Posts archive for: September, 2005
  • Nurse, the screens!

    One of the worst bits about moving house is having to change everything. After our recent move I had to change Doctors which was no great loss as my last one wasn’t that good. I once went to him with an itchy scalp and asked if it could be stress related – “Stress? Don’t talk to me about stress” was his considered reply.

    Anyway I’m now registered with the Doctor that Sarah has been going to for years, a Christian practise no less!! Before I could be accepted I had to go for a check over with the nurse – you know height, weight, wee-wee sample etc.

    I found out that my BMI (Body mass index) means I am obese!! This came as a bit of a shock to someone who considered himself to be cuddly maybe, tubby possibly or maybe just over-weight but apparently I have to lose weight just to be over-weight!! It also means I have to go for a blood test as someone somewhere has decreed that if your waist measurement is over a certain size you need to be monitored for diabetes etc.

    During the examination I was asked by the nurse if I regularly checked myself “down below” which to me sounds more like a euphemism for masturbation than any serious medical question about testicular cancer. I had a vision of Les Dawson dressed up as Cissie asking me but mouthing the “down below” bit.

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  • Put some bleachers out in the sun

    I'm sitting watching Don't look back on BBC4 and thinking about the Bob Dylan program No Direction Home which was on BBC2 over the last two nights. I still haven't watched it all but for what it's worth here are my thoughts on it.

    A few years ago I read a book by Toby Litt called Beatnicks which starts with the story of how Bob Dylan died in a motorcycle accident just after recording Blonde on Blonde. If you didn't know any better you would have thought that was true after watching the documantary.

    It clocks in at just under 4 hours and only covers the period up to the end of his 1966 UK tour. At the end there was a caption saying about the motorcycle accident and that was it.

    The final minutes of the program show a very tired Dylan saying he wanted to go home and then show the Judas incident at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Curiously the incident wasn't discussed in the program although the earlier Newport incident was.

    I got to thinking that maybe Bob did "die" on stage that night in Manchester and maybe it still hurts after all these years. The constant touring, being followed everywhere by cameras and the violent reactions of the crowds must have taken their toll. Dylan was never the same again and his music mellowed into a country style shortlt afterwards. Maybe Dylan the rock and roller died in England in 1966.

  • No Direction home

    Bob Dylan

    In case you're wondering why I'm not raving about the Bob Dylan program it's because I didn't watch all of it for various reasons. I do have it on tape though and I'll catch up as soon as I can and bore you senseless then!!

    Part Deux tonight!!

  • Spew Stains on the Sidewalk

    I didn't write anything over the weekend. I don't know where it went!! It was a lovely weekend though and I managed to get the garden sorted out before autumn comes crashing in and strips the trees of their leaves. Despite the late summer weather it can't be long especially after we passed the Autumn Equinox last week. The dark nights will soon be drawing in. I also managed to get a little bit more work done on the "Blokezone" but not as much as I would have liked.

    Another early start this morning as I had to go back to Tower Hill to finish shooting the video I started on Thursday last week. After arriving nearly 1 1/2 hours early last week I decided to set off a little later and thanks to an accident on the A2 I ended up being 15 minutes late - That's London traffic for you. I also managed to take this arty picture of tower Bridge using my camera phone

    Tower Bridge again

    On the way to work this morning and during my journey back to my office I listened to two Grateful Dead albums. The two in question were two they recorded in 1970 Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. The albums are, I guess, in a style which would be called Americana now and quite unlike anything they had released up until that time. Gone was the electric acid dreched rock of their previous albums replaced by a stripped back simple country rock sound that would become a staple of bands like the Eagles and CSN&Y.

    Two tracks stood out today - the first, harking back to my last post, reminded me of the style of the Kabir poem. Ripple could be seen as a quasi-religious song although it doesn't specify any religion. Whereas the Kabir poem says

    the music from the strings that no one touches

    with ripple you get

    my tunes were played on the harp unstrung

    I got to thinking about my unspecified religious leanings and how I could add the following to my list of life guidances.

