about this blog

This blog documents my staying at home and writing (and the subsequent whatevers to that writing). It also serves as an online journal for friends and family. It is more-or-less guaranteed to be sans intérêt to most anyone else.

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when I’m not working to pay the rent

2006 Reading List

Being a list of books read during the current year.
· Peter S.Beagle: The Last Unicorn
· John Christopher: The Pool of Fire
· Ayerdhal, & J.C.Dunyach: Étoiles Mourantes
· Haruki Murakami: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, A Wild Sheep Chase, Kafka on the Shore, South of the Border, West of the Sun
· Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
· Jonathan Stroud: Ptomely’s Gate
· Ayerdhal: Consciences Virtuelles, Mytale, Balade Chroréïale, La Bohème & L’Ivraie, L’Histrion, Sexomorphoses
· Philip Pullman: The Broken Bridge
· Frèdèric Lenormand: Mort d’un Cuisinier Chinois, Madame Ti mŤne l’Enquête
· Jonathan Coe: The Accidental Woman
· Arthur C.Clarke: Rendez-vous with Rama, The Fountains of Paradise
· Arthur C.Clarke & Michael Kube-McDowell: The Trigger
· Arthur C.Clarke & Gentry Lee: Rama II, The Gardens of Rama, Rama Revealed
· Angie Sage: Septimus Heap Book 1 - Magyk
· Ian McEwan: Amsterdam
· Roddy Doyle: The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van, The Woman Who Walked into Doors
· Christopher Fowler: Disturbia
· James Morrow: Towing Jehovah, The Eternal Footman
· Laurent Genefort: Omale, Les Conquérants d’Omale, La Muraille Sainte d’Omale, La Mècanique du Talion, Une Porte sur l’Ether
· Melvyn Burgess: Redtide

· Nouvelles des Siècles Futurs, An Anthology compiled by Jaques Guimard & Denis Guiot
Reads from 2003 are here.
Reads from 2004 are here.
Reads from 2005 are here.
 

2006 Film and DVD List

Being a list of films viewed during the current year.
· Good Night, and Good Luck, George Clooney
· Pompoko [Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko], Isao Takahata
· The Pacifier [DVD], Adam Shankman
· Millions [DVD], Danny Boyle
· Truly Madly Deeply [DVD], Anthony Minghella
· La Double Vie de Vèronique [DVD], Krzysztof Kieslowski
· Layer Cake [DVD], Matthew Vaughn
· Ice Age: The Meltdown, Carlos Saldanha
· Natural City [DVD], Byung-chun Min
· Garden State [DVD], Zach Braff
2005 Film and DVDs are here.
 
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News of The Cat

The Cat invented a new game yesterday.

She drops a hair clip at my feet. I have to pick it up and throw it across the room for her. She pounces on it, then picks it up in her mouth, pads back across the room and drops it at my feet. If, by any chance, I don’t promptly pick it up and throw it again, she starts eating and scratching my papers.

Cats take the business of training humans very seriously.

