This week’s show (and I’m loving making the show on a weekly basis, without the long gap between recordings) was made with a heatwave underway. I think that the perspiration emitted by myself and my two guests was sufficient to have reconstituted a third guest, if we’d happened to have one in dried form somewhere handy.
Not since I was recording The Arts Show a couple of years ago have musical instruments found their way to a microphone near me, so it was great to have Eoin Quiery bring his guitar along. You never know until the singing starts whether a performer has what it takes to make a live performance work, but Eoin, whose speaking voice is quite gentle, came to life with the first guitar twang, and his voice filled up the room. I didn’t tell him about the musical improv challenge I had in mind, nor did I know before the show started whether he’d be able to pull it off. To hear the results – well you know what to listen to.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve met Tom Bolton. We recorded an interview some months ago on the slush of pebbles and pottery where the Walbrook feeds into the Thames. Tom has an air of efficiency about him that I rather like. In many ways, he is under-stated, and seems never opens his mouth except to produce thoughtful, well-informed comments – an excellent contrast to some of the preceding weeks’ tomfoolery (mostly my own, and mostly unbroadcastable). Through doing this show, I meet lots of people who’ve recently written London books; I’ve got to say that Tom’s fills me with even more enthusiasm than usual. It can be rewarding to slice London up according to man-made shapes and structures – according to average wealth, for example, or according to the shape of transport networks, or by architecture – and in some ways that sort of randomising contrivance can be very useful. But London’s rivers are responsible for the shape of our political boundaries, the industry of our towns, the location and size of population centers, the positioning of defensive structures, the allocation of transport types, and so on, so an understanding of them brings us much closer to an understanding of how London works.
There’s a link to Tom’s website here and Eoin’s here. I’m especially excited that Eoin Quiery’s band Burning Wheel has allowed us to play their new single on next week’s show – given what we heard this week I think it’s going to be a good ‘un.