Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt took my favourite photograph in 1939. It’s called “East End Girl Dancing The Lambeth Walk”, and it looks like this;

The girl in question is likely no longer with us, and Brandt himself is long gone too. Yet, I can’t think of another image that so completely captures the joy of life.

I first came across the photo in this excellent book;

It lead me to purchase a book containing only Brandt photos;

Since then I have decided that Bill Brandt is my favourite photographer. He took photographs of lots of different things in lots of different ways, and I love them all. For example, this abstract “nude”;

I could now bounce onto Wikipedia and then rattle off a lot of information on the man, but I’m sure that you are more than capable of doing that yourself;

Suffice to say I’m glad that he existed, and that he picked up a camera so that we could all enjoy seeing the world through his marvelous eyes.

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


Peter Cook

“I think that farting is a very important part of Scottish life.”

- Ross McPharter

Sometime around the turn of the millennium I wandered into a HMV store in Belfast and bought a copy of Derek And Clive “Come Again”. I can’t remember why I did that, but I’m forever grateful that I did. That album has given me many hours of hysterical laughter. I’m talking, of course, about private hysterical laughter – as the world of Derek And Clive ( Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s darker alter ego’s ) is not a world into which you’d invite the whole family. Thankfully though, there is a sketch that I’m happy to share here on my blog;

Since then I have read a Biography Of Peter Cook;

Through which I discovered those fantastic old Pete And Dud sketches. The best of which never fail to make me laugh;

I just love the path that Peter decided to meander down in life. The offbeat film Bedazzled is fabulous but, for me anyway, the fact that he used to regularly phone up a late night radio chat show and pretend to be Sven from Swiss Cottage – a heartbroken Norwegian fisherman – is what puts the cherry on top of the icing of his comedy genius;

However, it’s always Derek And Clive that I come back to in those secret hours between dusk and dawn. The original album “Derek And Clive (Live)” is rumored to have been a favourite on Led Zeppelin’s private jet. It contains the following marvelous tale;

Peter Cook died in 1995 after making many people very happy for a very long time. I’ll leave his old chum Stephen Fry to neatly wrap up this post for me;

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


John Peel

I was in Edinburgh visiting my younger brother, Paul, on October 25th 2004 – the day that John Peel died. I can remember walking along the Royal Mile and seeing the headlines on the late edition newspapers. I’m really glad that I had the chance to listen to lots of live John Peel broadcasts during my teenage years and into my early twenties. His eclectic taste in music helped to fuel my own.

Thanks to his legion of fans, there are still loads of ways to enjoy the magic of John Peel. For example, there are LOADS of his radio shows from the 60’s to the 00’s that you can download by following the instructions on this page;

His classic Fabriclive DJ mix CD is available for very little money here;

However, my favourite way to get into the Peel zone is via the John Peel Youtube channel;

This is a real treasure trove. Here you will find the complete television series “Sounds Of The Suburbs”, the wonderful show “Autobahn Blues” and even his appearance on Room 101.

There are so many videos that I could showcase here, but I think that you’d be best to just dive in to the above channel and discover your own favourites. However, during a recent day of leisure I cued up all of my John Peel videos and one called “Father And Son” jumped out at me. It appealed to me mainly due to the way he discusses how upset he got at the state of his eldest son, William’s, bedroom;

I just thought that it was so cute that despite all of the influence that he held over the nations teenagers, the sight of a messy bedroom in his own home was driving him crazy. It just seemed very real and true to life. I guess that’s what we all know was so special about John Peel – the reality and honesty that helped him to bring you into his world. That’s why we would listen to everything that he played. You never knew what would happen next, or if he would manage to work the Mini Disk player, and that’s just what real life is like.

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke


Mike Skinner

Mike Skinner is an artist worth following. I first encountered his work whilst watching CD:UK many years ago. They showed the video for The Streets single “Let’s Push Things Forward” and I thought it was great. Then I heard a set by my favourite DJ, Laurent Garnier, and it opened with “Turn The Page”. After that I bought The Streets first album “Original Pirate Material”, and soon after that followed the brilliant concept album “A Grand Don’t Come For Free”.

Then I began to go out clubbing, DJing at parties and eventually running my own club night ( Edinburgh Dream Factory ). During that period I really didn’t have much interest in listening to whole albums, so the next two Streets albums passed me by. However by 2011, the year that the final Streets album “Computers And Blues” was released, my life had calmed down enough that I could start to absorb culture again. I really enjoyed the final album, especially the songs that featured Rob Harvey. So, I was glad that Mike Skinner’s next project was The D.O.T. – a group consisting of the pair.

I love books and learning. I also love The Streets song “On The Edge Of A Cliff” ( From the album “Everything Is Borrowed”, one of the albums that passed me by when it was released back in 2008 ). There are lots of books that pop up in the video for this song, and I went onto Amazon and bought the lot after I first watched it. They include books on body language, screen writing and writing better lyrics. Mike was being a great, modern, artist – he was sharing his influences.

I used to enjoy following Mike on Twitter, but these days the best way to keep up to date with his activities is by regularly stopping by his excellent website;

His book “The Story Of The Streets” is also a good read;

With lines like “Around here we say ‘birds’, not bitches” ( from “Let’s Push Things Forward” ) Mike proved that you didn’t have to sound American to leave a mark on the Urban landscape, and by exploring darker themes like the loss of his father ( on “Never Went To Church” ) he proved that tales of vulnerability can resonate harder than anything that your average, egotistical, rapper could offer.

The further into this life that I go, the more mysterious and pointless it seems. This is definitely not an easy ride. Therefore, it’s often important to remember the words of Winston Churchill – “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”.

If you enjoyed this article, please visit my website;

Until next time,

Stephen Michael Clarke