I just couldn’t get trigonometry. He was the funnel, the conduit that brought everyone together at St Felix’s that day. I think that all of his friends present were all a little stunned at the turn out; each of us thinking that we were singularly blessed in recognizing his quiet decency, yet all of us happy to sublimate ourselves as one of many; Mike’s family of friends.

After Mike’s passing an odd thing happened; I started writing about myself in the 3rd person. It seemed that I was outside myself, watching me waiting for something to happen, a dispassionate outsider viewing my fumblings from a distance.
There was a strange and quiet calm, a light, heady feeling, as if a storm was coming. I was about to become dispossessed of something.
This disinterested self-regard was unsettling.
I was full of myself, and yet I found myself an empty vessel.

My thoughts roll like water in a random current.
Memories take on a life of their own, liquid memories that flow without sequence into a succession of rapids and pools.
Sometimes I catch a familiar reflection, sometimes the waters are muddied; there is always an undercurrent of sadness.
Some say that life is a dream, and that one-day we will awake to an alternate existence.
My life could change tomorrow.
Would there be serenity or tumbling confusion?
Could I call it ‘heaven’?

It’s inevitable that mundanities and small dramas set the ripples forming and there they were again. And again, it was through writing that I got to temper that turbulence. Once more I withdrew, simplified and learnt to be alone.
I started writing ‘Keepers’ on the shores of a lake in northern Portugal, and stumbled towards a moment of grace on the roof of a shepherd’s hut back in Corsica. Always close to water, always with a small yellow notepad in hand. Inside the cover of that notepad I had written the words of American poet Galway Kinnell:
‘Maybe the best we can do is do what we love as best we can’.
It was the ‘maybe’ that got to me.

Guided by an unsteady hand, ‘Keepers’ proved to be a collection provoked by loss and a recognition of the importance of touchstones; objects, places and people that inspire us to keep eyeing the horizon, yet offer shelter and safe harbour should things go awry.
We bottle their benevolence and call it ‘home’.
Often unwilling or unwitting bellwethers, their kindred spirit can haunt inanimate objects; a toy plane, a letter, a button, a bible, a key…
These are not pious custodians, just ordinary folk with the same vulnerabilities as the rest of us. And yet something sets them apart, moving us to burden them with our wellbeing. They become the keepers of our faith in other people.
We are comforted in their presence.
We are diminished by their loss.
Their absence is company enough.

***

1969

I remember us standing atop the tower
Peering out beyond and
Beneath the crescent moon
Out into the silver
Wondering
Where the sea met the sky
My hand was in your pocket and
Your pocket was full of stars

And even now
Though your heart is as cold as the moon
My head is full of stars


Thursday, 21 November 2013

My Birthday Delights

It was my birthday on Saturday.
Thanks for all of the cards...
Di produced a few surprises.
On Friday night a quiet game of squash became a proposed surprise boozy night with invited mates at the bar. Unfortunately my game finished an hour later than scheduled so by the time I showed nearly everyone had buggered off, leaving me with a few sulky amigos desperate to depart to better offers.
On Saturday Di and I watched England getting thumped by the All Blacks before making our way to Islington for a great meal (curry and thrice cooked chips) and a gig; Michael Kiwanuka was playing at The Island Queen in the upstairs room for about 60 lucky folk. We got lost en route so missed the support Josh Record. Michael was great though; we sat front row, at his feet. It's not often that you get to see such quality up close and he didn't disappoint; just him on acoustic guitar, ably assisted by a bass player. We chatted afterwards about the possibility of him playing at my music venue 'The Hat Club' in the new year; it may well happen. Home for a brandy or two and bed.

The next day we hit a Christmassy Covent Garden mid afternoon for a wander and a meal; then on the the Drury Lane Theatre to see KT Tunstall in concert. Great seats and a fine night of music. Some of you might recall that we had Tuscon vagabond Brian Lopez staying with us during the summer whilst he supported KT. Well, after the recent US tour Lopez has been replaced by a pale imitation. Billy Lockett was ok/fine if you are a James Blunt fan; he was a little pallid for my tastebuds. KT played a great set although the sound was a bit harsh; more 'theatre' than 'gig'.
So, all in all a grand weekend; Di did me proud, thanks my darlin'.
I got some grand presents; besides the usual cheques (thank Mums & Dads) see if you can spot the various delights. Of particular delight was a bottle of Welsh whiskey. My mate Macwood Fleet is always banging on about the virtues of 'Penderyn' and here, coincidentally, was a bottle on my sideboard, gifted as 'something a little bit different' from mates Chris and Carol. I have to go gently as, Di has oft noted, whisky makes me sour, but this pale amber nectar is indeed as tasty as Mr Macwood promised.
Meanwhile, I'll post some related videos below: you have Michael Kiwanuka singing 'Home Again' followed by KT Tunstall's brand spanking promo for 'Made of Glass', one of the highlights from her excellent recent 'Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon' album. Finally a peek at Josh Record whose 'Bones' EP is doing the rounds. It's a bit Lion King meets Take That for my liking but word is that he's going to be a big star.
What do you think?




