Sunday, 11 December 2011

Worcestershire Walkabout Minutes

Present; NP, AL, HM, JLM, PJ

Apologies; NC, AP, CP,MP, JB

Matters Arising; n/a

W-CA welcomed both JLM and HM on the occasion of their first artist walk and talk.

It was agreed to walk from Division of Labour to the Red Lion pub via the Beacon.

NP suggested that the slow pace set on the previous walk and since attributed to the presence of small children was not necessarily the case. With hindsight it appears that certain adults might have held the children back.

Upon reaching a compass type thing three people voted to go straight to the pub (NP, JLM, PJ) and two to go on to the Beacon. Following on from discussions it was decided that the whole party would go on to the summit.

The Beacon

At the Beacon it was agreed that photographs would be taken; A) evidence that the task had been completed and B) to amuse friends on fbook.

On the descent it was decided to enter St Anne’s Well. Following an enquiry by PJ both he and JLM used the toilets.

Upon arriving at the Red Lion pub light refreshments were ordered. Two people (AL and JLM) had meals and the remainder had chips. All decided to order drinks with all bar PJ enjoying lagers. Two of the pints tasted of cheese and a motion was put forward to request replacements. After further discussion it was decided not to proceed but to instead write off the round.

Following discussions as to the merits of hills versus rivers it was agreed that the next walk would take place in Worcester.


Harry, in replying to PJ’s suggestion that henceforth he be known as Alligator ‘Arry pointed out that there are in fact no Alligators in Australia.

Photos reproduced courtesy of JLM.

Date of Next Meeting 

18th December, 2pm, Rectifying House, Worcester. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

When In Stoke

Good day today at Hanley Bus Station in Stoke on Trent, part of RedNile’s series of Factory Nights. Pitt drove, and despite setting off late and having to deposit children en masse and en route weren’t too late. Found it ok, parked up in the last space left on the park and found the main group pretty much immediately. Unfortunately I had to go for a piss, could I find anywhere on site, course not. Ended up in pub and by the time I’d returned the peloton had moved on. Took photos of desolate buses before climbing some concrete steps onto a concourse and there they were. More photos of grim graffiti daubed walls and piss stinking arcades before we bumbled off to meet Carol who has worked at the café for as long as most of us could remember. Then we gathered round Mike, Janine and Suzanne who led our merry crocodile the short distance to Perrin’s garage, an art deco design from the oldie days and now part Thai restaurant, part ongoing office development all lovingly overseen by the owner who’s name escapes me. After this it was on to a charming pub also up for demolition (name escapes me but Landlord ale is something of a delcacy in these, or any other parts) via Airspace gallery where we admired their Airvent calendar window display. Good stuff.

Good to meet up with people I’ve met before; students (Michelle), Curators (Rob, Anna, Greg), collaborators (Nat) and fellow W-CA-ers (Charlie and Nat again).

Reading this I realise that some of my favourite words have something in common; Kiosk and Depot were already there but now Factory has entered mine and Various’s Lexicon of Post Industrial Love.

In other events Various did a jumble sale last weekend, sold very little and boy was it cold!

And on Friday I attended a works event at Chesters Mexican. Good evening and fun was had by one and all. 

Meanwhile Friday night saw an opening of Simon Starling’s When In Rome at Movement. Turned up late (again) but still managed to watch Simon’s lovely film and enjoy a fabulous cup of non alcoholic punch. Lovely stuff!

Tomorrow is walk day on the Malverns. Did one two weeks ago when half a dozen of us huffed and puffed our way up and down a medium paced hill before retiring to the Red Lion in Malvern for a light lunch.  

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Long Bleat

I am currently in Starbucks coffee house in the Plazza at Longleat Centerparcs. I have the best part of an hour to kill before returning to live with muggles in the real World. Unable to login/on due to a combination of free wi-fi won’t cooperate and dongle doesn’t want to know, I therefore revert to type. Along with extended family I have been on downtime since Friday with Ping pong, Articulate and frenzied eating all to distract from the matter in hand namely what to do about the billboard. The billboard really deserves it’s own page and I am happy to indulge it.

It is mid November and yet the place is already being billed as a winter wonderland, complete with snow scenes featuring mainstays of the kitsch kingdom; rabbits, foxes and reindeer. From the plein air skating rink at the Jardin des Sports a stack of speakers throws out winter warmers from yester year; Wizzard, Waitresses, and Elton etc. Spiritually we are warm as toast.

Now back in the shire and wtf is going on the City Walls Rd? new shopping monstrosity is called the Shopping Quarter or some such. Since when did we need ‘quarters’, no doubt there is history on it’s side and even Brum has form in this area; Jewellery, Irish, Chinese and Gay rubbing shoulders with Eastside and the rag market. Back in town and on the edge of Lowesmoor stands a Private shop just begging out for the addition of ‘Public Space?'

Start of months PV's at Pitt Project Space and Division of Labour; the later featuring a fake ‘gun’ that we all had fun with, taking turns to play at being Bond. Nathan’s new venture (I'll Kill) got off to a flying start although that wasn’t reflected in the attendance which hovered in the low single figures.

Ms MoneyPenny Baynham

Monopoly ‘boards’ coming on. One should be framed by now, what is going on?

Sir MoneyPenny

Shows in Stoke (Rednile) and London (books of some description) need chasing up.  Got to finish off, or better still start LP cover for Antwerp and Foxy Knoxy as Madonna for Boardwalk Kitsch. Oh and doing a jumble sale at Room13 first Sunday in December. See you there. 

And last but not least, pats on backs to Ms Baynham and Mr Pitt for their success in getting chosen for the 5x5x5 project.  

Friday, 28 October 2011

Info etc

It seems so long since we last spoke. Properly. In that time much has happened. Frieze was dealt with in the previous post but I have since taken pictures of Phonetic Phlaag planted on top of Fort Royal Hill in Worcester, cradle of the Civil Wars from the disputed first skirmish at Powick Bridge on the outskirts to the final battle within the city walls. I’d like to take it round the country and document it in a variety of uninspiring locations before exhibiting the pictures in equally uninspiring white cubes.

Worcester from Fort Royal Hill

This has coincided with a new approach to work. Potential year zero with my first work being that of the flag. I intend to use icons (the flag, hoodies etc) to make a new questioning political art. It will be austere yet glamorous and all at the same time, with no allegiances to anything other than art, common sense and bad taste. Strange bedfellows of course but since when has that been a bad thing?

Working Men’s Klub have been asked to supply Movement Gallery with a copy of the film that we made of Peter Carey’s house called Apple Without Cheese and we’ve been happy to oblige.

Talking of Nathaniel he has two shows coming up; one at the Pitt Project Space and featuring photography and one at his new gallery in Malvern, Division of Labour. Nat has been telling anyone who will listen that he’s got a real decommissioned pistol for the private view. This has been met with (understandable/universal) scepticism. At the time of writing the Chief Constable hasn’t bothered to respond to Nat’s email outlining his intentions.  Probably get busted on opening night . . .

First Monopoly board has gone in to be framed. This one is full size but there are miniature versions (Killer) to follow.

Ciao for now x

Monday, 24 October 2011

Frieze From Dreams . . .

Liked this (above)
Didn't like this (below)

or this (?)
 especially not this!
liked this too.

Didn’t like this at all. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Post. Stuff.

Britain, post riots, has seen Working Men's Klub, the cabaret arm of the Pitt/Artist movement plying their trade at Supernormal festival. Smoking, with the Dan Flavin bar; you really find out who your friends are once you start charging for drinks. Various has had another birthday and is gearing up for a November trip to Madrid with Nathaniel to co-curate J.R's Albrecht's Birthday.

Phonetic Phlaag

Enjoyed a sunny pre birthday September day with Darling Number 1 photographing Phonetic Phlag on Studland beach (with maybe more photos to follow). Later ran into Mr Meca and JB enjoying a mid month Malvern vernissage at 4A gallery. Thoughtful wheat snacks and a seemingless endless supply of wine made the evening swing harder than Sinatra.

Won a bear called Elliot in a Co-Op sponsored 'name the bear' competition. Bear about town. Bear care? wear a seat belt when riding shotgun.

Talking of work it goes on and on and on. Maybe not a bad thing, maybe a very bad thing. Depends on what else needs to be done.

Making Monopoly board games, so many I should maybe call them Monotony boards. Comments on capitalism, maybe a philanthropic approach to monetary based games. Fits in nicely with the suits (maybe called SaintHoodz) and the flag. Gather round the phlag. Go to gaol, free dogging etc

September 11th came and went. Chile had her own September 11th date with U.S inspired destiny in the early 1970's. Who knew? Who remembered? Ken Loach remembered.

Ok, let's go . . . somewhere, somewhere quiet where we can all be together.

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Night Blonde Bob Broke Wind On Broadway

I was with Blonde Bob the night he broke wind on Broadway. Cotswolds, before you ask. Not an arresting sight and as a result he got a way with it. He’s got a way with a lot of things, Blonde Bob; as for me, only words. Worcester however is a much scarier place. At the weekends one sometimes sees yoofs about town appearing to enjoy a coffee or shopping for an adaptable cravats, but why are they really there? Only today I saw someone wearing a hood, now is that really necessary? Why, I remember when you could park your tractor on the Cross* whilst you popped into the Paul Pry for a pint or eight. Nowadays you can’t even drive your geese down the City Walls Road without ruffling somebody's feathers. Namby pamby nanny state. Moo. Baaa. etc

The Borrowers

Yoof is an interesting word. It probably has its roots in proud anglo/day-glo Saxon lingualism. Worcester is the faithful city, always ready to resist change. We have one coffee shop, one butcher (Pete the Meat) and one ironmonger and long may it remain that way. We also have the most wonderful golden library that has recently been competed, in direct contrast to the monstrosity of a shopping complex being built off the City Wall’s Rd. It’s a one stop knocking shop who's one selling point will be that in the future all the looting can take place under one roof. 

* The Cross is a junction in the centre of town. I misread a message saying a 'Policeman had been seen (standing) on the Cross. This made me think that crucifying Police Officers would surely end in tears. 

Friday, 5 August 2011

Freed From Dreams, too

Just heard that the National Trust are releasing a CD of punk classics, well classics if you stick The Toy Doll’s Nellie the Elephant in with the Pistol’s Anarchy in the U.K. Not sure I do. No, of course I do, just me being curmudgeonly.  What goes around comes around. Whatever. Why not re-release the Hound of the Baskervilles by Stately Holmes. Anyway, got me thinking about how, despite what all of us might say, however many medals we might return to the Palace unopened we do, all of us want to be loved. It's a long road, first it's friends, family, then peers before being drawn inexorably towards the bosom of the establishment where, safe in a familial fog we suckle greedily on the teat of conformity.

Everybody wants the respect of their peers, so much more integrity than blind faith or a blank Czech supermodel girlfriend. Being the outsider is a young mugs game, no place for the old or the uninspired. The grumpy teenager begets the angry young man and inside every angry young man is an armchair and a pair of slippers trying to get out. Probably the two armchairs, or maybe a comfy settle with one of those extending leg rests.

