A.J. Walker


Of Tyres and Strained Faces

It made sense to take today off with going to the beer festival last night, although with the relatively late arrival at the festival I didn't actually have that many to drink so would have been okay to drive today. That said I had two tyres which definitely needed changing lest I risk a fine and points (or a blow out etc) so I scheduled that today and have boxed that off.

Given me a bit of time to strum in any case so I started with a new song today - 'Save It For A Rainy Day' by the Jayhawks, from their wonderful album 'Rainy Day Music' - if you ain't listened to the Jayhawks then you're missing a treat. Timeless pop songs with beautiful harmonies. Get on it, people.

Harmonies? Well that'll have nothing to do with me then, but a quick strum later and I've put it up on YouTube. I think now that I have enough songs to be getting on with the next thing to do is to learn to play the buggers better. Which means strumming patterns and throwing in some different chords or - god forbid - some riffs... Eek!

sing1 sing3

In the meantime I should also work on gig faces. 'Cos my lord the current ones aren't fit for purpose.

sing4 sing2

My initial practice for 'Save It For A Rainy Day' is on the YouTube music blog thing or whatever that thing is. Hopefully in a few months I'll be playing all these songs better in increments. Practice practice. Not sure I can do much about the face though.

Liverpool Beer Fest

Made it to the Liverpool Beer Festival last night after work - a little later than I would have liked. Thursday night is the opening session and has the advantage of being the cheapest ticketed session (a bargain £3) and of course all the beers are available - come Saturday afternoon and evening the cask choice will be getting limited.


It was a nice session, busy but not so much that you couldn't walk around. Didn't have any beers that made me go "Wow!" but certainly had some nice ones. Liked a couple of the local ones including the Ad Hop 'Robusta' and the Liverpool Brewing Co/Team Toxic 'Koheutek'. The Hawkshead '5 Hop' went down well. But I was disappointed with my beloved 'Jaipur.' There was some talk that the beers were not at the best and that that maybe partly because of the unseasonably warm weather (it was T-Shirt weather yesterday, which is ridiculous for February). There is no entertainment on the Thursday which is a bit of a shame (particularly with me missing the Open Mic night). Still, it was a good night. And anyone heading there will no doubt have a great time.

No guitars, but a Liverpool Supergroup.


Missing Mike

It's Open Mic tomorrow in the Sanctuary Bar and this will be the first one I've missed since discovering it and my new found love for all things singer songery.

It's a mate's birthday celebration which means I is going to be at the Liverpool Beer Festival in the wonderful Lutyen's Crypt of the Roman Catholic cathedral. As excuses go for not attending to the Open Mic it's not a bad one.

Take Me Down
Realising I'd had five attempts at recording the song without the mic working.

Notwithstanding my night off from the Sanctuary I'm still looking at expanding my range of songs available to play at future events. After last week going back to an old one I used to play previously with the Smithdown gang (the Saw Doctor's "N17") I've gone to a song from a similar time. I'm not sure we played it back then, certainly we probably did when messing about in Kev's front room, but I'm not sure it ever got released into the wild. It's another one of my favourite bands that I could never understand weren't successful in the mainstream (like Green on Red and Chuck Prophet): Cracker. If you can get your hands on a CD or find them on Spotify do it. Loads of great stuff.

Anyway I chose another slow downbeat one (cos that's what I do) called 'Take Me Down to the Infirmary' from the album Kerosene Hat. I may do the title track at some point but the vocals are hard to get right - probably another capo song.

I recorded about five versions of me playing it before playing it back and finding the mic wasn't working. Not sure whether it wasn't plugged in right or what. Bit odd - as I would have thought if it wasn't plugged in then the laptop's mic would have kicked in in its stead. So I put the USB mic back in and gave it one more go. And that, my friends, is now up on the YouTube thing along with my other meandering practices.

At this rate by the time I've practiced all my current repertoire I'm gonna have a difficult choice to make at the future Open Mics. Which is a good thing, of course.


It astounds me that I have 5 Subscribers. Thank you whoever you are. Wonder how long it will be until I start writing and playing my own songs... Not imminent, but then again maybe over the next few months.


Some Computing and a Bit of WoW!

My MacBook Pro is still periodically having its panics, but not too often to scare me completely. In any case it meant I took a little time to look at some of the stuff I have on it. Included finding apps that no longer work or that I don't use any more. These included: Logic Express, MacJournal and Montage. Decided it made sense to delete them, which of course it does. The fewer apps on the device the less potential for issues; perhaps.

