Hi everybody. Apologies for the relative radio silence today.
It's been busy. The first thing I had to do today was finish shortening and cleaning up the paper I've co-written on jazz in some contemporary British novels. I've loved writing with someone else: the pressure not to disappoint or let down a friend (especially a much cleverer one) has provided the spur that I, as a congenitally lazy ass, really needed. It's been great looking at the same words and two of us coming up with different ways to understand them too. But today was about editing: we were way over the limit, so we had to cut. I was dreading this bit: how would my partner feel if I presented her with a draft in which all her bits had been radically shortened? I know I'd hate it. But gloriously, I couldn't tell which bits she'd written and which were mine for the most part. She uses more commas and I use more colons, but that was about it. So we cut and honed and hammered until we were there. Then I had to learn an entirely new referencing system (Chicago Notes and Bibliography) and change every single reference. And then wrestle with RefWorks, the referencing software. In the end though, it's done and we've agreed that we'll do it again, for which I'm profoundly grateful. I was expecting a painful session in which a red pen and a literary walk of shame would be my only reward.
After that: I've interviewed a potential MA student and now have two brand new lectures to write for delivery on Tuesday (5 hours of lecturing without a break). One is on the post-Romantic hero in contemporary fiction, and the other is Derrida for Media Studies and Cultural Studies students. Gulp. Monday's out because it's my grandmother's funeral (did I mention that her brother died a few days ago too?) so it looks like the weekend will consist of me scratching my head and breaking off hourly for a glass of freshly squeezed horse glands. I should do more tonight but all the ideas I had yesterday have magically morphed into barely-literate and gnomic scribbles. I'm too tired to transform them into coherent ideas now – instead I'll be back in the office tomorrow.
While doing all this, I've had the office mostly to myself and allowed my Twitter stream to dictate the music I listen to. So a mention of Mogwai got me listening to their early stuff, followed by Labradford, then (as it was Valentine's day), Love, then Majorstuen, a wonderful Norwegian folk group, then some John Taverner. Here's a blast of each:
This is Mogwai's 'New Paths To Helicon'. They pioneered instrumental quiet-loud-quiet post-rock, following in the footsteps of Slint and Labradford. I saw them twice: once in Stoke supporting the Manic Street Preachers in the mid-90s, and last year. I was the only one in the crowd at Stoke there primarily for Mogwai: everybody else stood there with hands over ears mouthing 'what's this shit?' because it hadn't been on Chris Evans's Breakfast Show or whatever. Then last year in a tiny, lovely Birmingham music-hall they made the most beautiful, challenging noise, but behaved like spoiled children having temper tantrums. Nobody forced you to be a band, sell tickets and have fans guys: at least pretend to enjoy it. It's better than working in an office!
Labradford were around in the 90s, but I never managed to see them sadly. Like Mogwai, they lurch from ethereal beauty to pummelling aggression and back within seconds, though the older band's purpose is that little bit more elusive. Here's a fairly late one by them:
Love were also-rans in the 60s: too many chaotic fallings-out, drugs and changes of direction meant that their seminal Forever Changes wasn't the huge success it should have been. Here's the heart-breaking 'Alone Again Or':
Majorstuen just make me happy. I think I heard them on Radio 3 and immediately bought their album. I don't know whether they're the cutting edge of Norwegian roots or retro. I don't particularly care either. But they are yet another reason to move to Norway. My favourite track starts at 17 minutes.
Finally, a sublime Taverner arrangement of the ancient Westron Wynde song used by several English Renaissance composers as the basis of mass settings. Never mind the theology, feel the beauty.
Obviously other things have caught my eye today. In case you're wondering, I'm both outraged and unsurprised by: the Sun's front page; the Tory minister who declared that gay couples are incapable of caring for children; further adulteration of meat.
More Reckons next week, when I'll also be live-tweeting two family funerals.