It’s Great To Be Back!

It's Great To Be Back! are a supergroup made up of the more well-known members of the French late 90s country and western scene. Rejecting all chords except D7, in their first album Be. Be One Yourself IGTBB have stripped the music bare revealing the vanity of unrequited love in 1-chord steel guitar rhapsody. (translation from French by the band)

The Origins of Danebottom

My six year old son often asks me, when we walk up Canning Road, to tell him about the Viking battle of Blackstock Road.

"How do you know about that?" I said the other day.
"You told me."
OK. I did read something about that a few years ago and must have mentioned it to him once. So I took to researching – on the internet, you understand – where the story comes from. 

The archived paper 'Perambulations in Islington' by Thomas Edlyne Tomlins (1858) can be found here:

In this he mentions Danebottom several times, such as:
"in writings so far back as the reign of Henry II. demon- 
strates that this name of Danebottom has peculiar reference to
some of those encounters our Saxon ancestors had with the
"some battle fought there in earlier times,perhaps so far back as the period of tlie Danish incursions, the memory of which, as I have ventured to suggest, have been tra- 
ditionally preserved in Danebottom, at Highbury Vale."
There is no older source for this story but what Tomlins is saying, essentially, is that the Saxons held the bridge over the Hackney Brook, presumably near the Arsenal Tavern, and the Danes came down from the heights of Finsbury Park and tried to 'take' the Arsenal Tavern, er, I mean bridge. There was an almighty rumpus but luckily it took place on the site of the present police station and most of the miscreants were carted off, though not charged because no witnesses came forward.

Coloured fine liner pens

At Fish & Cook on Blackstock Road I buy three fine liner pens – pink, purple and green.

"Strange colour scheme, there" says the stationer. He often feels the need to comment on my purchases.
"Doing notes and referencing," I say.
"In purple?"
I want to say to him "Why do you have purple pens if you are uncomfortable about people buying them?" but I just smile.

The coloured pens are actually a trap to prove to my kids that they are always stealing my fine liner pens, but that is too complicated to explain.

Cafe with Art Blakey CD Playing, Mornington Crescent

I went in for a chicken and avocado toasted sandwich and a coffee at a little cafe opposite the station. As soon as I sat down Talk Radio was turned off and what sounded like Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers came blaring out of the speakers. A middle aged man comes in and tries to get pally with the bloke behind the counter.

– So, you Italian?
– No.
– Maltese?
– No.
– Iranian?
– No.
There's a brief silence. The older man looks around.
– So you do food?
His new mate looks around him at the sandwiches and salads on display and arches an eyebrow.
My toasted sandwich is still very hot. In a pedestrian island in the middle of the road I can see a 
statue of the anti-Corn Law campaigner Richard Cobden. The Corn Laws were a vital part of my 19th Century British history module at A Level, but I failed to concentrate in lessons due to the presence of a very pretty and very young substitute teacher who had just arrived from teacher training college. When it came to the exam a few months later and the relevant question, all I could thinkHistoryteachersm
 of was her face, smiling and blinking in slow motion, as she says something about Peel and free trade.

There wasn't much avocado in it.

North London Fathers’ Triathlon

One of the main reasons to stay fit is so you can run for a bus and catch it. I've always prided myself on being able to catch just about any bus I want –  even if I miss a stop I'll sometimes run for the next one. In the last couple of years this has been getting harder. But recently I tried the North London Fathers' Triathlon, in which one runs for a bus after completing two even more gruelling events. 

1) Getting to school to pick up kids while pushing a pram and you're a mile away and five minutes behind schedule. 
2) Trying to find every overdue library book in the house within a 15 minute period (at advanced level, there'll be two or three toddler books hidden behind bookshelves)

Is it too late for this to be included in the 2012 Olympics? It could be a gold medal bonanza for Britain…

The Neck of My Guitar as Seen Through a Heat Haze

I'm testing out my eyesight this afternoon and I still can't see straight lines. I try out my wang eye (the left) on my guitar and the neck shimmers and breaks up at the edges, as if looked at from a distance in a heat haze. Everything is thinner, too, especially people's faces. If I try to read it's as if publishing has been taken over by incompetent typesetters. Not that anyone uses typesetters these days – mostly to do with technology but also because typesetters were always incredibly grumpy and bad-tempered. You could be having the best day of your life, but after a five minute conversation with a typesetter you'd be left feeling desolate.