A.J. Walker


Another Whiskey Song

It's been a few weeks since I've played a new (or new old) song and with me being off today I thought I'd do one as part of my guitar playing practice. The last one I put up was 'Whiskey in my Whiskey' which I've done at the last couple of Open Mics along with 'Down by the Water'. So with all these liquid songs I decided to do another one and have gone for a slow slow version of the traditional Irish song 'Whiskey in the Jar.' It's no Thin Lizzy or Metallica version.

Anyway, I did it on the first take which is at least ten takes fewer than usual.

Whiskey In the Jar
(apologies for the lack of a check shirt - confusing, I know)

My song list is expanding slower now. But if I can concentrate on them I can improve them. Think my singing is improving a little from its admittedly rather low base.

Current songs that I am playing and have put on YouTube are:

  • Whiskey In The Jar (trad. Irish)
  • Whiskey In My Whiskey (Felice Brothers)
  • Down By The Water (Decemberists)
  • Love Hurts (Gram Parsons and Emmylou)
  • My Heart Is Living In the Sixties Still (Saw Doctors)
  • Save It For A Rainy Day (Jayhawks)
  • Take Me Down To The Infirmary (Cracker)
  • N17 (Saw Doctors)
  • Shed A Tear (for the lonesome) (Green on Red)
  • Splendid Isolation (Warren Zevon)
  • You Couldn't Get Arrested (Green on Red)
  • Somewhere Down The Road (Chuck Prophet)
  • One I Love (REM)
  • Van Diemen's Land (U2)
  • Sweet Carolina (Ryan Adams)
  • Better Be Home Soon (Crowded House)
  • Heart Breaks Like the Dawn (Chuck Prophet)
  • Hotel California (Eagles)

Written out like that it looks like a whole setlist. Anyway, in a few months I'll start putting newer versions of the same songs which should show some progress. Bloody hope so anyway!


VSS365 vs Seedling Challenge

It's Easter Sunday and eventually on Saturday I found out I could take the day off. Now as a devout atheist (not sure who Athe was, but I follow him) the main thing is that the day is sunny, Liverpool are live on the telly box later and it gives me time to play some guitar, read AND write. So far I've only achieved 'Second Coffee' and sausage sandwich along with some reading (Peter Pan!).

First up in the writing thing though is the Seedling Challenge of course. So I've got to pick one of these to use as my starting point:

  • Our family had our own Easter tradition. As a thinly veiled threat dad would get his bagpipes out; he'd use them if we didn't let him watch 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines'. We'd seen the film so many times. But God, so preferable to the alternative.

  • On their first date Bob had told Lucy he was vegan. Now he looked forward to the hours they were apart when he'd stuff his face with myriad cheeses.
Lucy cursed herself for telling Bob she was vegan. She now had a twice weekly appointment with a KFC bargain bucket.

  • That Lisa is so full of venom and vitriol whenever I can I cross the street to avoid her. I wouldn't feel safe with a Hazmat suit on and a large barge pole. I suspect her tears are pure acid. Don't know how her husband puts up with her. Either he's deaf or on a penance.

  • The lie was a big one, covered at first by a thin veneer of truth. When the truth fell away the lie was laid bare, but it was too late the people who mattered had fallen for it. The lie was now truth and the truth the lie.

  • Dr. Nostrum looked like he'd gone ten rounds. He supped anxiously at a cold coffee.
  • The FBI guys hovered around him.
  • 'Do you know what's wrong with him?'
  • 'There's a void where his brain should be and just a damaged Russian computer board. You need IT not a doctor.'

  • 'Have you seen Amy? She's a real fox.'
'You mean a vixen. Don't they have fleas? Or is that hedgehogs?'
'She's not a real fox.'
'But you just said...'
'I mean she's a wow! A ten out out of ten. Hubba-hubba.'
'Does she even have a tail?'
'She's not a fox. Oh, forget it.'

  • 'I'm wanna be a villain when I grow up. Take what I want, when I want. If I get caught I get given bed & board and don't have to do the washing up. It's a win-win.'
'I'm gonna be a policeman and lock you up, motherfucker!'
The kids had been watching Law & Order again. #VSS365

Now which one will I go for?


