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Making a dent in it

Over the past few days, I have started to unpack some of the many boxes from the garage. Having finished off the office room, it was now time to begin to fill the shelves of the new units. I had anticipated finding lots of forgotten treasures, but so far everything has been as expected. I did find an unused 500gb portable hard drive, still in its packaging. This was a Christmas gift from a few years ago, intended to back up files and photos on the computer. I thought that it had been lost. Now I am going to have to work out how to use it…

Large boxes full of DVD films have been manhandled from the carefully stacked piles. After arranging the films three deep and sixteen high in long rows, I have counted well over 300, plus many box sets. This may sound like a lot, but I am sure that many I expected to find are not present, so I am hoping to discover another box of them somewhere. I separated the new and unseen films, still in their cellophane wrappers. They totalled almost 50, so I have some viewing to do in the coming winter months. Despite being stacked on top of each other for well over two years, nothing was damaged, which I found remarkable. Although the edges of the boxes were beginning to turn in with the pressure, all the cases held out well. I thought that I would give some of the poorer films away, to the local charity shop. Not surprisingly, I could only find a handful that I didn’t want to hang on to.

The boxes of books were a lot heavier than I remembered. This showed just how weak I have become, since the problems that I had after taking statins. It was with some difficulty that I hauled them around, and brought some of them into the house to sort through. As with the films, I parted with some, but not many. There are still lots more boxes to go through yet though. I have already found at least a dozen hardbacks that have never been opened, so there is plenty of reading to keep me occupied at some stage. They were all in very good condition. The sealed boxes had kept the pages dry, and they had also not curled, or become twisted. I had expected to find all sorts of insect life, alive and dead. There was nothing. A tribute to the sealing qualities of adhesive parcel tape.  I have two clear shelves left, and some space in the lower cupboards. Given the amount of books still outside, I am obviously going to have to make some hard choices soon. Some of the larger reference books are not going to fit on the shelves either. I am guessing that they will have to laid flat in the lower sections.

As well as the books and DVD  films, I found a lot of compact discs, and some treasured photo albums, covering different periods in my life. Regrettably, I chose to use the type with adhesive pages, covered by a plastic film. These were popular many years ago, readily available, and reasonably priced. They were a bad choice though, as the pictures cannot be removed easily, and the albums do not offer proper protection. I found my large stuffed figure of Yoda, (a character that I am often considered to look like) and he now sits in the corner, watching over me. I discovered a printed copy of the short play I wrote, ‘City of Cranes’, and a selection of leaving cards from different jobs, signed by lots of different people. My entire life history is in boxes in a garage. I say this as a good thing, as it is all still with me, and I can choose what to keep for the time remaining.

I felt pretty good after all this sorting and shifting. I had made a dent in the pile of boxes, and I was finally getting on with something I should have done a long time ago. It was only a small dent though.

Significant Songs (45)

This Head I Hold

Here is an unusual modern entry into the series of significant songs. The significance is tenuous at best, and based on some very average things. It is nonetheless significant, as I literally cannot get it out of my head.
I was watching an advert on TV. It was for the Swedish home products company, IKEA. It had a catchy theme song accompanying it, and after a while, I decided to find out about that song. I had always thought that it might be a female vocalist, and given the company, a Swedish group. It was neither. The song was performed by an American group from Los Angeles, Electric Guest, and as recently as 2012. The singer, Asa Taccone, was definitely male, and the jazzy feel, combined with the fresh sound from a modern band of young men, made it stand out from the crowd.
I impulsively bought the CD, ‘Mondo’, that contained this track. As with a lot of recordings, this one was definitely the standout, no doubt why it was released as a single. However, the CD contained some other very interesting songs, and gave indication of serious talent.
Since used in another advert, this time for Ford Cars, it has obviously gained the interest of marketing gurus; and despite never appearing in the UK charts, the band has a small cult following.
Mainly, it is the mind-bothering nature of the track; the falsetto vocal, the insistent drums, that keeps it firmly rooted in my mind. That makes it significant, at least to me.
See what you think…

Significant Songs (44)

