Friday, 27 February 2009

Modern LP's, a short whine

I was told that the print runs on modern vinyl records are less then what was thrown away as waste back in the heyday of Lp's.

To be honest I don't think I have bought a new pressing (excluding Japanese ones) that wasn't a real disappointment, and that was in spite of paying £20 or more for  them while the corresponding Cd's would be about £7. I even bought one (Third, Portishead) that had fingerprints *in* the vinyl!

It's not usually the sound quality,  records tend to be cut by the few craftsmen left. It's clicks pops and general noise, just simple poor handling by people who patently don't know what they are doing. You accept pressings that you would certainly have rejected in the 70's and 80's because that's all there is.

I end up buying most Lp's on eBay, obviously not anything new that way. For instance I now have the complete back catalogue of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry that I never had the first time around :-) 

Of course it's a risky proposition they are often not as 'mint' as they are claimed to be, I  now have three original  copies of the wonderful Shirley Bassey (before you get any funny ideas this particular album has some absolutely cracking tracks) all look fine but are totally worn out and mistracked having been played on early 60's Dansettes, and I can't seem to get a decent copy of Pink Floyd's Wish you were here to save my life.

But oh, when you get a good copy of something, the sheer quality, involvement, space and imaging will take your breath away. I'm sorry, I'm a dinosaur, I don't download, digital leaves me cold (even though I will use CD because I have to) for sheer *communication* for that moment when your breath catches and you forget where you are *nothing* beats dragging a diamond through a wiggly groove.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


Sir Fred Goodwin ( sexy but stupid) should he give back his £650 000 a year pension after presiding over Royal Bank of Scotland losing 24 billion? Yup, will he? No way, well would you?

Simple answer, shoot him, in fact shoot all of them and let God sort it out

(this also applies to prime ministers, chancellors and all the ex's back to and including Thatcher even though she's bonkers)

Problem solved, and if it isn't we'll all feel better :-)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

don't read if easily bored.

I left mentioning this for a while as it angered me so much I was sure I would be even less coherent then usual.

Of course I'm talking of this outrage from the BBC  from the other week. As I thought I had the usual namby pamby reply from them trying to justify the unjustifiable. 

But what REALLY took the biscuit for me was the assertion that everything shown was carefully researched and had been carried out by LRA troops in Uganda. So that makes it OK.

Folks there is no hope for any of us. According to the BBC anything at all is acceptable to be shown on television as long as it has been carried out by some paramilitary group somewhere in the world. Just think about that. 

This is some sort of London cop series, it had Dennis Waterman in it which was the only reason I was watching it anyway. (I won't make that mistake again). It wasn't some ghastly documentary, not that even that would make it acceptable.

I could go on and on about this, but you'll be bored rigid. Needless to say I wrote back and told them what I thought of their 'justification' 

I also (actually wrote!) a formal letter of complaint to Ofcom.  Next will be the Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP,  the minister for culture media and sport (no I'd never heard of him either) the prime minister and anyone else I can think of.

Hopefully I'll have something fun to write about later on.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Slut for red

I was poking through my files and just came across this little piece which I wrote about 18-20 months ago. I don't know if it conjures quite the moment and feel that I wanted (It does to me, but then it would, I was there..) but I think this was the day I knew that in spite of all I may have said in the past I wanted to move back home.

I guess its the case of you can take the boy out of Wales but you cant take Wales out of the boy (thank you to Bonnie Tyler for that one)

Slut for red.

Waiting in the cosy slightly time warped reception area of a company importing musical instruments in Blaenu Gwent, the rain pouring outside I was listening to the conversation between the lovely curvaceous Welsh receptionist and her friend.

"I got that handbag at the weekend from Debenhams, it was so expensive even though it was on sale, John Rocha, All I could think of all of last week was that bag, then on Saturday I bought it. I finally had it. Oh but when I got it home I was so disappointed, the red boots that I bought it to match, it didn't, it was a completely different red, and as my mum and my husband  will tell you I'm a slut for red I am, now I don’t know what to do"

On my way out, I told her rather then taking the bag back obviously what she should do is to buy another pair of red boots.

One of those rare perfect moments in life, I would love to know what happened

b-a-t-h time

Does anyone still actually bathe anymore aside from people in adverts and sit-coms? I was thinking about it yesterday as having removed all the sealant I wasn't able to use the shower.

I only know of one person who does it regularly and this is the full on production with the bubble bath and the candles, the book and the glass of wine.. you'd think he'd know better.. 

Baths are things that take up most of the space in your bathroom but as far as I am concerned get used *maybe* once  a year when you have overdone digging in the garden and the back hurts. The rest of the time they get hosed out every couple of weeks to get rid of the dust and to renew the water seal in the u bend which tends to evaporate.. But you've got to have one - it's a bathroom.

I remember when we lived in Lincolnshire the bathroom there had this beautiful corner bath the size of a swimming pool (admittedly a small swimming pool :-) It looked absolutely gorgeous especially when selling the house with its careful arrangement colour coordinated bottles of bathtime goodies, tea lights in tasteful holders (I had advice) and fluffy towels over the side. It took up half the room, It never got used. At all.

