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The New Concrete

The New Concrete

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Some of you will remember the delicious Clotted Sun loose leaf book we made with Chris McCabe. His recent editorial collaboration with Victoria Bean, The New Concrete (Hayward Publishing), has led to another similarly satisfying project with us; an edition of 15 deluxe solander boxes containing a copy of The New Concrete and five giclée prints by five instigators from the original Concrete Poetry movement.

Our Epson Pro 7890 inkjet technology and several digital remastering techniques made this a perfect expression of the anthology’s theme – the revitalising effect digital technology has had upon the idea of concrete poetry. The beautiful bespoke black boxes we made are in themselves an edition, as we lined them with a black foil debossing of ‘Paradise’, a print from our Unknown Soldier series which looms in the back of the box like a secret track. This accompanies our Grand Eagle print which is included in the anthology itself.

Victoria took the boxes to America recently where they were acquired for several illustrious collections. If you are interested in finding out more with a view to purchasing one you should contact Victoria directly. It’s a great opportunity to get both a landmark anthology and an exhibition in a box.

I love making solander boxes. There’s a moment when they become synergetically taut as the glue, cloth and board lock together. They are the pinnacle of my craft.

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The Maximum Wage Magazine is now available to buy!

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A 72-page A4 full-colour glossy magazine splashed on every page with photos from the live show and packed with brand new art and articles on earning a living.

Only £3.50 & FREE delivery within the UK.


Where Are You?



Performance combining hectic game-show silliness, satirical bite and economic critique – David Collard, The Times Literary Supplement

East London has become a prime example of the divide between the UK’s richest and poorest. It’s also where a group of artists are teaching people about income inequality. – Helen Amass, The Times Educational Supplement

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Gainful Unemployment

“The times I’ve felt most employed, society has deemed me unemployed.” Eddie Farrell

An Insider’s View of The City

Investment Manager turned activist Clive Menzies explains how the rich transfer wealth from all of us to the top 10%

The NHS: A Private Investigation

Artist Marion Macalpine reveals a new and unreported threat to hospital estates.

The Metabolic Economy

David and Ping collage texts* and imagine a resurrected R Buckminster Fuller crashing an East End Artists’ studio. “Energy Is True Wealth! Survival for all, not just the fittest, is now a fact!”

AND Julie Rafalski shares out the commonwealth pie. Ladies Of The Press subvert lifestyle magazines to sell you back to your Self. Sophie Herxheimer collects life stories. Janice Macaulay‘s treasure trove of thrifty tips. Julie-Rose Bower dismisses the CV. Four pull-out posters Smash Hits stylee. Orwell vs Osborne on a living wage, Salary Amnesty and more!


Where Are You?



Inside the venue, it’s hectic, a little ramshackle, with a DIY, handmade aesthetic. It’s as far as you can get from the white cube art gallery experience. Although the art world may be driven by money, you feel a little uncouth if you actually ask how much something is. Here the mechanics of making and spending money are in the foreground and in your face. You’re being asked to think about wealth and value, and how these are not objective facts but constructed ideas. – Anne Black & Katherine Dike, galleryELL

*Utopia or Oblivion, 2008, Lars Muller Publishers
Critical Path, 1981, St Martins Press
The World of Buckminster Fuller (DVD), Robert Snyder, 2010, Microcinema International
R. Buckminster Fuller, Everything I Know

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A question we get asked a LOT is when the fantastic unreleased songs Half-handed Cloud played with us at our Monday School show in London 2012 will be released. Well, they are all on his brand new LP entitled ‘Flying Scroll Flight Control’ and Asthmatic Kitty have declared both the CD and transparent recycled plastic bottle vinyl versions ‘clear for take-off’ on 10th June. It is an awesome and expansive album, and you can pre-order Flying Scroll Flight Control now at Asthmatic Kitty. You can also revisit the aforementioned Monday School show here.

