Homemade Cheesecake

I love music. That’s not to say I crave noise, often music with bigger gaps between the notes is more effecting than the rattle & hum of a rocking dopamine fest. Though that can be good too!

I’ve blogged naive thoughts about music before. Search ‘music‘.

Psychologist Steven Pinker wrote, “music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots…” – what would we do without cake!

Others have said music gratifies our pattern-seeking impulse… what would we do without ‘pattern’, or constructed meaning, or some form of tangible narrative.

Enough! I know not what I do.

But I do like to make a slice of cheesecake. All be it with bits in, far from perfect, and not fit to serve to the connoisseur.

I do it for personal therapeutic reasons. Yes, it reaches other levels when it can be shared and others can enjoy the experience, and likewise when you can share in others’ communal cake!  But for now, it’s a personal thing that helps to keep me sane.

When the day that lies ahead of me, seems impossible to face, when someone else instead of me, always seems to know the way…
Then I look at you, and the world’s alright with me, and I know it’s gonna be…

Homemade cheesecake:

It’s not always sunny and calm… whatever you’re going through… I wish you well!

More homemade cheesecakes here: Julesprichards SOUNDS


Let music define the contours of your emotion… ?

I am not a ‘classical music’ fanatic. I know very little about the history of music, composers or the political or social relevance of ‘classical’ music creations. I can imagine for the creators, there is a lot of loaded significance behind, underneath and inside many compositions. Perhaps I might dig deeper at some point. But it’s the raw essence of some classical music that I find wonderfully powerful. I have heard it suggested that a definition of ‘classical’ music… is that it transcends cultural, as well as generational barriers… music that’s created through sincere devotion, not through selfish desire, but rather by something greater, which exists beyond time, history or culture. Golly gosh!  When you hear a musicologist say “it’s a ravishingly beautiful piece of music … and we can’t quite understand why…” that’s the kind of thing that makes music special.  What has struck me over the last few years is the power of music to affect. 

I am a fan of a radio series ‘Soul Music’ on BBC Radio 4. A series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. The programmes highlight ordinary people’s stories about a variety of popular and classical tracks and how they have been significant in their lives. I hesitate to recommend, give it a listen!

Yes, I am still a fan of popular music, and cherish the memories of music from my childhood and through my student years. Music that ranges from rock and roll’s Sun Sessions, Eddie Cochran, through Adam and the Ants, Hothouse Flowers, through The Proclaimers, Oasis, REM, through Paul Simon and Eva Cassidy, through Bugge Wesseltoft and Jon Hopkins. Too many to list (think MMU 1990’s Student Union end of term disco, courtesy of pop fanatic Vicky Richardson). If you imagine how much music has sifted through your synapses, it’s a rich smorgasbord of delights and memories! 

I am thankful that in my early years I experienced music and specifically ‘song’ as part of everyday life, and I can associate music with memories of people, promises, hopes and times gone by. I fear young people today might not experience ‘song’ quite as we did. But what do I know?

A lot of popular music is imbued with the culture of the time. We personally load music with memories and experiences in our lives…  That’s what we relish when we are young. We have an exciting appetite to consume and soak up our surroundings. This is good, and I hope the music and culture our young people encounter continues to nourish and fertilize their lives. I hope it grows and stays rich and varied and does not become formulaic pulp.

But I am middle-aged and though I still enjoy new-culture I sometimes feel my mind is full, my sponge is saturated, my canvas is bursting with signs, symbols and signifiers… After the events of 5 years ago, I have got through things in part by taking a step back and breathing again. Like a form of indigestion, I had to stop, walk away from the table and rethink my cultural appetite and cerebral diet. I had to ship into harbour and re-rig. Cut out the noise and listen again!

In years past, I would never have predicted that I might habitually listen to Radio 3!  But, I have to admit, for about three years, my morning routine has seen me listening to (fellow Cornishman) Petroc Trelawny’s selections on ‘Breakfast‘ on BBC Radio 3.

