Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Infra ready

Infrared images top to bottom: Bob Dylan by Elliott Landy (1969); Richard Mosse's stunning Congo series, Infra (2011); Kate Ballis' surreal vision of Palm Springs, Infra Realism (2018); Foals album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (2019), photo by Vicente Muñoz.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

The moon and the earth

Artist Luke Jerram's stunning Moon and Earth have been touring Europe for several years now. The moon model, six metres in diameter, is currently at the Natural History museum, London. Gaia (Greek for earth), seven metres in diameter, hangs above the citrus grove in the Mediterranean Biome of the Eden Project, Cornwall. Both contain detailed NASA imagery and are on display until tomorrow (Sunday 5 January).

Thursday, January 02, 2020

How many escalators are there in Cornwall?

In 2007, artist Patrick Lowry showcased his Escalator in New County Hall in Truro – Cornwall’s modernist council building, which consisted of a life size, realistic installation of an out of order escalator, leading to nowhere. A metaphor for Cornwall council, perhaps, or job opportunities in the county – interpretation of the installation is rife.

Lowry's installation was part of the MORE Cornwall group exhibition, reviewed on the artcornwall website at the time. The author of the piece mentions growing up in Truro in the 1980s and joking with friends about there being only one escalator in Cornwall, which there was then.

Well, times have sure changed. There are now eight (8) or maybe eleven (11) escalators in Cornwall. I heard this recently from a friend (who couldn't remember the exact number), who has a friend who says it's possible to get to all the county's escalators by bus in a single day. Naturally, this aroused my curiosity.

It can't be that much of a challenge though – presumably most of them are in Truro: Waterstone's, Primark, Debenhams and M&S all have them. The hideous retail parks* at Hayle and Kingsley Village both have them. That's probably about it – but there's a catch.

A couple of the escalator's are moving walkways, or travelators. This got us thinking. Newquay airport? Nope. The Eden Project? Nope. It would have to be somewhere really high tech like Goonhilly Earth Station. Then it occurred to me – Sainsbuy's has them in large branches at Truro and Penzance. 


* I suddenly remembered looking at some new-build flats in the early noughties with my then-partner when we were thinking of buying a place together in London. The flats were tiny, badly made, bits already falling off, no storage, in the middle of nowhere. Where’s the nearest newsagent, I asked the estate agent, to buy a paper or a pint of milk. The supermarket in the retail park, a twenty minute walk, she said. No, I thought, that’s wrong, that’s crazy. No, I said, I mean the local newsagent, the friendly one who knows you. She repeated, the retail park.

Some years later, here we are, or here I am anyway. With a warehouse-sized Tesco as my friendly local newsagent, and retail parks with massive car parks a horrific reality, and the death of the high street, and internet shopping. I didn’t ask for any of it. In fact, I actively despise it all.

Previously on Barnflakes
Bus pass

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

Fisherman's Friends vs Bait

Fisherman's Friends (Chris Foggin, 2019)
Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
Also: Tin (Bill Scott, 2015)

You wait years for a film about bloody Londoners ruining Cornish fishing villages then two come along within months of each other. Fisherman's Friends and Bait are two sides of the same coin, portraying the effect of tourism and second home owners in Cornwall, one of the poorest parts of Europe, in very different ways.

Fisherman's Friends is partly based on the real life sea shanty group of the same name, based in Port Issac, a fishing village in North Cornwall. Pretty sentimental, it follows the familiar trope of British films of its ilk, from The Full Monty to Brassed Out, without those films' originality, humour or warmth. Nevertheless, it has its moments, as it follows cocky London A&R music scout Danny (Daniel Mays), to Cornwall with some colleagues (one of who is the smarmy Henry – all the Londoner's are smarmy – played by Christian Brassington, no stranger to Cornwall, having played the hypocritical and hideous Reverend Osborne 'Ossie' Whitworth in Poldark. Brassington has also played similar roles in his depictions of both Boris Johnson and Tony Blair) for a stag do. They stumble across a performance by the Fisherman's Friends, a group of male fishermen/coastguards who, in between catching fish and saving stupid tourists' lives, sing sea shanties on the sea shore. As a wind up, Danny's boss tells him he has to sign the boy band – and drive off, leaving him high and dry.

