Maps, Pins and Strings
At the conclusion of 2019, West End resident Katja Bain left Australia for the obligatory gap year overseas, after finishing yr 12. She brought her dad and accomplice Michael (Mouse) Bain, a teacher, musician and general scallywag. This album tells the story of that trip.
After a couple of false starts, our heroes – who perform as folk duo Katjamouse – landed at a secret location in Thailand. A bizarre menagerie of expats from everywhere had collected on a certain beach. And like all bohemian travellers, Michael immediately fell in love with the divine fire-spinning Sonja, from Germany. One expat, Richard, had the leather skin and killer freewheelin’ attitude of a pirate, and yet, explained that he had grandchildren in Scotland. My Grandad is a Pirate seemed a fitting tribute to this great buccaneer.
Katjamouse split just before Christmas 2019: Katja to Ireland for Chrissy, and Michael to Kathmandu, where the Wires overhead reminded him how much he missed Sonja. They carried the dreams and passions of every resident, and every business owner. Like poetry. But free verse. No structure. Also for no apparent reason, Michael decided it was time to stop seeking Validation in social media. It was a long three months, I can tell ya.
Michael followed Katja to Europe after many insane Nepali adventures. They reformed in London in March 2020, the same day Britain went into complete Coronavirus lockdown. Undeterred, Katjamouse decided the best course of action was to head north of the Forth of Fife. Scotland seemed an appropriate place to wait out a medieval plague. They washed up like bedraggled seals in Charlestown, where The Lymekilns of Fife yawned in decay.
The intrepid vagabonds settled immediately into an early summer Scottish groove. Michael, a heavily subsidised philosopher, decided humans needed more Patience. And less materialism, asking his fellow boofheads: Do You Need It? In nearbyDunfermline, a party of ne’er-do-wells hove into view, led by the enigmatic Kev the Clown, who clearly bewailed the drop in business in recent times, and resolved to float away in a bubble of his own making.
Meanwhile the madness began to set in, brought on by doses of local jungle products and no company except each other. Katjamouse warned the world of the dangers of too much social isolation, describing Lockdown Poetry as one of the great threats to civilization. Before things got any weirder, the pair made a break for sunny Liverpool. And wouldn’t you know it, things got weirder anyway, now with Beatles accents. Liverpool Rain drenched their trip, but not before the architecture played its magic tricks on their minds.
Another surreal empty train trip took them over to Liam’s in Chorleton, Manchester. Here they settled down with Liam and Labrador Strummer (named after Joe) to watch English Premier league on the box. They all marvelled how The Gods of the Stadium controlled the audio of the broadcast, since the stadium was empty, and yet, so full of cheers. Katja turned 18 on the streets of Manchester city centre, and then immediately buggered off back to Oz. It was July, 2020.
Michael continued over to Germany, to track down the lovely Sonja. The pair were joyfully reunited and resolved to muck around, and visit folk in Berlin and down south, while staying within advised protocols, of course. In Berlin, they stayed with old friends at The Fork in the Stream, who lived in a crooked house in a damp valley.
Germany in the autumn started to bleak out, so the couple decided that since borders were open, they’d get a bit of sun on their backs in Portugul. In the breathtakingly beautiful city of Porto, Tuk Tuk Phil hooked them up with a crew and invited them to the charming cocktail bar ‘Meridians and Parallels’, where Michael played a gig inside a giant stone Gorilla’s head (not a sentence I ever expected to write). Porto Last Night told the story of, well, Porto last night.
Meridians and Parallels. How appropriate, to finish describing the album Maps, Pins and Strings.