Welcome to my personal blog.

My name is Graham Carter and I started this blog on January 1, 2007.

I was born and brought up in the town of Swindon, Wiltshire, England, where I still live, half a century later. I am at least a seventh-generation Swindonian and am proud of my (albeit humble) family origins and my honest, working class home town. My late father was a fireman/ambulance driver with British Railways at the Swindon Railway Works (which was big enough to have its own fire and ambulance station), and the Works also employed both my grandfathers - one as a labourer, the other as a boilermaker.

Since 1987 I've been married to Julie, and we have two children - Sean and Holly, who are now both teenagers, plus our cat, Daisy (our other cat, Elvis, having sadly died in 2011).

Until recently I worked as a freelance journalist/sub-editor, and although I still write a weekly column for the Swindon Advertiser, I am now writing a non-fiction book about... well, I am not saying what it's about, just for now.

My Swindon Advertiser column, by the way, is about life "from the wrong side of 40", although I am now also the wrong side of 50. My best work from more than 20 years as a professional journalist was the Chronicle of Swindon, published in 2006, which traced the town's history in 200 tabloid pages (eight pages a week for six months) of which I did 99 per cent of the research, writing and editing. I also once contributed a chapter to a proper football book called The Cult of the Manager.

My main interests are history (especially local and family history), art (I draw a bit), reading (almost always non-fiction) and music. I took up playing the drums when I was about 40, and in 2008 played my first live gigs - in a Sixties/Seventies cover band called The Misfits, who still belt it out in pubs and clubs around Swindon every four to six weeks. I also take an interest in lots of other things, including sport - cricket having taken over as my favourite (although I'm too old to partake myself, except in running), architecture and lots of other things too numerous or too personal to mention.

I hate the word 'hate', but I genuinely do hate Margaret Thatcher, mushrooms, the so-called 'celebrity' culture we have to live in, Big Brother and EastEnders, racism, snobbery, the short-sightedness and small-mindedness of local government and, of course, rap music.

On the other hand, even these abominations are more than made up for by The Beatles, Al Stewart, Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys, bangers and mash and curry (though not on the same plate), frost and snow, Bill Bryson, NASA, Michael Palin, National Geographic, QI, plain chocolate, cats, Christmas, cathedrals (even though I'm an atheist), Parma Violets, wind turbines, Stephen Fry, Time Team, Austin A30s/A35s, Countdown, drummer Dom Famularo, Ordnance Survey maps, satnav, iPods, iMacs, contact lenses, fridges that dispense ice, the smell of Play-Doh, Nuts in May, museums, Amsterdam, real ale, real cider, Quark XPress, Adobe Photoshop, the internet, Rolf Harris, Fawlty Towers, The Sixth Sense, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Thunderbirds, daleks, all things Indian, flying, English canals and Phoenix Nights.

In 2009 I co-founded the Alfred Williams Heritage Society, of which I am currently Vice-chair.

Other interesting points about me include: I am a twin (my twin brother is called Brian); my wife and my twin brother's wife were born on the very same day (as each other, but not the same day as us); I'm colour-blind; I've run four marathons (including two London Marathons); I once jumped out of a plane; I have met and interviewed (or at least questioned) various famous people, including Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Henry Cooper and a former member of The Beatles (Pete Best, the drummer before Ringo); I've set foot on four different continents - Europe, America, Australasia and (very briefly) Asia; and I've travelled as far north as Edinburgh, as far west as Florida, and as far east and south as Australia. What's the best place I've visited? Australia (no contest).

This blog is about my continuing career as a human being in a very big world, and the impact it is having on me - and, to a much lesser extent, the impact I have on it.

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For some reason, in 2005 I decided to list my favourite 100 music tracks of all time. It proved much harder than you might think to get it down to 100. There are two rules - no band or artiste is allowed more than 10 entries, and they're not in order of preference. Here's the latest list:


Night Train to Munich - Al Stewart

Sergio - Al Stewart

Fields of France - Al Stewart

The Coldest Winter in Memory - Al Stewart

Delia's Gone - Al Stewart

Running Man - Al Stewart

Always The Cause - Al Stewart

Murmansk Run/Ellis Island - Al Stewart

Rain Barrel - Al Stewart

Soho (Needless To Say) ['Folk/hop' version] - Al Stewart

I am the Walrus - The Beatles

All My Loving - The Beatles

You Won't See Me - The Beatles

Hey Jude - The Beatles

Your Mother Should Know - The Beatles

Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles

Day Tripper - The Beatles

Within You Without You - The Beatles

Tomorrow Never Knows - The Beatles

Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows [From 'Love'] - The Beatles

