podcasts

Worms and Casts

“A moth ate words

the pilfering visitor was not one wit the wiser

because he had gulped in those words.”


I had a thick head waking up this morning, the result of neglecting exercise, too much rich food, half a bottle of red before bedtime and mostly down to a cold I’ve been trying to ignore since Christmas Eve.

My eyes can’t stand to read or write, and my brain can’t bear to compute, but I need some distraction to relax and shift the ache. So I look at the Swiss Army Knife of a tablet by my side and wonder what else it can offer.

Podcasts! There’s an app for these which came pre-installed and at some point I must have selected some preferences as it’s lined up a series called The Essays, short audio pieces on Anglo-Saxon history. This is perfect because the gentle tone of an intelligent human voice can be soporific and the subject isn’t at this moment a matter of importance; I can tune in and out as desired, sipping occasionally from a tall glass of ginger and lemongrass cordial, mindful to keep my hydration up.

Actually, the podcasts proved to be very interesting and I love all those “Dark Ages” names; Bede, Egbert, Eadfrith, Ethelred, Athelstan. Why on Earth aren’t they more popular nowadays? Bladud?


The lines at the top are quoted from a podcast on Eadfrith, the Scribe. It takes the form of a riddle and inscribed on manuscripts as a warning against careless reading, the answer to the riddle being a bookworm.

As we close 2018, the Goodreads app tells me I’ve read nine books this year. Usually I average around twelve. In 2015, I entered a personal challenge to read twenty, which I achieved by the skin of my teeth but I didn’t look back on that as a good reading year. Occasionally I wonder with books whether less is more and even choosing one or two favourites to reread, again and again, would be better.

In the new year, we hope to be moving home and, as a designer, I’ve already begun sketching out plans including space required for our books. I’m looking at hacking some of those inexpensive IKEA Billy bookcases for the job.

The design involves comparing the available shelf space with what we have now, but I couldn’t help notice that though we’ve culled our library many times and kept only those books we loved, most of those have sat on the shelf, unread, for many years. Having a Kindle account means I don’t buy many hard or paperbacks now anyway, and a few of my favourites I’ve since picked up cheaply on Kindle.

Is displaying your books a bit of intellectual signalling, a boast, a pretentiousness?

I think it’s good to show that you’re a reader, to have a collection of books which you can identify with, much the same as having pieces of art around the place. But I should really try to read the ones I’ve shelved otherwise what’s the point?


The Essay Podcast: Eadfrith, the Scribe.

Music room

I have been reconnecting to my music splendidly via the USB memory stick port in my car. It’s almost gone through all the songs, 559 of them, in alphabetical order, which is as good as a shuffle-play as I don’t know what’s coming next.

It’s a long held vision of mine to have a garden of ideal proportions in which I can position a shed. Not a tool shed, but a shed you can sit in and listen to music. Naturally, it won’t be just for that. I expect I’ll use it as an art studio. I believe the thing I have in mind is commercially referred to as a garden room.

Shed, studio, garden room. I’m not happy with calling my space any of these, none of them will do at all. Space.

Back in the days of the web before the Web 2.0 proliferation, I found a site called The Space. It was run by a guy called Pedro. This was before Spotify, Deezer, and all those clever streaming platforms. Pedro would upload podcasts of whole albums and give out links for visitors to play them. He would say a few words about the album beforehand in his laid-back style, and all the while a sweet little bird could be heard chirruping in the background. I imagined it was in the room with him, a canary, or budgie, or some kind of finch.

I had no idea where he was but, with a name like Pedro, I saw him in a silver, Airstream trailer in the desert, somewhere close to the border of New Mexico. Him, his PC and server, and a caged singing bird. For months, I worked my way through his album podcast collection until, one day, he simply wasn’t there anymore. Gone!

Space, hut, den...? It’s no good, I need a much better name. If you need me, I’ll be in the library with a thesaurus.