    Ripple in still water
    When there is no pebble tossed
    Nor wind to blow

    Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
    If your cup is full may it be again
    Let it be known there is a fountain
    That was not made by the hands of man

    There is a road, no simple highway
    Between the dawn and the dark of night
    And if you go, no one may follow
    That path is for your steps alone

    The other song that struck me was Brokedown Palace which was the last song I heard a member of the Dead sing live. It's such a beautiful song that I want it played at my funeral

    Fare you well, fare you well
    I love you more than words can tell
    Listen to the river sing sweet songs
    To rock my soul

    Over the weekend I found a site by someone called topofthestairs who said they ahd listened to Roy Harper for the first time and was looking for guidance. I suggested some songs but Roy had got into my head and so I listened to some of his songs on the way home tonight.

    Roy Harper

    If I had to describe Roy Harper it would be as the Don Quixote of the English music scene, always tilting at the windmills of religion and politics with little more than a guitar and a few words. His lyrics are often like a conversation with someone who has taken too many drugs but he still finds a way to get his message across and touch your heart at the same time.

    McGoohans Blues was one of the songs that I listened to, it's the first of his epics and durings it's course rails at everything from society to religion

    And the bankers and tycoons and hoarders of money and art
    Fill up with baubles and bibles and full of no heart
    Who travel first class on a pleasure excursion to fame
    Are the eyes that are guiding society's ludicrous aim.
    And the village is making its Sunday collection in church
    The church wobbles twixt hell and heaven's crumbling perch
    Unnoticed the money box loudly endorses the shame
    As the world that Christ fought is supported by using his name.

    That last line gets to me eveytime and kind of sums up everything I feel about the Christian Church as we know it today. But don't worry I'm not going to get into that again (well not today anyway).

    The song that was playing as I pulled up outside the Big Blue House was one that was quite apt given the Ashes victory and the end of the cricket season. When an Old Crickter Leaves the Crease is a marvelous celebration of an England that no longer exists (and may never have done of course). On this he is backed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band which adds to the timeless feel of the song.

    There'll be one mad dog and his master, pushing for 4 with the spin

    I can see it now, Sunday afternoon scoring for the local cricket side

    Batsman: "Put the scoreboard right"

    Me after checking: "It is right!"

    Drinks and sandwiches at tea. A slower pace of life.

    But did it really exist?

  • Clay Jug

    The line I mentioned in my previous post as being from a Jackie Leven song was of course written by Kabir (Couldn't remember the name when I was at work). I've re-printed the poem below:

    Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine mountains,
    and the maker of canyons and pine mountains!
    All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions of stars.
    The acid that tests gold is there, and the one who judges jewels.
    And the music from the strings that no one touches,
    and the source of all water.

    If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
    Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.

    It was translated by Robert Bly - writer of Iron John which I still haven't finished and he reads the poem on the Jackie Leven CD which is called "The Mystery Of Love Is Greater Than The Mystery Of Death" which in inself is a thought provking statement. Jackie used to be in Doll by Doll who I saw a couple of times - once on the same bill at Gateshead Stadium as an up and coming band called U2. I've seen Jackie a couple of times at the 12 Bar club in London and at the Tron in Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections in 2003.

    How's that Phil?

  • This is Radio Clash on pirate satellite

    Please note yesterdays blog is running late due to the author falling asleep on the sofa!!

    Another early one – a video shoot for a client in their offices, that nice new shiny building next to the Tower of London. Unfortunately due to a miscalculation I’m in London over a hour early. I left home at 5:30 and was parked up in the car park by 6:15. Luckily I had a coffee and “The Story of the Clash” to keep me company.

    The title from yesterday’s blog was a random line from a Clash song that had lept into my head while I was trying to think of a witty title and just stuck there. It was so stuck that I felt the need to listen to some Clash. So as luck would have it there was some on my trusty MP3 player I listened to disc one on the journey but the spare time left me time to listen to disc 2 as well. I’ve never held the Clash in quite the same regard as some people of my age but do think they knock out a good tune.

    I bought the first album on it’s release in 1977 but sold it somewhere down the line which is quite unusual for me as I never sell CD’s or Books – it would be like selling one of the kids (as much as I sometimes feel like it!). There are some cracking songs on the first album and I think one of my favourites is Career Opportunities which clocks in at a massive one minute and fifty-two seconds – ah the spirit of punk!!

    Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?

    The Clash then disappeared off my screen until Sandinista which I bought on cassette and liked some of it but felt it could have benefited from a bit of pruning. I never saw them, when they played Newcastle just after the first album was released the played at the Poly saying that they wouldn’t play Universities as the audiences were elitist – unfortunately it was easier for a non student to get into Newcastle University to see a gig than to get into Newcastle Poly – oh well.

    After the Clash interlude I went for a wander round the Tower of London, which was mercifully tourist free at that time of the morning. I wandered down to the riverside to look at Tower Bridge and Traitors gate.

    Tower Bridge 7am

    After work we had lunch outside a little restaurant on the corner by All Hallows Church. We sat outside in the sunshine, hard to believe it’s almost October – we seem to get better weather in early and late summer these days than we do in so called high summer.


    When I got home I got out of the dreaded suit and promptly fell asleep on the bed for half an hour. Our youngest daughter goes to kids club at a local church and I was duly dispatched to pick her up. I followed a group of mum’s into the hall only to find that the meeting was still going on so I beat a hasty retreat and sat outside in the sun. It’s just like Sunday school I thought…..

    ….Sunday School – I’d almost forgotten about that. Every Sunday morning I’d be packed off to the Church Hall at St. Gabriel’s to attend Sunday School. And on a Wednesday night it was 6 o’clock special in the crypt under the church for more bible bashing. Every fourth Sunday it would be church parade with the cubs and we’d have to endure the sermon, which seemed to go on for hours.

    I was obviously a good boy because I was entered into the annual Scripture Union Bible contest where we had to sit a test and answer questions about the bible. I got 95% (always was a swot!) and a distinction. I’ve still got the certificate somewhere but sadly I’ve lost the badge. So with all of this grounding you’d expect me to be a Christian wouldn’t you – well no.

    I don’t know what I believe in. To me there are two creeds if you like that I try to live my life by. The first is the Wiccan rede which states “As long as it harms none, do as you will” and the second is something I heard on a Jackie Leven CD “The god whom I love is inside”.

    I was at an event called Witchfest a few months ago, we were dancing outside and some “Christian” fundamentalists, who had flown from America to shout abuse at the people who were attending, were haranguing us. These people weren’t interested in the teachings of Christ at all but merely wanted to quote the laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy – stone me!! (that’s a joke by the way)

    Anyway I’m going to stop now before I get myself into trouble – I’ll let the Clash have the last word

    And everybody's doing, just what they're told to

  • Like cowboys do - in t.v. land

    Did you know that in Claridges the toilets are marked neither as toilets or show which is male or female. Now does this mean that posh people don't like to know that toilets exist, maybe they don't actually use them or is it that they just know!?

    Another day another conference. Sometimes I hear things that actually shock me – like today a representative of a major mobile phone company boasting that their network was the first to be up and running again after Hurricane Katrina. I suppose on some levels this is good as it would aid the rescue teams but what shocked me was that he said that this was achieved by a member of staff who "volunteered" to stay with the equipment during the hurricane. What if he’d been killed would the company have been held accountable – I bet not.

    On the way home I was driving through the city and was sitting in a junction waiting to turn right. When the lights changed I went to move off and some idiot on a cycle shot across the junction so fast that he was on me before any of the other cars moved. He started shouting at me and when I gestured that he should go and f*ck himself he did a u-turn and followed me down the street. Apparently he had right of way, apparently I should have stayed in the middle of the junction. When I suggested he go home and read the Highway Code he told me I was a quote stupid, fat, bearded twat unquote. Oh dear he missed out Northern!!

    P.S. the title is a complete red herring!!

  • Ramble On

    My daughter bought me a badge today which I think sums it up better than I can write it down - So over to Eve L

    Hate my music

    I got to my job early last week and plugged my MP3 player into the sound desk but the client was there and I thought I'd better play something in-offensive - it was a struggle to find anything middle of the road on there and it's got a (full) 20GB drive.

    Another Zeppelin day today - well sort of. It was Robert Plant's excellent new CD "Mighty rearranger" on the way to work and Page and Plant at Glastonbury on the way back. I was at the Glastonbury show, one of four times I saw Page and Plant together.

    The first time was at Knebworth with Zep in 79. After that I saw Plant on his Big Log tour and then after moving to London at the Hammersmith Odeon. As Plant came on for the encore he looked to the wings and said "Jimmy Page" - the place went nuts. The other two times were the Page and Plant shows that followed the Un-led-ed show they did for MTV.

    The Glastonbury show was like the MTV show with the Strings and the Egyptian musicians. During Kashmir one of the Egyptian violin players did a solo that stopped the show and brought tears to the eyes - almost outshining everything Page had done on his guitar.

