Effect and Cause

It remains still, quiet and quite eerie in the house with A and O in the UK. Last night we Skyped, which was fantastic, so Gerry Anderson video-phonish, but it seemed to mystify the little man somewhat… when I spoke he looked out of the window into A’s folks’ garden – did he think I was hiding in the bushes…? He is so alert, fascinated and fascinating to watch. I miss him and his mummy so much. Been listening to the White Stripes new album a lot – I REALLY like it, its noisy and fuzzy and sweet and crunchy and so black and white and red all over… he plays lots of major chords too so that a musical dimwit like me can almost struggle along with them without too much trouble. The version on sale here is bootlegged off a Canadian radio show, and has snippets of a female DJ between some of the tracks, and I think it’s really good, gives it a kind of ‘the Who sell Out’ feel to it. Oh, those White Stripes…They are so good, so primal, so real that they must have made one hell of a deal with satan… in fact, you can see the evidence of that deal if you follow this link… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9zgT3WzTVA

Mr R and I are going to attend an evening of punk rock tomorrow night, an event which we are eagerly anticipating. From the flyer, which depicts Patti Smith in an outtake from the Horses cover and promises an ‘indie punk mash up plus the Ramones live’ (!) we could be in for some New York New Wave (the venue owners are New Yorkers) – let’s hope so. Should I wear my skinny tie and black converse sneakers? Probably not…

A report should filter through into this blog soon – maybe even some pics, if I can remember how to get them into the editing box – I still struggle massively with the mechanics of digital wonderment – it takes a long time and a great deal of effort to get anything onto this site, believe me.

And so to bed… how loud can an I-Pod go, I wonder…

‘ yes, I can tell that we are going to be friends’

ha! ha! said the clown

The house feels very strange now that Ani and Otis have gone to the UK…I myself feel like a ghost haunting its corridors, a spectral presence in an empty shell where the laughter of a woman and a child still echoes in the walls like a siren song… there, I hope that has given you just a little bit of a chill.

I was thinking today about some of my favourite authors when I was a younger chap, and I confess that most of them were of a strangely morbid bent. Edgar Allen Poe – he was a dark soul. H P Lovecraft – so influential they named a (dark and mysterious) sauce after him. William Hope Hodgson (go on, look him up. Read ‘ The House on the Borderland’. Very sinister.), but my all time literary hero award would have to go to… I’ll tell you later.

At lunchtime today the reading matter in the White Room (don’t ask, it’s a man thing) was Edward Lear’s ‘complete book of nonsense’, which I had bought ostensibly to entertain the little O but obviously subconsciously was also to entertain me. It’s wonderful, whimsical, very Victorian and just plain nonsensical. People like Lear and Lewis Carroll were intellectuals who had a deep streak of fractious foolishness coursing the strata of their intelligence, and the sceptred isles have thrown up many other wonderfully eccentric persons of puckish singularity whose work is a joyous celebration of the silly, though often with a soupcon of the sinister to offset the whimsy…

‘There ought to be a monument
erected in the land
to purveyors of fine nonsense
very stately, very grand
perhaps made out of custard, enclosed within a sock
and mounted on a plinth
composed of sugar rock
wherein the silly roll-call
of names would be engraved
of the mighty and the mirthful
whom our lives had better made –
stand up Milligan! Come here Sir,
Carroll, Lear and Cutler too
Messrs Sellers, Bentine, Secombe,
Mr Drake and Clitheroe (who?)
Mr James and Mr Hancock
Form a line around the back
Cleese and Gilliam and Idle,
Palin (leave your haversack),
Mr Stanshall, Mr Innes, yes,
Mr Barrett (with guitar)
Bring us, sir, a bigger rock now
As these names go on so far…’

Those lines above, extracted from an epic by another purveyor of pulchritudinous prose, Mr Skip Cormack, say things much more eloquently than I can. We should never forget the child within us, and the work of the above (and more) still has the unerring power to bring out the
‘ starry-eyed in wonder’ child in me…

… and my literary hero? Well, heroes really. A tie, between Robert Louis Stevenson (who also found time to say some lovely things about Wick) and Ray Bradbury…

‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…’

listening to – White Stripes ‘Icky Thump’
Guided by Voices ‘Under the bushes, Under the stars’
Traffic ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’

Reading – nonsense


Smiley Smile! Today Otis ate his first solid food (pureed carrot) and learned to ‘swing his pants’ in a Trevor and Simon stylee, to the accompaniment of some of that ‘dang hippety-hoppity music’ that gets played ’round these parts. Big thanks to our friend Ben, who departed these shores on Sunday to return to the USA, but before he did he donated his ENTIRE music collection to my hard drive… over 100 Gigabytes (whatever that means… how many LP’s is that?). Ben has amazingly eclectic taste (regular readers will know how cool he is) and I am very excited at the musical delights that lie ahead… Kiss greatest hits in particular. I’ve been known to ‘play Kiss covers on the jetty in the summer’ as Wilco sang, amongst the many crimes against music I’ve commited (and continue to commit). Perhaps we can incorporate something like ‘I wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite’ into the next (and last, for the time being) Scary Uncle gig. Scary Uncle have developed into a minor legend in Phnom Penh, despite having played much less than a handful of gigs. We were (are) a two-piece, myself on guitar (and to tell the truth, it probably would sound better if I actually did climb onto the guitar and jump about on it rather than try to play those things that Ulf Goran calls ‘chords’) and ‘singing’, and yet another Ben, the wonderful Ben R, on bass and enthusiasm. Ben is one of the world’s leading monkey anthropologists and a damn fine fellow to boot, although I sometimes suspect he views my more enthusiastic fret mangling as some kind of throwback to my simian past… his son, Tane, is also Otis’ hero, as he is at the ‘running around and causing havoc’ stage of babyhood – Otis gazes awestruck at Tane’s ability to run rings around pursuing adults as he attempts to redistribute the contents of a potato chip bowl to needy ant colonies. Tane and Otis are also Voodoo brothers, but that, my friends, is a story for another time…At our first gig in the truly wonderful Zeppelin Rock Cafe (supporting the even more wonderful Betty Ford and the GT Falcons) we even managed one of those transcendental rock ‘n’ roll moments, when, just about to start our last number, a chap leapt out of the audience and enquired if we needed a drummer.. ‘what do you know?’ I said ‘what d’you wanna play?’ he said’do you know any Violent Femmes”yep!”Blister in the Sun?’ ‘Yep!’…. and he did… he was a fantastic drummer… then he faded back into the darkness from whence he came… it was one of those nights that has passed into folklore, so much so that even Asia Life magazine, the SE Asia equivalent of Time Out reported us as being an Irish/English version of the White Stripes- not bad for a mostly drummerless Scottish/Australian outfit… Take a look at the photos in my media for the sad evidence… Ben R and family are off to Vietnam soon, so who knows what will happen, maybe some long distance rehearsing by Skype, or maybe I will finally take the plunge and perform solo – if you’re out there Michael (and I think you are…), I really wish I’d listened more carefully to  Bert Jansch and Leo Kottke and all those other guitar toters albums you used to have instead of sneering at them… now where are my Ulf Goran and Bert Weedon chord books….

‘she started dancin’ to that fine, fine music, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll’ (Lou Reed)