Didn’t It Rain
I was listening to Songs: Ohia’s “Didn’t It Rain” album on the walk home from work last night, it’s one of my favourite albums and I listen to it often but there is something extra special about listening to it through headphones on a cold dark evening. I was about three songs into it and suddenly I remembered that Jason Molina was dead and I stopped walking, saddened and upset all over again.
"If you think you got it,
they’re gonna beat it out of you,
through work and debt,
whatever all else there is.”
"Didn’t It Rain" isn’t Molina’s best album, most people agree that honour goes to "Magnolia Electric Co." (Which coincidentally is ten years old and a deluxe edition is streaming over at NPR’s First Listen ) but it is by far my favourite, it was the first Songs: Ohia album, the first Molina album, that I ever listened to and remains one of only 6 or 7 albums that I will listen to all the way through each and every time.
The album was recorded live, with no overdubs, with all the musicians in one room ,all the singers sharing microphones, and that gives these songs the room to breathe that they deserve. And it is that breathing room that stops this album from being overwhelming, oppressive because it is a dark, occasionally depressing, album, full of sadness and sorrow.
But the light shines through the darkness, especially when Molina sings with Jennie Benford, and despite the sadness, and the loss of such an amazing talent so tragically early, this album never fails to make me feel better after I’ve listened to it.
Songs: Ohia - Blue Factory Flame
I sent an email last week, telling someone how much I liked their new blog. I wrote it, signed off with a “love you” and sent it.
Except I didn’t say “love you”, I accidentally said “I love you”, and that changes things.
That changes a cheery goodbye into a declaration, and it’s a big declaration, and in this case an unintentional big declaration.
And I can’t email again to explain it, because I only noticed two days later, and to send an email about an errant “I” is the act of a lunatic, a lunatic who has already declared love. A lunatic who, after declaring love, is now unsure, now wants to retract that love. And a retractor of declarations of love isn’t just a lunatic, he’s a cad and a bounder.
And maybe it wasn’t noticed, and maybe to email would draw attention to it, would magnify a tiny letter into something important, something huge.
And maybe it was noticed, and dismissed as the triviality that it clearly was.
And maybe a blog about it is a huge mistake.
My mother believes that things happen for a reason. And I believe that too, the reason I sent “I love you” is because I’m a fuckwit who never reads back over anything I write.
I’ve been listening to M.I.A’s new album Matangi and I’m liking it quite a lot. I’ve also read Alexis Petridis’ (largely positive) Guardian review of the album and, though I mostly agreed with the review, took exception with him saying it was “hard to take in anything other than small doses”.
Then I realised that, while listening to this album, I also watched. The Everley Brothers perform two songs, Jerry Seinfeld break down a joke and Miley Cyrus sing Lilac Wine and Jolene (twice, once with Dolly Parton, who is her godmother (and fucking hell can you imagine having Dolly fucking Parton as your godmother?))
I’m one of that increasingly rare breed, I only listen to albums. I don’t listen to the radio, I avoid singles, and only occasionally listen to EPs. I love albums, I love the way they unravel themselves, how they reveal themselves over 45, 60, 72 minutes (or more, but it should never be more, looking at you Arcade Fire) .
I love hearing the way they’re sequenced, would never listen to an album on shuffle, not even a best of. The very idea of not listening to an album, especially a new album, from start to finish without a break is unthinkable but that’s what I’ve done with this album.
It’s a good, maybe very good, album, but it’s a hard album to love, a hard album to listen to in one session, but, as Petridis says, you can’t help but be glad it exists.
It’s my week off, I’m playing with the kids, Aimee is a talking pink horse named Flowers and I am a monster who she kills, by saying “now you’re dead” . Over and over again.
At the same time I am also a normal man, trapped in a fire and Grace has to rescue me. Gracie is a fairy called Daisy who has a superpower, FIRECATCHER, the ability to trap FIRE ! This is a cool superpower, but it does tend to limit the game, every single time there has to be a fire that starts in a different way.
Luckily, a decade of watching London’s Burning has given me plenty of inspiration. All I can remember are chip fat fryer fires but we’re making do.
I’m off for the week, and we won’t be doing much, we can swing a trip to the cinema perhaps, and we’ll go to the playground if it’s dry. But mostly it’ll be like this, playing games with them, games of make believe, games of heroes and villains, fairies and witches, horses and other horses.
Separate games for the most part, Grace thinks Aimee doesn’t follow the rules of the game, Aimee thinks “bollocks to the rules” and if she want to be a talking pink horse named Flowers instead of an elf named Tulip then she will, and daddy can be Daddy Horse, no, just Daddy, no, a monster.
It’s a delicate balancing act, playing two games at once, and occasionally I mix them up, at one stage I was a horse who started a fire in a forest while camping. There will be sulking, there will be tears, oh so many tears, but they’re brief, and soon forgotten and replaced by laughter.
