Black horse, white horse and a Sunbeam Rapier.

I went to the FolkEast festival last weekend, not least because it was walking distance from my house. I haven’t been to a festival for years, and more fool me. One of the first acts I saw there was Lisa Knapp, who had a four piece band behind her and she was sublime. I went and bought her CD from the information tent as soon as her set was over.

Lisa Knapp. What’s not to like?

If you haven’t heard her, she sounds like this. And looks like this. She’s got a powerful voice, a little bit Kate Bush, a little bit Bjork, but newer, more now somehow and much as it pains me to say it, I think she’s actually better than Kate. If the entire music thing hadn’t gone fractal I’d have said she’d be bigger than Kate Bush in a year or two, but I’m not sure that’s how things work these days.

What I particularly like about her stuff is the way she explores a dark side of music, or life, or folk tales. Years ago I read about a man who went to get the papers one morning and found, rather to his surprise, a woman in what he presumed to be a shroud, dancing a few inches above the pavement in a perfectly ordinary street of terraced houses. She was still there when he came back from the shop, avoiding her side of the road, so he didn’t go that way again. And you hear these stories and think why? Why would anyone make that up? What would they do that for, exactly, if they didn’t want to get sectioned?

So when I heard Lisa Knapp singing Black Horse I was surprised by the power of her voice but also by the darkness she was flirting with, so much so that she turns a conversation/analogy between Life and Death, darkness and light into a lullaby. You can see it here. I watched it half an hour ago and I’ve still got chills running up my back because of something someone once told me.

I bought a car once from a friend’s girlfriend’s grandfather. It was an old car but he hadn’t exactly run this Mk V Sunbeam Rapier into the ground. He was out driving one night, with his wife, when just like an old joke, someone ran past him. Which was odd but fine in and of itself, expect he was doing about 60 mph and the man ran straight past the car in the same direction. Then it got odder, because the man flipped around and started running backwards, staring into the car as he ran a couple of feet in front of the bonnet. The old man braked, as well you might, but not in time or at least what he thought was time, because the man ran through the car. He could see him as he came through the dashboard, through the gap between the seats and out of the back of the car. The old man drove to the next town and found a police station to tell them what happened. They said it had happened before, there.

And again, why would you make that up? What would possess anyone to make that up and go to the police to tell them about it? I have no idea, whether it’s true, why anyone would make it up or any of it. But Lisa Knapp singing Black Horse in her video took me right back there to the day I heard that story and reminded me how I felt, driving that car at night. Nothing happened. How could it?

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Somewhat overshadowed

Not to be confused with sloightly on th’oof, whatever that bit of fake Suffolk dialect means this week’s Lifeboat Party show as slightly overshadowed by the fact that as of 16th December I become homeless. It’s not an experiment and I haven’t messed up my life more than usual for the rest of this year, although frankly that’s not saying much.

I’m selling my house. My stuff is going into storage and I have somewhere to live as of the new year, but right now, now, very now, as Shakespeare put it, I’m a bit stuck.

So I was a bit bothered about the show. We had a baking ukelele player on first, or maybe a ukelele playing baker, Martin Clarke,  who had the decency to drop his bombshell half an hour after we came off air, telling me he’d been a radio presenter for 17 years. Yes. Ok. Cheers Martin.

Then I tried to interview Emma Thomson again, after I totally messed up the sound in her first interview. Emma’s plan to race cyclocross for Elmy Cycles in Ipswich, as well as raising money for cancer research ahs been a bit altered by the fact that someone has stolen all three of her bikes. These aren’t exactly the kind of thing that you can get in Halfords or Tesco, even if it is Christmas.

Just checking the recording now and I think it’s going to be ok.

Mega line-up next week, with not just Justine de Meirre but Buckshee as well. Check-out their sounds. See how down with the kids I am?

It’s going to (folk) rock. Sorry. Meanwhile I still need somewhere to live for jsut over Christmas. A dog is for life. I’m  not. Ask anyone. Or actually, maybe don’t.

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Lifeboat Launch – Again

I did the sixth Lifeboat Party show today at Radio Castle. It’s on every Monday, noon till one and I could tell before I got there that just about everything that could go wrong was going to er, go wrong. Different studio. Different mixing desk.

Couldn’t remember the wifi password. Lead was too short to plug the laptop in. The mix was different through the headphones to the level it was at in the other studio. I’m really sorry, ok? It got better as I improvised a way around it.

But it wasn’t what it should have been. Sorry.

Good parenting

I emailed my mother about the show. We don’t talk much. There’s a reason. But I thought I’d make the effort. I’vbe got this show, I said. Here’s the link, so you can listen to it. Within the week I got a reply.

“As you know, I don’t really like that sort of music.”

I am so glad I bothered. No, really I am.


Listen Again. Just do it. Please.

You can listen again to all the Lifeboat Party shows here. 

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Slowly Close The Door


Step into the midnight garden.

Slowly close the door.

I feel the ghost of you beside me.

Thinking about the times that you were here.

Feel the eyes of all the people here before.

Love hangs heavy here.


We talked out here on summer nights.

All those evenings slipped away.

How did we get to be the people that we are?

When you get love make it stay.


Hello loneliness I missed you not at all.

Hello, just another girl I knew.

Hello memories and snapshots in the rain

Reading all the writing on the wall.


I remember how it felt when I was young.

So intense and never real at all.

Now we know so much about

The people we’ve become

How come I still ride out to fall?


Someone told me less is more.

Said it just to help me on my way.

No-one told me that you’d take my heart

And leave it out of doors.

Should’ve listened when you never said you’d stay.


Hello loneliness I missed you not at all.

Hello just another girl I knew.

Hello memories and snapshots in the rain.

Reading all the writing on the wall.

(I’m reading all the writing on the wall.)



Is someone having a laugh or what?

This is something I wrote just recently for Frances Shelley who asked me if I’d like to do some lyrics. When I got up off the floor I realised it wasn’t a joke at all.

I drew on things that had happened to me; the midnight garden I stepped into once, a long, long time ago, the one that became the garden that Ben stepped into in Not Your Heart Away , as well as my own midnight garden I stepped into here. I thought about something that happened this past summer.

This is what came out. It might come out alright yet. The lyric might be ok with a bit of work too.


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I only recently discovered Spotify. I used to use Napster, until the music industry wanted to pretend it was Napster killing music sales, not Simon Cowell and totally manufactured bands whose careers are micro-managed to the extent they have their favourite colours chosen for them when they’re interviewed in Jackie magazine. Assuming there still is a Jackie magazine, obviously.

So I put together a Not Your Heart Away playlist. It’s all the songs mentioned in the book plus a couple more that just fit. If it ever gets made into a film this will be the the soundtrack. Until then, just enjoy it while you read.


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