Friday, August 25, 2017

The Beatcroft Social for 26 August 2017: Tom Morton's weekly musical meditation on Sheffield synth-pop, crunchy Modern-Lovers-influenced indie sarcasm, arty detours, earnest hollers, much twanging in the Shetland peat bogs, and loud thumping noises to boot...

Summer slipped away this week. Shetland had two gloriously warm, sunny and ferociously midgey days, and then, as the nights began to make their darkness felt properly for the first time, the clouds descended, the rain started falling and then the wind began to blow.

Anyway, here's the show. The Spotify playlist is at the bottom of the page,  just after the lyric which in fact marked the last BBC late-night show I did, more than two years ago now. I'm still thrilled by so much music, new and old, and was thoroughly inspired by reading this Quietus piece by Joe Thompson of the band Hey Colossus.

Enjoy. Next week I hope to include some chat with longstanding listeners and visitors to Shetland Mark Buff and Shawn Morton, who have come all the way from Virginia. They have their own radio show on Mixcloud, available here: Remember you can get in touch via Twitter @thebeatcroft or on Facebook

That Sound

Seven inches of plastic
Or 12 if I have the time
10 inches of shellac
Never eight or nine
45 or 33 and a third
78 rpm
Even if you don’t like numbers
Remember them

Watch the needle dropping down
Watch the record going round 
Everything you’ve ever lost 
Everything you’ve ever found
Is in that sound

People say I’m stuck in a  groove
I don’t care
Everything I need to hear
Is there

Talk about jumping, pops and clicks and hiss
Those are the things I always miss
I remember every scratch, every listening lover
Every joint that was rolled  on the cover
Take a sapphire or a diamond
You need a precious stone
To get the music from the holy

Watch the needle dropping down
Watch the record going round 
Everything you’ve ever lost 
Everything you’ve ever found
Is in that sound

Friday, August 18, 2017

New Beatcroft Social Show now streaming via Mixcloud. Oh, and a poem about bogies

One of those weird weeks that start slowly with nothing much happening, then gradually accelerates until, on Thursday and Friday, you're running about like a mad thing trying to finish promised pieces of my case, articles about Lumpfish and polytunnels. Such is the cutting edge investigative journalism that pays (at least some of the) bills.

The weekly Beatcroft Social is always a pleasure, and here it is. Spotify playlist (scroll right, further)  can be used if you wish to avoid my verbal rumblings. But I should say there is a great story about abandoning drummers in Texas on the Mixcloud stream. But hey, uh, nothing ever happens, does it?

By way of added value, here's a poem from my so far unpublished children's book called 'Disgusting Songs for All Occasions'


I love breakfast
When I wake up
I drink tea
From a big white cup
I like cornflakes and I like toast
But there one thing I love the most

They come from out our noses
they taste like Cadbury’s Roses
If you don’t believe you should do a scientific test
You’ll find that bogies are best

I like dinner
In the middle of the day
Some call it lunch
Why I just couldn’t say
If there’s not enough I know what do
I just blow my nose and have a chew

Teatime I have juice
And that’s all right
Supper just before
I go to sleep for the night
If I wake up with a need to munch
I’ve got some dried in a matchbox - they make a LOVELY crunch!

They come from out our noses
they taste like Cadbury’s Roses
If you don’t believe you should do a scientific test
You’ll find that bogies are best

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Beatcroft Social, 12 August 2017 - From Glen Campbell to Superchunk, via The Saints and Greta Van Fleet. And Led Zeppelin of course...

It's been a hard but satisfying week, writing 30,000 words of a food book I'm collaborating on with my son James. Morning until night, writing in the same way I wrote Spirit of Adventure, Going Home and Red Guitars in Heaven. Is it any good? Time, James and our editors will tell. I think I get better the faster I go and the more I do, but that's the old hack in me talking.

