On the way back from the pool the other day I was walking along and a kid about 8 crossed the road in front of me. He was looking intensely at his phone and just stepped right out into the road with no awareness of cars or that it was in fact a road. I told him, “Look when you are crossing the road”. He nodded, acknowledged that it was probably not the smartest move but he carried on down the footpath looking at his phone. I wonder how many kids and adults have been killed looking at their phones. Olivia told me that the other day she walked across the road looking the wrong way forgetting she was in England, it’s easy to do. Whenever I’ve been in a country with the steering wheel on the left when I come to England I go to the wrong side of the car for weeks afterwards. There was recently a controversial incident here where an American diplomat’s wife drove out onto the wrong side of the road and killed a boy on a bike – and then left the country. We are creatures of habit, that’s why some people never learn.
Winter has most definitely arrived and the darkness is coming. Is this a metaphor? Perhaps, as you see the chaos of America in this election year, you cannot imagine that there won’t be violence, it seems inevitable and as the pandemic fear sweeps Europe again, one wonders how to shake ourselves from this bombardment of despair. Society seems destined for uncertainty, civil unrest, polarising opinions and each side convinced that the other side is wrong. Opinion has turned into fact, it didn’t use to be that way. Proof doesn’t change people’s minds but it’s been like that for longer than you think. Did you know that the Earth is 6,000 years old and flat?
As the darkness was quickly falling today, Olivia and I went down to the sea and the supermarket to breathe in the air and buy 200 rolls of toilet paper. There were swans in the sea today, two together and another by the rocks. It seems odd to see swans in the sea, it must be a plot by Brussels to change the British way of life – our swans are on ponds, how dare you? Anyway, I’ll be leaving England soon for Portugal, I’ll be making records with Ronaldo, having pastel de nata with Mourinho and exposing myself to another interesting culture and another language. Olivia has already made headway with the vocabulary, the grammar and the pronunciation. Portugal has 10 million people, it’s a small country with a large history but I’ve only ever been there once – a gig in Lisbon in the late eighties or early nineties, flew in, flew out. My mate Jay Aston from Gene Loves Jezebel has had some success there with the band. It’s strange how certain countries take to a group and another country doesn’t. We’ll see how it is there musically, I know they have Fado stars and the Portuguese guitar. Vasco da Gama, the 15th-century explorer who discovered the sea route from Europe to India is Portuguese. Porto, where we are going, has maintained its historical buildings, they were neutral in World War II so they were never bombed plus it’s only an hourish to Spain, 7 hours to France. What an exciting prospect it is. What chaos and trouble Brexit has caused, we’ll see how smart a decision it was in years to come.
Today we bought a SodaStream. It was expensive, £70! It was reduced from £100! We did it so we could stop buying hundreds of plastic water bottles, plus they’re heavy. Also now the recycling has gone, we have to find alternative places to dispose of them – it’s been the skateboard park bottle bin in recent weeks. One wonders about councils, the recycling gone, the fountain in Morrab Gardens not working for 2 or 3 years and the latest is the drama of the building in front of the supermarket. It looks like an old cottage, it was once a restaurant and seems to be owned by an Indian man who has been trying to get planning permission to do something with it. Well the other day, huge banners appeared outside saying “I am a victim of institutional racism”. Next time I’m down there I’ll take a pic or two. He’s been trying to do something with the building but the council won’t give him planning permission. Also, Dare told me that somebody was murdered in there!!! Yikes!
Music today is still on the progressive jazzy fusiony trip but with a different flavour, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong – the album Shamal was released in 1976. I’ve had this album and the follow-up Gazeuse!, also released in 1976, since then. Shamal was produced by Nick Mason and is the transition between Daevid Allen’s cosmic Gong and Pierre Moerlen’s Fusion gong. It features Mike Howlett on bass and vocals who later produced your fave bands from the eighties, A Flock Of Seagulls, The Alarm, Tears For Fears, Blancmange, Gang Of Four, China Crisis and many more – the complete opposite of Gong.
Mireille Bauer plays all the marimba, glockenspiel and xylophones to great effect on this album. Patrice Lemoine on keys, Didier Malherbe on saxes and flute and Moerlen on drums with various band members playing percussive instruments. So it’s a mainly French affair except for Howlett who is a Fiji born ex Sydney sider. Ex Gongers Steve Hillage and partner Miquette Giraudy guest on guitar and keys on two tracks. Jorge Pinchevsky guests on violin and Sandy Colley on vocals on the title track. It’s very much a World Music influenced record. Highly recommended (if you like this kind of thing).
Gazeuse! is the same kind of thing with a slightly different lineup that includes the edition of virtuoso guitarist Allan Holdsworth (he also plays violin and glockenspiel, who knew). Didier Malherbe and Mireille Bauer remain in the lineup with the addition of Benoît Moerlen on extra vibraphone. Francis Moze plays bass, gong and piano. Mino Cinélu plays percussion. The album was produced by Dennis Mackay who has an impressive CV and no Wikipedia page. It’s warm, inventive World Fusion, what’s not to like?