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Monday, August 27, 2001


Up early here at Victoria Avenue and greeted by a beautiful morning. This is made all the more welcome after a dreadful night's sleep. So after a shower and a swift wander around the garden (thankfully having remembered to put my clothes on this time), I make a pot of tea, go upstairs and sit in the dazzling splendour of the yellow bathed in glorious sunshine. The genteel stride of Elie Siegmeister's Sunday In Brooklyn compliments the languorous mood beautifully. Even if it is a Monday.

Not just any old Monday either because today is a Bank Holiday in England. In Whitley Bay this translates to a vast horde of young people from around the region descending on the strip of bars and clubs and making merry. It's a twin-edged sword. Whitley Bay used to be a premier holiday destination and over the last thirty plus years has slipped into decay and ruin. In more recent years the town has become a popular location for clubs and pubs catering for the partying generation.

The boost to the local economy is of course huge when they all turn up but results in hundreds of drunk people milling around the shops en route to the watering holes. Newsagents selling cigarettes do well as do any fast food outlets. Residents who live in the vicinity however feel rather less well disposed to this kind of robust commerce. Gardens will be frequently used as impromptu toilets, litter is thoughtlessly tossed aside and when youthful passions are aroused your living room window might well become a ring side seat to a boxing or wrestling match or even a sex show involving any variation of participants and activities.

We are lucky here in Victoria Avenue because although we are only a couple of streets away from it all, we seem to be off the main desire lines and thus largely unaffected by any of the above. That said, there is always a slight sense of a siege mentality in the air at this time of year.

Book designer Chris Wilson has asked me to come up with snappy chapter headings and so I spent a little bit of yesterday afternoon getting the grey matter into gear. One scheme I had was to take song titles I know and see how they might apply to each section of the book.

Thus, chapter one, which deals with everyone in the early part of the story gravitating toward the capital, becomes "London Calling". The Haskell / Fripp split becomes Hey, "That's No Way To Say Goodbye" or the Sinfield / Fripp split becomes "Re-make / Re-model" or the post Red period becomes represented by "America Is Waiting." Well you get the idea.

Then I thought about using words which relate to royalty such as Coronation, Abdication, Restoration. . . but er. . .I couldn't think of any more. So it's more poking and prodding around the synapses to see what bright ideas may spark.

Got this e-mail from Chris Wilson last night. I laughed so hard I ended up with a coughing fit.

Sid, I may have been working too hard but do these look like the Discipline-era KC to you:

\{:-) 8< ( ( :-{ S: -)

Dr Wilson

And then before I knew it, the bugger had gone and e-mailed me all the other Crimson line-ups as well. I do worry sometimes about the company I'm starting to keep.

Sunday, August 26, 2001

Inner Space by Chick Corea

We currently have World Leader Symes testing out the new mattress in the guest room here at Victoria Avenue. David arrived on Friday evening having been given a lift by a work colleague from his front door somewhere in London to the bottom of our street, miraculously avoiding the Bank holiday week-end traffic.

Saturday morning David accompanied the boys and I on the obligatory treasure hunt around Cullercoats Bay. The treasure in this instance were any bits of rusted metal. Although none were found, the real treasure was in catching the sheer charge of excitement which Tom and Joe generated as they leapt from one rockpool to another.

Then to Newcastle to pick up a couple of bits and pieces while David did his own thing around town. On the off chance, I called in Spin Records and found Inner Space by Chick Corea. A mate of mine from many moons ago, Bob Marshall, used to have this double album. It was recorded circa 1966 and is Corea in hard post-bop mode with the wonderful trumpet of Woody Shaw blasting out the cobwebs. Sounding slightly quaint when compared to some of the more “out there” exponents of the day; it’s nevertheless an impressively brash offering. Corea’s propulsive playing is always fiery and the heaving rhythm section never fails to impress. Joe Farrell sax playing skips like a stone across the pools of notes and chords that Corea lays out and Woody Shaw’s entry on every track lift the pace – even when the pace is pretty hot. Spoilt slightly by the omission of two tracks (include the excellent This Is New) it remains a great album of driving force and expression. Killer Cut: Inner Space

I hadn't heard the thing in well over 25 years and there it was in the sales rack going for a fiver. Had to be snaffled up really. Once home, the riotous skittering music produced some genuinely hair raising moments. Sadly in more recent years Chick Corea's music and hair-raising moments have been a very rare occurrence indeed.

