Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-05-10 - 8:35 a.m.

Another Monday. This one is Vita’s birthday. We had some cake and candles yesterday evening before I left for Leantown. The presents seemed to go down alright – earrings, cheque and the strange one – not my idea – the recent Stones compilation of 4O tracks across their career. We listened to the first few tunes which were mostly from the classic late 6Os early 7Os period. The production came across very strongly eg the way Street Fighting Man expands at the line about a poor boy – piano and sitar come in I guess.

Some social event is planned on Friday and we went to Tesco s to get a few boxes of what Vita calls girly drinks. Yvonne will be at the opera and I am instructed to arrive later than the usual time.

I have been thinking about the River Thame a tributary of the Thames. You cross it just after the Oxford service station on the M 4O. My guess is that it sits in between the Greensand and the start of the Jurassic strata. I have been reading a bit about the latter. The extreme and oldest edge is very clear in the landscape at Edge Hill and down the eastern flank of the Severn valley – but there are two others. One of which starts just after the Thame – as the road climbs through some wooded ground outside Oxford and then swings round to go down the scarp. There are some unusual places just to the north – no towns but villages up on isolated hills where the Portand Stone hasn’t been eroded away. The watershed between the Thame and the Ouse and Ouzel is very indistinct

The other Jurassic edge is about 1O miles further North as the motorway comes down into the Cherwell Valley not far from Banbury. I came off the motorway at Banbury and went up the final Jurassic dip slope past Cropredy and stopped at the Wharf which is on the Oxford canal which clings to the contour on the road down to Southam. It’s a selection of speciality bitters and sofas and so I sat and read my newspaper and looked at a couple of maps I had just bought – one of the Thame Valley and the other of Windsor Forest which is now on my route.

As I had driven over the quaternary ridge through the forest on the M3 from the Blackwater Valley towards London I saw St Anne’s Hill on the horizon. This is an outlier right on the Thames near Chertsey. I vaguely remember an alignment through Fulham Palace - which is Saxon – and the cross at Charing Cross which passes near or through this. The chain of ideas is that St Anne’s Hill is a derivative of Tann’s Hill as in Tanworth which is indeed on a hill overlooking a valley too.

Anyway I had the idea of the landscape being connected – which I suppose it is – but you could frame a view which was a sort of narrative right the way across hundreds of miles. You get this feeling a bit on the hill behind my house. You can see to London in one direction and out beyond Reading to the Chiltern Ridge in the other and of course you can see Tann’s Hill as well. But when you cross the old road to Farnham and look to the south , you can see the hill with the abbey above Alton near where Jane Austen lived but also across to the Devil’s Dyke outside Brighton and the hills outside Arundel.

This mood may have been on be because I had decided to invest in I Sinclair’s novel about the A13 – it was hardback under a tenner – and then I realised that it was first edition with a paper cover and that I ought to treat it as an investment in real terms – try to keep it nice and not throw it into my car twice a week. I also bought the Woodward book which was on offer and about to sell out. I read the first few chapters – in one sense an easy read – but not in many others.

The first release of the Lullabies page is up on the Highveld site – button at the top of this page. It has a drawing of Vita as a child sick in bed on it .

I met Ciaran whose Race Against Time page is also at the top of this one. He has been working with Trish to develop this concept and Peter is going to rebuild the RAT site. C has been looking at a cross USA cycle race which is very big and wondering if he can develop n that direction. I mailed him the copy about Lullabies which seems to be going down alright.

Peter Crowther – who I must write to – and I played at Regan’s 5Oth birthday party and we jammed a bit at that event with a concertina player – who also took up the Appalachian dulcimer – selling his Martin to do so, I learned yesterday that he is recovering from a severe stroke which made me very sad . I read somewhere a comment by Mick Beck that he took up the bassoon because he suspected that the time available to do it might be fairly limited.

I took a processed version of the piece called BOX1 off the Dell onto the MD and I have just added some guitar using the El Maya neglected classic on an early 7Os British stack simulation – lots of sustain – trying to create the atonal groove you find on Jack Johnson – it’s a slower beat on this one – just listening through to it now.

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