Tuesday, 28 June 2011



I listen to a lot of piano trio records.

It has to be said I like almost all of them (but then again, I wouldn’t buy them if I didn’t). Something about a piano led trio that offers loads of scope. It can be quiet, peaceful, church-like and melodic (Tord Gustavsen). It can be as thumping as a metal band (The Bad Plus). It can be jaunty and upbeat (George Shearing trio’s). It can be as fiery and bopish as any horn led quintet (George Cables). Or it can swing (Oscar Peterson).

For a trio to be really, really good all the three elements have to act as one (almost all those listed above meet that criteria). However, a lot of “good” piano trio records are little more than a great piano backed by a “good” bass and drummer.

The new Marcin Wasilewski Trio CD with Wasilewski on piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on bass and Michal Miskiewicz on drums, is perhaps the closest I’ve heard to a perfect trio album in ages. The whole really is greater than the sum of the component parts. These three guys don’t play one single note that doesn’t compliment any other. There might be solos in there, I couldn’t say, because my ears don’t pick up “piano sections” and “drum sections” and “bass lines” here – it really is so well fitted together all you’ll hear is trio sounds.

If your only going to spend one hour this year listening to jazz then make it this album. If you can only afford 5 minutes then listen to the track “Ballad Of The Sad Young Men”.

I’ve already got a version of this particular song by the Gil Evans Orchestra from 1959 – and I love that. Yet these three musicians can somehow, using only their three instruments wisely, fill the song out so much more than Evans did with a full horn section at his disposal.

Only six months in and I think I’ve got my record of 2011 (though that won’t stop me looking).

Monday, 27 June 2011



Got woken up early yesterday.

A house martin had flown in the window and was frantically trying to get out the [closed] window at the other side of the bedroom. Masses of house martins round our way at the moment. Quite enjoy watching them in the evening and early morning swooping and diving close to the house and sweeping down to the road to catch the low flying insects. More than once I’ve been convinced that one is going to come into the house. And this one did….

Me getting out of bed and up to try and help it only served to spook the thing and it ended up flapping its way through to the spare bedroom/office/howff/whatever.

Again I had to rush through and open both the windows here to try and coax it out. Finally got rid of it, but not until it had shat all over my computer monitor!!

One of the problems at this time of year. I like to sleep with a window wide open all year round (even in the depths of winter) – but especially at this time. But you do make your living space vulnerable to intrusion from birds, cats, mice and god knows what else…..

The “joys” of country living.

Friday, 24 June 2011



After a week or so of crappy weather it “turned out really nice” for the Portobello 4 mile race.

A race that I’ve always enjoyed but a bit of a strange distance. It really is “eyeballs out” all the way round the (mainly) flat figure of eight route. My pace is usually slightly faster than my 10k and probably more in line with what I’d try for a 5k….but it’s a mile longer, and that last mile really hurts.

Another good thing about this race is that I know the route very well as it makes up part of one of my training runs when I’m working in Leith.

Started off in a group that included Grant and Ian Sills and found the first mile just a bit too quick to be honest. It turns out that so did most of the others I talked to afterwards. Surprised though that I actually managed to pull away slightly from Ian and spent the later part of the race expecting him to pass me at any point.

Bit of a head wind for the last mile or so. So when an HBT runner passed me as we passed by the swimming pool I tried to tuck in behind him and get a bit shelter – exactly the kind of thing that annoys me when people do it to me J. The fact that I wore a pair of Brooks Adrenaline that are about three generations old has convinced me that’s that is what I should be buying to replace my tattered ASICS.

Not the fastest time I’ve had for this race but happy with 22:38. Even more so when I found out it bagged me third vets prize. A good night for the club actually with us getting three vets prizes (Grant first, me and Anne 3rd FSV), second lady (Susan) and Andrew claiming first place overall with, what looked like, about as much effort as I put into a Sunday run. Though no team prize!

Don’t know who he was, but top marks to the marshal at the corner of Seafield Road and Kings Road. I threw my cap to him as I passed (knew it was a mistake wearing it), and it was returned to me before the race had even finished.

