It hurts more when it’s close to home. When lives are lost in faraway parts of the world, people on social media ask why we pay less attention to those tragedies than ones which happen nearby. And they’re right, of course, a human life is a human life, those who are close to us are not more valuable than any other. But the fact remains, whether it’s fair and just or not, that it hurts more when it’s close to home, when we can imagine it happening to us.
Manchester is not my home now, but it was for over a decade, from age 18. It is the place where I found my closest friends, some of whom live there still. It is the place that took a shy, miserable teenager, and showed him how joyful life could be. There was no better city to be a young music lover. My life in Manchester revolved around concerts, record shops and nightclubs, at venues from the tiny Star and Garter to, inevitably, the Manchester Arena.
I get a lot of people coming up to me for a chat when I’m with my daughter, so it wasn’t a surprise when we were sat in the cafe and a woman, perhaps in her sixties, wandered over to us. Her opening gambit was to stare at my daughter in a mildly unnerving manner, which worried me a little, but when she started talking to me it was the usual questions “what’s her name?”, “how old is she?” and so on. This woman had a tendency to repeat herself, and her memory seemed like it might to be starting to go a little, but it wasn’t the difficult conversation with the crazy stranger I had been concerned it might be.
A few minutes later, a man she was with, a little younger, wandered over too, his conversational skills consisting mainly of non-sequiters like “we’ve been to Derby on holiday”, but he was pleasant enough, and my daughter happily munched away on her croissant while I chatted with these strangers. Presently the man wandered off, and the woman seemed as if she was going to leave too, but changed her mind. She started to talk about the man, it becoming apparent he was her son. “He has that Aspergers, have you heard of it?” “It was hard, because they didn’t know for a long time” “It was hard”, she kept repeating.
On a Good Day is coming to end. Well, its first phase in at least. When I started this blog, it was intended to be a personal blog about being a dad, a way of preserving of my thoughts and memories of fatherhood. But I love music as well, and so I thought, why not make it a blog about both fatherhood and music.
Problem was, I never really able to crowbar those two subjects together in a way that really worked. I was also constantly torn between blogging just as a hobby, and trying to make the blog ‘successful’ (whatever that means – lots of readers I guess). Eventually I came to realise that trying to make it successful was taking all the enjoyment out of it for me, and that at this point in my life I didn’t have the time or inclination for blogging as anything other than a hobby. I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years though, and now have dozens of others ideas for blogs and websites, some of which may even come to fruition in future years.
Ah, it’s good to have Los Campesinos back. Since I first saw them at Glastonbury in, I think, 2008 they’ve been a favourite of mine, and new album Sick Scenes doesn’t disappoint. Opening track Renato Dall’Ara (2008) is a particular favourite, with all the hallmarks of a great Los Campesinos track. Slightly unwieldy title? Check. Fantastic lyrics including wordplay and obscure references? Check. (The Interpol pun in verse 2, below, will take some beating in the lyric of the year competition).
Daddy came out of retirement, he took a hobby as a PCSO
Let me level this as an indictment: only a part-time grass, but a full-time asshole
They would play my requests at the guestlist’s behest, any disco all across town
But things change, now Stella’s a lager and boy she is always downed
Excellent shouty backing vocals? Check. Joyous, poppy, punky wondefulness? Check. I especially love the opening fade up straight into a catchy as hell woh-oh-oh melody.
Buy Sick Scenes from Bandcamp now.
The first 483 tracks of the day can only be found on my Tumblr. Everything since can be found here. There’s also a Spotify playlist of every single track of the day (or those available on Spotify at least) below:
Michael Nau is a new voice to me, although a cursory Google search tells me he’s been putting albums out for over a decade now which have somehow passed me by. He’s a singer-songwriter with a fine voice, a little bit country mixed with a little soul, like a less fragile Kurt Warner perhaps. Whilst I’ve yet to explore the rest of his work, Good Thing has a warm, analogue sound seeming beamed in from the distant past, giving it the quality of a rediscovered 1970s classic. The phrase ‘Got a good thing going’repeats, but doesn’t quite away the edge of melancholy.