Thursday, 31 December 2009

Decade? what decade?

Well we have done it, in spite of everything we've got to the end of anther decade. I'll leave all that it will be remembered for to all the D list celebs who will be filling a plasma screen near you for the next month..

I'm not even going to try and sum up a decade. Of course there are wars slimy greedy lying politicians and rat f**k bankers but like death and taxes they are always with us and that's just depressing. Anyway my memory 'ain't that good..

Nope, for me, the noughties (at least we'll be leaving that nauseating sugaryness behind) decade of the revelation of the iPod, bars (working in), David Bowie's fall from my affection and MUSE!

Yes I can work MUSE into any conversation at any time, they are my obsession and I am enjoying it (to paraphrase Dr Frank'n'Furter)

All the nasty things I have said about iPod's in the past I am truly sorry. Since getting mine I have *never* listened to so much music, having you're entire music collection with you at any time is nothing short of a revelation. I've never bought so many CD's. I've never listened to so much, never enjoyed so much. *SO* they are not the ultimate in fidelity. I'm no longer bothered.

I've done more jobs in more industries then you can shake a stick at. This was the decade I found that I could work in bars, could run them and finally something I could feel I was good at.

David, if you should ever read this just do *something* (and that doesn't include just re-releasing old tatt and calling it something new)

MUSE. This has been their decade. Yes they have won more awards then you can count (see here for the latest) they have never released a bad or even vaguely indifferent song, but most of all they have given me the most sublime evenings of my life all culminating in this year. This year I have lost it, I have screamed I have cried, I have danced shouted and stamped, I have been for a short while 30 years younger.

THAT has been this decade. Happy New Year all.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Not what Dad had.

Well I was going to mention the arrival of the TV, but I think that's covered :-)

I will mention though the Phillips DVD player I bought about 18 months ago simply because we wanted to play discs from any region.

I'd found that for instance, Peter Mayle's a year in Provence, despite the fact it was panned by the critics in the UK (what do they know) we loved it and wanted a copy. However in region 2 there was only this rancid cut down edited together version basically just bunged across from the unsatisfactory VHS release. *BUT* you could get the full untouched unedited version in region 1 (which really doesn't seem fair been as we paid for it in the first place!)

A long winded explanation of how we came to have the Phillips payer, which with a little clever jiggery pokery and pressing of buttons in combinations you would never normally hit could be set to region 0 (in other words play any disc from anywhere)

So not only could it play year in Provence but all sorts of weird TV bargain priced series I discovered while poking about in the dark nether reaches of Amazon..

This model had 'upscaling' which although I had no real idea what it was, was that years DVD 'must have'. Of course our TV didn't accept the phantom 'upscaling' so it just worked in bogstandardscaling.

Fast forward to today, I just happened to pop a copy of MUSE's Absolution tour DVD into the machine, just to have a quick test you understand...

*WOW!* Obviously upscaling(C) was working with resolution+(R) and Autoview(R) and all being processed through it's Metabrain(R) and it might be gibberish, but as has been pointed out, WHAT gibberish, it looked nothing short of incredible. A real genuine leap forward.

In years to come it'll be left in the dust of course, but right now I'll just enjoy it.

Maybe there might be something to this 'it's not what dad had' technology after all....

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Last Christmas Present



'What a bit of tatt' I hear you cry!

Yeah OK frankly right now it does look dead ropey and helped even less by someone sticking a thin coat of matt black paint (applied with a brush!) over the lovely (though impractical) chocolate Nextel paint on the rest of the chassis. Just count yourself lucky you can't see the full ghastliness. This is no way to treat an icon!

The photograph on eBay certainly didn't show it in it's glory (! how many times has that been said I wonder?) Still I'm not complaining it was dirt cheap, I am enjoying Roxy Music's second album 'for your pleasure' through it right now. And it will look *killer* when I have restored it to it's full 1976 semi industrial built like a brick glory..

I mean anyone could go into a shop and buy the latest piece of plastic technocr**p, where's the fun in that?

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Uh?

Somewhere along the line I have taken my eye off the technology ball. One upon a time I actually understood consumer technology (more or less) but then again once upon a time technology had some chance of being around for a fair old while. It wasn't a case of you turn your back and it's all changed, I mean what you used wasn't that different from what your dad had..

What of course has brought all this on is the infamous TV. The chunky monster we have has to go, though would I think that if there was no such thing as 3" deep TV's? I have a horrible feeling the answer is no.

Still they do exist and the one we have is ruining the lines of the Tapley unit it's sitting on a bit like someone has parked a silver grey Ford Transit on your living room cabinetry :-) Once all you did was looked at what size of screen you wanted, did you like the colour of the case and if feeling very sophisticated and new fangled did it have a SCART socket or two?

Now there are more numbers, letters standards and stickers then you can shake a stick at. I spent most of last night on Wickipedia trying to work out what the hell difference there was between 720 (p or i) and 1080 in it's various standards and guises. (there were a bunch of lower numbers too, but I ignored them figuring they were probably older) and dark hints of even higher (?) standards to come in the future. Then there is the mysteries of HDMI SCART (which these days feels almost cosy and comforting) component video and even USB for some reason as well as hints at other computer connectors and even unidentified 'slots' which seem to have no name or purpose other then mysterious 'future use'. It's nice to think the makers think there IS a future...

And don't even start on digital disc player standards..

In the end it's a Toshiba, it's a name I know, it's quite small and pretty and is about the right price. Everyone says it's good for the cash. I'm ignoring the 1080P, 4XHDMI, Metabrain (?) Active vision II, resolution+ and all the rest of the gibberish..

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Fast



Every year I think the same, THAT was over fast!

At least here Christmas carries on for a while yet, I can never understand these people out buying sofa's (and really horrible one's at that if the adverts are anything to go by) at '9 o clock boxing day'.. I've always wondered if people actually do that, but have never really felt inclined to go and look..

And while it did rain here (it always does, other places get snow) it did at least wait until the evening. I always think how nice it would be to spend Christmas somewhere where it *looked* like a card, all glittery and snow covered, say Austria in a Skiing chalet, or the Black Forest in Germany, or New England in a traditional frame house.. But the just the thought of that travelling and it always seems to be utter mayhem at this time of year makes one think that maybe Welsh rain isn't so bad.

So Presents :-) : Nice big Amazon book voucher, always wish they lasted longer... some decent earphones for my iPod, The Roxy Music back catalogue on CD, (naturally I have it on vinyl, but that's not a lot of use for the said iPod)and the boxed set of THUNDERBIRDS. I always loved it, been nagging for it for long enough, and if you're interested it's where I learned all I needed to know about interior design (not really a joke, if only Sylvia Anderson would do an interior design book I could die happy)

Oh and my Mum doesn't know it but she's bought me a Sugden A48mk2 amplifier on ebay..

Now we have more food then you can shake a stick at and I feel like I never want to eat again..

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A slippy slidey Christmas eve.



HeHeHe (or HoHoHo) it's CHRISTMAS!

My tree, thrown up at the last minute, even when I take more time I always seem to have a black hole on it somewhere (should that be a Supermassive black hole?) I guess it adds character.

I always wonder how they manage to get them to look so good on TV..

I'm afraid that except the neighbours (who I can deliver by hand) I never quite got around to sending any cards, so if I should have sent you one, Sorry and count this as it :-)

And the living room is mostly done - at least it's warm and comfortable. I shall tell you all about that again, but in the meantime, don't use No Nonsense floor varnish...

Merry Christmas Eve :-)

Friday, 20 November 2009

That was easy

Early this evening, noticed a message from My MUSE buddy Gabriel, suddenly he was going to a second night at Wembley.

Straight over to See tickets and sure enough while I was out a second date had been announced.

PANIC!

But I needn't have, filled in the form, got the ticket, got the confirmation. Just how easy was that?

Gabriel is stressing about hotels.. this isn't until next September, there are thousands in London, there is time...

Children in what?

Dolly is very p*d off with me today. I've ripped up the living room carpet. No matter that while fine for a hotel in the living room it was utterly hideous (and smelly) It was carpet, and she liked it.

It's now in pieces in the garage, along with the curtains ready to be taken down the dump - Triumph!

I shall just have to put up with filthy looks and annoyed howls waking me in the night until it's all finished. Then she will like it, she always does. She's got taste that cat. It's just she can never accept this stuff takes *time*.

