Week from Monday 5th March 2007

Well, as you can all tell, WOMAD-TAPE-ly speaking, it's 2001 again! That year's TINARIWEN set, despite being a wee bit SAME-Y in the bloozyriff department (but then so was ELMORE JAMES!), still SOUNDS a whole lot fresher than their new stuff. As I will be shutting down the "What We Did On Our Holidays" pages sometime this year (and the equally-AHB'SLIT "Pick 'O' The Year" pages), I've taken to cutting 'n' pasting the old FESTIVAL DIARIES into this here bloggage, where chronology and/or the demands of nostalgia dictate. Ooh look, here comes another one now...

WOMAD Flashback - FRIDAY 27th JULY 2001

11.09… I joined the semi-fast train from Brighton to Reading at Fareham, as is now the custom… I’d taped the previous night’s ‘Late Junction’ for the journey, but somewhere around Basingstoke, the tape got chewed up…

13.00… I arrived at the campsite, having exchanged my cardboard ticket for the plastic bracelet that is all the rage amongst the discerning festival goer… When I say it is hot, it is f**king HOT! Having yomped across Reading with a VERY packed 64 litre rucky and then built my Little House On The Prairie, I am left gasping like a landed fish… shade and water must been taken NOW! The finer points of setting up camp can be completed when it gets cooler.

14.30… First bit of ‘shopping’ and the first item crossed off my extensive ‘wants’ list: “Monkey Harmonising Songs” by An Chang Project . A Cuban folklore ensemble (i.e. traditional dancin’ an’ a-drummin’), BALLET FOLKLORICO CUTUMBA, is doing a turn on the main stage… I have a wander around the village, before getting to the Siam tent, nice and early for the first act there… but more importantly, it offers shade!

15.30… Siam Tent… I reckon old Ali Farka Touré sidekick AFEL BOUCOUM should be a nice way to start the weekend proper… Hey! it’s the Alkibar Kid! His music strikes me as being very similar to Uncle Ali’s, but the additional instrumentation (particularly the one-string ‘fiddle’) on some of the songs was also reminiscent of a Wassoulou ensemble, such as that of Oumou Sangare.

16.30… The Crystal Palace… Another WOMAD, another new “venue” has been added - but who’s idea was it to build it out of glass? As if it’s not hot enough!! (I later learn that it’s a traditional travelling showpersons’ spiegeltent… no doubt ideal for late night candle-lit cabarets, but during the day…?) I have come to see NARA (not to be confused with Mara!), pan-Arabic instrumental interplay at its best - Abdullah Chhadeh, a Syrian qanun player with an Irish double bass player, a Greek lyra fiddler and a couple of percussionists (dëf, dumbek, blindin’, eh kids?)… A lady singer from Tunisia came on and did a couple of traditional (or Oum Kalthoum?) songs - just beautiful! I look forward to seeing this band again sometime…

17.30… Siam Tent… MABULU from Mozambique brought us tales of flooded recording sessions and blended all the southern African pop styles into quite a good time, knees-up bonanza… How many generations of musicians are spanned within this group’s ranks? Even RAP sounded good in Shangana… Couldn’t really see them from my (disad)vantage point, but they sounded fantastic… definitely candidates for Real Audio listening at some time between now and October!

18.30… Open Air Stage… Tarantella alert! Having raved at great length about Spaccanapoli last year, I looked forward to seeing EUGENIO BENNATO’S MUSICANOVA, who would appear to be fulfilling a similar brief… Their sound is a lot more rootsy and is (almost) totally acoustic, but the rhythms and melodies have that same infectious quality… and where DO they breed those angelic dancers!? There's another chance to hear more of this later...

19.30… Siam Tent… WOMAD ‘collaboration’ time… Sicilian faves NUCLEARTÉ collide with Zimbabwe’s IMBIZO choir (‘choir’ in the Ladysmith Black Umfolozi sense) for some cross-cultural fun and games… It didn’t appear to gel together musically, but the welly boot routines were great fun (after a while, they appeared to give up trying to create something new and just played stuff from the Nuclearté repertoire… Rosanna had left the stage, having failed to find any way of fitting in with the already oversubscribed vocal section) It occurred to me that Nuclearté’s Prog/Afro/fusion sound probably goes down quite well with any Peter Gabriel fans still at the core of the typical WOMAD audience… why do I keep being reminded of Renaissance?

