Had a great weekend - more of which later once Tony Blair has stopped driving me mad (more of which later!)
@ Monday, 31. Oct, 2005 – 22:50:44
Had a great weekend - more of which later once Tony Blair has stopped driving me mad (more of which later!)
@ Friday, 28. Oct, 2005 – 15:41:03
Ok we're off for a mucky weekend in Brighton and a Four poster bed
See you all next week
@ Thursday, 27. Oct, 2005 – 12:34:57
It's amazing how the smallest things can have such an effect on me.
I just went to make a phone call and mis-dialed. The phone was answered by a little old lady.
"I'm awfully sorry" I said "I've dialled the wrong number"
"Never mind dear" She replied "We all make mistakes, I know I've made many - Take care dear"
Such a simple thing and yet it's made my day!!
@ Wednesday, 26. Oct, 2005 – 14:50:36
What a f*ckin' awful day it was yesterday
First off I've got a meeting in town - normally I would drop the kids at school and get a train up but as it's half term I decide to take advantage of the light traffic and drive to the office and get a train from there - big mistake.
It's raining, it's pouring and the traffic is disgusting - down to 40mph on the M25 and that is saying something. Torrential rain and spray almost like fog has enveloped the road. It takes almost half an hour longer than usual. As soon as I get to the office i have to leave to get a train.
My colleague decides that instead of waiting for a delayed train to Canon Street which would make us 5 minutes late that we should walk from London Bridge to Cheapside. This he does at such a pace I have difficulty keeping up with him. After the meeting he decides that instead of waiting 15 minutes for the train from Canon street we will get the next train to London Bridge and change onto the train from Charing Cross. Only problem is that both trains arrive at London Bridge at the same time meaning we have to sprint up the steps, across the bridge and down the other side.
Back at the office I go to get something out of my "man bag" as Sarah likes to call it. Only thing is it's not on the floor where it normally is, in fact it's not anywhere to be seen. OH SHIT - where have I left it. I go very cold thinking what is in there - Ipaq, MP3 player, Bluetooth headset - that's best part of £650 for a start. Also in there is a cheque book, deposit account book and passport. PANIC!!!!
I retrace my steps and decide I must have left it on the floor of my clients meeting room. I call her - not there. It takes several hours before I can get it confirmed that it is there and safe - phew!
I'd only just recovered from that when the next thing happened. I'm used to people making comments when you get your haircut. At my office this usually amounts to a staement like "You've had your haircut" - well duh! I was there you know or some sarcastic comment. This however was different.
"Your haircut makes you look 10 years older and 2 stone heavier" he said without any trace of humour. When challanged by the rest of the people in my office about his nasty comment he made it perfectly clear that he had meant it.
Why do people always do this to me? Do I have a sign above my head which says criticize me? Everytime I buy new clothes for example there is always someone who is there to pull the rug out from under me. I don't feel the need to be nasty about other people so why do they feel the need to bring me down like this? As my Dad would say "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". The rest of the day was spent feeling really bad about myself.
Then last night I had to sort out a problem with the plumbing. Everytime you flushed the downstairs loo the sink gurgled and vice versa. I went out to the garage to find something to unblock it with and on the way back caught my knee on the low wall in the garden that I didn't see in the dark.
What a day!
@ Tuesday, 25. Oct, 2005 – 00:56:10
I had to go and look at a venue for a client’s event. The venue in question was Rudding Park, which is between Harrogate and Wetherby so a bit of a trek. I decided to drive as it wasn't going to be any quicker by train and the train meant changing 4 times and eventually getting a taxi for the last bit.
So I drove up the A1 in absolutely appalling weather. Luckily my windscreen wipers behaved themselves - I must have been driving up and down this route for at least 16 years and I used to hitchhike it before that so I know the road like the back of my hand.
