Warnings To The Curious

Legend has it that Montague Rhodes James—late Victorian medievalist scholar, provost of King’s College, Cambridge, and perhaps England’s most acclaimed writer of ghost stories—hated all forms of modernity. He considered James Joyce a “prostitutor of life and language”, and voted against women being allowed to receive degrees at Cambridge. I have no doubt that a good part of the legend is true, although I think it’s easy to get the man wrong. Or at least, it’s easy to paint him into the satisfyingly prudish and fearful Victorian that makes us all feel sexy and adventurous by comparison.

Firstly, I think his stories are frequently funny and self-aware. He can be happily rude about golf, and university life (particularly the habits of those at ‘another university’). And most of the victims of his ghost stories—dusty late-career academics and bachelors obsessed with all things historical—seem to be thinly-veiled self-parodies. Continue reading

Part of the reason for me doing new content every month was to force me to prepare two new tracks for serialisation. And I gave myself a headstart of… remixing everything I’d released so far, basically. But after next month that’s going to run out, and I don’t have a new album lined up yet.

I found myself explaining this to someone recently. How I started it earlier in the year, but when I came to look at the ideas I’ve been sitting on since my last album release (in 2013) I realised I’d just moved way past them. Many of the songs I had lined up were written over a decade ago, and… they’re fine. But I don’t have a record company pushing me – I am really doing it purely for the love of it. And I don’t want to do ‘fine’ anymore. I have a lot of new ideas, and they’re already taking shape, but I’m sort of rebuilding everything from the ground up. I feel I now have the chance to make the music in my head that I’ve always wanted to hear and that I feel no one else has quite managed to get close to. And I may not get that chance later, so I’m very focused on getting it done.

But still… months go by… Continue reading

I wonder how many other men walked out of Blade Runner 2049, thought to themselves ‘I’m not an expert on this sort of thing, but that film had kind of a lazy and/or shitty attitude to women, right?’, only to then be frustrated by finding all of their go-to film critics gushing about how, finally, a worthy sequel had arrived to their favourite film ever. I’m a fan of internet & US TV star Adam Savage’s Still Untitled podcast, and Savage is such a fan of the original Blade Runner that he actually appears in a recent spinoff film, so he unsurprisingly liked the sequel. But I was heartened to hear that at least he and his (all male) crew took seriously the issues that (mainly female) filmgoers were having with this movie.

Anyway, the reason why I mention this is because I found myself grinning a few weeks later when listening to the latest Still Untitled episode, when Savage said he had been enjoying a stunningly good podcast made by film historian Karina Longworth, called You Must Remember This. I was grinning because I was wondering whether he had done exactly what I did after seeing the Blade Runner sequel. Had he also read about the debate, and concluded that, as a man, he simply didn’t have anywhere near enough understanding of this issue to be able to critique the film properly? Did he also feel like he needed expert help? I wonder how many other subscriptions Ms Longworth has acquired from men post-2049 typing the words “women review movies” into their podcast apps in exasperation.

You Must Remember This is not a movie review podcast. It is a movie history podcast, about “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century”. It was not the podcast I was looking for. But it was definitely the podcast I needed. Continue reading

On 9 July 2013, novelist India Knight tweeted that she had been enjoying reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, a modern private detective novel with a distinctly classical feel written by an enigmatic former military policeman named Robert Galbraith.  Someone replied to her tweet saying that Galbraith was none other than Harry Potter author and literary titan J.K. Rowling.  This piqued Knight’s curiosity, and she initiated her own detective investigation, which ultimately revealed that yes, Galbraith was indeed Rowling.  The tip-off tweet had come from the best friend of the wife of one of Rowling’s solicitors (who, in a display of conciseness any book editor would be proud of, had managed to trash his professional reputation in under 140 characters).  This big reveal unsurprisingly became a news story in its own right, and led to one of my favourite Daily Mash parody news items: JK Rowling recorded two dubstep albums as Burial. Continue reading

Detectives Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey are high up on the scaffolding of an office tower block under construction — many many storeys above the street.  In the process of confronting and apprehending a corrupt construction worker, Lacey has fallen off and is now clinging on to a metal pole for dear life.  If her grip slips, she will fall and die.  Her loving husband Harvey (the site manager and the one who brought the corruption to the detectives’ attention) tells Cagney, in horror, that his wife is stuck in a ‘death grip’.  Which means that Mary Beth has frozen in horror, and no amount of persuading will make her let go, even if help is offered.  She’ll keep hanging on until she is overcome with exhaustion, and falls to her death.  There’s only one thing for it, he says.  He edges towards her, closer and closer.  And when he is right next to her, he punches her in the face. Continue reading