Today’s audio Dollop contains an anecdote from Towersey Festival which we played this evening, where we received an unusual request.
If you listened to yesterday’s Dollop including the phone conversation with my friend about plumbs, I want to point out that I don’t normally record my phone conversations and archive them, the recording only existed because I was recording the Dollop when she called. I don’t record every conversation I have just in case it comes in handy for a Dollop. If I did do that then it would be a bit tragic that in the space of 240 days, I have only deemed a single three minute conversation about plumbs worthy of inclusion in these Dollops, although, let’s be honest, it was a quality three minutes.
Most of the time I am not recording, including right now, unless you’re listening to the audio version in which case obviously I am recording, but only the sound of my own voice reading this out, which doesn’t count. What I mean is that I’m not recording what is going on as I write this Dollop, which is a discussion about van insurance. I am in The Young’uns van, and we need to renew the insurance in a couple of weeks. Sorry, I’ve reeled you in and got you all interested, haven’t I? But alas, you shall never get to hear the conversation, because I’m not recording it. Anyway, I won’t cruelly keep you in suspense any longer; we are going to renew it with the same insurance company we’re currently using. You can rest easy now.
Tomorrow we play Towersey Festival. I am looking forward to finding out whether they published my contribution to their festival programme. If you remember from Dollop 188 a couple of months ago (what am I saying? of course you remember) I was asked by the person putting the written programme together for Towersey festival to write something “quirky” for the programme. So I wrote them a very lengthy and elaborate pun laden joke about computer fonts, which I included in Dollop 188. For some unfathomable reason, I did not receive an email back from them. If they haven’t included it in the programme, then I have a good mind to get my own back on the festival by taking up a considerable amount of our performance delivering an extra long version of the joke. If, for some incomprehensible reason, the font routine fails to get the hysterical reaction it warrants, then I can just read out Ben’s text about plumbs on top of the fridge which seems to be a sure-fire hit.
Last week, I received another unusual request from a folk festival. The person responsible for compiling the written programme for Bromyard festival emailed some questions for me to answer. Normally, questions are along the lines of “how did you meet?” “How did you get into folk music?” questions about our festival appearance, upcoming tour or album, or they try to be quirky, “if you could be any animal, what animal would you be?” although they don’t like it when I out-quirk them with a lengthy and elaborate joke about computer fonts. I’m coming to you, Towersey festival, and there will be repercussions if my amazing font joke isn’t in your programme.
The person compiling the programme for Bromyard festival however has managed to enter uncharted territory with his line of questioning. Although he’s putting his questions to The Young’uns, I don’t think he’s particularly bothered about us; I think he’d much rather be interviewing Mumford And Sons. Here are the list of questions he’s sent me to answer for the programme.
1. Between 2012-14, the likes of Mumford and Sons brought folk stylings right into the middle of popular culture. Why do you think that this happened, and what was the impression among traditional folk musicians and fans?
2. Do you like the Mumfords?
3. Did you notice a change in the people who were interested in your music, due to the rise of the Mumfords?
4. The mumfords seemed to assume the role of pop/rock poster boys during that period on both sides of the Atlantic. Their 2015 follow-up seemed to fall flat, but pop music seemed to have moved on as quickly as it had adopted them and pop folk. Why do you think this happened? And why do you think it happened so quickly?
5. Do you look back on that time as a period that you miss? Or one that was always destined to come and go?
6. What has that brief window of popularity had on the folk scene?
7. If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
Obviously that last question wasn’t genuine; it was yet another example of my amazing comedy skills. Their last question was actually: “what’s next for folk music?”
I don’t know who this person thinks I am. It’s as if he really wanted to get an interview with Mumford and Sons but wasn’t able to, so he just asked us the Mumford and Sons’ questions instead.
Or it’s as if he thinks I’m some kind of musicologist or cultural soothsayer, asking such broad questions as “what’s next for folk music.” He also seems to be under the impression that I owe my folk music career to Mumford and Sons, as it’s clearly thanks to them that I have an audience.
He also seems to imagine that me, and all the other folk artists on the scene, all look back wistfully at 2012 to 2014, nostalgically remembering those glory years of folk, where we all got helicoptered into gigs, and every folk artist had at least three groupies each every gig; before the Mumfords, we generally had to settle with just one groupy a night. But, even while we were in the middle of it all – eating caviar, having sex with beautiful fans who, let’s face it, only slept with us because they thought it might bring them closer to Mr Mumford or one of his sexy sons – we knew that it could never last. When we heard the Mumfords follow-up album, we knew the fun was over. The fans began to lose interest in the Mumfords and consequently us, the caviar ran out, the helicopters stopped coming and we had to go back to travel around in vans,, and we were back where we started, playing to old men with beards once again. Oh, how we yearn for those years.
Something tells me that I’m probably not going to be in the Bromyard festival programme either.