Or I knew it...Every time I head up north now the road has changed – all part of the motorwayification of the A1M. In some ways I can see the sense in it as I’m often stuck behind two lorries both limited to 56mph trying to overtake each other but on the other hand the road is losing it’s character by being replaced by 3 lane motorway (Oh God I’m become nostalgic over a road). Anyway I’d passed Wakefield (Hi Phil) before I even had to look at a map.
A spiffing lunch was had in The Kestrel nr Spofforth - why are there so many un-pronounceable place names in Yorkshire? And even if you could work out how to pronounce it - the locals would call it something different!
Oh and my car broke it’s own record for fuel consumption today getting 702 miles from a tank of fuel which is just as well the price of it at the moment. I saw diesel for 99.9p a litre today. I’m old enough to remember when petrol topped £1 a gallon and all of the mechanical pumps couldn’t cope – they had to set it to 50p a gallon and double the total!! At least the electronic pumps should be able to cope even if the manufacturers of forecourt signs didn’t have the same foresight.
Soundtrack of the journey
Jerry Garcia Band
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Spirit - The Collection
Led Zeppelin - Fillmore West 27th April 1969
Steve Hillage Live Herald
Moby Grape – Best of
CSNY – Four way street
@ Tuesday, 25. Oct, 2005 – 00:38:28
If I'd Blogged on Friday night it would have read:
"F*cking windscreen wipers locked up again and the f*cking wind has just smashed the side gate!"
Beth's best friend Meg stayed over Friday night which increased the number of young'uns to six. Our house, if nothing else is full of chaos. I did feel guilty though when I asked Beth if they'd found something for breakfast and got the reply "yeah, we toasted the bread that hadn't gone moldy" - hmm Tescos time!
And so the weekend got off to a storming start. Luckily it got better!
But first to Chatham and the Post office. Sarah's girls are off to France next weekend with a local youth group and we were only told yesterday that they need an E111. Unfortunately when we get to the Post office we find that the E111 is no more replaced by another form that now takes 21 days to process. Oh well at least we got the Euro's while we were there!
Got my haircut again at the same place as mentioned in my previous blog. Got my ear hair singed again but didn't come out smelling like a tart's boudoir this time. Unfortunately he gelled my hair before I could stop him!
I bought a new winter coat, my old one is getting on a bit and hasn't been the same since last years works Christmas party! Only thing is the new one looks awfully like a parka (except it's not green) and I feel like I should have a Lambretta.
Sunday morning was spent going round garden centres and DIY shops looking for a new gate with no luck. It would appear our gate isn't a standard size....
Sunday afternoon was spent cooking - I made Beef stew and dumplings followed by Apple and Cinnamon crumble.
While I was doing that I was also fixing the gate which now opens better than it did before.
And I was also rebuilding my pc, installing a new hard drive (120Gb), new DVD burner, USB2 card and replacing the broken A drive as well as installing Windows XP.
Who says blokes can't multi-task!
@ Friday, 21. Oct, 2005 – 16:04:35
Yesterday was strange in many ways. Firstly we were sitting at work when we heard the sound of a helicopter, loud enough to make us believe it was landing in our carpark. We dashed to the door to find there was actually a helicopter landing in our carpark!
It was the air ambulance; turns out there had been an accident at the entrance to our estate. A huge truck was turning in and somehow someone had gone under the back wheels causing them serious injury, apparently severing one of their legs.
There were policemen all over the estate for the rest of the day and when it came time to go home there was sawdust covering up the blood at the corner where it had happened - ugh!
I went to a gig last night, first time for ages (unless you count the Libera show on Friday). It was put on my some local folk group at the local theatre. Unfortunately they obviously couldn't decide if it was a gig or a folk club. The theatre looks like a school hall and they had packed away the raked seating and put out tables with candles on them. There was no music playing and inside the hall it was deathly quiet. And as there were only about 35 people there was no atmosphere and it felt very sterile.
