Tuesday, December 10, 2019

How to compile a Robert Pattinson top ten films without mentioning Twilight or Harry Potter

Salty stuff: Pattinson masturbates furiously in a two hour black and white film about two 19th century lighthouse keepers in what The Guardian describe as 'Steptoe and Son at sea' – The Lighthouse, released in the UK in the new year, is at No.5.

10. Water for Elephants (Francis Lawrence, 2011)
9. Damsel (Zellner brothers, 2018) 
8. The Rover (David Michôd, 2014)
7. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg, 2012)
6. The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
5. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
4. Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg, 2014)
3. The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet, 2015)
2. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
1. Good Time (Safdie brothers, 2017)

Monday, December 09, 2019

Alfred Wallis grave in St Ives

Alfred Wallis, mariner and painter, lost both his children and his wife before taking up painting late in life to keep himself company. Wallis’s naïve style of painting, with flattened perspectives and scale based on importance, was ‘discovered’ by Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, painters of the St Ives School, as they were passing by his house one day in 1928. They loved his paintings and Wallis became part of the progressive St Ives school of painters in the 1930s.

Despite influencing a generation of painters, it almost goes without saying that Wallis died penniless, in Madron Workhouse (a place for the orphaned, elderly, poor and disabled, that sounded like something between a jail and a concentration camp; after closing in 1948 with the advent of the NHS, the building became a meat processing factory. It’s now derelict), just outside of Penzance.

Still, at least the St Ives School paid for his tomb, created from Bernard Leach tiles, in Barnoon cemetery, situated above the lovely Porthmeor beach next to the Tate St Ives, where many of Wallis’ paintings are kept. His pictures nowadays don't go for huge amounts, but still, I'm sure he would have appreciated one of his crayon drawings selling for £10,000 and a painting for £30,000, or even a fraction of that, during his lifetime.

Previously on Barnflakes
Cornwall's master and slave shared gravestone

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Tables have turned

Last Monday, I went into work and pitched a feature idea to the commercial director on the vinyl revival, I know not exactly new, but quite apt for Christmas I thought, plus I know most of the record shops from Warminster to Penzance, and thought it was a good idea. The commercial director thought so too, and told me to go for it.

So I researched the record shops, designed a fact sheet for the advertising guys to send out to record shops, designed the ads they sold (six in all), interviewed Matt the hat, who owns a record shop in Barnstable, and then wrote the actual feature. The three-page article appeared in The Independent (the regional paper for the south west, not the national) last Sunday, 1 December.

The so-called vinyl revival has been well underway for over a decade now, and showing no signs of abating, with last year’s sales topping four million in the UK and almost ten million in the US. But 2019 is the first year records are set to overtake CD sales, ironic to consider that by the late 1980s, the CD was said to be the death of the record.

Events such as Record Store Day, held every April since 2008, have helped ignite the vinyl revolution, with Universal Music’s sales manager calling it “the single best thing that has ever happened” to independent record shops. And although records can now be bought everywhere from your local supermarket to coffee shops, as well as HMV (which was saved from administration in February this year and now believes vinyl could be its saviour), it is local record shops which offer the most passion, variety and loyalty among collectors.

The south west offers numerous, excellent record shops in its big cities, such as Rooster Records in Exeter, Really Good Records in Plymouth and Wanted Records in Bristol, but the smaller market towns also contain treasure troves of vinyl. Raves from the Grave has branches in Warminster and Frome. The award-winning Drift Records in Totnes is family-owned and serves cocktails on Friday and Saturday nights. It has also become focal point for local musicians. Clocktower Music in Bridport have around 8,000 items in stock and West Quay Records in Bridgwater is locally well-loved.

Further down in Cornwall is Room 33 Records in Bodmin, Museumvinyl in St Austell, Lost in Music in Camborne and Music Nostalgia in Truro’s Pannier Market. Falmouth contains Sounds OK and Jam, a cafe and record shop selling new vinyl upstairs and secondhand records in its basement.

