Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
How silly. As part of their redesign, Google has stopped people from being able to embed Bandcamp players into their pages on Safari.
Here's a screenshot of the page, and here's the link!
Monday, October 19, 2020
Sunday, October 18, 2020
A long time ago, when our children were small, we had a fantastic childminder called Valeria. We were so lucky to find her; she was like a second Mum to our two little girls, and we were really delighted when she met her husband-to-be, Gyuri, who we called George. George worked as a carpenter, builder, painter and decorator: he could do any of those things.
Valeria is Hungarian, and was brave enough to come to England on her own to work as a nanny. Gyuri came from a part of Slovakia where Hungarian was spoken, and things were difficult there for people like him. London should have been a haven for them both but British people (particularly the authorities) can be very cruel. Not everything was easy for them.
I was working full time, and so was my ex husband. For the first time, it looked as though we might be able to have some sort of future. Our daughters had just started school, and we could both work to support our family.
We were social housing tenants, and some very odd people lived above us. They allowed their children to play on the roof, from where they showered knives, forks, toys, rubbish and at one point a washing up bowl full of soapy water into our garden. Their boys were very young, and there was no safety barrier. We could hear the man watching TV while the boys were playing up there, or we could hear the two adults chanting (they were Buddhists), while their young children caused mayhem upstairs.
One day I came home from work and my father-in-law was standing in the street. The Housing Officer was hanging about, looking anxious. Valeria had taken our daughters to her house. My father-in-law was shaking his head in despair: they were carting stuff from the inside of our house into the front garden.
Upstairs had gone out and left their bath tap running; the bath had overflowed all day long and completely flooded our house. I went inside: there was foul brownish rain pouring through the ceilings, both up stairs and basement. Most of it was pooling on our daughters' beds. The previous upstairs tenants had had a little dog that messed on their floors, and that was all added to the mix of water, plaster dust, years of dirt and whatever else.
Our cat was running around, shocked. 'Make it stop!', she miaowed.
Valeria brought the girls round. 'Call the police!" shouted the oldest one. We picked up some night clothes and went to stay with their grandparents, for one night only, because this was Camberwell and any disaster was always compounded by thieves who prowled round looking for opportunities like flooded houses from where they might steal people's belongings and basically, hit them when they were down.
So we lived in all that muck. We had to explain to our girls what had happened. Up till then, we had been able to make everything all right for them, regardless of what went on around us. We didn't have a lot of money but we had a lot of love for them; we had books, good family, and optimism. The girls could not understand how such a horrible thing could have happened when we tried as a family so hard to be positive and happy. It was the first time that they had seen something happen that was utterly out of control in the heart of our home.
The wind had left our sails. We could see our upstairs neighbours swaggering around in the street; they gave no apology, though they must have know exactly the destruction that they had wreaked on our household: the front garden was piled with ruined wood, torn-up kitchen lino and stained, wet things from our house. Lots of things were taken away to be dried out. A loss adjustor came round and calculated that we had lost only £500 worth of stuff (though we challenged that successfully later on). The kitchen ceiling had collapsed and had to be repaired by the housing association; the kitchen table and chairs had absorbed a day's worth of hot water, and are still green with mould under their new varnish to this day.
But most of the water had ended up in the girls' bedroom, their safe place, soaking into their mattresses and the big rug we had bought to cover up the beige lino as soon as we had enough money. Water streaked up the walls where torrents had poured down into their basement room via the kitchen. Duvets, bedding, my granny's bed from America (one of the few bits of furniture we had that had any sort of meaning), all soaked through to its core.
Valeria and Gyuri are loving people and they felt our pain, especially because of what had happened to our children. They offered to repaint the girls' room, and soon it was renewed and glowing a bright and happy yellow. Something proactive and positive like that changed the mood of despair that we had been feeling. By that one act of kindness, they overrode the sheer unfairness of what had happened. More importantly, they taught our girls that the world outside the family does not consist of unkind and heartless people, but also good and kind people to.