In the evening, my sister Lesley and two out of a possible three of her off-spring arrived up from Milton Keynes. They are staying at my mothers house and so we invited them over for a bite to eat. She brought with her some old photographs taken when she lived in Germany in the seventies. The photos contained amongst others Tony Marshall, an old chum, with whom I was recently re-united with via the classified ads in Mojo, Q and the pages of the DGM guestbook.

Tony is coming to stay with us in a couple of weeks and so I'll produce the photographs with all the dramatic understate of a blackmailer delivering the coup de grace.

I threw some food together and then threw it at a table which consisted of Doreen, Lesley, Errin, Isaac, Sam, Alys, Tom, Joe, World Leader Symes, Debbie and myself. The resulting badinage and a light smattering of party games ensured a delightful and civilised evening. I did worry about David being thrust into the bosom of two heaving, not to say, careering families but he appeared none the worse for wear, even suggesting he was enjoying himself.

Checking the e-mail and Helter Skelter write to say that they expect publication to be November 14. The Evil Doctor Wilson sent me two e-mails last night which had me laughing so hard I collapsed into a coughing fit which must have caused a flicker on the Richter scale. Of the design side of the book, one of Chris's repeatable comments includes the line

It may be that we have to have one pic 'per spread' in some cases, otherwise the book will assume the proportions of a paving slab.

He also suggests that I come up with some snappy chapter titles rather than the current Chapter One, etc. I had been toying with ideas for this but then got diverted. So today on this bright and beautiful Sunday morning, I'll start scratching around for inspiration. Bloody Hell. . .where's John Kimber when I need him ?

Thursday, August 23, 2001

Mist Again

Up at just a little a five a.m. this morning unable to sleep and feeling mightily dyspeptic. I pad around the house a while and settle on the sofa in the downstairs living room and read a little. There's a rolling mist coming in off the sea and I put the book down and watch its progress. You can't even make out the other side of the street other than the occasional dark shape looming up out of the grey.

Somewhere in all the various birds are shrieking and in my slightly hallucinogenic state of mind, the whole tableau takes on the appearance of a scene from a spooky movie.

A droning plane engine pushes in from Europe on its way to the airport and a little after six, I hear the sound of the first car of the day speeding past at the bottom of the street.

A little after seven, I make a pot of tea and looking at the clock in the kitchen, I wonder where on Earth I've been for the last two hours. Upstairs, I see the mist has cleared although the sea lacks any discernible horizon. I realise I've moved from one state of drifting vagueness into another more connected state of consciousness. I try and recall the thoughts of the morning but can't. It's a blank.

Working on a large untitled painting. It began life two years ago as The Red Event but has undergone various changes and ignominies since then. For the last six months it has been leaning up against the wall of the Green Room just next to the kitchen. It's a good place because every time I make a cup of tea or sit down to eat a meal it's there. . .brooding and waiting for some further attention.

The other day when Debbie was decorating the guest room, it ended up getting a thin wash of Magnolia emulsion plastered all over it. And so this morning ragged layers of white, various hues of blue and a startling but ultimately overpowering splatter of yellow. Tom was in attendance and took a look at it. "Needs more red" he says. He's right. Back to square one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Elements Of Chance

Beautiful weather over Whitley Bay this morning. Blue skies, silver seas and a warm, gentle wind.

Chris Wilson has been in touch. He's started work on the interior design of the book. His initial ideas he presented some months ago were stunning and I know they impressed Helter Skelter enough to secure him the whole design job for the book.

He's got until September 14th to finish the entire book from start to finish so we are trying to get together as quickly as we can. There's a quota of one picture per page which is wonderful and certainly means the book will be visual feast.

We are employing a complex methodology which attempts to balance factors such as rarity, familiarity versus illustrative / narrative quality and the "fookin' 'ell that's great !" approach. Failing that, it’s the old time and tested method . . ."eeny meeny miny mo". . .

Monday, August 20, 2001

A Tricky Balancing Act

Heard from Helter Skelter today who tell me that they've not made any cuts to the manuscript of In Court Of King Crimson. Yippee !!!

Hoping to catch up with Chris Wilson in the next few days to go through the final selection of photographs for the book. It's a tricky balancing act making sure that all the different Crim era's are represented as in some cases there isn't really much to choose from.

