even the lowly buttock takes its turn

Try going into Walkers – I have told Donna that I will. The morning goes alright. I go out and get sandwiches from the Shop Formerly Known As Honest Ben’s (SFKAHB) and after eating them have a recurrence of feeling-oddness. So I come home at 3:00 and lie on the sofa for a bit.

I decide that I’ll go to the meditation class, though, mainly since it’s just sitting there, which is what I’m supposed to be doing anyway, and I’m loath to miss the hints and tips for successful just sitting there that Lama Zangmo throws out. Quite productive considering i suspect that I’m sitting totally wrong and every week a new bit of my body takes its turn to give me frantic and assertive distress signals left leg, right leg, back, this week it was the turn of the left buttock. An egalitarian philosphy it is where even the lowly buttock takes its turn to cause agony.

I had set up my pocket radio to try to record the Laurie Anderson performance to the Big Disk in the computer, but when I return there’s so much intereference on it that it’s pretty much useless. I do hear the last forty-five minutes or so, which includes a deeply moving version of O Superman – the concert was recorded in New York in September, adding reverberations to lines lke "Here come the planes / They’re American Planes / Made in America / Smoking or Non-Smoking?" which is a bit tasteless I suppose, but the piece always ambivalent about the relationship between the aerospace and amraments industry. It sounds like Anderson’s voice was cracking during the final "So hold me now…" section. Perhaps it will be released.

I listen to a bit of Sunday’s rehearsal with Yuka. I need to piece together what we worked out by Saturday morning or I’ll look like a silly boy and a person of no fixed discipline.

an abiding mystery

Still at home, I get a lift to to supermarket tostock up on stuff. Very little of use is achieved, save I read some of Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich, specifically the section about the Weimar Republic. Political movements may come and go but the staggering venality and incompetence of out leaders remains.

I had intended to go to the VAC tonight, but thought better of it as I lay comatose on the sofa. Instead I watched the video of Chance in a Million. Very funny, but it throws up a few questions – I suspect that there are some very in jokes in the casting. The leads are terrific, though. Why exactly you can only get it from Amazon US must remain an abiding mystery.

I also watch The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash, which I assume needs no further introduction.

events manage to converge to maximise the possible inconvenience

Continue lurgification with periods of indolence.

I had turned off the alarm so that I could sleep right through and get as much rest as possible, so today is the day that the postman arrives with my package from Amazon. It always astounds me the unerring way that events manage to converge to maximise the possible inconvenience. Not that I’m not happy to have the delivery: a video of the 80s ITV sitcom Chance in a Million, starring Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn. Only available from Amazon US. Sold on the cover as some kind of romantic comedy, which it is in a way, but goodness knows what the american consumers thought of it. Goodness knows what I’ll think of it – it’s about fifteen years since I last saw it.

More Twin Peaks, this time with commentaries. Only when I have the director there talking to me do I realise how different the episodes are from each other. I suppose that it must be an odd task – the tendency in television is to want to impose a uniformity both within a series and across TV as a whole, a uniformity of look and structure. The design and cinematography of Twin Peaks was so strong that it was easy to overlook the fact that different directors (all of whom, with the exception of Mark Frost, had come from directing independants) had specific ideas about how films should be made, and bugbears they wanted to avoid. Hmm.

Where should the purist put the cut-off point?

I manage the getting-up-and sitting bit, but immediately afterward collapse on the sofa and go back to sleep. I think it’s just pure laziness, but during the morning (as I slowly liquefy and flow off my chair), I realise it’s some kind of Lurgi, a non-sneezy but nonetheless debilitating one.

So I return home at lunchtime and lie on the sofa., listening to the radio. Edward Seckerson is back again, this time extolling the virtues of Sunset Boulevard. No comment.

So I don’t achieve anything especially. I lie on the sofa and read David Toop’s Ocean Of Sound which I found during the reorganisation of the living room yesterday. The whole project that he’s talking about seems quite far away now. When he wrote the book I would have been enthusiastically behind his thesis, but now that DJ/Electronica culture has such a grasp on the mainstream, I’m not so sure. I suppose I’m going through a Western Academic Music / Equal Tempering / High Maintainance period at the moment. Art music like Beethoven or Bartok or Messiaen seems to throw up more and more interesting questions and challenges than the synth boys or the industrialists. Toop’s book is very good, though, and I do take all his points. He does know what he’s talking about, and I’m not sure that I do what I am.

In the evening I return to the Twin Peaks boxed set, and discover some more of the features – extensive interviews with the cast and crew particularly. At the time I first saw it, they ran both series into each other, but here I’m very aware (particularly listening to the commentaries by the directors) what an extraordinary moment in television history it was – essentially a Hollywood Writers’ strike and poor ratings had left ABC desperate for anything to fill the space, and Lynch and Frost came along with something that tore up the rule book of what could be done on television (perhaps that’s over-egging the pudding a bit – Michael Mann’s auteurism had led to some fairly experimental editions of Miami Vice, but Twin Peaks was certainly the first time in teh U.S. that a whole series had come so solidly out of left field).