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2005 Film and DVD List

Being a list of films viewed during 2005

· Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki
· Finding Neverland, Marc Forster
· Possession [DVD], Neil LaBute
· The Edukators, Hans Weingartner
· The Nightmare Before Christmas [DVD], Henry Selick
· Constantine, Francis Lawrence
· Star Wars IV: A New Hope [DVD], George Lucas
· Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back [DVD], Irvin Kershner
· Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi [DVD], George Lucas
· Final Destination [DVD], James Wong
· Donnie Darko [DVD], Richard Kelly
· Men In Black II [DVD], Barry Sonnenfeld
· The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson
· The Gathering [DVD], Brian Gilbert
· Insomnia [DVD], Christopher Nolan
· The Bourne Supremacy [DVD], Paul Greengrass
· Scooby Doo 2 [DVD], Raja Gosnell
· Horus [Taiyo no oji: Horusu no daiboken] [DVD], Isao Takahata
· 3-Iron [Bin-jip], Ki-duk Kim
· Steamboy [DVD], Katsuhiro ‘tomo
· Spiderman 2 [DVD], Sam Raimi
· High Fidelity [DVD], Stephen Frears
· Ghost World [DVD], Terry Zwigoff
· Bandits [DVD], Barry Levinson
· Collateral [DVD], Michael Mann
· Stars Wars III – Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas
· A Simple Plan [DVD], Sam Raimi
· Sin City, Robert Rodriguez, et al.
· No Blood No Tears [Pido nunmuldo eobshi] [DVD], Seung-wan Ryoo
· The Mummy Returns [DVD], Stephen Sommers
· Time And Tide [Seunlau ngaklau] [DVD], Hark Tsui
· Wonderful Days [DVD], Moon-saeng Kim,
Park Sunmin
· Oldboy [DVD], Chan-wook Park
· Chronicles of Riddick [DVD], David Twohy
· A Series Of Unfortunate Events [DVD], Brad Silberling
· Kung Fu Hustle [Gong Fu], Stephen Chow
· Matilda, Danny DeVito
· Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tim Burton
· War Of The Worlds, Steven Spielberg
· Identity [DVD], James Mangold
· Hostage [DivX], Florent Emilio Siri
· Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [DVD], Chris Columbus
· Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Doug Liman
· The Island, Michael Bay
· Die xue shuang xiong [The Killer] [DVD], John Woo
· The Jacket, John Maybury
· Danny The Dog [DVD], Louis Leterrier
· The Transporter [DivX], Louis Leterrier
· The Brothers Grimm, Terry Gilliam
· Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Steve Box, Nick Park
· Equilibrium [DVD], Kurt Wimmer
· The Corpse Bride, Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
· Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow [DVD], Kerry Conran
· Free Zone, Amos Gitai
· The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Tommy Lee Jones
· Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mike Newell
· The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Andrew Adamson

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Well, Iím Back

Oops. That was fifteen days being cut off from the net, just when I wanted to put up all my end of the year information. No thanks to my ISP for thoroughly ruining things there. The time to disentangle myself and get a new provider… Here I am again.

Even so, I haven’t posted for some time.

Let me reassure my reader. I am here. I am still, more or less, alive. And I have news.

I’ll probably post some small pieces in the coming days, just to fill in and catch up. But here’s the new year material.

First of all, best wishes to all for the coming year. As it’s already upon us, you already have an idea of the flavour, I just hope that it will be full of good warm things if you like that sort of thing (and cold slimy stuff, if you prefer that).

For myself, the end of the year means reviewing the goals I set myself for 2005, as well as archiving my reading and movies lists.

Goals

Probably the most important was getting something published. This I didn’t get done. I did have hopes that the (non-fiction) idea that I floated would come to fruit. It didn’t. After being hummed and hah-ed for about two months, I was told that the project didn’t fit in with the publisher’s planning schedule. Fine. I’ve put it aside, and might come abck to it later. For the moment I am too occupied with ZeBigProject to work on it. ZeBigProject will become public in about two weeks, so I’ll say no more for the moment.

Reads

I see that I managed to read about 120 books this year. These varied in size from Philip Pullman’s Lyra’s Oxford, to Philip K.Dick’s complete short stories in 2 volumes. I didn’t count books that I started and abandoned—there were a couple. Nor books that I read more than once. For example, I read the last Harry Potter four times [looking for clues—coming soon], as well as a couple of Ian Rankin books. I also read online, magazines, and what not. As well as some of Kim’s books. All in all, it means I managed at least 2 books a week. This is a good thing, and I plan to keep to the rhythm of two a week. I’ll archive 2005 soon, and set up the 2006 list.

Films

This year’s offering was dominated by Fantasy and Asian movies I think. Fantasy I think reflects the renewal of this genre as special effects have made more things possible. Asian movies seems to reflect that that is currently where the good new cinema is happening. Quite frankly, this year no French film has stirred me to say, Hey I’d like to see that! But a lot of Asian cinema has. And I haven’t been disappointed. There’s also a good mix between blockbusters and art films—thanks to our local cinema’s very reasonable prices, 3,90 a seat, sometimes cheaper for children’s films.

This Year

Well, we have ZeBigProject launching in a couple of weeks, and that means lots of preparation and work. But I would also like to finish another novel this year. It’s only in writing them that I’ll get better… Died keeps floating back, Pirates is half written, and I have another— Dragon’s Teeth—sitting as notes on my bedside table. Perhaps if I decided to get up a hour earlier each day, and just write for an hour each day, and see how it goes.