When I was with Hugh O'Donnell at DGM a couple of weeks ago, I was astonished by the numbers of pictures of Jamie Muir I'd selected from their archive. Mostly because I'm a big fan and I'd simply not seen the bulk of them. Including them all however would seriously skew the balance and for the sake of the greater good, I reined in my particular enthusiasms.

Speaking of which. . .

I notice on the guestbook John Carr wrote the following in relation to a proposed KC / book launch convention.
May I suggest that the "listening" or "reading" of your book on the history of KC be held in your hometown? None of this London nonsense. Do us all good to get up to the North-East. You could display your paintings too.

Sounds like you're on good terms with the local hotelier, so he'll no doubt help to provide facilities for the gathering.

Ouch ! Speaking of which. . .

I'm thinking of changing my e-mail address again. I've been getting so much spam lately including one telling me how to extend the length of my penis and another telling me I'd been baptised into some church or other and that my soul was saved. I'd rather not faff on changing it but when only three in every ten e-mails are actually of interest - the rest being invitations to part with money or morals - then maybe it's time to change.

Sunday, August 19, 2001

Woodman, Woodman Spare That Tree!

When I wrote on Friday that the day contained great excitements and passions, I hadn't realised how far these surging emotions would extend.

Regular readers of the diary might remember I mentioned the death of Joan, an elderly neighbour who lived on the corner at the top of our street. On Friday afternoon I bumped into Jude, my next door neighbour who was clearly agitated and very angry. She told me that the owner of the hotel situated over the street from Joan's house was in the garden, hacking and chopping down Joan's Sycamore tree. Now this is a big tree spreading out in three directions, so much so that it offers a canopy over that part of the street.

When Jude challenged the man, he was apparently very rude and dismissive. Jude's point was this: who's permission did he have to go and cut down this tree ? Effectively he told her to mind her own business. So, being a good neighbour and concerned at the way he'd bungled what could have been a reasonable trimming back, I went up and spoke to him.

He really was making a dreadful mess of the tree which was by now a tangle of sharp and split branches. This tree will now die thanks to his thoughtlessness.

I asked him what right he had to go into somebody else's garden and chop down something which didn't belong to him (even though she was dead). He said that the tree was blocking the light of his business. When I pointed out that the tree, though big and unruly and most definitely in need of a trim, was not near his business he started getting aggressive.

Then his wife came out of the hotel and told he didn't have to answer any of my questions. So, I kept patiently asked who had given him permission to do this and pointed out the dangerous condition he had left the tree in. As we spoke the man continued to chop and maul his way through the tangle of felled branches.

What annoyed me so much was the fact that he thought it was alright to do what he was doing because Joan was dead and she wouldn't care. The tree had been the subject of a long running dispute during the latter part of her life. Now she was out of the way he could get rid of it. Arrogance or what !

At this point things were getting quite heated between us. Then he suddenly noticed his left leg was soaking wet. A huge dark stain had blotched the entire trouser leg from the knee down. When he rolled up his trouser leg a fine spray of blood squirted out, spraying the ground and the leaves in front of him.

In his anger, he had carelessly chopped too vigorously at a branch and had hit his own leg. The blood spurted everywhere.

The wife rushed in to phone an ambulance, a member of the hotel staff applied a tourniquet and I as I walked back down the street, I'm sure I heard the sound of an old woman laughing.

Most of the neighbours were outraged at the hotel's behaviour and the kids have a front page story for their summer holiday newspaper.

Anyway the excitement didn't stop there. Ian McDonald rang to say he'd be willing to attend a Crim convention / book launch assuming the dates tied in with one of his visits to the UK. He also mentioned that Virgin had given the go-ahead for the re-mastering of McDonald And Giles. This is great news - I love this album and it's only been available on Japanese import.

Hopefully the re-mastered version will include a scrapbook (like the recent batch of Crimson re-masters) and some extra tracks. The KC book mentions McDonald working at home on some demo's for the album and it'll be these that would be up for inclusion as extra material. I guess the album will be re-mastered and released in the new year. Can't happen soon enough for me.

Friday, August 17, 2001

Out of the Blue

Tom, Joe and myself sat on the sofa and watched Dungeons And Dragons (which might alternatively be know as Dudgeon And Dragging). Afterwards Joe asked me what I thought the scariest bit was. I was tempted to reply "Jeremy Irons and his dreadful overacting" but opted for the more neutral "Oh it was all scary son".

