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The Update: The Puppening

Holà chums,

Welcome to the DM family - Margot! This little ball of cuteness started life in a cardboard box with two other of her sisters. She’s a charming lucky dip of dog dna (currently mostly lab, but who knows?). Obviously the timing is a tad crazy - Everyone going back to work and school. But you can never underestimate the power of a good distraction. You hate your new teacher? Ooh, look what Margot is doing!!! Dad forgot to get your textbook? Just look at that crazy puppy!!!
And don't forget my number one girl - Framboise!
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

What do you do when you find out your grandfather had a secret room? - You live tweet your investigations.

A Star is Born Trailer

Mumbly B Coops is a country picker doing the old pills and booze slide off the precipice, when he bumps into Gaga (Bloody Gaga!!!!), a woman the trailer assures us, is so ugly nobody would ever want to hear her sing. Together they create a montage of face grabbing so powerful, our lives may never be the same again.

I. Cannot. Wait.


 

Lots of love,



Merrick
September 10, 2018 by merrick angle

Mambo Italiano!

Holà chums,

How are you diddling? Well August has taken on it’s traditional form - Hotter than Hades, bored kids lolling around the house, visitors staying, and your hero getting absolutely sod all done. But this year I have decided to just give in to the heat, the torpor, and the near constant demands for snacks and just roll with it. So, I have been wearing shorts all the time and saying ‘Sure!’ A lot.

"Can I have something to eat?"
"Sure!"

"Can we have an ice cream?"
"Sure!"

"Why is the earth round?"
"Sure!"

You won't hear me complain though, as Double Alice won us a holiday to Sicily. We spent a week near Palermo in a funny little resort, in what could only be described as the BBC's Eldorado meets The Prisoner.
Eldorado - Episode 1
The Prisoner opening sequence
Sicily 2018
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

Don DeLillo - White Noise
With the heatwave the kids never seem to go to bed, consequently I haven’t seen much grown up Tv or films of late. But I have been really enjoying ‘White Noise’. I usually loathe anything by white middle aged academics. It’s all failing virility and long dark nights of the soul or ‘why I left my wife for a much younger woman - A 300 page excuse’. So I was pleasantly surprised when this book turned out to be more like a family comedy that’s a bit surreal round the edges. Sure, death gets a mention in every page but what’s the alternative? Hate read Martin Amis for the tenth time?

The Organ Below The Earth
I stumbled across this beauty - A man who took 3.5 acres of cave and turned it into the world's largest musical instrument. Mesmerising.



 

Lots of love,



Merrick
September 10, 2018 by merrick angle

FIRE!!!!!

One of the pleasures (or trials, depending on how you look at it) of living in a foreign country is the sense that you never have quite worked it out. Something always surprises you, and when that surprise has some sort of pagan/Wicker Manesque overtones, I am a very happy man. In our old village, it was the weird scarecrow festival in the next hamlet. But in Treignac it's the Fete de St Jean. Everyone gathers in a square to have a drink and to listen to euro metal, while young children are given flaming torches, and encouraged to throw them at a pyre.

Health and safety? You ask. That comes in the form of the local firemen, who you guessed it, are having a beer.

Anyway, I had a great time and managed to to convince the kids that it was celebrating Jeanne D'arc rather than Jean la Baptiste, and that I was to  be joining the band onstage for a rousing cover Leonard Cohen's 'Joan of Arc' when they lit the bonfire.

They. Believed. Every. Word. 
Fire!!!
Joan of Arc
Remember when we went to Yorkshire for my birthday? Well here's a little film I made of our adventures. Lots of beaches, fish and chips and my youngest brother, Jack doing a charming, mincing little leap over some water...
Runswick bay 2018
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

Who Shot Ya? The world of film criticism can at times be a very white, male thing. So when a podcast comes along with a focus on the diverse, it really is a breath of fresh air. If it sounds worthy, it isn't. It is done with so much warmth, verve, and charm it should be illegal.

 

Lots of love,



Merrick


 
July 31, 2018 by merrick angle

Guess Who's Back?

