Thursday, October 22, 2009

Booking Time To Read

I am a great admirer of people who have time to read books for a second time or even more. This has come to mind as my wife, Maggie is undertaking a creative writing course and her reading list includes many titles she has read previously.

As a slow, very slow reader, I have rarely re-read a book with a few exceptions: “Kidnapped”; “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Shakey,” the Neil Young biography spring to mind.

I do love books but bedtime reading is hopeless as I get through a few pages before falling asleep. So, the next day when I pick up a book again, I have to go back over the pages I read. I can’t skip over passages or words as I hate to think of an author slaving away with text and plots for me to pay them less than full attention.

On holiday, Maggie - somehow despite the demands of our lively three-year-old son, Adam - managed three books during the 12-day break. I think I read about three chapters, if that.

So while Maggie rattles through books, there is always a healthy pile on the bedside table for me to tackle. Just started a Val McDermid thriller - so might have it finished before bonfire night.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mike Ritchie Media - Comes A Time: Eye opener

Mike Ritchie Media - Comes A Time: Eye opener

Eye opener

I do listen to a lot of music from a range of styles. Lately, for example, I’ve been playing Spiritualized, Sam Baker, Richmond Fontaine, Eilen Jewell - excellent live, incidentally - and Ian McNabb with my usual favourites, Neil Young, Tom Waits and Morrissey, as well as The Smiths. A class selection.

But, somehow or other, there is a band I’ve not been involved with though selected tracks over the years have intrigued and pleased me. Indeed, my middle son, Martin, included them in a compilation CD a few years back. And I have no idea how I have become interested again of late.

This has happened quite a few times in my music listening lifetime – Tom Waits, Richard Thompson, John Prine and even, it must be said, Dylan as plenty of chums were major followers while I played catch-up.

And so it is now with Eels.

Yes, “Novocaine for the Soul” has been on the turntable many times over the years but I’ve not bought a single Eels” CD ever. Spotify has been filling in the gaps, admirably and enjoyably.

So, do I go for a compilation or work through the back catalogue? Any advice anyone? I note a new release is due in the New Year, but I want to make that my latest, not the first. Thank you for suggestions.

Friday, October 09, 2009


INTERESTING, but baffling nonetheless, are comments from a senior Glasgow cop saying that “older” folk should head down into Glasgow city centre at weekends to make it seem safer, or reduce safety concerns.

I can’t see how my sensible attitude to drinking and behaviour in public is going to dissuade dozens of yahoos and others, unwilling to curtail and unable to control their booze intake or even handle it, to tone down, quit being bolshie or aggressive and behave differently, I really can’t.

(And, you there, yes the girl whose clothes are barely visible, stop pewking in your pals’ handbag. That would go down a treat, wouldn’t it? Unheard, ignored, or possibly just an opening for some inebriate or drug-fuelled individual to inquire as to whether or not I would want my face re-arranged, more likely.

Big crowds of young people, elated that it’s the weekend, are entitled to be boisterous – I was, too, at their age. It’s part of growing up, an important part.

But, there are limits and boundaries that so many seem to overstep. Foul-mouthed, vulgar, bad-mannered attitudes certainly don’t make me want to share my social time in that sort of atmosphere.

Really, what difference would my appearance, or my friends of a similar vintage, really make to the rowdiness, the drunken-ness and the sheer unpleasantness of it all?

Last Saturday evening, I had A PINT in a city centre bar, a very busy city centre bar populated by drinkers over the age of 25 in the main. There was a lively bustle, but no threatening behaviour. That was in major contrast to what I saw on the short walk to Central Station.

The drunks were all, I’m convinced, under the age of 25 – and lot looked barely out of school, many were young women. There were arguments, one scuffle and a general air of menace. It was only 5.30 p.m.

I am perfectly willing to accept and believe that the majority of the weekend revellers are well-behaved, out to have fun and not to cause any trouble whatsoever. In fact, I’m convinced most go out for a laugh with their mates, no more, no less.

I’m no prude, far from it, nor am I a killjoy. But, Glasgow City Centre will stay a no-go area for me most weekends. I’m sorry, it’s just not for me. When we venture into town for a meal, we’ll jump a cab straight to the door, and take a cab back home.

While I am one of the “older” people the police chief refers to in the newspaper article, I’m sorry but I don’t see how I can help raise the tone of the city centre by my calm presence. I’m sure many others feel the same.

The story I refer to is at:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Listing still

I am a sucker for lists so Uncut magazine's latest, "150 Albums of the Decade" is good fun to digest.

Forty-two of my purchases in that period are included in the magazine's collection, more than 42 probably aren't, but that doesn't matter. These are not serious, definitive lists in any sense. They are good for discussions, arguments and overall a chance to talk nonsense about music in general.

Artistes I really like, such as Jim White, Morrissey, Steve Earle don't rate a mention but that doesn't make me want to vent a fury against the magazine in any way or cancel my subscription. After all, critical reviews rarely put me off an album, although when Ryan Adams released "Rock n' Roll," the critics did unanimously give it a pasting, I ignored the warnings and the CD was truly awful and has been played only once in this household.

Looking over the Uncut list over my porridge and toast in the morning has been enjoyable. As the year/decade end approaches, I'm looking forward to more lists, musically.