As a result YBA's want to be Royal Academicians, punk rockers aspire to being inducted into the Rock and Roll & Roll Hall of Fame and anyone capable of flipping a burger wants their own BBC TV shows with medallions of pork and a winning garnish of gongs. Behind every Guerilla mindset is a chimps appetite for distraction.

Bit of a leap I know but jump with me into the mythical mindset of methodological movie maverick Robert de Niro, once of Mean Streets, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver but now basking, jowly, jovial, family, friendly in downtown Focker-Ville.

Somewhere in SoHo De Niro lies wounded on a cutting room floor; a clutch of hungry young directors are clamouring around him offering water and technical assistance. Bobby takes a swig, grimaces, “Leave me here you guys, you’re young, you’ve got ideas in development, forge ahead, stretch the envelope, save yourselves”. At least Marty stayed true. Whilst Bob took semi retirement in a Winnebago on bricks in the ‘Burbs Marty always made sure he was South of Houston by nightfall.

Don’t do it Marty, stay edgy, stay edgy forever, if not for your self then do it for Johnny Boy. Ok?


Last year I saw an advert featuring pop puppet, sorry chart poppet Alexandra Burke selling deodorant, I mean she’s only just begun her career and she’s already sold out. Does she have so little belief in her own talents that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to carve out a career for herself; is the singer of such dance floor fillers as Bad Boys (and the one with the video full of winsome women pretending to be American footballers) not planning on sticking around, or maybe she’s got an autobiography to write and is buying some time. Or does she simply want to be freed, freed from the chains of dreams, free to reclaim her place amongst A Chorus Line of lovelies clamouring for the chance of a touch down. What is her agent's agenda, I think we should be told. Worse than advertising salmon farming in Scotland? Well one could argue that at least Roger and Bob have earned the right to take it easy. Hope I die before I get sold out? Or found out. Turning perspiration into inspiration, Who knew? At least Pete incurred her majesty’s pleasure, going the whole nine yards for a fixed term. 

Oh I don't care, not really, or at least only just enough to write 650 words about it. Whilst I just want to break even Various wants to be VA at the V & A, except he doesn't know it yet. Sooner or later we all want to become National Treasures, like Jim Broadbent or The Simpsons but until then we remain the Crown Jewels of our own fevered egos.   

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A Life And Kicking . . .

Raging against the machine replaced by the equally futile raging against the dying of the light, however whichever way one addresses it death appears to be inevitable. Plenty of people died in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries giving Mankind form in this area. So, whether you’ve traded in your soul at some midnight crossroads for a life less ordinary or cut your cloth to spite your face, at some point the Black Dog starts howling underneath your window waiting for the grim reaper to take him walkies. As a result it throws up the tricky subject of what to have played at your funeral/cremation/pyre etc. For me this is something that has filled many an idle moment down the years. I reckon the service can be split up into three main sections therefore:

Shuffling in, getting settled, seeing who’s turned up etc. Maybe a bit of classical, something pastoral, nothing too dramatic so stick to Vivaldi and ease back on the Wagner or Beethoven. If you can’t tell your Niccolo Paganini from a Costa cheese Panini then maybe an instrumental version of Hoagy Carmichael’s I Get Along Without You Very Well will hit the spot.  Essentially this is the accompaniment to checking out the women/chaps to see who has arrived unattended. The most worrying must be the mystery woman who enters after the service has begun, sits weeping silently at the back and leaves just before the end. Actually that’s the second worse, the worse being that she has a child with her. Or is heavy with one.

Moving on, The Rev has said a few kind words and a friend has offered up a description of someone that bears no relation to the one in whose shoes you have up until recently been walking. Time for the song that those you’ve left behind think either sums you up or expresses their feelings about you. Always On My Mind takes care of the guilt and Dylan’s Forever Young is a bit of a crowd pleaser. Johnny Thunders You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory, Patti Smith’s Trampin’ and U2’s One give you something a bit anthemic; or go down the comedic toe tapping route with a karaoke Another One Bites The Dust or even put a positive spin on an unexplained suicide with Lucinda William’s Sweet Old World. Talking Heads’ Road To Nowhere should be enough existentialism for even the most Sartre’d of café dwellers, or go out on a limb with Build Me Up Buttercup, a song I’ve long considered to be a potential metaphor for life. If you want to be really cynical then how about Is That All There Is? or to be plain blunt, the Man in Black’s When the Man Comes Around.

Ok, so the body’s disappeared behind the curtain to be greeted by fire, brimstone and an uncertain fate. Tears are evaporating, limbs are being stretched and thoughts centred around ‘life is short, I’ll never complain about being stuck in a queue ever again’ are turning into excuses not to go back to the house for a slice of tea and a cup of cake. But more people have turned up than had been catered for so there’s time to kill. Post show exit music provided via country legend Willie Nelson singing Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone or Don’t Get Around Much Anymore or even the (All)Mighty Wah’s triumph of hope over diversity yet really rather wonderful Come Back.

          Death is not to be sniffed at, unless you’re into necrophilia in which case you’re one of life’s, or rather death’s receivers. But that little fact shouldn’t stop you from being cruel to be kind and insisting that everyone wears black. I know the current vogue is to be funky, colourful and ‘fun loving’ because well, Great Aunt Maude was gin soaked and well up for a lark in the park but black is such a slimming colour that trust me, the women will thank you for it, although you will of course have to wait to receive them in person.