To make things even worse one of the other 34 people was my ex-wife. Coming face to face with her at the top of the stairs on my way back from the toilet was a shock. I have no idea why she was there; she never showed any interest in Nick Drake during the 23 years we were together. She was with a mutual friend so maybe that was the answer. She said hello but I still can't bring myself to talk to her. I tried but after a few words all of the hurt and pain welled up inside of me and I had to walk away. I'm very obviously not over it yet.
I sent Sarah a text and she told Beth via messenger - I think they were all expecting there to be a row in the middle of the gig. I, however, sat on one side of the hall and she on the other - our frostiness adding to the already cold atmosphere.
The music however couldn't have been better. The artist in question was a guy called Keith James who is one of at least two people who are currently doing Nick Drake tributes. In case you don't know (and if you don't shame on you!) Nick Drake was a singer, guitarist and songwriter who released three classic albums in the late 60's/early 70's before dying tragically young. Nick was a sensitive soul who was ill equipped for life and despite all three of his albums being critically acclaimed they didn't sell well. He hated performing which didn't help and the failure of his records to sell caused him to become very depressed. Nick died after taking too much of the medication for his depression and no one knows if he meant to kill himself or if it was a tragic accident. Either way the world was robbed of a great talent.
I thought Keith did a good job interpreting the songs; his voice has a similar gentle lilt to Nick's which makes ideal for singing these beautiful songs. Keith chose songs from all three albums, Five leaves left Bryter Layter and Pink Moon as well as some of the unreleased songs that have turned up since his death. He was backed by an excellent bass player called Rick Foot and although this meant that the songs lacked the rich orchestration of the records they would have been closer to the way Nick might have played them live. Among the songs played were Pink Moon, Northern Sky, Fruit Tree and Black eyed dog - Nicks original of the latter being one of the most plaintive vocal performances ever recorded, one of the last recordings he ever made you can hear the despair in his voice.
Curiously one of the highlights of the show wasn't a song by Nick Drake. Solid air was written by John Martyn about him so I guess it belonged here too.
You've been taking your time,
And you've been living on solid air
You've been walking the line,
And you've been living on solid air
@ Thursday, 20. Oct, 2005 – 01:23:26
One of the great joys I have found since my divorce has been cooking. when I was married I "wasn't" allowed in the kitchen and when I was she would stand over me and complain about the mess I was making. And in any case too many of the meals we ate came from the machine that goes ping!!
Since the divorce though I have really enjoyed cooking and while it's still at the basic stages I feel like I'm moving forward and really want to try new things. At the moment it's simple stuff that the kids will eat like spagbol or bangers and mash (with onion gravy and mustard mash of course) and I make a really mean roast dinner on a Sunday.
My kids even bought me a Piggin Chef for my birthday because and I quote "You're always cooking" - wonder what their mother makes of that!! Sarah bought me an Simpsons apron too. I've even been spotted drooling over kitchenware in the shops, all I need now is the chef's hat!!
Tonight was good as I made Rhubarb crumble - I was a bit worried how it would turn out but everyone who had some cleared their plate.
@ Wednesday, 19. Oct, 2005 – 17:23:26
Here's some of the music I've been listening to so far this week
I bought a CD single (well Sarah bought it for me as I'd left my wallet at home) by M.I.A. called Galang 05. Not the usual sort of stuff I listen to but I heard it on Radio 1 when I was waiting for the John Peel program to start and I liked it.
Uncut magazine had an article on Bruce Sprinsteen in it. It's 30 years since Born to Run was released (and almost 25 years since I went to see him!). I read the article which told of how the album almost ended his career. I listen to the aforementioned album plus the free CD that was on the cover of uncut. Maybe more thoughts on The Boss another time.
Tinariwen continue to delight me with their desert sounds. Definately my favourite Afican sounds.
I downloaded some tracks by The Warlocks who are playing at the Garage in a few weeks time to see if they were worth going to see. After listening I decided they weren't!!
Patti Smith is another blast from the past. I saw her in about 79 at Newcastle City Hall. I must either buy or download Easter and Wave at some point.
