Saturday, 13 July 2013

keep the home fires burning

chop me some broken wood
we'll start a fire
white warm light the dawn
and help me see
old satan's tree

The sun sets quite late at this time of year, of course. As Mrs Dave and I sat in the garden watching the family of swifts screech overhead enjoying the plethora of flying insects that none of us can name, feeling the last vestiges of heat from the sun and our tiny chiminea and supping the last of the wine, we pondered something that even Mrs Dave accepted as "a good question". More of that later.

The day started well with the sun suggesting that it might bother to poke its head out from under its coverings and offer us more than a glimpse of what could be. I wandered about - not too difficult as our garden is so small an Action Man couldn't get lost in it. We've never had any luck growing strawberries but this year Mrs Dave decided that actually, although she said we wouldn't, we would anyway. And they've managed to produce something. A small bowl like this won't (most likely) excite many but this is a first for us! With a couple more added ten minutes later - we have a small
crop of strawberries. Despite not having any need to buy salad for nearly three weeks, we have mostly managed to grow Nasturtiums. It's a good thing they're edible. We've lived in this house for something like a quarter of a Century. We're used to the vagaries of this tiny town house garden and the salt from living two hundred yards from the sea. It's just great that stuff grows. This year we've also managed to keep all sorts of things growing. Although it's like a bonsai approach, I'm getting a lot of pleasure out of the little daily pleasures afforded to us: strawberries, nasturtiums, mint, salad and small peppers.

First born needed to be taken to Colchester train station to start her holiday properly. By that I mean she needed to leave the family home and start catching planes and visiting European cities. So, after four days home, it was time to get off on the real trip. Off to Hyde Park, then. Mrs D.suggested that she could make her some sandwiches. I was immediately put in mind of my first Hyde Park gig. 1970, I believe. She's off to see the Stones but I went to see Pink Floyd. She will see them as they wind down their operation, I went to see the Floyd as their star started to rise. I must have been all of 14 years old. I still can't believe that my mother thought it was okay to let me go. A packet of cheese (possibly jam) sandwiches - which was probably all we could afford as she had to provide my train fare too - in my pocket and off I went. This is where the kindness of strangers comes into play. There were some older lads from my school - I was a very lowly third year (Y9 in new money) - and at least one of them took pity on me. After the incredulous reaction that, yes, my mum HAD let me go - look, she's made me some jam sandwiches for Christ's sake -  they looked after me for the day.  Which is pretty good, really, because a 14 year old kid in 1970 was a much different beast to a 14 year old kid in 2013. But, for now, we'll let that go.

Where were we? Oh yeah, after sitting taking in the last few days, we relaxed and thought of how we've just got a week (and two days) left until we finally get to relax for a few weeks. And then it all starts up again. . . but whilst we chatted idly, a point of order reared its (not ugly) head. Having sat and enjoyed the barbecued food I wondered  when we, in England, first started to eat barbecued food. I can't remember my parents EVER having a barbecue. I do remember that at the start of the 1980s many of us were having them. Who introduced them and when was YOUR first barbie? I seem to think that the Galloping Gourmet may have been our earliest introduction but that could be so wrong . . .

Answers please . . .

Still, we sat by the chiminea until Mrs Dave needed to go and read a book for her Reading Group (ironically enough The Slap which starts at a barbecue) and I thought I should go and write this and then watch A Field in England.

All in all, then, another quiet night in England. I may wander out and sit quietly in the garden drinking the Mescal First Born brought as a present from Mexico and listen to some mellow music. So, we have two projects here: your first barbie and what music would be a good soundtrack for a quiet late night chilling out on a lovely summer evening?


Brendini said...

a) Mark Trottman's parents' house.
2) Jollity Farm.

eeyorn said...

The concept of cooking sausages outdoors on the fire was shown to me as a young Cub-scout, and was also a feature of our Guy Fawkes night parties in the days when we would invite the neighbours round and all get giggly on Dads home-made ginger beer.

First genuine barbecue must have been at a Folk Festival (probably Towersey) in the 80's.

John Martyn: Solid Air
Nick Drake: Pink Moon
KLF: Chillout
Roy Harper: Me and my Woman/Commune/On Summer Day

Dave Leeke said...


Ah but when, dear boy, when? By my guess that would be late seventies. Mark's dad was American so it wasn't an unfamiliar concept to them. After extensive research - ie Googling it and picking about the third hit as the first three are trying to sell me a barbecue - it started in Britain the sixties. However, us working Class oiks didn't really come too much into contact with the art.

