Week from Monday 1st December 2003

...or the spoons solo...

The LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL continued on Radio 3, with a lot of strange electronic noodling on "Mixing It" and "Hear & Now" (worth hearing, but not a keeper!) and a cracking set from TIM BERNE's latest bunch of downtown Noo Yoik reprobates (this week he calls his band SCIENCE FRICTION). This line-up also included that DAVID TORN on his inimitable space guitar. More than once I thought I heard the ghost of HENRY COW in there somewhere. On 6Music on Wednesday, "The Dream Ticket" broadcast(almost) the entire STEVE HILLAGE "BBC In Concert" from Canterbury Uni in 1979 (VERY funky riddim section!), as well as some more of the weird 'n' wonderful set by MIKE WESTBROOK's SOLID GOLD CADILLAC from 1972 (Is their "Brain Damage" album still available in any form? I must have it!). There was also the second part of Charles Shaar Murray's FRANK ZAPPA documentary. On Thursday it is ten years since UNCLE FRANK left us and, to mark the moment, I intended to "eat good chilli and listen to 'Three Hours Past Midnight' by Johnny Guitar Watson". It's what he would've wanted. In the event, however, I found that the compilation of JG Watson's '50s output that I have in my collection did not include that particular tune, but I listened to it anyway, as well as my favourite version of Frank's "Black Napkins", which seemed to set the right tone... The chilli was fantastic, by the way... On Friday, "Jazz On 3" is broadcasting a session by an ALL STAR BAND OF EX-ZAPPA SIDEMEN recorded in Los Angeles to mark the occasion.

I'm supposed to be outdoors, applying vinyls to a van - of course it is pissing with rain and is likely to continue doing so through the week. Eventually I managed to do it all, a bit at a time, between showers and/or the van actually being out on the road in use! My other ongoing project, at the moment, is to do an isometric map (in the style of the Tate Gallery maps) of a parish centre in Cosham, without having visited said actual building yet.

The 'new' CARAVAN album is definitely a grower - Pye's songs are infuriatingly 'commercial' and catchy at times (That is to say, you find yourself whistling them on the way to the bus. Come to think of it, I sometimes whistle tunes from "ROXY & ELSEWHERE", stuff by GENTLE GIANT or the first HENRY COW album - what MUST people think?!). The last three 'concatenated' pieces on the album (one apiece from Geoff Richardson, Dave Sinclair and Doug Boyle) are worth the admission price alone.

Week from Monday 8th December 2003

Another year, another TURNER PRIZEgiving... This year, the judges had to choose between GRAYSON PERRY's naughty Greek urns and "TV" promos, the CHAPMAN BROTHERS' gnarly statues and jokes about Goya, ANYA GALLACCIO's rotten smelly installations and upside down trees, or WILLY DOHERTY's pointlessly-running man videos and politically-meaningful (to him - the significance has to be explained to you) but otherwise dull photographs. In the end, GRAYSON PERRY 'won' - dressed in a fetching "Little Bo Peep" outfit, he collected the prize from Peter Blake. One has to admire his commitment to his art. For the record, I liked the Chapman Brothers' stuff best, especially the very "Distractionist" Goya etchings (B*st*rds!?!).

The seedydisk by that bunch of timewarped Isle of Wight-ers THE BEES has been on replay mode on the PC all morning. I like them PRECISELY because their album could have been made in 1974...

Shelfy came into the office in the middle of the week, with news of his organic farmyard Sherpa vehicle (the Sherpa is organic, not the farm). I lent him a tape of the GIL SCOTT HERON film by my VERY distant cousin, DON LETTS, shown on the Secret Space Digital Beeb Telly recently. I also presented him with his Xmas prezzy, a "Best of" compilation from my WOMAD box. I know it's early, but one never know's when one'll see him next.

