End of the Road gallery

In the Wiltshire drizzle for End of the Road: small-town-talking with Julian Mash; in the big top with Dumbo; listening to Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker with a seated Geoff Travis, book-signing with Travis Elborough; getting (two-toed) slothful with my darling wife Natalie… and harping on about the always exceptional Joanna Newsom.

Laing’s Lonely City

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After seeing Olivia Laing speak impressively at July’s Port Eliot festival, I read her brave and remarkable book about a subject that’s almost taboo in our culture: loneliness.

The Lonely City is a study of alienation and estrangement – but also of art, AIDS, attachment and social media – and I recommend it highly. Laing writes of her own bewildered isolation in Manhattan, takes in the work of Warhol, Hopper and others, and says such interesting things about the terrors of aloneness vs. the joys of solitude. Like most of us I’ve experienced intense loneliness in my life – but also a kind of ecstatic solitude. The Lonely City made me think deeply about all of this.

Laing writes beautifully and with piercing honesty. “What’s so shameful about wanting,” she asks. “Why this need to constantly inhabit peak states, or to be comfortably sealed inside a unit of two?” She’s also brilliant on Facebook, Twitter et al: “I wanted to look and I wanted to be seen, and somehow it was easier to do both via the mediating screen.”

The Lonely City

“Charidee” Rock!

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My good friends JAMES FOX (left) and ADAM WILDI (right) with my darling wife NATALIE FORBES at a “charidee rock” night at Wintershall, Surrey, as guests of our great pal Rupert Wace.

James, who wrote Keef R’s Life, would probably concur with me that the only real music we heard all night was the half-hour set by the ever-extraordinary JEFF BECK, though Beck’s closing take on the Beatles’ ‘Day in the Life’ for me wasn’t a patch on the glorious ‘Nessun Dorma’ he did last time Rupert invited us to this event.

We’ll be featuring the Beckmeister on Rock’s Backpages this week, ahead of his new Loud Hailer album out next week…