I recieved a brochure for the London Jazz Festival today from the Barbican. I looked through the pages and there were loads of gigs I fancied - Manu Dibango, Branford Marsalis doing "A Love supreme", Acoustic Ladyland and more - talk about a jazz mag!!
They continue to torture me with Smooth FM at work though.
@ Wednesday, 19. Oct, 2005 – 16:59:01
One of the strange by-products of doing the job I do is that I often get to go to places that the general hoi polloi don’t normally get to go. Today this meant I got to go to Lancaster House.
Lancaster House is the one next to Buckingham palace and was previously a royal residence, having been built by Benjamin Wyatt for the 'grand old' Duke of York in 1825. It’s now owned by the Foreign and Commonwealth office. The same guards that march up and down out side Buck House having their photos taken by tourists are here as well. The policeman on the gate checked my name was on the list and directed me inside.
I was a little early so I waited in the foyer which was big enough on it's own to fit the Big Blue House into and still have room to spare. It was decorated in what the guidebooks would call opulent splendour but in reality it was white with covings and pillars decorated in gilt and gold. The furnishings were red and the wallpaper reminiscent of a thousand curry houses seen through the drunken haze of a Saturday night.
It's sad to think that the English Royals and aristocracy were once the leaders of fashion and their style was copied all over the world but somewhere down the line this was replaced by "tradition" which has seen most of the palaces and state buildings frozen in time for the past 150 years. If you look at the history of Royal palaces they were altered and changed by successive Kings to suit their own tastes but the current Royal family live in a style and in buildings that, was she to return tomorrow, Queen Victoria would still recognise. One of England’s problems is that it has this great past and it wants to continue to live there!!
I always find myself adopting this odd position of self importance when I go somewhere like this, I’m somewhere special and my shoulders go back and I sit up straight. This is usually tempered by a feeling that any second now someone will realise that I don’t really belong here and I’ll be evicted like at gatecrasher at a wedding. Anyway I glanced down and spotted my “wank for peace” wristband and decided it might be better if I turned it over.
I’ve had to be security checked to work there and I've been told that I have passed which I wasn't sure whether to be pleased or embarrassed about! I guess if I'm honest that despite feeling like the Rebel without a clue the reality is that I've always been a bit of a goody two shoes! A product of being the son of a policeman I guess and having the consequences of misbehaviour drummed into me from an early age despite growing up in the 60's.
Having said that when my brother rang me to check my details for his security vetting when he joined the upper echelons of the Police force recently he did threaten to remove parts of my anatomy if there were any skeletons in my closet. Sarah went one step further and promised to kill me if my past buggered up her police check for childminding. So maybe I do still have the reputation of the black sheep even if the reality is very different.
@ Sunday, 16. Oct, 2005 – 21:59:53
So the car got fixed in time and we managed to get to see Libera on Friday night. This was the third time I'd seen them - the first time was at the London Palladium supporting ahem Aled Jones (ok I know but we got free tickets). the other two times have been at St. Johns Church in Upper Norwood when they've been doing warm up shows for their Japanese tours.
They went out to Korea and Japan at Easter and they are off to Japan again next week. In Korea they were met at the airport and after every show by crowds of screaming girls just like the Beatles.
Sarah's brothers have both sang with the choir and taken leading roles on their CD's. Her younger brother Steven still sings with them although as his voice has broken he has been relegated to the back row!! He does however play clarinet and pipe with them (and I could pick out his voice amongst the others) and did some great work on Friday night.
You may have heard Libera sing as they are often on songs of praise, in fact Steven can be heard singing on the theme tune. They have also sung on films such as haunting soundtrack to Merchant Of Venice; accompanying the gruesome Hannibal; serenading Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet; abetting Gary Lineker’s crisp-stealing television adverts in the UK; backing Pavarotti, Elton John, or Bjork; supporting Hayley Westenra and Aled Jones; or bringing the long-running UK TV series This Is Your Life to a close.
