Archive for February, 2012


February 23, 2012

There was a police helicopter hovering in the air over my house today and I took a pic of it through the skylight window in my studio. I was working on some lyrics for a new song so, obviously, they must have been trying to zoom their camera in to steal them from me.

Somebody trying to pinch my song lyrics?

I made a birthday card from one of the watercolour micro-paintings I did in art class yesterday. I really wanted some mounting board for it but I could get nothing but thin card from two large stores I visited. I guess I shall have to make a trip to a specialist shop at some point. I need to build up a small stock of card covering a range of colours.

Well, this is no good, I must work out my songlist for my gig at Ragged Edge tonight. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Trousers and other matters

February 21, 2012

Here is another example of my attempt to get to grips with compression curves in clothing. I present to you a pencil sketch of a pair of trousers.

Pencil sketch of compression curves in a pair of trousers

Today is pancake day in England and I think I shall make some later in the day. I prefer to have mine rolled with lemon juice and maple syrup, although savoury with slices of camembert tucked inside can be equally satisfying.

The piano seems to be progressing very slowly at the moment. As for guitar, I am doing some rather boring right-hand practice to improve the accuracy of my picking. I think it is generally acknowledged that one needs to get the accuracy sorted out before going for speed.

I have opened up the preview of my autobiography to cover the whole book. You can get to that from a link off my homepage. That seems to be all for now. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Bubble & squeak

February 19, 2012

Today I cooked a vegetarian lunch. I made bubble and squeak with some fried leeks blended into the mashed potato patties. I also cooked some dumplings, made with vegetarian suet. I par-boiled some carrot matchsticks and then fried them in butter and honey, serving them with a liberal sprinkling of chopped fresh corriander. To add a little colour, I also served a spoonful of little Brussels sprouts. I got some of my inspiration from a bunch of recipes on the BBC food pages (

Vegetarian Sunday lunch

My planning could have been better. I tried to fry too much simultaneously at the end and I possibly overdid the burnt effect on the bubble & squeak. I think that could easily have sat in a serving dish in a warm oven for 10 minutes while I focussed on the carrots. The dumplings were very tasty; I put a veggie stock cube in the cooking water in the pan I used to cook them. The kitchen needed some clearing up afterwards, but that is all done now and things are ship-shape. I was hoping to draw some more drapery this afternoon but I think a long nap might be necessary following the expenditure of so much culinary energy. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Yellow croci

February 17, 2012

Today I had the full English breakfast with my friend Tom, and a very good one it was too. On returning home, I noticed a few yellow croci had come out in a border near my kitchen. Apart from the white snowdrops, this is the first splotch of colour I have seen in the garden this year. Roll on spring.

First sign of colour in my garden

In my blog post for 14th February I showed you my drawing of compression patterns in a close-fitting woollen sweater. This was kindly posed for me by one of my friends. I moved on today to work on the compressions in a smoother dress material, based on some random pic of a clothes model.

Compression folds in a fashion dress

I have started to notice these patterns as I move around in First Life. For example, the young woman who served breakfast this morning had some brilliant patterning across the back of her blouse as she turned from us to pour the coffee from the machine on the counter. Also, a young man who was waiting to be served had some very intruiging folds towards the cuffs of his jeans, above his shoes. I still do not have the courage to approach people to ask if I might photograph their drapery folds. This is because I cannot shake off the belief that, were I to do so, the probability of my ending up in a prison cell or a mental hospital is significantly greater than zero.  Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Transit vision in Van Nuys

February 15, 2012

Van Nuys is a town not far from Hollywood in California. One rather worrying thing about living there is that some people become affected by transit vision. Here is a recent photograph of my daughter, and you can see she has developed a very marked version of the condition.

Transit vision in Van Nuys

Tonight I shall not be playing a gig in Second Life since I am GOING TO THE PUB! So John Dodsworth, if you are reading this I hope you have some good real ale on tap, and I shall see you later (John is the landlord of the Rosedene pub). Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Compression patterns in sweaters

February 14, 2012

I am studying a very interesting book by Michael Massen on how to draw drapery. This is making me look at clothing and the way it hangs on bodies in an entirely new light. I present my first attempt to get to grips with this, below.

Patterning of compression in a sweater

Even something simple like a close-fitting sweater seems to be full of compression patterns. I feel there is much to learn in this domain.

I shall be playing gig #822 at Terra Fyrmusica this evening in Second Life. If possible, I need to check a couple of things in terms of my sound, later this afternoon. But before I get down to that I have to practice piano. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

My autobiography – Part One (1945-1980)

February 12, 2012

It is time for me to tell you a little about my autobiography. It is entitled:

Autobiographical Shards: Part One (1945-1980)

So, now you know my age!

