Fieldwork

13Jan20

I suppose it’s a little unfair to assume that the arrival of a new year is necessarily something to celebrate, that said this recent one has noticably failed in its efforts to inspire, as out here in the flatlands things are, well… a little flat.

Personally I’m blaming the events of Thursday 12th December and the fact that the winter so far seems to have involved little more than incessant rain, neither of which I can do a great deal about, but neither of which have exactly lightened the mood.

So in an attempt to, however briefly, jumpstart my serotonin I’m returning to Mackenzie Crook’s reworked Worzel Gummidge, which as with his work on detectorists, was as much a paean to the English countryside as it was about the unlikely life of a walking, talking scarecrow.


01553 828277 0 Calls
Jnc Old A17, PCO1, Hay Green Road South, Terrington St. Clement PE34 4PU

While looking through the local paper last week I came a across a full page ‘Notification under section 49(4) of the Communications Act 2003’. This notification details the “proposal by British Telecommunications plc for the removal of public call boxes pursuant to part 2 of the Schedule to a Direction published by Ofcom on 14 March 2006 (‘the Direction’)”.

In essence this is an announcement of BTs intent to remove the “payphone facility at 21 kiosks at various locations in The Borough of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk”, whether because of a lack of objection from the Parish Council or because the payphone in question has not been used for 12 months (“or use has been infrequent”).

Of the 21 payphones on the list six have had no calls made from them in the last 12 months, so for reasons that will hopefully become clearer to me at some point in the future I decided to visit them before their respective handset symbols eventually disappear from the maps. 

Above (and below) are the locations (with supporting photographic evidence) of the first three (it’s always best to set a gentle pace with this kind of ‘work’). To be honest I was hoping to record the sound of them variously in action but none were in sufficient health to successfully make outgoing calls. After I returned home I also tried all three numbers to see whether incoming calls fared any better, with only the phone at Hay Green South (the box consumed by nature rather than low-grade vandalism) still accepting callers – so for the sake of the completists I’ve kept a recording (nobody was home).



01553 828483 0 calls
PCO PC01 Alma Chase, Terrington St Clement PE34 4LJ

01945 780292 0 Calls
PCO PCO1, Walnut Road, Walpole St. Peter PE14 7NP


Rule Britannia

14Nov19

Am currently in the middle of watching the second series/season (you choose) of Britannia, the historical fantasy drama created by Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth and James Richardson.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that the historical aspects of the drama probably wouldn’t hold up under too much scrutiny, however regardless of that it’s still an enormously enjoyable piece of television with some mighty handsome opening titles by the people at Me & the Bootmaker

Sadly I’ve not been able to find the titles from series/season two anywhere online, which is a shame because they are particularly good even by the standards of the first series. So in the absence of access to them here’s a few images from the first, which for full effect should be viewed while listening to Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man.


If you’ve missed the first five volumes of Speechification then further context can be found elsewhere, specifically:

here for Volume 001 (you have to start somewhere),
here for Volume 002 (adventures in sound),
here for Volume 003 (the cold war),
here for Volume 004 (the flatlands), and
here for Volume 005 (
Mr Richard Dawson).

Volume #6 features three pieces of radio, all the work of Chris Watson, “a founding member of the influential Sheffield based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire” and then since a man who has “developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals and habitats from around the world”.

Watson’s involvement in a programme is always a good sign, I’ve enjoyed so much of his work over the years which is borne out by the fact that the first two pieces of radio included here are from blog posts from 2013 and 2014 respectively. Only the third is from recent listening, although this in turn was originally broadcast back in 2010 so if you’re here for what’s new you may need to continue your search.

BBCR4 ~ The Station / Chris Watson (from a blogpost on 3rd December 2013)
Over the years I’ve spent a good deal of time sat in Newcastle Central Station. Time normally spent waiting for a train to return me back to the flatlands. Today I visited the station as a destination rather than a point on my route home.

Not to take part in the noble art of trainspotting, but to listen to The Station – sound recordist Chris Watson’s twenty-four hour soundscape of Newcastle upon Tyne’s Central Station.

BBCR4 ~ The Castle / Chris Watson (from a blogpost on 16th December 2014)
A year ago today I posted the text below along with a couple of pictures of Dunstanburgh Castle (including the one above). The view of the castle across Embleton Bay is one which I’ve had the chance to enjoy many times over the years, and as panoramas go I think it’s one that’s going to be difficult to better.

