David Eagle’s Pick and Mix

When I was around six years old, my nana worked in a news agents. My brothers and I would often go there when she was working. She probably harboured the grossly inaccurate illusion that we went there to see her, whereas the reality was that we went for the free sweets. Working in the news agents, she got a sweet allowance – these were decadent times. My brothers would always have a systematic approach to sweet picking; they had specific preferences, but I would always go for the Pick and Mix option and select sweets at random. Being blind, I was able to put my hand into a jar and put a sweet into the bag without having much of an idea as to what it was. I loved the surprise element: putting my hand into my random bag of sweets, unaware of what I was about to receive. Would it be
chocolate, candy, something liquoricey, fruity or an explosion of fizz? I loved the variety, the contrasts of taste, texture, shape and size.

Nowadays I don’t really eat sweets, but I do listen to a lot of music. Music today is what sweets were to me when I was six.
Often my approach to listening to music is the same as my approach was for making a Pick and Mix. I have a large music library: thousands of tracks in every genre from any period of time. By pressing the shuffle button on the player, I get a randomized selection from my library. I also use Napster which sometimes adds tracks to the playlist that it thinks I might like, based on the kind of music I have in my library. As I have every type of music in my library, Napster usually gets very confused and starts playing any old rubbish, assuming that just because I happen to like one specific NSYNC track for its production, that I will inevitably like to listen to a Westlife hit. Now and again however it does present me with an undiscovered gem. The experience is the same one that I used to get from pick and mixes when I was younger, only now it’s with music.

When I was about ten, my dad discovered this local record shop that sold old second hand vinyl and cassettes. He would sometimes go in their and brows to see what they had. This was in my opinion the perfect opportunity for me to spend my pocket money. I had no idea what I was looking for. I taped all the songs I wanted which were in the charts from the radio, (along with a few of my favourite time checks of course). There was a section of the shop that sold records and tapes for
£1 or less. I would immediately head to this part of the store and select a handful of records. I had no idea what was on the records, I would just choose randomly. I would then take them straight to the counter, without letting dad see, and buy them. The reason I didn’t want dad to see was because I didn’t want him to know what I’d got before I did. It had to be a total surprise.
I wouldn’t know what the record was until it was playing.

I loved the whole experience: sitting cross legged on my bedroom floor with a pile of records, taking the record out of the sleeve, putting it on the player and then dropping down the arm to reveal …

Rolf Harris, singing about Jake the Peg with his extra leg. I’d never heard that song or of Rolf Harris before that moment. I remember hearing it and instantly falling in love with it. It felt as if I’d had a kind of epiphany. One minute earlier, I was a stupid, naive ten year old boy. Then this happened. I was now truly a man. I loved that record: Rolf Harris’s greatest hits. I thought Rolf Harris was a genius. The first track was Jake the Peg, and as Rolf Diddleiddlummed, I laughed loud and heartily all the way through the song. The second track was Two Little Boys. I remember being very moved by this song; I might have even cried. I was astounded by the brilliance of this man, whose name I didn’t even know yet because I hadn’t found out what was written on the record sleeve. One moment I had been laughing raucously to Jake the Peg, and then, a couple of minutes later, I was wiping the tears away as the sounds of Two Little Boys entered my ears for the first time and moved my soul. I’m sure you all remember where you were when you first heard Rolf Harris. I certainly do. It was a magical moment, one of many magical moments that my random record purchasing gave me. I wouldn’t say I’m a massive Rolf Harris fan now, but at that moment, sitting on my bedroom floor at the record player, I was spellbound.

I mentioned in a
previous blog post
that I used to love listening to the radio at nights for the same kind of reason. I used to switch over to the shortwave band and start moving the dial to see what I would find. Shortwave is nothing like
FM; you don’t know what you’re going to get. There’s about ten stations on FM and hundreds on shortwave. YOU rotate the dial on the FM band and you get the same old recognised stations, but rotating the dial when you’re tuned to shortwave is a very different experience, a magical experience. The sound that the radio makes as its tuning is a sequence of beeps and crackles, as opposed to the fairly prosaic hiss of FM. You only have to touch the dial when you’re on the shortwave band and that slight touch can tune you into a completely different station and into a completely different world. One moment you’re listening to an enraged American evangelist damning you to hell unless you send him money, then you touch the dial ever so slightly and you’re listening to a French radio drama with Lesbian sex scenes; then the sound of a Mongolian throat singer, belting out the popular Mongolian hits of the day. Again, it’s the randomness of it all, the surprise element that I loved. I got that same feeling with my random record selections,
Although disappointingly I never managed to procure a record with a Lesbian sex drama on it.