I just saw MUSE on the children in need thing they recorded last Thursday at the Royal Albert Hall before the proper gig at the O2.

Actually I watched the set on youtube, I cannot stand all those 'celebrities' showing off and being stupid (well even stupider I should say)I've never done more then flick past one of those BBC fiasco's and don't intend to start now.

I think Matt Chris & Dom might agree with me. I've never seen three men look more uncomfortable. I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of whoever in their company booked them to do it.

Ghastly sad cheesy 1970's staging,reminiscent of Saturday night at the London Palladium from 1976 and a sorry excuse for a concert.

Great for Shirley Bassey in some fantastic frock (or Robbie Williams)But MUSE? I think the BBC truly has no idea, and the audience didn't even seem to know who they were... waiting for Paul McCartney.

Horrible.

I had wondered at their sheer energy later on that evening (I had feared that they would be exhausted doing two gigs in one night) Now all is clear..

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Relief

Last Friday I was feeling that it was all over, I knew I was at MUSE's last UK gig. Having a veggie burger and beer while the ghastly support act were on (the big Pink, I had learned the hard way to miss their set the day before) chatting to two nice girls about it all they informed me that two stadium shows had just been announced for 2010.

The relief! I joked that I now had something to live for again, of course I was overstating - a bit. And later this was confirmed by Dom's 'see you next year' as they were leaving the stage.

Then comes *the fear* what happens if you don't get tickets, and you don't know, and you have to wait, and there will be a fan pre sale, but what if you don't get you're unique fan code, what if something goes wrong, the computer dies, what it what if what if.

On line this morning ready with the said code and username for MUSE.mu, I realised I had read the clock wrong and I was an hour early. This could only happen to me. *Another* hour

09:00 exactly, I am in a queue, I have heard that before.. I click away, click back, Ye Gods, I'm in! You have two minutes to fill out the form. Done done done. accepted! Did I fill in the form right? It can *still* go wrong, were my card details right?.. Then the confirmation mail. I look at the clock. 09:03. It seems like hours, but it's done! I am off to Wembley next September 11th.

The Relief.

But there is no way they will stick at just the two shows, This will all happen again.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Two nights at the O2


I am sorry about the layout of this post, I think I have come across some heavy blogger limitations...
Outside the London O2, formally the Millennium dome, slightly freaked out by it the first night it is a great venue.
A wide angle giving some idea of the space. This was Friday night. I didn't even take my camera Thursday..
WE ARE THE UNIVERSE/OBSERVE

Dodgy sound from being right in front of the stage & bass bins.. but my God what a view..
UPRISING







This might actually give some shadow of what it was like...
This is Exogenisis, the first Encore. I'm amazed how well this picture came out considering I was crying at the time...
Thank God for running with sweat, no one could tell...

Chris, the 'lone man' at the intro of Knights of Cydonia



I really wish I had taken my laptop with me to London. Then in the early hours of the mornings when I was not able to sleep *at all* I would have had something to do rather then watch bad TV. I might also have had some idea what to tell you of a transcendent experience (yes I do know what it means) Just what these two nights at the O2 have meant to me.

But since I have had so many confusing thoughts on it, and had such a comedown afterwards (It's all fun and games but they never tell you about the withdrawal) That I genuinely have no idea where to start.

I am never going to get across the sheer power impact and simple raw *talent* of these three men. Three nice guys from Devon have somehow turned into one of the greatest rock bands in the world (I only say 'one of' so that you don't think I am overstating)

Believe me when you see 20.000+ people moving as one, punching the air and screaming then you know you are in the presence of something wonderful. MUSE don't have fans, they have believers and this is where world domination begins.

I can deal with that.

I BELIEVE

Monday, 9 November 2009

Been so quiet

Well I've been so quiet for the past few weeks, you may know I've been building things... OK I am nowhere near finished yet, but like Dr Frank'n'furter in the Rocky Horror Show, I do so love it when a plan comes together...

But this week I've sparked into life (maybe like the creation) as it's MUSE week. Thursday I am off to London to see them at the O2. Thursdays ticket is one of the second chance ones and as far as i can gather it I will be so high that I will be in danger of being sucked into the aircon... or maybe trepanned by passing planes, but what the hell I shall be THERE.

Fridays ticket looks sensible and a good one (should be it cost a fortune) but again what the hell

Also this time I have sorted accommodation, more or less picked with a pin, have you any idea how many hotels there are in London?! And I would have got a train ticket, but frankly the website got me so confused I gave up.



This might give you some idea....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Oz TV

There are several things I never really understood (well OK there are countless things, but this is a couple of them)

First this desire for massive plasma and tft televisions. For the life of me I could not see why anyone would want some 60" monster dominating their living space.

The other and perhaps more mystifying is the rise of unreality talentless TV, the likes of X factor, Strictly come dancing and all those endless looky likeys.

Now I think I have finally got it. After my surprise going away do at St Audries, My girls Heather and Rachel together with Paul retired to his place for a cup of tea and 'wind down'. The girls wanted to see the X factor semi (or some such) finals recorded earlier.

Paul and I actually had great fun bitching about the various contestants and ripping them to shreds, but actually there was something more then that. Everything was so brightly coloured, the locations were exotic and sunny, the settings were so carefully staged and frankly sumptuous and I have to say the whole thing was alluring and seeing it on this massive high definition screen just emphasized the lushness.

OK The late teenage girls with two colour nails screaming at each other I can well do without, and I hope never again as long as I live to witness anything as vomit inducing as grown men throwing themselves to their knees in front of a 'throned' Simon Cowell.

But I got it, this is OZ TV, this is where reality Kansas is dreary and black and white but the land of Oz is in dazzling vibrant colour. This is a window into another world (OK as fake as the land of Oz, maybe more so) but nonetheless a glimpse of a world totally unlike the continuing car crash we all seem to be living through.

I don't think it's good, or even good for us, but I do at least get it now and maybe the next TV will be a 35 or 40"...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I'm Baaack!

It's strange being home again, strange but good (obviously) it's all the same but very slightly different, a bit like a dream, but it's amazing just how quickly you fall back into the routines as if you have never been away.

Oh but the garden... don't get me started, that will have to be tackled and soon, well when it stops raining. Makes me realise there is nothing like proper Welsh rain, it's wetter then anywhere else..

I'm almost unpacked, now I know you would think that's no big deal, but that usually involves a couple of suitcases which you dump in the dirty laundry hamper and voila! you're done.

But I of course had to have what looked like an (admittedly small) house's worth complete with a full 70's hi fi system ( on which more sometime no doubt) and more cushions then you can shake a stick at. I have a problem..

I have also had to do some cupboard spring cleaning, and rearranging of the loft... like I said I have a problem :-)

I am sure I have learned a lot this summer, though now I think of it nothing much comes to mind other then again emphasizing the value of friends, just how dreadful many 'holiday makers' can be and of course a deep abiding love for Muse, who have got me through most of it. Like most men I have limited processing power so all the time I am obsessing over them I'm not over something else. I hope they'd be happy with that.

Now the laundry basket is about to split it's seams...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

coming soon

The last week has begun, shame it has to be trannies..

However then normal service will return, I might even mention MUSE...

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Resistance

Never let it be said Muse are afraid to tackle the big BIG subjects. But just where exactly do you go after a revelatory experience with Absolution and Supermassive black holes?

Back to Earth. Origin of Symmetry was Muse embarking on their space rock odyssey, The Resistance is them returning home, mature, concentrated and intent on doing some serious damage.

No more angst and insular self-obsession, grown up, no longer playing games, they have landed back HARD and they don’t like what they see.

The manifesto is laid out good and strong for all to understand in Uprising (also opening in a sleepy Devon town called Teignmouth, I may have mentioned it...) Dr Who and disco,the agenda is set – rise up and take the power back...

Next, Resistance, a gentle synth intro, ominous kettle drums, simple piano hook and disco beat, but its soon obvious the answer (love is our Resistance) isn't going to be enough, the Thought Police are on to us.

Punchy stabs of synth and plucked strings usher in ‘Undisclosed Desires’, 'Map of the Problematique’ gone romantic. “I want to exorcise demons from the past/ I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart”. A sexy declaration of devotion and building a future together backed by slapped bass from Chris.

