Tag Archives: The Blue Nile

Only Robinson Crusoe Had Everything Done By Friday……….Something For The Weekend July 13th

After all things Scottish to link with Andy Murray in the Wimbledon Final and all things music to link with the Isle Of Wight Festival, I thought I’d have another theme this weekend – and what could be more apt than rain. We’ve got bucketloads of the stuff! After the wettest June since records began we apparently have had the average rainfall for July arrive in many areas in a period of 24 hours! This year, more than I can ever remember, the British Summer seems little more than the odd break between black clouds!

But what the hell – I’m from Glasgow and the one thing Glasgow prepares you for in life, above everything else, is rain – though preparation for “deep frying food” is a close second!

Something To Listen To……….

In recognition of all things Glasgow and wet, what could be a better combination than Deacon Blue’s Raintown. I bought this in 1987 when it was first released. I loved it – I thought it sounded great, I loved the voices of both Ricky Ross and Lorraine MacIntosh, the songs were clever and different and Ricky Ross had a kind of 1980’s mullet like I did! Since then much has changed but I think it’s an album that’s stood the test of time – at least it’s held up a damn sight better than my hairstyles!

Donkey’s years ago, back in those dark days when we had tape recorders, I taped a live Deacon Blue gig – I recorded it from Radio Clyde I think or it might have been Radio 1!  Anyway, the best bit was that it was Deacon Blue live in Glasgow for New Year – and they played a stomping version of Queen Of The New Year of course. I played that tape to death – eventually it just gave up and to be honest I was near to tears. These days I think Deacon Blue might be a bit of a guilty pleasure for some people but there’s no guilt about it for me – I loved everything they did and always will! If you like Deacon Blue there’s a comprehensive site which tells you everything you’d ever want to know about them, and some things you probably won’t want to know, at Glasgow Skyline.

Something To Watch……….

This is cheating a bit, but the best song ever with “rain” in the title is the gorgeous Tinseltown In The Rain by The Blue Nile. Here it is on  Later With Jools Holland – worth watching – honest!

Something To Read……….

I‘m struggling to maintain a theme on rain here as I’ve just started Karen Lord’s Redemption In Indigo – it’s set in Africa and is the re-telling of a Senegalese folk tale. Not much connection with rain I guess – however if the weather forecast is correct for this weekend, while there might not be much rain between the pages of the novel itself, it’s going to be battering off the windows here in Essex as I’m reading it!

I’m reading it as part of The Readers Summer Book Club and as you expect with that kind of book list, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag – some of the books were those I’d have read anyway and have loved them, but some were things I’d never have touched – and so far, of those, some have been great and a real surprise, and others haven’t been my thing at all – but I loved having a go at the book club list anyway!

I’m about half way through Redemption In Indigo but already I know it’s going to be one of those what I would never have chosen myself but that I will really enjoy!

I can’t think of a book with “rain” in the title that I have ever read. I do have one on my shelves, Jonathan Coe’s “The Rain Before It Falls”, but I’ve not read it yet (and it’s been on my shelves a couple of years I have to admit.) Coincidentally, I read a review of it the other day on someone else’s blog – but for the life of me I can’t remember whose blog it was! But it was a good review and left me thinking “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm – maybe not!”.  As a result I won’t be reading it any time soon I don’t think!

Something To Eat……….

With only a week now to go of the school year, my daughter has been in full sleepover mode this weekend! After spending Friday sleeping over at her friends house, where they seem to have talked for much longer than they slept, they both spent Saturday night with us – the ratio of sleep to talk improved a bit, but not my much!

However with the kids here we had one of those ‘pick at delicious things’ dinners – all from good old Marks and Spencers and the best were the gorgeous barbeque spare ribs – if you’re in M and S you should try them – they are great!

Messy to eat of course – but great!

Something To Learn Off By Heart……….

I am still learning snippets of poetry off by heart in the hope it will help preserve my memory – though my family might say there wasn’t much there to start with! – and help to stave off the onset of old age. This small piece is by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and as I’m a bit of an old romantic in my head at least, he’s one of my favourite poets!

I’m actually reading Emily Dickinson at the moment – it’s kind of like returning to my youth. I read her work voraciously when I first discovered it at the age of about 15. Since then I’ve read the odd poem here and there but it’s been some time since I read through a collection of her work – and already I can honestly say, I missed you Emily!

It feels like putting on a favourite old jacket, it wraps around you and feels comfortable and right. Much to my family’s amusement, and sometimes horror, I have a collection of t-shirts, jackets, and sweatshirts that I’ve had for years – and I mean more than 15-20 years! We call them my “old campaigners!” If Emily Dickinson was a t-shirt, she’d be an old campaigner!

And Finally, Something To Remember……….