I love the concept of DJing for the same reason: mixing different tracks into each other to create a musical collage. But I often get board of a lot of DJs because they generally play only a certain type of music: They’re either a drum and bass DJ or a dance DJ or a Hip Hop DJ etc. Their DJ sets are usually designed for clubs, for people to dance to. This dictates the style of the DJ set. The tracks are often 4/4 and have a similar tempo. I want a DJ to create mixes that take on all genres and provide constant surprises for the listener. Notice I wrote listener, not clubber; I want a DJ set to be like hitting the shuffle button on a massive, diverse music library and playing the randomized selection as a continuing, structured mix. This brings me to the point of this blog post – we got their in the end.

David Eagle’s Pick and Mix is a DJ set that features all types of music, embracing anything from any period of time. I’m putting the finishing touches to my first mix and I’ll release it in just a few days. I’m slightly wary of this project because it’s unlike anything I’ve released before, but it’s an experiment I’m excited to try and I hope that we’ll go on this musical adventure together. I’m not a professional DJ, but I wanted to really try and mix the songs together, rather than just segway from one song to another. This isn’t just me playing my favourite records. I am not just picking and playing songs. O no. I am mixing them into a crazy, multifascited, all encompassing thirty minute mix. That’s my plan anyway. Wish me luck! Standby!

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Star Jumps in Y-fronts

O well, I tried, but its back to the usual, standard, boring titles again I’m afraid; But at least I’m still blogging from the exciting locations, as I write once again from the x9 bus. I’D like to make a personal plea to Father Christmas: Can you please, next year, deliver pairs of ear phones to all the kids in the northeast of England? Please! there’s a whole orchestra of kids with mobile phones blurring out generic dance music. The vehicle is awash with hi hat and bass drum – without the bass element because the phone speakers don’t actually bother with bass. What’s going on? I assume that what’s going on is quite simply that a load of ignorant teenage tossers (Nice bit of alliteration there, I hope you appreciate the poetry) think it more than appropriate to play their music to the rest of the bus. But perhaps I’m doing these people a huge disservice. There could be a more enlightening explanation. FOR all I know, the experimental composer
John Cage
might have got on the bus a couple of stops earlier than me and initiated a group of teenagers to take part in one of his new masterpieces. Perhaps I am the odd one out here. Being blind, I could be totally oblivious to the scene around me:
john Cage, stood purposefully at the front of the bus, waving his arms, conducting his teenage entourage to choose a generic pop song stored on their phones, then start, stop, change tracks, turn volume up and down in accordance with Cage’s arm movements. There could be a whole film crew recording the event for BBC 4, and in the background there’ll see me – the odd one out – sitting there looking annoyed about it all, ruining the subtle nuances of Cage’s experimental musical epic with my typing noises as I write this post. Then, after the piece has ended, John will walk up and down the bus, signing autographs for excited teenage fans who babble enthusiastically to John about the dubstep remix of
4’33”
But I doubt it.

So, There’s a group of kids at the back of the bus, all with phones. One of them is playing some hip hop loudly, another one is joining in, trying to get some MCing he recorded himself doing earlier to fit to the beat of the other kid’s music. Then there’s another kid, using his phone to provide visuals. He’s showing a video of him and his mates doing “wicked, ollies” and various other stunts on their skateboards.

My annoyance is heightened by the fact that I’m running late today, thanks to radio 4. My dad listens to The Today Program on Radio 4 in the mornings. I personally wouldn’t choose to do this; I find it upsetting enough to have to get out of a nice warm bed each morning, without having to listen to half an hour of doom, death and destruction while I’m getting ready to leave the house to go to my job that The Today Program informs me I’m unlikely to have for much longer. But, Radio 4 is what’s on around the house and so that’s what I hear when I potter around. The redeeming feature of The Today Program however is that it does give frequent time checks. My particular favourite is “quarter past seven” as said by Sarah Montague: very arousing! I know I’ve gone on about how I hate radio that comprises mainly of time checks, weather and travel, but I was referring then to the commercial radio format. Radio 4 is different; their time checks are highbrow.
Normally, the time checks are a useful aid to me leaving the house on time – what an ingenious strategy: using the time checks to keep me running on time. Actually, its not really the time checks, its more the various items like the sport, Thought For the Day or a trail that helps me orientate how long I’ve got before I leave the house. Unfortunately, Radio 4 failed me today, as the Today Program seemed to be running behind schedule. The sport and the trail must have happened at a later time and I was probably pottering too loudly to hear the time checks. So I missed the bus, and now I’m late. I have no idea why Radio 4 was running behind schedule; I only switched on at 7. Anything could have happened. Perhaps Thought for the Day was hosted by a rabbi with a severe stutter problem, and the presenter – afraid to offend – didn’t have the heart to cut across him.

