Monday Morning Blog World Tour Sponsored By My iTunes Shuffle……….May 14th 2012

………..I’d originally planned to do this on Sunday mornings – alas following a great wedding we went to in Manchester at the weekend the alcohol flow of the Saturday meant that my Sunday started seriously under the affluence of said incohol and therefore all I wanted yesterday morning was Nurofen and darkness.

However, having come back last night, I’m now fully recovered and so this week, for this week only(unless alcohol gets in the way again, which is very likely) , my easy Sunday morning is actually a Monday!

So this morning with my partner at work and my daughter at school,  it’s again a perfect time to visit the innumerable good blogs out there, most of which are about books, with the odd “mmmmmmmmmmmm I wonder what that’s like?” thrown in for good measure.

I usually like to listen to music while I’m reading or writing but on Sunday mornings (or Monday this week), I listen with my headphones to my iTunes library and I let my iTunes shuffle do the choosing for me.

As I read and wrote this morning, my iTunes shuffle served up the following musical breakfast (or perhaps dogs dinner as my family might call it!). If you read this I hope you find something you like or perhaps a prompt to dust off the cobwebs from some corner of your own music that you’ve not visited in a while!

The Music

1.On The Wing by Owl City (I love this album but I can only play it when I’m alone otherwise it gets shouted down as irritating electro-pop by my family – but if you like jolly, happy, tingly pop with the vocals oft-fed though vocoders then you might like this – reading that description back makes me think it might be a niche market!)

2. Satisfied by Hal (again all lovely harmonies and twanging country pedal guitars – some of the chorus sounds like lush West Coast US Beach Boys stuff before going into a kind of cacophony at the end – I love this album and the lyrics on this are good. I think they went into a bit of a fallow period after this album but I’m pretty sure Hal have made a follow-up lately and it got a decent review through Q – of course I may have imagined that last bit!)

3. Jocasta by Noah And The Whale (My family really dislike NATW – they call it music to get depressed to – but this is more upbeat – ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!)

4. In My Room by The Last Shadow Puppets (Least favourite track on the album – sorry Alex/Miles but this isn’t doing it for me – heave ho!)

5. Hurry Up And Wait (Live) by Stereophonics (Now this will do – although live I thought they were a bit flat – mind you it was in the bloody cavernous Millenium Stadium in Cardiff I saw them – think it needed a bigger and more outgoing personality than Kelly Jones to fill that great chasm)

6. Nothing In My Way by Keane (From the Iron Sea which I think is a bit underrated – think they have new album out today and it’s on the list!)

7. You’ll Never Walk Alone by Frank Sinatra (My partner and daughter are lifetime fully paid-up members of the Liverpool FC Club so they would have this! – as a Man U fan this is NOT FOR ME IN CAPITAL LETTERS! Heave ho!)

8. House Where We All Live by The Veils – (I got this years ago as a present through a friends recommendation. I’d never heard of the Veils at that point but I love this – very Gallic shrug and a bit of a ‘torch’ song!)

9. Birds Flew Backwards by Doves (Doves are one of my favourite bands but this is from Kingdom of Rust which is their most disappointing album for me – however good old iTunes has at least picked out one of the tracks on it that I really like!)

10. Sean by The Proclaimers (The lads from Leith!!!!! I love The Proclaimers. Went to see them in the tent at one of festivals few years ago – place was rammed full of sweaty exiled Jocks all screaming out every word – they are right up there for me with Sir Alex Ferguson, Glenmorangie, Irn Bru, Scottish Pies and Ian Rankin as truly great things to come out of Scotland!)

11. I Saw The Dead by Villagers (Great song, great singer, great band. Saw them support Elbow last year and thought they were fantastic)

12. Try And Love Again by The Eagles (What’s not to love about the Eagles! So it ages me! So I’m old – who cares!)

13. One Light In A Dark Valley by Harry Chapin (It comes from the wonderful Dance Band On The Titanic. I think he’s so under-rated – this is a blast from my hairy, hippy student days!)

14. Sonnet by The Verve (Another song I love musically and lyrically. Heard Richard Ashcroft being interviewed about Urban Hymns on Steve Lamacq’s show a couple of weeks ago – he sounded really proud of this song and the whole album and so he should be – great stuff!)

15. She Speaks by Paul Weller (I’ve gotten more and more into Paul Weller as the years go by – I tend to prefer the more recent stuff like this from the ‘Wake Up The Nation’ album. Mind you I still love singing along with Walls Come Tumbling Down or Headstart For Happiness as well!)

16. Green Gloves by The National. (The National are one of those bands who always seem to get great reviews but a slightly underwhelming response from music fans in the UK. Which is a shame if you ask me. I think they write great songs and this is one!)

17. Jack, You Dead by Joe Jackson (I bought this in the 80’s. Most of my mates at the time thought I’d finally lost the plot – but for a small group of us, the songs from Jumpin Jive became theme tunes to our drunken evenings, of which we had many! God knows how many times I’ve stumbled the streets of Glasgow bawling out “What’s The Use Of Getting Sober If You’re Gonna Get Drunk Again”!)

18. A Scanner Darkly by Primal Scream (Another of my favourite bands but I’m not blind to their inconsistency – occasionally they throw up a stinker – this is one of them!)

19. Cool Cool River by Paul Simon (Lovely rhythms on this as there is on everything on Rhythm Of The Saints – I’d get up and dance but my knees have gone – fortunately!)

And to finish…..

20. Jumpin Jive by Joe Jackson (My iTunes obviously realised how much I loved “Jack You Dead!” so it’s come back to Jumpin Jive album for the title track! It’s great and allows me to sing one of my favourite lyrics of all time ” the jim-jam-jump is the jumpin jive, makes you nine foot tall when you’re four foot five!” – if only it could for a short-arse like me!)