United States of Eurasia, gentle piano ballad and symphonic backdrop erupting to Arabian piano and layered chanting nodding in Queen's direction. We are called on to unite our land masses to equal the might of America, tongue is firmly in cheek (or is it?) this is the onslaught of MUSE manifesto. On my first ever listen, THIS was the track that most stuck in my head.

This dissolves into Matt's gorgeous rendition of Chopin's Nocturne in E flat major, but this is sinister, underneath there is half heard tanks planes and children culminating in a full jet flyby and what sounds disturbingly like the bass rumble of a nuclear explosion. Something is very wrong.

Straight into ‘Guiding Light’ - an Ultravox style heartbeat rhythm overlaid with clean guitar and triumphant vocals will certainly be a ‘lighter (or these days, mobile phone) waving’ gig moment. A slow and gentle lament, its clear stakes are about to be raised. We’re about to start a riot. Lines will be crossed, lives may be lost – but this is revolution.

‘Unnatural Selection’ is the Molotov cocktail, a pounding guitar riff and unrelenting bass, "pushing us beyond peaceful protest, I want to speak in a language you'll understand" . A middle eight section with plodding bass and a filthy dirty blues solo gives brief respite to ponder the destruction and recoup your energy before a return to full on Muse riff and the cry "I want the truth". UTTERLY orgasmic.

There's no relaxing though ‘Mk Ultra'. relentless fast synthesiser cuts and thumping bass warn us that “they’re breaking through”. retribution for rebellion. It’s fast paced, frantic and exciting, interspersed with heavy riffs “we’re falling…losing control” The Resistance is failing, the fight is fixed...

The 'wake' is 'I belong to you you', surprisingly jaunty, yearning yet upbeat and maybe just more then a bit inebriated, this is Matt at the piano, a basement dive, cigarette smoke fills the air, the structure changes dramatically and he gets all Edith Piaf and breaks into Mon Coer s'ouvre a ta voix from Samson and Delilah before returning to the I belong to you refrain.

The party is over, it's time to accept defeat.

Lush gorgeous spiralling strings and the Exogenesis symphony has begun.

Part one, overture, sparse falsetto lyrics and we are in trouble, "who are we / where are we / when are we?, heavily distorted guitar and vibrato strings, we are doomed

Part 2 ‘Cross Pollination’. An intense piano solo, starkly the realisation hits, it is time to abandon this condemned planet. There is no hope - except....

We must “wade through the toxic clouds / breach the atmosphere / the edge of all our fears / spread our code to the stars, its time to rescue us all/we know you can never return/tell us your final wish / we’ll tell it to the world"says Matt. We may be doomed but maybe part of us can live on

Part 3 ‘Redemption’ builds from a simple, repetitive melody reminiscent of ‘Blackout’ into the yearning euphoric refrain of “let’s start over again/this time we'll get it right/it's time to forgive ourselves”.....a gentle piano drifts to silence...

Assuming you have not already heard it, DO NOT listen to this album while washing the dog, or waiting for a bus, or cooking dinner, sit down and give it your FULL attention, it's exhausting, utterly moving and if you don't have tears in your eyes and a strange unexplained catch in your throat when it's over then you're not the person I think you are.

This is a concept on the grandest scale, an album of sheer genius and utter beauty. Not since Ziggy has there been anything like this, forget downloads and shuffle modes, this album has to be heard beginning to end in order and in it's entirety.

It'll never work live..... OH.. I was forgetting Teignmouth.... My God these three guys are clever... Imagine what it will be like with floating cubes, plasma backdrops and lasers... Roll on November..

MUSE
DREAM AND FATE

I BELIEVE

Friday, 11 September 2009

Download, the first

Today, well early hours of this morning I did my first 'download'. Something I have avoided for all I was worth, I guess I have now joined the 21st century and it was horribly beguilingly easy.

You may have guessed, the downfall was MUSE. While Uprising was released on Monday and I bought a conventional CD, Uprising live from Teignmouth was released as a download in the early hours, recorded one week ago today and I was there, and I play it over my iPod and I am there again, yes it is that good. I may not be having my organs rearranged by the bass line but I still want to cry, and punch the air, to scream along with the lyrics.

And I've upgraded iTunes so I can download albums, The Resistance out on Monday will be one of the first so released, and my ultra deluxe box set (CD, multiple DVD, 180g vinyl and memory stick version) will be going home, and I wont for a couple more weeks yet.

Its the start of a slippery slope..

You can get the download from Teignmouth on www.muse.mu and you can maybe really see what I am going on about here. Somewhere in that seething crowd is me, losing it....

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

I like Mondays.


Mondays are my day off.

So it'll usually follow the pattern of going out (via Trish the taxi and a bus from Wiliton) to Taunton where I'll have a bucket of coffee in Starbucks, a look around HMV and Primark (I do NOT need any more cheap shirts!) a quick nip into Sainsbury's for something nice for dinner then home.

After a nap I'll do my cleaning (not that that takes long, I'm not here much) change the bed then settle in front of the TV with an Alfred Hitchcock DVD, a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc and then something Italian to eat. An early night then I'm as ready as I'll ever be for the next week.

My Mother is staying at the park right now (she always 'sandwiches' the season), so Nadine took us into Taunton and while I did my bits they went shopping for earrings and a mooch around marks and spencer. Nadine is going on na cruise next month and like I said to her they would tend to frown on St Audries Bay polo shirts..

Oh and yes, Muse's single The Uprising was released. I didn't even know HMV sold singles any more, and to be honest there weren't many left.. I've heard it many times online, on the radio you may even have gathered I heard it live (!) but this is the first instalment of The Resistance - out next Monday. EEK! :-)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A Seaside Rendezvous (3)



John said you could see the back of my head, but you can't, I was further forward and dead centre but this is a brilliant capture of Uprising, and believe me it doesn't capture one nth of what it was actually like to be there.

How could it?

Saturday, 5 September 2009

A Seaside Rendezvous (2)




I didn't take many pictures, while you are messing about with cameras, you're not *there* and I needed to take as much of my day in as I could.

I found much to my delight, I'm nowhere near as singular as I had thought (!) I'd say fully half the ten ish thousand strong audience was about my age. (if you read this stewedrat, say hi)

Teignmouth is an utterly delightful sleepy little town, it's own little backwater world, the people are unfailingly friendly and polite being geared entirely towards the summer visitors.

A little more of the MUSE jigsaw falls into place.

But as I well know, no matter what you think of where you grew up, sooner or later you need to go home and if you can make EVERYONE know about it, so much the better :-)

I spent about 3 hours sitting on the stone edge of one of the seafront flower beds waiting for the 6pm 'doors' opening. For some reason for at least 2 of those I was joined by members of the Teignmouth & Shulden rotary club who had come down to soak up the atmosphere.

I didn't catch any of their names, but they were utterly charming people, we discussed this and that and they were genuinely interested in hearing about MUSE. One of the ladies was particularly excited to find that their plumber (he did all the work on our new house!) was the uncle of Lead man Matt Bellamy.

They were going to come down later with some sherry and sandwiches and sit on the front and listen to the concert on the other side of the hoardings. ('do you know, I really wish we had bought tickets now!') I REALLY hope they enjoyed.

The one thing I did glean is that the licence for the concerts was given on understanding that the sound level would not be above 84 decibels. I have wondered if either the council has no idea what a decibel is or whether it was to be measured from some point on the edge of town - or maybe the next town - or the next county - at the bottom of a well - with earmuffs on. 84 db is not very loud. This was at such a level seismic sensors all over the South west must have been redlining. You could actually *see* the bass lines on the video screens as the cameramen were physically shaken by them. You had to breathe between drumbeats as your internal organs were rearranged.

It was wonderful.

And at the houses and apartments across the road from the Den (a seafront strip of charming park) every window and balcony was filled with the (mostly elderly) residents watching every moment.

Inside every old person is a young one wondering what the **** happened, and for just a few hours we were all 30 years younger..

I will see them again at the O2 this November, and I can't wait, but this was a truly special utterly magical evening and I do hope that now maybe Teignmouth has cracked its shell they will have the nerve to fully break out. I know my friends at the Rotary club want to...

Muse are there again tonight, have a brilliant night guys, I truly wish I could be with you again but I have had one night of magic and maybe, just sometimes one night is enough. And I have Chris Williams' engagement party to host.....

A Seaside Rendezvous (1)

Muse
Dream and fate
The world's largest best entertainment institution

They exploded onto the stage with Uprising, their single taken from their new album The Resistance out on the 14th.

