Tuesday, 31 July 2012


The prettiest girl I ever saw
Walked out on me this morning
She packed her bags, she spread her wings
She left me without any warning

The sweetest rain I ever tasted
Moistened my lips by and by
Its gentle caress was soft on my face
It brings a tear to me eye

I close my eyes and I can see again
I listen to the silence
Just close your eyes and you can see again
Just listen to the silence

The loveliest sun that ever set
Went down on me this evening
Its orange glow dimmed and then died
It burns a hole in my memory

I close my eyes and I can see again
I listen to the silence
Just close your eyes and you can see again
Just listen to the silence

The softest darkness that ever fell
Cradles my soul tonight
The fullest moon that ever rose
Blankets me in its melancholy lamplight

I close my eyes and I can see again
I listen to the silence
Just close your eyes and you can see again
Just listen to the silence

Thursday, 19 July 2012


we are on our way to collect h's violin from the repair workshop
it's a half-size model that my grandfather bought for my uncle
when he was a young boy during world war two
and hasn't been played for nearly seventy years
hearing of h's violin exertions
uncle john has passed this family heirloom on to us via my mother to see if it's worth fixing
we haven't been to the workshop before
and i have to consult the map carefully to work out how to get there
we drive several miles out of the city to the edge of the countryside
a wedge of worcestershire strangled by the m5 and the m42 ringroads
we pass the crown pub and turn off the main road into a country lane
it narrows rapidly and takes a sharp bend past several cottages
just as we approach another abrupt bend
an elderly couple hoves into view
as if in a dream
i find my eyes focusing on none other than my uncle and aunt
out for an evening amble through the country lanes
as is their dog-walking habit
i suddenly remember that the crown is just round the corner
from the bungalow they moved into a few years back
they are as surprised to see us as we are them
particularly when i tell them why we are in this neck of the woods
after a few minutes driving up and down the lane and asking a few locals
i discover that the entrance to the workshop is opposite the very spot
where we bumped into my uncle
chris the violin repairer tells h that she is a very lucky young lady
the violin he has repaired dates from late victorian times
it is a high quality instrument worth between five and six hundred quid
h's eyes widen - that's a lot of pocket money
i'm wondering if we should tell my uncle how much his antique is worth
perhaps he'll want it back!
but more than anything i am staggered at meeting him yards from the repair shop
a route he must take often
for these days i barely ever see him

Monday, 16 July 2012


i often get asked by people
who's that singing on your album?
who's that tinkling the ivories?
who did the drums?
what they don't realise is that i do the whole shebang myself
yep - it's all yours truly
from conception to execution
the writing
the recording
the production
the mixing
the mastering
the artwork
very occasionally there is a co-writer in there
lucifer was one such example
from time to time i get a few production suggestions
from my little bro
lately i've been getting some useful feedback on lyrics from a couple of friends
(thanks to el joven and 'christopher')
but basically it's all my doing
i don't wanna take all the credit of course
most of this stuff is summoned from the ether
by the subconscious
dredged up from some dark deep place
bubbling out from some hidden underground spring
words emerging mysteriously as if to a medium at a seance
but to take on all these roles
one has to be a jack of all trades
even at the risk of being master of none
i admit it
i am a sloppy guitarist and bass player
i have a reedy voice and a limited range
i am a novice keyboard player
my instruments are mediocre and always going out of tune
my technology is meagre and basic by today's studio standards
i've got a few ideas about effects and engineering and production
but i'm not into it bigtime
i'm good at arranging
i have a way with words
and the art of song writing is definitely my forte
how good are these songs?
i really don't know
the buzz i get from writing and performing them is enough
giving expression to the thoughts and emotions that flicker incessantly through my brain
but as for being a master
to hell with that!
i like to spread my creative net wide
and i sometimes think that maybe too much mastery is not such a good thing
there are plenty of fretboard-shredding lead guitarists out there
plenty of keyboard hotshots
guys with degrees in composing and recording engineering
and where are they?
i mean the thing is
a lot of this stuff can't really be learnt as such
it's intuitive and self-taught
the beatles didn't do masters degrees or a phd did they?
so i do my music
i record it
i put out cds
i play my songs every week at the tower of song
to those who have ears
i've even started putting together some primitive little videos
when i'm not being musicianly
i grow my vegetables
i look after my bike and my daughter's bike
i write my poetry and my blog
i draw my pastel portraits
i teach my students
i get stuck in
i have a go
i get on with it
and i don't worry too much about messing up

