Category Archives: Blog

Chewing the fat and talking bollocks.

No. 4: Cuts – SOLD

Cuts released their second album Unreal on the Village Green label towards the backend of last year, a progression from the 2018 A Gradual Decline, album.

Unreal brings texted vocals and beats to the mix.  As one observer suggests Cuts are, “The sound of a world collapsing and it is sublime.” I could not put it better myself. The person behind the Cuts project is Anthony Tombling Jr.

Anthony’s work also ventures into the world of the visual arts, film-making and contributing to film soundtracks. Unit 3, where his film output materialises is a treasure trove of creative collaborations with community and campaign groups, as well as the likes of Alan Moore, Michael Sheen, Beak> and Massive Attack. The sublime soundtrack to the film Ex-Machina on Invada Records features Cut’s goose pimple raising Bunsen Burner track. A track that also brought the TV series ‘Person of Interest’ to its finale.

The Dinky model I used in this piece is from around 1951/2 and is not for sale given it already has an owner. The real Trojan vans, by the way, were manufactured in Croydon, London. They used diesel and petrol engines, as well as a revolutionary electric-powered version in 1951 known as the ‘Electrojan’. It may be difficult to comprehend that 70 years ago our grandparents were ahead of their time when it comes to alternatives to fossil fuel but, they did.

No. 3: Pink Floyd

The third toy vehicle from the lockdown production line (under the stairs) is my attempt at replicating the original Pink Floyd tour van, a Bedford, from the mid-1960s.

Pink Floyd are one of those bands who been consistent throughout my musical journey, I bought my first Floyd album in the mid-70s, ‘Wish You Were Here.’ Legend has it that on the day the band were completing the mix for the albums opening track  “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” an overweight man with shaven head and eyebrows entered, carrying a plastic bag. Nobody recognised him until Gilmour identified him as Syd Barrett. The photograph (left) is from the Pink Floyd archive and contains the original Bedford van with Nick Mason loading his drum kit (not sure if this is copyright infringement?). The remainder of the band can be seen peering out of the house window. The model has been refurbished from an old 1960s Dinky Bedford van.

No. 2: Buena Vista Social Club – SOLD

The second vehicle off the lockdown production line (under the stairs) is dedicated to the ensemble of Cuban musicians known as the Buena Vista Social Club. A project directed by Juan de Marcos González and produced by Ry Cooder.

Capturing the music of pre-revolutionary Cuba the subsequent album was recorded in March 1996, released in September 1997 and featured several Cuban musicians, like, Compay Segundo, Rubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, all retired, in their twilight years and would all pass on between 2003 and 2005.

The toy car itself is a refurbished 1950s Dinky Studebaker, which is reminiscent of those old American cars found cruising the roads of Havana, Cuba today. Paint stripped, primed, repainted with rust and copied of authentic replica decals from the members’ club in the Buenavista quarter of Havana, a popular music venue in the 1940s. 

No.1: The Eton Rifles – SOLD

First off the lockdown production line (under the stairs) for sale and in aid of good causes is my homage to The Jam’s classic single The Eton Rifles released on 26th October 1979 and reached number 3 in the UK charts.

This model consists of a refurbished 1940s Dinky (#25C) flatbed truck toy, which has been stripped down and resprayed. The toy has an affixed billboard (cannot be removed) honouring two of the UK’s most elitist leaders. Eton educated duo Jacob William Rees-Mogg and Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. The model is housed in a purpose-built display box, utilising the original sleeve artwork from the 7″ single enabling viewing of both sides of the billboard, allowing the viewer to focus their rightful frustration toward either of these self-serving shapeshifting elitist creeps.

All materials upcycled. If you would like to own, this one-off piece then drop me a line here with an offer and I’ll get in touch with you.  100% of any funds raised will then be passed onto an independent charity to support their work in these difficult times. On this occasion, the charity is the St. Matthews Project Brixton.

The St. Matthew’s Project is much more than just a football club, delivering a wide range of activities and development opportunities and offering support to young people on and off the football pitch. You can read more about this project here, along with how you can help and donate.

Old Models and Rusty Cars

As we prepare to kick the ass of 2020 goodbye. I’d like to share one of my efforts, which has enabled me to maintain a certain level of sanity through this challenging year and in the absence of the 2020 Glastonbury Festival. 

Once it dawned that we were in this for a long haul I assembled a small craft studio, under the stairs and started to track down, refurbish and rebuild vintage models and dingy cars…..with an added little twist. 

