With Lock Down lifting, I paid a socially distanced visit to my folks near Bedale, North Yorkshire. Kathryn came and it was nice to get out of Harrogate and sniff the fresh air.
To be fair - it was great to see Mum & Dad and I admit I am made up for having had the good health to have stayed the night there.
We were picked up on Friday at three in the aft and were taken door-to-door…
Mum’s Lock Down barnet suited her. Dad seemed in fine form and both were very obliging hosts. We had a take-away from The Greyhound (the pub in Hackforth) and Kathryn won that competition. Dad crunched a massive chilli (noodles - hot) and broke out in a comedy sweat. Dad gave us a couple of cans of Punk IPA to wash down the meal - it was a civil occassion and I am approaching middle age.
I was working until 3am on a website, at the kitchen table, that night. The next morning, I had my camera and a some lenses. Here is Dad in his veg patch.
We had a morning of picking greens and pootering around the garden - they are whipping it in to shape, well enough. Kathryn ticked off something on the bucket list in that she helped pick some veg. Here it is…
Kathryn went to town with a new lens I have for my Nikon. I bought a very old camera with some money Grandpa left me. I figured it was quite poetic to see new things through something my Grandpa left me. Plus ‘They don’t make them like that any more.’
The lens is a small plastic lens for a Diana F+
Here are some of Kathryn’s photos. I am sure she won’t mind me sharing them, here.
We had a slap up lunch and went off home - Dad drove, we sat in the back looking for Buzzards and Red Kites. Mum was in the front, they were off to see about a net for the pond to stop the newts being a menace.
When I got home, we were unpacking and I found my Harinezumi Guru 2011. It was a camera I had lost years ago - and given up finding. It is something I will really get into once I have the replacement battery… this camera is the size of a roll of 110 Film, so diddy.
I doubt I will be able to catch Kathryn’s efforts with the Diana F+ lens, though. There is a soft-focused, hazy and dream-like blur to them that is just fantastic!
“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts… Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” - Hermann Hess
Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day - Victory in Europe in the Second World War was achieved with the ultimate sacrifice by many. I am grateful to my forefathers and the ‘Golden Generation’ for their sacrifice.
But, here is my gripe - fifty, sixty, seventy-five years later and we are electing far-right and Fascist governments in our own countries, the countries of the Allies.
Take Brasil, USA and, to an extent, my own country, the UK. We have elected governments that share the same portion of the political spectrum as 1930’s Germany.
We have leant nothing.
I will be spending the day thankful for the 75 years of peace in Western Europe. I am grateful for that - I have benefitted immensly from a peaceful Europe that VE Day has brought about. But, I am hesitant to see what the future holds.
I am unsure if anyone other than my immediate friends knows I am part of Guerrilla Dub System. We had quite a few top-five hits in the charts years ago and never really capitalised on it by playing out live.
Allan went off to Drop Leg Steppers and I disappeared up my Sound Art. But it was fun whilst it lasted - we still have a heap of stuff we were working on together but never got around to releasing.
Maybe now, in Lock Down, it is time to revisit those forgotten recordings?
Either way, we have both moved on from that time of staying up all night at Creao Studio to find the perfect snare - it got a bit toxic in all honesty. In that it became all consuming; we were going without sleep for the sake of the music, not eating but drinking far too much.
So, three years later, where does Guerrilla Dub System stand in 2020?
As mentioned we have a few unreleased works. But, we also now have a podcast!
Our podcast is called Roots Conversation and it is a roots reggae podcast. We play all the music we wish we had made on our podcast. We are joined by DJ Scooby (from Sound Of Wonder) and we talk nonsense for an hour, all over perfectly good records.
The pod is available on most platforms - we have it on Apple Podcasts / iTunes, Google Podcasts and TuneIn. It is a lot of fun to do. If you want to see the full range of subscription options for Roots Conversation, click HERE.
We went through an agency called Syndicast - I have been dealing with a person called Zoltan there. He is really calm and puts all of my worries to rest. I recommend Syndicast wholeheartedly.
Scooby has just signed up to them for his show, Sound Of Wonder - I will keep you posted on that. I am the producer for the show so I keep my hand in it. It is a world music radio show.
So far we have had close to 500 listeners to our podcast. Most of the people are in Belgium and then the second highest figure is the UK, then America. We seem to be doing well on Apple Podcasts / iTunes. Not bad for being live less than a week and a relative newcomer to the industry.
I have been stuck indoors for weeks due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. I thought I had a cold a few weeks ago and took precautions - this may have meant I have escaped the worst of the Pandemic. Either way, I am playing it safe and staying indoors.
