Gone to do something a little more constructive, like dig a hole or something
Thanks for reading
Further Works: Gone – U2
5 o’clock can’t come soon enough. This 9 to 5 is choking my spirits. I can see Malling Down from the office window, the mid-April sun now full on it’s southern face. The hours between 2pm and 5pm are dragging their heels to mock me in a vulgar supercilious manner. The cursor flickers steadily, it hasn’t moved across the page for 45 minutes, I have been idly observing a walker climbing the hill. It is now 3:52.
This is time I won’t be getting back, trespassing on my free will, toying with me like a cat with a fledgling.
I’m riding the long way home tonight.
Colour and scent overwhelm
Time suspends briefly
There’s a gentle rustle and a whisper
The joke is on you
The discordant has become a gentle buzz
The first Swallow is spotted
Revel in the Cherry Blossom
And breathe in deeply because it will be gone tomorrow
Some farisees they stay, some are as transient as the blossom and become ghosts
Brief and enduring traces in the passing of time
There’s a gentle rustle and a whisper
Is the joke still on you?
A scored landscape
Grasses oscillate and eyes water in the chill
There a tumuli
And here the view
Inevitably, aware of the pathos
The ahh-ness of things, of life and love
Are scattered by the winds
And lost forever
Sticky fingers and milky burps awaken a numb soul
Share the joke and laugh heartily
To avoid the tragedy of the inevitable
“We have come to be guests among the stars”*
*From “Mono no aware” by KEN LIU
Light pushes on the gloom
We swept up the folly of broken glass
Kind of realising that we sometimes need a little disquiet
Besides, there’s not much that will protect you from it
Wash your hands and feet in the sea
They are untied; just don’t turn your back, that’s all
Filling your stream with pithy obvious statements won’t help either
Mediocre is never the right option
Disquiet is ok after all
Let Mr. Grimm brush against your cheek
Invite him along for tea and crumpets if you like
Even the most simple of peasants can best him
Run a Mike Mill’s race
You’ll find out that you’re a sinner and not welcome anywhere, anyway
Those sins were cast upon you a long time ago
But you don’t have to keep paying for it
Allow the murky water and ambiguities cleanse you
Image culled from @esccrightsofway Twitter account
‘When I was told that “Mus. Reynolds come along last night” he was spoken of so intimately that I supposed he must be some old friend and expressed a hope that he had been hospitably received “He helped hisself” was the reply; and there upon followed the explanation, illustrated by an exhibition of mutilated poultry.’*
James spoke of some reference or other to ‘The Boosh’ (those in the know, know I suppose), about a Crack Fox. He said that we would be taking a sideways look for this fox and it was suggested that we “bring: cross bike with cross tyres on (and mtb shoes incase its muddy), lights, beer money, maybe a scarf and suncream, some giggles and finally a bit more beer money.”
That’s what we did, except Josh, who appeared riding a Dawes Galaxy with a full pannier bag and all of the touring trimmings – but we considered that he knew what he was doing.
What transpired was a very pointless and very silly higgledypiggledy tour of Lewes, in the dark. An hour and a half of weaving down twittens, up and down steps, along cobbled streets and some other places I didn’t really know but was glad to have experienced.
The fox remained elusive but the beer was good.
Thanks James. And, Alun, Jo, Josh, Kris, Sam.
*Extract from A DICTIONARY OF THE SUSSEX DIALECT & COLLECTION OF PROVINCIALISMS IN USE IN THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX, Reverend W.D. Parish of Selmeston, 1875.
Inertia is a dangerous thing and it is not enough to sit back and moan about it.
We do this thing, it’s nothing special, but it is a thing. Friends help, people engage and take part – actively take part. The Return of Selbstbestimmungsrecht ~ the literal translation of the German is ‘Self-Determination'; sort of a guiding principle to know your own mind and be actively involved in something, rather than be reduced to abjectly passive consumption.
With that in mind, then, the White Chalk Hills UCX returned for 2013. 19 lovely individuals sent me a postcard, as I had requested, with their intention to ride on the day – The Long Man Brewery agreed to provide us with beer for a prize and the ever generous, and endless stylish, Vélobici supported the thing with some vouchers and items from their accessories collection to offer to the VAINGLORIOUS and the FUTILE.
We left the door open for others to join us and on the day another 5 or 6 others turned out to ride. Though the rain came down, the wind blew and even hail fell from the sky, spirits were high and everyone took it in their stride.
Some were keen and pushed on hard, others made life difficult for themselves riding single speed, everyone mounted the challenge with grit and determination. The 2012 route had been tinkered with a bit, and new hills introduced with old favourites remaining; 44 miles and 5000ft of climbing doesn’t seem hard on paper, but in reality it is a hard ride and the conditions made it harder.
Back at the café, awards were offered: ‘Most Futile’, ‘Biggest Tantrum’ and ‘Best Crash’, lovingly crafted trophies made by Lois.
