Hunting etcetera

Here is a short prose piece I wrote in about 1979. It is a poor imitation of a writer who I last mentioned here on the 3rd November 2011. So this can be an introduction to whatever I deliver as before promised.

A fabled beast, Scurzione by name, once withheld the advances of a pack of noble hunters. Noble, that is, in that they were of the nobility; not at all in any other sense. Indeed they were thoroughly petty individuals with their peevish rivalries and pompous airs. They were not without skill, however, in the practice of hunting. In short, Scurzione was hard stretched to evade their sharply pointed lances. Usually he never needed to exert himself in foiling clumsy attempts by groups of hunters on foot – always noisy and very often smelly. (This fabulous beast had a highly acute sense of both hearing and smell). But, on this occasion, he found himself having to run for his life, which seemed to him to be a tremendous loss of dignity – he set himself high standards. He was aware of his unique position as a legendary byword, a living example of the fantastic.

Still, he withheld their advances – what more need be said.

The distasteful young hunters eventually turned from this illustrious quarry and settled for a couple of roe deer and what seemed to be a giant mole – about three feet long, an outsize rodent with strong front feet (or paws if you prefer). It had put up virtually no opposition whatever to their brutal lance-thrusts, but its feet and nostrils twitched as it was carried along skewered victoriously on a blood-stained lance.

Let us pray that that will never be the end of Scurzione, that worthy quadruped of the inquisitive scaly snout and of the relaxed and indolently doleful eyes. Rather should he perish by his own impulse. No longer able to evade hunters on his old legs, weary and ready to die, he might fling himself into a fast-flowing river – abandoning his failing body to the swift current.

But to return to the present let us see Scurzione regain his breath, see him admit to himself that he had come close to death for a moment. He reached the top of an exposed rockface in the hillside. From this vantage point he could look down over the forest of beech and oak trees. In the distance rose the smoke of the human habitations which he had learnt to avoid. He had seen enough of these humans to know that they were true scoundrels who would kill (and probably eat) one without the slightest compunction. He had come to despise these landed gentry types most of all. They seemed to consider all types of life as provided for their benefit and amusement. When would their tyrannical arrogance ever be punished? When indeed.

But he felt superior to their violent ruthlessness – their stubborn selfishness. No doubt to feel himself superior was a mistake but he could not help it. He hurt nobody. He created a little beauty and mystery in the lives of those that perceived him – drinking at night in a sweet forest pool or just a flashing shadow seen at distance, through oak and holly trees. And he lived true to his own idea of beauty.

How he would have hated it if he had known that to the other creatures of the area – the deer and the pigs and the small antelope – he was nothing less than a ridiculous freak, a bizarre outsider with unfathomable habits whose existence meant nothing to them.

Thus can a fabled beast be greatly mistaken in his interpretation of the world he sees. Thus can the fable end – in disillusionment, always in disillusionment.

coathanger trail insects music


I noticed the other day that some nice person had put up a comment about a song of mine on Itunes which is called Coathanger. They say it would be a good song in an 80s Italian zombie film. I’ve just added a page to this blog with links to buying various songs of mine on Itunes including this one, which I’m linking to here. The song features myself on guitar and vocals, Paul Wigens on drums, Jeff Spencer on bass and I think the backing vocals are Jo Swan and Jeff.


Actually I prefer the demo version of the track which I recorded in October 2007 shortly after I’d written the song.

Here it is and below is what I wrote about it at the time.

But first – if you have any plans of making an Italian zombie film – please get in touch.

Coathanger Demo

I was working on the music for a possible song a few days ago and when I’d finished it and played around it with it a few times I realised that somehow I had gone back 30 years or so to about 1978 and written a Dry Rib song of that vintage. So then I had the idea to connect the words for the song with Dry Rib and make it in effect a song dedicated to the band.

There are a lot of obscure references to old songs and sometimes their lyrics. It’s a bit of a cryptic puzzle. It’s called Coathanger and I will explain that because I don’t think anyone else will know what that is about. In the early days of the band there was a song we did of mine which was called Cancer. The music was quite reasonable and the lyrics owed a lot to Vintage Violence/Paris 1919-era John Cale. For example,

And I, my heart, was with those gallant crewmen
As was the heart of every mother’s son
Yea and daughter too, I swear it, in the town

But right at the end of the song there was a repeated refrain :

And you aren’t anything other than a coathanger

It was probably that bit that led to the song being dropped so I think it is absolutely fitting now that I should resurrect its essence as a chorus and title.

