Category Archives: Listening

Alone in Silence

Sarah has gone away, sea kayaking this time, and I’m alone again. Not lonely though. I find I rarely get lonely. Which is just as well as I find myself alone a lot.

Usually I’m alone here in this peaceful house. This house where I’ve lived for twenty six years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. A typical Liverpool three bedroomed terraced house that I’m appreciating so much while there’s only me here to keep it company. Bay windows top and bottom at the front, no carpets, sparsely furnished, gently coloured and a small yard at the back leading on to the entry, alleygated in recent years.

Sarah moved into the house a couple of years after me, so I never think of it as mine and have few memories left now of the brief time I lived here on my own. Though I do have the feeling that I was lonely here then but for the twice weekly stays of my young daughter Clare. Memories when Clare wasn’t here of cold evenings, with nothing much to do when my dishes were washed up after tea.

It’s been a good house though, and I’ve been happy here. Continue reading

Wake up and love more: Kate Tempest

“The myth of the individual
Has left us disconnected lost and pitiful”

I had no idea when I wrote this post a few days ago that Kate Tempest was up for the Mercury Prize this week, but she was and I’m glad to see it bringing her so much more renown, followers and, I hope, sales.

If you’re listening much to the radio at the moment, well ok if you’re listening much to BBC Radio 6 Music, you might be hearing Kate Tempest’s current single ‘Tunnel Vision’ fairly regularly. It’s the one that starts:

“Indigeonous apocalypse
decimated forests
The winter of our discontent’s upon us”

And continues to take the likes of me, the older generation, to task for a catalogue of ills because:

“This is the future you left us”

At which point you might well think “Give us a break” and turn your ears away until something more positive comes on. Well I’m writing this to suggest that you don’t turn away. To suggest that you listen carefully and perhaps appreciatively to this thoughtful and opinionated woman who might well surprise you. Like she surprised me. Let’s step back a year or two. Continue reading

Thinking About TenStreets: At Liverpool North Docks

No apologies, this is a big blog post about a big subject. The continuing revival, reuse, regeneration and renewal of a large area of North Liverpool, down by the docks.

It’s also where Sarah and I have the idea of walking to Leeds along the canal.dsc08213

Having been involved in what’s going on down here for the last year or so I got myself invited to a corporate launch thing last Thursday morning. At which and after which people naturally started asking me what I thought of it all?

I said “I don’t know. It’s complicated. I’ll need to have a think about it and get back to you.”

So I’ve been for a think, a walk, the same thing, and here it all is. Me and Sarah meandering round the North Docks, TenStreets if you will, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.dsc08289-1 Continue reading

Still Bill: On appreciating Bill Withers

bill-withersI don’t write as much about music on this blog as I’d thought I would when I started it nearly five years ago. But I want to write briefly about it today because lately I’ve been thinking about Bill Withers and listening to a lot of his music.

Let’s go back to the last time in my life I remember buying a single. It’s 1972 sometime when I go into Beaver Radio on Whitechapel and buy this gorgeous song I’ve been listening out for on the radio. This is ‘Lean on me’ by Bill Withers and one of the best songwriters I will ever hear has entered my life. Around the same time Michael Jackson puts out ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ also by Bill Withers as one of his own early solo singles, and I’m sure something special is happening.

These are not like songs by anybody else, anybody else at all. They are only like songs by Bill Withers. Songs of friendship, wisdom and experience. Strongly expressed and quietly said. Back there in 1972 I’m not surprised when I find that this Bill is 31, so he’s lived a bit, and has written these songs while working on the production line in a factory.

“When I was making them up I’d sing them to myself over and over on the line there until they were memorable enough not to forget. Because I had no way of recording them out there on the factory floor.”

Over the next decade or so I’m always interested to hear new Bill Withers songs – Use Me, Hello like before, Grandma’s hands, Lovely day, Soul shadows, so many more.

Then somewhere in the living of my life I lose touch with the fact that the songs have stopped coming. Continue reading

On Smithdown: Defend Vinyl

dsc07103Defend vinyl? Of course I do. Since I returned to buying LPs several years ago many of my happiest hours have been spent in record shops and charity shops doing the ‘flicking through LPs’ thing I’d thought I’d left long behind me.

But until recently there hadn’t been a proper record shop I could go to anywhere near where I live. Then around a month ago Defend opens here on Smithdown Road and becomes an immediate and regular part of my Saturday morning walks around the neighbourhood.

It's a proper record shop.

It’s a proper record shop.

With a proper and knowledgeable bloke behind the counter. Continue reading

A Choir With No Name kind of day

The Choir With No Name.

The Choir With No Name.

We’ll get to the Choir later, but my day out begins up on the Flyover.DSC05561 DSC05562 DSC05565 DSC05567 All summer the Friends of the Flyover next to the Mersey Tunnel have been taking it over for a series of Sunday events. Aimed at getting all of our opinions on a future where the Flyover is less regularly used by cars and more regularly for all sorts of interesting events. Continue reading

Without These Walls: Peaceful Warrior

'Peaceful |Warrior' by Jayne Lawless.

‘Peaceful Warrior’ by Jayne Lawless.

Announcing only the third ever showing of ‘Without These Walls’ the Jayne Lawless and Janet Brandon film, taking place at Red Brick Vintage at 6:00 in the evening on Thursday September 8th. It’s no ordinary film and it’ll be no ordinary event.

At Red Brick Vintage – Stanhope Street, Liverpool, L8 5RE, Thursday 8th September.Red Brick

Here’s Jayne:

Jayne Lawless


“Hello all. The next screening of Without These Walls, will be at this, an event we built to house the film in a ‘safe place’.

After the last screening and discussion at The Hesletine Institute I felt really drained. We walked over to the Caledonia pub and although the issues the film brings up carried on, they were slowly swallowed up by the music coming from a cajun band that had literally just set up right beside us.

I realised then that with the dark thoughts there must be light.

At the same time I was reading a book called Peaceful Warrior lent to me by a friend, a passing remark with a fellow organiser of this event using the same phrase led to ‘Peaceful Warrior’ – a night to share our stuff in a safe space, some hard stuff maybe to make you think, but also stuff to make you dance.

Continue reading