Thursday, 26 November 2009


Off to London...emergency research later...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Bowler Hats and Abergavenny

I am asked by Marcus whether bowler hats are ever acceptable in Abergavenny. I immediately despatched a research team to the more recondite end of the dank corridor that runs the entire length of the east wing of the Turn Up library. There, behind a rusty doorknob, lies the expanse of archive room twelve, containing the as-yet uncatalogued delights of the Ramjollock Collection, which has been held in strict scuggery for decades. I have a notion that the team may be able to ferret out something useful from the piles of papers that gather dust there, and I anticipate their report as we speak. Until they reappear we may have time for speculation.

What sort these days wears a bowler hat? There was a time, of course, when the average High Street seen from above would be a river of jostling bowlers surging in from the gasworks end. Bank Managers and the like felt naked without them, which may have contributed to their demise in the nineteen sixties as laxer morals and more frequent displays of public nudity took hold in the more august of our financial institutions. I’m sure most of us well remember those heady days when bankers and chandeliers went inevitably hand in hand.

But what of Abergavenny? Did any of this social turmoil impinge upon the timeless splendour of the town that nestles innocently in its beautiful surroundings? Crispin St Peters found his way there of course and I once saw him perform in a pub in Sidcup, so Abergavenny’s innocence may only be a facade. If only we could find a peg on which to hang these theorems and suppositions.


Pegs may be the answer. Bowler hats sit beautifully upon a peg behind an old ornate wooden door because the entire rim can lie neatly against the grain, and there’s a good few suitable doors in Abergavenny. So perhaps the answer to Marcus’ enquiry is yes, but only when removed from the head and hung up out of harm’s way.

Ah! I hear the thunder of rapidly approaching footsteps. The footfall of a team of researchers is unmistakeable with their long coats flapping like runaway tongues through a light morning mist. They suddenly burst into view, rheumy-eyed and damp with exertion.

“Well, did you find anything useful?”

“That we did! A bowler hat is not a sausage!”

Monday, 23 November 2009

Strange Rumblings

Here at Turn Up we like to keep our eyes to the ground. No, eyes are all over the place; ears are to the ground. We have a number of shadow departments, in fact, all of which operate in the background to keep the bit you see running smoothly, rather like the below-water portion of an iceberg. One such department is Surveillance. No, we don’t waste our time in clandestine operations watching people, not unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Anyway, I was on duty last week when it came to my attention that unusual movements were due to occur on Saturday near Burford in Oxfordshire. I seconded my dearest into the subterfuge and she drove us out to a small hamlet where the swollen River Windrush swept beneath a Cotswold stone bridge. A swan bobbed beside a rustling reedbed. The sky was slate grey and bursts of rain raked our cheeks like shrapnel as we left the shelter of the car. As is often the case in these situations, a hostelry happened to occupy the nearest building so we went in to see what we could see. All was alarmingly normal, that is if the Daily Telegraph food writer signing copies of her latest book is to be regarded as normal. We approached the bar with assumed names and found that a table had been booked in those very names. The world waited for something to happen. We joined it, sure that we had picked up a trail of some sort.

It wasn’t long before our quarry showed themselves, darting for cover in out of the surrounding inclemency. Well, you can’t go anywhere these days without crossing paths with someone or other from the depths of time’s hinterland. Fragrant Mary was taken quite by surprise. Why that should have been so, accompanied as she was by that operator sine qua non, Mister Richardson, he himself a shadowy figure, is beyond the scope of our present abilities to answer. Things soon settled down, however, and she was to be observed cutting capers all afternoon, accompanied by an eager soundtrack of intense mastication.

We chewed the fat, we sucked the bones, we batted the breeze. We chased tails up hill and down dale, and round the houses. We had sorties, lunges, coughs and tea. Seeds for the future tumbled in profusion. We may have been no nearer to a conclusion, but the satisfaction is always to be had in the journey.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


I don’t know whether anyone else is having trouble signing on to comment on the blog. Judging by the lack of comments either you are or you are waiting for a relevant topic to emerge or there is no-one out there. I tried to mention to Sunny a couple of weeks ago that I appreciated her comments, and found that I could only approach from certain well-defined directions, definitions I was not immediately prepared to adopt. But don’t be afraid to email my fridge.

I also notice that the time indicated on my blogs is always incorrect, so there may be a conspiracy afoot. I’ll take the matter up with our crack team of experts, who will shortly swing into action.

I think the payment arrangements for sales will be up and running shortly. A Turn Up Recordings page will also be available. The Pig’s Eye View retrospective is compiled and has undergone some remastering. The artwork will be completed when the camera battery is recharged. It’s quite a package, I can tell you.

Fragrant Mary has suggested that web space could be made for unusual snacks (reference the idea I mentioned for the distribution of edible samples a few posts back). Food is clearly uppermost for some, and we are here to pander to the full range of your outlandish desires. Our modus operandi is to anticipate what you may require before you know it yourself, and have the blind faith to deliver on the basis that you will be too polite to reject something so well-intentioned. As a method it can be hit and miss, although, for some of our more discerning clientele, the experience remains exquisite.

