When the call came, Detective Inspector Quinnell was sitting in the shadows of a tree at the edge of the topmost escarpment of the Light and Jennings’ Agricultural Lime and Bulk Chalk Quarry.
Far below, a man called Spider moved shakily through the lunar eeriness of the excavations, nervously playing a flashlight beam over the path his instinct had told him to follow. His other hand held a baseball bat. Quinnell watched him turn a bend and stop. Something had given Spider pause, an ambiguity in the torch-lit future. He stood still. Without taking his eyes from the shape, he shouted, “Whoever you are, you’re f_ing mental – you nearly killed us both.”
Quinnell wheezed happily to himself. Forcing two fingers into his trouser pocket he turned off the mobile. It was time to inflict some pain.
Steppenwolf is the second track on Hawkwind’s 1976 album, Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music. The album marks a point of transition for the band. Bassist, Lemmy was gone and vocalist/ poet, Robert Calvert was back. There are space-rock wigouts in evidence, but songs like Back on The Streets point the way to the band’s taughter, more angular future. You can listen to Steppenwolf here.
No travelogue today. Too tired.
They found him in that little bit of time between sunset and dusk. He was still alive. But it was dark and M. Hergé and his colleague M. Goscinny had no medical training, so they assumed the worst. Besides, they were on a diplomatic visit from D_ville and had not expected murder to be part of the agenda.
The evening started promisingly enough. M Hergé and M. Goscinny were shown around the painting exhibition and introduced to Bamtree’s most important figures by the town’s mayor. But an hour after they arrived the mayor had been called away on urgent business, leaving the two men somewhat out of their depth in such parochially prestigious company. When the private view began to wind down and the guests were invited to explore the renovations going on in the rest of the Guild Hall, M Hergé and M. Goscinny were without a chaperone, and decided to take their leave. As Bamtree’s most important people made their way up the main staircase, M Goscinnyd made for the main door, but his attention was caught by what looked like an unusual piece of art deco sculpture down an ill-lit, ground floor corridor. On closer inspection, the sculpture proved to be a poor imitation. But just beyond it lay the gents toilets. M. Goscinny decided to pay a visit, while M Hergé waited outside. Switching on the light, Goscinny saw blood and cried out. M Hergé went to his colleague’s aid, and found he had stepped into the aftermath of a bloody pre-meditated killing.
Later, M. Goscinny would say, “We were not certain of protocols for this situation…” “Assuming there was no person with legal authority in the Guild Hall, we left the scene to seek assistance,” said M. Hergé. “To find a policeman,” said M. Goscinny.
“We had no idea finding that policeman would lead to such complications,” said M. Hergé.
Disappearer is the seventh track on Sonic Youth’s 1990 album, Goo. The album was the band’s first release on a major label and their most accessible work. It is often unfavourably compared to their previous album, Daydream Nation, (lacking that albums panoramic sweep) but nevertheless contains a number of great alternative pop/ rock nuggets. Disappearer was released as a single in 1990. You can listen to it here.
Kingsway is part of the A4200. It runs from High Holborn (in the London Borough of Camden) to the Aldwych (in the City of Westminster, and home of Bush House – the BBC’s old home). The road was formally opened in 1905 and linked the ancient routes The Strand and High Holborn. It’s 100 feet wide and a lot of slum dwellings were demolished to make way for it. They were replaced by mid-rise buildings in a neoclassical or neo-baroque style. We’re going to head north towards High Holborn…
There was still blood under the nail of her left index finger. She was tempted to suck it out, but felt sudden revulsion. Impossible – she couldn’t have done that. She walked along an alley dotted with overflowing dustbins; no one had been murdered – tomorrow must be bin day, she thought. For a moment she hesitated, frozen to the spot half way along the alley, ahead of her a frenzied version of herself dropped a bagful of bloodstained clothes into a wheelie bin.
Barrytown is the fourth track on Steely Dan’s 1974 album, Pretzel Logic. The track is a sharp dissection of class prejudice, wedded to searing sarcasm, and an upbeat backing track. “I can tell by what you carry that you come from Barrytown” being a sample lyric. You can listen Barrytown here.
So, having finished my ham sandwiches, I step out onto Kingsway. It’s a road with a lot of history…
This Side Of The Looking Glass, 2013
“That’s for later. If you want to get away with this, you must go back to your flat. Make a pretense at normal life. Leave only when it’s believable to do so. When you do, go to this address.” He handed her a folded piece of white paper. “The police will come in the next couple of days, so get yourself prepared for that.”
Tipping the ash from the end of his cigarette, he said, “Sorry I wasn’t there for you. Something unexpected -”
“Forget it,” she said, and stepped from his car onto the rain-slicked road. He had not actually betrayed her, he’d only let her down.
This Side Of The Looking Glass is the fifth track on Peter Hammill’s 1977 album, Over. The album’s about a break-up and is considered to be one of Hammill’s most intensely personal works. It’s a complex piece and he spares no one (least of all himself) as he skillfully dissects the situation the protagonists find themselves in. Over is passionate and at times crazed. This Side Of The Looking Glass was the only track to utilise a full orchestra. There’s a fantastic video of Peter Hammill performing the song on, (I think) French TV here.
So, I begin my travelogue at a desk, where I ate two ham sandwiches and stared at a computer screen. Not the most auspicious start perhaps.
Pass the ear-trumpet! This post is dedicated to Andy, David, Jeff and Simon.
This was taken on Kingsway, London, UK.
Cuckooland is an album by Robert Wyatt. It was released in 2003.
It was my first step into the world of Robert Wyatt and what a wonderful surprise. He is possessed of one of the most achingly, beautifully sad voices. He used to be in Soft Machine, and then Matching Mole, but I think I prefer him as a solo artist and he seems to get better with each new album.
Robert Wyatt is another artist who divides opinion, so I won’t go on…here’s the fourth track from the album, Forest.
In our house, this CD can be found: dining room, right-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.
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Thanks to the usual suspects (John, Deanne and Terry) for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our latest collaboration was posted on Richard’s blog last Sunday. Check it out.
Everything and Nothing, 2012
This was taken in Beckenham, UK.
Everything and Nothing is a sort of greatest hits album by David Sylvian.
It was released in 2000 and collects together some of his greatest songs (post Japan), along with unreleased material. Sylvian’s career has had a trajectory comparable in some ways to Scott Walker’s – in recent years his work has been willfully difficult and stunningly beautiful. Everything and Nothing is pre-difficult and if you fancy dipping a toe in the water, I would recommend this as a place to start. The songs on here are sumptuous, artful and filled with longing.
Track-listing and album details can be found here.
My favourite track on the album is the first: The Scent of Magnolia.
In our house this CD can be found: dining room, top shelf, right-hand bookshelves.
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