Well if the handsome coast at Embleton Bay in Northumberland was good enough for Mr Joseph Mallord William Turner then it’s good enough for Mrs Weir and I.

To be frank there aren’t many places I’d up sticks from dear old Norfolk for but in another life I’d be happy to trade my time on the edge of the flatlands for the dark skies of Britain’s most northerly county.

So I was enormously pleased to stumble upon ‘The Castle: A Portrait in Sound’ yesterday over on BBC Radio 4 Extra, which sees the brilliant wildlife audio recordist Chris Watson capturing the sound of the ruins being slowly reclaimed by nature. It’s a extremely fine thirty minutes of radio which I recommend to you, and one which has reminded me to begin planning my return to Northumberland much sooner than later.

BBCR4 ~ Bridging The Gap
And finally a programme on what I suppose Newcastle is probably best known for (dissenters on this point can correspond with me at the usual address), namely its river and the Tyne Bridge.

 


I took the picture above earlier today while out at Sculthorpe Moor with Mrs Weir, and it triggered a memory. After checking my records – it always pays to keep meticulous records – I was able to confirm that I took an almost identical photograph on the very same day a year previously. 

Scanning further still through the records it seems I took another similar photo twelve months prior to that, albeit this time on November 12th. Not entirely sure how we’ve ended up at the same tree on the same day, however it’s clear the rewards speak for themselves.


Two Tribes

09Oct19

I had a few hours to spare in London on Sunday while Mrs Weir returned to the fourth-largest football stadium in England (it was the third biggest until recently, although given who has now nudged ahead of them I doubt it’s a fact they’ll now refer to quite so often), so I decided to continue my journey along the North Circular to the The National Archives in Kew for their Protect And Survive exhibition.

The exhibition was perfectly fine given the size of the space available, with a few interesting pieces on show, including a Special Branch report on a Mr Eric Blair who they accused of dressing “in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours”, however I would have liked to have seen more, much more, given that (I presume) the archive must hold a whole host of material relating to the subject.

That said, my visit did allow me to pick up an early copy of Taras Young’s new book Nuclear War in the UK (published today by the excellent Four Corners Books) which ticked many more boxes for me than the exhibition given that it’s packed full of some of the many fascinating pieces of ephemera produced during the period – really can’t recommend it enough.

Taras talks about the book (and the wider subject) on the latest episode of Atomic Hobo (another recommendation for you), a weekly podcast from Julie McDowall “about the ways in which Britain and the US prepared for nuclear attack during the cold war”. 

 


Risk Maps

05Oct19

Encountered Dangers #3 by Ace170 aka Richard Weston

After a enormously dull week at work it was heartening to return home yesterday to find a delivery from Ellipress – a digital print studio run by Jonathan Elliman, who produces work for a variety of artists including This Northern Boy (aka Rob Turpin, who he also produces the North V South podcast with (“the podcast that is, and isn’t about design”), Guy Warley and AceJet170 (aka Richard Weston).

The (handsomely packaged) delivery in question was a print from AceJet170’s new Encountered Dangers series which he describes as “edited map keys, repurposed for Peter-Saville-meets-Alfred-Wainwright-like prints intended to provoke thoughts of an unknown adventure”.

I’ve long been a fan of Richard’s work having been a reader of his consistently great blog on “found type, print and stuff” for a number of years, and one of his brilliant homages to Romek Marber’s grid sits just a few feet from where I type. So when I saw that he was working on something “extracted from Ordnance Survey map keys” I was reasonably confident that I’d be investing in whatever the finished product was, given that thanks to my dad I am a man that holds the world of all things cartographic in high regard.

Although a little late to the party I eventually got round to ordering Encountered Dangers #5 last week as a starting point to what I knew would no doubt become the whole collection in time, however in a stroke of good luck (and in an act of great generosity from Mr Elliman) all five arrived as I happened to be 500th customer of the Ellipress shop.

So a big thanks to Jonathan and a huge bravo to Richard Weston – because the prints are just great. Thoughtful pieces of everyday iconography (to some of us anyway) taken from their natural habitat and reframed to become something new, something perhaps of a journey not yet taken, or a cipher somehow, for a location unknown – once I work it out I’ll let you know. 

Encountered Dangers #5 by Ace170 aka Richard Weston

Encountered Dangers #2 by Ace170 aka Richard Weston

 




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