    The last time I saw them together was at Reading a few years later and on that occaison they were more like Zep. At one point Page played the opening riff from "Stairway to Heaven" but as the crowd went wild he changed and launched into something else. I was right down the front, close enough to take cups of water from the bouncers on the barrier.

    Last time I saw Plant was at Canterbury in 2003 when he was with his current band Strange Sensation. He played a mix of Zep classics and cover versions like Morning Dew, girl from the North Country and Hey Joe. It's easy to see the path from Un-led-ed to Mighty Rearranger and possibly why Page dropped out of the equation - I think Plant wanted to go off in different directions and was held back by Page.

    One question that I've been wondering about recently is: "Is Robert Plant a closet Deadhead". After all he covered Morning Dew on the last album a song which the Dead made their own. I've also noticed that on at least 3 songs of Mighty Rearranger there are possible Dead reference. The title of "Let the four wind blow" could be a quote from Franklin's Tower. Two other tracks contain lines from Dead staple cover versions - Mighty Rearranger contains the line "Wild Geese in the west" from I know your Rider and Shine it all around contains the line "Turn on your Lovelight" from the song of the same name.

    Did I ever tell you about the time I met Jimmy Page. I'd been to see Roy Harper at the 100 club in Oxford Street and had left almost as soon as it finished. As I walked along Oxford Street I sudden;y realised that Jimmy Page had just walked past me. I doubled back and thrust a pen under his nose and asked for his autograph which he duly gave me. I asked him if he had come to see Roy and he said yes. I told him that Roy had finished and he replied "we'll soon see about that". I followed him back into the club but the equipmant had all been packed away. He disappeared backstage and that was the last I saw of him.

    Oh and the gasman did cometh today and it wasn't anything serious just a lack of pressure dur to us not knowing how the system works as yet. So no more clanking and banging and hot water again.

  • There are no grapes upon the vine

    Three exciting things happened today!!

    First I picked a bunch of grapes from the vine in the back garden. I expected them to be hard or horrible but after giving them a rinse I gingerly tried one - they were lovely. I'll have to look into the best way to look after them so we get a nice big crop of them next year. Hey we could make wine Chateaux Grand Bleu Maison!!

    The next exciting thing was that I started to empty some of the boxes containing my CD's which have been packed in cases since the end of April. They had to go into storage after the sale of the Former Matrimonial Home went through and they've been in the shed since we moved in. Unfortunately there was only enough room in the CD shelves for about 80% of one of the three boxes out there.

    Which leads me to the third exciting thing. The big blue house has a garage at the back and part of the garage was a small workshop. The plan is to sort this out and turn it into a "Bloke Zone" where I can have my CD's and desk etc. I finally managed to get project underway today. I re-arranged the garage to make some room and emptied the workshop and removed the old workbench. Still a long way to go before I'm in there but it's a start.

    The beginning

    Out with the bench

    Sarah says she'll make me some tie-dye cutains as well.

    And there are no letters in the mailbox,
    oh no, there are no, no grapes upon your vine,
    and there are no chocolates in your boxes anymore,
    and there are no diamonds in your mine.

  • The Gasman Cometh

    ...or rather he didn't. We rang British Gas yesterday about the boiler in the big blue house. It turned out that the maintenance contract that the previous owners had taken out expired that very day but if we agreed to take out a new contract they would come out. We agreed and were told that someone would be out between 8 and 12 this morning.

    So we waited and when no one came we rang British Gas again. They said they had no record of the conversation yesterday. Eventually after much talking they've agreed to send someone on Monday so we have to put up with the clanking and banging for another two days.

    Which got me thinking about Flanders and Swann - what would they have made of call centres and the fact that you can buy your electric from the gas board!! Before I knew it I'd updated the first verse of the Gasman cometh

    Twas on the Monday morning I gave British gas a call
    The call centre didn't answer, was there no one there at all?
    The lady took the details and it was with such a cheery grin
    That after I put the phone down she threw them in the bin.

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan has been on TV a lot recently - they keep running ads for the Martin Scorsese documentary that is on BBC Two soon. I'm quite looking forward to it as Dylan has been a passion of mine for more years than I care to think of (ok about 28 years now). BBC 4 has a series of programmes about him too.

    When Ben was born I told my dad about his name and when I said that his middle name was Dylan there was an audible groan down the phoneline!! If it had been up to me it would have been his first name (or maybe Cassidy after the Grateful Dead song) but Sarah was wise to my game and Benjamin Dylan was a compromise!

