Sunday, July 31, 2011


Officially middle-aged blogger born same day as celebrated billionnaire author (hugs, Jo! Send money!) posts probably favourite ever 45 to commemorate 46th!

World is on holiday!

*Cuddles daughters, goes for curry, drinks gin*


Weekend - 'The View From Her Room' * (1982)
Weekend - 'Leaves Of Spring' (1982)

* "It's about a day when the rush hour traffic was going past outside my window and I had to keep the window open and hear it as it was so hot in the middle of last summer. There's an air of escape in it as well I think" - Alison Statton.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Reggae # 30

I've heard a lot of versions of this song, most of them terrible. But I like the Keyboard King's take very much, especially his rare, raggedy vocal.

And look, Camp Freddy came through with the beach record shack pic too!

Cause for celebration all round I'd say.

Is someone going to the bar?

Jackie Mittoo - 'Summer Breeze' (1974)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Old Woman Cooking Eggs

This is a reproduction of Diego Velázquez's painting An Old Woman Cooking Eggs which is in the National Gallery Of Scotland.

In his collection of short prose pieces themed around 'bequests' - from political commitment and atheism, to how to tell a good restaurant and the lost joys of outdoor sex - Where There's A Will  (50p last week from my local charity shop) John 'Rumpole Of The Bailey' Mortimer writes so beautifully about it in two pages I found so right that I've had a strong compulsion all week to quote from it at length here, and have now given into it.


"To the proud stones of Greece and poet's imaginings other bequests must be added to make up the superhuman, mirror-resembling dream. I have a gallery of pictures in my head so that, if I went blind, I could still enjoy them. I would direct you to the National Gallery of Scotland, one of the least exhausting, most rewarding collections in the world that, in a few comfortably intimate rooms, contains more masterpieces to the square foot than you have the right to expect. Among the saints and great ladies, the naked beauties and the suffering martyrs, taking her rightful and honourable place is an old woman cooking eggs.

Velázquez went to Madrid in his twenties and very soon became a court painter, truthfully observing pale-lipped kings, overdressed infantas and the sad faces of the palace dwarfs. Before that he served five years apprenticeship to a Sevillian painter whose daughter he married and, taking time off from his religious paintings, looked hard and clearly into the kitchen.

The everyday scene in the Edinburgh gallery is lit in the sort of way the painter learned from Caravaggio, so that the objects in the kitchen achieve an extraordinary significance. The old woman has an aquiline, Sevillian nose, sharp eyes, a firm mouth and grey hair. The white cloth on her head and shoulders falls into soft folds on the coarse material of her dress. She has the suntanned, loose-skinned hands of her age but one of them holds an egg carefully and the other delicately points a small wooden spoon, ready to drip a little oil in which we can see eggs setting, their yolks and whites clear in the pan. An unsmiling peasant boy is carefully dripping in more oil and the old woman watches him anxiously. The miracle of the painting is in the exact and loving re-creation of oil, eggs and earthenware, the shine on the brass pots, the shadow of a knife on a china dish, the feeling of flesh and cloth. Forget all concerns about blessings or terrifying events occurring beyond the grave, this picture celebrates the significant moment when the eggs start cooking and another spoonful of oil has to be dribbled in.

The old woman, or someone very like her, turns up again in another of  Velázquez's kitchen scenes, this time in London's National Gallery. Her head is again covered with a white cloth and she is instructing a sulky and unwilling Martha on how to pound garlic and cook some fresh fish and more eggs. In a mirror we can see that Jesus has arrived at the door and is about to engage the no-doubt eager Mary in a conversation about life, death and the miracle of salvation. Far more interesting to the old woman is seeing that the fish is cooked properly, dinner is on the table in time and the garlic is well-pounded.

Velázquez went on to paint grander scenes. Venus, the goddess of Love, lies naked, admiring herself in a mirror held up by Cupid, presenting to us her splendid bottom. He painted kings on prancing horses and military triumphs such as the surrender of Breda and royal persons hunting wild boar. He became famous in Italy for his portait of Pope Innocent X, a merciless military commander. His final act was to decorate the Spanish Pavilion on the Isle of Pheasants for the marriage of the Infanta Maria Theresa.

Through all these great events, wars and festivals, the lives of kings and Popes, the old woman remained busy in the kitchen, dealing with the important things in life, such as the exact amount of olive oil needed to fry eggs." 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Take The Box

Boy, does that title take on a horrible irony now.

What a talent, what a terrible waste.

I maintain this is her finest song.