Caravan

Van Morrison first came to my notice as the lead singer of the Northern Irish band ‘Them’, in 1964. I bought their single, ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, and ‘Gloria’ was the B-side. He later became a solo artist, prolific songwriter, and something of a household name. Most people could name one or more of his hits, and possibly the titles of his albums too. It would be fair to say that at least a few of his recordings have earned the status of ‘standard’. With this in mind, it would be correct to say that this is a man of great musical talent, and a significant figure in the music industry, still performing to this day, aged almost seventy.
From the time of his second solo release, ‘Astral Weeks’, in 1968, I collected every record he ever made, until 1999. I counted them, 26. Although there have been many more since then, I haven’t bought any. My relationship with him as a performer has been unusual. I only ever got to see him once, after waiting what seemed to be a lifetime to do so. And I hated it. Expensive seats at the Albert Hall were not justified by the appearance of a rather grumpy, disconnected performer, who rushed through his repertoire as if on fast-forward. He left much of the job of entertaining the crowd to British jazz man, Georgie Fame, as he just stared at the floor, mumbling a selection of his hits. To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement of how I felt that night.
Despite this, his music still gets to me, and it undeniably endures. His songs are like a soundtrack to a large part of my life. From the early blues hits before I was even a teenager, through to the haunting Celtic melodies when I was well over forty. Here is one of my favourites.

Significant Songs (43)

Let Me Be Your Fantasy

In 1992, I was 40 years old. Hardly the target market for a new blend of modern music. Nonetheless, I was overwhelmed when I heard this record, from a group that I had never known before that time. Sung by the beguiling Dorothy Fearon, it soon became a staple of the rave/dance scene of the mid 1990s. Two years later, it reached number one in the mainstream charts, and I bought the CD ‘Deliverance’. This contained the track in question, as well as other favourites; ‘Casanova’, and the cover of ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’, which I had owned by The Korgis. This was an amazing album, with no duff tracks, and a great version of ‘Let me Be…’ into the bargain.
Despite my age, I was overwhelmed by the quality of the vocals, and the production values.
This track has rightly been hailed as a modern ‘anthem’. If you don’t care for it, I can only say that, ‘you had to be there’. I have such great memories of playing the CD in my car, maxing out the volume, and singing along to the annoyance of other road users in London. Please enjoy it. I am sure you will.

Coming to terms

After living here in Norfolk for quite a while now, I have finally begun to believe it. For so long, it didn’t feel real, as if I was always going to be going back to London, or moving on to somewhere else. It has taken a long time to fully embrace the peace, and the unreal slowness of life here. I used to think that I was deluded when I told myself that I didn’t miss anything about life in the city. Part of me always thought that I would snap out of it one day, and wonder what I thought I was doing here.

I now realise that I have come to terms with this life. I am living life in a way I never previously thought possible, and I am glad about it too. I have written a lot about the weather in many posts, as regular readers will be only too aware. I think that this is because I have come to understand weather in a very real sense. I now like to prepare for it, to be aware what might happen, and to make it part of my life, as opposed to disregarding it. I welcome the darkness, and the way that it closes things down around us. I enjoy that slow pace of life, and adjust my own speed accordingly. This is where I live now, and I won’t be going anywhere else.

I expect that many of you would never consider giving up the comforts and amenities of life in a large town or city. I know that I once thought that I never would. There are trade-offs, it would be foolish to suggest otherwise. Life outside villages has a convenience and simplicity not found here. We have to plan ahead, make sure that the car is reliable, and be aware that we cannot rely on public transport. Going to a theatre, a good restaurant, or an exhibition, is not something that can be done on the spur of the moment. It involves forward planning, and of course, driving. Yet it restores that sense of occasion, so often lacking in cities, where these things are so common, they become almost mundane. They can still be achieved, you just have to think about them.

In return, you get a great deal, once you understand what it is. Sky, darkness, stillness; a sense of safety previously unknown.

I can really recommend it.

Quiet day, quiet night

I wasn’t very busy today. I got up quite late, and soon after, made some breakfast for us both. After checking e mails, and perusing my blog, I got ready to take Ollie out. For some unknown reason, I ran a bit late, and it was almost 3 pm by the time we left. For a change of scene, I took Ollie to the recreation ground, over by Beetley Village Hall. There was no sport being played today, and the place was deserted. Ollie likes the woods that fringe the pitches, as they are home to lots of squirrels. However, after two hours walking around in circles, not one squirrel had appeared to be chased. They were obviously having a quiet day too.

