Day #11888 – Music To Write Along to

There are only certain types of music I can listen to whilst I work.  Nothing too intrusive – i.e. nothing energetic or with distracting words.  Preferably something creative that acts as a constant reminder that the world is an interesting place.  Here are some words about five favourites…

Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack to the 1990 television show Twin Peaks unfolds slowly and is rich in mystery – though, as with its parent television program – it does not offer up these mysteries easily.  It never gives you a straightforward answer – moments of peace are haunted by a spooky unease, fear-drenched sequences break down in to moments of beauty.

Consisting of three pieces of music based on the latter part of David Bowie’s Low album, Philip GlassThe Low Symphony  is just a very beautiful and calming piece of work – it somehow manages the trick of being simultaneously enjoyable to concentrate on listening to, yet also something that it is possible to let fade in to the background.

Moving to something more recent… Haiku Salut’s first two albums, Tricolore and Etch And Etch Deep are two of my favourite records released in the last few years.  All of their music is instrumental and inventive, everything feels handcrafted.  They are the kind of band whose track titles – e.g. Sounds Like There’s A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart or Things Were Happening And They Were Strange – say a lot about them, and even sound a bit like the titles of interesting short stories.

I came across Leave Now For Adventure by Feedle in about 2007 and I don’t remember how or why.  It has a great title, a kind of faux-naïve picture of a train on the cover, and an odd little piece of writing in the inside cover that ends:

when you close the front door behind you on a weekend morning the garden is only the beginning, the shops beyond, the town further still, the city and then the ocean.  if you leave now, you’ve got all weekend, if you call in sick, you’ve got all week, if you don’t call at all, you don’t ever have to go back

Beyond that, the music itself is something I just don’t understand.  It is electronic and a lot of it has the rhythm of a train, but I have no ability to describe music, so it is not possible to give you more detail.

Finally, on the slower, lower, more spacious end of the scale is The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull on which Earth manage to make every moment sound momentous, portentous.  Its best track, Hung From The Moon, ambles along for minutes before beautiful shafts of light break through.

Double A Side: Then And Only Then / Collage Of Facts


Big raindrops.  The rain stops and you can see now how big the sky is.  Your heart reboots like an old computer left to gather dust, but which is, it turns out, miraculously still alive, though breathing unsteadily now.  Joyous, you think words to yourself, processing.  There is always so much to do – the clock wheels away in delight.  The winter sky is big and you are getting up late, going to bed early, turning in smaller and smaller circles.  And all those three-in-the-mornings when you’re awake, you are super-determined to do your absolute best the next day.


The sad beauty of failures,
the quiet injustices in success.
This is fantastic, this is reality.

“Just how many leaves do the trees
actually have in them?”
we wondered.
“How many times will we sweep them in to a pile?”
“What can we do with them afterwards?”

Were they legal tender
we might afford to
embrace madness,
the local legend
we do not know
whether to believe
or not.


There’s a kid on the bus screaming his little head right off, looking round to make sure we all know exactly how awful it all is.

The bus stops and a man gets on, carrying a small dog under his arm.  The kid, wide-eyed with dog, forgets the awfulness and stops screaming.  Man and dog go upstairs and the kid remembers he was in the middle of something, so starts up again.

I wish – and I bet everyone else on the bus does too – that I could turn in to a dog, like in that old programme Woof!  But when I try – and I try really hard – it comes out more like the awful transition from man to wolf in An American Werewolf In London.

About The Fire Brigade

I tell my friend that I am writing a short piece about the fire brigade, based on a story my neighbour told me.  She agrees to cast her eye over what I have so far.

The fire brigade received a call from an elderly gentleman:

“All of my furniture is collapsing, and I cannot hold it up on my own.  Please come and help, quickly.  I don’t know what to do.”

The fire brigade chastised the caller and did not attend the emergency.  Furthermore, when the time came for their annual publicity drive to warn members of the public against wasting fire brigade time by making inappropriate calls, they released the recording to be played on local radio.  When the elderly gentleman wrote to complain, telling them that their inaction had caused him to lose many valuable things, and that their subsequent actions had caused much embarrassment, they did not reply.  He could only imagine them passing his letter round, taking turns to laugh at it.

She hands the piece of work back to me.

“You can’t use this,” she warns.  “Even if it’s true, you can’t.  The fire brigade are brave and courageous.  They’re the good guys – people don’t want to read bad things about the fire brigade.”

“But it is-”

“I don’t care.  People won’t want to know.  Trust me.”

First Hive On The Moon

The general rule of thumb is that a hive of bees should be moved either less than three metres or more than three miles.  But this was the day when my hive would begin their journey to become the first colony established on the moon.

Why my bees?

Why not?  What’s wrong with my bees?  They’re a healthy hive – no varroa, a strong, young queen, fifty pounds of honey last year.  Any earth-orbiting lump of rock would be lucky to have them.

I’m going to miss them though.

I went in this morning for one last look.  Workers were coming and going, busy as.  I removed the roof of the hive and breathed in the rich, sweet smell you never get tired of, even after so many years.  And I’ve been doing this for quite a long time – so long that my old beekeeping buddies have all dropped out or dropped dead or dropped out of contact, just like so many people have drifted away from me.

There was a pleasing weight to both the dense droning sound of the bees and the heft of the first super, filled with honey.  Further down the hive I removed the frames one by one and held them close to my face so I could check for the eggs the size of a comma that were evidence the Queen was laying.  I spotted her unmistakeable long body – she was scuttling over the mass of subjects, trying to get away from the light.  Using my thumb and forefinger, I held her in place for a minute and gave her one last look.

Back at the house I updated my records.  Queen spotted and marked – yes.  Capped honey – yes.  Eggs – yes.  Larvae – yes.  Sign of mites or waxmoth – no.  This would be the last entry, but it seemed important to me to complete the record.

I typed all this on the computer and submitted it to the government, just as I had done every week since I received the letter announcing to the nation’s beekeepers this wonderful opportunity.

First bee hive on the moon – imagine that!

Only I didn’t have to imagine it any more – the van was on its way.
There’s not a lot happens around here and I’d been told there would be a Police presence, a guard of some sort, so I’d warned the neighbours.  But I hadn’t expected the convoy of Police and Army vehicles that accompanied the unmarked van.

Two fellas in full beekeeping get up hopped out, declining my offer to help move the hive, without resorting to words.  Before I could remind them to handle it gently, they had the hive strapped down in the back of the van.  Their exit was as swift and efficient as the rest of the operation.

When it was all over I felt a bit lost, but I was mighty proud to have done my bit.

First beehive on the moon!  I kept shouting it to myself.  First bloody beehive on the bloody moon!

I never watch the news, but halfway through that evening I suddenly wondered whether there was the slightest possibility that my old bees might have found their way in to the bulletin.

So I flicked the telly on.

There they were – the police and the army and that little truck with the two fellas in the beekeeping get up, making their way through the streets, all that and then at the bottom of the screen the headline: LAST BEEHIVE ON EARTH.