At first, Danny is just staying on in the hope of shagging a fisherman's daughter, in the form of Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), before he succumbs to the authenticity of the Fisherman's Friends and the charms of the fishing village. Anyway, despite the wind up, Danny signs the band and gets the record contract. And the girl. Oh, and buys the local pub.

Despite occasional digs at Londoner's and second home owners, and as you might be surmising by now, a film supposedly about a sea shanty band and Cornwall is actually more about Danny, a London 'tosser' (Alwyn's daughter's words), and his journey to finding fulfilment (that's because the Cornish have already found theirs, quipped H).

This fact was mentioned, actually, when we heard director Mark Jenkin give a talk after a screening of his film Bait, called "one of the defining British films of the decade" by the Guardian. Stylistically, it is world's apart from Fisherman's Friends (filmed with all the imagination of a BBC drama), shot as it was on 16mm black and white film on a Bolex camera (which I used at film school in the 1990s, already obsolete then – it's a loud, hand-cranked camera and can only shoot a few minutes of film at a time, but it is durable – on one film shoot the camera fell in a river; when we pulled it out it was absolutely fine). Jenkin's decision to film this way, as well as to hand develop the film and record all the dialogue post-production certainly helps give the film its unique look (and goes some way to explaining the lavish praise heaped upon it from the likes of the BFI – well, they funded it – and the Guardian).

The slight plot revolves around fisherman Martin Ward (Edward Rowe, a.k.a. the Kernow King and general Cornish Renaissance Man), eking out a living as a fisherman and struggling to save money for a fishing boat, whilst his brother makes money hiring out their late father's fishing boat to tourists wanting to party. To add insult to injury, they've sold the family's harbourside house to poncy Londoner's who use it as a second home. The seeds are sown for seething resentment, and the film is an intense experience, with its high contrast black and white expressionist cinematography, extreme close-ups and contemptuous glances between the social classes.

The film isn't perfect – characters are slightly cardboard cut-out and it's a little simplistic – but there's no denying it's a stunningly original work, and a breath of fresh air compared to the usual Cornish fare of Poldark and Doc Martin.

Fisherman''s Friends and Bait make an obvious double bill but how about Bait and The Lighthouse, with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe playing 19th century lighthouse keepers in Robert Egger's black and white psychological horror, released in the UK next month.


The film Tin also deserves a mention. Released in 2015, it was filmed in as equally perverse original manner as Bait, maybe even more so. Like Bait, we also went to a screening of the film (in a church in Redruth) accompanied by a talk by the film's director, Bill Scott. The micro-budget film, shot for £100,000, is set in West Cornwall in Victorian times, at the end of the mining boom.

The film was originally a play performed by Miracle Theatre (based on a novel about bank swindling in Cornwall), and filming was shot entirely using green screen in the evenings after the play's performance over several years, with the backgrounds added later, giving the film a odd and distinctive feel. The film features Jenny Agutter, who ironically (considering the other two films) owns houses in London and Cornwall.

Previously on Barnflakes
Top 30 of the year
Random film review: Straw Dogs
The lost art of the double bill
Double bill me

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Norman Mailer's Lego City

Tough man author and journalist Norman Mailer may have died in 2007 but his Lego lives on. Famous for hard-hitting novels The Naked and the Dead and The Executioner's Song, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1979, less well-known is his fascination with Lego. In 1965 the writer, with a few friends, spent three weeks building a city of the future out of the famous bricks. A photo of it adorns the cover of his 1967 collection of essays, Cannibals and Christians.