Blog Stuff

This morning I found a reference to a bookmark listing 50 books to read before you die on the Reading Matters blog. I’d already gone through the tome 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die which a friend bought for me last year, to see how many I had read!!! So, anal-retentive that I am, I went through the 50 books listed on the book mark to see how many I had read (I’d read 33 of them) and as I read the list, which was supposed to be a mix of classics by great writers, I was surprised to read that things like Mark Haddon’s “Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime” and Phillip Pulman’s “Dark Materials” trilogy had been included. They wouldn’t have struck me as classics in the same vein as some of the others (The Bible, Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, works by Shakespeare and by Chaucer and a fair smattering of Austen’s and Bronte’s and Dickens etc). However even though I didn’t really get their fit to classics, I’d read them so happily included them in my tally of 33! 33 out of 50 – satisfied smirks all round then!!!!

‘Give Yourself To The Dark Side, Luke. It Is The Only Way You Can Save Your Friends……….’

……….Ah yes! I’m just sufficiently nerdy enough to know and use a Darth Vader quote (and of course if you are reading this were you just sufficiently nerdy enough to recognise it?!) But I won’t pursue the Star Wars stuff any further for what I need to post on – or confess to – is an entirely different kind of Dark Side!

Behold – The Dark Side!

Yes I am almost ashamed to admit we have succumbed to the lure of the Kindle. It was bought for my partner, as a birthday present from her sister, last week. Now I worry about having one of these. I genuinely feel I’m being disloyal to books – and in my mind a book and an e-book are not connected but two very different and entirely separate things. I’ve posted before on what books mean to me and it’s much more than the words inside and the story they tell. I love them for their look, their feel and their smell. I love them as possessions and one of my favourite things about the house where we now live is that I now have a wonderful study, more than big enough to house most of my book collection. Is there anything more beautiful than rows of bookshelves! Well if I’m honest – there is! My partner, my daughter and the view of Ailsa Craig at Dunure in Ayrshire spring to mind for me for starters! But bookshelves are still up there for me – there’s something warm and welcoming and homely about them and in this room I live surrounded by them! (I have an Alexander Smith quote on my iPhone which sums up perfectly what my room of books means to me: “I go into my library and all history unfolds before me. I breathe the morning air of the world while the scent of Eden’s roses yet lingered in it, while it only to the first brood of night!) I admit it – I’m in love with my books, I’m in love with this room and consequently I practically live in this room (not only for my books and my desk but it’s also more than big enough to house my CD collection with the added benefits of a surround sound cinema system built-in and a 50 inch TV on one wall  – it’s a kind of book-loving-music-listening-Cricket-And-Football-And-Every-Other-Sport-Watching paradise really! And now into this personalised Garden Of Eden I’ve let in The Serpent Kindle!

(I’ve just read over that last paragraph and it sounds very “look at me, La De Da Gunner Graham, and up my own backside!” I’m sorry about that – I’m just trying to convey that I’m lucky enough to have this great place that’s pretty much perfect for everything I like and from there try to show what a risk I’m taking with a Kindle!)

There are a number of things which worry me – admittedly irrationally – about the Kindle and yet I think I’m going to like it – and that’s what worries me most of all. I’m anxious that I might like it too much and I’ll be somehow unfaithful to my books! But still we’ve succumbed. And the reason is time. I already look for ways to find time to read books, to read what other people write about books they’ve read and to write about the books I’ve read myself – and I’m struggling.

When I was a teacher and doing proper work in classrooms, I frequently used the poem “First Day At School” by Roger McGough as a writing stimulus. These days, the beginning of that poem comes to my mind frequently when I read other people’s blogs – I actually paraphrase the beginning of it in my head, as I ponder about book bloggers when I read their stuff on my laptop or on my iPhone

“Why are they all so big, other bloggers?
So quick? So much at home they
Must have been born in a blog
Lived all their lives in Word Press!”

I read on one blog, (I think it was Book Snob’s blog ,though not sure) where someone asked Rachel how she finds the time to read as many books as she does and part of the answer stuck in my head – it was about always having a book handy and wanting to use every spare second and available opportunity to read! And it’s that more than anything that influenced me to let in The Serpent Kindle! I tried reading an e-book of Muriel Spark Short Stories for Muriel Spark Week last month – and I liked it. However the iPad’s a bit too big and heavy for reading while walking – and that’s where I think the Kindle will come into its own. I spend a lot of my time out walking our recently acquired puppy Beau, and I use the time for reading other blogs or Twitter on my phone. Other times I bung my iPod in my pocket and listen to reading podcasts while walking Beau (I got that idea from Jottings With Jasmine!). But it’s still not reading a book. I road-tested the Kindle in a shop and knew it would fit into one hand and into the back pocket of my jeans or the pocket of my waterproof jacket – so when my partners sister phoned me to say she was thinking of buying a Kindle as a birthday gift, I very selfishly and shamefully encouraged it!

But my intentions were honourable and faithful to my books – I swear. Look!

……….Behold – The Friends I’m Trying To Save!

This is my Waiting In The Wings On The Top Shelf collection at the moment! Normally I’d have between 8 and 10 books waiting – as you can see I’ve currently got way more than that (and more ordered and on the way!) So I need to find more ways of using my time to read – and I think the Kindle can help!

Now I also spent around 15 mins a day in the shower…………..I wonder if there’s anyway to make my iPad waterproof so I could type up my blog posts earlier in the day…………………………………………?????????????????????????????!

P.S. If you don’t know Ailsa Craig at Dunure in Ayrshire, here it is below!

Is there anywhere more desolately and heart-achingly beautiful than this part of Scotland?! Not for me there isn’t!