              So, you’re all asking, what would Scot choose? Well first I asked around some of the guys and Various has gone for Thin Lizzy’s Boys Are Back In Town because it reminds him of being sixteen and the summer of ’76. Cheek By Joel has gone for a Ron Sexsmith song called Riverbank. As for me it’s a toss up between R.E.M’s Find The River and Joe Henry’s Short Man’s Room.  Or Tom Wait’s Long Way Home or . . . but, and here’s the thing, we’re a moveable beast with as many sides as there are songs to fill them. And that sums us up because there can never be one three and a half minute pop song that . . . sums us up. But remember that whatever you choose you must make sure the cd is clean. God can do most things, move mountains, get Chumbawumba to number one but he can’t do anything about a cd with jam on it.

             Scot, Alive And Kicking x 



Friday, 22 July 2011

Freed From Dreams

No getting away from it, Scot is fast approaching middle age . . . today I once again found myself in HMV, loitering with neither means or intent in IndieWorldJazzBlues’n’Soul all the while throwing covetous little bitch glances at the middle aged guys in Rock/Pop. Pastel sweatered, nonchalantly flicking through the back catalogues of Dire Straits, Eagles, E.L.O and Queen how I envied their insouciance, their easy manner and how they appeared to have given up trying to make their trousers fit around their waists. I imagined their conversations; moob maintenance and reduction, how to tell if a Blue Nun has corked and their delight in discovering M&S’s Blue Harbour range of elasticated waist banded slacks. I thought of them meeting up on Sundays to scour car boots for Haynes manuals; Allegros, Viva’s, Marina’s and Cortina’s and afterwards taking their blonde, salon tanned, hair straightened, big boned wives and sullen only child ‘dahn the Dog’ for a carvary. And all the while I’m fingering Caro Emerald’s admittedly fine new CD and wondering what the ‘dahn’ payment on a Norton might be.

Except it’s not really like that anymore. The guys who once drove Vauxhall Viva’s and Capri’s (did all car names end in vowels?) are now late middle aged, getting a second wind on the golf course before pushing on through into retirement, avoiding, like their Grand Fathers, the bunkers and the trenches and aiming, like their fathers before them to go a round in par.

These guys are no aural explorers. What do they play when they have guests; Hotel California, Queens Greatest Hits (Volume 2) or Brothers in Arms. Brothers in indifference and yet here I am envying them. Music, once a notch on the bed post of cool but since revered as a tool with which to engineer birdies into the sack. Music, once essential but now an albatross to be filed away below stairs along with the children’s car seat and the still boxed boules set. In the same way that a newly married chap can relax into his new surroundings, put on a few pounds and hey, if you’re going to lose a few hairs then why not go hog wild. So the next time you overtake a fat bottomed girl whilst cruising dahn the A38 with the window open and the breeze rustling the last remnants of a half forgotten mullet remember the golden Boticelli youth and his summer soundtrack; James Dean, The Sultans of Swing, Mr Blue Sky and The Boys of Summer. Turn it up a notch and drink a toast to me stuck indoors somewhere cultivating a studio tan and getting lowdown and dirty with the latest Joy Division reissue.    

And to be honest, I’m really not that cool.  Various might be and even Pit has his moments but I, most certainly and sadly am not.

The reason I relate all this to you is because Various has been asked to contribute an LP cover for a show in Antwerp later next year. He couldn’t remember the name of the band, obscure of course, or at least they are outside of Antwerp. Anyway, he’s excited and I am excited for him. And if you want to discover more check out Leo's excellent Cloudknitters website. Unable to provide the whole address but there can't be too many Coudknitters out there in the er, cloud.  He (Various) has also been asked by J.R via Pit to co curate ‘Albrecht’s Birthday’, the formers show in Madrid this autumn. Exciting?

YAY” yelped Darling Number 1. 

PS After writng this I went for a soul cleansing meander on youtube. As I wandered from Mary Love to Ronnie Spector  singing You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory via Springsteen and Gary U.S Bonds duetting on Jole Blon and ontoThe Chiffons before Rockin' Dopsie and some wonderful cajun and Zydeco music made by people whose names I'd love to bring to you except that they all appeared to be in French.

A Bientot.  

Monday, 11 July 2011

Gloom, With A Vue

Last night Uncle Samm and myself flew the coop and fetched up at the Brewery in Cheltenham to watch a movie called Transformers. If you’re reading this and you’re not on a promise then do yourselves a favour and give it a rain check. Prior to Transformers the last film Mr Samm and myself saw was the A Team and we spent last nights short walk back to the car park trying to decide which one was worse. Uncle Samm thought it was the A Team and he might well be right . . . but I’m not so sure although my judgement may have been impaired somewhat by sleeping through the first hour of Transformers. Whilst the special effects are awesome the acting isn’t. Not their fault of course since there isn’t a script as such, more a succession of toe curdling sound bites that only serve to interrupt the flow of CGI. There is even, in true Independence Day stylee a montage of scenes from around the World suggesting that whilst this takes place in Chicago we are, nonetheless all in this together. Fatrick has seen it twice and is still unsure of the relevance of a scene set in Chernobyl. I said I’d look out for it but it must have been in the first hour.