What's that scratching at the door?

A shadowy figure, perhaps a vagrant? Or a tired gypsy offering to sharpen your knives?

He comes closer, his gait is familiar and up close his face seems to be some sort of a disguise. 

Could it be? But, but I thought you were dead!

Double Merrick, is it you????

It is I! Returning from my untimely death like Sherlock Holmes after falling over the Reichennach falls. 

I had to do it to protect you.  

From what? You cry. 

From nine months of really boring newsletters about me renovating a house. 

Look, to soften the blow here are some nice pictures (of the nearly) finished house... 

 
The new house, known locally as 'Le Temple' as it was a Protestant church until the early 1950s.
You can see some of the beams here in the shower room, oh and a camp-as-Christmas laundry hamper.
Some of the ground floor windows that scream 'I USED TO BE A CHURCH Y'KNOW".
One of two really big old doors, and the grey colour its going to be painted.
Yep, still decorating...
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

I Came, I Saw by Norman Lewis
Normally when my father in law lends me a book. It's some brick concerning a civil war general that I will never get through, whereas this was an absolute delight. It's the famed travel writer's memoir of growing up in the twenties and thirties, complete with mental Welsh relatives and Spiritualist parents. Some of the best writing I have read in aeons.


Killing Eve
While this series garnered a great deal of praise and attention, overall I found the tone a bit uneven and a bit misjudged. That said, Jodie Comer's performance as the assassin was SENSATIONAL, and the music was unbelievably good. Referencing 60s girl groups, minimal techno, and espionage soundtracks of yore. Absolutely. Amazing. So that's why I am recommend the soundtrack, rather than the series,

London Spy
Still on a bit of a spy tangent. We've been catching up on this little gem, that we missed the first time round. Anyone even passingly familiar with the words 'homosexual' and 'English spy' knows the drill:- Afternoon tea at Cambridge, your lecturer taps you and the shoulder and next thing you know you are shagging secrets out of pretty Russian boys. That's why this is such a welcome break from cliché. A genuinely gritty, discombobulated viewing experience that has emotional heft thanks to Ben Wishhaw as the young man unwittingly pulled into a nasty spy soup. 
 

Lots of love,



Merrick
July 31, 2018 by merrick angle

The Birthday Boy

Hiya!

How's things with you?

A few weeks ago my friend Richard turned 40. From my viewpoint (39 two thirds and counting) turning forty seems to be a bit of a big deal. It’s unlike previous birthdays, gone are the endless, nebulous possibilities of people’s potential futures. People now have kids, ageing parents, and established careers that they may or may not like. Forty is the ‘you-are-really-in-this-and-this-is-really-is-your-life’ birthday and consequently, how you celebrate it can be problematic. You can’t necessarily go for the full on Oliver Reed style shenanigans that you might have done in your twenties. Do you go big? Go small? Go family orientated? This sort of think can speak volumes about how you see yourself and how you want to be seen by your loved ones.  

Richard is above all things a classy bastard, so he rents a house in a walled garden in a wilderness reserve in Suffolk. Invites his friends and their families for the weekend. Oh, and when you get home he sends you a heartfelt thank you note for coming.

See, classy bastard.
View of the house in the walled garden featuring my new friend, Russell.
The confusing chandelier - This is what my Geordie grandmother would call "a bugger's muddle".
We met a big dog.
Alice laughing at me eating fish and chips in the FREEZING cold.
This is how the photo looked in my mind.
The birthday boy
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous - A diary of the last two months of WW2 was never going to be a beach read, and while being tough (the multiple rapes by Red Army soldiers on German women made this book controversial at the time of it’s publication), this is an extraordinary little book. There are beautifully written passages filled with amazing insight into human behaviour, fascinating everyday detail, meditations on defeat and ultimately a very female resilience.

Heavyweight podcast #15 Dina - This series is new to me, so new in fact, that I have only listened to the one episode. It follows journalist Jonathan Goldstein as he goes home to visit his parents with his wife and five month old son in tow. It’s about trying to unearth a family secret but that really takes second place to the comic asides that will be familiar to anyone with slightly bizarre parents (and yes mum, I know you read this newsletter).

