5,7,5 – 365 30th October 2015

5,7,5 – 365

30th October 2015


A haiku and a diary entry, everyday for a year. 

Driving home last night, the presenter on Radio 4’s ‘Inside Science’ apologised in advance because she was going to have to use a seven syllable word. Seven syllables! I had control my excitement. Apparently, reproducibility is fundamental to proper scientific research, if you cannot reproduce your findings you have achieved nothing.

Though they strive for it


An elusive thing


5,7,5 – 365 29th October 2015

5,7,5 – 365
29th October 2015

Having finally got to grips with most of WordPress; the tags, the categories, why it won’t put a space in when and where I want one and how to get a photo on to a post – I thought it might be a good idea to repost my first blog, which explains the whole thought process behind it. Plus I can stick a photo in this time round. I’m not just being lazy. Honest.


Originally posted 10th September 2015


A haiku or two and a diary entry, everyday for a year.

Where all this begins

Three grains of the Giant Sand

Gabriel’s challenge

Just over a week ago I’d not even heard of Giant Sand. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon at home and I had decided to re-wax an old Barbour jacket, an eBay bargain that needed a little tlc. Whilst covering the jacket and most of the floor in hot wax, we listened to this year’s newly arrived End of the Road CD from Rough Trade. We’d already checked out a few bands new to us in preparation for this year’s festival but thought we’d give it a play to see what else might take our fantasy. Laila had pen, paper and the CD case on standby to make notes. Just as I’d finished one sleeve and the back panel, Track 4 begins playing – it’s like The Handsome family meets Leonard Cohen, with Tom Waits in Rain Dogs mode. “Ooh, I like that. Who is that? Play it again”. Three replays later and the rewax is progressing but the CD is not. The last bit of the process involved blowing it all over with a hairdryer – the coat, not the CD. Whilst that takes place, listening goes out the window and we let the disc play on. The coat is a triumph and further investigation of Giant Sand can now commence.

We watch a session recorded for Seattle’s KEXP over and over, it’s outstanding. Spotify reveals a catalogue of albums dating back to the 1980s and a cocktail of musical styles, all of which sound great. There are all those things that I heard before with a splash of Dylan too. Wikipedia informs me that band’s name was shortened from the original Giant Sandworms, a reference to creatures in Frank Herbert’s Dune. Later that evening, in one of those instances that proves either the interconnectedness of all things or the interference of time travellers in our lives, whilst channel hopping on the Sky box, we happen across a very badly edited for TV version of David Lynch’s 1984 film of the book, and watch it through despite the dreadful cuts. Before going to bed I have already ordered two CDs, 1994’s ‘Glum’ and 2012’s ‘Tuscon’.

The following weekend Laila and I attend The End of the Road festival, which overall was just brilliant with some wonderful music, and Giant Sand get the Set of the Weekend award from both of us. Despite three exhausting days festivalling, the dreadful late night/early morning drive home and the prospect of another late night to go see a London gig after only three hours sleep the night before I go to see them play again on Monday evening at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. Laila can’t go, she has to attend a class at the University but luckily Lynne agrees to join me and together we see, “Giant Sand present (the solo work of band members) Gabriel Sullivan, Brian Lopez and Maggie Bjorklund”. We are treated to three fine sets, despite a rather ill amplifier. Lynne, who is already brilliant, adds another to the many reasons for her being our London gig buddy and engages the man himself, Howe Gelb, in conversation, initially about the workings of the pedal steel and then we get to chat about Giant Sand’s set at the festival, some of the other a acts performing there and music in general. I was already firmly of the opinion that Howe is what Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman would call an anthropomorphic personification, in this case embodying the concepts of music and cool – everything thing he says and does is coo. His hat is cool, his boots are cool, he plays and sings in a profoundly cool and relaxed manner. I’m told by Laila and Lynne that he’s also a very handsome man, in fact another friend described him as the most attractive man she has ever seen. I don’t know about any of that but I do know that he came across as a genuinely nice guy. After the gig he signed a copy of the bands latest album on vinyl for me too.


