Illustration by Fabio Vermelho
Beans on Toast is a folk musician from Braintree, Essex. He’s a hippy, a punk, a poet, a drunk, a die-hard romantic and an eternal optimist, singing simple songs that tackle big issues in pretty much every place on this planet you could imagine. He is a long time friend of ours and is taking his one of a kind storytelling into another realm, releasing his debut book, Drunk Folk Stories on May 1st, a collection of true-life tales about songwriting, travelling and drinking. As well as doing our Brain Map interview, Beans has kindly shared with us an excerpt from his book dealing with the collective nouns for fruit and veg which you didn’t know you needed but you definitely need. Enjoy the read and pre-order the book now through his website!
A Party Of Pizzas from Drunk Folk Stories – Beans On Toast
This interval isn’t a story. I’m not actually sure what it is, but it’s something that I want to publish with the hope of adding a new string to the bow of the English Language.
At a beautiful wedding on the Devonshire coast a few years ago, Lizzy and I were sat at a table with some friends of ours, Thom and Anna Stone. Somewhere in the conversation, we got to talking about collective nouns.
A murder of crows, a gaggle of geese, a melody of butterflies. So poetic and so en pointe. Who, we wondered, actually came up with all of these?
We then released that not everything has a collective noun. Fruit and vegetables, for example. We realised that they didn’t have collective nouns. Therefore, we did the only reasonable thing we could think of and spent the rest of the afternoon coming up with collective nouns for all the fruit and veg we could muster up.
It’s an honour to share them here with you now. By publishing them here in this book, I’d like to formally introduce them all to the English Language.
If you feel we’ve missed anything, please do get in touch with suggestions and I’ll run them past the ‘Committee of Collective Nouns for Fruit and Vegetables’. That committee consists of myself, Lizzy, Thom and Anna Stone.
Please use them as much as possible and spread the word.
A sunshine of coconuts
A parade of pineapples
A team of tomatoes
An arse of peaches
A darkness of carrots (planted)
A vision of carrots (uprooted)
A rabble of radishes
A bunch of bananas
A table of lemons
A tequila of limes
A stomping of grapes
A harvey of potatoes
A system of oranges
A mystery of lettuce
An orgy of passionfruit
A forest of asparagus
A spasm of cucumber
A shitstorm of strawberries
A flute of figs
An assembly of apples
A fellowship of pears
A grasp of melons
A fart of raspberries
A wound of grapefruits
A fumble of pomegranates
A pattern of watermelons
A haka of kiwis
A cunt of papaya
A harem of mangos
An antelope of cantaloupe
A bully of gooseberries
A battalion of aubergine
A religion of artichokes
An idiot of parsnips (planted)
A tradition of parsnips (uprooted)
A street of corn
A trip of mushrooms
A sensation of broccoli
A tampon of garlic
A chippendale of olives
A cry of onions
A shirley of leeks
A whisper of wheatgrass
A quest of beetroot
A confusion of arugula
A flame of bok choi
A calorie of celery
A pepper of peppers
A rhyme of oranges
A halloween of pumpkins
A whimper of shallots
A steamer of kale
A gnarl of ginger
A christmas of sprouts
A squirrel of nuts
A kaleidoscope of cauliflower
A wrinkle of nectarines
A friendship of peas
A declaration of apricots
A wash of seaweed
A blister of cherries.
1. Do you actively do anything to keep your brain healthy, and if so what?
Songwriting. I don’t do this exclusively to keep my brain ticking over, but for sure it helps. Any strong emotions or feelings generally get turned into a song for me and that process means looking at, dissecting it and trying to make sense of it. A very therapeutic process. Also, running. I started running about three years ago and now I love it and can’t do without it. I’ll go for a short run most days. Again, I don’t do this exclusively for the well being of my brain, but it has a meditative effect, very clearing, especially if followed by a cold shower. Boom!
2. What or who mentally stimulates your growth the most?
What – Life. The day to day. I find endless inspiration in everyday activities.
Who – Lizzy, my wife. For many, many reasons.
3. If you could add or take away anything from your brain what would it be?
I’d love to add a language. I seem to have some kind of mental block when it comes to speaking other languages, I just can’t get my head around it. Back at school, I thought it was stupid to learn languages but at the same time made sure I learnt formulas that let me measure the sides of a triangle. My life ended up being surrounded by a lot more foreign languages than it did triangles.