I thought that seeing as I’m sitting here on the bus, just twiddling my thumbs – I better stop doing that actually because it’s making it a great deal more difficult to type- – I’d write a post about a strange, coincidental scenario that happened to me a couple of nights ago. Its only a very short story, so I’m quite glad that I am running late and that the teenagers on the bus are so annoying because it’s given me something extra to write about.

When your a high flying, high-profile role model like myself, it’s important to maintain one’s physical prowess, so I make sure I regularly exercise. On this night, I started off my exercise with some star jumps. My dad came into the room while I was star jumping and switched on the TV. He then made a sound of exclamation – I’ll leave you to imagine what kind of sound that might be: a gasp, a shout, a sharp inhalation … I don’t have a specific memory about it; I hope that doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of the story. The reason for this non-specific sound of exclamation was to do with the highly unlikely correlation between
me and the TV. Apparently, the picture that came on the television at that moment was of a man in y Fronts doing star jumps. I wasn’t wearing y-fronts but I was doing star jumps. “What a coincidence”, I’m sure that’s what your all thinking. I’m not an expert in the field of probability and even if I was I doubt a credible answer could be given to indicate the probability of this situation happening. If there are any maths geniuses reading – perhaps taking a light, refreshing break from a calculus conundrum – maybe they’d like to investigate this question. I suppose you’d have to work out (on average) how many TV programs at that given time of day are likely to be showing men in y-fronts doing star jumps. Then you’d have to calculate the likelihood of people, oblivious to what is about to greet them on their televisions, while they partake in a spot of star jumping. in front of their televisions. Is there a famous film that has a man star jumping in y-fronts? Maybe I’m missing something obvious. There’s all sorts of random TV channels on cable and sky nowadays, there’s probably a station dedicated to men star jumping in y-fronts. Don’t worry feminists, I’m sure they’ll commission a similar service with star jumping women soon; its only a matter of time, surely. If any maths geniuses do get in touch, I’ll be sure to upload their thesis on the subject to the blog, so watch this space.

Well, there you go. End of story. I’m not sure what the moral is. I’ll leave you to decide that. Perhaps it’s: “I should really stop wasting my time reading this blog”.

Anyway, I’ll be back very soon with the first episode in a new audio series: David Eagle’s Pick and Mix! All will be revealed in my next blog post, coming soon!

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Happy New Year!

so then, here I am, back in 2011, with new, improved and even more original blog post titles. In addition to the innovative blog titles, you can also expect posts in 2011 to be written from a number of exciting locations, thanks to the fact that i now have a netbook as well as a portable writing device tailored for blind people which writes in Braille. In case you are a new comer to my blog (one of the newly converted – now that I’ve become the latest fashion -) i am blind; I’m not just some weirdo who likes to use blind technology because i get a strange kick out of it, although admittedly, Braille is rather arousing.

currently, the exciting location I am writing from is the x9 bus, travelling from Gateshead to billingham. But that’s not the end of the adventure, o no. I will then be getting on the 36 bus at billingham and travelling to Hartlepool, where I live. In fact, it is very probable that the majority of my blog posts will be written from the x9 and the 36, so you’ll definitely be wanting to save this site to your favourites list.

i am currently travelling to and from Gateshead five days a week, in fact, shockingly, i spend nearly 24 hours each week travelling on busses. Are you shocked? Thought so. A whole day a week travelling on busses. When i made the calculation, I was … well … shocked. I decided that i couldn’t afford to waist all that time doing nothing and that i should really do something valuable with my time on the bus. So I’ll be writing lots of blog posts; what could be a more valuable use of my time than that? its a good job I don’t have comments enabled for this blog, isn’t it? O yes, of course, you can’t respond. But if you could comment then I know you would all be writing, begging me to enlighten you as to why I am spending such a large amount of my life on busses.