I read the other day in the Guardian the tragic news, that Gabriel Garcia Marquez will no longer be able to write as the dementia from which he suffers now prevents it. The news was released to the media by Garcia Marquez’s brother. It left me feeling so sad that life would somehow perversely take away from this great writer the very skill that defined him and that even more perversely, the cause of the dementia was the chemotherapy which had initially saved him from cancer. It seems to me such a cruel thing to happen to any writer, and indeed to anyone at any time.

But of course, Gabriel Garcia Marquez isn’t just any writer. He was one of the most influential of his time, much loved in his native South America and around the world and a Nobel Prize winner in the 1980’s. I’ve loved every one of his books that I’ve read – ,”One Hundred Years Of Solitude”,  “Of Love and Other Demons”, “News Of A Kidnapping”, “Love In The Time Of Cholera” and my own favourite “The General In His Labyrinth”. I’m currently keeping a re-read on the go at the moment – my next one will be a Garcia Marquez, just to remind me how good a writer he was and how much I enjoyed his writing over the years.


Only Robinson Crusoe Had Everything Done By Friday……….Something For The Weekend 6th July 2012

……….The last time I posted about a selection of things for the weekend was just before I headed off to the Isle Of Wight festival and so pretty much all of it was about music. This weekend, with Andy Murray in the final of the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon, I’m going for all things Scottish!

Something To Watch………..

Andy MurrayEasy choice to start with. It’s got to be the Mens Final.

At last we have a Brit in the final – and more importantly he’s Scottish. Murray has performed well at Wimbledon several times but until now he’s always fallen at one of the late hurdles – and a couple of times the last hurdle! But not this time. He’s been terrific in the last two games against Tsonga and Ferrer and now he’s in the Final to play against Federer. It’s a terrific achievement when you consider the last time a Biritish player made the final was 1938! However if he doesn’t win, he’ll still get slaughtered by the idiotic sections of the British media and it would seem a considerable number of his fellow countrymen here in the UK. It seems madness to me – the guy’s a wonderful tennis player so you’d think the whole country would be behind him. But sadly it isn’t – though I have a feeling the proportions behind him will be pretty high in Scotland itself – and why shouldn’t it be! I’ve also got the feeling that he himself will be devastated if he doesn’t win – I’d reckon he didn’t employ Lendl as his coach to get him to Grand Slam finals – he employed him to help him win them so I think they’d see anything less than a win as failure. I’ll just be glued to it, fervently hoping Murray will win. If he does, I’ll be the proudest of Scotsmen (and that’s pretty proud, for I’m a proud Scotsmen most of the time anyway!)

Go On Murray My Son!!!!!!!!!!!

Something To Listen To………

About 6 weeks ago, Paul Buchanan released a new album, his first solo album since the eventual demise of The Blue Nile. You may of course have heard of neither. The Blue Nile were first a cult band in Scotland in the mid-80’s before going on to be much-loved favourites of many people across the world – but with an output of 4 albums in 22 years they were never aiming for world domination. I first heard The Blue Nile one Sunday night on Annie Nightingale on Radio 1. At the time I lived in a flat with two other blokes and had just started my teaching career in Scotland. A song called “Heatwave” came on – I’d never heard anything like it. Next day I bought their debut album, A Walk Across The Roofstops and have been an avid fan ever since. The music is beautiful, haunting and gentle, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes hopeful. Paul Buchanan is now in his mid-50’s – he feels like somebody I’ve grown up with!

His first solo album, Mid-Air, was released in May. Around that time he appeared on Jools Holland’s ‘Later’ – it was stunningly beautiful. This is the title track from the album as it sounded that night with Jools Holland himself playing piano. Have a listen, it’ll take your breath away!

Something For Sky Plus……….

Nicola BenedettiNicola Benedetti, the Scottish violinist with the movie star looks is on South Bank Show on Sky Arts 1 this weekend. Although from an Italian family, she was born in Ayrshire and still has a lovely Scottish accent!! She’s got a reputation for being glamorous of course, but equally she has a reputation for being very down to earth and very, very talented.

The programme follows her working as a violinist on the road, with children in schools and her preparations to return to Scotland to play with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The programme is also partly about the instrument she plays – in her case a 300 year old Stradivarius worth apparently £3 million! Ordinarily I’m more of an Indie music fan than a classical music fan, but I saw Nicola Benedetti on another programme on BBC 3 and she came across really well – so I’ll watch this and I reckon I’ll enjoy!

Something To Read……….

