On a Good Day is changing

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.

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Blog – The music of our wedding

It was my fifth wedding anniversary on Saturday (don’t worry, I didn’t spend it writing this). As is usual when our anniversary comes around, I’ve been thinking a lot about not only our marriage, but our wedding day itself. In particular, all the music that played a part in that day. Music has always been a huge part of our lives, both before and since we met (at a music festival as it happens), so there was never any doubt it would also play an important part in our wedding.

We married at the Unitarian Church in Brighton, a venue which we had first attended, and fallen in love with, for a concert (part of the city’s Great Escape festival, which utilises pretty much every venue in town). One of the many good things about holding the ceremony there was that a piano and pianist came as part of the package, we just had to decide what we wanted him to play. We chose ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’, the Chet Baker version of which is one of our favourite songs, for my wife’s walk up the aisle, and ‘Here Comes The Sun’ for our exit from the church. For the intermission of the ceremony, where my wife and I disappeared off to sign the register, a less obvious choice, Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th, a brief but gorgeous piano interlude on an album otherwise comprised of discordant electronica. I like to think we were the first couple to ask for an Aphex Twin track to be played at that particular venue, but this is Brighton we’re talking about, so perhaps not.

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365 Days of Music

I’ve recently been posting a song every day on Tumblr. I’m, as usual, hoping to introduce people to music I love, both new and old, but mostly it’s a kind of musical diary. I hope to be able to look back in years to come and see exactly what I was listening to in years past (although whether I will actually do so is a different matter). It would have been fascinating, to me at least, if I’d been doing this for longer. I’d be able to look back at my pop-punk phase, my ska-revival phase, my (mercifully brief) nu-metal phase, my psychedelic trance phase, and plenty more years of changing musical tastes besides.

Anyhow, I’ve reached 365 days of this project, a whole year’s worth of music so I thought I would choose one of my all time favourite tracks for today, the beautiful, melancholy, ‘Sad, Sad, Feet’ by Cate Le Bon. If you have any interest, please do follow the Tumblr here, and the Spotify playlist below:

 

Blog : On the closure of Fabric

I only went to Fabric once, way back in 1999, on the second night it was open in fact. I had a great night, as far as I can recall 17 years on, but never ended up going back again. London was a long way from Manchester for a night out, and I didn’t have any friends living in the capital during my clubbing prime, so the opportunity never really arose. By all accounts though, it was one of the best, if not the best, club in London. Certainly, I was impressed when reading the line-ups advertised by Fabric, in the back of Mixmag or Jockey Slut, and they put out a fantastic series of mix CDs, some of my favourites of all time, mixed by  everyone from John Peel to Four Tet to Diplo.

But all this largely beside the point, even if I had never been to Fabric, or hated the music that they played, the decision to close it would still be monumentally stupid and short-sighted. Of course the death of 2 people in Fabric after taking ecstasy is a tragedy, but to think the closure of one nightclub is going to stop people taking drugs is ridiculous. If you close one nightclub, people will go to another one. If you close all the nightclubs people will take drugs in bars, or at house parties, or illegal raves or any of the other hundreds of places that people take drugs. More knowledgable people than me have pointed out that the closure of Fabric will actually lead to more drug users coming to harm, as they move to less regulated environments.

The authorities who revoked Fabric’s license claimed that it didn’t do enough to prevent drug use, including insufficient searches. Not only is that disputed by most people who ever attended the venue, the fact remains that people can hide drugs in places that nightclub bouncers are not allowed to search, so it’s impossible for any venue to entirely prevent drugs getting in. And once they’re inside, unless you’re watching every single clubber at every single moment, you’re not going to stop them being taken. If Fabric can be closed on this basis, so can any nightclub, and we can kiss goodbye to London’s clubbing scene. London should be developing and promoting its’ nightlife, as another way of attracting visitors and creating an image of a vibrant, modern city. Berlin promotes its’ techno clubs even on its’ touristy souvenirs (see my place mat below), but London seems to have chosen a different direction.