Friday, 15 November 2013

Wish List

It's my birthday tomorrow and, rather than offer it up as a present, my stingy old mucker Les Nemes has suggested that I add this to my birthday list.
Donald Fagen's 'Eminent Hipsters' is the sound of a grumpy old man grumbling.
Have a read of this excellent review in the Guardian.
Amongst all of the bile and bitching there is the odd recognition of the transcendence of music.
I love this quote:
"When everything's working right, you become transfixed by the notes and chords and the beautiful spaces in between. In the centre of it, with the drums, bass and guitar all around you, the earth falls away and it's just you and your crew creating this forward motion, this undeniable, magical stuff that can move ten thousand people to snap free of life's miseries …"

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica): 18: A Pocketful of Stars


18: A Pocketful of Stars

When I was a kid the arrival of Uncle Mike was always a time of great excitement; he was a maverick presence in a fairly regimented household, more like a boisterous older brother than the uncle that he wasn’t. Mike was a great friend of my parents; a navigator on the same squadron as my Dad; a confirmed bachelor always on the lookout for a free meal, even my mum’s cooking couldn’t deter him.
My parents Betty and Terry were difficult together in those days. They had met whilst my father was on RAF training in Canada, Dad had proposed and whisked mum back to London where they began their married life in a small room at my grandparent’s house. Betty was nineteen and soon pregnant with my sister Kerry. In a claustrophobic environment the luster of London soon palled; she missed her parents and the frivolities of a Canadian teenage life and soon became homesick. Deprived of the possibilities of a presumed life in Winnipeg she came to blame Dad for everything that she wouldn’t become. Terry did his best but was tied to his career. He’d come from humble roots; a Battersea boy, the son of a bus driver, he had to scrap for his education, eventually winning a scholarship to the prestigious Emanuel school before gaining entry into Cambridge University. After graduating he joined the Air Force to do his National service. As a junior officer he loved the easy camaraderie of the officers’ mess and the obvious career path offered by the hierarchy of that protected environment. He was fiercely competitive, driven, I’m sure, by a chip on his shoulder, his eyes fixed of the next run of the ladder; rank was everything, his family would benefit eventually. I see all of this now and love him all the more for his vulnerabilities, but at the time saw him as mostly absent. Terry had lost his front teeth as a child and his parents couldn’t afford the luxury of trivial dentistry. I think that shaped him as much as anything. Sure, he’d throw his head back and guffaw but dad didn’t smile easily. Mike on the other hand was full of easy mischief. He had none of the weighty family responsibilities that burdened my parents. He was the instigator of cushion fights and the master of Chinese burns. I adopted his nonchalance. In those quirky early teenage years my mother would often round on me and say “that’s your uncle Mike talking” and I’d think ‘please God, yes.”
Mike’s family house was in Cleveleys, just down the coast from Blackpool and sometimes, as a treat, we’d be invited there at the weekends. It was a parent free zone, just us kids and, on occasion, just me. I loved those times the most. I was allowed to do all of the things I couldn’t do at home: make tea, chop wood, stay up late. There I was introduced to classical music and the joys of cooking, two things that still give me pleasure everyday. We’d blast out Mahler and chop onions. If this was the adult life it wasn’t daunting; it was fun. I remember Mike taking me to the Tower Circus where I got to shake hands with Charlie Caroli, the world’s most famous clown. We went to the Opera House Theatre in the Winter Gardens to see the singer Josef Locke whose voice was so loud that he needed no microphone, pretty impressive, even for a ten year old. On the same bill was Jimmy Clitheroe, the ‘Clitheroe Kid’. I laughed so hard that I thought I would choke. Under lustrous skies we rode a rusty tram, wolfing fish and chips from newspaper with our fingers and explored the Golden Mile where I shot the heart out of the Ace and won Mike his money back. Later we climbed and counted every step of the Tower to see the illuminations in their full gaudy glory.
When I was at boarding school Mike would arrive unannounced in his light blue Volvo and whisk me off to the cinema or for a mid afternoon feast at the local Chinese restaurant. There is a love that isn’t duty and, outside of family, Mike was the first person that I knew I loved.
He retired from the RAF in his early forties and trained to become a math teacher, he always loved to be by water and ended up in Felixstowe where he developed a passion for sailing, becoming a leading light at the local sailing club and introducing many a wayward youth to the pleasures of sea and sail. After reluctant retirement he entered his seventies in fine health. We stayed in touch and I visited occasionally; no worries, Brian Mike Tehan ‘Biscuits’ would always be there. He was bulletproof.