So I haven't been out much, or taking in much new music or media. It was impossible to miss though, the outpouring of affection and sense of loss that accompanied the death of Glen Campbell. The Rolling Stone obituary was insightful, I thought, in quoting Tom Petty to the effect that Campbell was never cool, and you had to work a bit to get beyond the mom'n'pop right wing appeal - a point raised by my friend Audrey Gillan on social media. This after all, was the guy who, when he first met his lifelong friend and songwriting inspiration Jimmy Webb, said sternly: "Get your hair cut!"

Anyway, here's this week's Beatcroft Social. Thanks for the feedback last week re Patreon, and the offers of support. I think I'll just bash on in my amateurish way for the moment, until I run out money. There will be more stuff for sale via The Last Bookshop and this site, though, and of course there are always the books on Amazon, Etsy and at The Shetland Times. Cheers! That's about the size of it for this week...see you next week! and of course on Twitter @thebeatcroft or

Here's the playlist. If you have Spotify, you can of course listen without hearing me talk...

Friday, August 04, 2017

The return of The Beatcroft Social on Mixcloud - two hours of music and inconsequential chat on Mixcloud and Spotify (without the wittering)

Posting a bit earlier than usual, here's The Beatcroft Social, fresh in after a two-week break. If you enjoy the show and want to support it, please buy a book or a lump of artiness via Etsy, Amazon or eBay - see the links on the right. There will be more artefacts up for sale in the course of the week from The Last Bookshop.

I've been pondering the use of Patreon to support the show - it creates a kind of membership-by-subscription thing with added benefits for subscribers which I suppose might include special one-off shows, gigs, postcards, limited edition books and the like.  I've always been averse to the whole crowdfunding culture, but Patreon is close to the way public radio is funded in the USA. Any thoughts welcome.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Why I won't be writing for iScot again

 iScot Magazine is a Scottish-independence-supporting online and print magazine, for which I’ve written extensively over the past two years, including a monthly whisky column. Its August edition sports a cover based on the 17th Century Rubens painting The Three Graces, with the heads of Ruth Davidson, Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster superimposed.

The original’s famous portrayal of nakedness has been modified with Photoshopped ‘modesty’ bands. This is a change from the much-trailed-on-social-media version of the cover, which featured crudely drawn-in ‘bikini’ patches.

That first version, which was evidently aimed at creating controversy and attention - and succeeded in doing so - was condemned by a number of people associated with the independence movement, including Women For Indy board member and owner of Glasgow’s Yes Bar, Suzanne McLaughlin, as ‘misogynist and puerile’.

I can only concur. The ‘modesty’ version which has ended up being published is in some ways worse, in that it references the controversy and demeans a piece of great art, reducing it to mere prurience. 

I put my point of view to Ken McDonald, owner and editor of iScot, before publication and it became evident that we disagreed. As he put it, many women ‘did not find the cover sexist.’ My argument would be that not only is the cover sexist, in that it demeans, is prejudiced against and attacks women for being women, but it is misogynist in that it shows a deep contempt for women. As one appalled (female) observer said: ‘The power of that cover comes only from the fact that naked female bodies are displayed. It would never be contemplated with male nakedness and male politicians. It attacks the people concerned simply for being female.”

Ken has committed his savings, indeed his life to the magazine and has been a delightful and supportive person to work with over the past years. My own tentative move towards support for independence was narrated in the magazine, and while there were always issues with some of the less professional and occasionally peculiar contributions, the publication’s sheer existence against considerable odds has been extraordinary, and a real tribute to Ken’s commitment and energy.

Over the past week, and indeed fuelled by the trailing of the August cover, a slow fund-raising and subscription campaign has accelerated and - heavily endorsed by the blog Wings Over Scotland - taken off, and it now seems the future of the magazine for the next year is secure. 

I, however, will not be writing for iScot in the future. It is ironic that my piece in the August edition reviews Rachel McCormack’s new book Chasing the Dram - a thoroughly feminist look at Scotland’s relationship with whisky.

It would be easy to point to the extreme corners of the independence movement and identify lurking elements of sexism, homophobia and, as Neil Mackay, editor of the Sunday Herald said on (and about) Twitter this week, ‘dumb toxic bile’. You can find the same sentiments among unionists.

But neither nationalism nor unionism is more important than respect for human beings. Than simple decency.