Monday, 27 April 2020

Chop’s Journal - 27 Apr 2020

This week has been different. I was back in the office for a few days & work definitely took up more time and that’s meant less reading & less film watching. Also, my back has been playing up too so my last run was on Monday. It’s feeling better now but still twingey so trying to gage the balance between not making it worse and missing the chance for exercise. 

On the plus side I got my first door step delivery from Big Smoke Brewery ready for our first Saturday night family quiz and the Sunday night quiz with the Yesterday’s Jam gang. 


In My House - Cornshed Sisters

Music I’m enjoying

A bits n bobs week as I caught up with my play count (still doing that 3 plays of most albums that I got from Ruth & Martin’s Album Club) of recent releases but it’s the Long Neck album I’ve been enjoying the most. 

Other notes

Tuesday night I was out in the back garden trying to spot the Starlink Satellites. It took a while but eventually I did see a series of bright spots in the sky passing overhead. Not quite as closely strung as I’d expected. I tried again on Wednesday and was treated to seeing the Falcon 9 rocket that deploys the satellites go over. That was really bright & the night seemed clearer. Came out later to see more satellites but failed. Despite it not being entirely successful it did feel quite relaxing staring at the sky and just having a moment of peace & quiet. 

I’ve built up a bit of a backlog of Off Menu: podcasts so listened to a couple of those which both made me laugh out loud. Catherine Bohart’s episode was recorded in her flat which gave the episode a slightly different vibe and led to Catherine getting a call from her Dad midway through. The Joe Thomas episode was largely Joe spouting a stream of consciousness and was, quite possibly, the funniest episode yet. I also listened to the first episode of James Acaster’s new Perfect Sound Whatever, which was right up my street but perhaps a little short. 

I’m filling the void left by a lack of sport by playing a retro Football Manager game on my phone. I’ve already got Fulham promoted 3 times, won the FA Cup once and the European cup once. 

April 24th: Tweeted this last week but thought I’d include it here for my benefit.

For various reasons April 24th was a bit of a sad day for me. I mean, not terrible but not jolly. It would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday (he passed away 18 months ago). I’ve thought about him a lot during this weird few weeks and not sure how we’d have coped. 

Meanwhile, I went to school to hand in a few of my 16yo’s books & mock papers to help with the teachers assessment that will now decide his GCSEs. He has now officially finished with school.

G’s not enjoyed education. He’s dyslexic and managed to time his arrival in senior school with the curriculum changes that Gove brought in moving us away from coursework back to a more “classic” approach. It was the worst option for G, he doesn’t remember facts well, and now he doesn’t even get the chance to finish that off properly.

I wonder if one of the societal changes that follow this pandemic might be a move back towards constant assessment and course work having greater emphasis than exams. Either way I don’t think traditional school was ever going work out great for G. He was never hugely engaged and maybe just needs time & space to find the thing that does.

Ultimately, we’re lucky that we are financially able to look after him. That helps me feel less anxious about what might happen. I’m sure he’ll find his feet eventually and we’ll encourage him in whatever he wants to do.

All told, a day of contemplation about things I can’t change. In between that I had loads of people tell me the favourite pubs of their youth and that made me happy. 

Postscript: On Sunday G spent an hour or so helping his Mum in the garden. What was initially just a bit heavy lifting turned into him clearing a lot of stuff and getting more done than we were expecting. There was one really think trunk he tried to remove but couldn’t and we went out together today (Monday) and finished the job. He might just finally be bored of being stuck in his room but maybe gardening is a thing he might take to. There’s a glimmer of hope.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Chop’s Journal - 19 Apr 2020

I seem to have settled into Lockdown life and this week has flown by. Either that or the days have just merged into each other & I can no longer remember what happened when. 

I’ve been playing ukulele a lot this week. Got sucked into making videos for pals via Facebook and it turns out it’s not that easy to nail a song when you’re being videoed. That aside it’s been fun to make a bit of music but I should probably get back to practicing bass next week. 