A load of us went out afterwards to the Shish Mahal Indian restaurant afterwards where I was shocked to see that for the first time in 26 years (that I know of) its been refurbished. Gone are the authentic wall hangings and flock wall paper, its all white and chrome now. Most importantly the foods as good as it was 26 years ago when I first went. As per usual, I ordered exactly the same as I did back then as well!

Thursday, 23 June 2011


I like it when it’s loud and brash and angular and hard hitting…. But sometimes I want my jazz quiet and thoughtful and of a musical style slightly “chamber”.

And if that’s your bag as well then look no further than John Taylor’s new offering “Requiem For A Dreamer” – 7 pieces; all inspired, apparently, by the science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut. For this album Taylor is joined by the usual two members of his trio – Palle Danielsson on bass and Martin France on drums. But this time round they are joined by saxophonist Julian Argüelles.
Though quiet and thoughtful, it’s not necessarily “easy” listening as Argüelles weaves some pretty intricate patterns around Taylors piano chords – there’s lots to keep the ears busy here.
Favourite (so far) is “Somebody I Used To Be” which starts off with a nice strolling bass line from Danielsson before moving off into a flight of fancy between piano and sax.
Some of the tracks, especially "Ice 9", sound very [English] folkish/pastoral and remind me of some of John Surmans early stuff, though Argüelles sax is a bit sharper than the soft oboe sound of Surman.
Some nice vocal work from the band too (not “singing”) on the track Calypso 53.
Taylor lectures at York university and therefore plays there quite a bit. Must keep an eye on upcoming events and see if I cant mix a trip down to York with a chance to see him live again.

This is one of 5 new CDs I've got this week and there’s another 4 on their way from the murky bowels of Amazon's jazz repository (I think you can get cream for "murky bowels"). Nothing on this weekend. Nowhere to be and no one to meet…. So other than a bit of LSD I’m going to see if I can get my arse to take root to the sofa while I loaf around and get acquainted with the CDs and reacquainted to my erader. A sort of one man Glastonbury...not!

Monday, 20 June 2011


I was away at the weekend supporting Ian on his West Highland Way race.

Suffice to say he managed the WHW at his first attempt and, despite an injury that troubled him greatly in the last parts of the race, got a time that many would be happy with.

What follows is not a blow by blow of the 2011 race (that will be found elsewhere). Neither is it a eulogy to bravery/fortitude/stupidity of the competitors (my views on ultra running are already know). No this is a sort of bit by bit “reportage” or “random thoughts”, if you will, of life from the supporters side of the fence.

The Start: The start itself is quite exciting. It certainly beats the previous two hours you will have spent hanging around Milngavie railway station car park. !). I was interested to see that the runners don’t wear numbers. Rather they have those little plastic “hospital ID tag” things – thus reinforcing my belief that anyone who attempts something like that is obviously a candidate for enforced institutionalisation.
No one else will think of this..
The start also allows the spectator/supporter the only opportunity during the entire race to view all the runners together. It also allows those of use with a sort of artistic flare to take a snap of the runners as they line up or emerge from the underpass at the start (because no one has ever thought of that before.
And that was just Anne's
Fuel: One of the most important tasks for a supporter is thinking about the food intake… Rolls, sandwiches, fruit, cakes, yogurt, drinks, energy bars.. too much to mention really. Oh, and your runner will probably want something as well. By the time you get to Tyndrum you will be sick of vacuum flask coffee and slightly warm rolls. Thank the lord then for the café at Glencoe ski centre.

Personal Hygiene: Not something you may want to talk about, but important never the less. There’s that horrible moment when your tired befuddled brain talks to you and says, “You left the house on Friday evening. It’s now early Sunday morning…. And you haven’t washed or brushed your teeth since then” Ewech.. All the times you’ve ever watched adverts for “72 hour protection deodorants” and thought to yourself “what sort of manky git doesn’t wash their oxters for 72 hours”??!! Congratulations. Now you know …..in fact, you’re one of them.

Be considerate to others: The first meeting point at Dryman is basically on the road at the foot of someone’s garden. Do you think the people who own the house knew when they bought it that their neighbourhood would be invaded by hundreds of cars and supporters every year?

Time: You may think you have all the time in the world but get to the next check point. Better get there early then have a wee sleep than leave it to late….. Amused to see the car load of supporters who had miss timed their arrival at the ski centre and ended up racing past the runner in their car and executing a Sweeney style hand brake turn just in time to get the boot open and get the food out.

"Extras" not on offer.

Support your runner: Remember the WHW is a test of a runners mental strength as well as their physical fortitude. Encourage them all. I though being a “supporter” just meant standing at the side of the road shouting “pick it up – your dropping to 8-minute miles!” No. Your there to cater for their every need

Little buggers still got through.

Wildlife: Scotland is rich indeed in a vast array of beautiful and majestic creatures. You won’t see any. No. You will be too busy keeping the bloody midges away from any spare inch of flesh you foolishly leave exposed. But, as I always say you have to learn at least one thing every day. Saturdays new life tip came through unfortunate experience from George – Never spit while wearing a midge net!

Fashion: It has to be layered. It has to be functional and you have to live in it for about 30 odd hours. Looking around this years look seemed to be “Dougie Vipond meets Worzel Cummidge”. Most other people had that “fresh on” gortex, outdoorsy look of Mr Vipond…. I looked like Worzel.

Take a good map. Who the hell has ever heard of “Bogle Glen”?? Took me and Frank ages trekking up a horrible muddy, swampy trail to get there … only to find out later that there’s a lovely wee path at the other side of Crianlarich. It was there that one runner went through and told his support crew that he wanted a “FAB” ice lolly at the next check point! If it had been my runner I’d have given him a pound and told him to stop somewhere and get his own. Beware of Bogle Glen, it’s where the midges live!!

Another jumpin' Friday night in Milngavie

It will inspire you to try it: Eh… “no” it didn’t.

If you want actual photos of the race....HERE


Noticed a couple of holes in the uppers of my ASICS the other day.
Jeeze they’re only 11 weeks old. How bloody shoddy is that? Crap workmanship.
The fact that I’ve probably done about 600+ mile in them is beyond the point.
Not happy.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

1958 MILES

Just can't get enough miles in at the moment.
Mr Davis that is.....
Ploughing my way through the twenty album box set. Although "ploughing" is probably a bit of a bad choice of term because this is anything but a chore.
Like a lot of box sets I get I'm trying to approach this one "a bit at a time" - don't want to risk getting a severe Miles Davis overdose.
I have a strange attitude towards Miles. Love the early stuff, then the first great quintet and sextet of the 50's (with Coltrane on sax) all the way through to the second great quintet of the early 60's (with Shorter on sax and Hancock on piano). BUT I really, really can't abide his electric period in the late 60's and 70's - jeeze it leaves me cold.
There's a famous quote attributed to him from about 1975 where he says in that broken down,gravely voice of his that "jazz is dead". Just makes me want to scream out - "and you tried to kill it!".
Also. While it would be stupid not accept that Miles was "a" brilliant and "b" influential .... I don't actually think he was as important as some seem to give him credit for. And without the man being here to defend himself it's maybe a bit nasty to say, but I've read/heard a few people who've more or less said that Miles wasn't averse to taking other peoples musical ideas and passing them off as his own.

Anyway. Whatever your feelings there's no denying he had a massive output of good music in his time. And this box set is safe and bang into the middle part of his most productive stage with the first great quintets and sextets.
Favourite so far has got to be "1958 Miles". Possibly the least boppish and most modal of the twenty albums, to me it really sets the bar for the following years Kind of Blue (not included in the box set) - in fact the line up on this is pretty much the line up on Blue - John Coltrane on tenor sax, Cannonball Adderley on alto, Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. Beautiful stuff. Read an awful lot a couple of years ago, when Blue was 50 years old, how it was "the" greatest jazz album and how 1959 was a key year for jazz. Well for my money this is better and pre-dates it! Covers fairly nice as well.

This album alone is worth the price of the box set.
Among the fifteenn or so Miles albums I already had there are a few live ones with the first great quintet. Going to try and dig them out next.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Had a couple of encounters with the law lately.
First up was work related, where we were helping Lothian and Borders finest in their "case of the dastardly theft of the Tattoo stand" enquiries, when two massive lorry loads of steel girders were stolen en route to Edinburgh Castle.
Not being the world's greatest lover of bagpipe music or mass staged shortbread tin musical extravaganzas my quip to the detective involved that perhaps they should be searching for a "music lover" was met with a stern ticking off and a reprimand that this was "no laughing matter"..

Anyway. Yesterday saw me come face to face with an even more serious law - Traprain Law.
It's a couple of years since I've done this race and, if I'm honest, as I stood at the kitchen window yesterday watching the rain hammer down I did consider allowing my self imposed exile to roll over for yet another year.
But "faint heart" and all that.. I missed out on the Haddington 10k last week and I was keen to get out there with a number on my chest again.
We got down to East Linton and the registration tent in the local park in loads of time. It's usually busy down there... not with runners but with locals out enjoying the gala. Sadly yesterdays monsoon had really put paid to that and there was nowt but a few empty stalls and an empty tea tent.
Luckily though runners are made of harder stuff than most and in no time a sizable crowd had gathered for the race.
It was cold as well as wet so rather than hand about chatting I headed out of East Linton on my own, for a bit of a longer warm up than usual and got back into the playing field with just enough time for a "pit stop" and to change out of my top and into the vest.
A lot of this race is along very narrow paths by the side of the river, so I knew that the first half mile or so it is pretty important to try to get into the sort of place you want to be for most of the race. Which is why by the time we got onto the riverside path and there were three Portobello runners in about the top six I knew "oh well, that's the team prize sorted then".
For a lot of the way along by the path Richard, Grant and me were pretty much running together and it soon became apparent that there was going to be a bit of a race within a race for the Dunbar places.
The river crossing was fairly easy this year, as was the climb up the steep bank at the other side.
However, the one thing that did let me down yesterday was my new hat. It has failed, I'm afraid to say, its first test in really bad rain. By the time we were climbing up towards the foot of the Law I couldn't see a bloody thing with my glasses on and was reduced to running along with them in my hand, which I knew would be a problem when it came to the steep climb. Luckily Jim, Val and Theressa were out spectating at this point so I threw my glasses to Theressa to look after for me (well actually, because I couldn't really see her I actually threw them wide onto the bonnet of someones car!).

The climb was fairly tricky because of the wet and I found myself using the rope that gets put up for the event to haul myself up. By this time Grant was ahead of me and we had both pulled away slightly from Richard.
But then the descent. Not my speciality and neither it has to be said is it Grants! They were queuing up to pass me on the way down! I was busy hopping and skipping down like a jessie and Richard ( and quite a few others) came hurtling past me.
Once we were down and back onto the road though I just tried to crank it up half a gear or so and managed to reel in all those who had passed me on the drop.
The run back into East Linton was fairly uneventful and I just kept the head down and tried to catch Grant..(I didn't).
Clocked 44:25 which I was fairly happy with. Not my best time, but a little faster than the last outing.

Once we'd all finished we made our way to the tea tent in an attempt to keep warm while we waited on the prize giving. Rhona was first lady and Dunbar's only representative on the prize list and was awarded with what appears to be a large rock stuck on a plank of wood.... and alcohol. Loads of alcohol.
It's amazing really how often alcohol is given away at prize givings. As I expected, Portobello walked away with the team prize... alcohol. I'm sure they must win beer at every race they go to... maybe if they drank it they might slow down a bit - give others a chance.

Out for about 16 miles this morning - mainly on the road and mostly flat. Lovely. That's what running should be like.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011



I could see them from about 300 metres away.. so I can only assume they could see me.

I knew it was going to happen. I’m running north on the narrow path that runs alongside the burbling, crystal clear waters of the majestic Clyde. They were running south (though to be honest they could have been running faster if they’d only channel some of the energy from their yammering mouths to their legs!).

I ran tight into the left hand side, my shoulder brushing off the metal railings that separate the pedestrian footpath from the tranquil waters. And did any of them move? Did they feck…

Jesus. What is it with women who are incapable of running in single file? Three of them … all jogging along, side by side by side… an immovable line. A wall of matching colour coordinated lycra. Each with the obligatory plastic “donut” water bottle that’s brandished like a set of knuckledusters.

Are they worried that if one of them “drops back” the other two are going to talk about them while they’re “gone”?

I know I shouldn’t stereotype. I know not all women do this, and I know it’s not only women who do this… actually “yes” It IS only women who do it (though, I repeat not all)!

Run side by side if you want. Yammer away if you want. BUT; when you see someone else coming towards you (or trying to get past you) then single up.

We came to a sudden stop – and I asked politely (though perhaps sarcastically) if they wanted me to climb over the railings to give them room? The looks of confusion led me to suspect that my sarcasm was lost on them or, worse still, they were actually considering the option.

Certainly not “keen” (never that) but “mindful” that I had to get back to the office, I cracked first and ended up going round all three of them rather than one of them letting me through.

I’d be interested to see how they got on round the corner where a tree had come down the other week and blocks most of the path.




In the interests of equality there was a time a few years ago when pavements were no go areas at lunchtimes as groups of fat, deluded, suited, office type blokes would walk along fooling themselves that they looked like the famous scene from Reservoir Dogs. “No”- you didn’t. You looked like small clusters of suited prats.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


I'd been planning on doing the Haddington 10k this year. Normally a 5 mile race, but HELP have "upped" it to a 10k to try and raise it's profile. Anyway, I ended up scratching it off my dance card and went along to help out by doing the results.
From what I did hear from the runners who did it though, the 10k seems to be a good route and, given that there appeared to be a few more runners than last year, increasing it may be a good move.
Some pretty good times were posted, and Dunbar came away with a couple of trophies (2nd and 3rd lady, as well as first local vet).
Unfortunately because I was ensconced in a small room with my lap top for the duration, I didn't really get a chance to chat with anyone till after the prize giving.
So, because I knew I wasn't racing this weekend, I went out for 11 miles yesterday. Then today I went out for a wee bit "recreational LSD" along by Spott, Pitcox, the bridle path that goes along by the A1 then home via Starvation Brae. It's really only been a few weeks, but it feels like a long time since I've done a "normal" Sunday run like that.

Might look at changing my dosage of LSD though. It's been suggested to me I may be doing too much "quantity" and not enough "quality". However, given that it was Graeme who told me this I'm merely taking this advice as a thinly disguised way of him saying he wants to up the pace when I meet him for our occasional lunchtime runs through in the DGP. J

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


One step forward...two steps back.
This appears to be the mantra I'm following after the Edinburgh Mara.
Legs were tired, heavy and sore after the marathon (as you would expect). So, while I was out every day I took it easy and tried to keep the mileage [relatively] low.
But then on Sunday......
Three of us (Ian, Anne and me) headed off to the Pentlands to try out the route of the Pentland Skyline.
I've been meaning to go there for some time now, but the week after a marathon wasn't perhaps the best of days to pick.
A 17 mile circuit that took in 16 climbs!
Ian had said from the start that he wanted an easy pace - he'd already ran 17 miles to Haddington where we met him (training for the WHW).
"Easy" might be the best way to describe the pace - but it certainly doesn't suit the effort. Didn't help either that Sunday, like every day lately, was windy - VERY windy. I didn't actually get blown over, but I did get blown off track a couple of times and the wind on the tops of the hills was fierce.
All in all it was a good afternoon out and has left me wanting to go back when my legs are fresher and the weather's nicer.

Anyway. Net result? Woke on Monday and my legs were completely shagged. It didn't feel as though a single muscle in either leg was pulling or stretching in the way it was supposed to.
Did a very sedate run on Monday and then went out for a wee "recovery" pace run yesterday at lunchtime....Only to go out last night with the club to do an 8.5 mile circuit that took in a 700ft climb at race pace (or as good as). At one point we even managed a 5:32 minute mile (downhill obviously).
Result? About ten days after the marathon and my legs still feel like they did the day after!

Saw a lovely box set yesterday "Miles Davis: Twenty Classic Albums". A 10 CD set of 20 of his Prestige and Riverside recordings (I think) from 1950 to about 1958 (just before Kind Of Blue). That's the period of Miles that I really enjoy -nice hard bop tunes, and a few cool/modal sessions with Gil Evans but long before he went all electric and loopy.
I've got about 6 of the albums already, but even so .... another 14 Miles Davis albums..... Might encourage me to rest a bit and not knacker the legs. Watch this space.