Mailer didn't physically build his Lego city in the clouds, inspired by Mont-Saint-Michel (of which St Michael's Mount in Cornwall was modelled after). He didn't like the sound of the bricks when they stuck together, finding it obscene. Mailer was the grand architect, telling friends and relatives where to put the pieces. He even announced the undertaking in the New York Times magazine and Architectural Forum. Blaming modern architecture (including Le Corbusier) and urban sprawl for many of society's woes, Mailer believed the city of the future "must build up, not by increments, but by leaps, up and up, up to the heavens." His Lego city, with each brick an apartment, would house about 4 million people, with specific locations for philosophers (top), call girls (white bricks) and corporate executives (black bricks).

The utopian city, too big to move out of his apartment, remained intact in his living room until his death.

It would be great to see Lego release the city as a set. It could have Lego figures of Norman Mailer and his contemporaries like Truman Copote, Hunter S Thompson and Thomas Wolfe, as well as the aforementioned philosophers, call girls and corporate executives.

Previously on Barnflakes
Lego Architecture
Just another brick in the wall 
Star Wars Lego
Legoland wildlife 
Headless Movies

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Bus pass

"Riding on city buses for a hobby is sad*"
– Belle and Sebastian, The State I Am In

*But in Cornwall it's fun!

When it dawned upon me how much I'd save on a bus pass as compared to daily tickets (day return from Pool to Redruth = £9 vs. weekly (7 day) bus pass for the whole of Cornwall = £28), it was a no-brainer, and even at weekends I would sometimes take the bus for fun, despite, or because of, the journey always taking longer than cycling, and sometimes taking longer than walking. Nevertheless, the joy of being able to take eight buses in a day (which I did one Saturday) and it not costing about £46 but just being part of my weekly bus pass, was immense.

The bus pass completed the full-set of Cornwall passes it had taken me almost a year to accumulate: annual locals' passes for the Tate Gallery St Ives (£5 – the best of the lot), Wheal Martin, Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Not forgetting the Merlin Cinema Magic Discount Card and the Devon and Cornwall Railcard – only £12 for a year which gets you a third off all train journeys in the two counties plus tickets all £1 for children aged 5-15.

I actually loved the bus journey to work in Truro – words I have never written about any commute to work in London. In winter I'd wake in darkness and leave the flat as the sun was rising over the massive Carn Brea with its iconic Celtic cross of the Basset Monument on its highest point. They often both silhouetted against a bright pink and orange sky as the sun slowly woke up behind them. I'd hear and see black birds flying across the sky. Often they'd be a mist as the bus wove its way through the small villages and countryside towards the capital city. As we drove past the village of Chacewater we'd start to see the chimneys of engine houses, rising above the trees in the misty countryside.

(Indulge me, if you will, into imagining yourself in the swimming pool at Carn Brea Leisure Centre (recently renovated). Imagine, too, that it's sunrise and you can see through the walls of the leisure centre. You look up, and behold, you see the sun rising behind the almighty hill and the monument. Now, imagine just a bit more, well a lot more – but is it not a similar experience to being in the sea at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro and looking up at Mount Corcovado and seeing the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, only 11 metres higher than the Basset Monument?)

The main downside of buses is waiting for them. It's 6pm, supposedly rush hour, in the central bus station in Truro, the capital city of Cornwall. There are no buses. It’s been raining, so I shouldn’t be too harsh on the people, but they look poor, ugly and stupid, some with quite obvious mental and/or physical health problems. The youth hanging around wear tracksuits and baseball caps. Some have dogs. One is teasing a dog. A bottle breaks. There’s a tension in the air and, as if on cue, I feel slightly relieved to see two policemen come around the corner. But instead of beating up the youth who good taste forgot, they stop to chat and laugh with them. I’ve been at this bus station a lot, all tines of day and night, and have reached the conclusion that the youth spend most of their evenings here. Almost as rare as the policemen is the sudden flight of a ginger cat across the road from the bus station – though apparently he's a local cat called Rusty.

Another evening and by 7pm there are only a few lost souls hanging around. The city is empty, it’s drizzling and dark. The same hypnotic teenagers are still hanging around the bus station, wearing the same tracksuits. The city is theirs. They are welcome to it.