[to be continued]

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the Big Project

I suppose that I’d better give an update so that Mum doesn’t think that I’m ill, or have fallen over in the kitchen to be devoured by The Cat.

News: I am still alive.

Ok, now that’s over and done, what’s there to say? Book project is on hold. The editor finally got back to me: no-one has time to read the proposal in detail, get back to you later. So I shelved that and hit The Big Project. Which is currently lying drying on the floor! Let me just say that Stupid Cats, coffee, and important documents written with fountain pens do not mix. Lucky for me, about half was written with a ballpoint, but a couple of pages did get badly sploshed, and had to be delicately wadded down with kleenexi. I am vastly annoyed. And Stupid Cat is still in the bathroom.

About a month ago now I sent Juliet out to beta readers. No news back. This morning, I also dragged out the last revision of Bill to have a look at the last few corrections that need doing in that. I’ll probably attack that after lunch today. Then I can generte a pdf and send it off to Matt to try out on his kids. Again, more waiting.

Oh, and Tammy has passed me on a blog baton, that I have been scribbling away at and will, at some time, complete and post.

So now, back to the table, and a bowl of hamster food, to advance things on The Big Project.

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More news of The Cat

The Cat fell out of the window.

There goes my punch-line. But I tried as hard as I could, but no matter how I built up the story, it get pretty obvious well before the end where we were heading. So that’s it. Let’s cast suspense out of the window with the cat.

I should explain that I have always feared this, that something happened to The Cat while she was in my guard. Even if I was 110% innocent—and I was in this case also—if she went and did something really stupid, there would remain a nagging suspicion that ‘I dun it’.

As regular readers will know we live on the second floor. The front windows give out on the street below, the back ones on a queer-shaped squashed garden for the house that lives in the shadow of the the apartment building where we live.

I was sitting at the kitchen table while Kim was in front of the computer watching ‘The Mummy’ on DVD. Ludivine was down in the South at her parents’ new house, on holiday in blissful ignorance. In Paris, it was in a very hot, dry period with air pollution alerts like we get now, and I was trying to get some of the evening breezes. The Cat was sitting on the outside window ledge.

I have already mentioned that The Cat seems to suffer from some sort of atavistic reflex when in the presence of flies. She just has to jump after them. Amazing jumps at times, well over 1m50 from a sitting position. She also eats them as we find out when she sicks them up around the flat.

So this evening was relatively calm. Bastille Day was nearly over and so there were fewer kids roaming the streets throwing enormous fire-crackers around with merry abandon. Then from the outside I heard a sort of scuffling, a dull whump and mewing. The Cat had gone after a fly too far and slipped/jumped off the ledge.

I did what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances and swore loudly after The Cat before poking my head through the window to survey the damage.

The Cat was on the ground immediately below, miaowing plaintively.

Dutifully I set off downstairs to greet the neighbours and recover The Cat.

Of course, Kim wanted to know why I was leaving. I explained. She had to go and see too.

“Perhaps she’s hurt…” she remarked about the regular hiccupping crying sounds. “You must get her back.”

“That’s why I’m going downstairs,” I explained calling upon reserves of patience that were to become severely strained as the evening progressed. “Why don’t you stay here and call to her.”

“Don’t leave me Papa.”

Try explaining logic to a ten-year old. How can I not leave her, and get The Cat at the same time? I negotiated. She stayed. This time.

When I get to the gate to the house behind, there was no doorbell, no indicator of any kind. I tried to open the gate. It was locked. The wall was about three metres high. Omninously, I now thought, I had seen no lights in the house. Crossing to the pavement opposite and peeping up at the top windows confirmed what I had seen from our side. The neighbours appeared to be away.

Now was the time to start worrying.

I went and rang the bell at the only ground floor flat in our building, explained the situation, and they let me in. They had their window wide open, like me, to catch the breezes. But it was covered with a grating that was fixed solidly in the walls. They had heard the fall, and The Cat mewing, but hadn’t twigged what was going on just outside their window. They couldn’t help.

