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Tony Grist

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Footnote To The Previous Post [Aug. 20th, 2018|04:19 pm]
Tony Grist
 Here's a link to Chris Foster singing what I take to be the original version of the song. 
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A Man You Don't Meet Every Day [Aug. 20th, 2018|11:57 am]
Tony Grist
A fragment of melody slipped sideways into my head and it took me a while to work out what I was hearing. Once I'd put a name to it I decided I wanted to run it to earth.

I know the song- and I expect that goes for most people- from the Pogues album- Rum, Sodomy and the Lash- where it is sung by Cait O'Riordan. It's a real oddity- boozy- but with a melancholy lilt and a sinister undertow; guns come into it and a dog is mysteriously shot. You get the feeling there could be a price to pay for refusing the singer's invitation to "be easy and free when you're drinking with me". His boast of having "acres of land (and) men at command." seems to carry an unspoken threat. Who is he anyway- an IRA godfather?

Well maybe, but there's a longer version- presumably the original- in which he's a stage Irishman on a trip to Liverpool- where he hopes to marry "a neat little maiden"- who happens to fall in with a bunch of his old drinking buddies. He's flash with the cash but there's no menace to him. Sterotypes abound- the house made of mud, the spuds, the booze. It's racial insult disguised as japery- the Anglo-Irish equivalent of a minstrel song. Wikipedia suggests it started on on the music halls- but doesn't identify the original composer or singer.

Whatever it once was it clearly went a journey- and eventually surfaced in Scotland, shorn of its paddywhackery - and with the speaker having aquired a name- and a Scottish name at that- Jock Stewart. The narrative has gone too and the only element of the original lyric that remains is the chorus. It is now essentially the song Cait sings. What the Pogues have done is re-Irish it- keeping the name Jock Stewart but locating him back where he originally came from, in County Kildare- and having him shoot the dog.

Shooting the dog is a touch of genius. It changes everything.

And that's the folk process. The pebble tumbles and gets bashed about in the stream. In this case the original lyrics were trash, but the tune was too good to throw away.  There's been conscious reinvention- helped along, perhaps by Chinese whispers - and the result is this ambiguous and beautiful thing


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Muffled Crash [Aug. 20th, 2018|09:06 am]
Tony Grist
I thought it was my mother falling out of bed or off the commode- but it was only the bedside table hitting the deck. I think she must have knocked it over while trying to switch off the lamp. I was out of bed and at her side before she could call for help. No harm done- but it took me a long time to get back to sleep.
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A Picture To Go With The Previous Post [Aug. 19th, 2018|07:34 pm]
Tony Grist
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The Rise And Fall Of Empire [Aug. 19th, 2018|09:36 am]
Tony Grist
While Ivy was learning how to kill people with a sword I was building "sandcastles" with Clover. They weren't really sandcastles- but little mounds of gravel with a bit of twig stuck in the top. After a while we ran out of space and twigs in the place where we were sitting and had to move further afield. The number of castles grew. How many did we have in the end- fifteen? twenty?

Eventually Ailz came to collect us for a stroll down to the lower field and said, "I'm William the Conqueror" and deliberately flattened our two most recent castles under the wheels of her mobility scooter.
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Drum And Bass [Aug. 19th, 2018|09:06 am]
Tony Grist
Matthew stopped by and told us they'd hired out one of their fields for an all night rave and we might hear it. We did. It wasn't intrusive; it didn't keep me awake- but at the times when I was awake- and I wake up regularly through the night- I could hear it ticking away in the distance- drum and bass- da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da. Round about midnight there were fireworks.
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Incels [Aug. 18th, 2018|11:09 am]
Tony Grist
There have always been incels- randy young men who can't get laid and don't see how it can possibly be their fault. Hamlet was an incel- or at least you can play him that way (the greatness of Hamlet is you can play him everywhichaway). Any poet who ever penned lines to his "cold" or "cruel" mistress was having an incel moment. Keats's La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is thoroughly incel. It's a phase. Most men grow through it.

All that's new is that the internet allows incels to flock.
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Medieval Swordsmanship [Aug. 18th, 2018|09:21 am]
Tony Grist
There was a guy at Battle Abbey running little workshops in medieval living for the kids. Ivy got to play at jousting (using a hobbyhorse), learned how do two dances- a peasant one and a courtly one, and received instruction in carving an enemy up on the battlefield; "First you chop the right arm, then the left arm, next you chop the legs, then you stick him in the guts and waggle the blade about to cause maximum damage, and finally you deliver a massive downward blow to the head and cut him in half." Here she is practising her newly learned skills on the wooden sculpture of an impassive Norman knight.

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Battle Abbey School [Aug. 18th, 2018|09:04 am]
Tony Grist
Henry VIII gave Battle Abbey to his sidekick Anthony Browne and Browne demolished the bits he didn't need- like the church- and converted what was left- mainly the gatehouse and Abbot's lodging- into an elegant country house. The habitable bits of the Abbey are now a private school- and you can view them from the grounds (which belong to English Heritage) but you can't go inside.



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Stupid Tree [Aug. 16th, 2018|11:15 am]
Tony Grist
We have a Motability car- and tomorrow we exchange it for another. We took it to the car wash Tuesday and today we had it out on the drive so I could brush the carpets and some tree (species unknown) was dropping sticky bloody seeds all over the paintwork....
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