4. Are you more emotion or reason based when making decisions?
I don’t think I can make a decision without a bit of both, to be honest. I lean more towards emotions but I strive for a healthy mix of the two.
5. In what situations have you learned the most about yourself?
By the looks of it, it might be doing this interview.
6. Do you think you have to learn good judgement? (Are people inherently self-destructive?)
No, I don’t think so. Sometimes good luck can turn out to be good judgement and sometimes following your instincts is the best way forward. I don’t think I’m self-destructive, and I know plenty of other people who aren’t either. Maybe you need to learn to be self-destructive?
7. Do you have any daily or annual rituals? Are they personal to you or your family or are they related to your culture or religion?
My life works on a yearly circle, so I have a ton of annual rituals. This being born from the fact I release an album on the same day each year. That, in turn, means I’m touring at the same time, in the studio around the same time, making videos at the same time. For the last 5 years, I’ve been repeating the process. I’m a creature of habit so this works great for me, and I guess this is related to my personal culture.
8. Can you speak any other languages, and if so why that language?
As above, no, but I do know a few German words that are great and Google Translate either can’t understand or won’t describe properly:
These words led me on a path of finding English words that have no translation at all, and that’s how my last album ended up being called Cushty.
9. If you could live inside of a book, which one would it be?
Stone Junction – Jim Dodge
10. Are there particular books you find yourself buying for or lending to people close to you?
Yep, every book by Tom Robbins. I’ve owned all of his books 3 or 4 times and always passed them on, surprisingly not a huge success rate though, only a handful of people come back to tell me that they love the books which doesn’t make sense because they are without a doubt the greatest books ever written.
11. Is it more important for you to speak or to be heard?
To speak I guess, I would probably talk to myself if no one was listening. But It would take a lot of the fun out of it.
12. Do you think a time exists that is easiest to create? For instance, do you strike the muse or does the muse strike you?
I think you can create an environment that will be inviting for the muse and as long as you don’t overthink it, she will strike. But if she strikes out of the blue, always be prepared.
13. Do you have an emotional state that you find it easier to create in?
Yep, I smoke hash. These days I don’t really smoke a huge amount socially. But If I have a night in by myself with my guitar, I’ll have a smoke. Most of my songs are written when I’m stoned.
14. Are there certain elements that you employ to set up the perfect mental space for creating? For example: Music/Food/Smells/Locations
As above, hash. Apart from that, I’m pretty simple, but I do need complete privacy. I need to know that no one is listening or that I’m not annoying any neighbours or housemates or whatever. As soon as I know I’m alone, I can zone into the headspace for writing.
15. Do you think you have to have an elevated ego to be an artist?
16. What smells do you most associate with your childhood?
I’m awful with smells. I’m not sure I’d associate any smells with growing up, not off the top of my head anyway. I guess every now and then I get caught off guard and a smell transports me back, but I’ve got no idea what that smell might be.
17. If you could only live on five ingredients for the rest of the life, what would they be?
WATER. BEER. EGGS. BREAD. BANANAS.
18. Do you have spiritual needs and if so how do you nourish them?
Yes, I do. Through various ways but I guess spending time in nature is probably the most important. I don’t have to go off grid or anything, Hackney Marshes will do but spending time around trees and plants is important for me. I also talk to the moon, she’s a wonderful confidant.
19. Do you have a place you go to, either physically or mentally, where you feel the most at peace?
Shit, sorry I keep answering the questions before they pop up, but as above Hackney Marshes. It’s close to where I live, it’s wild and it’s beautiful. Especially the old filter beds. Lizzy and I planted a tree there for our first anniversary. I often go to visit him.
20. Do you think that people need some form of discomfort to make art?
No, not at all. Personally, I’m a fan of art made from pleasure.
21. Are you more motivated by the promise of reward or the threat of punishment?
Definitely the promise of reward, I don’t feel threatened and if I did it wouldn’t be a motivator of any kind – it would be the opposite.
22. How much does your conscience/morals come into play when making decisions?
I’d like to think that all my decisions are based on my morals, at some level at least. That is who I am after all.