20.30… Open Air Stage… BADMARSH & SHRI - The Quintessence revival starts here… and, hopefully, ends just over there… This soulless 'world'/trance fusion malarkey has become so clichéd and ‘ten-a-penny’, as ubiquitous as the lowliest plodding pub blues rock... and I’m convinced that these DJ-as-‘musician’ types just slap ethnic flute (samples or otherwise), percussion (samples or otherwise) and, irritatingly, banal vocals over the top of their ‘tunes’ to cover up the absence of any original musical ideas… it obviously appeals to the masses however (but then so does lowly plodding pub blues rock!)… Now it’s a little cooler, I’m out of here to finish building my bedroom!

21.30… Village Stage… If listening to someone playing records while they make funny noises over the top, is your idea of a good time, then the Japanese seem to do it with more panache, if KAZUFUMI “ECHO” KODAMA is anything to go by… this music had that added element of "oddness" to make it interesting, even if some of the dub plates in the background were at times unadventurous… His spooky Miles-alike trumpet made it all worthwhile - this could have been ‘Tutu’ made flesh…

22.30… Siam Tent… passing by on the way back to the main arena, I caught the end of the SOWETO STRING QUARTET’s set… I thought this was dreadful, a failed experiment in misplaced fusion, rather like that Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra of a few years back. This is music that is probably considered "worthy" and wins lots of awards. One piece that I heard resembled the unsubtle theme tune from some telly sports programme. If the BBC needs a replacement for Ronnie Hazelhurst, then look no further… Open Air Stage… THE SKATALITES were on terrific form. The first half hour or so (Live on Radio 3, folks!) really cooked, but then they brought on a female singer who was, to be diplomatic, not terribly good and she murdered a selection of rock-steady ballads, spoiling the whole thing for me.

23.15… Village Stage… I’m ending my day in the virtual Sahara with the extraordinary Tuareg band TINARIWEN. Clad in the traditional blue oil cloth, the men with their faces covered (now there’s a turnaround), they played some wonderfully soulful desert ‘blues’ with a passion that the likes of Justin Adams would probably die for (which is probably why he's produced their CD... Ed)… luckily they left their Kalashnikovs at home… Just one question: where do they plug in those electric guitars when they're at home in the desert?

SATURDAY 28th JULY 2001

08.30… It has for me become customary to fill the Saturday morning of a Rivermead WOMAD with a yomp into Reading town centre, in order to acquire breakfast supplies at a branch of the once popular Marks & Spencer chain of stores, to take advantage of the public lavatory (and washing) facilities and to ‘do’ the record shops (HMV, Virgin Meagerstore, Rusty’s of record fair fame). I did not manage to cross any more items off my ‘wants’ list, but I did impulse-buy a Luaka Bop item because I liked the zany and inviting cover!

12.00… Open Air Stage… Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun to watch Italian prog-folk-afro-dance-fusion combos (another, fuller set from NUCLEARTÉ… this time I’m definitely going to buy their CD!) Pressed against the barrier to take piccies, I run the risk of sunstroke, but I am unable to tear myself away to a shadier locale, they really are great!

13.00… Outside the Siam Tent… OLIVER MTUKUDZI must be popular - either that or people don’t care what they listen to as long as it’s in the shade - the Siam Tent is chocker! It’s going out live on Radio 3, so I’ll have to wait and hear the tape(s) when I get home. I get my share of shade in the Village tent and wait for the Anglo-Nigerian dance company BADEJO ARTS to do their thing… who, in the event, are a bit high-fallutin’ to appeal at this time of day.

14.00… Outside the Crystal Palace… As if to prove my “shade versus music” theory, there is a mile long queue waiting to get into the Crystal Palace to see Dounia… Shame, ‘cos I fancied something else Italian!

14.30… Open Air Stage… TARRAS: I don’t care what trendy new clothes you dress it up in, or make claims to the contrary, it’s still only FOLK music - Gosport festival “top” faves, I shouldn’t wonder! Planxty wrote (and closed) the book on this sort of thing, twenty-five or more years ago, as far as I’m concerned.

15.00… A curious quirk of coincidence (or bad planning) means that there are African drumming and dancing -type ensembles playing on two different stages simultaneously… so if you like that sort of thing, you’re spoilt for choice, ho hum!