The music put me in mind of Syd especially the instrumental link section between the end of the chorus and the start of the next verse, so I also put in a tribute to him with the snippets of my voice from a very old cassette tape of a rehearsal.

That’s the end of the bit from 2007 but I’d just like to add that the tribute to Syd Barrett in the other version of the song is the guitar solo at the end.

geology mixes music wells

Granite mix 4

Back in 1968 Aretha Franklin brought out an album which was called Aretha Now. I was 14 back then, my brother or my sister who were older than me had the album which contains 10 songs including Think; Say A Little Prayer; You Send Me and the one in this mix See Saw. I remember, I remember, I remember and I’m speechless.

Twenty-two years earlier in 1946 the BBC adapted Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost for radio and Gerald Finzi wrote the incidental music. Later he developed the music into an orchestral suite.

Over the last year or so I’ve been making some arrangements of a few instrumental pieces for solo guitar. One of the first ones I did was a setting of My Foolish Heart as played by Bill Evans. One day I hope to arrange Waltz For Debby for 2 guitars. There is much to…

Lejana y sola.

Paco Peña is one of my favourite guitarists. This recording comes from a Radio 3 programme which I think was broadcast sometime in the 90s. I don’t know the details of what the piece is, but it is, of course, beautiful.

And I’m pretty sure this is Nicanor Zabaleta although I don’t seem to have the cd any more and can’t find anything obvious on amazon (no link I’ll let you try that one yourself). Somewhere I’ve got some radio recording of a Gillian Tingay recital which I can’t seem to lay my hands on. It was easier when it was all vinyl. Still they did seem to go mysteriously missing even then.

I have written before about the 1st time I saw Kevin Ayers & The Whole World back in 1971, but I’m not going to trot it out right now, maybe later sometime. That was the year that whatevershebringswesing came out. I remember still hearing some of it first on John Peel‘s Sounds of the Seventies. A bit disappointed at first. But Song From The Bottom Of A Well in itself would justify the whole thing and there’s a couple of other classics.

Kevin was “born 16 August 1944 in Herne Bay, Kent” according to Wikipedia. According to the same source John Douglas Surman was born exactly 2 weeks later in Tavistock, Devon. Well that’s strange isn’t it, perhaps not. I think John Douglas is the first repeat I’ve made in this Granite series but as far as I am concerned he is much under-appreciated and is one of the finest British musical creators of the last 50 years.

John Lee Hooker was born in 1917, the same year as my father. In fact 99 days after my father’s birthday. 9 + 9 is 18 and if you subtract 1 from 18 you get 17. This is starting to get scary.

I also don’t have much to say about Gulzar and his film, Lekin because I don’t know much about him, but I always loved this Bollywood stuff after hearing it in Brick Lane curry houses in the late 70s and early 80s. Here’s a link for some incredible excerpt from some film with music by Hridaynath Mangeshkar and Gulzar.

And also I heartily recommend this film of John Fahey playing in 1969.

And for the end we have Nico, well her son’s on vocals. I love the presence of his breath intakes in between the song’s verses, for me that’s duende.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 4
Artist Title Album
Aretha Franklin See Saw Aretha Now
Gerald Finzi Music for Love’s Labour’s Lost: Alegretto grazioso Finzi – A Centenary Collection
Bill Evans Trio My Foolish Heart Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Paco Peña Unknown Radio Broadcast
Salzedo Chanson dans la Nuit Unidentified Nicanor Zabaleta album
Kevin Ayers & The Whole World Song From The Bottom Of A Well whatevershebringswesing
John Surman The Snooper Withholding Pattern
John Lee Hooker Blues Before Sunrise Unknown JLH Compilation
Gulzar & Hridaynath Mangeshkar Kesariya Balaam Gulzar’s Lekin
John Fahey Unknown Tango I Remember Blind Joe Death
Nico Le Petit Chevalier Desertshore