Perhaps the most appealing/appalling fact about this movie is that it ‘stars’ Frances McDormand and John Malkevich, the latter taking time out from being John Malkevich. Was he a drone, a ‘droid, a Tonka toy? Who knew, but it was good to see those Steppenwolf years not getting lost in the methodology. And it was co produced by Mr Spielberg; Duel must seem a very long time ago now eh Steven? Bit like Terrence Mallick producing Pirates of the Caribbean 5

It made a change to go see a movie in a big modern cinema though; carpets, comfortable seats, surround sound, sound even. My cinema viewing normally takes place in my local Odeon, not quite a fleapit although it does boast some challenging seating arrangements. No Golden Ratio here though, in one screen room the seats are 25 wide (with two aisles) but only three rows deep; the crick in the neck suffered during the Brighton Rock re-make may prove permanent. But perhaps the biggest difference comes at the pre movie Sugar Snack Shack. At Orange Odeon on geriatric Wednesday you get a cup of coffee, a digestive and something to make you go tsch. In the other hand, at Vue there’s a whole smorgasbord of E numbers to flirt with.

Talking of flirting, for a while now Uncle Samm and diabetes have been making big spaniel eyes at each other, but in that time Uncle has developed a rather interesting approach to dealing with it. In the same way that some therapists might encourage their clients to conquer their fear of something through confrontation; for instance handling a spider in order to overcome a phobia of spiders, so Uncle Samm seems determined to batter his insulin levels into submission with a barrage of chocolate biscuits, chocolate covered raisins/peanuts, chocolate cakes and chocolate. One time we were in Poundstretcher and Uncle Samm picked up two packets of compressed E Numbers. Upon reminding him of his underlying health issues Uncle replied ‘Bog off'. Well, quite.  

All this reminds me of my time in Birmingham with Various Artist in the early days of the century. Whilst neither of us at the time had diabetes we were both volunteers at the Electric, a tiny cinema tucked away behind New Street Station. I served fresh coffee and Guinness cake whilst Various punched tickets and afterwards we’d slip in undetected at the back and watch films for free. A hugely interesting place; out front a façade of carved carney characters and, littering up the lobby a motley crew of misfits who on any given night would outnumber the paying punters by two to one. One chap, Simon, even lived there, sleeping on a battered sofa in the upstairs office. I recall the time he took us down into the basement where we found a treasure trove of old posters, broken seats and general memorabilia from a lifetime spent as a cinema; from a pre WWI picture house in the days without sound to finding form as a sleaze box in the 1970’s before developing into the bijou art house that greets you today, with sofas that yield and a phone with which to order drinks from the same bar where I once sold Guinness cake.

‘Now that is what I call a transformation!’ quipped Various Artist.   

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Barney the Bi-Polar Bear

Joel (from Cheek by Joel) has sent me the following idea for a children’s book. If Various doesn’t mind I’d like to share it with you all.

Barney the Bi-Polar Bear

. . . is a heart-warming tale about a Polar bear called Barney. We see him at home, relaxing on his floating Arctic ice cube where he is in his element; cool, content and urbane. But when his iceberg heads south and begins to deteriorate in the heat Barney becomes irritable, sullen and hot under his collar!

Heart warming NOT planet warming is the theme!

This story (with beautiful illustrations of Barney and his faithful companion Sally the Seagull by the artist 3B) brings together important issues around mental health and Global warming in a way that makes its message accessible both to older children and some adults.

Available in both Coffee and Kitchen table formats.
Also available in Braille (Coffee table format only). 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Last Retort

Today I stopped postponing that which could no longer be put off and gave in. Call it what you will, nostalgia, a momentary lapse of reason, whatever, but today I finally threw in the towel. To what you may well ask: tidying up the garden, filling last year’s tax return or summoning up a proposal for Darling Number 1? No, I succumbed at last and bought the Eagles Greatest Hits. You weren’t even close were you?

Desperado, One of these Nights, On the Border, even the pomp, pomp and yet more pomp that plumps up Hotel California – and there are those who will argue that it is a carefully honed allegory for the transition from 60’s idealism into 70’s decadence but to be honest it’s all hippie bollocks. It’s why we needed punk. Seventies symphonies to hedonistic grandeur brought to you by Bacchanalian Bachelors of questionable virtue and impeccable facial furniture. Or is it the other way round. Men who, unaccustomed to anything other than the slow lane life of the mid tempo ballad would, when confronted by anything approximating a pulse, shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the other, usually, but not always completing the journey. And didn’t Joe Walsh once play for Luton Town? No shame there but then that’s just me, preferring the ditch to the fast lane; New York Hustle to West Coat Muscle, Brill Building pop over Laurel Canyon schlock.

Meanwhile back in the Shire Darling Number 1 wanted to go to Primark, tk Maxx or some such in order to buy a belt with which to rein in a new frock.  Off duty I’d crept into H.M.V to see if I could pick up a Paloma Faith cd and was happy to find it in the two for a tenner pile.  Fighting off a late bid from a T.Rex collection that included Metal Guru, Jeepster, Telegram Sam and The Groover but not Solid Gold Easy Action, the Doolin’ Dalton gang got the nod as checkout companions. Also got the hot new disc from Noah and the Whale whom I’d seen at Glastonbury and liked. Sharp boys in smart suits and the whole caboodle gave me three pounds change from my crisp £20 note.

Incidentally is everyone aware that in France HMV is pronounced Ash. Em. Vay? No, really . . .

And does anyone else agree with me that in music shops there should be, along with sections for Rock, Pop, Jazz etc one for Shit. It could be called Shit and in it would go all the shit bands, shit singers and their shit music. And before anyone begins the pointless argument of subjective versus objective, please note that my judgement is beyond question so just shut up and enjoy the ride. And furthermore, before anyone else says ‘agree to differ’ I have to say that I cannot and will not compromise.

“Excuse me, do you have the latest release by The Rolling Stones?”
“Yes Sir, it’s filed under Shit, in between R&B and Techno”
“Thank you. Have you listened to it?”

So, leaving aside such soft targets as Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Whitesnake and the entire ELP back catalogue, begs the question, who’s next?

