We slip into Sydney in the damp darkness, dump our load and we’re out. Well, Mardi Gras has just finished so enough of the entendres. To the Taste of Turkey where we eat en masse for the first time courtesy of Skip, the rep. We dip and drink and sleep.

I wake up at 10AM in our characterful if seedy hotel – high ceilings of distressed concrete, stained by rebar like horror film blood, a low hanging overhead lamp like a Laotian brothel. The rooms are set around a central circular atrium full of tropical plants. The rain comes straight down, a yard from one’s threshold. I horse up King Street towards the city. Think Kilburn High Road without the chain shops. Coming through the university campus to a park, I alight on the Powerhouse Museum of Science and Design. There’s an exhibition called “Unpopular” based on ‘90s American alternative…—More Tales

Goodbye, Christchurch

I can’t get a handle on Christchurch. There are old-time trams on freshly laid tracks. It looks like a minor Swedish commercial hub expanded to fit the grid pattern of a city in Kansas. It’s as flat as a pancake with hills at its back so it appears as if some spilled batter is slowly oozing out to sea. This makes sense considering how many earthquakes it has suffered. They’ve rebuilt the cathedral spire so many times they may as well make the current one out of memory foam. There is enough surviving early 20th century quaintness to maintain continuity and much of the recent stuff is pretty decent looking. But there are big gaps all over the centre. If Auckland is Oceania’s Sly and the Family Stone, Christchurch is Keane. But the small Sunday night crowd in the pleasant James Hay Theatre get on their feet and, well…dance.…—More Tales

Auckland, NZ

The plane descends over what looks a heavy Tasman Sea into a thick bank of cloud covering the land mass. Soon we’re in the soupy gloom that spells rain. The droplets form fast moving lines that angle upwards across the windows. The engines are muted in the enveloping moisture. The plane rocks and lurches a little. We peer downwards in search of the sight of terra firma. The rushing air catches the lowering landing gear with a great yawn. The coast appears dimly at a few hundred feet and we’re down in what appears to be Glasgow airport. This is the furthest any of us have ever been from home and it’s British weather. It’s a half hour trip in driving rain to our sky-tower digs. Modern. The Do Not Disturb is a button by your door that makes your room number glow red in the corridor.

We…—More Tales

Show day, Melbourne

I have a stormy sleep and wait in the morning for an interview that never happens. I tap at my laptop for an hour immersed in the simple task of admin. My friend Stephen from Hong Kong gets in touch and we have a Vietnamese lunch down on Barkly St. He explains some things about the post-Covid economy in China. I’m beginning to understand how far away from home we are here. On the other side of the world someone I know is in hospital and another is in a morgue. It’s thirty one degrees in Melbourne and nothing makes much sense.

I have a coffee and an ice cream in a shady cafe after a quick soundcheck. I notice what look like toothpaste stains on my black T-Shirt. I’m a grotty old codger in poorly cut-off jeans. A Scottish woman I met in Adelaide comes up and…—More Tales


Heading out to St Kilda from the airport we hit our first traffic jam of the trip. We skirt sluggishly around the skyline. Somebody has dumped a forest of graceless structures on the city we first fell for three decades ago. Grand theft auto. Jesus. Melbourne has been invaded by vulgar giants. Our hotel is a mite tatty but we’re at the beach, by the venue and in the thick of lots of cafes, bars and restaurants so we’re happy. St Kilda is still a two storey sort of zone. My 1st floor room looks directly onto a brick wall covered in bird shit. Two scruffy pigeons preen their oily plumage on a grimy dividing wall. Some yuccas just about reach the bottom of my window from the tiny courtyard below. Time to poke about the neighbourhood.

I walk across tram tracks down to the bay where the…—More Tales

Show Day, Brisbane

I have an epic sleep – 2AM through to midday with only one stop for defuelling. I potter about with some emails and head off out. I aim for Story Bridge but I have no ambition to see anything. I’m going to weave about randomly. I step into a record shop for a bit, buying two things – Roberta Flack and The Impressions. Second-hand record shops are weird. No matter how long in the tooth, you always feel judged by the expert music geeks behind the counter. It’s always one or two blokes in obscure band T-Shits and they’re always about 48 and haven’t seen daylight since 1986. You wonder – do they think I’m a wanker, a dilettante? Am I betraying naivety in my rack riffling? Will they secretly scorn my pathetic selection? Ha! The fool has bought the dodgy Canadian reissue!

I take a river stroll…—More Tales

Day off, Brisbane

I have a patchy nap after the long morning of circadian chaos. At 1PM I make plans. I’ll head for the Brisbane Museum in the city and explore from there. The museum turns out to be a fairly predictable municipal affair housed in the handsome neoclassical city hall. There are a few rooms of generally hideous paintings with a couple of interesting cityscapes from the thirties, especially Vida Lahey’s Central Station 7:30am. A group portrait from 1952 by Margaret Cilento (Sunday in Moorooka) catches my eye as does a lovely small portrait which turns out to be by the same artist but in a different style. But there’s a lot of dross and many of the exhibits (as is the way) are for children. But it’s free and it’s air conditioned. I eschew a trip up the clock tower and head back into the throng of a very busy city…—More Tales

Adelaide to Brisbane

The jet zips up from the scorched runway into the limpid blue. We climb out over the St Vincent Gulf, pleasure craft below scraping white scars in the turquoise sea. We quickly turn landward and I see downtown beneath us, a small square of high-rise in an ocean of single storey suburb. At the city limits low hills lie thick with deep green canopy. Beyond that are parched looking farms plotted on a grid and peppered with single trees. It could be anywhere in the western United States. For a while we seem to follow the route of the huge meandering Murray River, clogged with sandy islands. The terrain takes on a motley aspect — stains of dark forest, patches of blindingly white sand and what look to me like salt lakes, curvilinear and milky green. All baking in the noonday sun. It’s an hour before I see any…—More Tales

Perth to Adelaide

After the second show I walk down to the river around midnight. A city of two million people and not a soul around. I peer up at the constellations in unfamiliar array. The brackish water of the Swan laps imperceptibly at the bank and I startle a couple of ducks lurking in the gloom who flap off to safety. The breeze is delicious to the skin. This is the most chilled major city I’ve ever been in. Everyone is so open and relaxed. There are no sideways smiles. In my room I watch an Attenborough show about a colony of king penguins. It’s like being thrown into Times Square.

We load our monstrous pile of bags into a little silver trailer on the back of a minibus and head for the airport under a sky of eggshell blue. The security hall is spacious and calm — nobody obnoxiously…—More Tales


We reunite at arrivals with our long lost colleague, Skip and are quickly at the hotel. It’s balmy out, with a gusty wind that carries rumours of the tropics. I march abroad in search of a bank, which I find and which miraculously regurgitates Australian dollars into my grasping hand. I’m flush so go looking for food. Downtown Perth is much like many US cities at night — built on a wide grid whose streets are lined with corporate towers in the modern style. The eucalyptuses lend it an exotic vibe and in between the glass and concrete red brick relics of the last century remind you where you are. I walk in to four or five restaurants all of which are full of customers but closed nonetheless. A humiliating little ritual. Nine o’clock is the witching hour round here. I opt for a 7/11, picking up a moth…—More Tales

Doha to Perth

After a luxury repast I get horizontal for the rest of the flight. Having put my watch on WA time I start with a breakfast. This causes mild confusion. The jet sails gently into the sunrise as I lie conked out in my noise cancelling headphones. I am not in the world. I listen to some audiobooks and rouse myself for the occasional sortie to the bog. On the approach I take in views of the Indian ocean through daubs of cloud. There’s still no sign of Australia from my side of the plane but it’s there on the tail plane camera on the screen at the front of the cabin. Good bit of slow TV, that. The map on my own screen tells me we’re heading towards the Moore river past Rottnest Island into Fremantle and Perth, so good they named it twice. Rottnest appears in my window…—More Tales

Heathrow to Doha

We re-lounge at Heathrow, surrounded by the snooty, the successful, and the sordid all wheeling their valuables around the polished tiles like plastic pets. We hike to the gate and as I take my swanky seat on the plane I see resentment and loathing in every face filing past. I usually ignore the smug business class passengers but if I do catch an eye, I’m sure mine are filled with hatred. Here I am. A comfortable cunt.

As we taxi out a baby cries, sounding like the ghost of someone in incredible pain. I have been issued with a stiff menu boasting of a “talented team of chefs” and claiming to have been “carefully curated”. It has a textured cover like the matted wallpaper you see in hotels. All three starters, including the soup, have been “roasted”. The engines groan and we rattle cumbersomely along the concrete. With…—More Tales

Glasgow to Heathrow

Long haul. The start goes smoothly. Guitars, packed two to a golf bag, are weighed and spirited away on a conveyor belt into a tunnel to tomorrow. I sit in the corridor outside the nob’s lounge where the others are toying with freebie croissants. It’s cool and peaceful and affords a view of the Kilpatrick hills, pale against an opaque sky. There’s a muted whirring from an air duct and jets whine politely beyond the windows. Airport hallways are the safest havens for the avoidance of advertising but there is a smattering of illuminated panels. Staff march by on phones in airline livery and hi-vis tabards. I’m sitting in the rushing sound of stillness. First stop Heathrow. Then the long haul.

I succumb to the lure of the group and join the rest in the lounge. Attendants sweep surreptitiously around, clearing dishes with a soft tinkle. We’re inured…—More Tales


I sit in the back lounge listening to Sky and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On until I’m weary enough to insert myself into my perch. The long drive rocks us through deep sleeps and we hop off the bus refreshed in the light rain. It’s Sonntag, sleepy Sunday in Bavaria. I walk over a river and pass the Deutsches Museum but don’t feel the cultural pull. As I move into town I spot much lederhosen action, unsure if this is normal. There are old guys in the full Bavarian — leather shorts, long socks, hat with feather. The younger guys wear those lapel-less Beatle jackets with their hand-tooled leather plus-fours. Women too are kitted out in Heidi-type garb. It’s like a New Romantic convention. I meander down a typical wide pedestrianised thoroughfare, all shut chain stores and lonesome pigeons. Where once hooves clopped now skinny jeans…—More Tales


We all sleep fractiously after a late leave and a lot of stopping. I slouch off the mothership into a concrete compound containing some rubbish hoppers and a crowd of old cars waiting to be souped up or scrapped. A man is waiting to have a pile of things signed and I realise the need to perform my ablutions is too urgent to spend the first five minutes of my day scrawling my name over images of my own face. I get back to him later without remorse for my rudeness. How would you feel if there was a guy standing outside your bathroom in the morning with a pen and a copy of one of your old school photographs?

I meet a friend around two and we have a coffee before getting the U train to the Memorial For The Murdered Jews of Europe at the Brandenburg…—More Tales

Copenhagen and Hamburg

I don’t sleep much after 2AM so read until 6 when I finally slip under. I charge off the bus around 1:30PM, walking a mile or so along a nondescript high street to town. There’s bugger all to see — just bike shops and burger joints. I pause by the canal at Christiansborg Palace, watching tourists disembark from open-topped barges. Sitting astride a snorting horse is Frederik VII, proudly guarding his palace with a silly helmet with a bird perched on top. A bird on a hat on a man on a horse on a plinth. The sun is out but there’s a strong sea breeze whipping about. I weave into the snarl of narrow streets marking the town centre and cut through some pretty arcades. It’s very busy and where not pedestrianised, the pavements narrow. Copenhagen (the whole country) is flat and the bicycle is king. The cyclists…—More Tales


We’re late arriving after getting stuck at the Norway/Sweden border in the middle of the night due to a closed customs post. The day is gloomy and very wet. I meet a lovely music writer called Anders who is just off the plane from New York and we have a long chat about music. He tells me a little about the impending newly elected right wing government. Though the votes are still being counted, it seems certain that a coalition of wankers will take power. He mentions the word Nazi. Sweden, for Christ’s sake.

The rain eases after dinner and I have a brief gad about. The club is by a body of water called Årstaviken and the neighbourhood is a middle-class residential zone with people in puffa jackets walking ridiculous ornamental hounds, some of whom wear similar attire. Put them in a stew and be done with it.…—More Tales


The bus brings us into town. This is not the Oslo I remember. It’s all gleaming towers in the downtown American fashion. Half this stuff wasn’t built in the early ‘90s when we were last here for some promo nonsense. But it’s a relief to be in an urban environment. The old brick and granite buildings are redolent of San Francisco. It has the feel of a major capital, solid and monumental. I hop off at the venue and find a street food court, long benches with QR codes on the tables surrounded by scores of purveyors. I opt for a Bibim Bap at a Korean stall. I head in any old direction down a busy thoroughfare; cafés, bars, falafel joints, clothes shops, veg stalls and halal butchers. It’s more multi-ethnic than I might have ignorantly predicted. There are a few panhandlers and I pass

a man slouched…—More Tales


Like yesterday the venue is nowhere near anywhere. I sniff the air outside the bus. Cool, overcast, intermittent cats and dogs. I walk into a forest park in the teeming rain. I make for a mushroom shaped pagoda and stand in the shelter for a bit, the forlorn rock singer in a Gore-Tex shell. The rain is making the sound of unbroken applause and screens the surrounding traffic din. Dog walkers disconsolately escort their mutts on their thin chains.

The path weaves through tall trees and leads me to a field, recently reaped of some indeterminate crop. Parts of the park appear to be in a process of re-wilding, others highly managed. Beyond a distant bank of trees I hear the familiar pink noise of a motorway. Four crows amble about and peck among the yellow stubble like officious pitch inspectors. Desultory birdsong broadcasts from the tree line.…—More Tales


This is all I saw of Stuttgart.—More Tales


I peer out of the back lounge window. Dark clouds torn and tattered stir around the sky. Downstairs I discover that we had a blow out on the trailer last night, sparks flying off the wheel rim, truckers honking warning. Simon and Buddy managed to get the spare on in what must have been trying circumstances. Most of us slept through it all. I go up an exterior industrial spiral staircase to our dressing suite. At the top I survey the area. Factories, warehouses, heaps of rubble, a wooded hill with houses. I meander through roadworks to a thickly forested park where I sit in a brief patch of sunshine opposite a pristine football pitch. It’s spookily quiet for a lunchtime. I can hear city traffic at the end of a long straight path and I head into its promise and the possibility of lunch somewhere. Promise of civilisation…—More Tales

In Amsterdam

There’s a milky green canal two feet from the door of the bus. I edge tentatively along its edge and head out into early autumn sunshine. I find myself in familiar places, the American Hotel, the ornate town hall. The Dels spent two freezing days here in February 1992, shooting for the Change Everything album sleeve with tall-drink-of-water American, Kevin Westenberg. It was here I discovered my first grey hair, a single long wire that I had David Cummings pluck out immediately. I remember swallowing a bit of hash when we wrapped and travelling home in cruise class. Bshzzzzzzzzz….

I take a table at a corner café to hoover up eggs, crispy bacon, OJ and tea. I’m on Tweede Weteringdwars Straat. Woollen Knickers Street. There’s a mild hubbub of tourist tattle in many different tongues. Bicycles stream by and electric delivery vans nudge through cautiously. The background noise…—More Tales

To Amsterdam

I’m sitting in my usual seat in Glasgow airport in a quiet corridor just beyond the scent and shades gauntlet. Work people are drilling and sawing overhead, doubtless building more retail disgorgement centres. It’s another flight to Heathrow to pick up the tourbus en route to the former mainland (now the Lost Territory). There’s a nail bar (Aerospa Airport Beauty Lounge) behind me emitting a regular sidestick, the telltale signifier of “chillout” music. Music that is called music but isn’t music but a hybrid of background noise and air pollution. The launch factory is quiet today, a few stragglers dip in and out of the crud purveyors in vain attempts to achieve distraction. Wheelie cases give out little railway rhythms on the tiled floor as they glide past. A man in a hi-vis tabard comes by with a comical troglodyte gait, static arms arched out from his body with…—More Tales

In Ostend

I roll out of my air-con coffin around 1 after a long sleep broken by the odd rattling noise coming from the bunk opposite. It wasn’t the fleshy sound of a snore but a metallic grating. It was coming from Buddy but how he was generating this racket is a mystery. Off the bus I meander away from the sea front through a snare of shopping streets to a square with a market selling tatty togs. There are a few pre-war French-style buildings but most of town is post-war, designed in that neat, unassuming low-rise way. It’s very relaxed and much cleaner than soiled Glasgow. Shoppers stroll and pensioners take luncheon as cyclists and scooter kids sail between us. I take repast in a standard corner café gobbling up a croque madame with a lascivious alacrity. My coffee is served with a shot glass of caramelised condensed milk and…—More Tales

To Ostend (We must go on)

The tour bus is waiting for us in a bay right outside Terminal 5. It’s a double-decker with a trailer and decorated in the usual European style — half Blake’s 7 half super-yacht. Maybe not an oligarch’s but certainly a high level drug dealer’s. There is brown and grey leather seating, pink and blue LED lighting strips, and Smeg appliances. The bunk corridor doors are panelled with studded leather. The crew cram the gear into the trailer and off we set for Ashford to pick up the sound boys from Liverpool. I stretch out in the upstairs back lounge and watch the trees float past beyond the tinted windows. I’m in the rock bubble. Unreal, insulated and above all endlessly boring. But we must go on. Late summer clouds fly above like white continents. The bus creaks and gently rattles on its air suspension as we worm our way…—More Tales

To Guilford and Weyfest

Andy, Jim and I sit gossiping in a taxi, keen to be back at work, preparing ourselves for the onslaught of mundanity that is the summer airport. Through security I park my bony arse in an airside corridor and daydream to the confluence of tinny soundtracks emanating from garish retailers. We’re travelling light to somewhere south for our show at the Weyfest Music Festival tomorrow night. The corridor is teeming with holidaymakers, honeymooners and hen parties in straggles of wheelie-case caravans. People meander out of Boots with bottled water and unguents and I consider killing some time at a magazine rack, having neglected to pack my book. The hallway is a high street of concealed despair. Flights all over the board are showing delays and I find the rest of the team in the grim bar at the far end of the terminal. It’s looking like a…—More Tales

To Southampton (When Will Bingo Die?)

I’m to be limo driver this morning as the Glasgow taxi landscape has become increasingly unpredictable since the pandemic hit. Four of us are airport bound from the west of the city so I gather all up in my creaking ride and in no time we’re jumping out on the roof of the multi-storey in the June sunlight. The airport is humming with holidaying humanity but pretty calm and security isn’t too fractious. I buy reading matter and a vessel of water in an automated process that is alienating, forlorn and brutal. Hardly anyone is masked despite the virus numbers being alarmingly high and reinfection with new variants rife. I have on my N95 respirator which gives me a comforting sense of (misplaced) protection. I take a seat in a remote corridor and regard the hordes as they drift through the turbid air in travel stupor. The mingled scents…—More Tales


I was going to start this sentence with the word “so” but I caught myself just in time. So I started it with “I” instead. And that’s as it should be. We jump out of the van at quarter to four and the dressing room is so unpleasant I immediately strike out in the June drizzle, walking a scenic path uphill towards the castle through tall mature trees where I am cawed at by a crow, accosted by a female blackbird, peered at by a squirrel and surprised by couple of rabbits. It’s like the start of a children’s book. I reach the old graveyard near the summit and remember being here in the 1980s but for what reason I can no longer fathom. Just a jolly, possibly. I recognise a weird marble statue of an angel and children encased in a bell of glass. It’s the Martyrs…—More Tales

Belfast, 6th June 2020

Our propeller plane glides southwest down the Firth of Clyde to land with a gentle bump at George Best Belfast City, the only airport in Europe named after a famous alcoholic. All Australian airports are named after alcoholics while most of the Caribbean ones are named after murderers. We are greeted by a friendly driver whom we follow to a minibus. There is radio news of UK PM Johnson facing a vote of confidence today and we are very quickly in town avidly spotting any obvious changes since our last visit years before the Belfast Agreement. I dump my bag in the pleasantly day lit dressing room and go abroad for a nosy. I find myself in a modern downtown sort of zone where I’m served Irish stew in a brown cardboard pot with delicious homemade bread in a lunch joint. I take a table outside in the…—More Tales

To Durham

Just three of us sit in the little van taking us south from dreich Glasgow to (possibly) sunny Durham. I disconsolately cast my eyes over the bleak landscape of southern Scotland and wonder what makes it so different from similar American terrain. I realise the main missing visual element is the billboard. You can be in the middle of seemingly endless wilderness in the States but there will always be a billboard along in a few minutes trying to drag you off the interstate into a one horse stop with some gas pumps and a shelf full of poisonous snacks. That’s why Hawaii feels so un-American. They banned billboards there. You should visit. The greens are different too, of course. The grasses of Northern Europe are just that bit more vivid. Their brightnesses always surprises you after a month across the pond. America at its most verdant is just…—More Tales

I sleep till one thirty and head out to meet a friend at the Hall of Fame. There’s a Get Back exhibition showing and we’re both big Beatleheads so it seems like a good way to kill time on a Sunday in Cleveland. My route is blocked by a footbridge closure and I’m forced to make a long detour to get across the Ohio river from the Flats to the city. It’s hot with a dry, dust-infused wind mocking my progress across one of the big high road bridges. I get to the R&RHoF exhausted and in no mood for the tawdry, dreary, tatty, uninspiring exhibits. If you’ve seen one old guitar and moth-eaten stage costume in a dimly lit case you’ve seen them all. I have fun peering at an original Mellotron (purportedly used on Strawberry Fields Forever) but the rest of it is so much…—More Tales

Warrendale, PA

I’m sitting outside a pizza place situated at an oblique X-shaped intersection and gazing over heavy traffic to a 7-Eleven somewhere north of wonderful Pittsburg. I could be treading softly through the Andy Warhol museum but instead I’m scoffing a floppy chicken parmigiana washed down with weak black coffee pretty far from anywhere. The sun is beaming down through a light warm breeze. There’s a strong smell of gasoline. Boy racers zoom through in purple muscle cars, bikers on flashy machines race one another from stop lights. It’s Saturday in rural western Pennsylvania. I long for the city but longers can be losers so I decide to make the best of it. I watch the traffic. People round here must have “weekend” vehicles. There are all sorts of wildly impractical throbbing monstrosities chugging by. Where do they go? Do they just drive around until somebody vaguely attractive yells, “Nice…—More Tales

Summersville, WV

Burly workmen carry me from my station to a high wall where, in a horrifying initiation ceremony, they mount me onto metal brackets, my back facing out to a grinning crowd. I crane my neck to see the first nail getting hammered into my left hand and am awoken by my fists pounding the roof of my bunk in an attempt to escape. It’s 11AM in Nowhere, west of Somewhere and I peer out of the front lounge windows to see low wooded hills, a highway embankment and a big garden centre car park full of pick-up trucks. Presumably (and this is a novelty) picking up stuff you need a pick-up truck for — like earth or a bush. I head out in the warm sunshine, meeting Andy coming down the slope. He’s seen a snake. I gingerly pick my way up the highway verge amongst the detritus of…—More Tales


We have a food poisoning casualty in the shape of Iain, who only barely makes it back on for the encore. He’s parked in a hotel room to recover in Atlanta after resting in the back lounge overnight from North Carolina while I meet former A&M fixer Al Marks for a catch up lunch. It’s warm and sunny in Little Five Points, the boutique-y neighbourhood that’s grown in size and diversity since it began to be gentrified in the nineties. I saunter off for coffee after soundcheck and just as I sit at a sidewalk table an unlikely married couple approach. Unlikely because they don’t look like Del Amitri fans (whatever that means). But they have flown from Honduras to see us. I’m quite bowled over and am overjoyed to be able to have a picture taken with them. An ancient biker farts his massive bike onto the pavement…—More Tales

Carrboro, NC

I stir at sunrise and sit in the front lounge as the bus pulls into the leafy campus of Carrboro-Chapel Hill. The sun is a pale gold orb above the horizon. Suddenly there is foliage. We pass through neighbourhoods of those charming southern houses – all whitewashed wood, pillars and porches. Miniature grandeur among the trees. After more sleep I go off in search of the Target I spotted on the way in. I’m a man in search of underwear. Many old and ugly things have gone down the garbage chute on this tour. I need replenishment of the smalls. En route I drop into the Ackland Art Museum, a building devoted to exhibiting the cream of the wide-ranging collection of English actor, Josh Ackland, star of White Mischief. It’s very mixed-up, the ancient world rubbing up against the medieval but there’s a gorgeous little Degas sculpture in the…—More Tales


Before we leave for Alexandria at 3AM we drop into the Red Lion opposite the gig where a five piece are performing full throttle on a low stage to an empty room. We line up at the bar and lend encouragement as they motor through their tried and tested versions of Blondie, The B52’s and a song from the Rocky Fucking Horror Show. Their finale is a note for note rendition of the godawful Whole Lotta Love. I sense a meeting of minds over shots impending so make a quick dart for the door. My $7 Heineken Zero has not imbued me with the spirit of bonhomie.

