Ten years ago this week, on 25th October 2004, a true great, a genuine legend, a uniquely loveable and popular man, John Robert Ravenscroft aka John Peel passed away. It is impossible to overstate the influence Peely had over the entire musical industry in the 37 years he broadcast on British Radio. His show was THE show. He didn’t just bring the best records and the best bands to the nation’s awareness – he singlehandedly championed whole genres. Thousands of DJs and musicians since the late 60s namecheck Peel as the number one influence on their career.
His knowledge and love of music was enormous and his favourite tune was, as everyone knows, Teenage Kicks. When asked why, he didn’t give an arty answer about chords or teen angst or poetry or the zeitgeist of alternative late 70s music. He just said “because there is nothing you can add to it or take away from it to make it better”. And when asked what his favourite kind of music was, he would say “music I haven’t heard yet”. He lived for the new, for that buzz of discovering truly great music.
Peel often played the wrong record, the wrong side of the right record, the right record through the wrong fader, or the right record at the wrong speed, and all of this revealed his “one of us” character – he was a normal bloke who just happened to be a wonderful broadcaster. And sometimes, just sometimes, he would do the one thing that no DJ should ever do – he played the same tune twice.
Here is a clip of him doing just that. Peely, you were unique, a great, and you are still sorely missed.
Mike Skinner (aka The Streets) is a great talent. Much like Jarvis Cocker and to some degree Blur, he reflects sections of british society in his music and his lyrics, meaning that much of his appeal is the recognition, in much the same way that comedians whose material is observational are popular. Blinded by the Light is I think my favourite track by The Streets because of the lyrics describing a night out, but also because of the wonderful synth stab which seem to be in some sort of 11/8 time signature that complements the chilled nature of the tune but is enough out of kilter to give it a nervy edge.
This is the remix by dubstep / dnb royalty Nero. The lyrics of the verses are sacrificed, which is a loss, but what the track gains is an additional layer of bass and an extra drum track. Added depth, added quality.
Oh okay then, since you asked nicely, here’s the original. That’s a choon too…
There is a divergence in my mental state recently, as though my emotional self is standing with one foot on a boat which is slowly drifting away from the bank. Which way will I go? To sea or back to shore? Or will I end up in the water?
To the outsider, to those I socialise with and to some extent those I work with, I am a lot happier lately. I engage more with people, I talk more, I listen more. And I think that during those times I am genuinely more content, more emotionally settled and the black dog isn’t on my shoulder. So maybe that perception of me is right.
But when I’m on my own – which, as a single person living alone who shies away from socialising much, is a lot of the time – I feel myself sinking lower than I have done for a long time. I’m lonely and unhappy (the two aren’t linked, I don’t believe, just happen to co-exist), and less inclined to do anything about either of these. My enthusiasm for anything at all is at an all time low. I sleep in later, I go to bed earlier, I snooze during the day at weekends and during the evening on work days. It is an enormous effort to leave the house if I don’t have work or some other unavoidable commitment. Cooking seems like a tedious chore – why waste an hour making something, even something nice, that will be gone in five minutes, leaving behind only a tower of dishes that will take another half hour to wash – when I can heat something frozen or just eat some stupidly inappropriate and unhealthy junk that isn’t a meal but is easier than cooking? You get the idea. Maybe this is the person I am.
So which of these two extending extremes is the default me? Am I a more together person who inbetween suffers darker darkness than before? Or am I sinking into the quicksand of depression and loneliness but sometimes manage to fool myself and others I am chirpy and happy so as to hide the truth from us all? Or maybe these two halves are both the real me?
And in case you were wondering, this isn’t a self-wallowing woe-is-me post. Nor is it a cry for help, or a passive aggressive attempt to make readers reassure me that everything is fine and I’m a great guy really. It’s an ordering of thoughts, a genuinely dispassionate and objective attempt to work my head out for myself. But I still don’t know. I’m 700 posts into this blogging thing, and I still don’t know.
It’s time for the weekly gathering of Friday Fictioneers everyone! Enormous gratitude as always to Rochelle for sending prompt pics around the wall for us all to study and scratch our heads over until 100 words come out. Here is this week’s pictoral pondering:
And my 100 words go a little bit like this…
“And what’s in this room?” Beth wondered.
“Oh, not much,” Casper said, opening the door. He stood back, leant nonchalantly against the wall as Beth entered.
She gasped at the array of keyboards, sequencers, drum machines. “You play all of these?” she asked.
”Well,” Casper shrugged, “I dabble.”
“Can you play me something?” Beth asked, her excited eyes pleading.
“Not right now,” Casper said, “I don’t want to wake the neighbours.” He ushered her from the room, closed the door. “Maybe another time,” he said, “when it’s not so late.”
And, he thought, when I’ve learnt how to play them.
A topical one today. Cassetteboy produces great work, and this one had been online less than a week but has already passed 3 million views. You may or may not think he has the right to pilfer TV shows and other media, you may or may not think the figures he pokes fun at deserve it, you may or may not even think his work is funny. But you have to admire the attention to detail as Cassetteboy edits not only the precise word (or syallable) he needs, but that word (or syllable) with the exact intonation he needs to make the sentence flow.
And you may or may not agree with the political satirical point he makes with this video. But it makes your feet tap. Because it’s a
and if nothing else, smile at the fact the URL has “bum” in it. Quality.
People have asked me what was the best part of my holiday, and I tell them it was the landscape. Wherever I went it always fascinated me to see how the shape of the land changed, and how the ways that land is made are laid bare.
A very clear example of this was our first stop on today’s long day trip. Winding through the wilderness towards the south coast, we took a left turn onto a rocky track which led towards Sólheimajökull glacier. We approached the huge expanse of ice, or at least one edge of it, which was making its way invisibly slowly down from the mountain. At its closest edge it was melting, again invisibly slowly, and small icebergs floated on the resultant river. The river itself then dawdled across a near-flat plain towards the sea some miles away and perhaps a few feet lower. It was beautiful, it was peaceful, and it was a visual lesson in how rivers and valleys are formed. Our planet is over 4 billion years old, and in our microscopically tiny length of time on it, we see just the tiniest instant of its life. This is how it looks today, to our descendants it will be much different.
And then on to the furthest part of our trip, the famous beach at Vík. A steep road sloped between two hills to a vast curved bay framed by cliffs. Because of Iceland’s volcanic form, the sand was not golden but ash black. And there was no seaweed. It felt and moved just like normal yellow sand, but as with so much of the country’s natural wonders, it seemed once removed from Earth as we know it.
The journey back to Reykjavík was punctuated by stops at two very different waterfalls. The first, Skógafoss, was a large, loud, tall, powerful waterfall. In a million years (assuming volcanic activity and lava flow don’t affect it first) this will be a curved waterfall as the water wears away the rock, but today, the view our slice of history sees is a river reaching the cliff and just keeping going on its way to the south coast.
A few miles further on, we reached Seljalandsfoss. A smaller, prettier waterfall, but this one cascaded in front of a concave rock meaning that we could walk behind it. The view through the water of the river’s course across the flat landscape was stunning.
I haven’t written much in this entry because, really, what can you say about natural phenomena as breath taking as these? I had run out of adjectives by day three but my fascination with the country and my desire to take hundreds of pictures was insatiable.
We arrived back in Reykjavík as the evening began to close in. The last couple of days had been brighter, and as I walked back from Café Babalú I watched the sky, wondering if I would see the northern lights between the lessening clouds. Sadly, I didn’t, but that didn’t concern me. Throughout the previous seven days I had seen wondrous sights, to miss out on one of them just meant I knew I would be coming back one day.