Neil Diamond, Shakatak, The Electric Light Orchestra, Blow Monkeys, 80’s-present day Stones, 90’s Bowie, Led Zeppelin 5, Fine Young Cannibals, Hot Space by Queen, Tygers of Pan Tang, Dylan’s Empire Burlesque, Level 42, Sham 69, Creedence (without John), post Coughlin/Lancaster Quo, the Quireboys and Darling Number 1’s suggestion The Edible String Band (with or without Liquorice). Ok, maybe not all of the above but they go well beyond being the acceptable guilty pleasures. Of the flesh in the case of the FYC's.

All this might come across as a somewhat cynical exercise on my part. To back this up only this week I was in a bar with Various, Pit and JR (Albrecht Durer’s nemesis) when it was pointed out that Pit and the Nemesis would, as parents end their days being quietly shunted by their offspring into The Last Resort, a ‘retirement and beyond’ home only to fetch up quietly dribbling in dark corners whilst past art fairs flash before their eyes.  No everlasting peaceful, easy feeling for them then. Various and myself, being barren of womb and short on ideas respectively will, somewhat inevitably fall down the stairs of our Victorian terraced homes, at the foot of which we will suffocate beneath a fortnight’s junk mail advertising amongst other things Stannard stair lifts. 

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Waiting For Columbo

Saddened to read this week of the passing of both Columbo, or Peter Falk as his mum knew him and The Big Man, Clarence Clemons to you, me and his boss, Bruce Springsteen.

As well as acting in several of John Cassavetes' movies Peter Falk was in one of my 'all time' favourite films, Wim Wender's Wings of Desire. In it he played himself as a former angel making a film in a Cold War Berlin redolent of Heroes era Bowie. Very good portraitist too, something that Wenders incorporated in the film. There was a remake set in Los Angeles but it didn't have Columbo in it, opting instead for Nicholas 'earnest' Cage and a post Harry and Sally Meg Ryan. Needless to say it wasn't very good. Columbo seems to belong to a different era, Kojak, Rockford, Quincy and Columbo. Like comparing Dr Findlay's Casebook with Doctors, the present appears somewhat wanting.

The Big Man, born with the power of a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound was a different tenor altogether. I first stumbled upon Bruce as a teenager and can clearly remember being sat on a wooden bench in the waiting room of my old man's surgery (the surgery was in the house and doubled up as an after hours games room) clutching a transistor radio to my head listening to Born to Run and THAT sax solo for what must have been the first time. Then it was buying the albums, books, bootlegs until finally achieving communion with both Boss and Big Man at the NEC as part of the 1981 River tour. Clarence, Bruce's suited and booted onstage foil, being leant upon on the cover that I poored over, lyrics and credits devoured with a religous attention to detail. I guess that what Clarence lent the band was authenticity, a direct line back through Junior Walker and The JB Horns to the R&B that Bruce absorbed in his youth. For Clemons it must have been bittersweet, a black man in a white band in an industry in which many people, but black musicians in particular, had been riped off being feted night after night by a predominantly white audience.

Three years later, Bruce had joined a gym and beefed up to a point where the bubble had to burst. Little Steven had moved out of E Street and into my imagination with Men Without Women, his wonderful rock/soul LP album and then Bruce was lost to me, no longer the loosely guarded secret of my flaxen haired youth but a reborn bicep bulging stadium rocker, as at home on the pec deck and the ab lab as treading the boards at the Bottom Line.

Our paths crossed again last year when I bought the CD box of Darkness on the Edge of Town outtakes. Originally relaeased in 1978 it ushered in a less urban sound than it's predecessors and with it a reduction of honk, that most urbane and soulful of sounds. For a reminder of the great days the recent release of a live gig at Bryn Mawr performed on the cusp of BTR greatness has Springsteen weaving a  wonderful account of how the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band.

And another thing...........both irreplaceable.

R.I.P both.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Jesus and the Food Chain

A couple of days ago I cleaned out a kitchen cupboard, to make room for a post apocalyptic pantry. Following a chat with the lovely Jo at Minimum Wage Manouevres, as sensibly brogued a soul as set foot etc I have begun adding an extra tin of this, a packet of that every time I trouble the cashiers. Jo recently confided in me that she has a below stairs cupboard, or space as we artists label such things, that she has kitted out with all manner of delicacies with which to keep her loved one's spirits up come the 'big one'. Rockets, meteors, squads of deathhead looters might maraude above and radiation might have cordoned off the playground but under Jo's stairs there will be a best before feast of loaf and fish proportions. Except there won't be fish, not fresh anyway.

I was going to write out an infantry of what's hot and what's off in my particular food chain but to be honest I can't be arsed. The cupboard is quite low down, I'd need to make a list and I don't have a pen to hand. However, if anyone is interested there's lots of pasta and rice. Not much to go with them but I won't go short on carbs. Actually the thing that strikes me when buying stuff is that, bearing in mind the real Rapture is scheduled for next December, is the sell by/best before dates; won't be needing anything beyond 21/12/12 -  2014? Forget it, won't be here. And neither will you.

What else? Last weekend, along with Darling number 1 went down to Dorset to draw deeply on the salty air and drop in on the cousins. No sign of Martin but Sarah remains reassuringly loopy and has invited us back down in late August and we, in turn. have invited several others along. She won't be happy but she has a large garden that is just crying out for tentage.

Pitt and Various are playing at Supernormal festival this summer; I'll let you have details when Various gives them to me. Both myself and Darling Number 1 are hoping to go along and offer support, encouragment and pre apocalypse foodstuffs. Before then however, we have August's roadtrip to Spain to think about.......but that is for the future.