On the bus home at 9:30pm on a Friday night. Except it feels like it's 3am on a London night bus. It's raining, of course. Condensation blankets the windows. There's only a few people onboard. A young couple, looking knackered, the guy slumped on the table (yes, there is a table on the top deck of Cornish buses), his fist bloody red and raw. Another, older couple a few seats behind me are having an argument. The man, drunk, is loud and aggressive towards her. Well, she has had an affair with the ugliest, stupidest man in Cornwall, apparently. She eventually goes downstairs. He does about ten minutes later. Then I do – to meet H, who is downstairs on the same bus as me, by chance. I go down to see her. The same couple who were upstairs and I thought had left the bus separately are at the back, having the same loud argument. An unconscious man in a wheelchair hugs a can of lager.

Previously on Barnflakes
Flickagram #11
On the buses 
Pizza Night


It’s fairly well known that photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson all but abandoned photography some twenty years before his death – at aged 95, mind; so you could say he retired at a normal age, then did some drawing classes – which is what, say, my dad has done but without the poncy bit saying he insists on drawing as his true calling, which is what Cartier-Bresson said, though apparently it was his first love. But like Bob Dylan’s recent artwork, Cartier-Bresson’s are pretty mediocre. Worse, as also with Dylan’s, they take away all the mystery and beauty so evident in their ‘day jobs’ (photography/music).

Quite a few musicians and actors also paint (and many more are also photographers, such as Lou Reed, David Byrne, Julian Lennon, Andy Summers, Bryan Adams and Jeff Bridges – though everyone's a photographer now, of course, and a web designer, and a writer, and a film-maker, etc). Most are mediocre, but obviously their works sell for thousands of pounds, like Ronnie Wood's. Actor Anthony Quinn's paintings are actually pretty good.

Less well-known and perhaps more interesting is photographers and film-makers who make music. After all, both professions are about filling space. Photographers William Eggleston and Wolfgang Tillmans and filmmakers David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky (in my mind, two of our most prominent living polymaths, encompassing between them film, painting, music, writing, acting, transcendental meditation, psychogenealogy and just about everything in between).

After having his photos adorn numerous album covers (from Big Star and Joanna Newsom to Primal Scream and Silver Jews), it took until he was 78 for William Eggleston to make his own album (though he could apparently play the piano aged 4), Muzik, released in 2017. His synthesizer soundscapes are cathedral-like with deep organs, improvised tinkering pianos and the odd fire alarm – I rather like it. The cover photo, above, is by Alec Soth, who seems to be everywhere nowadays.

A few years ago Wolfgang Tillmans was riding the crest of Frank Ocean's, erm, wave when Tillmans' song Device Control was used on Ocean's 'visual' album, Endless, and his frank photo of Frank used for the cover of his Blond(e) album (just about everyone's favourite album of the decade). Tillmans had always photographed music – gigs and bands, and occasionally Djayed – and tinkered with making music before he even owned a camera, but it's only recently he's released various EPs. His music is described as a mixture of synth, trance and house, with Tillmans also providing vocals.

David Lynch could have been talking about Eggleston's photography when he refers to his friend's album, Muzik, as 'music of wild joy with freedom and bright, vivid colours'. Lynch has often dabbled in music, from the Eraserhead soundtrack with Alan Splet, influencing a generation of industrial music; to writing the lyrics to Julee Cruise's dreamy first album, Floating into the Night; and finally releasing his collaboration with Angelo Badalamenti, Thought Gang, in 2018, originally recorded in the early 1990s. He has also released three albums under his own name; they're kinda like Lynch and his films – weird, compelling, a bit retro. His cover of Bob Dylan's The Ballad of Hollis Brown is, well, it's why Mel Brooks called Lynch 'Jimmy Stewart from Mars'.

It's hard to know where to start with Alejandro Jodorowsky. On the Finders Keepers website, who reissued some of the soundtracks to his films on vinyl, they describe them as a mix of 'free jazz, Mexican acid folk, symphonic psych rock, Swedish prog, spiritual jazz, lush Morriconesque scores, analogue electronics and West African percussion'. So there you go. No need for anyone to give up their day or night job.