Sunday, 15 July 2012


this blog is almost done
and i must say that it has served its purpose well
as aid and accomplice
to its musical counterpart
steadily filling cyberspace with zeroes and ones
while its audio cousin slowly gestated in the dark womb of my computer's hard drive
this project has been a long haul
its immaculate conception last autumn seems an awful long time ago
like a foetus it has developed in fits and starts
lengthy periods of inactivity
interspersed with intense growth spurts
it overran the third trimester
and it is now a month overdue
its creator has felt like a heavily pregnant woman
overburdened, impatient and unable to get comfortable
but today i have recorded and mixed the fourteenth and final track
and mastered a compact disc
so there you have it:
ten months of my life condensed into a hundred or so blog posts
and fifty-three minutes of musical catharsis
the theme of DOAG runs like a seem through the songs
colouring them with the same palette
a loss of faith in the culture of which i am a part
but no longer identify with
the dawning recognition that redemption or salvation are impossible
probably best summed up in infidel
something of a pivotal track around which the album revolves
i don't believe in progress
i don't believe in rules
i don't believe in science
and i don't believe in school
i don't believe in violence
i don't believe in war
i don't believe in justice
and i don't believe in law
there's a lot of hurt and frustration on this record too
relationship and incommunicado are pretty honest confessions
remnants broadens that hurt and pain out
with the difference that as a culture
we've lost the ability to even feel or communicate the hurt
what are my tears? avoids acknowledging the pain altogether
songs like asleep-awake and right here right now provide a counterbalance
a much needed more positive more uplifting less bleak outlook
musically the record is a little less consistent
i hope that's a strength rather than a weakness
there are several quite heavily 'produced' tracks on there
multi-tracked backing vocals and overdubbed guitars and keyboards
some of it rocks - the electric guitars and drums
are sometimes louder and more distorted than ever before
but overall i've been moving towards a more 'live' sound
i think that comes through in some of the vocals
and also in the songs that were literally recorded live
just voice and acoustic guitar straight into the mixer
so the artifice of 'artifact' and 'menagerie' and 'total' has been leavened somewhat
i think it's the way to go actually
so watch out for a future 'fireseed unplugged' release
just me and my fender acoustic...
anyway there are gonna be a few changes on here too in the coming weeks
as one project is delivered another has already been conceived
just as i did with 'total'
i have been two-timing this album
moonlighting on a new project
which will soon be launched right here on this blog
so keep watching this space my dear fiends
and i hope you enjoy the cd!


i live here among the ignorant like a lost man
in fact like one whom the rest seems careless of having anything to do with
they hardly dare talk in my company
for fear I should mention them in my writings
and I find more pleasure in wandering the fields
than in musing among my silent neighbours
who are insensible to everything but toiling and talking of it
and that to no purpose
i long for scenes where man has never trod
a place where woman never smiled or wept
there to abide with my creator god
and sleep as i in childhood sweetly slept
untroubling and untroubled where I lie
the grass below
above the vaulted sky

