Harping on the music of our ancestors

It’s one thing to sit in a comfortable armchair and see the world in a grain of sand. It’s quite another to hear it in a muddy shard of bone, a spool of wire or even an oddly shaped hole in the ground; to go searching for its voice on the sea bed, deep in the ice, beneath deserts, woods and cities. Music archaeology, Graeme Lawson wryly explains, is often the study of ‘small and largely unexceptional fragments’: objects ‘we might easily have kicked out of the way’. And yet the magic, he demonstrates, is all the greater when these fragments begin to connect, slowly coalescing into sounds and stories

Jason Ricci is my mentor, guru and anointed one

A second week recovering in bed in this pleasant south-facing bedroom. If I sit up, my back resting against whitewashed rock, I can look out of the window across 30 miles of oak forest to the Massif Des Maures, a coastal mountain range. As the day progresses, these indistinguishable mountains are altered by the changing light until finally and dramatically the softer evening rays reveal the folds and valleys in topographical detail. The revealing doesn’t last more than five minutes and I try to remember to look out for it. Then the mountains darken and, after a last commemorative glow, vanish. Last week there was a violent electric storm and

If all else fails, there’s always basket weaving

The only thing left for me now is to embrace humility and take up basket weaving. In our dog and ferret club in the 1990s we had a ferret guy called Ron. Ron was an old sweat Royal Marine and he applied Royal Marine levels of commitment and organisation to our dog and ferret shows, as a strategy, I think, in his battle against the bottle. In the Royal Marines, he told me, anyone suspected of alcoholism was sent on a basket-weaving course. All his ferret cages were hand woven and I went to his house once and his TVTimes had a beautiful basketwork cover. Or the harmonica. I’ve lately