A Scots Quair by Lewis Grassic GibbonInspired by another blog, HeavenAli, I’ve chosen a few books to re-read over the summer. One of those is one of my favourite books set in Scotland, Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s “A Scots Quair”. I first read it when at Uni in the early 1980’s – it was bought for me as a gift by a friend at the time and I read it almost non-stop to find out about the lives of first Chris Guthrie and her brother Will, and then of her son Ewan, in the desolate, bleak but beautiful North East of Scotland. A ‘quair’ is the old Scots word for a book – and this is a Trilogy made up of ‘Sunset Song’, about Chris’ adolescence and hard life growing up on the farms of Kinraddie, ‘Cloud Howe’ following Chris’ life through her two marriages, the second one to a Church Of Scotland minister, and the third book ‘Grey Granite’ with Chris moving to the city of Duncairn and with her son by her first marriage, Ewan Tavendale, coming into the books as a main character.

Vivien Heilbron in Sunset Song

There’s something poignant and lonely in the books, and the harsh realities of life of the time are laid bare on the pages, but it’s a beautifully written book. In the 70’s and then again in the 80’s there were television programmes made on each of the three books, with Vivien Heilbron in the role of Chris Guthrie – I loved the series as much as I’d loved the books. It’s perhaps the re-read I’m most looking forward to over the summer!

Something To Learn Off By Heart……..

The Little White Rose by Hugh MacDiarmid

I’m cheating a bit here as this piece of poetry is one of my absolute favourites – so I already know it off by heart and in my sleep – but as I’m thinking of things Scottish it couldn’t be more apt. This is Hugh MacDiarmid’s “The Little White Rose”. The only part of it I want to change – for this weekend at least – is the heartbreak! This weekend, for Andy Murrray and for all of Scotland, I hope we have joy and something wonderful to celebrate come Sunday evening!

Take It Away Frank! A 1-2-3-4 “Nice And Easy (With Tea) Does It Every Time……….

……….To be honest, this is a bit of a “What An Old Fart I’ve Become!” post!

So if that isn’t your thing, isn’t in your sphere of understanding (i.e. you’re young!) or is a bit too close to your sphere of understanding (i.e. “you are ages with myself” – I love that phrase as it saves me uttering the word “fifty”!), then look away now as they say when they give you that two nano-second pause to get out of the room before they read the football results on BBC News just before Match Of The Day starts (I reckon only Dash from The Incredibles ever watches The News and then Match Of The Day without knowing all the scores!)

When I woke up this morning, on my first walk of the day (in pouring rain again!) with the dog, I flicked through Twitter and read the stuff from other insomniacs I follow and the stuff that was tweeted late last night. It included a series of tweets from Ian Rankin who was finishing his birthday with three whiskies and three great songs to ease him gently into the night.

He chose

1. A Macallan Gran Reserva to accompany The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s “Faith Healer”. (At this stage therefore I’d say Mr Rankin isn’t going THAT gently into the night!)

2. A Springbank Cask 315 to accompany The Blue Nile’s “Walk Across The Rooftops”. (Now that’s more like it for Mr Rankin’s gentle sway into the night. One of the most beautiful albums ever – and that’s not an opinion – THAT’S A FACT!)


3. A Highland Park Rebus 20 to accompany Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine” ( Oh dear – by this stage it’s clear Mr Rankin is too pissed to go gently anywhere! – if he doesn’t have a hangover this morning from the booze he’ll have one from Hawkwind anyway!)


It got me thinking about my gentle ease into the weekend, which started this morning.

One of the things I’ve got into recently are herbal and fruit teas – yes I know it’s dull and not as rock n’ roll as Mr Rankin and his malt whiskies, but then he’s not facing the arrival later today of three friends of my 9 year-old daughter for a 4-girl sleepover she’s having (God help me!!!! – It may not be whisky to start today but I feel I’m going to need one or seven by the end of it – if I survive till then!)

In addition to tea, I eased myself into today with three lovely beautiful albums and some poetry. So, I chose

1. A cup of Strawberry and Mango to get me started with a bit of colour ( a deep, full, luscious red, like the rims of my eyes!) and this accompanied Hats by The Blue Nile. (THIS is the work of a genius!)

2. A cup of Lemon and Ginger to rouse my senses (and it clears the tubes for an old man like me) and this accompanied Songs From Northern Britain by Teenage Fanclub

3. A cup of Nettle and Peppermint (as haven’t done daily ablutions like brushing teeth yet!) and this accompanied For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver.

Accompanying all of the above was:-

Scanning The Century. The Penguin Book Of The Twentieth Century In Poetry.

There is inevitably so much that’s good in an anthology on this scale, but today I particularly enjoyed Edwin Muir’s “The Horses” (again!) and Douglas Dunn’s “The Clothes Pit” (for the first time)

Lovely! I feel relaxed and at ease and wide awake. Now to venture forth into the abyss known around here as “The Garage” and see if I can find those sleeping bags (……….and maybe a mallet?!!!!!!!!!)