So this brings me back to this religious theme that's been bothering me for the last few weeks. One of the enjoyable parts of the concert was seeing the choir screen in the church lit with moving lights. (I'd seen a similar effect at the Mediaeval Baebes concert in Rochester Cathedral a few years ago). It's a shame churches don't go in for more sophisticated lighting systems to enhance their services.
My favourite song was the one that closed the show I am the Day. I can see the Christian symbolism in the song but to me there are also strong pagan images in there too - which is what appeals to me I guess. There are strong themes of birth and death throughout the song.
I am the day, soon to be born
I am the light before the morning
I am the night, that will be dawn
I am the end and the beginning
I am the alpha and omega
The night and day, the first and last
I am the life, soon to begin
I am the new hope in the morning
I am the darkness, soon to be light
I am the rising and the falling
I loved it from the first time I heard it on Songs of Praise and I'm sure it would be one of the tracks on that desert island!
@ Friday, 14. Oct, 2005 – 15:14:41
So the week that got off to a bad start because of the car, ends badly because of the car. On the way to work this morning my windscreen wipers seized and I had to get the Green Flag man out to recover me back to Chatham and the garage.
I even had to get on a bus, I've lived in Medway for over 13 years and today was the first time I've ever been on one of the local buses. Sarah found this highly amusing and took a picture.
So I'm waiting to find out if I'll get the car back today as we are meant to be going to Croydon tonight.
@ Friday, 14. Oct, 2005 – 00:15:42
So today is John Peel day - whatever that means. Don't get me wrong I recognise the influence John had on music but I think he would have been embarrassed by all of this. I think though he had less influence on my musical tastes than people like Tommy Vance, Roger Scott and Johnnie Walker. The last two both hosted the Saturday afternoon show which was the program that introduced me to so much music.
My earliest memory of the John Peel show was listening to it at Hilton Heslop's (yes that really was his name) in either late 76 or early 77. I remember him playing Smoke on the Water. It was shortly after that he started getting into punk and although I liked the early punk records after a while his taste and mine parted company. I was looking at his festive 50 lists on the BBC website today and noticed that Dark Star by the Grateful Dead still featured in his 1976 top 50.
I remember seeing John at Reading in 79 where he was the compere and probably joined in a chorus of "John Peels a c*nt" when he wouldn't let a band I liked have an encore. I had a brief flirtation with him again in around 84 when I was on the dole and taped some stuff from his shows (including the Sonny Rollins track mentioned in an earlier blog - I got my ticket by the way) but after that I only saw him presenting Glastonbury shows when I got back and watched the tapes.
There are obviously records, tapes and CD's in my collection that he championed but I found my own way to them rather than be guided by him. One band that we both adored have been listened to a lot this week (weird sycronicity?) in the car and that band is Misty in Roots.
Their album "Live at the Counter Eurovision 79" is certainly in my top 5 all time live albums if not my all time favourite albums. Sadly out of print now I only have it on vinyl which has been packed in boxes since September last year so it was with great joy that I recieved, from a friend, several CD's worth of live stuff. John also loved the album and chose one track (Introduction / Mankind) from it when he was on Desert Island discs.
Misty played at the John Peel concert last night along with the Fall and Joy "New Order" Division. It was broadcast on Radio 1 tonight but I missed it - I suppose I'll get the tapes at some point.
When we tread this land, we walk for one reason.
The reason is to help another man to think for himself.
The music of our hearts is roots music, music which recalls history,
because without the knowledge of your history you cannot determine your destiny.
The music about the present because if you're not conscious of the present
you're like a cabbage in this society.
Music which tells about the future and the judgement which is to come.
The music of our hearts is roots music.
(Spoken Introduction to Live at the Counter Eurovision)
@ Monday, 10. Oct, 2005 – 23:36:31
Monday, Monday, so good to me
Today got off to such a great start, Sarah discovered that Vodaphone had cut off not only her old mobile but her new one too. This as it turns out was mostly because of misinformation given to her by Phones 4U.
