Monday 27 February 2017


An artist's impression of a mojo

Mojos come and mojos go.  Mine seems to go missing with alarming frequency and I’m sure that somewhere out there a mountain rises up, stacked high with all the ones we have lost, rotating at different speeds, their multiple colours mingling in a psychedelic whirl.  (That's how I see mojos, but I may be confusing them with yoyos.)

I’m full of admiration for those many dedicated bloggers who keep hold of theirs and come up with something new every day; I know it’s no mean feat and not something I could do.  That said, this blog has somehow managed to make it to six years old today (and more than 450 posts!)  How did that happen?!

When it was just a mere baby (on its first birthday) I posted…

I had no idea quite what I was doing when I tentatively chose my template, figured out something to do with widgets, typed my first post and, with my heart in my mouth, clicked on ‘publish’. 

I don’t think that much has changed, I still have no idea quite what I’m doing - but I like doing it whenever I can.  And to everyone who’s ever taken the trouble to have a look/read/listen, especially if you’re still doing so and have been kind enough to comment, a very big thank you - I really appreciate it!


PS Today's birthday jamboree bag contains some things on the theme of six:

Sneaker Pimps: Six Underground

A Six Spot Burnet moth

The Prisoner: Number 6 badge

Detail from my beetle print blouse
(seeing as they're six-legged...)

Remember this?

6 is a 'perfect number', mathematically, 
because when you add up all the number's divisors
(a number by which it can be divided without leaving a remainder)
it equals the number itself.
I.e. 6 can be divided by 1, 2 and 3.
1 + 2 + 3 = 6.
Perfect numbers are rare. 

(Any mention of maths on these pages is also rare)

Friday 24 February 2017

Smell of female

Imagine if we had the power of smell-o-vision on our blogs!  I'd use it right now, to help me with this post.  You'd get the scent of bergamot, lemon, amber, cedarwood, vanilla and more.  Sound nice?

The thing is, I was in my local pharmacy a few weeks ago, admiring the seemingly random displays of soft toys, sunglasses and birthday cards amid the cough sweets and corn plasters, when a well-dressed sales rep caught my eye and suggested I might like to "take a free sample!" as she thrust a little card into my hand.

A quick glance revealed a miniature grey tube of perfume attached to the card, so I dropped it into my handbag and was quite excited at the thought of trying it when I got home.

I don't wear perfume often - I'm sensitive to a lot because they make me sniffly.  But I like the thought of smelling of something exotic now and then, just enough to make me feel feminine and like I've made an effort - and this mini freebie was an unexpected treat.

Anyway it's rather alluring - quite spicy, a touch woody even, and it doesn't make me sniffle - all good.  So I've been wearing a little spray of it each time I've been out these last few weeks.  Down the pub with my friend the other night.  Down the Indian restaurant with our neighbours on Saturday. Actually just about every time I go out.  The sample tube is running out.

Today I decided to look it up for the first time, to see how much it costs - thinking maybe I should buy myself a bottle.  Turns out I've been wearing a rather expensive Eau de Toilette.  For men.

Still, why not?!

Thursday 16 February 2017

Walk with me (yet again)

It's been such a long a while since we walked together, so if you fancy coming out this afternoon, you'll be most welcome!

I'll take you to my usual haunts (you may have walked with me before).  Just lately I've been trying to get into the habit of doing a brisk three or four miles every other day, fitting it in around working and daylight (and rain).  Weirdly I keep bumping into the same people, no matter what time I set out;  perhaps they just walk around all day?  One thing I've noticed too, is that those lovely older ladies I often see, who manage to keep slender and bright-eyed even into their 70s and 80s,  always wear lipstick.  Somehow it gives them a look of youthful joie de vivre.  I rarely go out without mine either, so excuse me while I just apply it...

