Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A game of two halves

In keeping with my recent expletive-ridden exploits, here's the first half of this post:


On the other hand, in keeping with my recent oh-well-The-Fall-have-got-a-new-album-out cheeriness, I have to say that it's currently engaging me (6 or 7 listens so far this week) as much as jozin z bazin did some weeks ago, i.e. very much (or as others might say, obsessive to the point of unhealthiness).

Monday, 28 April 2008

Up the junction

Well I wasn't in the best of moods this morning, what with it being Monday and everything, and I trudged rather wearily through town to work. I was obviously in a better mood than the rather impatient driver stuck behind another car at a junction ahead of me on my right though: such was his rage at the man in front who was being very ponderous, he pulled quickly out of the junction to turn right as soon as he could, appearing to forget about such subtleties as driving on the left hand side of the road: he had chosen to take the most direct route diagonally across the road, most of which meant he was on the right-hand side.

Now since I was crossing the road at the time - which appeared to be quite safe, not expecting some idiot to do what this guy just did - it meant he had to break sharply to avoid ploughing straight into me. As well as not worrying about which side of the road he was on, he hadn't even looked to see if anyone or anything was in his way. Two or three feet further could have been quite painful for me to say the very least.

But it meant I got to shout a number of choice expletives and vent some annoyance if nothing else. Meanwhile the fucking tosser merely drove off.

Changing the subject completely, I later bought the new Fall LP, Imperial Wax Solvent. Given that I've previously put a lot of thought into my descriptions of music and gigs and so on, I thought I'd do the same here. So, having just listened to it twice, here is my considered opinion of said LP:

It's fucking brilliant.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

"Current Listening" type of post

Well amongst other things this weekend, I've been listening quite obsessively to Hex Enduction Hour, The Unutterable, Levitate, Extricate, Are You Are Missing Winner, Grotesque (After The Gramme) and This Nation's Saving Grace. To name but a select few.


Because Imperial Wax Solvent is released tomorrow, that's why.

I'm talking, of course, about albums by The Fall - a band I quite like (understatement). One idea for a recurring blog post I had (but never got round to) was to be a "Current Listening" type of post entitled "Apart from The Fall, this week I have been listening to....", such is the regularity with which I tend to listen to them.

As with one of my other favourites, Einstürzende Neubauten, I could go on and on about them ad infinitum (or ad nauseum for some, I'm sure) - but I'll just mention one thing which comes to mind:

I was on a long car journey with a friend and two acquaintances, and we had been variously listening to the radio and to cds. My friend, who was driving, turned to me and asked me to put some more music on, and I found a copy of Are You Are Missing Winner in amongst the stack of cds. I turned it up and 30 seconds or so of music passed without comment until Mark E Smith's unmistakable drawl practically drowned out everything else and, to my great amusement, resulted in spontaneous cheers from the two other passengers in the back of the car. One of them said something which I've always remembered since: "The thing about The Fall is, even their worst albums are brilliant!"

Still, from the reviews I've seen so far, Imperial Wax Solvent sounds like it's going to be a real cracker.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Tags (6): slight return

I've many thoughts I wish to try and put in some sort of order after a necessarily disjointed week, but they may turn up one way or another in a subsequent post (then again, knowing me, they may well not).

However, I'll go as far as to mention the following: thankfully the dip in my health earlier in the week was no more than that - and the problems with my hearing and tinnitus appear to have been a symptom of something else rather than an issue in themselves. However it's useful to take such things as timely reminders (especially a reminder to look after oneself!).

The other thing is that I came up with another six-word memoir:

The best is yet to come.

I have to make sure that that's the case. It's as simple - and downright crucial - as that.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


Too tired to write much, in fact. One or two things have taken their toll over the last week or so, both emotionally and physically (not helped by drinking far more than I should have done on Saturday night). Right now I can hardly keep my eyes open let alone concentrate, my body is achy and has no energy, and my tinnitus has increased sharply in my right ear, which is most disconcerting.

I think the only thing for it is an early night, and fingers crossed as far as the tinnitus is concerned.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Tags (6)

Yes I've been tagged again, and I'll look upon this one kindly because it's from dj kirkby, because it's short, and because I haven't done a tag for a few months. Thanks dj! Still I won't completely play along - I'd rather not tag anyone else in turn, but consider yourself tagged if you fancy doing this one.

Anyway, I have to write my own six-word memoir.

I'd originally considered "Too much thinking, not enough doing," but I don't think that really functions as a memoir and also sounds too negative.

So instead, here it is: "From there to here. Still here."

I thank you.

Incidentally, I also have a six-word phrase which I thought could serve as an epitaph:

"Can't somebody else sort it out?"

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Unfair cop

A diversion back to dream blogging. Here's last night's:

The morning after a night out drinking with a mate, we were sat having breakfast and coffee, idly recounting what we could remember of the night before. Suddenly, a quiet but nagging thought at the back of my mind made itself known: had we been in trouble with the police last night?

