“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

I was out for a walk recently and, just for fun, decided to mentally re-write Roger Hargreave’s children’s book ‘Mr Happy’ in the style of Jack Kerouac. As you do.

By the time I had finished my walk the story had grown into a seedy, sprawling tale of drinking, wild nights and a rather confused salvation. With all this buzzing around my head I then made an unrelated ‘phone call which required me to leave a simple message on an answering machine.

Unfortunately, the spellbindingly long labyrinths of sentences that Kerouac inspires had affected my speech and what came out (and onto the answering machine) was the longest, most elaborate and confused message I’ve ever left. It was so messed up it even contain references to itself. When I finally thought I’d wrapped it up I heard myself say (to a machine), “good to talk to you.” I should have stopped there, but no. There followed an extended ramble on why what I had just said wasn’t possible. All the while the helpful voice in my head was shouting, “Stop! Hang up!”

Writing or rewriting a text in the style of another has serious (if playful) academic uses. It’s known as Textual Intervention and it can be an enjoyable way to examine a writer’s craft and the way writings can be perceived. Just be careful when you do it.

Or, as Kerouac himself once said. “Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.”


Hello Latvia

I just went to the Stats page for this site and found out where you (that's the non-specific you, let's not get caught up in Pronoun Drift again) live.

Most of you live in the U.S.A. This is no surprise as I have plenty of friends there. The only surprise is why they/you want to read this.

Next up is Poland. This is also not a surprise as a musician friend has been back in Poland visiting family and is probably checking to make sure I haven't re-written one of our tunes in 9/8 time.

The UK features well, as I might expect it to. But then there's Latvia.

I don't know any Latvians and have never been there but there seems to be a demand for Blog of Will in the land of rupjmaize and grey peas.

Thank you for reading, wherever you are. With blogs disappearing like British pubs I'd like to think I can keep this going for a while longer.


Pronoun Drift (quietly opens can of worms)

One of the most popular posts on this blog was not about me wittering on about music or children but English usage. Although I'm an Engligh teacher by training, have discussions in the (so called) real world about punctuation and grammar and spent happy years at university (in my thirties) studying and playing with English, I rarely blog about it. Perhaps if I did I'd get more hits. Maybe some proofreading might help too.

Anyway, last night, in a burst of self-righteousness, I diagnosed a close friend as suffering from 'Pronoun Drift'. Here's an example:

"He came back to work and then he asked about holidays." Nothing wrong on the surface, but the speaker was refering to two different people. 'He' 1 and 'He' 2. The pronoun's use as a label was being undermined by this, causing confusion.

The speaker is a bright, intelligent person but has mentioned that sometimes people are confused when he is explained things. Being a good friend, but not wanting to come across as a smart-arse, it took me years to suggest they had Pronoun Drift.

The real probelm though is that Pronoun Drift doesn't exist. I made the term up.

If anyone has a better name for it, or has any stories relating to Pronoun Drift, I'd love to hear from you. Please remember that Pronoun Drift  is only a problem if you're a pedantic nerd like me or if they tell you they have an issue with him using it like they do.


Wetsuit on a wet day

Wetsuit on a wet day by WJCruttenden
Wetsuit on a wet day, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

You might get the impression, from this picture, that my daughter and I weren't having a good time. At the moment this was taken we'd been in the sea for quite a while and had come out to get warm. After a walk form the beach to the apartment we had to stand in the cold, driving rain while our photographer worked out how best to take the picture. A few hours later we were back in the water.

Love and it's many uses

A few nights ago I was on the bed reading night time stories to Jude. He hasn’t developed his speech as fast as his sister and I’m still a little surprised to hear him using more complex sentences. He comes across as a more hands-on, practical person. The again he’s only just three so anything’s possible.

It was getting late and so I read one more story from the pile of books on the bed. James the Red Engine and Masie Makes Gingerbread were close by but it was time to stop, turn off the light and get some sleep. At least it was for Jude. I had a huge pile of ironing to catch up on. This is what happened.