Lots of love,



Merrick


 
December 21, 2017 by merrick angle

Mocktails and Metallica

Hiya!

How's things with you?


What are you doing on Monday night?” James K asked me

“No plans, why?”

“I have a spare ticket for Metallica at the NEC if you fancy it”

“Can I wear my corduroy jacket without being stabbed?” I asked

“Of course”

“Then I’m in” 


And that’s how I found myself swigging energy drinks, surrounded by pasty bald metal fans. I’m no fan of Metallica, and neither is James (I think he just wanted to see an impressive live show). But I am a fan of doing unusual things and after a light Mexican meal, featuring a BOGOF on gingery mocktails (Mocktails and Metallica, does life get any better, I ask myself?), I felt I was really living!

I enjoy a bit of metal from time to time, but it has to be campy. Remove the humour from metal and you end up with the kind of po faced sludge that Metallica peddle. Four late middle aged guys in the identical uniform of tight black t-shirt and black jeans (which seems to be the wrap dress of metal - flattering, understated, favoured by the middle aged) playing what seemed to be the same song again and again, only at a slightly different speed. But that said, what really shined was the handsomely mounted stage show - playing in the round, pyrotechnics, drones, and these amazing video cubes that zipped up and down wires. One second acting as a stage light, the next showing footage of WW1 soldiers, or something.

All in all, a fun time was had. James got to see flames and some fast drumming and it was nice to do something a bit different, and like the truly middle aged, WE LEFT EARLY TO BEAT THE TRAFFIC!
The mighty glowing boxes of metal.
ROCK!
Hitting the energy drinks hard.
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

Meet me in the Bathroom - Lizzy Goodman’s oral history of the NY music scene 2001 - 2011 mightn’t be everyone’s cup o tea, but it acted as a welcome diversion for a week on the building site. Surprisingly, some of the best bits were the observations on Brooklyn as a lifestyle brand that has been sold through the world.

Growing a Bear by Hannah Gamble - LOVE this poem.

Lots of love,



Merrick
December 03, 2017 by merrick angle

Tom Hanks Bought Me a Bathtub

Hiya!

How's things with you?

I suspect everyone has a Thursday like mine. It might not be your actual Thursday, it might be your Saturday or your Monday, but either way it is probably the spiritual twin of my Thursday- A day that predictably spirals out of control, a list of errands that becomes an outright rat run that leaves you hassled and spent. It’s always a case of one job leading to another, and then the inevitable ‘Well, if I’m that side of town I should probably do X’. I was sitting there last Thursday, having a late lunch after surviving three DIY sheds and the tax office. My kebab was well earned. I checked my emails. What’s this? A mysterious enquiry from an Italian publishing house asking if they could license one of my images. Regular readers will know how much I love a random enquiry, and this one was no exception. ’Sure’ I say ’Send over a PDF mock up’, wondering what the book could be. My money was on a sub standard euro thriller, the type where a depressed cop will solve murders armed with only his dicky liver and his Scandi angst. 
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I saw my typewriter image from a few years ago and the name ‘Tom Hanks’. TOM HANKS!!! THE Tom Hanks???? Yup, turns out it’s the Italian edition of his debut collection of short stories all featuring typewriters. A quick trawl through Wikipedia does indeed reveal Tom’s affinity for typewriters

Fee agreed, deal done (Pro tip, kids: - Designers always do their best negotiations in seedy kebab shops). Later that day, I find an amazing bathtub in a junkyard cum brocante. It will go brilliantly in the new house and I shell out knowing full well that this one is on Mr Hanks.
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood - Very idiosyncratic this one. A poet's memoir of moving back home as an adult. One small thing though, her father is an ordained Catholic priest and compulsive gun toting rock guitarist. Track this down as an audiobook as it is read brilliantly by the author.

Liquid MIDI looks amazing!


This poem.
 