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1

What If just before Christmas you were standing in a depressingly long queue in the post office, irritated and frustrated by the waiting because you have so much else to be getting on with? Initially, to relieve the boredom a bit, you look around at the others stuck in the queue with you, the masses snaking out ahead and those even more unfortunate than yourself who have just joined at the back. The majority are using their mobile phones to send, check and delete text messages, play games or speak to someone… anyone! I am unable to be so constructive with my time, I didn’t even bring a book with me, so after loosening off several outer layers of clothing, essential for the winter temperatures outside I mentally prepare myself for an excruciatingly long wait.

In an attempt to free myself from the mobile-phone nit-nattering all around, I foist my attentions upon the meagre efforts at product display that both sparsely edge and govern the route of the queue; a flip-chart-pad flung over an easel with an offer for post office account holders untidily scrawled in black marker pen, postcards of puppies, kittens, frogs, giraffes, ladybirds, babies and love hearts, books for children, travellers, eaters and coffee tables, gift wrapped mail packages, wrapping paper, scissors, brown parcel tape, various other stationary on offer and diagonally down from where I have reached in the slow shuffle of the queue, cloak room tickets.

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The tickets are simple black numbers on a light grey background they jump out from the stand where they hang, reminding me of my mum’s Friday night Gala bingo cards from decades before. I am now almost free from the mobile muttering having finally found something to focus on and it doesn’t take long before I am thinking what perfect ready-made templates the tickets would be for a screen print. Easy, just oil up the paper to make them transparent then expose them directly onto a screen. But then why cloakroom tickets? I can’t just make yet another print for the sake of it, just because it would be easy and probably look good. Well actually I could but what would be the point, it would just be more large sheets of paper to cart around while trying not to get them folded, creased or torn. No just file the idea under something to remember should the opportunity arise to do it sometime in the future.

Gradually the room and the queue soak back into my reality, the young guy behind me is arranging a work meeting over his phone, ahead a once quiet baby has had enough and is now bawling from the pram while the mother tries to distract it and some poor old bloke near the back throws in the towel, he waddles slowly towards the door with his un-mailed package under his arm and exits back into the cold. The rest of us inch slowly forward, I’ve now reached a new stand of post office goods just around the other side of a stone pillar, calendars. I quickly scan and dismiss the eco, green forest, Enya, spa, spray, mist, pan-pipe, water trickling over pebbles vibe of 80% of them and focus on the very plain thick little book of days. Like the cloakroom tickets there is a big solid black number in the middle of the page that is torn off each day to reveal the next.

In 1971 the children’s TV programme Blue Peter buried a time capsule in the BBC gardens that was to remain there until the new millennium. I was 8 at the time and I remember being in hysterics with my sisters after working out how old we would all be when they dug the waterlogged thing up again in 2000AD. Well that milestone came and went and only my father who had died 5 years before didn’t make the date. 12 or is it 13 years into the new millennium, my mother has just gone and I am still in line, edging slowly away from the year that Philip Larkin positioned, between the end of the Chatterly ban And the Beatles’ first LP. Now suddenly, while stuck in the drip-flow of this monumentally dull queue I am struck with the thought that all the calendars before me possess the future co-ordinates, the numbers, the date when I will have officially survived a half century on the planet. I promise myself there and then, that even if I don’t survive this queue I will make a print of 2013 before that year is over.

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What if a search then began for the perfect readymade template needed to make a print of the year 2013? The simple block calendar I spotted in the post office queue is cellophane wrapped and when I get it home I find it is useless for printing because each dated leaf sheet has text on the reverse side, once oiled and exposed onto a screen this will obscure the simplicity of a single bold number. In the rush up to Christmas my position in the post office queue progresses while in my head I tour the bookshops and department stores to check through their massive displays of calendars as well. I have no need for pictures, so all the wildlife, windmills, Edward Hopper, Justine Bieber and impressionist painter, calendars can be ignored. But I do need the paper to be cheap and thin to allow the oil to make it light transparent, so all the thick glossy donkeys, lighthouses, Marc Chagall, Justine Bieber and French country kitchen, calendars can also be ignored. So what if after searching for a couple of weeks I finally identify the Kalender des nutlosen Wissens ,the calendar of useless knowledge made by a company called, Heye as the best one for the job.