What becomes the common thread in all these shops is the owners’ love of the music. Matt Poulton – otherwise known as Matt the Hat, due to the top hat he doffs – has been running Discovery Music, his record shop in Barnstaple, for over thirty years, and he’s always done it for the music, having loved music and records since a teenager, and never for the money (though he did recently sell an LP by little-known UK prog-rock band Steel Mill for £1,800).

Matt attributes today’s interest in records to various things, including nostalgia and a backlash against technology – and though he is famously a technophobe, he believes the internet, with young people listening to playlists and flicking seamlessly between musical genres, has increased the variety of music they listen to. The main difference in record buying Matt has noticed in recent years (he’s against calling it a vinyl revival as for him, and many others, it never went away) is the variety of people buying records now – all ages and backgrounds.

Like all grand pronouncements at the start of the new century – from the end of the world to the end of print – the death of vinyl didn’t happen. The opposite did. Whilst arguably the CD has crystal clear sound, there’s nothing quite like the warm, dusty, analogue sound of needle on vinyl.

Previously on Barnflakes
Top ten vinyl wants
Notes on being me
Top ten records I would have bought in Totnes if I had any money
South London record shops
Top ten missed vinyl barngains

Monday, November 25, 2019

Pirate ballad barngains

I'd briefly heard the first volume of these when it came out way back in 2006, and loved it (but never owned it), and have wanted it on CD ever since – from a charity shop, of course. I found out recently that there was a Son of Rogues Gallery (released seven  years after the first instalment). This month I got them both within a week of each other: Rogue's Gallery from Oxfam in Exeter, and Son of Rogues Gallery from the British Heart Foundation in Truro, Cornwall. Both for less than a doubloon.

Devised by Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski, director of Pirates of the Caribbean, Rogue's Gallery was inspired by the film and released without fanfare after the second Pirates of the Caribbean film, Dead Man's Chest. If the films have all the gritty realism you'd expect from something based on a Disney theme park ride, the 43 songs on the (2 CD) album feel authentic and ballsy in comparison. Indeed, they are all traditional – and often ribald – 'pirate ballads, sea songs and chanties' sung by a motley assortment of characters: from ancient rock stadium fillers like Sting and Bono to folk royalty from Loudon Wainwright III to Richard Thompson. But it's the unexpected singers (in this context) that really stand out: Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, David Thomas from Pere Ubu, Jarvis Cocker, Anthony (from ...and the Johnsons fame). Nick Cave, it almost goes without saying, features several times.

Despite being made seven years after the original, Son of Rogues Gallery continues where the first left off, with perhaps an even more motley crew of characters, including a duet by Michael Stripe and Courtney Love plus a song featuring Tom Waits and Keith Richards, two of the most pirate-like legends in rock music. Other highlights are numerous, but include Beth Orton, Iggy Pop, Shane MacGowan, Patti Smith (with Johnny Depp) and Frank Zappa. But the great thing about both volumes is famous names sit comfortably alongside the unfamiliar (to me anyway).

Maybe it's because I've been living in Cornwall a while now, and even been to the Falmouth Sea Shanty festival, but I love both CDs –  a treasure trove of ribald, rousing, sing-along tunes to shiver your timbers.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Dylan dedications

Once upon a time, a long time ago, Bob Dylan would actually tell stories in between songs in his concerts or banter with the crowd. In the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue – the subject earlier this year of the Netflix film Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (a wasted opportunity IMO; Scorsese hasn't made a decent film since 1990 but seems to think adding his name to the title of a film adds some kind of prestige value) as well as the excellent 14-CD set The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings – Dylan would frequently dedicate songs to (mostly) famous people, from Sam Peckinpah (who Dylan of course worked with on Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) to Gertrude Stein.

