richard pierce

richard pierce

27 October 2014

#keepingitpeel running order from 25 October 2014

I spent most of yesterday listening back to my #keepingitpeel show on Radio Stradbroke that I'd presented live on Saturday evening. The music just keeps on getting better, and I'm almost ok with hearing my own voice out of the speakers. The best thing, of course, was that there were lots of listeners and lots of social media banter, which always pleases me. It means Radio Stradbroke is firmly there, breaking new music to a worldwide audience, and worldwide it is indeed. I'll be doing it again next year.

The podcast is up at for a limited time.

And here's the running order, just so you can go find those marvellous new bands yourselves:

Grinderswitch - Pickin' The Blues
John Peel Undertones excerpt
Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device
Magazine - Shot By Both Sides
Marmozets - Born Young & Free
Stormbeist - Til Vaapen
The Coathangers - Shut Up
The Monotrons - Game's On
Amusement Park Official - Roar Ivory
Bakhtinians - The Trial
Frag mich nach Sonnenschein - aahm laut
The Black Tambourines - I Wanna Stay Away
The Comsat Angels - Waiting For A Miracle
Heel & Toe - Silver Scratches
Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding
Ian Prowse - Lest We Forget
Billy Bragg - A New England
Billy Bragg - A Pict Song
Avind - Stummande Moerke
The Irrepressibles - Two Men In Love
Tom Cox - In the Wrong Company
Emilie Storaas - Survival
The Irrepressibles - Always On My Mind
Ferdarhag - Elvis
Cathedrals & Cars - Posterity Measures
Cathedrals & Cars - A Lost Body in Winter
Cathedrals & Cars - Blood Relatives
Cathedrals & Cars - Ivy
Cathedrals & Cars - El Alamein
The White Stripes - Ball and Biscuit
Go! Save The Hostages - I've Wondered What It Would Be Like For Me If That Shark Got You
Inuuro - Lost Siren
The Beatles - Come Together (Rhythm Scholar Remix)
Rawtee - To Eat The Planets
SED - Spooked
Joy Division - Atmosphere
Gaba Kulka - Wielkie Wrazenie
Sassy Kraimspri - Riot
Eva Black - Bitter Pill
The Only Ones - Another Girl Another Planet (John Peel Session 5th April 1978)

25 October 2014


You’re too old for me
To teach you any lessons
Any more.

I’m too old to believe
In any lessons
I might have been taught.

We are all born
At the foot of a well.
We all have to learn to build
A ladder from the wood
Of life.

Often, the parts don’t fit
When we try them at first,
And we have to rebuild
And rebuild
Until the puzzle completes.

Out in the fresh air and light
At the top we are alive.
I am still reaching for
The final rung.

R, 19 October 2014 - for Charlotte's 18th birthday

11 October 2014

Life without ginseng

I suffer from mild depression. It may not appear mild to me or those around me, but, compared to those millions suffering severe depression, it is mild. Trust me. I also suffer from any number of physical problems, which are either signs of me ageing, or a sign that I was born imperfect.

To counteract these imperfections, and in an attempt to stave off what are perceived as my mood swings, I started taking ginseng a long while ago. Naturally, there was a lot of jollity from friends when I revealed this to them, as ginseng, for some reason, also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Not that I noticed any such effects. What I did notice was that I was fairly energetic most of the time, and that my moods didn't actually much deviate from their usual patterns. But the energy I needed, because I don't like particularly to sit still for a along time (literally and figuratively).

There have been times when I do go very hyper, and that's not just a question of mind speed. When it happens, I can feel my heart beating more quickly, and my body executing even its normal motions in a jagged and frenzied way, like a whirlwind in my head and in my limbs. I have to consciously slow down everything, take one hand to control the other, try to think in slow motion, try to move in slow motion. It's not particularly fun. It's like everything is over-revving.

This summer has been interesting, because, for the first time in a long time, I spent prolonged periods away from home, away from my vitamin medicine case (actually a basket), and not for work, but actually to do things wihth my children they enjoyed (and wanted me to do with them), like Latitude, concerts in other places, cricket, being real instead of office-at-home dad. A lot of it was actually fun.

The thing is, about a month ago, when I got home, and the next morning popped my first ginseng pill for a few days, the world went manic around and inside me again that evening. So I didn't take any the next day. And felt crap. So, the next day I was back on it. And everything speeded up again, and I didn't like it.

It's October now, and I've been a month, at least, without ginseng. I do feel slower, I do have trouble sometimes putting my thoughts together at the speed at which I think I should be. Yet I seem to be, and I'm open for correction on this from the people I live with (if they ever read this), more patient, more kind to myself and those around me. Like all men, of course, I worry that placidness equates to lack of competitiveness in all areas, but I guess I'll cross that bridge if it ever comes across my path. My hope is, of course, that I will not suffer from my usual blackness during the winter. That is the next test.

5 October 2014

October spiders

There's only one shed in our garden that was already here when we moved in. It's an old thing, covered in ivy and other climbers, with a roof lining of straw, a broken window, and a door that we can only keep shut by propping a brick against it. The east-facing side of the shed is home to an expanding honeysuckle bush which, in turn, is home to a proliferation of my favourite creatures to watch - garden spiders, also known as cross spiders (they have a white cross on their backs); Kreuzspinnen in German (which sounds much more romantic than the English).

When we lived in Norway, one such spider lived on our veranda throughout the summer, and deep into the Norwegian winter (minus 28C). I called her (because only the females have such very distinctive markings) Victoria, probably because she was big and stately and very friendly, and talked with her every time I went out onto the veranda for a cigarette.

I haven't given the spiders in the honeysuckle names because there are so many of them, but I do go out first thing every morning and look at their webs, watch them move about in their webs, and wonder what drives them, if it is really purely instinct, or if they spend time thinking out their strategies, and indeed if any of them watch me from their upside down positions and ask themselves the same questions about me.

My fascination with these creatures is not just because there's a microcosm of killing or be killed out there on the honeysuckle branches, but because, although I'm not a scientist, the complexity of their webs impresses and illuminates me. Their determination is unsurpassed in its grittiness. They build, rebuild and rebuild. When there's been a storm, and the webs are hanging in tatters from their security lines, they are out there, clinging on for what looks like dear life, feeding their threads through and around the damage to restore what's been lost to nature.

One of the webs is particularly huge, and the spider which inhabits it is also quite big for spiders of this variety (I have nicknamed it The Fat One). It seems to be particularly discerning when it comes to prey, because I have seen it ignore small flies which have blundered into its web, whilst hurtling across its highwires when a moth or a crane fly has careered into the trap. I wonder if this has to do with damage limitation for the web (and the need to secure a big meal), or just with a complacency of mind which says that the small fry won't get away anyway, and if it does it's no great loss to spiderkind.

What I find particularly touching is that these spiders make little dens for themselves within the curling leaves of the honeysuckle, finding shelter especially in the ones that have curled top to bottom, providing perfect umbrellas to keep away the rain, and some of the cold, I presume, as any warm air that may rise will be trapped within these tiny upturned vases. I have watched them creep into these shelters in the early evenings, curl up into small balls of darkness and go to sleep, if spiders do indeed sleep. It may seem odd to say this emotionally affects me, but it does, because the need for shelter is ubiquitous whatever point along the foodchain we might be on. And I am grateful for my shelter, however inadequate it may sometimes seem in my middle class, mid-winter angst.

For the time being, I will continue to enjoy these autumn mornings with my eight-legged acquaintances, and never cease to admire them and their stoicism, and hope some of it rubs off on me this coming winter.