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It’s a calendar pad which requires a page to be torn off every day. The numbers are big and bold and as a variant each weekend and holiday page is inverted so the numbers are then white on a dark background. Most importantly, the back of each page is blank so nothing can bleed through when they are oiled.

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Along the bottom of each day-page runs the useless piece of knowledge promised by the calendars title; Elephants can’t jump in the air or normally people in Siberia buy their milk as a frozen block. They needlessly complicate the print so I guillotine them off when the pad is still whole.

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Rounding the second column on my right I enter the long final straight of the queue, there’s perhaps only 20 to 30 people still to be served in front now. I get back to the print, I consider the organisation required for printing 365 individual templates, it will be complicated and a little bit tedious. As with any work, preparation is key, that and structure and the 3 process colours, yellow, magenta and cyan will help shape that. Over the past 5 years I have used the process colours extensively in printing I like the notion of each layer forming the composition and mixing the colour at the same time.

 

This structure will therefore split the 12 months of 2013 into colours; the 6 months from July to December will be yellow, January to the end of May, magenta and then the month of the birthday will be cyan. The only date that will be registered and therefore printed evenly in each colour will be the birth date, like its position in the calendar it will be placed near the centre of the print.
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The paper will have to be big to accommodate all the dates but the maximum size I can print a single layer on one screen without too any complications is a metre square. When trying to lay out the 6 months to be printed in yellow I find that the templates are too big, the amount they overlap each other obliterates most of the printed surface of the numbers. I change tack, with another 2 guillotine chops that make the templates smaller and squared. I also change my mind about arranging the templates into a grid a large circle proves more successful in accommodating the 6 months.

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Once I have the print of the first yellow layer I can arrange the next 5 months on a large sheet of acetate directly over it. To avoid repeating the same construction of templates for the magenta layer, I can off-set the templates by turning them 90 degrees this time. And because there aren’t as many in this layer I can spread them out a little more.

 

The last Layer of cyan is numerically easier than the previous two, so much so that I will get a bit stuck as to how to arrange the single month’s templates. I think about using chance and just letting the things drop onto the print to form the final screen, I consider making a spiral and even asking a friend’s 9 year old daughter to do it in whatever way she would like. In the end while discussing it with Katharine Eastman at our dinner table, she suggests putting a square peg in a round hole and making the last screen square. This suggestion frees me up, for the first time I tamper a little with the readymade templates and invert the whole month of June on the photocopier.

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So there it is, everything in place to print the year 2013. It will of course take the help of my good friend Michael Schoenke but I will have to get out of this post office queue before I can speak to him about it.

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Clotted Sunedited by Chris McCabe

Clotted Sun
edited by Chris McCabe

Chris McCabe, who is a Poet, a friend of the family, and Head Librarian at the Poetry Library (Royal Festival Hall), asked us to help him make a book that would represent his site-specific commission for West Norwood Cemetery; part of the Curious art trail. Chris had found twelve poets interred at the cemetery, and chosen a two-word phrase from one of their poems to be engraved on a stone and left at their plot.

Clotted Sunedited by Chris McCabe

Clotted Sun
edited by Chris McCabe

decoration based on West Norwood Cemetery gateway

decoration based on West Norwood Cemetery gateway

white foil blocking on title flap

white foil blocking on title flap

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debossed stones printed with HP Indigo presses

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We discussed several ideas for representing this in print and binding, and Chris had the idea of a set of cards, documenting the stones and the poet’s location. We made an edition of 50 small portfolios, employing the fore-edge flap as a title page to keep the flow of opening the portfolio as close to a book as possible.

printed stone before debossing

printed stone before debossing

after the deboss

after the deboss

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Instead of photographing engraved stones, we documented them without engraving and used blind debossing to impress the words physically upon the reproduced stones.

As well as doing the foiling, debossing and binding of the portfolios, we drew the title decoration, based upon the imposing Victorian stone gateway at the Cemetery.

Chris is selling these for £40. Contact him here. Remember; there are only 50 of these available!

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We have a gig to announce, happening in just two weeks time!

