H Styles v The Weeknd

So I have Harry’s single from his new album in my head, and its very pleasant…I can’t be the only one to have noticed the jingley synth riff owes rather a lot to the massive (Tik Tok) hit Blinding Light (The Weeknd). Cheap, Mr Styles, cheap. And it was pointed put to me that the riff owes rather a lot to A Ha’s Take on Me. To which I say, even cheaper Mr Styles. The album is an overproduced bit of fluff, and despite his massive ability as a dancer, the final shots of the accompanying video to As it Was are filled with moves I’d seen before in DV8s fabulous Cost of Living video, specifically the freedom dance to Cher’s Do You Believe in Life After Love, plus a loopy bit of dulled echoey verse which I think I first heard done on a track by Le Tigre circa 2009 (TKO).

I’ve also listened closely this week to Abba’s Voyage. Never a huge fan during their heyday, I was curious as to how they could reinvent their sound or have progressed at this late remove. So. There are brave melodies and some interesting harmony arrangements on the album. There’re also some rather mawkish and hideously sentimental Abba abberations… Little Things being the most awful, closely followed by the lyric about the dog … cant even remember the title of that track due to a kind of musical PTSD. I must stress that a few of the tracks were glorious. Rich in a stage musical kinda way. No Doubt About It is good. And I so much enjoyed the idea, harmonies and grandiosity of Ode to Freedom, a waltz that pays homage to the influence of a musical history… I absolutely loved and was gripped by Keep an Eye on Dan. Luscious and adventurous. Best track on the album.

Fishguard to Waterford and on…

I found a box with two holes in down on the skirting. 1966 in a Fishguard B n B. We were only there that night due to a ferry strike.

I should’ve been asleep but it was still daylight. My parents had gone somewhere. I think to the bar. I had no knowledge of two pin plug sockets. I might have, I believe I did stick a finger into one of the holes. This is a mystery, which involves a blank period culminating at a dining table later that evening in a room I’d never visited before, all laid out with cutlery, napkins, tea cups etc for breakfast, and my head sideways upon it as I slumped in a chair, facing a pool of vomit. And a concerned voice in my ear, then my parents there, and me being led back to bed again. They were never told about my socket investigation. They thought I was ill; miles better than the trouble I supposed an admission of over zealous curiosity would bring.

My dad had insisted I should tell anyone who asked on the car ferry to Waterford that I was 9, as the fare went up if I was my actual age. (Those fare categories puzzle me). I was small for 10 I suppose. Nobody asked.

The water that came from the taps in one Irish B n B was pale brown. Dad assured me this was due to the water coming through peat and he must’ve explained what peat was as I was satisfied to a large enough degree to wash my face in it.

There was a view from a bedroom window of what Dad said was called Sugarloaf Mountain. I liked that sweet name, imagining the taste of a bite.

We saw a clarted man walking along a country lane who Dad stopped to offer a lift in his eau de nil Ford Anglia, for which the worker was extraordinarily grateful. The car stank of dung for days after.

We attended horse races in Killarney, standing alongside a black-frocked gaggle of clergy. Mum bought a lace cloth at a street market in Athlone. We rode in a horse-drawn buggy. There were all manner of rich sodden greens, damp air, and empty lanes. It was summer in a land of ferns. We approached the Blarney Stone but I wasn’t allowed to lay backwards with head hanging down to kiss it. I imagine it was deemed too dangerous. Hah! I’m not even sure if that happened. I think it did.

The sum of my electrocuted holiday memory.

Addendum: Consultation with both older sisters (where were they? In Spain it appears, on a coach trip offering them their first ever holiday abroad, aged 16 and 17), and a long-suffering friend from Ealdham Square Primary ( more of that another day) have forced me to accept that I wasn’t 7 as first thought during this tour of Ireland with my parents but the kind of unwordly but curious 10 yr old who’d stick their fingers in a 2 pin electric socket to discover what it was… still finding this hard to credit. Explains a lot.

Bedside Tables

When I was 11, my Great Uncle Harry made me a bedside cabinet. I’m unclear as to how this came about. Made of sturdy plywood with rounded tapering legs and a finish of clear varnish, it graced my single room above the stairs at Manor Lane, Lee Green, SE13. Several years and two homes later, it was gloss painted turquoise, to compliment my peacock tail design blue and purple wallpaper, (which I paid for from meagre Saturday job wages at an ice cream parlour in Dawlish, Devon, my dad deeming the redecoration an unnecessary affectation at the time , though he willingly painted and papered my room). Anyway, back to SE13, I had very likely been given a packet of stick-on alphabet letters, out of which I wrought the phrase ‘sock it to me’ and stuck it on the cabinet door, this being the mid sixties and me thinking how cool I was, more especially by proxy as my elder sisters were by that time earning a wage and buying Mary Quant if they weren’t sewing their own copies….

