75rpm

30Aug14

BLOG - John Peel

Today would have been the 75th birthday of Mr John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, known to most as Mr John Peel.

If you’ve visited here before you may have caught my ramblings about John in respect of my work with the wonderful Magoo and in particular my efforts to get their second single played on the radio :

I tried to instigate this radio-play by hand delivering copies all over London town and remarkably bumped into John Peel outside BBC Radio 1, who commended me on my Bill Shankly t–shirt (boy was I trying hard) and promised to listen to the record that very evening – whether he did or not remains unclear however he played the all the tracks from the record over the next few weeks and remained a fan / friend of the band up until his death in 2004 – in fact Magoo were one of the very last bands who recorded a session for him).

As my recollection of events fade it’s nice to have some evidence to back up my claims, and having dug around the various John Peel show recordings that can be found on the excellent John Peel Wiki I stumbled upon this:

I hope John knew the extent of the affection many of us had for him whilst he was alive – as he’s still very sadly missed by the extended family of those who knew him through his largely peerless radio programmes.

Happy birthday John.


In the days leading up to our recent trip to the “finest seaside resort in Western Europe” I stumbled across this piece over on the BBC’s website talking about an exhibition on the inordinately talented illustrator Charles Tunnicliffe. Usually when I come across news like this the exhibition in question tends to be happening in some far flung corner of the kingdom, however by thankful coincidence our time in North Wales happened to be planned with almost perfect timing, seeing us arrive within reaching distance shortly after the exhibition opened.

So through a short spell of driving rain (during what was an otherwise unremittingly warm and sunshine heavy week) Mrs Weir and I travelled across Thomas Telford’s famous bridge into Anglesey to Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey’s Centre for Art and History, to pay homage to “the greatest wildlife artist of the twentieth century”.

Although many consider Tunnicliffe to be a very fine illustrator his work isn’t perhaps as well known as it should be, however if you’re as fond of the publishers Wills & Hepworth and their Ladybird books as I am you’ll know him for four of the most popular editions from the 536 series – namely What To Look For In Spring, What To Look For In Summer, What To Look For In Autumn and of course What To Look For In Winter.  

The exhibition featured a wide variety of Tunnicliffe’s work – with much of it being inspired by the island he made his home in 1947 – and included many initial sketches, measured works (he was nothing if not meticulous in his research), and finished artwork from some of the many books that he contributed to – including most importantly (for me at least) an abundance of examples from the What To Look For set supplied directly from Ladybird Books and the Reading University archive.

Plainly Charles Tunnnicliffe’s contribution to the art world was significant, however his illustrations for Ladybird Books were perhaps even more so given his role in educating generations of children and young people about the world around them. So if you’re in striking distance of Anglesey I’d highly recommend a visit to the exhibition to see the work on show, and to perhaps remind yourself, what to look for.

-

Somewhat coincidentally as I was writing this I stumbled across this documentary on BBC Radio 4 Extra, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 back in 2001.


When the late great John Peel finally made an appearance in Who’s Who, one of his interests was noted as “staring out of the window”. For as long as I can remember I’ve shared this particular recreation and to be honest I’m always a little suspicious of those who don’t.

So whilst investigating the work of photographer Brian David Stevens, in particular his wonderful Brighter Later series, I was struck by the accompanying text in which he references W.G. Seabald’s book ‘The Rings of Saturn’, where the author writes of the sea anglers in Lowestoft:

I do not believe that these men sit by the sea all day and all night so as not to miss the flounder rise or the cod come in to shallower waters, as they claim. They just want to be in a place where they have the world behind them, and before them nothing but emptiness.

So in future rather than making clumsy attempts to explain why I’m happily staring out into space I shall attempt a more poetic response and tell people that I’m enjoying being “in a place where I have the world behind me, and before me nothing but emptiness”.


Hometown Glory

17Aug14

One of Great Yarmouth’s finest exports recently pointed me in the direction of Here’s England, a book originally published in 1950 which is “aimed squarely at American travelers – it’s replete with history, architecture and practical travel information, but first and foremost it’s a book to be read for sheer enjoyment.”

Having now tracked down a copy for myself (a copy it seems once owned by the Nioga Library System) I’m delighted to see my home town coming in for great praise from the authors Ruth McKenney and Richard Bransten:

King’s Lynn was a complete, total, and wonderful surprise. When we came back to London, we discovered (sheepishly) that Lynn, as they call it for short, has for years been famous among English intellectuals, scholars, architects, poets, painters, novelists, and sophisticates in general.

I hope I shall not spoil your pleasure if I tell you in advance that King’s Lynn is a remarkable and beautiful town.

Quite what they’d think of the place some sixty years later is something we’re never going to know, however I think even the town’s most vocal supporters (and I consider myself up there with them) would be hard pressed to consider it “by far the most beautiful and interesting town in Europe” – still it’s nice to be considered in the running.

[The picture above comes from a postcard I picked up a while back, showing King's Lynn's South Gate which rather confusingly is noted as the West Gate - quite how the town has worked it's way round the compass remains unclear.]


We Are Six

17Aug14

The blog must be getting old, as I’ve just missed celebrating digyourfins reaching the grand old age of six. You’d have imagined in the intervening years I could have learnt to use my time more wisely, perhaps learning backgammon or rudimentary Spanish, but no.

So as I’ve got this far I may as well soldier on eh?


BLOG - Llandudno

I’m a lucky boy there’s no doubt of that.

Another week away with Mrs Weir, this time in the North of Wales, staying on the fringes of “the finest seaside resort in Western Europe” – according to an unattributed quote supplied by the local council. And although I can’t say I’ve been to every one of Europe’s many seaside resorts, I’ve been to more than a few and in this instance I’m largely in agreement that Llandudno more than deserves such praise. Anywhere that provides a pier, a promenade and Britain’s only cable-hauled public road tramway (operating since July 31st 1902) is alright by me.

As well as a number of holiday snaps I also tried to remember to take some field recordings, (I can’t think of what the audio equivalent of a snap is so I use the term advisably). I don’t know whether it’s because I’m so used to taking and looking back over photographs but the audio recordings seem so much more evocative than the visual ones. (That said as a disclaimer they were all made on my mobile telephone and as such are of wildly differing quality and volume).


Dennis Kelly’s Utopia has returned to Channel 4 and is as entertaining and as beautifully coloured as ever. And what’s particularly nice is that this is an apparent homage to, amongst others, the work of the mighty John Hinde.




Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114 other followers