***
The phone rang one evening in our Corsican dining room. It was my Dad.
“Bad news, Trev.”
Mike had been diagnosed with cancer. It was well developed.
At first the treatments didn’t affect him much, but as the chemo became more invasive he chose to give up all therapy and opted for quality of life over discomfort, he couldn’t be bothered with medication and doctors. His faith was strong and he was happy to trust in ‘the man upstairs’. The specialists gave him two months. Eight weeks. A few months later it appeared that his charmed life would continue, he seemed impervious to pain.
“Doesn’t it hurt?” I asked him.
“Just the odd bit of tummy ache. Nothing much to moan about.”
I spoke to a doctor who said that without morphine ‘the pain should be excruciating’. Gradually the disease took its toll; Mike lost his appetite, couldn’t drink his beloved ‘Adnams’ Bitter and reluctantly turned to cheap red wine. “It all tastes the same to me now” he said on my final visit to his house. He had lost too much weight and sat like a bag of bones beneath a blanket, while I poured us both a glass, wincing at the vinegar bouquet.
“Do you remember the first meal I ever cooked? It was a fish curry. How sophisticated was I?”
“Nope. Wrong. It was ‘Cod a la Romana’. The recipe’s right there”, Mike looked beyond me to his bookshelf and pointed to a row of tiny white books “go and find me the one with the fish recipes.”
As I reached for the book a flash of guilty memory struck me; forty years ago I had spilt sauce on an open page.
“It’s near the back”, said Mike “easy to find as the pages are stuck together. I suspect a nervous chef…”
Later we drove around Felixstowe in my convertible, roof down; Mike in an ancient anorak, hood up, wearing gardening gloves. He was always cold these days. We stopped at the sailing club for a swift half and were immediately surrounded by salty sea dogs and spotty students. We returned home much later, a couple of pints over the limit. Mike made himself comfortable with the Telegraph crossword in front of his two bar electric fire, while I repaired to the kitchen.
I softened my onions with red peppers and garlic and then, substituting the ‘Baccala’ with plain cod fillets, gently poached the fish in milk and chicken stock. It all seemed a little bland to me but I diligently followed a recipe that I had revealed with great care and a little steam from the kettle. I scattered the obligatory parsley and dished up with some wild rice, taking two trays into the living room. Mike had fallen asleep in his chair to the soothing sounds of a Beethoven sonata, a serene smile on his face. I looked at his crossword, all done. I sat opposite Mike in the threadbare chair that I’d made mine all of those years ago and stuck a fork into my ‘Cod a la Romana’.
It was disgusting.
I ate both portions.

Two weeks later I got a call from my sister Katy.
She was in Felixstowe.
Mike had been taken into a hospice and was struggling.
“They say that he hasn’t got long. He keeps drifting in and out. The last time he was lucid he asked for you.”
I got there just in time to look him in the eye and whisper a promise or two. 


Keepers


A small white room
We wait like empty vessels
Breathing with you
Our spirits rise and fall in random rhythm
Breathing with you
The body of a bird
Hollow boned and glory bound

Yes I will carry
Yes I will keep

We all take a turn
In the seat by the bed
A somber charade
Of musical chairs
Each of us wondering
Will it be me?

Yes I will carry
Yes I will keep

Mumblings of honour
No privilege here
This is as ugly as truth
As intimate as a kiss
Hand in hand
Eye to eye
A glimmer of recognition
A glimpse of oblivion

Yes I will carry
Yes I will keep
Breathing for you
The body of a bird
Bound for the ground or glory

Yes I will carry
Yes I will keep
Yes I will carry
And yes, I will keep

Bonkers but Brilliant


Unsure why this tickled me but... tickle me it did.

Di's favourite building ever is The Chrysler Building.
What a looker...
Check out the video here...


















Architects of important landmarks dressed as their designed buildings at Beaux- Arts Ball. They include Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria, William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building, Ely Jacques Khan as the Squibb Building, Ralph Walker as the Wall Street Building, Arthur J.Arwine as a low pressure heating boiler, A. Stewart as the Fuller Building and Joseph Freelander as the Museum of the City of New York. 
They all wore helmet like constructions of the building they had designed. 
23 January 1931.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Vinyl?

Ok folks; I need your help again.
Marcus and I have been discussing the format for the forthcoming release of 'To the Bone'.
Marcus reckons vinyl is the way ahead; will open up a whole new world of listeners to us.
Not having a record player I am a little reluctant. I get his point but don't want to add plastic to that pile of unsold MM cds in the attic. It is not cheap either. Manufacturing costs for decent vinyl can be upwards of £4 a unit as apposed to @ £1.50 a unit for decently packaged Cds...
We will be making the album available as a Hi Res download with Linn; they do all of the variables of download too; CD quality/MP3 etc.
What about not doing it on CD?
Does anyone buy CDs anymore.
Discuss...
Help...

Hopeland (notes from Corsica): 17: Friends Applaud

17: Friends Applaud

The island life had stirred my creative pot, culminating in a productive year that had seen a potent change in the way I thought and wrote. The resultant album ‘Hopeland’ had been bathed in optimism’s glow after the retreat to Corsica had gifted me clarity of thought and a sense of well being that was startling. I had previously written about the journey, but offered no answers, just questions. With ‘Hopeland’ I had actually arrived somewhere; destination achieved. I unpacked. I was home.
The plan was to stay, but my furrowed brow kept moving me forward, beyond the bliss. What followed was no drastic regression, just an unsettling feeling that those peaceful waters were about to be disturbed. At the end of a perfect day there is still darkness and the inevitable notion that the following dawn would bring disappointment. I was in full song yet full of clumsy contradiction, each thought subverted the previous one. Where I had previously danced serenely through my days I was now walking on hot coals; I wanted to draw lyrical breath but was invariably rendered breathless, dizzy and dumb by the savage, intoxicating beauty of the island.
Closer to home, anything that was fleetingly familiar was reduced to homily, which I paraded in songs and poems as freshly minted wisdom.
Did these words even qualify as poems?
I continued to put pen to paper, hoping that the chaos might be revealed as a series of telling moments; my aim was true, but my hands were shaking, grasping at shadows. I found myself reaching for things that were no longer there, or whose influence had become diminished.
There was a constant humming in my head.
Maybe I’d had one drink too many.
At the beginning of the New Year I wrote an email to my ‘virtual’ friends:

Dear All, 
I seem to be disappearing by the day, weaker by the week. 
The new year didn’t start well; I couldn’t shake off the bug that seems to have afflicted us all; couldn’t shake off the effects of the Xmas lubrications; something I’ve never had a problem with before, and my feet hurt so much that getting from bed to bog was becoming a major issue. 
Di complaining about me waking up smelling like a ‘shitty brewery’ was a sure sign that something needed to change. 
Having been off the booze for 3 days now I can confidently say that I feel absolutely no difference other than an ever present thirst and a newfound ability to say ‘Unique New York’ 3 times really fast, particularly after that third cup of (now sugarless) coffee. 
In further attempts towards betterment I’ve stopped taking sugar in my tea and started watching documentaries about animals and trees. 
That should help me sleep. 
I think I’m missing Corsica. 
We haven’t been for a while. 
It reminds me of quote from W. H. Murray: 
“In short withdrawals from the world there is to be had unfailing refreshment. When his spirit is burdened or lightened, the natural movement of a man’s heart is to lift upward, and this is more readily done in the wild, for there it is easy to be still.”
Usually when I’m in a funk I can sit down with my guitar and create something, or simply play. I was now getting nothing from this; the canvas was blank with no lead in the pencil.
Step two of any revival is normally the taking of a bath.
Sitting in the suds I have the choice of reaching for Flaubert’s ‘A Sentimental Education’ or last month’s Esquire magazine.
I opt for an article on how to throw a tomahawk, throw a perfect 180 at darts and throw flaming Sambuca from your mouth. There’s a piece offering a five-day detox (“what can you achieve in 5 days? Even God only got as far as the birds and fish.”) I learn how to do a ‘McTwist’ on a surfboard, mix a perfect martini, dismantle an AK-47 and how to avoid capture behind enemy lines: “Lie on a north facing slope and keep still. This is very difficult. You will develop sores. You will nearly go crazy. And remember, you have to demoralize the dog-handler, not the dog.”
I’m instructed on how to start a football chant (apparently if you are a Borussia Monchengladbach fan this involves not saying “Give us a ‘B’…”) and then move on to the eco-friendly wisdom that “recycled toilet paper’s like taking a cheese grater to a bullet hole” before drifting off into a dumb, numb slumber.
I wake up in cold water; everything is shriveled and my magazine lies at the bottom of the tub. I can just about make out a piece on ‘Famous Last Words’. There’s Bogart’s “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis” and Beethoven’s “Friends applaud, the comedy is over.”
This gets me thinking about the possible benefits of ‘getting serious’ and the diminishing returns of ageing.
Is this really the best I’m ever going to feel again?
With this question in mind I resolve to enrich what remains of my life with genuine intent; there’ll be no more parading and postulating about court sprints and investment in World Music.
I need to do some real gardening; plant a thought and watch it grow, rather than just moving on to another lofty deliberation.
So, here goes.
In endeavouring to prevent myself from weakening by the week I’m making some changes in an attempt to embroider that rich tapestry.
This week my attention is on:
- a daily regime of (yes) press ups; 50 in the morning, 50 before bedtime. I’m wobbling at 25… - Continuing in the refining of my drinking career. Fridays and Saturdays only. 
- The serious study of the later music of Scott Walker, which has previously been as appealing to me as
spinach, oysters and anal sex. I’m referring to ‘Climate of the Hunter’ ‘Tilt’ and ‘Drift’, in which Scott famously got his percussionist to punch a dead pig for rhythm and sang about the underworld and afterlife in a voice akin to Donald Duck.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Any advice will, of course, be considered and ignored.
You could always try…
You might not recognize me at the bar, but if you do, be kind and don’t offer me a drink.
Baby steps, as they say.
Trev x 


Although I’d put it out there into the ether as an ironic missive to mates (who either ignored my self-possession or responded with concern), the self-pity of that letter is obvious to me now. One American friend offered the phone number of her lofty Harley Street therapist, another suggested voluntary work: “You need to immerse yourself in someone else’s misery; that would stop you getting so ‘up’ yourself.”
 


The Swimmer 

The swimmer leaves the shore
To test his mortality

He is the sole, vital engine
His actions keep him alive
The alternative is unthinkable
But possible

His discomfort is self-imposed
A discipline to ward off
That prize possession of middle age
Contentment

I shrink against the cold
Eyes sting
I do this to myself
Float then move my arms
Against the indifferent current

There is no disappointment
In the primitive simplicity of this moment
I must move to survive
And that begs the question
Do I need my life?

No wiser, but replenished, reassured
I turn my back to the kindling sun
And reach for the uncertain shore

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Blasphemy

Sorry if this offends but it made me blow snot.
So wrong it's right...
Thanks Katy; I hope your day improves...

