Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Its over 

I’m going to be closing this blog down.

I wont delete it just yet; I may wish to salvage something from it. Although I’ve already downloaded the whole thing as a pdf, that doesn’t include the comments, and they are the most valuable thing here. So although I’ll let this stand a while longer while I figure out what, if anything, I want to do with the content, this will be the last post here.

The photos will most likely be the first to go. They’re hosted for free by my ISP, but in the interests of saving money I’m likely to change my ISP, or at the very least swap to a cheaper package which doesn’t include hosting.

It was good while it lasted, but looking back it only really lived for the first couple of years; everything thereafter has been essentially life support, a series of attempts to keep a dying dream alive. So I’m going to pull the plug on that life support. I stopped having anything to say a long time ago. I wish it were otherwise, but wishing doesn’t change anything. The new blog grew out of that wish, but has never really taken off, just proving how inadequate the wish is on its own, without any substance to support it. I doubt that one will be around for much longer, either. No regrets though, just recognition of the way things are.

What then? I’ll still be on Flickr and Twitter and Facebook - less demanding ways of staying connected, albeit with a connection that will never run as deep as those connections made in the early days of blogging.

It was good while it lasted. Thank you all for that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A new home 

After an inordinately long gestation period, the new blog is almost here. It has, you might say, gone into labour (or rather its creator has), and birth can be expected quite soon. Although it rather destroys the metaphor, a sneak preview may be had here. No new material yet, but the couple of posts copied from this blog really belong in the new one.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

At sea 

"A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are for."
~ John A. Shedd

"One does not discover new continents without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."
~ Andre Gide

"Some things cannot be spoken or discovered until we have been stuck, incapacitated, or blown off course for a while. Plain sailing is pleasant, but you are not going to explore many unknown realms that way."
~ David Whyte

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
~ Dr. Alfred D'Souza

"There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be."
~ John Fowles

"Make the most of yourself...for that is all there is of you."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Enforced Hiatus 

If blogging here is slow for a while, it's not because this new-found blogging energy has run out, just that I have 2 dead computers. Both were archaic and due to be replaced anyway, but things will be quiet until his'n'hers laptops have arrived. Such is life.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Whither art? 

It’s not that I actively enjoy suburban railway journeys – certainly not when encumbered by a heavy and unwieldy bass guitar – but I do appreciate the few minutes of guilt-free idleness. Absolutely no reason to do anything other than gaze out of the railway carriage window, following or abandoning whatever thought-paths are opened up by the ever-changing view. Today’s journey was a crossing from one side of London to the other for a bass guitar lesson with Steve Lawson.

Much of suburban London – especially those parts seen alongside a railway line – are frankly rather ugly. I was tired on this particular journey, unable for the moment to balance the ugliness with a rational acceptance of its context, and so the ugliness rather got to me. Instead of being immersed in this noise and dirt and decay, this unkempt rubbish-tip of a city whose back yard seems to mount a violent assault on the soul, how much more pleasant to be away from all this to live somewhere surrounded by green, by tranquillity, by space. A nice safe little island of a make-believe reality we create for ourselves, shutting out the nasty bits, the bits we don’t want to see, the bits that upset or disturb us. Islands of leafy suburbia amidst urban blight; islands of national (illusory?) well-being amidst a world heading for the brink – and perhaps art itself is another form of island, created as an escape mechanism from the harsh brutality of reality.

Does it actually matter that we act as if these islands are real? Or do we need the security they provide so that we can deal with the bigger reality that faces us when we go outside?

If we go outside, that is.

I sometimes worry about trying to justify art, since it sometimes seems to belong only to that artificial reality. Or more to the point, I worry about my art. My music. With working hours written off as worthless, shouldn’t I be doing something of some value with the hours that remain? I over-simplify the question, of course. I can present all manner of excellent reasons why art is valuable, essential even to the advancement of civilisation. How art mirrors the depths as well as the heights of human experience. I don’t have a problem with that, either intellectually or, if you like to put it that way, spiritually. And yet I’m still left with a nagging doubt when it comes to my art. It still feels as though art – my art - is a luxury, to be indulged in only when the real work has been done.