A More Usual Open Mic

After the last Open Mic was quirkily small but perfectly formed, yesterday's returned to the more usual with the return of John, Dave, Oliver et al. It meant that there were six or seven guitar playing singers, along with Matt Author Dot Com, another couple of poets, and even some standup.

All in all another sound night- and the Oakham 'JHB' wasn't bad either.

Ended up playing five songs:

  • Somewhere Down the Road (Chuck P)
  • Heart Breaks Like the Dawn (Chuck)
  • Down by the Water (Decemberists)
  • Whiskey in my Whiskey (Felice Brothers)
  • Splendid Isolation (Warren)

No photos this time, but suffice to say if there was then it would have shown me wearing a checked shirt.

Oh and Bobo had a new guitar - a jingle jangle 12-string. Very nice indeed.

Cracking One Out - VSS365

The #VSS365 bandwagon rolls on and on subsuming all in its wake. Or something like that.

Those that get it get addicted to it. Those that don't scratch their heads and wonder at it all. And others… well there will always be others - and they can keep to themselves. It was nice this week to find that, in addiction to the barman from one of the pubs I frequent (@GoseSocialist) at the Sanctuary, one of the customers who has heard us talking about #VSS365 has gone in feet first this week and is already loving it (@BeefyNets). The small bite size chunks and ease of cracking one out - as it were - makes it quick and simple for anyone anytime. Let's face it unless you're in an area with no signal there's a possibility of doing it every day, if you are so inclined (and it won't make you go blind, promise).


This week Mark King, the original VSSer and nuzzle loving FlashDog, announced the idea of a VSS Anthology - nay not an idea for it is a fully formed thing. There IS to be an anthology and you could be in it. You'll need to be writing your VSS365 on any day in June through to July 7 for a chance to get in. Check out Mark's blog for full details about it, which has all the nuances, including who will be the helpful Ambassadors (with or without Ferrero Rocher). Click on Mark's lovely @FlashDog / #VSS365 logo above to read all about it.

It's a neat idea and certainly demonstrates how much the innocent looking hashtag has gone from its humble beginnings. Kudos, Mark for the original idea and for running with this along with the Ambassadors and supporters. Also, if you haven't read Mark's 'Metropolitan Dreams' I can thoroughly recommend it.



The Wobbly One Two

I've not finished writing 'The Wobbly Odyssey' yet, but I've gone a wee interesting side step with it by submitting the first chapter of it to Writing on the Wall: Pulp Idol. It's the first time I've entered this annual competition.

Pulp Idol

This is open for submissions until Sunday midnight so if you're an amateur writerer from the Liverpool/Sefton/Wirral area and you have a first chapter already written there's still a bit of time left to submit it. If it's already written then why not, what have you got to lose?

Well, even if not this is a little boot up the arse and may help give impetus to the characters to get to their goal (with a little help from me); I've completed seven chapters and have about four to go. That's a month if I can do one a week…


It's the first time I've submitted anything to WoW for several years - I think since the very scary Dragon's Pen.


The Wobbly One

After my reading of the first chapter of The Wobbly Odyssey at last Thursday's Open Mic I was asked if I'd be reading subsequent chapters at future Open Mics. I said I wouldn't be - there's no way I should subject people to it. And with different audience each time there's no way most people would have a clue what I would be going on about. However as they were keen to find out what was going to happen next I said I'd forward a copy of the WIP as it stands in Kindle format.

To that end I needed to sort out a cover. Hence this current placeholder:

TWO v2-500


A Quite Different Open Mic

Last Thursday I was at the bi-weekly Open Mic at the Sanctuary once again. Whilst I was on the way into Liverpool on the No.17 my phone rang and it was Bobo checking if I was coming. His message to me basically being 'It may well just be me and thee.' It was the first day of the Grand National meet and it was a crap, wet day. In addition a few regulars were either ill, away and/or not answering their phones.


