[Reposting to put it back in its rightful place in the timeline, and for minor edits occasioned by removal of erroneous copy/paste text]

Last week was a short working week thanks to Bank Holiday Monday off. Though still, regrettably, a working week, locked into this global pyramid scheme and unable to extricate. The seemingly effortless genius of the Childish Gambino event for This Is America pretty much set the mood for us.

It’s quite remarkable in its commitment and range of ideas, in any of its various contexts.

Was glad to discover Liz Phair continues to rock.

Need a planet without cars and wars… I wish it could be true.

…got riled by newsletters that just post links and click bait.

Listened to a great podcast, The Horror Self, Conner Habib in conversation with horror writer Brian Evenson. I haven’t had chance to read Evenson’s works yet, but he had lots of interesting ideas. A chance comment they made about Beckett had me wander off dabbing madeleine crumbs from my chin (yes i kno thats Proust) and thinking about the time I saw John Hurt in Krapp’s Last Tape. I am convinced it was one of the stages at the Barbican in London, but… the details are hazy.

Also stirring memories of previous selves this week was the unfortunate Scott Hutchison of band Frightened Rabbit, who went missing in the middle of some personal problems, and whose body was later found by police. Variety’s report on the story gives a fuller picture, though his tweets, first reported in “concerns grow for the safety of” reports, take on a kind of tragic, obvious significance in the light of what happened.

Difficult, allusive thoughts on responsibility, on treating people badly, a judgemental tone, a pervasive sense of personal failure, a combination of contrition, abandonment, resolve and futility… I recognise it all. His words had an eerie resonance with things I have thought, written, expressed, fucked up in the same way. It made me quite emotional, glad I had the great fortune to be able to recognise support from friends, to be able to make it over that great forbidding bulk, to learn from the experience, and not to perish on its exposed flanks.

My sympathies to his friends, followers and so on. And yes, hugs to all your loved ones, perhaps especially the ones you think you’ve failed.

Thank god that’s all done with, anyway.

– Krapp

Finally, this week I’ve been forging new working methods (words and music). The nascent schedule was interrupted by our youngest child developing a comically unpleasant sickness bug, reminiscent of The Exorcist. Full-on, handprints smeared across walls, ankle deep in body horror bathroom nightmares sort of stuff. With that and the day job, it was difficult to establish the rhythms I’d intended… but I got going, if a little syncopated.

One of the things was a writing challenge, for which I missed the deadline… and now I am having bother locating the precise origin of the prompt… but anyway: the task was to go to the New Releases section of Project Gutenberg, pick a title that you liked, then write something riffing on that. Here’s the title I fell on:

Illustrated Horse Breaking

At Wyatt’s Stable Yard, the so-hip-it-hurts hangout of the moment, one of the horses is going through his warm-up routine.

Planting one hoof firmly, with a swagger he floats the other to the ground, a succession of freeze-frames, each movement accompanied by a change in expression: rolling eyes, fury, mugging, a comic tongue lolling, ears flattened, a wide-mouthed grin sheer delight, slack jaw aping the watching press pack. Legs still tense, splayed, he swings up a hoof to close his mouth, his stance relaxes and the spell is broken as he snorts with laughter.

“You’ve got to play around,” he says, and this statement encapsulates the wanton abandon of one of the brightest stars of the post-dressage firmament, Re-Drum.

The unforgettable moment that this heavily tattooed former Olympic champion shocked the precise and exacting world of dressage with a jaw-dropping interpolation of street dance moves is the stuff of internet legend. Clips of that routine – where he first transitioned from Piaffe to Jackhammer, bouncing off one hoof immediately to Change of Direction into a sequence of apparently never-ending Air Flares – stunned the watching crowd and has been seen since by millions.

“The Horse That Broke The Internet, yeah, yeah!” His infectious laugh is as genuine as his self-effacement. “Well, it turned into this thing, but we’d been talking about it, and we knew we just… the time was right, y’know? I mean, we were disqualified, remember?”

Although his easy patter is disarming, this final comment has a barbed quality that suggests his career since has been motivated by more than a love of play.

The idea of classicists becoming energised by urban motifs is nothing particularly innovative. One recalls with indulgence Nigel Kennedy’s football hooligan persona, and insistence on matey abbreviation for composers (Viv) and equipment (Strad) alike. There have been others: the line of RSC actors that have moved from Macbeth to the Marvel universe stretches out to the crack of doom. Yet Re-Drum, formerly Neuschwanstein II, cites his own journey from the Standard Arena to the worn flagstones of Wyatt’s Stable Yard as one of “coming home”.

” For sure, we’re all from the stables. Sometimes gees get used to the horsebox lifestyle, the nosebag, if you nose what I mean?” He feints a hoof past one briefly flared nostril. “But we all come out on to straw. This being born with silver stirrups idea… I never knew my sire. Neusch and me haven’t ever met. Everyone thought I’d do what he did – which was win everything, twice – but I wanted to go somewhere different. I know the old fella’s watching, he reads your paper.”