Anyway, we'll go up to the long familiar path lined with lime trees which I know is three quarters of a mile long so it's good way to measure distance - and if you've come here with me before, you'll know I love the trees with their weird angular shapes created by previous pollarding and huge spheres of mistletoe hanging from the branches like Christmas tree baubles.

We'll go and see the cattle.  They're English Longhorns, different from the Texas ones, with horns that curve round to sort of frame their gentle faces, and known for being a friendly breed.

The sky briefly turns a weird shade of yellow, with big grey galleon clouds, but I'm looking at the cow!

 One walks across the field barely able to lift its legs out of the heavy, cloying mud.  At least we can tentatively tread the grassy verges to avoid the worst of the puddles.

I want to show you the old wooden store (not exactly a shed, but more than just a crate - so I'm not sure what to call it) where they keep the incendiary devices.  It always makes me smile to see the hand-painted sign which reads 'DANGER! EXPLOSIVES!' on an innocuous looking route that meanders between wide, tranquil fields and copses - but it's here they keep stuff for popular 'Wartime Re-enactment' days.  At least that's what I've always thought.

I haven't been out to this bit since the Summer - but today it doesn't look the same, the words have worn off the sign, the structure is collapsing.  It could be a den.  Nice smell of woodsmoke too.

A bit too muddy to continue (I'm not wearing the right boots) so let's head back towards the road, but we'll take a back route, past the allotments.  Down past the free-range chickens in their huge pen, who all come running up to the fence with their stumpy wings flapping when I stop to say hello.

Some dead sunflower heads catch my eye - I just like the way they look.

Plus I want to show you the lovely old signage that's been left on one of the walls round this way.  Gorgeous lettering.

Funnily enough this is the first time I've noticed how well it has weathered compared with these adjacent, far more recent signs.

And one more sign (I couldn't help wondering if the home-owner was a Loudon Wainwright III fan!)

Now coming into view is one of our famed 'crinkle-crankle' walls on the left, designed to protect fruit trees growing in its sheltered curves.  It's struck me just now that this view has probably remained pretty much unchanged in the last few hundred years.

Okay, we can join up with the main street now and stop off at the Co-op, I need to buy a bag of birdfood and some mushrooms.

Then up the hill and back to home, just in time before the rain.

Friday 3 February 2017

'A trip into the world of real psychedelia and more' ?! #1

A really nice and surprising thing happened to me the other day; I was idly Googling something about record shops which led me quite by chance to a music forum I’d never seen before.  On it was a post from someone last year mentioning “the girl” who worked in his local record shop in the 1980s who had once compiled him a tape of her favourite ‘60s psychedelic/freakbeat gems.  He’d even kept copies of a fanzine she used to put out in the shop back then, 30 years ago.  

Ohh!  The girl was me!

 I remembered him as one of our lovely regular customers and I remembered doing that tape.  I can’t remember, however, exactly which  tracks I’d put on it – but I could take a pretty good stab at what it might have included.  And so this lovely moment of serendipity got me thinking all about those obscure and incredible records that were given a whole new lease of life in the ‘80s when labels like Bam Caruso, Psycho, Big Beat and See For Miles mined the rich seam of 1960s psych and beat and presented them to new audiences like me.  We had never heard anything quite like it before.  For anyone who wasn’t into the mainstream chart music of the era, it felt quite magical.  A little later it was to play a part in cementing a long-lasting friendship too.

In the sweet way that things can sometimes coincide, in the last  week or so there have been some more unconnected references to what I might broadly term as ‘sixties underground and psychedelia’ here in this little corner of blogland.   Over at the wonderful  What’s It All About?Alfie, Alyson has recently posted Jefferson Airplane’s 'White Rabbit', complete with its trippy lyrics.  Swiss Adam at the eminent blog BaggingArea gave us a number from US garage punk group The Chocolate Watchband.  And across the pond, Brian from the excellent Linear Tracking Lives! shared an obscure cover version from the Driscolls of ‘Father’s Name Is Dad’ by late '60s band Fire.  Back here, Rol at the brilliant My Top Ten posted a number from Kenny Rogers & The First Edition and mentioned their track ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)'  which was another reminder of an unexpectedly psychy discovery from the past. All of those originals were songs I knew and loved from that period when my interest in psych and beat became something of an obsession.  