Henningham Family Press have teamed up again with the golden voiced Jon Bilbrough (Wilderthorn), to compose a collaborative piece of art and music. We will be playing from an oversized book; a bestiary depicting twelve animals in pigment and melody. For inspiration we plucked twelve animal related titles from Sir Thomas Browne’s 1646 book ‘Pseudodoxia Epidemica’, chapters such as “That the Ostridge digesteth Iron.” and “That a Badger hath the Legs of one side shorter than of the other.”

Jon Bilbrough playing with us at STK during LWF 2010

At Kahalia Cafe twelve indie players will perform this instrumental animal arrangement that loops like the DNA sheet music of our biosphere. This piece accompanies an exhibition of scrolls, screenprints and drawings that celebrate the publishing of the paperback and limited edition versions of our book “The Erroneous Disposition of the People” (James Wilkes, Julie Rafalski, Eddie Farrell, David Henningham & David Barnes). These five authors plunder Browne’s fascinating catalogue of extinct opinions. They lampoon our tendency to exchange fact for factoid; our insatiable appetite for facts that fuels an entire entertainment industry.

Date: Thursday 6th June 2013
Doors: 7.30
Entry: £3
Venue: Kahalia, 135 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
Exhibition continues for one month at Kahalia and is free.

We do hope you can join us for this evening of music/art/lampooning/fun!

Just to whet your appetites, here’s a YouTube clip from our last collaboration with Jon Bilbrough…

 

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Interview In Progress

November 8th, 2012 | Posted by David in London Word Festival - (0 Comments)

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I took a walk across town yesterday, south to Kreuzberg. My friend Michael Schoenke had invited me over to watch the European Championship match between Germany and Portugal. The game didn’t start until 8.45pm so apart from that kick-off time I was free of a niggling deadline for what felt like the first time this year.

The pressurised state of affairs, prior to yesterday had been mounting since September 2011, when along with Katharine Eastman, Brigitte Schiller and Helen Schumann I had begun work on the PuppCast Project in the Schilling Schule Neukolln. It is impossible to give a quick summary of what this project was and why it became so stressful for everyone working on it, so I will simply say that the pressure came from setting ourselves the task of making a weekly broadcast with a different class from the school and trying to sustain this throughout the year.

On Friday we presented a 2 hour programme of the filmed broadcasts to the pupils, teachers and a representative from the Berlin Senate. With that, our work was finally done.

What follows is the introduction.

Hanno straightened up. He rubbed one hand over the piano’s polished surface, gave a shy look at the company, and somewhat emboldened by the Grandmamma and Aunt Tony, brought out, in a low, almost a hard voice: “ The Shepherd’s Sunday Hymn by Uhland.”

“Oh, my dear child, not like that,” called out the Senator. “Don’t stick there by the piano and cross your hands on your tummy like that! Stand up! Speak out! That’s the first thing. Here, stand here between the curtains. Now, hold your head up – let your arms hang down quietly at your sides.”………

……………………………………………… “ This is the day of our- “ he (Hanno) began very low. His father’s voice sounded loud by contrast when he interrupted: “One begins with a bow, my son. And then much louder. Begin again, please : Shepherd’s Sunday Hymn,” encouragingly, remorselessly.

But it was all up with Hanno……………..”I stand alone on the vacant plain,” he said but could get no further.

In this short extract from Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks we find a perfect example of what the PuppCast project is not.

The aim of the Puppcast project was to put learning at its core and this was possible through the wide range of different media used. We could only find out through doing what worked and what didn’t. Unlike Thomas Buddenbrooks chiding his son, the PuppCast project could only learn through collaboration and cooperation between everyone involved. We had no prescriptive answers and could only reach a broadcast with both each class and each pupil by a week or two of intense, challenging yet enjoyable work together.

So at the conclusion of the Project we wish to thank the Schilling Schule Leaders and …..

………. But most of all the pupils and especially those who were ready to grasp this opportunity and who now through their trust and openness are allowing others to share their unique view on the world.

