Coming down from Scotland ….

Hi all,

Well what a lovely birthday treat it was being the RR TempGuru! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it’s all I can do to resist immediately bugging Adam for a chance to do it again.

So how did I work my shift?
First of all, I wanted to be really hands-on. I honestly did cross Friday and Monday out of my work diary so that I could spend as much time online as possible. I hope that was noticeable, particularly as I was busy domestically on the two weekend days. Then, I got lucky. I’d suggested RRSA Scotland for the week before, so that the results column would go online just in time for St. Andrew’s Day. But when it didn’t appear, I suspected I’d get it for my birthday prezzie from the Graun. That was a little problematic, as I was absolutely determined The Silencers were going to get A-listed, either for this or this.

I could have cheated, of course, and let someone realise there was an A-listing for the taking. But I’m quite proud of myself for resisting that. Talking of which, would my good friend Gordon please stand up so we can applaud him? DsMam accidentally told him – against his explicit wishes – what the topic was going to be when he called at ours earlier on the Thursday to scrounge a coffee and exchange Christmas cards. But did he prep his Proclaimers asafaerae noms in a comment box, to simply cut’n’paste it in ready-typed so he could get in first? No, he did not. He waited until he could see the topic live, then typed and posted … just AFTER bish beat him to it. Respec’, wee man!

Anyhoo, up it came, and away you all went. On Friday, I tried to keep up to the links being posted directly into RR. (I also tried to do the Excel spreadsheet bit, but soon got VERY bored of that and abandoned it. So far, no-one is accusing me of having missed anything, so I feel justified in cutting that particular task OUT of my machinations.) On Saturday I knew I’d be away from everything but my iPhone, which is not the medium for keeping up to anything more than comments when you’re out and about. So I came to the Spotty playlist on Saturday evening, which I became so engrossed in I even missed LFC on MotD! The last thing I did on Saturday was copy everything in the ‘Box onto a memory card, which I put in the car stereo for our family day out on Sunday. I have to say we were all heartily sick of the trad. folk nominations by the end of several hours in the car, but some gems did emerge – see the B-list comments below.

On Monday, I got down to some shuffling songs around a playlist template … literally pushing slips of paper up and down a sheet of A4 coloured card. By this time I knew I had at least seven glued-in tunes (it turned out to be ten), and one by one, the songs that were discarded were [again, literally] thrown in the bin next to my desk. I mentioned on-blog that I had four possible scenarios for the write-up. Two of those were stillborn really, but for anyone that’s interested, the other one was a credulity-stretching football analogy involving one rich Premier League club (probably Chelsea) and the entire SPL.
I soon decided the chosen songs suited the scenario you saw me lay out. I got my list of 12 songs, and proceeded to write the column around them. I finished the first draft when I’d told Adam I would, but something made me hold back from emailing it to him. I’m glad of that, because I eventually twigged I was forcing too many changes of written tack to suit just one song-to-song musical segue. Once I’d re-jigged one of the two songs much further up the order, relegated the other song from A- to B-list, and rescued one slip of paper out of the bin, a re-write fell very easily into place, and there we were: done.

I didn’t suffer much red-pencilling from the Graun’s sub-eds at all. They changed two sentences: one they were right to do (mine was clumsy), one they weren’t IMNSHO. [Chris?! Tinny!? DOWN BOYS, it’s over, OK?] The link back to ScienceNotFashion’s comment was my suggestion; the sub-eds added one and subtracted one other links off their own bat.

So there was my A-list.
I actually like The Fall song * adopts mock horror look *, I really don’t like Mull Of Kintyre any more now than I did way back then (though I hope you notice I didn’t hypocritically big it up myself in the column). I’m overjoyed I got to A-list George Square Thatcher Death Party. I love the newtome Idlewild and Martyn Bennett. I’m delighted some of you think it’s a varied list – I feared it was a bit one-taste bland: cf the soft rock arrangements of Freedom All Come Ye and Canan Nan Gaidheal. ScienceNotFashion notwithstanding, I don’t appear to be getting slagged off much, so all in all, I think I’ll give myself a Rafa-Benitez-referencing seven out of ten for that performance.

And so to the B-list. I haven’t bothered with a playlist running order for the list Marco posted for me. But here’s my brief comments about them.

Overseer – Heligoland

King Missile – Scotland
“Bizarre” was all I wrote on my notepad, and that was good enough.

Kama Aina – Glasgow Sky
Lovely, really lovely, but I just didn’t get “essence of Glasgow” out of the sound.

Peter Maxwell Davis – A Farewell To Stromness
The Dakota Suite and Goldmund fan in me loved this. Very relaxing.

Hamish Imlach – A History Of Football
Would have been in the First XI if I’d gone with my football analogy column.

Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
An instant DsD fave in 1984, despite being released right at the height of my metalhead days.

Judas Priest – Loch Ness
So far over the top, it’s almost camp. A grin-inducer for me, but amongst other things, its length counted against it.

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – John Taylor’s Month Away
Barney’s “Trying to play the ball and not the guru, honest…” comment made me laugh out loud.

El Pali – Pepe, El Escocés
Darcey’s favourite of the week. She kept asking me to replay it in the car, and shouting “¡Olé!” whenever it finished.

The Proclaimers – Sunshine On Leith
DsMam’s favourite of the week. Twice in the car, it finished, and she said “That was good; I liked that. Who is it?”

Richard Thompson – Mingulay Boat Song
Sorry, TFD, but I have to break it to you that this was the last-minute A-list dropout, replaced by The Waterboys.

Frightened Rabbit – Floating In The Forth
Very simply, I picked it for Blimpy, because we don’t hear from him anything like enough.

Finally, a word about my journey home from work on Thursday, whilst the Results thread was being commented on. I was driving home from Preston to Queensbury, via Burnley. At 2pm I got a text message from Julie telling me to get my arse into gear: heavy snow was on its way. I got from the training in Preston to my meeting in Burnley without so much as a snowflake, just plenty of rain. Dallied longer than I should (posted my comment to stardust from there), so it was after 6pm and belting it down with snow by the time I set off over the moors from Laneshawbridge, through Scartop, Stanbury and Oxenhope. Crawled and slithered up hill and down dale, giving the car’s ABS & ASR systems rigorous workouts, until a combination of steep upslope, narrow cutting, drifting snow and lack of 4WD put me in the car park of a pub I’ve passed hundreds of times, but never called in. Well it won’t be long before I’m back there. Coffee was good; food was very good; beer was … sadly untried! Big thanks to the staff at the Dog & Gun, for being welcoming, informative, helpful, considerate and generous. They kept me up to date with the weather and traffic reports (via locals, friends & family; NOT the radio or internet), and gave me alternate directions that got me out of there on a relatively flat road when the snow had briefly turned to slush.

Cheers, people. Now I must get to bed; I’ve got to do another snowy, hilly commute in 5 hours time . . . .

20 thoughts on “Coming down from Scotland ….

      • awesome. I had a feeling that was the case though – what with forgetting about Webby’s second week, and letting Punky know like 3 days before.

        I still don’t see why the Graun can’t bung a guru a token 100 quid though. Considering the labor and traffic RR brings.

      • Hang on though … just in case I misunderstood you. I knew six weeks in advance when my week would be, but only got my “check-in” email a couple of days before go-live.

    • I put my name forward in mid-October and heard nothing until I got an email this Tuesday morning offering me this week’s job.

      Adam is obviously the Guardian blog’s chief cook and bottle-washer these days and spends a lot of time chasing his own tail. There doesn’t seem to be a routine to the guru-selection process.

  1. DsD, what an adventure you had over those few days. I salute (no topical pun intended) your commitment, enthusiasm and, not least, the positive fellowship that infuses your writing. Thanks again for your guruship.

  2. Sorry I wasn’t able to post on the results Thread. Thursday is a busy day, what with walking the dog in the morning, off for a game of golf, back for a cuppa and a shower and change and off to the quizz night. Just get back in time for the start of the next RR subject and off to bed.
    However, I’ve got to say that having caught up with the ‘A’ list (and now the ‘B’ ) and reading your post here, how much I have enjoyed both the write up you did and the selection that you made for the listings.
    Many of them are new to me and I have added those to a playlist for further listening.
    I know it must have taken up much of your time – as it has with others- and I look forward to you being a guest guru in the future.
    Thanks .

  3. @ stardust, bluepeter, SpottedRichard & barbryn

    Thank you all, folks, very much indeed. It means a lot that it all appears to have gone off so well.

  4. Hey DsD, hope your adventures in the snow are less hair raising today.

    Really loved the write ups here and on RR – funny you should get your own theme for Guruship – (I’d tried to badger Adam for a rock friendly theme – I wont mention it just incase it ever appears)…

    No offence – and I think you touch on this here – I’m afraid the playlists didn’t appeal to me at all – but glad the proper principles of RR were kept alive – I’m one of those that would run screaming from a room if MoK came on – but it was ‘RR’ed well – so deserves it’s place in the list. The good thing now is a new taste in playlist will be along soon … I image you would choose a different set if you did it again today. My biggest gripe would be DeRosa not featuring Hattonrigg Pit Disaster, New Lanark, or Cathkin Braes – all with such a sense of place .. but I didn’t recommend them well – so I’m not really complaining.

    The new system makes it hard to do a write up with passion, without feeling like it’s a waste of time – it has to be done in the moment – not after contemplating (being Dyslexic I can’t type to order quickly) – I wanted to add my thoughts on how I once deconstructed the Ballboy track for my friends radio show in Germany – explaining why it wasn’t really about Scotland as such – it was a song about escape and dreams .. I related it to the cliche of the worlds impression of Germany – and how this track was based on a lot of Scottish cliche – used to raise the heckles – but where Germans distance themselves from the past and then exude pride in their country – the Scottish use black humour and self depreciation. Just as proud – by not in the same way.

