Category Archives: culture

stuff about what’s going on

New words … that should be in the dictionary

Hello.

It’s time to resurrect this blog, so for starters, a few new words for experiences that currently lack them …

Timble(verb) to offer someone a cup of tea which you then instantly forget to make.

This can lead to the double timble, where you hurriedly make the forgotten tea, only to find its intended target has given up waiting and made their own.

Residual Tea Memory or RDM (noun) the practice of being vaguely aware you have an unfinished cup of tea left somewhere in the house or office.

Triphop(verb) to disguise a stumble with a deft piece of footwork, like practicing a half-remembered dance step. Was also once experimental music genre, popularised in Bristol.

Rudehog(noun) an oncoming motorist who fails to acknowledge you’ve stopped to let them through. See also dreamtwerp

Dreamtwerp(noun) A motorist appearing to operate in a parallel universe, unaware of others letting them through, the chaos they cause by not indicating, or the cyclist they’ve almost knocked over

Barkle(verb) to attempt to communicate surreptitiously with a friend or partner by means of a poorly faked cough

Skatle (verb – pronounced “skar-tle”) a dance delivered typically by 40/50something men with fond but hazy memories of 2-Tone. Eg “He skatled so furiously that a wide circle appeared round him on the dancefloor, and Brenda denied all knowledge of the man”

Transigent(adj.) Extremely easy to persuade.

Got some? Let me know yours …

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My top 25 albums from 2010

These are in no particular order, but are all albums that have floated my boat in the last 12 months …

It’s been an excellent year for music and while I can’t claim to have heard everything interesting that’s been released, these 25 cover a fair amount of ground and include some high quality stuff from the worlds of indie, rock, folk, gospel, pop, soul, Americana and electronica.

Many of these are available for download from eMusic.com which I have no qualms about recommending – it’s the best place for discovering new, interesting and often independent label music. Highly recommended.

The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
Teen Dream – Beach House
The Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens
The Promise – Bruce Springsteen
Bang Goes The Knighthood – The Divine Comedy
Life , Death, Love and Freedom – John Mellencamp
I Learned the Hard Way – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
The ArchAndroid – Janelle Monae
Praise and Blame – Tom Jones
It’s What I’m Thinking Part One – Badly Drawn Boy
The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes
Losing Sleep – Edwyn Collins
Go – Jonsi
Magic Chairs – Efterklang
Ship of Light – Husky Rescue
The Winter of Mixed Drinks – Frightened Rabbit
Heaven is Whenever – The Hold Steady
Sleep Mountain – The Kissaway Trail
July Flame – Laura Veirs
Songs for the New Depression – Loudon Wainwright III
Beachcomber’s Windowsill – Stornoway
Forecast – The Old Dance School
High Violet – The National
Pictures – The Len Price 3
The Longshot – Megson

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think – and your recommendations that have passed me by …

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I have been inside the corridors of power

I have been inside
the corridors of power.
And they are more often
rooms
with chairs and a table
in them.

Often they are used by
ordinary people
who have ended up there
by accident.
Or design.
Or votes.
Or something.

They probably don’t wake up
and say to their loved ones:
“today I am going to
my usual place
in the corridors of power”.

They say: “I am going to work”.

And so the exercise of power
is broken down into a thousand
small things
like phone calls
typing words
and running out of paper clips.

At night the corridors of power
echo to the sound of vacuuming,
because the cleaners are in.

They make sure the corridors
(and rooms) of power are
not covered in dust.
Because that reminds the
people who work in
the corridors (and rooms) of power
of what they will
ultimately become.

The corridors (and rooms)
of power can get a bit
lonely
sometimes.

But there is always
dust
for
company.

10 March 2010

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I thought I was going to explode

As the small child with eyes wide saw the presents awaiting
I thought I was going to explode

As the magi with star sat-nav seeking a king
I thought I was going to explode

As department store Santa all vetted and padded
I thought I was going to explode

As a girl giving birth to the fulcrum of history
I thought I was going to explode

As the glutton with a feast stuffed in my quivering belly
I thought I was going to explode

As a shepherd with angels trumpeting across the sky
I thought I was going to explode

As the muzak jingles on and strips out all the meaning
I thought I was going to explode

On patrol in Helmand province one step from a bomber
I’m just hoping to be home for Christmas

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Festive

This has been written for the Christmas poetry gathering at Worthing Library on Friday 11 December 12 noon …

Festive
Festive digestive
A biscuit with a seasonal theme
An olfactory Pandora’s box
A sweet-toothed boy’s dream …
… but not a custard cream

Festive
Festive yet overly suggestive
The cheap and tacky Christmas card
That tries to be funny but tries too hard
Words certainly not penned by a bard
(the exclamation mark is a hint – you’re meant to laugh at this bit …)
Don’t give it to auntie, you’ll leave her scarred