As I cycle my 45mins to work, endorphins cause the abstract combination of musical compositions accompanying the fresh air, wildlife, seasons (sun, rain, wind, snow) and the things and people I meet, to become more than the sum of their parts. Combine {insert random piece of music} with a sunrise, a river, wildlife, a friendly ‘morning!’ fresh air, cardiovascular exercise and helpful neurochemicals, and you have a hint towards life in all its fullness.  

The above doesn’t seem so easy on the way home, it’s just as the day starts that it seems more possible to glimpse something true before the business of the day kicks in, before the popular noise takes over…

So in the words of a cheesy (we all need a little cheese) pop song “Thank you for the music…”.

As The Inkspots sang “I don’t want to set the world on fire…”.

As Liam O’maonlai and friends  “some people jive when they hear music start, others just kneel…”.


As Mr Brown sang “have a funky good time…”

…But, before you crank up your musical choices, take a pause, unclench your fist, and take a listen to something else outside of the popular media…

As Tchaikovsky wrote…




Flowering… Giving up Lent?

Who can miss the blossom? I wonder do we all notice it? I think we do. Even the most hardened amongst us sense the growth outside at (almost) Springtime.

You may have noticed that my bike commute pictures have recently taken second place, as my mind has been occupied with learning lines (more on that another time). But last Friday, I shelved the script for a day and returned back to Mr. Trelawny at Breakfast.  An early morning cycle to work, accompanied by the day waking, the sun rising, wildlife scurrying, geese soaring, breakfasts cooking, people greeting… all this, and the fresh air is enough to lift the spirits daily! But accompaniment by music often adds another level to the experience.

You may recall that my headphones leave my ears clear to hear anything from my surroundings, the sound is transmitted through the skull, the node sits just on the cheekbones.

Usually, the radio is just a nice accompaniment to the waking day, but often a piece of music will coincide with a hill, a stream, a dart of geese, the sun over the lake… and the experience is amplified. The physical experience of riding through an environment, together with the musical experience, transcend the normal.  It’s hard to explain, but when it happens, it is incredible.

This week it was a piece played on @PetrocTrelawny ‘s BBC Radio 3 Tuesday morning programme that caused me to stop. The piece was called Flowering Jasmine composed by Georgs Pelēcis in 2007. Specifically, it’s the start that might capture you. It begins with a resonant plucked bass and some sensational minimalist vibraphone. You can hear and see it played via the link below.  Sometimes the music alone is not enough, it’s the experience of the music together with a bespoke experience within our environment, an experience both physical and cerebral, that cause a reaction.

I would never have predicted that I would listen to regular BBC Radio 3 (except I have listened to its Late Junction for decades now), but its Morning Program is often quite eclectic, and if you can put up with the 10% that might seem predictable output, it’s a great accompaniment to the day.  More on Music here: ‘music’

Back to the flowering blossom that is all around, us early this year… ?

Lent is almost upon us and in a break to tradition (or habit) I am giving up Lent for Lent this year. For many years I have followed a specific contemplative Lent practice with an online community over the 40 days. This year however, I have (almost) decided to not do the default thing. I am going it alone (I think). We might venture away from the constructed routine, to a desert/wild-erness space, alone?

The jasmine in our garden is far from flowering but is showing signs of life.

Here’s violinist Gidon Kremer performing Flowering Jasmine by Georgs Pelēcis in Berlin in 2017.



If music be the food of love

If music be the food of love, we are spoilt for choice, and we should be pretty much loved-up to the dolly’s wax! – Perhaps that’s one of society’s problems, surfeit, sickness and death of true music/love? Anyway, don’t get me started.

The Bridge

Over the last few years, I have unintentionally been through a sort of musical detox, and I’ve found myself withdrawn from popular musical consumption. Partly ‘cos I just lost taste for, and enjoyment of, what I was hearing. Partly a mid-life shifting. Also, we are all experiencing a move from the ‘ownership of music’, the purchasing of records, CD and MP3s to the streaming of music: where we can listen to almost anything at the click of a button, through providers such as Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, and Apple etc.