However, I have learnt a lot; I will not take much for granted anymore. I will never complain about being hard done by for a trivial matter. This lock down has made me realise that all of the UK post-war generations have been, dare I say it, living in the lap of luxury.
Apart from a short while working abroad, I have never really had to test myself. I say that as an aside - I am not really testing myself at present, just sat infront of my computer trying not to catch the flu.
Do I miss much? Apart from the contents of what is in these four walls I have not had much to go on.
Kathryn has been a blessing; she is the one keeping my head up, above water. Kathryn is made of strong stuff. I needed a bit of a routine to start off with, due to an underlying health complaint. That routine has been thrown out of the window.
I miss my mates. I miss having someone to get drunk as a Lord with. I am constantly reminded of their absence and non-contact through digital media. It is a bit of a sweet sorrow. Skype does so much - but you can’t shake your mates hands there.
I know several people who live alone. I have more admiration for them than ever before. If you have kids it’s your own damn fault. I am nicely shacked up with someone I could spend any amount of quarantine with - I just hope I don’t get told off for blinking too loud again.
What will 2020 bring? A baby boom in nine months - full of first borns who will be called Children Of The Quarn? Businesses are folding left and right - people are losing their livelihood and not having an income. It is a damn scary time… at least the supermarkets are getting back in to shape.
Harrogate Convention Centre has been turned in to a Nightingale Hospital with 500 beds. I am unsure why the Government dragged it’s heels so much over the response. Never trust a Tory.
You will be pleased to hear that I am getting my sleep. I am putting in an average of 9.5 hours - just so I am fully locked and loaded for another day of washing my hands and staring out of the window.
Some people are taking the Coronavirus Pandemic seriously - that is a good thing. They are trying to stop the surge in cases. Some people are just being d*cks and buying all of the loo roll.
There are bare shelves in ASDA in Harrogate - first it was the loo roll then it was the dried pasta. I reckon there is a direct correlation between the people who are panic buying and the people who own “Keep Calm & Carry On” merchandise.
We will see what comes of it though.
I am not hopeful for the event I am playing tomorrow - I am in Major Tom’s on The Ginnel for Pub Dub. I expect there to be next to no-one turn up.
I have all of my music lined up. As in, a lot of work has gone in to it, but I just think people are not venturing out of their safe place. I am unsure what Health England advise; I am however erring on the side of caution…
I am washing my hands more and this seems to keep me bug free.
Covid-19 (or Coronavirus) started in China. It was caused by people eating Bats (they think) and this has led to a lot of racist abuse to East Asians. Chinese Takeaways are really suffering, general high-street shops are suffering, general restaurants are suffering, gigging musicians are suffering - not so much from the bug itself just the panic has caused people to shut themselves in doors and not go out.
The result is that everyone has less money to spend. The City reported the worst day trading since 1987 - there is a real economic slump.
I had a bit of a cold - checked with a Doctor, it is not Coronavirus. I was just being a snowflake. But, I did well in that I erred on the side of caution. But, as a result, I missed the recording of this week’s Roots Conversation - it was just Allan & Scooby doing it. Here it is…
In many ways, I felt like a young parent. Sending their twins off on their first day of school; with a packed lunch and a spare set of trousers. But, they coped well.
Another project I was involved in was Vox Pod. Jack Sinclair came to Creao Studio and put his microphone in front of the faces of Scooby, Allan & myself.
The remit of Vox Pod is that questions are submitted for Jack to ask people he meets in Town. The weather/Pandemic has been a bit of an issue to approaching people in the streets recently. So, Jack came and visited us. He asked us…
What was your favourite Movie as a kid and what is it now?
If you were to try something that you have not done before what would it be?
If you can live a few days as someone else, who would that be?
I think I did okay - but I will let you be the judge…
It was a lot of fun - we spoke far too much. Edited superbly by Jack, he managed to polish a turd. We each spoke for around 20-40 minutes and it was only a half an hour show. We are all super pleased with how it has turned out. Good work Jack.
So, these are my notes from the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Was this panic justified? I hate to say so, but it will be history that is the judge of us. Will the people who bought crates of loo roll be proved right? I doubt it. Will we have more respect for each other as a result of Corvid-19? It hasn’t. Bulk buying has shown the ugly underbelly of society - people are out for themselves and they are not community minded. It is a sad state of affairs… I was talking with a fine-art photographer about when the nation became s*te. Brexit was the tipping point, is this pandemic revealing how far society has fallen? As in, everyone is just out for themselves - there is no community minded, leaderless motion. We are a nation who elected a right-wing goverment to protect us from imaginary dangers. So, when a real danger comes along then our government will be useless.
