Just been listening to Argus by Wishbone Ash. It began as something to listen to whilst peeling potatoes, the idea of listening to something while peeling potatoes prompted by the sight of Diana’s headphones lying unattended on the window sill and the weight of my iPhone in my pocket. I don’t usually think to listen to something whilst peeling potatoes. It just never occurs to me.
While there is a fair bit of umpty-tumpty-tum in Argus – the rock equivalent of an oompa band, you might say – there are several good tracks. Diana’s favourite is ‘Worrier’ because of the line “I’d have to be a worrier…”, though the album sleeve persists in misprinting it as ‘Warrior’…
Album sleeve, did I say? Yes, I did. How did I come to be listening to an album with a sleeve on headphones whilst peeling potatoes? Do I have a portable turntable that I can just cart into the kitchen and plug in next to the kettle? I do not. I already said (or heavily implied, at any rate) that it was on my iPhone. It’s just that the original is an LP, a disc of vinyl in a cardboard sleeve in my study, but through the magic of a turntable with a USB cable and a piece of free software called Audacity I have converted it into an MP3 file and loaded it into iTunes on my iPhone – for personal use only, I hasten to add. This has the merit (ahem!) of reproducing the crackles and blips familiar from much playing in the old days.
I bought Argus many years ago whilst at university, largely because my friend Allan had it and we used to listen to it at his place, and also because it has a picture of a dark ages soldier with a spear looking into a sky containing a tiny flying saucer. It was the type of thing that was really meaningful back then.
The potatoes, to get back to the subject (I think), were for dinner on Good Friday, after a walk on the beach. We have been in Cornwall this time for about two weeks and this was our first trip to the beach. Partly it has been too wet and cold and partly it is the result of starting to think of ourselves as living here. As visitors, we just had to go to the beach as soon as possible, but as residents we can take it or leave it, like living in London and not bothering to visit the Tower, because it’s always right there.
Tris and I came down about two weeks ago, with a car load of her stuff from uni, and a few things of mine and Diana’s. Diana stayed in Woking so as to attend her final Surrey County Council Meeting on the Tuesday and came down by train straight after that. And in the fortnight before coming down we got the Woking house ready to go on sale.
A professional decorated Ellie’s old room (too complicated for us) and our bedroom (too big), while I painted the walls and woodwork in the kitchen and dining room. Then there was much cleaning and arranging of the decluttered furniture. Finally we got a couple of estate agents to look at it and tell us what price it should be. We chose one and they took the measurements and photographs and before the end of last week it was on the market. Several people came to view it, and one made an offer, which we accepted. Just like that. There’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip, as the old saying has it, but so far so good.
This not-living-in-Woking concept is getting very concrete.
Another reason for going to the beach was that Tris’ friend Luke is visiting us over Easter, and as a visitor he just had to go to the beach as soon as possible. Luke and Tris can go striding off over the beach and cliffs at a pace that Diana and I no longer manage. There were quite a few surfers in the water, some of them so far out it seemed the waves would never break in time for them to catch, but clearly they were waiting for the one big one. It is still too cold for us to join them.
Argus has segued into Tales from Topographic Oceans (by Yes) on the basis of alphabetical order of artist. Before it in my list is White Light/White Heat by the Velvet Underground, another university days acquisition. To be accurate, it was a gift. It was bought by a friend who had heard it at a party in Cambridge and thought it was terrific. She went out and bought it and played it to us, extolling its virtues, but it seemed I was the only one who liked it. And as time went by (not much time, to be honest), she became less enamoured of it, veering towards dislike, and concluded that it was one of those “you had to be there” things and she wasn’t there any more, so she gave it to me.
A lot of my music stems from university, which coincided with the prog rock era, a music which suited the university ambience of long hair and beards. That doesn’t explain the Altered Images and Siouxsie and the Banshees albums, I confess. And how I came across the Blue Nile I’ll never know. Travel east to Egypt and turn right? Don’t be a smart aleck…
In case you were still wondering, the potatoes have been eaten, except for the ones that weren’t.