A-Men to Into the Groovey

NEW country, new home, new job, new pet and all the stuff which goes with them – surely there has been something to write about in the return of the blog?

To say nothing of an impending wedding and, as this is supposed to be a blog about the A-Z journey through my iPod, ticking off another landmark.

One that has been a long time coming – something you could say about all of the above.

This blog post, in keeping with so many of its predecessors, has appeared on the to-do list numerous times only to be bumped off by something a bit more integral to moving across the world.

But gradually that scarily long list of things which needed doing before and after moving to Australia has been whittled away to nothing – well, almost – and even the wedding list is all but ticked off (bar the last couple of jobs and the vows which should be writing instead of this).

Thankfully, a couple of the big items on the list were ticked off before leaving Gloucester – not only was somebody waiting for me at the end of the flight to Sydney, she came complete with somewhere to live.

And a cat – possibly more of a culture shock for an avowed dog person than the kangaroos which accompany the after-work walk (of which more next time).

That is our cat, apparently. Apart from when she noisily lets us know she wants breakfast before 4am, when she very much becomes Lisa’s cat. Not that she does that if the person who has agreed to look after her while we are on honeymoon is reading.

Work was probably the biggest worry about the move – not being able to find anything suitable was far more of a concern than actually making such a big leap in life.

But things fell into place remarkably quickly and smoothly.

One of the first people who was told my visa had come through and the move was about to happen instantly sent a link to a job he had seen.

One application and an interview before work at 7am (arranged out of habit as most applicants were already in Australia) later and employment was sorted before my flat was packed up.

Still reckon it was recognising a Strictly… dancer in a quick picture test of my news knowledge which clinched it. Even with the admission it was only because he had been a guest on House of Games the previous week.

Sure that carried far more weight than spotting Mark Harper lurking in the background of a group of front benchers in the Commons.

Meur ras for the lead, as they apparently say in Cornish, to the regular blog reader for the tip.

And for any former journalist colleagues back home who have noticed and wondered – a couple have asked – that is my byline popping up on the wire and various publications on a wide variety of PA Media stories (the news agency which most UK publications use).

Be it news (some interesting people – or at least their press officers – have been chased late at night and are filling the growing contacts Google Doc), sport – which really rolls back the years – subbing, raiding the overseas wires or the first tentative steps into editing video clips, our spare room has become a little PA news bureau.

As the London office winds down overnight, our Australian team takes over.

Which means the spare room is operating in its own time zone as it sticks on UK time, something which took a bit of getting used to, especially having just moved to a completely new time zone – we start at 11pm in London, which went from 10am in Canberra to 9am and then 8am in my first three weeks courtesy of clocks changing and sparking a weird form of work-related jet lag.

So have settled into a new job, home (complete with newly constructed bed which brought accompanying blisters from a screwdriver and wooden map of the world on the wall of the front room which means we will struggle to move without a replastering job) and country (with plenty more plans to explore after one weekend in Sydney and various ventures out closer to home).

And most of those jobs – bank, pensions, driving licence etc – are ticked off that list, bar those like the next stage of the visa which have had to wait until after the wedding.

Ah yes, the wedding.

It is a small affair as close to eloping as it possible to do so without just heading off and not telling anyone.

The ceremony will happen in a garden overlooking a beach on an island off the coast of Queensland, which should at least bring some welcome relief from a Canberra winter (sunny and pleasant in the day, often down below freezing at night), especially as it came on the back of the British equivalent.

Think we are as excited at the prospect of a couple of weeks off which will take in a Women’s World Cup match during a few days in Brisbane (possibly England v Australia, which post-Ashes would provide another early test to the marriage, but potentially neither), a visit to Cairns before heading to the island and a few days in Port Douglas capped with a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef.

Vows, the details of the ceremony and sorting a cake apart, one of the few remaining jobs is sorting any music for the ceremony.

Where we have drawn a blank. Musical tastes do not cross over that much – Ever South by The Drive-By Truckers is about as close we have to “our tune” – and most of my suggestions have been brushed off as too miserable for a wedding. Or too “shouty”.

Certainly don’t think there have been too many options from the latest chunk of the A-Z journey through my iPod, which was the catch-up of the tracks added from A-I while that adventure was stuck in the I tracks.

As that section lasted several years, an overland adventure, three continents, four jobs, as many homes, a pandemic and a couple of iPods, it easily topped 600 tracks and needed another catch-up before we were finally up to date to start out on J (a much shorter chunk which is halfway done already).

The concentrated trek from Goat Girl to Ciccone Youth’s Madonna cover included many artists we have touched on over the last few years, several of which have released more than one album in that time and appeared in the end-of-year lists.

There were plenty of familiar favourites (Wet Leg, Taylor Swift, Michael Head, The Murder Capital, Idles and Fontaines DC – a total wedding, or even car, no-no apparently who managed to put out two albums in the time covered by the catch-up) alongside stuff which has made less of an impression since being added to my library.

There has been older stuff filling holes on the iPod – not sure how the The Go-Betweens’ original of Cattle and Cane was not there earlier, although it dates back to the early days of the journey through I.

The Soup Dragons and Ciccone Youth were added in a bid to recreate an old mid-80s C90 – only missing America and Me by The Red Guitars – while a deeper dive into John Prine’s back catalogue followed his untimely loss in the early days of the pandemic and added the original (and Jason Isbell’s version) to the 10,000 Maniacs version of Hello in There.

