Walking As Therapy, R.E.M. and “Nightswimming”

Today, when I sat down to write my first post since turning over a new leaf (in terms of blogging), I discover WordPress has totally changed how we create content around here and I suspect it’s going to take a little while to get to grips with it all. Just as I was getting comfortable they go and change it, by adding a new piece of software called Gutenberg. Anyway, a great chance to test it out by putting together a bit of a picture post, which is what I had planned for today anyway.

One of the benefits of having been so stressed over the last few weeks is that I am probably fitter than I’ve been in years. We all know that exercise is a great stress buster, and rather than donning the lycra and heading to the gym (one of the most boring pastimes ever invented), I’ve taken to pounding the paths and pavements of my “hood”, and have now clocked up a serious amount of miles. Nothing easier when you find yourself with a spare half hour, than to grab a hat, a pair of gloves, a waterproof jacket and some comfortable shoes, then head out in whatever direction takes your fancy. A brolly can also come in handy and a pair of sunglasses to keep the wrinkles at bay, but not obligatory.

Some pictures below – If you look closely you will see a daytime moon.

There have been some beautiful sunny days around here of late and it’s been a privilege to take in the blue skies and autumn hues that surround us at this time of year. Another bonus is that I seem to have inspired a few friends to join me, so although I’m happy to go it alone, I often have company, which has been great. Putting one foot in front of the other – It’s not rocket science is it, but something that seems to be lost to so many of us nowadays and I used to be one of the worst culprits. We sit in front of computers all day, drive to work and to the shops, binge watch telly on our sofas and then go to bed, only to get up and do it all over again the next day.

Hat, gloves, jacket, shoes…

Hat, gloves, jacket, shoes…

Leave the Fitbits and all the gadgetry at home and just get out there and enjoy whatever there is to see. I don’t want to come across all smug and self-righteous here, but I think I’ve now seen the light, and if I don’t fit a couple of walks into a day, something feels all wrong. Talking of seeing the light, some of the best times to be out during autumn is in the evening, especially if you live on a hill as I do. It gets dark at around 5pm, after which you see all the lights across town; the lights in the offices where people are still working; and those that illuminate our highways and byways.

Still hard at work – Scottish Natural Heritage HQ
Down by the canal locks at night-time

Looking at the picture above, I am reminded of the song Nightswimming by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released in 1993 as the fifth single from their album “Automatic for the People”. I don’t think the waters of the Caledonian Canal would be much fun to swim in at this time of year, but of course the waters of Athens, Georgia, where the band hail from, would have made night-time skinny dipping perfectly possible. This is where the inspiration for this song came from, I think, but those R.E.M. boys have a habit of making things up as they go along, so it could be about something totally different!

This is the second time something from that album has appeared on these pages in the last few months. Last time (link here) I included their 1992 single Man On The Moon as one of the featured songs for my “Moon Series”. It wasn’t really until “Automatic for the People” that I started to properly appreciate R.E.M., and other than the songs already mentioned, it also spawned the singles Everybody Hurts, Drive, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight and Find The River. Not quite a record at 6 singles in total, but very impressive nonetheless.

Nightswimming by R.E.M.:

So, “What’s It All About?”- I don’t know if any of my blogging buddies are having similar problems here on WordPress, but the times they are a-changin’ it seems and I think we’re all going to have to man up, and learn how to adapt to this new software. Typical, just as I crack how to use all the bells and whistles, the system changes (that was the story of my working life too). I have a feeling this post is going to resemble a dog’s dinner, but bear with me, I’ll get better.

(Oh and yes, I know that if I had a dog I would be out there pounding the pavement every day anyway, but I don’t, so it’s just never been part of my daily routine. The gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs that have been part of our lives over the years were not what you would have called labour intensive – My mistake I now see!)

Until next time….

Nightswimming Lyrics
(Song by William Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe)

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard taken years ago,
turned around backwards so the windshield shows.
Every street light reveals a picture in reverse
Still it’s so much clearer
I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge
The moon is low tonight

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
The recklessness in water
They cannot see me naked
These things they go away
Replaced by every day

remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit around the fairest sun?
The bright tide forever drawn
Could not describe nightswimming

You, I thought I knew you
You, I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me
This one laughing quietly
Underneath my breath

The photograph reflects
Every street light a reminder
Deserves a quiet night
Deserves a quiet night

Conspiracy Theories, R.E.M. and “Man on the Moon”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

This month’s full moon appears in our skies on the 29th May. Spring has well and truly sprung by the time May arrives, and flowers and colourful blooms should be dotting the landscape. Very appropriately then, this moon is called the Flower Moon but it’s also sometimes known as the Corn Planting Moon, or Bright Moon because it tends to be one of the brightest. Looking out at my garden right now there aren’t that many flowers in bloom at all yet, as I’ve just taken out the spring bulbs but haven’t yet potted up anything new, as a real risk of frost here in the North of Scotland until the month of June. Probably won’t be one of the brightest moons for me either, as I don’t know about where you live, but sometimes it’s still light now when I go to bed – Will make a special effort however and stay up late on Tuesday to witness it.


