Posts archive for: February, 2008
  • That was lucky!

    There was an incident around midnight just south of the Blackwall tunnel. A lorry spilt so much diesel that it ate away the road and the tunnel had to be closed. This caused absolute chaos during the morning rush hour as drivers had to take alternative routes.

    Luckily(?) for me I did the detour at 5:20 this morning before the chaos set in!

  • Thank you son!

    My son's favourite expression at the moment is

    "Stinks of Poo"

    So we've been reprimanding him and telling him not to say that because "It's rude"

    So now he says

    "Stinks of poo......that's rude!"

  • Miles and Miles of Recording tape

    I spent yesterday evening at the BFI (or National Film Theatre as the sign outside still says – very confusing!) watching some very rare and only recently discovered film footage of two of my musical heroes Flanders & Swann.


    When you consider the last of their two man shows happened when I was only 5 it is a tribute to the material that they wrote together than it has stood the test of time and still captivates people to this day. It is also interesting to note that although the show was a revue staged in front of a live audience and therefore had a visual element to it, very little footage of the shows actually exists and therefore people have come to know Flanders & Swann as an audio only experience. So it was nice to have the pictures put back again!

    The two films that were shown were both made for the American market. One was shot on Broadway in 1967 – ten days after the final theatre performance. It is the second part of this which has been seen over the years and has been released as a VHS called “The only Flanders and Swann video”. It was broadcast on TV in the UK a few years ago and to my surprise at the time was in colour.

    A short snippet was shown yesterday to put the film we did see into context but if you want to see some clips from the second half then they are here. The first half of the show was in black and white. Leon Berger, Flanders & Swann archivist who introduced the films, explained that for years they had searched in America only to eventually find the film in the UK where it had been broadcast. I think they are still hopeful that a colour copy will surface someday.

    The other movie was recorded in the UK but they were pretending that it was recorded in America. Flanders and Swann were quite reticent about allowing the show to be recorded as they thought it would prevent people from coming to the theatre. However they were convinced in 1962 to allow a recording to be made as a promo for a trip to America. This was the second movie that was shown last night. Apparently they were eventually “shafted” by their agent and the film was broadcast on TV in the UK as part of a series called the “Festival of the Performing Arts”.

    Seeing them life size on the big screen was an eye opening experience. There were so many things that surprised me. Donald was a lot more animated than you would have expected from having listened to the audio recordings – at one point he was standing on his piano stool whilst singing! Also Michael’s facial expressions and body language was a treat especially during Donald’s Greek song Kokoraki. My favourite bit of the whole evening was when Michael leaned over and twisted the knob on Donald’s piano stool pretending to turn down the volume.

    There were many songs that were performed across both films (The Ostrich being the only song I remember repeating and even then there were differences in the performances 6 years apart!). Highlights were a mournful Slow Train, the wonderful Sea Fever (a song I heard for the first time in Donald Swann’s music room in Battersea performed by the equally wonderful Stefan Bednarczyk) and the obligatory sing along of the Hippopotamus! I was amazed that there were outbreaks of spontaneous applause at the end of some of the songs – odd considering we were watching a film (and maybe a tribute to the continuing power of these songs!)

    I found myself laughing at things I had heard dozens of times, it was good to see Michael doing some of his monologues – By Air, Los Olivados and Tried by the Centre Court and how he moved around the stage despite the confines of his wheelchair.

    The films were first screened back in December and the tickets sold out to BFI members only so realising they had under-estimated the continuing appeal of Flanders and Swann they arranged another screening in a larger theatre. Once again the event was very popular and judging by the age range of the audience I would say that their popularity will continue onto future generations.

    The purpose of Satire, it has been rightly said, is to strip off the veneer of comforting illusion and cosy half-truth - and our job, as I see it, is to put it back again.

  • It's that time of year again


    16 hours of Grateful Dead related music. Years ago you used to have to wait till tapes of the marathon reached you from San Francisco but now you can listen via the net where ever you are in the world!

    The program list is here and you can download the show from here

    KPFA is run from donations by listeners so give if you can!

    Here's another good cause!


  • New Toys!

    I've been getting some new toys over the past few weeks!

    First off was this:


    A new work phone - it now means that as well as being called at all hours I can now get e-mails at all hours! I have to say that from my experience so far it does seem to be an over-rated device but as it has now become industry standard as a business phone I guess that's why I have one.

    Then there was this:


    One of the problems of being out of the office a lot is not being able to get onto our computer systems. The Blackberry solves some of that with e-mail but with it's small keyboard typing any more than a few lines becomes quite tedious.

    Also we use terminal server to use our hiretrack system to manage jobs and that's not possible on a Blackberry. Often while I'm out I can log in using wireless networks - I have an account with BTopenzone but that's not always available. In big hotels you can pay £15 a day for wireless Internet. Sometimes you can hop on an unsecured network but often there is nothing to use leaving you incommunicado for the day!

    So I got a 3 broadband dongle which means that as long as there is mobile phone service I can get logged on - really useful device which I'm using right now and from £10 a month it's cheaper than a days wireless connection in a big hotel.

    Finally there was this:


    My mobile phone contract was ready for renewal so I upgraded to the newest version of the xda I already had. This shits all over the blackberry - it's got much better interfaces for contacts and diary. It can have e-mail push like the Blackberry but with imap you can achieve the same effect without paying the premium. It's got Word and Excel which the Blackberry hasn't and Tomtom twatnav which again is miles better than the Blackberry version (it works for a start!)

    Oh at the case hasn't got a magnet in it so it doesn't wipe the magnetic strip on your travelcard!!

    Boys and their toys eh?


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