Lots of love,



Merrick


 
December 03, 2017 by merrick angle

Goodbye House

That's it. Done and dusted. I bounced in here a Tiggerish young fool, fourteen years and a lot of renovation work later I am a greying, gnarled, rickety figure. It was the house we didn't intend to buy, but we fell in love with it and steamed ahead regardless. At times this house felt like the greatest adventure, at others like some sort of gothic curse, sometimes you could even have both feelings in the same day. 

A procession of life events has happened to us here, enough to fill a montage in a Richard Curtis movie. But now I can only look back on the house in the cliched manner of rescue dog owners who claim "but really, didn't they rescue me??".

I was the fixer upper, not the house.

Lots of love,



Merrick


 
December 03, 2017 by merrick angle

Gosh Tarn it

Hiya!

How's things with you?


Yup, we're still moving - endless trips to the local dump and reinforcing cardboard boxes were punctuated with a kind offer from our friends, Kathrin & Gonzalo. Would we like to spend the weekend in a nice house in the Tarn? Did we ever!

We spent a lovely couple of days doing very little. We made new friends and drank fizzy lemon drinks in sun loungers. The kids played in the pool. All was going well until my car key broke and I spent the next ten hours on a sub Homeric quest to get our car fixed and at the very least, a hire car. A classical scholar might regard this as nemesis inevitably following hubris, but in the Angle household we call a spade a shovel, and call this situation 'a massive pain in the arse'. But some sort of major nervous calamity was averted by a number of things:

- The good fortune of having David Sedaris' diaries, 'Theft by Finding' on audiobook.

- Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY I met on my odyssey was friendly, obliging, and very helpful. When people (myself included) go on about French people being mardy, they should have been with me as I travelled from garage to breakdown truck, to taxi, to car hire. Everyone I met was a total star.
 
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

Britain's first motorhome - Look at this beauty!

Raw - Bit of an odd one this. It's a tale of cannibalism in a French veterinary college. Whilst not completely horrifying as such, it dwells more in the realm of the unpredictable and the arresting visual (horse intubation anyone?). Puzzling, but well worth it.

Car Share - On the polar opposite end of the scale to Raw is the second series of Car Share. The first series was genius - The absorbing comedy of lifts between two northern supermarket employees. I was impressed by how emotionally involving it was. Pathos, romance, subtle sight gags, and some pleasing cameos.




 

Lots of love,



Merrick
September 20, 2017 by merrick angle

Roll up, roll up....

Hiya!

How's things with you?


Before the hell of moving begins and robs us of any will to live we went on holiday, spending a few days in St Sebastian in Spain. The Basque capital was exactly as I remember it - sophisticated without being wanky, full of stylish old people and good shoe shops. One of the highlights of the holiday for me was the funicular railway up Monte Igueldo. On top of this fin de siecle tourist trap is a hotel and a decrepit  amusement park. Literally, this place must have been the inspiration for every haunted Scooby Doo funfair ever.

Now I LOVE an off brand, down at heel 'Adventureland', but this place takes the biscuit. The staff looked sedated, everything looked confused or dangerous, and the music was tinny Dire Straits and George Michael's 'Careless Whisper'.

I was in heaven.


 
The kids looking niiiiiice and relaxed on the ancient funicular railway.
Proper 60's acid freakout art work at Cosmicar.
Nice views mind you.
Sadly the 'Pirata Park' was closed.
The haunted house - Featuring a stuffed boar on a broomstick.
Since we got back four little kittens have taken up residence in a tree belonging to my in-laws. Clem has been obsessed, and kitten based hysteria has reached a pitch where we have caved in and adopted one.
The Lion Queen
Interesting? - Links and recommendations 

Mr & Mrs Nabokov - All marriages are unknowable, and none more so than the creative/personal partnership of Vladamir Nabokov and his wife Vera. This fine New Yorker piece does shed some light on The V's and their oeuvre.

Pink Trombone - Strange speech synthesis that displays how our mouths make the sounds we need to speak. Fun!


 

Lots of love,



Merrick


 
September 20, 2017 by merrick angle