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica): 16: Ennui on the Mountain

16: Ennui on the Mountain

Life in England was now in stark contrast to Corsica. The everyday realities of commuting into London to an uninspiring job had started to chip away at Di’s newfound joie de vivre. Working as a ‘size model’ for various high profile high street designers seemed a glamorous career to folk looking in. The humdrum reality was different. A cross between a mannequin and a fashion technician, she laboured long hours in cramped conditions with designers, buyers and technicians who stuck pins into her, bitched and moaned and invariably forget that she was there; she was but a living breathing template. Di withdrew and could feel nothing but diminished by her
windowless working day; the pay was excellent, the payoff was an increasingly derelict soul.
Life was pretty good for me; I was working for a large international school in central London, as Director of the extra curricular activities. In the summer I ran the school’s summer camp. The school, a successful independent, provided a privileged environment for wealthy families, mainly Americans. As such it was an easy place to be; the problems of most inner city schools did not raise their ugly heads there. I was surrounded by an intelligent, urbane faculty whose sole motivation was the well-being of a happy, healthy student population.
I loved the company of the lower school kids, aged between four and ten; it was a constant reminder of the wisdom of children and the joy that their lack of cynicism can bring. If you’re ever feeling jaded just sit with a group of five year olds and ask them about the colours inside their heads. I learnt to trust children. I wish I could invest my writing with their sense of wonder and clarity of thought; they encouraged me to keep gazing at the stars whilst staying focused on ‘the bleeding obvious’.
Gradually this side of my life was deviating me from my expected route, that of a recording songwriter. I needed to work to fuel the fire but, where once I could happily wear the two hats, it now felt a misfit. I was marking time instead of fully committing to the muse; still creatively inspired but feeling vocationally impotent; I lacked luster; perhaps work at the school offered too much of a comfort zone. Contentment kicked in alongside a vague ennui; if this was my lot I wasn’t too unhappy in my underachievement.
I started to drink; not to excess, just more regularly and more eagerly, eventually turning to single malts to give some culture to my craving; just to loosen things up and blur the edges a little. This of course dulled any edge that I had. Di wasn’t happy and let me know it, wincing at the sound of the ice machine; she’d be spending another evening in my compromised company.
“Whiskey makes you sour.”

Increasingly it seemed that we were at our most relaxed in Montemaggiore and for a while we thought seriously about selling up and moving to Corsica. The short lived plan was to invest any meager savings that we could realize, alongside profit made from selling our cottage, into a property near Calvi. Initially this would be as a holiday let, but possibly as an alternative to Chez Diane, should we find that
life in the valley beckoned us down from the mountain. Di would develop her passion for photography into something more lucrative, and I would sit atop the mountain and write my songs. We had Lisa Cottage valued and were set for a life change This, in turn, set us towards some serious soul searching.
We eventually recognised that our happiness was founded on having the two bases; one ‘ideal’ enhanced the other. Only then did we truly count our blessings; in England we had good friends and a lovely home on a village green, where we woke to birdsong and the footfall of horses in the meadow behind us. Buckinghamshire offered up what pleasures remained of ‘Olde England’, with easy access to the excitements of London. The pleasures of Corsica were obvious. We had two good lives; why not make the best of both worlds?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Lovesong: Neil Finn: Divebomber


Mmmm, I love Neil Finn's writing, especially his contemplative songs.
He's often said that his 'rockers' are just slow sad songs sped up.
The underlying melancholy of his music is what makes it so compelling to me.
Soon comes a new album 'Dizzy Heights' and I'm excited.
So excited that I go looking for previews and find this video of a track from the album.
The song is 'Divebomber' and it has me perplexed.
I'm not exactly underwhelmed, just a little confused.
Now, I can find melody in Mahler so, trust me, I'm up for anything but... much as I'm into the resonance of nostalgia, I've sat through this a few times and cannot get beyond the confusion of the 'found sounds'.
Is it just me?
Is there a song in there somewhere?
I hope so; it'll probably knock me sideways on the next play but I can only hold my breath for so long...


Monday, 11 November 2013

Legend?

Di and I had a nice night out ce soir. We went to the Everyman cinema in Maida Vale to see the new Clooney/Bullock film 'Gravity'.
We sat in comfy seats (£15 a pop) with our 3D specks on and were knocked out by the visuals. Di was less impressed by the narrative than I was: I liked the intimacy of the otherworldly drama; both he/she impressed and will surely push for Oscars, as will the Special Effect dept. All in all a moving movie with spectacular effects that do not overwhelm the breathless feeling of surprising intimacy. It's hard to explain that dynamic; go and see it!
Later we wandered around the corner for a drink at The Warrington. We entered mid Pub Quiz and ended up helping ex Sex Pistols bass player Glen Matlock with the pop lyric and picture round. Glen thought that a photo of "Iggy Stardust" ('Pop' actually) was 'that lesbian tennis player'. He was a nice guy though, happy to chat about his glory days and pose for a photo. I saw The Pistols twice in their pomp during that gob fest of the late 70's; first time with Glen on bass, later in one of the worst gigs I've  ever witnessed, at Bingley Hall in Yorkshire, after that lamentable twat Sid Vicious had taken over Glen's bass mantle. There was a classic moment when a light bulb fell from the rigging, smashing at Sid's feet. Our hero thought that glass had been chucked at him from the crowd; he picked up a shard and carved something illegible into his naked chest, surely misspelt. Sid was a sorry victim of Malcolm McLaren's megalomanic vision and ambition. I reckon that Glen was better out of it; sacked because he knew too many Beatles songs. I forgot to mention his post Pistols band The Rich Kids to Glen. I saw them at some Leeds venue (The Hallam?) supporting Generation X. Billy Idol wanted to fight everyone; The Rich Kids were great; Midge Ure a fine front man. I can't remember their guitarist's name (Steve Rich?) but he was fantastic; up there with Magazine's John McGeoch as one of the best guitarists of the post punk generation...
Matlock is playing at The Screen on the Green in Islington on Nov 23rd if you're interested.
He's no legend; just a nice guy who's guaranteed free beer for the rest of his life.
Let's hope that he has more restraint that Shane McGowan...