I had a best friend come over after school. Very likely we listened to my tiny transistor radio, very likely listened to I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, ( I still laugh at the Muffled Titter running through the crowd …). When my guest went home I can’t tell you how mortified and slightly betrayed I felt to find the phrase on my bedside cabinet had been altered to ‘cock shit to me’. I have no idea where she found the extra letters. Maybe they were a ‘thing’ at the time that all us first years had in our pencil cases. I think more probably I had the stickers trustingly available to abuse. Susan White nee Dodge I now out you as the culprit! And I’ll bet she has no memory of this taking of liberties…

In another home, in Colchester, Essex, around the same time, my husband of the future, being then approximately eight years old, was happy with his bedside table. This was an up-ended fruit packing crate complete with company stickers which he insisted were ineffably exciting. Their foreign languages and place names thrilled him with their promise and a sense of the exotic. That crate stayed in his bedroom for years. Maybe until or beyond his joining the Royal Navy as a baby sailor at HMS Ganges aged sixteen. And perhaps it was still sitting there on the night he came home drunk whilst on leave, to that Brook St sitting room and its lit paraffin heater , ( again, how poor were his parents?) which kept the room warm for his dad who often came to sleep downstairs during the night. I know the family home didn’t have any central heating til VJ ‘d been in the Navy for some time, but those exact details are lost to me now. As is the reason for his dad’s disturbed sleep, and I hate that I don’t know why that might have happened .

Apparently VJB in his sozzled state, with trousers damp from a rainy night, had removed said pants and placed them over the paraffin heater to dry. He then staggered to bed. When his dad rose next morning he was furious to find VJB’s trousers had melted onto the heater, and by sheer luck (or mix of flammable fabrics, or the heater’s paraffin well burned dry ) hadn’t been the cause of a serious fire.

I don’t speculate now about his parents income, or the how and why of his childhood home’s furnishing and heating, only find myself humbled by how creative the mind of Mr B was. And to a degree, how flippin’ lucky he was to get to 58.

turquoise blue in my early teenage life once we moved to a From somewhere I

How Mr B became a ‘thing’

I called and continue to call my late hubster Mr B. Likewise I became Mrs B. A simple thing apparently, as our surnames begin with B, but in fact, a set of linked references informed this nicknaming.

While studying English Lit at Plymouth from 2014 to 2018, one of my course choices included in its reading list ‘Pamela’ by Samuel Richardson, ( pub.1740 ). The epistolary novel became a phenomenon, as means of moral instruction for young women. It was so popular that it was read aloud to groups of young girls who were unable to read it themselves, the gist of the story being, keep your hand on your ha’penny at all costs… Be that as it may, our lecturer, one Min Wilde, had a very healthy sense of humour which led to seminars with an almost Carry On flavour (I could hear Sid James’ yacking oh-so-un-PC laugh) as she unpacked a couple of key scenes. And in my head I can hear her declaiming ‘Oh Mr B!’ in a high-pitched, scandalised yet unidentifiable rural accent as the virtuous Pam fights off her priapic benefactor yet again. This indignant cry found its way home to us, as I explained the novel to my chap during my time studying same.

Possibly simultaneously, My Husband and I watched the film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s The Madness of King George 3rd, where the closing scene finds George and his wife saying good night thusly: ‘Good night Mrs King ‘ , ‘Good night Mr King ‘ … not sure that’s the right way round or even the actual end of the film, however, it fed into a routine of ‘Good night Mrs B’ etc.

Added to this was the voice both of us carried in our heads, Vic by direct experience and me by the telling of the tale, of his birthday, aged 11.Young V J B’s dad, Eric, a soldier for the first half of his life, if that explains anything, gave his son a pen for his birthday, whilst they sat at the breakfast table. This pen was one of those which had upon its upper casing a picture of a young woman in a bathing suit. By turning the pen upside down the bathing suit disappeared to reveal a buxom naked woman. V J Bs mother, obviously unaware at this juncture of the gift or its unsuitability, managed to offer an ‘Oh Eric’ which carried within it an entire world of disappointment. That ‘Oh Eric’ somehow joined with Pamela’s ‘Oh, Mr B’, to become a staple of our lives together. It summed up everything that we were; irreverently intertwined and made of stories. Lovers of the absurd. We got it, and we laughed loads.

So is it nostalgia, https://theoryofaccidents.wordpress.com/2022/04/04/so-is-it-nostalgia-that-trickster/ trickster

that turns a track you didn’t care for at the time of its release into the most joyous of tunes? I can’t answer the question, only record here that Wham’s Freedom seemed to me today, driving home, the most musically satisfying song I’d ever heard, at least for the time it took to play on my car radio…

I felt gloriously happy, buoyed up and along by the soaring sensation of it. And yet, at the time it entered my consciousness in 1984 it was the epitome of naff, a slick and cheap ride on an easy pop machine. So what happened?

