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Posted on Jan 19th, 2009
Patrick McGoohan, London Walking, Rehearsal, Clint Eastwood


(Soundtrack: Ornette Coleman “Change Of The Century”, Bon Iver “For Emma, Forever Ago”)
Now well and truly into January and I have done virtually nothing about finding a new job. I did go and see about a short-term position for a DVD wholesaler, but do not think it is for me as it would involve spending at least two nights a week up in Burton in the North Midlands, and the idea of being away from Bridie and up there two nights per week does not appeal. I have decided to approach some music publishers, in case there is somebody out there just sitting waiting for the opportunity to support me while I write the next album. Our friend Pete, who does our mastering, is going to help me put a CD compilation together, and I will then get in touch with ten or so. A bit of a long shot, but you never know…
Sad news last week that Patrick McGoohan has passed away. He embodied individuality and artistic integrity. We have been working our way back through watching “The Prisoner” and it really stands the test of time, setting a standard for intelligent, surreal, cult TV, that not even Twin Peaks matched. In fact Twin Peaks caved in halfway through season 2 whereas the Prisoner never did. He was so headstrong and defiant in that show; a real inspiration.
I used to watch it with my father and we would both try and make out that we knew what was going on. We did the same with “2001” when we went to see that at the pictures. My parents and I would go to the cinema quite often when I was young. They had an odd habit of not checking the time of the films, just turning up. So we would have our tea, then go to the cinema, and go in at whatever point the movie was up to. I remember us doing this for “Ice Station Zebra” which starred Patrick McGoohan. We arrived half an hour before the end of the film causing a disturbance for the people already engrossed. If you know that movie you know there is a twist near the end, so that was the first thing that we saw. We then watched it to the end, and sat through the intermission. The ad’s would then come on: mainly painfully scratchy efforts for local businesses (“Cor, lovely and fresh!” was the catch-phrase for Warburtons bread, as exclaimed by a cartoon robber breaking into a safe and finding a loaf inside), This was followed by a short film on canoeing or bell-ringing, then another quick intermission, and then the trailers, and then “Ice Station Zebra” started and we learned how we got to where we were when we came in. When it got to that point we would usually stand up and leave, causing another commotion, but on this occasion, we stayed and watched the ending again. Mum had a crush on Rock Hudson, I was in awe of McGoohan and Dad loved all the snow and the submarine.
It is interesting how some old TV shows stand the test of time and others do not. We tried to watch “The Persuaders” and “The Odd Couple” recently, both shows I had fond childhood memories of, but they are now absolutely awful, unwatchable. “Columbo”, on the other hand, actually seems even better now. All those wonderful guest directors and stars, such inventiveness and quality in the writing, and a tour de force performance from Peter Falk. Bridie has completely fallen for the guy, and we are gradually watching all his movies too. Patrick McGoohan holds the distinction of having appeared the most times as the guest murderer in “Columbo” – 4 times, and his acting, writing and direction on the show really lift it to being some of the best ever TV.
Also check McGoohan out playing the drums in “All Night Long”, a 60s British Beat movie based on Othello (Charles Mingus is in it too) – that would make a great wall projection for a club or a gig.
One advantage of not working over Christmas was that we were able to have a proper break, and got into a nice routine of lying in then going out for walks in London. I am beginning to tire of life in London, not so much the city itself, but the people, and the time spent on public transport. One thing that always amazes me however, is how wonderful the parks are and how green London is. We were surrounded by deer in Richmond Park, surely one of the greatest parks in the world. We walked round the four ponds on Clapham Common, and watched confused geese skidding across the ice. We explored Tooting and Wandsworth Commons and learned about the history of the capital’s hospitals on the South Bank. We followed a trail along Beverley Brook from Richmond to Barnes and found a new favourite pub. We warmed up with veggie chilli in Borough Market and walked various loops along the Thames, which has a real romantic, spiritual quality, hence its appearance on the artwork for the new album. We are gradually walking the whole of the Thames from the Barrier to the Source – 180 miles altogether. So far we have walked 100 of it. With some thoughts of leaving London, we are hoping to finish this this year. You can also get around a lot of town by following the canal routes, which is much mellower and more romantic than busy streets or public transport. Plus all the amazing cemeteries…
Now halfway through the month of being Vegan. It seems that this is easy when you are cooking at home, as you are in control. Also not too bad eating out in the evening, as Indian and Chinese both offer plenty of choice. I have found the hardest thing to be cafe lunches, as cheese, eggs and milk are out. Pret etc do coffee with soya milk, and this is fine, as long as the soya goes in the cup first, and the coffee has cooled slightly, and not too much soya is used. In fact, I have come to prefer cappuccino with soya as it can sometimes be sickly with milk. Getting decent food at lunch can be frustrating though, and makes me appreciate that there is not much choice for Vegans! Difficult to get sweet snacks too, unless you go to a health food store.
We had our first rehearsal of the year the other night, trying to turn the new album into something we can play live. That’s Andy pumelling his bass in the photo. I find that a good rehearsal is down to punctuality and mood. It’s not about musicianship or technical stuff, it’s down to people being up for it. Usually if one person is on a downer, the others can lift them out of it, or compensate. If two people are not in the mood then it is a struggle. Amazingly all five of us were on good form this time so it made it easy. That won’t last, but I enjoyed it. Some of the songs were working, some were not, but we have a couple more sessions in before we try it live on Valentine’s Day (understandably not a popular choice of date with our wives and girlfriends!).
Went to see the latest Clint Eastwood film “The Changeling”: big, clumsy, entertaining, American story-telling – it is very enjoyable. Unfortunately we both got the giggles at John Malkovich halfway through. He is all hairpiece and lisp and pout, and we cracked up every time he came on screen. Apologies to the couple in front. Still, at least he was introducing some humour, which Clint clearly had no intentions of providing. Good film though. Not as cool as “Play Misty” or the ones with the monkey obviously, but pretty good.


As someone who has every Spearmint CDs, I very much enjoyed the stories behind them on the “about” page.

• Posted by Bill_D at 11:50 pm on Jan 21st, 2009
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