Gigs and guitars

I have a theory about gigs and guitars. The more changes of guitars there are the worse the gig will be no matter the music.

So I remember going to seeing Sonic Youth in their prime some 25 years ago in a club in Birmingham. They had released a couple of albums on Geffen and were riding high but all I can remember of the gig is the time that was spent between songs as guitars were changed over and retuned and then retuned again before the music could start over.

On Sunday lunchtime walking through town I spotted a flyer for the Thurston Moore Band playing in St George’s Hall on Monday evening.

Thurston Moore was one of the two guitarists in Sonic Youth and must have been at least partly responsible for all that time spent retuning and changing guitars. But there was something New York about him playing in Liverpool (another theory – if you spend a week in New York and spot a random flyer for a gig  how far out of your way would you go to see it – it works  – on the one time we tried it we saw John Lurie playing his saxophone in a redundant freezer in the meat packing district).

I got myself a ticket and went along. The gig was in the old theatre to the side of St George’s Hall where Charles Dickens had stood up to read 150 years ago. The noise, feedback and shuddering reverb should not have worked amongst the gilded pillars and mirrors but somehow it didn’t matter and Thurston Moore didn’t change his guitar for the whole one and half hours and the only retuning was done after sufficient violence had been done to the guitar to justify it.


The Bread Circle met last Monday evening. The venue was Nova in Heswall. It is closed on a Monday but Moyo had generously agreed to our being able to make use of the space and had also volunteered to make some food to go with the bagels.

The bagels were made over the course of the day. Sadly not all of us could be there to assist.

For me, perhaps inevitably, there was some confusion as to exactly how a bagel came to be made. Somehow I had got it into my head that the process involved the dunking of suitably shaped dough in boiling water and like magic they would puff up and be sieved up all correct and bagel like. Someone then pointed out that some of the  specimens that had arrived for the evening had the look of an oven about them and anyway how did you get the poppy seeds to stick. Opinions were revised and I learnt that whilst some hot water was involved time was also spent baking in the oven.

When the bagels arrived there was some discussion around the size of the holes in the middle and whether or not they were too big. There was consensus over the need to stuff a bagel but debate to be had as to whether a bagel could be considered properly stuffed if all the stuffing doing the hard work was left to fall through the too big hole in the middle.

In the event it didn’t matter too much. The food Moyo had made could be spread liberally  over the available surfaces of the bagel and the odd piece of ham or salmon was kept in place by being clamped firmly between the two available halves. Not too much was lost through the middle.

The highlight was an aiolli made with fermented garlic. Although I asked I couldn’t quite get to the bottom of how the fermentation was achieved. What I did learn that it took a total of 12 days and produced and deep dark paste that lasted at the back of the tongue until late in the evening.

The start of this years asparagus

So it is most years around the first week in May I find myself putting the same question into Google “Why does eating asparagus make your wee smell like that?!?”

Forty five minutes this morning were spent on a bike dawdling along the promenade from the Seacombe Ferry Terminal to New Brighton. If I had been doing it properly – like the people I passed dolled up in lycra, helmets and sun-glasses I might have broken a sweat. But my bike is covered in rust and I would not suit lycra – so I took it slowly pausing to take photos of Liverpool looming in the distance.

Back at Seacombe I pushed the bike into the back of the car and made my way to Wards to buy some different fish and a goose egg. As I walked through Birkenhead I remembered that there had been a fat John Dory sat on on the ice. Unfortunately they didn’t have any this week and the goose eggs had sold out. So I came away with half a dozen duck eggs and two slips of sole caught from the Dee.

I then made the trip over to Claremont  to pick up a couple of bunches of the first of this years asparagus. We had them for lunch with scrambled duck eggs.




One of the problems with having a big basement is that if something gets put away there is a serious risk of it never getting found again.

We almost had this problem with the ham stand at Christmas and on Saturday afternoon we lost a bike pump.

The sun was out and so I thought I would take my bike out for its annual spin around the block. As the bike had been languishing in the garage for the last 12 months it was perhaps no surprise that all its tyres were flat. So started the hunt for the bike pump. Over the years we have developed a number of places for putting it where it can be found. All these proved useless and it was apparent that during a tidy up it had been put somewhere else. I found one bike pump which might have been the one one we lost before this one. Unfortunately the found pump was out of air.

So after a certain amount of huffing and puffing I went out to buy a new one.

Tyres pumped I sprayed the rust on the bike with all the WD40 I could find and took it round the block. It all seemed to work without making too much noise although by the time I got home I found myself walking with my feet six inches further apart than normal.

Most years having taken the bike round the block it goes back into the garage to develop another layer of rust for twelve months. Unusually I took it out again Sunday morning.

This time I took it into the car down to New Brighton and spent an hour and a half going all the way from New Brighton to Hoylake and back again. Possibly the most exercise I have done for quite a few years – particularly on the way back from Hoylake into the wind.

When I got home I found that my feet were now twelve inches further part than normal.

That evening we ate out of the Morito cook book – flat bread cooked in a hot iron pan on the stove, a spinach and fennel pie, hummus, beetroot borani and lamb chops.

We have spent the weekend just listening to vinyl. Last night it was the turn of Sly and the Family Stone and some particularly funky Ike Turner.