With the second series, (following the burning of the Packard Saw Mill) the series became increasingly formulaic, even if the formula in question was one of its own making. Where should the purist put the cut-off point? The capture of Leyland Palmer perhaps. I need to go and hunt out my Season Two videos. And Fire Walk With Me as well.

hip-deep in junk

The 6:00 project begins to falter – I get up and sit and breakfast and then climb onto the sofa and fall asleep again for a couple of hours. I then decide I want to move the living room around before Yuka comes over to reahearse. An hour later, when I’m hip-deep in junk, and I’m not so sure that it was a good idea. I listen to the recording I made of the last rehearsal, occasionally trying things out on the bass (when I can get to it). I do eventually manage to get everything into some semblance of order, apart from the table top, which is where I’ve stacked all the disorder. Then I have a bath.

There’s now a lot more floorspace, but I’ve moved the sofa away from where the computer is, so I have to sit on the floor to access the net and so forth.

Yuka comes over at 3:00 and we play through her songs – it turns out that her ukelele was tuned a semitone sharp last time, so I have to work out new things, but better things, I think, particularly stuff like walking basslines and one especially intense double-stopped passage. Whether I actually have the technique to pull it off, I can’t say.

At 7::00 I make some food, and we sit and chat until Yuka goes back to where she’s staying. I put my newer CDs (including six disks of Shostakovich String Quartets!) in the player, winnowing out some less-well-loved albums in the process. So au revoir Aphex Twin and Luke Slater.

You can tell a person by the quality of excuse they manufacture

Another successful attempt at getting up at 6:00. Perhaps I can work my way backwards through the clock. Perhaps not. I’ve done it forwards (getting up/going to bed an hour later each day) but I was a student, and it was part of the job description, although you had to study the fine print to find it.

Stretch and sit, then breakfast and it’s still early. Earlier. Amazing.

I get out to acquire recklessly at about twenty to ten – still not as early as I’d like in my ongoing attempt to avoid all other people. First stop is Music and Video Exchange in Notting Hill – it seems that the musical instrument, Camera and hi fi departments (all separate shops ten years ago) having been consolidated into the same building are now consolidated onto the same floor. How the mighty have fallen. And they have nothing I want, either. I stroll along to the Classical department and pick up the Brodsky‘s version of the complete Schostakovitch quartets, Jacob Heringman’s Black Cow and Boccerini’s Guitar Quintets. Then on to Denmark Street, where I eschew the available guitar straps (and see that the also-once-mighty Rose Morris has consolidated onto two floors from the original four or five that it had occupied for at least fifteen years), but I do go into the sheet music shop and get David Popper’s High School of Cello Playing and Michael Nyman’s Yamamoto Perpetuo for solo violin. Both for the GC tuning work I seriously intend to get round to one of these days (which is tuned like a cello in the bottom four strings and like a violin in the next four). Then in terrifying wind and rain round the corner to Tottenham Court Road where I buy a Roberts pocket radio in an inadvisable transparent blue. Jonathan Ive has a lot to answer for.

Then the bus home.

I try out the music, but it’s not a stunning success. This I blame on my current inability to locate the music stand. You can tell a person by the quality of excuse they manufacture, the best kind of person needing to manufacture none. That makes me…


Laura picks me up and we go to the Ritzy in Brixton to see Svankmajer’s Little Otik. Stunning, and still in that shaky czech style, it tells the story familiar from folklore of the sterile couple who yearn for a child, and get one. After a fashion. Struwwelpeter is a sort of toned-down version of the same folk-tale, which should give you some idea of the tone. It’s paced very slowly, with the animation gradually integrated into the narrative, rather than his previous insertion of "real" people into the animations, occasional bursts of animation in real life – after saying he’s ungry enough to eat rusty nails, a character looks down at his soup and sees it swimming with them; a dirty old man’s fly has a lif of its own. Unusually for Svankmajer, there’s a clear acted narrative, and the result is at times like Eraserhead directed by Roman Polanski.

Speaking of which, on a further viewing of Twin Peaks, it’s interesting to note how the cast bring their history with them – Richard Beymer and Russ Tamlyn from West Side Story, Piper Laurie from Carrie and at least three cast members from Eraserhead. I would offer a small prize, but it’s not that hard to find out. Still not going to tell, though.

I don’t think one of them made the final cut of Eraserhead, by the way. She is also in the crew, though.

Come to think of it, Sissy Spacek, who was in in Carrie with Piper Laurie, is married to Jack Fisk, the Man in the Planet from Eraserhead.

tomorrow I will be rested. Tonight I am merely sad.