Back to the gig itself and what this is all supposed to be leading up to. As I’ve already said, we were treated to three fine sets, each very different. Working backwards, Brian Lopez has wonderful voice and his classical guitar training was plain to hear – I bought his latest CD. Maggie Bjorklund played solo numbers on the pedal steel that confirmed Howe’s statement that she had freed the instrument from the prison in Nashville where it’s been confined for decades. Using loop pedals she produced a sound like nothing I’ve heard before, it was intriguing and beautiful. Gabriel Sullivan sang a number of his own songs and performed a cover of Hank Williams’ ‘Rambling Man’ (always a good move, a Hank Williams cover). Gabriel Talked about his involvement in a project, ‘The Crucible’, that had him writing and recording a song everyday for a year, one of which he played for us. I was struck by that idea, it reminded me of a recent interview on Radio 4 Front Row, in which pianist James Rhodes talked about his belief that everyone can be creative and that we should all push ourselves to play an instrument or write something everyday – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b067wf2w . So I am setting myself some challenges; I am going to learn to play the guitar – and really do it this time, I am going get myself on a course in linocut printing, I’m going to learn how to use the camera properly and I am going to write a haiku/diary everyday for a year.

Here then is the first

Three hundred and sixty five

A year in haiku

5,7,5 – 365   27th October 2015  

5,7,5 – 365 27th October 2015
A haiku and a diary entry, everyday for a year.
Leaving for work this morning, the fens are shrouded in fog, and the air is full of the smell of Autumn. As I cross Car Dyke and rise up towards the Lincolnshire Vales, the mist begins to clear. The hedgerows I drive between are now copper red and gold. This ever changing view of the seasons, afforded me as I drive to the station each morning, makes this part of the day a pleasure and much more than just a part of a commute.

The smell of wet leaves

A mist hides the horizon

The road lined with gold

5,7,5 – 365  26th October 2015  

5,7,5 – 365 
26th October 2015  


A haiku or two and a diary entry, everyday for a year. 

Some days simply pass

It’s not all gigs and puppies

All work and no play 

I have that grim, tired Monday feeling. Laila was up until 3.00 this morning writing her essay and then back up again at 6.00 to get the assignment submitted. I take the train into London, it’s quiet, the school half term has reduced the usual press. The day follows the same pattern with what feels like little need for me to be here and few people around. Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison run away together on the muted television and the phone does not ring. Back in again tomorrow. 


Quiet day at work

My presence not required 

Planet of the Apes

5,7,5 – 365  25th October 2015 

5,7,5 – 365 
25th October 2015  


A haiku and a diary entry, everyday for a year. 

It’s Sunday and Laila is still beavering away at her essay. I take her up cups of coffee and biscuits but mostly try to stay out of her way and keep quiet. I end up playing with my headphones, which is quiet, and the puppy, which is not.



It has occurred to me that I might be able to simply use my iPad’s predictive typing to make up haiku. I may give that a try sometime, see if anyone notices.


Not always haiku

Sometimes simply random words

Perhaps tomorrow 

5,7,5 – 365  24th October 2015  

5,7,5 – 365
24th October 2015

A haiku and a diary entry, everyday for a year. 

Saturday night and it’s another gig night, this one providing the opportunity for me to compile convoluted lists of circles, some begun, others completed and one or two broken. To that end, tonight will be my third Ron Sexsmith gig this year. It was to have been Laila’s third and will be Lynne’s first. In fact, this is to be Lynne’s first ever attendance at one of Ron’s gigs and, because Lynne never ever does her homework, it is in all probability the first time she has ever even heard Ron. This was meant to have been an outing for all three of The Musketeers but Laila is bogged down with essay writing and reluctantly stays at home.
The excellent Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou have been providing support for Ron on his current tour. Lynne and I went to their album launch at The Betsy Trotwood Public House a couple of weeks ago. Laila and I saw them supporting Ron last week in Leeds. That makes tonight the third time I have seen them play and the second time Lynne has seen them. It would have been the second time for Laila too but she’s not here.
Pre-gig, we head to Masala Zone in Upper Street, Islington. It’s our second visit at the restaurant, though last time all three of us were here together. Lynne and I enjoy a Grand Thali and send Laila a photo so she can join us vicariously. Laila wishes us a great meal without sarcasm, which is just one of the many reasons she is better than me.