Scot.......over and out x

Sunday, 5 June 2011

the extra ordinary boy

This weekend your roving reporter has been out of the shire and getting dirty and lowdown with the North East Summerset. Reason being that Darling Number 1's very own Darling Number 1 (eldest daughter, hers, no involvement from Scot) is tying the knot in order to create the Chudd Family Unit. The CFU will comprise initially of H and S - that's Hat 'n' Si to you and me. Weather held off, knot got tied, speeches got spoke and the whole thing passed without a hitch. Darling Number 1, as well as proving a more than adequate dance floor foil for Lee FromHollyoaks has a both intensive and extensive family forest, most of which seemed to have taken root in this small corner of the West Country.

Speech wise both Darling Number 1 and Simon delivered perfectly pitched responses to Beckington's got talent while Best Man Mark bookended with an amusing story of the time Simon was sick over some whales. Both current members of the CFU are now both fully paid up and lovely and whilst for the moment it's a closed group of two I will keep you all updated of any future additions. Probably in nine months time.

My role in the shenanigans was to record it for 'all time', and I'm grateful for the tips from Various about the importance of framing, getting things in focus and not having too many lingering shots of the eight bridesmaid's bottoms. 'Posterity not posteriors' as Various put it.

One door opens and a window closes. I've recently been informed that Nephew Number 1 (out of three) has parted from the lovely Giulia. Both his mother and I wish we could bash him on the bonce with breeze blocks and inject some sense in what passes for a brain. I received a message from Giulia where she mentioned that one of the sadder parts of splitting up with someone is losing touch with their friends and family. Having just learned that Darling Number 1 might at some point come 'in to' money I can confirm that I am putting all movement on hold. And Nephew, you're only remaining Number 1 on basis of being the first born son and heir.

In other news word reaches me that Various has some exciting (his word) plans in store re his art practice. These include a website revamp (again) as well as a concept which he calls 'product placement'. In this Various 'places' limited numbers of dvd's, t shirts, prints, postcards, road kill, signage etc in public places. Each one will be numbered and stamped with the VA web address inviting the lucky finders to make contact. I can't say I'm convinced but we'll see........

Scot checking out......a bientot.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Handel, With Care

Young Joel (better known as the satirist Cheek by Joel) has sent me the following email. It’s a proposal for a TV drama provisionally titled Handel, With Care.

Jim Handel is a care worker in a residential unit for adults with acquired brain injuries. He’s a maverick who doesn’t mind breaking the rules if it means getting the job done. He’s heard of risk assessments but isn’t sure what they do. Jim doesn’t carry anti bac and won’t wear an apron whilst cooking but he never gets personal unless he’s tooled up with latex rubber gloves. Size L.  

Jeanette ‘Sharkey’ Tubbs, Jim’s deskbound, donut munching, lard arse line manager is forever hauling him over the coals. Sometimes Jim is suspended. On these occasions Tubbs demands Jim’s laminated ID badge, which he throws on her desk before going home where he stays up late brooding and drinking hard. He has an ex wife who walked out after delivering the ultimatum ‘it’s the job or me’. Jim is convinced she’s delusional if she thinks she can live without him even though she has since remarried and is expecting a second daughter.

Jim has a sidekick called Joy who, whilst secretly considering him to be ‘nice but fucked up’ is nevertheless loyal and will, on occasion take the heat to get Jim off the hook. Sometimes they are ordered to work nights where they watch 70’s American cop movies and drink coffee out of Styrofoam cups. They slept together once (at work) but both now agree it was a mistake.

Joel finishes off with the assurance that any similarities to the living, the dead, and the living dead are ‘all in my head’. Thanks Joel, and say hello to your mother from me.      

Sunday, 22 May 2011

post apocalyptic post

It’s Sunday, May 22nd. Nothing unusual in that except that the Rapture was due to have taken place  yesterday at 6pm, local time.  Good job it didn’t because that was the exact time a group of us were enjoying wine, chilled beer and canapés at the Unification show in Cheltenham. Everone was there; Andy, Nathan, JB, Chris Spaceman, Roger Bigland, Darling # 1, Various and Yoke + Zoom. A mighty time was had by one and all but, imagine if, instead of enjoying Roger’s oil’s, Mr Spaceman's Spacemen or JB’s fabrics, members of the audience had begun floating upwards through the shop’s lighting and air con systems and off into the ether. I exclude from this the pneumatic blonde in the little black number who looked capable of rapture, ruptures and a little trip to heaven with or without divine intervention.

Robbie and Jean prepare for Unification

So, a top show, part of the Cheltenham Science Festival and afterwards it was on to Meantime Project Space where we were made to feel welcome with cocktails, arts quiz and even a blow on the Bass Clarinet. I’m delighted to be able to report that my team won! Darling Number 1 chipped in during the Literature round with a Dickens here and some Little Women there, and even Various Artist lit up the music section on the Eve of Destruction. Good to see Charlie again and be reminded what an enormous brain he has. Pitt disgraced himself with a fit of the giggles during the instrumental break but apart from that behaved himself.    

Returning to the Rapture I was bemused by the thought of lots of what can we call them……..believers…….idiots..…..Americans……….all heading to Florida in their Buick station wagons and Oldsmobiles  because of course Disneyland is the  only natural site of any second coming. Straight Outta Nazareth. Anyhow my theory is that the Rapture would be about 20 minutes late. At around 6.17 an early middle aged man in Eastern dress will emerge from the Back to the Future ride going ‘Phew, that was awesome, you guys gotta try it……….wait, sorry, no time”. Or was it Groundhog Day………

To finsh on an upbeat note, I received a text from A to say that her tumours had shrunk by 10mm. She said that it didn’t sound like a lot but hey, God moves in mysterious ways. Night all.         