Talking of Blind Faith, I just gave ‘I Had To Cry Today’ a quick spin. It’s still amazing after all these years.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Unexpected Knowledge

If life was predictable we could never experience discovery. If things remained constant and changeless, there would be nothing unusual. One of the important characteristics of knowledge is that before it is known it is unknown. I speak from the individual perspective rather than collectively, and after some personal confrontation with the subject.

Of course there are those for whom the capacity for surprise has been stifled or has completely atrophied through lack of use, usually self-inflicted. It is possible to so arrange one’s own environment that anything not already catalogued is excluded, so that only the already trodden path is trodden again. And again.

Fortunately, there are those who thirst for the odd, the strange, the quirky, who long to hear the mighty crack of the unexpected. Explorers of the long way home, such as Orville Quantock, have waged a campaign on behalf of the obtuse for many years. In order to facilitate his endeavours, he applied for charitable status. This has been refused him, however, on the spurious ground that his object is subject to a lack of definition. And this, despite his apoplectic attempt at quantum justification. His avowed intention to orchestrate a mass revelationary moment has thereby been undermined, at least for the time being. But, time being what it is, he regroups every evening with the assistance of the amber filter and three or four stout companions. Plans are always afoot.

It is a campaign with which Turn Up has a great deal of sympathy. Whilst we would never advocate wholesale absorption of the man and his peculiarities, even if such a thing were possible, we are prepared to extend an acknowledgment in his direction.

Indeed, Turn Up would itself be virtually pointless in the absence of the full panoply of the Laws of Uncertainty, Digression and Pop-Up, in all their majesty and extent.

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Video Evidence

It is always a moment of quiet contemplation when a Turn Up artist such as Echo Road receives independent notice. If you would care to proceed to you will find a special few moments captured in a magic lantern show of rare dimension.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Doing It

Well, an Echo Road performance finally happened. We played six songs acoustically, with the help of the PA of course, and had a good reception. It appears we’re not just whistling in the wind. I felt that the two acoustic guitars worked well with each other and the vocals came across clearly. Possibly a bit too heavy on the reverb in one or two spots, but that can be trimmed next time. We did one cover (Dead Flowers) and the rest were originals.

The Angie Hughes Band also played. They sounded good. Marcus’ mandolin and Adrian’s percussion augment Angie very tastefully, achieving a good blend.

And the photo exhibition is well worth seeing. It’s all inspired by music, and there’s quite a variety of styles. As always, Ice Bytes is ready to welcome punters and the exhibition is certain to run for a while, so get on down there.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Echo Road

Friday the Thirteenth and Echo Road will be playing at the Snapzology exhibition at Ice Bytes, along with The Angie Hughes Band. Do come; you’ll have the opportunity to hear ‘White’, the lyrics to which I put up here yesterday, and which were exactly one year old. John Rose already had the tune and the two melded together the instant they were introduced.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Armistice Day


If my words took flight
They would find your ear
No distance too far
No whisper too near

You may not recall
You’ll never forget
Every step of the way
Will get you there yet

White on the water
On river on sea
Something that caught ya
Reminds you of me

A flash of a lens
A trick of the light
Signals in colours
Gradations of white

When nothing is the same
And happens despite
I climb from my knees
And try as I might

White on the water
On river on sea
Something that caught ya
Reminds you of me

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

An Introduction

Ready or not, ready or not, I am reminded by Mr Quantock that we live in times of flux. The balance of the spheres alters, levers spin, lines of communication are cut. Strange realignments ensue and in turn will become contemptible through familiarity.

You may not have been introduced to Orville Quantock. The man is an enigma, has the constitution of an ox and processes thought at light speed through a quicksilver mind. Yes, he has blind spots, a tendency towards the pedantic and unopened correspondence, but these are mere diversions. He is able to formulate theories on most subjects, sometimes even in areas in which he has not previously dabbled.

I am able to speak with authority about the man and his doings from two impeccable sources; my own observation, and, more thoroughly, his own explanatory utterances. I believe that I have been privileged in the latter arena probably through the application of my interpretive skills.

Nevertheless, he is not a man with whom one could be said to stand constantly eye to eye. For example, on hearing of this side gate into cyber-space, Orville immediately assumed that its sole purpose was for the dissemination of his peculiar views. “Don’t be foolish,” I was swift to respond, “opinions are like arseholes; everyone’s got one!”

Well, he’s a man of the last word, as you’ll have guessed by now, and was equally quick to point out the unoriginality of my observation.

“Notwithstanding,” said I, “it still resonates in the pith.”

Monday, 9 November 2009

A Visitation

The sun had withdrawn from its daily duty. The temperature dropped and a keen breeze picked up. I went out to shuffle the cars on the driveway. An old familiar voice sang out, “Oi, Knickers!” from down the road, causing me to look up. The unmistakeable outline of Nick Matthews (yes, the infamous sculptor himself) lurched into the circle of light beneath a streetlamp. Serena and he had arrived in a vehicle that could have quite comfortably encircled the Moon.