The music I have been listening to has come through selected BBC Radio 6, Radio 3, and even occasional Radio 2 programmes. Also through social-media’ prompts to Youtube and the like – for example, via Twitter I have found delights hidden on BBC S4C, seriously really good simple honest TV, hidden from mainstream.  The BBC has a feature called My Music where if you hear something while listening you can simply add it to your list of interesting pieces. You can then simply ‘click’ and export your list of ‘likes’ to a service such as Spotify. Over the last year, I’ve unintentionally accumulated a few dozen ‘liked’ tracks on my BBC My Music.

I thought I’d share this odd selection of stuff that has been ‘liked’ this year. Many of these tunes have made me stop, pause, cease, yield, and think again.
I just loved hearing Rebroff’s playfulness 2’30” into his unique rendition of Kalinka. I first heard this at 7.30am one morning on my bike, thanks to @PetrocTrelawny and team.
Ešenvalds’ Stars is just beautifully rendered by Voces8 again discovery thanks to Radio 3.
Lewis & Leigh have a unique sound that I have not been able to forget after discovering them live in Nottingham last year.
Some tracks are odd, some carry baggage, some just resonate like a shining bell in a darkening disquiet.

I look forward to discovering more next year! or indeed tomorrow!

Stuff from 2017 …




It’s been 19 days into January and we’ve succeeded todate to go without chocolate, biscuits and sugary treats, but today being a Friday I needed a pick me up mid-day… luckily I had been asked by the college where I work to contribute to their radio station’s Desert Island Discs show.

Fullhurst Community College in Leicester was the first school in the UK to have a fully set up, professional, online community radio station which is run by the students. FullPower broadcasts around the clock online with music and live presentations aimed at young people and residents within the local community. You can listen to it now here: FullPower

So what music to pick… It got me thinking about music again.


You can listen to the show above, with the tracks edited out.

As I say, it got me thinking about music again… (I wittered about music before: 2012 If you know me you’ll know that music is one of those things that floats my boat…).

I like most of us always had music in varying forms around me. I enjoy, value and try to find new ‘ways of seeing’ through music. I think of ‘music’ as perhaps anything that creates a resonating expressive sound.

As I mentioned to Marley in the show above, I like the analogy of music and food. As with food, there is formulaic & processed music that’s great for a quick fix. There’s pop food/music that pleases our short term urges. Yes, I like the occasional ‘Flames’ burger and pack of ‘Nic Naks’ as much as the next, but there’s a lot more food/music out there. We can feast on a wide variety of sounds and rhythms from other countries, from the past, from pockets of experimental culture, and nuggets of tradition that might be lost if we’re not careful.

I enjoy Radio 6 and also dip into ‘Late Junction’ on BBC Radio 3 “…music, ancient to future. The home for adventurous listeners”. I am also a member of a world-music choir in Melton. Global Harmony is an a capella choir that sings unaccompanied songs from all over the world; rhythms from Africa, stirring Eastern European harmonies, songs from the Southern Seas and the Americas, soulful gospel and blues, as well as traditional folk and rock and pop from our own culture.

But alas my 3 DID tracks are pretty staple choices:

Martha and the Muffins’ Echo Beach – 1980 (video below)

‘Echo Beach’ in 1980 was the band’s only significant international hit. It reached No. 10 in the UK Chart.


Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto – 1878 (video below)

I know nothing about classical music, but love this – it goes everywhere! I specifically love the solo violin taking us away about 11 mins in – but I love it all. I have 5 recordings of it myself and each one has a different personality and sound. I’d love to hear it live!


Nina Simone’s recording of, Feeling Good – 1965 (video below)

‘Feeling Good’Nina Simone recorded the song in 1965 and it’s subsequently been covered by Muse, Michael Bublé and many others… 

In picking these tracks, I am reminded of all those memories and music that accompanied them… James Brown, Beachboys, Sigur Rós, Bugge Wesseltoft, Ian Archer, Deacon Blue, John Martyn, Ray Davies, The Hothouse Flowers, Glenn Miller, Howard Jones, Elvis Presley, The Divine Comedy, Springsteen, Geldof, Billy Bragg, the list goes on…  a smorgasbord of sounds!


Bad Weather and Glorious Views – (some foughts)

PICT2126I’ve always had cause to reconsider my experience of growing up in Cornwall – you can take the boy out of the county but not the county out of the boy etc… yadda yadda.

I have always failed to summarise this essential attitude that seems to pervade much of the Cornish being – previously, the best I could come up with is a curious ‘contentedness’ with their meagre lot. A brash humility, not necessarily humble contentment, but a brackish contentedness… a rough softness… a sugary saffron bun on a salty sea wall.

The steam engine and 3000 foot shafts were Cornish…
At sea, the most dangerous civilian job in the UK was Cornish…
The lichen and moss (soft silky) that coats many a granite outcrop is “Cornish”…
Causley’s Tim Winters was/is essentially Cornish…

Cornwall is the the second poorest place in the UK. It’s a place of contrasts: with expensive yachts and luxury second homes for Tarquin and Jessica’s summer sojourn, a place of union-jack shorts, Carlsberg nites, plastic buckets and chicken nuggets for Vince and Pat. It’s a place of community eating and religious feasting. It’s a place of craft and art as well as back-of-a-lorry markets. It was a place of place of warm chapels and cold pews. It was my home. It has a deep rich if damp past and an unknown future. Fantastic weather and a harsh climate.

Moving on from ‘contentedness’, I have recently reconsidered the notion of ‘reverence’.

In her book “An Altar in the World”, Barbara Brown Taylor, quotes Paul Woofruff “To forget that you are only human… to think you can act like a god – this is the opposite of reverence” Reverence – a virtue that keeps people from trying to act like gods. Barbara says “While most of us live in a culture that reveres money, reveres power, reveres education and religion, Woodruff argues that true reverence cannot be for anything that human beings can make or manage by ourselves. By definition, he says, reverence is the recognition of something greater than the self – something that is beyond human creation or control, that transcends full human understanding.”

My recollection of the Cornish world-scape recalls a sustaining reverence. The land sea and sky are so much bigger, the engineering and raw-material trades are harsh, the summer sun burns harder and brighter than man’s endeavour.

The Cornish love of music is another essential quality that I have always lived with.
Moving ‘up to England’ and losing touch with a ‘contented reverence’, I similarly found that a love of real music can be lost in the manufactured world that we find ourselves consumed by.
Bjork and David Attenborough recently discussed that essentially “singing is more fundamental to us than speaking”, and notions of the sublime, symmetry, transcendence, simplicity.
Musical expression is essential to human life? Live music, sound, reverberates, resounds, emotion… Song and rhythm agitate energy that can lift and stir…
Can I posit that feeling is more fundamental than thinking?…

The combination of emotional expression and an essential reverence, now there’s a thought.

Bad Weather and Glorious Views (just some foughts)


Three discoveries – buzz, buzz, buzz…

Don’t you love it when you discover something new and it gives you a buzz!?

My first BBC R3’s Late Junction discover was a few years ago now when I heard a track from Bugge Wesseltoft and have followed his stuff ever since. I just love LJ as it features all sorts of stuff from electro-pop to throat-music and more. Love it.

Over the last few weeks with the help of LJ and a little SpotifyI’ve discovered three new artists that I feel I should share.

Agnes Obel: ‘Riverside’ and the album ‘Philharmonics’

This music just caught my ear as different – her simple melodies and use of the piano are new to me. (Rather like Bugge’s simple piano did when I first heard snowing…)

Robag Wruhme: ‘Ende’ and the album ‘Thora Vukk’  (I love it love it love it)

From the first moment I heard Ende my ears pricked up (rather like my discovery of Bugge) – and I just love this specific track, I find it so beautiful.

