Why does my knee hurt? Someone must know

Five years ago, when I was at the 2010 SVPCA meeting in Cambridge, my knees were very painful. Walking was a trial, and going up and down the steps to the accommodation was pretty awful. I had no idea why my knees had started hurting, and neither did the doctor who I consulted. I also have no idea why they stopped hurting a little later. This whole episode makes no sense, given my generally good health.

sushi1a

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Crossfire, More Like a Teacake Vicar and Mike & Andy (1988)

Like a phoenix from the flames …

Did Anne Heap of Frogs really break up, as I said last time? Or did they merely sack me? You’d think I’d be able to tell the difference between these two scenarios, but ten months after the second AHOF gig, this happened:

1988-09-24--stortfest

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Anne Heap of Frogs (1987-1988)

A flagrant festival of nostalgia today — my apologies to the 6,999,996 of you were were not members of the short-lived heavy metal band Anne Heap of Frogs in Bishop’s Stortford in the late 1980s. This post is for me, Andy, Richard and Eddie (and maybe our mums).

1987-09-26--ticket--haywire--a-heap-of-frogs

The ticket you see above is from the first Anne Heap of Frogs concert, played on the evening of Saturday 26 September 1987, at the URC Church Hall in Water Lane, Bishop’s Stortford. Astonishing to think that was 28 years ago.

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What the 2015 budget means for me, and why it’s vile

George Osborn’s budget raises the threshold for the higher (40%) tax rate from the current £42,385 to £43,000. Since I am fortunate enough to earn that much, the £615 difference will now be taxed at 20% rather than 40%, saving me 20% of that £615 — that is, £123 a year, or about £2.37 a week. Whoopy doo. I don’t want to be ungrateful, but £2.37 a week is not going to change my life.

akami

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Which Joni Mitchell album do JoniMitchell.com members think is best?

The excellent JoniMitchell.com website allows members to score Mitchell’s albums and songs. There is a page listing all songs by rating, but no analogous page that I can find with the album ranks. Being curious to see what the members’ wisdom-of-crowds had to say, I scraped the current scores off the 19 pages for her 19 studio albums, with the following results:

score year album
9.67 1971 Blue
9.67 1976 Hejira
9.61 1972 For the Roses
9.56 1974 Court and Spark
9.50 1975 The Hissing of Summer Lawns
9.29 1970 Ladies of the Canyon
9.12 1968 Song to a Seagull
8.99 1991 Night Ride Home
8.92 1994 Turbulent Indigo
8.83 1977 Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
8.78 1969 Clouds
8.56 2002 Travelogue
8.29 2000 Both Sides Now
8.04 2007 Shine
8.01 1979 Mingus
7.70 1988 Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm
7.60 1982 Wild Things Run Fast
7.49 1998 Taming the Tiger
7.39 1985 Dog Eat Dog

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 7

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

I’m trying to move quickly to catch up with myself — I’m still a few months behind — so apologies if these books are not given as much coverage as they deserve.

Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words — Malka Marom

A truly fascinating set of three (very long) interviews, conducted many years apart, with the most endlessly fascinating singer-songwriter of them all. (If you don’t accept my assessment, ask David Crosby.) Malka Marom was a folk singer herself, so has a good angle on the issues that Joni is dealing with — personal, musical and poetic. They’re some of the most revealing interviews I’ve ever read, not in terms of salacious details but of slowly and effectively opening up essence of a person, revealing what makes her tick.

And I’d have to say that Joni doesn’t come out of it all that well, in the end. It’s apparent in all three interviews that she’s quite a self-focussed person, and that tendency becomes stronger and darker across the three interviews. Towards the end we read

I’m reliving old injuries. I’m reliving them and I’m telling the person off that I didn’t tell off. I’m trying to expel anger. And it hangs in the air and I go, ‘What that very satisfactory, when you said that to them? No.’ And then I kind of do it again.

For such a free spirit, she seems to find it hard to let go of old hurts and resentments. It’s a shame; but, no doubt, a part of what made her such an absolutely superb artist. And she really does stand alone.

Marom’s book is well worth reading for anyone who loves Joni’s work. Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 6

[Previously: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5]

I’ve got a long way behind with these — I’m reading faster than I can blog — so I’ll try to move quickly and catch up with myself.

Off to be the Wizard — Scott Meyer

Debut novel from the creator of the wonderful Basic Instructions comic strip. I held off buying this for a long time on the grounds that being a clever cartoonist doesn’t necessarily mean you have the skills to be a novelist; but having seen a lot of positive reviews, I took the plunge when the e-book was heavily discounted. I’m glad I did, and now eagerly await a similar discount on the sequel. I don’t want to say too much about this for fear of spoilering, but I will say that the book launches on a fascinating science-fictional premise, and quickly takes a left-turn that took me by surprise. It’s not very literary, but it’s immensely engaging, which in my book counts for much more. Recommended. Continue reading