I have been working on this project for about two years. Anyone familiar with my website will know that I have previously written two academic books and I wrote them while I was working as a psychology lecturer at Sunderland university, in the UK. I was not a professor but, for many years, I held the post of Reader in Social Psychology (that is a somewhat quaint job  title to be found mainly in English universities, I believe).

I am thus not a novice when it comes to writing books, especially academic ones. I have also previously written roughly half a novel, featuring a hero by the name of Harold Hake. Pulishing fiction is an uphill struggle. It is difficult to get hold of a literary agent; it is almost impossible to persuade a major publishing company to commission a book. I never attempted to get HH published.

However, those of you who come to my Second Life shows may remember that I read Harold Hake in about six instalments, roughly four years ago. I read in character, as Fyrm Fouroux, and integrated my reading of the text with some semi-structured improvisation in the form of Fyrm’s comments on what Harold (the main character in the book) was getting up to. I also integrated song into these readings. I found this to be a very exciting thing to do from a creative standpoint.

This, then, was my literary background as I approached my autobiography. I felt certain that my book would not be published in the normal way, since I am not a celebrity. However, software exists on the internet to facilitate self-publishing. Self-publishing used to be called vanity publishing, but I really do think the stigma has been taken out of this activity since the internet has opened up alternative avenues to publication.

With helpful advice from my friend Tom Young, I decided to craft my book using the software from This software has been developed especially to serve the needs of people who wish to publish photo books (for holidays, weddings, family stories, and so on). It is thus ideal for handling images (basically, one just whacks in the jpegs). I therefore decided to go beyond writing a textual manuscript; I was determined to illustrate my autobiography.

Apart from a photograph on the front cover and three small black and white photos within the text, the book is illustrated with about 40 sketches that are my original work, crafted mainly from reference pictures (most of which I took many years ago). Some of my illustrations were created digitally and some used conventional artistic methods such as pencil drawing, pen & India ink, watercolour, and acrylics. I also made some monoprints.

The period I cover in Part One runs from my birth until I am in my mid-thirties. At that point, I met my current long-term partner and subsequently we had a daughter. I have not included this period in my book. In principle, this could form the basis of a second part. However, I have to say that I have no intention writing Part Two at present, and possibly never will do so. I think that it is highly likely that I shall want to look for another creative project in the near future, but this will probably be tied to music, art, or fiction; I am through with autobiography!

I have now placed a link on my website to a page where you can preview the first chapter of Autobiographical Shards and, if you so desire, you can go to the pages and order the book. I have to say that both the hard back and soft back versions are rather expensive. Because of the illustrations, I have decided not to produce an electronic or downloadable version at

One final word to my music fans in Second Life – this book is entirely about my First Life and, obviously, the point at which the narrative stops (1980) was many years before the advent of Second Life. It follows from this that I do not feature as Fyrm Fouroux in this autobiography. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

The meaning of brushing one’s shoes

February 7, 2012

Today I spread some paper over a table in the garden shed and set about brushing my shoes. This is not something that I do on a daily basis any more, since my habitual footwear has been the trainer for a decade or two. Brushing my shoes, whereas part of my early morning routine as a schoolboy, is no longer a quotidian chore. As an activity it has been upgraded to an act of preparation for the more elevated rituals and ceremonies in my English lifespace, such as weddings, Christenings, and funerals. It is with sadness that I have to report that today’s brushing is tied to the latter, since tomorrow I go to Sheffield for my friend Gerry’s funeral.

The apparatus of the shoe cleaning ritual

Brushing shoes is a strangely contemplative activity. Perhaps the sound of bristle against leather serves to generate a mantra of the 20th (sic) century industrialised West. In the silence that surrounded the rhythm of the polishing stroke, I could hear Gerry talking, and laughing his infectious laugh, too. Of course, all this was within my imagination, inside my head. Still, maybe that is how he will live on; fondly remembered by his friends and family, speaking to them kindly in the depths of their imaginations, from time to time and for old times’ sake.

I feel that a little quiet noodling on guitar is required now. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Tom’s pork pie

February 5, 2012

My friend, Tom, has been developing his pie-making skills over the past few months and yesterday he presented me with what must be his pièce de résistance! It is this very splendid pork pie.

Tom's pork pie

We have something of a cold spell in England but I am hoping that it will not disrupt transport too much, since I need to make a trip to Sheffield on Wednesday. First Life seems to have been somewhat hectic lately, and so I haver scheduled fewer Second Life gigs in this coming week. That will give me a chance to finish rebuilding the Terra Fyrmusica venue, too. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

A sunny day for my trip to the dentist

February 3, 2012

Today I had to go for a check-up at the dentists. I was a bit early so I went for a short walk along the promenade at Seaburn. It was a beautiful sunny day and here is the pic to prove it.

Seaburn in the sun

Fortunately, I did not need to have anything done, so I returned in a good mood. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.