Friday, December 16, 2011

Letter From London (4) to Stupefaction

No trip to the UK is complete without a trip to the Seaside. Most people go in the summer of course, but with no sign of Winter, we went for a weekend to Weston Super Mare.

During the height of BritPop Oasis/Blur rivalry (a battle of the bands that had not been seen since The Beatles vs The Stones, so they say), and in order to see who could hit the number one spot first, O & B released singles on the same day. Our Damon (good Essex lad) put out Blur’s record “Country House” and our lads from Manchester, Oasis, released “Roll With It.” Oasis decided on their way to their headline slot at Glastonbury, that they would stop off in Weston Super Mare to shoot that cover and get a little beach time.

That’s the old pier.
Shortly afterwards, it burned down. The Gallagher brothers had fled the scene.

Here’s the new pier:

Amazingly, it was re-built and opened last year. Cost 30 million pounds. There’s a nice covered walk way along the middle so you can even come and stroll on a wet and windy day. We had no complaints with the weather. Bit confusing for the time of year, tho. So mild. Also confusing was reading the announcement that Guy Fawkes night was going to be celebrated AGAIN.

A little background: In the UK, every 5th November, there are many community firework festivals and back garden bonfire nights to celebrate Guy Fawkes’ attempt to burn down the Houses of Parliament. A good time is had by all. Except, apparently, this year in Weston Super Mare. Apparently the firework display was “so rubbish”. It didn’t go down very well with the townies at all, and they booed and went home complaining and disappointed. Seems we were in town the night the Man In Charge was doing a re-do.

There was applause.

We went to visit John and his family, who showed us his back garden Beehive. He has two hives his wife bought him for Christmas and we had some of the delicious honey. Bee keeping is becoming very popular in the UK since the worry about a strange virus that hit the bee community some time ago causing them to leave their hives and not come back. John’s swarm is very healthy and apparently will even survive the winter. He is a member of the local chapter of Bee Keepers and here he is showing his grand-children how it’s done:


(Photo by Steve Worrall)

I am probably not surprising you to tell you that some punk rockers from the class of 1976 and 1977 are still making art or have returned to making art, or in the case of Paul Simenon from The Clash have turned to art. The other night we went to Signal Gallery in Hoxton, Gaye Black had curated Punk and Beyond and included: Jamie Reid’s iconic graphic design, Paul Simenon (The Clash) paintings, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) collage, Billy Childish amongst others. Here are better pictures than I could take and a nice review by our friend Steve Worrall

Now the nights have drawn in, it’s nice to have someone read you a book, don’t you think? We thought we’d go and see what the new Editor At Large from Faber and Faber’s new book was like. Faber and Faber are a rather respectable publishing company, established in 1929 by one Mr. Faber (who pretended there were two Mr. Fabers to sound posh). Faber is known for publishing the likes of W. H. Auden and T. S. Eliott as well as Ted Hughes,Vita Sackville West, P D James to name a few. Ted Hughes was commemorated just recently in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.

Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of Pulp, for it is he who is that new Editor at Large|was reading.

250 wristbands were sold for entry to said event. W/band included a copy of Mother Brother Lover -his new book of lyrics, and himself signing your book.

Even tho Jarvis had a cold, and told us he’d never read like this before, he did a very good job. He was soulfully entertaining and was generous with his time at the signing.

And then it was time to get sorted for Heathrow Airport and back to NYC.