Share and Enjoy
We travel even further back in time today as I introduce you to my seven-year-old self. I taste cashew nut milk for the very first time. We discover some rather unusual names for ladies genitals, and there’s much merriment over the subject of plumbs.
Share and Enjoy
Today’s audio Dollop comes from my kitchen, where I chat whilst creating a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, about Jeremy Corbyn, trains, and the media, plus I tell my own train story from a couple of days ago.
Share and Enjoy
Fancy a bath? Come and join me for a bit of a soak and a bit of a joke, although you’re sitting at the tap end. We chat about Dr Who themed condoms and a variety of other highly erudite topics, plus we meet a couple of new Dollop characters.
Share and Enjoy
I can’t get the song Daniel Wet Himself Today out of my head. If you didn’t listen to the Dollop from a couple of days ago, then you won’t have heard this epic composition by me at the age of nine. I’ve caught myself singing it under my breath on a number of occasions throughout the day.
We’ve been to Whitby Folk festival today. At one point I was chatting to Becky Unthank and during the conversation she received a text. We momentarily stopped talking As she checked the message. As I waited, I absnt mindedly began to sing Daniel Wet Himself Today under my breath. I didn’t think she heard me, but then a few minutes later I heard her humming something to herself which sounded a bit like Daniel Wet Himself Today. It might not have been Daniel Wet Himself Today. To be honest, I think I’ve got the song so firmly stuck in my head, that all other songs have also started to sound like Daniel Wet Himself Today. If there are any songs about incontinence on the next Unthanks album, then you know who and what inspired it.
I was about to remark that if I travelled back in time to visit my nine-year-old self and tell him that his song would still be being sung by me twenty-two years later, then I would be massively surprised; but actually, I was the kind of child who’d probably find that perfectly understandable and would see no reason why a song of such magnitude shouldn’t stand the test of time. I might also be a bit disappointed in my future self, that I was wasting the ability to time travel on visiting my nine-year-old self to point out the bleeding obvious. Of course “Daniel Wet Himself Today” was still going to be sun twenty-two years in the future. I suppose I might be a tad impressed that I’d discovered how to time travel, but when you’re the kind of kid who’s got the creative genius to think up a masterpiece like “Daniel Wet Himself Today,” then it’s very difficult to be impressed by mere time travel. I think I’d still consider “Daniel Wet Himself Today” to be my most noteworthy achievement.
I’ve just had my first Macdonalds for a very long time. We stopped off at a service station which didn’t really have anything else open. There are certain places that are easily identifiable without the use of sight. The sandwich shop Subway, for instance, is very blind-friendly, because it has a very distinct smell which pervades through the street, making it easy to locate. There have been times when I’ve been in an unfamiliar town, feeling hungry, then smelt the familiar smell of Subway, and was able to literally follow my nose to get me there. Although there was one rather embarrassing time that I smelt the smell, followed my nose, and ended up inadvertently essentially stalking a poor woman all the way home, simply because she was eating a Subway; well, that’s the story I told the police, and I’m sticking to it.
The thing that helps McDonald’s be identifiable to blind people is the sound it makes. McDonald’s is one of the only eateries I’ve been to that has this particular ambient sound. There is constant beeping. Every appliance seems to beep. When you walk into that place, from the sound alone you know that you are either in McDonalds, or an intensive care unit of a hospital. Although I suppose if you are eating in McDonald’s, then chances are it won’t be too long before you actually are in a hospital’s intensive care unit. Perhaps McDonalds has all that beeping so as to help diners get used to where they’re going. Maybe this is also why the food is so appallingly bad; it’s to get you used to the hospital food; only McDonald’s have the generosity to make their food even worse, so that you’ll actually stand a chance of sort of enjoying the food in the hospital. Ronald and his cronies are such lovely philanthropic souls.
Throughout the entirety of ourstay in McDonald’s, there was constant beeping, and not just one solitary kind of beeping, but a whole host of different beeps. Everything beeps: there is beeping when the burger is cooked, beeping when the chips are ready, beeping from the tills, beeping from the card machines, beeping from the tray washer, beeping from the old guy’s heart monitor as his salt and fat intake goes through the roof.
I am at home now, lying in bed, writing this while drifting off to sleep. My brain has seemingly absorbed all that hideous beeping for so long that I can still hear it in my head. It’s driving me insane. I need to think of something else quickly, in order to replace the bloody beeping, otherrwise I’m going to go mad. “Daniel wet himself today, Daniel wet himself today …” Ah, that’s much better. Goodnight.
Share and Enjoy
I’m currently at my family home in Hartlepool for a few days. I’ve spent most of the day trying to keep three children entertained, who are constantly asking me to look at what they are doing, and pointing at things, wanting me to tell them what they are. Because I only see them a few times a year and because they are so young, they seem to forget that I can’t see properly, meaning that I have to try and explain to them once again that my eyes don’t work very well. This inevitably results in the next question being something like, “have you not got them fixed yet?” I playfully berate myself for being so stupidly forgetful or too lazy to get around to getting my eyes fixed, and promise them that I’ll make sure to write it in my diary and make some phone calls about it tomorrow. They agree that this is a sensible idea.
