Someone called me “a minefield of information” today, which was rather lovely, so I didn’t pull on my pedantic trousers. I did, though, grimace inwardly when the sack of lumpy custard pretending to be the Prime Minister encouraged people to go “into the breach”, one of the more persistent and tiresome misquotations of Shakespeare; and when, even less forgivably, in the latest episode of Doctor Who, the unseen Lethbridge-Stewart is referred to as a Corporal...
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Back in the days when blogging was a thing and people used to read this, every now and then I’d use a post as a repository for various bits of stuff and nonsense that had caught my eye over the past few days or weeks, a sort of snapshot of my cultural life at that moment.
In that spirit, Matt Doran, the man who forgot to listen to the Adele album, offers an apology that sounds like something from a Stalinist show trial, except that I’ve got a horrible feeling it’s genuine. And just when you think being under-prepared is a sin, BBC4 runs a documentary about Geordie singer-songwriter Alan Hull, which kicks off with the presenter admitting he doesn’t know anything about Alan Hull. I’ve got a horrible feeling that the success of You’re Dead To Me has given the Beeb the idea that ignorance is a qualification.
Also on a musical theme, I offer you Olivia Lane’s review for Pitchfork of the new Robert Plant/Alison Krauss album, for no reason other than that she uses the words “effulgent”, “magmatic” and “empyreal” and doesn't explain or apologise, so there. Then there’s Andy Bull’s quip about the Tim Paine scandal:
Paine sent an unsolicited “dick pic” to a female employee of Cricket Tasmania with the caption “finish me off right now”. Four years later, she has...
A line from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ that made me giggle foolishly:
I arose and argued about trifles...
And this, via Richard Blandford on the Twitters, which also made me giggle, but not as much as the trifle thing did.
Monday, November 22, 2021
OK, a slightly long-winded question that may go on to be part of A Thing I'm Doing but who knows? Back in the olden days, lots of pop stars would get evangelical about their favourite authors and books, and many of us would obediently read said books (or at least strive to be seen holding them). So, Morrissey would plug Delaney and Capote and Wilde (but not Keats or Yeats), Robert Smith had Camus, Paul Weller Colin MacInnes, Edwyn Collins Salinger, Shane MacGowan Behan and Donleavy, and then the Manics came along and Richey would foist on us a whole bloody syllabus, from Plath to Mishima to Debord and plenty more. The question is, is there anyone doing something similar today? I know Mr Stormzy's pushing the value of higher education in general, and Dolly Parton's got her excellent literacy project going but I'm not aware of any big musical names pledging allegiance to any big literary names. Or does Rihanna want us all to read the new Margaret Atwood and I've just missed it? Please advise.
Sunday, November 21, 2021
In my epic tome about Radiohead’s OK Computer, I floated the idea that this 1997 work might turn out to be among the last of the classic albums, in which each track was intended to matter, in an immutable order laid down by its creators. Napster, iTunes and Spotify have worked to automate the techniques we developed making mixtapes in the 1980s, breaking The Long-Playing Record down into discrete tracks that can be rearranged and redistributed at will, always with the option to leave out the one written by the drummer.
Of course there was always the possibility that an artist would stand up against the shuffle button, defending the sanctity of an album as a coherent, linear work of art. The thing is, I imagined it would be an artist in the serious rock tradition, tracing a line from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and, yes, Radiohead. I really didn’t expect it to be Adele.
Friday, November 19, 2021
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Saturday, November 06, 2021
Sad news from Barrow, where a public piano in a market has signally failed to create a harmonious atmosphere. “If they were playing Beethoven or Mantovani or something nice that would be OK,” says one local trader, “but it’s just kids jumping up and down on them and creating just utter noise.”
Leaving aside for a moment the aesthetic equivalence between Beethoven and Mantovani, some people would pay good money for a nice bit of noise.
Thursday, November 04, 2021
There is doubtless a word for it, in German, if not Japanese: in a charity shop, seeing a book you’ve been meaning to read for years, then realising just before you get to the till that it’s your own copy of the book, that you brought to the shop a few months ago as part of an admitting-I’ll-never-get-round-to-reading-it job lot.
And of course another word for when the realisation doesn’t hit until after you’ve bought it.