Previously on Barnflakes
Notes on being me
Top ten photographers
Death of the Polymath
Absolutely famous
Don't give up the day job
Sherman and Sherman

Origins of the word 'career'

The word ‘career’ has its more recent origins in ‘carer’, meaning to devote your life pointlessly for the benefit of another for no seeming advantage to yourself; to be unappreciated and underpaid. Previous to that, origins are mid-16th century; from the French carriere, the Italian carriera, and the Latin carrus; ‘wheeled vehicle' (such as a chariot or more likely, a cart); i.e. being taken for a ride; going round and round with no discernible point or destination.

Previously on Barnflakes
Inspirational demotivational business slogans
Top five office moments
The dream of basic income for everyone
Don't become a graphic designer
Dream job is an oxymoron
'Having a job makes you sick'
Don't just be yourself
Wasting time
Just a quick one
Four-day working week
Introverts vs extroverts
'In terms of' overtakes 'literally'
London Bridge Lunches
The Metros
Email étiquette
I'm literally not being funny but let me ask you a question
Aspire to be average
The Offensive Office

Monday, December 16, 2019

Casper, Jasper, Pasta and Rasta

In the 2019 film Us, Jordon Peele gives us another (after 2017's Get Out) slice of sociopolitical satire masquerading as a horror film. In it, an archetypal black American family are terrorised by their evil doppelgängers, donning red suits à la The Handmaiden's Tale (and both featuring Elizabeth Moss, which I've mentioned previously). A key scene in the film involves the young daughter of the family getting lost in a funhouse and encountering her doppelgänger in a hall of mirrors (no spoilers here but the film's denouement really knocked me for six).

I was reminded of the film whilst watching Casper watching Jasper watching Casper.

Casper sat in the flat at the large front window looking out at Jasper, who sat on the pavement outside looking inside at Casper. They would both sit in the same positions looking at each other poker-faced for ages at a time, like the tense agony of eternity in a Sergio Leone western just before the quick-draw. Casper was posh, plump and privileged, eating only freshly cooked fish and chicken. Jasper was a street cat, savvy and skinny, who would swipe us one just for walking past him. Both cats were ginger. I didn't actually know Jasper's name; I called him that because it rhymed with Casper, and suited him. I found out later the stone jasper is red-brown sort of orange, so it seemed doubly apt.

Their lives were completely opposite. Casper stayed in most of the time, sleeping and eating. Jasper was outside all the time, trying to sleep under cars and on shed roofs. When Casper did go outside, Jasper was usually hanging around, and we'd open the door minutes later to find Casper pinned against the wall by Jasper.

Summer ended and the rain came then the cold and the wind. Jasper was still outside, all the time. My partner's chance encounter with Jasper's owner revealed that they had a new puppy who Jasper didn't like at all. This was a puppy in addition to perhaps three cats, two kids and a rabbit, whom Casper had encountered a few times when it had escaped from its hutch, and not known what to make of it at all as it bounced past him (he'd also seen a hedgehog and been equally dumbfounded).

One of their other cats was a sweet-looking grey thing, small but a psycho who also attacked us (we blamed the owners and the chaotic-sounding home life). He sometimes hung out on the other side of our house. He was so small Casper actually chased him. We called him Pasta. Rasta we'd only seen a couple of times, a ginger kitten with long legs, with Jasper possibly a parent.

It became that Jasper was outside our front door all day and all night, whining and meowing plaintively. We felt sorry for him, caved in and started feeding him. He was always starving – or good at acting it anyway. We began by putting Casper's unwanted cat food outside and around the corner for him. Then a bit nearer. Then the horizontal rain started, and I stated letting Jasper in. Understandably, Casper didn't like this at all. But they came to a sort of arrangement – when I let Casper out, Jasper would come in, and they would pass each other over the doorway like ships in the night.