And welcome discoveries (Bonny Light Horsemen) were joined by some new arrivals – The National, Boygenius and The Murder Capital (again) making strong plays for this year’s best-of lists.

Often as the soundtrack for watching kangaroos.

Share

I Found Love to I Must Have Been Blind

MY diary for much of 2020 has not exactly been full. It has been – and remains – pretty much empty. My routine was sorted on the road, did not need a diary.

But the morning of April 21 has long had an entry inked in – Oasis Trans South America trip ends, Hotel Majestic, Quito.

It is still there on the Google Doc which acts as my calendar, diary, life organiser, time-wasting tool and handy record of where my travels have taken me.

What actually happened on the morning of April 21 involved being woken by a whining Labrador, rolling off the sofa, throwing some clothes on parts of me that can be seen in a Zoom chat, grabbing some toast and plugging myself into my laptop for another day working from the dining room table.

Not exactly what was planned, but that goes for pretty much all of us at the moment.

So instead of getting up in Quito, probably grabbing some breakfast at the bakery on the corner and checking out for somewhere slightly less ironically named for a couple of night’s before the final, sad farewells and a flight home, reality finds me back home and falling into some form of new routine.

Well, sort of back.

And some sort of reality.

Rather than bringing you up to date on the events of the final stretch through Colombia and retreading some familiar ground back to Quito in the South America blog – we will get there with a few mop up posts and some advice for anyone, eventually, following in our footsteps – we have the rather sooner than planned return of the A-Z iPod blog.

For any new readers who have stumbled across this site expecting tales of travel – or even marmots – the A-Z is an alphabetical journey through my iPod, listened to in order and chronicled in these posts amid a torrent of tangents and whatever is running through my mind when tapping away at the keyboard

Me from the past can explain how it works here:

A to Z – How To Get There

There are a few big differences between the return of the A-Z and when it went on its holidays in September ahead of my South American adventure.

For starters, until just before the off was single, ensconced in my flat, working on a paper and was free to wander, headphones in and working my way through the rising number of tracks on the journey – 14,739 tracks and rising.

Now am not single, know an awful lot more about Australian time zones, am locked down at my sister’s during the coronavirus pandemic and doing some freelance reporting with the avowed aim of writing an article that does not involve the words coronavirus pandemic.

And listening to the A-Z is mainly being done during my daily, government-sanctioned exercise – a walk around a variety of routes along the pavements (and middle of the road to maintain social distancing) close to home, invariably via a bit of shopping for some essentials. Wine, crisps, beer…

It has also been exclusively on the new iPod Touch bought not long before the off due to fears that my battered, well-travelled iPodClassic was not going to make it all the way round.

Those fears were grounded as, pressed into action for the first time when its new cousin had been borrowed by the person sitting next to me on the truck, it coughed, spluttered and gave up the ghost, the screen showing nothing but some bizarre pattern which was pretty easy to interpret – this is an ex-iPod.

So my daily wanderings and still fairly new, if much-used, companion have been continuing the lengthy meander through songs beginning with I.

I Am The Resurrection to I Found A Way

There are a lot of them. An awful lot.

It’s been an eclectic section from Palma Violets to Brendan Parry with a fair few familiar faces, plus a few you might not expect.

We had a fair few people declaring their hatred for things – Nerys Hughes (Half Man Half Biscuit) and This Town (John Grant) while The Jesus and Mary Chain vowed both love and hate of Rock ‘n’ Roll in different entries.

Other declarations of love came for NYC (Andrew WK, who with I Get Wet twice raised questions about why there was, briefly, so much excitement about him) and You (Billie Eilish – one for the kids there and perfectly good, bar the insistence on refusing to use capitals letters).

Half Man Half Biscuit were also back in this stretch with I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves) and Sun Kil Moon with I Love My Dad, all six minutes and 16 seconds of it in contrast to just one minute forty seven seconds of the rather more wordy I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was The Greatest Night of My Life.

Maybe that is what The Smiths were referring to in I Know It’s Over but I Might Be Wrong, which brought us two outings for Radiohead. The live version is better.

And there were notable outings from The Boo Radleys (I Hang Suspended from the wonderful Giant Steps album), the almost inevitable Billy Bragg (I Keep Faith), The Sundays (I Kicked A Boy) and Paul SImon (I Know What I Know).

Blink-182 popped up with I Miss You, a reminder that they had the ability to turn out a good tune, if not pronounce head properly. Which still grates.

But last word in this entry goes to John Prine.

When I Have Met My Love Today popped up fairly early in this section, it was just another in the long list of songs sending me towards further exploration of a veteran artist who had passed me by for many years.

His death from COVID-19 adds poignancy and has sent me down the rabbit hole of his substantial back catalogue to discover quite why so many artists name him as a major influence.

And provides a sobering moment of quite why we are going through this strange form of existence.

  • As well as John Prine, it would be remiss not to mention two other musicians lost to the coronavirus – Andy Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, who certainly crops up on this journey, and former Soft Boys (among others) bassist Matthew Seligman. Not sure if he plays on anything on my iPod, but we were fellow members of a Facebook community which has provided me with plenty of fun and musical tips over the last few years. A member of David Bowie’s band at Live Aid, he is spoken of in nothing but glowing terms by fellow members of the group.
Share
 

Please log in to vote

You need to log in to vote. If you already had an account, you may log in here

Alternatively, if you do not have an account yet you can create one here.