Early afternoon and I’m off to Waffle Shop, an old diner offering limitless waffle experiences. I order corned beef hash and eggs over easy but I’m sternly encouraged to order house potatoes. This is all served up with a side plate…—More Tales

New York, New Jersey

I cannot muster the enthusiasm to emerge from my cotton sheet cocoon until late afternoon. I make out for the ferry crossing that lies north of the hotel but getting there I decide to avoid Manhattan for today and head west on a pedestrian bridge over the waterfront highway and railway taking a metal staircase up the cliffs to explore Weehawken. I hear some rustling in the undergrowth and spot an opossum grubbing around. I cut through a beautiful neighbourhood of wooden houses and at a main road am beckoned into a Mexican bar by a young guy who’s taking out the trash. I explain that I can’t scan the QR code he points at so he shows me the menu on his phone. I get him to recommend something as the worst band in the world strikes up in the back room. After I order I take a…—More Tales

Toronto and Philadelphia and Boston

The dreaded day off, day of the dead. I open the curtains of my room on the 16th floor to an extraordinary panorama, the CN tower within throwing range with the huge railway station below, open water and islands in the distance. It’s an astonishing vista and I draw the curtains closed on all of it and languish in my vast white bed. The venue the next day is the Horseshoe Tavern where we last played perhaps in 1990. It’s a loud, grotty joint with a basement dressing room so grim it resembles a set from a slasher movie. But the audience kindly stick with us all the way. Through thick and thin you might say and boy are my efforts thin. We overnight back across the border on a long drive to Philadelphia and after squeezing every last drop from the dubious sanctuary of my bunk I take…—More Tales

Milwaukee to St Paul

In Milwaukee I spend a few hours catching up with Bobby T, an original eighty-sixer and friend. We have wraps wrapped up on the waterfront of the inland sea of Lake Michigan. We have two shows today, one at 4PM and another at 9. Kris thinks the first show was better than the second and who am I to disagree?

I take an early bath and wake up late the following afternoon in Minnesota where I am kindly driven off to lunch with flower lady Jodi, who’s been gracing us with her gorgeous company and stunning bouquets since the nineties. It’s nice to get off the boat for a few hours. Nice to hang with a sister.

Back at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St Paul I go for a wander along the Mississippi and around town, Florence and her Machine glowing flashily from an electric billboard…—More Tales

Milwaukee to St Paul

In Milwaukee I spend a few hours catching up with Bobby T, an original eighty-sixer and friend. We have wraps wrapped up on the waterfront of the inland sea of Lake Michigan. We have two shows today, one at 4PM and another at 9. Kris thinks the first show was better than the second and who am I to disagree?

I take an early bath and wake up late the following afternoon in Minnesota where I am kindly driven off to lunch with flower lady Jodi, who’s been gracing us with her gorgeous company and stunning bouquets since the nineties. It’s nice to get off the boat for a few hours. Back at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St Paul I go for a wander along the Mississippi and around town, Florence and her Machine glowing flashily from an electric billboard bolted onto…—More Tales

Milwaukee to St Paul

In Milwaukee I spend a few hours catching up with Bobby T, an original eighty-sixer and friend. We have wraps wrapped up on the waterfront of the inland sea of Lake Michigan. We have two shows today, one at 4PM and another at 9. Kris thinks the first show was better than the second and who am I to disagree?

I take an early bath and wake up late the following afternoon in Minnesota where I am kindly driven off to lunch with flower lady Jodi, who’s been gracing us with her gorgeous company and stunning bouquets since the nineties. It’s nice to get off the boat for a few hours. Back at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St Paul I go for a wander along the Mississippi and around town, Florence and her Machine glowing flashily from an electric billboard bolted onto the Enormodome. St. Paul has a…—More Tales

Salina, Kansas

I drop down from my bunk around 6AM, rosy-fingered dawn spreading across the plains. Gary the bus driver pulls into a vast shed where several men with angled hoses spray us down like a pit stop in an episode of Wacky Races. I crawl back into bed till 1:30PM when we are scheduled to go on a tour of the Acoustic Sounds high quality vinyl pressing plant in Salina. The tour proves fascinating. Having visited a CD factory in the zeroes, the contrast is striking. The manufacturing of vinyl records is a far more hands-on thing. For a start, here humans are key in every step of the process while CD factories are devoid of people on the floor and are essentially run by robots. It doesn’t look like a bad place to work at all; from the making of the mother mould and her stampers, through to the…—More Tales


I have a rough night of it on the bus. Sleep will not swaddle me, it just claws me down  into its shallows intermittently. The bus feels like it’s one minute skidding across train tracks, the next floating on pillows of cloud. I wake in a sour mood, go marching off for breakfast which I find (like all the others of our party) within a few blocks in a traditional American diner. The Huevos Rancheros are delicious but come with an enormous slice of melon, which along with fucking strawberries is a 1980s Californian affectation that should NEVER have been adopted across this great nation. Eggs and fruit on the same plate are like biker jackets and neckties — they should never be seen together. Why would I want egg yolk on a pice of melon? In god’s name why?

One of those circular ceiling loudspeakers drizzles pop…—More Tales

To Salt Lake City

We’re off at 9AM to Utah and after a brief stint in my coffin I make bus coffee and gaze out at the dry West, dust bowl farmsteads and snow-capped peaks on the horizon. A few spindly trees mark property boundaries, some showing a fuzz of fresh green leaf. We hear news that Spiritualized, also playing tonight in SLC, have broken down, losing a tyre on the way from Denver. There’s a picture online. They’re stuck in a mountain pass and it looks cold and gloomy. We will be on that route later tonight (or tomorrow morning if you want to be a prick about it). The mountains loom to our left, on the right are grain silos, truck and trailer graveyards, processing plants. We pass through Ogden, its grid mapped out on the valley floor like a plaid tablecloth. As we near Salt Lake the icing dusted mountains…—More Tales

Day Off, Boise

BOY-see not BOY-zee says Wikipedia. Well, the streets are immaculately clean and everyone exudes that rural hospitality so typical of the US beyond the megacities. There’s blossom on the trees and snow on the hills and probably a fair bit of Trumpism in the wings. I breakfast at Bacon, a disgustingly porcine themed place a few blocks from the hotel. They’re playing country music and all the bacon tastes of Coke. They serve a little board of five different grades of crispy rasher in shot glasses. It’s a dreich day but not too chilly so it’s time for another bout of aimless walking. Presently I find myself glaring into the void of a window in the Egyptian Theatre when a man swims up from the dark interior and waves at me. I wave back uncertainly. I stare at a weird poster for a Joe Jackson show. He looks like…—More Tales

To Seattle and Vancouver and Portland

Today we drive by day for the first time and I stretch out on the leather upholstery of the back lounge gazing across the fertile valley of the Willamette river to forested hills. White puffs of cloud hang temptingly overhead ripe to be hooked into a daydream. The landscape reminds me of Stirlingshire but, as with everything here, on a grander scale. You feel like you could feed most of Scotland from these fields alone, mapped out to the far ridges on the horizon.

We de-bus in Seattle around sixteen hundred and after a few desultory turns round some used clothes stores I go looking for sustenance choosing a balls basic Vietnamese gaff where a dandy of a waiter serves me a delicious bowl of noodle broth which I slurp with enthusiasm. The area around the gig is gentrified hip, if that means anything at all anymore. If…—More Tales

Berkley and Eugene

I drop down from my bunk around 10am. There’s a foul odour in the air. Gary, our trusty driver, informs us “we got bad water” and goes off to find some bleach. It’s so fetid aboard I abandon ship and hike up a hill to a student café on a corner of the vast university campus. As I shovel in the victuals the street beyond comes alive with a swarm of scholars. The weather is cloudy and cool, the scene civilised and serene; we ain’t in So-Cal no more. I begin to contemplate what the hell I’m going to do for the next five hours once I’ve dabbed these few letters into my demonic device. Wandering about aimlessly seems to be the best option. I’m not too keen to be back on swamp bus any time soon. Descending through leafy college departments I’m treated to a glimpse of San…—More Tales

Back to LA

Back we come overnight from Phoenix to a sodden Hollywood for an early morning check-in prior to the Kimmel show booking. Fat raindrops trail down the window pane of my room as traffic swooshes below in a river of white noise. The sky is all mist and moisture. You expect Sam Spade to be lighting up in a doorway in hat and Mac.

A luxuriously appointed automobile ferries us the short trip through the rain to the ABC studios and we enter the realm of TV time where Earth minutes are not respected. We wait for hours, soundcheck and wait for hours more. By which time we are all getting antsy, nerves suddenly jangling. Live TV (well, taped as live) is always a high-wire act and lack of practice leads to wobbly walks and occasional spectacular plummets. My own nerves are not helped by the sight…—More Tales

To Phoenix

After the Canyon Club show we say hi to some old friends in the parking lot before the pack begins. To save costs we’re transporting all the stage gear in the bays of the bus. I remain entirely unconvinced we won’t have to pack the back lounge with equipment but B&B and Del work some Tetris magic and make it all fit. How this was achieved is a mystery (and in the dark to boot) but we are comfortably stowed and soon on our way overnight to Phoenix. This is my first tourbus bunk sleep for 28 years but I slip back into the way of it, climbing up to my top bunk like a spider monkey. I drop down from my perch around ten on Sunday morning after map researching a nearby gaff open for breakfast. It’s starting to get hot and I fear I may shortly…—More Tales


Good morning Hollywood. I crank up the window blind to a foggy scene right out of Chandler. There’s a 1940s apartment block opposite decorated in that instantly recognisable Colonial style and a few cars pass below, windows tinted as black as night. We gather in the TM’s room to have swabs taken by a gentile Latina nurse for the Kimmel Show we do on Monday. I’m glad to be starting in the west having always found the eight hour time difference easier to adapt to than the five or six. Last night I walked to a 24 hour pharmacy and stocked up on Melatonin pills. They seemed to do the trick, placebo or not, I got straight back to sleep every time I came to. Now I just feel weird, like there’s an electric current running through me but it’s a sensation I’m familiar with. It’s slow hysterical…—More Tales


The device chirrups at my ear and I click into staring consciousness. It’s 3:30AM. I scrape some marmalade across a slice of toast and park myself and my big red suitcase on the street to wait for the cab. The pre-dawn cacophony of birdsong echoes around the buildings in a symphony of mad whistling. The cab is very late which proves to be the first of the morning’s many calamities. The airport is awash with masked and strained humanity queuing in loosely disciplined lines. In the departure area Glaswegians eat burgers and chips, sip lager and rosé at six in the morning because airport time is out of time and the goddamn holiday starts here. Everything is in motion while the city still sleeps a few miles yonder. There’s a thick fog beyond the windows and I worry a little about delays. The connection at Heathrow to LA…—More Tales

In Kirkwall

I draw back the heavy woollen curtains and sunlight streams in like honey. The harbour lies gleaming below my grand room and a hooded man sits on a quayside bench talking into his phone. I potter all morning until a man called John arrives to pick us up to take us on a tour of the Highland Park distillery which sits on an elevated spot just outside of town. John has a long grey beard with a chin plait and is refreshingly unpatronising. The distillery feels like a little village, its grey-black sandstone buildings set into a hillside and crowded together around cobbled streets. It’s utterly fascinating, different aromas filling each shed as we are walked through the process from the malting room to the stills and finally the bonded warehousing. The work they do here can be accurately described using the dubious adjective “artisanal”, which when you break…—More Tales

To Orkney

Blue, blue as an egg, the sky says spring and my watch says go. I don my two small rucksacks and take the short saunter through town to our rendezvous at a hideous hi-rise Hilton, a building which resembles the ironic tombstone of a deceased chain smoker, all nicotine beige and granite black. Our deluxe van U-turns onto the grimy Glasgow urban motorway and we soon break out of the shitty city edge zones into open country, spindly winter trees clawing at the crisp air and drinking in the sun. We’re en route early enough to indulge in a traditional listen to the Popmaster quiz slot on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show. The verges are scrappy with bare bracken and some last few rotting leaves but the meadows beyond are vibrant emerald and freshly ploughed soil sparkles in the day’s angling beam. The hills of the eastern Trossachs lie…—More Tales

To Southampton

We park up outside the front of the Guildhall and head to catering to discover our chef Sarah has broken her wrist, slipping on a leaf. Not a salad leaf I presume. She’ll be flown home to Glasgow tonight. We say goodbye to her before the show. I meander along to a vintage clothes place I remember and buy a velvet jacket and two cravats, though I think my cravat days may be behind me. Neckwear is very ageing on old men and unless you’re some stylish Italian silver fox, scarves and such can make you look like a grandpa. I spot two of the crew having a sneaky pint while they wait for the venue sound curfew to lift, the students in the area easily disturbed by the thump of a drum and the chime of a guitar. I join them for a few moments but we’re all…—More Tales

Day Off Birmingham

On arrival I chuck my stuff in the room and get out for a wander. I take the canal path towards Broad Street, thinking vaguely about eating something. It’s mild and dry and coming back I encounter a nice couple from Liverpool who are in town for the show and are just going out for drinks and dinner. We do an awkward semi-distanced phone snap. Someone should do a collection of these — people standing at an embarrassed distance from public faces they know. I hide in the hotel for the rest of the night, snoozing on the bed with the TV muttering quietly. The morning is heavily overcast with a stubborn haze of weak rain. I decide to loll. This is not a day to engage with the world. I plug in my audio box and browse some current pop from the stream. The Christmas meat market is…—More Tales

To Dunoon and Oban

A few powder puff clouds hang in a limpid sky and a raptor sails over the first of the fields as we leave Perth. We voted to take the scenic detour today, twenty minutes slower but avoiding motorways and Glasgow. The first part is a road I’ve rarely driven and there are some weird village names; Madderty, Innerpeffray, Fowlis Wester. Three young deer nose at the yellow stubble at the edge of a wood and the road winds and ululates through deciduous copses, motley foliage radiant in the October sun. We snake through the picturesque old cattle (later spa) town of Crieff, all mature trees and rustic Victorian sandstone. We come to the very pretty village of Comrie and weave out into more rugged hill country, the rocky tops fringed with brown heather, to reach the eastern end of Loch Earn marking the edge of the leafy Trossachs. The…—More Tales

In Inverness to Perth

In Inverness to Perth

After scran I take an amble through the twilight along the river Ness. I cross a pedestrian suspension bridge, passing beautiful Georgian terraces. The riverside is admittedly pretty. I reach a playing field where battery powered floodlights are stationed around on tripods allowing kids’ football practice to continue into the night.  It looks like a scene from Field of Dreams. The tree covered hill beyond is silhouetted against the purpling sky. I can smell the fallen leaves and the verdant grass around me, there’s that distinctive autumnal tang to the air that’s been so late to arrive. A ball breaks loose from the pool of light and I boot it gently back from the darkness. It’s the first time I’ve kicked a ball since the onset of the pandemic and I experience a frisson of delight. On the way back a stranger…—More Tales

To Inverness

We angle northwest through Aberdeenshire’s rich pasture, autumn a little more advanced up here, patches of foliage coloured as if touched by a brush. Sheep and cows dot the emerald fields, dark gorse clinging in the ditches. It’s not typically Scottish terrain but somehow it couldn’t be England either. Parch it all with the Italian sun and it could be Tuscany. We fuel up at Strathbogie and Iain gets out, seeking a copy of Classic Tractor from the shop’s array of farming and forestry magazines. He returns with a selection: Farm Machinery (featuring Forestry Machinery), Classic Tractor and Earthmovers. I leaf through the last title, discovering the world of telehandlers, vehicles whose purpose seems to be lifting heavy loads from very awkward positions. Our tour manager informs us they are often used to lift mixing desks out of tricky festival sites. We pass through Keith, getting stuck behind…—More Tales

To Aberdeen

We are debating when we might have played in the granite city last. I wager it was the Music Hall the night before the millennium Hogmanay, December 1999. A quick check of the complete list on the Dels info site confirms this. So just the 22 years, then.

The black road leads us north from Glasgow, the trees ranked along the verges just starting to turn yellow and copper. Iain puts on another Theme Time Radio Hour episode as we cruise through the mizzle under a thick bruise of low cloud. Robert Johnson and the Grateful Dead sing of the devil and we slip past the distinctive turreted mounds of Stirling, the historic redoubt of this central Scottish plain. The castle sits in a bath of mist like a stone galleon. We pass under pylons marching into the murk carrying their ropes like mountaineers. Bob Dylan’s voice purrs…—More Tales

Sheffield to Newcastle

I sleep poorly therefore sleep in. But I have my packing honed to a military efficiency and make the van three minutes before departure. The weather looks British but still feels suspiciously Mediterranean, a warm breeze playing under a lid of cloud. It’s the last show of the first leg before a fortnight’s break and we’re sorry to be stopping. We all feel we’ve improved each night and want to keep going until that stops. The sun burns off the smoky, tattered clouds and Iain plays Bob’s Theme Time Divorce episode kicking off with the half-comical hoarse whoop of Tammy Wynette. Dylan’s absurd parody of the late-night disc jockey has been good company on our little hauls up and down the English highways though the playlists occasionally rely a little too heavily on kitsch.

Great white letters painted on the road read THE NORTH as if…—More Tales

Day Off, Manchester

I wander off in early afternoon, sniffing out a few local recommendations. The first thing I do is buy a second hand suit in Afleck’s, an indoor boutique market akin to the old Kensington one. It’s a 1960s Hepworths designed by Hardy Amies. I have at least three things styled by him, they always have quaint little kinks — an extra seam here, another button there — not too much but just right. It’s a dark brown pinstripe which will make shirt choice tricky but a rich pink would do. I still have one somewhere if it didn’t get jettisoned during the last charity shop pogrom.

I take repast in a breakfast meat emporium, sitting outside in the slightly sullen light. It’s one of those gaffs where you order everything via your phone. The clientele are forty-something urban home owners wearing clothes ten years too young…—More Tales

Blackpool to York

In the early evening I walk south along the waterfront, the Welsh hills pale in the distance reaching out to Ireland. I come to the end of the promenade and find a stretch of natural beach, with high grassy dunes. I climb up and watch another sunset as a dog barks and the sea spills onto the sand with that whisper of applause. There’s a figure with a paddle standing on a board on the tide. They don’t look like they’re having much fun. As they manoeuvre into shore I see it is a man and he steps into the surf and wades ashore like a conquistador in the Caribbean. Three metal detectorists scan the sand. A girl on a horse trots past. Behind me the three-quarter moon peeks back at the sunken sun as if from the wing of a stage. The horizon turns tangerine for…—More Tales

To Nottingham and Blackpool

The milky light leaks around the hotel room window blinds and I toy with getting out for a stroll. A cursory glance at the map reveals we are situated at the airport. I don’t much fancy sitting in an airport coffee shop with weary tourists so I stay put and open my laptop to stare at last night’s setlist. Something is getting the chop.

In rehearsal we were discussing the curse of the one-hit-wonder. Those acts who essentially have only one song most of the the audience wants to hear. Where do you play it? Too early and the crowd might get restive, too late, restless. Do you open with it and do a reprise at the end? Do you NOT play it in protest and put up with demands for recompense? Hello, we’re the Wombles, we hope you like our new direction…

We leave at midday…—More Tales

In Cardiff, to Southend

We head straight for the stage door, leaving hotel check-in for later. I scope out the venue and find a fast staircase back to the street. I take tea by a little food truck and watch the passers-by. I see Kris march past single-mindedly. He has a new bag. I also have a new bag. This, I feel, betrays a quiet optimism.

I walk into a Victorian indoor market and browse through the racks of a large record shop on the balcony, fleetingly stopping at a few sleeves. Little of the stock is original, it’s all twenty quid vinyl revival reissues most of which is probably cut from dodgy digital masters. I try to visit the city castle but the security man at the gate says “Last entry free” which confuses me until I realise he means “three”. I look at my watch. It’s a minute to three.…—More Tales

To Cardiff

We’re on a day trip to the outskirts of Wigan. Seven days of rehearsals done, we’re decamping south to get an early start on the Cardiff soundcheck tomorrow having eschewed a full day’s production rehearsal. In our experience production rehearsals involve twenty people standing around for a day with about an hour’s worth of music. I suppose they’re necessary if you have costume changes, dancers and explosions.

Summer is finally showing signs of leaving, though the air is still thick with a warm fug. We bend in a great arc around Glasgow to find south, the sun lowering prettily behind the high quilted grey. Our vehicle is of the “executive class” sort — leather seats and gadgets. A display in the roof reassures me that the temperature within is a steady 20 degrees. I flip a switch to notch it to 21. I am the all-powerful ruler of…—More Tales

Queens Hall Days Two and Three

And off we set a second day, the weather still madly midsummer. We discuss some changes to the set as the Glasgow towers pass by looming over the road like sentries with a hundred eyes. Glasgow is a stupid twenty three degrees, Edinburgh a sane sixteen. At school in the seventies we were taught the adage; west coast wet and warm, east cold and dry but in recent years the rule has gone out of the window. Ten years ago I spoke with an American painter who’d been living in Tuscany for twenty five years. He told me that the climate there had recently turned on its head, the formerly cool wet winters now mild and dry, the hot dry summers strangely wet. The flora was unrecognisable from a September I’d previously spent in the area. What had been parched and pale yellow was now lush and deep…—More Tales

Queens Hall Day One

Here’s a white van, glinting on my street, three rows of seats, side door open. We enter the bubble, so called because it’s easily breached by the pinprick of a spike protein. All five of us are early and the sun is cutting down through the air like a sword. The Glasgow to Edinburgh corridor reels us into Auld Reekie as mildly excited conversation circulates. The last few days have been forebodingly hot with a musty warmth creeping into our rehearsal dungeon. The consensus is we’re two days shy of being fully prepared so tonight will be tense – everyone hanging onto the arrangements by their fingernails.

There are white clouds scattered above and the roadside trees throw pretty shadows on the gleaming tarmac. We sit at sixty in the inside lane pulled along by the lorries ahead. Iain and I visited Edinburgh a week ago…—More Tales

Promo Day 2, May 28th, 2021


To the bathroom, to the bag, to the cab to the radio. Virgin is based way up on a high floor in what appears to be the News UK building — Rupert’s Redoubt to you and I. We are to set up in a large scalene shaped space with 240 degree views of silvery London. Below us the mud green Thames wends through the empty castles of the City, hardly a boat afloat. It’s 8:30AM and there’s not a soul upon London Bridge. It’s serene and it’s odd. We shuffle about with our leads and tuners and run through a few numbers. By the time we go live the nerves are jangling. I feel like I’m on day release from the nursing home. We used to do this stuff every day and now it’s an uneasy novelty. Our colleagues on the business side arrive…—More Tales

Promo Day 1, May 27 2021

Eebs arrives at the flat at 9am and we commence loading acoustic instruments into the vehicle, which closely resembles a black hackney cab. We look forward to being hailed. For reasons nobody can fathom there’s a banjo on board. The Captain appears a little later having walked the twenty minutes from his pad to the north of the town centre, a strange hat screwed to his head like a tweed bandage. The cat slinks out to see us off. Set controls for the heart of the Smoke.

We’re bound for a London Bridge Novotel, being required to appear on Virgin Radio early in the AM. The May sun hoists itself up into the morning behind cotton clouds. London calling, goodbye Glasgow. We point the cab south and switch to cruise control and the day starts, off on a short week on the Wheel of Pain, lugging…—More Motion-sickness

Black Hope


“I really don’t know if there is hope beyond the black hole; if there lies a future beyond the immediate future”

The black hole to which Franco Berardi refers is the state of late capitalism and perhaps specifically the financial crash of 2008, the most recent global catastrophe before the present SARS-CoV-2 moment. Now we live in the bubble of an immediate future whose parameters shrink nearer to a simple present by the hour. Perhaps for capitalism this state is its ultimate aim: do not consider the future at all, hopeful nor hopeless – just believe in the lie and live with it.

