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September 15, 2015

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It had been the intention of the editorial team here at simonsometimessays to bring you a travelogue of our recent sojourn in Sorrento and its environs. That must now wait for a future despatch. Hopefully, we will by then have shaken off the temptation to adopt the prose style of an Edwardian newspaper’s foreign correspondent. Until that time you must be satisfied with our assurance that we will come back to Sorrento.

But now we must bring you news of enormous moment and serendipity. We can only hope that it means as much to you as it does to me. Or at least that I can explain with sufficient clarity for you to understand the depth of my emotion.

I’ll have a go, anyway.

Backstory: establishing credentials as fans of Franz Ferdinand.

Last year, through the kindness of our friend at Snig’s Kitchen, Mrs simonsometimessays and I had the opportunity to see a live show by Franz Ferdinand. Excellent. A few months later we saw them again, this time in company with said friend and other half. Also excellent.

Backstory: establishing credentials as fans of Sparks.

When I was quite small, Sparks broke through in the UK. The song that did it for them was This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us. It was sensational in 1973 and remains sensational today. In fact, so magnificent a song is it that I was genuinely – really and truly – flabbergasted that my colleagues had never heard of the band. Not one of them. (I’d like to put it down to a superior musical education, but fear that it is probably more to do with a more natural process.) I think I’ve put them straight now, backed up by Sparks’s Number 1 Song in Heaven having featured in the Alan Partridge movie a year or two ago, though one or two people in the office still looked baffled.




We discovered at the beginning of the year that Franz Ferdinand and Sparks were coming together as a supergroup  under the name F.F.S. (genius). That was a discovery engendering great excitement. The album they wrote and recorded together justified the relish with which we anticipated it, and then we heard (thanks again to Snig’s Kitchen) that F.F.S. would be touring. Finally, we secured tickets back in the Spring, giving us several months of looking forward to the gig. Which we attended last week. Oh, what rapture.

More backstory: establishing Sherlockian credentials

So far so brilliant. But we’re not done yet. We still haven’t completed the circle. There’s a whole chunk missing – the Sherlock Holmes chunk.

Have I mentioned before my interest in Sherlock Holmes? Yes, of course I have. Well if you didn’t know before, you know now: I have such an interest. In fact, for “interest” you can read “fascination, obsession, nerdiness, geekiness”. Indeed, it’s not too much to describe it as a habit. But I have it under control. I can kick it anytime. I just don’t want to. And it’s hard when the gear is all around you…

…even at the F.F.S. gig.

Franz Ferdinand (sort of)

The big reveal

Over 30 years ago, Sparks released an album called Angst in my Pants. Let’s pause a moment to honour them for the ingenuity of that title (surpassed only by Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins). And now let’s take a look at the tracklist, which includes – you know what’s coming – Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a fun song – not their very best, I admit, but it has proven itself catchy enough to be an earworm. My obsession forbids me to dislike it anyway.

Sparks hardly ever play it live. Until the gig last week, F.F.S. had never performed it. They waited until a certifiable, fully paid-up (literally) Sherlockian was in attendance, and then they played it. For me: I’m convinced of it.

I’m afraid that when I recognised the introduction, my reaction, to which Mrs sss can attest, was of unmitigated joy. For a few minutes I was a simpering half-wit. If the grin across my face had been any wider, the corners of my mouth would have met at the back of my head.

Most music is improved by the experience of a good live performance. In this case, the talents of two excellent bands combined to give us a third excellent band. The gig was superb. Sherlock Holmes, performed by F.F.S., just a hundred feet away from me, was superb.

(I can’t encourage you to follow this link. In fact, I positively discourage it. And if and when an official video ever becomes available, I’ll replace it immediately.)

The thoughtful bit

It may have meant more to me than to most, though I can’t know that for sure, can I? That’s what music does, isn’t it? I’ve tried to demonstrate that truth from time to time. The highly personal experience of music is its greatest wonder. For me, that song on that night was a moment of magic which connected so many things in a way unique to me.

I know that I won’t get that moment again. But it will always be there as one of the most unexpectedly wonderful things in my musical journey.

I’ll get little Darts of Pleasure whenever I remember it.


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