Things started rather slowly after discovering a vintage Saturn 5 rocket kit online. Still, the rocket found a happy home pretty quickly. Since the rocket, 10 months in and 10 little projects are on their way to being completed, each project is aligned with one of my favourite bands/artists or reflect my personal politics. They all have an individual back story which I will share.

Where an individual model reflects a passion for a particular band or artist I have been in contact with them and the plan is to auction them off during 2021 with some additional merch to raise funds for two local charities in Bristol. 

I don’t class myself anywhere close to being a master model maker, far from it, where my father had honed his skills since his childhood. My skill level is rather basic, albeit deployed with enthusiasm and a rye sense of humour.  With all the shit going down, I just wanted to find some time and some way to give a shit. 

Ode to Johnny Dowd

As we mull the prospect of a successful vaccine and a return to enjoying live music. I would guess the artist I’ve seen more in concert over the years will be Johnny Dowd. On one occasion travelling from Bristol up to The Band Room (properly the greatest small venue on earth, according to the Hanson Family) on the North Yorkshire Moors. The Thunderbolt, Bristol, gig on the 19th October 2016 was also a particular joy too.

If you’ve never come across Johnny Dowd, his musical style may be difficult to define although the term maverick is often applied. Zappa, Beefheart, Waits, Cave and a big drop of wry, dry humour forced into a kitchen blender on full speed and left unattended to spin. Amongst his various release’s I tend to migrate back to the No Regrets album, 2012.

Life

The average life span for a man today in the UK is 81 years.

Up until 2011, men could access their state pension at 65 years.

On average, this provided 16 years of life without work before death.

The average life span expectancy by 2030 for a man in the UK is 82 years.

Men will not be able to access their state pension until they are 68 years and work an additional 3-years.

On average, their state pension will provide 14 years of life without work before death.

If you think this is not good for men. Wait and see what they’ve done since 2011 with women’s state pension.

Remember, when we aimed to ensure our children had a better life than we did?

Until life is done

There are individual books which just enter the psyche from where we do not know. A passing glimpse on a bookshop shelf. A casual reference in the footnote of another book, or maybe a brief mention while in a discussion. I’m not sure how or why I ended up ordering Hector Abad’s memoir Oblivion. As an author, I have never come across his name or indeed his father, whose story inhabits each of the books 261 pages.

Hector Abad’s father was a prominent medical doctor, university professor and human rights advocate in Colombia. He was murdered in 1987 by those closely associated with the countries wealthy elites, government and military of the day.
The book is not merely a memoir to commemorate his fathers’ life and the subjects he fought for, which ultimately cost him his life. Abad also shines a light on the complicated relationship seldom explored between son and father. The tone, the issues and writing make it a joy to read. Its a genuinely lovely, enjoyable, thought-provoking and tender book, which goes beyond a son and family suffering the cruellest of losses, but a celebration of love, life and acknowledgement the world would be a much darker place without people like Héctor Abad Gómez.

Skins

Having recently read Daniel Rachel’s Walls Come Tumbling Down, a 500-page homage to the music and politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge (mid-1970s through to the early 1990s). A period in time, which I grew from child to adult, musically and professionally. I would say I started to mature politically during Rock Against Racism and then became genuinely active in politics during Red Wedge. The structure of the book is set out in a linear timeline. It is in effect an encyclopedia of crucial people and events driving these campaigns. The book did provoke many reflections, thoughts and inherent parallels with the Black Live’s Matter movement.

Times have, of course, witnessed many changes for the better since the darkness of the 70s where the racist attitude was not only endemic but ingrained and celebrated in popular culture and street violence. It’s 45 years since the birth of Rock Against Racism emerged. Still, we are struggling with the festering and illogical intolerance towards a person because they simply seem to be different continues.

As I write these words, the city I call home is searching its soul after a young black NHS worker was seriously injured by a racially-aggravated attack while walking home from his job. When I occasionally venture into Facebook land, I come across sarcastic, insensitive or misinformed memes deliberately designed to hurt people.

The painful truth remains the communities of my birth, childhood, and adulthood may face provocation from instigators of hate, funded by dark money and led by populist caricatures. But this is still no excuse. The tragic reality is that individual’s buy into these philosophies of hate because they are an embodiment of themselves. The thug on the street and that person who causally posts those memes on social media are part of this same philosophy of hate.

We find ourselves once again, in an era of false promises. Complex problems are brushed over with simple slogans. At the same time, politicians play to our fears as we seek to make sense of an unstable world. In these circumstances, as always, good intentions are positive, but its actions that make the difference and ultimately lead to change.