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be VICTORIOUS

You dance, you scream, you have tears in your eyes, you punch the air in victory, you *believe*

*THIS* is MUSE.

They don't put a foot wrong, this isn't the massive stadium gigs, its one of the small stages recycled from Glastonbury tricked out with a victorianesqe proscenium arch and tatty end of the pier velvet drapes.

There is no giant plasma screen backdrops, no laser equipped satellite dishes scanning the skies, this is no push the button and run, this is rock at its loudest, most visceral, most primal, at it's very very best. They make comments to us and each other between the songs, They are having fun, they are home.

And we heard songs from the new album, I'm not sure how many appreciated it at the time, this was stuff that had never been heard before, by the tour in November we will all be word perfect, but this was NEW and we were the FIRST.

I haven't finished on my day by a long chalk, but now I need a sleep.

I believe....

Friday, 4 September 2009

here goes..

Its as windy as all hell, but at least it seems to have stopped hammering down with rain.

I didn't sleep that well, I must be mad..

My friend Rachel who works in Exeters premier hotel says the place is full of journalists and Muse's 'people' but still offered to get me a room by pulling strings, there's not one to be had anywhere.

Teignmouth is a small sleepy seaside town.

I wonder if it has the *slightest* idea what's about to hit it...

Thursday, 3 September 2009

They don't make 'em like that

The recent mobile phone saga.

I like the Motorola V3. (I'm not sure which version, there were a few and I couldn't track the differences anyway) It's been around for an age, it does all I want, it's pretty big, but thin. As far as I can gather it a lot of other people do too, I believe Motorola keeps trying to shut it down but people keep buying it. There's a raging market in grey imports.

And while I'm no regular watcher (how could I be) it even turned up on a recent Ugly Betty in the hands of a new hunky bloke, now thats fashion..

My first died ignominiously in the early rainy hours of one morning a few weeks ago, I'd always loved that phone, (well as much as anyone can love a mobile phone, i.e not screaming at it in frustration *too* often) and it had been dropped a number of times before, but this was just one of those unfortunate accidents, it's hinge just caught a big lump of concrete and suddenly it had a removable screen.

I replaced it with a new one from eBay, one of those mentioned grey imports, it looked the same but didn't really feel it, for something already that thin it seemed even thinner, even flimsy. I managed to crack the external screen within days, it didn't seem very sensitive and the vaunted laser cut keyboard was reduced to mere foil. The black finish was chipping and marking very fast and the end came for it when it developed an 'unless you press your fingers into a certain place on the back the phone cut off' fault.

Back to eBay and this time I've got a refurbished one, (ie replaced the OS to get rid of the original provider 'locking') my theory being it would be one of the older tougher ones, and yes, it is that and it's even a proper 'made in China' Motorola, not an 'improved' made in Singapore one.

This one works perfectly, even if it does look anaemic (it's silver, not the black I was used to). Chinese Motorola's, they don't make 'em like that no more...

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

the last piece in the jigsaw

Trish the Taxi isn't usually available around 9am as she has a standing order taking a lady into Taunton.

Only for Friday she is, the final jigsaw piece.

Now I can get a taxi to Wiliton, a bus to Taunton, if Tim doesn't come through with a suitable jacket I have time to nip into Debenhams and get one.

My ticket on the train to Teignmouth is actually booked (with a reserved seat!) I know where the 'Den' is, I have my ticket, my tee shirt, my iPod. I even know how to get home after, a train to Exeter, another to Taunton and Adrian, Trish's long suffering husband is picking me up at the station at 2.45 am.

I don't ever remember things taking planning like this before, once I just would have gone and to hell with the consequences.

Life for a 50 yo Muse fan :-) I saw a statement on one of the newsgroups, stating there was no such thing.

Think again, we just plan a bit more....

Monday, 31 August 2009

All things DO pass

'We've seen it all, Bonfires of trust, Flash floods of pain.....'

Actually a line from the Killers but its nearing the end of the season and thats what it feels like (well I may be exaggerating a trifle, but never let it be said I say things just for effect :-)

This is the last 'family week' and as today is the bank holiday it all winds down to almost nothing for the rest of this week.

There are some lovely people, of course there are, there must be, unfortunately they are more then offset (you know who you are, The Baileys, The Fishers, The Palmers to name but 3).

The one thing that you do learn is when Saturday rolls around and you think 'oh god no not THEM' is that another saturday will come and you'll be left, maybe a little battered bruised and with a slightly more tarnished soul but still there. That in itself is a sort of victory. All things do pass..... even scroates....

There's a couple of blue rinse weeks which are nice, Organ week (well really more synth these days, so please no comments) and trannie week reprise, this is where I came in..

Again emphasizing the fact that I am not one for overstatement or any form of hyperbole, Friday I am off to Teignmouth to see the first of the 'home coming' gigs by *undoubtedly* the greatest most talented rock band in the world if not the universe, MUSE.

Watch this space.

Friday, 24 July 2009

just a brief thought

Is one a rude obnoxious person so one takes up the accordion or does one become one through some form of osmosis from playing the accordion?

A thought to ponder, but they go tomorrow :-)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Starting again

The trouble with losing your hard drive is, while you may get your computer back, it looks like it, behaves like it and probably has the same marks on it, it's had a brain transplant, has a different personality and with something like the Lenovo where it's not blank but comes preloaded with all the junk that they think a 'busy executive' needs (assuming that *is* the target market) . So all those things you had done to make it bearable (like disabling those damned annoying balloon tips and deleting a good 50% of the exec specials) have gone and you literally have to start again.

At which point desperation sets in... :-)

Anyway I got through day 1 of accordion week. Actually (and I don't want to speak too soon here) but I'm wondering if it's the recession, or just that they are getting old but we are definitely not as busy this year.

To be honest I was really worried that I did not have enough staff, especially as not one of my regular experienced staff was available this weekend (holidays in Spain and festivals mostly) but in fact we managed it with ease. I borrowed young Matt from the dining room and he seems to have an even more extreme attitude to the week then I do. We get on well :-)

Right now it's time to scour the kitchen for toast, and maybe a boiled egg..

Saturday, 18 July 2009

And so it begins

Coming in this morning, there is a gathering outside the dining room waiting for the doors to open to breakfast and you can tell by the straggly beards and baggy shorts (some of them on men too) that the accordionists have arrived for another fun filled week of frolicks and, well accordions.

JP the chef and I have decided, yes we actually prefer the trannies, They are just into 70's and 80's disco, and yes while they can be as rude as the squeeze boxers, at least with the trannies you can be even ruder back. And the one thing they never do is wear baggy shorts..

And I am in trouble with Nadine the dining room manager as Louis who works for me told an extra six people they could just walk in for breakfast. Nadine likes thing written down..

This evening I have had a wine reception for them dropped on me, I've just been on the phone to my supplier hoping they can deliver something suitably cheap and nasty to give them :-)

So here goes.... Though next week family weeks begin, I wonder if I will be wishing for the accordions back....

Nope.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Back again!

Been a while I know since I last posted, first it was settling in and getting the bars and staff as I want them (yeah right!) then just as all was getting on an even keel the hard drive on my teeny tiny Lenovo decided to die on me. Even with a new computer like this one it causes so much disruption.

I'm hoping I'll be able to have WiFi in my caravan soon as this will make everything easier but at the moment I'm using this general junk room behand the main kitchens as I have found I get a pretty good signal here, but it all needs planning..

I'm sure I'll be going on a lot about it here for the next weeks, basically as thats all there is, but just as a taster, from tomorrow for a week, we have horror of horrors, for me the worst week of the season, Accordian week.

Theres a joke, man goes to heaven, St Peter says 'welcome to heaven, here's your harp'
another man goes to hell, the devil says 'welcome to hell, here's your accordian'

On that note...

Monday, 15 June 2009

the journey back

Just got back from another St Audries weekend, this time for the wedding of Karen and Dan.The plans kept spiralling ever upward so I went down last Thursday and I'm glad I did, it was full on (as weddings always are) but everyone seemed very happy and it had a great atmosphere.

Karen worked for me for a season and for Matt before me and her grandmother Barb was the legendary head of housekeeping among other things for 45 years. We so wanted her day to be a wonderful one.

I'm hoping I'll be able to get my hands on a video made of the reception, then you'll be able to see for yourselves, so until I do...

