Hello and welcome to my Sunday Review. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, see engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music – this is my chance to bring you all the best I’ve experienced – every Sunday.
I stocked up on magazines on a trip to Magma bookshop in Manchester. It’s one of my favourite places to distress my credit card. One was Bumble and I’ve only just had time to settle in an armchair with a cup of tea and a fattie cuttie and enjoy it.
Bumble is a bi-annual magazine with the strap-line, “Inspired by the beauty of nature”. I’ve got issue three and it’s inspired me to seek out the others. It’s offset printed on recycled 100% post-consumer waste. It has fewer pages than you might expect because of the quality of the paper. It’s a handy medium size and looks beautifully and sensitively designed. The print and finish means the blacks aren’t fully saturated so it has a very modern feel. The layout is faultless, the type clear and readable, and the use of fonts for headlines stylish but clear. It’s a joy to pick up and look at, as an object. What about the content?
There’s an enjoyable mix of wildlife, nature and art articles with just enough politics to make it seem part of the real world. I found I couldn’t read the articles without finding out about their writers first. If someone’s motivated to write for publication they must have a motive and that’s usually to sell you an object, a service or an idea. If it’s an idea they’re selling you then there’s going to be rhetoric and you need to arm yourself against the potential of being misled with facts. I would have liked to know who these people were. Some appear to be writing articles in return for mentions of their causes, projects or ideas. There’s an article by Dominic Dyer The Great British Badger Cull and, although I know he’s the Chief Executive Officer of The Badger Trust, I wanted the magazine to tell me that so I understood where he was coming from.
Many of the articles are littered with fascinating facts and for every one I wanted a source. Where did that come from? Is it true? Where’s your evidence? were my usual thoughts. Then I started to relax into it a bit more. By the time I’d had two fattie cutties I was simply enjoying the writing, loving the layout and design and going on the intellectual and emotional journey the editor wanted me to. I had finally been disarmed by Kieran Lynn’ piece In Search of the Scottish Wildcat and Bethany Joy Dawson’s piece on The Murmuration which were beautifully done.
Bumble is the sort of magazine you want to tell people about and say “Have you seen how nice this is?” Bumble is for everyone. It assumes no prior knowledge of environmental issues and mixes enthusiasm for identification of plants or animals with the joy of natural phenomena and a little bit of campaigning for the natural world. Give yourself up to Bumble and Bumble will reward your trust handsomely. Just make sure you’ve got a nice cup of the and a fattie cuttie with you. You may be some time. I was.
Here’s a link to Bumble’s shop.
Hourglass Trilogy – Merry Hell
Merry Hell are a band I’ve seen live. I loved their show so much I did my usual trick of queuing up to buy a CD afterwards. Paying £12 for an entire evening’s entertainment by an eight piece band isn’t enough to show how much I appreciate them. It’s always better when they take the long journey home with cash in their pockets. I also volunteer for my local live music venue, offering free B&B to musicians. A comfortable bed, a home-cooked breakfast and no dent in last night’s takings always sends bands away happy. I’m not the only one who thinks Merry Hell are wonderful live; they were awarded the Folking Award for Best Live Act 202. That’s a bit tragic, given live music hardly exists in 2020.
Their latest release is digital only and is a perfect showcase of their three songwriting talents. Three songwriters, three songs, all with an unintended theme of our existential angst at the climate emergency. It’s the topic of our age. It’s called the Hourglass Trilogy.
Leave it in the Ground:
Leave It In The Ground was written by fiddle player, Neil McCartney. If it’s possible, his song makes the subject of cleaner and safer energy sound like fun. Generations of people in communities all over the world have made their livings from providing fuel for industrialised nations. We shouldn’t vilify them. It’s important to honour the sacrifices of the working people who died to bring us coal and oil and built our modern world. Last year there were still 24 coal miner deaths in the USA and 316 in China. When we imported coal we exported the poverty, diseases and death and disability to other countries. The best way of honouring those communities is not having to repeat that sacrifice. After all, “We’ve got the wind to blow and the sun to shine”.
It’s a big world and somehow we’re expecting it to be carried on young shoulders. That’s an unreasonable expectation, especially given the hate given out to people like Greta Thunberg (see my blog Why Do People Hate Greta Thunberg? Isn’t it time adults started taking action to protect us all from this existential threat?
As usual with Victoria Kettle’s songs they have classic, clever lines spilling out of them, “Now she’s on the cover of Running Out of Time magazine”. The whole thing is so well thought out, not only does it have a joyful arrangement, an amusing video, but also *its own hand dance*. Perfect.
Here’s Bob Kettle on Emergency Lullaby:
“I coupled the soft, sleepy melody with lyrics about the climate crisis – to express the contradictory aspects of the problem: we need urgent action but we’re mired in apathy. That’s how I came up with the title ‘Emergency Lullaby’. I’d love to sing it in a spirit of understanding, hope and togetherness.”
I recommend buying Merry Hell’s Hourglass Trilogy from any of your favourite digital download services. Music isn’t a hobby and you can’t feed a family on social media likes. In these times when musicians are expected to pay the rent with ‘tips’ we’re in the era of every musician being made an involuntary digital busker.
The Hourglass Trilogy is a magnificent achievement by a fascinating band. This is music with a point which never stops being fun or poignant despite the subject. That’s quite some achievement.
You can visit Merry Hell here.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with more reviews of things you might adore next Sunday.
In the meantime, I wish you a great week. Keep safe, everyone.