Returning via High House Road, we bumped into a dog-walking friend going in the other direction. She asked me about the Vet in Swaffham that we have changed to, and I gave her the details. I walked Ollie back along Elmham Road, where the verges are so wide, he doesn’t have to get too near the much-feared main road. Everywhere was very peaceful. We only saw two cars, and no other people. Once home, I got the ladder out of the shed, and went into the loft. Next week, we are taking lots of baby stuff over to Julie’s daughter, who is expecting in November. It has been stored in the loft for months, and I wanted to get it down when she was there to check off what needs to be taken.

I then prepared the evening meal, a traditional roast, and Julie spoke to one of her sons on the telephone. It was all very normal, a typical Sunday. Later on, we watched some TV, mostly things we had previously recorded. At 8.30 pm, a car drove past on the dark street outside, and we looked at each other, somewhat surprised. It is indicative of how quiet life is here, that the passing of a single car after dark can be a cause for remark. Julie stayed up quite late, something she will no doubt regret tomorrow, when her alarm goes off at 6.30 am.

It is now 1.50 am on Monday, as I type this. I haven’t heard a sound since that car passed all those hours ago, unless you count the increasingly strengthening wind. The view from the window is as black as ink, not a chink of light anywhere. Beetley has long ago closed down for the night, and I am guessing that it’s going to be another quiet one.

A while back, I exceeded 500 posts on Beetleypete.  This one will bring the total to 523. As I expected to be around the 100 mark by this time, it is obvious that I have been a lot busier than I anticipated. Views of the blog have just tipped 20,000, and followers are almost at the magical 500 mark. Not that this figure means a lot, as I probably only have 50 or so ‘real’ followers.

I always like to state from the outset, that this is of no significance, in the wider world of blogging. Even some relatively small blogs can boast over 2,000 followers, and get hundreds of views daily. For me, it is all relative to expectations. I never expected to get more than a handful of followers, and then only from friends, family, and ex-colleagues. I also never expected to have written over 500 posts; on everything from 1960s London, to attempts at fiction. I used to think that if 1,000 people looked at my blog, it would be something of an achievement. To have that twenty times over is something marvellous, at least to me.

I confess that I continue to miss many of my blogging friends; those who have dropped out of blogging, for reasons important to them. Although I never met them, (with one exception) I find myself worrying about them, or wondering what they are up to. Perhaps this is a lesson learned. Get too close to other bloggers, and you can do nothing about it, when they choose to disappear. Blog only for the moment, without thought to the longer term feeling of community. I will still think about them though, so that is one lesson I am disregarding.

I am still occasionally bothered by ‘followers’ who are just trying to make money. This doesn’t irritate me as much as it used to, as I now have some understanding of the pyramid-selling nature of SEO opportunities, lifestyle gurus, and book sellers. Many see the web and the blogging side of it as a way to make money, purely and simply. They want to work from home, typing their ‘follows’ into a laptop from their poolside, as they gaze at their Mercedes parked in the drive. But we all know that this is only happening for a select few. The rest of you have missed that boat, it sailed long ago. There are some good authors using the blog to sell their stuff. Good luck to you, but please don’t pretend to be interested in my writing, just to try to sell me your latest e-book. Others combine intelligent and thoughtful blogging, with a sideline in marketing or sales, reached from separate menus, or even links to different blogs. That’s the way you should be doing it. Moan over.

I am still staggered by just how many blogs exist. Conservative estimates put the figure of bloggers at around the eight million mark, and that is just for those blogging in English. In truth, it is probably much larger than this, though many blog sites have been dormant for much of their existence. As so many new blogs are registered every day, it is almost impossible to find an accurate figure. Let’s just agree that it is huge, almost too huge to comprehend. There is hardly a topic or subject known that is not covered on a blog, somewhere.

I remain delighted to be a part of this, and once again suggest that anyone considering joining us should do so. Now.

Arne, Amputated

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