This week’s choice isn’t a brand new track but was recommended by TheSweetCheat on Twitter in response to my Best of British Top 5. It’s a gorgeous tune by a band I’d not heard of before. 

Curlews - Grasscut

Music I’m enjoying

I’ve really enjoyed the playlist of “Best of British” songs put together by the top 5 gang after I figured we could come up with a more interesting set of tunes than the list Radio X came out which was depressingly male orientated & mainstream. I guess that’s their target audience though (with the exception of the excellent John Kennedy). 

The new Flat Worms album isn’t quite as immediate as their previous releases but I’ve been really enjoying it. Hope that if they don’t make it over in June they’re able to reorganise for later in the year. 

I’ve also been hammering the Long Neck album which I know is also a favourite of Emma’s House.

Book Reading

‪No books completed this week but I’ve got two on the go and an enjoying both. I’m rereading Good Omens after watching the excellent TV adaption. It’s just as good as I remember and probably my favourite Terry Prachett book. I do get distracted trying to work out which bits Terry wrote and which bits Neil did. 

The other book I’m reading is book 1 of the Darkwood series by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch (Scriblit on Twitter) and that’s also turning out to be a joy. 

Other notes

Yesterday’s Jam episode featured Q&A’s with brothers John Maclean (Beta Band, The Aliens) & Dave Maclean (Django Django) along with the usual great new tunes (Neutrals, Lewsberg & Sorry).

My pal Dan Whaley did a brilliant TV Themes special on Burgess Hill Radio for Bank Holiday Monday. Worth checking out if that’s your thing.


Sunday, 12 April 2020

Chop’s Journal - 12 Apr 2020

Settling in to life under lockdown now. We’ve all been trying to exercise regularly and have basically converted out dining room (which was always slightly overselling what that room really is) into a makeshift gym with various bits of borrowed equipment. Despite all that I’ve somehow managed to still put weight on.

We’ve been working from home, not ideal but we’re lucky to be able to, but also found time to start tidying the house & garage. The Easter weekend helped with that and I was quite proud of my efforts to break up the shelving unit that formerly housed the mouse I might have mentioned using only a junior hacksaw. Just need the tip to reopen now. 


Dying To Believe - The Beths

Music I’m enjoying

Still listening to a lot of Ramones for reasons that will be obvious but this week I discovered how flipping great the Joey Ramone solo album is. It’s right up there with my favourite Ramones albums (though I should caveat that with the knowledge I have been largely listening to later Ramones LPs this week). 

On the new release front I’ve been hammering the Seazoo sophomore album and also really fallen in love with the latest from Charmpit ( stopped working for me on Saturday so the stats below aren’t completely accurate). 

Book Reading

Hey Ho, Let’s Go: The Story of the Ramones - Everett True: Definitely got my reading groove back now, finally finishing this, actually really excellent, biography of the Ramones. Everett’s love of the band comes through loud & clear but not to the detriment of telling their story.‬ There’s a lot of detail, especially early on, which probably contributed to my slow pace but it does a great job of explaining how the band survived so long and exploring the different perspectives of each member (though perhaps it is missing more detailed interviews with Johnny & Dee Dee). Renewed my love of the band and made me wish I’d managed to see them live. 

Other notes

Not managed quite as much music practice as I hoped. Only one proper go on Bass this week but I did record a couple of ukulele videos partly to inspire the ukulele group I’m in charge of but also in response to a few requests from ex-school pals. I even learned a new Bob Dylan tune specially. 

[Might add a video here if I get it uploaded somewhere other than Facebook]

My big TV discovery has been Schitt’s Creek, which got a mention in my top 5 sitcoms thing on Twitter. It’s a great length for a quick watch and by episode 3 I was hooked. It’s wickedly funny and there are enough episodes to keep me going for ages. 

I’ve also been catching up on podcasts. Listened to three episodes of Contraflow’s brilliant one hour playlists of new music. Contra’s music tastes are right up my street and every show has at least one new brilliant song I hadn’t heard before.