After the lads had gone to bed, I then watched Unbreakable with Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson. As the film unfolded I could feel the will to live ebbing away which is a pity really. A pity because the movie came recommended to me from one or two people who have normally given me a good steer in the past.

A better time was spent looking up at the clouds last night. Rain was in the air although it had yet to fall. You could sense the temperature doing strange things and best of all were the flashes of lightning which illuminated the clouds from within. Strange, random flashes without any thunder moving sedately out to sea. It looked like a scene from Close Encounters. Wonderful stuff.

This morning was spent working on five small canvases. Each one measures 120mm x180 and I subjected them to the usual sealing wax, dirt, scuffling, and acrylic abuse I know and love so well. Thematically, they use the jelly bean motif as seen in The Keeling Quartet. I just sit and work through it and follow the leads. I love working at this kind of scale, moving from one canvas to another over a very short period of time.

Joe and Tom joined in the daubing fun and as a result we were almost late for our one o'clock appointment to meet my mother, Doreen in Newcastle. We all went for lunch in an Italian restaurant of my acquaintance and enjoyed a lovely meal, catching up on our respective holidays. Afterwards we went up to the Hatton Gallery to take a look at the show - a collection of work from the local art club which the university plays host to. Not a bad show actually and the bonus was there was a workshop for children and adults which of course we immediately joined.

Back home in Whitley Bay we discover a mystery package addressed to me had been delivered. The Amazon logo on the outside indicated it might be a book. The boys were highly excited as they are when anyone opens a gift. Once I got the packaging it was revealed to be a book about Yves Klein - one of my favourite artists.

The book had arrived out of the . . .er, blue courtesy of Remco Helbers and Ada Berkenbosch. A complete surprise and a lovely gift. I had coveted their copy which they purchased from Tate Modern a couple of weeks ago (see elsewhere on this diary) when we were all at Kimber's house. So to have it arrive in such an unexpected fashion was a delight.

Tom and Joe are out in the street and I'm putting the finishing touches to The Making Of Red for one of the UK's monthly music magazines. The editor hasn't said they'll publish yet but they were very interested to see the thing. The article is constructed from sections excerpted from the Crimson book and some material that didn't make it into the final version. Naturally, the book contains the greater depth and detail but I'm hoping that this article and a similar one on the making of ITCOTKC for a different magazine will whet people's appetites and get them to whiz out and buy a copy or two.

No word from Helter Skelter yet about what they think about the book and no requests for revisions so far. They seem to be confident that the thing will be published in the Autumn however and indeed I've seen the book advertised (under it's old working title of Track By Track) in the back of some new Helter Skelter publications - notably one on Serge Gainsbourg and another on The Clash.

Here it's priced at £14.99 the price reserved for the slightly weightier tomes. Elsewhere, it's priced at £12.99 although I gather Barnes And Noble are advertising it much cheaper again. I've even seen it advertised either there or on Amazon as being 257 pages in length - which is the page count of the manuscript minus several appendices and the index.

A while back I was discussing ideas for a book launch with the Kim Le Ber, the groovy guru of leafy Highgate. Kimber's suggestion was to get a room in somewhere central in London and have a little launch "convention".

Obviously this could be nothing like the scale of the playbacks at the Hotel Intercontinental which DGM organised a few years ago. This might be more akin to the Fripp thingy at Border's Books when ITCOCK came out. Or like when fans get together in the pub before and after a Crimson show.

The question though is how many Crim fans would turn out for such an event. Obviously it's going to be down to single figures if it was just me and my one-man show routine. However, if some real Crim celeb's could be persuaded to join in, well who knows ? What do you think ? Good idea ? Bad idea ? What would the evening consist of ? What would make you want to leave the house and brave the bad weather to such an event ?

At the moment I'm just looking for a show of hands. If enough people are interested then I'll might put some energy into it and get the thing off the ground. Let me know folks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Best Value For Who?

Locked out of DGM website for over 24 hours but don't worry I managed to get my fix by picking out little bits of accumulated grime and dirt out of the pitted parchment patina from an old vinyl copy of In The Wake Of Poseidon.

The world of local government is in a ever-decaying orbit. With each turn and spin the whole thing wobbles ever more shakily, slowly but surely falling toward the ground. The last couple of days in the office have been both exhilarating and depressing simultaneously. The good bits are great. The bad bits are shockingly terrible.