No one had a tantrum as such, though there was the occasional exclamation “dear God, we’re not going up there..?!”…there were a few crashes, but no injuries, and the ‘Most Futile’ award was given to the man with the slashed tubular tyre, forced to walk to the nearest village to hail a cab (pictured above).
Thank you to all who sent me a postcard and who turned up, especially those first timers and the ones who traveled so far to take part. Sam Winter for his help in drafting the original route and concept and for opening The Tri Store at 8am for us. As always, thank you Lois May-Miller for her design skills and enthusiasm, and Jo Burt, Simon Catmur, Gavin Peacock, Sabrina Greenberg and countless others for their support.
~ The Lost Tapes ~ Every once in a while a band comes along that confounds all expectation, breaches every category and spills over into some amorphous mess that is not easily described and still less easily understood. Uncomfortable comparisons may be made with The Fall, Polvo, The Stereolab et al, if only to lump The Deckchairs in One Punch with the category labelled 'uncategorisable', the peculiarly distinguished Valhalla of musical mulch. Comprising two brothers known only as D and M, the Deckchairs in One Punch recorded four or five tapes from 1990 to 1992 in the bedroom of an overcrowded and tense house on a housing estate in Basingstoke, Hampshire that was, at that time, made up of both aspirational working-class and lower to middle middle-class families. The two had lived previously on a council estate and went to school where they once lived, some three miles away. Since the early 90s these estates have merged almost and now have a very similar mix of people. Which is to say, they are all hopelessly dreary. Mediocrity is, as Tony Blair fully proved, the great social leveller. If Patrick Keiler's character, Robinson, in Keiler's film 'London' despaired at the prospect of the re-election of the Conservatives in 1992, the Deckchairs were, by that time, so accustomed to living in a one party state that the election barely registers on their radar. Being bastard spawn of Thatcher the The Deckchairs in One Punch were, ironically, and paradoxically, more representative of the lost generation of the late '80s and early '90s than other groups and artists of the time: The Wonderbus, Ned's Atomic Dustman, the The Bevellers and the The Get Carter USM (all of whom, by the way, promptly ditched their proletarian and anarchist masks as soon as doors opened to lucrative media jobs in Soho, except the skinny bloke out of the The Get Carter who has been trying to sell the original drum machine used in their recordings for years in the Brighton Friday Ad to raise cash to fix his clapped out Ford Mondeo). The backdrop from which The Deckchairs emerged, then, was, indeed, one of despair. A despair so ingrained it was a way of life, and one that was perfectly suited to the utilitarian town planning that constituted Basingstoke at that time; a town so grey, so rigid, so mediocre that any Soviet Bloc dictator would have been proud. Some have said that the The Deckchairs in One Punch were nothing but two losers who didn't even have the balls to get out of their bedroom and actually play live. Their critics were less kind. But it is just this kind of criticism that has clouded our view of them. The The Deckchairs were profoundly concerned and troubled by the plight of modern Britain, modern times and indeed of modern man as their anthem of compassion, "The Butterfly", amply demonstrated: "I am a butterfly, And I like to say "Hi!", To the people passing by, Who are in great need, Of a bite to eat." In contrast to the Oxford poetess, Elizabeth Garrett, and the American poet and professional liar, James Dickey - both of whom used the image of the butterfly as mere decoration - The Deckchairs are unique in actually giving voice to the butterfly; a voice laden with tender feeling and empathy, greeting the hungry multitudes of the town in fulsome and hearty friendship. Only in Can's 1968 'Butterfly' or in Mansun's 'Butterfly' can we find anything approaching such a colourful depiction of this insect. Critics of this piece point to the ear piercing microphone screech and howl over the delicate, rainbow-like guitar playing as reason enough to dismiss it. However, the passion of the delivery of the minimalist lyric is augmented by the feedback rather than diminished. The Deckchair's social concerns can also be heard on the Rockabilly-like 'wig-out' "Little Yeller Fiesta", which was a celebration of the affordable banger ubiquitous around Basingtoke's unhappy housing estates of the period. The keen observation is patent: "It's got rust on the door, It's got no fucking floor, It leaks like a sieve, In the rain 'round where I live...". The duo, yet again, show compassion for their fellows who must confront monolithic government regulation in the form of the harsh legal requirement that is the annual M.O.T. test. The contrast between town and country is well considered in the untitled aggressive punk track known as "I go swimming in the river". Bruise Springstein famously dived into his river in order to cleanse the sins of the past, the old Christian notion of baptism and rebirth through water. The Deckchairs, however, went swimming in the river to declare themselves at one with the English countryside, setting themselves up against the steady and inexorable urbanisation and cosmopolitanism of Britain: "I'm a country bumpkin, I come from the fuckin' country! I go swimmin' in the rivah! I go swimmin' in the rivah! I don't go swimmin' in theee cay-nawl!" they scream in a decidedly London-Thames Valley accent of which the The Godfathers would be proud. The track is a peculiar skewing of the usual bumbling, country bumpkin stereotype and points to the curious reversal to the Industrial Revolution that meddlesome British government town planners effected from the 1950s onwards. The The