Plymouth, Massachusetts
31 October 1975

We’re gonna dedicate this to Keith Richards (Isis)
We’ll do this one for David Crosby who’s out there somewhere (Never Let Me Go)
This is for Brigham Young (Oh, Sister)

Providence, Rhode Island
4 November 1975 – Afternoon show

Gonna do this one for Richard Manuel, he’s not here but he’d like to be here... maybe he is here (I Shall Be Released)

Providence, Rhode Island
4 November 1975 – Evening
Gonna dedicate this to Sam Peckinpah (Romance In Durango)
We’re gonna do this one for Dennis Hopper (I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine)
I wanna do this song for all my sisters (Oh, Sister)

Springfield, Massachusetts
6 November 1975 – Afternoon
This is Scarlet and we’re gonna dedicate a song to Sam Peckinpah. Hope he’s here today (Romance In Durango)
I'd like to dedicate this song to the whole Massachusetts. As long as Long Island? (I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine)

Springfield, Massachusetts
6 November 1975 – Evening
We’re doing this one tonight for Sam Peckinpah. Glad you could make it Sam! (Romance In Durango)
We’re gonna dedicate this to Gertrude Stein (I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine)
We wanna dedicate this one to Richard Manuel, one of these days he’ll show up... and sing it for you (I Shall Be Released)

Burlington, Vermont
8 November 1975

Dedicated to all psychology students (A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall)
This song is a request, we’re gonna do it for Naomi (I Shall Be Released)
We want to do dedicate it to all our sisters out there (Oh, Sister)

Waterbury, Connecticut
11 November 1975
We’re gonna dedicate this one to Sam Peckinpah (Romance In Durango)
This is for Richard Manuel (I Shall Be Released)
We wanna do this for Larry, our favorite reporter, who’s out there somewhere, he tells it like it is (Sara)

New Haven, Connecticut
13 November 1975 – Afternoon
This song is dedicated to Da Vinci (It Ain’t Me, Babe)
We’re gonna dedicate this to Sam Peckinpah. We wish he could have come today, but he couldn’t make it (Romance In Durango)
This is for Richard Manuel (I Shall Be Released)
Wanna dedicate this to Brigham Young (Oh, Sister)

New Haven, Connecticut
13 November 1975 – Evening
We’re gonna dedicate this one to Sam Peckinpah (Romance In Durango).
We’re gonna do this for Gertrude Stein (I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine).
We’ll do this for Richard Manuel, he’s not here tonight, but he’d love to be (I Shall Be Released)

Niagara Falls, New York
15 November 1975 – Evening show
That was for Gertrude Stein and Modigliani (When I Paint My Masterpiece)

Rochester, New York
17 November 1975 – Evening show
We’re gonna dedicate this to my mother and Helena Rubinstein (Mama, You Been On My Mind)

Worcester, Massachusetts
19 November 1975

We do this one for Sam Peckinpah every night (Romance In Durango)
We’ll do this one for Richard Manuel, though he’s not here tonight (I Shall Be Released)

Cambridge, Massachusetts
20 November 1975

We’re gonna dedicate this to Henry VIII (Oh, Sister)
We’re gonna dedicate this one to all the people who used to work at the Club 47 (Just Like A Woman)

Boston, Massachusetts
21 November 1975 – Evening
This is called Romance In Durango, we do this one a lot, dedicate this to Sam Peckinpah, if he’s out there tonight, Sam, Good Luck! (Romance In Durango)

Hartford, Connecticut
24 November 1975
I wanna dedicate this to Wallace Stevens from Hartford, a great renowned poet, wherever you are now, we wish you the best of luck (The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll)
Dedicate this to all the people in the house tonight from Texas (Romance In Durango)
Dedicate this to Keith Richards (Isis)
Gonna dedicate this to Richard Manuel, he’s also in The Band (I Shall Be Released)
I wanna dedicate this to all the people who don’t have any answers (Just Like A Woman)

Augusta, Maine
26 November 1975
Here’s a true story, could happen to anybody. It’s called Isis. I wanna dedicate this to Keith Richards (Isis)

Bangor, Maine
27 November 1975
This is called Romance In Durango. We’re gonna dedicate this to D.H. Lawrence, if he’s here tonight (Romance In Durango)