But we all know now that capitalism is no future. In a novel virus-ridden world seemingly without end the vast bulk of the structure of capitalism is of no purpose. As a universal organising principle it has failed…—More Rants/Slates

Lewis, songwriting, company

I’m sorry to see the back of Lewis. Its blasted moors knitted tight with heather and the sea everywhere about, licking at the rocky coast have kept my mind occupied with peaceful thoughts mostly. I came for the quiet to write and walk. I have twenty new tunes scribbled on A4 and wailed onto cassette locked in an old briefcase in the boot. I queue for the ferry under high cloud and savour the sadness of departure like a sour sweet. There’s Friday night excitement in the air as folk stand around their cars gossiping and watering their dogs. The mainland is pulling us all back. The stillness here has an effect on you, making you reflective. You can hear your soul shifting in its sleep. I think of Glasgow’s grime and aggro and feel unprepared. I have bought a bottle of wine to celebrate later, it sits…—More Tales


I’m driving northeast to Nairn, where I am appearing as an unannounced guest at their beer festival. It’s a pub gig with the world’s best pub band – no rehearsals, just count in, play and meet at the end. When I arrive at the Braeval Hotel there is already a crowd milling around outside in the warm May evening, jocular and ruddy with two days of beer drinking behind them. Gordon, the hotel’s tirelessly accommodating proprietor, tells me it was so busy yesterday that the local streets were impassable. How he and his wife Morag cope with all this while maintaining customer friendly smiles is beyond me.
I check into my attic room which looks out over the wide sandy bay and pull on my professional clobber, having been wearing shorts for the drive. It doesn’t do to slum it amongst one’s public. People talk. Our drummer tonight, the wonderful Ted…—More Tales

Edinburgh, St. Celia’s

I’m playing a “songwriter-in-the-round” charity event in Edinburgh with Ricky Ross, Karine Polwart and old friend Gary Clark. It’s taking place in the oval Georgian recital room that is St. Celia’s Hall, now part of the Music Museum with its virginals, spinets and harpsichords sitting around at every turn. There’s an ancient little pipe organ powered by a foot pump at the head of the room. This is all quite posh and interesting. We meet up, soundcheck and have a little rehearsal of our finale before I duck outside to take a gander round the capital gleaming in the evening sunlight, angling madly everywhere, making sudden shadows at corners, blinding you as you cross an intersection. I drift up the Royal Mile, past the countless cashmere and shortbread shops, to the castle esplanade where Dels Utd play in July. I look out over the Firth of Forth, with its steely…—More Tales

Changing server

We may lose contact soon.


Everything’s gonna be alright.—More Tales


So to London, choking snakepit of billionaires. Our abode is way uptown, a barren tower in a morass of roads and malls. We briefly check in then squeeze through the ooze to the venue, the Jazz Cafe. It’s a new one for me and very reminiscent of US style jazz clubs, the stage stretched across the long side wall so all the punters are within earshot of at least one soloist. The balcony looms over the stage like a frown and during the gig you get the impression that the audience is on top of you and sitting in your lap. It’s quite hard to perform to a shallow room when, like me, you tend to project everything towards the back. You end up playing to a wall.

In the early afternoon I decide to walk from Brent Cross to Camden, marching right across Hampstead Heath. I meander uphill through thicket…—More Tales

Brighton and Colchester

I’m sitting on the seafront basking in the sun. My bench has a plaque that reads: “FAY HARRIS 1921 – 2007. Please take time to sit and stare”. So I have and I do. A seagull the size of a toddler comes pecking up. Let’s call him Adam. He mooches about the bench for a bit, then gives up. I am not a feeder. Fuck off, Adam. Out to sea lies a wind farm looking like a flotilla of giant insects rallying for an invasion. The warm sun makes my skin prickle with delight. Behind me relentless motor traffic washes like surf. I’m loath to leave but I’m late for load-in around the corner. Holiday over. The local crew at the Old Market are super-professional and friendly. They are the first venue crew of this tour to introduce themselves to us as opposed to the other way around. Mr. Pringle…—More Tales

To Preston and Nottingham

Bristol, goodbye. Not a cloud to be seen, October at its most beautiful and here we sit, strapped to our thrones in the Grey Toupee. Mr. Johnson is a little late but forgiven, it being his first offence. One more and he’ll be hung drawn and quartered on the gallows of group ribaldry. We hit traffic outside town. This looks like a long Friday on the motorway system. We pull free and puffy white clouds appear in the pale blue like the credits of The Simpsons. Stupidly we’re going back north, to Preston, retracing our route of a few days ago, just a bit further east. The Malvern hills sit out to our left, sun-dappled and moss-coloured. I catch a momentary flash of Worcester cathedral through a brief break in the verge. Tourism in glimpses. We veer further east to avoid tailbacks, going around Birmingham to the north rather than…—More Tales

To Bristol

We approach Bristol from
the south, passing black lakes of solar farms. Portishead lies out to the west, a few ships snagged in its nest of warehousing, cranes and windmills. You can see the two Severn crossings like bracelets on the river’s wrist. The sun is piling down and west England glisters like buttered corn.

The rooms are still being cleaned at our Bristol hotel so I dump my case and get out into the light. I tour the usual haunts, buying a couple of records in the covered market, then have some Korean street food. I’m going to call my songs “street music”, see if I can’t sell some units. In a corner cafe affording 180 degree people-watching potential, I study two workmen on their knees cutting paving slabs with an angle grinder. Their work is stunningly precise, leaving perfect 1 cm spaces between each bespoke piece. They have a large…—More Tales

To Exeter

We grab some scran on the way out of Cardiff and are soon cruising across the Severn bridge stuffing our faces with Welsh cakes and butterscotch travel sweets. I have a bucket of tea beside me and am content. I am CONtent too. This is content, you the reader are content as soon as you comment or share. Much of our social interactions are commodified and packaged, data-mined and sold for a dime a time. We all toil in a factory owned by billionaires, making a product of entirety our own design, using our own resourses. And at the factory gate they sell it all back to us in spades.

At the stop we bump into Morris Minor Man, a colleague of a friend of ours, Zac from The Proclaimers, who has a vintage car refurbishment business. He has just bought a black model and it sits on his trailer looking…—More Tales

To Cardiff

Farewell Holiday Inn, sterile lodge on the edge of town. Today’s route takes us directly south along A-roads edging the English side of the Welsh border. Wales is unknown to me. I have no pictures in my head that swim into focus at the mention of its name. All I remember is ferry ports, Cardiff town centre and a brief sojourn to the Pembrokeshire coast. I can’t tie it all together to make a whole. In the 80s we frequently played Treforest, a student gig on the circuit. From there we were sent to Betty’s – “the best curry house in Wales”. This was a squalid cafe that served boil-in-the-bag gruel served by a woman about as Indian as Brad Pitt. We did a TV show in a former mining town in the zeroes where we met Travis, who were terribly young and sweet like tender-stem broccoli. I think this…—More Tales

To Chester

We arrive at our hotel outside Chester in good time. There are a few hours of daylight left so I cab it into town. My driver is a bit of a bore but sweet enough. He’s into motorsports and technology. He expounds on solar power, satellite systems and alternative fuels. His daughter is a vegan (as is her partner – a nice detail). His cab feels like a prison cell as the divider between passenger and driver is almost completely shuttered. His voice comes to me through surprisingly high quality speakers in the roof. If he starts playing Megadeth I’ll be in Cab X-Ray. I have a feeling there is no equivalent on his side. He ignores my every utterance until I tell him I’m a singer/songwriter. Then he relates to me his love for Joe Bonamassa and Carlos Santana. He also mentions Stan Getz which gives him a Brownie…—More Tales

To Norwich

We snake towards the motorway through Yorkstone villages, passing a vast estate. The aristocracy are everywhere, like rats or Nando’s. The leaves on the trees and bushes are hanging on, Ophelia having achieved only partial defoliation. The general aspect remains green. We drive between hawthorn hedgerows enclosing rural England’s endless quadrilaterals. We sweep past place-names; Wittering, Stibbington, Water Newton along the river Nene. Lorries in their corporate livery make walls around us, we’re doubly hedged-in. I swig some water from my canteen, and a late Hockneyesque copse flies by. Outside Stilton I see an army of dumptrucks flattening a field. Maybe they’re building a massive post-EU cheese empire. We are just a few miles from Denton where Iain Harvie and I did a few weeks of writing sometime in the zeroes. One fogbound morning I awoke at six o’clock and looked out on a white horse standing on its hind…—More Tales

To Wakefield

I make my own way back to the hotel after the Glee, amazed to find no restaurants open after 11 in Chinatown or anywhere else. I overhear some lads looking for a club saying “Too many Asians”. Maybe they’ll find Club Dick. The city is magically atmospheric in fog, the new towers and cranes disappearing into the cloak of the sky. I peer down from my room at this marooned town, taxis crawling through the streets like U-Boats, buildings reaching down into the murky sea, and feel complete contentment.

We leave at eleven and are soon spat out of Birmingham into a rainswept England, joining the trucks in their endless slog. The lane dividers pull us forward, we’re trapped between the stitches on a seam. Our usual routine is observed; some sleep, some speak on phones, some clamp music onto their skulls and drift somewhere else. I’m tapping, tapping, tapping like…—More Tales

To Birmingham/ Day Off

The infernal chirruping of my phone alarm pokes me into resentful consciousness. It’s 11am but I could cruise the halls of sleep another few hours. We stop early en route to Birmingham so I can do a phone interview to promote the Wakefield show. I’m fucking useless at interviews, as boring as a drunk gardener. The thing to do, to make them entertaining, would be to lie. Lie about everything – the songs, the band, the “career”. But I get sucked into the classic old duffer thing of droning on about the fucking music industry, which I know nothing about. But it’s hard to lie because it feels like dreadful disrespect to some poor professional who has diligently read the press release and scanned Wikipedia. In Nashville in 2014 the record company were so bereft of promo bookings they foisted me onto some poor DJ live on air at what…—More Tales

To Newcastle

Suitcases packed in the back of the Grey Toupee, we build up to escape velocity. England is beckoning. We pick up the guitarist at pre-arranged stop somewhere in the North, finding him standing in a bus shelter like an ageing rent boy. We are a team. I look out of the window from my leather covered perch. Misty autumn drizzle lies over the country, vehicles zip by on the opposite carriageway with a lazy sizzle, throwing up small arcs of spray. The low rumble from the tarmac beneath us is punctured by cackles of conversation. The nuclear power station at Torness glides by on our left looking like a cubist rendering of a pale blue elephant. The sea beyond is chopped-up, almost purple in its sullenness. We climb inland, passing through pretty wooded hills, the trees emitting wisps of steam as if harbouring secret fires. Most of the foliage is…—More Tales

To Edinburgh

I come to in my own bed, not yet fully on the road. I set the kettle on its plastic teet and toss a teabag into a stained mug, longing for the antiseptic soullessness of a chain hotel. At the appointed hour I make the ten minute walk to the venue. LOCAL MAN POPS OUT TO ROCK.
I like the ABC as a venue. There were once two vast screens here. It was my favourite cinema. I saw Dune in cinema one and threw my neck out sitting in the front row looking from one side of the frame to the other. Terrible film, made much worse by the acting of Sting. Even World War Two would’ve been made worse by the acting of Sting.
But the ABC stage is the perfect height, it’s Saturday night and the crowd are in fine voice.
I make a fast exit after the show, breezing home…—More Tales

To Manchester

As soon as we are on the road Mr. Nisbet christens our vehicle “The Grey Toupee” after a gentleman’s club existing only in his imagination. The van is decked out in grey leather and burgundy velvet. I have taken a raised seat at the rear from where I can survey the troupe and record any encroaching bald spots on the back of their heads. So far so hirsute. The road lays out before us like a charcoal carpet welcoming us back to touring life. The air is thick with the warmth of a distant hurricane. We all begin to readjust. The initial flurry of conversation dies and we start to poke at our phones, those small furnaces of desire. I notice a turbine turning slowly on a hill like the ghost of a Spitfire. Autumn touches the tops of trees with a powdering of gold, the verges still rich and…—More Tales

To Bogbairn

To Bogbairn

Today we are traveling to Bogbairn farm just south of Inverness. We’re playing a boutique festival called Northern Roots, run by my old friend from Blazing Fiddles, Bruce McGregor. Bruce has his fiddly fingers in a gamut of tasty pies. He hosts an excellent radio show called Travelin’ Folk on Radio Scotland, gigs with the Blazers and has been running a little annual event on his farm for a few years now. I believe he is also an apprentice milliner. But I have seen his hats and that way lies lunacy.

High winds and scattered clouds, bursts of sun and sprays of rain decorate this three or four hour journey. The sun sits very high this time of year so the afternoon gets flattened out with scant shadows lending the greenery a uniform dullness. It’s the sideways light that makes this country ring and glow like god. Ben Lomond stands…—More Tales

Day Off, Liverpool

Our hotel is a ’70s brown brick building refitted to resemble an art-deco ocean liner. So I went out roaming last night after the gig like a sailor on a 24 hour pass. Town was pretty dead around midnight but I followed some young folk and found the party zone where fast food was plentiful. It’s pleasant, when sober, weaving amongst the drunken as long as you don’t have to talk to them. I wouldn’t suffer myself after four drinks for a second.

In the early afternoon I begin preliminary exploration of the liner’s locale. I stop by the big 1960s Catholic cathedral which on close inspection is impressive, lovely even. A bronzed fitness fucker, tooled up with wraparound shades and a Fitbit is huffing up and down its steps, Rocky style. Inside I take one circuit, admiring its open-plan layout and enormous crown chandelier. It has a touch of Sagrada…—More Tales

To Liverpool 

White cumuli hang lazily in a milky blue sky as we angle up to Merseyside. Everywhere about us there must be party campaigners canvassing surly voters on their suburban doorsteps. They say Corbyn is gaining, the gap between Labour and Tories narrowing. This is good for ratings. Do we pray for a hung parliament leading to a coalition of “progressives”? Will the exit from the EU be fudged leading to a cataclysm? The soldiers and civil servants who run the secret state must be curious about this. The game is not completely rigged and the house does not always win but it’s best to expect stalemate and disappointment. However, there is no reason why the divisiveness and hatred instilled by the reactionary British press over Europe can’t lead to civil war. I would imagine they have thought about this. How will they keep us quiet? How will they, at all…—More Tales

To Wolverhampton

I investigate my face in the bathroom mirror, pink and pillowy like an eleven-year-old girl’s bedroom. I should put a Harry Styles sticker on my forehead to complete the look. I attempt some redecoration by dragging the grey stubble from my cheeks with a razor. There is little improvement. The blue rings under my eyes resemble the outside of a mussel shell and some rogue eyebrow hairs appear to be evolving into serviceable antennae. Hotel mirrors bring the brutal news you can avoid in a dimly lit home. Things change but later in life they slide and by the end it’s an avalanche. You see people buried by increments or you see them flattened in seconds. Nobody has a chance.

We kill time on the three hour journey answering general knowledge questions read from a little box bought in the last town. I’m surprised how much this excites me. A game!…—More Tales

To Pocklington

I wake up in the dark cocoon of my 70s hotel and draw back the vinyl shades to reveal a net curtain filtering the view like Vaseline on a lens. But I’d opened the nets last night. It’s mist and drizzle, the world’s awash with fuzzy humidity. It’s cool now, I close the window. I perform ablutions and tidy up, pack. With the black remote I taser through the cheap daytime channels, snagging on an old British Bake Off. I watch the sinister presenters prod and chew various breads like medieval kings before a banquet. I fantasise cutting Hollywood and Berry in half with a Gatling gun.

We drive through low-lying, nondescript country drenched in a fog of rain. Brake lights blink ahead and we caterpillar up to a queue. We pass a pig farm, a stately home and an enormous pink monument celebrating John Noakes. The place names are full…—More Tales

To Holmfirth

The lid of doom is clamped on the country and a porridge of grey prevails. Summer’s over, boys or maybe just commenced. The air has cooled a little and weaves about more turbulently. The heart sinks a notch – will we ever see sunshine again?

We track down to Engerland, the verges bursting with blossoms and rampant bushery. Everything looks sordid in the flattened light, the greens darkling like a murderer’s eyes before the act. We doze and read and eat Haribo, do the occasional line of coke off the dashboard. At a Moto I buy the-most-expensive-cup-of-tea-ever-served at an outdoor kiosk. I sling in some UHT “milk” and neck it in a single gulp, repulsed, angry and broke. I am that bitter old man you want to avoid. Small slights make me incensed, major injuries mildly riled.

We pick up our front-of-house operator at another motorway clip-joint, finding him loitering with his…—More Tales

—Man looking up, yesterday

To Perth



Oh, shit – the sun is shining, shining down on all of bonny green Scotland. What does this portend? We load up in the the lane, box upon box, case upon case. Amps at the bottom, stringed instruments atop. We will travel in a thing called a “splitter”, the front cabin containing the humans, the rear the gear. There is a schism already.

We meet a fair-weather tailback on the motorway beyond Stirling’s pretty vista, its castle and monuments sitting perkily erect on the glacial plain. The lowlands are in fresh full leaf and all the managed, manicured greenery flutters and glints in the luxury of the brilliant light. We experienced Scots know not to mistake this lovely weather for the start of summer. Summer never starts in Scotland, it just vacillates wildly between spring and autumn and occasionally lights up like a furnace causing universal astonishment.

The people of Perth…—More Tales

—A tramp, yesterday

Crybabies (Shot and edited by Jamie Vincent Gillespie)—More Motion-sickness

My Soul Is Stolen

Silence in the house
Balanced on the balcony
Just a breath of wind could
Set it all tumbling free

Look into my throat
Whoever’s singing isn’t me
Cos I’m a prisoner of
Who all you listeners might be

Cos my soul is stolen
Taken in my shallow youth
And I’d love you all to look but
Hate if you mistook it for truth
My soul is stolen
I took it from a girl I knew
And I covered it with trinkets
So that maybe you would think it was you

Silence in the house
Wherever can I be
I’m on the rooftop calling
As all your souls are falling
Like rain into the heart of me

—More Sword

Two People

I am two people, two people, two
And if I knew people I might know who is who
And you are good people so people say, it must be true
But if I’m two people can both be good people too?

I am two people, one is warm and one is cold
I am two people, one’s mild one’s wild beyond control
Wish I could tell people who to hit and who to hold
And of these two people who this is now, I don’t know

And out across the fire escape the ragged rascal goes
Leaving you to contemplate just who it is you chose
Is he the one you love, that fugitive above
Or is it me who waits behind the door holding out a hammer like a rose?

I am two people, two people, two
Go out and ask people and they’ll tell you that is true
And I don’t like people and I don’t like what people do
So of these…—More Sword

I’ll Leave It To You

Hey, it’s alright, the world is turning still
There’s centuries of light
More time than you can kill
And everything I’ve left or left wanting to do
I’ll leave it to you

Pack it in a box, drive away from me
Some letters and a watch
The treasures of the sea
I put it all in a list, a million things to do
I’ll leave it to you

Straightening that picture
Tightening that screw
Setting light to all that shit
The world has put us through
I’ll leave it to you

Hey, it’s alright, I’m happy
I’ve lived this luscious life
So gay and free
A lifetime without kids, what’re you gonna do?
I’ll leave it to you—More Sword

I Love The Sea

The sea, the sea, I can see the sea
Shining from your eyes as he
Haunts every fathom he can reach
Hauling the pebbles from your beach

The sea, the sea, whispers tauntingly
Come on in to the hell of me
Swarming like an army through the world
Spewing up the rocks that we once hurled

Into the sea, invading so gently
Filling us with grief and loss
Squeezing our skins until we shrink
Lost in the desert of the drink

I love the sea but the sea don’t love nobody
It just swallows every swimmer it can see

The sea, the sea, it will always be
Dreaming of the death of me
Swelling like a flower in my heart
Slowly tearing evidence of shipwrecks apart
I love the sea

 —More Sword

Hey Polly

Hey Polly, are you coming to the show?
There’s a band on that I know I think you’ll love
They have got a song that goes
“I’m a wolf in kitten’s clothes”
And hey Polly, there’s something you should know

Last summer when we were lying on the bed
All the things we should’ve said I’ll say today
Half a girl and half a boy
With a whole world to enjoy
Hey Polly – it’s so stupid we’re afraid

Cos I’m not who you think I am
I’m a loose bitch passing as a straight-laced man

You’re not who you say you are
You’re a butch prick suffocating a big gay star

Hey Polly, are you coming to the show?
There’s a band on that I know I think you’ll love
Cos I love the song that goes
“I’m a wolf in kitten’s clothes”
Hey Polly, it’s so stupid we’re afraid
So hey Polly, get your claws round here today—More Sword

Abandoned Sons

Turn off the light leave it alone
It’s gonna die before it is born
Leave it to cry, let it get by on its own
You set it alight so your fight is done

I didn’t know you could blow the life out of something
That you set the spark in

Pity the string under your bow
sawing so hard that it starts to glow
Put it away, get on with your day and your night
Strain and the prey evades your sight

Cos I didn’t know you could blow the life out of something
That you set the spark in

And that’s the advice that he gave me twice
At least that’s the excuse that I always use

So put it away, leave it alone
Pick over the pain and it’ll never be gone
stand on your feet so you show you’re a man
Try to pretend that he’s done all he can

Cos you didn’t know he could blow the life out of something
That he set…—More Sword

The Dead Sea

When you go baby, I don’t know
Whether to be glad or whether to be sad
When I’m alone I am free
When I am free, baby I’m alone

So you don’t know how to be around me
Cos around me is the dead sea

So you try to find my island
Well baby I don’t even know where I am
Nothing lives in this place
No lover’s breath across my face

So you don’t know how to be around me
Cos around me is the dead sea

The dead sea protects me
From sinking in that feeling
Left by your leaving

So when you go I just float
Out in the brine with the flotsam of what’s mine
You can shout but I can’t hear
No living thing’s ever getting near

So you don’t know how to be around me
Cos around me is the dead sea

—More Sword

Failing To See

Am I cruel because I know you forgive?
Do you hurt me just cos you know that I’ll live?
Is this what falling in love was aiming to be?
Being in love and failing to see
The failings of you and me

I don’t count the wounds sustained
I don’t recognise the picture that you paint
Is this what falling in love was aiming to be?
Being in love and failing to see
The failings of you and me

Failing to see the future
Where one of us must be without the other

You can cry, babe you can scream
Blacken an eye and I’ll take one for the team
Cos baby falling in love was aiming to be
Being in love and failing to see
The failings of you and me
Failing to see…

—More Sword


I don’t care about anybody else
But me, I’m a liar
As I look at you I’m trying to be cool
Like I ain’t a crier
And Daddy it ain’t no use
I’m as hopeless an opener as you
We keep to the public roads
So we don’t find ourselves lost again in that country
Where the crybabies go

And I don’t care about anybody else
But you, I admire
If you pick up the stick and tap the time
I’ll be in your choir
But Daddy I ain’t no good
When I sing it’s like my heart is made of wood
I keep to what I know
So I don’t find myself somewhere deep in that country
Where the crybabies go

And I’ll be a crybaby someday
When you’re not there to follow

So I don’t care about anybody else
Cos I, I’m tired
Of watching you struggle with yourself
Behind the wire
And Daddy I can’t break in
You’re on your own inside the castle of your skin
I’m driving through the snow
Trying to…—More Sword

Sydney Harbour Bridge

I’m always dreaming, I’m never in the moment at all
I guess I’m waiting for the veil across Australia to fall
And then I sink into the seabed of my mind
Where the fishes swim the muddy depths of time
And I feel that little give when I think of you
And Sydney Harbour Bridge sinks a little too

I could be driving, stupefied and deadened by the night
When you surprise me, rolling up and looking for a light
And then I sink into the river of my bed
And I float down through the faces of the dead
And I feel that little give when I get to you
And Sydney Harbour Bridge sinks a little too

Sure I know everybody says I treated you with carelessness
But from my side of the bridge there’s nothing I can do

And when I’m soaking wet under the Caledonian rain
I find I’m floating back into that swimming pool again
And then I sink a little…—More Sword

This Is My Kingdom Now

Guess I got lucky that God didn’t take me away
I’m ministered to by flunkies and baptised every day
But I think I’ve got it figured, I’ve fallen into hell somehow
So tell those vacant visitors
That this is my kingdom now

They line the hallways, a colonnade of bones
I pull their strings sideways and wheel them about in their thrones
And I know this can’t be paradise – that much the angels will allow
So tell those shuffling shadows
That this is my kingdom now

I was sure that I could hear applause and that I should take a bow
But no one seems to care in here
That this is my kingdom now

Guess I got lucky that God didn’t take me away
I motion like a monkey and hope somebody sees me today
And the peasants from the village they have brought their horse and plough
So I turn my face to the radio and say
This is my kingdom now
And my daughter…—More Sword

Fallen Trees

I was alone and trawling through the valley for peace
When there, through the teardrops hanging in the doorway, I freeze
My kind of people, already leaning into one another
Like fallen trees

Why am I always drawn to the trough on my knees?
Broken in a way that none of us can fathom or ease
My kind of people, lying around in the wreckage of the laughter
Like fallen trees

And nothing’s gonna change the way we deal
With the ruins of our feelings by pushing on the ceiling

So as I collapse into another huddle, I see
That no one is holding any other brother but me
My kind of people, they can take the weight of any other
Like fallen trees—More Sword

My Name Is God

I’ve walked mountains high, I’ve torn across the sky
Taken life from the sun, yeah, I don’t need anyone
I don’t need anyone

And I have a goddess led into the marriage bed
Made her a fool for fun: ‘cos I don’t need anyone
I don’t need anyone

And I don’t need you my dears
I don’t need the hurting here
The murdering atmosphere –
My whole career undone
So, I don’t need anyone

And I walk mountains high, tear light from the sky
Breathe life into your lung –but I don’t need anyone

So go on the human heart, go on through the dark
Through the dead generation that don’t need anyone
They don’t need anyone
They don’t need anyone—More Sword

—A poseur, yesterday


With the encroaching cynicism of middle age, episodes of excitement become increasingly rare. Perhaps a trip to some unvisited country raises the heart-rate a little but the unearned sense that you’ve seen-it-done-it lends every novelty a suspicious odour of staleness. Perhaps the arrival of grandchildren kickstarts some enthusiasm and shock and grief will cause ructions in the millpond of mild surprise but on the whole, you greet life with a shrug. Governments come and go and you whine weakly at their various crimes.