It wasn’t like being transported back in time. But it felt like another time; hopeful, carefree, youthful. Not going to say innocent , that’s stupid. But at the very least afloat. Pop with the ability to keep the head up above whatever. I know it’s only pop, but hearing it as if fresh today allowed a comparison, and offered an anchor and a respite from misery of many various kinds. Maybe living into your mid sixties gives you those moments. I dunno. I have tracks which sustain me and mean a lot, and then I get these surprises of genuine musical pleasure which have nothing to do with taste, only rediscovery. But what is it I’m rediscovering? Not my youth, nothing so personal. A certain feeling of a time. A feeling of a point in my story.

But it’s not really that. It seemed only like a small big joy that filled me up. How can anyone even begin to explain that? Is that what nostalgia is or does? Or can music move you beyond time and place simply by being itself, waiting to be heard at another particular time and place, at which point another meaning is ascribed? Flip. I watch the 1984 video of Wham later the same day on YouTube, and it has absolutely nothing to do with today’s hearing in my car. Make of it what you will.

Us and Them

says my friend, while we discuss reasons. Like why is one war more important than another. Or more recognisable; empathically or even morally entwined with our understanding. Ah, it is all a reflection of Us. So Ukranian families bombed from above and forced to sit in unheated basements without food or water have our fullest support, being most like. Whereas War itself doesn’t carry the same meaning throughout the globe.

Who says so? The media, and their financial /political limits.

I read thread after social media thread about Ukraine and Russia. So many of them are interjected by those embroiled in other wars, asking us not to forget them. Asking Us to be other than Them. We are more than that, surely. I would hope We are more than an easy division. Not everyone looks the same. And if I were to delve deeper into a Ukranian psyche, there is not so much that is similar. So spare your kindnesses for all those trapped by war, as we don’t know the half of it, and the half we profess to know is heavily and wilfully manipulated.

Open letter to Stephen King

Dear Stephen King,

As a long time fan of your work, I decided to read your self – confessed magnum opus , The Dark Tower series. I wasnt expecting it to be so entirely different, but anyway admired the poetic prose of book 1, The Gunslinger. However a sense of unfolding story using character development was withheld, perhaps in order to highlight the mythic nature of the tale. The effect of the stylised prose kept Roland, the hero, wrapped up; he never becomes more than cypher throughout. Again, I went along with it, trusting the author (always problematic) and hoping for more as the seriez developed.

In book 2, The Drawing of the Three, I was drawn in as I’d hoped, as worlds opened up and challenges became personal regarding character action and reaction. Until I got to Odetta/ Detta. And all I could think was, what the hell were you thinking? Did you do any research in the manifestation of schizophrenic affect or lack of? Did you read anything relevant at the time of writing? My copy tells me the book was published in 1987. By then, I believe, it was accepted that schizophrenia was a misnomer, which absolutely did not translate as split personality, but rather a disintegration of self, where real and imagined are undifferentiated. What you describe happens to Odetta goes back to The Three Faces of Eve (1957) and ideas around Multiple Personality Disorder.

By the 1980s when your book was published, it was already mooted that schizophrenia was an umbrella term for several different psychiatric illnesses. So my question is, WHY? What made you think it was okay to be quite so lazy regarding the condition of one of your main characters ? Why didnt you rewrite the novel with access to recent research about schizophrenia? I’m both bemused and disappointed by your cavalier portrayal of a serious mental illness that continues to beg understanding. I worked in mental health for several years in the 90s, with MIND charity, and the people I knew diagnosed with schizophrenia did not exhibit any of the behaviours you ascribe to your so called schizophrenic character. I so much want to hear what you have to say about this. I love your later work; Dumas Key, Hearts in Atlantis, The Institute, The Outsider… so what the hell Stephen King? How did a book from the series you revere and ‘had to write’ get it so wrong?

Yours, going through a feet-of-clay experience, Sandra Burgess /Tappenden

P.S. Having two names doesn’t make me schizophrenic. One is poetry-world related, one is through marriage. Just so you know .

O

roaring

I love Nadine Shah. It wasn’t love at first hearing, which was in my Newquay kitchen while decorating ( Ladies for Babies on 6 Music) . That was curiosity. Arresting. I played it several times attempting to understand what was going on.

Then Club Cougar, which was recognisable in a supposed knowing way. But when I heard Fool it was like falling in love in an active way, as opposed to previously assimilated tracks like Daughter’s Youth, and more especially the collaborative (Ex Re) Romance, which brings on a dreadful recognition, miserable passive alarm and old distress. And what is any woman supposed to do with that?

