“Exit to Street Only” – A new album for a new year

On New Year’s Eve 2014, another childhood ambition got ticked off the list; Namely to publish an album for public sale – Huzzah! So I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it here and adding some details below:

This album is an electronica set made on and inspired by the sights, sounds and smells of London’s public transport systems.

I’ve been dabbling with music as a hobby for many years, and I’ve long been frustrated by the commute taking time away from home-life that I’d prefer to use for other things, music included. And then along came Nanostudio on the iPhone, and I quickly found myself able to use the commute time to actually *make* music.

I’m immensely proud to have gotten “Exit to street only” this far from my train seat – well actually, about two and a half years of commutes, some seated but many not.  Composing and sometimes recording on my iPhone and then my iPad has been an incredible learning and growing experience.  Yes, some recording and mixing of some vocal lines was done at home, as was the mixing and mastering, and during that latter process some sounds were replaced using Sunrizer on my iPad.

Like what you hear? It’s only £5 on Bandcamp, following the “Buy” link in the embed link above, or going to the album page here.

A personal note…

An unashamedly personal post, this. I’ve been feeling a lot of burden this week for my city, for my church, and for my friends.

I’m not going to pass comment or judgement on either the G8 protestors or the police trying to keep them and the rest of us safe while the former apparently seek an audience and outlet for their frustrations.

With all that to one side, it has to be said that the near-constant drone of helicopter blades and sirens over London’s W1 area, whatever their purpose, has been a very visceral reminder and signpost to a deep feeling of being utterly besieged, both at work and perhaps to life in general, when I sit back and think about it.

As a Christian I know that times of trial come and go, with the apparent aim of God refining and purifying us through them, and that during those times we ought to seek comfort from the Bible, and from our friends and family – however trite such words and wisdom can feel at the time of struggle.

And yet, as I sit back at home with the brief and comforting respite of Al Stewart’s “Time Pieces” spinning atop our inherited turntable rig, these words from “Life in Dark Water” jump out as a stark reflection on how this week so far feels to me, a mere mortal trying to make sense of the tensions I’m seeing and feeling from around me:

..:Why am I alone here with no rest…
…They’ll never know, never no never,
How strange life in dark water can be.”

From a biblical perspective, this song seems to present a very “Job”-like set of woes and words. The song itself seems to be written from the perspective of the Marie Celeste and her crew, with an imaginary crew-member apparently left behind and trying to make sense of the 500 or so years that have passed since. “What happened? Why me? Why now?”

Some comfort comes I guess in knowing deep-down that this time will pass, and lessons will hopefully be learned. While I process that deep-down thought however, I’m somewhat encouraged that even ‘secular’ music can touch a nerve and bring out understandings and reflections about myself and how I feel about the situations I find happening around me, and at the same time can still point me to memories of comforting truths long-lost in the battlefield.

So I can thank God for helping me connect some dots, and also I can indirectly thank Al Stewart for writing words and music which connect at such a deep level. I’m very grateful for both comforts this of all days.

Tempted to bang on the walls to alert your noisy neighbour to your plight?

Don’t.

Firstly and as many Londoners might naturally feel, there is of course the very practical consideration that fighting back in this way tends only to inflame an already delicate situation. Secondly, here in the UK at least, in your malice you might be creating an actionable private nuisance yourself!

Sound strange? Maybe, but look what happened when this kind of case was brought to court, many moons ago…

The case of Christie v Davey, 1893, 1 Ch 316

Seems that Christie here was a music teacher, who gave lessons in her house. Mr Davey, living in the semi-attached property next door, didn’t much like the noise. It seems he complained directly to Mrs Christie more than once. I’ve just found online a letter purporting to be penned from Mr Davey to Mrs Christie:

“During this week we have been much disturbed by what I at first thought were the howlings of your dog, and, knowing from experience that this sort of thing could not be helped, I put up with the annoyance. But, the noise recurring at a comparatively early hour this morning, I find I have been quite mistaken, and that it is the frantic effort of someone trying to sing with piano accompaniment, and during the day we are treated by way of variety of dreadful scrapings on the violin, with accompaniments. If the accompaniments are intended to drown the vocal shrieks or teased catgut vibrations, I can assure you it is a failure, for they do not. I am at last compelled to complain, for I cannot carry on my profession (the defendant was an engraver) with this constant thump, thump, scrap, scrap, and shriek, shriek, constantly in my ears. It may be a pleasure or source of profit to you, but to me and mine it is a confounded nuisance and pecuniary loss, and, if allowed to continue, it must most seriously affect our health and comfort. We cannot use the back part of our house without feeling great inconvenience through this constant playing, sometimes up to midnight and even beyond. Allow me to remind you of one fact, which must most surely have escaped you–that these houses are semi-detached, so that you yourself may see how annoying it must be to your unfortunate next door neighbour. If it is not discontinued, I shall be compelled to take very serious notice of it. It may be fine sport to you, but it is almost death to yours truly.”

Evidently the letter (which is also referenced and indeed quoted here) didn’t have much effect, and so it seems that Mr Davey took to making noise in retaliation whenever he heard anything from Mrs Christie.  Mr Davey’s noise in turn distracted Mrs Christie’s music lessons, and so Mrs Christie took Mr Davey to court to get him to stop.  According to records I’ve found cited many times online, it would seem that the court ruled in favour of Mrs Christie and granted an injunction against Mr Davey.

Surprised?

When I first heard this story, it was told as Mr Davey having brought the case to court, to get Mrs Christie to stop her teaching activities, and that the court turned the tables on him.  This would have been a much bigger surprise than what I’ve found to have been documented.

Given the presented evidence of his ongoing sufferings, if this case came to court now I might still ordinarily hope for a ruling in favour of Mr Davey. But on reflection, I think there’s an principle at work here:  one cannot justify the creation of a new nuisance, especially out of malice, in order to fix or protest against another.

A lot of water has passed under a lot of bridges since this case originally came to court in 1893.  I’m intrigued to see what others might think of this case in light of our present-day exposure to noise, and whether attitudes have changed about such confrontation.  I wonder if there are any more recent rulings that might counter this one?

Sold? Westcombe Park Police Station

I’ve been wondering for a while whether the disused Westcombe Park Police Station site was due to be sold off, and have posted before about it being boarded up.

Well, if the sign on their carpark fencing is anything to go by, it looks a lot like it’s been sold:

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Also some of the boards have been removed:

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Anyone able to tell us anything about the buyer and why they want it?

What happened to Westcombe Park Police Station?

Occupants moved out, boards moved in.

Been meaning to post this for a while, but only just found time now.  I posted earlier this year about the state of the old Westcombe Park Police Station, and from that learned that it was still being used as a neighbourhood watch outpost, among other things.

Sometime in the autumn this year (I think) some boards went up in the windows and all police-related paraphernalia has been removed or obscured.  By night we see some lights left on, but that’s about it – no other sign of life.  Still, this state is an improvement on the ongoing water leaks that were patched up earlier this summer!

Anyone know what happened?

DHL collections: A special type of customer service fail

So here’s a new customer service policy.

I had an expensive widget break down – a heavy widget.  So I sought help from the manufacturer who says “okay, we’ll repair it – and we’ll have someone collect it from you”.  Great.

So a couple of days later a DHL shipping label and a box arrive.  Dutifully, I put the widget in the box, then printed and attach shipping label to said box, waiting for courier to turn up.

Here’s where the wheels fall off the process:

Part of the process of the manufacturer booking the collection means that a weight for the package is printed on the shipping label. BUT: that data does not get transferred to the courier in the booking process.

So what happens is, the driver turns up, takes one look at the package and the weight, then says something like “too heavy. Someone will come round tomorrow”.  Except that nobody in our office remembers anyone doing that and the first I knew about it was a phone call that came in late yesterday to tell me what had happened.

So, rather than just calling me or a colleague to help with getting the heavy parcel into the van (about a 5 min job), they instead drive off to the next location, call it into base as too heavy, have someone call me to explain the situation, rebook after I get (hopefully not too) annoyed at them and insist it was picked up same-day, then someone else fails to turn up to do that job, then I end up spending most of my day trying to talk to someone about why things failed and how the heck we’re gonna get this thing outta my office today.  About 8 man-hours lost, along with lots more CO2 and a complaint made against a driver for not turning up.

Think it’s time DHL and other couriers get their act together to stop us wasting so much of our lives – and obvious flaws as crucial information not being fed through the data chain such as size and weight of the package really does need fixing. Surely this whole saga is costing DHL far more to sort out than it has me so far?

“Excessive Noise” on Central Line

With measured SPL’s regularly exceeding 100dB (A), I quite agree with the sentiment scratched into this Central Line train door:

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