Olivia told me a very interesting fact today about the giant hogweed, so I did some research. First of all, The Return Of The Giant Hogweed is the final track on Side 1 of Nursery Cryme (1971) by Genesis. The lyric details the danger of the plant (Heracleum Mantegazziani) discovered by a Victorian explorer in the Southern hills of Russia and gifted to the Royal Gardens at Kew (I used to live in Kew by the way). The plant can grow up to twelve feet tall and has a dangerous sap that if it gets on your skin it can give you third degree burns – but only in the sunlight. That’s the key to the fascinating fact, it only burns when the sun is shining, but not at night because the toxicity is photosensitive. This from Wikipedia: “The chemical needs to be “photoactive”, which means that when it absorbs light, the absorbed energy produces molecular changes that cause toxicity”. So this means if you fall into the plant at night you won’t be burned, but beware the plant in the daylight. This is also called ‘Reverse Draculaism’.
Today was a strange day as a confused nation wondered what we were supposed to do with our new slogan ‘Stay Alert’. Waiting at the parcel office today, waiting outside for a young lad inside, he stopped at the door and said “Can you let me out?”. I wasn’t blocking him from coming out, there was another woman by the door ferreting through her bag, she must have lost her parcel notification. He looked at me again and said “2 meters”. I felt like asking him if he had some kind of measuring implement so we could check that we really were breaking the rules. This kid was a teenager, not exactly the high risk category and I wasn’t sitting in his lap coughing. Earlier on in the day a couple of kids had hit the Wherrytown skateboard park by the sea. An older man walking by told them they were flaunting the rules, going against the regulations. They called him a weirdo as he took pictures of them, presumably to report them.
But wait a minute, hasn’t Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson just relaxed the rules? Are we not allowed to play sports with our nearest and dearest (this was just three lads), aren’t we allowed to sunbathe and sit on the beach and have we not been encouraged to go back to work and is the London Underground not packed on this first day’s return to work? So which is it, hassle each other, stay paranoid or back to work and take your chances? How come we’re okay altogether in a shop that sells food but not a bookshop? How busy does your local bookshop get (if you have one) in comparison with your supermarket? I never knew how a bookshop survived when they were allowed to open. The result of this announcement is that no one really knows what is acceptable behaviour. Some people wear masks, some people don’t. Some people say wearing the same mask all the time is worse than not having one at all. Other countries are responding differently to easing the restrictions. People have become more aggressive, more unfriendly, and instead of seeing a community come together I see suspicion and mistrust, if you think some people’s ability to be reasonable was bad before, now they’re loaded.
Whilst we are on the subject of tragedy I saw a notification today that Brian Howe had died. Sad, I thought, but who is Brian Howe? I then discovered that he was the singer in Bad Company. Really? How did I miss that? Apparently they continued with him as the singer for years after Paul Rodgers left. I saw Bad Company on their first British tour, stood in a lift with Paul Rodgers in LA (he’s small) and met original Bad Company and Mott The Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs at an Ian Hunter gig with Boydy in Milton Keynes. I even spoke to him after the show. I have five albums by them, how can I not know who their singer was for eight years? Did I just lose interest? Was I following Talk Talk instead in 1986 (The Colour Of Spring), Sonic Youth, EVOL, The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead, REM’s Lifes Rich Pageant – I guess so. I do like to think I don’t leave them behind when the new trendies arrive. I loved Sex Pistols and Steve Hillage simultaneously. On a real tangent, did anybody think it was totally weird when Paul Rodgers joined Queen?
I love the Free albums, that was a Blues based band that also had the magic, Bad Co not so much (moments), that must have been it. I knew it was all over despite them carrying on. I wonder whether these older musicians were better when they were younger or was it just that they were doing what was happening when they were younger? You get superseded.
The outer studio door was closed today. There was a knock on the window, it was the Hermes man. By the time I got up there to get the package, he was agitated. “I can’t wait this long for you to answer”, he said. “I have 100 packages to deliver”. What ever happened to customer service? I told him we’re a recording studio, I can’t just get there immediately. It was another example of stressed out, agitation, no patience. But I wonder about these companies, it’s just a bloke in a car with his Mrs (I’ve seen them about delivering). It’s not like a proper service where they drive those weird tall brown vans with the sprung seat and wear a brown uniform (UPS?). But Hermes is still a courier company, you can’t get agitated because someone doesn’t come to the door the second you knock. The world is turning into a Basil Fawlty nightmare.
Music today was first fuelled by what came through the post. There was a copy of the debut Strider album Exposed (1973) on eBay, he was asking £9.99 but no one was bidding, I made a £5.99 offer and he accepted it. It’s not the easiest record to find at a decent price and probably not the greatest record ever made either, but it does have a Rock version of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Get Ready (Temptations).
I did a sesh with Tyler in Portland. He’s trying to move forward with music and I was giving him some advice. He has already made albums, The Sweets Of Mars under the name of Aura Zorba, released in February this year, is his second. His label sent me a vinyl copy of it today. It’s like a Psychedelic T. Rex. Check it out, you can find it here.
Then, in celebration of the giant hogweed story I listened to those four amazing Genesis albums:
Trespass – 1970
Nursery Cryme – 1971
Foxtrot – 1972
Selling England By The Pound – 1973
Song Of The Day is False Flag, where Dare and I share the vocals and Dare wrote the lyrics. It appears on Noctorum’s Honey Mink Forever (2011). It’s for those that believe and those that don’t, as far as conspiracy theories are concerned, I’m agnostic.
We saw them whisper in your ear
The words that you expected to hear
Handshakes all ’round
You climbed into your private jet
Not a hint of remorse or regret
Your masters smile
The battle nearly won
Where were the interceptors
Where was Captain Kirk
Why was there no warning
The radar didn’t work
Such a perfect execution
The media played a part
While the heroes and the fallen
Are all left in the dark
Meanwhile in the tower
I’m debating what to do
I never did have a head for heights
But I have to make a move
The terror of a certain death
The screams, the smoke, the chaos
As loved ones hear the phones go dead
And turn to those who betrayed us
And in the crackling dawn
They cleared the debris away
So it would never be known
What really happened that day
And they relied on us all
To believe what we were told
So full of shock and of awe
We trusted them with our souls
We trusted them with our souls
Our captain was looking nervous
As the sun set on the bay
He called the gunners to their stations
The anchors hauled away
An eerie calm descended
On the Gulf of Mexico
No Spanish through the glasses
Just a ripple in the status quo
Meanwhile on the foredeck
I’m debating what to do
The ocean looms below me
Cold and deep and blue
The ship is listing badly
Soon we all could drown
I thought I saw a gunboat
One of our’s – before we all went down
At home the bankers are pleased
Investment trebles that day
The stock exchange is busy
Conscription gets underway
And truth is twisted to suit
The aims of merciless men
They’re sacrificing our lives
To iron and steel again
To iron and steel again
(Willson-Piper / Mason)
Noctorum – Honey Mink Forever (2011)