It comes with a jolt then to find yourself excited by anything, but releasing an album remains one of those things. You spend years pondering and collating, writing and recording all to the ultimate end of letting something out, freeing something and in turn being freed from it. So the actual day of its public exposure remains supremely important and there is no other word for the emotion…—More Tales

—Man falling, yesterday.

This Is My Kingdom Now out today on all capitalist tech outfits

This masterpiece of meh can be retrieved from here in physical form:

And here in bits:

And from the tax dodging employee exploiters here:—More Tales

Tour with The Pallbearers announced for October/ November!!!!!!!

Tickets on sale 9:00am on Monday 15th May


See Parades for details.—More Tales


I have had a “single”. It’s called Failing To See and it weighs a ton. Here’s a video featuring people who are – without exception – dead.

 —More Motion-sickness

—Man looking up, yesterday

Separated at Perth?

Perth want me to punt this:


Consider it punted, Perth.—More Tales

World exclusive. Video of specie cunt on train.—More Motion-sickness

Trump fucks goat – kittens frolic. An introduction to My Kingdom—More Motion-sickness

Album release announced via satellite, telegraph, semaphore etc…

Good moaning. I take great pleasure today in announcing the pre-release (whatever the fuck that is) of This Is My Kingdom Now, my latest collection of stuff.


Hear the brand-new-smash-hit-number-one single, Sydney Harbour Bridge here:

The album is out on May 12th (May the twelpth be with you) but you can pre-order it here:


OR if you want the thing bundled with an ART print (feel the quality, see the shine) stylishly signed by my hairy mitt then get in here:


You can hear the title track here:


More exciting smash hit news to follow. Smashing, isn’t it?

 —More Tales

This Is My Kingdom Now—More Motion-sickness

This Is My Kingdom Now

Link to high-budget video. Directed by Steven Seagull.—More Tales

Short UK jaunt announced

Just added some dates in May/June to support the forthcoming release of This Is My Kingdom Now on Endless Shipwreck records.


Fri 26 ​Perth Concert Hall

Sun 28 ​Holmfirth Picturedrome

Mon 29​ Pocklington Arts Centre

Tue 30 ​Wolverhampton Slade Rooms

Wed 31​ Liverpool Hangar 34


Fri 2​ Cambridge Junction 1

Sat 3​ Islington Assembly Hall


See Parades for dates and ticket links.—More Tales

Rod’s Concert for Myeloma

When I was little and when I was a little bigger, before I joined the fraternity of a band, I had no brothers. Two fine and beautiful older sisters and a brilliant maw but no brother to kick a football around with or to pick a fight with, to blame or to laugh with. Suited me – I didn’t need the competition.
What I did have, however, was cousin Rod, four years older but never dismissive of me (little squirt that I was) nor bullying or belligerent. Rod paid me the same respect and attention that he did his own friends. He was generous and giving and funny to a fault.
And Rod had records. Beatles’ records, Eric Clapton records, Jimi Hendrix records. He even had an 8-Track cartridge deck. While my big sister Rachel introduced me to cool things like Dr Feelgood and Thin Lizzy, Rod had the classic rock collection…—More Rants/Slates

General Election May 2015

It does not matter whether the United Queendom prevails. All that matters is subjugating the Irish, the Welsh and the Scots.

“Those little tykes, they love a fight and they will fight for us, our United Queendom.
They will bow down and believe: they will serve. Serve their country, serve their priest, serve their landlord and serve their Queen, serve the service, serve the laird, the Lord, the God, the god knows what in between.
It does not matter if they wish to leave, for they are tied forever to our sleeve.
They cannot puke, nor piss, nor think without us. They cannot spend, they cannot send. They cannot bend.
For we…are rulers, and what do rulers do? We rule – they taught us that at school.
We have the tanks, we have the troops (though some were slaughtered – oops!)
We have the power and the might
So we can all sleep safe tonight.
But hush! What comes…—More Rants/Slates

—Twat, no beer, yesterday

Show at Linlithgow August 8th, OK? This year. God knows how you get tickets but you can figure it out.

—More Tales



It was the year when the sound of eighties synths and vocals swamped in reverb continued unabated, a colour that seems to have been in vogue on both sides of the Atlantic for at least five years. The year when Kate came back and folk swooned while nobody really noticed gems like Withered Hand’s New Gods and Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes To Love. The year when lavish praise was poured over the Parquet Courts album in spite of it being stuffed with direct lifts from the history of post-punk; The Feelies and The Fall especially. When Paulo Nutini attempted to make an enormous soul/pop album and somehow managed to remain utterly charming and brilliant in spite of missing his target by a country mile. When Leonard Cohen, yet again released an album of faultless songs irreparably marred by horrifically cheap production and female backing vocalists who wouldn’t be out of…—More Rants/Slates

Bonus Ball


20/11/14 – 11/12/64

I sit in my seat like a teacher at a staff meeting, room service beer in full flow, and watch my last guest die. Ella Guru has gone to the other side. Being young, she has seen the sense in heading for the hills of immediate sleep. My banter, demanding as it must be of recipients, falls on deaf ears.
I bear witness and keep vigil. Ella Guru slumbers as soundlessly as the pharaohs, her beer propped up in her lap like a leaning Eiffel. The squeaks and strains of morning erupt around my room – o shit, the world is awake.
Nighttime is everything to me, I could not live without its cloaking. Mornings are murder, murderous and murderers. They are deathly, depressing and disastrous. They bring clinging women, creepy uncles: mornings are cunts that catch one at play.
A little diseased breath in…—More Tales

Leeds to London, November 16th-19th 2014


After four nights in the same hotel in Leeds it’s refreshing to be back on the road proper. It’s heavily overcast and muggy, the southbound traffic sluggish. With three shows left there’s an air of weary resignation in the van. My body, on waking, felt like a block of hardened rubber, as if some entity had poured moulding material down my throat in the night. I’ve set stiff and sit like a bag of cement in the front seat. I need a drainage contractor. A dim orb of pale grey hovers in the gloom above like a ghoul. Tiny spots of rain collect on the windscreen like alighting insects until, forming too dense a firmament, they are swiped away. A sunbeam strikes through ahead with an abracadabra and, peering upwards, I see a flat white disc; our furnace star reduced to a glinting tiddlywink.
The…—More Tales

Selby and Uppermill, November 12th-14th 2014

At last we escape the clutches of the country club with its therapy pool and veneer of hushed sympathy. I feel like we’re on the lam from rehab. The A-Road north is as straight as a Roman nose, we are the only deviants. Ploughed fields fill the flatness dotted with hamlets, farmhouses and groups of trees loitering like sulking teenagers. It is very still, the sky a white soup with puffs of smoky clouds trailing along the horizon like steam from an antique train. The rectangular torpedoes of lorries barrel towards us but it’s slow going this side of the road. We cross the odd canal and the sun, swimming out to our left in a sea of grey muslin, manages to throw blurred shadows across the tarmac.
It’s already crepuscular as we turn into Selby, a little town not without an earthy old-fashioned charm. We’re early, so we set up…—More Tales

Norwich, November 11th 2014


Heave-ho, we head out of Bury, swinging round the sugar factory which belches white smoke into the crisp blue sky. It’s a short hop to Norwich across the flatlands of Norfolk but the sat-nav takes us on a wild goose chase around half the county before we arrive at our abode, a country club type joint, all golf courses and spa treatments. I HATE golf. It’s the refuge of the respectable Nazi. I immediately order a taxi to ferry me away from this hell. The driver is a cheeky chappie from Larkhall in Scotland. He wears a black waistcoat with a silver pinstripe and tells me about his daughter’s graduation. She’s the first of his family to go to university. I congratulate him but he’s more concerned with what the do is going to cost. Then he tells me he just won £1400 on…—More Tales

Bexhill-on-Sea, November 8th 2014

By the time we hit Bexhill the warm southern wind is whipping off the channel in swiping gusts. We hear the local fireworks event has been cancelled due to the danger of rockets launching five feet in the air, abruptly bending to the horizontal and blowing children’s faces off.
The De La Warr is smaller than I had remembered it but beautifully sculpted and remarkably unspoilt. The auditorium is a wonderful room, perfectly proportioned and reverberating with a gentle slapback highly conducive to music and speech. I watch our opening act Ella The Bird and am enormously impressed with her composure and dynamic control. My own show feels too effortless to be trustworthy and my mind wanders during the last half hour; I go within and feel like I lose the crowd, leaving all a little stranded. The sea lies to my right twenty feet beyond the wall, black, tormented and…—More Tales

To Liverpool, 7th November, 2014

We start at ten. The gear goes in the back, the boys go in the front and we get on our way, out into the You-Kay. Liverpool shivers at the end of the road in a milky November morning. The road-signs are blue and the cones are red – fields and fences, copses, hedges – everything crumpled into the confines of this congested country. The sun swims low in the southern sky, slipping through knots of clotted cloud, making its way to the Atlantic.
It’s a short jaunt, a quick buzz around provincial England ending in two London nights. The trees cling on limply to their remaining leaves not yet taken by the wind. Winter hasn’t taken its first real bite but you feel it coming. The pasture is that British/Irish emerald that you see nowhere else and it sings in the sporadic shafts of sunlight. Everything glistens in autumn dew.
We…—More Tales

Phoenix to LA, LA to San Francisco, October 4th – 9th 2014


We load into the van at eleven for the seven hour drive to LA, the mountains of the southern desert brushed with pale green and sitting out at a distance on either side of us the whole way. I nod off and dream of backstage corridors and hotel fire escapes and awake in the snake-pit of LA’s freeway system. The I-10 virtually takes us door to door, from our Phoenix hotel to McCabe’s Guitar Store in Santa Monica. This is a renowned gig for its setting – the acoustic guitar room of a music shop – and its unique and intimate ambience. Lincoln, an urbane and witty man who epitomises So-Cal cool, gives me the run-down on the place’s history which is illustrious and quirky in equal measure. The backstage corridors are covered with photographs from LA music history. I stare into a black…—More Tales

El Paso to Phoenix, October 2nd & 3rd

Another morning, another fucking beautiful day, still in Texas. But not for long. The route out of El Paso hugs the border with Mexico for a while before cutting north into New Mexico and turning west for Arizona. Mexico lies just beyond touching distance, only discernible as a different nation by the marginally more ramshackle nature of its housing. An ugly fence, like a stern and humourless drill sergeant, frowns along the frontier for a few miles until succumbing to the heedless power of the landscape. There is no border, just two cultures and economies smashing against each other and melding, melting into one: Amexica. Only the mulish attitude of politicians, harvesting fear votes, prevents this territory from being the same country. The absurdity of the frontier is no less acute than that between North and South Korea. People pour across the official channels – roads, bridges and ports -…—More Tales

Dallas to Austin and El Paso, TX, September 1st & 2nd 2014


Texas is a different world, an unimaginable place in, say, Manhattan. It sits culturally apart from the rest of the States, has its own mindset. We drive south to Austin, stopping at Style Station on the way, a used clothing treasure trove just off the freeway recommended to us by The Mastersons and our buddies, The O’s. Having been forewarned that its proprietor, Art, is big on radical politics and conspiracy we are pleasantly surprised by his hospitality and extraordinary knowledge, from the history of the British monarchy to the convoluted and corrupt machinations of US manufacturers in the Second World War. He’s quite an amazing man and tells me about an electric trolley car system that served the area until it was dismantled by the motor industry in 1948. He has, against state policy, installed his own solar panels and powers most of…—More Tales

Dallas, TX, 30th September 2014


In the afternoon of the show I hook up with old friends the Kresses who in a replay of 1986 have come down from Little Rock, Arkansas to see me. We have a lovely lunch in Deep Ellum and swap tales of death, disease and the absurdity of life as their three charming kids suffer us incredibly politely. They are very widely travelled people and their stories are fascinating. This puts me in what I can only describe as a good mood, a state of existence I am barely familiar with. They have brought me gifts, one of which is a mini photo album from ’88 when they were backpacking through Europe where we all look like fucking babies. It’s shocking. I actually don’t recognise myself. Fuck me – what happened to THAT guy?
I find myself actually relaxing by the pool before showtime. I…—More Tales

Minneapolis to Dallas, September 28th to 30th 2014



We leave the Twin Cities early and are in the sticks in no time. We look at the map and follow a long straight line to Kansas City where we are stopping over en route to Dallas. The highway bears us over shallow inclines through fields of cereal without deviation for four hundred miles. South of Des Moines in Iowa it gets a bit more scrubby and wild. As we head south we leave all signs of autumn behind and are frequently tracked by Vs of ducks flying alongside like banners.
Kansas City suddenly appears on the horizon like a tombstone in the sun. The hotel, The Aladdin, is a beautiful Art Deco structure built in 1925 and my room on the 11th floor has windows on two sides and is remarkably smartly decorated for a Holiday Inn. The…—More Tales

Minneapolis, September 27th 2014


We cross the Mississippi four times, once in, once out and twice in the course of going out. It astonishes me that the river still has the power to carve a city in two so far from the sea. One end might sit in the icy chill of frozen Minnesota while the delta sweats and oozes into the Gulf of Mexico more than a thousand miles south. Minneapolis has a strange personality. She is twins so perhaps that’s to be expected. As we roll in from Chicago we see streets thronged with sandal and shorted mobs. It’s Saturday and unseasonably warm. Everyone is out making hay. Any day now a front could come in from the north and there won’t be a soul to be seen on the street. It always strikes me as a very clean place, as if the hellish winters scour…—More Tales

Chicago, September 25th 2014


Why do we wave to people on boats? I’m sitting under a high sun by the Chicago river beginning to roast in jeans and a black shirt. I give a casual little flutter of the fingers of my right hand, my arm hanging nonchalantly across a park bench. A blonde woman in big sunglasses waves back from the pleasure cruiser slipping past my vantage point. The sun is beating at me, really hammering. A sparrow drops by for a morsel I do not have, hopping around my boots with its back to me, keeping one eye on the chance of a flung breadcrumb. I’m not in the habit of carrying breadcrumbs. I don’t need a reputation as a groomer.
This city has been the scene of much debauchery for me. Chicago was often the gig you did about a month in, when the madness descends.…—More Tales

To Chicago, 24th September 2014


We escape the clutches of the city early in the morning, all the heavy traffic on the opposite carriageway. Once through the gauntlet of New Jersey’s chemical industry we’re in the endless woods of Pennsylvania. Fall is in first flame, the yellows and russets spreading through the forest like a rash. Coming around some bends the whole horizon is afire in the angled morning sun. It’s nearly four hours before we see a clearing – a farmstead set in an emerald meadow. The route has a mesmerising monotony. It’s a kind of Appalachian Amazonia. We stop for breakfast and luxuriate in the changed pace, the rural folksiness, the twang in the accents. In a matter of hours we have arrived in a different universe still confederated under the same oath and flag.
Road and more road. To get across Pennsylvania alone it takes six hours.…—More Tales

To and From Philadelphia, September 22nd 2014


We take a leisurely amble down the 95 to Philly and seem to drive straight into the gig without deviation. The pale blue sky is tiered with those puffy white clouds from the opening credits of The Simpsons. I’ve done this tiny venue, The Tin Angel, before. It’s a charming long narrow room with a very tight stage down at the opposite end from the bar where the toilets are. People have to file past you during the show when they need to micturate. It’s good to make fun of them.
We’re done soundchecking by seven and I go out to mosey around the vicinity. I rummage around a second-hand shop but it’s all a bit precious. The word “vintage” gets bandied about as if old clothes mature like wine. I only wear used things because most modern clobber is so repulsive and badly made,…—More Tales

New York City, 21st September 2014


Around lunchtime I take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge dodging through the streams of tourists on their Bloomberg bikes. I cross the narrow tip of the island to the west side and seat myself in a restaurant on a corner looking onto a small park. The new One World Trade Centre looms over me, its pointed hat in the clouds. I can’t fathom its scale at all. For all its claim to be the highest in the Western Hemisphere it looks more like a chubby than a stauner to me. My table offers a strategic people-watching panorama. An ancient Chinese woman sifts through a garbage basket, her trove of refundable cans and bottles in an enormous plastic bag at the end of a pole (with a counterweight at the other) that she balances on her shoulder. A twenty-something couple straight out of a…—More Tales

To New York, September 20th 2014


Onward up the eastern seaboard we go, the weather consistently glorious. Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey. We pass Baltimore’s scrappy skyline and skip across wide inlets densely forested on each bank. I imagine the fear and wonder of the Europeans sailing up these rivers into the unknown in the 16th century. We twist around the base of Manhattan, spotting emerald Liberty from the arc of the Verrazano Narrows bridge. The great “fuck-you” of Freedom Tower rises from the ashes of ground zero, ugly and crass compared to the streamlined simplicity of the twins it replaces. It’s odd to be driving straight into Brooklyn and not setting foot on the island. I may walk over the bridge tomorrow to rub Manhattan’s monumental grandeur into my eyes. The gig is surrounded by a swarm of hipster dipsticks, pushing prams and tousling each other’s angled fringes. I…—More Tales

To Vienna, VA, September 19th 2014


I awake to the tragedy of my own people rejecting radical change to cling to the false security of the last flotsam from the shipwreck of the British Empire. I am tuned to BBC Radio London and the glee and jubilation of the powerful spouting forth from the radio is suffocating. I cannot deny that I am very angry. I was angry last night when I saw the way it was going and I am angry this morning in the harsh light of the result and I’ll be angry when I go home. I feel like the hope just got kicked out of me. I feel like I am being held down by a gang of victorious sports fans because I am wearing the wrong colour, walking down the wrong street and have been singing the wrong song. The surprising flame of Scots radicalism…—More Tales

To Pittsburgh, September 17th 2014


We are out of Cleveland by 9am, pale blue skies above. There are three tasks to be completed today. A live performance on radio, getting me a US social security number and finding a nut wrench to loosen the truss rod of my Taylor. Ooh, missus. It’s enough to make Rod Taylor blush. If he weren’t long dead, pecked to death by deranged birds. Pittsburgh is the destination, a city I last visited in the early nineties for some outdoor radio event. The most recent proper gig I did there was 1986. It was the Electric Banana as I remember and we stayed with a Dels fan’s parents in suburbia. I have unforgivably forgotten her name but I do have a photograph somewhere of me and our guitarist, Brian eating out of a dog bowl on all fours wearing pet collars. It was near…—More Tales

To Cleveland, OH, September 15th 2014


I am sorry to be leaving Nashville. After last night’s show a pleasant bevy of friends and acquaintances coalesced around the backstage zone exchanging gossip and news. The dressing room grapevine. People here are very interested in the Scottish Situation. We endeavour to explain and quickly figure out that it’s easiest just to wait for them to ask, “So you wanna be like Canada?” Yes, that’s pretty much it. The disillusionment with domestic politics is so extreme here now that this makes perfect sense to them.
We pull out of town at 9am and are straight onto the freeway. Within an hour we’re in Kentucky passing through rolling pasture studded with copses and the odd little cornfield. There is the vaguest blush of autumnal bruising staining the trees and the sun breaks through exposing high maps of thin clouds above. We pass a Glasgow and…—More Tales

To Nashville, September 13th 2014


We lift out through thin fog and reach over Islay’s inner seas, the island glistening in the September sun, its bays and beaches deserted and beautiful below us. We leave Scotland in the light, a land hovering between shadow and something else, staring into its Celtic soul and asking: to be or not to be?
I’m headed west to America with my trusted lieutenant, Mr. Niz at my side, so I am “we” and we are “me” and we are all together.
Over the Atlantic we cruise in our tin-can tube of Boeing, the ocean rippling out beyond, somewhere lapping at the coast of a Carolina or two. Within a few hours I’m gazing down on endless schools of icebergs carving their way south. We are, as Joni Mitchell sang, at icy altitudes. With the trolleys stowed and the crew at rest after service the only…—More Tales

—A poseur, yesterday.

NYC City Winery

Still tickets left for this show here:—More Tales

Update USA

Hallo good people of USA. Here’s a quick update on the upcoming tour. It’s all up. For debate. Firstly I’m going to be on the wireless in these places on these frequencies.

WRLT Nashville Sept 14th.

WYEP Pittsburg Sept 17th. Live on air 1.15pm.

WXRT Chicago Sept 25th. Live on air 12- 12.30.

Thank you to all who bought tickets for the following shows. These are all sold out now.

Tin Angel Philladelphia Sept 22
Space Evanston Sept 25
Schubas Chicago Sept 26
Dakota Minneapolis Sept 27

There are tickets still available for all the other shows so if you go here:

You can figure it all out.

