Caught by the River

Pleasures of… April

5th May 2010


Steve Mason “Boys Outside” (Double Six)
The debut ‘solo’ record from a man who spent the last decade and a bit hiding behind a series of ever more oblique guises. First as the driving force behind The Beta Band then alone as King Biscuit Time and latterly Black Affair, Mason always seemed like an artist at war with no one more than himself. This album – Mason’s best since The Beta Band’s “Three EPs” – is truly a thing of beauty. It’s like finding a lost songbook by some long forgotten artist, the kind that Mojo or Pitchfork can speak about with head nodding authority. Each song has that eternal quality you hope for in a long player but so rarely find these days. The whole thing sounds like Mason has found himself a little inner peace. Long may the mood prevail.

Crouch Vale Brewer’s Gold
Never was there such a taste of spring in a glass… so much so that I’ll take it whatever the season. The one to convert the lager drinker to ale, this pint from Essex has been named Champion Beer of Britain twice.

Gordon Brown’s Citizens UK speech

Bob and Roberta Smith “Art U Need: My Part In The Public Art Revolution” (Black Dog)
Ahead of the library van (update to follow!), it seems like a good time to be seeing how people who know about these things run public art projects. The story of how Bob and Roberta Smith (aka artist Patrick Brill) took on five projects in the Thames Gateway area of Essex. Glad to know these things don’t always have to make sense.


Tooting Bec Lido – Cold water, outdoor swimming. Immense pain followed by an unbelievable rush of endorphins.

Steve Mason ‘Boys Outside’ – Robin has eloquently described why this is essential listening.

Paxman on Newsnight. – Always good but even better on the eve of a general election.

words of innocence and understanding:

“He studied the way that Benjamin the southerner cupped the little thing with his hand, opening and closing it to let that sorrow out. It was the blues, the sound of a people bent but not broken….”
from The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart by M Glenn Taylor (Blue Door paperback)

” Long ago I used to think that dust dancing in a sunbeam was a direct product of the sun, that these motes of weightlessness streaming into my childhood bedroom were particles of the sun itself, and that the brilliant stripe slicing across my pillow, searing me into squinting awareness, was intended for me alone. Awakening and forcing my eyes to adjust, I imagined that those sunbeams were a downward draught of bright air silently blowing my way, delivering their gleaming flecks from some unimaginable solar smelter. They burned and then vanished like sparks. I tried to capture them in a jam jar, shutting them in with a firm twist of the lid. Then I would rush them under the bedclothes to see if they still shone”.
from At The Water’s Edge by John Lister-Kaye (Canongate hard back)