Above, in the photo, you will see the cans & bottles we sipped at Harrogate Beer Club: Chapter 1. It was Kathryn’s choice as to what we do for our entertainment - and she has gone up in my estimation for it.
Women On Tap have started a Beer Club and we went along to the opening night.
Women On Tap are a group who aim to promote inclusiveness in Beer Society. I am all for it - without them I would be drinking on my own as it was at a WoT Event that Kathryn really got in to beer.
I owe it to Rachel and the rest of the gang for their work in proving to Kathryn that beer was not ‘just for lads.’
We sipped a good range - I will not bore you by going through the list of beers we drank (my memory is not that way wired) but I will say I took a lot home from the event. Not physically - just in a warm, fuzzy way. I will say I went there with a certain amount of intrepidation… there were these great beer-minds and then there was me, who sips Pale Ale and doesn’t really deviate from that.
But, that is part of the reason why I went to Beer Club - to push myself to try new beers. Thankfully there was zero beer snobbery as I feared there might be. It was a warm, welcoming environment.
I could grade the beers - indeed, we did have a points system at the event. But I will just say that if you want to find out about beer that you would not necessarily otherwise try; get yourself down to Beer Club.
I was really pushed out of my comfort zone with the beer choices. But, I am grateful for this - there were beers there that I would not have tried had it not been for beer club. And yet there was not a bad beer.
I am normally sticking to what I know and then ploughing on with that. But, I think thanks to Beer Club, I may become a bit more experimental in my selection. Drinking halves of different types of beer as opposed to pints of safety? Well, I am toying with the idea…
It could have caused a bit of a revolution.
We managed to get home and cook up some Garlic Bread for supper. Kathryn was sat laughing at her bread and The Crystal Maze as I set about blogging - she is now in bed and I am up for a bit longer, pottering about.
Will Beer Club change me? To be fair, I am a creature of habit - I like what I like and I like drinking for pleasure. Will I experiment a bit more? I would like to think Beer Club has opened my mind to a greater amount of beer. I sincerley doubt I will start drinking sours for fun. But, I will definately be going to the next Beer Club and I will be going with an open mind. I had a lot of fun. Maybe if I limit my experimenting to the cultered palette of the other folk at Beer club recommending me beers?
The company was amazing and the venue (The Disappearing Chin) really helped out. There were five of us there, including the bar keep, Jack, who joined in. It was wholesome and, in all honesty, it was what drinking should be about. It brought people together and we chatted, drank beer and we had a good time. All sensibly done, all in moderation.
Yeah, it was really good fun. Roll on the next Beer Club.
My sleep gave me respite and I managed to get up in to the Dales to visit my folks over the weekend, on Sunday. Michael (+family) & Alison were there and it was a good catch up.
The reason for getting together was that it was Dad’s birthday celebration. He completes another year soon and he is looking forward to completely stopping work - he says he hopes to be out of agriculture by the end of the harvest.
Sarah and Dad made Chocolate Fudge Pudding (most of it ended up on Sarah’s dress). The main was roast pork - it was wholesome fare and the company was great.
Michael & Hannah had the previous night off parental responsibilities - Ben & Sarah stayed the night at Hackforth with their grandparents and Aunty Alison. It is amazing how quickly they are growing up - I hope that I have a good summer of health so I can pay them all a visit one day.
I am getting ready for another Pub Dub At Tom’s in a few weeks. On the fifteenth of March, I will be playing a few choice tracks in my favourite pub - it really is a pleasure to play the music I love and to get paid to do so. Major Tom’s is being cautious, yet helpful about the whole thing.
I thought I had a series of gigs in the bag but the owner wants one more trial run to see if it was luck that drew the crowds in February. Let’s hope I can assuage their suspitions.
Other than that, Guerrilla Dub System seems to be going from strength to strength. Our radio shows are improving - we may not have the most listeners but it is proving a lot of fun.
I have rebuilt the GDS Website (it moved Domain) and embedded all of our radio shows on the site. Some of them a re a bit ropey - but, it is right laugh to record them wiith Allan and Scooby. If you want to find out more head to the website for Guerrilla Dub System at www.theGDS.website. Here is the latest show - it’s a good’un!
My Nonsense Poetry Podcast is going well, thanks. I keep on writing nonsense verse but struggle to find the time to record it properly. I have my mic (a SHURESM7B) here in my flat - but, I often whoop it up like a Hula Girl and struggle to break the sleep/work routine.
