Wall #5

Another wall of videos I’ve collected from Youtube. I appear to have saved a lot of videos over the years – decades by now, I imagine – and looking over these I had this idea about theme walls: there were plenty of interesting song covers; clips from feature films; many film shorts; philosophy; art; extraordinary science; ordinary science!

But then I thought, that’s the opposite to how I watch Youtube and how I’ve come across these ones to save. It’s a jumble, a random, some might say eclectic. Homogeneity, it ain’t, so there.

I think I’ve mentioned, and included, stand-up comedian, Stewart Lee, before. The first video, on which Lee narrates, is a sweet little documentary about repair shops in Hackney, a suburb of east London.

Long ago – well, not too long ago – things used to be repaired when they broke or malfunctioned, as a first step before considering a replacement. Somewhere during the past forty years, this tradition diminished significantly and we became what’s sometimes referred to as a throwaway culture.

And now the savvy are saying we’re paying for this careless extravagance. We may need to return to prior methods; it’s encouraging to see not everyone has forgotten the skills.

Geoff Marshall has made a series of these “the secrets of…” aesthetic eye tours of the stations of the lines of the London Underground. The Central Line was my line, the nearest station about a fifteen minutes walk. I could have walked to the Piccadilly Line (25 minutes) or the Metropolitan Line (25 minutes), but the Central, as it’s name implies, got you into the centre of London in the shortest time.

I admit, I took a lot of it for granted and wasn’t too interested in the architecture of stations aa a youth. M has done his homework and delivers a good job.

I’m always fascinated by stop-frame animation (you can keep CGI animation: no skill, not interested), and I don’t believe anyone who hasn’t had a small go at a flip-book, probably drawing in the corner of a pocket book or diary.

This guy from Andymation takes it to another level, even composing a storyline. Follow the dots, it’s amazing.

Ever wondered about that equation giving the area of a circle?

A = 2πr^2

The definition of π is simply the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter (or to twice its radius). But what about that area equation! Dark magic, eh?

I love mathematics and teacher Eddie Woo explains it simply and brilliantly.

Omeleto is one of a few channels on Youtube dedicated to very good short film dramas. I liked this one about the difficulty an orthodox jewish woman has with a secret sex toy during Shabbat.

I’m not Jewish but I understand for the orthodox followers, it is forbidden to work or cause work to be done during their Sabbath.

I’ll finish up with a piece of unusual music; that is, music not normally heard on the mainstream. There’s often something pleasingly mesmeric yet playful about Steve Reich’s compositions, especially pieces for multiple instruments of the same kind. Enjoy two marimbas played by the duo, Todd Meehan and Doug Perkins.

Wall #4

Another wall of rediscovered videos from my Youtube library archives,

It’s an utterly pointless skill to learn for anyone with two working hands but I’ve wanted to be able to crack an egg single handed, with panache, for a long time. I’ve practiced hard with two golf balls (not ping-pong balls) and a coin. That goes okay but replace it with an egg and it doesn’t happen. What usually results is a totally destroyed eggshell and a burst yolk dribbling from my sticky fingers.

I had plans to build a man shed; however, the house we ended up with has no good place to put one. It was going to be a kind of studio retreat, the sort of den everyone needs. Oh well…

I don’t recall this video but it was in my library saves. He’s a proper manic DIYer: in an earlier video, one I don’t have, he claims to have built an underground bunker; this shed is sitting over its entrance. Elsewhere, he has shown how he made a hover scooter and a flame-throwing guitar. No wonder he needs a windowless shed: it was probably his wife’s idea.

I love zoetropes. I must get around to making one of the drum kinds. These were a feature of London’s Science Museum when I visited as a kid. They were inside glass exhibition cases but could be operated by a crank handle on the side of the case. It time, they replaced the crank with a push button which activated an electric motor to drive the rotating drum. Looking through the slit in the side of the drum, it would show an animation through the phenomenon of persistence of vision.

The 3D model version is something else. If you had the patience, you could make one from plasticine and set it on a record deck, rotating at 78 RPM. It may be a problem filming the effect as video cameras operate at so many frames per second, a hell of a lot less than human vision response.

I used to watch woodworking shows on telly and be envious of their workshop power tools; a tool for every job.

Then here’s Grandpa Amu, a Chinese villager, possibly the village carpenter, working with the most basic tools and improvising along the way. And I love improvising.

He has a lot of videos on Youtube, projects large and small. He is an amazing craftsman.