Anyway today I was in the hands of Arriva trains and Virgin trains and Great western and I don't quite know who all. I love travelling by train in spite of all the aforementioned can do to make me change my mind (while emptying my bank account).

I was of course stuck for ages at Bristol Parkway station as there were signalling faults and broken down trains and probably rains of frogs too.

It used to be quite a nice station with a wooden cafe/ticket hall, very domestic and cosy and friendly of the sort we (used to be) so good at. But sometime in the reign of terror (Tony Blair) it had to be 'modernized', because we were such a go getting thrusting modern country and cosiness has no place here!

I'm sure on the plans it was all very futuristic and slick, but after the health and safety experts (enough to strike dread into any ones soul) and the accountants and all the rest had had their way it's now hard to imagine a bleaker more soulless place with its all weather rubber flooring and perforated steel seating which are only not in torture chambers because they are cheap and shoddy and the whole place looking tatty and run down and badly in need of repair after only a few years use.

Whoever thinks thin steel sheet corrugated and painted to look like stainless steel is a good idea is fooling themselves - badly.

But absolute worst of all, the endless announcements preceded by damn three note chimes (undoubtedly chosen by some absolute b***ard to cause maximum irritation) '*I* (pause) am very sorry (pause) for (pause) the delay on (pause) the thirteen (pause) oh seven (pause) train to (pause) Swansea (pause).. on and on, you get the idea...

How can *you* be so sorry? you're a damn collection of badly sequenced digital files and they can't even be bothered to make sure it's the same anouncertron's voice used through the whole thing - ARGH! I tell you it's no wonder people flip and cut loose with an Uzi..

Maybe I'm just tired, 18 hour days tend to do that.. no I'm right it's tat...

Sunday, 7 June 2009

May you live in interesting times

It has been an interesting week, in fact I hardly know where to begin. I have bought one of those tiny new netbooks, not the pretend ones running some weird species of Linux but a proper full fledged (very small) Lenovo running full proper windows XP (and been as I am one of the Vista haters, that suits me just fine).

Second, and much bigger, I've got a full on iPod, a 120gb classic in black (though it looks more charcoal to me, others I see are 'proper' black) OK all the horrible things I have said about them all these years are (possibly!) incorrect and the fact I now have 3/4 of my CD's on this tiny machine and still have 100gb free is quite incredible. My vinyl is of course utterly sacrosanct..

And of course the reason for this sea change and bout of retail therapy? I am back at St Audries Bay as the bar manager and this was the minimum needed to get me through the summer..

For those of you that do not know it have a look at http://www.staudriesbay.co.uk/
I have known the place since I was a kid, in fact the first holiday there with my mum and dad was in 1966 when it was a full on British Holiday camp. I think I fell in love with it then and unfortunately things have never changed.

And one day I found myself running the bars and as maybe you know last year I left (when John and I moved from Bridgwater back to Wales) and in all honesty I thought that was the end of it. In fact friends asked me and I swore that was the finish.

My downfall was trannie week (I am sure that's been said before) The new guy was nice enough, but in all honesty he was making a mess of MY bar and I was surprised to find I couldn't stand it.

I know I can't explain how deep this goes, and by no means am I the only person that has discovered it, St Audries has a visceral attraction that seems impossible to break, but when I was asked to come back, I found I could not refuse.

I really hope John and I can have fun with this, I have a really nice caravan (one we spent a winter in a few years ago) I love my home in Wales, but I love this place too...

Sunday, 31 May 2009

I SO should have done this

Been a busy few days, and will fill you all in.. when I think of it :-) Probably the most important though, trusting to the Gods and taking my life into my hands I reformatted my C drive (named my 'H' drive I've never been able to work out why, or indeed change it, and reinstalled XP.

OK maybe not quite as scary as it could have been as I keep all my files on a second drive, but when you're reformatting are you REALLY sure you're doing the right one?!

Anyway I was, and when I wasn't swapping doors on the new fridge/freezer (more again no doubt) I was doing the tedious job of rebuilding the system.

I tell you though I wish I had done this ages ago, I have no idea how much garbage must have accumulated on my system but now it simply flies. Perhaps trying out new stuff really isn't the way to go, and while I *thought* I was keeping it clean, it obviously really wasn't..

It's a years old Frankenstein of a system, made up of all sorts of old bits and frankly so tatty it really should be in a skip, but Moores law seems to have broken down of late and it's 2.8ghz Pentium 2gb of ram should still be plenty and I have an aversion to handing out cash to the likes of Dell...

Now it feels like a new computer, and I must remember this feeling next time I want to kick it..

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Just heard

Just heard, on NME online MUSE will be releasing their new album 'The Resistance' in September.

Apparently they have been working on it for the past year near lake Como in Italy, it has a full orchestra and Matt Bellamy describes it as 'symphonic'.

Probably (no definitely) the most exciting band in the world, I am nearly dead with anticipation. Now all I want is tour dates :-)

Some bits



I found this video on youtube, the product is from a company amusingly called brick sheet house. Shame we don't seem to have anything like this here, the effect was certainly nice and I love the brick/coffee coloured walls. The one question is though are all 'designer makeover' programs the world over the same?

I've finally had it with Vodafone. The contract finally finished Saturday, BUT relenting slightly as I still want a phone for occasional use, I thought would take their offer and swap it to pay as you go. I REALLY wish I hadn't bothered.

Basically they have just cut it off and no amount of e mails seems to be able to make them understand what the problem is. What is it with these call centre cyborgs in they they answer the question they first think of rather then reading the damn mail to find out what the problem is?

I'm going to try Orange. At least with them I'm a new customer so it's quite possible I might get some straightforward service without stressing myself out and fantasizing about Uzi's. Apparently I could port my number across from Vodafone, I really think I'll give that one a miss.

Having run out of cool stuff to watch on DVD have started again on Buffy, series 1 episode 1. I would try Battlestar Galactica, but those terrible '80's cut and re cut movies/mini series starring Lorne Green have really put me off it.

I've just finished Daemon by Daniel Suarez for the SECOND time. This is a cyber technothriller par excellence and with the added twist that at the end you still don't really know where it is going. I am mightily relieved to find that there is another on the way called Freedom(tm) I had thought that maybe Mr S was doing an Italian Job on us and was going to leave the reader hanging..

I guess it says something in that this is only the third book I have ever re-read straight away. The other two were The Lord Of The Rings when I was about 13 and Neuromancer by William Gibson so you get some idea. In fact on the Sunday before the trannies arrived at St Audries when I really should have been doing stuff, or at least walking on the beach I was lying on my bed unable to put it down.

While there were a couple of sequences that were a touch of a stretch I wondered if they were included merely to make the believable, indeed inevitable seem slightly less imminent.

Vodafone and your ilk... be very afraid :-)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Hysteria



Right I'm bored with crooked politicians and nothing on TV, here is Muse, probably the best live ban in the world, at Glastonbury in 2004. My dear friend Rachel McKinley was there leaning against an ice cream van's engine for warmth while she watched them.. (unfortunately she's on the editing room floor, but I know, and now so do you :-)

There's a million things..

I should be doing, you know when you just don't know where to start?

Anyway I've been plodding through painting. On the walls I had put up a finish blown vinyl, a hessian pattern, basically to disguise whoever did the plastering wasn't *quite* the best (I figure two guys did it as some rooms are great, some a little 'wavy') and of course it looks suitably retro.

I hadn't quite planned though on the fact it's a pain in the neck to paint (a brush full does about 4 sq inches) and it uses a LOT of paint. In the end I have given in and used a roller, something I never do (actually it's a little 4" foam one for doing behind radiators). Hate to say it, but it's doing a perfect job...

Think I am going to have to get out in the garden next, assuming it stops raining as it's turned into a jungle out the back. Machete time..

I've also been looking at fake bricks... How exciting I hear you say from here :-) I want white stick on bricks, they'll look good when I've finished I promise, for an exciting project in the living room (OK a big fake fireplace) after days of searching I found flexibrick, exactly what I want. I got on to the American dealer, I had a reply within the hour giving me the contact details of the Dutch manufacturer. So I enquire of them and --- nothing. So much for Euro efficiency.

Sorry I've not got much to say, I would comment on our political situation but after all these years of cynical comments I find that actually I've not been cynical *enough* 'shoot 'em all let God sort it out' is about all that's left.