I start to muse to myself about whether it is right for me to be making statements like this. I’m not sure they appreciate that it is a joke, and I think they are genuinely under the impression that the next time they see me I’ll have got my eyes fixed. I Thought that this little white lie would be easier and more platable than going into detail about why I can’t see properly and that it’ll probably never come back. I should have really learnt my lesson after what happened a few years ago with my older niece Lucy. We’ll come to that soon, but right now my musings are being interrupted by my three younger nieces who have decided to take advantage of the fact that I’ve not yet had my eyes fixed, and have begun to play a game of How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up.
If I get the number right, they cheer and excitedly declare that my eyes are fixed. I try to give them a basic lesson in probability, but this is clearly not as interesting as believing that my sight has miraculously come back. They hold up some more fingers just to be sure that my sight definitely has returned, and are disappointed when I get the number wrong. Fortunately, I am gifted with being a comedy genius, and I manage to lift the mood by getting one of them to hold their fingers up to my face and then telling them that the number of fingers is 432. They whoop and giggle gleefully at my amazing joke; I imagine that you are also doing something similar now. I am truly a comedy genius.
When my oldest niece Lucy was little she used to also ask the same kinds of questions about my eye sight as her, as of then unborn siblings. She seemed a bit down when I told her that my sight wouldn’t improve, and so, not wanting her to be upset, I told a little white lie, and said that one day they would probably make some special glasses that made me see again. I don’t know why I said “special glasses,” but I just sort of panicked, desperate to say something that would make her feel better about my blindness. It worked; well, sort of. She believed me, and it did cheer her up, but it also did something else: it made her determined to help me find these special glasses. She seemed to think that perhaps the glasses were already out there in existence, and that I just hadn’t been proactive enough in trying to find them.
She proceeded to go around the rest of the family and removed the glasses from the glasses-wearing people in the house, trying them on me. I would then have to guess how many fingers she was holding up and go through a variety of other tests in order to establish whether we had managed to find the right kind of glasses to give me sight. Obviously none of the small selection of glasses we tried worked, and Lucy had no choice except to forgo her optimistic endeavour. And I assumed that this was the end of it, so I didn’t see a need to burst her bubble and tell her that I was lying and that my sight wasn’t going to return because of some amazing glasses. She had done all she could to help me and was now involved in a completely different activity, having been forced to abandon her mission.
However, Lucy clearly hadn’t forgotten our conversation. A few weeks later we were in a shop, and I suddenly noticed that Lucy had disappeared. Before I could worry though, she was back by my side. She put something into my hand. It was a pair of glasses. I was about to ask her where she had got them from and what she was doing, when a lady came towards us, sounding a little cross, and asked for her glasses back. I apologised to the lady and went to hand them back, but Lucy was indignant, upset that I wasn’t even going to put the glasses on and give them a try.
“We’re just borrowing them,” Lucy protested, “just for a few seconds, just to try.” The woman sounded more confused than cross now. I began to explain why Lucy had stolen the glasses, and apologised again. But now, the woman was as far from cross as you could get. She was beaming – or at least, I imagine that she was beaming, I can’t be sure because it turned out that these glasses also weren’t the right kind of special glasses, but she certainly sounded like she was beaming. Other people in the checkout queue also made noises of delight and said things like, “aw, that’s adorable.” One man offered up his glasses for Lucy, suggesting that we could try them. Was he saying this just to humour Lucy, thinking he was doing the right thing by joining in with the charade? Or was he actually under the impression that his glasses might genuinely help me? I was getting rather embarrassed by the attention that all of this was gaining me. I felt I had to step in and politely decline his offer, which made Lucy get all stroppy. I tried to quickly explain to Lucy, all the while feeling uncomfortable about the small queue of people who were also listening to this conversation, that I had made up the thing about the special glasses because I didn’t want her to be upset about me not ever being able to see properly. There were no special glasses and so she shouldn’t take other people’s glasses. What else could I do? I had to come clean, lest she should continue to steal glasses from people and get us into more complications, plus we’d never get anywhere if she stole the glasses from every glasses-wearing person she saw.
“You lied?” she said, sounding deflated. I apologised and admitted that, yes, I had lied. There was a pause. I wanted to get out of this shop and away from the people in the queue who were probably thinking I was a terrible person to play with a child’s emotions like this. Fortunately the promise of ice cream seemed to do the trick, and a few minutes later, all was seemingly forgiven.
Share and Enjoy
I am back at my family home in Hartlepool for a few days, and I’ve uncovered some old cassette tapes in the garage containing some self-composed songs recorded when I was nine. We take a listen to three of these pieces, including the epic song entitled Daniel Wet Himself Today. This is contrasted by some rather erudite observations on the English language, courtesy of Dollop listeners.