Then a change came over Jasper. He started being nice. He came in, quiet as a mouse, and didn't always want food. He didn't attack us, he didn't always attack Casper. He curled up on the sofa, next to the radiator, and slept. He seemed in heaven – warmth, peace and quiet, comfort. He would even sit on our laps, and sort of purr. It had probably been years since his vocal cords had made that noise, and Jasper was obviously unfamiliar with the sound, and not all that comfortable with it – but he did his best.

This carried on a bit awkwardly for a few weeks. I mean, we discussed keeping Jasper – catnapping him, so to speak – but it wasn't fair on Casper, who tolerated the new intruder at best, but would actually attack Jasper if he went for either of his two sacred, fundamental cornerstones: his food bowl, and upstairs (where the bed was).

Then suddenly, Jasper stopped coming. And we didn't see him outside for a few days. We assumed he'd gone home. About a week later, a neighbour knocked on the door. She asked me if Jasper was mine. No, I said, but... I told her the whole story. She said he'd been at her home for days. Her daughter loved him, and Jasper loved her. He hadn't wanted to leave the house. She had plans to take Jasper to the vets, fatten him up, treat him nicely. Sounds amazing, I said, do it.

I told her where I thought Jasper lived. The woman asked if I thought she should ask his owners if she could look after him. Well, I wasn't sure, I mean I guess so but then again it seemed like they abused their pets, so I'd just keep him. She asked me if I knew his name. Yup, it's Jasper, I told her.

I never knew what she did about his owners, and we didn't see Jasper for another week – so a few weeks in total now. Then one day we saw him outside our front door, and hardly recognised him. His coat was shiny and he'd put on weight. He was a new cat. He strolled into the flat when we opened the door, and had a rather regal walk around – he was showing off. Casper was like, hold on, I thought we'd got rid of him. Jasper left on his own accord after a few minutes, and we didn't see him again for days. Then, a rare day of sun, and we saw Jasper sunbathing on the shed roof across the way. We waved and called out to him but he acted like he didn't know us.

Previously on Barnflakes
The enigma of Casper the cat (sadly, Daniel Johnston, who wrote the classic lo-fi song Casper the Friendly Ghost, died in September this year, aged 58.)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Top 30 of the year

'The lights went out behind us
The fireflies undressed
The broken sidewalk ended
I touched her sleeping breasts
They opened to me urgently
Like lilies from the dead
Behind a fine embroidery
Her nipples rose like bread
Then I took off my necktie
And she took of her dress
My belt and pistol set aside
We tore away the rest.'

– Leonard Cohen, The Night Of Santiago

1. Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings [Album]
2. Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance [Album]
3. Bob Dylan – Travelin' Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 15 [Album]
4. Cycling and photographing all around the mining trails [Adventure]
5. Isles of Scilly adventure with daughter [Holiday]
6. Hedluv + Passman live at Camborne Rugby Club [Gig]
7. Abandoned gunpowder works at Kennall Vale with H [Adventure]
8. Planting trees in Eco Park with H
9. Discovering Predannack abandoned airfield with H [Adventure]
10. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars [Album]
11. Bait* [Film]
12. Us* [Film]
13. Big Thief – U.F.O.F.  / Two Hands [Albums]
14. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen [Album]
15. Joker* [Film]
16. Arcadia [BBC4 documentary]
17. Beth Gibbons; Krzysztof Penderecki: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra: Górecki: Symphony #3, Op. 36, "Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs" [Album]
18. Gene Clark – No Other [Album reissue]
19. Midosmmar*  [Film]
20. Belle and Sebastian – Days of The Bagnold Summer [Album]
21. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese [Film]
22. LIPS, Stanley Duke and the Kindred Spirits and Penelope Isles at the Old Bakery Studios, Truro [Gig]
23. Rocketman* [Film]
24. Cycling around St Austell's china clay pits with Daniel [Adventure]
25. Stomp on Bodmin Moor with H [Adventure]
26. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! [Album]
27. Chihuly at Kew Gardens [Exhibition]
28. Stumbling across Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons with H [Adventure]
29. Beck – Hyperspace [Album]
30. Kresen Kernow finally opening [Event]

The end of 2019: excitingly, not just a time for end of year lists, but end of decade too (again). The Guardian went one step further, opting for top hundred films and music lists of the 21st century, a bit pre-emptive, unless their knowledge of the end of the world is sooner than we think. Anyway, their lists were pretty disappointing.

