Tag Archives: Oxfam

The Clearing

Earlier this afternoon I carried a bag of Sarah’s books down the road to our nearest charity shop. She’d sorted them out as being ready to go while doing some clearing yesterday afternoon. They were a mixture of horticulture, kayaking and even one about how to make books. I’d bought her that one as well as a couple of the others, but they’d come to the end of their time with her and are now gone.

When I’ve done with writing this post and need a photograph to illustrate it I’ll sort out a small pile of my own books and, once photographed, they’ll be ready to follow Sarah’s down to the same charity shop.

We’ve always done this, not keeping things we don’t need. These days we’re much better than we used to be at not acquiring things in the first place. But even so, things accumulate on shelves, in corners and even in plain sight, attempting to become part of the household landscape, until they’re noticed, identified as beyond their usefulness, and cleared.

We enjoy it and we like living in a home without much stuff, so there’s room for us. Clearing, be it books, furniture, music, gadgets, clothes or old interests, always fills us with the energy and ideas to do whatever’s next. And it always has. At times when we’ve felt our lives becoming becalmed and stale a good bit of clearing has usually helped us to move on and then look back and wonder ‘what was all that stuff for?’

Which fits perfectly with the ‘year to live’ thoughts I’ve been having these past few weeks. Continue reading

As time goes by: with Harry Nilsson on Roscommon Street

In which I walk the hills of North Liverpool, singing at the top of my voice!

It’s very nearly a year now since I started buying LPs again and it’s going very well, thanks for asking. More new stuff is being put out on vinyl now it looks like it will outlast CDs, and recently our house has been singing out loud to new LPs by local band Bird (swooning keening ethereal good), East Kilbride’s Pearlfishers, Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan and the sublimely gorgeous ‘Hendra’ by Ben Watt.

Nearly a year in, the LPs.

Nearly a year in, the LPs.

But obviously a lot of the records that have come in over the year have been old stuff from charity shops, and it’s one of them I want to write about. £2.99 from Oxfam, as perfect an album as you could possibly get, by Harry Nilsson.

'A little touch of Schmilsson in the night'

‘A little touch of Schmilsson in the night’

Harry had first come to my attention, and everyone else’s in the late 1960s when Beatles publicist Derek Taylor arrived back from the USA with a box of Harry’s first RCA album ‘Pandemonium Shadow Show’. He loved it so much he gave a copy to all of his friends, including our beloved boys, who immediately told the rest of us about Harry. Continue reading

A year to live: The Clearing

A few weeks ago I began living as if I have only a year left to live. Not thinking with any certainty that I do, but wanting to value my days and my life and see what differences it makes if I act as if I will soon be no more.DSC07285

As soon as I made the decision some things changed.

I immediately ditched the ‘Finding the work you love’ course that ‘A year to live’ had been part of, and removed it from this website. Realising that with a year left I’d want to talk with people about their lives, not simply their careers.

I re-started the Friday Walks, the ritual and the rhythm of walking and therefore never working on Fridays. And immediately started to feel calmer, less driven, quieter. Me and my friend Sarah Jones writing about this calming in ‘A quietening down of the rage to succeed.’

What I hadn’t expected was that our house would begin to empty out. Continue reading

The return to vinyl. What would you get first?

As you may know, three months ago I decided to step back in time and get some LPs again. It had been 23 years since I’d sold off my collection and I was missing the sound and the ceremony of them.

So I ordered a turntable and set off joyously on my LP search. I’ve already written about the places I went to find them, so today I thought I’d write a bit about the LPs themselves. Like, what LPs would you buy first after a quarter of a century’s separation from them?

'Seasons will pass you by' The beauty of the gatefold.

‘Seasons will pass you by’ The beauty of the gatefold.

As I set out I made only one condition. I would look for perfect albums. All good tracks, no fillers. Remembering all too clearly the numbers of my original haul of 3,000 or so that didn’t come anywhere near doing this. Even LPs by very, very good people could be very, very poor. Yes, you David Bowie (‘Tonight’) and even you Joni Mitchell (‘Dog eat dog’).

But I didn’t set out with a list, no point. Hunting mostly in charity shops or in record shops with relatively small vinyl sections, there was no point. It was a case of seeing what I could find.

‘So go on then, tell us, What did you find?’ I can hear you impatiently reading. Continue reading

The return to vinyl, finding the LPs

It’s three months now since I wrote about my decision to get a turntable and start buying LPs again. So I thought it was time to write a bit about how I’m getting on. Hardly earth changing stuff, but that’s the joy of running your own blog. Some days you can write about life and death, some days it’s the joys that come in between those defining events, like buying LPs.

vinyl_record_446So, how’s it going? Fairly well, thanks for theoretically asking. From a solitary LP the first time I wrote there are now nearly 40 of them sat next to the turntable in our living room. Which would have been a heavy investment if they were all new. But mostly they’re not.

I’d envisaged exploring new music on vinyl but haven’t much, yet. Because I’ve found that most LPs of new music are in fact doubles, but strange doubles. Continue reading

‘Where’ve you been?’

On returning to Probe Records

I’ve been going to Probe Records since it started, up Mount Pleasant in Clarence Street, back in 1971. It’s in its fifth location around Liverpool now, and the truth is, I haven’t been there much lately. Over the years I have bought a few CDs from Probe, but I always felt CDs weren’t really what it’s about. Vinyl has always had pride of place at the centre of the shop and all over the walls, and it was vinyl I was returning there for today.

On the bus, going into town to hunt for LPs.

On the bus, going into town to hunt for LPs.

After my last post about returning to LPs, the turntable I’d ordered suddenly turned up sooner than I’d expected. So I spent a happy couple of hours on Friday afternoon putting all its bits together and finding my hands still remembered how to do arcane things like ‘balance the tonearm’ and ‘check the stylus is aligned.’ Things I’d never expected to do again in my life. Then in the early evening, both working, we’d had Spotify and iTunes playing in the background as usual. Until, work over, we moved through to the living room to listen to our one LP, purchased from Oxfam on Thursday afternoon, just after I’d ordered the turntable. And it was beyond wonderful. Continue reading

Buying LPs again

It’s started. After a 23 year gap I’m buying LPs again.

Not that I’ve got a turntable mind. That won’t come ’til next week. But it’s ordered.

A record shop, with LPs. Probe Records, Liverpool.

A record shop, with LPs. Probe Records, Liverpool.

For months, possibly years, I’ve been magnetically pulled towards any turntables I’d happen to see when we’ve been in town shopping. Or rather when Sarah’s been shopping and I’ve been loping along beside her. Because I don’t really ‘shop’ and have very little need for ‘things.’ My birthday present this year was, well, nothing. And I was very happy with it because there was nothing I wanted. If it was relying on me the economy would be in an even worse state than it is.

And in charity shops, ostensibly there to recycle our books, I’d find myself flicking through the second-hand LPs. Until fondly reminded that I no longer possessed a turntable to play them on and hadn’t had one for many years.

Well there’s a turntable been ordered now and I’ve been to the Smithdown Road Oxfam and flicked through the second hand LPs with renewed vigour. Because I’ve found that I want LPs back in my life. Continue reading