To the Bone: The Second Sessions: Sunday

Up early; Willow tries to get into the shower with me and I tell her to... be elsewhere. Which brings us neatly on to the first song of the day. 'Angelicana' is concerned with a restless spirit's wanderlust. It's a fairly raw song that we strip bare. I play a lo-fi acoustic guitar part and then sing close mic'd. The throaty rasp is benefit of last night's chat and the gravel works nicely, although I do sound slightly pissed off... The chorus is a one word repetition of the title. I hear it as a kind of female Greek chorus, or sirens beckoning our traveller either onto the rocks or towards a better future. We section up my voice and hope to get Luce in to give the hook line a feminine resonance. That'll be an interesting experiment as Lucinda sings in tune...
Marcus plays his Dan Electro bass which warms the bottom end of the mix, working well with the trashy drum sound. Joe Henry would be proud of us...
As the evening sets in we set about the final song. 'The Fullness of Time' is a piano ballad that Marcus pronounces 'too pretty' and sets about deconstructing it; ordering me to remove all of the twiddly bits and simplify; removing the diminished and minor 7ths etc. 'Think Lanois rather than James Taylor' he prompts, so I put on a pair of oven gloves for performance. As you will surely hear, this paid dividends. My least dextrous performance ever is proclaimed 'perfect' by the Scientist. It's a rough science...
Later, I look down my nose at him as he sits poised at the piano and I smugly suggest a piano part that is 'more Mrs Mills than Elton." He looks confused but gets it when I mention Les Dawson... Once the vocal is down (our usual 3 takes and a 'comp') we add a wonky Sparklehorse mellotrone and it all sounds surprisingly effecting. Amazing what imperfection can do to the heartstrings...
Lesson learnt: one bubble in the paint job: bad. Many bubbles: good.
That's 13 songs in the bag of bones.
Stripped bare they do sound naked; now comes the fun: we need to add the right flesh to the bones...
Less fat and fulsome, more lean and keen methinks...

Sunday, 10 November 2013

To The Bone: The Second Sessions: Saturday

I'm up early and Marcus and Willow are still out for the count. As I'm in 'Rock 'n' Roll' mode... I decide to make Bolognese sauce for later tonight. Once Marcus has walked the dog we're ready to roll...
Time for another new song. It wouldn't be a Jones album without what Marcus calls 'a bit of waffling'. Yup, here's Trev talking again. 'Cabin Fever' comes from a story that I'd read about Raymond Carver. He needed to finish some short stories for a publishing deadline and borrowed a friend's cabin by a remote lake. He thought that such classic isolation would focus his artistic mind. He didn't make it beyond the weekend. The reclusiveness did nowt but bore the arse of him. 'Send a letter or a woman" he wrote as an S.O.S to a friend, before giving up and running from the hills and back to the static of the city. I know the benefits of solitude based on my Corsican ennui and Carver's reaction interested me. For me, silence offered solutions. It wasn't immediate, but eventually the benefit of a quiet life insinuated itself... I was dumbstruck by a keen but gentle excitement; the sense that something within me was really changing and... it had nothing to do with alcohol or caffeine.
This felt like a true and natural healing; there really was therapeutic benefit to submerging oneself in silence.
"A question is forming
A knot is unravelling
A new day is dawning
And my heart is beating fast..."
I play a ten thumbed guitar part on Marcus's Country and Western Gibson, and then comes the warbling, partly spoken, partly sung. Marcus prods away at the piano and conjures up some atmosphere with mellotron voices. It all sounds suitably odd; conjuring up images of a bug eyed unshaven writer in old clothes, smelling like a damp dog, sitting poised for inspiration.


Lunch and then into 'Some Kind of Surrender'. Marcus suggests a Ry Cooder rhumba type shuffle and that kind of shapes the approach. It's slower than I'd intended and I have to roll the lyrics and even sustain a few notes. Christ, I'm almost singing! The Scientist adds Norah Jones octaves on the piano and some electric twang and acoustic strum before we head indoors for that Bolognese. We discuss whether vegetarian Lucinda (just returning from a gig) will notice that there's a pound of beef mince and half a pound of pork lardons in the sauce. Marcus reckons that she'd be more offended by the garlic, so I rustle her up a tomato and basil ragu that will suffice. Tonight's red is a stonking Spanish/French border Cabalie 2012. Lemon tart and some straight talking ensures that I don't think of Match of the Day until it's too late. How did that happen?
Regardless of the Cabalie's 14% content, we'll all sleep well tonight...

