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Life, liberty and the pursuit of music

September 18th, 2014  |  Published in Z Blog  |  3 Comments

imgresDeafened by the whirling blades of the stealth chopper I check my parachute clips for the last time. Anti flak fire arcs towards us from the steaming jungle below. I shout over the din to Agent Sponberg:

“Free bowing? Phrasing? Piano trios? Quartets? Solo playing within an ensemble context?” He gives a double thumbs up. “Just as they told us in training.”

We nod and solemnly high five. “We’re going in.” We release the safety catches and jump.

This is ‘Nam. This is chamber music. Anything can happen. Read the rest of this entry »


September 18th, 2014  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  3 Comments

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And beauty shall reign alone

July 25th, 2014  |  Published in Z Blog  |  8 Comments

photoCrouching with shoulders submerged I sprint like a pre-murderous slow-mo Pistorious through hot ice blue water, bitter winds driving sulfurous steam at 1000 miles per hour across the surface of the space lagoon. Zombie heads loom through the thick fog, glued together in pairs. I’m an invincible winged god racing through the clouds, my mercurial mission sprung from the silky mud beneath my feet.

This is Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon, and I’m getting off on the trippy hyper-speed effect of billowing steam pouring over me whilst creeping about immersed in geothermal milk. The heads belong to desperate honeymooners already bored with each other who, like me, have smothered themselves with white silica mud in the hope of becoming younger, lovelier and better paid. Read the rest of this entry »


July 25th, 2014  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  8 Comments

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Unbounded by Art

December 2nd, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  5 Comments

In the velvety darkness I slowly extend my right arm, feeling my way to the point of the bow, praying it won’t fall off the string into the void beyond. Suddenly my hand encounters resistance and there is a tiny tussle in the inky blackness as I struggle to disentangle my bow from an invisible counter force.

It’s alive. My legato line hiccups for an instant and I hear a small but definite snort next to me. I’m not alone. Read the rest of this entry »


December 2nd, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  5 Comments

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The Italian Job

October 1st, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  leave a comment

High above the rooftops of Turin, my red state of the art Mini Cooper screams around the high raked corner of the Formula One racing track, steering heavy in my gloved hands with the weight of the gold bars stashed in the boot.

Either side of me two identical minis in white and blue keep formation, a wailing police car and motorbike in hot pursuit immediately behind, the roar of our race-tuned engines almost drowning out the cacophony of the worst traffic jam in Italian history below us, carefully choreographed as part of the heist.

The getaway is going to plan. Millions of lire and a 60s fantasy girlfriend in leather mini skirt and kinky boots await me out of shot. They’re mine. All mine. Read the rest of this entry »


October 1st, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  leave a comment

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The Taste of Flight

September 23rd, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  leave a comment

imgres-9-nggid03407-ngg0dyn-320x240x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010Space station chrome doors swish shut behind us with a high tech click, penning us in the second air-locked chamber. Sharing the small glass box are about twenty-five people from every corner of the planet. They, like me, are silent. Tense. Awaiting instructions.

The other side of the glass, Japanese tourists take photos of each other in the brilliant morning sunlight, oblivious to the devotional act that is about to take place a few feet away.

Minutes pass. Time crawls. Drops drip.

Suddenly we are released into a high-ceilinged, dim, cool interior. And there it is. Quietly blazing from the wall above my head is one of the greatest works of art of our age, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Read the rest of this entry »


September 23rd, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  leave a comment

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Not waving but drowning

February 26th, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  8 Comments

 “I remember after a concert me and some other girls stayed at his house. He gave us all so much alcohol that one girl was sick. That night, he came into my room and tried to make me have sex with him, but I lay still and pretended to be asleep. He left the room and I heard him try the same with other pupils and then he got into his double bed with one girl. Suddenly it dawned on me that I wasn’t the only one. He had always implied that he was only interested in me, but suddenly it became completely clear to me what he was doing. Some of these girls were much younger than me.”

“He was so brazen about it. It was so out in the open. It was as though he didn’t see that he was doing anything wrong. He seemed to think it was one of the perks of the job to take advantage of these naïve girls shut up in this hot-house environment. It seemed to be open season for him. Now I think: how dare he do that to me? How dare he do that to my friends? How did the school not ask what was going on? I was always crying upstairs and yet my housemistress never asked what was wrong with me”. Read the rest of this entry »


February 26th, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  8 Comments

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Life and Death

January 20th, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  5 Comments

My first tongueless snog was on a clear moonlit night in the back of the cricket pavilion at Radley College in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The ecstatic intensity of these fleeting minutes was accompanied by the voice of my deeply religious upbringing, insisting God would smite me down for such a terrible sin. But I didn’t care. I was prepared to risk the worst for this hair-gelled and fringe-highlighted mortal along with his taste in Nick Kershaw, Drakkar Noir and guyliner.

In the 2 hours that followed I spun the pinkest, fluffiest dreams of love, knowing we would be married before long and wondering already what kind of present I could buy such a paragon of style. A thin leather piano keyboard tie perhaps? Name bracelet? An alternative to the Drakkar? Read the rest of this entry »


January 20th, 2013  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  5 Comments

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On course for Nibiru

December 11th, 2012  |  Published in Z Blog  |  leave a comment

There’s less than a fortnight left until the end of the world. It’s official. It’s curtains for planet Earth on December 21st 2012. The Mayans said so and their clocks have been accurate to within seconds for thousands of years. They run out in a matter of days.

If you don’t believe me, google Maya 2012 and marvel.

Some say that Earth is to be sucked into a black hole at the centre of the galaxy on the winter solstice. Others, that we’re on a collision course with a planet called Nibiru. If you’ve made it through Lars Von Trier’s film Melancholia you’ll know what to do. And avoid the Tristan sound track. Read the rest of this entry »


December 11th, 2012  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  leave a comment

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The rose doesn’t ask why

November 27th, 2012  |  Published in Z Blog  |  4 Comments

Oh my God I’m in love! Desperately in love! And not with one, not two but a whole stage full of hot young men grooving their shirts off, making an unbelievable amount of noise.

I’m in the Purcell Room at the (THE – note use of forbidden definite article) Southbank Centre. Yes, you heard me, the Purcell Room, a venue I’d not seen and frankly tried to forget since the early 90s when playing in a concert of Brian Ferneyhough’s lesser known chamber works to an audience of 5 beardy weirdies with plastic bags and bad jumpers. Read the rest of this entry »


November 27th, 2012  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  4 Comments

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Different silences

November 7th, 2012  |  Published in Z Blog  |  2 Comments

As far as I can see there are music shops. Outside each one, musicians sit with bowls of green tea, playing ancient melodies on pot-bellied reed flutes, single stringed huqins and high pitched whiny violins punctuated by the odd paiban wood-clapper.

They wave and smile at me as I walk past, the only blonde in the world, inviting me to try the instruments and the tea, nodding congenially when I show my calloused cello fingers to indicate the benign presence of a fellow muso. Read the rest of this entry »


November 7th, 2012  |  Published in Z Blog  |  Join in the conversation with Disqus |  2 Comments

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