Down a wee bit today.
And it’s down into the depths of time for this view of Tynemouth Priory taken earlier this year:
This is the latest in that ever-popular long-running series known as “let’s make Les feel really old”. Yes, it’s a whole quarter of a century since REM released this magnificent album. I’d enjoyed their earlier work, particularly Fall on Me and Losing My Religion, but this took things to a new level, with some of their greatest songs, all beautifully arranged and produced to something approaching perfection. If later albums weren’t quite so powerful, so impressive, so bloody good, well, that scarcely matters, because not that many albums by anyone are quite as good as Automatic.
There’s bounciness and bonkersness in Man on the Moon, retrospective wistfulness in Try Not to Breathe, and much, much more. It might be a bit of an obvious choice, but I have to single out Everybody Hurts as the album’s greatest moment. Dealing with sorrow, despair and more, but uplifting, hopeful, and quite honestly beautiful. The video always stuck in my mind – loads of people stuck in traffic, and we see their innermost thoughts a subtitles while the music and Michael’s voice offer light in their darkness. Glorious. One of those rare moments where popular music is more than the sum of its parts, and where I’m even tempted to dust off words such as “transcendent”. But don’t worry, I won’t make a habit of it.
The 25th anniversary edition is available in a variety of collectable editions at prices ranging from “not bad” to eye-watering. I used my Apple Music sub to get the equivalent of the thee-CD edition, which includes the remastered album, a live performance featuring most of the album plus earlier songs such as Losing My Religion, Fall on Me and Radio Free Europe, and a selection of demos and early versions of songs from the album, including Michael’s Organ, recognisable as Everybody Hurts.
The original album still stands as a wonderful piece of work, and the extras are well worth a listen or six.
 Yes it is a word, so there
Yes, it’s another shiny new version, with new features related to customising themes and more.
Just installed it here, and we’ll see how it goes…
Details: WordPress 4.9 release announcement
 After doing a quick server backup
No, this isn’t a revival of the paused Great Robert Rankin Re-read-athon, which I’ll get back to any year now. No, this is an actual shiny new book from the great man. Not only is it a new Robert Rankin novel, in itself a matter for celebration, it’s the first in a new Brentford Trilogy, which is surely a matter for, err, oh bugger, I don’t know where I’m going with this sentence, so let’s just say that it’s a Very Good Thing indeed.
The only downside to perhaps dampen the celebration is that it’s billed as the first book in the final Brentford Trilogy. Let’s just hope that it ends up being one of those trilogies with more than the traditional number of volumes.
Oh, and there’s one more teeny tiny downside. The image you can see in this post is of the special hardback edition, limited to just 1,981 copies, each signed and numbered by the man himself, and (as you might have guessed), it’s sold out, so I’ve got it and you won’t be able to get it. Well, there will be a Kindle edition, but that won’t have the added value of having been signed, numbered, packed and posted by the author, will it?
But enough of that, and on with the book. Readers of earlier Brentford trilogies will no doubt be expecting Neville the part-time barman to be serving pints in the Swan, while dealing with the regulars and whatever mad scheme the brewery has come up with. Check. They’ll be expecting Norman Hartnell (not to be confused with the other Norman Hartnell, of course) to come up with some low-fi low-tech invention that does seemingly impossible things. Check. They’ll be expecting the great Professor Slocombe to be dispensing sherry and wisdom. Well, of course. They’ll be expecting the accidental heroes Jim Pooley and John Omally to (a) drink a lot and (b) fight ancient forces of evil hell-bent on doing something awful to disrupt life in Brentford. You betcha.
So, yes, it’s exactly what you should be hoping for, does what it says on the metaphorical tin, contains jokes, silliness, and all the usual sanity-sapping Rankin nonsense. It also has illustrations, drawn by the author, and you can’t ask for more than that, can you?
And it ends on something of a cliffhanger, so you’ll just have to get the next one as soon as it’s available, won’t you?
 Quite literally
 Commemorating the detail that The Antipope was first published in 1981
 I was a bit slow off the mark in placing my order, so mine’s number 184
 Many of them lurking in footnotes
Up another bit today, which involved going to work, mutter.
Here’s another one from the archives – an almost excessively ornate bank in Hexham:
Up a wee bit today, which was mostly inactive apart from a trip to Newcastle to do some more product research. Much dithering is likely to follow…
Here’s another one from yesterday, the castle bit of Tynemouth Priory:
 As you’ll see when I fix the typo that I definitely didn’t make on yesterday’s weight figure
Down again today, how exciting…
After the usual shopping, I got the Metro to Tynemouth, then walked along the river to the North Shields fish quay. My plan was to get some photos of the recently installed monument/art work Fiddlers Green, which is dedicated to the memory of fishermen lost at sea. It comes complete with an plaque reading:
To the fishermen lost in the cold North Sea
and the ones who will be so,
I’ll be seeing you all on Fiddlers Green,
be steady as you go.
For Fiddler Green is a place I’ve heard tell,
though no one really knows,
where the fishermen go if they don’t go to hell,
and no Arctic wind will blow.
Even if it didn’t bear his signature, you’d have no trouble guessing that it’s the work of Ray Lonsdale, the man responsible for “Tommy”, the World War I memorial at Seaham.
Here are some photos:
The work has been placed in an ideal location, with the fisherman looking out to sea, perhaps waiting for friends to return, or remembering those lost. Like Tommy, it’s built on a larger than life scale and is an impressive addition to its environment.