Festive
Festive but … arrested
The office party dressed as Santa’s elf
The seasonal pub crawl arranged by stealth
‘Go on – it’s Christmas!’ ‘ But it’s bad for me health …’
Honest officer, I didn’t think it would break …
Now I didn’t think celebrations would cripple me wealth

Festive
Festivity nativity
The biggest star in the universe
For the biggest birth in the universe
The celebrations go on for weeks
But the birthday boy often gets forgotten

So here it is merry Christmas everybody’s havin’ fun
‘Doctor, I’m suffering from overload on an empty commercial beanfeast
that seems to have forgotten what it’s for’
‘A simple diagnosis – you’re suffering from tinselitis’

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Hammersmith Apollo: Delirious – the final gig

Hammersmith Apollo: Delirious (+ The Cutting Edge Band)

Part of the spectacular lights and backdrop show

It’s hard to overestimate the impact that Littlehampton band Delirious have had on at least a couple of generations of young Christians.

From the early days of The Cutting Edge Band, excitedly heading up a growing youth event in a sleepy Sussex coastal town, to the days of high profile, high impact gigs at Wembley, Willow Creek, Greenbelt, top UK venues and packed stadiums around the world, the band have always had hearts for God, and a strong sense of community.

So it was fitting that the final gig at the Hammersmith Apollo last night felt like a family gathering. Albeit with a storming lights show and a crowd of 5000 packed in.

Kicking off as The Cutting Edge Band, it was the early to mid Nineties incarnate as the d: boys revisited their early back catalogue, bassist Jon Thatcher sporting what looked like a Beatles moptop wig. It was great to hear classics I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, Did You Hear The Mountains Tremble?, I’m Not Ashamed (of the Gospel), I’ve Found Jesus and Thank You For Saving Me again, with a number long established as standards in many churches.

There was even an exhilirating outing for perennial Cutting Edge Band favourite The Happy Song, a country stomp that the band had apparently sworn they’d never play live again. It had the whole place bouncing.

For the second part of the show, as Delirious, the band hopped from album to album, plundering classic live tracks along with memorable singles, and several changes of stage attire.

It was a reminder of the sheer quantity of memorable songs the band have delivered over the years, from modern worship songs like Majesty, My Glorious and Jesus’ Blood to indie anthems Rain Down, Solid Rock and Paint the Town Red. Rock gig or passionate worship gathering? As ever with Delirious, it was both.

It was great to hear King of Fools again, with Stu G delivering the bluesy refrain on a guitar “as old as my mum – and it’s great to have them both here tonight”. Martin Smith delivered a heart-stopping version of It’s OK, another reminder of a man who combines a great voice with real songwriter’s craft.

While drummer Paul Evans, keyboard maestro Tim Jupp and bassist Jon Thatcher kept a bit more in the background and let Martin and Stu G get on with the showmanship, they put in fantastic performances – testament to what a tight and punchy live band Delirious have become with the years of touring.

Much loved former drummer Stew Smith also put in a guest appearance to team up with Paul Evans on a blistering version of Investigate. Other highlights included cracking takes on Deeper and Historymakers, Martin in white cape and crown for a timely reminder of the spiritual poverty of materialism with King of Comfort, and a straight voiced rendition of the Lord’s Prayer – not a regular chorus for the Apollo, one suspects.

Thank yous were effusive, the Delirious daughters appeared on stage a couple of times for energetic dance workouts and all the families came on at the end of the final encore, a heartfelt My Soul Sings (“this is what we do when we run out of words” said Martin).

Video clips reminded us of the band’s history, and on screen goodbyes came from each band member. Martin’s reminded the audience “it’s over to you now” backing up his words from the stage: “it’s always been about you rather than us”.

Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life boomed cheerily out from the PA as we filed out.

An end of an era – but what a legacy. The dancers who dance upon injustice have only just begun …

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Live poetry set at The Upmarket, Worthing 29/11/09

Featuring a lot of recent poems from this blog, this was recorded for the legendary Vobes podcast, presented by Richard Vobes, usually from his Worthing beach hut, but this time as part of Empty Shops Radio …esr-russ-live

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Stop w(h)ining …

It’s communion, Jim, but not as we know it
The bread is still there but the wine has now gone
Official instructions are rather hotchpotch
The wine’s for the vicar, and we get to watch

While we worship the Lord with hymns loud and anthemic
The bishops are worried we’re spreading pandemic
We don’t all want swine flu, it’s a pig of a bug
So don’t you dare kiss in the Peace, or go hug
Handshakes are dangerous, so make do with a shrug

Never mind that the Bibles are passed hand to hand
Why the chairs haven’t been swabbed, I don’t understand
And then there’s the newssheets and door handles too
All viable ways to share in the flu

