Monday, January 01, 2007


I have been tagged for a meme.

Nikki Hastie over at Out on a Dike passed on to me the following challenge:

“Write down five things about yourself that others probably don’t know, and pass it on."

Well, this could be a challenge because like many bloggers I do tend to talk a lot about myself so I have given away quite a lot whilst I have been betwixt and between. However, I am also something of a ‘private’ person (yes folks I have quite a long list of things I don’t blog about) so there are still some marketable skeletons in the old closet….Let me see now…

My first revelation is something that I have made a lot of over the years in conversations with friends but I don’t think I have ever blogged about ( I wrote a poem about it once …but who reads poems). I was a witness to a small chunk of twentieth-century history as I was present when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It is strange to think about how important this felt at the time (both personally and also in terms of the landscape of politics). It felt like a great new world order was opening up as the Iron Curtain was raised. However, here in 2007 with Iraq, Afghanistan and the War on Terror dominating the political landscape it seems like my vision of the future was just another never-never land. The New Year is only a few minutes old and it is already providing me with waves of nostalgia.

The second revelation is quite a new thing so I have not blogged about it because I did know myself until last week. I love the music of Tracy Bonham. I particularly love the serendipitous way in which I came across her stuff via, my Space and iTunes. Thinking about it, the real revelation here is the fact that I use to be scared to go into record stores (with the notable exception of the music tents at WOMAD). It is not really that surprising. They are dank, underlit and frankly unwelcoming sink holes. They are particularly alienating for me because I feel a strong sense of disconnection with the counter staff. This was not just an age thing. I also felt disconnected from them because I can not hear or be heard at the counters and I have trouble reading body language (always a good recipe for paranoia). This is bad, for me and for the shop, because I want to connect when I buy music! I want what passes for wisdom in the world of pop. I want to talk music.

I have always been a word of mouth kind of guy. I like my friends to play me records they like. I like their enthusiasm even when I hate what they are playing. But the typical record stores don’t really cater for this kind of conversation. They are also a good example of the paradox of choice. Full of intimidating options that I feel I can’t use. They just leave me feeling battered. I blogged about Pandora last year (2006). I still stand by my initial enthusiasm. However, I now see fitting into a much wider vista of joy which includes a lot of other sites and people. In fact one of the great pleasures of the last year has been my regular meetings with my friend Andrew at the end of which we would e-mail each other a list of URLs for stuff on YouTube , Flickr and god knows what else. I have felt re-connected.

The third revelation reaches back to my childhood and will be familiar to my family. When I was eight/nine I wrote a long fantasy piece about a purple giraffe (with very long ears) called Winpo. This was an interesting tale that covered the usual sub-Tolkeineque landscape of trolls and goblins. I had not learnt much about economy or history in those days so the battle scenes (approximately 99 percent of the text) also contained pint-sized planes, tiny purple battle tanks and flame-throwers. The anachronisms were solved by an optimism featured in many a Bruce Willis Lie-Hard movie. Things got further muddle by the addition of lots of very small giraffes as allies. I would love to write in that unrestricted way again.

The fourth revelation is that I really enjoy visiting the British Library reading rooms. It is not the building so much or the rather barn-like humanities section. It is certainly not about the long wait for the books to come through. It is just that I like the feeling of being around thinking (which is daft of course because the place is full of muttering academics). I am a bit of a research groupie I guess. I enjoy the strange, transitory and wonderfully naïve sense of having lots of books nearby but it is also that sense of almost belonging. I don’t do clubs (insert Groucho Marx cliche here) but the BL is about as close to a sense of club as I want to get. Weird huh!

The last thing is sort of seasonal. I have never really discussed the fact that I don’t send Christmas cards. Please understand this does not mean I am Scrooge or that I hate Christmas on principle (though I have been challenged to like the current festive season). It is more about the sheer waste involved in mass producing and distributing the things. I also think that it is somewhat sad that you get all your greetings at the same time of the year. So I decided that I would send every one I like an individualized e-mail in early January instead. This has proved to be a nice sentiment rather than a practical scheme because the trouble with adopting this craft based approach to long-distance love is that it takes for ages. I suspect that I might be resorting to a round-robin or perhaps a triangular tit this year (which sort of defeats the desire to get away from a mass-produced object but hey ho). Don’t be offended if you have not received one of my missives yet this year (it is only a few hours old) but I’ll get there..I’ll get there…

I am going to tag Nicki Hastie back (is that allowed and do we care) because her tag came at just the right moment to alter my own personal history. I am also going to try and tag Toby Barnes and Tim Wright …mainly because these two guys were responsible for getting me involved in Playtime back in October…which I have to say was one of the best days I had in 2006.

Happy New Year!



Blogger Nicki Hastie said...

Hi Gavin,

Thanks for doing this meme proud, and I appreciate the circular referentiality. I've a feeling you are inviting me to dig deeper into my consciousness to find a new spin on my personal history.

You won't know this, but I have you to thank for introducing me to Pandora in 2006, following your blog entry. I've enjoyed many a new musical journey since.

Happy New Year!


3:09 PM  
Blogger jumping jack said...

Dear N,

Pandora is good isn't it!

I am not sure that two bouts of honesty are compulsory...thoug it might make an interesting challenge.

3:13 PM  

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