I’ll see you all in a couple of weeks.—More Tales

Rotterdam to Cologne, January 6th 2014

In the morning I peel back the flimsy curtain and glimpse the first whisker of dawn. Rotterdam’s blinking constellation creeps imperceptibly closer until its vast industrial tangle fills the horizon. Every one of the countless chimneys is festooned with lights like some Christmas apocalypse. Ships, tugs and barges, container terminals, wharfs and warehouses, petrochemical plants, cranes, barrels, boxes, piles of gravel, sand, coils of chain and rope; it’s the machine-mouth of Europe drinking its lifeblood from the seas. We are disgorged from the ferry’s bowels onto the dockside in our little cruiser and set co-ordinates for the centre to breakfast and make a coffeeshop pick-up. Town is a stimulating mish-mash of modernism not without its charms. The Luftwaffe destroyed the medieval town in 1940 in an effort to cow the Dutch after the Nazis met much fiercer resistance on the ground…—More Tales

Hull to Rotterdam, Jan 5th 2014

I am standing at the stern of an enormous ferry staring out into the watery darkness to the distant lights of the Humber bridge, a fat lady’s necklace strung across the throat of the estuary. The “sun deck” is the highest public tier on our vessel and a clench of vertigo grips me as I peer straight down the side of the ship to the strip of brown water between us and the quayside. Disconsolate stragglers smoke cigarettes wreathed in self-disgust. The open-air bar is empty; a solitary server eyes me with lethargic disinterest as a flickering TV, recessed into the wall beside him, shows the dying minutes of an Arsenal FA cup win. The polished decking is slick with a layer of rain and I cautiously skate back into the warm bowels of the boat, my arms extended forward like Frankenstein’s…—More Tales

Tracks of the Year 2013

Here are my tracks of the year, 2013:

Small Plane by Bill Callahan
Black Tambourine by Withered Hand
Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett
Carry On, Carry On by Edwyn Collins
Deathrays In Disneyland by The Young Aviators
Is It Raining In Your Mouth? by The Fat White Family
Old Toy Trains by Nick Lowe
Stoned and Starving by Parquet Courts —More Rants/Slates

Bob Harris session, London, December 9th & 10th


I come burning out of the JPR Management Christmas party in a rage of resentment, flailing desperately at passing cabs whose lights are resolutely unlit. I’m cutting this fine. I’m in Shepherds Bush bound for Glasgow and my flight leaves Heathrow in about eighty minutes. Tick, tick, tick. That was a party I didn’t want to leave. I rouse a sleeping cabbie outside the Hilton with a gentle series of knocks on his bonnet, slowly increasing in intensity. He comes to with a smile, perhaps appreciative of my sensitivity to the truth of the proverb concerning sleeping dogs. We speed off to Paddington with an alacrity born of rich experience of London driving. He asks me about independence and I give him my tuppence worth. He is impassioned about its potentially disastrous effect on the Scots. Although I agree I find…—More Tales

Monday 4th of November, 2013


Being the dick that I am, I pride myself on passing pointless little tests. Having de-nuded myself and placed every conceivable metallic accoutrement on my person into a plastic tray I still set off the alarm as I pass through the arch of the detector at airport security. My bafflement is assuaged by my body searcher who reassures me I have been selected randomly. “Nothing in life is certain”, he smiles. But I’m certain of this: they’ll never find that hand grenade stuffed inside my colon. Not without a lengthy stick.*
I am en route to a rehearsal with Jimmy Webb in preparation for our duet on Later tomorrow night. I can’t quite figure out if I’m nervous about meeting Jimmy as we have spoken on the phone and he’s so immediately affable you can’t help feeling at ease. He’s an Oklahoma boy…—More Tales



Women, I need your help. Next Tuesday (the 8th of October) I will be shooting a video for my next single, I Hate Myself For Loving You. The concept is simple. We want women to write down (on an A2 piece of card we will supply) what they hate most about their current or ex-lovers and be quickly filmed holding this sign up. The messages can be as trivial/silly, tragic/serious as you wish. We are going to try to collar as many folk as we can to do this at the corner of Vinicombe Street and Byres Road (just beside Fopp, where the phone boxes are) from midday on Tuesday. If you have time please come along and be filmed. Your fee, if included in the cut, will be fame and fortune quite possibly leading to…—More Rants/Slates

September 20th 2013

I am again suspended in the air on a fourteenth floor looking out over Bristol, the Avon green and glittering in a great arc around the city below me. People are thronging in the square catching the fag-end of the summer warmth. I venture abroad and order a burger at a dockside bar and crane my neck out over the water to catch precious rays on my face. Light ringing, light singing, spilling everywhere in splendour.
The end of the road has been reached, last stop Glasgow tomorrow. The phone has been quiet these last few days, phase one completed. Then there is another video to make and hopefully a little more plugging and pushing to do on single number two. And onto the reunion and my reacquaintance with the bass guitar. There’s only four strings so why worry? That’s a whole…—More Tales

September 17th – 19th 2013

Everyone’s face is crippled with displeasure. The slanting rain and the callous wind are harrowing even hardened Mancunians. I pass a ditched polystyrene carry-out container, brimming with rainwater, a tomato quarter and some scraps of livid meat. Even the rats have taken cover. They’ve probably “…all got rickets” and “spit through broken teeth”.
The cinema is showing wall-to-wall shit, the museums are closed and walking is a thankless pursuit. I take a late breakfast in a proper caff full of bubbly regulars and shuffling OAPs. I watch a staff member chalk up a black A- board. He writes “Were close” which I think might be a comment on some football score until he thinks to add a “d”, squashed on the end like an unwelcome worm.
I wander about, hands in pockets. I am as aimless as a snowflake. This particular part…—More Tales

September 14th 2013

And we’re off to Harrogate with two hangovers in the van. Long Island Iced Teas are to blame. Once the Del Amitri day-off drink of choice in the US, now to be avoided at all costs. Five kinds of white spirits in one glass. I used to serve them in my nightclub barman days. If they came back for a second they were not seen again. Not in this world.
It’s sunny but with a sky busy with tortured clouds reaching down from every altitude. I have spent the morning listening to AM by Arctic Monkeys. Hm.
Harrogate is hoaching with slowcoaches. Swarms of daytrippers trudge about looking disconsolate. I have noodles in a place packed with families. I grimace at their moaning kids with no sympathy, no patience and no clue. Poor bastards. I can’t say I’m a fan of these…—More Tales

12th September 2013

The fair city of Edinburgh is warm in the morning and I amble across town to the BBC in my shirtsleeves*, stopping fitfully at second-hand shops full of crap and ducking into what appears to be a women-only café. My coffee is so repulsive I immediately leave. It tastes like tar and acid and wormwood. The cakes looked good, I’ll admit. There’s a place next door that looks more promising. They have bacon rolls.
I don’t know Edinburgh, I’m a tourist here. I know ten other farther flung cities better. It’s a lovely town, utterly unique. It leaves Glasgow trailing in its wake for cosmopolitanism, institutional infrastructure and architecture. It feels international, engaged and on the go. It has deep roots in the Enlightenment, the historical Scottish establishment, finance, football casuals and mass heroin addiction. You can see how Scotland’s five cities…—More Tales

11th September, 2013

Come morning I’m back out on the balcony again, sunning myself like a retired military man. I put on Curtis Mayfield then listen again to young Lloyd’s album, Standards. Myrtle and Rose is very touching. Then I listen to a bit of Neu’s second album and I am struck by the obvious lifts Martin Hannett and Joy Division took for Unknown Pleasures. The heavy plate reverb on the gated snare, the unsettling sound effects. It’s funny to think that Joy Division were essentially a seventies band. But they sounded like the future and the future sounded like hell. So here we are.
We motor north to London burning diesel, the great belt with its white stitches tugging us forward. An eiderdown of cloud blankets us as the sun slants between the sheets bringing the road alive with a trembling light.
I have…—More Tales

Bend To My Will live at Kyoti Studios—More Motion-sickness

Brighton, September 9th 2013


We haul out of Cambridge through desultory drips of rain. I have taken in a croissant and good coffee in a local Italian caff seemingly run by super-efficient Latvians. Or Lithuanians, one can’t be sure. Whatever, they looked like handsome villains from a James Bond film. I was interrogated as to the quality of the fare and felt somehow that I didn’t pass muster. After I’d commented on the sound quality of the coffee, my waiter looked horribly insulted. “But the croissant was lovely and fresh also, no?”
“Oh, yes, very fresh, very good too”.
I had a feeling had I said no that the supplier would have had his little finger chopped off. You don’t get that in Starfucks. They probably chop entire countries off.
The rain starts lashing at the windscreen as we get out of town, spray spinning up around…—More Tales

Cambridge, September 8th

The broken white lines stream towards me like tracer fire, England in early autumn slides past the van’s windows all around me. Sunny spells. My stomach twinges with hunger. I wonder what culinary delights await in my Cambridge dressing room. Last night’s show, wrecked by nerves, has me on edge. I need something but know not what. A long violent massage from a fat Turk? Caravans, vans, trucks and trailers: I’m in the world of wagons. Cambridgeshire’s flat expanses exert their pull. I’m getting there but when I do, “there” moves somewhere else. Hunger leads not to satisfaction, just further want.
I didn’t touch down in Wolverhampton, I seemed to fly through in a daze. There’s hardly a mote of Midlands dust on the soles of my shoes. A man invisible to me said goodbye during the show, said he had to go. I could do nothing but bid him…—More Tales

—Saga customers, yesterday

—C tom sheehan 14 whimbrel close sanderstead surrey CR2 0RW - - 07889 486 528 - 0208 651 6114

Bad sports metaphor

As the transfer window closes I find myself sitting in the manager’s office, gold Montblanc in hand, staring down at the contract. Good money, top fixture list, decent facilities. I’m told I’ll be up front, regular first team action. The strip’s a bit dodgy but what the hell, I can learn to love denim. I am already familiar with the wide men, Dollimore and Harvie, and have heard good things about the back line of Alston and Soan. Never a fumble from the London based keeper and many a clean sheet logged by the Glasgow-born centre-half.
I hesitate for a moment, weighing up my options. On the one hand I’m happy where I am – a great bunch of lad – but on the other the temptation of the big league is alluring; the passionate crowds and the chance of famous European nights. In the end I think, fuck it,…—More Rants/Slates



Lolling in bed.

LOL—More Tales

Into A Pearl—More Motion-sickness


I didn’t want to be here
I never liked your dad ‘cos he never loved the fact
That you were you
And you liked to sing falsetto
Which real men shouldn’t do

I’m mumbling through the hymns
I can see him now belt that nonsense out beside you
As you try to find a way to sing
That makes this thing ring true

Jesus, Jesus I need love
Not stuff about having faith in God
And Jesus, that would be enough

Talk of doing things through duty
Did no one like this man? Even his priest seems glad he’s gone
So I watch you simply bearing it
Hoping it won’t last too long

Jesus, Jesus he needs love
Not stuff about having faith in God
And Jesus, that would be enough—More Sword

Every Song’s The Same

Let me teach you how to write a song
The first line must be brief but strong
And the second line should rhyme
With something in your baby’s heart
Something that they know but cannot name
And in that way every song’s the same

Let me show you how to write a tune
The first note should mean the world to you
And the second one should come
Like an arrow out of a dream
Something only hit by the singer’s aim
And in that way every tune’s the same

So go ahead please, throw away the rules and seize
Whatever it is you need to say
Cos I’m dying here trying to find something that I can play

So let me hear it, play it loud
Pull me into that sweet sleepwalking crowd
With that single thing
That’s everything you’ve wanted to scream
Since the obscene beginning of time—More Sword

Bend To My Will

Wheel me to the theatre, it’s gonna be a ball
That shadow that shuts on life is the greatest love of all
I calculate some way to keep it still
Make the approaching panic that’s so keen to kill
Bend to my will

Strap me in and shut me up, bring the actors in
Two pills in a paper cup, here we go again
They swing out the big light I know the drill
But I won’t slip away from them, not until
They bend to my will

So I face the gaping lion’s mouth with a little grin
And I feel my body going south so I take the scenery in
They say there is a moment when you spill
But my only confession is I won’t leave her until
She bends to my will
—More Sword


Have you seen Priscilla
Was she trying to look away
From the pity in the mirror
Of your eyes as surprise held sway?
And did she look delightful
In that frightful kind of way
And could you still see the girl that loved me
After all that I carved away?

A fist clenched in my heart when I heard you say
“She has gone down the road called wrong”
So go right ahead and cast the blame my way

And when you saw Priscilla
Did you finally judge me
As the jailer and the killer
Of the glory she should be?—More Sword

I Hate Myself For Loving You

I hate myself for loving you
I hate that I am such a fool tryin’
To please you all the time
Tiptoe round you like a mime
But that’s cool

I hate myself for loving you
I hate that I just hang around for
Your key crank in the door
Waiting willingly for more, I do
Hate myself for loving you

But loving you is what I gotta do
I couldn’t leave you even if I wanted to
Cos it’s the hate that feeds the fire of me and you

So I hate myself for loving you
And I know honey, you hate yourself too
So say it and you’re free, say it along with me
Like its true
I hate myself for loving you

But how I love to hate myself—More Sword

On A Roll

Twist your knuckle on the steel
My fist is buckling the wheel
Spin me deeper in the hole
I’m on a roll

Take this unwanted watch of mine
I don’t need to know the time
Everything must go
I’m on a roll

She left yesterday
I guess that leaves more time to play and forget
I’m on a roll
Yeah, I’m on a roll

I’m blessed with sevens in my hand
But she could never understand
All is lost on the cost of my next throw
Cos I’m on a roll
Yeah, I’m on a roll—More Sword

Into A Pearl

Is there a place there every morning
Where the enemy is curled
Is the dead arm a warning
Of a stranger in your world?

Then can’t you make that piece of grit turn into a pearl?

Take a taxi to the station
Take a slow train to the sea
All the broken glass is patient
It knows how smooth it’s gonna be

Then can’t you take that piece of grit and make a pearl for me?

This life never suited you
Trapped inside that shell
But whatever’s gotten into you
Can be gotten out as well

If there’s a space there every morning
Where the enemy is curled
If you feel the phantom forming
Just wrap around it girl

Cos no one knows what to make of it
We step around the rage of it
But only you can smother it
And make us all a pearl
—More Sword

On My Conscience

It’s on my conscience, I’m conscious of that now
Yes, I meant to hurt you but you deserved it anyhow
I had to suffocate the words but they just poured out of my mouth

I know you’ve got your problems, your demons and your drives
And perhaps for you to solve them you covet other people’s lives
It’s on my conscience but I’m sure that I’ll survive

I’m gonna ride you like you rode my friend
I’m gonna ride you to hell and back again

So I’ll have it on my conscience until the end of time
But whenever you think of me you’ll wonder whether I was lying
Well, I don’t really care, just so long as you are crying—More Sword

Half Of Me

Half of me is tied up in our life
But half of me keeps one eye on the knife
Called upon by spirits from the golden cemetery
I’m living in a fantasy that I’m ever cutting free

Of that half of me who is timid and afraid
But half of me wants to leave the life we’ve made
And go out blazing trails in a haze of rock and roll
But my other half she laughs like it’s a joke
Fighting for the soul

Of half of me – that is all she ever gets
But half of me knows that half of me regrets
Ripping through the years without a hope of happiness
But failure never held me any fears until I had success
But half of me deserves everything he gets

Half of me is ready to retire
But half of me is still riven with a fire
Driving me to conjure up the passions of the past
Undignified and faithless to the last and…—More Sword

Little Stars

Hold on to your hats
Dust off where you came from
Throw those cameras away
Embrace the things that you abstain from
If you could all shut up
Take a peek out from your hairstyles
God is gonna speak
Just as she comes through the turnstiles

Little stars arrayed around her head and I swear, against my will
I will be hers until the disbelieving ones are dead

Don’t look to the skies
For a sign if it’s gonna run smooth
It’s just a drop of rain
Nothing compared to what we’ve come through

Little stars arrayed around her head and I swear, against my will
I will be hers until the disbelieving ones are dead

Tripping on her train, slipping off the chairs
There is nothing happens right in some affairs
We might dance through the cake and tread it up the stairs
As the revellers retire and divide up into pairs

Little stars caught within my hair and I swear, against my will
I will…—More Sword

Good morning, Fuckers

Out today like a goddamn plague, like a mass escape from the asylum.

Official Shop: http://shop.Justincurrie.Com —More Rants/Slates

This is my ass


I’ll be selling my ass on Thursday at HMV, Buchanan Street in Glasgow at half past five. I’ll be selling my ass all day. Come along and try to buy my ass.—More Rants/Slates

Wogan with a guitar


On with Tezza, 11am Radio 2, Sunday 18th singing live with Stu—More Rants/Slates

Back to Gatwick


After an arduous soundcheck trying to fit eleven lines into eight channels I take a stroll to the river beach, a strange French phenomenon whereby a bend in a country river is converted into a virtual beach by the application of a few tons of sand. It’s not for me at all. It’s just weird – people doing beachy things in mottled green water with trees all around. I walk to the end where there’s a weir. Some local teenagers are frolicking in the miniature cataract, a relatively risky business. I take a cold cola in the “beach” bar and gaze out upon the odd scene from the shade of some saplings. It’s slightly reminiscent of Seurat’s The Bathers but with more undressed flesh. An English man standing near me has swimming trunks so short that he looks naked from…—More Tales

French village

I wake up in a pleasant little hotel in a sleepy village which on further investigation turns out to be a suffocatingly picturesque tourist trap crawling with those middle-class tourists who frequent stupid shops full of gourmet this and vintage that. There’s a shop that sells cupcakes for fuck’s sake. They’re all wandering around sleepily looking for orifices into which they can ram their money. I hide in a bar out of the heat and scowl, like I ain’t the same as them. But we’re Brits abroad together no matter that I’m here to “work” so I drift along with the posh scum, nosing into an overpriced antique shop and poking at dull things. I flip through a box of vinyl which contains three Rubettes albums, some 80s Hi-Energy 12inches and a Richard Clayderman LP. Nothing even resembles bad taste, it’s…—More Tales

To Gatwick and beyond


My cabbie offers me a pellet of chewing gum, perhaps reacting to the reek of last night’s garlic. I accept and take pity on him and open a window. Glasgow is glittering in August light as we cross the Kingston bridge, the new Hydro – almost complete – nestling amongst its silver sisters like an old-fashioned idea of a spaceship.
The airport teems with holidaymakers and a smattering of Scotland fans on their way to Wembley to meet the Auld Enemy in a friendly. Their kilts sway above white woollen socks and Timberlands, the footwear of choice for the marching Tartan Army. I sense the odd look of disgust cast furtively in my direction. That soppy little poof disnae get it wi’ his maudlin shite. So be it. I give off a faint air of disdain. Come on, Scotland? Come ON Scotland.
The country…—More Tales

—Some whores, yesterday

Whoring Alert

For I shall be a-whoring, next Thursday the 22nd at HMV, Buchanan St, Glasgow. Singing and signing on the week of record release. Not many tunes but who knows? Starts at 5:30
Know one thing…I’m not signing debit card receipts or having my photograph taken with anyone called Sharon, Cedric or Arthur. —More Rants/Slates

The Case for Reform


Can you see what this sort of thing might lead to?—More Rants/Slates

Nazi loony alert


This charming man, Gregory Lauder-Frost, vice-president of the Traditional Britain Group believes that Doreen Lawrence is “without merit”.
I believe he may be “without marbles”.—More Rants/Slates

Hitler Youth watches Coronation Street

Member of Hitler Youth watching Coronation Street during half-time of Celtic game.

20130807-235508.jpg—More Tales

—Twat on tube

London July 26th 2013

Airports. I walk the gauntlet of painted ladies and try to fight off the olfactory assault. Right after the martial roadblock of security the inquisition of the wallet. If there’s an empty space, put a shop on it. You can’t get near a chair until you’ve done the corridor of consumption. I buy a Private Eye from a scrupulously polite young man in a glorified kiosk. He’s going places and so am I. I espy in the lounge a soundman with whom I am acquainted but he’s deeply buried in a book. A little further on I see Stevie Jackson from B&S but he too is engrossed, headphones locked over his curly hair so I resist interrupting and take a seat in my own little patch. We all have our own little patch. A very pretty young mother approaches with two red-faced bairns and parks opposite. I pick up my…—More Tales

Bend To My Will Video

Here’s the new video for Bend To My Will. I was asked to star but declined for two reasons: I can’t act and I can hardly swim. I nearly drowned shooting the Great War sleeve and that was in the bath. I’m basically a coward and a creep and was quite content to have the poor actor here flounder on my behalf for what amounted to bus fare and half a cheese sandwich. I am grateful for his undying commitment to his, wait for it, craft. That’s today’s pun dispensed with. Feast your eyes on this odyssey of oafishness. All is lost!—More Motion-sickness

—Berkley Square, minus nightingale.

London, 11th July 2013

I’m sitting in Berkley Square completely surrounded by the inexorably circling feeding frenzy of London traffic. The stately Georgian townhouses seem to glare down upon my classlessness. Behind me in the Bentley shop window, big glinting automobiles squat like hounds panting gently on the lord of the manor’s drawing room carpet. The noise around me is vast and unnameable and lulls me into a pleasant stupor. The odd horn blast declares itself above the din but it is this huge congregation of machines that predominates. London is alive with the dread sound of engines burning oil and spewing every kind of particulate into the warm evening air. Business types flit by on their borrowed Boris Bikes; a sprinkler, muted by the cacophony, flicks fake rain about the place which the lurid grass drinks enthusiastically. I regard a pair of red telephone boxes set beside an old-fashioned…—More Tales

—A hot Scotsman, yesterday

Hyde Park BST this Friday

My show at Hyde Park this Friday is now free due to Elton John having to pull out of the headline slot through illness. If you have a valid ticket you’ll get a refund and if you don’t you can go here:

and get a FREE ticket.

You get Ray Davies, Elvis Costello and the wonderful Nick Lowe for nothing in a lovely park in central London in great weather so if you’re not doing anything come on down. I’m on around three on a side stage. Call me Sideshow Bob. Call me cheap, desperate, call me what you will. It’s free. —More Rants/Slates

Raised and Confused

There seems to have been a lot of confusion and bad blood stirred up by the strange sight of Alex Salmond attempting to raise the Scottish saltire behind David Cameron’s beetroot little head in the posh seats of Centre Court after Andy Murray’s victory in the men’s final at Wimbledon (I’ll never tire of saying that).
When I mentioned that I thought it was “cheeky” I was immediately lambasted by nationalists (presumably) who asserted that there is nothing mischievous about a national leader holding the national flag in celebration of one of the nation’s sons’ successes. I understand their point but I feel the need to explore this a little further.
Was Salmond’s act akin to, say, the South African premier waving a national flag after seeing a fellow countrywoman winning an Olympic gold medal? Or Angela Merkel holding a little German flag on a stick after her country’s football team…—More Rants/Slates

Bend To My Will (album version)—More Tales

—Some extremely wealthy and protected people yesterday

Spending review

Yesterday the United Kingdom parliament reached a narrow consensus on the only sensible fiscal path one’s country should take in the teeth of capitalism’s current and most urgent crisis: Blame the poor, tax the poor and disenfranchise the poor. From these three fundamental tenets there shall rise the Phoenix of growth from the ashes of a failed system. And growth there shall be. Growth (exponentially) of the difference between the upper tier of society and everything else. Growth of that tier’s interests being privileged and protected above all others. And the consequent growth of civil unrest whose suppression becomes a self-evident necessity in order to maintain security. Security to perpetuate a system based upon the enslavement of the vast majority of human beings* within it. Security that guarantees the safe passage of wealth between the entrenched-enriched: passage certified and paid for by the rest of us.

Of course the…—More Rants/Slates

—An advert, yesterday


You can now download Little Stars for free here—More Rants/Slates

Another apology

Apologies! A whole tranche of people’s wedding shots that were sent to Ignition got fouled up in my spam folder and I only just discovered them . So thanks and sorry they weren’t available for selection to:
Martyn Fuller
Chic Ramsay
Jill Copeman
Christine Alexander
Stephanie Christianson
Emily Walters
Ann Marston
Julie Russell
Susanne Martin
George Monaghan
Jill Rodger
Tim Berridge
Cristina Gallego—More Rants/Slates

Little Stars

Download this for free now at
New album Lower Reaches released 19th August. Pre-order it and a signed lyric sheet of Little Stars now at:—More Motion-sickness

Dead Inside—More Motion-sickness

—Bind the map


John Lydon
Stanley Spencer
The Welsh language
They rhyme garage with disparage and Farage with mirage
Barbara Castle
The subtle art of self-deprecation
They hired a socialist to produce the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
John Cooper Clarke
Philip Larkin
Tottenham Hotspur
The New Forest
Roots Manuva
The Wombles
The inexorable excising of racism and homophobia simply on the grounds of decency
The Beatles
I’ll say it again: The Beatles
Tommy Cooper
Basil Brush
The Royal Shakespeare Company
Charles Darwin
The Poll Tax Riots
Eric Hobsbawm
Jane Austen
The Streets
Billy Connolly
Alfred Hitchcock
Rachel Whiteread
Postcard Records
The absence of the death penalty
Bittersweet Symphony
TV Go Home
Graham Linehan
Rat Scabies
Nick Lowe
The Independent Empire of London
The implicit understanding that morris dancers are pocket fascists
Geniuses at making fun of the Germans
Anthony Burgess
Arial by Kate Bush
Stuart Lee
Vivian Westwood
Steve McQueen
Eric Morecambe
The Smallpox vaccine
Guy Fawkes Night
The Pogues
The National Theatre
Crick & Watson
Shane Meadows
The Battle of Britain
Bobby Moore
Amy Winehouse
The Midlands
The Shipping Forecast
Scotland—More Rants/Slates

—They don't make them like they used to

Thank you

Thanks to everyone who sent me old wedding photos, they’re brilliant. I can’t use every one so don’t be offended if your family don’t make the cut. Your efforts are much appreciated. And those of you who tried to sneak in your own wedding by de-saturating the shots and judiciously cropping out any modern outfits – I’m not falling for it. Nice try…Cheers!  JC—More Rants/Slates

September tour flyer

—More Rants/Slates

Flyer for July

—More Rants/Slates

—A happy couple in yesterday's Soviet Union


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

—Some land, Monday

Country and Wasted

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

March, 24th, 2013

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

Sheffield, February 26th 2013

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.