Quebec City, Canada
29 November 1975
I don’t speak much French myself, wanna dedicate this song to the great French poet Arthur Rimbaud (The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll)
Dedicate this to the great writer Mr. Jack Kerouac (Simple Twist Of Fate)

Toronto, Canada
1 December 1975
Wanna dedicate this next song to Harry Dean Stanton, who’s out there somewhere (Romance In Durango)
Wanna do this for Richard Manuel, he’s not here tonight, he sends his regards (I Shall Be Released)

Toronto, Canada
2 December 1975
Gonna dedicate this to Pancho Villa and of course Sam Peckinpah (Romance In Durango)
Wanna dedicate this to Keith Richards, called Isis. Listen! (Isis)
We wanna do the next one for Ian and Sylvia (before Wild Mountain Thyme)

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4 December 1975
Here’s a song about marriage, this is called Isis, this is for Leonard, if he’s still here (Isis)

New York City, New York
8 December 1975
We’re gonna do this song now for Mr. Albert Grossman. Hello Albert! Who won’t be the next president, don’t even want to be president! (It Takes A Lot To Laugh)
Here’s a song, want to dedicate this to Mr. Herman Melville (I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine)
Gonna dedicate this song to Mr. Richard Manuel, who does it so well (I Shall Be Released)
Gonna dedicate this to all our sisters out there tonight (Oh, Sister)

Despite looking like it's been designed in Microsoft Publisher using harsh RGB colours, Olof Björner’s website, bjorner.com, is an extraordinary Bob Dylan reference site (which Dylan writer Clinton Heylin bizarely regularly rubbishes in his recent Dylan books). Looking at the homepage, you might surmise the site was as much about British philosopher and writer John Cowper Powys as Bob Dylan – but there's just a few pages on Powys and presumably hundreds on Dylan. I actually must get around to reading Powy’s four Wessex novels, or at least Wolf Solent, where the main character, a teacher in London, has a breakdown during a history class, triggered by a look of “inert despair that he had seen on the face of a man on the steps of Waterloo station.” He is fired, and returns to his hometown in Dorset.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Inside the Fuse Factory

I'd been annoyed never to get inside the Fuse Factory as from the outside the gates were always locked. Quite by chance the other day I'd been walking around the area, not thinking about entering the Fuse Factory at all. I'd followed a path up a grassy hill, past some abandoned concrete structures, past lots of overgrown foliage, then onto another path down the hill. That magical path led right into the back of the Fuse Factory. To tell the truth, it wasn't that exciting, a bunch of derelict buildings, but good to have a look around. In the one of the buildings there were hundreds of empty shampoo bottles littering the floor (above), in another room were pages and pages of yellow legal paper strewn across the floor. A mystery.

I've mentioned the Fuse Factory previously, the home of William Bickford's safety fuses, which saved hundreds of miner's lives across the globe.

Previously on Barnflakes
The Fuse Factory, Tuckingmill
Reviving Redruth (and enviroins)

Monday, November 18, 2019

Flickagram #12

What a beautiful day today in Truro – after raining every day for a month, the sun popped up and shone brightly with hardly a cloud in the sky. What a time to be alive! we joshed at the office, and indeed it was. Then at 10:30am Wingman got a text from an old colleague who works in an office up the road. He'd just seen a dead body floating down the river (both our offices are next to the river). It had come from Tesco and was floating down towards Malpas rather rapidly. It was true, and put a damper on our jubilant moods. Cornwall Live eventually picked up the story; a vessel had picked up the body. A man in his fifties. What a way to go. His death was not meant to be suspicious – I get what this means, it means no one else is involved but to me that doesn't mean it's not suspicious. Is suicide not suspicious? Are accidents not suspicious?

Anyway, the photo above is in response to the comment on this post. I got the shot!

Top ten vinyl wants

There's really no logical explanation why I want certain albums on vinyl (though desire doesn't need an explanation) but it's partly to do with that warm, analogue sound, the album sleeve... and being pretentious.