But onto the song choice – This post’s moon-related song was always going to pop up at some point in this series, and having already discovered so much interesting stuff about the moon…..

  • The lunar cycle is 29.5 days and all full moons have a name
  • When the moon is at perigee (that point closest to the earth) it is called a Supermoon
  • A second full moon in the same calendar month is called a Blue Moon
  • A lunar eclipse is called a Blood Moon
  • When waxing, the moon is lit from the right, when waning from the left
  • The opposite of a crescent moon is a gibbous moon, one that is bigger than a half-moon but less than a full moon

….. it’s now time to find out a few more interesting snippets.

As children, we have probably all looked up at the moon and seen a face. That would be because the giant dry seas and craters kind of map out eyes, a nose and a mouth. This only works if you are in the Northern Hemisphere however as in the Southern Hemisphere the features would be upside down. And, these features only appear on the side of the moon facing us as on the other side, the dark side, the surface is merely textured, with no discernible shading at all.

But all that is about the Man In The Moon, or how we perceive him anyway. This post’s featured song is about the first Man On The Moon, or rather the idea that we might have been duped into thinking it actually happened, when in fact there are those out there who would dispute that fact. It all boils down to that pesky flag – After watching a particularly convincing documentary about the moon-landing conspiracy theory, I even started to doubt it all myself. But no, the computer power that could now fire up a pocket calculator (if they still exist) was all that was actually needed to get those first men on the moon, and as for the flag appearing to blow in the wind (?!), it’s actually a much more boring story. An upside down L-shaped frame was made for it and after being crumpled up in the lunar module for some time, it took on the appearance of a flag being wafted about by all those supposedly non-existent winds. It’s still up there, along with another five left by visiting astronauts, although one has apparently now fallen over after having been hit by the lunar module upon its departure.

Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon – Or was he?

Back in 1992, the band R.E.M. released a song called Man on the Moon, the second single from their 1992 album “Automatic for the People”. The lyrics were written by lead singer Michael Stipe as a tribute to the comedian and performer Andy Kaufman. We’re probably not that familiar with Andy Kaufman in the UK but it seems he was quite the showman, appearing on Saturday Night Live in a variety of guises. In the song numerous references are made to his career including his Elvis impersonation, wrestling, and the film My Breakfast with Blassie. Because there were always rumours that Kaufman’s death in 1984 was faked, Michael used the moon landing conspiracy theories as an oblique reference to that allusion in the chorus.

Man on the Moon by R.E.M.:

As anyone who visits here regularly knows, I’m usually quite late to the party, and it wasn’t really until “Automatic for the People” that I started to properly appreciate R.E.M. – I’ve mentioned this before, but in 1993 we went on holiday to a far flung place where we very naughtily acquired many, many cassette tapes of the not entirely legitimate nature. This album was one of them, and once back at home it got a serious amount of listening time, as it also included the singles Everybody Hurts, Nightswimming, Drive, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight and Find The River.


Having just done a little research, it seems the band are all around my age and since the album apparently dealt with themes of loss and mourning inspired by “that sense of …. turning thirty”, it obviously resonated with me at the time. We are all almost twice that age now so quite mind-boggling that a 30th birthday could have been such a big deal at the time – A lot of water under the bridge since those days, but more appropriately for this post a lot of full moons, 334 to be precise. So, remember to look out for the one on Tuesday night and cross fingers there will be many, many more, for all of us.

Until next time….

Man on the Moon Lyrics
(Song by Bill Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe)

Mott the Hoople and the game of Life yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Andy Kaufman in the wrestling match yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Monopoly, Twenty one, checkers, and chess yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Mister Fred Blassie in a breakfast mess yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Let’s play Twister, let’s play Risk yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’ll see you in heaven if you make the list yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Now, Andy did you hear about this one?
Tell me, are you locked in the punch?
Andy are you goofing on Elvis? Hey, baby
Are we losing touch?

If you believed they put a man on the moon
Man on the moon
If you believe there’s nothing up his sleeve
Then nothing is cool

Moses went walking with the staff of wood yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Newton got beaned by the apple good yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Egypt was troubled by the horrible asp yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Mister Charles Darwin had the gall to ask yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Now, Andy did you hear about this one?
Tell me, are you locked in the punch?
Andy are you goofing on Elvis? Hey, baby
Are you having fun?

If you believed they put a man on the moon
Man on the moon
If you believe there’s nothing up his sleeve
Then nothing is cool

Here’s a little agit for the never-believer yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Here’s a little ghost for the offering yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Here’s a truck stop instead of Saint Peter’s yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Mister Andy Kaufman’s gone wrestling yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Now, Andy did you hear about this one?
Tell me, are you locked in the punch?
Andy are you goofing on Elvis? Hey, baby
Are we losing touch?

If you believed they put a man on the moon
Man on the moon
If you believe there’s nothing up his sleeve
Then nothing is cool


It’s become a feature of these posts for me to tag onto the bottom a picture of the previous month’s moon, courtesy of my photographer friend (he is purely a hobbyist but I do love his pictures). This one just goes to show that some of the most impressive moon shots are sometimes those where the moon is actually obscured by cloud. And when a viaduct is involved as well, it just gets better and better….

Picture courtesy of R.J.