A Flutter on Friday 3 June

Something old…

These tunes?  Apropos nothing really.  Other than the fact that I like them.  A lot.  And they’re darned good choons for a sunny Friday.

The Whigs – I never want to go home;   Sons & Daughters – This Gift;   Johnny Cash and June Carter – Jackson;  Kings of Leon – Crawl;   Favourite Sons – No one ever dies young

…something new

And if you’re feeling short-changed ‘cos chances are I’ve posted at least some of these before, tant pis.  But to address the deficit, visit Mad Mackerel’s Best of the month for May 2011 with 29 – yes, 29! – fabulous new tracks covering a wide range of genres to download.  Every single one free and legal.

I’d recommend  The Blood Arm, Waters, The Stripminers, Abigail Washburn, Slim Twig and Howling Owls.  Elliott Brood and the Roadside Graves are a given.  And the offering from Bonnie *Prince* Billy is *one of his eeriest in years* according to the estimable MM.

Something borrowed….

There are some writers and artists who enrich our lives with every utterance and keystroke, and any gifts they bestow on us are eagerly anticipated and seized upon.

Don Paterson.  The man defies superlatives, his talent knows no bounds.  No word wasted or out of place.  Read him whole then dissect and wallow in the wonder of his wisdom.

So treat yourself and visit his website.  Remember to hit the home button several times to enjoy the poems he has lodged there, including my current favourite (if I really was pushed to pick just one), Rain.

Check out the music but most of all, go to Other Writing and read and rejoice in  the articles about his poetry. Landing Light most of all:  a beautiful paeon to his twins and so much more.

Then go buy Landing Light.

…something blue

Ach, I could depress you with all the things that have been getting me down this week – the situation in Syria, the terrible abuse exposed by Panorama. the farcical re-election of Sepp Blatter as President of FIFA, the fact that I’m feeling fat, frumpy and oh so fortyish – but hey it’s the weekend and there are just as many reasons to be cheerful.

Catching up with old and dear friends;  the chicklet enjoying his first ever drumming lesson and his first school football match tomorrow;  the Big Yin proving that not all teenagers are adverse to hard work;  the demise of the wind and the re-appearance of the sun;  the tennis and of course, the garden.

Have a good ‘un!

A flutter on Friday 22 April

Something old…

A very, very quick and dirty flutter this week.  You’d think because it was the start of the Easter holiday weekend I’d have time aplenty to leisurely post.  But no.  Lots to do! 

Because having been chicklet free for a week, today I get to see my baby.  And as long as I appear weighed down with Easter *stuff* he’ll be delighted.  For at least an hour.

He departed with my ipod nano clutched in his little hand, stripped of all its good stuff, packed to the gunnels with prepubescent pop.  It was a painful process downloading it all for him, I can tell you.  This is a particular favourite and it seems very appropriate right now.

But just to prove the boy does have ears, he also likes Mercury prize winners, the XX.

…something new

This first track , She Wants, from Metronomy comes off a seemingly slight, electropop offering.  The more I listen, the more I likey.

Next up, something for the weekend methinks.  And if Pet Scenes scare the Mad Mackerel, well they’ve got to be worth a listen.  Enjoy (though not sure this is actually the right word).

And a sad one to finish with.  This week saw the triumphal return of TV on the Radio with a highly acclaimed fourth album.  They should have been riding high, celebrating;  instead they are mourning the death of their bassist.  If ever there was a reminder that life really is too damn short…

…something borrowed

I was going to vote yes in the AV referendum but the silver-tongued Kevin Williamson pointed out the error of my ways and I was sold.  So the burd is backing the anti-referendum, the campaign that aims to put a little oomph into the meh world of constitutional reform. 

Led by Bella Caledonia, a bunch of us – flowers in the desert if you like – will be spoiling our ballot papers on the referendum and writing big and bold INDEPENDENCE.

The burd is fed up being fed platitudes about when the right time is to talk about doing better for our country.  I’ve had enough of being telt what to do by politicians whom I increasingly suspect of having sold the jerseys.  And I’m more than a little amused to find myself on a journey in my dotage that takes me far, far away from constructed gradualism and is heading straight down the track marked unreconstructed fundamentalism.  How can we ever make the case for change if all anyone wants to do is keep the status quo?

At the end of the day, do I care much which method of voting is used for a Parliament I would like to leave us alone?  No.  AV.  Not alternative vote but Alba Voice.

…something blue

Today is Earth Day, so designated to remind and inspire people of the wonder that is our world.  So what are you going to do today to show your commitment to environmental protection and sustainability?

The burd reckons she’s already made her contribution this week.  Requiring a new lawnmower, I hummed and hawed and took the plunge on a wee push-pull mower.  Nae electrics, nae petrol, just sweat and tears, and hopefully nae blood, required.

Not only does it deliver a great cut and fabulous stripes but it provides a much needed workout.   Down with gyms, up with mowing.

