The Wonderful Korg MS-10

Ms10There’s really only one way of making the sound of wind and that’s with a Korg MS-10. In fact, if you recorded the sound of real wind and played it after listening to the wind sound of the Korg MS-10, you would think the Korg was the real thing. But this fantastic old synthesizer is not just for making wind type effects (even though, as I’ve already stated, it is FANTASTIC at that) – it’s also great for doing a handclap sound if you can’t get hold of enough people in the studio to make good syncopated ‘real’ handclaps. What’s that? You need to duplicate the sound of a jet engine taking off but you’re miles from the nearest airport? No worries, the Korg MS-10 can do that too.

And if someone knocks on your door and says “Shite – I need to get a bass synth sound just like Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft used. Any ideas?” you simply smile and hand them your Korg MS-10. Just for a lend, of course.

More about the Korg MS-10 here

Saluting magpies on a sunny morning

“Hello Mr Magpie!” I whispered, as I reached the north eastern sector of Clissold Park. Why do I do this? I used to think it was kind of commercial TV brainwashing from the 1970s kids show (Magpie was presented by ex-hippies). But apparently it goes back even further than the 70s, to our fear of the devil or some celtic deity.

Some interpretations of the myth

However, I’m convinced that it’s something to do with leprechauns.

Postman Patter

Bright sunshine and cold breezes this morning, as befits the first official day of Autumn. The postman says there are no letters for us today but that we can have some rubber bands.

“What for?” I ask.

“For the kids. So they can make, er, space rockets and stuff.”

He roots around in his postman wheelie trolley and fishes out a large handful of big thick brown rubber bands.

“Do you have any used toilet rolls as well, then?”

“What for?”

“Well, to make the rockets.”

He smiles and sticks up a thumb. “Arsenal!” he says, and starts to walk up the hill.

London Calling

Seemingly out of the blue, my friend Lee asked me yesterday if I knew that The Clash had recorded the London Calling album in Highbury. It’s the kind of anal-retentive conversational nugget I usually love to hoard away for a rainy day but on this occasion I was out analretentived. Apparently it was at Wessex Studios, at the old church on Highbury New Park. Maybe it’s St. Augustines. When quizzed Lee admitted he’d seen an article about it in the Independent a few weeks ago. But I feel a trick was missed in The Groundwater Diaries in terms of local history and the punk influence on hidden London.

What Lee didn’t tell me, and which I had to find out myself at the University of The Clash’s history archive, was the mention of Blackstock Road’s bus in the song ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’:

“Sing, Michael, sing-on the route of the 19 Bus
Hear them sayin’
How you get a rude and a reckless?
Don’t you be so crude and a feckless
You been drinking brew for breakfast
Rudie can’t fail”

Parr’s Ditch, Hammersmith (Part 1)

In the process of researching the history of London’s formeost manmade stream, the New River, it came to my attention that said watercourse came to function as a boundary line between parishes. This holds true for smaller streams in the capital, such as Parr’s (or Black Bull) Ditch in W6, which was, it appears, custom built as a border between the Parishes of Hammersmith and Fulham around 1000 years ago. There’s nothing there now and the only evidence is the appearance of the stream on old maps, its mention in the odd book and the name of a present day street. Parfrey Street. Although most maps I have suggest otherwise, I believe it ran along where Parfrey Street now lies, and as it appears in my 1851 Tallis map of London, which is looking a bit dogeared at the corners.

I loved living in Hammersmith. It sounds like a character from the Marvel Thor comics. Due to the proximity of the river, Hammersmith enjoys some of the most beautful skies in the world. Really. The sky in Hammersmith daily goes from blue to grey to grey-orange to purple-grey to blue-grey-orange to brown-grey to milkywhite-pink. Then, as if I magic, it goes to blue-black with liitle white dots. All this is reflected in the silver river. Looking out from my study in the Parfrey Street flat, I used to look across what was Parr’s Ditch and observe the life and actions of the chubby bloke with specs who lived at no. 40. He was forever out and about on his bike, going ‘fast’. I used to have a bit of a rivalry thing going with the bloke from no. 40. We were like a mirror image of each other. Maybe he would watch me. I had an email newsletter called The Smoke which was based around my observations of the Speccy Bloke at no. 40. Speccy Bloke gets on his bike. Speccy bloke comes back from the shops. Speccy bloke talks to the neighbour.