23. Do you ever experience your emotions in physical ways? If so, how?
I cry. More so when I’m really happy or overly emotional about something good than when I’m sad though. This is a family trait, my old man cries at pretty much everything.
24. What is your least favourite physical sensation?
25. What is your favourite physical sensation?
26. Do you think a person has to understand art in order to be able to appreciate it?
No. Nobody can tell you what you do or don’t appreciate. If you like something, then you like it. Enjoy it.
27. Do you connect more to the lyrics or music in songs (assuming a song has both!)?
Always lyrics. I’m a lyric man through and through.
28. What is your earliest memory?
I have a blurry memory of a Mickey Mouse playhouse in the garden of our house in Debden. I’m not sure how true the memory is or if it’s been helped along by a photograph, but I moved from that house when I was 3 or 4.
29. If you got alzheimers or dementia what memory or memories would you be saddest to lose – or – which ones would cause the biggest loss of your personal identity?
Surely it would be forgetting your friends and family as would also be extremely sad for them too.
30. Do you expect happiness in your life?
Yes. And I’m willing to work for it.
31. Do you feel like falling in love is a spiritual or chemical process?
32. Do you try and avoid feeling negative emotions or do you feel it is more constructive to experience your emotions fully?
I’d deal with negative emotions head-on. Talk about them, say them out loud and let them disappear. I’m generally very positive.
33. What flaws do you think you have when it comes to communicating with other people?
I’m forgetful. Really forgetful. Sometimes I forget people or things that I’ve done with people and I’m so shit at lying they can see it in my face that I have no idea who they are or what they are talking about. It’s rude. But unfortunately kind of out of my hands.
34. How do you deal with situations or individuals that fail to stimulate you creatively or emotionally? Do you avoid this situations/have a set of tools in which to navigate them?
This isn’t a huge problem in my life. I don’t expect everyone around me to have some profound effect or simulate me creatively. But in general, if I’m in a situation that I don’t agree with, or doesn’t agree with me, I’d leave. Soon as possible.
35. What do you think your ex partners would say the hardest thing about loving you was?
36. Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares? If so, what do you think they mean?
Not recurring as such but I get a lot of flying dreams. The situations are always different, but the skill of flying is always the same. The movement comes from inside my stomach. You push from inside and it takes you up. Quite often I can’t control it and end up flying off without control. It’s like falling, but going upwards…
37. If you have ever taken psychedelic drugs, did you have any interesting hallucinations on them? Do you feel changed from having taken them?
Yeah, I’ve done my fair share of acid and mushrooms over the years. I’m done with that now, but I still have the utmost respect for them. The first time I ever did acid was by far the best. Purple spirals in the sky, street signs turning into beautiful glowing artefacts and closing my eyes to a kaleidoscope of colours, words and memories. I also had a kind of backwards hallucination, I’d taken my t-shirt off (standard procedure) and somehow put it on back to front. It was an old skateboard t-shirt and had a design of a monsters face on the back. Putting the t-shirt on back to front meant it was now on the front and I thought it was a hallucination, took about 20 minutes to work out what was actually going on.
38. Do you find your mood affected by different colour palettes?
I’m sure this must happen on a subconscious level, but nothing that I can really comment on.
39. If you could live in a world where the aesthetic was controlled by a particular visual artist or film director, who would you choose?
40. What’s the most unbelievable thing you’ve ever seen?
I saw a flashing diamond object fall from the sky whilst changing colour and land behind a set of trees in what looked like a crash landing/explosion. Me and my friend spent the rest of the night searching for some kind of wreckage/proof or even anyone else that had seen what was definitely a UFO but found nothing. We stayed up all night, knowing full well the next day it would just be a story that nobody believed. Which is exactly what happened. But we know what we saw.
This is actually the 2nd most unbelievable thing I’ve seen, the first I’d rather not put into the public domain.
41. Have you ever seen something which you feel has directly resulted in certain elements of your personality today?
I saw Billy Bragg play at Glastonbury many moons ago.
42. Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?
43. Do you feel like you surround yourself with the people who see you for who you really are?
I certainly try to. I like to be open and honest about who I am, hence doing deep motherfucking interviews like this one!