Fiends, fellow heirs and inciters. I am making a little video for a track from my forthcoming album, Lower Reaches, to be offered as a free download in a marketing and promotional blitz the likes of which has not been seen since the privatisation of the gas board. I need wedding photos. I need OLD wedding photos – your grandparents or your parents – nothing too modern. I need dance floor scenes and group shots, confetti flinging and ribboned limos. I need pictures of folk taking pictures and I need smiles and veils and trains and hats. All and any aspects of weddings for a slow, romantic piece of music.
You’ll need to warrant that you own the images and are happy to have me use them in a music video so don’t send me something that somebody else wouldn’t want to see on YouTube. This is why wedding photos of…—More Rants/Slates
I am proud of Scotland. Proud of the fact that we are an experimental human repository for the study of cancer and heart and liver disease. Proud that our largest city harbours a festering internecine hatred nurtured by the segregation of our children in an education system dominated by religion. Proud of our illustrious history of merrily sending young flesh to be maimed and slaughtered in grubby little occupations sought by the British Empire to further its nefarious aims. Proud that triage surgeons have been sent here to train in our ritual orgy of Saturday night stabbings. Proud that we can’t get a tram to run down our capital’s high street, but successfully demolished our great 19th century housing stock to barrack the working class in dormitory sink estates awash with chronic addiction and preventable disease. Proud of our financial institutions, bastions of Presbyterian prudence, who followed the flood of…—More Rants/Slates
Peter Hitchens, mad as a hatter though he is, said this: “Even now, in a corner of every newspaper office in the country, a faint shadow is growing and gathering. In time, it will thicken, darken and resolve itself into the chilly, relentless figure of the censor.”—More Tales
Like every English city Sheffield has been pimped, the yawning gaps left by sixties demolition and eighties recession suddenly filled in with the brash evidence of the credit boom of the early zeroes. It’s as if the tumbling of the Trade Centre spawned a desperate spasm of tower building all over the West as some kind of gesture of defiance. Fuck you, nutters – here’s a thousand more shining targets. That’ll keep them busy. It’s modernism as a political one-fingered salute. Look how fucking free we are, we can plant Manhattan everywhere at the drop of a Google Maps pin.
We ease into Bath’s one-way web in the early afternoon. I dump my accoutrements in the little box of my room and seize the chance to have some real food. The Yo! Sushi I accidentally settle on is staffed by zombified students who appear to be auditioning for a particularly hellish reality show. One of the chefs is wearing a jauntily poised pork-pie hat over his cook’s skull cap. He’s as unhappy a hipster as you’ll ever see. The sad morsels of finicky food revolve around him like piranha circling for a feeding frenzy. He wards them off by chopping radishes at a lunatic intensity sounding like a woodpecker having a heart attack. My colour-coded plastic dishes pile up in a shaming show of greed. The oceans emptying into rich folks’ mouths.
I like the venue, though like all converted cinemas there was never any need for a backstage so our…—More Tales
Finally we leave Weymouth after being waylaid in Bridport along the coast. The show was in the Electric Palace, a well-preserved cinema with some lovely early 20th century fittings. Or were they fixtures? The town seems populated by the posh and I strain to hear a local accent anywhere. Across the road from the venue I buy a little knife from a locksmith and go exploring before the soundcheck, looking for something to slice. I visit a cool little bar/cafe on the main street where the owner shakes my hand and a slightly pissed punter accuses me in a most friendly manner of being the singer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He thinks I’m being modest when I deny responsibility for that nineties atrocity. I committed the other nineties atrocity. I have some tea and listen to the proprietor’s soft soul playlist emanating from a pair of quality speakers then cross…—More Tales
It is a relief to quit the strange hotel. I had to resort to headphones to mask the odd noises in the early morning. Shufflings and bleeping. A hollow cough followed by a whining hoover. Kurt Vile, Leonard Cohen and The Leopards did the trick. Barges sit stretched along the coast out on the grey North Sea. We head west to the Lake District, light flakes of snow dancing about the windscreen. Dry stone walls edge the road as we cross the moors and heaths of the Pennines. The week of winter sun has burnt off all but a few scattered patches of ice. The terrain has that distinctively British hue – khaki; neither yellow nor green nor brown but somehow all three at the same time. In spring it will all be emerald. The road dips into more verdant pasture, prettily partitioned and studded with copses.
Kendal sits in a…—More Tales
I like Leeds. It’s the Manhattan of Yorkshire. The dwellers have interesting faces. They’re open and blunt but oddly into fashion. The venue is a gorgeous little theatre of great vintage. It’s been refurbished but I notice from the big book they have all the performers sign that Jeremy Hardy preferred it before. Jerry Sadowiz just wrote: I should be in musicals. Nobody else seems to have tried to be original. I tried and I failed.
Great audiences in Leeds, I don’t know why. I’ve always loved playing here. This lot carry me through a difficult night. I am very grateful to them. Afterwards I head straight for the hotel and bump into some early leavers on the street. I take a photo of myself with a woman’s phone. I think I get her in it. The world is slowly drowning in photographs. Human-like creatures will excavate Earth billennia after our…—More Tales
What is Sale? I’m here, in Sale, I’m walking through its – what are they, streets? but I can’t determine what it is. Is it a town, a suburb or an industrial service zone? There are homes and businesses of every sort – built in every decade of the last one hundred and fifty years – a seventies high-street, a revamped canal and a futuristic multi-storey car-park. The Arts Centre is new but it’s stuck to a town hall which was perhaps built in the nineteen-thirties. It is a mad conglomeration, strewn haphazardly about some ancient snake-pit of a street plan. It is so odd and uncategorizable it’s almost charming. I feed some pita bread to the ducks and pigeons at the canal as we wait for get-in. I try to be equitable. I don’t wish to exhibit any favouritism.
Between soundcheck and show we check-in to our Manchester city centre…—More Tales