They did inform me that the kids on the first floor, the flat just under ours, had had contacts with the neighbours for things that had fallen into the garden, so I marched up and rang the bell there. The window on the staircase, that also looked out over the house with frosted panes also had a grill in front of it.

No one answered the bell. This didn’t surprise me as I hadn’t met the kids, or heard their dog, for a while. No luck there.

I decided that the next best thing to do was to call Ludivine.

Kim was glad to see me. In fact, she was on the telephone to her mother. She appeared to be terrified.

“You’ve got to do something,” she was squealing. She was getting herself worked up to a frenzy. “You’ve got to get The Cat back.”

I finished off the call to her mother. She didn’t know why Kim had called either, except that Kim had really worked herself up into a nervous fit.

I called Ludivine. I explained quickly and succinctly the situation.

“Call the Fire Brigade,” she said.

It was no good arguing that I doubted that the Fire Brigade could do anything. In fact, this being the night of Bastille Day that probably had their work cut out with fireworks accidents. I hung up.

I looked down into the garden. The Cat was wandering around the garden now. At least she could walk. But she was moving strangely, in jerks. Now, however much The Cat and I dislike each other, I was not going to let a wounded cat stay the night in the garden.

I ransacked the house and found a large wicker shopping basket that The Cat had sometimes played in. That was fine, I hoped that her scent was still there. We hunted up and down for some strong cord, finding it finally at the bottom of a box. I tied ‘Tigrou’, her stuffed toy, and a small bell that she liked playing with onto the basket to add more familiar items.

We lowered the basket from the window.

“Stupid Cat… Stupid…” I called her. She approached the basket and sniffed. “Get in the basket, you stupid animal!” I called affectionately. She didn’t.

OK, McGyver, time for plan B. Feeling an utter imbecile, I phoned the local Fire Station. I looked up the direct line in the phone book, as I didn’t want to call the emergency services.

“Is she wounded?” they asked.

Hold on, I’ll just pop down and look.

“She appears to be limping, or moving strangely, but I don’t know any more than that…” I said in reality.

“We’ll be right over.”

Kim was getting herself worked up again. “Where are they? Why aren’t they here?” All this to orchestrated mews and heart-rending cries from The Cat below.

“Why don’t you go to the front, and look out for the Firemen?” I suggested by way of a distraction.

I checked The Cat. She was still crawling around the garden, but it was getting hard to see; dusk had given way to night, and darkness was falling fast.

A small van, painted in bright red, drew up opposite.

“OK, Kim, I’m going down to see the Firemen…”

“Don’t leave me alone!” she says with a hysterical edge still in her voice.

“Look someone has to stay up here and look out for the cat…” I try.

“No, I want to come with you.”

“Look, if you want, you can look down from the balcony. Is that OK?”

I finally manage to get downstairs, and meet the people from the Fire Brigade as they get out of their small van. It seems that I have got the ‘Cat Brigade’. Up to now all the Fireman that I have met have been 2-metre high giants, carved from solid wood. Of course, there is a bit of cheating involved as the soles of their heavy boots as about 5 cm thick, but you get the picture. This one, even with his boots, was my height, 1m75. He was strapping on a belt of gear, and holding thick gloves—confirming my suspicions about the ‘Cat Brigade’. With him was a young girl, dark hair cropped tight. She was about the same height as the other, but had a uniform without the badges and marks—looked like a intern or something.

I introduced myself and summed up the situation. We walked around to the gate.

As I suspected, the Fire Brigade had no authority, in the absence of immediate danger to a human, to penetrate onto private land. They did shook the gate to see if it could accidentally fall open, but it was well battened down. The wall was too high to climb, and even if we did, how would we get back over..?

We could hear the Cat’s miaowing, and the managed to catch a glimpse of her through the slits in the metal gate.

“Is she hurt?” he asked.

“I don’t know…” I said, truthfully. “She’s walking funny, but at least she is walking about.”

“You can always try the Police…” he said in a voice that both of knew meant that it was not the answer.

I thanked him all the same, and we walked back to the front of the house. Kim was screaming hysterically from the balcony. I told her to come down and join me, as that was better than providing a spectacle for half the street as she was doing. When she arrived, I asked her if she had shut the door. No, she’d left it wide open.

