Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Mental Jukebox: A Cure For Rural Isolation And What Ever Life Throws At You.

My old pal and fellow blog writer: Pat Papertown 2.  Often talks about the Rush drummer Neil Peart and his 'Mental Jukebox'..  In fact we have both seen Mr Peart and Co in Birmingham and Sheffield.  Pat's seen them about 10 times altogether.  If you want to read about  life in Poland or about some great music.  Pat's blog is well worth a read.  That's just a pint when I see you, Pat, please!

A couple of years a go.  Pat recommended me 'Ghost Rider' a book penned by Neil Peart.  It's one of the best books I have ever read.  Neil contemplates ending his life after personal tragedies in his family.  So he got on his BMW R1100GS motorbike and rode 55,000 miles all over the United States, Mexico, Belize and Canada.

Dunno why it says 2008.  Silly digital camera.   Must change that 60 watt light bulb! 

It's an incredible and moving memoir and  word picture artistry of an incredible man.  In the book Neil Peart talks about the 'Mental Jukebox' he often plays in his head, especially when he's riding his motor bike..  I think we all have a 'Mental Jukebox'.  These tracks help us cope and enjoy what ever life throws at us.  Below are 2 of my favourites: "Oh England My Lionheart': Kate Bush and 'Madrigal': Rush.

"Oh England'..This is supposed to be the last fleeting thoughts of a spitfire pilot hurtling towards earth.  I have always had a thing about spitfires, the battle of Britain and of course: Kate Bush.  I would put her in my top five First Ladies of Rock?  Who are yours?  'Madrigal' is just a fantastic song.  It's lyrics say it all.  They are a wonderful tonic when you are feeling down.

What tracks do you play on your mental jukebox?


  1. Nice to see you up and running again, Dave.

    You're right, the mental jukebox is a creative psychological safety valve, often far more interesting than what is going on in the outside world (the everyday day life of mainly social acting is massively overrated).

    Charles Taylor's 'A Secular Age' is the best book I've read about the gradual historical retreat of the individual inside himself.

  2. Thanks Pat. Thanks also for telling me about 'Ghost Rider'. We don't seem to have many heroes any more. I would include Neil Peart in my rock heroes list. He's also a very clever man.

    Never heard of Charles Taylor's: 'A Secular Age'. I will check him out - thanks!

    I think 'poetic sensibility' is the thing to aim for Pat. Like Wordsworth said:

    "There is no 'now' for the poet.

    Thanks for keep inspiring me Pat.

  3. Anything sad( I enjoy a good cry)
    Bizet if I want to get things done!

  4. 'The Masked Rider' which is about Neil Peart's cycling trip round Cameroon in the mid-1980s is also very good, Dave. I think he's also written a book about cycling round China ('Tai Shan' from the 'Hold Your Fire' album is about this).

    Never read Neil Peart's 'Travelling Music' which I think more directly focuses on his mental jukebox theme.

    My favourite part of 'Ghost Rider' is when he goes and watches Aimee Mann play live and, if I remember rightly, describes the music starting to release some of the stress out of his body. You'll remember Aimee Mann from being the backing singer on 'Time Stand Still' from 'Hold Your Fire', Dave. She's also done lots of interesting solo stuff since then, including most of the soundtrack to the 'Magnolia' film with Tom Cruise (love the track 'One').

  5. Thanks for that John. Music is incredible for pressing our emotion buttons. The music in 'Shadowlands' breaks my heart and oftenleaves me blubbing like a baby. Watched the film eighteen times and it still cracks me up. Hymns like 'The Old Rugged Cross', 'In The Bleak Midwinter' and 'Jerusalem' (to think Jesus actually walked around Cornwall with Joseph of Arimathea)really move me. I have also been to rock concerts and had aesthetic experiences. Blue Oyster Cult and Emerson Lake and Palmer come to mind. Music touches the adrenalin and effects the emotions in extraordinary ways!


  6. Hi Pat, thanks for telling us about the other Neil Peart books. I really like reading memoir books. Especially by such dynamic and amazing people like Mr Peart. I am not familiar with Aimee Mann. Will check her out, thanks. 'Travelling Music' sounds like a really good read. Thanks Pat!

  7. Don't think I have a mental jukebox, just pick up on some of the sing-along tunes I know. Mostly Irish and a few Neal Diamond.

    Weather still warm here and stopped raining, feels strange walking out in shirt-sleeves in January.
    Raggy cat continues its routine, it's casting clumps of hair all over, messy little sod.

  8. Hi Cumbrian, I have lots of Irish;Thin Lizzy (of course), Clancy Brothers, Dubliners, Furey's..., and Solitaire (Neil Diamond), playing in my mental jukebox. That's along with my very eclectic taste including brass bands, heavy rock, the Carpenters, The Nolans, Britney Spears, 10CC..., too many to mention. But there's always something playing in my head. It's a good job I am not a DJ at a wedding with my music taste, isn't it?