    “Maybe Scotland’s got nothing to do with it
    Maybe all this has got nothing to do with anything”

    ….. that line was the key to the track – the song is about the person using excuses about their situation – ‘the Scottish cliches’ to hide behind. But the underlying feeling is anyone, anywhere could;
    “Trade it all in….
    For a springboard
    And a pair of shorts
    And a plain white t-shirt
    And a perfect backflip”

    Ballboy songs could be the soundtrack to your personal olympics.

    … but once I’d found my notes about it and did a search – Beltway had already added it – if I embedded my thoughts under his nomination – it becomes an anti nomination, taking away his suggestion, and in a place 6 minutes into the game where no-one is going back to read.
    If I make it a post in my own – it gives the impression I’m really having a go at the nomination. I stress ‘I’m not’ – it is a song about Scotland – fits the list perfectly. It’s just, I like twisting a turning a song to find it’s deeper meaning – and this song has had 10 minutes of radio time using my analysis – so it means a lot to me.

    But not knowing where to post without causing friction – made me give up – I’ve survived RR through awful times and brilliant times – but turning it into a social site to read as it is written – might just have killed it’s appeal to me… because I can’t spew out words without contemplating them… and now I don’t know where to place them.

    • But the only thing that has changed is that there’s a new option, to post under an existing comment. If what you want to say is intended for everybody, make a new comment; if you’re addressing someone specifically, use the reply option. If you must, do both.
      1. Do a write up with passion
      2. Decide who it’s aimed at
      3. Put in the right box and post it

      • That is it – but when it came down to where I wanted that ‘I hate Scotland’ rant placed – it caused me too many dilemmas – so I just gave up. .. and I keep giving up at the moment.

        Not tonight – I’m in a good mood tonight – so I’m just posting a whole host of shit for you to skim over ..

        But the layout now makes RR feel like facebook or twitter – it’s just in the moment – it’s all about speed, not reflection. It’s not to be most ‘interesting recommend’ but to be ‘first’, because the embedding exists in the ‘right now’ it doesn’t make for interesting re-reading of the blog – or at least checking back on interesting developments. So you scan the page you return to – a lot of people can’t even check to see if they are repeating nominations and it’s see what sticks – most stuff is missed.

        Some people have always played RR that way – that’s no problem – but I always felt it flowed … and I found it revealing in how topics developed over the weekend. Now it’s jumpy – and as a jumpy person, it’s doesn’t give me any relief from that. There’s more blipverts that reflection.

        I will do a write up with passion when I can. But I cannot decide anything, ever – and don’t really want to on RR. And it should be aimed at everyone, as we are recommending to a whole group of people. I don’t mind new – in fact I strive on it – but I don’t need any more options in my life.

        When I found the ethical tea bags I liked – I bought a shipment of 5000 – just so I didn’t have to look at all the bloody choices on the shelves anymore. My mind aches a lot – it needs simple.

        A box to write a comments or suggest new songs – in order – seemed like a simple working solution – any more is too much for me. And seems to be too much for all the smart phones.

        Embedding is good for taking the piss though.

      • What’s weird is that – for all your declared confusion and indecision – your posts always come across as very well-considered and intelligent. I will pay attention to your noms precisely because of that. I’ve never been impressed by the fastest finger first routine and, now I’m supposed to find the song and figure out whether it’s of interest or not, I’m liking it even less.
        I’ve not heard many imaginative approaches to the subject so far. I’m expecting great things from you!

  5. Shane, both of those two long comments deserve a considered response from me (even if that does go against the very point you were partly making). So I’m not ignoring you; just gotta prise the girls away from f***in’ X-Factor and into bed, then I’m gonna enjoy the highlights of your lot’s away win, then I’ll be back.

  6. DsD, I’ve still got to listen to your A-list, for which my apologies, but very glad it’s gone so well.

    For what it’s worth, I pinned Adam down to a specific weekend so I could book the annual leave from work, which I needed to do and will need to do for another slot (when I have some more leave to take, April at the earliest). I said to Adam that I could take unpaid leave if it were a paid gig for £100-£150, he replied that he’s no budget for it – which is The Guardian’s decision / predicament.

    Shane, you’ve hit upon something about the feel of the blog with all the nested comments, whether one chooses to click on “reply” or not. “Jumpy” is right. My issue with online stuff is being a bloody attention-seeker. I get more genuine enjoyment if I can relax a little and not be focussed on responds and recommendations as well as donds and the occasional listing. But because you have to click on your own name for good manners, to see if anyone’s got back to you, it seems to me to encourages the me-me-me rather than us-us-us. Maybe I’ll get used to it.

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