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clarion call

A friend of mine plays sax in about six different bands, deputises in more, and owns top-of-the-range instruments from baritone through to soprano. His entire adult life he’s lived on his earnings from playing sax. That’s not for me. Early on, I couldn’t afford an instrument so could only play when I could borrow one, and later I really didn’t enjoy late nights as a lifestyle, I much prefer early mornings, and like I said before, playing alongside guitarists is a sure and inevitable road to deafness.

Plus, I prefer to concentrate on one sax. It used to be tenor, but I moved to alto, mainly cos it’s smaller and easier to lug about. Pretty soon I’m going to go to soprano, for increased portability and cos I love it, but I’m not sure that I might be giving myself an unnecessary hoop to jump through because it’s difficult to play and it doesn’t look or sound like a saxophone.

And being the ‘sax’ player is important when you’re busking. People like it, they really do. Playing what looks like a brass clarinet and sounds like an oboe, not so much.


I’m self-taught on saxophone. I learned where the keys were by a process of trial and error on a sax that a pal left in our shared flat. I learned how to blow it the same, and everything I do, good and bad, is mine.

I taught myself scales on the sax but never really learned what the low C# B or Bb keys did, ditto anything above a high D. I also used a double-lip embouchure because, the idea of putting my bare teeth on a hard rubber or metal mouthpiece seemed stupid.

From there I joined a soul band and learned what the sax was capable of. But I still knew nothing about reeds (I just bought the thickest I could get away with) or mouthpieces (I used whatever came with the sax) and I didn’t understand the difference between alto and tenor, only that I knew tenor was cooler. It was the grown up sax.

But all of this was on borrowed instruments because I couldn’t afford one. Then one day I had to give back the sax I was playing and my playing ended for a few years. When I could afford to buy my own I took it up again, and played in bands for years, but now I only busk because bands, guitarists in particular, have blown my ears and I’m getting deaf.

When this lockdown is over I’m giving up tuition and I’m going to busk more. The hourly pay isn’t as good, and it sucks to be playing in a rainswept doorway when no one is passing by, but most days I get to play music exactly how I want to play it, and good people give me money for doing it.

Which is nice.



Whilst vaguely on the topic of acting, it struck me a while back that the reason that some very famous musicians can’t act is because their musical persona is a performance in itself – so, Madonna is a performance, Sting is a performance, and so on, and if you see them in a film, they’re obviously playing themselves. To expect someone who has honed a single persona and made a huge success of it, to shed this role completely and pretend to be someone different again, is a bit of a stretch.

Interestingly, The Rock manages to be The Rock while also being Dwayne Johnson. He takes the piss out of his persona while simultaneously being that persona. And does it really well. In Be Cool, one of his first performances in film he self-deprecates the idea of someone who looks good and wants to be in the movies, and who can raise and eyebrow, while actually being someone who looks good and wants to be in the movies, and can raise an eyebrow.

I think that takes humility. It takes sense of humour.

Schwarzeneggar did the same. At a time when the film world was looking for small, wiry, edgy ‘actors’ like Duston Hoffman and Robert DeNiro, along came Arnold, built like a Greek god, and not particularly cool or edgy. Hercules in New York is many things, but it aint cool and it aint edgy. And the accent? Movie suicide. But he pushed through and helped create the action hero genre as we know it.

But on consideration, Sting and Madonna can act. They’re already acting, as Sting, and Madonna.


In my teens I was in a youth theatre, and though I enjoyed it, and I was involved in shows across the country, I never wanted to be an actor. It just wasn’t a ‘thing’ for me. Recently, I tried doing a YT podcast and, ditto. There was nothing in it. I didn’t get it, and I certainly wasn’t any good at it.

It’s not that I have a problem performing, I play saxophone in the street and people give me money; I used to host a weekly jazz show on local radio; I teach, which is 90% performance. I’m not shy.

But some things we’re not meant to do. Some media are not for us. Discovering that is liberating.

I’m a written word person.


I started swapping AI-generated stories with Laura and then I sent her some AI jazz, so she sent me a track I hadn’t heard before by Desmond Cheese called VHS Dope Master.

I think this could be the soundtrack of my lockdown.

Just the final chapter of Julien Trent #1 to complete, then I’ll let it marinate before draft 2.


AI writers

After trying TTT I looked for other AI writing programmes, and they all seemed to require register/logins, even though most were free.

One of the rules of iron-hard the internet is, when asked to register for a free site, 99% of people will look elsewhere. Or return to a previous site that requires no register/login.

Which I did.

Talk to Transformer

I went to Talk To Transformer and typed in this sentence: I always thought Shelley would be the first to die.

And TTT, which is a creative AI, completed the rest of the story.

But I am glad she never did. I knew her and her friends well. I am a survivor. And if I had to die, it would not be because I was abandoned by my old friends, it would be because I had suffered too much, because I had betrayed myself. I would not think of the others as she would. And I would never have made those dreary choruses to a hymn of some recantation of heaven’s own great song. Shelley called that happy world “De Profundis Amor” or “The Profound Love of the Father.”

We were ‘born of God’ on these two nights.

If God will not save


I’m not sure I could have written better. But just to be sure I wrote the sentence: I always thought Shelley would be the first to laugh.

And TTT completed it with this:

I know she wasn’t. I can only imagine her looking around her house and saying to herself: ‘Yes! I’m losing control of this house! What on Earth is happening? My god, I’m wearing trousers!’


I suspect I’m redundant.



I read that the new George RR Martin book is due for release in the near future. I read the books before the TV series arrived and the last one was released in 2011. I can’t remember what happened in the books, and if I want to enjoy the new one I’ll have to go back and read the previous 5 books again.

I might.

But I probably won’t.

I didn’t watch the TV series, I forget which channel it was on, but I didn’t have it, so I didn’t get to see more than the clips that became available on YT. I did watch the last episode, which wasn’t very good, but I’m told the books won’t follow that storyline.

Does the author have a duty to his readers? I’m not sure that George RR Martin did the right thing in focusing on the TV show, but whether I think he was right or wrong, it was his decision to make. Equally, as a reader, whether or not to pick up a novel series after a decade of waiting is mine.

Trent #1

I’m 2 chapters short of completing the draft one of the first Julien Trent novella. He’s a free-climber, a thief, and a civil servant, of sorts. Not sure of the title yet, but I know how it’s going to end. In total it’ll be maybe 60 pages in length and will hopefully be part of a series of 7. Equivalent to one 400 page book or thereabouts.

I’m aiming for tone and character rather than plot complexity. Each book will be a one-shot narrative, the extra details will reveal more about the characters than they do the specific storyline.

I’ll get the penultimate chapter done today.


In response to injuring my knee eighteen months ago, I had to drastically cut down on what I ate, because physically, I was so much less active. The easiest way to do this, I found, was to simply not eat before 1pm, which I’ve been doing since last October.

Now that my knee is improving, I’m becoming more active, and it’s getting tough to not break my fast until 1pm. That’s a good sign, I guess.