Penguin Cafe. A matter of Life


The reviews for this album have mostly been a little patronising and mildly dismissive as if it is some form of PCO lite offering.

I beg to differ.

I am, almost literally, a lifelong PCO fan and have every track they ever recorded, from the experimental Zopf days on the Obscure record label right through their “heydays’ of the 1980’s when their unique musical sound appeared on every second commercial or BBC/C4 soundtrack (most notably I have to say in the Independent’s launch advertising campaign).  So Simon Jeffes’ death in 1987 hit me like a hammer blow.  Ten years later his son, Arthur, began the slow but steady cryogenic rebirth, or perhaps more accurately the creation of a clone with ideas of its own.  This has culminated in the release of this instant classic album, a matter of life, which is, to all intent and purpose, PCO’s 5th studio album.

It has more piano than PCO but other than that it’s broadly the same thing, and certainly cut from the same cloth.

Track 2 (Landau) feature Jeffes and Kathry Tickell on her trademark Northumbrian pipes and its delicious.  Harry Piers, another piano only track was played at Jeffes Sr’s memorial concert and it bears every trademark PCO motif you could ever imagine which is what makes it both a great epitaph for Simon Jeffes but perhaps also a catharsis for Arthur.

The Fox and the Leopard is a carbon copy of a previous PCO song but for me the absolute standout is the minor key classic, From a Blue Temple.

In Penguin Cafe’s second album I’d expect the music to be slightly less of a tribute and to explore more of their own ideas, maybe more of a development from From a Blue Temple; and given that members of Suede and Gorillaz make up the 10 strong ensemble I’m pretty sure there will be new areas aplenty to explore.

For now though, this is a welcome and delightful discovery that I will treasure and hopefully wear out the grooves as much as its four forebears.

Marketing to the yoof. thanks to PHD for illuminating us.


Thanks more especially to The Ad Contriarian and will Atkinson for bringing this piece of utter codswollop to my attention.

Listen to what these horrible little brats are saying.

“Don’t worry, you’ll offset the costs by selling the leads onto those data aggregator type companies.”  Whaaaatttttt?  Just like my 16 year olds talk.

Honestly it’s the funniest script I have EVER heard in my life, but it’s meant to be serious.

Oh man, I feel so, like, out of touch now.

Must get down to see those connected dudes at PHD.

Do you think they are connected with Ogilvy in any way?

Jeez, I’m as stressed out as California’s dolphinarium’s sales Director


It used to be so damned easy to catch dolphins.

The mothers were just leapin’ outa the sea into your net.

But that seemed so Cruela de ville.

But modern life, it ain’t so easy .

The Japanese, they’ve killed so many of them babies that it don’t seem such fun any more.  In fact it creeps me out.

It stresses me.

So, I was kinda pleased to get this little old chill out zone message from Patti.

Patti Rodger.

You might like it too.

You need to focus though…. so let’s get inta character.

I am not sure exactly how this works, but it is amazingly accurate.
The picture below has two identical dolphins in it.
It was used in a case study on stress levels at the Mayo Clinic, then later at Fletcher Medical Center in Burlington and famously at The Priory to determine whether Susan Boyle was experiencing stress.
These closely monitored, scientific studies revealed that, in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical, a person under stress will find many differences between the two dolphins…
…in fact, the more differences a person finds, the more stress that person is experiencing.

How to determine your stress:

Look at the picture of both dolphins jumping out of the water.
Remember that the dolphins are identical.

Just look at the photograph…

If you find more than one or two differences you may need to take a vacation.

what’s your view on apple’s service? Let me share my latest experience.



I honestly can’t work this one out. But, before I start, I’d give Apple a victory in extra time.

So, here’s the story.

I bought, with excitement, the new Apple TV in October last year.

In fact, I pre-ordered it online. But a week after release it was still on order. No sign of delivery any time soon.

No worries, I was in Glasgow and popped into the Apple store one day,

“Got an Apple TV?” I asked wistfully.

“Actually, yes, 10 arrived about an hour ago, you’re in luck.”

Cautiously I advised that I had an online order, unfulfilled,

“Don’t worry sir you can cancel it.” (I think, in retrospect they could and should have done that on my behalf instore.)

I went home to cancel , only to find it had been despatched, when it arrived I had to take it back to the Apple store, unopened, for a refund.

