Graham Higgins Illustration - Literate Graffiti Dept.


April 26, 2011

25-4-11 Heat, holiday reading and The Hooligan


Nearly four months into the year we’re returning to our parked car and allowing a couple of minutes for the oven heat inside to disperse, driving around with the car windows open enough to make a draught.
Over the weekend, sorting out some of the folders of accumulated jpgs that have replaced the traditional shoe-box full of processed snaps as the repository of people, moments and places you can’t quite place, the monitor screen is the rear-view mirror reflecting the snowy gunmetal landscape only a couple of months behind us.
The imagination can conjure visions, leap and swerve and take you to the edge of the expressible but it can’t quite bridge the gap between the Winter morning when you try to grasp that in a few weeks you’ll be wilting in heat and remembering to take precautions against sunlight, or these days when we lounge on the lawn and try to recall the chill and snow-muffled silence mere weeks ago.

Last week in Aldeburgh, the Suffolk coastal village best known for its association with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, the Pet Shop Boys of English choral music, there was time and weather to lounge on the shingle beach; excuse enough to trawl the local bookshops for a holiday paperback.
I’m sorry I didn’t succumb to impulse and pick up “The Uses And Abuses Of Art History” from a £1-basket outside the second-hand shop. It was a familiar hover; the price made it almost sinful to pass over, balanced against the thought that I may not in fact find time to read it despite my good intentions and that I could easily come back to collect it if it was still on my mind in an hour or so.
It was temporarily pushed from my mind by a drop-in to the small but well-stocked Aldeburgh Bookshop where I found Charles Freeman’s ‘A New History Of Early Christianity’.
In the holiday season of choccy eggs and bunnies and miscellaneous retellings of the popular folk-narrative of The Crucifixion, it’s refreshing to be reminded of the historical, social, political, cultural and not least the physical landscape in which the recorded events took place and the factions which wrestled for authority to shape and tell the story over subsequent decades and centuries. Whatever the Gospels have to say about the Divine elements of the story, the written canon version is the editorial product of entirely human rivalry and schism, competing accounts and interpretations. The history is so well-researched that I shan’t even attempt a précis of the book when I’ve finished reading it but I’d recommend it as a dense historical whodunnit whatever your faith-affiliation.

Last week I was also presented with a new toy, a handmade Reed Little Hooligan banjolele, built around a tuneable hand-drum the ukuluthier chanced on in eBay. It has a moveable muting pad on the underside so that it can become a usefully strident busking instrument in the street or, as I now have it, barely audible in the next room while I try to get to grips with the triple-strum. For right-handers this is a thumb-and-index-finger down-down-up flick. Left-handers will strike the strings in reverse order on a standard-strung uke and it seems my best chance of recreating the strum is to use the index with the middle finger replacing the thumb-stroke.
I have to be reminded regularly that the rest of the world is largely populated with non-strummers for whom this kind of paragraph is indecipherable gratuitous geekery. My own skills remain so stubbornly at intermediate busker level that I assume real musicians will recognise and I hope sympathise with my attempts to achieve enough competence to join in without getting in the way.

  1. Wow, this internet thing is cool!
    I can put the name of the person who introduced me to Buzzy and go “hear this”;

    Comment by Charlie — April 27, 2011 @ 11:12 am
  2. Very happy to have introduced anyone to Buzzy Linhart, and by coincidence I just added that solo number to my YT Favourites this afternoon. I’ve preserved the vinyl LP of ‘Music’that was a staple soundtrack to several years of my life and travelled with me on cassette; now it’s due for a transfer onto a cd and a wave of nostalgia.
    Thanks for putting that handy link here; I’d thought about writing a paragraph or two about the ‘pure performance’ version compared to the studio-produced band version that’s engraved in my brain:-
    … I really *really* like the solo version. However, you put me in mind to write about “The Bag I’m In” on that album compared to the Fred Niel original… and while I’m at it, the surprise of finding how close the live band’s “Reputation” is to the studio version. I’ll see if someone can Spotify me up The Byrds’ version though I don’t hold out much optimism for a jingle-jangle treatment.
    Um… and is this Charlie the CEO of Spilt Milk records or another…? Thanks, anyway, for thinking of me by association; I take that as a rare compliment.

    Comment by admin — April 28, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

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