Week from Monday 15th December 2003

So, on a weekend when the Americans claimed a major victory in the struggle against BEARDED BLOKES LIVING IN CAVES, I enjoyed my 'free' DVD copy of Woody Allen's MANHATTAN, courtesy of the Daily Mail, perused the latest editions of SONGLINES and MOJO magazines, watched and repeatedly listened to the JOHN CALE session broadcast on BBC4 and, as is my wont,'did' the crosswords and slept a lot. My XMO prezzy to myself, the new KING CRIMSON double-DVD, arrived in the post, but I won't let myself watch it till the twenty-fifth - you have to create a sense of occasion about these things!

That MOJO is jam-tuckered with ZAPPA-TRIV! I couldn't help noticing that the latest Rykodisc advert uses the same ZAPPA-QUOTE as in my "Golden Bananas" blurb (the one about the universe being made of STUPIDITY).

It's Tuesday and I'm off to the Hair Emporium for some long overdue follicle attention. As usual, the lovely Liz does a wonderful job. I also have to finish off the Wymering Church maps, so that I am paid for them before Chrimbo (which includes a nice bonus!) and I have to see Mark The Former Printer before he leaves to do his VINYLING BIZ full time (most importantly because LOVE WITH ARTHUR LEE and THE SEEDS are coming over in the Spring)... And there's a whole bunch of other people also wanting things done in time for Christmas...

I promised to fix Shelfy's PC sometime this week, although I subsequently got an e-mail "not to bother". Y'see, the trouble with Shelfy is he doesn't respect computers, he fears and loathes them - and the computers KNOW this and go into a state of self-destruct, rather than let this beastly individual rummage around in their software! Shelfy, ideally, would like to live in a world where all machines (PCs, Land Rovers, microwaves, Sherpas, printers, tumble dryers) either never go wrong or, preferably, heal themselves.

I will probably not be going ANYWHERE NEAR a modem for the next couple of weeks, so this may be the last diary posting for a bit. Therefore have a Merry Bla bla bla and a Happy yada yada yada...

Week from Monday 22nd December 2003

Okay, so I lied ... I have to use the internet to find the last couple of (sports-related) answers to this week's crossword, so here I am again ... Having vegetated through the weekend (Another new CARAVAN live album with yet another version of "For Richard"! A GONG live DVD!! My second favourite film, THE FIFTH ELEMENT!!! Lots of SIMPSONS tapes!!!!) I just had to come out for the walkies. It was "Groin-Grabbingly Transcendent!" - Thanks, Homer!

One of my holiday viewing highlights SHOULD have been the Christmas night production of THE FIREBIRD by the Canadian National Bal, Eh?! However, my enjoyment was severely wrecked by Channel 4's disrespectful and seemingly random insertion of commercial breaks. Interrupting one of Stravinsky's greatest works at the most inappropriate moments, just so that some cretinous turnip can bellow inanities like "GOT YAAW NAMBAH!", "QUOTE ME HAPPY!", "WOT'S IN YAAW WALLIT?", or to tell us about yet another bleedin' "FURNITURE SALE THAT STARTS 9am ON BOXING DAY", all in a thoroughly objectionable tone of voice is, frankly, just not on.

Week from Monday 29th December 2003

I, of course, was not required to participate in anything that could be called Christmassy (or even NewYeary). Heavy of sinus and restless of orifice, and guided by my own total lack of circadian rhythm, I took to my little cave and hibernated through the whole dyam ting. IT IS NATURE'S WAY. I awoke at various times to listen to lots of GREAT RADIO (lashings of "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" and "The National Theatre of Brent's Complete & Utter History of The Mona Lisa"), dug 6MUSIC digging into the BeebArchives, sampled this year's NOT-THE-WORLD MUSIC DAY - far too much local 'folk' music this time around - snoozed to JAZZ FM, watched lots of GREAT TELLY (my second favourite film "BRAZIL", a LITTLE BRITAIN-a-thon, my second favourite film "THE PRODUCERS") and went a-mooching around THE SALES, not actually finding any bargains as such. I purchased my ticket for the STEVE HACKETT concert coming up in March, as well as the new QUINTESSENCE compilation just released by the Island concern (recommended for all you Norrie Parker fans). I moved a microwave oven down to the workshop, only to move it back again the next day. I read the newly-republished original radio scripts of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. I sorted out the airing cupboard for unwanted towels and shorts for the ragbag.