heard on the wire

Drop the hammers, drop the guns


I start my new career as a teacher very soon. That’s probably the scariest sentence I’ve ever written. A long holiday is coming to end, some 15 weeks after I completed my training, qualified-teacher-status recommendation in hand.

I’ve blogged. Suzi and I have been to the beach, many times. I may have drunk a little too much from time to time. We’ve decorated the spare bedroom. I’ve even managed to find my way around the NatWest website, so no one can say I haven’t achieved anything.

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This is confusion, am I confusing you?


We were a bit more transatlantic than the Fred Perry and Adidas brigade. We never asked to become part of the Britpop club, all that Cool Britannia shit: Noel Gallagher shaking hands with Tony Blair. I thought: “It’s not meant to be cosy!”

I was going to write a long post about Britpop, but the musical equivalent of Blair really isn’t that interesting. So, in a nutshell, Britpop was either wonderful or dreadful; take your pick.

Will Hodgkinson in The Times recalls a time when he listened to “songs that rejected the alienation of alternative rock for a celebration of the everyday”.

“Britpop, with its songs about getting nicked for smoking a joint and dressing in ill-fitting clothes was for and about people like me,” he says. “Kitsch, irony, disco dancing, kitchen-sink observation and beery hedonism.”

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I don’t want no cream or sugar

Elektra coffee machine

Tea or coffee? It’s one of life’s eternally important questions. Get the start to the day wrong and everything feels out of kilter.

I’m a coffee-in-the-morning, tea-in-the-afternoon person, preferring something strong and black before noon, something strong and a deep, rich shade of brown in the afternoon. The evening is reserved for beer.

What does popular music have to say on the subject? Not a lot, it would seem, save for hackneyed references to lipstick marks and coffee cups.

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B is for…


…two of the bands closest to my heart, Ballboy and Belle and Sebastian, the products of a Scottish music scene who avoided the deadening impact of 1990s “Britpop” to produce some of the most perfect music of the past 20 years.

Ballboy and the brilliant songwriting of Gordon McIntyre hail from Edinburgh, while Stuart Murdoch’s Bell and Sebastian formed in Scotland’s other great city, Glasgow. Meanwhile Snow Patrol were beginning to do their thing in Dundee en route to stadium concerts and international commercial success—as I’ve said before, there really is no justice.

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Chocolate on the boil, steamy windows when we met

Belle and Sebastian

And so to 2006 and the genius of Belle and Sebastian. The Life Pursuit may not have been the Scottish band’s finest LP, but it provided the musical highlight of my year.

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heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.


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