Tag Archive for 'múm'

FaceTime Family

My mum recently discovered FaceTime. Actually, that’s an over-simplification. My mum recently discovered the cost of her monthly phone bill, including all those calls to Poland, and then discovered FaceTime. Again, an over-simplification. My mum discovered the cost of her monthly phone calls to Poland, and the assistant from the network provider suggested she should really discover FaceTime.

Whenever I see FaceTime light up across my phone, iPad, and laptop screens – in almost unison, I know it’s my mum. Occasionally though, I don’t see Anna Milton née Wylie on the other side of the camera, but a small human known to the world as Charlotte Elizabeth Milton. As much as I love my mother, and the chance to talk to her, when Charlotte’s face appears, I know I’m in for a treat. She will tell me about school, or her dancing, or Taekwon-do, or her beloved trips to Speedway matches with her adoring papa; and I will listen with smitten attention.

Today though, it was my mum’s chance to talk, and we did so. Discussing topics as wide-ranging as my impending therapy, to less-than-ideal family gatherings. Of course, FaceTime – by its very nature – suggests some degree of face-to-face contact. Oh no, not with Anna Milton. Often the best I can hope for is some part of her face interrupting the abundant background, but more often than not, it is a corner of a bed, a ceiling tile in the kitchen, some grass in a park, artex from the ceiling in the living room, or the roof of the car.

When FaceTime erupts onto my screen, it is rare I’m in any fit state for some face-to-face contact anyway. My mother seems to know just when the least optimal time to call is, and she pounces on her moment. I may be emerging from the shower, or finishing a work-out, walking to work, or eating dinner; so the camera’s unforgiving gaze is averted.

It is easy to feel fatigue for all this incredible technology that we may forget just how fortunate we are in having it. 100 years ago, an immigrant would have exponentially less frequent communication with family at home than we are blessed with now. With one touch of a button, I am, to all intents and purposes, instantly connected to my family – or in this case, my mum’s forehead.

This simple truth occurred to me today as our conversation came to an end, and I considered the times in the last 6 years I’ve been too busy or too frustrated with work to even be civil as family called me to say hello, and I feel I should remember how lucky I am to be able to see them any time I choose.

To be retained #2 – Slint, All Tomorrow’s Parties. 2005.

I first listened to Spiderland in 1998; a natural consequence of investigating the ‘genre’ of Post-rock in the wake of my blossoming love for Glasgow’s Mogwai and Falkirk’s Arab Strap.  It was astonishing music and this seminal album by Louisville band Slint was unlike anything I had heard before.  From the delicate guitar and spoken word at the beginning of Breadcrumb Trail to the pained expressions of loss in Brian McMahon’s cries of “I miss you” at the end of Good Morning, Captain; hearing the album became a key moment in the formative years of musical discovery that shape my listening, my composing and ultimately, my life.  Had I not heard Spiderland at that particular period of my teenhood, I may not have become quite so enthralled with the whole post-rock genre and I may not have found other such bands like Rodan, June of ’44 and even, possibly, Godspeed you! black emperor.

For the next 7 years I would write, record, play, promote, release and enthuse about music.  I would attend hundreds of gigs and I would write about many different bands and I never seriously considered that I may see Slint take to the stage and play live.  In 2005, of course, that was all to change.

I don’t remember exactly how I heard that Slint were to curate 2005’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival at Camber Sands holiday camp in Kent, but I do remember there being no question in my mind that I would be there.  And in *DATE*, that’s exactly where I was; alongside several friends, my girlfriend of the time, and somewhat controversially my ex-girlfriend and her new bloke.  Occasional moments of awkwardness aside, things went fairly smoothly and a good time was had by all.

All Tomorrow’s Parties is a festival like none I’d experienced before (or since) and can only be bettered, in my opinion, by Iceland Airwaves – but that’s something quite personal.  That all ATP attendees are housed in chalets and that the main stage is in the entertainments hall of a holiday camp, gives the festival a lovely twee indie feel and everyone has such a great time.  So many smiles abound.

Memories of the festival are many but some of my favourites are seeing múm live for the first time though being the only member of our party that wasn’t bored by the performance (sacriledge!); enjoying Mogwai live for the umpteenth time; experiencing a comedian called Neil Hamburger with his tired, cynical lounge act schtick; and watching Mogwai, like star-struck teenagers, enjoying Slint from the side of the stage – Martin Bulloch in particular, air drumming along to Britt Walford’s fills.  Wonderful stuff.

Of course, 7 years of love for the band meant that Slint had an almost impossible task to live up to my expectations and fell a little short.  Compared to some of the bands I had seen to that point at the festival (the Melvins, for instance), the band looked unenthusiastic and, on occasion, bored in comparison.  That is not to say it was bad, just not quite what I had expected of them.  That said, the live performances of Rhoda and Nosferatu Man made me giggle uncontrollably with uninhibited joy.  Lack of enthusiasm on stage aside, I was watching Slint play some of my favourite songs and I was delighted.

It was only a couple of years later that I saw Slint play again, this time at the ABC in Glasgow and performing Spiderland in its entirety.  The band were greeted like the post-rock heroes they are in the city and it was lovely to hear the album performed start to finish, however, I will always remember the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival more fondly as sometimes that first time is the most memorable.