Week from Monday 7th August 2006

My 'FREAKY POP HEROES' have been dropping like flies this year - SYD BARRETT, IVOR CUTLER, ALI FARKA TOURÉ, CHEIKHA RIMITTI, DAME ELIZABETH SCHWARZKOPF (she sang a mean Mahler!) - and now ARTHUR LEE has died, aged 61.

I was VERY impressed by the National Youth Orchestra's performance of STRAVINSKY's "Symphony in Three Movements" at the Proms the other night. It was MUCH better than the recording by a so-called 'professional' (BBC) Orchestra that I have in my collection. Their SIBELIUS and JANACEK weren't bad either. In fact, the wonderfully spiky Janacek symphonic poem was a new one on me, I thought he only wrote operas! Also at the Proms, the more-ish Moorish sounds of RADIO TARIFA got a final airing before the band go their separate ways. On the same 'bill' was Mauritania's DIMI MINT ABBA (accompanied by her daughter and step-son, the only members of her band to make it past the Home Office), whose desert vibes thrilled us at WOMAD a week previously.

I finished the latest batch of 'HTMLing' for the MOTORCYCLE PEOPLE in the New Forest and spacemailed it off to 'em (They're adding new pages to their website and thus need extra buttons on the nav'menu). But they seem to be getting in a RIGHT OL' KERFUFFLE replacing the old files and getting the new ones to work, so another trip in person may well be called for. Shelfy did speak of another "OUTING" to the West Country, so that'll be the time to call in.

We keep getting telephone cold-callers asking to speak to "THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF COMMUNICATIONS". I politely explain that, as we are but two people in an oft noisy workshop, "communications" generally consist of me sticking my head round the door and shouting.

An imported copy of DARYL HALL's "Sacred Songs" arrived on my doorstep. With the US Dollar plunging to a level of nearly two dollars to the pound, it cost me a mere £8.99 in English, even WITH shipping costs! I must say, the album is not nearly as 'WEIRD' as various people had led me to expect over the ensuing years. I suppose if you were expecting another "Family Man" or "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", then it could be considered WEIRD-ISH, but to these left-of-centre ears, it sounds kinda like a TODD RUNDGREN album with the added bonus of occasional Frippertronics! That's not THAT weird, is it?

Week from Monday 14th August 2006

There has been another batch of WOMAD 'highlights' on the wireless this weekend (IVO PAPASOV and his Red Hot Bulgarian Lads being particularly welcome). There is more on "Late Junction" during this coming week (Fiona Talkington, Curator Of All Things Scandinavian, will have some VÄRTTINÄ). The Third Programme have promised that they are keeping further treats under wraps for December. Meanwhile, I'm just catching up with yesterday's "FREAK ZONE" via the medium of 'TAPE-IT-FERLATER'. I didn't listen to it 'live' this Sunday, due to a busy schedule of movie-watching and crossword-solving.

Tuesday, and we have another trip out to 'SEE THE PONIES'... I hope finally to solve the problem of the MOTORCYCLE PEOPLE's misbehaving website, which I now believe to be the result of certain files not arriving at their destination intact. It seems likely that WINDOZE's paranoid 'safety' measures have blocked the Java content from getting through. I'm taking the 'working model' over to them on my USB-stick and I have given them the option of a "NON-JAVA" version as well. Hopefully M****soft's finest will now stop interfering with its smooth running!

The task was completed within about five minutes of our arriving, giving Shelfy plenty of time to drool over various WHEEL-ED DOOFERS. And for me to get paid. And for us both to drink tea. There Is Nothing Mysterious About Scooters.

The BAG OF RECYCLED ROADTAPES is still giving good service for our little outings. I've just added a compilation of various PARLIA-FUNKADELIC-MENT THANGS which went down well. Shelfy has expressed a potential "CRAZE" situation for the tunes of ZIGGY MARLEY and his dad, so I shall bung together a C90's-worth of the aforementioned for next time.

On the subject of M****soft's INTERFERING OPERATING SYSTEM... When I switched on my PeeCee on Wednesday morning, I got a splash screen telling me that, as my "hardware has changed significantly" since I 'activated' WINDOZE XP, I have to do it again within three days! Does repartitioning one of my hard-drives and adding an extra printer constitute a "significant hardware change" under WINDOZE XP? Apparently it does.

Now you just KNOW that, with my neolithic STUPORNET dial-up connection, I'm not gonna be ABLE to re-activate it 'online' in a hurry. So I thought I'd try my luck with the 0800 telephone service. Being the pessimist that I am, I was prepared for the long haul. It came as a major and pleasant surprise to find that I GOT THROUGH FIRST TIME and that the tone-dialling of registration numbers ACTUALLY WORKED! Lawdy!

Week from Monday 21st August 2006

The weather's on the turn and, neurologically speaking, I'm coming DOWN DOWN DOWN from the summer. The entire weekend was spent alternately watching movies, reading another TOM HOLT novel and, most of all, sleeping. Misfiring synapses mean that dreams are somewhat lucid, yet troublingly obsessive and often nonsensical. Doubtless my brain is trying to tell me something, albeit through a garbled dial-up connection. "HAUNTED BY THE SPECTRE OF WANTING TO NAME THEM..." was one puzzling rejoinder that I happened to make a note of - Help! I'm turning into Jon Anderson!

In fact, I'm probably typing this, THINKING that I'm making perfect sense but, in reality, producing total gibberish. No change there, then.

This week, "JAZZ ON 3" featured a EURO-JAZZ-BRASS-CABARET-TASTIC studio session. MIKE & KATE WESTBROOK, with a hand-picked sextet of some of their regular sidekicks, performed their "Art Wolf " suite. Definitely one for KEEPSIES!

Week from Monday 28th August 2006

As 'REAL' work has been rather thin on the ground of late, I've put some time into coming up with "MUSICAL DERANGEMENTS" for Shelfy's "Tales From The Winged Eyeball" project. I've had a whale of a time creating some virtual 'REAL' instruments and 'writing' musical parts that SOUND like they're played by humans, but are probably physically impossible in real life! And I've definitely upped the "WORLD MUSIC" ante with THIS one, dabbling as I am in Mauritanian Minor Mode, and having constructed something relatively 'musical' out of "LES TAMBOURS IMBÉCILIQUES DU RIVERMEAD" samples (Pardon My Franglais)...

That reminds me, I'm still waiting for Shelfy to send me HIS jottings for the WOMAD page. Perhaps he's waiting until after he's attended a West Country TRACTOR-FEST or two, before he collects his thoughts[?]

Another of those Bank Holidays rolled around... along with its usual walking activity, a visit to a fair-to-middling CAR-BOOT SALE - I signed a petition, because the Council are trying to shut it down - and a [Bank Holiday obligatory] STAR WARS episode with George Lucas commentary.

On Wednesday, I have to go over to Portsmouth to sketch a church, so, naturally, I make a day of it, visiting numerous emporia along the way, but not being tempted to purchase. I also failed to find the latest edition of "Songlines" anywhere. Is this their latest ploy to get people to buy subscriptions, by not putting ANY copies in retail outlets?

I am having a sudden CRAZE for the tunes of PRINCE aka T.A.F.K.A.P. aka SQUIGGLY THING aka SMALL MAD PERSON FROM MINNEAPOLIS, having gleaned a few more cassettes of his work from charity shop fifty-pee boxes. I still prefer his middle-period stuff with The Revolution (Who doesn't?), but I'm gradually learning to appreciate [some of] the more recent New Power Generation FONK-OUTS as well.