Service has been interrupted by the business of moving house – on the subject of which, more later.

Meanwhile, here goes with a somewhat ramshackle post, still to be sorted, in the interests of clearing the decks a bit. 


In The Times of 27.3.14, Will Hodgkinson reported on the impending release of a new Johnny Cash album, Out Among The Stars, put together from tapes made in 1981 and 1984 and stored away until they were rediscovered by the singer’s son, John Carter Cash, in 2012.

The full report is behind the Times paywall but the link to it starts at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/music/article4045934.ece/

In the course of it, Hodgkinson recalls that after a spell at the Betty Ford Clinic, in 1983, Cash wrote a novel, The Man In White, based on the story of St. Paul. You can get a Kindle edition from Amazon for about six quid and I must.

The piece also mentions a 1988 album of Cash covers by alt’ artists, including Mary Mary of Leicester’s Gaye Bykers On Acid, called Til Things Are Brighter, which I’ve never heard but want to – especially as the driving force behind it was, apparently, Jon Langford, stalwart of my favourite alt.country label, Bloodshot Records of Chicago.

Somebody has posted the album as a single track at


Same reporter, same paper, made Angel Olsen – “previously known, if at all, as backing singer for cult Kentucky songwriter Will Oldham” – sound intriguing.

He said: “Olsen’s album Burn Your Fire For No Witness has been one of this year’s unexpected joys.”

Hear her live at


Telegraph music writer Helen Brown did the same job for Baltimore trio Future Islands on 22.3.14 …

It’s impossible for me to know how I’d feel about this Baltimore-based synth-rock trio’s fourth album if I hadn’t seen their incendiary performance on US television’s Late Show with David Letterman last month. Anybody still unaware of this extraordinary spectacle should head for YouTube now to watch frontman Samuel T Herring’s glorious display of deranged sincerity.

See the clip she is talking about at




Loved Gary Younge’s story, Gdn 15.3.2014 …

The conductor was striding through the early train from Paddington to Penzance, apologising as we shuddered to a halt just east of the Tamar. “I’m sorry for the delay,” he told Tony Benn, sitting opposite me. “There was a lightning strike on the line ahead.”

“Lightning strike!” said Benn, assuming industrial action. “What’s it about?”

“It’s about God, sir,” said the guard …



The series now playing out, March 2014, was an entertaining one until the final teams were picked, on March 15.

Kylie put on a surprisingly strong concert from her draft team but then unaccountably failed to choose Jai McConnell, a torchy single mom from Belfast, to go forward to the semi-finals.

Then, Tom Jones, nowadays so cool he can get away with wearing a cravat as a jacket (and sometimes the opposite), seemed to get worried about looking old-fashioned and dropped his own best strutter, Coventry redhead Melissa Gill, after she delivered the performance you ought to look up at


Check out Jai at http://www.just-jai.com/

I’d buy an album by either of those two and will be looking out for further news on them.



Rachel Johnson, editor of The Lady and sis to Boris, had to defend herself after taking part in a documentary about living on the breadline and saying her hosts on the other side of the street lived “like animals”.

She said: “I wasn’t trying to belittle them. When you live in food poverty you’re in full-time hunter-gatherer mode. Every day is a series of setbacks …

“You’ ve just got enough for the barest of essentials, so you sit watching tv with your coat on, smoking. You walk slowly to the food bank, or benefits office, killing time to save energy. It isn’t a life. It’s an existence.”



Jeremy O’Grady, editor of The Week, picked up on Labour’s Chuka Umunna saying: “We’re all capitalists now.”

O’Grady commented: “I know we should marvel at the transformative power of capitalism but there’s something vile about it, too. It leaves no corner of existence unfingered; it takes anything good, true and beautiful and bastardises it. The glories of classical music become soundtracks for airlines; Bob Dylan a T-shirt; the counterculture a fashion poster. Nike has muscled in on the loneliness of the long-distance runner; tour operators and TripAdvisor have tamed the world’s wild places …

“The authentic shrivels and dies: all experience becomes an arch wherethrough gleams a company logo.”

The Week’s website is very incomplete but you can read the whole of O’Grady’s entertaining little rant at https://www.facebook.com/GarvanHill?hc_location=timeline&filter=3/ – thanks to a fellow scrapbooker, Garvan Hill. My compliments to him for getting there first on this one.



Might one day want to find again a last round in the Telegraph correspondence on best puns on a shopfront or van.

March 15 or so, 2014, Ray Noble of Leicester put forward The Tree Amigoes, tree surgeons, and Mr Bit, window cleaners.



When properly operating again, must get round to pulling an extract from Dea Birkett, recalling her experience of running away and joining the circus in Sun Tel 16.4.2014.

Also, Teleg 15.3.14, and elsewhere, no doubt: “An Australian dog owner was left distraught after discovering her chihuahua-maltese cross had been eaten in its kennel by a python.”

Also good source material, if you can track it down, a summary in The Week 15.3.14 of good bits from all the essays on Vikings which came with the opening of the new exhibition in London. Title was Who Were The Real Vikings and it included good stuff on Viking executions and so on.

Jasper Copping in Telegraph 7.3.14 reported the release for broadcast, on BBC2, of interviews with WW1 veterans which were recorded in the 1960s but considered too subversive to broadcast at the time. All now available via the BBC2 website.



I was personally interested in a letter to the Teleg. of 15.3.14, from Robert M Hurran of Northwood, Middlesex, asking: “Is it possible there are vested interests in the research concluding that statins have no side-effects. I know only three people who have been on statins – I am one of them – and we all experienced debilitating muscle aches despite trying different formulae. All of us experienced no such aches before treatment and all have recovered fully having stopped taking the drugs. Can we be alone?”

Of course not and I have just come round from similar symptoms, having halved the doctor’s prescribed dose of anti-diabetes medication and a new kind of statin.



Stephen Bayley, promoting his book on Charm in the I of 14.3.14, summed up: “Charm deodorises the stench of testosterone and lubricates every transaction … charm students should be made to study the George Clooney Nespresso ads.”



Alice Jones in I recommends The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society.



For savoy cabbage, Bee Wilson, Stella Mag with Sun Tel 14.3.13, recommended Darina Allen’s technique in Irish Traditional Cooking

Bring a couple of tablespoons of water to the boil with the same quantity of butter and a pinch of salt, then cook the shredded savoy – lid on – for just a couple of minutes. When you lift the lid, the cabbage is as green as Irish moss and impregnated with salty butter5.”



Teleg of 15.3.14 summed up a report in Food Research International: “The perfect steak is cooked to medium-rare, on a griddle at 325F (160c), turned every 30 seconds for three minutes and then flipped each minute, if required, until it reaches an internal temperature of 150F (65c), scientists have concluded” …. quoting University of Campinas, Brazil.



Just found a note dating from my first days in Leeds, in the early 1990s, when my colleagues on the Yorkshire Post were still enjoying the story of the visitor from London who insisted on going to a greasy spoon for a full fry-up, then asked for cheese and biscuits – and got a Dairylea and two Penguins.



From somewhere in the early 2000s I have a note of John Prescott having talked of “traditional values in a modern setting” and a merchant navy man saying it reminded him of the mess-room phrase “same old shit, different sauce”.



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