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five - Paul McCartney

Let Me Roll It - Paul McCartney

If You Wanna - Paul McCartney

Wino Junko - Wings

Love In Song - Wings

Nobody Told Me - John Lennon

Faster - George Harrison

Barbara Ann - The Beach Boys

Then I Kissed Her - The Beach Boys

Sloop John B - The Beach Boys

God Only Knows - The Beach Boys

I'm Waiting for the Day - The Beach Boys

Good Vibrations [Smile version] - Brian Wilson

Heroes and Villains [Smile version] - Brian Wilson

Surf's Up - Brian Wilson

Wonderful - Brian Wilson

In Blue Hawaii - Brian Wilson

Cabin Essence - Brian Wilson

Witchwood - The Strawbs

On Growing Older - The Strawbs

Queen of Dreams - The Strawbs

Autumn - The Strawbs

Benedictus - The Strawbs

Simple Visions - The Strawbs

Moving - Kate Bush

The Red Shoes - Kate Bush

Under Ice - Kate Bush

Downside-Up - Peter Gabriel

The Time of the Turning/The Weaver's Reel - Peter Gabriel

I Have the Touch - Peter Gabriel

White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes

Ragged Wood - Fleet Foxes

Tiger Mountain Peasant Song - Fleet Foxes

The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul - XTC

Across This Antheap - XTC

Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her - XTC

Mirror Ball - Elbow

An Audience With The Pope - Elbow

One Day Like This - Elbow

Better Off Dead - Elton John

Funeral for a Friend/Loves Lies Bleeding - Elton John

Conversation - Gary Numan

My Shadow in Vain [2002 version] - Gary Numan

Bed and Breakfast Man - Madness

Night Boat to Cairo - Madness

Erie Canal - Bruce Springsteen

Eyes on the Prize - Bruce Springsteen

A Town Called Malice - The Jam

The Eton Rifles - The Jam

Keeping the Faith - Billy Joel

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant - Billy Joel

No Fish Today - Kid Creole and the Coconuts

Stool Pigeon - Kid Creole and the Coconuts

Couldn't Be Better - The Familiar Sound

Message in a Bottle - The Police

Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley

I Want to Break Free - Queen

He's Misstra Know-It-All - Stevie Wonder

Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits

Hole in My Shoe - Traffic

Left Foot Stepdown - The Bees

Walk Between Raindrops - Donald Fagen

In France They Kiss on Main Street - Joni Mitchell

Echo Beach - Martha and the Muffins

Copacabana - Barry Manilow

Gangsters - The Specials

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves - Cher

Angie Baby - Helen Reddy

Tour de France Theme (Channel 4) - Pete Shelley

UFO (TV Theme) - The Barry Gray Orchestra

The Persuaders (TV Theme) - John Barry

Govinda - Kula Shaker

Tokyo Melody - Helmut Zacharias

Morningtown Ride - The Seekers

Harper Valley PTA - Jeannie C Riley

Nothing Rhymed - Gilbert O'Sullivan

America - Simon and Garfunkel

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft - The Carpenters

King of the Road - Roger Miller

Singing the Fishing* - (Ewan MacColl)

*This is a bit of a cheat because Singing the Fishing is actually a documentary about the history of herring fishing (believe it or not), which is set to traditional folk music. It's therefore a whole CD - but qualifies by being one long, continuous track. Well, sort of.
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Again, not in order, but easy enough for me to choose:

Smile - Brian Wilson
OK, I said they weren't in order, but this is my all-time favourite album. Yep - even above Al Stewart and The Beatles. Finished 30-odd years after it was started, it was worth the wait.

Revolver - The Beatles
A sort of limbering-up before Sgt Pepper, which combines the rawness of the early Beatles with the creativity of later years. The amazing Tomorrow Never Knows is a perfect example of this.

St Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
Obviously the most influential album ever made. You sometimes forget just how imaginative it was, until you play it again. The best track is by George Harrison - Within You Without You (the Indian one you either love or hate).

Abbey Road - The Beatles
The Fab Four's last explosion of genius before they split up. It includes Ringo's best drumming (on Come Together) and his only solo (The End).

Past, Present and Future - Al Stewart
The album that marked the start of Al Stewart's phenomenal phase of writing songs with historical themes. This is the best of those so far.

Down in the Cellar - Al Stewart
Al's themed album about wine shows how his music has... um, matured over the years. It includes beautiful melodies, catchy tunes and elaborate lyrics. Typical Al really.

Time Passages - Al Stewart
Choosing a third Al album for this list was a challenge, but Time Passages just gets it instead of others - probably for sentimental reasons (I saw him live for the first time in 1979, just after it was released).

The Seldom Seen Kid - Elbow
Deep, inventive, articulate, innovative and sincere - and proof that great albums are still possible in the 21st century. It's also one of those fated albums where the artists somehow make everything fall into place perfectly, although they aren't able to do it previously or subsequently.

Witchwood - The Strawbs
The album that best captures The Strawbs' dreamy, other-worldly folk-rock style. If it was a book it would be Lord of the Rings.

Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
The groundbreaking 1960s classic - sort of The Beach Boys' Sgt Pepper. It shows off Brian Wilson's genius for writing and producing.