Thursday, April 29, 2010

You can never go home again

It would appear my yearly torment, seasonal hayfever, has returned once more to blister the skin on my nose and lips, and generally conspire to make my nights a miserable, wheezing, sleep-free zone.

Strangely, my torment is lessened while I'm in Devon. A different kind of pollen there, perhaps? There's not much I can do except tough it out for the next few weeks.

My time in Devon continues. Last weekend I had JJ to help me and between us we achieved some serious gardening. Mum seems as happy as she can be, given what she is going through. The Dog continues to help to keep me level when I'm by myself. Her need for food, attention and playing are a good distraction to have and I'm grateful for her being there. Having said that, she has realised that I will take her out for an impromptu, middle-of-the-day walk, if she yaps in a squeaky and annoying manner at me for long enough. The cheeky little tyke.

Walking the dog around the village I grew up in has been strange. It's unfamiliar. I grew up in a house that was nearly a mile out, and it has expanded a lot in the fifteen years since I left. Houses were built, then more houses were built on the fringes of the estates, and so it went on.

So, the streets of the village are unfamiliar, and many of the faces are too. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing. Just as my family arrived as cockney aliens in the 1960s, a whole series of new people have arrived and taken root. Yet while in the post office on Monday, I saw an old lady who was an old lady when I was small - this must make her about 95 now. I conferred with Mum, and she agreed that this was the case.

My primary school still stands in the same spot. The white, long, one-floor (quasi-modernist) main building with full-length windows that I spent my classes in has been surrounded by new, red-brick blocks. The old school used to leak if there was too much rain, a bit like the flats on the estate we live on. Perhaps that's why I feel so fondly towards the white, glass boxes that get built on Grand Designs - I liked my school, it was a white box with big windows.

Sometimes, on my wanders, I think "That's where they had a swimming pool in the garden" or "I remember the girl who lived in that house" or "I wonder what happened to them?".

But I don't think too hard, if you know what I mean. Forward, in all directions, now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

For the wings of the Doves

I'd like to discuss my recent enjoyment of the band Doves.

Before I go any further, I should explain that I know next to nothing about the band. I couldn't pick them out of a line-up. I gather that they are a couple (possibly three?) middle-aged Mancunian gentlemen. Many years ago they used to be a one-hit-wonder type band called Sub Sub and I used to enjoy their one big hit at our university indie disco. Anyway, as Doves, they've been steadily releasing singles for the past ten years, many of which I've never heard, only on adverts or Match of the Day montages.

Last week I decided to buy their "best of" album, on the strength of their most recent single. It isn't half bad. Anthemic, yet introspective. On the doomy side, I'd say. But by god, they're melodic. They have a real way with a tune, and go for chord progressions and modulations that nobody else would. When they're acoustic, they remind me of my teenage faves, All About Eve. However, at points I've found myself wincing and thinking oh god, Coldplay.

I honestly have no idea if this band are well-received critically, or if they are widely hated by most people. Maybe they are one of those outfits that nobody ever thinks about. Perhaps you could let me know? Not that I really mind what anyone else thinks. Put it this way, on a regular three-hour car journey you need something big and expansive in the background, and Doves are it. Nice one, Doves.

Next week: U2.