The Hermit Crab Confession

Dear Diary,

People often like to think that of their spirit animals.

I have always imagined mine to be a sloth - I certainly am capable of being lazy but it is more because a. I love to sleep  b. I need to do things in my own time  c. I like trees

However, lately I find myself wishing I were a hermit crab.  What’s not to like about hermit crabs? They’re great! They are peripatetic (move around a lot), they live by the ocean (often in tide pools), and they can just go inside whenever they want to.  I love to travel - going places has always been exciting for me.  I also love the ocean and wish I lived by it (am a big fan of tide pools). 

Also - I’m not necessarily a shy person but in social situations, groups of people tend to stress me out.  I become tongue tied and have nothing to say - people noises turn to static and I feel the overwhelming urge to hide in my house (or the next available empty room). 

Perhaps now that I’ve given words to my feelings, it is possible for me to accept that I am neither sloth nor hermit crab as a whole.  I’m a hermit sloth.

Having confided this to you makes me feel a lot better. I tried several times to draw a picture of what a hermit sloth looks like but it never came out right. I leave it to your imagination.  

Thanks for listening, I know you’ll keep it to yourself.

Down Old Deptford

Once a quiet fishing village on the Thames, the southeast London community of Deptford has had it's fair share of adventures over the centuries. They began long before 1513 when Henry the Eighth founded its shipbuilding docks.

Click "play" to have a listen...

SoundbytesHazel IrisComment
The Decision

The decision that I've had to remind myself of many times before, and will undoubtedly have to remember a great many times yet (of course with a TV voice, etc.) Click "play" to have a listen...

SoundbytesHazel IrisComment
Selda Bagcan

Selda Bagcan.  This Turkish Singer-Songwriter’s name brings shivers down my back. Good ones. Fusing Turkish Folk with a bit of Psychedelic Rock and Funk, her songs are full of both tradition and activism.

Born in Southwestern Turkey in the late 1940’s, she picked up the mandolin at an early age and later on, began to play other stringed instruments and to sing.  In the 1970’s some of her strongest work was recorded. Focusing on the plights of the poverty stricken and the rights of journalists, she became a sort of champion to those who were struggling. Never shrinking from the truth, she was arrested several times in the 1980’s and her passport was confiscated due to her politically-charged lyrics.  Yet she never stopped writing and performing, and some of her music has been sampled by Dr. Dre and Mos Def.

In everything she sings, the many colours of her voice strike through to my heart ( I love her guitar riffs, too!).  There is pain, anger, softness, sentiment, and a deep sense of her love of the land.  For me, her music is haunting, motivating, challenging, and encouraging.

Although written long ago, the stories she tells are real and dauntingly relevant today.

Here is a link to one of my favourite songs of hers, Yaz Gazeteci Yaz (Write Journalist Write).

The Last Unicorn

For some reason I had never heard of this animated film until I moved to Germany, where it usually comes on tv over the Christmas Holidays. A Rankin/Bass production from 1982, it features the voices of Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, and Christopher Lee. The band America performed some of the main songs for the soundtrack.

I loved this film from the very first time I saw it, and on the surface I found it a bit strange that it was being played during the holidays, instead of a more “classic” children’s Christmas movie - say, like, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (also a Rankin/Bass production).

It is dark and scary, and many people seem to remember being scared half out of their wits when they watched it as young children. I can imagine why.  The journey is long and dangerous, and at times it seems as though having any semblance of hope is simply too much to ask.

Without giving too much away, the focus of this story is not on the sort of romantic love that is only shared between two people.  It is the sort of love, support and respect that every living thing should have in common, which is emphasised.  I find it especially beautiful during these short dark days (erm, in the northern hemisphere), and now it’s perfectly obvious to me as to why it’s on tv this time of year.

Looking back on 2017 there were many dark and scary moments that were survived by brave and hopeful people.  Now that 2018 is here, let us share even more hope and light with each other, regardless of who or where we are.

Happy New Year!


If you have time for it, here’s a link to the lovely animated story of The Last Unicorn:

Xmas Eve

Christmas Eve was always one of the most magical of nights for me.  May it always be so, and keep its deep and ancient glow. Click "play" to have a listen...