    He's appearing in London in November (Bob that is not Ben obviously) but I'm not going. I saw him at Brixton Academy about 2 years ago and it was good. It was the 11th time I'd seen him since Blackbushe in 1978. I was lucky enough to get right down the front, close enough to be able to see his lips move. Also he sang Blind Willie McTell which I'd never seen him sing before.

    It's quiet in the Big Blue House tonight - Beth and Rhianna are at their mams, Becky is off camping with the guides (Rhianna should be too but decided she didn't want to). So there's only Lis and Ben. Sarah and I even managed to go out for a meal while Lis was at a party which was nice.

    Hollis Brown
    He lived on the outside of town
    With his wife and five children
    And his cabin fallin' down

  • Early in the mornin at the break of day, He used to sleep until the afternoon.

    Too many late nights and early mornings, too many beds in too many towns. My brain is fried.

    Too much hard travelling, too many roads, planes trains and automobiles.

    Sleeping these insane hours I'll never wake up in a good mood again I'm sick of these stinky boots.

    Got to be up at Four Thirty tomorrow morning - too tired to write.

  • And I think to myself, "What a wonderful world"

    Wow what a great train journey I had yesterday travelling from Edinburgh across to Carlisle and then down to Manchester through England’s (and Scotland’s obviously) green and pleasant land. The fantastic scenery serving to remind this Southern dweller that there’s more to the countryside than a field next to the M25.

    Arriving in Manchester I was once again struck by how much it had changed since I lived here when I went to Salford University over 20 years ago. The view out of the train window and on the subsequent cab ride was filled with a mix of the new and the old. Steel and glass buildings alongside the old Victorian brick and the disasters from the 60’s and 70’s. Every now and again I would spot some building like the Circus Tavern that hadn’t changed since my time here and it would be like spotting the face of an old friend in a crows of strangers.

    I’m staying at the Radisson Edwardian I came to a few weeks back (see earlier blog) which as you may recall is built on the site of the old Free Trade Hall. I’ve had a little more time to look around this time and I noticed on the second floor that they have some framed bits of plasterwork from the original dressing room walls with signatures of famous people on them. Alas no Dylan sig but amongst the one that were there were Louis Armstrong and Dame Sybil Thorndike.


    I also spotted underneath the signature of Anna Neagal that was a sticker – at first I thought it had been stuck on the glass but closer inspection showed that it was actually underneath it so it must have been taken from the original wall. What caught my eye was it said Crispy Ambulance. This brought back memories of my time here as I saw the band in a basement room in a dodgy old club the name of which escapes my mind for now. However for some strange reason the only thing that sticks in my mind from that night was that I liked the shoes that the singer from the support band was wearing – strange eh?

  • I’m sitting on top of the world

    Woo-hoo! - The ashes are ours, for a while there today I thought that England were going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but up stepped a hero who was, of course, called Kevin!!

    Part of me wanted to wake up this morning and find it was chucking it down with rain but the other part of me didn’t want it to end that way. It was also going to be a bad day because at least some of it would be spent on an aeroplane and therefore out of contact with the game.

    We had the TV on in the office and we despaired as two quick wickets fell, a third fell as my cab arrived. Luckily for me the cab driver had the cricket on the radio but a fifth wicket fell just before lunch – things were looking bad.

    After lunch at Gatwick I found a tv set and was amazed to see we had put on another 50 runs without loss and I watched until I had to go and board the flight. Almost as soon as I left two more wickets fell quite quickly but I wasn’t to know that – probably just as well for the sake of my health.

    When we landed in Edinburgh I dashed through the airport – surely somewhere in this Heathen country they must be showing the cricket. Eventually I found a bar and joy of joys England were still batting and we were 250 ahead. Surely that was enough.

    I collected my suitcase (at least sleazy jet had managed to load it on the aeroplane this time) and headed for the bar. I sat there with a pint or two of 80/- ale until it was beyond all reasonable doubt. The problem was that this series has changed so fast so often you could never be sure until the very last minute.

    Eventually I headed off to the hotel because I had to start work at 7pm or just after. I got into my room just in time to see the presentations. When they lifted the ashes I leapt up and down and actually wept tears of joy. What a day – What a series.

    Edinburgh Castle

    The view from my hotel room

  • I don't like cricket oh no, I love it

    More cricket I'm afraid!!