And LBNL, Lady Maiserydebut album ‘Weave and Spin’

Something special I think! Lady Maisery is a multi-talented folky vocal trio, where the three become so much more than the sum of their parts!?

Let me know what Uoo think?



Close Harmony…

A privilege today to be asked to sing at a wedding – such a special occasion for all involved.

Close Harmony, are a singing group from Melton Mowbray, attached to the large a capella community choir Global Harmony.

We are currently made up of a dozen singers led by the ever-encouraging MD Liz.

Three songs from today:

Shen har venahi – Georgian song of praise

Happy together – The Turtles

Make you feel my love – Bob Dylan

Nice pint and pie in the pub after also!!


Absorbed… (not cool, but true)

I work here

If you know me you’ll know that music is one of those things that floats my boat.  I’ve always had music† in varying forms around me. I, like most, enjoy, value and try to find new ways of seeing through music.
However, it’s been a year or so since I valued any ‘specific’ recorded music. A few artists that I’ve followed for many years have dropped off my list, their output was just not reaching me, and while thousands sang praises about new albums etc they failed to engage me. I found I couldn’t listen to ‘stuff on my list’, it was just not singing anymore. Shuffling through, I would skip, skip, skip and possibly turn it off.
Possibly linked to my period of transition*? I don’t know. I have kept up casually listening to ‘stuff’, with the help of Late Junction, Jools H and Spotify, but, as I say, I was not absorbing any specific artists output? Perhaps the loss of faith in humanity? Perhaps a loss of confidence in past assumptions and values? It’s affected my relationship with music.
However, as you might know, I am revaluing perceptions and pursue a new outlook*.
I recall one specific discovery as a 19 year-old lad, on a grey wintry trip to Woolworth’s in Camborne. I recall reading the lyrics all the way home and… turning on the ghetto blaster in my room… I remember a profound engagement with the sound, the feel, the lyric, the music… OK, it’s not cool, but to me then, it rang of “things bigger”. Since that album, Deacon Blue’s debut album, Raintown. I’ve collected much of their material; the albums, as well as various CD singles from the bargain bin in Woolies. How can you forget such classics as “Dignity”, “Loaded”. “Real Gone Kid”, “Wages Day”, and “Fergus Sings the Blues” etc. Especially when you’ve heard them live in various forms. But more memorable were the album tracks that burned impressions on in brain. I’ve followed Ross and Mcintosh etc and have seen them as a band and individually many times in numerous places. Then I had kids.
Last month, I woke up to hear the immediately familiar tones of Ross and team on my radio! Yes, a processed pop tune, but nonetheless “The Hipsters” had the old sound. A new album; my curiosity was raised. The sound rang round my head. All the familiar sounds came back, the lyrics, the images, the various thoughts and feelings from 25 years ago, that have been layered since, with other thoughts from other artists that also got through to me.
So, I’ve had “The Hipsters” for my birthday, along with socks, slippers, pjs, etc that you get from your kids when you’re 44.  Now on my ‘wish list’ is the “Ooh Las Vegas” album that I lost in transit somewhere. And, the overlooked The Great Lakes and Pale Rider that I have spotified repeatedly recently.
Ross and team have always evoked something that I identify with, as have many other’s on my list. So, thanks for the new album Deacon Blue, for awakening my senses.
I had lost the ability to absorb. Fighting the period of transition had hardened my neurons to ‘stuff’.
Imagine not enjoying any food to the point that you don’t eat.
Well now I’m eating, and it tastes nice.

Listen to your breathing.

†by “music” I mean anything that creates a resonating expressive sound. However, as with food, there is “formulaic” & “processed” music and that falls on the edges of my interest. Yes I like the occasional “Flames” burger and pack of “Nic Naks” as much as the next, but there’s a lot of pap out there. It’s advisable to watch your diet – you are what you eat! And, there’s a lot of stuff you’ve never tried. Listen.