(Managing to dismiss most musical genres by concentrating on R&B and hip hop, the music list felt like it was compiled by teenagers, for teenagers: everything ever recorded by Frank Ocean (I almost made it through one of his songs but his voice sounded like Michael Jackson on helium, the lyrics were cliched and the music dull and limp) and Kayne West seemed to be on the list. And nothing by any white person over the age of 50 (except David Bowie). No Bob Dylan (scrolling closer and closer to the top of the list, I was sure Love and Theft or Modern Times was going to be in the top ten, then the top five, then, it dawned on me, not at all), no Leonard Cohen, Wilco, Lambchop, The Libertines, The Flaming Lips, Boards of Canada or Spoon. But Beyonce, Britney Spears and Katy B all make the list. Go figure.

Their film list was better, with personal favourites Under the Skin, Spirited Away, Before Sunset, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Toni Erdmann, Far From Heaven, Mulholland Drive, The Act of Killing, Boyhood, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (but bizarrely, not Uzak), Call Me By Your Name, The Selfish Giant, Gomorrah and Russian Ark all in the top hundred.)

Looking at end of year music lists on Pitchfork, Uncut, Mojo, and others, albums from Lana Del Rey, Nick Cave, Brittany Howard, Big Thief, Bill Callahan, Purple Mountains, Bon Iver, Angel Olsen, Michael Kiwanuka, FKA twigs, Kim Gordon and Weyes Blood all ranked highly and are well worth a listen. As usual, if ever I get to thinking that I know anything about alternative music, lists by The Quietus and The Wire like to remind me I know virtually nothing, having not heard of most albums on their end of year lists.

Lots of great-looking films no one's heard of in the BFI's top fifty of the year. Their No.1 slot goes to Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir – which, say the BFI, they were totally surprised about seeing at number one, what with established auteurs Scorsese, Tarentino and Almodóvar all releasing films this year – but seeing that the film was financed by the BFI, and – always a film critics' wet dream – being a film about film (in an early scene the main character is seen filming with a Bolex at a party – the hand cranked camera used to make Bait, their No.8 film of the year), it was kinda a dead cert. Cool eighties soundtrack too.

*Yes, this year's best films have one word titles – see also Atlantics, Border, Burning, Parasite, Beanpole, Monos, Hustlers and Booksmart: the more words, the worse the film – sorry, Tarentino (Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood). I'm being slightly disingenuous but it seems to hold true – see (or not) Spider-Man: Far From Home and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, for example.

Previously on Barnflakes
Barnflakes' top 20 of the year (2018)
Bests of the decade
The top 100 films
The top 100 albums

Books I've read this year, 2019

Fox 8 George Saunders
In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles Paul Bowles
Rimbaud in Java Jamie James
The Flame Leonard Cohen
Room to Dream David Lynch
On the Map Simon Garfield
Lila Robert M Pirsig
Fantasy and the Cinema James Donald (Ed.)
The Seeds of Time John Wyndham
The Book of Strange New Things Michel Faber
The Haunting of Toby Jugg Dennis Wheatley
Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin Pierre Assouline
Nobody's Perfect Anthony Lane
The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society 
Andy Miller
Borne Jeff Vandermeer
Black Coffee Blues Henry Rollins
Wilding Isabella Tree
The Pebbles on a Beach Clarence Ellis
Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1974-2006 
Clinton Heylin
The 22 Letters Clive King
Noam Chomsky Hegemony or Survival
Jamaica Inn Daphne du Maurier
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse Charlie Mackesy

Previously on Barnflakes
Books of the Year 2011 (a year in which I read a lot more books than this year. But I didn't have an iPhone back then.)


This only 'works' if you pronounce Nike like I do – it rhymes with bike.

Previously on Barnflakes
Tesco in Tresco