Link: http://www.schillingschule.de/index.php/allgemein/puppcast

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I lost an hour somewhere
But it’s that time of year

I once wrote a song in half an hour it was called Clocks.* I remember trying to write down everything I was thinking from quarter to until quarter past 12 on the night winter officially turned into spring. That was in 1981, upstairs in the small middle bedroom of my family home in Glenrothes, Scotland and 30 years on I have just gained an hour as I begin typing this text in the front room of a 4th floor flat in Mitte, Berlin.

The Clocks went back last night and I know at 5.30pm today it will be dark outside and shortly after I will have given up work for the day. I used to be really good at working through the night but over the past decade that has become increasingly rare for me. I can’t claim it has something to do with a technical or artistic need for daylight, it feels more like my head has filled up at a much earlier point in the day, too cluttered to try and build or say anything of use. Better to do something else and then see what I can offer the next stretch of daylight.

One of the last late night studio sessions I can remember was just before I moved to London in 2001. I was sorting through drawings and paintings to chuck out or store and keep, in a large attic studio in Stockbridge Edinburgh that I shared with 6 other painters. Around 1.30am I was stirred by the creaking sound of the heavy side door being opened and while trying to convince myself that there was nothing to be afraid of Graham suddenly appeared, standing between the plasterboard partitions to my space. Graham had had a studio in the building long before I had moved in, over the years there had been lengthy periods where he would not come in and when he did he would be argumentative, temperamental and erratic for a few weeks and then disappear again. We had always been on friendly terms though, maybe due to a mutual liking of German Lieder, particularly Schubert’s Winterreise. I had not seen him in the studio for months and entering my space he said how surprised he was to see me and then told about the singing he was doing at the time and how he had some free time coming up to get back into the studio. I told him what I was up to and he was genuinely thrilled. He then went into his own space and several hours passed with us both pushing paper and stuff around, now and again punctuating the night time with raised-voice, snippets of small-talk and songs thrown back and forth. I can’t fully remember how we parted. I know we wished each other success with future plans and I left first around 5am. Working through the night more or less stopped for me around then, the final clearing and moving out of the studio was done during the day and once in London my work and hours changed completely. Ten months after the move and just a few months before I began an MA at the Slade school of Art I received an email from a friend at the Edinburgh Studios. Graham was dead in broad day light he had run and vaulted from the Waverly Bridge.

A loud splash jolts me awake in the bath, for the umpteenth time the book I’m reading has slipped from my hands. I experienced two firsts this summer, listening to Test Match Special in Berlin and reading Marcel Proust.

I hardly ever read fiction and the decision to read a Marcel Proust book came from the countless references to him in the non-fiction I have read in recent years. I struggled through the first 60 pages of Swann’s way that are without a single chapter break but following that I felt myself simply travelling through the words as the pages continued to turn. I began to suspect that the drowsy wanderings, common to my reading, had been somehow anticipated by the author and carefully tailored into the pages; I am not sure how many others have experienced this with the book but on beginning to read a section I would slowly and progressively drift off while still being engaged with the text. After a while, I would never know how long, I would receive a jolt, the book falling from my hands, a bang or car screech, always at that point I would suddenly soar, all faculties flying back into the book at a crucial point of the narrative. I know that this sounds like a normal reaction whenever one reads a boring or difficult book but unlike the times I have dropped off and finally given up trying to read a book I have found dull, the drowsiness and distance I experienced reading Swan’s way always served to enrich and deepen my understanding of the book and I would argue, possibly more than if I had read it without the wanderings. I also noted an odd equation that would reckon with the number of pages read to the length of each session of reading, whether in the bath, lying on the Sofa or sitting at the bar on the corner. Although I would have consumed a dense sod of information and although I would have been reading for 2 or 3 hours I would have only moved on 3 to 5 pages.

Via the internet the late summer Test Match between England and India entered my summer and the peculiar time zone already set up by Marcel Proust. Since moving to Berlin I have tried to limit my listening of English speaking Radio, apart from not wishing to become a little Britain ex-pat I find it detrimental to learning German when I hear to too much English being spoken. This makes the audio monster that is Test Match special; 8 hours of air time per day, 5 days per match, 5 matches per summer, an obvious beast to avoid. I managed not to listen to it in my first two years in Berlin and I am not sure what changed this year, whether I relaxed, feeling I was hearing German a lot better or whether I just felt demoralised by it.

