🎶 Just saw Helena Deland on the last night of her tour. Absolutely stunning gig. After a beautiful, delicate set from Clara Mann, they came on and blew us away. The band were so tight and were clearly enjoying themselves. Someone passed Helena a piece of paper with a request for a song that they don’t usually play; after a nod from all the band members, and a quick errand to fetch additional equipment by the drummer, they went for it and nailed it. It was surreal to bump into Sophie Jamieson on the way out as well, someone who I watched perform at a gig a couple of years ago. What an incredible evening.

📚 Finished reading  Electric Shock: From the Gramophone to the iPhone, 125 Years of Pop Music by Peter Doggett. An epic work that felt paradoxically too long and yet not detailed enough. It’s incredible to read a book like this in 2024 when I have access to almost all of the songs that are referenced, being able to hear for myself at the press of a button what the author described. (I can’t believe how many artists I’m familiar with only through their stories in books and music magazines that I read as a teenager.) Electric Shock is quite a dry read, slow going in places, but I’m glad I kept with it. I’d completely forgotten about the 16rpm vinyl format which I could use on my childhood record player to make songs sound otherworldly. Towards the end of the book it also got me thinking about how physical music sales to the mass market probably were a temporary blip, with live performance being the dominant medium for artists to earn an income both before and after.

For an incompetent chef (that would be me), these Lazy Vegan frozen meals are fantastic. Add some oil to a frying pan, empty the contents of the bag into the pan and then stir for 10 minutes or so. I know it’s not proper cooking, but I love that it’s a healthy, quick meal.

Opened Lazy Vegan bag containing an Italian risotto meal for one.
Frying pan on a hob with the frozen contents of a Lazy Vegan Italian risotto meal emptied into it. Rice, peas, beans, mushrooms and sauce frozen into Hersheys Kisses-style lumps.
Cooked Lazy Vegan Italian risotto meal in a bowl, ready to eat. Rice, green beans, peas, mushrooms and sauce.

I’m not sure how I stumbled across her blog, but I’ve really enjoyed reading Heather Burns’ posts this year. Her roundup of her 2023 is a typically compelling read, particularly where she writes movingly about her experience with unemployment. I had no idea the ‘bedroom tax’ was so brutally cruel.

🎬 Watched King of Jazz (1930) after reading about it in Peter Doggett’s book Electric Shock on the history of pop music. It’s a bizarre, compelling time capsule, made up of a montage of songs, dances and not particularly amusing sketches. A Letterboxd reviewer nails the problems with the movie that are outlined in the book, that it is a cultural appropriation of ‘jazz’ without any acknowledgement or representation of the black African Americans from whom it originated.

I came for the performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, but stayed for the incredible My Ragamuffin Romeo dance between Marion Stadler and Don Rose.

The whole movie can be found on YouTube.

A chat with a friend reminded me of the time where I ordered a set of ball pump valves from Amazon for 7p, including postage and packaging from China. I have no idea how this makes any business sense.

📚 Finished reading Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler. This book doesn’t mess around with any preamble, but dives straight into its subject matter. The first half of the book covers the increasing and then widespread use of drugs across Germany in the lead-up to World War II. It seems that the blitzkrieg (‘lightning war’) was chemically assisted, with methamphetamine in the form of ‘Pervitin’ helping to keep German soldiers awake for days at a time. The second half covers Hitler specifically, deconstructing the myth that he was a teetotaller who kept his body and mind pure and free of drugs. He came to depend on regular cocktails of all kinds of strong substances, contributing to his delusions and ultimately his demise.

🎶 Never had such an egregiously off-centred label on a record before. Need to be on my toes to get the needle up after the final track.

🎶 This song popped into my mind while I was running the line at a football match today. My hands were freezing and I was thinking that it is already late November.