And this is why I miss those railway journeys: the idle thoughts and scribblings in my notebook, stimulated by nothing more than the view from the window, led me to this conclusion: the best way to deal with that question – if I accept that the ‘best’ art is not a luxury at all but an essential catalyst to the expansion of the soul – is to make sure that my art can be counted amongst that which can be such a catalyst. A mighty tall order, one that sounds almost arrogant in its presumption, but nonetheless not one to be shied away from.

In other words, to be the best musician I can be.

It sounds a simple enough concept, and one wonders why it should take such a tortuous mental process to reach this point. However, the ramifications are only just beginning to dawn on me. Some of them are rather scary.

I can be a creature of extremes; holding a tremendous, debilitating lack of self-confidence yet at the same time a deep and sure belief in a potential only just beginning to be tapped. I guess that’s not all bad; at least the lack of confidence prevents what self-belief there is from turning into arrogance.

Ye gods; is the old blogger, not seen here for many a year, at last resurrected?

Friday, May 21, 2010

30 Days of Music: Day 6 - a song that reminds me of somewhere 

Wind the clock back 28 years to 1982. (Good grief, is really that long? Half a lifetime?) It’s lunch time and I’m sitting in a pub in Sutton Coldfield, just outside Birmingham, along with a few work colleagues. We’re working on installing new VHF radio transmitters at the BBC transmitting station nearby. It’s a long job, running well over a year, and many weeks will find a number of us up here for much of the week, back home again for the weekend. It’s not that we’re hardened lunch-time drinkers (honest…) but with long working days up here it’s nice to get away from site for a while, just for a change of scenery. The pub doesn’t have a huge lunch-time trade, but every day we see another similar group here – tradesmen of some kind, I can’t remember what; electricians maybe – obviously in a similar position to us, taking a break from a long ongoing job. And every day, without fail, they select the same song on the video jukebox. I suppose they may have liked the music, but somehow I suspect that may not have been the over-riding reason for their choice…

(The YouTube version has embedding disabled, but the above link seems to work okay)

Anyway, their job finished before ours, and for a couple of days the pub was a lot quieter at lunch time. But something was missing; it just didn’t seem the same without that video playing, so, rather sheepishly, we carried on the tradition, secretly hoping no-one else was paying close attention to our apparent tastes in music and… ahem… visual entertainment. Hence that song, for better or for worse, is inextricably linked in my mind with jumbled visions of exotic yachts, bikini-clad girls, and a very English saloon bar of a pub tucked away in a sleepy corner of the midlands.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

30 Days of Music: Day 5 - a song that reminds you of someone. 

I think the 90's was the decade in which I rediscovered the music of my youth; I remember commuting up and down the M1 with the likes of Led Zeppelin blasting full volume out of the car stereo. A circumstance which of course was completely disconnected with the fact that I also turned 40 half way through that decade... There was so much good old stuff to listen to that somehow I managed to miss much of the great new music that was around. So although I'd just about heard of the Crash Test Dummies, I hadn't a clue what kind of sound they made; I think the name made me think vaguely of post-punk rock. (Worth clicking that link, by the way, because you get a free play of their new album).

Enter Andrea. We discovered each other's blogs, as you do, swapped stories etc, and somewhere along the line, for a reason that now escapes me, she put together a tape of various Canadian artists - which incidentally was where I first heard day 1's contribution to this series. Included on that tape was this song. I'd never heard it before - or indeed anything quite like it - and it grew and grew on me. It appeals to the slightly off-the-wall side of my sense of humour, and I think there's probably something about it which reflects a side of Andrea too. Which is why this song always reminds me of her. (And I hope it's okay to say so, Andrea, but I figured I could always seek forgiveness if I had to ;)