It turned out in the end that there were three of us who played guitar; Bobo, Kevin Zen and me. I ended up playing about seven songs or so including a couple of new ones out there live for me: 'Down By the Water' and 'Whiskey in my Whiskey'


Can't remember my set list completely but it included:

  • Heart Breaks Like the Dawn
  • Down By the Water
  • Sweet Carolina
  • Whiskey In My Whiskey
  • Somewhere Down the Road
  • You Couldn't Get Arrested
  • One I Love


Even without Matt Author being there a couple of people did readings of stories and poems.

This galvanised me into action and I read three of my poems which I could access from my website after putting them up last week: S
chroedinger's Poem; Night Football and New Year Audit.

And then most audaciously read the
entire first chapter of my WIP: The Wobbly Odyssey. It seemed to go down quite well and definitely makes me think I WILL tidy it up a little and submit it for Pulp Idol.

All in all it was a quite different Open Mic night, but not poorer for it.

Updating Software: Bah!

After updating the website from http to https protocol on Monday the comments on the website, including most significantly the Seedling Challenge, disappeared. The comments are via Disqus, and on their site it suggested that changing the protocol shouldn't have had an impact. However patently it did. The reason for me making the change was that the website written on the old version of RW kept showing up on some (most?) web browsers as 'unsafe' because it was using the older http:// protocol. Little did I know it would fuck it up and stress me out.

I'm not completely sure why they went but my suspicion is that it was my old version of Rapidweaver 5.3.2 (about 7 years old). I think it kept changing the automated site name to http within the webpages where Disqus was specified.

I've ended up spending a couple of days trying to get it sorted. In the end I've bitten the bullet and bought the new RW software - which incredibly is now 8.1.7.

Unfortunately it wasn't a case of importing the old website into the new software - oh no! No, I had to download a newer version of RW5 (5.4.1) and save in that format and then open that in RW8. So I currently have THREE versions of the software on the laptop.

Unfortunately I'm also going to have to buy a Plug-In for the software (Stacks) which is going to cost me a bit more too. But it is a necessity really for RW. Really it should be integrated into the thing (you'd thing RealMac and YourHead could do a deal and sort that) as not many people wouldn't use it.

Anyway, as soon as saved it into RW8 and uploaded it the Disqus comments worked again. Painful, but hey ho I got there in the end.

Poems - after a fashion

For Monique's last day hosting #VSS365 today she only had to go and mention poetry. Flip. Not dabbled in that in a long time. It's made me root out a few anyway and post them under the 'Writings' section.

  • Schrodinger's Poem
  • Super Sunday
  • Night Football
  • New Year Audit

None of them involve love or clouds, but there's some beer and football. Of course.

First up is
'Schrodinger's Poem' it could be the best thing ever written. Ever. By anyone. Honest. And second is 'Super Sunday' apt with the Liverpool v Spurs game later. After that is 'Night Football' because it goes well with Super Sunday and finally there is 'New Year Audit' because Sal remembered it and I didn't.

And if you don't like any of them blame Monique for making me unleash them again!


Reading - One Quarter In

Not been doing too bad with my reading so far this year. Probably one book behind where I should be to get to the forty this year - just finished my ninth. I've been doing particularly well with my non-fiction reads. The ones I aimed to read this year (as per my January blog) were:

Planned 2019 Non-Fiction Reads to include:

A Line in the Sand (James Barr)
In Xanadu (William Dalrymple)
Milk of Paradise (Lucy Inglis)
On Writing (Stephen King)
The Golden Atlas (Edward Brooke-Hitchings)
Homage to Gaia (James Lovelock)

(the ones in blue I've finished and the red ones remain)

The five fiction books I've read, between January and the end of March, have all been SF/F (nothing if not predictable):

Jem (Frederick Pohl)
The Farthest Shore (Ursula Le Guin)
Lies Sleeping (Ben Aaronovitch)
Emphyrio (Jack Vance)
The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut)

And my two favourite so far have been
'A Line in the Sand' and 'Emphyrio'. Top reads!

Not sure yet what my next read will be; possibly the planned Philip Pullman or Mervyn Peake.