I've never used Montage which is an app for formatting for screenwriting. Looked quite neat. I even wondered about getting it upgraded before I came to my senses and thought a) I've enough other writing on my plate at the moment to warrant not getting involved with another learning curve and b) I've got Scrivener which will do the job along with all the other things it can do. So if and when I want to write a screen or radio play I can go straight to Scrivener. Huzzah!


trashed apps
Apps: Trashed

It frees up some memory too but in the grand scheme of things only about 1GB. Now thats nice to have in reserve, when I see how much memory my photos takes up it pales into insignificance (173GB). I really need to spend more time deleting photos.

55GB free (173GB used up by photos)

It doesn't help that I am now using iMovie and recording things now I've rekindled my love for the guitar. That really does eat up some memory. Will need to keep on top of photos and movies now. Ho hum.

In other news I managed another 1300 words today for TWO* which keeps me on track for finishing the first draft by the end of March. I really don't know what is going to happen next to the guys. Seat of the pants writing. I am considering working on the first chapter and submitting it for Pulp Idol. Now that would be a first for me. I haven't really done much for Writing on the Wall since Dragon's Pen; which was the scariest thing I've ever done. They've had the odd flash fiction competition but they haven't taken it that seriously in recent years as WoW itself has got bigger, but Pulp Idol has gone from strength to strength. If I've got the thing written then I should at least fling it their way. It can't do any harm.

* The Wobbly Odyssey (aka Project Jaipur)

Long Forgotten Songs

After achieving my aim of writing more than one thousand words today I treated myself to playing some guitar - if that is a treat. And I looked at playing something I haven't played since back in the 1990s: 'N17' by Saw Doctors. I strummed it a few times then tried to record it with iMovie using the Snowball mic to practice using both - I'm not used at all to this iMovie yet. This time I put the mic in the mic stand though it is just loosely held as opposed to screwed in as the old stand doesn't have a screw fit. May have to consider buying a swing arm for the mic. But hell, I'll leave that for today. In the meantime I put N17 up on to that there YouTube channel.

Finding the lyrics in my old music file led me to looking back at our old 'posters' and set lists for gigs we ('Smithdown') did in 1993 and 1994. The main thing it illustrates is how much computing has changed since that time - can't even recall what word processor we were using back then (I think Wordstar 6 or maybe 7?). The other thing is how many songs we bloody played - over twenty. I suppose we did actually practice back then. I'm only just getting back up to double figures now #musttryharder

These are the posters for two gigs - one at Kitty O'Shea's (RIP) 'Don't go on Saturday, GO ON TUESDAY!' in August 1993 and the other at the Liverpool Irish Centre (also sadly RIP) at Christmas 1994, where we got the 'The Hooleys' to play - and ended with the 'Terry Tuppence' disco. I've not got the set list for the 1994 xmas gig but I've got the set lists for the Kitty's gig and the 1993 Xmas gig at the British Legion, Mossley Hill.

Kittys Poster

Set List 170893

xmas93 poster

Set List 101293

Maybe I should go back to some of these songs to up my current repertoire back up towards twenty a bit quicker than I have been. I could definitely feel a rendition of 'I Useta Lover' (or the infamous 'Stood Up, Deffed Out and Desperate') would go down well at the open mic; currently the only songs from these sets that I have played at the open mic are 'One I Love' and 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn'.

That said, I think there's only a few of these I would want to (re) add to my repertoire - probably '110 in the Shade' (yet another Chuck Prophet), 'One' (U2), 'Fisherman's Blues' (Waterboys) and maybe 'Sweet Child of Mine' (Guns and Roses). Let's see...


The BDSM Thing

As I said the other day I have decided I am going to finish the story from last year's NaNoWriMo - 'The Wobbly Odyssey' (aka Project Jaipur) and I've set myself the target of the end of March. I'm not entirely sure how many words it will be but I've updated the Project Goal in Scrivener from 50k, which it was for NaNo, to 80k and set a Daily Goal of 1000 words. Both seem very reasonable. Reckon 1000 words will be between an hour and an hour and a half - but that depends on focus and any time spent researching bits - or wasted getting lost in Twitter and Google nonsense: the most important rule for writing on a computer MUST be turn away from Twitter and limit distractions.

In addition to setting the new project targets I also wrote my quota of words today (1083 to be precise) -Huzzah! And I am getting back into the minds of Bill, Colin and Sandy again. They are not big minds so that helps. '.... other than the BDSM thing.'

BDSM thing

It'll be good to get more practice with Scrivener too. Maybe after finishing a novel and some other writings on it I'll get around to giving it a review.

Faint Light

I would love to have a novel length book published, hell I'd be ecstatic with a novella. Then again there's tons of writers out there with the same aim. I was happy when I got some flash out there and got some recognition (or maybe just familiarity), I've been published in terms of flash, short stories and even poems. I've had a couple of gig reviews and a pub review and even a photo published in a book too. But this wish for having a novel published I'm short of by some infinity. Why infinity? I've never written a novel length story. And I'm not gonna get a novel published if I haven't written one. Stands to reason.

I've done NaNo twice (2016 and 2018) and got myself over the line with 50k words both times. But neither are finished drafts. The first one had a bit to go - but more fundamentally had issues with the use of real people. My bad. Fun to write but not gonna get out there. The second is about 60% complete and is more of a possibility. I'm bursting with ideas for stories but this is the one with 50k words already written. It'd be daft not to get it finished. At least I'd prove I can finish a novel and get that doubt out of the way. 

I've had one lovely beta reader, who you may know from VSS or FlashDog circles (the wonderful Sal Page), who has given it the once over: I've had six pages of notes back. I recognise the issues and I can go back and fix them during editing / redrafting but in the meantime they can really help me whilst I finish the next 40%.

With an estimate of circa 36k to go a target of six weeks to complete would be 1000 words a day. And six weeks would be 25th March. I'll give myself a few days to get back up to speed to begin with then I'll go for it. So let's say first draft by 31st March. Does that sound reasonable? Possibly.

Anyway the thing is on. Can you see a light? I think it's on. It's faint, but it's there, yes?

The VSS Six

Last week's words from Grand Master Unk were:

  • close
  • convict
  • deliberate
  • desert
  • object
  • bougie
  • rando

And I wrote for six of the seven (missing the rando one). The six VSSs are below.

It's time to close the door on my past. I poured my heart into this and you just kept handing it back. You're nothing to me now. Though you'll always be close. I know you like roses so maybe there's some poetic justice that I'll be using you as fertiliser.

Convict #00001 asked if he could wear a different coloured jumpsuit as the orange clashed with his skin. The board pointed out that after a couple of days his Good Genes spray tan would wear off.

Bob sat in his spare room he called The Office and deliberated his next moves. He hadn't been sure whether Carly had deliberately crashed into his car the other week. But now with overnight graffiti daubed across his front door it was clear: this was war.

'It's not nice to realise that you're just a missed heart beat away from death.'
'Don't you dare, Jimmy. You're not going to desert me in my hour of need. And be warned it will always be my hour of need.'
'Sorry. It's just been one of those days.'
'Well, get over it.

'I object to being objectified. You treat me like a blow up doll.'
'I hate to break it to you but you are a blow up doll. And you are the voice in my head.'
'Really, so why would I be moaning?'
'I'm after semi realism.'
'Fair enough. Well I'm after more than a semi.'

First there were the conversations; stocks, pensions, schools and Caribbean cruises. Then there were the cucamelons in the 'name that veg' salad and the ridiculous range of flavoured gins. I'd gone over to the dark side with my boogie nights replaced by bougie nights.

Now I've just got to pick the one to use for the seedling challenge.

Of Mics and Men

Open Mic at the Sanctuary last night actually had a mic and multiple guitars. Huzzah! There were multiple singers as well as poetry and short story readings. Excellent, as ever. Not sure why but all the open mic'ers are men. Come on ladies, bring your plectrums.

I didn't play Shed a Tear, which I was working on this week, in the end I went for my current favourites:

  • You Couldn't Get Arrested
  • Somewhere Down the Road
  • Sweet Carolina, and
  • Heart Breaks Like the Dawn

I sing most each song with my eyes closed. Don't know why or how I stop that - or even whether I should. That said a brief video has emerged on Instagram showing that maybe they're not quite as closed as I thought they were... click on the photo.

zevonesque strum

Couple of mates turned up, including one who doesn't have a musical bone. Not sure he'll be back often unless it's just for the beer (didn't like the stories or poetry either). It takes all sorts to make a world.

I was made 'spare' on Friday so at least it meant I could have a couple of drinks. Unfortunately there weren't extended drinks in the bar so had to settle for one in the Fall Well (Wetherspoon) here I had a lovely Peerless Oatmeal Stout whilst I waited for the bus (not even the last bus).

Plans re the guitar playing include in order: work on strumming patterns; write some songs! Then maybe get into scales and riffs. Strumming and songs very much first though.

In other news I have a beta reader of my first six chapters of the 'book' I wrote for NaNoWriMo in November and it's getting to the point where I should get on with writing the rest of it. I reckon it should be another 30-40k words. If I did 50k in one month then I should be able to do that in a month too should I? It's all about motivation and getting in the groove again with it. Having not touched it since getting to the 50k at the end of NaNo I need to finish reading where I'm up to and get writing.

I'll give myself six weeks (I have the guitar to work with too - which I wasn't playing until the second part of November). So watch this space. Could I finish my first whole book?

Mo Music

A day that should leave me feeling a bit more relaxed one way or another, but we'll see.

Updated my mate's business website. Nice to get that boxed off in quick time. In other news I managed to get around an hour or so playing the guitar which was nice. I've got a bit of a sore back at the moment - I think a trapped nerve - which has left me a bit pins and needled on my fretting hand which isn't ideal. Recorded 'Shed a Tear (for the lonesome)' using the Blue 'Snowball' microphone and iMovie. The movie is a bit dark and freckly as it was getting dark out and I was only using the computer's iSight camera. At some point I'll see if I can attach or use my Lumix instead - would be better for image quality and flexible recording.

Yesterday I received a Twitter message from
Getintothis to tell me I'd won a couple of tickets for a gig tonight at Sound on Duke Street. There's three or four bands on with the headline act being 'Allusinlove'. Looks like it may be fun. More music and on another school night. Unfortunately most the usual suspects I'd go with aren't available tonight so looks like I may be there on me lonesome - awww!


Suppose I better get ready for popping out for some tunes then.

The VSS Seven

The VSS prompts this week were in order: parents; stick; London; pantomime; bliss; read; bow. Pretty open for story ideas then. These were my seven:

The children were separated from their parents, who stood outside in fear. Forced into the toy emporium with their contactless credit cards it was an epic free for all. Two children were packed off that night never to be seen again. Probably in a Lego grave right now.

'Dad, I'm scared.'
'I know, son. It's terrifying, but
stick with me and we'll get out of here.'
'Of course. I should never have brought you here. Deep breath, keep close to the wall and follow me.'
Eventually they made it out of the Trafford Centre alive.

Five days before Brexit and London was a mess. The press had stoked the fear factor up to 11 and half the shops were shut and boarded up; the shelves bare. I looked down on the crazy town comforted by the walls of tinned baked beans behind me. I'd live. With open windows.

'Thank fuck he's gone.'
'Aye, a dick.'
'Thinks he's the big I am. More like a big knob. Not in a good way. A big flaccid knob.'
'Of course. Who else?'
'No, I mean Gordon... he's behind you.'
'No he isn't.'
'Oh yes he is.'
'Shit, my life's a fuckin'

The week by the Borneo jungle was beautiful. The food impeccable. Wild boar with the rice from the fields outside; picking the shot out of the meat. The pineapples; otherworldly. Lights off at 8pm with the generator. Reading by torchlight. No WiFi. No signal. Bliss.

I read yesterday that there was an App that could your read your mind. I dismissed it as nonsense until last night I took a delivery of chicken pakoras, chicken jalfrezi and garlic naan BEFORE I'd rung my order through. Spooky shit!

Mildred and Milicent the magnificent moo cows, spooked by Beau the bow legged beagle, shivered and slithered, hither and thither, till sensationally skating the ice 'cross the river.

Now I've just got to decide which one to use as the base for a Seedling Challenge story. Decisions, decisions.



After getting the new microphone for the computer it made me consider the software I've been using. I haven't really be looking at that which is daft. The little practice vids I've put up on YouTube were recorded using PhotoBooth, which is one of the bundled pieces of software with the Mac and then I've edited it using iMovie to get the clip length right, flip the view and add appropriate titles.

As it is I've looked into the recording now and it seems at the very least I should be recording it straight into iMovie rather than using PhotoBooth. The picture quality would be better - not sure about the audio (haven't found a reference to that yet). To that end the version of the software on my 9 year old MacBook Pro is 9 years old itself (iMovie 9). Found that iMovie 10.1.10 was issued in November 2018 AND importantly is FREE; which is always a nice price point.
Downloaded and installed the new software. The key thing will be how stable the software is on my computer. If it is then it could be a winner. It has already automatically updated all the previous videos I'd recorded with the old software. Proper Mac. Easy.

Though let's see if I've spoken too soon...