Monday, 18 May 2009

There IS an upside

Well maybe not much of one, and some wouldn't see it as such, but there is an upside to lying cheating thieving scumbag bankers and their Enron modeled financial systems and supported by (ditto) politicians who are only interested in fiddling their expenses... etc... etc..

Now that we're almost at the point where *we* have to pay the *banks* interest for allowing them to make free with our money all of those nicely retired rockstars who have released their final 'best of' compilations and retired to Mustique, Aspen or even the Cotswolds are suddenly finding things more then a bit tight and are having to get back in the recording studio or at least out on the road. (Ferrari's don't buy themselves dahlink) Even those who can't are releasing new super whizzy versions of those said best of albums (just look!)

All of this nonsense of course leads me to Marilyn Manson's new album out later this month* (Oh no not him again I hear you say, well I promise this is absolutely positively that last time I shall talk about him**).

In spite of the New York Dolls type history between him and Twiggy Ramirez the whole band is back together and from what I have heard of it fully on form. This is no cheap quick in-it-for-the-cash any old rubbish release and he is no happier about the way things are then any of the rest of us (watch the new video for Arma********************geddon on marilynmanson.com, normal warnings very much apply) for confirmation.

Its been several years after HIS best of compilation 'lest we forget' and I honestly thought I'd heard the last of him (and a lot of the world heaved a sigh of relief) Needless to say my copy is on order right now from Amazon.co.uk

It's also rumoured that David Bowie is in Berlin making a new album (see? bright side!) and assuming it's true and assuming it's produced by Tony Visconti (all of Mr B's best work is with T.V) Then I might even Begin to forgive some of those bankers***

*Blame Gary, it was him that had the tainted love video that made me start digging.
**This is very unlikely to be true
***This is VERY DEFINITELY not true

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Eurowhat?

Last night was the cultural highlight of the year, the night when Europe comes together in a night of ... well tat and high camp actually...

The Eurovision song contest.. you can tell how much I love it in that the last time I saw it I was in hospital having my appendix out, I think I was about 13 and Bucks Fizz won with the 'notorious' ripping off of the girls skirts sequence (I defy you to watch it without laughing, or going ahhhh... they were so clean :-)

So last night on Moscow (since when is Moscow in Europe? I think things must have changed since I saw it last) was a night of sheer ultracamp and *this* was actually the best thing on. (I had to watch TV, I was cooking spaghetti bolagnese and drinking wine, you cant do that without TV)

Now it shows what I know, I actually liked Sweden and Germany best as upholding the long tradition of sheer over the topness and they came joint 4th from last. The German entry was just Camp with a capital 'C' (who would ever have thought it?) and The Swedish entry was this fantastic terrifying white blonde Norse Beauty with heavy duty opera overtones and a backup of 5 dancing Rosa Klebb's, truly fine :-)

Britain came 5th and frankly we woz done, or someone was... we should have come joint last with Moscow themselves (ensuring they wouldn't have to fork out for hosting it next year as well).

All the other entry's were, up, fun, glitzy, had dancers (some quite startlingly athletic) movement and excitement. Us? we had some dirge with a girl called Jade who apparently won one of those talentless 'reality' TV shows.

Piano was played and it was written by *sir* andrew lloyd webber. If you don't know him he's a man who has heard that politics is showbiz for ugly people and decided to buck the trend.

He usually churns out commercial pap, which could even have worked (given some performer who didn't think that wailing at full volume was singing)but changing the habit of a lifetime went for full on dreary. I dont care what the annoying Graham Norton says, it was embarrassing. It comes to something when you're beaten hollow by Turkey, Iceland and Azerbaijan!

I think last or some other year the media was all in a frenzy when we came last, we *might* not have deserved it then (I don't know) but we sure did last night.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

baddies and villians

Oh No! Stargate Atlantis has nearly finished! Actually it doesn't really bother me, I wasn't keen on it when it was shown on TV and I'm still not now. Indeed I stopped watching after the first few episodes in both cases.

To tell the truth, I'm not wild about mud hut based stories, I like glittering cities and echoing computer halls, give me a giant reactor and an unstable naquadriah drive and I'm happy. Mud straw and small children running among the goat like animals and I just loose interest.

The Marilyn Manson look alike baddies turned out to be a real flop too (I think I may have been initially biased in their favour, because they had obviously been swapping makeup hair and clothes tips with the said Mr M)

And who can honestly be scared of an arch baddie called Michael? (admittedly our baddies are called Gordon Tony and George but I guess that rather makes my point) SG1's arch nancy goa'uld Apophis was OK-ish to his demise and the much more butch (ish) and excitingly bad Ba'al was great.

BUT it looks like the third Stargate movie is *finally* going to be made (according to (rdanderson.com) and also the Atlantis one.. and SG-U will be here soon!

And dear friends you'll realise this is all very tongue in cheek and played for laughs, as in my book ANY science fiction is better then no science fiction, even the stuff they dig up on movies for men.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Tainted Love



Hearing Gary's posting of Tainted Love I have to come fully out of the closet, and say I think the Marilyn Manson version is better (gasp) This is in spite of the fact I met Marc Almond in the post office in Great Portland St.

Written by Gloria Jones (Mrs Marc Bolan) I know this is one of the biggest selling songs of all time.. it's got resonance aplenty, just look at all the videos on youtube using it, it's even appeared on Dr Who... now that's fame :-)

Oh and Mr Manson, I know you guys all hate him, I love him, in all honesty he's probably what Ziggy Stardust wanted to be if Bowie could have got away with it (and in the dope show video he looks just like a guy I used to go to school with)

B****y cheek!

This morning I packed my large suitcase up with my ill gotten gains from trannie week last week and went to pay it into the bank.

Oh says the young lady behind the counter, 'I see your account is up for review'

'Review' says me, 'what does that mean?' (gulp, have the found out about my grey imports of illegal jam or possibly my back street chicken flavoured ice cream business?)

'Oh purely for your convenience' (phew!) 'its just to see if we can give you any help or financial advice, shall I make you an appointment?'

'Oh that's... hang on, you want to give ME financial advice?, excuse me but I'm not the one that's just lost 500 billion trillion pounds. I don't think banks are in any position to advise anyone on anything quite frankly. I may not have that much but at least I haven't brought the entire world economy to it's knees...'

'Well maybe we can help, like house insurance' (they don't fluster easily these bank girls - they are given special anti sarcasm training)

'I don't pay it'

'Oh, well car insurance then'

'I can't drive' 'You just want to sell me stuff. Thanks but no thanks'

Actually there is one hope from all this, I've been with the same bank for an age, you always wonder what they know about you, what they can infer from what you spend and where, what they can pick up... well nothing at all it seems to me. If they had they wouldn't have bothered asking..

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Version 2.0



So this time the breadmaker gods smiled upon me and - this is what it's *supposed* to look like. Shame to eat it really, I'm going to but it's still a shame :-)

Frog in a breadmaker

Thought I'd dig out the old Panasonic breadmaker again, least now with a reasonable amount of work surface in the kitchen it sits there in the corner and doesn't look too shoddy.

The French bread was our favourite, so with a heart full of hope I put it on last night and woke this morning to nice smells from the kitchen.

Don't you just hate that moment when lifting the lid on something, anything all your expectation and anticipation is dashed? I'm British so I crave disappointment.

Having long since lost the original book, I was using a printed PDF of the original, which, I had completely forgotten has a 'mistranslation' on the weights between metric and imperial (guess which I use?) meaning there is nowhere near enough flour giving you this sad flat pancake glowering sullenly in the bottom of the pan. If you have ever made toad in the hole which has gone horribly wrong and turned into frog in a bog you'll exactly get the picture. (I know there's a gag there but I'm NOT going to do it!)

Now I'm having another go with the revised amounts :-)

So to be random..


There was a ton of stuff I was going to talk about today, but you think I can think of what it was... I should have a list.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Lipstick on the pint glasses


Right! I'm back! now all can be revealed about how I saved the western world from certain disaster (again) Now it was like this, Gordon (I'm only in it for the laughs) Brown called me and....

