Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

‘Electronic Tuesday’ interview now on Mixcloud!

May 28, 2021

The end of Throbbing Gristle and start of PTV – letter from GPO – 17 Oct 1981

March 21, 2019


Aztec, Ice Breakers & Evel Knievel

September 12, 2015

Dentists must have loved me when I was a kid. I went frequently enough. My sweet tooth and poor dental hygiene meant I spent many a nightmarish time in the chair of doom.

“I’ll take away your watch if you don’t stop crying” was one dentist’s way of comforting me. Another time I was gassed so that some teeth could be removed. I puked blood all over the dentist’s car park on the way to our car. My dad must have been mortified.

This decay was mainly the result of eating most known brands of sweet and chocolate available on planet Earth. I loved Ice Breaker bars with their brittle shards of mint, Aztec bars, which were like customised Mars Bars and Bazooka Joe bubble gum, which had 20 bags of sugar per lump and came wrapped in a small colour cartoon strip. Even that was too sweet for me sometimes and I had to dump it….as long as I had the cartoon, it was acceptable.

Following in Bill Murray’s footsteps (you’ve seen him visit the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, haven’t you?), when we moved to Ipswich in Suffolk, I continued to polish the local tooth doctor’s chairs with my chubby backside. Our closest dental practice was shared by Dr Beaumont and Dr Caiels. The former’s wife was a teacher at my primary school. The practice was a few doors up from the local funeral parlour, which was owned and run by Luke’s dad. Luke was a classmate and liked to nick paper from anywhere he could. He had stacks and stacks of it in nice piles in his bedroom, which he showed me one day after school. We had to negotiate coffins-in-the-making in order to get into the living quarters (excuse the pun). It didn’t occur to me that the future occupants might be lurking in a shady room off Luke’s family living room. Needless to say, he now runs the funeral business which has expanded around Suffolk. There’s money in death….or maybe he just sold his paper stock during a shortage.

Anyway, when I wasn’t at the dentist, I would sometimes visit friends’ houses after school or on Saturday mornings. We used to have a TV programme in the UK called ‘World of Sport’ which was presented by a kind of newsreader/Liberace hybrid called Dickie Davies. Most often, my dad and I would watch wrestling. The baddies were people like Jim Brakes, Mick McManus, Giant Haystacks or Kendo Nagasaki. Can’t remember many goodies apart from TV Jackie Pallo, who was a real comedian at times. The programme would also occasionally show stunts by Evel Knievel, a hero of my boyhood self. I was too fat to do wheelies (blame the choc’s mentioned above), so was mightily impressed by Mr Knievel’s effortless examples and spectacular crashes.

One Saturday morning I went to Kevin M’s house. He lived quite close to our school, and his mother would collect him sometimes. She was a big momma like the lady you never 100% saw in Tom & Jerry cartoons. My nickname was ‘Scoffa’ – I liked to think it was due to my surname but it was more likely because I was a human dumpling that enjoyed food too much.

We watched wrestling on their TV while she made us some snacks. However she got very angry with the baddies sometimes and would punch the TV and shout abuse at them, saying things like “Look at ‘im Scoffa! ‘im a nasty piece a work innit!?”. I thought it was hilarious. She was great.

Next time I’ll tell you about Shane and the KFC story, Speedway, Pinball and all manner of naughty behaviour.

Lightning is a crack in the Sky that reveals Heaven

August 15, 2015

This post has very little to do with my audio/visual artistic efforts yet has everything to do with them. There’s nothing here about how I made this or that particular sound or which filter I used in After Effects to get that blue grid-like structure to spin. This is more about the structure of me; my brief history. Some clues as to the origins of my experiments.
In 1969, when I was five years old, we drove from the Midlands to London to begin a new phase in family life. My father had various jobs, including physiotherapist (he used to massage Patrick Macnee from The Avengers, amongst others), milkman, bus conductor, mobile Polish grocer, lorry driver, auditor…the list goes on.
I remember looking out of the back window of the car into the night sky and feeling scared at the unknown and what lay beyond the darkness. We lived in the first floor of an old Victorian house on Trinity Road in Wandsworth, South London. An area close to big open common land and Wandsworth Prison, from which Ronnie Biggs escaped. On cold nights, my father would fill the portable heater with magic pink liquid and light it. Giving us a glowing metal mesh covered in flame to warm ourselves by.
Part of my education at that time was provided by Highfield School, at 256 Trinity Road. We lived at 252, so the journey to school wasn’t that long, although when there is a towering white-haired headmaster who wears a black cloak and mortar board governing, who has a propensity for caning young boys, the journey can be as long as it likes.
One day in the playground, I saw a fork of golden lightning high in the sky. My friends and I wondered what it meant and I believed that lightning was a crack in the sky that let us see into heaven, albeit briefly.
Many of my childhood school days were spent negotiating my way out of trouble with teachers or bullies. At times, it was hard to tell the difference. I couldn’t wait to go home and draw war ‘planes and tanks or play with small toys or my pen collection (yes, like Pauline’s). There were some nice teachers, though. One was called Miss Denton and she had a boyfriend called Europe. I liked the very battered, old looking book she once brought into class and read from. So when my parents bought me a new story book, I tried to age it artificially, with poor results for the book and me.
At an early age, I was used to experimental failure. Meccano, books, toys in general…all succumbed to my special style of engineering. For the artist, I often wonder if the process is more joyful than the result. Any artists reading this, please let me know.

Next time I’ll tell you about dentists, Saturday wrestling on World of Sport and Luke, the funeral director’s son.

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