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photo1.jpgHere's a little ditty to start the year; a spontaneous piano (right hand) and casiotone (left hand) tune, recorded on my phone on new years day in our lounge with children playing and humming along in parts.

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This 20 minute thing was recorded today in ye olde citye of Chichester in "Room 11," where resides my favourite Boston baby grand piano. All sorts of things were passing through my tiny mind as I played these six 'movements.' Empathy with Japan, disenchantment at our own media's inability to portray the simple humanity at the basis of our recent protests concerning the selling off of our public services to private companies, the right to demonstrate and also wondering how a country so bent on saving money can spend so much bombing the living shits out of another (not to mention the psychological scarring of those being bombed). One day soon, it'll be us with the bombs raining down and we'll look at each other and say "oooh, that's not FAIR!!" but truth is, it'll be our go. We are the bastards with blood on our hands. Stand up. Protest! Be heard.

Ya see, I do like to break it all up into a digestible format for ya pop munchkins.

Today's piano improvisation occurred in the warmth of humanity. Enjoy!

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After what seems like an eternity of shitty weather, today at last I savoured a few precious moments of feeling the sun's heat on my face and the familiar sense of happiness and relief that accompanies the first hints of springtime.

Today's piano thang makes me think of armies of ants busying themselves in preparation for their own rites of spring, a butterfly unfolds its wings around 2'40" and dances off amongst the newly flowering sproutlets, past the bees' nest at 3'45" infact hang about and you'll catch that bee pollenating the unsuspecting daffodil around 4'00"....

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I’m not sure how I feel about Dennis anymore.

Dennis is the spider who has resided now in his luxury web in the old sash lounge window for over two years, undisturbed by me largely on account of his size but also due to the fact that he is a relatively predictable creature (or so I thought) never straying from his gossamer snare. So it was a cause of some consternation for me when an errant bee veered too close to his silky domain, got a bit stuck and was then set upon with utmost vigour by an extremely determined Dennis. It’s a side of Dennis I’ve never encountered before and to be honest, I didn’t think he had it in him to make such an attack.

Brian (the bee) put up one hell of a fight, certainly not one to take his demise lying down and he made things as difficult as he could for Dennis, thrusting his stinger at him, twisting and writhing in and out of Dennis’s grip whilst the spider ducked and dived, weaved and dodged, maintaining his eight-legged grip on Brian. I was struck by how long it all took. The fight lasted around half an hour. I left them to it and when I returned Brian was tied up good and proper, breathing his last whilst Dennis had disappeared back down into the sash for a good lie down.

Fast forward: three months later: Brian’s corpse still lies high up on the window ledge, surrounded by those of lesser flies. There’s not much of him left now more due to decomposition than Dennis’s feasting I think. Dennis has been out and about a lot less since the bout. I think he may have suffered himself quite a blow during it.

Fast forward: another month: Dennis died. I’ve hoovered up his larder / graveyard of provisions. He is down in the sash, all curled up, where the hoover can’t reach him like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, entombed forever (or until the windows are replaced).

42 seconds of this sorry episode has been consigned to history via the medium of film - it may be viewed here.

This improv is in two sections - the day of the insect fight begins around 3'30" with the preceding section illustrating the spider's predictable life.

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Don’t pay me by the hour to do your garden for I shall rescue the worms, woodlice and snails. I shall attempt to reunite a mother snail with her young, I shall wait patiently whilst the newly homeless woodlice scatter to a new domain. The beetle will be allowed the time to rush away from the scene of the devastation to bed its way into another untarnished part of the flower bed.

I shall tread gingerly in the garden shed so as not to disturb the spider, hiding away in the joins of the roof and yet I shall release the moth whose wing is caught in its silky web. I shall cut away the ivy with a careful stealth in case our friendly blackbird has its nest therein and even the slugs in the ground shall be spared a salty death. The humble bee may complete her task before my hoe strikes upon the land where she busys and buzzes.

But the midges, yes, those filthy hoggish hoardes of teeming tiny flapping freaks, those proboscis-pumping perverts who live out their orgy of vampiric voracity in my back yard, they must die in whatever ways I can find; with poison, with fire, by drowning.  Kill them all! Spare none! Let them perish!

Today's instant piano tune is dedicated to Tim Smith.

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Sir Percival Cranberry Ecclestone-Knox
Young, chivalrous, affluent, handsome and brave
Possessed of one flaw in the form of his socks
Which he wore every day and wears still in his grave.

Never washed, never changed, on his feet they remained
Like a shroud (only stinking), quite as one with the flesh
Putrid, decaying, bloodied and stain’d
No love in the life of a man of such mess.