Nope that's never going to be believed.. (that Gordon Brown should laugh that is, well except when looking at MP's expenses bills)

I was spending the week at St Audries, for those of you that don't know it click here Where until last year I was working as the bar manager and have actually been going on holiday there since God was a lad (well 1966)

This was the first of the two per year locally (in)famous trannie weeks where men come (often with their wives) to don a frock and behave, well actually like 200 blokes on a weeks piss up :-)

A year or two ago, young Jason in the kitchen fell into the trap 'This lot, they don't half put it away like men...' 'Jason, that ARE men!' 'oh... yeah...' But strangely enough it's all too easy to forget that fact even when the 'lady' in question in a smart navy blue suit with pleated skirt and silk blouse that Margaret Thatcher would have taken a fancy to is standing there, legs apart with a cigar in one hand and a pint of Real Ale in the other..

The week is hard work and then some, they are full on, demanding, exasperating and some of them so annoying you'd happily tip them over the cliff. They eat and drink like it's going out of fashion and above all are fun.

As a manager you have to be efficient, calming, diplomatic, run a tight ship, be concerned, be warm and welcoming and that all goes out the window with the trannies. You can let rip say (well shout over the music)things that you'd never dare utter to anyone else and they'll shout with laughter and love it (and probably buy you a drink). Get away with murder? not half..

This last week went particularly well, for once there was no major problems, no more then amusing bitchiness, no fights or even complaints. We could have done with another ice machine, and I WISH someone would teach men how to apply lipstick properly so it doesn't come off on everything, but you can't have it all..

Three of my four lovely girls also came back to help (the dream team they insist) Heather is pictured above. We worked hard, had a load of fun, one or two glasses of wine and oh I do miss the place, Bar management is the one thing I am good at..

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Allo Mate..


I know you're going to cry, but I'm away now till the 10th (I am doing secret work, saving the known world, or at least serving it drinks) I shall tell you all when I get back..

So in the meantime I leave you to contemplate this ad for weedkiller :-) weeds by Aardman... now that IS cool...

Now I have to iron a pile of white shirts..

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Scott says...

My friend Scott has been making me think a lot about music (well maybe think MORE about it) over the past few days, so it might be the subject for the NEXT few days..

I've never downloaded any music at all, actually I do have two downloads (Those first impressions by the Associates and Knock on wood by Aimee Stewart when I complained to a friend I couldn't find them anywhere should you be interested) But I have no idea really what I should do with them, I mean I could buy an iPod but it seems over the top for two tracks :-) and while I'd like an orange one as they are a bit of cool gizmo that I've always fancied owning I've got absolutely no use for them as 1. all the ones I have heard sound pretty horrible and 2. I REALLY don't like this download culture.

I'm not talking here of the 'illegal' Napster/Pirate Bay scene (while I'm with Trent Reznor on that, I'm not going there)But this whole corporate approved pushing and downloading of 'songs'. It seems to me you hear something, some latest fad, you download it, you maybe listen to it twice, until you're bored, end of story.

But what about the rest of the album? Last night I was doing one of my favourite pastimes, sitting with a glass of wine listening to an album in this case The Killers latest one, Day and Age.

There has been a single or two taken from it, but the Killers are a band where you have to listen to the whole thing (in the case of Day and Age, several times) to truly get what they are saying, to feel what the incredibly talented Mr Flowers wants you to feel. There is imagery, passion, loss, desert dust and gunsmoke but you will NEVER EVER get that from some song download, you'll get a bouncy track chosen probably by some record company exec for maximum sales.

One of my all time favourite albums,(Facades by Sad Cafe) was bought because of the killer single, but on listening the *entire* album it became one of those albums that forever changed my life. Today I would not have had that, there is so much more to music then a 'song' and in this new world order you're never going to get another Dark Side of the Moon, Ziggy would be nothing more then an instantly forgotten file 3528 on your iPod if that, pushed aside to make way for the latest wonder from pop idol or some such.

There is good stuff, worthwhile stuff, things that are genuinely better out there but this ain't it.

Like Scott also said, I am glad I'm a child of the 70's

Saturday, 25 April 2009

browser update

Seems like a lot of people I couldn't stand Explorer 8, it's slow yes, but what I really REALLY got tired of having to remember usernames and passwords for virtually all my sites in spite of reducing the cookie thing to low (which I'm not sure is that great an idea anyway)...

So back to Firefox, and sometime in the last couple of days it's had a pretty big update, I don't know what they did, but right now its as zippy and slick as anyone could wish.

I wonder what Microsoft is up to these days, it seems to me that since Bill 'left' (or whatever) they just seem to have lost interest...

Friday, 24 April 2009

Thanks Gary..



This is for Gary Rith, thanks to you I've had REO Speedwagon going around in my head all day...

Vodafone

Has anyone ever tried cancelling a Vodafone contract (or any mobile phone supplier - I'm under no illusions)

I've got bored with paying a contract every month for something I no longer use aside from the odd text message. So after several years (and many resisted blandishments to 'upgrade' my phone and thus lock me in for another year or two) it was time for the party to end.

Vodafone have this cunning policy, first the e mail addresses on their website 'no longer' work, this always puzzles me as been as you get an automated reply you might as well get a proper reply.

Eventually you are directed (if you are VERY persistent) to a webform, which then asks you about a dozen questions and a little box for what you actually want.

Then you get an automated reply telling you you should have a reply within 5 working days (!)

Eventually you get what might as well have been another automated reply saying they will carry out your wishes IF you give them all the information you have already given them on the webform. And are directed back to.. yes the same webform asking the same questions.

So I filled the thing in, again and again, I promise you this happened no less then 7 count them *seven* times. You need the patience of a saint, which anyone will tell you I have not got...

This might give you a clue as to why I was e mailing rather then phoning, like everyone I have had contact with companies like this before and I really don't want to shout at some tele operator in Bangladesh - or Slough (on the whole the Slough operators being a trifle less easy to understand) who is only carrying out 'company policy'

I don't know what Vodafone thinks will happen, that I will eventually get bored, or have a breakdown and decide to keep the damned service rather then deal with these cubicle farm robots.

What did it in the end was demanding the address for complaints and the supervisors name. Suddenly with no further problems I was told my contract would end in 30 (!) days. Now they are trying to tempt me to stay, with yup, whizzy new mobile phones..

Oh and what is this online hell called? Customer care....

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Star Trek/NIN


Warning: Explicit lyrics, ask your parents or authorized adult before viewing this video :-)

Books 'n' stuff

As everyone now knows yesterday was the UK budget presented by his Imperial master of dreariness (never was a man more badly named) Alistair Darling. It's nice to know that the total trashing of the entire worlds economy was nothing to do with him, or his predecessor our much revered,dashing,bundle of fun Prime Minister Gordon (I'm only in it for the laughs) Brown.

So that's OK then, so .. books

While these days I mainly use Amazon for books and quite a lot of other stuff for that matter, nothing can actually beat leaving a bookshop with a carrier bag weighted down with books, all lovely and new and just waiting to be read. That anticipation of which to read first, them sitting there all pristine waiting for you. It's money in the bank to me :-)

As you may have guessed I like Science Fiction, the proper stuff, harder the better not this fantasy look alike (Terry Pratchett being the only honorable exception). Of recent years it's been British writers, I have no idea why but suddenly we have an exceptional bunch of Authors led by the likes of Charles Stross (except your 'merchant' series, I understand why you did it, but it's not me Charlie). Mostly from North of the Border, to my mind they have eclipsed the previous American generations with ease (and any current ones have probably been hoovered up by TV anyway)

The only trouble with this small and rarefied group is being small they collectively can't keep up with demand (i.e. mine) so I'm always on the lookout for new talent to add to my favorites list.

I left Borders with only 3 (the shelves mostly taken up with 'graphic novels' or comics as they were called when I was a lad, produced presumably for those to 'busy' to read)

The last Richard Morgan, which somehow I had overlooked and two new (to me) authors A British guy, Michael Cobley with the first part of 'a galaxy spanning space opera' Seeds of Earth and Daemon by Daniel Suarez of whom the cover gives no information at all.

Drooling at the thought of a new British written Space Opera I started with Mr Cobley.

What I really would like to know is do the established authors who have their comments on the jackets actually read the books? Come to that in the case of Seeds of Earth, did the publisher? I've always understood that it was very difficult to get published. Patently not in this case, it's so clunky and simply amateur it could have been written by me. Actually if it was written in the 50's they'd have loved it.

I got to about page 30 before I could stand no more, the characterisations alone were unreadable never mind the rest. Novels are supposed to be enjoyable not purgatory. I can only assume that the publishers have noticed this fad for British writers and are suddenly so desperate they really don't read them first.

