see the pyramids along the Nile…

There was a time when I could spend most of my summer barefoot or just about barefoot. It was when there were no responsibilities, jobs, family or meaningful consequences.

Sitting in the browning grass and listening to music, reading a book or entering a beer induced doze in the park in the afternoon, weather permitting. It seemed that all the summers were balmy and restful. Church bells in the distance and birds chirping in the trees and the low whine and rumble of the double deckers trundling along the street. Kids shouting and parents chasing them. It was an idyllic past that really only exists in fading memory.

I remember sitting in the garden of a pub looking at the surrounding dirty feet, calluses and scrapes and scratches, along with bright red chipped nail polishes and more earthy colors and tye dye shirts and pants some toe nails cracked with dirt under them. The laughter and the joy of summer. Then the meander to the field were music happened, the happy ruddy glow of dancing in the dying light as the sun set behind an oak tree.

I remember kneeling next to the garden plot in the allotment as my grandad made tea in the little shed as I weeded. Pulling the dandelions out of the cabbage patch and nurturing the carrots and lettuce and tomatoes and he hummed You Belong To Me as the water was boiled on the methylated spirit stove that he had pumped into a furious furnace under the old sauce pan. The tea was brewed in a cracked brown tea pot and the mugs were chipped there was one china tea cup with a saucer stirring full cream milk into the tea and two lumps of sugar My feet bare would dig into the earth and he would tell me to put my shoes on. Michelle would sit on the only deck chair yellow dress and massive sun hat on her head, she got the china cup, we got the cracked mugs. Her feet were clean and bare, she would sit with the sunflowers and daisies as we weeded and drank tea and talked, my Grandad in grey flannel trousers, shoes and socks and a pressed white shirt and always a sport coat. Stopping for a pint of mild on the way home in the Eagle and Child opposite the market.

I remember tending the camp fire on the beach. Bare footed and clean with salt drying in my hair. Potatoes roasting in the ashes and sausages on sticks. We never seemed to catch a fish. My dad would juggle with the potatoes to cool them laughing, a warm bottle to Tizer and butter for the potatoes. the sausages rolled in a piece of white bread with ketchup. The wet suits drying hanging on the car then we would roll up in sleeping bags in the awful orange brown and green striped tent that looked like it should be populated by clowns and often it was. The next day the old patched inflatable would take us to the next murky dive, regulators, face masks, fins and the most exciting knife to strap to your leg. We would sit with our bare feet to the fire and plan the dive in the tropics instead of Wales but ill health got in the way and we grew apart for awhile.

Today I stood in the garden barefoot and picked green beans with my grandson, we would’ve picked peas as well but he has managed to eat them all as they grew. His feet were bare as well and filthy with dust and dirt and scratches, later we picked blackberries as he sat on my lap on the tractor, we like to drive into the berries to get the big fat juicy and sweet ones, I know you shouldn’t drive the tractor barefoot but well it was so far to go get the boots and it was hot and humid and just too much. In the evening I sat and thought about all this and was sad and happy and content. Pretty soon we will pick tomatoes barefoot and eventually peppers and corn, we will surely watch the sunflowers bloom and maybe we will sit in the garden and drink tea from cracked mugs and Michelle will wear the oversize sun hat and we can think of that long gone old gentleman, I have however grown out of drinking mild.

Fare thee well now let your life proceed by it’s own design…

It’s been awhile since I really wrote anything so here goes…

1984 I was 18 and my dad had decided that he couldn’t live with me anymore, for all sorts of valid reasons mostly to do with his health mental and physical. I am sure I was not an easy teenager and he saw an opportunity to teach me a lesson and make me grow up a little. So he packed me off to college to live in the dorm.

Dorm life was not easy for an only child with odd shall we say social skills, that however is for another day.

Eventually like my dad the college decided that I should not live in the dormitory anymore as it was better for everyones health, mental and physical. They did however graciously say I could stay a student but had to live somewhere else. This was predominantly because of the strange, diverse and unusual friends that would inhabit my room on occasion and the loud music recorded and live that would emanate from the open windows of my room.