Successfully get up at 6:00, which is very strange. Stretch, sit and then go to the gym where I am the first person which makes me feel keen. then home and breakfast. By the time I get to work, I’ve been up for four hours.

I find that accidentally pressing the fast-forward button on the walkman//radio in my pocket has resulted in almost all the battery power draining away. Just enough for the radio, but for how long? For the rest of the day I am very aware that the thing could die before the piece I’m listening to ends – at lunchtime some very nice Liszt transcriptions of Berlioz to nap along to, later the Rite of Spring. It finally dies about ten minutes into Jazz Masters, (this week, the Algerian-born pianist Martial Solal) after a very fine late Django piece.

At home I sit and dribble, then watch some of the Twin Peaks Season 1 dvd I recently acquired. I should sit and watch it all some time – the growing oddness of Dale Cooper is a joy. It’s only now that I can see that he’s some kind of dharma guru. Or perhaps I’m seeing everyone as a dharma guru at the moment. He is fixated with Tibet.

Astonishingly it is a year since my Guitar Craft Level One Performance – how the beans flew!

To bed at 10:00.

On a friday.

How sad I am.

Sad, but rested.

Well, tomorrow I will be rested. Tonight I am merely sad.

like an old, bloody-minded, maloderous and deaf dog

I keep waking up through the night, looking at the clock and then going back to sleep, so that when it does go off, I’m knackered and sleep through to 7:00 anyway. Doh!

At Walker: millions of print-outs, me standing next to the colour printer apologizing to all the people who are waiting for their work to appear. That said, if they could be holding me up to do milions of printouts, they would. It’s dog-eat-dog in the wonderful world of the Fiery/Canon 950 interface. Then the printouts are given to the paste-up department for conversion into something useful (in this case dummies of the book). Startling effect of seeing one’s work transformed to something real and holdable. Out not to be surprised if something complicated works, since it might give the impression that I don’t know what I’m doing (whereas in fact I know exactly what I’m doing, it’s just that I don’t know whether what I’m doing is the right thing or not). But there it is. All the holes line up where they should, except for the last bit and I can shamelessly shift the blame for that to the person who did the scans.

In the evening to the Buddhist centre for more instruction in just sitting there like a great thing. I find myself falling asleep, and Lama Zangmo then gives specific instructions on what to do when you find yourself falling asleep.

Lama Zangmo has compared the untrained mind to a wild horse, which is very romantic and everything, but mine is more like an old, bloody-minded, maloderous and deaf dog, which, when you call it to heel, gives you a sad-yet-contemptuous look and wanders off where-e’er it wants to.

Very relaxed for the rest of the evening, though.

guitar yet standing up

In a burst of something-or-other I fit the strap nut to my classical guitar and try it out for a bit. Woo! The Jimi/Segovia crossover thing creeps one step closer.

In the evening to the VAC – my first solo public performance using the classical guitar yet standing up. Or something. more irregulars tonight. Silver Sam does a storming song requiring multipart audience participation, which is very fine.

Set the alarm for 6:30 so that I can sit and then go to the Gym tomorrow.

economic, logistical, scientific, sociological and (possibly) moral reasons.

It’s beginning to feel that the job will go on forever, but I do realise that there are economic, logistical, scientific, sociological and (possibly) moral reasons why this is not so.

Miss Peggy Lee having thrown off the metaphorical coil, Is That All There Is? is played on the radio. It’s actually quite amazing. I can’t work out whether it’s supposed to be taken at face value or whether it’s deliberately camp or whatever. I suppose the most memorable place it is to be found is in Scorsese’s After Hours. In the early 80s, a New York singer called Christina (I think) recorded a cover, which was very luridly camp, and Leiber and Stoller (for it is they) successfully sued to have it banned. So there you go, there are very few reasons that your record can be banned, save that the original songwriters don’t like it very much.

On returning home, I attempt to act out some simulation of human life, but with scant success. On the Archers, the wretched Brian/Siobhan affair plot is dragging through the pre-discovery phase (fairly joylessly as far as I can tell), with all the tedious recriminations still to come. They have an infidelity plot every year, regular as clockwork, as I believe I’ve already noted.

Round in circles like the Archers / Always stiff and always starchy

as I may also have pointed out.

Thanks to the wonder of Gnutella I listen to some Sondheim songs, and some songs from The Music Man. I knew I liked musicals. Sondheim at least. His tunes may be odd, but they are affecting because they rely on melodic and harmonic development rather than shifting up a key and turning up the volume. And the melodies- If Momma Was Married, Johanna, Every Day a Little Death, Another Hundred People, Getting Married Today off the top of my head – are killer. And the lyrics, rather than hit you over the head with their cleverness make you feel clever because you’re in on the joke (W.S.Gilbert did the same thing), they actually mean something and they connect. Ah, well. That’s my opinion, anyway.