I also caught up with some of my pal Dan Whaley’s shows for Burgess Hill Radio. These are the closet thing to Mark Lamarr’s excellent BBC shows you’re likely to find and if that means anything to you I highly recommend them.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Chop’s Journal - 5 Apr 2020

Another week in lockdown completed and still symptom free. We’ve been out to shop, probably more often than I’d like but we’re getting bits for some of the old folk across the road. It’s definitely quieter but there are still people who clearly don’t get it. All things considered we’re doing fine, and whilst it’s difficult to do anything of real value work wise we have tidied the garage & completely cleaned up the kitchen cupboards. 

I also received the first few items from my mass Bandcamp ordering spree. 


Persona Non Grata - Bright Eyes

Music I’m enjoying

I’m reading Everett True’s biography of the Ramones so that’s why they’ve dominated my listening this week. I’m still only halfway through so they could feature for a while yet. I also had a good Curtis Mayfield session after reading the Guardian article on how to get into his music. 

Plenty of great new music though. I really love the latest Cable Ties album, it’s a big step up from their debut and the opening track is already a contender for my song of the year. Also enjoying albums by Margaret Glaspy, Myrkur & Dana Gavanski. 

Book Reading

The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett: This was a delightful read. Wonderful easy to read prose that imagines the Queen becoming an enthusiastic reader after discovering a mobile library visiting Buckingham Palace. My first read of Bennett and it’s made me hungry for more. He has a wonderfully light touch that makes reading him effortless but absolutely worthwhile. 

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Lockdown Top Fives - Week 2

Lockdown week 2 got under way celebrating Motörhead Monday which wasn’t to everyone’s taste before hitting a bigger topic of 80s albums. 

▪️Monday 30th: Motörhead songs #motorheadmonday
  1. Ace of Spades
  2. Overkill
  3. Motörhead 
  4. Killed By Death
  5. No Class
▪️Tuesday 31st: Albums of the 80s
  1. Surfer Rosa - Pixies
  2. Searching For The Young Soul Rebels - Dexys MR
  3. Document - R.E.M. 
  4. Misplaced Childhood - Marillion 
  5. Swordfishtrombones - Tom Waits 

We had a great midweek discussion on difficult books. That was interesting to see what different people thought were easy to read & I had a lot of feedback about Catch-22 from both points of view. 

▪️Wednesday 1st: Books you struggled to finish 
  1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy 
  2. Moby Dick - Herman Melville 
  3. Scenes From Clerical Life - George Elliot 
  4. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  5. Desolation Angels - Jack Kerouac

Thursday was really just a chance to share my love of Fulham’s most prolific striker, Gordon “Ivor” Davies. 

▪️Thursday 2nd: Childhood sporting heroes‬
‪1. Gordon Davies‬
‪2. George Best‬
‪3. Daley Thompson‬
‪4. Ian Botham‬
‪5. Jimmy Connors‬

Who doesn’t love a story about a bear that can talk?

▪️Friday 3rd: Fictional Bears 
  1. Paddington
  2. Whinnie The Pooh
  3. Iorek Byrnison
  4. Yogi Bear
  5. Fozzie Bear 

The weekend topic was a bit of an epic which resulted in me doing three top fives. 

▪️Saturday 4th: Song with numbers for titles
  1. 1969 - The Stooges
  2. Thirteen - Big Star
  3. 1,000,000 - R.E.M.
  4. 1234 - Feist 
  5. 19-20-20 - The Grates

▪️Songs with numbers that are years
  1. 1969 - The Stooges
  2. 1999 - Prince
  3. 1970 - The Stooges
  4. 1993 - Dananananaykroyd 
  5. 1984 - David Bowie / 1916 - Motörhead 

▪️Songs with your favourite number
  1. Thirteen - Big Star
  2. Thirteen - Johnny Cash / Danzig 
  3. Thirteen - Forward Russia 
  4. Undegtri - Y Niwl
  5. Thirteen - The Antlers