I’m sluggish today so hide in my high glass vestibule during load-in and tap more stupid shit into the gaping lizard’s mouth of my aluminium machine. Clickety-clack, don’t talk back. One day some clever dick will send out some malware that makes all those laptop lids snap shut. The dweebs and…—More Tales

—Back to a band of four?

Bath, February 25th 2013

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

—It's prim down south - Weymouth seafront

Weymouth, 24th February 2013

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

—Deep-fried Twix, Weymouth

Kendal and Weymouth, February 21st & 22nd 2013

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

—Leeds skyline

Leeds, February 19th 2013

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

—Manchester, yesterday

Sale, February 18th 2013

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

—Some countryside, yesterday

Newbury, February 17th 2013

We strike out from Stamford at noon to watch the milky light angling onto to the extremely pretty undulating Rutland countryside. In spite of what you see from the van on most tours, England, with its cosy rustic beauty, is preserved in a great many places. Living in these areas might just turn you Tory, for modernity must seem a menace encroaching on all this pastoral glory. But we’re heading for Corby, that Scot infested industrial cauldron so normal service will be resumed. English and Scottish patriotism sow their seeds in the rural landscape. It’s a way of encapsulating a myth – the place maketh the people. As if a fucking heather covered hill has any bearing on most Scots’ character. Nationalists are great manipulators of imagery. They tell you that your inherent virtues are bound to your country’s natural beauty in order to parcel off power for themselves. It’s…—More Tales

—Not Stamford

Stamford, February 15th 2013

I have lurched from the desert to the frozen north. Leaving the Gulf last week I had visions of handbags on fire, buried minions dug up and displayed in future museums. These men died building towers now ruined, airports since vanished beneath the sea of sand. Emirs, Sultans and Kings: born to rule over those selected to serve. I played pretend palaces and Vegas-style hotels. I served my sorry time. I bought some fags, came home and torched some Camels. We’re burning up the world.

Scotland is shining under a flat white disc of sun. Stray patches of snow streak the bluffs atop which fresh ranges of turbines flower, turning in slow motion. Driving south we see a black military transport plane veer around the corner of a gorge like a fleeing vampire. Nestled off the road lies some sort of rocket launcher taking practice pot-shots. Nobody has a job but…—More Tales

—A Burr Oak Acorn. They never got me.

Austin, Day Nineteen

Last day. I’m still dicking about with last little vocal things. A very nice tall man called Bruce comes in to do some backing vocals with me. He’s a good natural singer and just the ticket. It’s just one simple part but having another voice helps a lot. He’s a songwriter but it’s difficult to track down his work on the web as he shares a name with Bruce Robinson, the British director of Withnail & I and the recent very underrated The Rum Diary. I get distracted by a highly entertaining interview with the director from a 2011 issue of the Independent. He tells a story about when he was drinking five bottles of wine a day and he ran out. He got in his car and as he was driving to the nearest off-licence noticed in his mirror some prick in a silver van hanging on his tail-lights.…—More Tales

—My first tape machine

Austin, Day Eighteen

Iain Harvie from Del Amitri once commented that to the uninitiated it must appear as if nothing actually happens in a recording studio. Ninety percent of the time they are sepulchrally quiet places with no discernible activity going on. There’s a lot of waiting, a fair bit of listening and very little performing. Outside of the control room, studios are desolate environments; pianos sit unplayed, microphones hang like dead flowers on their stands and the walls resound with nothing but the hush of the air conditioning with the occasional muted thump of a drum part drifting from beyond the double glass. There is the odd flurry of industry – when the whole band is laying down initial tracks or a string or brass section shuffle into their positions. But there is far more music going on in the external environment: radios in cars, MP3s squawking away in every bar, shop…—More Tales

—David Lynch organ

Austin, Day Seventeen

Monday. Three days to go till I get on that plane that takes me to the plane that takes me home. I arrive but there’s no one at the bunker so after waiting I take a drive to find a bag somewhere to throw my laundry in and over my shoulder but the luggage emporium suggested by Apple’s new map application doesn’t exist. Unless its an underground luggage shop dug beneath somebody’s clapboard house. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to find.

I return to find David (Dah-veed; no Day-vid, he) with an electric guitar strapped around his neck plugged into a DI-ed Mesa Boogie via an Echoplex, a groovy little tape loop delay machine which has featured heavily so far on everything from upright bass to Moog. I make room by making coffee. I used to revel in my role of principal tea maker in the studio. I was…—More Tales

—Mexican restroom

Austin, Day Sixteen

Sunday, and I have a breakfast engagement with my landlady and her son, Hugo. Hugo has been running and needs a shower so the landlady and I take her tandem downtown to the restaurant while he catches us up in his car. Yes, a tandem. It’s downhill most of the way and it’s a beautiful day for a bike ride. We pedal through a fragrant little grove, the path lined with wildflowers. I am inappropriately dressed and begin to perspire profusely. I am a Sweaty Sock – a Jock on a bike for two. I do the eggs Benedict thing, (the joke goes: what’s the connection between eggs Benedict and a blow job? They’re both really good but you never seem to be able to get them at home. Sexist in every conceivable way. Personally, I frequently make eggs Benedict at home) and then check out the bookshop opposite. I…—More Tales

—Big Tex, New York Times, Today

Austin, Day Fifteen

After sleeping late and patronising one of my breakfast haunts I sit down and make a playlist to take to Zilker Park for a wander. I try to find a zone in which to sun myself but am frustrated by frisbee golfers, vehicular traffic and at one point, a nest of biting ants which I manage to sit on under a convenient tree. I come up in those white bumps you get with histamine reaction like that from nettle stings. The music in the headphones maintains that pleasant sense of travelling unnoticed through the world like a movie camera, insulated and separate. Cat Power’s Manhattan with its piano octaves, drum machine and snare fills is the hit of the day. I go down to Barton Springs to watch the swimmers. I see a man in a posing pouch and man-bra strutting by below me. I bet that cunt’s here every…—More Tales

—No soliciting

Austin, Day Fourteen

It was a relatively late one last night, battering away at a vocal comp with Mr. McC. Remarkably, it sounded good in the morning so we had somehow managed not to lose the plot, which is encouraging. I drove downtown to a 24-hour diner afterwards and sat at the bar. Corned-beef hash and eggs, root beer. The joint was filled with twenty-somethings in their chunky spectacles and carefully distressed T-shirts all gabbing away with enthusiasm while a string of loners like myself sat reading free-sheets on our bar stools. The night had cooled significantly with the narrowest sliver of a crescent moon sailing over the city in a sideways smile.

The sun comes angling through the trees straight into my eyes in the morning. I tune into Radio 4 on my phone, six hours ahead and as prissy as always. The tribulations of Gideon Osborne and the Tory overlords seem petty and…—More Tales

—Mr. McC's idea for inspiration

Austin, Day Thirteen

I decide to investigate a new morning venue. These are the critical choices I have to fret over. In a funky vinyl slash coffee shop I am greeted by Craig, a man in his early fifties with long grey hair and a Texan drawl, who is charm personified. He is the epitome of southern ease. He volunteers the intimate details of his life with no hint of self-obsessiveness and enquires after mine without nosiness or suspicion. He has that Texan air of gentlemanliness which mixes grace with a wry mischief. You immediately like him and relax. He’s an ex state employee turned quality caterer. We gossip about Withered Hand which is a pleasant surprise and he talks about his son, who is late for his shift at the shop. The big seventies stereo in the corner belches mellifluous country music with a brew of irony and love. He pours me…—More Tales

—A spaceship, Monday.

Austin, Day Twelve


Monday is just beautiful. If summer days in Glasgow were like this I’d start believing in God. So thank fuck they’re damp and freezing because that would be a chore. Not to say deeply embarrassing.

There are some large chestnut type objects falling from the trees around here, somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. They hit the tin roof of my bedroom with a wet thud and roll off sounding not unlike a squirrel beheading. I have yet to be hit by one. I calculate the odds as being fairly slim so will regard it as extraordinary good fortune should I be struck. Only then will I bother to find out what they are.

Monday and Tuesday are listening days, figuring out some edits and mutes and what remains to be overdubbed. Things sound good, things sound American and that is the desired outcome. I hear…—More Tales

—Table for one, make it lucky

Austin, Days Nine to Eleven

I start off with a little saunter through the pleasant morning heat down to the no-nonsense taco place that’s becoming my breakfast local. The migas is my thing. Scrambled egg with two kinds of cheese, lots of coriander and salsa on top of a fried taco for two bucks and change. No doubt Mexican food is so inexpensive here due to cheap imported labour. In the west, when something is cheap you can be sure somebody’s getting fucked somewhere. Think of all the missing fingers and blighted lives resulting from those disposable clothes you buy in Primark. Don’t even mention smartphones. We’re living in a science-fiction dystopia which has, remarkably, become reality. Modern living. The repeated shafting of the billions-strong underclass by the wealthy few. It’s a gas.

More overdubs today. Some Moog, upright piano and double bass. Some of this stuff is starting to get weird in an excellent way.…—More Tales

—After the deluge

Austin, Day Eight

I take a walk around the little golf course in the sultry tropical morning. I’d say run, but running’s for twats and George Bush. When White-Knucklehead was in power he used to complain when he couldn’t get enough fucking running in. Like it was more important than slaughter and race-war. He just couldn’t face a long day’s killing without a jog around a ranch with his goons. Stupid little man.
I drive to south Austin to find a boot store. The last pair of cowboy boots I had were bought in El Paso, Texas in 1990. I feel I ought to make it a 22 year tradition, like acts of altruism and anal sex.
As I am scoffing breakfast at a taco trailer I hear my name shouted. I don’t turn around but years ago I would have done and have been sure it was somebody I knew. There are too many…—More Tales

Austin, Day Seven

Back in the bunker after a gruelling session on Monday. Multiple takes and a lot of singing. It takes me back. I haven’t worked like this since I was a young man. I am no longer any kind of young and I’m wrecked by nine at night. It’s a beautiful cool night, the Milky Way is faintly visible and I drive around until I find a hippy co-operative where I buy some dried up sushi to drag home and club to death in my cave. My nightly treat is a bottle of root beer; that medicinal elixir that’s so redolent of old-time USA. I take my repast watching John Boorman’s mad Point Blank on the computer. Then I watch Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross on YouTube on my phone. Both films have brilliant, grim, pessimistic endings. I’m going to watch The Werkmeister Harmonies tonight on the microwave.

Me and the band wait…—More Tales

Austin, Day Six

The cold front is sitting over Texas like despair in a geriatric ward. I take a wander round my new neighbourhood, crossing a public golf course and meandering through the plush university campus ending up on the fringes of downtown. It’s early and there’s hardly a soul about. It’s a relief to be walking. I buy a New York Times and dive into a local diner. Standard fare – eggs and burgers – but seemingly run by an academic lesbian co-op. They’re all very friendly and pretty in a geeky way and I feel as if I am on the set of one of those awful post-modern sitcoms. In the last two nights I have managed to watch – or rather, witness – two of the worst comedies I have ever seen; The Dictator and The Sitter. The latter is perhaps the less excruciating but it’s repulsive sentimentality is unforgivable.…—More Tales

—Poison for the ears

Austin, Day Five

No shirt, no shoes, no service. I take breakfast without my trousers with impunity amongst the Saturday hipsters in Julio’s Mexican again as I can’t be bothered driving around aimlessly searching for a café. The promised cold front has arrived but I’m still in shirtsleeves. You’d be pretty satisfied with this temperature at the height of summer in Scotland. I sit at a table on the patio affecting a sophisticated air with my Austin American-Statesman which is a useless rag really but preferable to the soul-draining inanity of USA Today. If I’m honest I kind of need a jacket. Americans call suit jackets coats and for some irrational reason this always irritates me. And waistcoats are vests. So here you’re pretty dapper in a vest and coat whereas in the UK you’d look like you’d stepped out of a Duran Duran video from 1982. A coat and a vest. Jesus…—More Tales

—Texan BBQ cat

Austin, Day Four

There is a mercifully cool breeze in the air today. I drop into a hipster coffee shop on the way to the studio where a fracas erupts between an ornery customer and an uptight barista. I notice the background music is some absurd industrial noise art-wank that sounds like a fucking bombing raid on a battery chicken farm. Not exactly conducive to civilised coffee consumption. No wonder the old guy with the wraparounds and handlebar moustache had “an attitude”. The fucking music has an attitude. Everyone looks a little sheepish. I notice the customers ahead of me tip the barista conspicuously in an effort to placate her. Buying cooperation and compliance, like western diplomacy.

I have the morning off while the piano is being tuned at Mr. McC’s. I nose around some vintage shops and buy a few old shirts to supplement my vanishing supply of clean stuff. It’s so hot…—More Tales

—A car-park, yesterday

Austin, Day Three

Again I surface suddenly from slumber at stupid o’clock. Too long flipping through the late night talk shows. What a strange thing they are. I watch Craig Ferguson, a fellow Glaswegian who kindly had me on his show on my last album more through regional loyalty than anything. His show stands out from the others but I can’t put my finger on why. There’s a genuine anarchy vibrating under the surface. You have the feeling he might just go utterly ape at any point. He’s a tightly coiled lunatic held in check by the sobriety of the slick showbiz format. It’s like watching Godzilla prune a bonsai.

I attend to electronic chores to kill off the early morning. Computers and phones swallow time like black holes. Later I take a drive around to find supplies and sustenance. Listerine and tacos – breakfast of champions.

We spend another day footering with the songs…—More Tales

—Coffee-water and bill, "International" style.

In Austin, Day One

In the morning my brain cracks into consciousness like a flicked switch. 7am. What to do? I peer out of the sealed tinted window and attempt to orientate myself by dabbing and swiping at my phone map. Downtown juts up to the south like a distant promise. The immediate environs are hideously nondescript. Parking lots, freeways and motels. It’s a typical American scene. I walk to an IHOP* and indulge in its dubious charms. My waitress, battle-hardened from years of service, divorce and disappointment, regurgitates pleasantries on auto-pilot. I am coffee and orange juice and I’m over easy. The place is full of working types, which is reassuring for some reason. You get the feeling somehow that the punters are for Obama but the staff are a bit more Romney. I could be wrong.

This afternoon I am to rendezvous with the producer. I am a little nervous about it having only…—More Tales

—Rocking chair, Philadelphia International

To Austin


So I’m sitting in a rocking chair in Philadelphia airport staring out into the airfield. There’s a colony of them by the big window, all white, facing out to the horizon. Rocking chairs, that is. Travellers and staff on breaks sit and lap up the light like passengers on the rear deck of a liner. I have cleared immigration and have an ocean of hours to waste waiting for my connection, southbound and westward to Austin in the vast state of Texas. Behind us busybodies pass wittering on mobile phones. The polished floor reflects the motion of wheeled cases gliding across the concourse in a great waltz. Everybody has somewhere to get to with their cache of stuff, the same stuff in every bag. I am perfectly still for the while, apart from the occasional, comforting little rock.

Aboard I watch from my porthole the baggage handler tossing luggage from a…—More Tales


—More Rants/Slates

It’s US and we’re Open

For all the moaning minnie Scots who have been telling me the man’s a wimp, a choker, has no guts , no stamina and will never win a Slam.

You were wrong.

We are now open for business.


You’re wonderful, Mr. Murray.—More Rants/Slates

—Some hate-motivated hooligans today

All Things Bright and Beautiful

If singing thirty seconds of a song in a church is hooliganism motivated by religious hatred then what the fuck is a hymnary other than a list of specific terrorist instructions? Go forth and multiply and do God’s work. By the way, He fucking HATES Jews, Muslims, Fags and Philistines, OK? He just likes a bit of order, you know? No fuss, everyone the same, knowing their place, worshiping whatever keeps them happy. Off you go, defend the faith. You might need one of these – an AK47 or a judicial system with unchecked power operating in the interest of a secret state.—More Rants/Slates

No, Surrender (Part Two)—More Motion-sickness

No, Surrender (Part One)—More Motion-sickness

Her Majesty Salutes Hoy’s Band of Spacemen


In her tireless promotion of brand Britain, the Queen imparts her trademark enthusiasm.—More Motion-sickness

Guardian Tour Diary 1997


I wrote this piece for The Guardian in 1997 (I think) and received a fair amount of flak from US fans for its sneering tone. I can see their point but I was trying to be sympathetic to them while undermining the rock-star persona by being honest. I probably got it wrong, but it’s a document of its time so here it is in its original form before the G2 editors got their (rather capable) claws into it. 


One Week on the Wheel of Pain: How to Brownnose with Impunity


Monday, Arrival

You plane, you deplane. You’re a foreigner, a form-filler, you’re a hasn’t been who might be in the land of the wannabe. You have come here, willing and supine, ready to wear the promo smile for the people, to sing your song for the sake of the sell. Live on-air, live in-store, a week of grease on the week of release,…—More Tales

—Camera, Cathedral, London.

Day Off, London


We plough into the seedy thicket of north London. I scramble from the hotel after installing my family of chargers in my white box. I take a pleasant line downhill from Angel through Finsbury, Clarkenwell, Smithfield and the City to the river. My walk traces a line of affluence from the self-conscious cafés and vintage home decor boutiques at the top of the hill to the terrifying marble fortresses of the City at sea-level. I don’t know this part of the capital so I take pleasure exploring the grand residential squares and sampling the weird vibe around the fringes of the financial district at 5pm. City boys in bespoke deep navy suits with tieless sky-blue shirts loiter outside corner pubs in cabals of threes and fours. They’re mostly in their early thirties and beautifully coiffed and manicured. The women are whippet thin and dress in black and meander alone through…—More Tales

—Goblin, Dressing room toilet, Wolverhampton

North to Wolverhampton


There are swimmers in the sea!


The Brighton beach backwash rakes the pebbles down into the seabed with that sound like rattling teeth. French air caresses the coast with the faint scent of baguette or bag-lady. A long gloomy front hangs along the coast down to the west where Land’s End points its bony toe at South America. We guide the Merc north through beautiful oak studded estates, headed for the Black Country, its wide accents, ex-factories and gap-toothed high streets. I was a Midlands boy in the seventies. I had a Leicestershire accent, played for the school team, said “lickoll bockoll” for “little bottle”, drank Dandelion and Burdock. I was a hayseed, temporarily English. I loved Leicestershire. I loved our village. Cows sometimes wandered onto the school football pitch, badgers rooted around the garden at night. We had two apple trees, cherry and almond trees, a lean-to, an enormous ash…—More Tales

—Bathroom de la Blu, Bristol

Day Off, Bristol


I’m in a Radisson Blu which is a good thing. Twelfth floor with spiffy decor and big windows. I have a tiny silver kettle with the word “distinction” written on it. I have two kinds of tissues and a desk and chair set painted gold. I am a modern man in my modern box and nobody can take it away from me. Not for 48 hours. We rush out to catch the high drama of English football’s final instalment. An enormous wall of a man sitting in front of me seems tense. After City win he reveals that he’d placed £1,500 on their victory. The bookies call this buying money – laying large sums on very short odds. A fucking idiot’s game. He screws up his copy of the Sunday Sun in anxiety during the match when City go 2-1 down. I could tell straight away he wasn’t watching the…—More Tales

—Drill Hall, Lincoln.

South to Lincoln


I awake to a bright morning and shovel my various accoutrements into my black nylon trolley. Everywhere there are people in transit dragging these recalcitrant cases out for a walk. You see them in suburban streets and parks and town centres as if hanging onto weary toddlers, the little plastic wheels making that gargling noise over the concrete. Strange that the ancient invention of the wheel came so late to luggage. Even in the early nineties I was still hefting an enormous sack around on my shoulders from airport to tour-bus. On long US tours I used to carry two big holdalls, one purely for underwear. Why ruin a precious day off sitting in a laundromat when you can take three months’ worth of socks on the road? Since the World Trade Centre fell you’d be lucky to get a few weeks of keks on a plane without handing over…—More Tales

—The world's most expensive hairbrush (£62:53), window display, Buxton.

On to Holmfirth


In the morning I race over Buxton’s pretty park set on a hill to hunt down the bookshop Derek has told me about. There is a swirl of slanting rain so I buy a wooly hat from an outdoor suppliers on the way. The bookshop is well-stocked over three storeys and has a few quirks. There’s a make-your-own tea and coffee set-up on the fiction floor alongside a large soft-toy tiger who lounges on a chaise long in the bay window. Unfortunately there is also a nausea inducing “snogging corner – adults only” sign hanging above a nook, but everybody makes mistakes. I am pushed for time and buy a George Eliot novel I’m fairly sure I’ll never open. I liked the first page so it’s mine for six quid. The owner, who is sorting through some old scores (and settling them) asks me if I can spell Tchaikovsky. I…—More Tales

—Drinking the local product outside the local pet shop.

Down to Buxton


Head for the hills, boys. Low pressure is upon us; there is no sky, or at least there is but it’s resting on the street. The cloud is so low the rain starts falling at shoulder height. Get on your knees and you’re in a puddle of mist. I’m shuffling around the Middlesborough grid again in a dank and dismal way, looking for a morning coffee. I sample the Fakey Noir ambience – friendly staff, pitiful music. But at least it’s not Starfucks. I duck into a music shop and the proprietor recognises me. My former band were regulars at the City Hall here. He and I stroke rather than shoot the breeze then I breezily take my leave.

Derek Meins, the majestic opener, meets us at our hotel. His guest house turned out to be an empty family house for which he was handed the keys. In the morning he…—More Tales

—From the dressing room window, Stockton

East to Stockton


We move out through Widnes’s motley sprawl under jets sailing into John Lennon. We gain the motorway and all signs of locality vanish, the endless stream of vehicles hypnotic and stultifying. We are now five having picked up Dave, the sound man and Derek, the opening act at Runcorn railway station. Luminous fields of rape rim the verges, the sky is strewn with smoky puffs stretched in formation beneath some high white sheet. Our satellite lady huskily intones instructions. We remain, as ever, in her wayward hands. A church spire looms like a rocket in a thicket of blast-off trees. The van’s occupants fidget at phones, thumbs like busy mandibles mangling insect words. The air is filled with them – look you! Death threats, appointment arrangements, compliments, football scores – thrown into the roar of the universe.

The last time I was in Stockton I ventured with some frands (that’s fans…—More Tales

—The Scala, Runcorn.

The Road to Runcorn


The British spring is a mad mood swing of a thing. Warm, hot, cold, warm, cold, colder. The light lacks confidence and slants experimentally through the atmosphere like a cat dipping a cautious paw in a dubious pond. We bottom feeders are on our way to Runcorn on the Mersey in a Mercedes Benz that has no name. I would christen it if it weren’t so characterless and the christening of vehicles a sickness of the mind.

Pylons pass huffing on a hill with their angry arms, like the skeletal remains of Modern Toss’s Alan. The western Scots must pass through several little cauldrons of mountains before the descent into flat Lancashire. Squat pines line the verges as the M-way dips and arcs through gentle glens with great elegance. The lanes are wide and empty. It’s an easy introduction to the road before the rage and rattle of packed tight England.…—More Tales

This is a football.

And this is what a football looks like. There is nothing stuck to it; no hair or gold or teeth. It carries no messages and whispers only rushing air. All the players may touch it with their hands but feet are more effective. It longs to be caressed and dreams of coming to a spinning stop and settling at the junction of net and turf. The football is our friend. Somebody wants to burst it with a biro pen, somebody has written his name all over it with a silver marker. It has become tawdry and vulgar, a candy-coated Kruggerand. Take off your fucking ties and get down in the dirt. This is what a football looks like.—More Tales


Answers to the name “Binky”. Will come when called. Do not feed E numbers.

Call: 0141 729 01482


Please, please – if you have seen Binky, get in touch. Small token rewarded for safe return. Must have original legs.—More Untruths


He danced like a junkie muppet undergoing electrocution.

Still missed by all who witnessed his crazy fistfights with the air.—More Rants/Slates


This really makes a man gag: the chumminess, the reverence and the snivelling obeisance. All hail the unelected Head of State! For she’s a jolly good fellow…

—More Motion-sickness

—A pile of rubble, Glasgow, League Cup Final Day

Confessional, from the side of the mouth


I live in a house with a cat and some ants. Everyone is sated.