    Here's what I think - The Aussies had a plan - play until the end of today and run up a huge first innings score then bowl England out tomorrow and win. This would explain why the pulled off the batsmen twice for bad light - using up time and preserving their big hitters in the gloom.

    Unfortunately their innings collapsed and now they're unhappy about England pulling off their batsmen for bad light - aw!! An expression involving a goose and a gander springs to mind.

    Anyway tomorrow will be interesting and I'll miss it as I'll be on an aeroplane to Edinburgh - off for three days Edinburgh and Manchester.

    Blogs over the next few days will depend on if I can get my laptop connected and actually have any time!!

  • Ghost in the Machine

    A ghost from my past came back to haunt me today but it was actually a pleasurable experience which may even have laid the ghost to rest for good.

    When I was young my mother used to take me to get my haircut at a Barbers shop in Chester Road, Sunderland. This must have been between about 1965 and 1970 a time when flower power and long hair was spreading across the land. It was a nightmare experience and I hated going to get my short back and sides. It was always a Thursday because that was the day that Old Age Pensioners and Children were half price.

    The Barber was a grumpy old sod that I suspect hated children and he always used to complain that my hair used to blunt his scissors. We would sit in the shop full of old men who would be getting their haircut. There was be a smell of burnt hair that pervaded the whole shop as in those days the Barber would used a burning taper to singe hair. I remember even at that young age seeing packs of condoms on the shelves “Something for the weekend, Sir”

    When it was my turn the Barber would produce a plank from underneath the counter and place it across the arms of the chair for me to sit on. I would then have to sit very still while I was scalped and woe betide me if I moved. It left me with a lifelong hatred of fear of having my hair cut.

    I’m all right if I go to a hairdresser that I’ve been to before but if I have to go somewhere new I panic. This happened to me a few weeks ago when the hairdresser I had been using closed down and I had to go somewhere else. Today I really needed to get my hair cut but the place I’d gone to last time was shut. We were wandering through Chatham when Sarah pointed out a Barbers shop. I plucked up courage and went in.

    My fear got worse when I discovered the Barber spoke very little English but I persevered. He cut my hair and then to my horror he lit a taper and singed the hairs in my ears, that was a bit of a shock. I also asked him to trim my beard, which was again brave, as I hate anyone going near my throat. After he had finished he splashed the back of my neck with some sort of cologne and dusted me down with talcum powder - I smelt like a tart’s boudoir!!

    The strange thing was that I enjoyed the whole experience and even left a tip, which is unlike me. I would certainly go there again.

    I don’t even want to think about the cricket – I did think about walking up and down outside the Aussies Hotel carrying an umbrella and saying “tut tut it looks like rain”. We had a huge Thunderstorm tonight so the weather could be changing. It’s looking good though – keep everything crossed.

    It was the Last Night of the Proms tonight, which I watched on TV. I actually went to a Prom concert this year. I had originally booked to see The Sixteen singing Tallis’s “Spem in alium” but then booked a holiday for the same week!! I then swapped my ticket and went to see Baaba Maal instead – it was a good show.

    But there was that song again – Jerusalem. I’ve always loved this song even though I don’t consider myself a Christian. I suppose it’s because I’m an Englishman – always put down English not British as my nationality – Is that bad?

    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England's mountains green
    And was the holy lamb of God
    On England's pleasant pastures seen

    Oh and today was the end of an era - The Guardian will no longer be published as a broadsheet after today. Something that was forever is no more. Things change but not always for the best.

  • Dead Pop Stars rotting in the studio

    The soundtrack to my journey home tonight had the theme of death - not for any morbid reasons it just sort of wandered in that direction! It started as I was listening to Libera's "I am the day" and I passed a hearse. The combination of the religious music and the image of the funeral made me think about a friend who died recently in a car crash when it swerved to avoid a deer.

    Mark was a nice bloke - he was a Morris dancer with a side called Golden Star and he was a larger than life character who was just always fun to be with. I still find it hard to comprehend how someone like that can be just gone in an instant and it made me think about how fragile life can be.

    When the Libera track ended I was looking through the tracks on my Archos and decided to listen to a reading of a section of the Late Ken Kesey's Demon Box called "Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall". It's a story about a drifter who turned up at Kesey's farm the night John Lennon was shot and how the death of a mutual hero broke down the barriers between them. After that I had to play my favourite Lennon track "Working Class Hero"

    And you think you're so clever and classless and free
    But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see

    So that's how the idea came into existence and it continued with Jerry Garcia singing "Death don't have no mercy" from the Grateful Dead masterpiece Live/Dead. Of course the lines...

