Thursday, 2 July 2015


A few more photographic memories of our short holiday in North Norfolk.

This is Bruce. He immediately made us feel very welcome on his patch and became a proper little poser whenever a camera appeared.

Fred Astaire. We stayed in a secluded cabin, the roof of which Fred and Ginger (not pictured) treated as their dance floor each morning. Fred appears to have removed his tap shoes for this photo.

There were no street lights in the remote village we called home, so we were treated to some glorious late evening skies. 

We saw a wide variety of birds on our travels, from tiny Wrens to the mighty Marsh Harriers that seemed to be everywhere. I spent much of the time gazing through my binoculars at the bird-life rather than the camera lens, but while walking down a long country lane in the blistering heat, we encountered this Chaffinch who showed no inclination to fly away, at least until he'd finished his song.


Murcof - Memoria

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Up Hill and Down Dale

North Norfolk. Vast empty beaches, big skies and....hills? Yup, North Norfolk has its fair share of leg-burners, we know, we walked a few of 'em. They may not stack up to much in comparison to those in Singing Bear's gloriously mountainous neck of the woods, but the long inclines certainly take it out of you after a few hours on the go. Luckily, there was always a cold beer on the porch of our cabin to look forward to at the end of each day, before we rested up and hit the road for more of the same the following morning.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Song of the Sea

When having a bit of a rummage for a clutch of CD's to accompany our brief trip to the North Norfolk coast, my hand happened to fall on a couple of Tunng albums, including the 2005 debut, 'Mother's Daughter and Other Songs'. It's on this LP that you'll find the gorgeous and appropriate 'Song of the Sea'.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Out Of Town

By the time you read this, Mrs S and I should, all being well, be in the middle of a short stay on the North Norfolk coast. Our destination is only an hour and a bit away from Swede Towers, but rather than coming and going, we thought we'd snag a B&B for a couple of nights and make a break of it. The plan, as always, is for a bit of walking, a bit of eating and, who knows, maybe even a bit of drinking, though these days anything more than a couple of glasses of wine at one sitting sends us quickly on our way to snoozeville - lightweights!

My CD collection is still (still!) stored away in the spare room following our move in 2011, but whenever we travel I always have a fish about in the boxes and grab a few albums for the road. For this trip I've also lovingly hand-crafted a couple of brand new CDr compilations, the first in absolutely years. Here's a great live version of a tune that made the tracklist of one of those compilations, 'Hinterland' by Lonelady, a firm favourite round these parts since its release in March.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads, Part 2 of 2

One evening after school in 1971, a pal played me 'Get It On' by T.Rex. I was 11 years old at the time and when I listened to the record it was as if a black and white curtain had been pulled aside, to reveal a vivid technicolour world beyond. It was a personal musical revelation. A life-changing moment.

So I've had roughly 44 years to consider what I might say, should I one day be lucky enough to meet Tony Visconti, the producer of 'Get It On' and of many subsequent records that ended up in my collection. I had a close call once, on a bitingly cold Winter afternoon in mid-1990's New York, when we passed each other on the street. We were both wrapped up against the fierce sub-zero winds so that our faces were only partially visible, but I recognised him instantly and also instantly decided that I wasn't going to disturb him in those hostile circumstances. I've quietly regretted that decision ever since.

On Wednesday evening (after this show) I found myself in a queue, edging ever closer to Tony Visconti, who was seated signing autographs a few feet away. I had just a couple of minutes of those 44 years left to decide what words I could possibly use to, A) adequately summarise what a profound effect the music he's produced has had on my life, and B) not sound like a gushing buffoon.

As I drew level with him, Tony looked up, smiled and said 'Hello'. This was my moment. 'Do you mind if I shake your hand?' I said. His smile broadened as he gripped my hand firmly. Quite suddenly I knew exactly what I should say. I didn't need a to make a grand statement or sweeping gesture to encapsulate the years of pleasure this man's work had given me. The solution was far simpler and more obvious than that.

'Thank you', I said, shaking his hand warmly and blinking back the stinging in my eyes. 'Thank you.'

Saturday, 20 June 2015

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads, Part 1 of 2

To begin an LP with a song as ambitious in scale as 'The Width of a Circle' is, at the very least, a bold statement of intent. For an ad-hoc band to attempt to cover said LP 45 years later and thus open their set with 'The Width of a Circle' must surely take nerves of steel. At the Norwich Arts Centre on Wednesday, the song was nailed to perfection. It was the first of many. The evening was billed, snappily, as 'Tony Visconti & Woody Woodmansey with Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17) perform David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World album and another set of classic Bowie songs from 1969-73', and did pretty much what it said on the tin.

The big draws were obviously Woodmansey and Visconti, although the 10 piece band each played their part in impeccably recreating every nuance of the original arrangements of the songs, all of which were welcomed like much loved old friends by the packed audience. To his immense credit, Glenn Gregory did not, at any point, attempt to 'do a Bowie', instead interpreting each song faithfully in his own voice and manner. And some of those songs are hard! Many of us could probably mumble our way through a passable 'Man Who Sold the World', but next time you're in the shower have a go at 'The Supermen' or 'Saviour Machine' or 'She Shook Me Cold'. Gregory did a faultless job on the whole lot.

The second half of the set featured 'Time', 'Changes', 'Life on Mars' and no less than 7 selections from 'Ziggy Stardust', including a blistering reading of 'Moonage Daydream', a real highlight of the evening. I briefly met Woody after the show and he was pleased with my observation that the pure joy of playing those wonderful songs was evident to everyone and literally poured from the stage. The show lasted two hours, it felt like 10 minutes. A great night.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

There's No Point to Wanna Comb Your Hair When It's Grey and Thinning

One evening, when I was 12, I persuaded Mum to put my long, thick, straight hair in curlers. I've always hated my shapeless hair and, for a couple of hours at least, it was fun to see it tumbling in Bolanesque corkscrews. The following morning, of course, it had dropped back to boring, straight normality. It's hard to believe that Dad didn't grab his camera and record the event.

Much as I disliked my boring Barnet, having it cut was the worst. Dad first took me to the local barber's shop when I was four. I was plonked on a plank resting across the arms of the chair and told to sit dead still while the barber clipped and buzzed around my bonce. It was easier said than done. I twitched and I squirmed, particularly when he got anywhere my right ear, which for some reason set off a convulsion down my spine, leading to stern looks from the barber and a stern word from Dad. My left ear was fine, but that right ear always seemed ultra-sensitive to the slightest noise and it was only years later that I learned to control my involuntary reaction.

When the family relocated to Ipswich in 1975, I cast around my new classmates for a recommended local barber. 'Go and see Kenny,' someone suggested, 'Kenny Cuff the dancing barber'. It sounded unlikely, but was actually true. Instead of ambling around the chair while he snipped and trimmed, like your average barber does, Kenny performed a continuous soft shoe shuffle as he worked and was something of a local legend. His salon was a meeting place for a handful of old retired Suffolk gents, who rarely seemed to get their hair cut, but treated the place as a hang-out, smoking cigarettes and drinking endless cups of tea all day. They all thought my London accent was a hoot and good-naturedly sent me up something rotten throughout every visit, especially whenever I twitched as Kenny clicked his scissors close to my right ear.


Here's the late great Mikey Dread with what's probably his best known tune, 1977's 'Barber Saloon'. The uploader has also kindly included the dub version, 'Lagga the Barber', featuring King Tubby at the controls.

Greatest Hits