    Just been on a 10 mile bike ride. I decided to get into cycling the easy way. So I jumped on the push iron and off I went. My legs were like jelly and I was breathing like an old brewery dray. horse. No this is the year of getting fit and saying goodbye to the beer belly. Just having a 'pint of bitter' to refresh my self. Aren't I a man of contradiction?

    Exercise is supposed to be good for releasing adrenalin and endorphins from the brain. Must admit it put me in a very happy mood. Perhaps I will stop ranting about the lack of rural public transport? Don't think so.

    Raining here. Cattle inside cow shed tucking into straw. Domino sat on windowsill in farm house watching the rain.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  9. Yes, I've been taking a walk every morning, just about 30 minutes down by the river, about the most excercise I get. Thinking to extend the walk as I (hopefully) get a little bit fitter. It's too easy to fall into the trap of thinking you've got to use the car for everything.
    Don't suppose the nightly pint or so and King Edward are helping much though, but I tell myself I deserve something.

    Domino sounds like he's learning, Raggy cat been out and came in for milk and biccies then back to the fireside, it's getting a bit colder tonight but not raining.

  10. Hi Cumbrian, yes there's a lot to be said for a morning saunter at a sedate pace. You observe so much more than you do in a car. I spotted a salmon ladder and a ancient standing stone yesterday on my inaugural bike ride.

    I could do with cutting down on my alcohol intake. But I like to wind down in the evening with a few pints and a odd glass of whisky, some times I have a wine night. Still miss the cigarettes even though I haven't smoked for over 20 years. Perhaps I should get a pipe? I love the aroma of cherry brandy pipe tobacco.

    Lashed it down last night. Cattle are dry this morning. So they must have spent the night in the stall. I always leave their door open, unless it's blowing a gale. Just another 6 weeks or so and they will be back in the fields.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  11. Yes, you discover all sorts of things on a 30 minute walk, also anybody you meet (not many and mostly dog walkers) seems to be friendly and bid you a good morning, a bit different from some towns where people seem to be able to totally ignore each other.

    Alcohol intake? My doctor actually reccommends 2 glasses of red wine a day as being beneficial, more so than complete teetotalism, and tells me it's only regular excessive consumption that leads to problems. But I don't know what he classes as excessive.
    My own regular consumption in earlier days was a gallon of draught Guinness a night at the pub, topped off with a bottle of port or red wine when I got home. Now, as a diabetic and overweight I try to stick to 3 - 4 units a day.

    Smoking? 60 - 80 a day was my regular consumption, 100 on a bad a day wasn't unknown, I stacked them on 6 January 2006. They say it's 2 years for the craving to disappear, but I don't think it ever really does. My current intake of a small King Edward every night is managable, funny enough I don't feel the need to light up at other times.
    I love the smell of good pipe tobacco, the pubs in the days of open fires all had a compliment of pipe-smoking old boys round the fire, each with their favourite plug and complete with the special little knife having a small blade, reamer, and a little anvil thing on the end for tamping down the bowl. Cigarettes were dismissed as a "Ladies smoke".

    Funny enough, despite the decades of excessive nicotine and alcohol intake, I didn't see a doctor in 30-odd years and never missed a days work.
    So I'm sure there's worse things in life than a few beers, bottle of wine, or a drop of whisky, and a smoke at the end of the day.

    Nor raining or windy, just damp and dull.
    Raggy cat on back kitchen window cill this morning, piece of ham with a drink of milk for breakfast and now on Mrs Chesterfield throne.

  12. Thanks for that Cumbrian, All credit to you for giving up the cigarettes and cutting down on the pints. It's so easy to drink more than you should. miss having a local pub to go in every night. That's a big downside for living in the countryside. You don't have a social life. Taxis are rare as rocking horse droppings here in West Cork. A lot of the taxi drivers won't go further than 6 miles because they get more fares in the town.

    I remember my late grandfather smoking his pipe. Some times get a whiff of his pipe tobacco (seriously) when I am working in the vegetable garden. Also seen a few ghost (honest) and unexplained phenomena. Perhaps I should blog about them?

    Missus just come back with 5 second hand demi-johns for 15 Euro. So there will be some more Jeddah Gin and Mead on the go this week.

    King Raggy cat.

  13. Yes, the whiff of tobacco, funny enough I sometimes enter a place for the first time and get a whiff of cannabis smoke when I know no-ones's been smoking there. I thought it was only my imagination, but you seem to get it as well. Pipe tobacco I can't remember the last time I smelled it, pipes seem to be out of fashion now.

    Could be an idea to blog about unexplained phenomemena, get other people's input, might be surprising how many comments you get.

    5 dj's for 15 euros sounds good, new here they're about £6-£7, and they don't wear out, last forever or until you break them. Just need the air-locks now, although some people swear by a baloon over the top, pin-hole when it expands, or just cotton wool, relying on the escaping gas pressure to prevent the nasties getting in.
    Today I bottled the last 2 dj's from last year, a blueberry I'm, not sure how it's gonna turn out, probably not too well, and a cherry that I think is going to be very good to excellent.
    Set another batch of blueberry off 2 days ago (Tesco condemned) and a batch of rhubarb today (Asda condemned).
    Struggling to get a tub of wine yeast locally, Wilkinsons have stopped selling it in tubs (under £2 for about 20 gallons worth) and started selling it in little satchets (85p for 1 gallon), so thanks to the power of the internet a mail order supplier has been found, super yeast, £4.69 including postage for 12 gallons worth, should be here Monday or Tuesday.