I was working in the best place for it too, being able to order the albums I wanted directly from the distributors (often without having heard a single track first!) and then buying them with a staff discount too.  It got to the point where I was bringing home two to three new album purchases just about each and every week.  These were a mixture of various artist compilations (like the Bam Caruso ‘Rubble’ and Psycho’s ‘Perfumed Garden’ series), US garage comps then getting fresh exposure (such as the wonderful ‘Pebbles’),  new  album issues (e.g.  The Creation’s ‘How Does It Feel To Feel’ put out by Edsel)  and reissues of other obscurities (like ‘ Waleeco’ by US band The Flat Earth Society).

Then there were the new groups making great music inspired by it –and so a whole wave of other artists helped to part me from my hard-earned cash:  The Fuzztones, The Lyres, The Nomads….   I started buying comps of Swedish bands, Dutch bands, Australian too….   and digging into the back catalogues of more popular groups I hadn’t really explored before such as the Kinks, Jefferson Airplane and The Easybeats …  Plus also taking side roads into the more Mod end of the spectrum with the Action and Small Faces…   Oh there was SO MUCH!  No wonder I was skint most of the time.

Anyway, not surprisingly, this week my thoughts have returned to those days and the musical discoveries that excited me so much in my twenties. So much so that I was inspired to make my own fanzine on the subject.  I used to sit at home and labour intensely over every page on my Thursdays off from the shop, all hand-written and hand-drawn, researched, laid-out and designed without technology.  It provided a platform for both a love of writing and drawing/design.  And a love of the music too, of course.  I managed six editions of this A4 zine, got them photocopied in small batches (mostly free of charge if a certain someone could get them done in his work time) and sold them for 30p at the shop.   I never even told anyone who bought them that they were my own creation, I was too embarrassed! 

some sample pages

Here I am 30 years later doing something similar in a way – using the platform of blogging for expression and, whilst Sun Dried Sparrows has never been confined to it, music still plays a fairly big part.  So, on revisiting some of the songs that inspired me to write and compile tapes in an age where the idea of everyone being connected via a computer was barely imaginable, I thought I could bring them together now for a new series.

I’ve dug out my last few copies of the fanzine from storage in one of my old portfolios under the bed.    They look naive, over-effusive and a bit cringey to my eyes now, but I have to remember I was only in my early twenties, doing it solo and I just wanted to have a go.  So for this new series, erm, if I can manage to sustain it, I’m going to try and post some of the tracks I wrote about then, along with snippets of whatever it was I said.  As the strapline of my fanzine rather grandly announced, it's A trip into the world of real psychedelia and more’.  

Well, this has been a very long ramble by way of an introduction to a series (I promise to keep it shorter in future).  Let's get on with the music.  Just one track here today… The Open Mind with ‘Cast A Spell’.

Here’s what I was saying in 1986!

Transcript from above:
The Open Mind (ANTAR 2)

The Open Mind were a band from the late 60s, who have reached a legendary status amongst fans of psych and progressive music.  They made two singles, one was an excellent double-sider, 'Magic Potion' and 'Cast A Spell', both tracks of which can be found on the brilliant compilation, 'The Psychedelic Snarl' (Bam Caruso KIRI 024).  These are perhaps the two best Open Mind numbers, and are included on this re-issue of their only album, which has been re-packaged in a different sleeve and did not include that single originally.  The rest is good, progressive, mostly quite heavy stuff, though maybe the actual music has been over-rated - London collector's shops are paying over £50 for the original LP!  Anyway, it's a pretty tasty record - not exactly psychedelic but more progressive rock - and if you wanna save a lot of money but still hear the Open Mind, then this re-issue is for you.

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