We’ve laughed a lot over this long weekend, and we’ll laugh a lot more this week, and I can think of nowhere I’d rather be.
"No one must learn my secret, that I am Spider-man"
Fuck you and your gender stereotyping, Aimee’s dressing up as Spider-man for her Halloween party in creche.
You spin me right round
A couple of weeks ago our washing machine died,it spluttered and it whined and it stalled and then it died. Luckily my in-laws were buying a new one and so gave us their old one. Rather less luckily it did one load of washing and promptly died too.
If we were a nursing home, and the washing machines were wealthy elderly ladies, then two deaths in a week would be a cause for an investigation, but we’re not, and they’re not, so it’s not. So we dipped into our meager (very meager) savings and bought the cheapest machine we could.
It was on sale, so it’s a decent enough model, it takes a bigger load than our previous machines, and it has an excellent energy rating, and it has a start delay, so we can schedule laundry. And, most importantly, it washes clothes and then allows us to remove the clean, damp clothes from it afterward. So everyone’s happy.
Except everyone isn’t happy.
Last night I discovered that Aimee doesn’t like our new washing machine, in fact she HATES our new washing machine, whenever she is in the kitchen she stares at it with the distrustful eyes of a shopkeeper when 3 schoolkids enter his newsagent together.
She just doesn’t like it.
And I agree with her. I don’t like it either.
I can’t say I don’t like it, because I am a grown man, and it’s a washing machine, and I don’t think that people with strong opinions on domestic appliances should be encouraged, but I don’t like it, I don’t like it at all.
It’s smaller than our previous machines, yet carries a bigger load, and I don’t like that, I don’t understand that, I don’t trust that. It is definitely smaller though, which is handy for kitchens in new houses, kitchens the size of rabbit hutches so everything has to be smaller, and that’s great for the people in these tiny dwellings, but for me, who lives in a normal size house, it means there is a 3” gap at each side of the nook where the washing machine sits. They’re ugly, pointless, gaping gaps,mocking gaps and it irritates me every time I enter the kitchen.
And, as I said, you can schedule your washing, delay the start for 3 hours, or 6 hours, or 9 hours, and who in the blue fuck wants to schedule their washing? Who needs to wait for some time to begin the process of cleaning their clothes? What kind of deviant feels the desire to delay the onset of cleaning? What kind of sick twisted laundry bastard decided a tantric washing machine was what the world needs?
So no, I don’t like it, though I don’t say it aloud.
Aimee doesn’t like it either, she misses our “old” machine, not the original one that died, but the replacement one, the second one that broke, the one we had for 4 days. She misses it, and she liked it. Which is daft, it’s only a washing machine.
Last night, as usual, the children were asleep in their room (they started sharing a room just this week, which isn’t relevant, but adds depth to the tale, if it makes the story easier to picture, the room is lavender, although, as this story takes place at night, the room is actually dark grey and, now I think about it, the room is never entered in this story, the door not even opened, so the colour of the walls are, at best, an irrelevance and this entire sentence, which was overlong quite a while ago, has now descended into an endurance test for you, the reader)
I was on the computer, which is situated next door to the childrens’ bedroom, and I needed to sneeze. I knew it would be a big sneeze, the type of sneeze that gets noticed, the type of sneeze that would stop traffic, the type of sneeze to make retiree colonels drop their monocles into their soups, the type of sneeze that makes women swoon in shock, the type of sneeze that wakes children.
Waking the children at night is something to be avoided, they don’t like being woken, and they tell you this, they tell you this loudly and then they don’t go back to sleep and they want to watch 5 minutes of TV and then you can’t watch The Blacklist because you’d have to explain why you’re watching a TV show that is essentially Silence Of The Lambs meets Bones, but so much worse than that sounds. Waking them is a bad idea.
The solution is to silence the sneeze. Block the nose, block most of the mouth, all that emerges is a shadow of a sneeze, a memory of a sneeze.
So I do.
I block it.
I block it well.
I block it too well.
I block it all.
A blocked sneeze has nowhere to go. So it detonates in one’s throat. And it is the least pleasant thing to ever happen to my throat. And I say that as someone whose baby puked, from above, into my open mouth.
So my throat hurts. It hurts a lot. It hurts to touch, it hurts not to touch. It hurts to swallow, it’s like trying to swallow a hard boiled egg every minute or so.
I’ve damaged my throat to avoid waking my children. It’s their fault, even if they don’t know it. So I’m blaming them. When people ask why I’m wincing, and talking in an idiotic gruff voice (I sound like Bale’s Batman, and even Batman sounded stupid talking in that voice) , I tell them my daughter kicked me in the throat. While wearing shoes. (Or at least I will tell them, because nobody has asked yet, nobody seems to have noticed, it’s a cold indifferent world we live in, maybe that’s why Batman stands up on tall buildings alone, maybe he’s just up there, feeling sorry for himself and sucking a lozenge).