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22 January 2008

wishing trees don't run railways

"down there, mixed up among all the madness,
is everything that once made life worth living."

– ted hughes

yesterday was supposed to be officially the most depressing day of the year. apparently it's called blue monday and it's calculated using an elaborate formula that takes into account bad weather, post christmas debt, failed new years resolutions and the amount of time til next christmas. and if you put all these different factors into the formula it produces the third monday in january as the most depressing day of the year. i actually had quite a nice day, but next year i think i might start celebrating it just in case it's not so nice. it might cheer everyone up. i could send cards to my friends with pictures of sad puppies on wishing them a happy most depressing day of the year. and i could give them depressing presents, like a copy of 'unknown pleasures' or a bunch of dead flowers or something. and we could have fancy dress parties where people had to come as an icon of misery, like morrissey or eeyore or geoffrey palmer and put black balloons up everywhere. and then we could sit around and comfort eat, listening to miserable songs like 'waiting round to die' by townes van zandt. except i don't really find sad songs depressing. i love listening to 'waiting round to die'. i think it actually makes me happy. i've started thinking about the mixtape i'll have to make for my most depressing day of the year party. i'd have to put 'blue hat for a blue day' by nick heyward on it and 'heaven knows i'm miserable now' by the smiths, and some colourfield and some leonard cohen. and 'rainy days and mondays' by the carpenters and 'glad to be unhappy' by the mamas and papas. i think it sounds fun. it might turn out to be one of the happiest days of the year next year.

i went to bath for the weekend. to buy books and sleep. i'd never been before. it was quite wet but i didn't really care. i had a lovely time. i think i'll go again in the summer. i found these bears playing in a band in a shop window.


and a tiny drum kit for a tiny drummer.


and this second hand book shop


where i found a copy of 'the fifth child' by doris lessing.


and i found another amazing bookshop called mr b's emporium of reading delights, but i didn't take any pictures of it. so i had to go onto their website to try and steal some pictures instead. and while i was there i found this quote from their blog.

"some retailers don't seem to like customers. they seem to regard browsers as time wasters and chatty customers as inconveniences who are interrupting their paperwork. that's madness. we like to hug our customers."

i like the idea of a bookshop that likes to hug its customers. there's a sign up by the counter next to a kettle letting customers know they can use the kettle to make themselves a cup of tea or coffee if they want to. and the shop has such a great selection of books, and with shops like that you kind of know that if a book is on their shelves then it must be worth reading. and by a weird coincidence the next book that their marvellous monday book club are reading is 'the fifth child' by doris lessing.

anyway, i can't sit around writing weblogs all day. i've got lots of important things to do or this new album will never come out. and then no one will ever get to hear it and people will start thinking we made it all up and that we never really made a second album at all. i know what people are like.


14 January 2008

the tungsten and the tears

this is going to be quite a boring blog about darts. but i made a new years resolution to write a blog every week so this sort of thing is bound to happen every now and then.

just finished watching the final of the bdo world championships between mark webster and simon whitlock. a great final. and nice to see the trophy return to wales for the first time in twenty three years.

i love the darts. both organisations, the pdc and the bdo. i know the pdc has probably got all the best darts players in the world now, but if i had to choose between them i think i'd still have to go with the bdo. it always feels less showbiz than the pdc. the pdc has got proper stadium rock lights and a proper pa system, and a walkway through the crowd and glamour models walking with the players to the oche. and it feels like a proper sport. which is okay, but when i watch the bdo world championships on tv it never feels like i'm watching a spectacle, more as if i'm just watching a live feed from a local pub or village hall. it feels more personal. as if i'm watching old friends.

my favourite darts player of all time is richie burnett, 'the prince of wales'. he was the last welsh darts player to be the bdo world champion until mark webster won tonight. richie became world champion after he beat raymond van barneveld in nineteen ninety five. it was the first time i'd ever really got excited about darts. unfortunately i can't find anything from that final on youtube, but i found some footage from the last leg of the final he was in the following year when he lost to steve beaton, 'the bronze adonis'. there are two special moments for me in this clip. first, is when the commentator mentions steve beaton's wife, nanette. it's always something i like about the darts, that they pick out the players' wives and girlfriends, and then the cameras return to them throughout the match to show how much they're suffering. and the second special moment is when richie checks his scoring just before his twelfth dart. that moment pretty much sums up what richie was like as a player. he always seemed quite humble and often looked slightly overawed by the occasion, a little bit beaten and kind of sad, even when he was winning. in fact, the last time i saw him play darts was in the epic final that he lost against raymond van barneveld a few years later, and i remember an interview he did some time afterwards, and him being really upset about some of the things people had been saying about him, it was one of the saddest sporting moments ever. and i guess he went over to the pdc shortly after that. i haven't seen him play since.