Sunday, 8 July 2012


the whole thing takes places inside an old converted factory shed
as we walk in
a group of bright young things are lounging around on sofas
discussing the previous evenings performances
the air is thick with european accents and idioms
french, italian, but mainly spanish
bohemian-looking young men sport unkempt beards and dreadlocks
dusky mediterranean beauties are all dark eyes and olive skin
among this heaving cosmopolitan crowd
it's reassuring to find some purity
good warwickshire ale being served in the cafe
we grab some drinks and settle down on a comfy second-hand sofa
i flick absent-mindedly through the programme of events
while she strikes up a conversation with a japanese dance performer based in berlin
it feels as though europe is fragmenting, says the programme
it is at times like this that art must come in to its own
i heartily agree
we look forward to imagining a different europe with you
the festival directors proclaim
a positive sentiment if ever there was one
we are ushered into a dark auditorium
in the centre of the stage a white refrigerator is starkly illuminated
on either side are piles of scrunched-up paper
failed drafts from a frustrated writer's pen
suddenly a small window opens
first an arm and then a head pops out
the arm deposits another ball of scrunch-up paper onto the heap
the fridge begins to wheel itself restlessly around the stage
a buzzing bass-frequency soundtrack reinforces the claustrophobia
of a life lived inside a narrow box
eventually the fridge door opens and a dark frock-coated man climbs out
he paces restlessly around rearranging the sparse furniture
referring to notes on a music stand
then plucking half a dozen white rubber balls from the fridge door
he executes a series of mesmerising juggling tricks
as he is consumed by madness
the next performance features a latin dance couple
the two partners pout and posture at each other from opposite ends of the room
spraying themselves suggestively from small perfume jars
presently they begin to dance a sexy samba
but soon the performance degenerates into a sado-masochistic dual
where the lovers drag each other around the stage by their hair
culminating in a torture scene where she fills his mouth with salt
and pours a can of coca cola as he writhes in agony on the floor
as the lights dim their collapsed bodies are finally reconciled
bathed in stroboscopic stars reflected from a spinning mirrored disco orb
during the interval we dine communally in the old workshop hall
at long tables laid out in rows under the cavernous roof of the shed
there are tasty rosemary and lemon bread rolls served with olives
delicious green leaf salad garnished with purple and yellow flower petals
the vegetarians among us savour baked red peppers
stuffed with chopped tomatoes and salty capers
balanced by delicious new potatoes cooked in herbs
our new friend yuko invites us to share her bottle of red wine
which complements the mediterranean cuisine perfectly
struggling to be heard above the cacophany of conversation
yuko tells us of her work in berlin
in the world of butoh
an avant-garde japanese dance genre
back in the auditorium we don individual headphone sets
and sink back into the darkness
for a bizarre sensual sci-fi ride
you are an audience
our semi-human semi-robotic narratress intones into a microphone
she stands centre stage dressed in a red frock and high heels
oddly mechanical, oddly alluring
you are a machine for watching, she continues
remember everything
the ethereal space music echoes and reverberates across the stereo spectrum
now i will take off my knickers, she informs us
she leaves them dangling from her ankles
and her breathy voice begins to mutate into that of a lascivious male porn star
as the music throbs and gathers intensity
as the lighting penetrates her now translucent red dress
she transmutes back into her female identity
and suddenly all is darkness
and we are returned to earth

Friday, 6 July 2012


my bingo ball pops up
and this time it's number 44
forty-four years old
forty-four years young
it's all relative
some days this week
i've been thinking about my mom and dad
knocking on seventy-one and seventy-five respectively
and wondering:
if this is how old i feel
then how on earth must they feel?
then i thought of my aunt
who lives on her own at eighty-one
and still cooks and looks after herself
gets out and does her own shopping
of course to the woodle
forty-four years must seem an age
just think - thirty-five woodleless years!
as for the goings-on at the time of my birth
during that year of political chaos and revolution
(not to mention domestic upheaval for my parents)
i've made a few interesting discoveries recently
i found out that robert pirsig was just setting out on his american oddysey
immortalised in zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
i also discovered that the byrds were flying in for a rare visit to england
appearing at the royal albert hall the following evening
weird coincidences
or perhaps not?

Thursday, 5 July 2012


You're incommunicado
You're down too deep
You're off the radar
And you're out of reach

I've been sitting watching
The lonely road you're travelling on
Oh have you forgotten
You're not the only one

You hide yourself away
From me and all your friends
But life is to be lived
It's not a currency you spend

You're incommunicado
You're down too deep
You're off the radar
And you're out of reach

Oh you're cold in your bones
Though you're close to the hearth
You huddle for warmth
But the cold is in your heart

I have watched you drifting
Left stranded by the tide
Your fortunes slowly shifting
Your wishes being denied

I come looking for you
I prepare some things to say
But up come your defences
And you turn me away