16.00… Crystal Palace… I manage to get into the glass house at last, for another blast of EUGENIO BENNATO & MUSICANOVA who sounded even better second time around… I could see them a lot better too… Timeless, joyous, acoustic music (and the band certainly know how to enjoy themselves!) I think that, for the second year running, the Italian contingent has taken WOMAD by storm!

17.00… Siam Tent… There’s some cool Latin jazz going down on the Siam stage, as I take my tea, courtesy of veteran Cuban bass player CACHAITO LOPEZ and an all-star band. Amongst their number are such names as Pee Wee Ellis (he turns up everywhere!) and former Aswad and Jazz Jamaica keysperson Clifton “Bigga” Morrison, who did the MC-ing! Mmm great! ...The heat is, by now, absolutely stifling - in fifteen years of WOMADing, I've never had to work so hard at enjoying myself! 

18.00… Open Air Stage… Hamid time! I’ve been looking forward to seeing HAMID BAROUDI again… What an absolute star! (Though, like a lot of ‘stars’, he’s started to show an inclination towards singing in feeble English and overdoing the audience participation routines… Stop that! It’s not grown up and it’s not clever!) More tomorrow!

19.00… Siam Tent… A pair of binoculars would be required to actually see DREADZONE, but I can hear them clearly enough! I saw Miquette Giraudy and her entourage milling about - that’s as close as I’LL get to watching System 7 tonight! Maybe it’s a case of the wrong thing at the wrong time, but I found Dreadzone very dull indeed - maybe the comments on Badmarsh & Shri apply here, but to me, this is not LIVE music. I will happily listen to them at home or on the move, but what do you gain from them being ‘in the house’ with you? I decide to go to the Village stage to watch the radio… CHARLIE GILLETT broadcasting on BBC London Live… He chatted and played choons with Oliver Mtukudzi, then CACHAITO LOPEZ and his bunch of famous chaps did some more cool Latin jazz… Charlie played a track from that Momo Wandel “Afro Swing” seedy - I remembered that said item belonged on my ‘wants’ list and so set off in search of it, at the reccerd store.

21.15… CHEIKH LÕ is marvellous, but it came as a surprise to hear him with a full mbalax-type electric band rather than the gently swaying semi-unplugged ensemble that had accompanied him on previous visits… Senegalese music as I prefer it - loose around the edges and no feeble English vocals! This set is another candidate for the full works via Real Audio…

22.30… Village Stage… 10.30: time to get horizontal for my annual blast of qawwali from the RIZWAN-MUAZZAM boys! Now THIS is trance music - b*****ks to those young ruffians with their poncy samplers and space echos! Bliss!

23.45… Open Air Stage… The incredibly popular AFRO-CUBAN ALL-STARS are, of course, going down a storm on the main stage but, as their set draws to a close, I’m off to bivouac!

SUNDAY 29th JULY 2001

06.00… A restless, hot and sticky, stiff and achy, night of non-sleep, not helped by the fact that the family a couple of tents away (the mother of whom had the soothing tones of Hilda Ogden impersonating Janis Joplin), let their kids stay up all night as a special treat! I awoke with what, to all intents and purposes, is a hangover - and alcohol never passes my lips, so it must be something else! Peering out from the tent flaps at this early hour, the sky relatively overcast, I hoped that we might be in for a slightly cooler day… but it was not to be! I went for a breather into town, far too early for anywhere to be open for breakfast on Sunday hours, but it cleared a few cobwebs…

10.00… I took breakfast at one of the numerous eateries on the festival site - the nice lady gave me a free cup of tea, as I had to wait for the meal. I take shade and relaxation in the Village tent and write up the diary you see before you now, thus far…

12.00… Village Stage… ABDULLAH CHHADEH, the qanun player we had heard with Nara earlier in the weekend, is to do a ‘solo’ set - but solo classical improvisations were not the main feature on the menu this avvy! He also plays a sequence of duets with some of the individual members of Nara (the duf/daf/def player and the Tunisian lady singer being standouts) and a pan-European zither summit with none other than ace eclectic Andrew Cronshaw and his special devices.