“Well, you go back up and close it. I’ll be right back.”

She ran off.

The kid from the Cat Brigade collected my name—‘For the report’, he said—we shook hands, and he left.

We were back in the flat with the Cat now wandering around in the garden below, still this strange jerking, slinking movement. I wondered if we could attempt another try with the basket. Then Kim suggested that we put a plate of Cat food—normally she has dried ‘croquettes’, but has an occasional sachet of guck as a treat—in the basket.

Well, we were down to desperate measures, so she prepared a saucer of the gunge. We put it in the basket and I lowered it.

The first two times, she climbed into the basket but jumped out when I started to raise it. On the third try she must have been tucking into the food good and proper as she only lifted her head to mew when she came into sight of the window.

I hauled her in and ruffed up her fur—that’ll teach her, Cat’s don’t like having their fur rubbed up the wrong way. Kim, set the saucer down, and the Cat jumped away to finish her meal.

She doesn’t seem harmed. Once she’d finished, I grabbed her, settled her down and ran over her back and limbs, feeling for funny things and seeing if she winced or cried out. She didn’t. She tolerated my inspection stoically and then skulked off to sleep.

8 lives to go.

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News of The Cat

Ludivine was getting ready to leave for work.
“Can you change the Cat’s water,” she said as she kissed me goodbye.
“No problem,” I said. And the front door shut.
I’ll change it for Ouzo, as that’s probably about the most wicked liquid we currently have in the house. And like that, perhaps, I’ll have a quiet day.

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adapting for film

Just a quick remark in passing… Last night we watched A Simple Plan directed by Sam Raimi, from the book and screenplay by Scott B. Smith. It was overall a good character driven plot, but the opening scenes were heavy and over verbose. I suspect that this is a side-effect of the writer adapting his own book—and having a look at his entry on iMDB he doesn’t seem too experienced in the matter—and not trusting film to allow us, the viewers, to make connections and inferences. In a book we only have what the writer gives us, and what we bring with us. In a film we have small guestures, looks, we have camera angle, we have sound and light; all these contribute to add meaning, and character. I’d say that the moral of this is to trust the medium you are working in, and don’t try and transpose one to another.

But for the rest it was a good film.

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whatís new[s]?

Well I suppose that the first real news is that a book idea that I pitched to an editor has passed the first barrier: they liked the proposal and now want to chat. It’s non-fiction, but it’s in an area where I do have specific skills and experience—which is probably how I was able to put the proposition together in the first place. I’d have liked to be saying the same about my fiction, but never look a gift cat in the mouth, as they say… I’ll write some more when I have details. And I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t fall through.

On the other front I have been very busy with a rather complicated project. As regular readers may know, I am offically unemployed. That is not to say that I am inactive, far from it. However it is getting worrying: I’m 49 next birthday and there doesn’t seem to be much around on the regular employment front for folks like me. So I brushed the dust off an idea that I had some time back and have since been trying to see if it is workable. No, not workable… On paper most things are workable. I think the word I was trying for is ‘viable’. Again, it’s under wraps at the moment. All I can say is that it has to do with my other blog.

So we’re now in May which is birthday month. At least for Emiline and Kim, two of my lovely daughters. [Nadja, the other lovely daughter has to wait a month and a bit.] So on Saturday 28th we will be having a Panda Party, supposedly for Emiline, but we will use this as an excuse to throw a surprise party for Kim.

On the health front I had a strange surprise the other day. My nose has always had a slight kilter, ever since a disagreement with a local lout when I must have been 13 or so. But looking in the mirror through the clouds of sleep on Thursday morning, it was astonishly out of line. In fact I had a large painful bump on the right-hand side just next to my eye giving me a sort of day-after-boxing-day effect. I will admit that I was worried at first. Until I realised that it was a mosquito bite, albeit a painful one. How a mosquito came to bite me on the side of my nose without my noticing probably hides a story. That I am unable to tell… except that, were the cat to catch these instead of the rather disgusting big black flies she seems to affection, she might—at last—be working to pay her keep.