Afterwards we walk up to The Union Chapel. – Now let me see if I can this right. – This is My fourth gig at The Chapel. It is the third time Lynne and I have been together and would have been the second time all three of us managed to be here in less than a fortnight, The Three Musketeers saw Frazey Ford here on 13th October. It would also have been Laila’s third gig here, at what is a perfect music venue. Not only is the building beautiful inside, it is also warm and inviting, with friendly staff and a great simple sound system that vanishes, making it seem you are actually listening to the artists on the stage. In fact, talking briefly to Trevor Moss after the gig, he says that the acoustics are so good, it is possible to perform without them. I’d really like to hear that some day. I think Lynne enjoys a pre-performance cup of tea along with some chocolate pretzels that I had smuggled in along with a cushion. At the tea counter, I am handed a mug with hot water and teabag and pointed towards a table with spoons, milk and sugar. I don’t drink tea and have no idea how long the bag is meant to stay in. I ask a chap who looks like he knows what he is doing and hope that he isn’t just winging it too. Lynne says it’s lovely but it might just be her being polite.
Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou play a lovely set that has Lynne actually whooping. Not like an American at a sitcom recording, but with genuine joy at what she is hearing. Next up, Ron Sexsmith performs an acoustic set on guitar and piano. He has a near endless supply of beautiful and genre defying songs. Mostly bitter-sweet, some funny, occasional self critical (like Ron himself) and usually seemingly simple but actually very hard to sing correctly. I know the latter because I often have to pause at the more adventurous chord changes when singing along in the car. It is another lovely performance, with Ron, true to form, unnecessarily apologising in advance for songs not well remembered or for songs played ‘badly’ at The Royal Festival Hall in June. Those songs weren’t played badly and Ron knows his stuff. As is tradition at these gigs, someone shouts, “We love you Ron”, something I’ve heard at every one of his gigs that I have attended. I believe Lynne enjoyed it too.

Convoluted lists of Three Musketeers’ adventures aside, this was another lovely episode in what I hope will be a long running series. I count myself very lucky to be able to share my love of music with my Laila and with our smashing and beautiful friend Lynne. Life is very good indeed.

Afterwards Lynne and I part company deep underground at Kings Cross and I head home, where at 1.00 in the morning I find Laila still hard at work on her essay, with the new puppy asleep at her feet. I negotiate her up from a 6.00 to a 7.00 o-clock alarm clock setting but don’t remind her that the clocks are going back, she really needs some sleep.

The Union Chapel

Filled with the sound of music

Laila works at home

5,7,5 – 365  – 23rd October 2015  

5,7,5 – 365
23rd October 2015

A haiku and a diary entry, everyday for a year. 
Last year and a for some of the year before that, we looked after a dog for my brother Dirk. Bluey Leopold Nibbler was a dog with that special something. A day never went past without him cracking his head underneath the coffee table, something he seemed completely oblivious to. His thick skull and low centre of gravity enabled him to bowl over both man and dog alike. Every muddy puddle he found was wallowed and rolled in. He did weed in both of our cars, on Laila’s lap and in every room of the house. In short, he was a pain in the backside but it broke our hearts when he was sentenced to be transported to South Australia for stealing a biscuit. But he’s happy now, touring the outback in a hat festooned with corks, having adventures and doing what he loves, bowling over Australia’s lady French Bulldogs – he’s busily employed as a stud dog. We swore we’d never go through all of that again, which is why we now have this little fella living with us, winning us over with his cute little noises and sticky up ears, whilst at the same time resolutely working his way to complete or beat Bluey’s room to room toilet record – he’s almost there already.

Arnold Vladimir Piddler (Arnie), a Black and Tan Frenchie, will be with us for the next few months, until his vaccinations are all done and he is old enough to travel to join Bluey down under. In the meantime, everyone say it with me, “we will not grow attached, we will not grow attached”.

Oh, now will you look at that!


He’ll not be here long

So we must not grow attached

He’s adorable!