Tuesday 28 August 2012


Drummers spend years learning a skill called independence. This doesn't mean learning to live away from their mums, or making their own decisions; it means being able to do different things and play different rhythms with each of their (usually) four limbs.

The drummer that I have been playing with for the last six years played his last show with the band this weekend. It was emotional and poorly attended. Over all this time, and during every song that we have played he has been the model of friendly dependability. I have many fond memories of him, and his playing will be sorely missed. However, the best demonstration of his skill came nowhere near a drum kit, it was when I handed him a mug of tea and a slice of cake. I offered them to him at the same time, the wrong way around. With fluid and instinctive motion he crossed his hands (right over left), grabbed the tea and the cake simultaneously, and brought the cake up to his mouth in his left hand without spilling the tea.

Richard "Goodbye" B

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Lost Property

The drum kits usually used in modern music tend to have five drums and a few cymbals. You sit behind the bass drum and play it with a beater operated by your right foot. The snare drum is between your knees, and your left foot opens and closes a pair of mechanically operated cymbals. A rack on top of the bass drum holds two tom-toms and a larger tom-tom is placed on the floor to your right. Cymbals hang from stands with increasing proliferation wherever there is room, bells, woodblocks and other effects are attached to the drums and stands like mirrors to a mod's Lambretta.

When a drummer is short of money/time/energy/room-in-the-car/space-on-stage then the number of cymbals is the first thing to be reduced, the first drum to be sacrificed is the second rack tom-tom. In fact a good number of indie drummers usually play with one rack tom and put their ride cymbal in the space left above the bass drum.

My band recently took on a new drummer, and I have been lending him parts of my drum kit to rehearse with. Last week I got home from the practice room and I didn't have all of the drums. I rang the drummer hoping that he had carried one up to his flat by accident. He hadn't. I then had him walk down to the street to see if we'd left it in the gutter when he got his gear out of the car. We Hadn't. I then drove back to the musicians' cooperative where we'd rehearsed. It wasn't their either.

I was furious that I'd lost a drum, but at least it was the second rack tom, and as such was pretty optional. As I drove back from the practice room for a second time, without my drum, I was considering how unlikely it was that I'd lost the only drum that we could easily live without. Somewhere on the journey I remembered that the drummer had said, several weeks previously, that he only needed one rack tom, and that I'd put the other one away safely in my loft.

Richard "forgetful" B

Monday 13 August 2012


I've been on holiday for a couple of weeks driving around the country. I visited all kinds of places friends, family, private gardens, building sites, and aircraft museums, but the most interesting visit was three nights in the 1970's.

I stayed with my brother and his wife at her mother's house. It's a perfectly preserved time capsule of furniture and decorations from about 40 years ago. Among the exhibits, some of my favourites were:
  • A kitchen with a chocolate brown electric cooker, and a serving hatch into the dining room.
  • A mains powered kitchen clock.
  • An electric whisk so heavy and powerful you could kill a man with it.
  • Glass corn cob dishes with matching forks.
  • Small cut-glass dessert bowls from which we ate yet-to-be-invented Mint Vienetta.
  • A wood effect Cathode Ray Tube television with a bulging 4:3 screen.
  • A criss-cross knick knack shelf.
  • A white melamine dressing table with brass drawer handles.
  • Loud floral curtains.
  • Blown vinyl wallpaper.
  • A ding-dong doorbell with chimes as long as organ pipes.
  • Glass fronted wood veneer cabinets.
  • An asymmetric York-stone fireplace with a brass chimney hood.
  • An entertainment centre that plays records and cassettes.
  • Spider plants.
  • Artex.
  • Carpets with a repeating brown blotch pattern.
  • A floral three piece suite surrounding an imitation sheepskin rug.
  • Pink velvet curtains.
  • A cloth lampshade with string fringes.
  • Interior secondary glazing.
  • A bathroom with matching beige bath, toilet, and basin, and maroon wall-to-wall carpet, and a moulded plastic medicine cabinet.
Richard "time machine" B