13.00… Open Air Stage… Another Cuban drums and dance company of a folklorique nature, DANZA LIBRE, are doing their thing on the main stage… "worthy" without being particularly interesting or spectacular… On to the next shady spot…

14.00… Siam Tent… Today’s blast of HAMID BAROUDI and by far the better of the two sets he’s played and I’ve enjoyed, this weekend. This time I can hear the keyboards better (the sound balance and quality are better all round), there is less waffle between numbers and “enforced recreation” (i.e. padding out the songs with “audience participation” routines) is at a minimum. If Radio 3 have recorded one of his sets, then let it be this one (I suspect otherwise however!) What a curious mixture of individuals inhabits this rocking teenage combo - an Algerian who is no slouch as a frontman, an Argentine sidekick playing a remarkable-looking double-necked acoustic, an African percussionist and various Germans in the engine room department (The keyboard player looks like John Zorn’s speccier younger brother and is almost certainly called Klaus?). I still have reservations about the song called, I think, “Tea In Marrakesh” but…

15.00… Open Air Stage… BADENYA LES FRÈRES COULIBALY are on the main stage as I go to exchange new fluids for old… very much like Burkina Faso compatriots Farafina, with loads of djembes and balafons rattling away to glorious effect… I must get to a place of shade and get a good “seat” for today’s next turn, who tops my “must see” list since I learnt of his appearance back in May!

16.00… Siam Tent… TRILOK GURTU (for it is he!) - a REAL hero, the guvnah and an longtime ambition fulfilled! (I’m obviously not the only one to think so, judging by the number of sidestage ligging muso audients, present during this set!) Even in the flesh, Trilok’s multiple drumming technique is astounding, it is impossible to count the limbs! And what a band - the bass player I recognised from a Salif Keita band of some years ago, the vocalist was in Zap Mama before they turned into the Spice Girls. Music to make an old jazz-rocker very happy indeed... Absolutely stunning…

17.00… Open Air Stage… So stunning, in fact, that I missed the start (whoops!) of the other “mustn’t miss” set of the weekend, namely ORCHESTRE NATIONAL DE BARBÈS… absolutely terrific, definitely living up to the promise of that live album of theirs - and just watch the Kershaw posse lapping it up sidestage!

18.00… Siam Tent… From the same points of origin (i.e. North Africa via Paris), but a completely different kettle of couscous is AMINA - I’d been familiar with her work, having found one of her albums in a charity shop once! She’s quite a belter and the songs are fab (I must dig out that “Yalil” album for reappraisal when I get home!), but I thought that the band she’d brought across the channel with her were a tad pedestrian and… well, plastic, really… ne’mind…

19.00… Main Arena… Photo opportunity time, as the carnival procession makes its way around the site… They’ve certainly gone overboard with the giant puppets this year and the presence of an eight-foot long (Mr) Horse’s head made me snigger, but the significance was probably lost on everyone else…

19.15… Open Air Stage… Wow! Talk about a case of “exactly the right thing at the right time”! As the sun is going down and a gentle summer breeze blows from Thamesward, BABEL GILBERTO and her extraordinary group entertain us with what is probably THE COOLEST music on the planet… Perfecão!

20.30… Village Stage… I didn’t expect to enjoy MUSHTAQ, but I was pleasantly surprised… Sweet bloozy SOUL music, easy on the histrionics for a change… and he sounds like he actually has something to SAY (which also makes a change!)… This is the term “Rhythm & Blues” used in its original, old-fashioned sense, as opposed to the electronically processed vocal technique workouts which get misleadingly labelled “R&B” nowadays (which also probably means that he’ll have difficulty with “marketing” considerations if he is to rise above cult status - Don’t sell out, Mushtaq!)

21.30… Open Air Stage… and so to ADF… At least this year they’ve had the good sense to put ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION on a stage where everyone who wants to see them CAN see them! They are on top form too, but sadly the sound system isn’t (the band’s own soundman?) …a bit one-paced… in yer face… shouty… subtle they ain’t… but I still love that Nusrat remix they do! …plenty of “day trippers” to see this one, I’m guessing!

22.15… I shall end my weekend’s entertainment with a bit of “proper culture” innit… some classical (and contemporary?) Indian dance courtesy of SHILPI BARARI, before I submit to a final night of exhaustive achy breaky sleep… It is very necessary to be able to see and catch every last gesture and "trick face" with this kind of dance... the (pre-recorded) music was rather delightful too...

MONDAY 30th JULY 2001

07.00… Up real early so that I can pack up while it’s still cool… needless to say, it takes several failed attempts before I am able to get the contents of the 65 litre rucky back in the order in which they came… Getting up this early (who could lay in?) means I have three hours to kill before my train, so I treat myself to a good old-fashioned transport caff plate of beans on toast and a big mug of tea before a "casual" "stroll" to the station… home to catch the radio (and internet?) highlights... Goodbye Reading for another year!