Many have put the case for why the decision to close Fabric was such a bad one, none more eloquently than co-founder Cameron Leslie, in his full speech to Islington Council, but why does it mean so much to me? I only just wrote about how clubbing is not really part of my life anymore, and most likely I would never have attended Fabric again, even if it had remained open. Given everything else that has happened in the UK this year, it might not seem a big deal, but it’s just another small step on our road to becoming a bland, joyless, unwelcoming land. Almost every club I enjoyed when I was younger has been turned into a Tesco Express or luxury flats. It may seem a weird thing to wish for as a parent, but I want my daughter to have the opportunity to go clubbing when she grows up, should she wish to. I want her life to be full of joy and I had a lot of good times in those places. I don’t want her to grow up in a country where they barely exist.

This also seems like an attack on electronic music itself. I’m old enough to remember, if not actually have experienced, the Criminal Justice Bill of 1994 which was ostensibly focused on closing illegal raves, but with its’ specific attacks on music with repetitive beats, was really an attempt to criminalise and destroy dance music culture altogether. Now, again under a Conservative government, those attitudes seem to be returning (witness the ridiculous attempts by the Fabric review board to claim that music with a higher BPM led to an increase in drug use). Well, they may have closed down the illegal raves and driven dance music into nightclubs in the 1990s, and they may well be trying to drive it out of the nightclubs in the 2010s, but it will always find somewhere else to go. For a long, long way back in human history people have congregated, taken mind altering substances, and danced. No matter what happens they will find a place to continue to do so. I’m just sad to know that Fabric will no longer be one of those places.

Blog – Can’t Techno More

Some of my best friends spent the weekend just gone at the Dekmantel Festival, a techno festival in Amsterdam (well ‘electronic and experimental music’ to be strictly accurate, but there was certainly a lot of techno on the bill). Having just bought a house a few months ago I have no money to be jetting off to music festivals, and being honest, I don’t actually like the idea of being away from my wife and child for more than a night or two. There was the odd moment in the week leading up to the festival where I had a pang of envy though. That is, until I though about the reality of what it would be like. I can no longer stay awake until the early hours of the next day, or even close, and I know myself well enough to know that I would get tired, I would get grumpy, sulky and sullen, and wouldn’t be much fun company for anyone.

Thinking of the festival did bring back some good memories though. My first trip to Amsterdam was for a one day festival called Dance Valley, back in 2001. Almost exactly 15 years before Dekmantel in fact, which suddenly makes me feel very old. The festival itself was great fun, but as it drew to a close, the heavens opened with the heaviest rains I’d ever experienced. We rushed to get a shuttle bus to take us back into Amsterdam, but soon realised the number of buses was wholly inadequate for the number of people. We had no choice but to start walking the seven or eight miles back into Amsterdam. We were cold, we were miserable and we had somehow lost one our party along the way. We trudged for an hour or more in increasingly heavy rain before managing to get a lift the remainder of the way, still worried about our missing friend. As we arrived back at the hostel, wetter than we’d ever been in our lives, we found him sat at the bar, in fresh warm clothes, drink in hand. He’d managed to stow away in the luggage compartment of a coach, the bastard.

Much of my late teens and early twenties (and a bit of my mid to late twenties too) were spent at similar festivals and club nights, dancing the night away until hours that are barely imaginable now. I still love the music (or some of it at least – my early dabblings in psychedelic trance are perhaps best forgotten). I loved the way a great DJ could blend three records into an entirely new piece of music, the way they could judge a crowd, knowing exactly what record to play next. Most of all, I loved the sense of adventure and excitement, travelling off to different cities or countries, leaving the normal world behind for a night or a weekend.

I have no desire to go back to those days though. I’m glad I enjoyed my younger days and spent more time and energy having fun than working or studying (although it will be interesting to see if I pass that advice on to my daughter when she’s older). I’m sure I will still go out dancing from time to time, but the days of emerging bleary-eyed into the early morning light from a basement techno club are long gone, and were gone long before I became a father even. What’s not gone and never will be are the friends made during those years, and the memories. Memories of speeding down the M6 on a warm spring day to get the last few tickets to our favourite club night before the record store closed. Memories of the adrenaline and excitement that flowed through a room when the DJ dropped Jaguar or The Bells or Emerge. Memories of Amsterdam, Hungary, Liverpool and Birmingham.

My life is different now, less wild perhaps, but full of a different kind of joy and wonder, and entirely new reasons for being up at 5am on a Saturday morning. Those raving days though are part of what made me the person I am. I wouldn’t have the life I have now if it wasn’t for the life I had then, and the memories of those days make me smile still.