glenn moody was a new folk hero who emerged from this year's championships. he has the quality of being able to play darts well while not seeming to take it at all seriously and he looks like he could be the lead singer of a post punk band. he also still uses the catchphrase "whasssuuuup" six or seven years after everyone else in the developed world has stopped. and i admire him for that. i hope to see him next year.

one thing that did annoy me about the darts this year at lakeside was that the ladies final was only the best of three sets, when the mens was the best of thirteen. i was really looking forward to it cos i'd seen anastasia dobromyslova playing earlier in the tournament against dee bateman, and i thought it'd be a good match against world champion trina gulliver, but then it was all over in two sets. it doesn't seem like long enough to get any sort of excitement into it. there's not enough time for the twists and the turns that make darts so exciting. might as well just play nearest the bull wins.

apart from watching darts, i've been busy finishing off the record with peter and doing some artwork with my brother. it's all starting to come together, although there's still a lot to do. hopefully in the next couple of weeks we'll have some sort of definite plan and an idea of when things are happening. i'm so happy with the new album. it didn't end up being at all how i thought it would when we started making it, but i think that’s why i'm so happy with it. i just hope other people like it now too.




current listening: even as we speak - bizarre love triangle

05 January 2008

happy new year

i have made two new years resolutions. first of all, to always eat breakfast. a proper one. off a plate if possible. not just a chocolate bar that has bits of cereal or biscuit in and not just a packet of crisps. here is a list of things which i previously considered nutritious breakfasts, but that i no longer think are.

a kit kat
a double decker
a cadburys dairy milk biscuit bar
a lion bar
hob nobs
bacon flavour frazzles
wheat crunchies
barbecue beef flavour hula hoops

i'm also going to try to not drink as much coca cola and eat so many sweets generally, not just for breakfast. i think i may be sugar crashing six or seven times a day at the moment and i don't think that should be happening. i wonder if that might be why i fall asleep so often. and i worry that i'll make myself diabetic and then i'd have to inject myself with insulin, and i hate needles and veins and it makes my skin feel all itchy on the inside when i think about blood, so anyway, i'm going to try and eat some sort of breakfast every day.

and then my second resolution was to write a weblog post at least once a week, because i only managed it about once a month last year, because i was in a funny mood a lot of the time and often nothing was happening, so i didn't feel like writing. but i'm really looking forward to this year and i want to write more often. and if nothing's happening, then i'll still write. about nothing at all.

today, in her column in the guardian, laura barton wrote about songs she likes to listen to on buses. she describes how she thinks music for bus journeys is different to music for driving to because "sitting behind the wheel you are filled with the exhilarating sense of possibility, the feeling that you could go anywhere", whereas on bus journeys "your destination is always limited by the bus route, and your music is, by and large, confined to your headphones rather than billowing out of a car speaker system." and so, she writes, "the best music for bus journeys always seems characteristically introspective, the kind of music made for dreamers and loners." and so, i'm thinking about my favourite songs to listen to on bus journeys now. the only place i ever really travel around on a bus is london, because i get the train everywhere else. so i don't know if i'd listen to different songs if i went somewhere else on a bus, but i know i like my songs for london buses to be wistful and dreamy. a little bit hopeful but a little bit sad. and that i particularly like songs that swell up from small beginnings, and songs that sound like they're being sung into my ear in little whispers. so here's my top ten songs i like to listen to on buses. it's not the same as the list of songs i like to listen to on headphones on station platforms, but some of the songs are on both lists.

saint etienne – hobart paving
kenickie – lights out in a provincial town
isobel campbell and eugene kelly – time is just the same
glen campbell – gentle on my mind
bright eyes – first day of my life
lambchop – the new cobweb summer
the tindersticks – tiny tears
the field mice – willow
the smiths – please please please let me get what i want
felt – there’s no such thing as victory

i want to go somewhere on a bus now, just so i can listen to all those songs. but it's midnight and the buses don't run after six in my village. oh well. maybe tomorrow.

happy new year




current listening: another sunny day - new years honours