Saturday 22 October 2022

Local council

I can hear the spinning of spokes, the crunch of narrow tyres on the stony drive coming up behind me. Look around… Ohhh! Is that Paul? Paul Weller? And Mick Talbot too?! In full cycling gear, red, blue, black - bodies bent forward over the handlebars…? Yes! Riding up this long avenue between the ancient lime trees, following in my footsteps, here on such incredibly familiar ground. 

Unfortunately, I’d have to have a time machine to be in the same frame as these cycling Style Councillors – but I was there today, there on the long driveway, my absolute favourite local place to walk, just a short stroll round the corner from my home and yet I had never realised until now that it was also the setting for the video of ‘My Ever Changing Moods’. Its director, Tim Pope, creator of many a music promo for a huge number of artists (The The, Soft Cell and Talk Talk, Bowie and Neil Young all spring to mind) has a cameo part in it too. To be honest, I don’t think too much of the film, but the scenery… well, it's strange because it feels like a very close friend. One I share my secrets with, one who listens unconditionally, who soothes the soul in fractious times and makes me smile and feel alive too.  It’s a place, a haven, I wander up to so frequently and it has featured in quite a few posts here over the years. Up there today with the jackdaws chuckling in the treetops and the sheep in the distance, I took some photos to see if I could compare my view with those in the video, but the trees are still in their leafy Autumn cloaks and, thanks to storm damage over the decades, there are fewer of them than when Paul and Mick were here, and some new replacements too.   It's a place of ever changing moods; you'll just have to take my word for it.

An earlier photo from a Winter day

Still, I couldn’t stop the song going round and round in my head as I took my constitutional.  If you're a fan of the Style Council, you’d be very welcome too to come over with your bike some time and recreate that promo film – I can’t promise you the three dancing nymphs I'm afraid, but I could do you a packed lunch.

Here's the film:

A pic from today's wanderings

and one from 1984

Monday 3 October 2022

Oh Miki, you're so fine

 A cup of tea waits for me on the table, getting cold. 

Biscuits lie on a plate uneaten.

The police are outside, hammering on the door, shouting through the letterbox, threatening to ram it open if I don’t answer.  Ok, I may have embellished that last bit (it’s just the postman with a package and a polite knock) but whatever it is, sorry, I’m oblivious, in another zone…… the reading zone.   The zone you get into which makes you forget to drink your tea, ignore that Hobnob, miss that knock at the door.  The zone you get into when a book is just so absorbing that nothing else around you can compete.  And it’s all Miki Berényi’s fault!

My copy of Miki’s autobiography ‘Fingers Crossed: how music saved me from success’ arrived just a couple of days ago and I’m already completely immersed (time off from working at last!)  I’d read some pre-publication reviews and excerpts, all of which confirmed this was going to be a book I’d lap up, perhaps for the most obvious, predictable reasons: to read an inside story on her band Lush and all the musically connected musings and revelations.  But I’m only a quarter of the way through its 367 pages and her life story so far hasn’t even got to that, yet it’s still as enthralling, hair-raising, fascinating and also, at times, disturbing as any sensational tale of adult rock’n’roll exploits.

I shouldn’t really be reviewing it so early on, I’ve a ton of chapters still to go, but my enthusiasm has made me defy convention – why not? I just want to get it out there!  There is so much ahead, I know – about the formation of Lush and its interpersonal relationships, the gigs, tours, triumphs and fallouts, plus Miki’s personal encounters with the sexism in the music industry and in particular the toxicity of the lad/ladette culture within Britpop (she is not afraid to name names) – all of which I’ve no doubt will keep me captivated. An extract from the book published in the Guardian recently is wonderfully, satisfyingly and justifiably angry and I feel especially invested as a woman - I love to read about this world from a female perspective, particularly when it also covers a very relatable period in time for me (Tracey Thorn’s and Viv Albertine’s autobiographies were likewise appealing).  But Miki’s accounts of her unconventional upbringing even before any of that could almost be a book – or film - on their own.

The childhood tales which are as shocking in places as they are compelling are told with a straightforward openness and the insight and emotional intelligence that has come with age.  100-odd pages in and our author hasn’t even left school yet but already I feel as if I’m on a wild, chaotic ride – leaving me feeling very troubled at times, but I take comfort from the fact that Miki is still here now, in a different life, to recount and reflect on her experiences with distance and disarming honesty.

Anyway… a premature review this may be but perhaps my impulsive urge tells you as much about the book as any in depth one may do later.  Plus I have a feeling I’m going to be too exhausted (in a good way) by the time I get to the end of it to write anything coherent…

It also seems deserving of a *‘Swedey McSwedeface’!

And, of course, some Lush:

* The official definition of  Swedey McSwedeface can be found here

'Fingers Crossed: how music saved me from success' by Miki Berényi was published by Bonnier Books 29th September 2022

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