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pushing back the carpets

This is the original rough text that I wrote for a recent entry in my french-langauge musicBlog which appears overhere

The first records I played until they wore out were heavy, waxy to the feel, 78s. They were also very brittle as I quickly found out. These had originally been my parents’ records—as had the square wooden record player, with pinups inside the lid, that I listened to them on—and they were wondrous things like Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and his Comets, or Tommy Steele singing Water Water b/w A Handful Of Songs. Time went by. All the records got broke, and got replaced in my affection by new-fangled modern vinyl 45 rpm singles and EPs, by such wonderful new names as The Beatles, and Freddy and the Dreamers. And while Hank Marvin was just too cool; no, I never did get that copy of Apache by The Shadows that I wanted so much…

Although I knew that all these had belonged to my parents, just the other day, it occurred to me for the first time that these were the sort of things they must have rolled back the carpets, in order to party to, before I was born.

I was the eldest, but I figure that I was a latish birth: my father must have been in his early thirties, my mother in her late twenties. So they must have had plenty of time to push back the furniture and to rock’n’roll. Except they hadn’t. It’s probably hard to imagine now, but like most of their generation, they’d spent their teen years evacuated far from family and friends, up and out in the countryside, to protect them from the bombings and the threats of invasion. At the end of the war, my father had even been conscripted into the Navy, as attested to by the fading photographs that I found in a box in a cupboard. They showed him and other lads in shorts or stiff-looking bright-white uniforms, posing against ship railings, and shading their eyes from the sun. He did claim that he spent all his military service doing victory parades in liberated villages around the Mediterranean Sea. But as he isn’t saying any more, that’s all I know.

So I imagine that my parents, and their friends and acquaintances, all had to live their teens in a late, quick wild burst, squeezed between the end of hostilities, and settling down to some semblance of ‘normal’ life. All this with rationing and I-don’t-know-what other strange post-war measures still in effect.

When I grew old enough to cultivate my own interest in music—and stumble on this cache of enticing, black as liquorice and just as thick, 78s—my parents seemed to have been stranded somewhere in a no-man’s-land of music. It should be remembered that the so-called British Invasion started at home first. The North was another country, and those four lads had to come down South to take the country by storm. There were jerky grey-suited figures, with mop haircuts, appearing in the variety shows on the TV, and not all of them were The Beatles. The radio also provided a soundtrack as pop slowly pushed out crooners, and Glen Miller. But my parents’ musical taste—and experimentations, as there must have been some—had somehow disappeared, or jellified like that quivering substance that was served at birthday parties into something saccharine and artificial. I remember seeing records by the James Last Orchestra, and such like. A sort of soporific, high starch, pre-digested background music. Not really something to rock’n’roll to.

Linguists and Speech Therapists note that a child’s ‘ear’—their perception of new sounds—‘closes’ over time, and is generally considered to be in place by the teens. This means that it is rare, or at least difficult, for the ear to perceive new phonemes, especially those that one’s mother tongue doesn’t use. So what had happened? Had my parents burnt up their curiosity at the same time that they caught up on their missed youth? Had their ears ‘closed’ and fossilised? This latter point of view would seem to be supported by the cries of ‘And shut that noise off!’ that accompanied any rhythmic music that was listened to at louder than a whisper, or so it seemed. And it wasn’t just them… The James Last syndrome seemed to have the parents of all my friends and acquaintances in its possession, like some sort of genteel, middle-class version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

At the time that I too became a parent, and when my daughters finally started being something other than tubes that ate at one end, and—well I’ll let you guess—at the other, I was living in France. From a music point of view this was a most wonderful thing. I was still subscribed to the NME, and so could follow the happenings, back at home, as I considered it then. I still listened to John Peel late at night, the long wave signal rising and falling in amplitude, sometimes disappearing completely behind the interference. During the day I could listened to French radio—this was just before the opening up of the FM band to new, exciting, ‘free’, radios—but even so, there were places were interesting music was played, and I listened to France Culture a lot.