    Nice afternoon, blue sky, sunny, no breeze and not cold. But forecast for lots of frost over the next week or two.
    Raggy cat asleep in front of fire, Mrs has re-claimed her Chesterfield.

  14. Thanks Cumbrian,

    Isn't that weird about the smoke? I believe in psychometry and had a few experiences with unexplained phenomena. I think ghosts are like the old negatives in a camera. Now and again we experience residual energy if we believe or are sensitive enough. Yes I will write a blog about it tomorrow, thanks!

    The DJ's came from the recycling place. Somebody couldn't get the D'J's in the bottle banks so the skip hire owner put them in his shed for sale.

    Do you have any 'quickish' recipes for wine, Cumbrian? Just had a glass of Jeddah and a glass of Mead. They are both excellent. Thanks again for all your advice. Going to make so more this week. I love the smell of the Jeddah Gin in the fermenting bucket.

    Dry today. Supposed to freeze tonight. I ordered 10 big round of bales of straw today in case we do get the forecast snow. If we don't use it, it's there for next year.

    I would love a Chesterfield arm chair. Along with a nice glass of brandy and a good book about living off the land.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  15. 10 / 10 to the skip owner, I woder how many are thrown away and finish up in land-fill? Mine came from Freecycle, car boots and charity shops, they're as good as new ones, I've only broken one. all emty at the moment, waiting for the blueberry and rhubarb.

    Never tried the quick kits, so I can't comment, I just keep trying from my collection until they taste OK, I've got quite a few to go at, once you build up a cellar you can choose when they're ready.
    Your jeddah Gin and Mead seem to be fairly quick.

    Our Chesterfield suite came from ebay, dunno how old it is, but it's comfortable and they last a long time, don't date either. Have a look, you might be lucky and get one within collecting distance.

    Freezing tonight here as well, and forecast for more on the way. Make a change from the rain.
    Raggy cat back in, in front of fire, it's going out later though.

  16. Yes Cumbrian, Ten out of ten to the skip hire/recycling place man for taking the trouble to recycle goods destined for landfill. I have heard of 'Wombles' in England - people who have a franchise to pick through the rubbish at the municipal sites and sell it again.

    The Mead and Jeddah Gin are really quick and very cheap to make. Going to make some more this week. Wouldn't mind making strawberry wine.

    Would love an ox blood Chesterfield suite. They are so classy, robust and comfortable. I will keep looking!

    Frosty last night. Dry today. Terrier asleep on the 'sheep'- sheepskin rug in my 'office'.


  17. This is the strawberry I used, it came out excellent (the accidental tatste when setting the syphon off) I made it when Asda had a lot of last-minute reduced strawberries, be expensive when they're full price. I chopped the fruit up as well, I think it gives more chance to get the taste out of them.

    3lb fresh strawberries
    2lb granulated sugar
    1 gallon water
    Juice of 1 lemon

    What type of strawberries should be used?
    Ideally you want to use whole strawberries as they bring out a fuller flavour to the wine. Ensure you use good quality strawberries, avoiding those which are over ripe or spoiled as they will affect the overall quality of the wine produced.

    How to make Homemade Strawberry Wine
    Sterilise all equipment before use.
    Place the strawberries in a primary fermenter such as a bucket and crush them with either a potato masher, wooden spoon or your hands.
    Cover the crushed fruit with the boiling water.
    Add the sugar, nutrients, citric acid and lemon juice to the bucket.
    Stir the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved.
    Lightly cover the bucket and allow to cool to room temperature (this may take a day).
    Stir the mixture daily for the next five days.
    Strain the fruit off and discard.
    Transfer the remaining liquid to a secondary fermenter such as a clean demijohn.
    If necessary top up using cold water to one gallon.
    Fix the demijohn with an airlock and allow to ferment.
    Rack after 30 days and again after an additional 30 days.
    Bottle the wine once clear.
    Allow to age for 6 months.

    The Chesterfield, my charming ex-wife kept my last one, along with the house and everything else except the debt, so it took me about 5 years to get another.

    Frosty morning, ice on the puddles when I went for my morning meander, it's snowing now, only light but looks like it could lay.
    Raggy cat in and asleep as usual, got kicked off my computer chair so in front of (un-lit) fire.
    Terrier's got it weighed up.

  18. Thank you very much for going to the trouble of writing down the strawberry wine recipe, Cumbrian. We will make some this week, along with the Jeddah Gin and the Mead.

    The Chesterfield suites ooze class. We decided last night we have got to get one. Will keep looking on Ebay and 'Done Deal'. Most of them seem to be in the UK, sadly.

    Range lit. Sweet and sour pork (ours) for tea. Terrier listening to brass bands CD lay on 'the sheep'. She likes her ease.

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