Then it occured to me that it was entirely possible that Speccy bloke had been watching me for ages and had put together his own online magazine called In the City, or something, about my crap non-escapades. Chunky Blond Bloke staggers home from the pub. Chunky Blond Bloke staggers buys mils. Like a parallel universe Rear Window. And if my theory is correct, we were looking out at each other over an ancient border post.

Why were the inhabitants of these two London villages so keen to show where the borders lay that they had to build a stream? After all, there were parishes all over London which didn’t need water borders. Was there some kind of dispute? Or were one set of people threatening to over-run the other? The histories of Fulham and Hammsmith are pretty much like all the small settlements of London, except being near the Thames gives them more chance of an ancient history. Archaelogical work in the 1970s around where Parr’s Ditch hits the Thames found Neolithic flint tools and pottery (circa 3,000BC), late Iron Age pottery and an isolated Roman coin of the 4th century AD. There is a dry sandbank here along the edge of the Thames and there may have been a ford across the Thames in earlier times that connected with what is now Crabtree Lane and Lillie Road. Until the area was built up in the 19th Century there was evidence of man-made earthworks, possibly Celtic, along the riverside. Perhaps new arrivals to the area had uspet the locals, hence the border line. Perhaps there had been a battle and the borders ahd been redrawn (like the First World War). At Hammersmith library I pored through some old books and maps but there was no record of any dispute.

There’s no doubt in the minds of historians that Fulham (‘river bend land of a saxon man called Fulla) is the older of the two settlements. Unlike Hammersmith it’s mentioned in the Domesday Book (as Fuleham) of 1086, but goes back even further. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle in AD900 called in Fullanhamme and there is an even older reference from an Anglo-Saxon charter of which refers to Fulanham. Hammermsith (‘place with a hammer smith or forge’ – unsurprisingly) is not mentioned until 1294 as Hamersmyth. It was actually part of the Bishop of London’s Manor of Fulham until 1834.


Two teams of eleven players* each try to kick a ball into their opponents’ goal over two forty five minute periods.

* Hard drinking slapheads who love drinking, gambling and snooker.

The Coronet, Holloway Road

Former grand cinema now yet another rambling Wetherspoons pub, good ale, no music, parties of OAPs getting hammered on the cheap beer. Good place for daytime drinking, if that’s your thing (and it can be beautiful) escaping from the fumes and nutters of Holloway Road. Close your eyes and let the Spitfire take hold of your brain then imagine Margaret Lockwood in The Wicked Lady, showing for the fifth time that day, people smoking Woodbines in the row behind you – “Blimey, Guv’nor, India’s gorn and won independence.”

Fading leaves

Yet another of the old horse chestnut trees in Clissold Park is starting to peg out. On the south side, near the route of the buried New River, this tree always dominated that section of the park. Now, though, while the sides of the tree are still verdant and healthy, the whole middle part appears to be dying – the leaves are thin or non-extistent. It looks like it’s had a monk’s haircut. It’s a Ralph Coates tree – actually, a Terry Mancini tree would be a more accurate description. Other old trees in that part of the park – I think the former Newington Common – seem to be on their last legs as well. Is this anything to do with the work to reduce the groundwater in the area? Maybe the trees liked it when it was boggy round there.Tree_1


aikidoLast night I put my foot through the bath. I simply stood up to get a towel and my foot just went straight through, sending water cascading through the bathrrom and down into the kitchen. There’s now a big hole and two bits of bath – some kind of twin skin acrylic resin stuff. I still can’t explain it – I’m not that heavy (about 12 stone). Maybe it’s like a karate type thing where you focus all your power into one part of your body. Don’t think I’ll tell the insurance people about my copy of The Power of the Internal Martial Arts by Bruce Kumar Frantzis. In fact, I think I’ll store it in the loft for a couple of weeks, until this Foot Through Bath incident is forgotten.

The Crown, Clerkenwell Green

Recently done up and sprinkled with fairy wine bar dust to appeal to the slick crowd that hangs out around Clerkenwell these days. Historic grime has been scraped off everything inside and it no longer has a selection of proper beers, but push button lagers and ciders possibly piped in from some super modern underground storage facility. Guinness is good, though, and it’s warmish rather than that chest constricting extra cold stuff that lager drinkers seem to love.