Archive | August 2015

soundCHECK 314 – August 27th 2015

The darkening of the evenings.

The discolouring of the leaves.

The televised return of deluded imbeciles to The X Factor audition room.

There are many signs that summer is relenting to autumn, but none is surer than the emergence of pant-ruiningly huge spiders invading your home. And that’s due to start anytime now. In all likelihood you have a matter of days until you see your first monster of the season. Unspeakably grotesque, nightmarishly big and capable of scuttling beneath your sofa at warp speed.

For this you can blame the male libido. Around this time of year, fired up with biological urge, the men-folk from the spider species Tegenaria domestica crawl from their godless underworld in search of a little bump-and-grind. That search isn’t easy – even with eight eyes. The ladies prefer to stay out of sight, although do have the good grace to squirt manky pheromones onto their webs for the lads to sniff out. The whole thing is utterly, utterly savage.

Spiders are the only thing I hate. You might think this makes me lucky. You might think that means I have a pretty good life. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. All of my hate is focused into this one thing. It’s a hatred so pure that it could be ground up and sold as a street drug. This time of year, every year, is a two-month hell that encompasses sleepless nights, 24/7 paranoia and military-grade reconnaissance of any room I have to spend longer than a second in. I go everywhere loaded with unreserved rancor and a rolled up newspaper.

What’s especially annoying is that none of this terror is necessary. Like so many things in the modern world, the internet can solve the problem. House spider reproduction is a simple transaction of bodily fluid. No feelings. No flirting. Just a cold, functional act of horrible, horrible coitus. Ring any bells? Exactly. Someone needs to invent Tinder for spiders.

Instead of the men scuttling around my house for two-months, they could just find a match, arrange a meeting point and get it done. So to speak. Until some genius app developer finds a way for this to work – and I swear to God there should be a Kickstarter campaign to fund the research – it’s best to avoid your home as often as possible. Arachnophobia trumps agoraphobia.

You can start by going to see Thomas Ford at The Thatch next Friday (4th September). He’s a one-man blues sensation whose raw, rootsy music and weary howl sounds as if it has been plucked from the streets of 1960s New Orleans. He’s been hailed as the rising star of British blues. You can find out why at

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 313 – August 20th 2015

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The final Bank Holiday weekend of the summer is within touching distance. Now go and find a shop that sells cheap burgers. The type whose authenticity and origin you’d rather not know about. Go home. Leave the raw burgers in your car to begin rotting in the summer sun.

Next step? Start drinking. Drink anything. Drink everything. Drink as if the token that grants access to everlasting joy in the afterlife is a stiff, cirrhotic liver. I don’t care that it’s 11am in the morning. Grab a can of bottom-rung Mood Enhancer and get chugging. Good. Put the radio on. Don’t actually listen to it. You just need to have a vague recognition that music exists.

Cool. Now walk to the nearest pub, hugging everyone you pass – especially if they go out of their way to avoid you. Once you have arrived at your watering hole of choice, begin your search for the most awful and annoying humans you can lay your eyes on. This step is easier if you draw attention to yourself. If necessary run home to don luminous clothing, braid a bit of your hair and experiment with your mum’s makeup.

Okay. Back to the pub. As moth to bulb, you should now be able to attract imbeciles. Listen carefully to make sure your new friends are capable of talking interminable nonsense about their plans to go travelling, preferably at a volume that makes your cochleae feel like they are being scraped along a cheese-grater made of cheap astroturf.

Gather your gang and lead them back to your garden, explaining that they are welcome to purge themselves of all unwanted bodily matter in locations of their choosing, on the condition that the somatic evacuation registers with as many nostrils within a one-mile radius as possible. Find a playlist compiled by Fearne Cotton and turn it up as loud as you can. By now it should be dark, which means it’s time to put your £5 sunglasses on. Dance around a bit. Get wet in the rain. Develop a hunger that feels like you are digesting your own stomach lining.

Locate the burgers you procured earlier. Heat them on a dirty BBQ griddle until semi-cooked before placing into a bread roll and garnishing with half a gallon of unbranded tomato ketchup. Feel a bit sick. Stumble about for a bit. Fall asleep on the ground somewhere.

Congratulations. You have just simulated the experience of attending Reading & Leeds Festival, without leaving your postcode. Too much hassle? Fine. Go to The Thatch this evening (20th August) instead to watch Elles Bailey perform her sultry, husky, howling brand of blues rock. Her voice is ace. You’d know that if you visited

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse