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09 March 2006

far from yokohama

Current listening: Mogwai –Mr Beast

“i’m happy, i’m happy, i’m happy, and i’ll punch the man who says i’m not”

we have finished our uk tour and now we’re in america. we arrived yesterday. it’s six o clock in the morning and i’m in a motel in cambridge, massachusetts. we play our first show in america tonight in boston at the great scott. i am quite tired but surprisingly awake. i miss my girlfriend and i can’t get back to sleep. i was going to write a weblog about the uk tour and about going to america but it probably wouldn’t have been that interesting and besides, ivor cutler has died. aged eighty three. and that's very sad. so i will write about him instead.

along with patrik fitzgerald, ivor cutler was my big hero when i was fourteen. although i think i first heard ivor cutler when i was twelve. i was listening to john peel. and he played the song ‘The Shapely Balloon’ on his show. as always i was waiting over the tape recorder to record anything that sounded interesting. when i was twelve i spent every weeknight the same way, sitting in my room listening to radio one and taping my favourite songs. then every couple of weeks once the tape was full i had to make a cover for my new compilation. i remember being very happy. i’ve never felt like i wasted my early teenage years. ivor cutler appeared on my first ever radio compilation. i played the song over and over. and then that weekend i went out and bought as many of his albums as i could find and afford. the first one i found was Gruts, and it’s still my favourite ivor cutler album. what i liked most about ivor cutler i think was his attention to detail. in his songs and stories and poems, it was the minutiae of life, the little tiny incidental things, that he found magic in. and at twelve years old, his deadpan mournful voice and his eccentric way of looking at the world appealed perfectly to me.

i didn’t know that much about him until recently. not until i watched the film Looking For Truth With A Pin. i knew that he lived in parliament hill fields in north london and that as long as you took a spoon with you then you could visit him. because he gave directions to his house on the Prince Ivor album. and i’d read somewhere that he once trained as a navigator in the royal air force, but was dismissed for being too absent minded.

"oh, the clouds were beautiful that day, so i spent some time looking at them. it didn't escape their attention. i'd already written home saying i was going to be Sergeant Cutler too. dismissed for dreaminess."

but that was about all i knew. and that was enough. then i watched the film. which was fantastic. and i learnt a lot more. but i won’t include too many biographical details here. the film is there for everyone to watch. all i wanted to say was that ivor cutler meant a lot to me when i was growing up. and that he still does. and i am sad that he is dead.

"when i do die i shall be glad to get away from loud pop music and motor cars, but i shall miss - insofar as when one is dead one can miss anything - the beautiful kindnesses of those people to whom courtesy comes naturally. unfortunately there are fewer of those people than of the other kind who deal with their problems in a very anti-social way."

all the quotes in this weblog are from ivor cutler. from newspapers cuttings or songs. to end with i will type out the words to the song ‘Beautiful Cosmos’ because it is one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.

you are the centre of your little world and i am of mine
now and again we meet for tea, we're two of a kind

this is our universe, cups of tea

we have a beautiful cosmos, you and me
we have a beautiful cosmos

what do we talk of whenever we meet? nothing at all
you sit with a sandwich,
i look at a roll

sometimes i open my mouth, then shut it

we have a beautiful cosmos, you and me
we have a beautiful cosmos

you are the centre of your little world and i am of mine

we have a beautiful cosmos, you and me
we have a beautiful cosmos

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