So I ran screaming from The Sk[y]atalites' not terribly-good-female vocalist, in order to witness the debut of TINARIWEN, then? I also remember, looking back at this particular diary, that our very own KEN DEAD took umbrage over my comments about "plodding pub blues-rock" and "DJs as 'musicians'" and said that he personally LIKED his 'ethnic flute slapped on top'!

If you are reading this you will have by now realised that I have made the UNILATERAL decision to close down THE GRIDLER SECRET SPACEWEB THINGY altogether for a bit. When I started taking an overview of the website, for things that were becoming AHB'SLIT, like the WOMAD pages and the PICK 'O' THE YEAR lists, I started to ask myself questions like "How can we make this site more RELEVANT?"... "What do we want to be relevant TO?"... "Is it interesting anymore?" and of course "Does anyone out there give a toss?". More importantly, from a logistic point of view, I am running out of webspace. I'm no longer going to delude myself that we are somehow "IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS". It's not real. It's just a larf. I'll leave all the "PLAYING AT BEING AN INDEPENDENT RECORD COMPANY" stuff to the Binkys of our acquaintance. "HAHT GASSUP!" hasn't contained anything 'haht' in months (We haven't done any 'Gridling' in years). Nobody in the former (there, I said it!) Gridling community has been forthcoming with anything NEW to report (the aforementioned Human Nail excepted) for donkeys' years. I'm starting to make stuff up just to fill the page, just like a real paper. TGSSWT was becoming just another dusty archive, an exercise in nostalgia for a mere handful of people. I originally started doing the site as an way to teach myself the rudiments of website design. I now have other outlets for this, ones that I sometimes even get PAID to do!

I don't personally have any interest in taking part in whatever it is that the 'worldwide web' has grown up into: I don't 'Google', I don't 'surf' [just like Charlie] and I've never 'visited' eBay, MySpace or youTube. If, by running a website, one is expected to 'COMPETE' in some kind of 'MARKET', then count me out. That's not, and has never been, for me. All of the fun gets sucked out of it, which is always the case when something you enjoy becomes a business instead. The Gridler will return when I think it can serve a purpose. No doubt there will be e-mail asking what the hell I think I'm playing at. But if you feel there is a NEED for a Gridling website, then YOU can ruddy well have a go! That's how it works in Cyberspace. Or that's how it used to work before the MegaCorps bought it all up.

Meanwhile, this DIARY, which is the only 'dynamic' bit of the webbo, the bit that still gets a regular seeing-to, WILL go on (and on and on and on!).

Is there another 'gridler@supanet...' out there? Or is there a new kind of REALLY pointless spam scam going around? Only I keep getting e-mail which is meant for someone DIFFERENT under my address. I scanned the source code of one of the messages (without OPENING it, I'm not THAT daft!) and, judging by the peculiar broken-english content, they are either running a very strange creative writing course or an EFL school. The intended recipients very often have Hispanic names and mine is usually one of a string of 'carbon copy' addresses also at Supanet. My 'blocked senders' list is now getting out of hand, as they never seem to repeat the same name twice.

It is market day in little old Gozzy. I am always amused by the calls of the man selling MEAT who has even installed a PA system so that he can OUT-VOLUME all the other traders. This demonstrates a strong conviction that what HE has to offer is somehow more WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION than the rest. However, it is difficult for me to determine exactly WHAT he has to say or, indeed, what language it is in (my first guess, being well wide of the mark, was Xhosa or Zulu). Enhanced by Tannoy's finest, there issued forth a series of mangled vowel sounds punctuated by glottal-stops, which I eventually recognised as the dialect known as 'SAYZEE'. Good grief, the gentleman on Waterloo Station who sells the "STANNIT! IAN STANNIT! LOW LINEN BIBBIP!" (Translation: "Standard! Evening Standard! Local Evening Paper!") expresses himself with more clarity!

Week from Monday 12th March 2007

I've just learned that the one time KING CRIMSON (as well as 21st Century Schizoid Band and Bob Dylan) drummer IAN WALLACE has passed on. He will remembered for his rather long and heavily-processed drum solos (ref: "Earthbound") and for his [so very English, i.e. Pythonesque] sense of humour. His daft 'Gumby' routine "My Hobby" often baffled American audiences throughout 1971.