It was refunded. Without a great deal of grief, although unbeknown to me they took back the shop sale, meaning the receipt I had was for the online product.

So, moving on. I now have a shiny new Apple TV.

But, every time I tried to demonstrate the wonder of this amazing invention to my pals it took, like, at least an hour to load my computer library.

I never actually used it, not once, because it’s, frankly, crap if you have a big music or photo library on your mac.

I have both.

Two days ago I gave up, phoned the Apple store and asked if I could take it back for a refund.

“yes” the manager said, I could. For cash.

So I did.

Today.

Thereafter ensued a bit of a trauma. It took over half an hour for me to establish that the return had been approved by the manager, for cash.

At first the sales assistant disbelievingly went to check with the manager and came back to say I could get a gift voucher to the value of the product.

“No, sorry.” I said.

Cash, my cash, had been spent on the product, and as, in my view, Apple TV is not fit for purpose I demanded it back.

He crumbled and relented (for me that suggests that the manager had gone for an initial fob off on the gift vouchers).

Thereafter, many, many attempts (and many, many staff) were involved in disentangling the fact that my receipt was for a purchase from the Apple Store online at the same price as the Apple Store on terra firma.

In the end the deed was done.

I was, ultimately satisfied.

So, what does this say about Apple?

Actually, in my view, a lot of positive things.

Despite the shambolic process they honoured an agreement to replace a four month old technology purchase without any real gripes. They accepted that the customer’s view of the efficacy of the product may be wildly wrong, but he is actually the customer.

They, reluctantly, and with great difficulty, crossed distribution channels, albeit the same price, product and firm. But they did.

Overall, I feel good about the Apple attitude, but the experience was pretty rank.

Ah, the Penguin Cafe (orchestra)


I don’t know if moving is the best word to describe the two and a half hours I spent with my wife in The Usher Hall; because I never cried.

But I’ll tell you what; it was emotional.

First up, The Portico Quartet; a jazz/modern classical “combo” who totally blew me away but were right on the cusp of Stuart Maconie’s Freakzone playlist (the sort of stuff that ordinarily Jeana would shriek across the house at me “turn that fucking shite off”).

She put up with them.

I adored them.

However, we were there for the Penguins, as we had been, 20 years ago, before we’d ever borne a child into this world. And I reckon it is the only “band” that Jeana has ever seen twice, albeit 20 years apart.

Before I comment on them I have to congratulate the sound engineers for both bands and probably the The Usher Hall itself – in forty years of listening to live music I have never been so aware of how good the acoustics were in a performance.

Now, The PC(O).

Simon Jeffes died in 1998. And we all thought the PCO had been snatched away with him; no posthumous recordings (although plenty of compilations).

And so it has been until his remarkable son, Arthur, decided to take up the reigns and form an entirely new ensemble with the name stripped down to the, perhaps more fashionable, Penguin Cafe.

Tonight they both reinterpreted his beloved father’s music with a Joi de vivre that even Simon could not muster and created new music, in the vein of the original PCO, that was jaw dropping.   In, particular the encore, a solo piano piece that Arthur performed at his father’s memorial service, Harry Piers, and Landau would have been career highs in Simon’s day.

All the favourites were there.

Particularly pleasing were Music for a Found Harmonium, Perpetuum Mobile and Telephone and Rubber Band, but what was most incredible was the quality of musicianship, the ownership they had taken over the material and the added zip that they injected to Jeffes original music.

It truly was on the verge of a religious experience.

After playing for over an hour and a half Jeana said to me ” I never stopped smiling from start to finish.”

I concur absolutely.

Thirty something rerun on Sky Atlantic


It’s quite scary how the world dates. This advertising based drama series was, unquestionably, Jeana’s and my favourite TV show back in the late 80’s and now it has returned on Sky Atlantic.

And, oh God, Mad Men it is not. Now, in its defence, it was capturing the zeitgeist of the time, not looking at history, and it does that perfectly.

The zeitgeist was quite clearly; how to be a total tosser.

Horrible, embarrassing in so many ways; in the fake Joi de vivre; in the competitiveness; in the dress; in the pursuit of money.

The whole thing reeks of pish and ham and the office based hoop shooting just makes you cringe.

This is pond life, cliched TV from hell.

How did we love it so?

Perhaps we were pond life competitive shit ourselves.

Deary me.

Oh and the theme tune fucking sucks now. (loved it then.)

Oh, and I wore specs like those fucking dorks.