Wednesday, 5 December 2007


Wed 5 December, Dublin....Obsessions come and go, and I've slid back into reading about the Bronte’s again, mainly because I found a great biography of the famous sisters alcoholic junky brother Branwell. Written by Daphne Du Maurier, it brings to life a much-misunderstood writer / painter who never had anything published during his short life and only managed to sell one or two paintings. His over active imagination got him into trouble from time to time, but it's difficult not to like this wonderful 'failure.' Stayed up til dawn reading the book, and only managed to get one and a half hours sleep before I hit off across to the north side of the city to meet up with Les Keye . On arrival, I discovered Les had no sleep at all, he's been up all night, but was ready all the same to get down to work. In his home studio we drank countless cups of tea and listened back to a 'live' recording we made last week. When I say live, I don't mean a recording of a gig, but a recording of me Les and Chris all playing together in a room, no over dubs, just lashing it out, and it doesn't sound bad either. Another 7 or 8 songs I had been working on were loaded up from one hard drive to another and we now have to figure out what’s good and what’s not so good. After five hours we were brain dead, so I packed up and off I went, heading south.

In the past few weeks I had been listening to a lot of Holly Golightly. Her LP "Surely There Is No Other" was rarely off the turntable, so I was very pleased when the postman arrived with a package from Damaged Goods Records with two more LP's and a four track EP on clear vinyl. The package also contained an LP by Billy Childish. Anybody who can write a song and name a band after his mother's 1950's cycling club gets a vote of confidence from me. The album from Mr Childish sounds like it was recorded in the forty minutes it took them to play it and it's wonderful. Holly, of course has been on the stereo day and night. In a vain attempt to break from vinyl addiction, I spent a few days in the Wild West of Ireland, where 'The Lilting Banshee' 'Out On The Ocean' and other fiddle tunes were recorded. On a drive back from Ballyhaunis, near Bekan, we stopped off to check out the ancient roadside passage grave, before continuing on down the long winding road.

A few days later I found myself staring in amazement at the fattest birds I'd ever seen, and I’m not talking about ladies. I’m talking pigeons. Big fat pigeons were everywhere. They struggled to get airborne, these lay-abouts. Over near the Rialto Bridge in Venice, but especially up around the tourist trap that is St Marks Square you will find these obese birds, fat from the never ending stream of tourists who, for some reason or other, feel the need to keep feeding these feathered vermin.Found a few great antique stores. One had a carved Tibetan thighbone in the window. It reminded me of the time many years ago when in L.A. I asked to see the thighbone in the display case of a particular antique store I had visited. The assistant obliged and then went off to deal with another customer. I looked at the hand-carved bone, which had been fashioned into a flute, with a row of holes drilled along the shaft, so what else would you do, but put it to your lips and try and get a note! And I got one, not a very melodic or clear sounding note, but a note all the same. The shop assistant came running over in a panic "Oh you must not release the spirits!! " she exclaimed. The fact that I wasn't a trained monk seemed to have something to do with It. I might have learned a few things about Kundalini, I may have known how to meditate a bit and put a stop to that endless chatter; the internal dialogue, but my ancestors had drunk from the wrong gene pool. As far as she was concerned, I was far from being the ideal candidate for blowing through this odd magickal/religious tool.

Mad, timeless Venice. I rambled up the street, stopping off for a drink before dinner, in the little bar around the corner from where an unseen hand has scratched a pentagram onto the door of the local drapery store. Later, I found a bookbinders down one of the labyrinthine streets, asking for €450 for customized leather bound books. An ancient looking copy of the legendary grimoire, The Necromonican sat in the window with a little sign saying 'enquire inside about price.' But of course this book wasn't / couldn't be ancient at all, as The Necromonican was imagined by HP Lovecraft in the 1930's. Still, the copy here looked splendid. However, that didn't mean I was going to stride in there waving a chequebook ...or a credit card. Come to think of it, I don't own a credit card, and I've never had the luxury of a chequebook taking up valuable space in my pocket either. Cash is King in my brain baby !!!

It was freezing cold in Rome, but before long we found an odd little place that sold slices of pizza, full chickens, big hunks of beef, cokes, sandwiches and beer, drug of the A bottle of Becks cost €2.20, so we had a few of those before finding a restaurant for dinner. The Hotel Cristina was a bit depressing after the palatial Palazzo Guardi in Venice, so we kept away from it as much as possible, spending lots of time at the Forum. The Arc of Septimus Severus prepared us for what was to come. Stopped by at the Temple of Saturn on the way to the garden where the Vestal Priestesses would spend the afternoon, just across from House of the Vesta. I imagined these foxy ladies taking it easy here for an hour or two after spending hours tending the flame in honour of their goddess Vesta of the hearth, and of course in honour of Rome. Further up the hill we found the house, which Augustus shared with his feisty second wife Livia. It's claimed she poisoned eight or nine people to keep her family in power. But who knows the truth. Further up the road, the Colosseum looked spooky when you consider what went on there. It was time for more spaghetti.........

Back in Dublin, the Fender Champion 600 Amp, matched with a €9.90 Beringer Tube Overdrive pedal was put through the mill. It sounded best with my old Epiphone Casino. Some of the songs were brand new. One, I wrote as the guys were strolling in. Days of merry solitude were spent getting the over dubs down, a little drop of red wine to keep me company, the black and white wild fat cat slowly roaming the gravel driveway, stopping every now and then to stare in the window at me. Days drifted on. A week felt like a month, just the way I like it.