Seriously though, pledge to do something, anything to green your lifestyle.  Yep, it’s a futile gesture when we are allowing the Chinese to buy up countries and mountains in order to mine them into oblivion and deep drill exploration is about to commence in the Arctic.  But at least you will know you did your bit.

A Flutter on Friday 4 February

Something old…

This week saw the birthday of someone very dear to the burd, who has been there through thick and thin, and seen me through the good times and the bad.  Some of what we have shared on life’s journey has been musical and here are four choons from bands that come to mind whenever I think of our shared history.  Sweet, the Undertones, Hootie and the Blowfish and the Low Anthem.  Aye, it’s been some road trip right enough and fortunately we’re good for a few more miles yet!

….something new

At last, after a year of personal trauma for one of the band members – the drummer has been battling bone cancer – a new release from O’Death.  A firm favourite of the burdz, from the stable lovingly known as goth country, O’Death stormed the Wickerman festival in 2009, astonishing all who had never heard of them.  Great to have them back and with a new, more thoughtful, considered sound, which is unsurprising given all the band has been through recently.  Enjoy.

And I clearly lamented the demise of the Kills way too soon.  They’re back!  With a more polished sound it’s true, the scuzziness is a bit more refined but ooh, they still embrace and epitomise dirty.  The new album is released in March and this track, Satellites, is available on stream now.

Finally, if they are one of Mad Mackerel’s favourite new bands of 2011, they must be worth a listen.   And as usual, his/their taste is impeccable.  Two tracks are available to download from the Whalers, both of them very more-ish.  Go get ’em!

Something borrowed…

Lots to share with you this week. 

First, I’m enjoying a juxtaposition of riches on the reading front just now.  Des Dillon’s The Glasgow Dragon for the bus journey to and from work and Muriel Spark’s A Far Cry from Kensington as my book at bedtime.  Thank goodness for a well stocked local library and when its existence is threatened, I’ll be first to chain myself to its railings.

Last week I spent the evening in the company of some very lovely friends at the wonderful tribute gig to Alistair Hulett who died suddenly last year.  Alistair is one of those Scottish folk singers and writers whom I’ve always been vaguely aware of and only paid scant attention to.  More fool me.  But I did recognise some of the songs that featured and also learned, in short measure, to appreciate fully the awesome talent of the man. 

It’s fitting that I’m sharing with you some of his lyrics in the week that Let’s Get Lyrical launched.  A collaboration between Edinburgh and Glasgow to explore, promote and celebrate the power of song and lyrics, it’s an idea so simple, so genius that you wonder why no one ever thought of it before.  The burd and the chicklet will be trying to cram in as many events as possible in this short month and every Saturday, I’ll be blogging on my favourite lyrics and why they move me.  And expect a few guest posts too.

Meantime, let’s kick off with some fine lyrics in a beautiful song of Alistair’s.  Karine Polwart sung this at the tribute gig and you could have heard a pin drop.  Political protest doesn’t get much more personal or heartfelt than this.

But this was my favourite track of the night.  Lyrical poetry in my humble opinion, about the treatment of Roma, undeniably the most persecuted people in Europe.  Scotland can be far from proud in how unfairly and inequitably we treat our own gypsy-traveller population, and Alistair captures the prejudice in their daily lives perfectly.

When The Wee Birds Start Leaving
Who’ll buy my sweet lavender?, naebody that’s who
The auld painted caravan, tinkies and a’
They look fine on a picture hook hung by the ingle neuk
When we come roon’ the folk a’ turn awa’
We live in a tin box on wheels in a lay-bye
We hang oot oor claes on a line in full view
If there’s at tone we’ll be d**n sure to lower it
Oor right tae exist is aye under review.

Only here under sufferance, not wanted but needed
We camp by the road so it’s always made clear
We know after Harvest Home we won’t be welcome
When the wee birds start leaving it’s time we wurnae here
The church bells were clangin’ oot, ‘Come a’ ye Faithfull’
The faithfull a’ turned oot respectably drab
After the sermon it’s doon tae the Duck and Swan
Tae ward off the weather wi’ the gift o’ the gab
There’s Moses and Abraham, Jesus and Mary
Sinkin’ doon pints in the snug wi’ the Pope
Aye the crack turns as they pour oot the bevvie
The problem wi’ the Gyps is they take too much rope.

The clerk of the parish draws plans tae evict us
The tourists slow down as they drive past and stare
Symbols of freedom, a blight on the landscape
Born out of time like an auld dancin’ bear
I heard someone say as they looked ower the green hills
Why would ye camp where the petrol fumes drift
It’s no’ what we choose, it’s the choice that’s made for us
Here by the roadside we’re easy tae shift.

…something blue

You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve got over myself, or rather over January, and emerged blinking into February.  Full of vim and vigour and raring to go. 

And my goals for the year have been set.  On the gardening front, it’s to complete the blue garden – I won’t bore you with the details now, but you’ll be hearing more about it no doubt.

I definitely want to plant more of these – at least two more varieties.  Where does my love of irises stem from?  I blame Van Gogh.