Luckily Daemon so far is brilliant, not really SF more leading edge technothriller at least I'll be getting a good pacy read (and goes a long way to explaining why computers hate me so much :-) But 30% of my Borders buy a washout - thats not good...

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Explorer 8

Well Firefox crashed on me one too many times, so now I thought I'd give the new zippy updated explorer a try. My computer seems to be littered with obsolete browsers and email programs as I try them and find them wanting.

Is it too much to ask that they just work? I don't want them to change my life, just get me to the junk quietly efficiently and *without crashing*

Explorer 8 was obviously doing some pretty fundamental rewriting as it took forever to install, first impressions, clean, tidy and with a few tricks I have yet to try and am not sure I want.

All I need now is yet another email program...

Monday, 20 April 2009

MIA

I know there's no excuse, but I have been busy decorating the hallway and cloakroom, and no it's not finished even now, but at least the end is in sight and I am thinking of the next project.

The pine ceilings look terrific, I was doing the edging yesterday and a coat or two of matt varnish will be all that's then needed. So far I'd say the place is looking more ultra fashionable 50's rather then the early 70's which is what I was aiming for, but we'll see..

And I cannot find the right light fitting for the hall. The trouble is compact fluorescent bulbs may be very worthy and *might* be eco friendly but he light they give is so damn *dull*. It looks OK in table lamps mostly, as long as you use a coloured shade but the ceiling, yuk!

I've also been slightly devastated at coming to the end of the mammoth Stargate boxed set which we have to have been watching nightly for the last 9 months (!) Although I hated the last series of baddies (the dreary Ori) The movies though were brilliant, particularly 'Continuum' and I'm thrilled to hear the go ahead has been given to the third (yet to be named) movie and it'll be (yipee!) about Richard Dean Anderson's character Jack O Neil. Sorry, while I loved Farscape, Ben Browder just didn't cut it for me in SG1.

So now we are watching Stargate Atlantis which I never really did see when it was broadcast (and mostly so far looking forward to the 'crossover' that occurs later in the series) I love the Marilyn Manson look alike baddies though :-).

Also looking forward with some trepidation to Stargate Universe which is on its way though it sounds slightly dark and alarming and Robert Carlyle strikes me as a 'risky' lead. We shall see..

Now it's a lovely day and sooner or later I shall have to get to grips with the garden in earnest but right now Sainsbury's calls..

Saturday, 18 April 2009

I knew something would wind me up enough

I knew something would wind me up enough to get back into the blogging swing, and it has.

In case you missed it it's independent record shop day (or some such title). We are all to shed a tear at the closure of so many independent record shops because of the growth of people buying their records in supermarkets, or online, or downloading it.

Well I for one couldn't care less, frankly if the people running these shops hadn't been such arrogant elitist tossers then maybe a few more of them would still be in business.

According to Jarvis Cocker (why do they always trot out Jarvis cocker? To the best of my knowledge he had one hit single, once, admittedly a pretty good one, and has been dining out on it for the past decade. I might take more notice if the said Mr Cocker stood a little closer to the razor and cut, or at least occasionally washed his hair and had more then one suit)ANYWAY according to the said Mr Cocker record shops are the places where we might walk in and hear a piece of music and if we have the courage to ask the assistant that music might just change our lives.

1. In record shops the music is always so loud you cant hear yourself think, never mind remember what you went in there for in the first place.

2. I have never ever heard anything in a record shop that I would even consider walking away with for free never mind actually paying for.

3. Talk to the assistants? They usually have spiky black (or entirely shaved) hair and so many facial piercings it looks like they had an unfortunate (but not unfortunate enough) accident while constructing a nail bomb. And treat you with such utter contempt (assuming they can be bothered to drag themselves away from their 'mates') that you could almost be their parent.

I always leave after buying nothing and with thoughts of conscription (or vivisection) foremost in my mind.

Why should I put myself through that? Amazon don't care if I want Nine Inch Nails, or Abba or even the damn Cheeky girls. I get exactly what I want without sneering or perforated eardrums.

Yup I am getting old and am told often I'm a grumpy old man, but record shops? RIP :-)

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

When I fell over the peacock

I had the worst news EVER today! OK I exaggerate a touch, but I mailed playback video, the publishers of McM&W and got this very nice reply telling me that have no current plans to publish any more then the first series.

Now that's just teasing me and all fans of 70's kitsch... BUT their minds can be changed, so if you feel really nicely about me and my latest obsession do please contact them here and nag! I mean they've got all of Magnum PI and while I really wish I had Mr Sellecks chest hair you can't tell me it's better then McMilan and wife!

Today was supermarket day. Does everyone get really attached to their regular shop? Yesterday we were forced to go to the local Tesco and the experience was not a good one. How come people in other then your chosen shops seem rude and miserable? And you can never find anything...

Coming back we found no less then 4 peacocks wandering around the garden. We'd been visited by two of these exotica a few weeks ago, but this time they seemed to have brought a couple of friends. Judging by the calls of the little b****ers still further up the hill I think there are still plenty more to come.

Aside from winning a fortune on the lottery and buying some huge palatial heap ('darling are the peacocks still on the West lawn?') kind of thing, I never thought I would be woken in the early hours by the over sexed birds getting up to whatever it is they do when it's dark and making such a racket over it.

Monday, 23 March 2009

I hate Mondays

Actually I don't, and haven't for a long time, in my last Job Monday was my day off... But this one's not been so great.

The weather has turned grey and chill, I know that's fair enough it's only March, but we'd got used to it being like summer, only nicer as it's not too hot and the kids aren't on school holidays, but it's back to regular weather now, so I guess I should cancel the order for orange and lemon trees..

And I've been waiting in all day for Parcelforce (like UPS only rubbish) to collect a dehumidifier I sold on eBay yesterday. It seems that while I was given a time between 9AM and 2PM (!) they were only given the order at 1.55 PM. I wouldn't mind if I'd known, but you know how it is, you can settle to nothing while waiting in for delivery men. And we need to go shopping, we need wine, oh yes and food too..

And I found the ideal outside lights, but I cant bring myself to actually buy them..

You see that sort of day, if it gets fun I'll report, but I wont hold my breath if you don't..

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Jade Goody

WHEN I GOOOOOO I'M GOING LIKE ELSIE.......

There are things living under rocks on Mars that have heard that Jade Goody died early this morning. Typical of Jade's sense of publicity, she did it on Mothers day, the showman to the very last.

Star of (but not winner of) Big brother three Jade had nothing at all. She wasn't good looking, she had no talent, she had the most appalling chaotic background and for want of a better word, family life. She was loud, pretty obnoxious at times and had no academic abilities of any sort.

But she had this one chance and she grabbed it with both hands and hung on for for all she was worth.

Her life since has been lived on the pages of the tabloids and cheap checkout magazines and any TV appearance she could get. I don't pretend to know even a fraction of it, I know next to nothing about 'celebrities' But you knew Jade Goody, you couldn't miss her.

And alone of the 'type' I admired her. She lived a life I couldn't even begin to imagine always thinking up some new angle to get herself publicity, she had cunning and 'smarts' she used the celebrity 'culture' for all it was worth and she won, she was the exception that proved the rule.

Jade I really really hope it was all worth it, and yes, I will miss you.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

the mystery of the plaid sofa

While staining the new gates dark brown (and it's amazing how your mind will wander on a job like that) I was remembering my dad taking me in about 1971 to see the new wonder of the electronics division there at the British Steel Company, a video recorder.

The thing was the size of a fridge and recorded about half an hour of program (just long enough for last nights Top Of The Pops) on 1" tape held on 10" open reels, in black and white.

Of course, hard as it is to remember, we only had a black and white television. They might have broadcast colour but we certainly didn't have it. (I have a feeling Carolyn something or other down the road had a set which they always watched with the colour control turned to the max, but they were loaded, and weird, and he always used to mow the lawn wearing a jacket shirt and tie, and she was an only child.... )

The POINT of all this faffing about is, although I remember it in colour, I must have seen McM&W in black and white, which is why I remember the sofas as cream (I'm sure the second one will turn up eventually) and why the yellow kitchen units were a bit of a shock and that gorgeous brown fridge......

Like I said, painting gates makes your mind wander, and mine certainly likes a holiday. One day it won't come back..