All of this led to a year of couch surfing and the transient student life, which is not as romantic as it sounds when your only income beyond student grants was a dog walking gig and bar keep in the pub that I promptly drank my wages away at. In my deranged 18 year old mind I was walking out in the steps of Kerouac, Dylan, Harper, Young, Thompson, Ginsberg, Cassidy and any number of counterculture heroes that I could think of, the difference was they had talent beyond consumption of substances and being able to convince any number of lecturers in English, Drama and Theology I knew something of what I was mumbling.

When everyone was done with me and I was looking for a friend there was Dave.

Dave had spent an afternoon in the dorm, decided it wasn’t for him and promptly found a cheap flat opposite Sefton Park somewhere around Victoria Rd. It was not a really pleasant place but it was not in the dorm, I helped him with the rent, he let me keep my few belongings there, predominantly the records and books and crash on a mattress we kept leaning against the wall in the hallway. There was a gas fire and he shared the kitchen and toilet with the ground floor, pretty typical student fare, There was a stoop we would sit on and play records through the window, we would take turns with the neighbors and the street resounded with punk, reggae, psychedelia and the contemporary post punk, pop music of our time as well as soul, country and folk and a whole slew of stuff that I was not aware of the name for.

That was the place I was sat one sunny afternoon when Dave put The Grateful Dead Reckoning on the turntable and I was simultaneously disappointed and enchanted. Disappointed because I really wanted the Grateful Dead to be a truly hard rocking psychedelic noise fest, instead Reckoning is a gentle stroll through the Dead’s acoustic set in 1980. It has more in common with any number of gentle folky country albums from the 70’s than the apocalyptic roar I was hoping for. It was however truly astounding. It’s maybe not the Dead’s best album but every song is a classic and played with conviction, Jerry’s voice is fragile and strong and his picking is spot on. It really is the closest to a greatest hits album available at the time before the days of the endless playlist. It is as I said enchanting and to be honest a lot of fun. It is also in the summer sun a truly danceable album and any number of afternoons were spent dancing along to Reckoning with the neighborhood freaks and weirdos as we played football and Daves recent conviction that basketball was the game we should get behind.

These days I can appreciate the Dead for what they are America’s jukebox, dance band for the twirlers or whatever you feel like, but every now and then I just want them a little closer to a psychedelic noisfest, I will just have to get that need met elsewhere I suppose.Reckoning however takes me back to those sunny days near Sefton Park dancing to the Dead, Toots and the Maytels and Echo and The Bunnymen and drinking cold beer on the stoop and warm beer in the bar.

Let’s go…

So I set out to try and make sense of six sides of Can’s Live in Stuttgart 1975.

What a pointless effort that was.

Six sides of completely improvised unique music meandering, fragile, exotic, violent, discordant and melodic music. It’s a beautiful rambling mess and totally of itself.

I am not completely sure I can do the music justice, it’s funky and psychedelic, hypnotic and well it’s Can live.

I am fairly certain it is going to take some time to digest all of this.

Oh yeah the vinyl is orange, what’s not to love?

Day’s full of rain sky’s coming down again…

Traveling in the time of Covid.

It shall not be taken lightly or seen as a thing to engage in without the willingness to fill in forms and refill them in at the behest of many a person behind a desk. A bureaucratic extravaganza.

First of all I lost my flying shoes, the same shoes I have flown in for ten/fifteen years or so. The comfortable ones that are molded to my feet like lovely slippers. This resulted in the Crocs, not so comfortable but utilitarian. When I arrived home Michelle pointed to the flying shoes laying at the bottom of the crate full of Converse and Doc Martin’s oh how the predictable are fallen.

So many forms to fill in Passenger Locators. Covid test registrations and then the tests.

Calls twice a day from Test and Trace and then the visits from the officials. Ten days of quarantine tests on day two and eight and testing out at day five but you still have to take the test on day eight just in case.

Then you leave and come home.

Maybe it will be easier in future?