In addition to doing the odd bout of freelance work, i had been looking for other work, unrelated to broadcasting and production. Until a few months ago, my attempts to procure such employment had been fairly fruitless; I seemed to have an uncanny knack of ballsing up job interviews. I once got an interview for a job in Wales. For the benefit of any blind people reading this post with a screen reader, or for those people listening to the audio book version – there isn’t one yet, but it’s only a matter of time– I’ll point out that this is “Wales” the country, not “whales” the mammal. I wasn’t applying to play the lead role in a crazy production of Jonah, alongside a director with a frighteningly overzealous passion for method acting. I wouldn’t want you to be thinking that. I thought I better clarify that, in order to avoid being attacked by blind animal rights activists
(that’s blind people who are animal rights activists, not animal rights activists who only feel duty bound to kick up a fuss about the treatment of bats, voles and suchlike). O, have I drifted off the point a bit?

Anyway, I attended a job interview in Wales. I was only in the room for less than a minute before I realised that my fate was already sealed. I didn’t do anything wrong, apart from not being welsh. As i opened the door and stepped into the room, I was received by a woman who greeted me in welsh. I was slightly flummoxed by this but thought it appropriate to extend to her a greeting in the English tongue. Alas, she did not share my sentiments. She muttered something which sounded rather derogatory in what I assume to be Welsh – It might have been Klingon for all I know – and tutted.

Question 1: “You have been asked to arrange a meeting for some of our clients based in South East Wales. Ideally the area you choose would not be too populated, yet would be easily accessable by rail and bus. As our clients might be staying for the whole week, it would be wise to book somewhere that has a range of varying attractions and leisure opportunities. Can you tell me your top 3 choices, and why you’ve chosen them? o, and it should be a place that doesn’t contain the letter y or l and yet is made up entirely of consonants. o and we want a place free from English scum, like you!”

I feel a bit ridiculous saying this, and I know its really embarrassing but: Welsh geography isn’t my strongpoint, in fact I’m more or less clueless. There, I’ve said it! I gave an unnecessarily lengthy answer for what was essentially, “i don’t have a flipping clue!” I was starting to get the niggling feeling that they might prefer someone Welsh.

question 2: “Spell the railway station Llanfairpwll­gwyngyll­gogerychwyrndrobwll­llantysilio­gogogoch, then recite it backwards to the tune of the Welsh national anthem”.

i’ve exaggerated ever so slightly for comic effect. (I hope it worked) but it was starkly apparent that they wanted someone welsh. She treated me with such distain; It was as if I’d defecated on a statue of SHIRLEY Bassey, Charlotte Church, Thom/Aled Jones, or one of her favourite and most revered Welsh icons. I didn’t get the job by the way.

So here I am, on the x9 bus, travelling back home from Gateshead after a day’s work. I may at some point expand on the full-time job I’m currently doing. At the moment I won’t go into the details about where I work and what i do, largely because you probably won’t find it interesting – although that’s never stopped me before – and because I like the idea that I’m leading a double life. I feel all mysterious and enigmatic leading this double life which has been aided by the work’s IT coordinator – clearly unaware of The Young’uns Podcast, the Southside Podcast, Davideagle.co.uk etc – registering me in the computer system as “Davis Eagles”. This means my email address is “Davis Eagles …”. I am also in the work’s phone directory as Davis Eagles, and if anyone external to work calls the main switchboard and asks for David Eagle, there’s a pause and then the caller is informed that no one of that name works here, although there is someone under the name of “Davis Eagles”. THIS error occurred on my first day. I notified the person responsible about it, but they didn’t seem to deem it important to reinstate me on the system with the correct name. So in the end, I gave up, and now everyone at work knows me as Davis Eagles. So i spend a third of my life travelling on public transport and a quarter of it existing under a different identity. I’m going mad. SOMETIMES, in a certain situation taking place outside of work, i might stop and think: “now, what would Davis Eagles do if he was here”; Well he wouldn’t be writing this drivel., that’s for sure

I’ve got a lot of exciting plans for this year. The big news is that the Young’uns podcast is set to make a return. The other big news is: so is the Southside Podcast! (no, only joking Alex.)
I’m also working on something completely different to what I’ve released on here before, but I think it will be a really fun project for this year. I intend to release the first episode in this new series next week, so all shall be revealed very soon. And now, having hopefully managed to stir at least a modicum of intrigue and excitement within you, I say goodbye.

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