Re-Drum tips a heavily-accented wink as abruptly he changes direction again. He is keen to recommence practice, and while his candour is genuine he demonstrates an impatience any time the conversation lingers too long on history.

His choreographer – former rider Chantal Wyatt, herself a member of a proud lineage, having inherited the Yard complex from her late father Robert in the early noughties – is certain that there are further changes of tack to come.

“He’s only just started. It’s all Re, no doubt. He’s the originator.” Asked if she feels sidelined, she is quick to demur. “I’m there for balance, but he’s all about the solo stuff at the minute. I’m happier running the keyboard stuff, calendar and so forth?” She waggles her fingers. Without breaking stride, Re-Drum, passing in a wide circle with ostentatious steps, waggles a hoof at eye level. More laughter, and the interview has to conclude.

Across the yard, all around the pair are similar exiles from the formalised restrictions of traditional dressage. Jetset and Stella H are already household names. With more and more talent arriving to go through their paces with Re-Drum the originator, his game could be getting serious.

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Y’know. If there are zones of the multiverse where anthropomorphic whimsy, punning and horses are a mystery, I hope our timelines never cross.

Longer-term followers of The Mortal Bath may recall mention of horticultural activity.

Sunday in the garden, a nice ritual in a number of aspects. Eventually the physical event of tending the plants took on a greater importance than any need to communicate it to the wider world.

Part of that is the unbearable crunchiness of it, the perception of so-called virtue so-called signalling, all that. At core was a question for which I was unable to generate a satisfactory response. (The question of course being “Who gives a fuck?”)

I’d often devote mental space to extrapolation while in between the rows. Composing, contemplating the long-term potential of collating the posts into a modestly successful series of books, the delivery service, a large scale permaculture campaign, the inevitable backlash and ensuing midlife crisis in which I purchased a fleet of leather jackets and a battered motorcycle to make a road movie round the Horn of Africa with Ewan McGregor.

I would giggle softly to myself as I returned to the present to hoick a clump of cat shit into the hedge with the hoe.

“Yeah, but, acorns, man!”

“No, definitely a cat.”

Anyway, Green Parent magazine/ rise and fall fantasias aside, there’s such a lot to be said for digging, edging, preparing, planting, weeding, growing, picking and eating. There is a lot to be said about it as well, but, like those writers spending endless hours polishing their process posts, it’s likely as useful left unuttered.

Last year we grew radishes, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, onions, leeks, beans, broccoli, rocket and turnips. This is in a space about 6x7m.

We also had tomatoes and cucumbers in grow bags along the wall under the kitchen window, mint in a metal tub (mint loves to take over) and borage in poly pots. A hop plant did well for itself until it got overrun with aphids… the ladybirds we introduced quickly got too fat to keep up with the little green varmints. We had a disappointing elderberry crop for the same reason.

Mostly, though, we had tasty, tasty veg.

The great thing about gardening is that it’s an annual lesson in planning being only part of the schedule. The science of it is fairly predictable, but it’s all subject to uncontrollable variables.

This was last month… I mean, I’m only writing this because it’s chucking it down with rain outside, again.

This weekend, though, fair being foul or no, we’re potting up and planting what we can. The excitement of the new season is upon us. The bird is on the wing. Pan’s pipes do warble native woodnotes wild. There’s a bustle in the hedgerow.

Although, to be honest, that is more likely to be next door’s cat.

(We’re rebranding from ‘allotment’ to ‘garden’… grounds accuracy.)

This week, Sunday’s horticultural activities mostly took place on Saturday. Lovely digging weather, and a bit of a hangover, decided the activity. Also, I’ve concluded that the proposed site of the veg patch (see last week’s edition) might pose less of a challenge if approached in sections. Plus, I only had about an hour to kill.

The patch is in a considerably under-cherished state:

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An idea at one point was to hire a rotorvator, to save totally crippling myself. However, as noted previously, this garden is beset with brambles, all hacked back to ground level now, but lying in wait just below the surface. The rotorvator would at best split the roots up, and this just encourages the wee veggie hydras.

Getting stuck in with spade and fork, one hour 15 mins later I’d managed this corner:

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…and filled the wheelbarrow:

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… with John Wyndham-esque knots of matter like this:

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The soil left needs a really good forking, and a whole lot of sieving, with masses of straggly threads and tendrils everywhere. However the turning revealed a superabundance of worms as well, which is really good news as regards the healthiness of the loam. It was also encouraging to see how the rest of the patch might not be so much of a mare as it threatens. And that’s the second cagey ‘might’ I’ve used concerning this section of the plot.

So, that was yesterday. Today I had a minor fire to dent the pile of dead privet and creeper up the other end of the garden:

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Note the shiny new fence. The pallets are earmarked to make a compost bin, so they didn’t get thrown in the brazier:

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No notebooks on this occasion either…

I also thought of something to do with the chunks of cement the neighbour unearthed while putting in the shiny new fence, and which I’d shifted over to the currently submerged mini-rockery:

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It occurred that it would be nice to use them to form a rough grid round the base of the blackberry plant in the corner, in which we could enclose a small herb garden… but occurrence was as far as it got this week.