An’ I heard it be said, “he’s a fear’d of his feet"
As a child he’d once seen them but t’was sight of such terror
Everlasting encasement, he deemed most discreet
In a ten percent mix of cotton/polyester.

Though dead now for over a hunderèd year
At times an odour in my parlour docks
And I see vague forms of man appear
The ghost of Sir Percival Ecclestone-Knox.

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What Marmalade was doing in Hell was anybody’s guess but in Hell he was and grin and bear it, he must.

Dogs everywhere was the first thing he noticed; large, black dogs with blood red eyes, salivating at the thought of a bite of Marmalade, who in his earthly life had enjoyed a somewhat pampered and sedentary lifestyle which (along with the rich food) had contributed to his untimely passing.

Here in Hell however, Marmalade was going to have to be quick on his toes; his claws having been clipped on entrance into the underworld, it was clear that self-defence was going to be tricky to say the least and the prospect of an eternity of being hounded was already proving to be such a downer that it began to break the poor cat’s already doomed spirit.

The only good thing about Hell was that it was warm, but this of course, was of little comfort to Marmalade who was sweating out calories by the hundred every hour trying to outrun, outwit and generally dodge the dogs of hell. There weren’t even any trees up which he could hide or rest awhile.

One day during Marmalade’s eternal flight, he spied a small hole in the ground, just large enough to squeeze his now sinewy body through. The hole led into a long and gently descending muddy passage. As Marmalade went along it became steeper and steeper until he was stumbling and tumbling, down and down and down until – BUMP! – he landed in the (mercifully empty) fireplace of what had been his earthly home.

The old lady sat beside the hearth, her eyes now mere ornaments as her sightless gaze fell upon the grate and she was suddenly struck by a feeling of longing for a long departed friend, the ginger cat with whom she had spent her childhood. She could smell him now after all these years, never had déjà vu been so powerful in her life. It was never to leave her now.

Meanwhile a million miles back up the chimney stack a pack of dogs gathered by a small hole howling and vainly clawing at it, rueing yet another cat’s chance in Hell.

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Oh, the brevity of her visit. Still a child, she flew across the world to see her father, little brother and newborn sister and now she flies back home. Two and a half weeks was all we had this time. So here’s to next time; another half year. And until then, teardrops drop.

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So much folklore and ancient tales to be discovered and told around my domicile of Worthing, it would seem, most recent of which for me is the story of a 300 year old oak tree which stands next to a busy intersection near Broadwater Green. I took some pictures of what is left of the tree last week.

Until the 19th century, it was believed that on Midsummer's eve skeletons would rise up from the roots of this tree and dance around it until dawn when they would sink back into the ground. The legend of the Midsummer Tree was first recorded by folklorist Charlotte Latham in 1868 and its origin harks back into England's pagan past, when Midsummer, rather than Hallowe'en, was viewed as the most auspicious time to commune with the spirit world.

With this in mind, today's improvisation begins with the spirits stirring from their subterranean slumber in anticipation for the skeletal dance. They rise from the ground and their spooky dance begins around four minutes in with a little whole tone folk ditty. This merges into the spectacle as seen by the observer and the sense of wonder regarding who these spirits once were. By 7'30" the dance takes on a celebratory tone, all the while accompanied by that sense of wonder. By 8'45" the bones can be heard knocking against each other and the dance takes some unexpected turns before the preparation of the souls for the eventual return to their earthy beds.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll definitely be saying it again; dishwashers make me seethe. The invention is emblematic of our generation’s expectations of instant gratification, only (as is so often the case) the quest for easy living will always be undone by that same idleness which begat it. I know people who stack their dishwashers full of dirty plates encrusted with the dried and stuck on porridge or melted cheese of previous meals, creating a malodorous atmosphere in what should be a clean and hygienic environment.

So what happens at the end of the wash cycle? The machine is opened (invariably by myself) only to reveal burning hot plates, still covered in the crap with which they went in, only now the dirt has been sealed into the very porcelain and I have to spend the next 20 minutes washing everything again properly. Glasses are smeared with the remnants of last night’s Angel Delight, wine glasses tipple boiling water from their concave bases as I extract them, spilling down the front of my trousers making me look incontinent as I walk my son to school.

I could go on about individuals using up all the coffee cups in their bid to fill the machine instead of just re-using one cup with a quick rinse. I could go on about me being the only person who actually cleans the filter out or adds the salt or rinse aid. I could mention the double amount of stacking time in loading and unloading the machine on top of the under-tap pre-rinse which I do before filling the machine, the fact that its all too hot or wet to take out, that I can never get a cup of coffee without having to go into the stinking machine and wash one out.

I could mention better days when families washed up together in the kitchen and the conversations that were instigated. Anyway, today’s musical offering is inspired by the situation which brought about this diatribe and I was still bristling as I played.

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