I went to my local church and was refused service. I waved my baggy genitals at the man in the frock. The birds whistled a song of acceptance. God peed himself. Everyone went home.

The record shop is overflowing with films. We need more gun shops that sell heroin. We need more live butchery. We need rock and roll salvation.

Spring is arriving and the days creep into evenings. Buses without headlights, women without tights. See the sun arc higher and higher into the northwest. The comedians are coming to town. Pale footballers redden, the lollipop men blush in glinting afternoons. I know where they hide their glossy magazines.

If I really thought about my life I’d redeem myself. I’d take matters in hand. But I wear blinkers, muffs and a face-mask. I watch the world weaken through yellow eyes.…—More Untruths

—A celebrity, yesterday

Ten Twitter posts I recommend to the attention-starved modern celebrity guaranteed to generate some heat.


1. “Michael Jackson fucked me in the mouth when I was thirteen and I enjoyed it.”

2. “Our soldiers are cowards – even the dead ones.”

3. “Killing or maiming children with brown skin is justifiable if it secures energy supplies to liberal democracies.”

4. “All Olympic Games competitors should be shot in the head before each event.”

5. “I wish the Real IRA would blow up Margaret Thatcher’s offspring.”

6. “Anal rape must be permissable if it serves to get Bruce Springsteen to shut the fuck up.”

7. “Religion operates like dysentery. It renders its host incapacitated and is communicated via their consequent torrent of faeces.”

8. “I’ve had sex with both of my parents.” *

9. “I get an erection every time I see a crucifix.”

10. “I just had a brilliant kiwi and apple smoothie. And now I’m going to torture a prostitute.”

* Russell Brand may already have said this, I’m not sure.—More Untruths

My Soul Is Stolen—More Motion-sickness

Can’t Let Go Of Her Now—More Motion-sickness

A Man With Nothing To Do—More Motion-sickness

You’ll Always Walk Alone—More Motion-sickness

Little Stars, Live at Mrs.Craig’s House—More Motion-sickness

Every Song’s The Same, Live at Mrs.Craig’s House—More Motion-sickness

A Man With Nothing to Do


The lovers of the world are slaving away

But I do nothing much but breathe

When good men do nothing, it’s true what they say

The devil is rolling up his sleeve


Is God, so busy in his time, now doing nothing too?


So baby, here I am, waiting for you

A man with nothing to do


Let the years go by, let the daylight die

I can’t think of anything to be

The planes in the sky, the lines in the road

Human hands make everything you see

And if you keep busy in your mind do you think you’ll see this through?


So baby, here I am, waiting for you

A man with nothing to do

I’m a man with nothing to do


I don’t tend the fields, I don’t toil at the sea

So I am passing the time by letting time pass over me


So are you so busy in your mind that you can’t feel it too?


So baby, here I am, waiting…—More Sword

Anywhere I’m Away from You


When I’m away from home I do as the locals do

But baby, now I’m in Rome I can’t remember you

Did you used to cut me down, did you use to bury me?

Praise God for the errors of my memory


Whatever I’m coming to I ain’t running home

Cos home is anywhere, anywhere I’m away from you


Out on the road you find invisibility

And the beauty of an empty mind is its tranquility

And if the past comes up and dogs my day

I can take it on a little trip and lose it in the empty space


Whatever I’m coming to I ain’t running home

Cos home is anywhere, anywhere I’m away from you


So, baby if you want me back you don’t have to do a thing

Just stare at the wall as you always do hating everything

And I’ll come flooding back and you can treasure me

With your heart like rock and your mind so black butcher my…—More Sword

At Home Inside Of Me


Crows capturing buildings and rats camped in a drain

Fireflies caught and cannoned in the rain

Seams of secret people awaiting the shafts that set them free

They make themselves a home inside of me


Armies of children and ghosts of suffragettes

Make merry in the cauldron of my chest

Bodies dumped in ditches and stowaways at sea

They make themselves a home inside of me

They make themselves a home inside of me


A fist-fight at a wedding, a killing on the stairs

The brilliant spark at the start of love affairs

Your tenderness’s blessing and your assassin’s accuracy

They make themselves a home inside of me

 —More Sword

You’ll Always Walk Alone


Lying asleep at night under the watching ceiling light

Safe in the fortress of your home

Remember you’ll always walk alone


When you’re swooning at the sinking sun

With that special girl you string along

And from the shore you throw another stone

Remember you’ll always walk alone


Walk alone through your life and into the night

You will always walk alone


Arm in arm and hand in hand, tied together with a wedding band

Tethered to the line between the phones

Remember you’ll always walk alone


Walk alone through your life and into the night

You will always walk alone


And alone every night you walk through my mind

There we go, you and I in tandem all the time

Our cover’s blown, now it’s all talk

How you always walk alone


 —More Sword

Can’t Let Go Of Her Now


She’s made her mark on me, she’s scarred my memory

Made shallow wounds in the depth of night

Give up my liberty, that’s what she wants from me

Well, I guess I’d care but it feels alright

And if I lose my grip I won’t make it anyhow

So I can’t let go of her now


She makes my common sense come out like self-defence

She breaks my patience like a match

And when I snap in half she’ll be the first to laugh

If I’m a base hit, she’s a catch

And if I lose my grip I won’t make it anyhow

So I can’t let go of her now


Just don’t tell her I would die if I let her slip away

Let her think I’m resigned

Like those drying clothes just hang onto the line


She’s made her mark on me, those little lines you can see

They’re written through me like a poem

She makes a mockery of all I hold life to…—More Sword

The Fight to Be Human


I’m not a master of what I survey

To death and disaster I am a slave

But I am the author of the words that I say

Why do I bother – it’s all trash anyway


I try to be truthful, or I think that I try

I may not be useful but at least I’m alive

Millions of letters spilled into the hive

All of them worthless except for this line


I hate the world they gave me

I hate the world they gave me


I stand on a mountain of pitiful prose

My mind is a fountain that pointlessly flows

They give you a trophy if you make the kids scream

But it’s such a joke to me how insipid I’ve been


I hate the world they gave me

I hate the world they gave me


I dig into my past now, I dig into my wrist

To recapture the last time I felt the knife twist

I kick at the shackles and heave at the…—More Sword

Ready To Be


Ready To Be



Praise heaven, babe, it’s still alive

A good man’s just a great disguise

Look down deep in his eyes you’ll see

And your friends who say I’m bad

Why don’t you tell them all you’ve been had

Why don’t you tell them what I am is what they see


Cos I’m ready to be the devil they’ve been seeing in me


Look closer it’s still alight

That ain’t a twinkle that you see at night

Ask me again if I think they’re right, you’ll see


Cos I’m ready to be the devil they’ve been seeing in me


Whatever they’ve been seeing, I know him

He lives between the moments, when I’m an angel in silence

He’s climbing over the railway fence

Trying to dispose of the evidence

Trying to compose it so it all makes sense


Trying to get ready to be, ready to be

The devil they’ve been seeing in me



 —More Sword

The Way That It Falls


Life is wonderful, you love the days till you’re dead and gone,

The pleasures lived in the light, but I love the night, the shapes it solves

And the way that it falls, the way that it falls


And she loves everyone, so I let her burn in the sun

And then trick her into a fight, cos I love the night, the spills and squalls

And the way that it falls, the way that it falls


Falling through the morning, falling through all of space

To wipe the sunlight from her face

Like the shadow falling in this place


Life is wonderful, you hog the heat till the fire cools

And you hold on as though it’s your right, and dread the night’s

Enclosing walls

And the way that it falls, the way that it falls

—More Sword

As Long As You Don’t Come Back


Well, I’m talking to myself not you so don’t get mad

Cos I need a friend who won’t talk back

And he is letting me finally see some sense

And I know I should be mending fences but why would I do that?

When I won’t feel alone as long as you don’t come back


And I know that you’ll be picking through the bones of me

Trying to find a heart of stone

Well, if it’s there throw it at my picture

Cos I know I should be building bridges but why would I do that?

When I won’t feel alone as long as you don’t come back



Don’t come back, don’t come round crying

Whatever the angle, I ain’t buying

Whatever the accent you’ve been trying



So I’m talking to myself not you and it ain’t so bad

At least I don’t put myself down

And sometimes I even sound like you

And I know I should be making amends but why would I…—More Sword

Everyone I Love


Tonight I’m gonna hurt everyone I love just to see if they love me

I’m gonna run around running off my mouth, be as cruel as I can be

Tonight I’m gonna hurt everyone I love, give my bitter side a little exercise

Let my loathing out for a walkabout, give my jealousy a little company

Tonight I’m gonna hurt everyone I love,

Cos I’m tired of trying to keep this stuff inside of me


Tonight I’m gonna say what I never say, I’m taking everybody down

Like Dr. Frankenstein I’ll let the monster walk from the cellar to the town

Tonight I’m gonna say what I never say, every negative I can hit them with,

Every accolade’ll be a hand grenade, let my mission be catastrophe,

Tonight I’m gonna hurt everyone I love,

Cos I wanna wreck what everyone expects from me


Tonight I’m gonna hurt everyone I love just to see if they love me

I’m gonna blow apart the phoney…—More Sword

Baby, You Survived


Baby, can’t you cry, or is she ain’t letting you?

That eyelash in your eye ain’t what’s upsetting you

Though she’s dead and out of sight

She still throws your shoes across your room at night

And she still says you’re cheap and in your sleep sets the sheets alight

So baby, don’t you cry, she ain’t worth it, and besides,

You’re too old for lullabies


So baby, don’t you sink back down that corridor

Take a breath and think what you’ve been running for

Cos she can’t help you now

All she can do is sulk around your house

And show up in your eyes when you’re surprised that you’re happy now

So be glad and proud, cos, baby, you’re allowed


And her shadow disappears when you shine a light down the years

And torch that hallway of souvenirs


So lately you and I have spoken of marrying

So it’s time to say goodbye to that bag of broken things you’re carrying

Cos this time you…—More Sword

What Is Love For


What is love for? Does it wash good people ashore,

Does it keep the wolf from the door, what is love for?


What does love do, does it make life worth going through,

Keep you safe from the suicide crew, what does love do?


What is love for, who does it help?

A one-eyed king that leads everything straight into hell.

What is love for, what does it change?

Did Joan of Arc drag anyone back from history’s flames?


What does love do, does it  favour a fortunate few,

Does it step on the hearts it can’t use, what does love do?


What does love make but twenty billion perfect mistakes

Trying to figure what they can take, what does it make?


What is love for, who does it help?

A one-eyed king that leads everything straight into hell.

What is love for, what does it change?

Did Joan of Arc drag anyone back from history’s flames?


What is love for, what is love for?

What do…—More Sword

Not So Sentimental Now (Currie)


Pick up your shit and my shit too

Don’t need a T.V. to stare at or those pretty clothes to glare at

That you never put on anyhow

‘Cos baby, I’m not so sentimental now


Out with the old, out with the new

If there’s a trinket worth keeping you’d better get it while I’m sleeping

‘Cos baby, I’m not so sentimental now


Don’t think because I loved so hard

I can’t be hard when the hating starts

So take your wounded out

‘Cos I’m not so sentimental now


Take everything, take what you see

The vitamins, the drawing pins, the covers you’ve been lying in to me,

Yeh, take a bow

‘Cos baby, I’m not so sentimental now.—More Sword

Walking Through You (Currie)


In the evening when you’re blue you will feel me walking through you

When you’re crying, that’s my cue, my reminding walking through you


When you’re singing something true I’ll be listening walking through you

And those memories that you lose I can find them walking through you


When you dance and your baby’s dancing too

Then I will walk through you


In the windows in the views there’s a shadow walking through you

When you’re cold, when you’re cruel, that’s my sorrow walking through you


When you wake in the silence of your room

Then I will walk through you

—More Sword

Something In That Mess


Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you

I know you struggle too, it’s in your nature

‘Cos you and I were never meant to be together

But you took off your dress

And something in that mess got changed forever


Some days a breakthrough, some days a breakdown

When I fall out of love you meet me on the way down

‘Cos you and I were never meant to be together

But you took off your dress

And something in that mess got changed forever


Forever, stains and scratches written on the leather

And when the sun comes slanting in I swear it’s raining feathers

And I can’t find myself among this stuff we’ve thrown together

‘Cos somewhere here a shirt of mine is twisted in the arms of your sweater


Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you

I know that you do too, it’s in your nature

‘Cos you and I were never meant to be together

But you took off your dress

And something…—More Sword

If I Ever Loved You



Baby, I was not the one

I guess you know that now

But I kept you real distracted for a while.


I look back and nothing much

Ever comes to mind

Sometimes I can picture half a smile


We were thick as thieves

Hung on each others sleeves

Kissing all the time


But if I ever loved you shouldn’t I be crying

Shouldn’t I be cracking up

And drinking all the time?

Yeah,if I ever loved you how come I feel alright

How come the nights are so easy

And the mornings look so bright?


I try to figure what has gone

I seem to look the same

Maybe there’s a tightness around my eyes


Sometimes the evening comes

I think I miss someone

And then I realise


That if I ever loved you shouldn’t I be crying

Shouldn’t I be cracking up

And drinking all the time?

Yeah,if I ever loved you how come I feel alright

How come the nights are so easy

And the mornings look so bright?


Love it can make your world

Bring…—More Sword

Only Love



Only love makes killing time so cruel

The hours come and you drag them round with you

When she is gone the whole hangdog house aches

And you hum along to the sound of heartbreaks

You think you hear in every song


But only love will make you wait so long

For the little gifts that keep you holding on

A scribbled ring round the town she’s staying in,

The little dent in the bed you’re laying in,

The heady scent she leaves on you

But only love makes killing time so cruel


So many things that you must get round to;

A dripping tap, a month’s mail to sort through

If you could just get your mind to clear

But it’s only love and it keeps you waiting here—More Sword

Gold Dust



The thing that makes your eyes glitter isn’t always gold dust

The wings you think life’s given you they couldn’t lift a bread crust


A siren in the sky calls my body home

The last remaining high leaves me lowdown and alone

And maps of where you are can be found in every bar

Where those cosy little homilies hang


The thing that makes your eyes glitter isn’t always gold dust

The wings you think life’s given you they couldn’t lift a bread crust


The confidence of kings leaches from my hands

Where jupiter did sing a drunken janitor now stands

To figure who you are you look in every single car

Where they stick those tired sideways looks at life


The thing that makes your eyes glitter isn’t always gold dust

The wings you think life’s given you they couldn’t lift a bread crust


Alone; that ain’t the word

It’s just a groan in the morning nobody ever heard

—More Sword

Out Of My Control



Once I get my heart back in my hand

I’ll squeeze out every drop of love I can

To rid myself of you, I want with all my soul

But what I want is out of my control


All I’d have to do is fool around

Drag out this old carcass on the town

I know how it is done, just shake the dice and roll

But what I want is out of my control


Why can’t I free myself, climb out of this hole

Deep inside you have taken hold

I try, try, try but every time I just find

It’s out of my control


Twenty planes they leave the runway every day

Taking yet another chance away

I could cut and run, take half what makes me whole

But what I want is out of my control—More Sword

Where Did I Go?



I loved to hurt you without you ever knowing

I could desert you without you ever seeing me going


All the monsters in your nightmares showed

You could see me underneath my cloak –

Do you know, do you know?

Baby, where did I go?



In the mornings, baby, right before you woke

I would ask things that I never spoke –

Does she know, does she know?

Baby, where did I go?


Maybe I was afraid to see you cry

Maybe you didn’t need to cry

Maybe I can tell such a brilliant lie…


I loved to hurt you but you never felt a blow

I could kiss you and still you’d never know…

Baby, where did I go?—More Sword

Still In Love



Lovers leave their traces like jets across the sky

They find in others’  faces lines they recognise

My keepsakes have their places –

At the back of a drawer or slipped between pages and stuck on a shelf


But I’m still in love with nothing but myself


Yeah, sometimes I remember the way they signed their names

And always in December I feel some kind of shame

The heart it stays so tender –

I reminisce like a hangman wishing his prisoners well


But I’m still in love with nothing but myself


I know their mothers’ ages

I know all the stories so well

And I know I’ll see their faces in hell


So wipe away their traces, blow the dust off from the shelf

‘Cos I’m still in love

With nothing but myself—More Sword

No, Surrender



Big Macs for the fat, lo-cal wraps for the call centre battery hens,

Japanese snacks for the choice-spoilt citizens, caviar kickbacks for the citadel denizens.


Airport shoeshines servicing the suits among the little silver stereos and hand-rolled cheroots,

First class passengers file on last after the scum are packed in with their tax-free loot.


Checkout calamity, you’re cheated out of loyalty points, ten more years at this joint you’d be home & dry,

Beggars beat round the cash machines but you just slip between them with the usual lie.


Terrible tales of kidnapped kids keep you focused on the family and filling up the fridge,

Neighbourhood watchers shop dole dodgers, stick their semis on the market & start racking up the bids.


Should you stand and fight, should you die for what you think is right

So your useless contribution will be remembered?

If you’re asking me I say no, surrender.


Constant growth the cancerous cure, a swarming race of profiteers…—More Sword

—At last, something we're good at

Medical Advice



You can be in love with life without ever noticing the creeping carcinogen of general guilt amassing within. Forgive yourself. It was only drink. You didn’t fuck up the planet. You don’t even own a hairdryer.


When you see happy rich people just remember: that’s what you look like to poor people. But that’s no reason not to relish despising them. Or yourself, for that matter.


My uncle used to go off to a health farm to drink purer gin. He returned rosy-cheeked and better connected. I suppose it was rehab with a little more leeway.


It is a myth that sparkling drinks get you drunk quicker. It is drinking quickly that gets you fucked sooner. Try slamming wine. You become inoperable after a remarkably short time. Probably best reserved for right before they hang you.


When entirely sated it is best to sample one more sip just to be absolutely sure.


Only drink malt…—More Untruths

To Shit in a Shopping Trolley

It was announced earlier today that the world, hitherto assumed to be royally knackered, is in fact going to shit in a shopping trolley. And now over to Steve for the sport.—More Rants/Slates

Birdsong BBC 1 Sundays in January




A more ponderous, pretentious and ultimately vapid drama is hard to imagine unless one dared contemplate an adaptation of Barbara Cartland’s “Love Under Fire” directed by Tony Scott and starring, say, that little pillock from Muse.

Nothing in this lavishly ill-conceived dross was even remotely credible. The enigmatically mumbled dialogue was vacuous, the performances monstrously vain, the direction risibly portentous and criminally derivative. Even the score was crass, repetitive and smug.

Essentially a non-stop sequence of face-achingly drawn out close-ups of a freckly shampoo model with girly lips, the whole production resembled an absurd three hour advert for some dreadful bottled stench called, perhaps, Trenchfoot (by Givenchy). In its desperation to milk cheap reactions from the TV audience, Birdsong played every low trick in the manual – gore, guts and cardboard heroics cut with bucolic idylls shot through diaphanous silks and wafting foliage – resulting in nothing less than hardcore emotional pornography.…—More Rants/Slates

Secret Album 1


A lopsided frantic drumbeat followed by a hurried fill brings in a strange flapping scalene bass melody. It comes seemingly from a brooding sky. A guitar cuts in, arpeggiating on two strings in a dumb angular primitive way. The voice starts, a crooner in some dripping concrete basement intoning news of a cataclysm. Things are crashing, or at least racing into chaos. It is already frightening. Family pets are distressed, you don’t really like this dim, echoing cathedral of disquiet.

But you venture further in and though things warp, slow down – the atmosphere of doom is relentless. The metal guitar alternates between melody, crunch and a sort of ratcheting, like something with steel teeth being cranked. There are hints of narrative – empty cars, everything abandoned: where will it end? The singer modulates up an octave. He seems desperately scared. Is this entertainment?


The drums are in the wrong room, it’s…—More Rants/Slates

Secret Album 2


Is this a carnival or a retirement home for mad veterans? Why are we in this theatre and why are the rich folk laughing. Is something funny?

You slide into a choir of Jack-the-Lads, get jostled by their bonhomie before being set adrift on a glass sea. You float until thumped by a comedy boxing glove. Images crowd around you, people sail past on the green banks of a slow brown river, grinning like masks. It is heaven perhaps, but you doubt it. You are spiked on the stab of a chiming guitar – dit – dit – dit…Everyone is smiling sarcastically, the bass guitar huffs like a grumpy rag-and-bone man. There is a strong echo of vaudeville but it is overlaid with a savage modernism. Fuzz-tones, cockney warbling, somnambulant drumming and Victoriana. You get thrown from room to room – these people are schizophrenic, their songs face one another like…—More Rants/Slates


Frankfurt to Amsterdam

Back to the Kingdom of Fright


The Galaxy is pointed north to Amsterdam, from where sail shall be set home. The palpable kick-back of Holland comes upon me like a psalm. Those quietly fuming German men in their powerful cars, spinning past us like mad wolves are a thing of memory. It is suggested that we stop into Utrecht, and we do, and it’s worth it. I buy a trinket, and have a wonderful coffee, accompanied by a quality biscuit. A still canal laces it’s elegant way through my street. A stoner approaches me for emergency advice on the nearest available Coffee Shop. I shrug and dismiss him rudely but watch as the next Dutch guy attends to him, removes his headphones and gives a detailed description of the available outlets. This is heaven compared to home.


But maybe I judge too harshly. After all, is Britain not the country which produced…—More Tales

—Bielefeld hotel car-park

Bielefeld to Frankfort


Rain Falling Into the Future


I sleep in and am awoken by gentle knocking. I have a mild hangover – the first in a month. I throw my electronic nonsense into my case and wheel myself to the Galaxy without brushing my teeth. Tardiness doesn’t do on tour; it shows a lack of respect. I make an apology and the next journey begins.


I love touring, with all my fibre. It is a comforting routine in a distractingly different city every day. It is travelling with purpose and I wish it were still most of my life.

The route takes us through wooded rises and great open plains studded with industry. The Germans make things. They do it quietly and they do it well. They believe that industry is the bedrock of society and leisure its just reward. The carnage of Thatcherism never happened here and perhaps never could. It strains one’s soul…—More Tales

—Hat shop, Hamburg

Day Off Hamburg



More sausage with that, Sir?



As soon as I hit Hamburg I feel a little more comfortable, I don’t know why. In Berlin I had spent a whole day traipsing with headphones bolted to my head. The only music that suited the city was the astringent tension of some Beethoven string quartets. It seemed to draw out the latent angst. Reggae was ridiculous; the lowering cloud cover and the flat shadowless spread of Berlin demanded something overcast. Those bleak modernist Lou Reed and David Bowie records were recorded there for a reason. There’s still a wall around the town somehow and it’s oppressive. The lack of a nearby coast perhaps, its proximity to the endless expanses of the east.

The people at the Hamburg show are very sweet and I enjoy myself – not always a great sign. The venue is housed deep inside a “flak tower”, an above ground six-storey anti-aircraft…—More Tales

—Tiger, Berlin Zoo

Day off Berlin


Garden of Earthly Delights


I rise to milky sunshine spilling around my silver Venetian blinds. The hotel is called Zoo after the nearby attraction so I go directly there and buy a ticket at the gates. Wild animals caged and corralled right in the city’s heart. First up are a small group of Indian elephants, forlornly trying to get back inside their locked sleeping enclosure. Their trunks are fascinating and surprisingly dexterous. It’s a quiet day here, just a smattering of humans, mostly pushing prams and wheelchairs. I skirt around the giraffes paying them barely a glance and am drawn towards a lonely young panda who is endlessly shuttling between its shuttered hovel and some frustratingly fenced-off eucalyptus. It seems deranged but what do I know? Other visitors are captivated by its cuteness. If it was mine I’d have it put down.

The whole place is a morass of desperation. Grubby hooded…—More Tales

—Turbine in mist

Erlangen to Berlin


North to Big Bertha


It is more or less straight north for four hours to reach Berlin. There are conifer-covered rises and wide ranges of great wind turbines along the route. I consider my usual conjecture – that if all the world’s energy demands were to be met by windmills there would be less wind. When you dam a river and form a lake to drive turbines there is no less water in the river system over time but there is less energy in the flow. Can somebody tell me – could we swallow all the wind?