Jollity Farm? I bet Mrs M loves that! Not very chilled out is it?


We certainly were aware of baking potatoes on the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night and I was never a Cub or Scout. We used to toast crumpets on the open fire when I lived in Haycroft Road. But cooking food outside on a purpose-made barbecue? I don't think I was aware of it until the early eighties. Mrs Dave and I remember having a barbecue at her house when she used to live next door to Bruce in Leaves Spring. Some idiot put petrol on to get it going! No longer a friend so shall remain nameless (aka "The Liar").

Can't say I'd recognise KLF if they burned a million pounds in front of me but love all your other choices -all absolute favourites round these parts. Well, except for the neighbours of course.

Martyn Cornell said...

I am not normally a Vangelis person, but he did a marvellous collaboration with the great Greek singer Irene Papas in the early 1980 called Odes which makes terrific "sitting outside in the dusk" music - particularly of you're on a Greek hillside looking over the sea ...

Strangely, I never played this to my wife, not thinking she would like it, until one day on holiday in the Peloponnese I DID put it on, and she loved it.

Dave Leeke said...


Well, of course Mr Papathanassiou provided the fantastic soundtrack to "Blade Runner" and was one half of the Greek band Aphrodites Child whose 1970 album "666" was a real psychedelic masterpiece (if you liked that sort of thing). Unfortunately one third of which (maybe more) was Demis Roussos. He had a hit much later which may have been called, scurrilously, "Happy to be an Island in the Sun".

However, as a journo you probably went to loads of drunken barbecues. Can you remember your first?

Mike C. said...

My first English barbecue was at my kids' Day Nursery in 1992 or so. Mmm, pink burgers!

Bear in mind that Long John Silver's name among the crew was "Barbecue", so it's probably been known about for a while -- in pirate and Scottish writer's circles, at least.

As an easily-annoyed neigbour, I prefer BBQs without any music, thanks very much. But if you insist, something ironically suburban USA ca. 1965, maybe Stan Getz with João Gilberto?


Brendini said...

1)Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I saw Your Face.
2)King Crimson - Formentera Lady
3)Nick Drake - River Man
4) Bothy Band - Is Trua Nach Bhƒuil Mé in Éirinn

Had enough?

Dave Leeke said...

Interesting . . . I'll respond in reverse order.


Other than the Flack woman spoiling a great Ewan MacColl song, what great choices. I saw KC doing "Islands" live twice. Paul Weller has made a good fist of "River Man" recently.


Good point about LJS. And interesting that the first BBQ you remember was in the nineties. However, the two points are actually exclusive. I was asking what music you'd chill out to on a lovely late Summer evening irrespective of carcinogenic charcoaled sausages. But jazz is obviously your main soundtrack nowadadys - which reminds me: there's Nigel Price on guitar and Vasilis Xenopoulos on sax 200 yards away.


Dave Leeke said...


Mike C. said...

Oh, OK, if we're just chilling out and not trying to annoy the neighbours, I recommend trumpeter Dave Douglas's "Charms of the Night Sky" quartet with accordionist extraordinaire Guy Klucevsek -- very cool. And, if you're in the mood, Hille Perl playing John Dowland (album "In Darkness Let Me Dwell") can hit that Elizabethan melancholic spot.


eeyorn said...

Dave, KLF came out of the ecstasy/trance scene, I was introduced to them by my 25-year-old stepson at the time. Most of their stuff is full-on dance music, but 'Chillout' is very pastoral and well worth a listen. I don't think you'll find any of their stuff via the usual outlets though.

Another old fave which I'm anxious to replace was a collection of tunes written by the Irish Harpist Turlough Carolan, all played by different modern players on different instruments.

eeyorn said...

BTW I've made a re-entry into the Bloggerverse if you're interested

Dave Leeke said...


One of the few tunes I can actually play is 'Sheebeg an Sheemore' by O'Carolan. Gorgeous tune. It's about two hills - we have the six hills story in Stevenage, probably from similar stock. Dropped D tuning on a six string. Evidenly, TO'C met up with Paganini and fought a musical duel with him. Shades of 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' .

Gosh, Ian, I'm sorry to read such travails from your blog about your health. I sincerely hope all is well. Please write more - I like being able to 'keep up' with people via such dispatches.

Anonymous said...

A rather belated response to your question about my first barbie ... d'ye know, I genuinely can't remember. Possibly Twickenham late 1970s/early 1980s with my (and Bruce Chinnery's) friends Seamus and Edna: it OUGHT to be earlier than that, but I don't recall anything ...