Gyuri died suddenly a few weeks ago, and I know how much Valeria and he loved each other. I have written this as a memorial to him and to say to Valeria just how much we love her, and how we feel the pain of the loss to her and her sons, just a much as she and Gyuri felt our pain all those years ago. Life can bring us so many cruel things, but kindness is priceless.
Thank you so much Valeria and Gyuri for being such loving people.
There was a racket up at the Brewery Pond yesterday: it was loud and ferocious-sounding. In pairs, some new Egyptian Geese were arguing, darting their necks backwards and forwards, spreading their wings. One even jumped up into a tree. Was it a fox? Was it mating rituals? They made noises that they had never made before: growls, purrs, shrieks, hysterical shouts and honks.
Eventually, I realised that they were arguing with the echoes of their voices that were slapping back from the brick wall at the opposite end of the pond. On it went, call: response, call: response, call: response.....
If only I could have told them that the echo always has the last word.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Sunday, October 11, 2020
It's the Ambulance song that's the weepy. This is such a good tribute, put together by Johny Brown, with lots of original Brian Blaney stories told by the man himself and also by his friends: Vic Godard, Mandy Prowse, Simon and Kim Rivers, Lee McFadden, Caryne, Jem Price and many more:
Friday, October 09, 2020
We are in Norfolk. Norfolk has crashed both my phone and computer at once.
Sheringham hits your senses with an overwhelming aroma of chips as soon as you enter the town boundaries. There's a chip shop every few doors along, and that's why. All the other shops copy each other: souvenirs mix with wet weather wear, seafaring tat and models of ducks. Apart from the toy train shop.
Along the seafront, there are murals of different types of lifeboatmen. We wondered if you were supposed to place a tick next to the one you preferred.
We ate chips sitting on the rocks next to the sea, and the seagulls told us the chips were theirs, not ours. They tried several different noises:
'Ours, ours, ours'. 'Mine, mine mine, mine'. 'Pleeeaase! Pleeeaase!'. 'NOW!!!!'.
The chips were delicious. Sorry, gulls.
The sky was pink and reflected off the shiny sea-soaked sand. It was bitterly cold. We'd had to travel with the car windows open, so as not to do a Donald. The Air B&B is a bit worn out after a busy summer. The door doesn't lock, some of the lightbulbs have gone, the fridge door shelves are all broken, and the bathroom smells of... what it shouldn't. It is very beautiful though: a bit like an African Safari Lodge surrounded by damp pines and rough grass.
The main thing is, it isn't Home. Home has become Work: all the Work issues pour into my house, unabated. The Work Computer switches itself on at 7.30 every morning, weekdays and weekends, and off at 11.30 p.m. An entire universitysworth of lecture planning, tutorials, module guides, departmental meetings, research submission criteria and unimagined mysteries is all stored behind that eager computer screen, ready to flood out at the stroke of a key.
I had to wait for Covid Test Man before we left. He comes every Friday with a little plastic bag with a testing kit. I jab my tonsils, jab my nostrils, and pack the little bottle in two plastic bags, which he then stuffs into a bin bag. Maybe he just throws them away.
Oh, these times, these times. How extraordinary they are! Terrifying, creative, unpredictable.....
Wednesday, October 07, 2020
Bloody hell! What a day! After two years, I finally got the windows cleaned, which involved rising at 6.45 not just today but also yesterday, because the company sent the same email twice, with the change of day tacked on to the end of the first one. It was painless, though: a bit like cleaning your teeth, only the house. I can see out! Nothing special to look at but if there was, I'd be able to see it.
Next, I hot-footed it to Stratford with the books I had to return to the University library, filming parts of the journey on the way for a video that me and Robert are going to make for one of our songs. I don't look nice at that time in the morning and some of the selfie-footage will have to end up on the cutting room floor, especially the bit where I thought I was going to miss the train and started running, my copious jowls rippling in the breeze.
I travelled on the overground: I haven't been under ground on a tube since March. The germs! No thanks! So it's a two mile walk each way, which is why I felt perfectly OK about eating an enormous quantity of Doritos when I got back, and actually (rather nicely) a Pret-a-Manger sandwich, something I've been missing a lot.