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Somerset and some are Runny

Well we made it back from Europe ok. Customs took an interest in our car load of art, well I say car but it's actually a Fiat Doblo. Less car and more biscuit tin on wheels. Kent looked fabulous in the afternoon sunshine and so transfixed by the siver towers in the disatance were we that we missed the M25 and ended up on the Greenwich approaches. Relations remained cordial for the most part with the only blip coming just outside of Ashford when Various wouldn't accept Pit not accepting his offer of a milk chocolate Rich Tea biscuit. Over tired, fractious and over here.

On the plus side Various has been asked to be in the Unification show being held later this month in Cheltenham. And he's going to get paid, which will be nice as it means he can finish off paying for his website ( The show combines science and art, neither of which he's particularly knowledgeable about. Various confided that it was a bit late in the day to be asked, a bit like being invited to a party on the day it's taking place. Not quite an afterthought but not a fixture either.

What about me? Well I'm down at Darling Number 1's near Bath in Somerset but have to report at the coalface at 8am in the morning for more Minimum Wage Manouevres. Spent the time watching The Only Way Is Essex and learning a dozen ways to say party without using all six letters. And hearing a lad ask, without a trace of irony 'Am I hot?' Sir, if you need to pardee on etc

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Impossible Blondes

Ok well here we are in Bruxelles at the art fair. A weekend event over populated by impossibly slim, gorgeous, blonde, black wearing Dutch people with, bringing up the rear in room 110 Scot and Pit looking like a pair of bumbling country priests enjoying their moment in the smoke. We consle ourselves with the knowledge that come tomorrow each one of the impossible blondes will collapse in the doorways of their Dutch barns begging to be decanted to something acrylic and floral, but for now they remain impossibly cool. And blonde of course.

Anna and Glenn

Last night Pit and I in the company of two of the aforementioned blondes stayed out above and beyond the call of duty. Eschewing the arty party happening across town we instead trawled the backstreets in search of beer, pizza and more beer. Is it right to use a raw egg as the centrepiece of a pizza vegeteriane? No, of course it isn't but neither is it right to ask for the wine list in a Muslim pizzeria in the home of Brel, Poirot and the Pissing Boy. For a while I thought Pit was resting easily on the Dutch damsels eye but between ordering and the food arriving we managed to establish that we were all loved up. Back to bed and three hours sleep followed by two breakfasts, one in our hotel and one over the road in the Bloom. Or is it the other way round? Anyway, I digress.

Phillipe doing what he does.

Lots of pictures of impossibly cool, blonde, Dutch people wearing the Hoodigans (pin striped suit jackets converted into hoodies). They'll look good on the interweb and heaven knows that could do with a sprinkling of cool. As of yet no work sold but the Ladies is bearing up stoically. A couple of ideas emerging, one for a Hoodigan wearing footie XI and the other for some sound, but enough of that for now. Rest of day spent moving hither and yon, bestowing blessings and using the bathroom as an impromptu confessional. Part of the reason we've not sold anything could be explained by Pit turning away a Dutch artist looking for contributors for his own radio show because he, Pit was feeling 'out of sorts'. To rub salt into the faux pas he took him along the corridor and introduced him to someone else. As I type Pit is twittering.......Pit the twit.

That's enough. Possibly more than enough. We have an early start and have to pack up the mobile gallery before nightfall but until then so much to do and so much to see....the impossibilities are both enormous. And Dutch.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Where Scot Makes A List....

The following list comprises songs randomly played on my ipod whilst recently driving to visit Darling Number 1. From both the list and this text you will be able to discern things about me, things that since we have only just 'met' would otherwise take too long to recount via more traditional routes.

From A Late Night Train The Blue Nile
Shoot Out The Lights Richard Thompson
Walk Awhile Fairport Convention
Sunday Sports Bottle Rockets
Ashes To Ashes Bowie
Come To Me Bjork
Because The Night Springsteen
Tubular Bells (Part 2)* Mike Oldfield
The Needle and the Damage Done Neil Young
Bob and Ray Joe Henry
Make You Feel My Love Dylan
Tower of Song Lennie
First Chance I Get Ron Sexsmith
Rock and Bird Cowboy Junkies
Trouble In Mind Marianne Faithfull
All Of You Miles Davis
Bandwagon R.E.M
This Time It's For Real Southside Johnny
Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy Howlin' Wolf
Celia Charles Mingus
Anyday Derek and the Dominoes
Man On The Moon R.E.M
One More Cup Of Coffee Dylan
See How I Miss You Bruce Cockburn
Caroline, No Beach Boys
Spanish Harlem Aretha Franklin
Sha La La (Make Me Happy) Al Green
Changes** Bowie
Roadruner Johnathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Warm Love Van Morrison
Clubland Elvis Costello
Blackhawk Emmylou Harris
The Hens March Fairport
Satellite Road Steve Earle

*   For obvious reasons I didn't listen to this in it's entirety.
** This is the Live at Nassau version. Terrific stuff!

Happy there's some Miles and Mingus in there, would probably trade one of the Fairports for something more contemporary, which could be anything.

Been drinking Joan Collins and Bordello cocktails, fundraising in Brum, completed a short film for Worcs City Art Gallery, been to an Abba tribute in Newquay (more flailing limbs than an ailing prizefighter) and am bricking it re a forthcoming Caravaggio cover version I've got planned.

What else? Oh yes, I'm a recovering artist.