Adventures in Video – Painting the Desert

I don’t have technical skills to generate sophisticated animations and such, and I’d rather not flood the world with too many live videos of variable quality. But some recordings seem to fit OK with a series of photographs. Well, to my ear and eye, anyway. ‘Painting the Desert’ is actually an improvised slide guitar piece accompanied by photographs from a drive through the Painted Desert in Arizona, from when we followed up a work trip to the Bay Area and San Diego with a version of the Grand Circle Road Trip including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, as well as Sedona, Oak Canyon and so on. I have a feeling that I’ll eventually find a use for some of the photos from those attractions, too. In the meantime…

Gigging again in the Midlands

Photos of Don Mac and myself at the West Malvern Social Club a week ago. Our first set together in about 30 years! A couple of days later we gigged at the No. 8 Community Arts Centre in Pershore – which is a great venue – but I don’t have any pictures from that.

Anyway, it was great to play together again, and I hope we’ll get to do so again before too long.

David Harley

Two for Joy

One for sorrow, two for joy… meditations on a very handsome bird with a slightly dubious reputation.

Seeing no less than eight magpies in the garden today – well, I only saw three, but my wife saw five more before I got there – I was trying in vain to remember some of the lines to the nursery rhyme (the Spencer Davies Group version kept getting in the way). I always assumed that the line from that version – ‘ten is a bird you must not miss’ if I remember correctly – was a sneaked-in-novation  to hook viewers of the ‘Magpie’ programme into tuning in next week, but it turns out that at least one version from Lancashire has a similar line. ‘Ten a surprise you should be careful not to miss’: doesn’t scan very well, but possibly good advice, at least some of the time. That Lancashire version actually goes up to 13: I found it on the British Bird Lovers site, though the RSPB site also refers to it.

Wikipedia tells me that it has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 20096. Magpies are frequent visitors to other songs, though, some of which are included in that Wikipedia article. Then there’s this one from Donovan’s ‘Gift From A Flower To A Garden’, for instance. And even one of mine, though in that instance the reference is a little oblique.

I must admit that despite their slightly dubious reputation, being associated with bad luck and even the devil, they are very handsome birds. Not altogether comfortable neighbours, though: when I lived in North London, I used to visit the Rye Meads Nature Reserve.  The first time I took my daughter there, though, I was discomfited to discover that the kingfishers I’d half-promised her had been driven away by egg-stealing magpies. 😦

But here, specially for you, are ‘two for joy’. Though it kind of looks as if they’re not speaking right now.

David Harley