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Monthly Archives: December 2009

It’s a bit weird, starting to blog again. After all, what have I really got to talk about?

There is stuff. How relevant it is to other people’s lives is debatable but it gives vent to my thoughts. Most of you know that the building I’m currently residing in, is on the market but so far it hasn’t sold. There may be signs of movement in house sales but they seem to be related to reducing the price and overly blandising the place. Magnolia really doesn’t do it for me, so for now I’ll stick with what colours are on the walls. There’s an obvious stress there but it’s one that’s echoed by millions of others who want to move up or down (or even sideways) on the property ladder.

My biggest problem has been one of decluttering. Really, it’s been a nightmare. There were times in the last decade that the sitting room and the family room as it’s listed on the sales schedule have been inaccessible. Here for example is what the latter looked like at one point:

Now, it looks like this:

To declutter to the extent seen above took ages and it meant that the garage, which was stacked with newspapers and rock magazines and looked like this:

got much, much worse. This picture was taken after I had taken more than 3,500 old music papers to the skip! Don’t worry, they were triplicates at least. The two piles at the apex of the roof are 10 foot tall. By the time the whole wall was fully stacked and then a second row of piles started, the list to the right of the picture became so pronounced, the whole garage started to lean that way!

Some years back, a ton of old newspaper was worth more than £ 200 but such is the economic situation that it’s fallen to £ 25. To get that, it has to be graded and bailed. If you can’t sell it the obvious thing was to find an alternative use. It would have been fun to turn the papers into bricks and build another house but I never found how to do that. I did find the “paper Brick House” which was China’s pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. It’s worth a look. If you didn’t know about it, click on this link.

What I did, of course, discover is that you can make paper bricks or briquettes to burn as an alternative to logs or coal. Thanks to the dire economic climate we find ourselves in, adverts for these can be found in Sunday colour supplements and the catalogues that come free with them. They look wonderful and sound like a perfect solution but very few of them point out that you have to soak the paper in a bin prior to squeezing it into the brick-maker and expelling as much water as possible. Then it’s a simple job of leaving them in a warm dry place to lose all their moisture content before burning. With a Scottish summer being wet enough, even considering something like that in winter was tantamount to lunacy.

Thankfully, it seemed I wasn’t the only one with this problem and I found some mention of dry paper brick making. This amounted to just rolling newspaper as tightly as possible and then binding it with metal rings to stop the “log” falling apart in the fire. Needless to say, the sites selling wet paper brick makers also sell metal rings but that seemed a ludicrous expense. I decided to butcher a number of wire coat hangers and literally roll the straight wire around the paper log. The first time you do this is the worst but after the wire has been a fire once, it’s far easier to bend. For those of you wanting to try this at home, I’ll post some pics later today.

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I am, as they say, a tad frustrated. Having exceeded a certain age, I should be past my mid-life crisis but it seems to continue unabated.

Back in the mists of iTime, I effectively shut myself away in my office for about five days. I did venture out for meals and shagging but the rest of the time was spent trying to master HTML. The mission was a success, I sort of got the hang of it and hand coded a site that went online on July 18th, 1995. Fuck! Is it really that long ago? It feels like yesterday and yet, it also feels like another lifetime.

Now, here I am with a web-site and a blog – but am I doing either? The answer is simple. No, I’m not.

What you get comes straight from my head. Sometimes, I will accept, I have no idea what’s going to present itself on the screen in front of me. It’s stream of consciousness, or drivel (whichever you might think). The one thing that’s been a constant, since that very first day, is it came out of my head. It wasn’t checked with someone or edited and yet the blog has ground to a halt.

Someone has been very sweet and was checking it for me on a daily basis but I realised that it was screwing me up beyond belief. Since I was in my teens, I’ve written, poetry, porn, crap of all sorts but it just came from my fingers. I didn’t need to think about it and I didn’t. I typed it out, posted it – and waited for a cheque or a rejection note (and in some cases, come-ons from the editors of top-shelf magazines). It was a laugh, a job, something to do but I always took it seriously. It was me. Just as this is.

My head has always been so fucked that it’s a wonder I could ever function on anything resembling a normal state. I come from a dysfunctional family but then, who doesn’t. I hate confrontation but am incredibly confrontational. I always have been but who really cares. We’re all like that. It’s year upon year of suppressed anger that eventually takes over. You lose sense of yourself and yet somewhere in the back of your mind you can often find the key. One moment, one situation, where rather than face a confrontation, you simply give in. That moment, where you want to say “no” more than anything and don’t, is where it all goes wrong.

Is this a semantic debate or a rock blog? It’s both, believe me. For me at least, it is. I have to take ownership of what I have done and continue to do. The mistakes I’ve made are numerous but as long as I take responsibility for them, it’s fine. They’re in the past and gone but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to learn from them.  I have a vivid memory of sitting on the floor as a small child playing with a construction set and a friend of my mother’s asking why I wasn’t out on a bright summer’s day playing with friends. Before I could answer, my mother did. “He’s happier playing on his own in here”, she said.

Needless to say, I didn’t want to be stuck in the corner of a room listening to two women bitch about everything and everyone they knew but I didn’t open my mouth and say anything. Here we are, four and a half decades on and not much has changed, except for one thing. I know where I fucked up and it makes me desperately unhappy. It’s amazing how satisfying even saying, “No, I don’t want coffee tonight” can be.

The archive; the almanac; the memorabilia – all of them are, in some ways, extensions of myself but they’re not me. Now, all I want to do is do something with them. In the case of the garage and the huge piles of newspapers I’ve found a solution I’m comfortable with. I’m burning them! A one-inch pile of tabloids will easily make two paper “logs” more than 3 inches in diameter. They burn for at least an hour and make very little ash. Carefully positioned at night, they’ll even keep a fire going until the next morning. Ripping up things – and creating warmth – what could be more satisfying?

In amongst this upheaval, I’m trying to rebuild my iTunes library. In the last few years, it’s quadrupled in size but I look at it with deep sadness. Everything that ever gave me joy is there but the artists that created those works are pale shadows of their former selves. They no longer inspire me. I want someone to do that again. I want to hear something new and exciting but I struggle, I really do.

If it wasn’t for the wealth of sites on blogspot.com providing links from everything from the most obscure 60’s releases to albums that will hit the shops in a month or so, I would go nuts! The music industry whinges on and on about illegal downloads but it’s all crap. Back in the “good old days” you could go into a record shop and while away an hour or two in listening booths, or in later years at “listening stations” but you could listen to new releases by anyone and everyone. That doesn’t happen anymore. back in the ’60s and ’70s the amount of music on mainstream TV channels was vast in comparison to today. From “Crackerjack” to “The Black & White Mistrel Show” and even “Tonight”, you could see and hear what was happening in music.

We’re not talking about the latest project from Simon Cowell here, we’re talking about real music, written and performed by real bands who had slogged for years paying their dues in flea-pits and bars across the land. I really miss that.

At one point, I thought my problem was that I didn’t care anymore but it’s really the opposite. I care too much. I hope I never, ever stop caring but I need new, exciting music and I’m not getting it. If you know of anything exciting, send it to me. I AM SERIOUS! And don’t worry what it is. My tastes are extremely eclectic but one thing remains constant. The best single ever recorded – “London Calling” by The Clash.