Shah’s Fool provokes an immediate response, Right, yes, right, that’s it. Whereas listening to Daughter is backward-accepting like repeating a memory without insight. However I’d say both bands are equally important as far as ‘message’ goes, but their effects are emotionly opposite, like overpowered v empowered.

I accept this is a tiny unrepresentative pool of female artists to draw any kind of conclusions from. It’s personal. What else. This is a blog. Bless you Nadine Shah anyway.



What it takes

Power must be addictive. It’s some kind of fuel that, flagging, cries out for sustenance, disregarding any subsequent harms. Power is the most selfish thing anyone can chase. So when we vote we are giving the voted-for a shot of something they’ll be hard pressed to stop wanting. We’re creating an addiction only the most stable types can manage with any sense of responsibility. Is that really what democracy is? The fair-minded sinking to the bottom of a pond that’s topped by scum? Cripes a-mercy.

In the wake of recent news regarding Russia and Ukraine, I read a perhaps unquantifiable set of ‘informed’ medical ( U .S. based) opinions on Putin’s use over time of steriods… there is apparently a thing called steroid psychosis. It chimed with Trump era discussions by the medical profession of said Orange One’s possible incipient mental degradation, I.e. senility. All these theories are interesting and quite possibly worth investigating, but of course, no one is on a position to do such work, or do it in a way which can be authorised, let alone viewed as anything other than biased speculation. The evidence re Putin’s latest actions relies on his ‘puffy features’ and ‘moon face’ … and much as I’d love to believe his decisions are the end result of steroid abuse, explanations aren’t worth much in the midst of the misery and mayhem caused. Immediate thoughts, he is the architect of a terrible danger, an unwarranted aggression, and responsible for shattering an agreed peace between nations. What’s the lesson here? All peace is arbitrary. All peace hangs like a fabulous cloud mobile above our sleepy cribs. All peace is dependent. And when those with the power decide to smash the sky, it will fall. We should know this. We have always known this. We are not innately peaceful. We snooze. We get thrown our of our beds. I wish it were otherwise.

Our national securities are a fiction we suspend and there is no cure for greed. Basically I believe Putin had utilised a weakness due to the pandemic and all subsequent economic cracks that keep appearing, to stick his foot in a door that doesn’t really exist. All we can do is fight, and by that I mean protest, stick it with the pointy end in the ribs, and ensure all our beliefs about security are part of a living practise of refusal in the face of monstrous power plays. Everyone can act to halt bullying narcissistic greed. We are all responsible for holding back the flood. Individual actions, however they manifest, matter.

Nobody knows what is true anymore. The media cannot be relied upon. Let’s go with our gut about right and wrong. For me NATO is useful, not something to be thrown away. We don’t have a lot of options when trying to keep the ( imaginary) door closed so we can sleep at night… so fuck the takers, the sleep stealers, the war mongers. Consensus is all we have…

Groaning home

So my creaky old cottage went a bit mad last night. Ongoing building and plumbing work has shuffled the space from a two loo home to no loo then one loo, as long as I don’t wriggle around too much on the one loo, which has been unscrewed from its safe harbour temporarily. Then it’s back to a no loo home again, before its happy return in the not too distant future as a two loo-er.

Last night I was in the sitting room, hearing a tick tick tick which I first ascribed to cooling heaters, but a visit to the one (temp) loo revealed a swimming floor and splashed ceramics. The ceiling was crying big tears from a new fissure. I mopped, turned off the stop cock , and called the plumber whose concerned voice was accompanied by pubbish background strains of Happy Birthday, while my level of hope for flood avoidance rapidly dimished.

Joy! The plumber came back pretty smartish. He made a very large hole in a lathe and plaster wall to enable his hands access to the leak. He left to the staccato of slowing drips after drilling four holes in the bathroom ceiling to help water flow according to gravity.

Not long after his exit, I went to bed. Reading in the quiet was wonderful, until an unlikely fall of rubble overhead in the attic happened. Or did it?

Twice there came a big slithery rattling weighty SSHHSSH. I waited for more proof of imminent ceiling collapse but the waiting and listening led to nothing. So I shrugged in what I tried to fool myself was a cavalier manner and read on, until thuds and bangs above made both me and the previously fast asleep cat sit up like what the actual? I went from imagining a giant rat to a curious cat that’d got in and climbed the attic ladder (…I’d no idea whether the ladder had been utilised in my absence or a cat could in fact climb the like) or more prosaicly and realistically an air bubble in the water pipes due to turning the stop cock on and off I dunno how many times. And if an air bubble, then a bizarrely aggressive one. I mean fierce banging.

There was no way I was getting that loft ladder down to go and investigate. What I did do: get up and turn the stop cock off in the kitchen, and then on only a half a turn, maybe not even that. It went blissfully quiet. I slept. I was after all fairly tired.

Me thinks the house doth protest too much. That must mean it’s guilty. Or traumatised. Or.