Monday, January 17, 2011

Something for the weekend Sir?

I've just had quite a nice weekend. I say "quite" because mainly, my life seems to be led at such a pace these days having scarcely time to draw breath.

When I first retired back in April last year, I had some vision in my head of endless empty days stretching out before me and that I would be doing exactly what I wanted with each individual hour that passed. Clearly this was a silly idea and actually, most of the time I'm dashing around doing the very stuff I neglected to do all for 50 years.

Things like cook properly, engage is rudimentary DIY, clean, wash, keep house, become my Mother!

Anyway Saturday found Steen and I at the radio station. Our show goes out on alternate weekends between 2 and 4. It's a mixture of footy, really good tunes and silly banter. A lot of people who listen say they enjoy it very much. Steen does news and views, I do the tunes mostly.

What I like to aim for is a template upon which the listener would always be a little surprised by the next offering. We don't stick to a musical genre and play (I think) some real interesting music for the discerning soul.

Having said that, both Justin Bieber and Jedward made a short appearance on Saturday. This, mainly because (as I said) we like to surprise and both eenie meenie miney mo lover and fight for your right to party are both (in my opinion) what my kids like to call "tunes"

Setting mainstream Pop against stuff like this just floats my boat and, I hope, others too.

Plus you get serious football banter. Can't be bad can it?

Sunday was Steen's birthday. She being a person whose celebrations tend towards an extension over the normal 24 hours with the weekend full of echos and re-inforcements of the important event.

Next year it will be critical for me to remember January 2012 contains a "significant" birthday for Steen and hence, celebrations are likely to last not just for the weekend, but rather over the full week.

As a result of this tendency I've taken to calling her Princess Lady Princess.

It was a nice weekend anyway and, to cap it all, we've nearly mastered this song.

That'll knock their socks off at Minch. (of which more later I think)


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Bless me Father....etc

It's been a while I know. Steen and I have been busy. Christmas, New Year, families and a secret desire by me to be writing this without the knowledge of anyone around me.

I went for my "consultation" on the 30th Dec. A very pleasent and overwhelmingly competent nurse told me what I should expect at the end of Jan.

I'm going for one of these. This to check whether I'm ok inside.

I'm in a quandary about what to write about today because so much has happened. Over the break I did wonder whether I should rename this column "Tales from the Supermarket" but, common sense says I should keep the thing open and talk about whatever I feel is relevant on the day.

So today, I'm going to talk about three things briefly. Music and Football and Christmas good news.


Steen and I have played about six or seven times publicly since I last posted. Varying audiences from 2 or 3 to about 850. All our performances have been acceptable and could be very much better (as ever)

Steen grows as a guitarist by every day. She practises so hard. Her Atkin is paying huge dividends in terms of the depth of tone and playability it affords her. My old skip is as fast as ever and someone told me I reminded them of Wilco Johnson.

What a compliment!


Unlike (it seems) most other Liverpool supporters, I'm really sad the Board have decided to give up on Roy Hodgson. It's a tough world for any Premiership Manager.

Increasingly, it seems, our media set out to run the world for us.

I do believe (to some extent) the success or failure of managers in a Premiership Football Club is a bit of a lottery. Trouble is, Roy's brand of cognitive repetition stands in the way of some players being able to express themselves fully. Coupled with faint hearts among the playing staff, a breakdown in motivation and you have a recipe for disaster. Someone said to me the other day the corporate structure of LFC is chaotic and borders on the farcical sometimes.

The big risk ,of course, is that King Kenny comes in and it still remains a shitty mess.

Then, and only then will any real changes be made.

Christmas Treats

I met Thumper in Reading over the Christmas. She was back in England from Tarifa. She has worked so hard to come to terms with a brighter reality of my betrayal of her.

That, given everything, it was probably for the best all round, that we moved apart.

So much so, btw, that her Christmas present to me this year is a week in her flat in Spain with Steen. I was taken aback by the her generosity of spirit. She is indeed a total dude of a woman. Amazing!