We then took Lis to school and on the way back we were driving up to a junction when I saw a car turning into the road so I braked. To my horror the other car didn't and smashed straight into the front of the car. Luckily no one was hurt and thankfully (as I doubt he was insured) very little damage to mine. His car however came off worse with smashed headlights and bumper falling off. he had hit the towing point on my car!! After exchanging details he drove off up the side street at about 60mph - what a dick head!
Then we had to take Ben for his injection and it was only 9:30!!
@ Thursday, 06. Oct, 2005 – 17:18:35
I got to thinking about the nature of Freedom this morning. As usual it started off while driving to work listening to music, Crosby Stills Nash and Young as it happens. I was listening to Southern man off 4 Way street and started to think about the Lynyrd Skynyrd response Sweet Home Alabama.
It was a natural step from there to their greatest hit Freebird – a song that has a huge significance in my life. It was the song that was playing when after 3 weeks I finally plucked up enough courage to talk to the girl who I would spend the next 23 years with. It’s odd that a song that has the lyrics
But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you cannot change
should have become “Our song”. Since our divorce it has of course made more sense and while I agree that “this bird you cannot change”, I’m not sure just how free I or anyone else really is. There is always work, home, bills, kids, partner etc with demands on your time – so how many people can actually claim to be free.
As the Levellers put it
My father when I was younger
Took me up to the hill
That looked down on to the city smog
Above the factory spill
He said this is where I come
When I want to be free
Well he never was in his lifetime
But these words stuck with me
I was listening to a conversation a few weeks ago between my camera crew and the client. They were talking about how she was giving up work to go to India to travel for six months and the discussion got onto all the places they had been, Australia, South America – you name it they’d been there. I got to thinking about how I had missed out on all of this and how I wish I could give it all up and go off like that. Then I had a thought – would I give up any of what I had now for another life? These people didn’t have kids, would I swap my kids for freedom – of course not.
That then got me thinking about my all time favourite song Albert Hammonds Free Electric Band with its refrain
My future in the system was talked about and planned
but I gave it up for music and the Free Electric Band.
It’s been a song that I’ve always returned to over the years as being I suppose the ideal dream, no cares, no ties, go where you want when you want
Just give me bread and water, put a guitar in my hand
'Cos all I need is music and the Free Electric Band.
As John Lennon said, “imagine no possessions” but John Lennon had other thoughts about freedom
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
One of the things we value in the west is our so-called freedom – after all doesn’t America describe itself as the Land of the Free. In reality we actually have very little freedom and our Governments try to restrict what we have whilst paying lip service to protecting it. That’s why as Lennon said they
Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
So I’ll keep paying my mortgage and going to work everyday and deluding myself that I have freedom – after all it would take a monumental act of courage (or is that cowardice) to walk away from it all and really be free.
Anyway as always the last word goes to Mr Dylan who of course summed up exactly what I’ve been rambling on about in four lines
Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me,
"How good, how good does it feel to be free?"
And I answer them most mysteriously,
"Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?"
@ Thursday, 06. Oct, 2005 – 16:01:43
Isn't darkness a wonderful thing!!
I've been woring at the Rotherhithe Hilton (no honest there is one) for the last few days and it's right on the south bank of the Thames overlooking Canary Wharf. Stepping outside for some air on Tuesday night I was taken by the view which was reminiscent of New York in the pre-9/11 days. A magical wonderland of lights rising high into the night sky.
Sadly the following morning the magic had disappeared and had been replaced by some concrete and glass towers merging into a overcast sky.
@ Saturday, 01. Oct, 2005 – 19:57:43
Wow nosing round the net last night and found two gigs to go to.
First is Manu Dibango at Ronnie Scotts on 11 and 12th November. The second is Sonny Rollins at the Barbican next May.
I must see the Rollins gig as he was the artist who got me into Jazz in the first place. I'm sure it was on the John Peel show that I first heard him - probably sandwiched between Babies on Razorblades and the The Fall.