The capital is gained before sunset and I have forty minutes to march about foolishly before being re-inserted into the Galaxy. I can’t find a single café; it’s all yuppie eateries and high-end wine stores. I am forced to resort to a Starfucks, filled with its usual mass of beige and brown swaddled idiots pointing…—More Tales

—Third Man Walking, Vienna

Vienna to Erlangen


Escape from the Hidebound Empire


I wake early and decide to take the opportunity to explore. I make a beeline for Rachel Whiteread’s Holocaust memorial in Judenplatz. Her Embankment installation at Tate Modern has lodged in my memory. The memorial is stark, quiet and eloquent. As I circle it’s concrete hulk the twin doors come upon me with a jolt: there are no handles. The library within is inaccessible because it has been burnt or buried or liquidated. I touch the pages of one of the silent books. A policewoman stands guard, presumably to protect the sculpture from desecration. She has missed the dirty purple teddy slumped in the doorway, with an “I Love You” cushion in its lap, shaped like a heart. Good grief. Somebody has inserted flowers in the empty holes where the doorknobs should be. It is the flagrant juxtaposition of the emptily sentimental with the sedately profound.

After…—More Tales

—Viennese Psychos

Munich to Vienna



Into the East


The cruiser skirts along the foothills of the Alps to our right, two-storey barns and bulbed church spires nestling in the hollows. Across the border: pop radio. Wall to wall FM shit from Bryan Adams to Madonna. Amy’s Back to Black saves the day, scything through the crud with an incomparable bitterness and wonder. The rain is all around the vehicle like a tempest. In my hideously over-decorated hotel room last night I took a lightning tour of the TV channels. As I drifted through ch. 28 I just caught Dizzee Rascal saying, “…and the winner is Lady Gaga!”. Whither the rascal now? I see a smiling industry reptile in a white suit. Review the situation, take part, take over? I guess you did, Dylan. Bon voyage!

I take a fast stroll around the nearest bit of Vienna to the hotel. I’ve never been here before. I see rich…—More Tales

—Stoned port

Amsterdam to Eindhoven


On down the toy motorway


Chocolate box Amsterdam terraces lean over their canals like kindly big brothers. Saturday mornings are easy here; none of that London mania or Glasgow hungover fermenting madness, just serene bicycling adults sailing by like swans, watchful and aloof. You can spot the stag-weekenders crowding into tiny corner cafes looking miserable and wondering why they came abroad with this shower of dicks. You know and they know that copious amounts of beer will be their only salvation. It is before midday and some are already nervously eyeing their watches. There is good time for a stroll and a few coffees. A girl is bumped from her perch on the back of her boyfriend’s bike by a passing van. She dusts herself off and remounts without complaint. How far can you push these folk before they become, well, intolerant?

Everything in Holland looks like a toy. It’s as if…—More Tales

—My cabin

Tyneside to Amsterdam


Sail Away


I straddle the fat white tire-tracks of our wake as we put to sea. Desultory fireworks fizzle in the low winter sky like a damp valediction and Tyneside’s orange lights diminish as the ship is swallowed by the black sea. Over to my left a thin man peers back to land with a thin silver tin of beer, reeking of reflection or regret. A waft of fetid cooking fat puffs out from the ship’s kitchen. As the last two lighthouses pass like sentry-posts a couple ask me to take their photograph, with the dim sight of Blighty as their backdrop. There is a large height difference between them, making composition difficult. I am unhappy with the result but a message in German says the memory card is full. The tall young man seems satisfied with my effort. Below me, on deck 7, a clutch of cider-buzzing lads pose for…—More Tales

Secret Album 6

You can hear them breathing before the delicacy lifts onto the air. Twinned and entwined, the two guitars dance around one another as human voices drone and intone biblical motifs, cuss words and longing – longing is the word. The opening number dies like bathwater draining down and segues into swamp banjo blues. This is all very live. We are stretched somewhere between The Stones and 1768. Thick swathes of forest and peeling wooden church-houses, a keening call from the past, a brilliant deception: dressed in civil war clothes, singing an acidic parody of sepia sentiment, weird modern wolves breathe vodka fury under the sacrificial lambswool.

The ballads break hearts and are filled with devastated mystery. They operate on the mind like photographs from an unreachable dream. Scenes from the small town rock and roll circuit speak of unfathomable sadness. Ruination and emptiness call from the souls of regular folks; immigrants,…—More Rants/Slates

Epigrams of April


Epigrams of April


A blister is a balloon to a bee, a place to frolic and reflect.


All adverts are designed to mind-fuck children.


The universe is bigger than Jesus but you’re better than that.


Belt up, we’re going for a ride. Second thoughts, get out – we don’t need you.


No matter how high they build the walls, how strong the fences, I’ll stay where I am reading the paper.


Mercy is a virtue found only in the bastards whose power makes it a possibility.


A mouse is to a cat what whiskey is to a folk singer.


If you do that three more times I’m going to kill you.


I’d be a world leader if they let me. I’d live on a plane and attempt to have barbecues banned. I’d fire a rocket at Bono. I’d dig a trench around Luton.


I can forgive anything but wanton acts of Christianity.


When all the lights go green I’m gonna be…—More Untruths

Epigrams of March


A cartwheel is the closest you ever get to snowfall.


Feelings are the things you talk about when you have nothing left to say.


A diamond in the rough is vastly inferior to a single shoe sitting in the snow.


If human beings could mind-read they’d never let an animal into their house.


It is in the imagining of such atrocities that we might avoid them.


Don’t hate Phil Collins because his voice sounds like the air being let out of a whale carcass. Hate him because he’s a tax-exile, Tory cunt.


It is time to go to somewhere else where it will be time to go.


By all means seek perfection but don’t ask me to admire it.


Next summer is always better than this one.


I’d rather hear the din of a tap-dancer in an empty skip than a poorly played saxophone.


They say the drums must never stop. True. But should the bagpipes ever start? I like…—More Untruths

Secret Album 5



Chime, chime, chime. A swirl of harmonies, maximum compression – I am stoned in this slow whirlpool of crunching gravel. Electric guitar cream. Wah, Aah, Ba-pa-pah…


Non-stop pop. Chugging: dum dum dum – drang drang drang. Lovers’ songs, leavers’ longing, pain and needing – she’s back again, your heart is bleeding.


Strumming and picking, the ocean’s lapping and the stars’ blinking. Electric guitars built in a bank of colour. Words sewn into streaming tunes flutter like ribbons. This truck is tuned and humming, growling, gunning.


Riffs write themselves on the air like titanium ticker-tape, chords plunge and swoop. The rhythm section lays a lazy line under all this sunshine. I stagger from song to song sticky with nectar. I am happy.


Can I hear a doubt in these sweet intimations of love, or feel a discouraging breeze? In all this pretty chiming can I hear a sour bell call from the darkness?

Is your love…—More Rants/Slates

Secret Album 4

A single snare beat in its spring reverb halo hits and the whole world comes tumbling in. A waterfall of wires, a mass of roots seeking something in the soil. He is callous, weary and unforgiving, a bitter agent sent here to do somebody’s dirty work. He is here to give the folk some news: You’re nothing, so rot in hell.


He sings across the sky like a heretic in a minaret. The band can barely contain the anarchy, they talk over one another like a table of drunks. They fight like cats to break through the jungle of sirens in the sound. The voice weaves between them like a rope of disgust in a barrel of snakes. Whistles blow, absurd postcards are thrown in your face. You are hustled down hallways and dragged into doors to be presented with the grotesque like specimens in a gallery of the damned. Laughter…—More Rants/Slates

2010 Biography


2010 saw Justin Currie, erstwhile singer and songwriter from collapsed Scottish pop-rock group, Del Amitri release his second solo album, The Great War. This relatively airy and accessible record followed 2008’s What Is Love For, an album noted for its grindingly indulgent conflation of unreconstructed self-pity and wearying disgust.


These two competing strands within Currie’s output have led many to compare him to Haribo’s Super Sour Monsters – garishly packaged sugar coated jelly that remains, nonetheless, bitter and very hard to swallow. However, he maintains a (dwindling) devoted following despite having written nary a hit since 1998, partly due to his music’s enduring appeal to losers, misfits and obsessively bitter divorcées.


Currie lives in Scotland with his cat, Abdul, remains unmarried and quite possibly infertile.

—More Untruths

A Potted Autobiography



I love Ingrid Bergman. I like Feargal Sharkey.

I think Paula Rego sings from a soul as yet undiscovered.

I have not read The Bible.

I know Salvador Dali is shit.

I have piles.

The more somebody is hated the more I hate their enemies.

I am happy to cry at Field of Dreams, The Dead, Aubade, Ride With The Devil and Lassie Come Home but I resent the manipulation of Cormac McCarthy –

fascism lies within the attempt to control human emotions.

I shrink from confrontation.

Belief in God is a sure sign of a profound lack of imagination.

Don Paterson rocks.

Tom Waits is a charlatan. Nick Cave’s relevance is still an open debate.

I have a place on my back, when somebody kisses it: I breathe fire.

The Fall constantly call me through the fog.

I am yet to read Ulysses.

It is impossible to second guess Bob Dylan.

I am pretty sure, although I hate it, if I re-read Darkmans I will…—More Untruths

Secret Album 3


It is sunny – very sunny. An acoustic guitar gallops like an eager horse. You hear everything clearly – the air is white, the ground is cream. The world is clean and it sparkles in a beautiful cool morning. Perhaps you have been awake all night. Everything is good.

You quickly slow down. The rhythm section clocks the singer like a mechanical doll. The voice is strung on the beat like a diaphanous summer dress. The air of melancholy is so sweet as to make you stoned. So much pleasure in such easy pain.

Folk-picking circles around a pretty motif. A new voice undermines its whimsicality with hints of unhappiness. You are pushed into a show-tune. There could be a chorus line, a can-can and glitter covered top-hats. These are up people for an up time. The overarching flavour is smooth. You begin to feel a little nauseous.

The clinical positivity continues but…—More Rants/Slates

Further Epigrams



Just because they say it’s going to be the end of the world soon is no need to cancel your subscriptions to the very organs that tell you this.


A television licence is necessary if you wish to continue to be offended.


Someday we’ll learn to abandon bigotry and racism and replace them with the understanding that everybody is an asshole and the world would be better off without them.


If you wish to continue to feel pointlessly guilty you may as well do something really bad.


The people who actually read the news have no idea what they are saying. The people who write it have no idea what they are doing.


Football fans give offence with impunity but take umbrage like spoilt little girls. They are boy-princes in their protective palaces of bullshit machismo. Laura Marling could take them all in a fight.


Tom Waits is a charlatan but a very good mover.


History repeats…—More Untruths

January Epigrams


Late at night is never early in the morning. Tomorrow only occurs when you decide today is done.


The things that genuinely frighten you are the things you are completely unaware of.


Don’t think you’re clever if you half understand something complicated but if you can understand how complicated it is then you’re not as simple as you thought.


Dreams mean zip. Dreams are random letters thrown together to make meaningless words in a great novel of gobbledegook. When you come across some old friend wrapped in cling-film in a cinema it’s just, “jcbjhb hfgbh sab kjdah.”


Punk rock was invented by the government to prevent anything real from changing.


You can create the actual conditions of Coldplay writing “Yellow” by sticking a Dyson up a hand-dryer.


Homonyms are also pronounced differently.


You can terrify yourself if you stare into a mirror long enough.


Jimi Hendrix was a better singer than Rod Stewart. He may not, however, have…—More Untruths

Seattle and Portland 15th May 2008


I am moving along the highway between Seattle and Portland through the lush pastures of the Pacific northwest. Farmsteads nest cosily amongst the cows and tall pines and blossoming roadside shrubbery. No matter where you are on this continent you always know it’s North America. You’ve seen every region – mountainous, arable, rocky and desolate in countless Westerns, road movies and documentaries. Not an inch uncovered by celluloid, only the interior life lived in these locations remains mysterious to those of us from abroad and that’s as hard a nut to crack as any. Don’t be fooled, the North Americans are a complex people and those representations of their national character, be it Kennedy, Monroe or Jimmy Stewart are less archetype than empty caricature. Everyone here, it sometimes seems, is as much Melville’s Ishmael as Coppola’s Captain Willard, Hulk as Annie Hall or Houdini as Huckleberry Finn. With, God help…—More Tales

New York April 27th 2008




From the interstate New Jersey mostly appears to be an industrial scale service area for New York City – warehousing, processing plants, railroad yards and depots. We emerge from the Holland tunnel into the 21st century Disney-fied and strangely sedate Manhattan. No clamour anymore, no insane rush of adrenalin, no filth except the filthy rich. Successive mayors have expunged pretty much everything that made New York unique and now it’s safer and calmer and a great place for the wealthy to shop and school their kids. I miss the old version, the eighties bankrupt, crazy capital-of-the-known world version. I guess you’d find that buzz now in Rio or Shanghai. In the U.S. everything gets suburbanised eventually, even the vertical. But I’m an outsider scratching a square inch on the surface of a city containing four times the population of Switzerland and New York is still out there, in there, but…—More Tales

Atlantic City April 27th 2008


Atlantic City


People ask me what I’ve been doing the last ten years since I toured here. It’s a difficult question to answer without sounding like an alcoholic recluse. I’ve been watching television: Ten series of Big Brother, fifty DVD box-sets, God knows how many Matches of the Day. I watch every football show broadcast. I have watched every hour of Wimbledon, all day and every day since 1998. I watch obscure film noirs and 1940s Westerns. World Cups, European Championships, Champions Leagues, World Series, Olympic Games, Pop Idol, Later With Jools, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Question Time, Extras, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage. I have watched documentaries about murder cases, wars and famines. Quiz shows, panel games, sit-coms and period dramas. Property shows, How-To-Dress-Like-A-Cunt shows and the news, the news; flitting between continents, sport , weather and global desolation. And I have been nursing week-long hangovers. Grinding, edgy, deranged…—More Tales

Fairfax, Virginia 25th April 2008


To Fairfax, Virginia


I’m sad to see the back of San Francisco because I know we’re headed for the sticks. I bid farewell to civilization as the gimmick-laden Virgin America Airbus lifts out of the mist. Five hours later we touch down in DC and head for the rental car lot. En route I notice that the streets are aircraft themed. There is Auto-Pilot Drive, Landing Gear Avenue and Cockpit Place. No Heroes of 9/11 Plaza, as yet. Our hotel is situated in not so much a satellite town as a soulless congregation of intersections and strip-malls. We take some ghastly food, trapped in toxic polystyrene, from a chain restaurant back to our rooms. It is warm down here and the night seems thicker, the dense woods studded between the cement black against the sky.

I watch an old Michael Redgrave movie and eat my shrimp salad with a plastic spoon spirited…—More Tales

San Francisco 23rd April 2008



Day Off San Francisco


After an appearance at KFOG, the big “triple A” station here run by a loyal supporter, Dave Benson, I take a walk downtown to buy a new suitcase. There is a bewildering array in Macy’s and I do my neurotic mother act, pulling twenty different models from their tidy displays and roughing them up for signs of weakness. I eventually plump for something stupidly expensive that seems hardier than the malfunctioning cheap shit I brought with me. I notice it is made in Thailand. I step back into the daylight with my empty black tank to find myself surrounded by up-market designer outlets and multifarious street people,  the juxtaposition a living cliche of Reaganite social inequality. I hike up the ten blocks to the hotel checking out the different signs the homeless guys hold. One rhymes, “I sleep on the street, I eat from the trash, I…—More Tales

San Francisco 22nd April 2008


To San Francisco


We are quickly onto the freeway and into the small groupings of hills that break up the city, rashes of bright green shoots spreading amongst the brown scrub. In front of us is a filthy truck with the word suicide written above its rear driver-side wheel and an arrow pointing to where passing him might achieve this end. The Six Flags amusement park drifts by, a jumble of roller-coasters wrestling in a hollow. The desert weeds are blooming along the slopes and verges in wonderful yellows and florescent greens. Electricity pylons run along the ridges above us with their hands on their hips. The road curves smoothly round sandy outcrops and shrub lined arroyos. There is a faint echo of Scotland in the topography but it’s all so much wider. In America one can see the sense of CinemaScope; a peek through God’s letterbox.

Akiva introduces us to the…—More Tales

Los Angeles 21st April 2008

To Los Angeles


I am seated in a row with a young mother and baby on the aisle and a green Marine returning from leave beside me. They get talking and I earwig while pretending to read. He tells her Marines are the best of the best and never wear uniform when they travel on civilian transport. He shows her a picture of his sweetheart.  “She’s been kind of shy with me,” he tells her,  “But she’s opened up recently.”  I wonder if he understands the subtext or the inference she might make of this. He is both charmingly naive and frighteningly simple. She asks him if he’s been to, “You know, Iraq?”  He has not yet seen active duty.  “But I’m going to Afghanistan in July.”

“Will you be nervous?” she asks. “No,” he says, ” I’m excited.”

Her baby starts to cry and we hit a little turbulence and the teenage…—More Tales

Milwaukee 20th April 2008

To Milwaukee


We pull over at The Ironworks Restaurant truck-stop off of I-94 and sit around the counter on vinyl swivel-seats. Fake veneer abounds and there is the small miracle of ashtrays at every place setting beside the mahogany brown upturned coffee mugs waiting to be filled and refilled. You can still see the old phone points built into the counter where truckers would phone home before the age of the cell-phone. I used to use these all the time – it was such a luxury talking to someone in the Scottish morning from your midnight booth as you waited for your eggs over-easy, usually half-cut on weak American beer.

Our waitress, well past retirement age and quick as a whippet, gets our mugs upended and takes our orders. Later she tells us how her husband, who worked for the Denny’s chain of greasy-spoons, used to get “ticked off” with air travel.…—More Tales

Minneapolis 19th April 2008


“Roads girdle the globe”


As the freeway reaches the Minnesota border, steel plate cloud draws over the lowering sun. Joni Mitchell’s lush re-arrangement of “Refuge of the Roads” stirs around the van. No leaves on the trees here, the big freeze having only recently crept away but it’s balmy tonight and grateful Minnesotans congregate around patio-heaters outside bars and restaurants. Such is the ferocity of their winters, every building has multiple sequences of doors and the small square windows of our hotel are hermetically sealed. We browse a surplus store opposite the gig; a hundred kinds of glove and Navy coats so thick they seem to stand erect unaided. Men are empty overcoats, Groucho said.

I was here, at the Fine Line Music Cafe in 1990 and it retains a sort of quaint 1980s smugness. A venue for the discerning professional. Exposed brick and tables and chairs and an ironic catch-phrase on…—More Tales

Chicago 17th April 2008

To Chicago


We pass rolling fields of yellowed stubble, kites suspended overhead eyeing the rat-runs. Road-kill raccoons litter the shoulder; I speculate that it’s mating season, that they’re throwing themselves across the freeway to reach potential mates whose ripe scents are wafting on the wind. You could get three coats and a good stew from the carnage.

Enormous road-side billboards invite us to Adult Superstores (1000 yards off Exit 56) and budget motels and family restaurants. There is not much view for them to obscure. A pair of hipster dudes zip by in a vintage Buick, wearing vintage shades and vintage T-shirts and vintage facial hair. Then a pick-up passes towing a trailer loaded with blasting material. That’s followed by a truck carrying medical waste. There’s a pile-up I’d like to see.

The lady in the truck-stop admires my shirt. I seem to be appealing to the older woman these days. Once they’d…—More Tales

Ann Arbour 15th April 2008

Morning flight from the lump strewn landscape of Tennessee up to flat Michigan, the sausage factory’s walls adorned with huge ads for visitor tours of the JD distillery. They encourage responsible drinking, apparently. What that means I will never unravel. Akin to considerate joy-riding. We try to find a soul station around Detroit in our fuck-the-climate vehicle with no luck. I hear something about a hot-dog eating contest and take in some morsels of PBS news. A little Obama chat breaks out among us.

Ann Arbour is Michigan’s Madeleine Stowe to Detroit’s Mae West. All a little too tidy and brittle. We browse a second-hand book shop filled with pristine cellophane-wrapped volumes. Peter turns us on to Wuthering Heights and I stifle the urge to mention Kate Bush with her dope and her washing machine. I pick up a tastefully presented copy of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, more through duty…—More Tales

Nashville 14th April 2008

Down and outs shuffling around country town at dawn, no place to be poor but where is? A black woman whose hair is dyed green shouts across the canyon of the street for change. I greet her with a limp excuse and a counterfeit shrug. Dead bird on the road and that one on the thin tree outside my hotel room isn’t sleeping, it’s stuffed. Everybody calls us gentlemen, good thing we’re soft and forgiving. Are you playing music? No, I’m carrying these two guitars for a man who does floors. Ranch dressing, so reminiscent of the high plains – all those steers squirting out blue cheese and herbs. The public library stands solidly amongst a forest of hollow car-parks. The accents are heavy and sweet like warm treacle. You find yourself getting drowsy in their slick. Many are shuttered behind dark glass in black trucks. If they are shadows…—More Tales


I eat too much. I get on top of people. I take and take. I feed the animals. I frown at priests. I walk all over the grass, away from the paths. I despise. I resent. I field questions and force doors. I rape as I write. I crucify. I crucify kids. I prefer The Rolling Stones. I wallow and I waste years. I dream bad scenes and perform ungodly acts. I cry, cry like a horn. I upset tables and tear up wires. I drone. I drone on. I drink to excess. I bore the walls rigid. I fly jets into pets. I take up golf. I play with fire and fire-hoses.


I bury everything in earth, hate in spades, I cruise grim streets, I fake concern, I re-make the world with a hammer. I am polite. I worry. I make mistakes and I pay and I fade away. I…—More Untruths

Top Ten Glasgow Pubs



Justin Currie’s top 10 Glasgow pubs


1. The Persian’s Forehead


An enormous hanger-like place tucked down a grim Dickensian back lane in the most sullen and sallow quarter of the east end, The Persian’s Forehead features low-lifes of every persuasion; stabbers, dealers, pimps and perverts – dipsomaniacs all – begging for another taste of the landlord’s special: Black Thunder, a mixture of Guinness and red wine. I wouldn’t recommend going here without a weapon of some sort – perhaps a saw or a table leg.


2. Dorothy’s


Dorothy’s lies in a low-ceilinged basement on Sauchiehall Street (pronounced Sickle Street) at the bottom of a flight of steps so steep and uneven that many customers and staff-members either permanently limp or use crutches. Dot is famed for her repartee, her elliptical Polish riddles a particular delight.

I once played here on Valentine’s day and was assaulted in the toilets by a one-eyed ballerina called Mary. She…—More Untruths

A Beginners’ Guide to Songwriting


As there are so many frequently asked questions I receive through this site I thought it might be useful to set out a few standard answers in the blog section to save everybody time. I shall deal firstly with the issue of songwriting, a subject about which I know virtually nothing but am constantly quizzed upon by those presumably even more talentless than I. Of course, remarkable ignorance of a topic has  never prevented me from expounding upon it at length before and I see no reason why it should stop me now.


1. Mood, Environment and Ambience


The first step in the manufacture of a successful song is the manipulation of the composer’s mood. Critically, he (or she but for the sake of convenience I shall stick to the masculine singular) must be hungry. Very hungry. Try missing breakfast. Then lunch and dinner (and if applicable) supper. Keep this up for…—More Untruths



Binned Onions  (Serves 1)




Three large Spanish onions

Six medium sized French onions

Eight medium shallots

A bunch of spring onions


First find the bluntest knife you can find. You can recognize this by the ghastly bleating sound it makes when you slap it off the edge of a wooden table or, if you wish, the kerb.

Take the three large Spanish onions and slice about half a centimetre thick (about the width of a fake pound coin). Throw them in the bin. Open a cold can of beer. Drink.

Then peel and roughly chop the six medium French onions and carefully tip them into the bin. Open a can of cold beer. Drink.

Now chop the shallots as finely as you can manage with your blunt knife. Probably best just to mash them to a lumpy paste with the flat of the blade and then add them to the other onions in the bin taking care not…—More Untruths

Christmas Diatribe 2005

There is piss and vomit upon the ground, deep and crisp and even, in some places dusted with polystyrene snow. There are restive plugs of shoppers, close to riot crammed into retail entrances like human stuffing. The pubs are full of an unusual sort of idiot, the one who has spent everything he has on those that he loathes and is now taking revenge on his own body with a cocktail of beverages so ill suited that just two in a small bowl would kill a dog.

There are hugs for hated underlings and kisses for the normally ignored from a tosser in the top job who’s vibrating already in expectation of the vile powders his sneering assistant has gone to fetch. Soon he shall be selecting his coterie of cokers for the night and sensing a new omnipotence; the kids’ schools paid up for another year, the villa held for…—More Rants/Slates