So...Steen and I are off to Spain in early May, Colon permitting.

In addition to this story of happiness I should say I have wonderful neighbours down the road. They are called Ray and Muriel. They are both about 85. Ray lost his leg in a motorcycle accident at 17. The other day I found him changing the rear brake cylinder on one of these. He's quite a guy.

Anyway, come Christmas Eve, Ray drops round to the door and leaves me with a little package. A grubby old jiffy bag with writing and working-out all over it. He left me with the parting shot of

"just some old bits and pieces I knocked together for you"

Turns out, Ray's Made us a little clock with our Band Logo on it. (see above)

Understandably, I was blown away.

Happy New Year


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Little by Little

Over the last few weeks I've become aware so-called "flash mob" events are becoming common currency across the world.

Take last week, I watching a programme on BBC4 involved in trying to re-popularise Clog Dancing of all things.

This then, closely followed by an email from my friend Chris who sent me another example.

More locally in Stroud, I was talking to my mate Fred who said something had been tried in "Merrywalks" but there were already carol singers present and the event was somewhat curtailed.

Anyway, the thing I wanted to say about it is in my observation as these events start, a lone voice, or person begins the event. On-lookers glance over their shoulder and have somewhat resigned expressions on their faces. The look says "some nutter is at it"

However, as the event grows into a steady stream of activity, the voices grow louder, the feet more strident, suddenly all the people who looked at the "fool" are looking a little foolish themselves and reaching for their mobile phone cameras to record the event.

Then, as if it never happened, the performers melt into the crowd.

This is how revolution begins. A few discordant voices, irregular foot tapping. Then, the thing becomes unstoppable.

Let's see more of this. Power to the people!


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Care in the Community

My Aunty is in Hospital. She's 84 and after many years of gradually fading, riddled with Dementia, her memory falling apart, she spends her day fretting, worrying and repeating the following mantra to herself.

"A sophisticated rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself"

After repeating this quote from Disrali to me at least 15 times yesterday she then says hopefully, "I must be ok if I can say that properly?"

I look at her and agree, "you're ok for now"

She says tearfully "I want to go home, please tell them to let me go home"

I say (rather lamely) they'll decide what's for the best.

I dread the upcoming Case Conference to which she, of course, will be invited, where I will have to say, "I think she needs full time care and the idea she can cope at home (with support from Social Services) is plainly wrong-headed and too much of a risk"

I fear Dave's Big Society will condemn her to such a fate, however. Full-time care being reserved for only the completely crazy and utterly demented.

Pray God my endings will be somehow better


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Working Class Hero

Is a song by John Lennon. A man who was murdered 30 years ago today.

I don't propose to go on and on about how great this guy was but.....

I grew up in a small country village just outside the roman town of Bath. Or Bath Spa as they've always called it on the railways.

Trust me on this one, in 1950's rural England. there was precious little rock and roll around, despite what you might have heard.

The stories (for example) of Mick and Keith meeting each other at a railway station in Sidcup are all well and good.

But, for a boy brought up on Stanford in C , Music while you Work, and (thankfully) the Shadows, guitars, saxophone and double bass were but a distant drumming in the distance. Not an overwhelming presence.

Back then, my Mum and Dad used to visit my Gran on a Saturday, a short journey to Frome, tea, a bit of telly and home by nine.

I had a Saturday evening paper round so this precluded me going along on the trip.

Saturday evenings, therefore, were my own. How very fantastic!

Living in a valley meant we didn't have television at all. The signal was poor.

Entertainment, therefore, for a 12 year old boy (left alone to look after the house, make and tend a fire (goodness) prepare his own tea, do the washing-up after and generally cope) was restricted to radio broadcasts.

One November evening in 1962, some 6 weeks prior to the big freeze, I was sat tending the coal fire in our dining room, listening to Radio Luxembourg on the home set and heard Barry Aldis play this song.

Apparently, McCartney wrote the main verses and the bridge was by Lennon. A simple juxtaposition of G7 and C, the song is characterised by piercing harmonica-the part most powerful to a young and impressionable lad.