The amount of vanity publishing that goes in local government - or my bit of local government - is astonishing. In the drive to achieve beacon status, a new Labour pat on the head, all sorts of circles have been squared. You might think achieving Beacon status, or completing a Best Value or IIP status, would mean a better service. Well, the money that has been spent on this lunatic tick-box approach to "quality" has led to a huge increase in the numbers of policy officers required to ensure compliance with the various policy initiatives.

Policy officers do not deliver meals on wheels to older people, cut the grass, empty the bins or even make the arts accessible to increasing numbers of residents. They look after the policy. The schmucks who manage the services or even deliver the services AND even manage and deliver the services have had no increase in their resources.

Here's how it works. Best Value is meant to achieve an annual efficiency saving of anywhere between 1 and 5 % In the review process, all waste is identified and cut out. All assumptions about expenditure are scrutinised and challenged. Thus savings occur. Except they don't because in most cases the service is being run on an absolute shoestring. However, new Labour propaganda boasts of the great savings which their approach has yielded.

The local politicians want to see positive results coming out of the pain they know the body politic is experiencing. So what the chief officers have come up with is a sleight of hand which basically top-slices the required amount. Thus the "efficiency" savings are achieved and new Labour can be presented as being prudent and competent, as opposed to scrabbling around trying to keep all the plates spinning.

In other times local government would have protested loudly at such a mad financial regime. Of course Labour controlled authorities cannot be seen to be in open rebellion against their chums in Westminster. So we all grit our teeth and say everything in the garden is fine.

Beam me up, Scotty.

Monday, August 13, 2001

Shooting Down The Jet Set

OK here's the thing. It's Saturday morning and we get to Bridgend Station at 7.40 a.m. The first thing we see is that our straight through train (Bridgend to Newcastle) has been cancelled. Get the 8.00 a.m. to London and change at Bristol Parkway. Catch the Plymouth to Newcastle. Get to Bristol Parkway to find that the Plymouth to Newcastle is running two hours late. Maybe get the Bristol to Birmingham and change there. Have you ever changed trains at Birmingham with four kids and enough baggage to sink a jumbo jet ? When it comes the Plymouth to Newcastle is running three hours late.

Of course we have no reserved seats and have to scramble around for a seat. We decide to do the scrambling in First Class even though we only paid standard. At least there is more room to stand. The kids get all get seats. Three women and their teddy bear all sat next to me. A very harassed guard pointedly looks at the teddy bear in the seat and asks if anyone is sitting their. Yes says one all pokerfaced - "The teddy bear."

The guard cuts and runs. The three women smirk at their victory over common sense. Well, they say in loud voices "We've paid for the ticket." Shoulderpads and lip gloss flash and glint as formidable as medieval armour. Turns out their fourth chumette didn't make the journey - so the teddy bear got the seat. What a wheeze. After an hour or so of standing I smiled and ask if I might have the seat - remarking that Teddy looked suitably rested.

Now in Tracy Pokerface's universe it was OK to dis the guard because he's staff. But me they weren't sure about. For anyone who doesn't know me, well I'm a big fat bastard with a shaved head and I look like I'd fuck with you bad if you crossed me. Which of course I would. So, her two chums caved in straight from the off. Tracy Pokerface wasn't so sure. Her face creased up into a Pollock-esque explosion in a Max Factor factory as she smiled and eventually said yes. They all exchanged nervous glances as my portly frame eclipsed their sunny day.

I did think about breaking wind loudly as I sat down but figured such an triumphalist display would be unnecessarily vulgar. So there I sat reading the Gillian weir biog of Henry VIII and cramping their style.

By the time we got to Darlington the train had given up hope and the guard announced over the speakers that the train would be terminating at Darlington due to "operational difficulties." So we all bundle off the train and wait in the quaint curves of Darlington's utilitarian Victorian station.

Half an hour later we were on board a tiny chuff-chuff and nearly forty minutes after that we wheezed into Newcastle. I was tempted to drop to my knees and do the old tarmac snort papal-style but held myself in check long enough to nip around to the station office and collect a complaint form. This is the age of the strain.

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

The Golden Age of Moaning

08/04/2001 Ah the golden age of the train. . .

Not you may suppose a nostalgic harking back to the era of a steam, chunky cardboard letter-pressed tickets, neat picture-book stations, manned level crossings, Isambard Kingdom Brunnel or even George Stephenson.