What I found most appreciable was that I was free from peer [and media] pressure to conform to a specific model or genre. Nobody I knew listened to such a weird, wide-ranging and eclectic mixture. And I still remember the impact my Sex Pistol’s records made, in 1978, in the small village that my wife came from; the kindest remarks from the kids my age there, was asking pointedly if this was music, y’know. I didn’t care. If I wanted to listen to New Order, Heaven 17, then Limahl singing Neverending Story I was free to do so. I could discover Edith Nylon, Taxi Girl, Lio, Etienne Daho or Elli & Jacno, and there was no-one to reproach my listening to commercial pop [and French at that]. I could slip a disk by Eno, Satie, Hector Zazou or Gavin Byars onto the turntable as I pleased. I could discover R.E.M. and U2, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, while also finding people interested in Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth, Captain Beefheart... I could listen to classic rock from the Beach Boys [Bacharat, Nilsson, Jimmy Webb and Carole King, even] through to Led Zep or Yes, without having mates telling me that I was betraying a New Wave/Post Rock/Rockist/I-don’t-know-what sensibility. I could have fun. Like a naturalist being able to wonder over a whole continent, and no be disciplined to just collecting butterflies, I could study woolly mammoths one day, and frogs the next. And in doing so, discover strange and marvellous connections between noise and harmony, music and melody.

Today, writing this blog, I still have the same pleasure in wandering off, and letting discovery guide me. Except that today, I have the possibility to share my discoveries.

Perhaps one day, like for my parents, my ears will start to close and to ignore certain sounds. But until then I intend to have fun.

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The Ďfly seasoní is upon us

The ‘fly season’ is upon us. And I’m not talking about angling. It is the time when those little black beasties bumble in through the windows, bump their heads in some autistic manner on all the walls, ceiling, and lamp fittings, and bumble out again. Or don’t, as we find little shrivelled up carcasses lining the window sills. Or we did.

The Cat has a special cry, a short sharp whimper—hia-hia-hia—when she sees a fly. She also makes a special sort of grimace, pushing her mouth forwards, snapping her canines quickly. Her muzzle looking for all the world like a grey, moustached hen, equipped with short, spiky white teeth, snapping at you. That sort of special cry.

The flies send her crazy, she throws herself against the wall, the windows, and us, in her attempts to catch them, everything—tables laid for dinner, razors and toothbrushes, washing hung out to dry, delicate computer equipment, books, cassettes, jewellery and porcelain knickknacks—gets knocked to sixes and sevens while she tries to catch them. And sometimes she does catch one. So then she eats it. She wolfs it down, making her curious whimper and mouth movements all the while and then darts through the flat like she’s make out of *silly putty*, bouncing off desks, the sofa, the doors, shelves…

I’m worried there’s something in the flies that gives her a high. And it seems really addictive. She just has to believe there’s a fly around to start her ‘hia-hia-hia-hia’. Tell me… Does AA’s twelve-point program also exist for cats?

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a further cat-alogue of ills

Judging from the state of healing on some of my older scars, the Cat seems to be coming up for her six-month anniversary. [Aside: does that make sense? Does one have six-month anniversaries? Or if you’re a cat, a 3-and-a-half years birthday?]. As a celebratory guesture I have had a litte collar made for her. In place of our address I asked the craftsman to engrave the well-known saying, “Finders Keepers”.

It also says, next to a neat symbol that I’m told is called a Caduceus, “Do Not Reanimate”. On the back I added the following: “This cat bears ticks that have been contaminated with both the Black Death, and Mumps [just in case you’re a man—or at least, just in case you were…]. Do not touch under any circumstances. Allergic to Penicillin, all known drugs and pain-killers. Including a few that haven’t been invented yet.

I think that covers most cases. Can’t wait to take her out for a walk in the park…

The very nice author—No, I have never met her, but she writes nice mails, and seems in her blog to have her feet firmly on the ground, and her head square on her shoulders—Tamara Siler Jones sent me the address of a site mean kitty. I’d pass it on, but it’s much too cat-friendly for my taste. Meantimes, you had better all go over to Tam’s website and forum and say ‘Hi’. And then go and buy her book. Now. Oust! If you don’t, I swear I’ll hold my breath until I die. And then I’ll leave you the Cat in my will. You have been warned.

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The catís name

I forget to say that The Cat’s name is ‘Mia’. Although this isn’t deliberate, it does have a specific ring of irony to it when I cry out, “Mia..Ow!”

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