Tuesday, 12 July 2011


This is the sort of thing I think about in the car these days, while I curl through the countryside around Longleat at speed.

"Can I fill an old airbag full of strips of tinfoil and use it as a chaff dispenser? Where would I deploy it from..."

No this is obviously ridiculous on many many levels, (not least of which is police use of lasers rather than radar) but it does illustrate the great shape my head is in post euro-road trip. Where previous London-Parracombe journeys would have to be planned in detail to avoid me having to think, and therefore to dwell, on the past, now I can pretty much listen to whatever I like, often just the understated feline burble of the turbo 1.8, without worrying about falling into one the subjects I cant think about.

But enough of all that, because I'm not supposed to be thinking about it. Even when I do I have Retrospective Fatalism to protect me, which I explained in a previous post here.

Even when the mind wanders toward dangerous territory I have the beautiful scenery and curves, and high speed, of the A303 to drag me back toward healthy thoughts. The A303 is like Nurburgring with a Cream Tea. I'll expand at length in another dedicated post but the last two journeys have been the highlights of the week. I don't know why I ever bother with M4/M5 when M3/A303 is much closer to the European driving I grew to love.

If this is getting excessively Top Gear I will be dedicating a whole post to my hate-love-hate problem with that show in due course.

The main distractor in the car is my Snooper Saphire, an antiquated police speed trap detector which looks pretty without making the car seem like the tired antiquated relic it probably is. (There was a weird week after I got my iphone were I was convinced my 2001 audi car felt as obsolete by the new arrival as I did –
“Look at it there sitting in the window. Bloody Eye-phone. It thinks its so ‘cool’ doesn’t it?”)

Battery charge in the Snooper Saphire only last about 2-3 hours so it would have been useless for Kowalksi in Vanishing Point and The Blues Brothers. Still, it does help me concentrate on speed on the A303 and makes quite a fuss when I go over a certain level. Though generally I have just been cruising around in the sunshine recently.

No I didn't go there (got near to the outer ring road of MIlan though), I listened to it for the first time via the Guardian streaming at Arianna's flat in Berlin.
This Rome :

One of interviews for the release of this album reveals that when the classic Italian movie musicians met each other in the studio after decades, all in their seventies, they all hugged each other and burst into tears. Within a few hours they were all screaming at other again.

Aside from the timeless Morricone-mood there are some great vocal contributions to this album. Has Norah Jones always been this good? Must buy some Norah Jones + Mike Patton. If I wasn’t already it would get me into Jack White’s stuff,  Dead Weather, The Raconteurs White Stripes but I'm there already thanks to Paul Smyth.
Thanks again Paul.

Jack White, there is a man after my own heart. One of my favourite lyrics of the last year
"I love you so much - I don't need to exist"
.. I am so there.. far too often.

Rome the album arrived at a perfect time after I had mined all the inspiration and emotion from Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain (source of another post) during a near religious experience driving through the St Bernard Pass. The beautiful Ennio Morricone influenced mood music still me connected with the euro-trip. Its allowing me to glide around at cool speeds like the Mediterranean 1970s adventurer that I probably think I’ve become ( A character from rainy North who can't handle hot weather - ITV would have called it THE PERSPIRATOR, it would have been rubbish but John Barry's theme tune would be a classic).

Rome the album also kicked off my current movie obsession, Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Mike Beale used to lionise this movie in St. Albans days but I never felt the need to check it out until Julian Mitchell gave me his copy on my last day for STS in Bury St Edmunds. He warned me it was ridiculous, and it is. The ‘Irish’ family that appears in the second scene are hilarious.

I only worked up an interest in watching it after Rome because of Ennio Morricone soundtrack. Turns out it is quite weird and baroque even for a Leone film. Most impressive is the final revelation of Harmonica’s origin story, worthy of bitter twists of US Civil War horror writer Ambrose Bierce and almost a confirmation that in this film, Sergio Leone has the soundtrack as the foreground and the visuals are merely a music video.

Even when playing with sound effects during the bravura ten minute opening, Ennio Morricone's score for Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is absolutely breath-taking, with certain parts, such as Claudia Cardinale’s entry into Sweetwater, enough to move you to tears. Even the most irritatingly repetitive aspects, which ruin other Leone films (ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA) are perfectly justified in this film. Charles Bronson really isn't weezing through that harmonica for anything to do with musical accompaniment. It is revenge on everybody, including the complicit witnesses in the film audience.

And THIS, thank god, is the sort of thing I think about in the car these days.

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