No, I’m afraid in attempting to invoke the past I was merely wanting to go back around twenty years ago. This was sometime before privatisation of the country’s railway network. Back then you could reasonably expect the train to turn up at the scheduled, time-tabled hour. Once on board, you could expect to find your seat (which had been reserved) and if yours was a seat at a table, it was not uncommon to find that the table would have been cleaned and tidied. The previous departing passenger might often perform this simple act of courtesy. Thereafter, a member of the train staff might do it.

This is not to deny the fact that pre-privatisation, there weren’t problems with the running of the services or that there weren’t delays, accidents and staffing difficulties. The politicians and business leaders who advocated privatisation (which by spooky co-incidence were very often the same people who benefitted from the selling off) complained - sometimes rightly - that the service was a joke.

The argument went that private sector know-how and private capital would deliver a leaner, fitter and a more competitive industry. It would also deliver a profit for the shareholders.

Well, as I sit on Virgin train leaving Newcastle en route to Bridgend in Wales, my feet nestling in amongst the inches of rubbish and human detritus, I begin to wonder just who it was who benefited from privatisation? Reservations count for nothing as hordes of people pile on board because their trains have been cancelled. It’s a dog eat dog world and as they climb on board, they are brimming with resentment at having been messed around. This anger is converted into an all purpose irritation and disregard for others as they ignore the reserved notices on the seats.

Next stop and when yet more punters get on, they find their seat taken, increasing the ill will, glowering in amongst the humid slabs of stale air that occupies the carriage. In the early months of the 21st Century in Great Britain, Virgin trains are unable to provide rolling stock with functioning air conditioning or rudimentary ventilation.

Well, back in the seventies somebody somewhere in this country voted for a Government who promised to sell off the family silver. True it was somewhat tarnished although I’m sure it would have cleaned up a treat if we’d bothered to spend even half the amount of money that was allocated as tax incentives and windfall inducements and other morally dubious arrangements.

So, taking this into consideration, given the size of the Tory landslide majority in the Thatcher years, perhaps we get the public (and private) services we deserve.

We get into Bridgend sometime seven or so hours after leaving Newcastle and are met by Bill, Debbie’s father. He drives us the half a dozen miles to Trecco Bay - the largest caravan site in Europe. It’s good to see Debbie again after so long and the kids all seem reasonably pleased to be reunited.

It was a beautiful night and after Tom and Joe went to bed Debbie and I sat outside. After a while we are joined by Alys and the three of us sit gazing up at the clear night sky seeing shapes in the passing clouds, counting satellites crawling high overhead and the occasional quicksilver of shooting stars.

A red-hot day to day and in the afternoon we hit the beach. Debbie, Alys, Tom and Joe go into the water for a swim. I wade in but only so far - being frankly terrified of the water and unable to swim. Joe insists on grabbing onto Debbie’s back and shouting yee-haa ! as they both plunge under the waves.

Back at the caravan we eat and then it’s off to the fun fair. Here we all play a game of bowling in which the pecking order of Sam, Alys, Tom and Joe is preserved. When it looked like Alys was close to upsetting the order and beating her brother, things got well wobbly and Sam’s face clouded. Debbie and I do the old “it’s not the winning that counts but the taking part that counts” routine. Of course, anyone who is in the throws of a life and death needle match knows this assertion to be complete bollocks - it is the winning that counts.

Spent the last part of the night chatting with Debbie, making plans for the renovation of the spare room in the house. I also read the Sunday Times - something of a luxury for me - and an excellent piece by Phillip Norman about his childhood and the relationship with his father. Naturally it made me think about my own father and our relationship. More of this at a later stage.

The headlines talk about the continuing Foot and Mouth crisis. There is no doubt that the handling of the disease has been badly bungled by the Government. However, the question of the extent to which farming is dependent on public support and subsidy is at last beginning to be seriously.

The farming lobby and their supporter’s argue that farming is a special case and should be protected from the ups and downs of the industry.

These are of course largely the same people who successfully called for an end to public subsidy in other industries such as mining, shipbuilding and other areas of manufacturing. Farming is different, they say, though quite how has never been successfully explained to me at least.

The review section carries a feature on a new published book called Art, Not Chance, published by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Essentially, a number of artists were asked to keep a diary for a year and the results are collected together. In his review Humphrey Carpenter remarks that the “depressions experienced by many people working in the arts does begin to be a bit of theme”.

The long periods of time when no words come through whatsoever are the most desolate of times, resulting in deep despond which of course ripples outwards into other areas of one’s life.

