In an attempt to return to the habit of writing regularly, I’ve decided to post a weekly round up of my cultural finds and miscellany.


I’m halfway through reading two books about riding by horseback to Jerusalem in the footsteps of the First Crusade of 1096.  Riding to Jerusalem is by French woman Evelyn Coquet (1975), Crusader – By Horse to Jerusalem is by Englishman Tim Severin (1989).

I’m following their routes in Google Maps (Green: Coquet, Blue: Severin, Pink: both)

I’m also reading From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000) by Jacques Barzun. I’ve only read the first twenty pages which centre of Martin Luther and Erasmus, so far very good indeed.

I’m finding it hard to get down to reading fiction at this time and instead am dealing with my urge to travel by reading travel books.


Tony Joe White

I discovered Tony Joe White a few weeks ago and considering he’s been making music since the late 60s I find it incredible it’s taken me this long to come across him. Born in Louisiana, White was known as the Swamp Fox.

Tony Joe White’s sound is a mix of all the great things about music from the US.  A little bit of country, blues, soul, funk and gospel thrown together with great lyrics added to the mix.

I’ve been going through his discography and this week listened to his fourth and fifth LPs, Tony Joe White (1971) and The Train I’m On (1972), so far I’m very impressed.

If you’re on the Spot you can check out my ‘best of’ playlist.

Blues Britannia

I came across this BBC history of the blues in the UK documentary via the excellent Jazz Wax blog.

I enjoyed the documentary up until the end of the first hour when Clapton, Jethro Tull, and Fleetwood Mac stumbled drearily onto the scene, laying out the path for the subsequent prog rock, hard rock tedium that was to follow in the 70s, thank god for punk rock!

Anyway it’s always good add yet more pop trivia to my brain, I enjoyed seeing the great black blues musicians in the UK, including my favourites Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and other dudes lined up to share their memories.  Star of the show from the home side was photographer Val Wilmer who accompanied many of the musicians when they arrived from the US for gigs. Val was very warm and endearing.


Mihkel is a is an Icelandic-Estonian film directed by Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon.  It tells the the true life story of a drugs deal that goes wrong in Reykjavik. There are some beautiful shots of the Icelandic countryside that made up, in part, for the grim nature of the film.  Recommended.

Here’s a trailer:

I also watched Train to Busan, a Korean zombie film, fun but stupid.

Blog posts

Return to Vorkuta – Russian photographer, Roman Demyanenko, returns to the crumbling ex-Gulag town of this childhood.  Stunning photography from a dying city…just imagine living here…
Abandoned residential buildings on the Vorkuta Ring

A Ljubljana Fairy Tale by Vladislav Davidzon – I’ve had the good fortune to talk to Vlad a while ago, the stylish and erudite chief editor of The Odessa Review. This post is a homage to the Slovene capital of Ljubljana, a place I visited and loved in the mid 1980s.  The idiotic Slavoj Žižek makes an appearance but don’t let that put you off.

London to Baku by train – With my travels curtailed this year by Covid I’m reading up on the adventures of others.  I enjoyed this series of posts by Matthew Woodward and can only wait with longing for 2021.

Photo by Matthew Woodward

On Matthew’s site I found a link to the extremely useful OpenRailwayMap (which sadly confirms my suspicion that there’s no direct train from Odesa to Mariupol) and the fabulous Trains of Turkey website where I pinched the banner map from.


Explorers Podcast is one of my favourite podcasts.  Francisco de Orellana and the Exploration of the Amazon River is a two part tale of exploration and savagery.  The conquistadores were a truely depraved bunch but oh, what stories their adventures make!  I always laugh when they fall for the ‘El Dorado’ tale the natives tell as a way of getting them out of their area, they always fell for it.


My image of the week is a room to let at Bird Island Farm on the Aegean coastal town of Kuşadası in Turkey.



Twitter thread

I haven’t read any Hayek before, so this was a useful introduction.

Things in general

things in generalThe title of this post is taken from a fanzine I used to enjoy back in the day from Birmingham.  Just look at that line up: Swell Maps, Bunnymen, Lou Reed, the Modettes…ah, those were the days.

The Reed piece is a gig review titled (I think) ‘Why Did Lou Reed come to town?’.  I wish I still had my copy!

This copy is currently selling at £35 on some sites, cost me 20p from Compendium books in Camden Town.

Things in General took the title of their fanzine from a Brum band called The Prefects, which you can hear below.

See you next week!

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