Today the shower should be safe to use again and I can heave a huge sigh of relief and hopefully my fingers can recover from the onslaught of the Stanley blades.. 


Friday, 20 February 2009

Dismembering Jellyfish

Yesterday I was happily creating the boxing for the pipes in the cloakroom. Rather more complex then usual I've been thinking about exactly how to do it for days, so much so it was making my head hurt :-) So it was good to actually start the job. How come when you actually *do* something rather then think about it, it's way easier then you thought?

Later about to have a shower I slipped half into the shower, kicked the panel below it and hey presto I could finally see what was under the shower tray.

A complete lack of jewels and gold coins, it was mostly concrete blocks.. and damp. I had suspected, now I knew and I had to do something about it. I have no idea why it is, but every time you buy a house the sealant around the bath or shower has failed and usually (like here) all they have done is stick new sealant over the old mouldy stuff.

Leading to my favorite job. If there is any other way of removing the stuff other then a chisel/Stanley knife and a bare Stanley blade (shredding your fingers into the bargain) I have never found it.

Several years ago nirvana had been found, sealant 'eater'. you spread it on the offending stuff, left it an hour and it all just peeled off. It cost a fortune. It didn't work. So back to Mr Stanley and his ubiquitous knives.

Nasty, smelly (all that hidden mould) and disturbingly like dismembering jellyfish (but less fun) Was on my knees for hours, and actually ended up dismantling virtually the entire enclosure (and horrified to find it is held together with nothing *but* sealant).

Today is the day of nothing but errands, so I shall let the whole lot dry out, tomorrow I shall put it all back together (always with the sinking feeling that one day it'll all have to be done again)

There should be a point to this story. There isn't :-)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A Doris Day

Imagine if you can a minibus full of Little Welsh ladies all near identical,  turned out I am convinced  from a secret factory somewhere. 

Now imagine them all talking at each other, but none of them actually listening. If you should have seen Gavin and Stacy you will know exactly what I mean.  This was my yesterday.

I went with Mum on a minibus trip with the ladies from the flats where she lives, Bill the gentleman from upstairs who is an expert shopper couldn't make it so I was on my own.. We went Aberavon, the shopping centre that time forgot. 

I remember being taken there by Mum & Dad, I figure I was 15 or 16, it was brand new. At the time I don't think we were impressed, we certainly never went again. It's not changed in the intervening 30 years. At all.

Home of something that looks like a Body Shop but isn't, the seconds clothing stores, the charity shops and an Argos with it's 'laminated book of dreams', Wales really does not seem to have the rest of the world's love affair with the mall (for proof absolute see 'The St David's Centre' in Swansea). 

I know I far preferred the whats left of the High St where we had a poke around and a baked potato (with cheese beans and coleslaw) in a nice cafe. 

But the ladies all seemed to have enjoyed their day, though they weren't exactly loaded with purchases, Mum and I seemed to have been the biggest shoppers (I had a new doormat and Mum had a cold bag and a scrubbing brush) I don't think Port Talbot is going to be reviving it's fortunes from us..

A little surreal? There's talk of Cheltenham next....

Monday, 16 February 2009

Feels like spring

Firstly I want to say thank you to all you folks who have written such nice things. This whole blogger game was taken on with some trepidation - I am no writer, I'm not at all sure that I have anything of interest to say to anyone. But you have been gentle with me, for that I thank you all.

Now today has been a lovely day here, warm and truly springlike. The Air is soft and warm smelling, the birds and squirrels have been going bananas and everything is quickening, you can feel it. Talking to Keith next door he was dreaming of his summer evenings sat on his garden bench with a bottle of Chardonnay. It was that sort of day.  Now of course I can be terribly British and go on about how it could all be snowing next week, but I'm not going to, days like this are like a surprise gift, for enjoying.

While Monday morning is the day for the twice weekly trip to Sainsburys on return I nipped out into the garden. Feeling spring come on like this, there were a few weed trees around  that needed sorting quickly before they exploded into life. Actually there is more to do out there then you can shake a stick at but like everything else you have to start somewhere.

One of those  niggling jobs that I'd not been looking forward to when I got back in I felt a real sense of achievement and realised yet again there are few things that make me happier and feel more grounded then gardening.  Probably my one regret with this house is the garden is so small as while right now the amount to do is daunting to put it mildly, one day it will be done and then I shall be casting around.

That's when day dreams of landscape gardening take root, maybe that should be my new career, but I know there is a vast difference between a hobby on a lovely day and heavy grunt work when it's bucketing with rain or burning hot. More is the pity..

Sunday, 15 February 2009

What's all this 'We'?

I am  sure you are all as sick to death of bankers and politicians and their excuses as I am, so I shall say this and no more (OK that's probably a lie)

Frankly I could happily shoot the lot of them, I'd surely start with the sackings and court proceedings would follow. 

But have you noticed this increasing use of the word 'We' when they are all making their mealy mouthed excuses? This is the start of the : somehow it's your and my fault, its not the politicians for deregulating everything in sight and letting these money men do what they like, or  these over paid testosterone fuelled charlatans who are only not called criminals because they call themselves bankers. No it's you and me, How? I have no idea, I don't remember agreeing to any of this and I'm sure you didn't either. like me you thought 'this can't go on' in fact we're probably the only ones that did, but it's still our fault. 