Luckily the 'lost' library book that had kept me awake all night was stuffed under some papers on my desk. I also was able to pick up a working keyboard and mouse. The kittens I had, thinking that my copy of Logic was totally screwed, until I remembered that I'd swapped the work keyboard that doesn't do full stops and the work mouse that needs two clicks before it springs into action, with the music computer. As soon as they returned to the music computer, all was calm, happy and working. I also picked up about six books from my deserted office that I need for teaching, which meant my backpack was exceptionally heavy, and I clumped the two miles back from the station like a toddler just learning how to walk.
And so now I am a woman in pain!
I still have work to do... contracts to fill in, that sort of thing. Do you think I could leave them till tomorrow?
Tuesday, October 06, 2020
Over on social media, it's rather a laugh at the moment. The person who suggested that we all go and play banjos under Sunak's windows... and the laugh-out-loud one of Sunak standing beside some cows, suggesting that they all retrain as hens.
BTW, Sunak just autocorrected as 'sunk'
Brian Blaney was the drummer for Asbo Derek. He died at the weekend, which has made us all very sad. Johny Brown will be dedicating a Bad Punk show on Resonance FM to him on Friday evening, where friends will read his stories. I wrote this about Brian. I don't think it will be part of the show, but here it is:
Brian sure knows how to hack it.
Sees a drum and has to whack it
Three cheers for Brian Blaney!
Silly stories off the page
Shouting from the back of stage
'GET ON WI' IT!' in purple rage
Three cheers for Brian Blaney!
Patient as they crimp his hair
(honestly, I wouldn't dare)
He sits so quiet and doesn't swear
Three cheers for Brian Blaney!
Legends, they are very rare
There's no-one like you anywhere,
Brian, you are right up there.
Three cheers for Brian Blaney!
Sunday, October 04, 2020
Thursday, October 01, 2020
I'm up early, as always, watching the BBC News. I like the way the Breakfast presenters skewer the people from the government this early in the morning before they are kicked into shape.
Out they come in their suits, every morning: government ministers with baa-ing voices telling lies. Uniform, droning, they have learned that way of talking in a monotone very quickly to try to prevent the presenters from stopping them off at important points to ask them questions you know very long sentences with no punctuation at all.
They weave words together in a mesh of nonsense. Every so often they turn into 'Daddy' and scold the nation for having the virus,and not following the dogs-dinner of instructions that they change every few days.
I'm listening to one at the moment. Even their hairstyles are variations on a simple Tory theme, stuck down with scented goo, unicolour. And their faces are blank. They learn this expression in the Commons loos, coached by specially-trained psychotherapists. Flat, bland, devoid of expression.
They are not real.
They live in a box, packed tightly like cigars and are charged up overnight, propped in front of TV cameras and activated. Well, not activated... not even switched on... I suppose, plugged into unimessage as fabricated by the creepy cod scientist who doesn't quite understand anything he reads, but has read it anyway, and that makes him Something Special.
'Baa, baa, baa', intones the government minister, on-message. The problem is that the message is a bomb of vacuity, if such a thing can exist. It's not even nonsense: even nonsense has a purpose. The Tory message is hot air, a fog of meaningless hot air.
'If we just keep talking, sooner or later we will say the right thing!'
And you could almost feel sorry for the thick pink slab thinking that he sounds Churchillian; it's excruciating, his attempts to hijack gravitas from the 'research' on Churchill he did for his flop of a book. 'Blah, blah, blah...' (he pauses for effect) 'Gas, gas, gas'. Interrogate it and it means just as little as anything any of them says.
We deserve so much better than this. They say 'We are paying for this, we are paying for that...'.
No, it's not them: it's us, with our taxes, straight into Dido Harding's pockets and those of their other chums. Over their sherries at dinner, they chuckle about the financial killings they have all made.
Short selling on disaster, and with Brexit yet to come! Ring-a-ding-ding! The Tory ship has sailed into port, a ship laden with pigs with their snouts in the trough, to join the sheep waiting for them on the quayside.
There they are! Look! Listen! What is it they're saying?
'Baa, baa, baa!".