I'm not entirely sure how I became a fan of XTC but for a very short period of time in the early 80s I was. At the time I was listening to, almost exclusively, heavy metal. The two exceptions (that spring to mind) were XTC and Kate Bush. I've regularly listened to Kate over the years since but very rarely revisit XTC. My love of XTC covered their Black Sea, English Settlement and Mummer albums, at which point it pretty much stopped. I do own a copy of Skylarking but honestly couldn't name a track off it and suspect it was bought second-hand in a fit of nostalgia in the late 80s and filed away barely listened to.

English Settlement always felt like the archetypal XTC album: It had their best single (Senses Working Overtime); Their most recognisable cover (the Uffington White Horse); and from title to tracklisting has that Englishness that was XTC.

The last time I gave English Settlement a listen was in 2006 when I took my first (and only) shot at NaNoWriMo. My awful (I mean really awful) novel, Plan 4, featured a chapter where the three protagonists decide to hunt down the chalk carving on the front of XTC's English Settlement and spend a night there.


"Are you sure it's a real thing Anna? I mean...they could have just made it up", Spirit was not convinced of the plan as yet.

"Of course it exists, it's a chalk carving."

"But it's not a photo, it's only a drawing, maybe they just doodled it."

"For fucks sake Spirit, it is real!"

(You get the idea with that)


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I remember being disappointed in it back then, so disappointed that when my characters reached the White Horse they chose to listen to My Bloody Valentine. Listening today though it seems so much better than then. There are annoyances and it occasionally shows its age but for the most part it stands up pretty well, I'll probably not leave it three years before I listen again.