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:
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.
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.