In truth, sound quality has little to do with it – my most passionate and profound musical experiences were probably in the 1980s on my hissy Sony Walkman listening to albums taped from scratched records borrowed from my local library.

I've wanted all of the following for years, and could go and buy them all on eBay or Discogs today, but that would be cheating. Obviously I want to come across them randomly in charity shops for £1.

1. Popol Vuh – Aquirre (film soundtrack)
2. Moondog – Moondog
3. Meredith Monk – Key
4. Sleep – Dopesmoker
5. Moe Tucker – I Feel So Far Away: Anthology 1974-1998
6. Sons of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
7. La Planete Sauvage (film soundtrack)
8. Incredible String band – U
9. Dawn of the Dead (film soundtrack) 
10. Lô Borges/Milton Nascimento – Clube da Esquina

Previously on Barnflakes
Top ten missed vinyl barngains
The month's musical barngains

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Top ten popular websites I’ve never understood and/or even looked at or even heard of

Yes, I’m obsolete, middle-aged and lovin’ it.

1. Reddit
Most of the internet seems to be run by kids for kids.
2. TwitchTV
Want to watch a busty, hot Canadian woman playing video games? Of course you do. Apparently this is now the most logged in website ever (someone told me; don't know if it's true). I literally hadn't heard of it until yesterday.
3. imdb
I've yet to find a decent film website.
4. Pinterest
Random, pointless.
5. TripAdvisor
Every month, 456 million people visit Trip Advisor – but not me. I sort of knew what it was, but have probably only visited it once before (to research writing a previous post). I would never read a review and go or not go somewhere based on it. Like with Amazon, if there's a thousand reviews saying how amazing something is (which I'd always be sceptical about anyway), they'll also be lots saying how rubbish the same thing is (which I'd be more likely to believe). So how to decide? Go there and make up your own mind.
6. Rotten Tomatoes
I think it's a film site run by teenagers.
7. LADbible
Just the name makes me want to puke.
8. Live
Anything Microsoft related isn't worth visiting.
9. Live Jasmin
Popular porn I think.
10. Office
See 8.

Most of the above feature in the top 20 most visited websites in the UK.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Seagull sandwich

As usual, at lunchtime I was rushing across that horrible large square in Truro – actually, apparently, called the Piazza; though I would actually say it's Lemon Quay, but anyway it's just a wide, windy, open bit of concrete ground; whatever, it's not that important – eating my sandwich when something landed on my head. It was a large seagull attempting to steal my lunch. I swore loudly, it jumped onto the floor, I stamped my foot to scare it off; it barely blinked. I was then aware I was in the centre of a city at lunchtime and people were probably looking at me. I strided ahead. Then I heard a man’s voice shouting – possibly at me, as I’d just steamed past a young couple. ‘Oi, who are you swearing at?’ I carried on walking. ‘Oi, don’t walk away from me. I’m talking to you.’ I didn’t know what he was talking about. I carried on walking, not looking back. ‘Oi you!’ I continued walking until his voice died away. I wasn’t entirely sure he was shouting at me, but his voice sounded like it was aimed in my direction. Maybe he’d thought I was swearing at him, not realising it was actually a seagull. Anyway, suddenly two Asian students with clipboards block my way and ask me if I’m having a good day. I ask them if they’re joking. Would you have time to fill in a survey for us? They ask me. I walk on ahead, fuming. I told this story back at work and they said my life was like that of Larry David. Welcome to my life. All I wanted was to do, aside from eat my sandwich in peace, was to buy Bob Dylan's new Bootleg Series – Vol. 15, Travellin' Thru, 1967-1969, from HMV, which I did, and of course love it.

Previously on Barnflakes
Notes on being me

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Flickagram #11

My favourite bus stop in Cornwall, somewhere on the road to Helston. We thought it was part of a boat, but maybe it isn't. One of my favourite photography books is Soviet Bus Stops. There's even a Volume II. And now, I've just noticed, Soviet Metro Stations. Want!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, Exeter

I've probably mentioned before how I love quirky and obscure museums, like The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and Grant Museum of Zoology, both located in London's UCL (University College London). Also located in a university is the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, to be found on Exeter University's Streatham campus.