Yes my mate exclaimed, we were detained for being drunk and disorderly!

We discussed this with much amusement - clearly we were still pissed - but couldn't even remember whether we had spent the night in a police cell, or been released and found ourselves back at my flat.

Later, we had a further visit from the police, who took us down the station (though it was lit more like a quiet country bar) to run through the events of the night before. They made us wait for a long while, and then came in and started telling us things and asking us questions: their manner was overly jovial and matey, but with more than a hint of a sinister edge. They showed us CCTV images of us, clearly the worse for wear but appearing to have a good time, as they reeled off a litany of moral judgments on the vagaries of being drunk and disorderly.

I don't think they charged us: maybe a caution, then we were released. We were discussing the whole scenario, then suddenly it struck me: sure, we had been drunk, but nothing they had presented us with showed us to have been disorderly, not by any stretch of the imagination. So we had been cautioned for something we hadn't done, but had allowed ourselves to have been sufficiently daunted by the police to not even think of questioning what they were saying. We went and got drunk to commiserate.

Basically what my brain is telling me is, as far as I can see, that I question authority (of whatever kind) far less often than I should in situations where it counts. As a result, every so often I find myself having to dig myself out of a scenario which I've allowed myself to get into but which I could have avoided had I stood my ground.

Frustrating as that is (i.e. very, since it relates to something recent and specific), I was glad to realise once I regained consciousness this morning that I hadn't actually been detained last night, so vivid was the sequence of events in the dream.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Play (2)

A week or two ago I'd emailed some friends suggesting that they join me on my birthday weekend by going out to watch these gentlemen play a gig. Thanks to a slightly curious turn of events I was informed that there was room for me to play on the same bill: after the customary stab of anxiety, I agreed to do so.

I was a little bit wired on Saturday once I arrived at the venue - no doubt informed by a certain amount of nerves, but mainly due to having drank a lot the previous day. The kind of drinking which happens over the space of several hours, which means you don't get drunk or have a hangover, but it has a definite effect on your sense of being all the same.

So I was a little bit fidgety, not quite able to fully relax, tripping over my words a little. I was also slightly flabbergasted to be at the venue - a place I've known for years and years - and find that the area backstage is Tardis-like and labyrinthine. It felt like it took a good few minutes walk to get to the kitchen area where me, the promoters and the other performers sat and ate and had the odd beer. Also, the gig was originally going to happen in a garagey, basement area, which greatly appealed to me. In the event, due to all sorts of health and safety-based panics, it had been relocated to the main part of the venue upstairs. Which, considering I would be on my own in the middle of the stage, felt pretty bloody huge to me. Gulp.

I knew also to not to have the same expectations as the last gig, which was quite a unique thing and with its very own atmosphere. But having said all the above, I was looking forward to it.

I was due on stage at 8.30, though I was wandering round the main bar downstairs periodically before that, looking for some familiar faces as well as someone I hoped to recognise at least by his distinctive height. As is customary, I allowed a few doubts to creep in, and pictured myself playing to a near-empty venue. When I got back upstairs though I was instantly reassured by what felt to me to be a respectable amount of people (which was to increase further as time wore on).

I was also pleased to find Szwagier (he being of the distinctive height) and Nell there - though it was more the case that they found me - they had contacted me previously and managed to wrestle details of the gig from me, and I was flattered that they had turned up with a couple of other friends also. I sat with them and we chatted before I went on stage, and it helped to take the edge off any nerves I was feeling: it was good to finally meet more people I've been in touch with for quite some time now via the internet and blogging, and they were very good company too.

The stage was higher up and far more cluttered with leads and equipment than at the last gig, and my main fear was that of tripping over something and causing chaos and injury as I made my way to where my laptop was parked. Nothing of the sort occurred thankfully, so all felt well and good as I safely reached my station in the middle of the stage.

Normally I like to be somewhere near the side of the stage so that I don't feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights: it felt ok though, the spotlights shining down meant that I couldn't see the audience, and that didn't exactly do me any harm. I could just focus on the laptop and other equipment, and my beer.

Again once I got things going, it all felt reassuringly loud. It was a similar set to last time, albeit with a few adjustments and with one different track at the end. It went pretty smoothly and seemed to get a favourable enough response, I was happy with the reaction and with what I'd done. It was more reserved (the reaction) than the last gig, but I'd been prepared for that since most of the audience were there, of course, to see the headlining act. I did have a number of people come up and tell me what they thought afterwards, and the comments were positive.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, the main act were mesmerising and very intense (and loud), if you do follow the link near the top you'll get a flavour of what it was like. Thanks again to Szwag and Nell and their friends coming along, it was really good to meet them: we sat and had a further couple of beers and they met a couple of my friends too. After they headed their own way, I toddled over to a friend's house nearby for wine, pizza, and yet more music: feeling tired, rather tipsy, and very content.

I hadn't felt the need for any great plans for the following day - my actual birthday - but come the afternoon a bunch of us were out walking in the Clent Hills, followed by a rather fabulous pub lunch. All in all, a fantastic weekend: I don't think I've ever done quite so much on and around my birthday, and I'm really very happy at the way it all worked out.