    He comes to your house, you know he don't take long
    You look in the bed this morning children
    You find that your mother is gone
    I said death don't have no mercy in this land me thinking about the death of my mother in 1990. Even though it's over 15 years ago the hurt and the loss is still there. I still find it difficult to remember her before the illness that caused her death.

    Uncle Frank

    They next Dead Rock Star I found was Frank Zappa with his track "titties and beer". I saw him once in 1979 at Knebworth but I wasn't ready for him. I wish I could have seen him once i had leant to appreciate his music. I don't have enough Zappa albums I must buy more. The trail of death ended there as I wanted to listen to more of Uncle Frank so I put on Strictly Commercial.

    I got to thinking about the stars I had seen who are no longer with us so I decided to make a list which is below (of course I may have missed some)

    Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Frank Zappa, Harry Chapin, Phil Lynott, Cozy Powell, John Entwistle, Rory Gallagher, Freddie Mercury, Bon Scott, Robert Calvert, Alex Harvey, Ted Hawkins, Alan Hull, Jeff Buckley, Ian Dury, Paul Young (Sad Cafe), Joe Strummer, Jake Thackray and of course Jerry Garcia

    (Ones I forgot: John Bonham (Led Zep),Mike Patto (Boxer), Les Gray (Mud), Peter DeFreitas (Echo & the Bunnymen), Nico (Velvert Underground), Howie Epstein (Tom Petty Band, Adrian Borland (The Sound)

    Those who have died since I wrote this Blog: Vince Welnick (Tubes and Grateful Dead), Arthur Lee (Love)

    By the way the list was put together with the help of a site called the Dead Rock Star Club

    I had left work early to take Ben to the Doctors to get his 3-month injections - Sarah can't do it as she hates needles and would probably pass out. Anyway the nightmare that has been haunting me since I found out he was on his way finally happened as the nurse asked me if I was his Grandfather!!

  • About the day the doorknob broke

    There was a fire engine parked outside of the Big Blue House when I got home tonight. It's was somewhat disconcerting to find that situation waiting for you but as there was no plume of black smoke pouring from the house I figured it wasn't there for us. I got talking to one of the Firemen after I checked to make sure it was ok to park behind the engine and it turned out that they were there to fit a smoke detector in someone’s house.

    Apparently the Fire brigade will come round and do a free Fire Risk Assessment in your house if you ask them nicely!! I told him that as we had just moved in and didn't have any smoke detectors that might be a good idea. The appliance had to shoot off in a hurry and they set off the siren right outside the kitchen (as if we didn't have enough sirens outside living as we do on the A2) but he came back later and handed us two smoke detectors which was nice. Or at least it would have been if the batteries in them weren't flat - a fact I didn't discover until after I had fitted them. Oh well I guess if there's a fire tonight it'll be their fault!!

    The door fell off the fridge this morning!! It must have been damaged during the recent move and the fractured plastic finally gave way this morning. Luckily for us the door is reversible and we had planned to fit the door the other way round to make it easier to get things out of it. I guess it was just (insert name of deity here)'s way of telling me to get on with it.

    The cricket was good today if a bit up and down but we are still in with a fighting chance. It would be good if we could keep batting until lunchtime tomorrow at least. I hope after the last few tests it doesn't go down to the wire again - I don't think I could go through all that again.

    On the playlist today was Tom Ovans who I think is one of the great undiscovered musical genius's of today. I first heard him around 1995 on Johnnie Walker's show when he was still on Radio 1 on Saturday afternoons. I once spent a whole weekend wandering round New York looking in every record shop for his CD's. I had no luck until one night I staggered out of a bar in the East Village and into a second hand CD store where I found a CD I didn't even know existed.

    I finally got to see him in 2003 at the 12 Bar club in London in a room smaller than the living room in the Big Blue House. I also got to meet him in the set break and told him the CD story and got him to sign the aforementioned CD which still had the price tag from the CD store on it!!

    Tales from the Underground

    The CD I was listening to was Tales from the Underground as it was on my MP3 player . There are some great tracks on there but my favourites are "Dance with me girl", "The Real Bono" and the song he wrote about the Wako siege "Angelou"

    I Stood On The Hill
    And Watched The Battle Below
    While The Media Gathered
    And The Souvenirs Sold

    Great song

  • Jerusalem

    Probably because of the football I woke up in a patriotic frame of mind and found myself singing in the shower

    I shall not cease from Mental Fight
    Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand
    Till we have built Jerusalem
    In England's green & pleasant Land

    Stirring stuff that should lift the hearts of every Englishman today as we face the final hurdle in our bid to win back the ashes. The song was written by William Blake apparently after a visit to Glastonbury where he heard the story that the young Jesus had travelled to this fine land with his uncle, Joseph of Arimethea.

    However my patriotism then took a slightly strange turn when my thoughts turned to the words of Flanders and Swann who wrote

    The English, the English, the English are best
    I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest.

    and whose words about sport in the same song still stand as the finest excuse written for any English side

    And all the world over, each nation's the same
    They've simply no notion of playing the game
    They argue with umpires, they cheer when they've won
    And they practice beforehand which ruins the fun!

    Bring on the Aussies

  • What the F*ck was that!?!

    Northern Ireland 1 England 0

    What the hell was going on? England have some of the best players in the world but they played like a morning after the night before pub team. Playing one touch football is ok if you make the ball go somewhere, kicking it randomly won't do anything. Owen, Rooney and Beckham - were they actually on the field.

    Playing like that they don't deserve to go to the finals

    Oh well at least we'll win the ashes this weekend - won't we?

  • Does anyone remember laughter?

    Thrown straight back into the deepend after my holidays with two 18 hour days in a row. I've been at One Whitehall Place doing a conference for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Maleria. Amongst the speakers were Kofi Annan and Hilary Benn (Son of Tony) who seems to be a nice chap (especially for a Politician!!)

    Global Fund Conference

    On the way to work on the second day I was listening to a recording of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth on the 4th August 1979 - A concert I was at. I love the version of No Quarter they played that night with it's jazzy undertones from John Paul Jones. After listening to that track I flicked on a bit and eventually got to Stairway to heaven. The way the crowd cheer after Page plays the opening notes made smile and it all came flooding back. I know the song has become cliched over the years but that night it was probably the best moment of my life. Our friend Neil fell asleep and missed it - poor sod!!

    Yesterday was my Step-daughter Becky's first day at Grammar school. It was a pain that I had to be at work so early and couldn't take her on this special day. Luckily her nan took her and Sarah. It also meant that I missed the trauma of putting on the uniform. I've only seen her in a skirt twice before and both times were school plays!! Apparently the tights were a bit of a shock too!! Well good luck kid - always do the best you can and you'll do fine.

    First day

  • I must go down to the sea, to see the rollicking boat

    So we had a lovely week in Robin Hood's Bay near Whitby staying in a nice cottage. We had a lovely week but once again there was a outbreak of extreme weather somewhere while we were away. At least this year it wasn't as close to home. Last year it was Boscastle while we were on holiday (thankfully not the week we were in Boscastle)


    Whitby was very busy - at first I thought it was because of the bank holiday weekend but it was busy all week and parking was a nightmare. It was good to retreat to the peace and calm of Robin Hood's Bay. the village itself is built on a steep hill that runs down to the harbour at the bottom. The road down to the village has a incline of 30% with a s shaped bend half way down. I used to drive to the top and then apply the brake and let gravity take over.

    Bay Hotel RHB

    Once the daytrippers had gone it was nice to walk around the village and we ate in two of the pubs - The Bay Hotel (although the sign outside seemed to say Gay Hotel!)and the Dolphin. We ate in the latter of these on our last night and I discovered they sold Theakston's Old Peculiar of which I downed a pint or 3 and poured myself out of the pub. Another night we sat on the balcony of the Bay hotel having a drink and watching the girls looking for crabs by torchlight on the rocks below.

    While we were away we went on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Grosmont to Pickering. One of the stations is the one they use for Hogsmeade Station in Harry Potter. The 18 mile journey runs through some marvelous scenery and it's a joy to travel at such a slow pace and not care about it.


    Another day was spent on the beach in Scarborough. We had taken the body boards and spent a few enjoyable hours surfing in waves that were better than the ones we had enjoyed in cornwall last year. When we got back that night there was a thunderstorm and the lightning lit up the sky above the cottage. The girls all went up to the attic room and we heard oohs and ahhhs with every flash.

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