To be British is to know about tea. So here’s a French guy to tell us about it. Alex, French Guy Cooking, was a channel I followed. He experiments with cooking. Also he did it in an unfeasibly small kitchen. I wonder what he’s up to now.

From this video, I learnt to make two mugs of tea from one pot instead of throwing the old tea out. I even made two from one tea bag when at work as I often forgot to bring my preferred brand of tea; it tastes fine on the second cup.

The car journey from London to Bath, made sometime in the early 60s, I think, is fascinating for the stark contrast with the same journey made today.

I don’t know who the narrator is but he seems a stranger to road rage. I wonder if he was in the police or maybe a driving instructor. Some of those other road users are crazy.

I know the City of Bath quite well but haven’t recognised the route taken, only his final destination is familiar.

Wall #3

I’m doing a series of video walls comprising the sort of stuff I pick out on Youtube.

An extended wall this one. On Youtube, I have tried to collect gems over time, putting them into different playlists. The trouble with Youtube is many videos are uploaded without authorisation and eventually the site takes them down or blocks them “in your country”. So I stopped sorting them out and instead simply saved any to a playlist I called Channel Nonno, (with a nod to the Fast Show).

It’s been a while since I played anything from that playlist so I did this last night and selected eight which show the kind of things I listen to, though it’s not an exhaustive sample.

John Martyn with Danny Thompson; it’s one act I regret not seeing. The double bass sound is wonderful in itself but a well-performed solo is something more. I never seem to tire of this song however it’s played.

My first hearing of Anderson.Paak was this tune opening one of Craig Charles’ Funk & Soul Shows on the radio. I think it’s at the exemplary end of a wide spectrum for this genre. Anderson.Paak is the drummer, as well as the singer and composer, and he’s pretty good on the kit too.

I do like percussion. I might have become a drummer in a different life. All the various forms of percussion instruments, found in all different cultures, I find fascinating. The simplicity of banging on any sounding surface – maybe we start off on a kitchen table or a tub of paint – to the complexity of rhythms and tones on virtuoso instruments.

The calabash is a dried gourd; the husk of a vegetable rather like a pumpkin. In Africa, the calabash is used for the sound box of many instruments, some stringed as well as percussive.

These players are Aliou Saloum Yattara and “Cola” Mahamadou Balobo Maiga of the Malian band, Super Onze (or Super 11).

Lonnie Johnson has a remarkably clear and mellifluous voice for a blues singer, I think. It’s good how we can find many of these clips on Youtube now. This one includes an introduction by the inimitable and great harmonica player, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller).

Bar The Sex Pistols (and a few other individual songs) there wasn’t much that interested me about Punk Rock. Yet, from the mid-70s through into the 80s, it did clear the way for light to shine more on diverse neglected or forgotten genres, many of which I liked.

There was a Teddy Boy and Rockabilly resurgence among this and the Welsh band, Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers, was a key agent (though they had been playing for some time before).

In the London of my youth, busking wasn’t permitted under bylaws and rarely tolerated. On the subways of the Tube, you might pass a tuneless guitarist or a lonely saxophonist; occasionally in the process of being arrested or moved on by Transport Police officers.

Arriving in Sydney, it seemed like buskers’ heaven. Not only were they permitted to perform but areas of the city were designated for them. I’d turn a corner to see a crowd stood watching a synthesiser duo accompanied by a dancer; along the street, there’d be a string quartet; in the park, maybe a guitar band.

It took a long time to see this back home. I’ve worked in the city of Bath on and off and there it seems to encourage street performances. Occasionally I hear one or two in my small local town.

I would love to witness this street band from New Orleans, Tuba Skinny, playing its ragtime swing jazz blues. The singer has the perfect voice for this music. Despite all appearances, I believe it tours around the world. Coming to a gig near you…

I had the pleasure of seeing Bugge Wesseltoft perform at our Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the year before Covid struck our shores. I decided to go as he was in a new trio with Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström, from the Swedish band, Esbjörn Svensson Trio. That was a band I became interested in and wanted to see but, sadly, Esbjörn Svensson died in an accident while scuba diving.

Honestly, I could have an entire wall made from selections from the Seattle station, KEXP. It puts our BBC to shame. Fortunately, by the power of the web, you can receive it wherever there’s an internet connection.

This is The True Loves, also from Seattle, doing a set at KEXP. Now that’s a truly lively lovely sound to finish with.