This said sleep/work routine is a gripe - I do not do much else. I suppose I need to break free of the shackles I have imposed on myself and go outside and on to an adventure. To achieve the break in the cycle by having a break. But, it is finding the where-with-all to do that very thing… I used to catch the train all over the country to visit friends but now a trip to the other end of town needs serious preparation. I guess I have withdrawn a bit more, become a bit more self conscious or aware of my limits; I am unsure.
I am captive to my four walls - self imposed isolation - not from Corvid-19 - but just so I don’t have to interact with anyone, haha!
I am just happy in my own ways. I am set in my own ways, but happy…
Today I played a gig at Major Tom’s on The Ginnel. This was quite something as it was the first DJ Gig I have played this year - we are two months in to 2020 and gigs have been sparse, I am glad I had the outing.
I would like to say “Here is a recording of the mix I made…” but I did not want to put my machine through the ardours of recording and playing a gig at the same time - little by little.
The manager said he enjoyed the vibe I made and that he would want me back - later on in the evening he said he would need to run it past his bosses; but we will see where it lands me.
Set up: I had a Traktor S4, Traktor F1 and a MacBook Pro. The cable that the mixer (S4) was plugged in to was a bit wafty so that needed changing over half way through the gig. I will have to bring my own cables up there, should it go ahead.
I have recorded The Parish News a bit later than expected this week - I have been trying to do more at just my own pace. It is just about fitting the small things in with the big things and not making them all jumble around that matters. Still, it is a good show and I have it embedded below.
I am the first to admit I will not win any prizes for my delivery - but, I am a contender when it comes to passion and the music that I play on the show is amazing, if you don’t mind me blowing my own trumpet. Toot!
Stinky’s Riso Press is another project of mine - I have been submitted the first manuscript for the press. I am in the process of going through it and hope to get back to the author(s) soon - tip top secret on that for now, more to save my blushes due to my clumsy editorial stance than a judgement on their (excellent) submission. If you want to read more about Stinky’s head HERE. It is a good venture but getting all of the technology to work is a nightmare… we have just (my wife and I) invested in a paper creaser that makes creases in every shape but straight. Ho hum - once we get the tech working we will be abl to get printing the experimental chapbooks we are hoping to put out.
Speaking of poetry… I have been reading a lot more of late - not quite as much poetry as I used to (I used to inhale manuscripts, chapbooks and tomes). But it has also led me to writing poetry and verse again.
No, not the angst ridden poesy of my twenties. But, Nonsense Verse. Verse that is, by it’s nature, gibberish. It is a lot of fun. I am now toying with the idea of recording it and seeing what it sounds like read out-loud. I doubt my nonsense will see print, purposefully, but it is fun to read outloud and I have all of the equipment… as it is attributed in Alice: Through The Looking Glass “Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves.” But, more on that later…
As I type this, it is very blustery outside. It is the build up to Storm Ciara. I had hoped to walk to the Roster’s Tap Room tomorrow, with friends, to see in my Birthday. It will be chucking it down and people are not advised to travel by Train, unless it is absolutely necessary. So, it seems will be calling in to The Disappearing Chin on Beullah Street.
We hope to be joined by Scoob & K-Lo. They will be bringing Ernie the Greyhound with them. He is a great dog - really gentle, although I think if I was a rabbit I would not stand a chance.
Ernie: he won quite a few races but has been put out to pasture. K-Lo and Scoob adopted him via a fosterer. He took a bit of time de-compressing and adjusting, but the last time I saw him he seemed right as rain. And, Scoob seemed happy too - probably happy he now has a dog who is slowly getting settled in.
Plenty of things in the pipeline for my next Solar Orbit, then. I have a few gigs in the coming weeks and I am trying to be that bit more creative in 2020. I got a bit bored of the “2020: New Year, New Me” posts on Facebook - I say: 2020: New Year, Better Me.
I have just returned from 10 Dev (Devonshire Tap House as it has been renamed). It was a lively sesh with Scooby and my wife. We talked a good bit and had some excellent beers. Scooby has just returned from Berlin and I am writing this as a “Bookmark” on the month’s proceeding - to keep what has happened in check and in line.
Why am I writing a Bookmark when the year is in it’s infancy? Well, a lot has happened.
I made that DJ mix from some of the music that I use on The Parish News - it is a lot less dense than some other mixes - I have given the tracks enough room to breathe. I am proud of it.
