Friday, August 23, 2019


I'm so in love with this song, and specifically this version of it, that I am going to marry it as soon as such things become legal.
After three hours of writing the massive re-write today, I'm going to print it out. There are 'issues' that I can't possibly solve through looking at it on a screen.
Old-fashioned red pen for the weekend.

Thursday, August 22, 2019


I had just stopped writing (only two hours today) because of a humdinger of a headache, when I got an email asking for A Good Life With A Bad Apple because it's going to be Gary Crowley's track of the week, I think next week. I'm so excited, and I've thrown my headache out of the window.

Puzzling Over Writing

It's like a Rubik's Cube: you change one bit so you need too change another bit so you need to change another bit.....
And end up just where you started!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Lovely Album Review from Greenfield Cygnus Blog


I've marked a load of student work this morning and while the computer is charging so I can do a bit of writing, I'll moan about the builders.
It seems to be the nature of living here in the 'burbs that neighbours, who come and go with depressing frequency, move into an already nice house and then gut it completely.
After more than two years of yelling, bashing and general bad builder behaviour over the road while the prize-winning and ultra-certificated OWCH premises were built, I'm now sandwiched between hearty, bashy builders. I've got the ear protectors that I used to have to wear a couple of years ago, but it still means that recording is simply impossible.
Have I written about the interview for BBC Radio Sheffield a few weeks ago where I had to go down the road and ask a builder to stop hacking a pipe out of the wall for half an hour because I was about to do a live broadcast? He was very nice about it, but then knocked on the door ten minutes later, nanoseconds before the interview was due to start, asking when he'd be able to start again!
This lot started off being quite entertaining: you know, the knowledgeable older one telling his apprentice all sorts of guff just to assert his authority and the apprentice patiently listening while noting secretly that it's all a load of rubbish (you see, I'm a mind-reader!).
Now the gaffer has got nasty. He spent most of yesterday morning shouting at people on his mobile while standing on the street outside my door so that no-one could hear him in the house that's being done up. He has  allow opinion of everyone, it appears, and I'm glad he's not there today.
Today's nosies are echoing cockney voices. I think that are painting now, from the length of the silences, although I can't hear the brush strokes. I can hear bits of hectic sandpapering.
I have been listening for so long that I could draw you a floor plan of the house just from the sonic shaping that I've heard. And it's not even next door!
On the other side, the thrill is to start at 9 a.m. on a Sunday, wake me up, and then stop at 11.
The randomness of this all is what makes it impossible to record anything. Everything is set up for programming, but even with the headphones on I can still hear it all going on in the background.
Oddly, it makes less difference when I'm writing the book: it's almost comforting to hear that there is more to life than just me and the laptop in our intense relationship.
OK! Coffee time, then back to (writing) work. At least I'm having this afternoon off!


On another note (!) Ian Button sent the mixes of my next project yesterday evening. They are brill. Music has saved my soul, whether I'm making it or listening to it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Chapter Intros and Outros

I've got to Chapter Four, out of ten.
This is slow.
I forgot to go to the dentist this morning.
I'm writing a song as well, in my 'eyes breaks'.
And I've marked some student work.
And I've been out for a walk so the computer doesn't blind me: three miles getting lost in suburbia and finding myself again. It's hot out there, though it's pretending to to be.
I returned with some new lyrics and enough energy to approach Chapter Four.
The only plus out of this is that I've interviewed some amazing female producers and if I can get their stories across, this ought to be a really inspiring book.
What a responsibility.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Five Hours

Five hours today, but I'm not sure if it's made any difference. After tomorrow, I think I'll print it out and read it.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Grafting and Graveyarding

I didn't expect to work today but when I woke up, I felt like it.
So I spent most of the morning taking notes from an academic book that the new editor wanted me to read, went for a short walk, then carried on working in the afternoon. At the moment it feels like I'll never finish writing (and this was a day spent reading before writing), but for some reason I'm quite motivated, even though I'd rather not have come home from being on holiday.
The night I got back I wrote a song which means that I missed playing, too. I sang it until I lost my voice, but I don't need it for a few days so that doesn't matter.

It's strange not hanging out with the Offsprogs. They make me laugh because they are so silly, and that's very relaxing. We seemed to do a lot of hanging out in graveyards, and we know an awful lot about the graveyard in Stirling after being befriended by the Stirling Graveyard Volunteer.
Do ask if you need to know anything about it.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Druridge Bay

Verily, Druridge Bay in Northumberland is the most beautiful beach in the world, rasped as it is by chilly north sea winds, and bathed in its cold grey waters that deposit faint traces of sea coal, spent razor clam shells and denuded sea urchins.
It laughs at the tiny humans that try to put up windbreaks and exercise their dogs along its length (the dogs just run for it: it's very funny!).
The sea keeps a daily diary of its activities inscribed on the sand between tides, and washes it away again at every turn.
You get a natural facial: your skin is blasted and battered by tiny, stinging sand particles. You get a natural hairdo: the wind plaits, weaves and tangles your hair into a nest of salty string.
If you lie down, the gusts blow sand into your ears.
If you lie down for long enough you will turn into a sand dune yourself, seeded by rough seagrass patrolled by cross little birds, and scattered with desperate colonies of ragwort weighed down with fornicating bees.
The sky is huge and blue... oh no it isn't...
It's cloudy and grey, spitting rain... oh no it isn't...
It's huge and blue, constantly changing: gigantic, a cloud-holder, stretching to Scandinavia where the dog commands are in Danish but people still can't put up a windbreak.
Running on compacted sand, limping across the hard rippled traces of the sea, splashing through the long salty puddles, sitting in the shelter of the wartime concrete blocks sinking into the soft buttery landscape... I was there, it was there, it is there, and it will be there: a place to share atomic particles with nature, to disappear, to not matter, not to matter.
Until the next time, paradise!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sherwood Forest

Sherwood Forest was a revelation- the Major Oak, 1500 years old, and hundreds of other ancient oaks that resembled totem poles, are all mixed in with sparkling birches.
Around the periphery scores of swifts dart through the air; if you look up they look like swarms of midges.
The scent of the forest is fabulous, so different from pines and spruces in Scotland, but absolutely exquisite and impossible to describe.


Offsprog One bought me this manager at the Quayside Market in Newcastle on Sunday morning. Apparently his name is JDL and he's a boxing manager from Texas, but I'm sure he'll learn the ropes (aha!) given a bit of time.
I'm not quite ready to unwrap him just yet, but he can nod his head for 'yes' and shake it for 'no', and he also has gripping hands for gripping wads of cash, and (I'm sure you'll agree) rather a natty line in suits!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Go, Fortune-teller, Go!

What a great idea, I thought!
A green light in the middle of the back window to let people know when the fortune-teller's previous client has left, and it's time for the next one to enter the caravan!
Then I was told that it was the reflection of the traffic light next to the caravan.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Yellow Toadflax Garden

This is my favourite wildflower, and it grows along and between the railway lines and just about everywhere in the north-east of England. This little colony has self-seeded jut outside the Baltic Art Gallery, where it has a perfect view across the Tyne.
Oh, you should have seen the fog on the Tyne last night!
The spindly bridges loomed out of the grey woolly mist; fuzzy pale street lights tried to puncture the thick gloom, and the Tyne was a dark mass below the train as we crossed over to the station. Such drama!
The show in Middlesbrough was lovely, I'll write about that next stop.
It was moved to the Old Fire Station because of the wet and wind so we had a dynamic reverb helping us on our way.