I am looking forward to August when the diary thins into space. So, a day off today allowed me to get into practice for relaxing into the anticipated thinned space. Three CDs and one book are worth mentioning:

I can’t get enough of the genius that is Father Ted. Endlessly funny no matter how often I see it. So, last week my son-in-law lent me Well-remembered Days, a very funny and scurrilous satire on ‘all things Oirish’ by the co-writer of Father Ted, Arthur Mathews. It is laugh-out-loud funny and, like all good satire, is biting enough about religion to hit a few sensitive buttons.

About ten years ago I met a bloke in Wimbledon who shares my enthusiasm for the great Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. He lent me two or three compilation CDs on which Bruce performed acoustic songs. Concerts for a Landmine Free World was one of them, but it has taken me ten years to track it down again and get it. It is wonderful, funny in parts, and showcasing some lovely acoustic music from country greats like Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nancy Griffith, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine. Lovely stuff and all for a good cause.

Sometimes the best music doesn’t hit the heights of public recognition. I have just listened to two CDs from Scotland – both by friends. Rory Butler has inherited his father’s musicality and produced a beautiful first album called Naked Trees. Mature and moody, he has written songs of love and loss and hope and longing. Rory brings to mind early John Martyn – reflective and guitar that haunts the imagination.

Alan Windram stayed with us recently and sent his CD 10 o’clock to the morning yesterday. I love it. It brought to mind fellow Scottish band Del Amitri. One listen and I had to put it back on again. Then I read the sleeve notes and saw that Rory Butler had also played on it. Just get it and love it.

Anyway, the music shuts out for a while all the Olympics stuff, banking corruption and muckiness – creating space for beauty, poetry and imagination.

Not deep, I know. But, as Bruce Cockburn sang on You’ve Never Seen Everything: “Don’t forget about delight”…

So, here are a couple of samples…