From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Posts Tagged ‘Reading

A Hoxton Childhood (Back In The Day)

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Shortly after moving to east London this year the book A Hoxton Childhood by A.S Jasper came my way from my cousin. At the time of reading I had moved to the area where the book is set, an area where my paternal side of the family were born and raised. I blogged back in May how the words in the post script really touched me.

“Be thankful that you were born now and not then. Go forward, but try to be tolerant of your parents along the way”. A.S Jasper.

This Wednesday my aunt and I listened to A.S Jaspers nephew, Richard Penny, read that exact sentence at the books official reissue in the Broadway Bookshop, along with A.S Jaspers son Terry.  A cousin brought this book into my life, two cousins have met after researching their family tree and republished this historical document.

Living in the area, and being lucky enough to wander the streets with my Dad and hear his stories has meant the world to me this year. I walk down Crondall Street and laugh at dad telling me about the “Crondall crumpets” (it seems the girls living on this road were once quite up for it). My dad could run street tours on his life in Hoxton.

Until I persuade him to do this A Hoxton Childhood is a real east end family tale, where people still find something to laugh about when all seems hopeless and doomed, that stood by one another. Christmas is lurking fellow book worms, buy a copy for your families and heed those words I quoted above.

A Hoxton Childhood. Left, reissue and right, 1971 copy.

A Hoxton Childhood. Left, reissue and right, 1971 copy.

Written by Anon PA

October 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Sunday Swoon. September 22nd 2013.

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George the Dog John the Artist

George the Dog John the Artist

1. Any Shoreditch local will recognise George the Dog and John the Artist from his usual spot outside Dishoom on Shoreditch High Street. John Dolan is an amazing London artist and has often found himself homeless, I got to meet both man and dog. He has sat sketching the ever-changing surrounding area over the past couple of years and this has resulted in his first exhibition, hosted by Howard Griffin Gallery. Well known street artists have collaborated with him for the exhibition. When I visited all but one of his paintings had been sold, one that praised David Cameron on a bill board (yet look closer and you’ll see what John really thinks, don’t be fooled). The exhibition is due to end this Thursday but Bird at the gallery told me they’re hoping to extend it. Do whatever it takes to visit. My cockles are throughly warmed this evening.

by John Dolan

2.  I have just finished Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins by Grace Maxwell. Told from Grace’s, Edwyn’s wifes, point of view after he unexpectedly suffered a stroke in February 2005. An honest account of the long road to recovery, the effect it had on both Edwyn and his family, the small and significant triumphs, the precious moments of laughter and the steely determination it takes to keep taking one step at a time. A book that will make you count your blessings and help find perspective.

3. Solange has released a video to accompany her amazing track Lovers In The Parking Lot. I desperately want light up laces and acid house pants now. Stylish and sharp. Oh to have one bone as cool as her in my body.

E.Mono Shawarma

4. I’ve been meaning to visit Kentish Towns E. Mono since Giles Coren gave it a glowing review in 2011. Slightly tipsy I stumbled in there Saturday, finally at a meaty mecca. I don’t care what zone you live in this place is worth the trek. Friendly service, the shawarma was stuffed full of sweet tasting pickled peppers, crunchy red cabbage, shredded salad, chilli  and garlic sauce with chunks of partly fatty, part crisp chunks of lamb. All for £5.

5. Finally the latest video from Local Natives for Ceilings. Hummingbird has to be one of my favourite albums this year. This song wraps up the summer for me, especially seeing flashes of Glastonbury in it.

Sunday Swoon. 26th May 2013.

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1. So I have a huge soft spot for Baz Luhrmann films. I’ve heard people niggling at his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, someone saying they walked out after ten minutes, but I loved it. The party scenes were visually breathtaking, made me feel like I am missing glittery ticker tape in life. The casting was perfect for the characters, Mulligan and DiCaprio as Daisy and Gatsby especially. It stuck close to the original book by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The soundtrack was perhaps a little too much vanity from Jay-Z.

2. The much talked about Parquet Courts played London’s historic The 100 Club last Sunday. Without getting drawn into the whole “is guitar music dead?” question what I will say is it was great to see a band who didn’t look like a Top Man advert, over groomed and too stiff for movement. There was a kid alone (he really was a kid, around 16) right at the front looking like he’d just discovered the greatest band of all time. Eyes unblinking, mouthing every word, rapt with attention. I love seeing that look on people.

3. I always get sucked into these “great summer read” books (I admit it, I even read Dan Brown). I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn in about two days, staying up until the early hours to get to the end. It’s surprising and full of twists without over complicating the plot. I predict a film adaption will follow by the end of the year.

4. Field Day was utter brilliance on Saturday. Perfect weather, great company for the day and some real standout performances from the likes of How To Dress Well, Kurt Vile, Animal Collective and Bat for Lashes. I’ll opt to put a track of hers on here because it was the last crystal clear memory I have. Things after that got a bit gin hazy. The best day of 2013 so far, by far.

5. Lastly a new track this week from bare-footed, natty haired Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Better Days.

Sunday Swoon. May 12th 2013.

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Due to gallivanting around Dartmoor and Brixham and lack of internet access this is more of a fortnightly round-up.

1. The first book I read as an East London resident was A Hoxton Childhood by A.S Jasper. An honest and frank account of growing up poor in 1920’s from the voice of an ordinary man. No romanticising the past. It could have been wrote by my Dad from the stories he’s told me and he read the entire book in a matter of hours when I passed it on to him. A beautiful message in the book and interesting to read about the streets that now surround me.

“Be thankful that you were born now and not then. Go forward, but try to be tolerant of your parents along the way”. A.S Jasper.

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2. If you ever find yourself in Torbay the only place to have seafood is Simply Fish in Brixham. Menu is dictated by availability from the boats straight in from fishing at a quarter of the price you’d pay in London. Queues rival that of restaurants such as Meat Liquor. My favourite dish is their Tempura Cuttlefish (pictured above). Managed to fit three visits in during my visit home.

3. Janelle Monae is back with Q.U.E.E.N featuring Erykah Badu. Adore everything about this woman and still lament the day I got sidetracked by an ice cream van playing 90’s dance music at Glastonbury and missed her. Makes me want to quiff my hair and deal in monochrome only.

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4. Before the Devon adventures and in between moving house I managed to sneak in a couple of trips to Pick Me Up London. Just as inspiring, inventive and batty as it was when I first attended last year. I’d highly recommend signing up to the mailing list so you don’t miss out on it next year.

5. Hot on the heels of (the superior, let’s face it) Daft Punk comes a new track from Basement Jaxx which really minds me of Friends Va Fan Gor Du. Getting my dance on.

Sunday Swoon. April 21st 2013

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1. On the occasions I write about music I always scurry away from attempting album reviews. For the sole reason I never agree with the ones I read. Music is so personally emotive that the only thing I’d have to say is “go and listen to it yourself and make up your mind”. I’ve read some disappointing reviews of Mosquito, the latest album from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, this week. For me their albums are always consistently creative and brilliant. Also, I shall now approach life with all the enthusiasm of a choir master. I also like Karen O’s love child of Willy Wonka and Elvis Presley look.

2. I’ve just finished Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The book behind Bladerunner. I am sure many of you will disagree with me, but I felt that the book was far richer than the film. But then I always do tend to prefer the original texts. Bookworm over film nerd.

3. We’ve all listened to this a dozen times by now? After numerous false starts, fan edits and sketchy Coachella videos. This is the official edit of Daft Punk’s new song Get Lucky featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodger. It has summer written all over it. Now to dream of a surprise Glastonbury appearance.

4. I opted for Place Beyond The Pines based solely on the fact I have ovaries and Ryan Gosling is in the film (thems the rules now). I knew nothing about the plot other than suspecting it was Drive on motorbikes. I was wrong. It is refreshing, surprising and had a soundtrack that spans every possible genre. Tip for the chaps reading this; Inside out t-shirts and bleach blonde hair is very S/S 13.

5. Perhaps lost amongst the Daft Punk hype the new track by Thundercat is worth your ear time as well. Heartbreaks + Setbacks. Pitchfork fawn over it in their review. They have said exactly what I would, but far more eloquently.

Sunday Swoon. March 10th. 2013

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1. Immersive cinema has been on my to-do list since I first heard of Secret Cinema screening One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Next back in 2010. So thanks to Twitter (huge thanks to Drew) I unexpectedly found myself waiting outside East London’s Troxy on Sunday evening waiting to see Casablanca for the first time. Without any expectations I was completely wowed. I’m not sure I even blinked, I was too busy drinking up the experience. I think part of my delight was in the unexpected so I won’t blog in too much detail. Just to say I highly recommend it. Tickets for extra nights are still on sale from Future Cinema.

2. John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars is perhaps not one to read on public transport after the tears I shed on the underground this week. The books main characters are two teenagers suffering from Cancer. It is bleak, tragic, real. But above all these things the author manages to convey beauty amongst an ugly and unfair illness. That is what I came away with, it’s sad but beautiful. It’s rare that I read books for a second time, I can see myself picking this up again down the line.