Me: That’s it now Jude. Time to go to sleep.

Jude: Can we have one more story? Can we have James the Red Engine?

Me: No, it’s time to turn the light off and go night-night.

Jude: Pleeeeeease?

Me: No Jude, you’ve had enough stories for tonight.

Jude: (after a pause) If you love me you’d read James the Red Engine.

Me: Err, what?

Jude: Do you love me?

Me: Of course I do! But…

Jude: Then you’ll read James the Red Engine.

Of course I read the story.


Emotional intelligence or just plain old emotional blackmail? Where did he learn to do this?

I’m definitely having second thoughts about teaching him chess when he gets a bit older.

George Duke

We recently lost the wonderful musician George Duke. He was best known to me as part of Frank Zappa's band but, in George Duke, you got someone who played jazz, funk, fusion and all the music in the gaps. Here's a nice tribute from Frank's son, Dweezil.


The Great Edit

When my daughter was around a year old I would take her swimming every Saturday morning. We would drive to the small pool where we’d meet up with her best friend, many other small children and the assembled mums and dads. At first I was just along for the ride, but soon I chose to be in the water with her, watching her fantastic jumps into the pool and her not-so-good attempts at actually swimming. I used to say she’d make the world’s most tragic Olympic Diver.

When the fun in the pool was over we would get in the car and dive to Newbury, where there was a Borders store. Freya was happy to see all the books and toys and then we’d get in the lift and go upstairs for drinks and cakes.

Eventually the swimming courses ended and Borders closed down but Freya and I would talk about our Saturday mornings for a long time afterwards. At one point she invented a shop, like Borders and would tell me all about it. I would test her memory of the real place and the morning’s in the pool. Slowly, slowly the memories evaporated.

Yesterday, after not doing so for a long time, I asked her if she remembered the shop or our time spent there. Nothing. It’s all gone.

I’ve always been fascinated with how so much experience from growing up is edited down over time to a few memories. Imagine what a mess our brains would be if that didn’t happen? But having my own child gave me a chance to observe this.

I’m sure I’ve written this before here, but when people said to me how quickly these early years would fly by I would always respond that I’m felling and experiencing every day. To me, Freya’s first six years feel like they went by in six years, not five minutes. Every day with her has been amazing (albeit exhausting and frustrating in parts). For Freya though, the great edit is already happening.

I wonder what she will remember from these years.


New Music

New Music by WJCruttenden
New Music, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.
Despite my best intentions, which were to play some new music without prompts, I've caved in a started writing it down. This is part of a new tune called 3Bop. It's huge fun to play and allows me room to put in parts on the fretless bass that I'd want to hear if I was an audiant.
That's the central idea behind this project. Make music we'd want to hear. It's going well so far.


Time to Think

Last night I got a rare chance to sit down and do nothing. My family were all elsewhere and I had the house to myself.

Here was a chance to let go for a little while, to stop crowding my head with information, projects, problems and tasks. There's certainly enough to think about. Problems with neighbours, the need to move house, my mum's ongoing illness, the demands of having two young children, trying to be a good husband, keeping my job, two music projects with others (both of which mean a lot to me), my own musical ambitions, the desire to get better at photography and poetry, remembering to stay healthy and a seemingly inpossible attempt to play chess at a level that would alow me to beat a ten year old.

I'm well aware that if you swap a music project or two for something else this makes me the same as pretty much any other middle aged, middle class person in the western world. Poor me, indeed.

So, how did my attempt to let go of all this for a night, or a few hours, go? How did I spend this precious thinking time? I'll tell you.

I did the ironing, watched a cooking programme, played a guitar, recorded some music, wrote a tune, ate a curry, drank some wine, spent an hour with an Annie Liebowitz book of photographs, took some pictures, posted on Facebook and cleaned the bathroom.

Maybe tonight I'll lock myself in the garden.