You're incommunicado
You're down too deep
You're off the radar
And you're out of reach


as a hitchhiker on life's meandering road
you never know where your next lift is coming from
or where it will take you
i had all my little plans and schemes for the week worked out
a solo trip to the lakes
a family weekend camping near bishop's castle
taking in the lively carnival on the village green
and what did they amount to?
the weather and my health scuppered the lakes
and apart from the wayward elements proving inauspicious for a camping trip
it turns out that the carnival was actually last weekend
first and foremost my health has forced the issue
encouraging me to take my idleness to new extremes
so instead of positioning myself on the slip road
i have withdrawn to the verge
i have opted out of the fray
for a picnic by the motorway
watching the cars go by like clouds
reclining for a nap when i feel like it
losing myself in a good book
a delightful self-published work by my friend laurence shelley
sharing the weird and wonderful events that were unleashed
when he decided to hitch the length of britain
from lizard point to dunnet head
but even as i laze on my pinic mat
a few cars can't help stopping on the hard shoulder
this week's rea river roots night at the tower of song happens to be...
the fourth of july
so feeble as i am
i cannot pass up the opportunity
to perform my eponymous peace anthem to the assembled throng
what did tom martin say the other week?
'as songwriters we feel we have a duty to comment on these things'
and afterwards the main artist comes up and thanks me for marking the event
then today my pal joven forwards me a flyer
for the birmingham european festival
which has just opened
it looks fantastic
and i wouldn't like to miss this extravaganza for the third year running
well worth interrupting the picnic for
don't drive off - i'm just coming!


looking back at my credo of the sixteenth of may
from the vantage point of six weeks further on
in many ways i can say
i have been spectacularly successful in ploughing my own furrow
i have embraced freedom
and i have taken responsibility
i have assembled a veritable portfolio of teaching projects
from university wannabes to korean child don't-wannabes
(actually they seemed to enjoy their weekly lessons
and told me i was the best teacher in the world!)
from desperate housewives to desperate presesessioners
whose classes i self-marketed and self-promoted
then there has been the commercially sensitive error tagging project
which turned out to be a computer screen-staring drudge
albeit of an intellectually stimulating kind
the main problem being the large doses of medicine at one sitting
where small spoonfuls would have been more digestible
all of which brings me finally
to being locked up in a hotel suite every evening during the euros
with the boisterous boys from jeddah
at least it was a good way of avoiding watching england matches
i knew their desire and motivation was lacking
when they started waving twenty pound notes at me
in the hope of persuading me to finish the class early
but the worst thing was the endless bickering
not to mention the mindless classroom violence
(bruce lee-style fly-kicks and vicious diving strangleholds!)
and the strained arms and shoulders
from lugging bicycle panniers of books and waterproof clothing
to and fro across the rainy city
all in all i have to say
in hedging my bets
i have overdone it
i have taken on too much
i have kept too many irons in the fire
i have ensured that the merriment has been in short supply
and now i am paying the price
in listlessness and in exhaustion
it feels like a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder
but at least it was my choice
and i hope i have learned my lesson


The Way of the Guild – The Six Tenets

1. We value means over ends, process over product - the journey is more important than the destination.

2. We value quality over quantity, depth over superficiality, space and time for learning.

3. We value the whole student and the whole teacher.

4. We believe that the learning process should be self-directed, supportive and fun.

5. We espouse flexibility in the form of principled eclecticism.

6. We negotiate a fair price for our work.

Monday, 2 July 2012


at last!
some time out from the daily grind
a blessed few days of idleness
a lungful of fresh oxygen
after the total submersion of the last couple of weeks
respite from bickering saudi kids bringing chaos to strange hotel suites
escape from the repetitive strain of endless error tagging
reprieve from the number-crunching calculations of presessional stragglers
so there was i
all set to head for the hills for a few days
to the romance and majesty of the cumbrian lakes
where wordsworth's heart was swept away by the beauty of it all
but it is not to be
the summer rains will not abate
i have not organised my travel or lodgings
but most of all i am weary
afflicted by a dreadful debilitating fatigue
that saps my energies
that fills me with ennui
but lets me sleep only fitfully
so my idle week off finds me on chance road
hitchhiking to wherever my journey takes me