Sleep soft Amy x

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yeah Baby

Roebuck "Pop" Staples and his daughters - Mavis, Yvonne and Cleo - had been steadily building a cult following for their gospel and message songs when they teamed up with producer Al Bell and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section in 1970. Within a year they hit the top of the pop charts and their message reached around the world. This record is a chronicle of that amazing breakthrough period.     
(original sleeve notes)

I haven't been able to dislodge this from my fuzzy old head since Mondo's lopsided quiz this morning, so it's an inevitable post I'm afraid.
It's hardly rare or unheard, but at least here in a davyh vinyl rip, with that bass-high-up-in-the-mix sound that all Stax LPs seem to have.

School's out for summer!

I shall require a beverage.

The Staple Singers - 'I'll Take You There' (1972)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Space Shuttle (April 12 1981 - July 21 2011)

Yes, I know it cost a fortune when so many people on Earth have little or nothing, but like Bill Hicks once said if we stopped spending all those billions on weapons of mass destruction we could both feed the planet and travel together to the stars, right?

Brian Eno - 'Always Returning' (1983)

[More amazing pictures here]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Touching Heaven

Somewhere in between dropping the girlies off at Harry Potter 7 and loading up with weekend veggies at the market I managed a return visit to the very splendid Collectors Record Centre in Kingston on Saturday with only ten minutes to go till he closed (continued thanks to Artog for the original recommend). In the briefest of flicks in the 'all LPs £1' crates I turned up a near mint condition copy of this, which was rather nice, and was presented by the proprietor with one of his business cards after asking if he ever had any Lewis Taylor albums in.

All those years of going to Kingston and I never knew about this wonderful place; I hope it doesn't disappear now I've only just found it.

Working Week - 'Touching Heaven' (1986)
Working Week - 'South Africa' (1986)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Reggae # 29

Here's a song I've had for donkey's on a fantastic tape made off the radio in Jamaica in the late 80s and brought back from his honeymoon by my ancient companero, known here latterly as Camp Freddy. 'Get me some reggae!' I'd said, and when he asked in his hotel where there might be a local record shop, the barman offered to do him a cassette himself. How cool is that? I must upload it in all its genre-spanning lovers to dancehall to ragga with Jamaica FM jingles magnificence sometime.

Truth is, I crazily hadn't labelled this fave as Cool Ruler Gregory Isaacs until Webbie posted it in his excellent Peel Podcast earlier this week.

Things come around, innit.

I'm off to the shop for some lime for the gin.

Gregory Isaacs - 'Mind You Dis (Rude Boy)' (1988)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday Reggae # 28

Bit special this one.

Nuff said.

Sugar Minott - 'Jah Jah Children' (1977)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

From Darkest Peru

So. I've been reading A Bear Called Paddington (1958), the first book in the famous children's series by Michael Bond.

I suppose it's an unlikely choice of reading matter for someone who turns 46 in three weeks time but then, to be fair, I have told you I'm a Soft Southern Jessie. I started June with a hardback copy of Tony Blair's A Journey from the library, but after the early chapters on the first few months of power, the Irish peace process and Princess Diana's death, my interest has started to wane a tad. I'm at the stage of it where Iraq is looming like a great toxic cloud and I'm not sure I've got the stomach for it, or the authorial self-justification it'll bring. That the bloody thing weighs a ton and is not easy to lug about on the train, tube and bus hasn't helped either.

The Paddington temptation came my way when the youngest daughter dumped it by the front door it in a pile of books to be donated to the school summer fair. I fished it out, a little piqued, since it was a favourite from when I was her age I'd spun heavily with her hoping she'd love, and harrumphing 'You can't throw that out!', commandeered it.

I thought I'd just read the first page over a cup of tea on Saturday, but of course I got (re)hooked. I'm a pretty miserable bugger at the moment, for a number of reasons to dull to go into here, and to move about again in that cosy late 50s world of hot baths, housekeepers and marmalade sandwiches, grumpy London Underground inspectors and stuffy department store managers (rightful recipients of the Paddington Hard Stare) and convivial cocoas with Mr Gruber in his Portobello Road antique shop was.....therapy. I slept better than I have for months.

Clearly I am a troubled individual retreating into the comforting meta-topography of a retrospectively idealised childhood when I should be squaring up in a manly fashion to the raw challenges of Now.

Or maybe I'm just tired.

Herbert Chappell - 'Paddington Bear (TV Theme)' (1975)

Monday, July 04, 2011


Who is the gaucho amigo?
Why is he standing
In your spangled leather poncho
And your elevator shoes?
Bodacious cowboys
Such as your friend
Will never be welcome here
High in the Custerdome

God I love this song.

Steely Dan - 'Gaucho' (1980)

PS: Lots of fun for all the family at the Steely Dan Dictionary.

Friday, July 01, 2011


Sorry, bit late tonight: a boozy lunch with ancient friends overspilled into gins in a (shockingly) expensive W1 bar.

But in the end I remembered my responsibilities (and overdraft) and came right on back to you.

Bon weekend x

Orbital - 'Attached' (1994)