The winter of 2010. Sub-zero temperatures, again. I had a big wood burning stove at the time, and used to put my recording desk as close to it as possible, without everything catching fire.
Anyhows, if interested, a bit of music for the New Year: Rob’s Radio Hour No.5. This one sticks in my mind because it was the craziest Radio Hour I ever made; and what I mean by that is all the stuff going on when I was making the programme. There is some good music here, depending on your tastes…
All of the original Rob’s Radio Hour were done live on air. Bear that in mind if you listen to the above archived podcast.
Funnily enough, Radio Hour 5 was finished at about 5am on a freezing February morning. Afterwards I went outside in the snow to smoke a cigarette. I didn’t notice the freezing temperatures, because you get so hyped-up when you do this stuff.
In my previous post I was banging on about how I’m presently living in a caravan for two weeks, while we have guests in the gite, and it’s the first time I’ve been caravan bound in fierce weather since the winter of 2004. In the winter of 2004 I found myself living in abject poverty in a caravan in a cowshed in rural France. I took up residence in the cowshed in early January. On that same weekend I was joined by Sultan the dog. We were both refugees. Sultan was a rescue dog, who joined the other two dogs, Bess and Rosie, and an indeterminate number of cats. I’m not sure how anyone could have been brave enough to abuse Sultan, since he was a huge beast, almost like a small horse, and looked a bit like a Millwall fan who’d been having a bad day. He used to scare the living daylights out of just about every visitor to the farm; but Sultan really was a softy and I used to play with him and take him for walks; or more accurately, he used to take me for walks. Due to various hard drive crashes over the years, I can no longer find a photo of Sultan. Take my word for it, Sultan would have scared the shit out of you.
So, there’s me and Sultan in the cowshed, January 2004, with temperatures hitting 15 below (I think in my previous post I also said that I had Amy the Chinese goose living in the caravan as well). Then the farm chickens joined us in the cowshed. There was a haystack behind the caravan, and the chickens made home there. The chickens did have a coup in the wreck and ruin part of the farmhouse. The chickens decamped to the cowshed because a punk rock band started rehearsing in the wreck and ruin part of the farmhouse. The punk rock band were called ‘The Unforgiven’ and consisted of my cousin’s two sons, James and Steff, and their French friend Benjamin. They were all young kids. For a time I sort of became the manager of The Unforgiven.
There was some sort of karma going on with the cowshed. The Unforgiven got chucked out of the wreck and ruin part of the farm house, because of the racket they were making. So, The Unforgiven started rehearsing in the cowshed. Steff was on drums, James the lead singer and Benjamin the guitarist. When numbers like ‘Hotel Concentration Camp’ started thundering from the rafters, Amy the goose would run squawking from the cowshed. To give you a flavour of it…
We’re going to Germany
to the infirmy
what about the jews
I think they may lose
they’re not wised
what about the night
black is white
hotel concentration camp, camp!
hotel concentration camp, camp!
James sang it in a Johnny Rotten snarl. Hotel Concentration Camp started with a quite good guitar rift from Benjamin, then Steff came in on drums, then James started singing. Problem being, the three of them were totally out of sync with each other. The hotel concentration camp, camp! bit was sung in chorus, with the three of them punching their fists in the air. To be fair to them, they were just young kids at the time. The Unforgiven: would you forgive them?
I found The Unforgiven’s rehearsals a tad disconcerting, because not only did the sound make my plates rattle on the draining board, but I was also writing a book at the time. I was also writing a lot of poetry. ‘Merde A La Puissance Treize’ translates literally as: shit to the thirteenth power. It’s used in France in its abbreviated form, MALPT, and you say ‘MALPT’ as a way of wishing someone good luck, a bit like the way thesps say ‘break a leg’.
Merde A La Puissance Treize
White worms drop down from pussy’s arse
to join the heaving, cack caked floor.
The flies and mites sup rooster cum
and dance around where rubbers score
fecal byways. By the barn door
a hen sits on her rotting brood;
all maggoty, the sulphurs pour
into the heat where pigs once queued
for lies and pain and carrion food.
God’s animals don’t mind the smell
and defecate right where they sit;
yet barnyard creatures know quite well
that humans, too, are full of shit.
Getting back to The Unforgiven, I shall spare you Hotel Concentration Camp. Instead here’s a number called Leavin, and I’ll finish with a pic of The Unforgiven at a local concert…
postscript: even by the standards of my life, those six months I spent in the cowshed, with a whole cast of characters, was weird. I’m well used to a life like that – it was weird because of all the energies involved.
In that summer of 2004, long after I had moved out of the cowshed, my cousin Carmen and her son James were involved in a very serious car crash. James, miraculously, suffered only a broken collar bone and broken arm. My cousin Carmen was completely mashed-up and spent weeks in intensive care hovering between life and death. My cousin Carmen survived, but she’s never been right ever since.
