Finally. Rain. A steady, heavy rain on the corrugated iron roofs of Berhampore.
This season, this thinning of the leaves, the thickening of the cat’s coat, is one of my favourite times. When there is no wind it reminds me of Osaka where there is rarely any wind and the rain falls straight down. Autumn is a wonderful season in Japan; a release of the hot, clammy hand of summer, and – out in the hills – a display of mustard, orange and fire in the leaves of the trees as those leaves discolour and die.
Keats has a poem To Autumn: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. It reminds me of my Gran’s plum tree. Because of her plum tree I think that plums should have dark, blood-clotted flesh and that the fruit called plum with the translucent meat are another fruit altogether. She bottled half her plums, and turned the rest into jam. Sometimes you would find a stone, or a rolled up piece of the fruit’s flesh as you spread it on your toast, or dropped a plum into your bowl and watched the juice bleed into the vanilla ice cream. Those plums, “real” plums, come late in the season, as autumn begins.
Last night we went to the Berhampore Bowling Club (now called something else) for the first-Friday-of-the-month-meal which we have decided to call cheap-eats-and-generous-pours. The kids run wild across the bowling greens, and the adults sit inside admiring how the wine in their glass has been poured to the very lip.
I listened while three very intelligent, professional women were bemoaning their diminishing ability to quickly recall facts. I didn’t say anything. Mainly because I am a monosyllabic mute, but also because saying something like “I feel much smarter now than at any time in my life” would make me sound like a total dick. Of course, I have never had quick recall. Even things I know I know really well escape me constantly. I constantly forget what I am doing as I am doing it. I have never been able to do crosswords, solve pictionary clues, or untangle riddles. I am a terrible member of any quiz team. On the other hand, I feel a lot smarter now than I ever been basically because I have more life to draw on. I may, of course, be dumber than I have ever been, and just succumbing to middle-aged complacency and smugness. We’ll see how it pans out I guess.
I watched Jimmy Carr on Netflix. I’ve seen him on Graham Norton and thought he was quite funny. He’s not that funny it turns out. He’s one of the many, many British comedians who tell offensive jokes about sex. Ricky Gervais tells offensive jokes about sex, but they are clearly about something else (like homophobia), and he has all kinds of other material. Jimmy Carr just comes across as an offensive shit. I wonder why having sex with kids is funny? Or making lots of cracks at women, or homosexuals is funny? He says that he actually hates all that stuff, and he’s riffing on it to make a point, but – in fact – when he’s making the jokes he’s just being offensive. He’s saying what misogynist, homophobes say but with an arched eyebrow. Pathetic.
I am still listening to a lot of music (so another mix tape below) and it has made we wonder a couple of things. The first one being:
(a) how close the line is between derivative and original, and
I hated my music teacher at secondary school but he did say something that I remember, and is true I think. He said that if you don’t like a genre of music then all the music in that genre sounds the same. He said it after we had listened to a reggae song that the solitary Maori boy in the class had brought in for the class to listen to. All us 12 year old white kids heard was the up stroke rhythm guitar. If you don’t like The Smiths all their songs really do sound the same. If you don’t like opera – pointless warbling – if you don’t like country music – stupid slide guitar.
I like heavy metal and hard rock, but it has a lot of flaws. One of the main ones for me are the lyrics. So many metal bands write the most terrible, laughable lyrics imaginable. So ridiculous are many of the lyrics that it doesn’t matter how pulsatingly powerful the band is I find myself doubled over with laughter. I’ve listened to Toothgrinder recently, and they’re pretty good, but the Nursery Rhymes, Cursery Lines lyric gets me every time. Even cursory lines would have been better. Bad, in a different way, were Guns’n’Roses. Loads of their lyrics were stupid. Not stupid like the one above, but boring: drinking, misogyny, drugs. Yawn. It was why I lapped up grunge so enthusiastically because they were loud but talked about things like how eating fish was ok because they didn’t have any feelings (in a sort of ironic way).
The first track in the mix tape is ploughing very similar ground to an infinite number of hard rock groups, but it manages to be good. It somehow gets just over the line from derivative to original. Not far over the line, but enough. And the line: rock’n’roll might take your life tonight, sits nicely on the fence between intentionally funny and bombastic. Monster Truck’s album weaves across that original/derivative line constantly so, for me, it is only half successful as an album, but that’s not bad in such a overdone genre.
The second thing I have been wondering is
(b) why do many people seem to like their music in genres
Isn’t music just music? You like it or you don’t? I’m not sure why it has to all be split up into genres and sub-genres. I like classical music (a ridiculous genre title in itself – I mean think about how many types of music across a millennium that title is supposed to capture), and I like metal, reggae, funk, pop… I’ll listen to country if I get a recommendation, to shakuhachi, to Beijing opera. Whatever. Yes, some of that listening is superficial, and some types of music take a long time to get into and understand, but – you know – that’s ok. Isn’t it?
I blame my mother. She listened to classical music and flamenco music when I grew up. It was confusing.
In a good way.