Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sandy capped

I am a swimmer.  Tumble turns are nailed with grace at the end of every length, bilateral breathing is of utmost importance, anything less than a silicone hat is not worth your while, and good lane etiquette must be observed at all times.

I am a swimmer.  When I finished my degree, I signed on and went swimming in the sea every day for the summer.  The importance of aligning oneself with the current to achieve maximum efficiency taught me a thing or two about the mysteries of the universe and the music of the spheres, and made me wiser in ways that I still don't fully understand.  While the amateurs swam from Blackrock out to the first or second rock, I swam out to the distant buoys with the big boys.

I am a swimmer.  As a teenager, competitive swimming was the only sport I ever took on.  A few mornings a week I would train before school, getting up at ridiculous o'clock for breakfast, walking over a mile to the pool and then spending the day sitting through my classes with chlorine red eyes while residual water gurgled through my ear canals.

I am a swimmer.  Last weekend when I was getting my weekly sea swim at the Dock beach in Kinsale, there was a bit of a hairy moment.  It was then that it occurred to me that maybe it was not the wisest idea to be spending so much time out in the water on my own, as anything could happen.  Just around the corner was Sandycove where I heard there was a dedicated group who would be there every day at high tide.  For my next outing, I would head there and join them.  After all, I AM A SWIMMER.

At least, I thought I was.

Over the last few months, I kept hearing about this bunch of lunatics that swam religiously around this tiny island just around the corner from Kinsale.  Any time this came up in conversation, I felt obliged to faff on about some of the things that were mentioned in the opening paragraphs, that I am something of a swimmer myself, one that relished those stormy mornings at Salthill when the sea was angry as it presented more of a challenge, one that I would always overcome with aplomb.  At certain times, one may have heard me say that "Mother nature is a cruel mistress, but the sea is my bitch" with the pomposity and grandiosity that always precedes a pratfall.

The first eye opener was when I turned around the corner and saw the island for the first time, glistening in the early morning sunlight, and looking a lot bigger than I had originally expected.  It didn't look foreboding, threatening or treacherous, and as far as lumps of rock sitting in the sea go, it looked pretty friendly.  So this is what I would have to swim around?  Right, shouldn't be a problem, after all I am a blah-blah-blah (feel free to fill in the gaps yourself).

After parking up the van, I stripped down and fell in behind a group of four or five who were walking down the slipway.  They were a tight group and had clocked me as an outsider the moment my green hiace came around the corner.  I said it was my first time there and that I would tag along behind them, using a false modesty as I believed my swimming would then speak for itself.  Which it did, as I struggled to keep up with them.  When we got to the first corner of the island, it was explained that the next bit would take about fifteen minutes, that the sea was a bit choppy today, and that if I wanted to swim back to the slipway it was still a respectable swim.   I'll follow on, it's ok, I want to go round the island.  Alright so, just watch out for jellyfish, someone got stung by one earlier.  Just one sting, but it went the full length of his arm and into his mouth.  At which point everyone burst out laughing, while my horrified face failed to muster a grimace.

Once again, I struggled to keep up.  To be more correct, I failed to keep up at all, and two very decent souls lagged back and swam on either side of me to prevent me from swimming into the island or way off out into the Irish sea.  My sighting ability was so poor that it should be spelled with an 'sh'.  The only thing worse than having to eat humble pie is having to wash it down with numerous mouthfuls of seawater.  I managed to finish one lap of the island, but by the time I was toweling off, the rest of the group were halfway around their second lap.  Who knows, if I had hung around, I could have watched them sail around for a third time.

So now I will go on record and withdraw any claims I previously made about being a seasoned sea swimmer, one that knows a thing or two about a thing or two, or how when it comes to the water, Dr. Herringbone Dread ain't nothing to fuck with.  Now that humiliation has helped me achieve some level of humility, I can comfortably put myself on the bottom of the open water food chain, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.  Unfortunately, my ego has not been fully deflated, and I am now determined to make a decent go of this craic.  After all, that was only day one, and there can only be improvements from now on, right?  If I am wrong, the sea won't be long giving me a hearty bitch-slap.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Cosmos Heap

"Brewed & Stewed - inspired by bad weather & Barry's Gold Blend" received mostly positive reviews, with the exception of one person who hated it.  Normally he is a proponent of my work, and I have no qualms with people disliking what I do.  The galling part was the attitude, that somehow he was owed a mix CD that he would enjoy.  My process is always the same, select a bunch of records (about twenty to thirty), hit record and keep going for an hour to an hour and twenty minutes.  Never have I attempted to put together a mix for anyone's enjoyment but my own.  If people like this stuff, that's all good and groovy.  If nobody likes it, then there is not much I can do about that.  Some people do not understand that, and hold me responsible for their happiness, which is quite a hefty job for someone who spends their week wandering around town, handing out free mix CDs.

This time the approach was slightly different: the attempt was to make a painfully self-indulgent mix that hopefully nobody but me would like.  The resulting mix is more morose, headier, and spacier than usual.  If there is an underlying message, it is the feeling of disconnection with humanity and society, but the unmistakeable sense that one is somehow part of the universe as a whole.  Unfortunately since this mix went online yesterday, it has gotten quite a bit of love, which means that this mission was a failure.

01. Nannie Porres & Claes-Goran Fagerstedts Trio - It ain't necessarily so
02. Donald Byrd - Where are we going?
03. Norma White - I want your love
04. Fela Soul - Oohstrumental
05. Janet - Got 'til it's gone (featuring Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell)
06. Visioneers - Ice cream on my kicks
07. Ramp - Daylight
08. El Michels Affair - Hung up on my baby
09. Dionne Warwick - Walk on by
10. Nat Birchall - Peace in Nineveh
11. Bobby Womack - Point of no return
12. Charles Bradley - Victim of love
13. The Vogado Projects - Mas fuerte que el sol
14. Colm K - The attic (featuring Walshy)
15. Massive Attack v Mad Professor - Radiation ruling the nation (Protection)
16. Nostalgia 77 & The Monster - The taxidermist
17. Sun Ra - Moonship journey

Thanks to Sunday Times, Fish Go Deep, Rootical Sound System, Colm K, Cork city and county for the inspiration.