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Posted on Sep 11th, 2009
Conkers, Dead Bees, Tall Dog, Lost Ducks, (500) Days Of Summer, Getting It Together


(Soundtrack: Elvis Costello “King Of America”, Elvis Costello “Blood And Chocolate”)
It is now bordering on autumn. I just wandered up to Acton to get some vegetables and as it is quite windy there are conkers all over the pavements. Quite good large ones actually. I am not complaining; I love autumn, it’s just that the seasons seem to come round faster and faster as time goes on. Those seemingly endless summers of childhood are long gone, and were pretty boring at times anyway… Just part of getting older I guess. There are probably paintings cavemen did bemoaning how quickly the seasons pass now. There are still random hot days at the moment and I keep seeing dead bumble bees on the ground, which has been a feature this year.
When I walk through to work in the morning I cut through a little park where there is normally a group of dogs being exercised. One of them I call “tall dog”. I don’t know what make he is, but he is whippet-like, except a lot taller. No matter what commotion all the rest of the dogs are creating, this guy just stands there, tangential to the group, staring into the distance. He is completely oblivious and imperious. The others have given up trying to get him to join in and play; he is impervious to everything. His attitude strikes a chord with me – he is my favourite and it cheers me up to see him.
Bridie and I were trying to figure out where all the male ducks have gone. They are the ones with the bright green / blue necks. I came up with the theory that the males stay here for spring in order to mate and have kids, then in the late summer fly off to a country where it is spring again. Bridie got to the truth of it though – they are still there, they just shed their bright plumage so that they look very much like the females. The green / blue will gradually re-appear over coming months.
As I write this Bridie is talking to Nic Roeg – how cool is that?
We went to see “(500) Days Of Summer” the other night with Jim and Andy. Neil and Cheryl came along too, but Si and Arn couldn’t make it: moving house and lack of childcare being the reasons. So we sat there eagerly awaiting the Spearmint dialogue to appear. I had pretty much decided that it had been edited out as it doesn’t come until three quarters of the way through. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character says “It pains me to live in a world where no-one has ever heard of Spearmint”. Zooey Deschanel’s character says she hasn’t heard of them… Gordon explains that he put them on the mix CD he gave her, in fact they (us) were the first track. It was a bit surreal seeing this on the big screen at Odeon Marble Arch. I thought maybe we would give a rousing cheer, but we just shifted about a bit. Jim raised his arms slightly, in celebration.
I got a mail from a chap called Michael Leibowitz in the States explaining that the writer of the movie is a friend of his and a big fan of the band, his favourite song being “The Beautiful Things” (cool choice).The best thing is that it is a really good film and some aspects (the dance routine, the split screen, the animation, the numbered days) make it a bit of a classic romantic comedy.
Which brings me back to how many great movies are being released at the moment. In fact they are coming too thick and fast to keep up with. We went to “Inglourious Basterds” and absolutely adored it. Same goes for “Funny People”. Again these are films that have attracted bad reviews – further proof to disregard critics.
How on earth did Costello make these two albums in the same year? I am awed…
Jim really poured heart and soul into getting the artwork finished for the special edition of “A Week Away”. The booklet is lovely, but I think it took a toll on him, with trying to keep things going at home, the day job, our rehearsals and a gig for his own band Telley all falling in the same week. He hasn’t been the same since in fact. So I am trying to divert band work to other people and keep it away from him for the moment. We are heading over to Germany next week to do some shows. These things are always booked way in advance, then suddenly they are upon you and there is no time to get ready or rehearsed, all a bit stressful.
We have been learning to play “A Week Away” live, and have even figured out what most of the chords are. These days when I finish a song I write out the lyrics in my book, and include the chords too. But ten years ago, I used to just write the lyrics, thinking “”of course I will remember these chords”. Then coming to the songs ten years later I really struggled on a couple. It’s not just knowing that it is an “A”, it is more exactly how you played that “A”. So I recommend you always make a note of such things. We are pretty much there now on understanding what it is we should be playing; we just need to find a way of actually playing it. We had a good rehearsal on Saturday, then an awful one on Tuesday. Par for the course.
After watching “(500) Days Of Summer”, we went and DJd at Ian Watson’s lovely, enduring clubnight “How Does It Feel To Be Loved”. We had a top time, I even enjoyed the DJing, which I sometimes don’t. Got very drunk. Jim sensibly left early as he has so much going on, but then spent hours getting home on the night buses. Andy was on good form and it would be nice to do it again sometime.
I have been a good boy and putting aside time for writing over the last few weeks to work on what looks at this early stage to become a big sprawling Shirley Lee album. Which probably means it wil be a concise Spearmint album. We shall see.
The photo is of a pavement in San Francisco. Some chap was telling us who the artist is, but we were drunk so I can’t remember the name.

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