Tuesday 8 December 2009

"Tatty Seaside Town"

Points for anyone who knows who sang that :o)

This is a random catch up e-mail consisting of highlights from my weekend at the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival at Butlins Holiday Camp in Minehead, an amendment to my listing of books for 2010, a reminder, and a couple of snippets of newsworthiness.

First of all, the wonderfulness that was ATP - a weekend-long music festival where you get to sleep in a proper bed, and wee in a proper loo. OK, so Butlins in Minehead is slightly tacky, and a wee bit seedy but that just adds to the charm. ATP is a wonderfully friendly festival - no neds, great music, small enough to feel intimate, large enough to attract decent bands.

My weekend highlights:
Best Band: Sonic Youth
Most Fun: The Buzzcocks and The Membranes.
Most Disappointing: A Place To Bury Strangers (their new CD is excellent, but I didn't much care for them live - guitar was too loud, vocals too quiet and muffled, and the act was full of self-indulgent wankery (I can say that because my Dad's away this week, so he's not going to read it and tell me off)). A real shame as I was really looking forward to seeing them.
Best New Discovery: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - melodic, jangly, poppy, sweet with an edge indie. They had great fun on stage, obviously enjoyed themselves and were happy to be there and not ashamed of that, which was lovely to see. I wanted to adopt them all.
Loudest: My Bloody Valentine - we were given earplugs before going in. I felt like going back for a second pair.
Scariest: The worm on the floor of the chalet. It wasn't so much a worm as an enormous slimy serpent. I got up to go to the loo about 6am, nearly trod on it and screamed loudly. Ewan gallantly removed it as I stood by like Donna Doolittle, friend to all living things, saying "Kill it. Kill the slimy thing. Kill, kill." Ewan pointed out that it had probably died of a heart attack when I shrieked at it, as had half of Butlins, no doubt.
Most Surreal: As we went for a walk along the beach on a freezing cold Sunday morning, with the rain pouring down, wrapped up in about 17 layers of clothes, we met the utterly charming John Robb of The Membranes - hardened punk in a sleeveless t-shirt, his Mohican solid in the gale force wind - who stopped to chat and, in his gloriously gravelly voice, told us that the only way he had managed to stay up to watch all the bands the day before was by going back to his chalet for an afternoon nap. How rock and roll...
Cloud With A Silver Lining: We were promised an eight hour luxury coach trip with drinks, snacks and entertainment. We got a 12 hour nightmare which was freezing cold for the first two hours (so much so that we had to buy blankets at the first rest stop). No food, no drinks, no entertainment - except for the driver who insisted on saying "Is everyone here?" every time he was about to set off after a rest stop, much to the amusement of everyone on the coach (OK, so by that time we would have laughed at anything. On the plus side, I managed to get a whole load of writing done, and even when I had my eyes closed I was thinking of the next scene. The snoring? Errrrr...that's part of the thinking process.

I've added a new author to the list on the right (Sean Black - books set in America, born in Scotland) and, since he had a book out this year and has one out next, I've amended the relevant posts. Here's the blurb about his 2010 book:

Black - LOCK UP
Publisher: Bantam

Date: July 2010

From the author's website: 'The job facing Ryan Lock and his partner Ty Johnson should be straightforward enough: keeping one man alive for one week. But when that man is an inmate serving life without possibility of parole at Pelican Bay Supermax prison, who's about to testify against the leaders of America's most violent prison gang, Lock finds himself plunged into a deadly world where nothing is at it seems...'

Looks good to me.

And talking of looking good, here's the cover for Allan Guthrie's novella BYE BYE BABY, out next year. Nice.

BSC Review describes Helen Fitzgerald's THE DEVIL'S STAIRCASE as "like an All Guthrie novel with ovaries". Brilliant!

A diner in Kirkcaldy will have a role in the next Ian Rankin novel.

And, finally, a reminder. If you want to win Tony Black's LOSS, just leave a message in the comments, or send me an e-mail and let me know what you're looking forward to in 2010.


  1. The Buzzcocks were just here in little ol' Adelaide, Australia (two weeks ago I think) playing at one of the few pubs that still puts on live music - they were excellent.

    Oh and...for my points...Therapy?

  2. Is that what you're suggesting I need? :o) Good choice of band - I love Screamager. But it's much easier than that. Buzzcocks - still full of energy and fun - you worry when you're seeing a band from the 'old days' whether they'll still have that edge, or whether they'll just be doing things by rote. But they still had it.

  3. I'm looking forward to Tony Black's Loss :)

  4. Minehead, tatty!
    It was chosen by Harley Davidson for the 105th birthday celebration last year, and was full of tough bikers. From memory my son was production manager or consultant for the event. He is tough but not a biker. ;o)

  5. Michael - then you're in the draw for it :o)

    Norm - ah, the song was not written about Minehead but about Blackpool :o)Minehead is lovely, Butlins is British Holiday camp scruffy in a Hi-De-Hi sort of way :o) By the way, you would have fitted in well at the festival - there were an enormous amount of beards - it's obviously the fashion statement of the moment. I'm thinking of growing one myself...

  6. If your into The membranes check out John Robbs blog on Rivmixx.

  7. Chris - thanks very much - I'm straight off to check it out.