Overcast and rainy most of the day. Debbie and I accompanied her father, Bill to meet Maldi - Debbie’s aunt. They spent a good couple of hours talking through various aspects of family history. Although I didn’t know any of the characters mentioned, it was nevertheless fascinating to hear the tale told. Deceptions and betrayals. Which family is not wrought with them ? One project I’ve been meaning to do is to get my mother’s take on family matters before she pops her clogs. Although I’ve got the jist of the main events, there’s a plethora of detail which I’ve either forgotten about or don’t know.

As we talked on some dark doings in Wales, the kids were all meant to have been at the cinema. Alas when we returned it was to an assembly of long faces. It turns out the cinema was full and the desired movie - Cats And Dogs - was denied them.

In the evening, we all went up to the central strip of the caravan site. Here there are amusement arcades aplenty, cabaret bars and all manner of earthly delights - for those who like that kind of thing. Our lot went on the Go-Karts, thrilling and spilling around the figure of 8 race track. Last year Joe was an absolute demon on this and was almost banned for dangerous driving. This year he managed to restrain his road-hogging urges and acquitted himself well.

Back in the caravan, the six of us watched a Time Team special on the history of Britain. Were we to be at home, it would be very rare for all of us to watch television together. In Wales there is no escape and we are all penned together in a space which is probably a bit smaller than our bathroom at home. And oddly enough we all enjoy it.

Holiday listening includes
Richard And Linda Thompson - selected highlights
A Passion Play - Jethro Tull
Fear Of Music - Talking Heads
On Some Road - Remco Helbers

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

Musical Differences

Continued with the new Talking Heads biography. I can't believe how bitchy some of this stuff is ! In places I've actually blushed at the venom that's going backwards and forwards between some of the individuals concerned.

I think we often under-estimate the intensity and depth of feeling which being in a band generates. The on-off dynamic which characterises much of the life of being in a band also produces fierce extremes, which the individuals have to traverse and accommodate. The point is, nothing about performance is normal or routine. The usual cues or pointer's which provide us with a broadly stable framework are almost wholly absent.

In talking to various ex and current Crims, I've constantly been struck by the degree of passion which inhabits their commentary. Often it is coloured with many conflicting sentiments which can appear to veer in several contradictory directions. Being part of any creative process is usually an exhilarating experience which more often than not is being propelled headlong between acclamation, indifference and a whole lot more besides.

This is powerful stuff and makes for an equally potent reaction. The sheer acceleration between the high's and low's of life on the road or making an album produces conflicting views, as people handle the stresses and demands which occur as best they can.

Given the wildly differing preferences, predisposition's and prejudices which are to be found in any band, the chances of these factors neatly coalescing for very long is virtually nil. While the music is playing all other issues are mostly forgotten or at least put aside. For the most part the foibles and points of differences are sidelined into a truce of sorts while the music is there.

Then, perhaps inevitably the differences in attitude and approach begin to eat away at the fragile skein of unity which playing the music creates - please step forward our old chum, the multi-faceted and versatile catch-all phrase, "musical differences". And the rest of the story we all know.

August already ! Roses, gladioli, poppies and a host of other anonymous flowers transform a lovely morning into a beautiful morning. Standing in the garden, the blue sea and a light wind make one glad to be alive despite the fact that I'm desperately missing Debbie. Feels like we haven't seen each other for a couple of weeks - which of course we haven't !

Talked to her last night. They're having lots of seaside fun and the gang are having a great time. I never thought I'd say this but I'm looking forward to going down to Porthcawl. Not because I have an abiding love of UK caravan culture but more to do with being in the, err. . .bosom of my loved ones.

Received a couple of Jpegs from Pat Mastelotto last night. They were taken by Bill Munyon from the current KC tour. Also talked with Chris Wilson regarding developments around the book cover as he and Helter Skelter discuss the finer points of jacket design.

Talked to Chris Taberham yesterday. He's just recently turned 44 and has the Miles Davis Bitches Brew box set for his trouble. Chris recently sent me a couple of his Sunday papers cut-up poems. Borrowing the time-honoured Burroughs technique, his random cut and paste method often produces some startling and provocative associations. Here's one I particularly like;

Drifting In Shadows -

Melting optimism
The cost of democracy
Roles and responsibilities
That fail to connect
Respond to demands
To forge a future
Invention daily just to
Survive the
Anticipation and neglect

I don't know what he means but I know what he means.


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