My relationship to cricket goes back to growing up in Lancashire. In summer everyone played cricket at a wicket chalked on a dustbin or wall. I could see a cricket ball well and had reasonably good timing to bat it and my mother showed me how to ball using the seam of the leather cricket ball. Sunday League cricket commentary droned from the telly once a week accompanied by the crowds late afternoon Thwaites’s slur version of the Chicory tip song, Son of my father. Oh Lanky Lanky LankyLankyLankyLanky Lankyshire.

When I moved to Scotland I moved away from cricket and it was almost 20 years later that I first heard test match special. My friend, fellow artist and at that time flat mate, Keith Grant had the broadcast mulching out of an old valve Roberts Radio in his room as he worked. That summer I was engulfed in a rich mix of oil paint and good coffee smells and entranced by Brian Johnston’s radio commentary and Keith’s enthusiasm for a young 5 foot 5 Indian batsman called Sachin Tendulkar. Over that summer I observed that every day of a test match a long wave audio hum would begin sounding at mid morning and suddenly stop around one o’clock, followed by Keith hurriedly leaving the flat still putting his jacket on. Returning shortly after he would hastily prepare his lunch and a fresh pot of coffee and take it directly to his room, seconds later the Radio hum would return and continue until early evening. I learned from this how Test match special provided an entertaining yet strict framework for an artist’s working day and some years on I would also use it as the perfect studio companion. On test match days I would do all the talking, reading and phoning I had to do that morning before 10.45am and then from start of play at 11 o’clock I would work while fixed at the radio in the studio until close of play at 6.30pm. Practically the match commentary allows for lunch and a couple of drink breaks but equally important it provides a conceptual echo to the visual job of the painter through the daily 8 hours of audio that works with and shapes time. Of course it keeps you informed of the match score but It would be no exaggeration to say that the game of cricket often becomes secondary to the TMS commentary particularly in the sections of play where nothing appears to be happening. This point was highlighted a few years back when they received an email from someone in New York who had been addicted to the programme for years but had no idea or interest of what sport was being played. Commentary of the winter tests can often take the notion of time to ever stranger heights as it links continents, Australia, India, Asia and the West Indies. Listening through a dark December night in northern Europe to the live buzz and business of a summer’s day’s play in Melbourne or Adelaide draws you magically into the warmth and light before having to re-live the same hours later that day in your cold dark land. On occasions I have longed for a test match to not just last for five days but to go on forever, I could see myself up there focussed and working, supported by the batsman Michael Atherton, stubbornly protecting his wicket day in and day out.

At the height of my test match special listening Michael Atherton was the England captain and opening batsman he was a great occupier of the crease and a big hero of mine, I loved the way he would diligently stick to the job in hand however boring that may have appeared to some TV viewers. At the tail end of his Test career England plummeted to be ranked as the lowest rated test nation. This summer things had turned full circle as 12 years on the voices of Jonathan Agnew, Phil Tufnell, Sunil Gavaskar and others filled the Berlin flat with news of consecutive English Test wins, which now ranked them number one. My summer listening slowly faded out with a 38 year old, 5 foot 5 Indian Batsman called Sachen Tandulka leaving the field in England probably for the last time.

I began writing this text as summer officially ended on Sunday 6th November 2011 so it is now taken a month to complete, a far cry from the days of my half hour ditty. Last weekend I visited my mother in hospital in Accrington. To do this and get back to Manchester Airport for a Sunday evening flight I travelled a loop of my childhood Lancashire towns, Blackburn, Rishton, Oswaldtwistle, Preston and Bolton. As the plane touched down in Berlin the passengers were informed of the local time prompting me and several others to put our watches forward an hour even though this is not meant to officially happen until Sunday the 11th of March 2012.

* recorded by Good and Gone in 1987. Click here to listen (track 3).

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