The rest is history but, just to say, Mr Lennon defined my adolescence like no other.

His music, his acerbic ways, his manliness, his Mojo if you like.

Crazy Bastard. I love him!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tomorrow belongs to me

Is a song put to great use in this film.

I've always had a searing aversion to posh boys. Forged, I think, back in the 50's when my Mum and Dad used to send me to Crusaders. A Sunday School organisation with links to public schools, helping the deserving poor and exhorting the great and the good to be philanthropic.

Broadly working-class in my upbringing, I think my parents thought that by enabling me to mix with a wide and diverse range of different people my future would be assured.

I think they were right in this and, thankfully, this early exposure to my betters left me with a life-long political hatred towards privilege and a leaning towards supporting others in common community spirit, a tendency towards self-help and an abhorrence of the political philosophy "tomorrow belongs to me"

Recently, I've been watching a series on BBC4 in which reprocessed black and white film has been used to show what England was like between 1900 and the end of the second world war in 1945.

Interestingly, nothing really changes. For example, within a year of the end of the war to end all wars where over 9 million ordinary people were slaughtered, the elite (as ever) were having a lovely day out at Ascot

Today, in much the same way (in a move that beggars belief) we see greedy posh boys off-loading private debt into the meagre public purse of poor people.

What a bloody scandal it all is.

And yesterday evening, whilst in Sainsbury's, I was queueing for a few items to make a pasta for Steen and I. The guy behind me in the queue looked a bit like this. He was holding quite a nice bottle of wine.

Someone at the front of the queue dropped a bottle in the lane. Glass and sticky liquid flowed everywhere. Cue Sainsbury's Hand S team. Mops, buckets, signs and an order from the cashier to "please move to lane one"

Posh boy knew his moment had come. He was off at a posh-boy double canter, no doubt learnt from many posh-boy races at posh-boy school.

First in line, head of the queue, Chateauneuf du Pape safely into the Bag For Life. Off into the car park, Toyota Land Cruiser fired up and back to the hills.

"Tomorrow belongs to me" in his head.

Dont'cha just love it ?


Friday, December 03, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside!

Is a song about love I guess.

My days have a degree of routine about them these days.

I get up around 8ish as Steen goes off on the 8:15 to Gloucester. Today the airwaves are full of the news of a failed World-Cup bid.

I feel emotionally removed from it. Why would you want to have anything at all to do with such filthy corruption? And I'm a LFC supporter ffs!

The house is cold in winter.

We decided, Steen and I, we would try to live without central heating. This decision has not always been easy to stick with. Particularly over the last few weeks, where the Cotswold's have experienced sub-zero temperatures for most of the time.

Last winter there was one memorably bad moment (at 6.45 one cold Monday morning) where Steen realised a lot of her clothes were beginning to go mouldy because of the condensation and damp. We borrowed an ancient dehumidifier off her dad to fix the problem!

Not before there were tears however. And Steen was quite upset too.

I'm at home a lot now and my armory against the creeping tentacles of cold has increased.

Primarily the age old recourse to (a favorite of mine) Lidl's, has led me to investing in Angora Thermal Underwear and, what Steen calls, my bear suit.

A woollen Gilet made by the company Meradiso in a fetching dark brown.

There's other stuff too.

The wood-burning stove, the roof insulation, the triple glazing the eco fans, a cheerful heart and effective "keep going" statements.

Normally, the wood-burner goes on about 7 ish and, throughout the day, I wrap up warm.

Today sees me typing in Steptoe sty lee open-fingered gloves for example.

When people come to the house they are shocked by a background temperature of about 10 degrees C.

The opposite is true for me when I go to visit others.

In particular, my Mother (84) who is probably this company's greatest customer and runs her entire property at a searing and sub-tropical 26.

Tonight, Steen and myself are going off busking here. We'll collect money for our little radio station.

Tomorrow we're doing a short set here for Charity after the Saturday Radio Show and Sunday, a day to watch footie probably and (thank God for Love Film) this movie.

Talk Soon

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