Well, we’re a little bit older and a little bit wiser now, but from a sense of unrestrained humanity we decided to put all that aside. Claire joined the party and the five of us embarked upon the business of the evening. What was this transaction, you enquire? Hah! The research would be pointless if I could tell you that. Hard-won nuggets of knowledge should not be so lightly relinquished, I can tell you.

One thing is for certain. Caroline’s curries were the stuff of legend. I’m not sufficiently equipped to divulge recipes hereabouts, but I recommend you keep a weather eye out for the chance of a taster. Unrealistic, you may think. However, I think there may be some mileage in the addition of a new culinary division to the Turn Up empire, specifically to deal with the demand for mail order samples of particular recipes. Or maybe for a short-lived promotion. Just a mouthful, reheated with care, popped in the gob for a truly succulent experience. Bob really could become your uncle. A slogan begins to form, something about Bob a Gob week.

Friday, 6 November 2009

A Package Arrives

A package arrives. I open it. Nestling amongst the swaddling bubblewrap is a compact disc. It is by and from my friend Stuart Mills. Blessed with the gift of a golden voice, Stuart has sung in bands ever since I first met him too long ago for human beings to be able to properly recall. Now he has finally recorded an album of well-chosen covers. It has a good warm feel to it, and I particularly like the original song on it, Time Goes By. I’m not sure whether it is generally available, but enquiries can be made if anyone wants to explore.

MPs demand answers over Nutt sacking screams the headline. You couldn’t make it up, could you?

I see Marcus has managed to channel the late Stanley Unwin on the home page. This ability must be encouraged, fostered, nurtured, teased out and displayed wherever possible. It is the duty of all who encounter Marcus to put a pint of cider in front of him and talk nonsense to him, since this seems to be the fuel on which he operates. I only have a few opportunities per week to do so and others must shoulder some of the responsibility. It is for the greater good. You know it makes ninsense.

And there’s a fine example of a typo, which has led to the dictionary, originally christened the Typorific Dictionary, now given a corporate makeover as the Turn Up Dictionary. You will hear (I mean read) more on this subject. Assume the position and brace yourselves.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Jessi's Birthday

It’s Jessie’s birthday today. Hoorah! I spoke to her in Australia on the dog ‘n’ mobile. She had to shout very loud and speak slowly. Ah, kids keep you young.

Sweet Caroline’s at botanical drawing after which we’ll meet at the Feathers. It’s a good arrangement I find. Frankly, I get a piece of peace and quiet and then some just desserts to soothe my loneliness. If anyone reads this quickly enough to join us we’d love to see you, and I’ll even forego my spot at the bar to allow you prior access.

I should mention, probably not for the last time, that Echo Road, or at least the bit containing John, Claire and I, will be having an outing to the Snapzology (is that right?) exhibition at Ice Bytes on Friday 13th November. We’ll be playing half a dozen tunes at the acoustical end of the spectrum. If you’re at loose ends, slide along for a gander. The Angie Hughes Band are also performing. Mind you, you’ll have to move a bit sharpish – it kicks off at 6.30.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

November Swoops In

November swoops in. Things to do, always things to do.

I said I would mention other projects as they arise. A while ago I suggested to my friend Ed that we should collaborate on a book of haiku and photographs. I have written (and revised) a sequence of haikus and he has been assembling the appropriate photos to accompany each one. Some we had to put on a back burner because they were seasonal in nature. One required a blustery autumnal day. The perfect conditions arrived on Sunday, so I persuaded him to accompany me down to the river. Hey, let’s not beat about the bush; this is the haiku in question;

Windswept, middle-aged,
And sitting by a river;
Current position.

So, we needed to get my dishevelled self in there with the suggestion of wind and the ripples in the river. I used myself from the opposite consideration to vanity – how could I ask someone else to take it on? It was wet down there as it had been raining hard overnight. Anyone watching may have wondered what was going on. Strangely, there weren’t many other people about.

Setting up a Turn Up Recordings page has me thinking about other possibilities. In particular, a collection of Pig’s Eye View material over the years seems to be in order. I’ve had a listen to some of the stuff in the vaults. I’m still standing – just. Having whittled down the selection on the criteria of at least listenable recording quality, songs I am happy with and performance, I have come up with a collection. I may tinker with it a bit, but Ed can help me in levelling out the volume levels.

I’ve included Happy Valley as part of the PEV story, as we were the same people under a different guise for a while. I regard Los Contrabandos as separate, as it was decidedly before with a substantially different line up. Over the years we had quite a number of members, quite apart from guests who helped out at one time or another. I was lucky enough to work with a succession of good singers; Pim, Darren, Ed, Claire and Natalie. Was there a reason they all moved on, one by one? Was it the same reason? We’ll get as many of them into the collection as possible.