The Lost Will and Testament of Jake Thackray – John Watterson

There’s more of Jake Thackray’s unique fusion of Yorkshire folk and French Chanson? Fantastique! (And if this is cultural appropriation there’s nowt wrong with it, mon ami). Unreleased songs, some newly completed from material discovered while Mr Watterson was researching his forthcoming biography of Jake.
The vocals are very reminiscent of Jake Thackray. Paul Thompson has captured the guitar style and composed fresh music when only the original lyrics could be found. The music is flawless as are the expanded lyrics from short originals, perfect invisible mending. ‘You can’t see the join’ to quote another Northern genius.

Jake’s son Sam is pleased as are Ralph McTell, Neil Gaiman, Don Black and radio producer Victor Lewis Smith. So who cares if I like it? It’s more ‘who wouldn’t like it’?

Having recently heard Ted Hughes reading his Ovid (pretentious, moi?), couldn’t help seeing a connection: dark, handsome, manly men. The accent. Wordplay. Might be sacrilege but I prefer Jake Thackray. Maybe I was hexed by the Castleford Ladies Magic Circle.

Great project, perfectly realised. Attractively packaged, informative sleeve notes, flyer and introductory letter from Mr Watterson.

Jake T


Trump: His only exercise is schadenfreude. He’s human foie gras.

MIld-mannered Ashes hero David Steele addressing the Australian wicketkeeper: ‘Marshie, you see this arse of mine, take a good look because you’ll be seeing a lot of it this summer.’ How much longer will we see Trump’s fat arse? (Sorry, my ‘no Trump’ resolution lasted 2 days and 3 hours.)
There may never be enough decent Republicans for successful impeachment, despite likely Democrat gains this year, but surely there’s enough lying, obstruction of justice and enriching himself for Mueller? You’d think…
Best hope: you can’t live on junk food, not after 70. His only exercise is schadenfreude. He’s human foie gras. Dare we hope? As Paul Whitehouse’s grim old lady would say, or hiss; ‘I curse you!’trump assi curse youblotus

Carrie Fisher Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking is currently 99p on Kindle. A lovely memoir by a wise, humble, empathic person. Addiction, bipolarity, being the child of Hollywood royalty. How drama school tongue twisters helped her with the unsayable: Star Wars dialogue. Her gay best friend dying in bed with her, marriage to Paul Simon, LSD advice from Cary Grant and so much more. Shame she didn’t write about rehab with Ozzie Osbourne, then again you’re not supposed to. Short but delightful, like her.

I once blundered into the back of Paul Simon, back stage at the San Remo song festival. He turned round, looked up and apologised, despite it entirely being my fault.
And, Bert Jansch told me there was very nearly Simon and Jansch before Simon and Garfunkel got going. Suppose Bert would have been richer but we wouldn’t have had Pentangle.

Paul Simon’s Hearts and Bones. One of three songs he wrote for her.

A Song For Saturday: Santa Clause Is Coming To Town by Bjorn Again

The Tom Robinson Band once hung out with Bjorn Again at a big festival in Belgium. ‘Agnetha’ said that Kurt Cobain had told her Bjorn Again was his favourite band. Lovely people, deservedly popular. Our pianist couldn’t handle beer and dope so later staggered to the balcony to lightly vomit over…Bjorn Again as they walked out to play. The drummer copped it but, in a superb display of Aussie machismo didn’t even mind, gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up before going on to delight yet another vast crowd. Proper rock n roll.

Paul D. Brazill

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Nicholson Baker’s Paul Chowder novels

I’ve been enjoying Nicholson Baker’s Paul Chowder novels, which are the musings of a mid life poet, full of intriguing theories and literary gossip. There’s a little romance, the case for Quaker pacifism, and the incredible story of how a poet, Archibald Macleish, became one of the founders of the CIA, a man the Chicago Tribune called ‘the bald bard of balderdash’.

‘Archibald MacLeish was one of the original instigators and organizers of this bloated monstrosity of assassination and violent regime change and unaccountable underhanded ugliness and skullduggery. And drone warfare. Which is why Plato was right: poets should never get involved in politics.’

Baker, Nicholson. Travelling Sprinkler (p. 107). Profile Books. Kindle Edition.

Few people are as eclectic as this writer. Innovative erotica, reportage, experimental novels you can actually read: Mr Baker is one erudite, digressive gentleman. Can’t agree on Philip Larkin – ‘his acid is too corrosive’,  but then cynicism hasn’t always served me well. Maybe I should have been more like Paul Chowder. If you ever need to accentuate the positive just read these informative, highly entertaining novels.

He is also a wonderful essayist. As an ex musician he has fascinating insights into, for instance, Debussy’s La Mer, some of which was written in Eastbourne.

Hear here

Debussy piece in The Way the World Works.

Nicholson Baker’s Paul Chowder novels are The Anthologist and Travelling Sprinkler – the latter on Serpent’s Tail, my old publisher. Although Mr Baker has fewer cadavers. And no kinky stuff.

Two Against Nature – Are Steely Dan The Illuminati of Yacht Rock?

Robert Anton Wilson co-wrote Illuminatus! partly to debunk conspiracy theory and extreme Libertarianism, both of which have flourished ever since.
40-ish years later Youtube comments informs me that Fagen is here casting an eye in the pyramid shadow. Are they the Illuminati of Yacht Rock? Well, despite having spent a fortune on Freudian claptrap Fagen not known for magical thinking.

Love the last two albums.

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Contemplating Julie Christie: her seraphic, timeless beauty. Four flipping ads in half an hour? For a wittering twit?

I’m trying to watch a Julie Christie movie somewhere the ads come thick and fast. I’m fond of Arvo Part. So someone thinks I’ll like Ludovico Einaudi, a religious minimalist Richard Clayderman. Four times in half an hour I have heard him wittering on about how music ‘elevates the spirit, how we can all become better.’

Look Einaudi, you spaghetti-slurping shithouse, I’m trying to fixate on the divine beauty of Julie Christie. Take your bland meanderings, your cutesy wootsy nursery rhymes and your baffling ability to crossover into every possible market and shove the lot up your no doubt perfumed and oft-rimmed Elephant and Castle.

(six hours sleep since Saturday. Fortunately this isn’t affecting me. And thank Christ for my daily dose of Bill Evans, a real piano genius.)