Those of a certain age and inclination may remember that in my murky past I had a fanzine called 'The Melody Haunts My Reverie'. Three issues eventually appeared, and you can grab PDFs of them from the links below.
I finally got to watch ‘Melody’ last night. I’d known it was a huge cult hit in Japan for years and that it had a terrific soundtrack featuring some of the Bee Gee’s finest as well as the glorious ‘Teach Your Children’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I knew too it was David Puttnam’s first feature production and Alan Parker’s first screenplay; that it featured Jack Wild and Mark Lester (stars of 'Oliver!' - the first film I have a memory of seeing in a cinema) as well as an iconic Tracy Hyde.
Sometimes when one finally catches up with supposedly classic artifacts (films, albums, paintings, whatever...) it can be a thoroughly underwhelming experience. It often makes me wonder if appreciation of those things is inevitably tied into the jigsaw puzzle of other signifiers, or at least to an understanding and acceptance of original context. So whilst I can understand people watching ‘Melody’ in 2011 (forty years after it’s original release) and not really getting what the fuss is about, for me it hits the spot. The soundtracked sequences are like mini-promo videos which, from a filmic point of view are probably over-long and indulgent. Especially if you don’t understand that The Bee Gees at this point in time had made some of the most exquisite records ever. But if you know that then you already love those songs and it’s sheer perfection. ‘Melody Fair’ playing in the graveyard scene is just magic, for example, whilst the scene with ‘Teach Your Children’ is typical English mild madcap slapstick that you’ll either love or hate.
You probably know too about some of the other neat connections out from the movie - the great Kate Williams who plays Melody’s mum reprises a similar role eight years later in 'Quodrophenia'; the irresistible Roy Kinnear (who, as C observed, appears always be to be the same age) as Melody’s dad; Sheila Steafel as Mrs Latimer has been a regular of the UK TV scene for decades, but those of a certain age will undoubtedly remember her fondly as The White Lady in ‘The Ghosts of Motley Hall’; Jack Wild’s lead in 'Pufnstuf' alongside Mama Cass linking sweetly to the California scene and the fact that Brian Wilson’s backing band The Wondermints recorded a song called ‘Tracy Hide’ in homage to Miss Hyde...
I am sure that for many a subscription to the National Geographic was, in the 1970s, something of an essential household purchase; an affordable way for families to explore the riches of the world around them. There was a real thrill whenever a new issue arrived and although it never sparked any particular sense of physical exploration in me, I am sure that it was partly to blame for my interest in photography, maps and advertising (those 1970s American adverts seemed so strangely otherworldly).
A brief piece of searching on the Interwebs suggests that the issue I remember was from May 1976 (a terrifying 35 years ago) and that the tank is a Type 95 Ha Go, on the port side of the San Francisco Maru ship.
Now I know that National Geographic is still available as a physical magazine, and that it’s possible to get on your iPad, but I doubt that it fills the same space that the physical magazine used to occupy in our family life. I wonder if that sense of a shared family resource been lost? Has it in fact been lost for decades? Or has something else taken that place? Perhaps those with families themselves can enlighten me...
My case (8 bottles) of the Age Of Reason beer arrived at the start of last week. Brewed by the Revolutions Brewing Company of West Yorkshire, it celebrates the release of Sarandon's fantastic album of the same name that was released earlier this year on the fab Odd Box label in the UK and the legendary Slumberland in the USA. Needless to say the beer is every bit as tasty as the album.
Some sensational sounds that arrived this week through the most Unpopular letterbox in the world. Actually that's not strictly true because for at least one package I had to pop round to the village Post Office to pick it up, but hey, them's the breaks...
Last night, over to the west, drifting out in the early hours. Brampford Speke church tower silhouetted in the flashes. Every time now, for a handful of decades, every time I hear thunder these lines tease my head. “One drop of rain on the back of my hand...” It was Verlaine at first of course but in my heart it is always Langley... breaking, breaking... Chris Roberts described the thrill best. Something about “ravishing green fingers playing hoopla with halos” and dancing on throats. Well quite.
The sweetest thing about love is how it re-configures itself, re-invents itself, winks in the darkening evening light and says ‘remember this?’ You fall into yourself and its arms. It’s not as though you had forgotten, just that you hadn’t necessarily remembered.
Blink the sleep from your lips and kiss the morning. Dance on the treetops. The world might well be fucked, but you, you’ve got this. Tie a knot in your teardrops.
Silver Rays - Animals That Swim (you'll find it on iTunes) It Hurts Me Too - My Teenage Stride (Bandcamp) They Don't Know - Kirsty MacColl (you don't have this already?! Buy the Best Of on Amazon ) Gruesome Castle - Wild Nothing (Soundcloud) Plastic Flowers - The Wake (from the Here Comes Everybody and Singles reissue on LTM) What a Pleasure - Beach Fossils (Soundcloud) Strange Girl - duplodeck (Bandcamp) Unceremonious Splendour - Sleuth (Bandcamp) Punk Means Cuddle - Tsunami (find it on the World Tour and Other Destinations set) Little Surprise - The Wave Pictures (Soundcloud) Words Fail Me (Acoustic) - Chris T-T (you'll find it on iTunes) For My Mother - Let's Wrestle (from new album 'Nursing Home' which you can pre-order now from Amazon) Teenager - Apache Dropout (Bandcamp) Lawrence - Girls Names (from the 'Dead To Me' set on Slumberland) Fields and Fields - Family Cactus (Bandcamp) High School Lover - Oregon Bike Trails (Bandcamp) Doppelganger - Freezepop (free from their site) Ready To Go Steady - The Go! Team (YouTube it, dude) On A Breeze - Ghost Wave (a blog has it here...) Breaking In My Heart - The Blue Aeroplanes (one version is on the old vinyl edition of 'friendloverplane' and another is on the 'Warhol's 15' CD compilation, both out of print. Go and dig around, see what you can find...)
I visited Box Hill on Sunday; my first time there in thirty one years. Time plays tricks on the memory of course, but it was largely as I had remembered it, only much, much busier. Thirty one years ago we drove there from Carshalton in my mum’s friends’ car (as briefly remembered here), but this time I cycled there from the Surrey Hills under largely blue skies peppered with wisps of cloud scudding quickly past in the fierce north easterly wind. This being my first time up on a bicycle I took it easy, somehow always expecting Zig Zag Road to get steeper, and certainly for it to be longer. In reality the climb was over in the blink of an eye, and for the professionals who will ride it as part of the 2012 Olympic road race parcours I am sure it will seem little more than a pimple on the route.
It certainly does seem to be a Mecca for cyclists though. I was astonished at the number of riders assembled in the grounds of the cafe at the top, and who I had passed on my ride out there. Devon, by comparison, would appear to be a road cycling hinterland... I would be lucky to count the same number of cyclists I saw in one day in Surrey in a year in Devon.
It must be said though that the views from the top of Box Hill are very, very pretty: the garden of England spread below like a luxurious sun-kissed blanket. Thirty one years ago I remember seeing model gliders drift up on the thermals. This time there was only clear air (perhaps the National Trust has banned such activities in favour of healthier pastimes?) and the distant cries of hawks unseen.