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,, 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 environs)

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)

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Abandoned Halloween pumpkins

I’m really not sure most Britons realise that pumpkins can actually be eaten; according to The Guardian, some eight million (or 18,000 tonnes) squashes per year are binned after being carved out for Halloween.

In the States, pumpkin pie has long been a post-Halloween tradition (usually on Thanksgiving at the end of November), but the concept hasn't taken off here. Seeing as I'd stolen one from the Eden Project (I will explain), risking arrest and sore shoulders (it weighed a ton in my backpack), H said the least she could do was make a pumpkin pie with it. I've always loved the concept of pumpkin pie (probably from American movies), despise not being sure I'd ever tasted one (but somehow knowing exactly how it should taste). Anyway, two hours later, as if by magic, H produced the most gorgeous-looking pie. And it tasted it too, the added honey and cinnamon bringing out the subtle taste of the pumpkin. We had it with single cream.

So, stealing a pumpkin from the Eden Project: we visited recently and noticed hundreds of pumpkins, squashes and gourds on display for autumn and Halloween. I innocently asked a Team Member standing nearby what they were all for. For the Halloween carving, he replied. Okay, I said, what happens to them afterwards. They go in the compost, he told me. You know they can be eaten, I retorted. Yes, he said, a few are given to staff, the rest are composted.

A bit later in the rainforest biome, we saw bunches of bananas fallen on the ground from the banana trees. They'd obviously been there a while, some were going soft with ants all over them; others looked fine. I picked one off the bunch and shared it around; tasted yum.

Later still, outside and up the meandering slope a bit is a lovely-looking vegetable garden, pretty substantial, with aforementioned squashes as well as many other vegetables including tomatoes, aubergines and chard. But on closer inspection I noticed a lot of the vegetables looked rotten. Again, there was a handy Team Member walking past, and I asked him about the fruit and veg. He wasn't aware of anyone ever picking them and said they would just all rot. I was stunned. But what about everything the Eden Project stands for? He shrugged his shoulders. But what about the cafes and restaurants? They're run by different companies who source their food from outside. Surely something can be done – the vegetables sold to visitors or given to charity? Yeah, you're probably right. What if I took some now? If no one's looking, go ahead. So I did – a pumpkin and some tomatoes.

I was appalled by the waste of food (when there's Zero Waste slogans plastered on their website) – but remembered previously seeing staff binning leftover sandwiches at the end of the day. I always go into the Eden Project quite excited but leave feeling depressed, like it's all for appearances, all a sham, all for profit.

Anyway, in case you're wondering about the above photo of abandoned pumpkins spotted in the local woods post-Halloween (there were lots of others too), do not fret for it's all for a good cause – squirrels love eating them, as do birds, hedgehogs, badgers and foxes. No waste.

Previously on Barnflakes
Success and failures of the Eden Project
Notes on dog poop bags
Top ten breakfasts
Five a day?
Blackberry season