 

3. All this year The Southbank Centre are putting on a series of events called The Rest Is Noise broaching a wide range of topics through a series of lectures, live music performances and film. We went along to Berlin in the 20’s and 30’s. Yes, I felt idiotic (especially when the middle-class shared in-jokes over classical music and I found my blank expression mirrored back at me when I turned to my friend Jo) but I find a ton of joy in learning and so can deal with the shame. For example, I learnt that it was cheaper to burn money than buy coal after the fall out from the first world war as Berlin’s economy suffered. That The Doors Alabama Song was actually composed by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht as part of an opera. Tickets for future events are still available. Go see what you can learn.

4. The second film that stole my heart this week is Celeste and Jesse Forever. From the opening scenes I thought it would be a typical American Rom Com but it’s far smarter with unexpected, witty and warm scenes. It also has a fantastic soundtrack. Starring Rashida Jones of Parks and Recreation fame and Andy Samberg.  Don’t read too much about the plot beforehand!

5. My new favourite budget restaurant is Ariana II in Kilburn. Typically I discover it just as I start to plan a move to East London. That won’t stop me jumping on the train to come back time and time again. For five of us to eat on Friday it came to £13 a head. This included plates of the best hummus I have ever tasted, warm naan breads, panner salad, cubes of tandoori lamb, fried aubergine, baklava. You can BYOB to this restaurant which is what makes it such a bargain.

Sunday Swoon. February 17th 2013.

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1. The extremely generous 6 Music put on another set of free gigs at Maida Vale Studios and I was lucky enough to be front row with Jo for Richard Hawley on Valentines day (unlucky with camera’s picking up geeky side profile whoops and clapping shots). I loved the acerbic wit and cynicism from Hawley as much as I enjoyed watching him perform. All his albums hold a special place in my heart and it was perfect to finally see him live in such an intimate setting. Photo’s from the session on my Flickr.

2. Everyone I know adored Silver Linings Playbook, so like the book snob I am I decided to read the original book by Matthew Quick first. It’s a beautiful read, full of charming flaws and beautiful intimate moments. I would highly recommend it. I watched the film shortly after finishing it. The credits should read “really loosely based on the book”. Even small but significant moments in the book were eradicated or changed for no reason I could grasp (like a song choice which has important narrative attached to it for example). I would advise anyone to read the original and ditch the film.

3. After stumbling into the John Peel tent during Glastonbury 2011 and being hypnotised by Darwin Deez live I have been itching to see him again. He was in my top 5 at Glastonbury that year, a unique performer. Last week at Heaven (to a remarkably young audience, or I’m getting terribly old) he immediately transported me back to a very happy place. Who doesn’t love insane but tightly choreographed dance routines littered through their gig!

4. Vic Reeves has an art exhibition at The Strand Gallery called Hot Valve Leak: Visual Ramblings of Vic Reeves. And it is a ramble. At times bonkers and at other times classic seaside scenes. It shows there is more depth to him than what we grew up with on TV. The exhibition is free and worth a visit for inspiration and giggles.

5. On the day Foals third album Holy Fire was released I was lucky enough to be wedged in front of the tiny stage at Rough Trade East with friends to watch them perform live. The new songs sound gigantic live, like no room can contain them. It was also beautiful to hear Spanish Sahara at the end of the set. Adore this band deeply, and My Number has to rival any song as an “it’s over” anthem.

Sunday Swoon. October 14th

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I have a new favourite author, there’s a new Rolling Stones track floating across the airwaves, I visited Bedlam and I danced my socks off at a gig. Not a bad week all in all…

1. This week LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up And Play The Hits was released on DVD. Despite my love of music I’m rarely a fan of live DVDs but this is so much more than standard concert footage. It’s emotional and will serve as a comfort blanket for fans now that LCD have called it a day. I suggest watching it drunk with friends, setting off confetti cannons in your living room while fighting back the tears. Just typing this makes me feel sad. I was at their last ever UK gig, had I been at their last ever gig I’d have been a dancing mess.

2. If I wasn’t in the middle of a frantic job hunt I’d have bought up every David Sedaris book this week after reading When You Are Engulfed In Flames. I have done myself a great literary injustice in only just discovering him and feel like the world has been keeping a secret from me (especially as most of my friends seem to have known about him for years). If you want to smile and laugh at the turn of every page seek him out.

3. Any man who can pull off a full tasselled cape with shoulder embellishments without once breaking into even a smirk is impressive. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs was fabulous at Shepherds Bush Empire this week. Plenty of glittery string and ticker tape being fired at the crowd, fantastic light show and euphoric music made it feel a bit NYE.