If it gets too much worse they may make us stay home
And watch Songs of Praise till we’re blue in the face
So let’s give them one big liturgical groan
We’ve had it with law so let’s hear it for grace

Next we’ll have Britain’s Got Swine Flu
with Cat Deeley
Maybe it’s just a plot to stop church
getting too touchy feely

August 2009

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Anish Kapoor – Royal Academy of Arts

Svayambh – red wax monster shaped by the building

Svayambh – red wax monster shaped by the building

Royal Academy of Arts: Anish Kapoor (Exhibition 26 September – 11 December, 10am-6pm, Fridays 9.30pm)

Wandering around the press preview of this major solo exhibition by 1991 Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor, I couldn’t help but be struck by the sheer sense of fun this influential sculptor encapsulates in his work.

Rather than try to tease out ‘meaning’ from each piece – a mix of new work and previously unseen items – I just found myself delighting in the physical appeal of each one, and the way they made me think about them.

First up is the monumental Hive (2009), built in a shipyard in Holland using Corten steel. It impacts you immediately as you stare into its hidden depths, and then walk round what for all the world seems like an alien submarine, left to rust on a distant, abandoned planet.

Greyman Cries etc - serious playdo, this

Greyman Cries etc - serious playdo, this

Gallery two yields the enigmatically titled Greyman Cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked (2008-9), consisting of dozens of pallets piled high with cement sculptures generated via a computer-controlled three-dimensional printer. The result is a mix of almost fossilised geological strata plus dinosaur poo put through a mincer. You want to grab a handful of it – it looks fantastic fun created by grown-ups let loose with a vat of modelling clay.

The writhing marble monster Slug (2009) seems almost alive, contrasting a sinewy intestinal feel with a towering female organ in an unlikely metallic red.

Non-object (wall) - concave reflections

Non-object (wall) - concave reflections

There’s a fascinating gallery of ‘non-objects‘ full of concave mirrors throwing back distorted and often upside down reflections. Shiny chrome always brings out the magpie in all of us, and Kapoor maybe asks us how we appear to others compared to how we see ourselves with this cavalcade of end of the pier distortions.

A gallery of Pigment works flings deeply coloured geometric shapes at us, tempered with a powder sprayed almost soft texture, and including the wonderful When I am Pregnant (1992), a swelling bump that pops out seamlessly from the white walls, playing tricks with the light.

Yellow - you might just dive in and disappear

Yellow - you might just dive in and disappear

Piece de resistance when it comes to impact for me was the awesome Yellow (1999) – a cavernous splash of yellow that dives deep into a wall and leaves us grasping for a means to take it in. The curve of its shape makes it impossible to tell how deep it goes, and the result is something you just have to stare at and enjoy.

Heart of the exhibition is the powerful Svayambh (2007), taking up five galleries at the RA. A massive block of red wax chugs slowly along tracks, oozing through the Academy’s white and gilt doorways, leaving a sticky residue behind. The title comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘self-generated’. It is bizarre, fascinating and mystifying all at the same time.

And the same red wax becomes a weapon in Shooting into the Corner (2008-9), as cannon fires 20lb plugs of the material at 50mph through another doorway and against a wall. Some 30 tons will be fired through the exhibition. Described by RA chiefs as a “psycho drama”, there is a real tension as we wait for the plug to be fired, supervised by a black boiler-suited assistant. There is something visceral and disturbing that we share in here, and the experience is strangely engrossing.

For those who don’t ‘get’ modern art and sculpture, Kapoor’s work may not make much sense. But maybe that’s because it shouldn’t be approached as a puzzle which needs to be solved, rather than created works that evoke a response or cause us to think.

You may respond or think differently to me. But you should go – it’s exciting stuff.

Tickets are £12, bookable at www.royalacademy.org.uk or on 0844 209 1919

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Owed to Les Paul 13.08.09

So
farewell Les Paul.
The genius
behind the electric guitar.
The guitarist’s guitarist
The axeman’s godfather
The ultimate
guitar hero.
The man who asked:
what happens
if I wire this up?
And plug this
in here?
And turn it up?
And what did happen
was the twang
and the riff
and the power chord
and the razor sharp
note cleaving the heavens
and ending up nailed
to your guts …
The sustain
and the gain
and the sweet pain
as the highly strung
plugged in
turned up
and engineered
a slice of soul-tugging
heart-twisting melody
That charmed the birds from the skies
Appliqued them together with gossamer harmony
Set them free to soar on dizzying runs
Before machine-gunning them in mid flight
with 12-bar heat-seeking tracer fire
That left a firework imprint on eternity.
Until one of the strings broke.

You never knew what you’d started, Les.
You really deserved a better name.

Take it to the bridge
in the key of genius.

13 August 2009
Upon the death of Les Paul, 94

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