Daisy Said

Some songs have powerful stories or legends behind them. This particular one (and all of it's possible secrets) has been on my mind lately.  

Click "play" to have a listen...

SoundbytesHazel IrisComment
Mountain Top Live

Mountain Top was inspired by a scene in the film Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, and as a child I absolutely loved that movie. I used to imagine what it would be like to be in a world that’s set inside of a music box. I think there would be a sort of feeling that you’re not quite awake and yet not quite asleep, and any light would be glowing softly and distorted.  Shadows would abound. It’s important to me that instrumentation represents the surrounding scenery, that it also plays a roll in telling the story. So in this song it was really a lot of fun to create a mechanical sort of atmosphere that intersects with the dreamworld I had in mind.

The studio production which is on my EP Misfortunate Tales, captures this atmosphere perfectly. Producer Andrew Hunt deservedly won the UK MPG Breakthrough Producer of the Year for his work on this song - I needed a specific atmosphere in order to tell the story correctly.

Being able to bring it to a live audience, where only five people are playing was a brand new kind of challenge.  Reducing the amount and types of instruments in order to make it viable for performing on small stages was interesting, to say the least (although this is true for every song we perform live)…

But it’s all about setting the scene and telling the story, isn’t it? We have someone who wanders into a forest on a mountain top. Lights flash and the wind speaks to her. Her feet no longer touch the ground. We are asked where dark dreams come from and are advised not always to trust the light. Alien abduction? Devil worship? Simply fallen asleep on the way?  I leave you to decide your own ending.

To me, Mountain Top is simply about getting lost in a kind of seductive darkness and rather enjoying it.

Here is a link to a live performance of Mountain Top for Whispers and Hurricanes by Chaos Theory at the Strongroom Bar, London.  Mally Harpaz is on percussion, Aine McLoughlin on accordion, Matt Constantine on cello, and John Atterbury on guitar.  Video by Peter Junge - Record Mixing.

VideoHazel IrisComment
By Regular Oaks and Poison Oaks

At this time of year we used to drive out to an old apple farm  nestled in a canyon. The drive was always full of magic. This was partly because of the spellbinding beauty of the countryside, and partly because I knew that delicious moments were soon to follow. Click "play" to have a listen...

Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn is just off of Highway 101 on the central coast of California.  Growing up only a few miles south of it, this particular establishment never failed to keep me enchanted when I was little.  Every now and then I go back home for a visit and I'm always delighted that it's still a bit offbeat, a little bit crazy, and a lot of fun to look around. Click "play" to have a listen...

A travel blogger seems to have discovered it's kookiness. Click here to read.

The Camera Lens

That moment when you realise you’ve been lost in a daydream - it feels like you were away for ages, but it’s only been a flash within a second…. Click "play" to have a listen...

I Will Think of Ocean

Early the other day I enjoyed the luxury of sitting on the back steps to the garden, with a cup of coffee in my hand.  Watching the sun slowly push the morning shadows aside, I thought of growing up by the beach in the summertime and those endless days of childhood delights. Click the "play" button to have a listen...

Aesop's The Wind and the Sun

When I was quite small, I saw a short animated film telling Aesop's famous fable of The Wind and the Sun.  His point about kindness has never gone out of date, and I love the way he went about making it.  This one's definitely one of my favourites! Click the "play" button to have a listen...

The Yellow Wall-Paper

Years ago, when I first read “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman,  I wasn’t able to articulate all of the emotions that this short story invoked in me.  Even now it is difficult to sum it all up. Published in 1892, it is a narrative of Gilman’s personal experience with depression.  Like the narrator in this short story (who suffers from postpartum depression), she sought medical help from a famous neurologist and was prescribed a rest cure, which was common at the time.  This “cure” included rest from reading, writing (thinking), and physical activity.

The Yellow Wall-Paper offers insights into Gilman’s own feminism and into roles women were publicly growing tired of in the late 1890’s.  Although it was published over a century ago, this 6000-word narrative still echoes today.

In the following Sound Cloud link, I’ve only read out a few paragraphs. To read the story in full, check it out at your local library.


Click the "play" button to have a listen...