A little bit later than in previous years (the lady in charge has been busy with other things), this week I make a start on my charity bike ride "PRETEND YOU ARE A POSTMAN" tasks. In between doing this, I've continued revisiting WOMAD 2001: I have just been enjoying THE SKATALITES (the first half of the set WITHOUT the dreadful female vocals) and the pan-global Parisians ORCHESTRE NATIONAL DE BARBÈS (including their SKELTON TWINNING classic "This Year I'm In The Phone Booth"). I had enormous fun devising phonetic descriptions of all the O.N.B. songs so that I could listen to their "En Concert" seedydisk and try to match the titles for 'tagging' purposes.

The Human Nail was asking me which PLASTIC PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSE seedydisks I had in my collection, I told him I'd have to have a looksee... FYI: they are "Man With No Ears" (1969-72), "Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Banned" (1974-75) and "Beefslaughter" (1982-84).

This morning I've been listening to highlights from the legendary WOMAD'86 set by FLACO JIMENEZ & THE ROCKING SAN ANTONIO TEX-MEX BAND, an anthropological case-study in how the WRONGest music at exactly the RIGHT time can cause mass hysteria amongst festival crowds. Oh! how we frolicked! A couple of years later, to show that this was no fluke, Flaco and the boys (boys?) brought their hick Latino hokum to the BRACKNELL MUDBATH and were able to prompt a similar reaction... Aah, I just found this in a drawer, my "ALPHABET POEM CYCLE"...

A Big Car Drives Expertly Forward.
G
oons Hold Ingots,
J
urors Killed Lightly,
M
aking No One Ponder Quite Ridiculous Sundays,
T
aking Uniformed Victims With Xylophones:
Y
esterday’s Zombies.

Asinine Brown-Coated Drudge,
E
very Female’s Ghastly Housebound Idiot,
J
okingly Kept Locked Marble Nosegays
O
ver Paper-Quality Rabbit Silos,
T
rusting Unkempt Victorian Wives’ X-rays,
Y
et Zooming.

Ah! Become Calm, Darling!
E
ven Foxes Go Hunting, I Jest!
K
orean Lepers Must Never Oscillate -
P
erhaps Quakers Rattle Sometimes,
T
hen Ululate.
V
ery Witty, Xavier, You Zero!

Always Be Charming, Dave,
E
ven For Goslings.
H
ave I Just Knitted Loose Mittens?
N
o, Only Pretending, Queenie!
R
eal Solid Toucans Usually Vindicate Wordsworth.
X
erox Yon Zoetrope!

...hmm, I thought it fizzled out a bit towards the end, that last line was a cop-out! - Hey! that's what this diary needs, MORE POEMS! - I also found one or two PATHETIC ENTRIES haikus that I might share with you sometime. Let me explain the concept of "PATHETIC ENTRIES" to new readers. This house holds the view that POETRY IS EASY. So when two or more are gathered together in one place, with goodly amounts of the stimulant of their choice, there shall be held a POETRY OLYMPICS. Each shall be given a scrap of paper and a pen and be told that they have exactly SIXTY SECONDS to write a POEM... any poem'll do! Don't bother about boring things like scansion or rhyme, although this often produces hilarious results when under pressure. Write down the first thing that comes into your head. And don't worry about TRYING to make it funny, the fun will come later when you each take turns to read them out aloud. The resulting recitals are thus called PATHETIC ENTRIES. Advanced practitioners might then introduce further restrictions, such as fixing the subject matter beforehand (like Shelfy and Snilt's "SAILING CLUB" series) or, as I've obviously done at some stage, suggesting that all the poems be HAIKUS. This was MY favourite...

Honed to perfection,
A haiku about leopards,
Some without snorkels.

Evocative isn't it? ...That darned Comic Relief RED NOSE DAY malarkey rolls around again and I've dutifully paid me quid to the Oxfam shop for one of their discreet little button badges. I will NOT, however, give any time of day to the schlock that is being served up in its name on BBC 1 this evening. Instead, I shall turn my attention to RADIO 3, where BILL BAILEY and ANN ("Can I Say Something?") DUDLEY will present an evening of musical pastiche with the BBC Concert Orchestra...

Week from Monday 19th March 2007

...Bill's brand of musical satire certainly benefits greatly by having a full orchestra at his disposal, especially his 'prog' 'concept' work "INSECT NATION", his seventies cop-show spoof (here given the full LALO SCHIFFRIN treatment) and the still astonishing Jacques Brel/Scott Walker-style power ballad. 

Well, it's been a couple of weeks now and I haven't exactly been inundated with demands that I release the GRIDLER SECRET SPACEWEB THINGY back into the WWW wilds. Which kinda proves my point that it's had its day and no one NEEDS it anymore or, perhaps, that no one knew it was there in the first place. PLEASE let me know what you think (Calls will be monitored and may be recorded for TRAINING PORPOISES).

On Saturday, I went to do my POSTMAN bit around Havant and Cosham. On arriving at the railway station, however, I found they were instead running those funny trains that go along the road and look remarkably similar to number thirty-four buses. This did make it easier to hop on and off to do my deliveries, but there was a longish wait, at the [unmanned and unsuitable-for-the-purpose] Cosham station forecourt, before I could board the right bus to come back home again. NE'MIND, IT'S AN ADVENTURE, I'N'IT? Natch, I also went for an aimless wander around the thriving CHARITY EMPORIA of both locales.

In the absence of any new MILES DAVIS albums (He HAS been rather quiet lately, hasn't he?), I wholeheartedly welcomed this week's "Jazz On 3" offering. As part of a series of concerts [last year in NooYoik] in which classic jazz albums were revisited live, BOB BELDEN's ANIMATION gave us their take on 'the groundbreaking space-age textures' of 'one of the most important and controversial recordings of all time', "BITCHES BREW". Belden's Miles 'credentials' included overseeing "THE COMPLETE BITCHES BREW SESSIONS" box-set for Sony/Columbia, so he SHOULD know what he's talking about! And if ever they get around to doing a 'SPOOKY ELECTRIC VOODOO FUNKY SPACE-JAZZ' special of "Stars In Their Eyes", then trumpeter TIM HAGANS can definitely say "Tonight, Matthew, I will BE Miles Davis..."

This week, I've given the public library a miss as I've been [re-]reading something from my OWN library - "A LONG STRANGE TRIP", Scrib McNally's history of the American counterculture in general and the GRATEFUL DEAD in particular.

We started the week with a strange mixture of sunshine and sleet, spectacular skyscapes and electric storms - all at the same time! ... The middle of the week is sunny but wind-chill crisp ... By Thursday, it is cold and damp and fairly yucky, with threats of snow ... ah well, I HAD hoped to visit deepest Wiltshire on Friday (to visit my MOTORCYCLING WEBCLIENTS), but I'll have to make a decision on the day, as WHO KNOWS what the weather will be doing by then?!

Week from Monday 26th March 2007

Weeeelllll... the weather turned out to be more than conducive to yomping activity, but this time I thought I'd take the bus from Salisbury to Downton and then walk back. I take back what I've said about First Hampshire buses - they're NOT the most expensive per-mile on the south coast. Wilts & Dorset charged me £3.50 (single!) for a six-mile journey. Still, I saw more of the Little Villages Of Old Wiltshire that I might have missed last time, when I took the CIRCUITOUS ROUTES with Shelfy.

I hit a major obstacle when I discovered that I had picked the same day to visit [one of] my webclients as their accountant, who was sorting through the VAT doodahs. So I couldn't get on their computer. Never mind, I was able to gather enough information to allow me to upload the pages from my own peecee, so I shan't have to keep trucking all the way out there (except when I want to get paid, of course!). I also got a free, elaborately-decalled polo-shirt for my trouble, which more than covers my travelling costs... Thought for the day:

"First of all, I don't think of myself as an adult. 
An adult is someone who's made up their mind..."
                                                                                             Jerry Garcia

The great thing about doing a YOMP-A-THON on a Friday is that you have the rest of the weekend to recover. I purchased, as is now traditional, the April edition of F[olk]ROOTS magazine which contains the guide to the summer's festivals. However, all I seemed to see were various combinations of the names "Waterson", "Carthy", "Three Daft Monkeys" and "Show Of Hands" on EVERY bill. Nothing stands out as a potential 'REPLACEMENT' for WOMAD (nothing this side of Whitby, anyway).

I picked the wrong day to go downtown to the bank... the High Street is jammed full of caged-in LOCALS 'N' GROCKLES, ogling at the pretty soldiers and sailors marching by, as Gozzy says farewell to its military hospital. Well, whoop-de-doo! I doubled back and took a side street. At least I missed the bagpipes.