Friday, 8 November 2013

To the Bone: The Second Sessions (Friday): 'Dream Horses' & ''Row'.

I'm in Norbury Brook studio again with Marcus, to continue work on what has been tentatively re-christened 'To the Bone'. It's another 3 day session that should see us break the back of the album in terms of basic tracking. This time we're in the company of Willow, Marcus and Lucinda's lovely lady lurcher. She's discerning; Willow doesn't like jazz chords or cellos... that'll keep us honest. She also has her eye on the garden squirrel whose days are surely numbered.
We commence at noon (very civilized) on 'Dream Horses'. This starts as a simple voice and piano arrangement but is now starting to swell into something... swell. Marcus battles with string samples. I can't spell most of the words he's barking out but musically it sounds like Steve Reich in the afternoon! "Stereo: L: Scratchy R: Awful.... Flat as a fart" is the maestro's assessment. Willow is less articulate but her flatulence speaks volumes. Later, as we have the upright piano sound sorted, we potter with 'Row', a vignette which works nicely. Once the piano is done I sing and Marcus plays along on his blue melodica, giving the thing a sea shanty slant which works well with the lyric. A great day's work and it's time for our reward; nuts for the monkeys. As it's Friday we contemplate curry and offer it up to the dog, just to keep the wind in the Willow.
She assures us that she is more than content with her Chappie.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

In Cassidy's Care: Updates

'In Cassidy's Care' continues to pick up some glowing reviews.
I particularly like the florid translations of some of the Italian reviews...

“A triumph of lyricism. Dream pop with the grace of a butterfly. Touching, sincere, sensual, deep, brilliant, elegant and devoid of hyperbole, a triumph of noble songwriting and seldom reached perfection. If you only buy one disc this year, make it this one.” Onda Rock

“Another little masterpiece has been born. Truly outstanding. Thoughtful, intelligent, graceful and deeply moving music, with every rerun being as joyous as the first.”  9/10 AmericanaUK

“Jones and Cliffe make a formidable pair; crafting beautifully adult, thoughtful and melodic music where Jones' poetic lyrics are placed within gently memorable tunes and lovingly crafted arrangments.”  Elsewhere
“Far and away the most unfairly unsung musical wizards ever to emerge from this sceptered isle. Big on memorable tunes wrapped around honest-to-goodness emotionally involving lyrics.
Rating 95% ‘Album Choice’ HiFi News

“The music and its rich texture is simply stunning. Quite honestly I have not been moved by an album for such a long time “ 4.5 out of 5 Let’s Get Ready to Rock


“Tumblingly lovely; rather like being gently massaged by feathers.” NetRhythms
“A record of great heart. The duo orchestrate intensely personal emotions that you’ve possibly never endured. It is a wonderful thing indeed.” Roots and Branches

“An almost perfect album.” Suono.it
R2 magazine reviewed the album in their current issue (41)

“Masterpieces of subtlety and observation clothed in sumptuous, lush melodies. This is one of the great records of 2013. Buy it and fall in love.”  **** 
The same magazine (an excellent read btw) will feature an interview with me in the next edition (42) and then, in the new year we are to have a track on their 'Un-Herd' CD which comes free with every publication. 
We are currently wrangling over which ICC track to include:
Marcus: 'Sweet Nothing': "It's commercial and catchy"
Me: 'I Love You, Goodbye': "Lyrically it relates closely to Cassidy's story and is more reflective of our musical style"
Bazza: 'In Cassidy's Care'"It would put the album name 'In Cassidy's Care' into people's head and they would make the connection when they see the advert and hear the track. The intro with the horn, pizzicato strings and slidey guitar thing is really interesting - and I would bet there will be no other track on the CD with a similar musical mix. It also has a great middle 8 that really changes the feel and pace of the song and with the organ adds another (MM) musical landscape. The 'Jesus Christ Amelia' phrase is also deceptively catchy and sticks in the head. 'In Cassidy's Care' would be my choice. The opening to 'I Love You Goodbye' sounds great when it follows 'Sweet Nothing', but if it followed a similarly slow paced track on the compilation it could fail to have the impact you need. The hook that grabs me in this song is the 'I thought I was a dragon slayer' line, but it's 1min 20 secs into the song, so the listener may have skipped to the next track before they get that pleasure!
'Sweet Nothing' is great and would do the job, but it's probably the least representative of the album and the Miracle Mile sound. That's my view from a purely marketing angle"

You can alway rely on Bazza for a brief brief...
If you guys have any thoughts about the best track to choose, please feel free to chip in...
Meanwhile, here's the excellent ad that Bazza's just presented for the magazine:

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica) 15: Pink's Nice

15: Pink’s Nice

We gathered at the village cemetery, standing amongst silent embraces and whispered conversations. The atmosphere was of tenderness, sadness and bitter cigarettes. One of Jan and David’s grandchildren placed wild flowers on a black granite tomb and softened the air. The boy looked up for his father’s eye and Nicholas winked, producing a rogue tear that ran the length of his gaunt unshaven features. He reached out and ruffled his son’s unkempt hair and then gently squeezed his button nose. The child smiled shyly and skipped away happy at this affirmation; he had done well. Nicholas stepped unsteadily towards the gathering and spoke into the space between us, about his parents; their love of the village was with them to the end. In a trembling voice he told us that in Jan’s final moments, family, friends and photographs of Montemaggiore had encircled her. There had already been a funeral in Paris; this ceremony was to see Janet’s ashes interred with those of David and their beloved first-born, Katja.
“This second ceremony seems so much more difficult than the first”, sighed Nico. In Paris he had felt numb. Here above the village and beneath the mountain, with his grief exposed, he appeared raw and overawed, lost within himself.
At the head of the tomb, Katja’s name and a pale gray photo were hard to see. Below this, freshly painted words and dates had been added along side two vivid colour photos of David and Janet which seemed almost garish in comparison; pictures that we all recognized from their frames in that big blue house. Nico placed two fingers to his lips and gently touched the images of his mother and father. After a shuddering pause, he rested his fingers on the fading face of his sister, as if trying to wipe away a mark or stain. He leant there for a moment and whispered to the departed. Sebastian took his arm from around his trembling sister Natasha and stepped towards the tomb. He paused as if to speak, and then bowed his head; tears flowing freely down the front of his black crumpled shirt. He then placed the tips of his fingers on his mother’s face and touched them to his lips, repeating the gesture with his father and sister. Natasha stood unsteadily, supported now by her two daughters. One of the villagers stepped forward, placing a hand to his ear and sang a verse in Corsican; a psalm I think. One by one the villagers joined his song, producing a moving mournful moan.

After the ceremony we retreated to the family’s house where we drank strong black coffee and bottled water and ate freshly baked bread and cakes; the stuff of life. We were introduced to visiting relations of Jan and David, Australian and British.
“We’ll miss their free spirits”, I muttered awkwardly. “The air was never heavy around them.” Di looked at me and frowned; too many words. The sound of English seemed to clutter the room so we returned to our fumbling French. Later, as we left, we wrote in the visitor’s book for the final time:
“Dear Janet and David, it was a pleasure to know you, and a sadness that we couldn’t get to know you better. We’ll miss our visits to your house. There was always laughter.”
We crept down the stone staircase and stood unsure of ourselves in the village square.
“Let’s go for a drive”, said Di.

It was early evening now and the hills bristled with energy. Just outside of Calanzana we stopped by a small chapel that we’d always thought derelict. It was surrounded by cars and vans and the sound of music came from within. We stepped inside to great applause, although we soon realized that the ovation was not for us. At the alter was a grand piano in front of which stood the soloist, bowing stiffly from the waist; enjoying the acclaim. He had the wild-eyed stare of Marty Feldman, an effect that was magnified by a huge pair of pink plastic glasses, the thick lenses of which could have started a forest fire. He took his seat, adjusted those heavy frames, placed his fingers on the keyboard and, after a prolonged theatrical gaze at the ceiling, he started to play. At transcendent moments his eyes returned to the heavens as if tipping the wink in gratitude for his sublime gift. He offered Chopin, Beethoven and Bach, all for an audience of about forty folk who sat in quiet reverence. As the gentle prodding reverberated, I looked around at the faces in the audience. Next to us an elderly couple sat nursing a baby. The woman was dressed in her sober Sunday best; the old man wore a shabby dressing gown and pyjamas, on his feet a pair of pale pink slippers. His head was down, chin to chest, seemingly asleep. A tear ran down his cheek and gave him away. The child gazed up to the rafters, perhaps seeking the object of the pianist’s wild blissful stare, whilst his grandmother whispered life’s secrets into him.
After the concert we went in search of food and found ourselves at ‘Chez Michele’ in Calanzana.
We watched in silence as Michele prepared us his specialty; ‘Agneau de lait au feu de bois’, baby lamb roasted over an open fire, which he would simply serve with garlicky potatoes. His partner Naderge knew our appetites well and placed two demi pichets on the table, red for me, rose for Di, while we watched her beautiful half African, half Corsican child playing with a hula hoop; Naderge smiling at us smiling at her daughter’s delighted dance.

                                                        ***

Yesterday's Bread

“Everyday but Sunday” she says
Glancing over my shoulder
As she counts out change
I am not yet 'of the village'
So have worked my way 
From the back of the queue

Every day but Sunday
In the shadow of St Augustin
Crusts offered reluctantly
From the back of a crumpled white van
'Voila, you were lucky'
She draws a dark brown oddment
From within, then
Steps to her left
Blocking my view

I bound home with flour on my chest
To find you in the kitchen
Teacups brimful
Over your shoulder I see
The remnants of yesterday's bread
"Always leave a crust 
To show you're not in need"
Terry's chant
"Waste not, want for nothing"

I am my father's son
So every dawn we test our teeth 
On yesterday’s bread
Leaving the soft and the fresh 
For tomorrow
You hold me hopefully
As I picture pater
Terry
Tight lipped and wanting
Pressing broken teeth
Into the back of his smile