Morrissey was famous for dealing with gender issues in his work, both with and without the The Smiths, perhaps most notably in "Half A Parsnip". But while the The Morrissey resorts to the clumsy idea that his female voice is also lesbian, thus blunting considerably the power of the lyric and its commentary on, and criticism of contemporary society and received ideas of gender, there's no such flip-flopping in "Pegbox", possibly the highlight of the The Deckchairs' collaboration. "Going to the washing line, Got no worries, don't need to hide, Got no troubles, don't need to hide, With a pegbox by my side!" Unlike the The Smiths' song, in "Pegbox" the gender is left open for the listener. The unreformed early '90s mindset would automatically assume that it was a woman due to the homely setting, but the singing voice is distinctly male, which wittily usurps received ideas of domesticity. Men, as well as women, the The Deckchairs tell us, are in need of dry clothing; a very clever post post-modern reversal of gender roles. The strange, plaintive and deeply melancholic "108" was a serious change of direction for the pair. Played on a cheap Korean acoustic guitar, amplified with a clip on pick-up (the most expensive piece of equipment with which the group ever recorded) the strained clutch of chords and wistful singing said more about the nostalgia of the future than any piece that post-past, mocking-rock funsters the The Stereolab ever created. A curious contradiction? Nostalgia for the future? Maybe. But this was Basingstoke. All future was circumvented by the timeless banality of its planning. The future had already arrived in grey utilitarian concrete, endless housing estates merging into one another and rubbing shoulders with shopping centres, industrial estates and the open fields of farm factories, replete with aggressive farmers and equally aggressive animals. There was no escape, except to some nowhere called "108". And here we are, now, arrived at the nowhere that is, indeed, 108. And it stinks! The Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, Blair-Brown, Major, Thatcher legacy of mediocrity leaves us not only in 108, but faced with the paradox of also longing for 108. 108 is nowhere. And we are nowhere. The foolish hippy ideals of the 60s and 70s in which everyone can get along and 'love one another' are crumbling around our ears. In fact, we love to hate, as the death of Margaret Thatcher this year clearly showed. We have become as banal as our political leaders and we hate ourselves for it. We're spiteful and disrespectful to our fellow human beings, we're shallow and we long for some time past, some future time, some place, any place that's better than the nowhere that is here. Some place that might be an escape from, and an escape to 108. The greatest irony of all is that the finest work of the The Deckchairs in One Punch's can never be heard. It was lost. Wiped. Turned to mere tape hiss. It's dead. Just a memory, a strange nostalgia: File under 108. Pop Bastard, April/September 2013.
For Hazel Hold my hand At the Heart of Reeds Lay down in Winterbourne stream We join the Ouse as flotsam The harsh cut through Cliffe Watch the jackdaws against the white The outgoing tide gathers us As flotsam we pass under the A27 Entangled Poo sticks Snipe call above the road drones And a train clacks Virginia filled her pockets with stones A full lifetime ago There’s a tangle at the swing bridge Kingston Escarpment and Iford Hill bear witness The grip is lost A variation of a theme - dread You kiss me Misgivings diminish Warm arms embrace under the duvet There has only ever been, and will always only be, now Further Works
Whilst watching the Women’s UCI Cyclocross race at Koksijde, Belgium an idea entered my Long Man APA addled brain.
UCX strips cyclocross back into an endurance challenge – inappropriate bikes on inappropriate terrain – but recently I have been considering something a little more concentrated – a few conversations I have had recently have begun to spark ideas and then I saw this on the UCI YouTube channel:
“The origins of cyclo-cross are a matter of much debate. One theory we like is that in the early 1900s, French cyclists would race each other from one town to the next by whichever route they thought would be the fastest.”
Bing! Let’s do that then. An A to B race – sort of like a fixed gear Alleycat Race but over, let’s say, 20 miles over mixed countryside terrain and on cyclocross bikes.
Just an idea, but as usual with these ideas I won’t be satisfied until we’ve had a go.
Anyway, must dash the Men’s race at Koksijde is about to start.
Out riding with friends today, on a crisp Autumn morning, the air full of chill. A good 6o miles, or there abouts. Stood at the war memorial in Mayfield, cap in hand, a minutes silence – I am reminded of the poem crafted by 2nd Lt John Stanley Purvis, holed up in the misery of the trenches half an hour before ‘going over the top’, in 1915.
I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring
In summer time, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing
High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh the air!
I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair.
But now I know it in this filthy rat infested ditch
When every shell may spare or kill – and God alone knows which.
And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair.
My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair.
So we assault in half an hour, and, – it’s a silly thing -
I can’t forget the narrow lane to Chanctonbury Ring.
Sling up to the Forest from Mayfield, around Crowborough, up and over from Friars Gate and a short stop at the Duddleswell Tea Rooms. A struggle to warm up after that and with burning thighs through Nutley, Newick and Barcombe, I realise that I am 6 weeks, 3 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes off any kind of self respect. Tired.
At least I get to sleep in my own bed tonight.