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Monthly Archives: June 2020

reasons to be cheerful

Sadie, my cheap chinese soprano sax is a little wayward, tuning-wise, and it’s quite light and flimsy, but it’s very flimsiness means it vibrates sympathetically. I’ve played top-end Yamahas and they’re built like girders, but they’re not lively or responsive, they’re actually quite inert by comparison. I’ve played Sadie more than any of the other sopranos I’ve owned.

Price doesn’t always equate to quality but even when it does, that doesn’t mean you’re going to enjoy the quality or that you’ll hate the cheap stuff. The best pair of jeans I ever owned was a no-name brand I bought from a charity shop. The best car I owned had rattly doors and a cheap plastic interior (though to be fair, it was an Impreza). My favourite wine is a Californian red that I buy from Sainsbury’s for £5 a bottle.

Quality is nice, but a high price isn’t a precondition of satisfaction.


I’m almost done with the thing I’m working on, but the 3-4,000 words I estimated will be closer to 8,000.

So I still have about 4-5,000 words to do. It’s tapering off, which is not a good thing. It should end.


I began reading a novel called The Swan Thief, or Thieves, I can’t remember, even though it’s no more than five minutes since I was reading it.

It was very literary. It was very well written. I deleted it from my kindle. It was boring.

It was a time thief.


The thing I’m working on right now, it has one more chapter of maybe 3-4,000 words and then it’s done. After that it has to sleep for a few months until I come back to it and do draft 2.

As someone said on youtube, draft 2 is where you make people think you knew what you were doing in draft 1.

a la mode

As a musician, I’m self-taught, which is good in many ways: my ear is quick to pick things up, I know where to fit in within a band without either disappearing over overwhelming everyone else, I can sit on a drumbeat without ever having to think about it (unless it’s in 15/11 or something – that’d take a few seconds longer to work out the groove) and I can instinctively harmonise or solo on a piece of music.

I went through a phase where I was gigging every week with Count Rippoffski and he rarely told me the title of the song, I’d just lean in and ask ‘what key’ after he’d begun playing. It usually worked out fine.

But I have virtually no theory.

Major scale, dorian scale and whatever comes into my head, that’s about the size of my theoretical knowledge. I played a proper jazz gig with Ralphie one time, I knew the tunes but not the changes, so every time it came to me playing a solo he’d lean across from the piano and whisper “Bbm, F, Gm…” and so on, and I just let it go. It sounded ok. Was quite good fun too.

Out of the blue this morning, I got a message from Johnno telling me about the modes of the melodic minor scale. So I practiced them today and while I can’t say the modes sounded particularly pleasant, in fact I thought they were a tad dissonant, and not in a good way, but it gave an extra dimension to my playing.

I think he’s adopted me as a student.

things I want

I feel the need to listen to Bill Nighy on the BBC iPlayer. Wonder what he’s been doing lately?

I also fancy re-listening to the radio adaptation of Neverwhere.

Apart from that I want a new steel framed MTB with rigid forks, and a Yamaha tenor saxophone.

And that’s about it.



I don’t know how it’s possible but I’m missing the winter. Last year we had no snow and I need a cold blitz by November.

A three-month white-out would be perfect.


Got a lot of free downloads coming in the next few weeks.


I woke last night before 3am and it was already light. Got up, checked my emails, read a bit, went back to sleep around four and it was full daylight.

The latitude here is only eleven degrees south of the arctic circle, so nighttime is short in the summer. In Scotland it’s even less. My family come from Thurso, and up there it barely gets dark in the summer.