What Helps

I use similes and metaphors a lot when I teach. It makes you examine your feelings about something before doing it.

I mean….improvisation is like…..not one thing, but many.

Gold prospecting….sorting through dirt to find something. Like Steve Lacy. Like Monk.

Surfing, riding the idea that is undone only by your own interference. Like Zoot Sims, Getz, sometimes like Coltrane.

Chiselling. Through bloody minded persistence hammering out something. Like Monk. Like Sonny Rollins. Sometimes like Coltrane.

Actually, Sonny Rollins chisels at a rock and finds a mountain spring to surf on. Monk just chisels on. He won’t be drawn into that.

Slalom. Avoiding the posts of a chord sequence by deftly steering a body that is always moving because of gravity and tempo. Like Michael Brecker, like Keith Jarrett.

Ritual. A repetition evolving and deepening. Like Monk. Like Evan Parker.

These are mine, they only exist to help me, they are not facts to be shared. Being wrong, as they will be, to some people, depending.

Whatever helps in doing the work. That’s what I try and teach, not that Michael Brecker is like a skier, but that everyone is like something. 

Breakfast Means Breakfast.

I see them in the food shops. The eyes, dazed, directed inward, seemingly vacant. In one hand a bag, decorated with photographs of nuts, fruit, seeds, shots of young people being happy with no digestive complaints whatsoever. The other hand clutches the back of the head as if trying to soothe the mind that is dying within. These people have a weird way of standing still, like a clockwork toy that wound out. Their full shopping trolley speaks of successful shopping trip now cut cruelly short. They are people f****d up over granola.

There used to be something on the telly called “Supermarket Challenge”. People had one minute to rush around a supermarket with a trolley and grab everything in sight. A shelf full of granola would have stopped them in their tracks, like tacks on the road in the Tour De France.

Because it’s mental treacle. There are too many varieties to chose from and there is no real structure. Ingredients are replicated, but prices are all over the place. It’s very confusing, and I find at least one person on every shopping trip who agrees with me. Double speak. Must be the Russians interfering in our breakfast.

The Aisle Of The Dead.

If muesli is a kind of grown up cousin, a double espresso, granola is the babyccino, a thumb sucky sugar hit masquerading as superfood. Whether low fat, high protein, peppered with little chocolate bits among the worthy fruits, or littered with spelt, it’s a mixed bag. It ranges from a basic packet of sugary crap to a top-end sachet that often contains what are called “ancient grains”.

Seek ye out the oldest grain, the one true grain, and through partaking of that will ye gain salvation.

One of my favourite brands has figs in it. One can have too much of a good thing though, and when one tires of figs , it seems reasonable to expect the packet next to it in the same series to be similarly healthy. In fact, it’s a “triple chocolate” variety.

Triple. Chocolate.

Start your day with a breakfast of champions, you can have it all, the virtue-signalling of granola combined with the sheer sugary gut brakes of Triple Chocolate.

When startled by a fellow granola seaker, I will usually replace the chocolate packet, rolling my eyes theatrically as if I nearly got fooled into getting the unhealthy one by mistake. It’s easily done, all that glitters is not gold and all that rustles when you shake it is not necessarily good for you.

So here is my pitch to Netflix for a new series. The affluent middle classes wiped out by a mental condition originating in paralysing indecision around breakfast. The slow creep of inertia. Not the cereal, but the idea of cereal, this will be our downfall. Health fanatics in lightweight trainers and breathable t-shirts, dead-eyed statues with nowhere to go and no way of getting there.

God forbid one should leave with the wrong bag, and so we don’t. We don’t leave at all. We stay. Forever in the aisle of the dead.

Escape comes in the final episode as some young, feisty heroine, accompanied by suitably uplifting teenage sidekick, realises the only way out.

It’s back to bran flakes and milk.

Toast and marmalade.

Or fruit and fibre if you want the extra roughage.

Of course, toast should be of the sourdough variety.

On another note, let’s welcome out new Prime Minister. He can sort this mess out.