Having listened back to a recording of my performance on Saturday night though, it's left me feeling like I need to push it in different directions, make it sound more fucked up, stretch it beyond recognition compared to where it's at currently. Which is par for the course, and so it damn well should be.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Many Happy Returns to me

It's my birthday this weekend - that's right, all weekend. I'm off out tonight - indeed I'm playing another gig, and I'll write about it I'm sure.

But one thing I felt I needed to write was a few more words about my grandma. I've just returned from seeing my mother last night, which meant I had the opportunity to see my grandma this morning.

I went into her house and knocked, as I always do, on the living room door before going through. As I opened it I saw her sat in her chair, motionless, silent, facing away and looking sort of crumpled. She was dozing. I said a necessarily loud hello - she's as deaf as I'm likely to become - and she looked up, startled, saying a couple of half-formed words and who...what's happening?. I braced myself for what I thought might be a difficult conversation trying to navigate with her through a rather vague, foggy mental state.

It couldn't have been much more different: apart from a couple of mild moments of forgetfulness, she was bright as a button, and appeared far more aware and together than I've seen her in months. It was such a nice, pleasant surprise. We chatted for a while, and it was gratifying to see some of her old spirit much more in evidence than has been the case for a while, though in a way this heightens the contrast with her quite fragile physical state.

It made my day.

What has helped, I'm sure, is that she is now getting daily visits from a social services agency to help her to manage. I think the sense of routine, and the stimulus provided by conversation with visitors who are there to help, has focused her mind to a noticeable degree. It's also meant my mother has been able to relinquish a lot of the responsibility of helping her, and so things are slightly better all round.

Wish me luck for tonight.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


I'm just about recovered from an excellent weekend staying in Malham, up in the Yorkshire Dales (or even down in the Yorkshire Dales, depending on where you are in relation to them). The defining moment for me was cycling off-road for a long stretch over occasionally boggy moorland atop the dales. The majestic sight of Pen y Ghent was to my right, and my vision of it was suddenly obscured by a white sheet of what looked like sudden, thick fog; instead it turned out to be a hailstorm (neither the first nor the last of the weekend).

We'd already been cycling for a couple of hours by this point, and though I was thankful that the wind was behind me (not a reference to the previous post) for the first time that day, it also meant that the hailstorm was heading towards me. I redoubled my efforts and for what seemed like several minutes, I was cycling on the very edge of the storm as it followed in my wake. Finally I had to stop as I realised I needed a large intake of sugar - in the form of chocolate - since my energy levels were showing signs of dipping. Me and my two companions sheltered by a wall as the hail continued beating down on us, I ate my chocolate as swiftly as I could, and then we continued on our way.

Several more hours were to pass before we reached the warmth and comfort of our accommodation in Malham, including a long stop in a cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale. The beer and pub food that evening were well deserved: and we did it all again on the Sunday, ending up in a blizzard before our final descent back onto lower ground.

I didn't take my camera with me, which is a shame in the sense that there were many stunning views, especially with all the dramatic changes in the weather. On the other hand, if I'd had my camera in my coat or my backpack, it would have felt like an accident magnet, and I really didn't want that to serve to distract me.

I'm glad - obviously - to have finished up with no injuries, serious or minor (or anything else). Now I'm suddenly hectic with other things again. My evenings this week are being taken up with further work on music, since I've been booked to play again very soon. Which is one way of explaining the fact that I haven't had - and won't have - much time for visiting other people's blogs for the next few days. No doubt the weekend will be over all too soon, what with the upcoming event, and that of my birthday also.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Swings, roundabouts and too much information

Swings:I received a letter pertaining to the job I applied for: key phrase being on this occasion, however... I was surprised that they'd sent the letter, it seems increasingly common for employers to not send rejection letters at this stage (though I could be wrong). Whether or not this has any bearing on my lack of success, I wondered if it was because I was writing out the application form while I was mired in frantic preparations for my recent gig (not actually at the same time, but generally in the midst of all that).

Roundabouts: I was informed at work today that we now have five extra days annual leave and five extra days paid sick leave to contend with. Now I know that at least some of this is bringing us in line with incoming statutory guidelines, but nonetheless it was still cheering news and a notable improvement to my terms and conditions.

Also, the talk about me taking a lead in a much more creative/arty role at work appears to have moved on a further stage, as well as looking very pro-actively at ways of furthering my development along lines that I wish to follow, as far as is possible. Now I'm not going to get carried away (as if I ever would) but - and I never thought I'd say this - maybe things at work are actually showing signs of a definite upturn.

Too much information: Is this the last day there will ever be? Will there be no Friday or any days thereafter? I've been pondering this. Why? Because all day, I've been farting like there's no tomorrow.

Moving on swiftly, best wishes for a good weekend to everyone who reads this: I'm spending it in Yorkshire, once again at the mercy of a mountain bike.