Whilst on an audio vibe - you may like the latest edition of our roots reggae radio show, Roots Conversation. Me and Allan got together to record the thirty-second edition of Roots Conversation and it was a good one - Scooby was away (see above) and we were free to geek out - we were mentioning record labels, release dates and target markets; it was a good show. You can tune in below…
On a professional tip - I have been accredited as one of the best rated web designers in Harrogate. This has led to a flurry of enquiries. I am pleased with the accolade. I appreciate that I may be a fish in a small pond but it is a busy pond - if I was to continue the metaphor. Here is the certificate…
Recently, I also played a gig - I was a bit nervous about being on stage. Thankfuly my band-mate, Allan, put my nerves to rest. We worked on the philosophy that if you make an error then you repeat it three times and people will think it is part of the set. There were a few errors on Guerrilla Dub System’s set. But, we were Live Dubbing using Ableton and my DS-1. It was a right hoot.
Unity Reggae band were there, as were Drop Leg Steppers. I had a blast DJ’ing at the end of the night and it went well. The room was dancing and people seemed to enjoy themselves. More of this please.
I have started a new imprint on my record label, Focused Silence. Focused Folio deals with experimental albums as MP3 downloads. It is proving quite a bit of fun - it only launched today (10th January) but there are two albums out already.
I hope the start of 2020 is proving as much of a joy for you as it is for me. I have been getting just the right amount of sleep. This was becoming a bit of a worry for me in 2019 and I am glad that I am now getting the sleep / fun balance right.
I have been told by my folks that you get to appreciate the quiet a bit more when you are older. But, with the quiet is a greater chance to listen: not in some life-affirming, motivational quote way - just checking out birdsong and hearing the gentle rumble of the fridge. In essence, as 2020 trundles up the road, I am happy with my lot. Happy New Year, everyone.
I am listening back to Geeks at The Gates on Harrogate Community Radio as I write this. It has been a Christmas that has been ruled by radio. I run a radio station in Harrogate, imaginatively called Harrogate Community Radio. I spent a good time of the Christmas break at my folks sat in front of my Laptop scheduling the shows for broadcast.
There was a good run of programmes and I managed to take dad to the pub - it was a good Christmas.
I received a lot of presents and I gave a lot of presents. I figure the good vibes of giving of a gift outlasts the joy of actually receiving a gift. I gave a good amount - Kathryn received a heap of presents and I got a warm coat, shirts, jumpers and a new brain.
My new brain is a set of artificial splice samples to use as coasters - it is a bit small for my head so I hope my brother knows a way of expanding minds?
My family spoiled us rotten with food and fun. It was our first Christmas in my parent’s new house in Hackforth, near Bedale. It was the warmest Christmas I have had. It really is a good house and they have done it up nicely - I wish them many happy years there.
Got home, unpacked - pj’s on; found this, it is nice to be recognised -
11PM: ‘Winter Sunshine’, a new audio collage from artist Lepke B.
And uploaded the below. It is a good show because Scoob, Allan and me are hitting our stride. I think so, anyway. It is a roots reggae show and we talk all over the records. It seems okay this edition - our voices had been a bit ‘boomy’ so we used a high pass filter; it sounds mint on a big rig. Gwarn know it yourself!
Tonight, there is a Dirty Warehouse party happening in town that I have been invited to - but, I am just needing to stay in and find two minutes of peace. I hope my mates all have a great time but ultimately I am worn out and need an early night.
So, all that is left for me to do is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy, prosperous New Year - I am playing music on NYE in H’gate seeing in the new decade in style - ah, yes; the Roaring Twenties - I hope it is a vintage decade for you.
We arrived safely home yesterday afternoon. We set off from Dornoch around 0730 and came in to Harrogate around 1600. It was dark when we set off and it was dark when we arrived home. But, it was great to be back in the Highlands of Scotland - Dornoch is a place loaded with memories.
It was quite weird walking around thinking “Oh, Granny would …” at every memory prompt. Yet it was quite a cathatic experience - we visited her grave and paid our dues.
The highlight of the family trip was that it was a family trip. Me and my wife got to spend time with my parents. Mum and dad were great to us.
We managed to get walking on Dornoch Beach, a great shoreline.
But, yes whilst it was weird, I did still feel a sense of connection to the place - but it was like an apparition. The living link to the place has gone. There are only fond memories of Granny D. We were there as basic tourists for the first time ever - something was palpably missing.
When I returned home I headed up to Creao Studio after tea to record The Parish News. I needed a bit of head space. If you can make it past the first two tracks on the show you are home and dry…