I’m not sure what the take-away here is with a Christmas blog post. I suppose I should maybe say that life is much more mystical than many people realise.
Despite all the ever changing covid nonsense, we’ve got a two week booking for the gite over Christmas. The elderly couple who booked the gite are from Paris. They’ve got kin in this part of France and they’re having a big family reunion. It’s nice to have a bit of joy in these dark times. Guests usually invite us in for a drink on Christmas Day.
Due to travel restrictions, my Mother is stuck in France for the time being. With guests in the house, Mother has moved into my adjoining apartment, and I’m now in the caravan at the back of the barns. Unfortunately this has coincided with very cold weather. Overnight it’s getting down to about five below, with thick frost and snow flurries. However the small space inside a caravan is easy to keep warm.
The last time I was living in a caravan during winter weather was in 2003/2004, when I first arrived in France. It’s a long story, so I’ll just say that I found myself living in abject poverty in a caravan in a cowshed in rural France. That winter was fierce, getting down to 15 below at times. At one stage the gas bottle on the caravan even froze up…
That’s a chicken in the above photo. Chickens are tough muthers. There was also a Chinese goose, who I named ‘Amy’. Geese are quite intelligent creatures. Amy used to come into the caravan, to get warm and have a bit of grub. I’m now 57 years old and find myself in a caravan again during winter weather. All those years ago I passed my 40th birthday in that caravan in a cowshed. At the time I was managing a punk rock band here in rural France. Here’s a pic of my forty-year-old self with Amy the goose…
ps. I thought I should add a little bit further to this, having lived in close proximity to all these birds: chickens all have their own personality, but are basically ‘bird brains’. Ducks are much more intelligent, and also much more aggressive. Ducks are like the bova boys of the bird world (skinheads, etc). Don’t mess with a duck!
Geese, on the otherhand, being one of the biggest birds, don’t have to worry about chickens and ducks. As a result geese have a very calm temperament.
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album was released in 1973. The final two tracks on The Dark Side of the Moon are called Brain Damage and Eclipse. These tracks are about Syd Barrett (a founding member of Pink Floyd). In fact a lot of Pink Floyd stuff touches upon what happened to Syd, who could be said to be rock music’s first acid casualty. After dropping too much acid, Syd dropped out of Pink Floyd before the Dark Side album.
The follow up album to Dark Side was called Wish You Were Here, released in 1975. The centre piece of the album is a 26 minute song called Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and of course it’s a tribute to Syd Barrett. During the recording sessions, Pink Floyd were in the process of completing a final mix of “Shine On”, when an overweight man entered the room. He had a shaven head and eyebrows, and was clutching a plastic bag. At first no one knew who the man was, but then they all realised it was Syd Barrett. Syd listened to the final mix of Shine On You Crazy Diamond but was too far gone to understand that the song was about his sad plight. Syd Barrett later left the studio without saying goodbye to anyone. None of the band members ever saw him again. He died in 2006.
If you’re able to, listen to this track on headphones, to get the full richness of it…
The above is the first 13 minutes, which is the most widely played. If you want to listen to the complete 26 minute track you can find it here.
The French MSM are just as bad, if not worse, than the UK MSM.
These big grandstanding announcements, pumped-up by the Presstitutes, do not tell you what’s actually going on. The following are some excerpts sent today from a longstanding member of our local Am Dram society. Please bear in mind that the person who sent this does not have English as a first language…
I have just received very important instructions from the prefecture.
For our performances, each person must be checked: the spectators, the actors and the other people of the team.
The person who will control the passes must indicate their contact details for the gendarmerie: it is they who will be contacted in the event of a problem.
Barrier gestures must be applied, masks worn continuously for spectators.
The seats should be spaced one meter apart.
On stage, the actors will be able to play without a mask, but will have to respect the distances.
WE MUST CANCEL THE BAR: if the spectators want to drink during intermission, they can take water (or other drink) and drink it in their car. DRINK STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
Sounds like fun, and very reminiscent of when I used to travel in communist eastern Europe. The sad thing is, this Am Dram theatre group hasn’t been able to put on a proper performance for the best part of two years, and they are now on the verge of bankruptcy.
The Sound of Silence is a song that propelled Simon & Garfunkel to popularity in the mid sixties. Paul Simon wrote it in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and the duo began to play it in New York folk clubs. It was then released on their 1964 debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. The album was a flop and Simon & Garfunkel split up and went their separate ways. The following year their producer at Colombia Records, Tom Wilson, mucked around with the song, adding electric guitar and drums, and released it as a single without even consulting Simon or Garfunkel. By the end of 1965 The Sound of Silence was No.1 in the US charts. Needless to say, Simon & Garfunkel reunited, and the rest is history…
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.