Bill Douglas (1984-1991) was a Scottish filmmaker no one has heard of, but his autobiographical trilogy of films made in the 1970s are extraordinary and harrowing – and like Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy, filled with enough poetry and beauty to make the poverty bearable.

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum contains the moving image memorabilia collected by Douglas and his friend Peter Jewell. It is one of the largest collections in Europe, consisting of about 50,000 items collected over 30 years, a vast cinematic array from a Lumiere cinematographe to a Marilyn Monroe soap dish. The museum also consists of Douglas's papers and is a place for research and study. A little gem well worth seeking out if you've got an hour or two to wait at Exeter St David's (about a ten minute walk from the train station).


Previously on Barnflakes
Top ten museums/galleries
H is for Horrific
My childhood just flew by 
Top ten greatest film trilogies

Monday, November 11, 2019


A post-Brexit Cornish story.

There are food shortages – mackerel and pilchard stocks are low, of course. Worst of all – Andrew Rowe, a.k.a. The Kernow King, is King of Cornwall, literally, ruling over the underground bakeries – Warrens, Rowe's, Philps – with an iron fist. He builds a wall of frozen pasties on the Cornish side of the Tamar to keep the Cornish in and the English out. What with climate change, it soon melts. When the pound becomes worthless, Cornish pasties become the official Cornish currency, and society reverts to a form of feudal system, like a collective or commune, with pasties forming the basis of bartering: two small Warrens are worth one large Rowe's or I'll fix your fence for two lamb and mint Philps pasties. The system works so well that over time, Cornish people are actually born in pasty-shaped wombs, and stamped with the creator's logo – Warrens, Rowe's or Philps – when they emerge from the pastry. The stamp determines the bearers social class. An uprising occurs when a baby is born, the protagonist of the story, not quite fitting in as others do. His name is Gregg...

I can't claim full authorship. I just had a pen and paper handy as the words flowed from my colleague 'Wing Man' (not real name).

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Cornwall’s master and slave shared gravestone

St Wendron’s churchyard in Wendron, a village near Helston, Cornwall, contains an unusual gravestone: a former slave and his master share the same grave. Miner Thomas Johns, originally from Wendron, moved to Brazil, where he bought a seven-year-old slave named Evaristo Muchovela who was originally from Mozambique. Years later Johns returned home due to ill health, but offered his slave a choice: return to Cornwall with him as a servant, or remain in Brazil as a free man. Muchovela choose the former. However, Johns died soon after returning home. Muchovela stayed in Cornwall and became an apprentice cabinet-maker. When Muchovela died seven years later, he was buried in the same grave as his former master.

The inscription reads:
Sacred to the memory of Thomas Johns of Porkellis who departed this life January 28th 1861 aged 61 Years.

God my redeemer lives
And ever from the skies
Looks down and watches my dust
Till he shall bid it rise

born in Mosambique, South Africa,
died at Redruth February 19th 1868,
Aged 38 years.
Here lie the master and the slave
side by side within one grave
distinctions lost and caste is o’er
the slave is now a slave no more

Previously on Barnflakes
Wiltshire barmaid eaten by tiger

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Kresen Kernow now open

Cornwall’s new archive research centre, Kresen Kernow, is home to the world’s largest collection of documents, books, maps and photos relating to Cornish history, holding over one million items.

The site of the derelict Redruth brewery, which had partially burnt down twice, was chosen at the location for the centre in 2012. After eventually receiving £11.7 million in funding, building and renovating started in 2016. It opened in September this year. It’s a marvellous space and a beautiful building, a perfect mix of the original structure with modern additions, sympathetically done.

If you can’t make it there, the website has an amazing amount of material, including documents, photos and books, all searchable by their various collections.


Previously on Barnflakes
Reviving Redruth (and envirions)