4. Steve Lazarides Minotaur exhibition under the Old Vic Tunnels last year was a London highlight. This year he has created Bedlam for free and it was equally bonkers and brilliant. Eerie, playful, sad, relaxing (yes, relaxing. Lying under Doug Foster’s hypnotic video installation yet again my highlight). Photo’s from the evening are on my Flickr page.

5. The Rolling Stones graced the world with a new track called Doom and Gloom this week, which raises my expectations of them being at Glastonbury even higher. I asked Twitter what they thought of it, my favourite response was “it’s OK, they’ve done better”. Like everyone was going to think “Oh yeah, completely forgot about Street Fighting Man, Angie, Paint It Black… What was I thinking!” Of course they’ve done better, that’s not the point. The point is it’s not bad at all, and how amazing that they all still want to record together after all these years? Pipe down naysayers.

Let The Right Book In

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This morning I sat on the Jubilee line and was suddenly overcome with a slight twang of ‘What have I done?’ I had chosen my commute as the place I would give out copies of Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist for World Book Night. Looking around at the people avoiding eye contact, claiming kingdom over armrests and smacking of misery. The thought crossed my mind for a fleeting moment that this was going to be a tough crowd to crack.

Then I remembered that the one common thread that has led me to conversations with commuting strangers has been books. Whether it’s a small knowing smile I’ve shared with the dozens upon dozens of people I’ve seen reading Cloud Atlas over the years. The time someone tapped me on the knee when they spotted I was reading American Gods on the Piccadilly Line and we ended up chatting about Neil Gaiman’s books all the way from Kings Cross to Osterley. Or the time I looked over to the person sat next to me on the Metropolitan Line to see we were both reading Mrs Dalloway  and we shared a surprised laugh (what are the chances). I’m yet to witness this with Kindles, book covers are so much more easier to spot. One more reason why print wins for me every time.

It’s been fascinating seeing the range of facial expressions people go through when you approach them, strike up conversation and offer them a free book. Heavy browed suspicion, bemusement, eventually a genuine smile. Someone literally gave me a pat on the back and said thank you for being a volunteer, another lady said I had made her day. A man screamed “Mr Crawley, you have broken my feathers” at me (that’s Kilburn for you) and declined the book. At one point I found myself in competition with someone else offering eternal life (I am pleased to say I think I won that round). Mainly, I was surprised how many people just wanted to chat once they got over the initial scepticism. Even those that declined the book had a natter about what they’re reading, asked how many books I’d shifted.

I’m back home now, with a cup of hot ribena and an empty bag. Ready to pick up my own book for the evening, Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop. Thanks for picking me World Book Night. It was a page turning experience.

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Written by Anon PA

April 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Sunday Swoon. April 22nd

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A book for a book, roses in Trafalgar Square, a letter and The Band….

1. On Carnaby Street, in Kingly Court, there has popped up a book exchange. It’s essentially a free library where you can drop off a book that you have read and leave with another that you’ve plucked from the shelves. I love this communal idea, where you not only get a new book but you can leave comments and share memories or recommendations. It’s like a huge hippy book club and suits the ethos that Carnaby Street stood for in the sixties. Curated by students from the London College of Fashion. The first book I spotted was one of my favourite books, The People of Providence by Tony Parker. I urge all you bookworms to take part.

2. Album of the week is Mariee Sioux, Gift For The End. Honest, simple, vintage sounding folk music from a lady so young singing songs that are so very old and wise. You can listen on Spotify.

3. Trafalgar Square smelt like an English Rose garden on Saturday. In amongst the fauna and flora I got chatting to a lovely lady from Capital Growth. They organise community food-growing spaces in urban areas. Having been on my boroughs allotment waiting list for two years this is a great way to get involved if you feel like sticking your fingers in some soil. You can see what’s happening in your local area by visiting their website.

4. On the passing of Levon Helm, drummer with The Band, this week my Dad said “another great musician bites the dust”. A day later he was followed by Bert Weedon, the man who taught so many people to play guitar. Really sad week for music to lose such important and inspirational characters. Whilst shuffling around YouTube to find something appropriate to add to this list I came across this documentary with The Band and it’s definitely worth a watch.

5. I am sometimes a better friend the further away you are from me geographically. This is because I love writing letters and making parcels for people. This week I was on the receiving end of a package from dear friend Pea who has been exiled to Australia. It arrived on a day where I needed it most and made me howl with laughter and cry tears of missing her sadness. From a letter the size of a small booklet which included a list of music she has recently found and loved (An Horse, Frankie Rose, Lemonade, Wooden Shjips) to a Kaleidoscope that I haven’t put down (experimenting with photography above). Send someone something, anything. It will make their week. 

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Written by Anon PA

April 22, 2012 at 11:42 am