I have struck.

6°C, clear sky, winds W.

Today, I’m on strike for the first time in my life. The big multi-union campaign is against the government breaking their side of the Teachers’ Pensions agreement. They are in breach of contract, so most teachers are on strike. I voted Yes mainly because of other campaigns listed on the ballot paper, most notably- workload.

The bottom line is that if I want union support then I must, by obligation, support them. I will need this support quite soon.

Chocolate loss

11°C, calm before a storm.

My local down-market supermarket seems to have stopped selling one of my favourite chocolate bars. That’s the second time we have had to endure such a loss in the past few years. Co-Op stopped one of their finest bars too. I have always enjoyed the treasure within a really dull piece of packaging- none of the mystique of the up-market bars in the promising exotic wrappers. Both bars could claim to be their shop’s best kept secret. Alas, real obscurity has swallowed them.

I want to get off

10~7°C, thin above, the sun shone a bit too.

Gifts come my way, I have foods, drinks, and CDs. The Music I bought myself, it’s been a long time since last. Before, I would impatiently open the CD cases, sometimes struggle with the packaging and use the computer to put them on my iPod hurriedly. Today I looked over every cover, the inserts and bonus postcards. I have read some of the lyrics and tried to imagine the tracks within. I shalln’t hear these for a few days. There is a something inside that wants to make pictures, polish up the hand-eye co-ordination and hold a brush lightly. The best pictures have marks and the odd repair from dropping the brush. It’s best to hold them lightly you know.

November is warm and dry this year, but I want to go away. It’s going to take all of my skill to manage my sanity this coming year.

Harold Budd/The Necks

10ºC, dry, getting windy

Gig in Stan’s Cafe Birmingham, – both ambient music, in an interesting venue- a metal pressing factory conversion in the Jewelery Quater, Birmingham. There wasn’t a great deal of conversion made to the buliding, it was clean but no effort had been put into decorating the place. We waited in the entry shed with a feeling of anticipation that was different to other performances. The audience was mostly middle-aged men, all wrapped up in thick winter clothes and many beards.

Harold Budd came on first and did a single piece 45 minute set. He began softly playing curious little phrases on the grand piano while the only other musician played a box of tricks that manipulated piano and ambient sounds. The presentation was very soft, distant and unspectacular. There was I, full of head-cold tired from work listening while drifting near to sleep but not loosing contact with the music at any point. Near the end as the sound tailed off, someone coughed and the sound reverberated inside the black box and I wondered how the audience-performer relationship would have changed if they had built on this intruded sound in their own playing.

The Necks had much in common with the first set, though three musicians who didn’t appear to use any electronic manipulation this time. The sound grew to a massive wall of sound just from percussion, double-bass and grand piano. The overlapping patterns each produced created other rhythms within. There was less space in the sound, but the overall structure was clearer. As before, beginning quietly, the crescendo was huge and tailed off at the end. Each instrument sounded  anxious and distant which created tension with the others. This is music, like Budd, that had no melody, not broken into separate pieces but was bound by soft overlapping rhythms that bound it all together. There was none of the harshness that characterised amplified wall-of-sound pieces heard in other venues. You can’t beat live “unplugged” performances.

The show was somehow part of the London Jazz festival. I can’t help feeling that I don’t really have a working definition of “Jazz” though. What makes something “Jazz”?

House mushroom

10°C, cloudy (thin ones)

Further to this autumn’s fungus theme on this blog, here is a surprise mushroom growing in my bathroom. That sounds grotty, it’s actually growing in the pot of a (so called) Dragon tree. The tree cost me about £4 from  a supermarket, which I re-potted immediately on coming home last summer. Sometimes I put wood-bark chippings in pots, it’s supposed to stop weeds growing while it lives outside for the summer. This is remarkable enough to be almost ironic. Perhaps the fungus is growing on those wood chippings rather than reflecting any damp decrepit conditions in my bathroom.

Now this cold is steadily getting worse, my voice faded alarmingly during lessons today and deepened by an octave. Okay, not an octave, bit it’s gruff still.

I’m in bed. It’s 8.30pm. Goodnight.


4°C, FOG, thick too.

Suddenly wake from a dream: I am driving anxiously toward a petrol station, the fuel gauge needle is on “E” hard. Rolling uphill towards the yellow sign of a Shell garage, the road opens into two lanes and I filter left. the car is fully loaded, three passengers and me. then another estate car passes from behind and I see the driver’s face. he doesn’t look pleased so I wave a cheery wave. He looked pretty furious actually. Anyway, I continue to nurse the car along at 40 mph, fearing the fuel will cut out at any moment. Then in front- the furious driver turns his car around in a layby. I think some road rage might be coming my way from him.

This is the point at which I wake. Wide awake actually & raised pulserate.. I doubt that dreams would affect me like this if I didn’t have a stressful job. It’s 02.40 in the morning and the fog is remarkably thick outside. Hope I get a bike ride later.

Anyway, look at what I found on this morning’s dogwalk. Note, I didn’t pick it, it was lying freshly damaged on the ground under trees, probably a dog had run by it.

A wild guess: Macrolepiota mastoidea?

Thinking of work

14°C, SE winds cloud, bit of sun

Had some meetings at work.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
3.  Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;

Shake me out of this tree

9°C, Dull dull drizzle

Here I am, lying in bed with a mince pie and a brandy. It’s grey out, no wind and no sign of an end to this claggy drizzle. Hence, I have the brandy and wondering what is the point of this all. I work all day, so that I have the money to enjoy myself? No, it’s so that I am too tired to sense it all. It’s quite different to my other occasional bedtime drink- whisky. after reading all of that, just to cheer you up, here is more fungal fun: