Thursday, 3 April 2008

Oh, Black Grouse Where Art Thou? A Trilogy of Musings

This morning I was up at 3.30, yesterday it was 4.30, and the day before that, and the day before that. When your job involves shifting your circadian rhythms to correspond with those of black grouse you begin to appreciate how many hours there are in the day. There's something deeply satisfying about being up before dawn, watching as the Eastern horizon gently fades in a wooded glen or heathy hillside. And I don't mind being in bed at 9.30 in the evening - it's not like there's much to miss in the cultural hot spot of Fort William. Generously, black grouse only lek until a few hours after dawn, so I'm heading home to a day of leisure by about 9.30. At the moment this leisure time involves bouldering in Glen Nevis, at the Ice Factor or the wall in town, or drinking lots of tea up in the crucible.

Most of the sites I have to survey are around Forestry Commission plantations in Glen Garry, Glen Kingie or by Loch Arkaig. Isn't life terrible? The remoteness of some of these sites has lead to a combination of very early starts, a fair bit of off-road driving and mountain-biking. It's pretty cool cycling along in the middle of absolute no-where in the cocoon of light cast by my head-torch. I guess some-one has to do it.


What with all this mild weather we've been having, and following the warm afternoon sessions on the Heather Hat, I'm definitely getting that end of winter feeling. Sure, I'll head out if I can be promised good conditions and good weather, but by this time in the season I can't be bothered with powder wading, misery and suffering. In truth, I'm hankering for warm, dry rock, and as such, I'm secretly hoping for a huge thaw.

Here is me earlier this week doing the first half of Midnight In A Perfect World.

A while ago I realised that I've never mentioned music on my blog. I'm not sure why. Possibly for fear of ranting, preaching or being boring. However, here goes.

I'm not really the 'muso' type, but I certainly appreciate a good, honest tune and listen to all sorts of stuff. I'm fortunate enough to have always been surrounded by 'muso' friends who readily burn me CDs and give recommendations, and they like real music. By 'real' music I mean music that has been created with some degree of honesty and integrity, regardless of genre or style, rather than the soulless shite voted for by a million gurning twats on a saturday evening - think X-Factor, think Take That, think Britney. I have strong feelings about this. Surely, everyone knows that saccharine-sweet lollipop mediocrity has no integrity. By it's nature it's bland and unoffensive so that EVERYONE will cough up their money for it and line the likes of Simon Cowell's pockets. Every time you see him sincerely say that the music he produces is good, you know a peice of him must die inside. Simon, buddy, we all know that it's utter shite.

That there was something more to be taken from music struck me for the first time when I listened to Mogwai's album Young Team, and the epic finale 'Mogwai Fear Satan'. It was then that I realised that music is much more than mere bubble gum for the ears. It's inspiration for activity, it's food for thought, it's a soothing balm, it's a frame for the big picture.

Or something like that.
Getting down to the silent groove: An Impromtu Silent Disco in Bristo Square. Edinburgh.

To illustrate my musical tastes I'll put itunes on shuffle and list the 1st 10 tunes to appear:
1. Solemn Thirsty - Malcolm Middleton
2. God's Small Song - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
3. Grass Root's Horizon - Kinobe
4. Tone Guitar and Drum Noise - Fridge
5. Get a Hold- A Tribe Called Quest
6. (untitled) - DJ Shadow
7. Monkey Fist - Phillip Roebuck
8. Sore - Buck 65
9. This One or That One? - The Six Parts Seven
10. Bottle Rocket - The Go! Team

The Cheery Malcolm Middleton at Green Man Festival 2006

I downloaded LCD Soundsystem's latest album, Sound of Silver, the other day and it's still giving me the horn. Before I heard the whole album I thought that Sam Loveday's 'possible tune of 2007' 'Someone Great' was as good as it got, but then I heard 'All my Friends', and haven't stopped grinning and dancing round the kitchen.

Adios amigos.


Stevious said...

I am simultaneously jealous of your job, and glad I don't do it. Hats off for getting the psyche up for doing alpine starts to watch grouse at it.

I agree wholeheartedly about music, but resent the implication that I'm a muso (even if it's true).

That wifi dongle will be on it's way to you as soon as you send me your proper address (I don't think the Royal Mail would recognise 'The Crucible of Psyche').

sam loveday said...

You are a pussy, misery, powder and suffering is where it's at.