If you can listen to yesterdays Question Time on the BBC website, do, Janet Street Porter is the only one that actually made any sense.... We're in trouble...

Oh what the hell, Listen to the incomparable Ms Bassey, We've seen it before, and we'll see it again even if it is the 1930's.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

stage 1 of 394 complete

Don't you just love finishing something even if it is just the first small step? Well anyway the entrance hall floor is now finished, and the cloakroom too though you can't see that in the picture and tomorrow I shall start on boxing in some very ugly pipework in there.

As this is a relatively small area (9 M2) it formed 'plan A' if it worked OK and if the subfloor wasn't too far beyond repair then room by room I'd put these same tiles throughout the bungalow.

Well now I wish the floor tile fairy would come along and wave a magic wand as I'd forgotten how much I dislike fitted carpet but that's not going to happen so I'll do it bit by bit.

This has been the first real domino, falling and knocking all the rest over one by one, now I'm off and want to make the rest of the house conform to what's in my head.

And it's Saturday, so it's making spaghetti bolognese (or similar pasta dish) with a glass of wine while watching Casualty (god help me)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sore Toes

I have been feeling guilty, since moving in last October, I seem to have done virtually nothing to the house. True I did a bit of wiring, put in a new shower and sorted the insulation, but usually by now I have rebuilt :-)

Age or contentment. I think this time it's contentment, I was just so relieved that everything went through in the end without a hitch, and this is against a background of disintegrating world economics and sleepless nights that I just wanted to enjoy actually having done it.

Actually though, while the decor is old and tired (and in many cases half done) and things like that carpets are so horrible only my mum could like them the place is in really good nick. The garden is a disaster area, but thats another story.

BUT I have finally made a start, up came the carpet in the entrance hall and cloakroom (carpet in a loo can you imagine? I know we all did it in the 70's but I mean, yuck!) and the evil spiky gripper rod around the edges on which I always seem to manage to impale myself and finally the lets be polite and say beige Marley tiles underneath.

The floor was covered with this weird soft plaster like stuff, I imagine some kind of 30 yr old leveling compound, unfortunately the tiles pulled large lumps of it up when I removed them. So a couple of days refinishing the sub floor, splosh over some PVA to seal the whole lot and we're off!

Being a retro 70's kind of boy with a deep love of all things Habitat, Scandinavian and a deep desire for chocolate brown and orange I'm using cork tiles, though I admit way thicker and better quality then I have ever used before. Yesterday slapping down the whole ones, the floor seemed to be being covered in a trice. But today doing all the edges and the fiddly bits, Ive spent the day on my knees and figure there's at least another days worth. And you know whats worst? The tops of your toes get really sore... and I figure I'm going to do the rest of the house the same..

The BBC War

This morning I had a reply from my MP Peter Hain. I wrote to him  after I had written to the BBC about Moses Jones the other night.

You can tell how upset I was, I'd not normally think of doing anything like that. I don't know what I had hoped he could or would do , at least have a go at the BBC in parliament or hand it to someone who would (I mean usually governments love to slam the BBC and this time there is actual reason). To my mind there are huge questions behind this like where the hell are we as a country if sickening stuff like this is called entertainment.

What I did get was a letter telling me who to complain to if I wasn't satisfied with the BBC's (eventual) response. Oh Well I guess thats democracy in action...

However this got me to thinking, what could they possibly say that WOULD satisfy me? 

Truth to tell, there is nothing short of bringing everyone concerned with the programme and the entire board of BBC Governors up on criminal charges. There is no possible justification for ever showing anything like what was depicted on that program, hell there is no justification for even thinking it. I genuinely cannot conceive the sort of sick mind that would have written it, let alone those who depicted it and worse still approved it.

There are some very very disturbed people around, people who need serious help, and obviously many of them work in broadcasting.

Well it looks like OFCOM will be the next to get a letter

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Let it snow

Maybe an unpopular attitude, but I love snow. I have often thought I should have been Swedish (and not just because I love IKEA, and Abba and have always fancied a Volvo tank) They have such great climate and I'd love to have been blonde..

Britan is 'quite mild for the time of year' no matter what... But yesterday with some excitement more snow was forcast, heavy and prolonged, so instead of tiling the hall floor (undoubtely more on that again) A dash to Sainsubury's was called for. looking forward to being snowed in, the new insulation and class A boiler tested to it's limits.

Well as Bill Bailey said 'i'm British so i crave disappointment' it's mild, quite sunny and not a snowflake in sight. The squirells in the trees opposite like it, but me? I'm disappointed..

I've just finished reading Stuffed by Patricia Volk, one of those books I have been meaning to read for ages, and now I have I wondered what on earth took me so long. Billed as 'Adventures of a restaurant family' it's a simple moving  direct account of life in a New York Jewish family. I think I should have been New york Jewish.. or maybe New York Italian or.....

Monday, 9 February 2009

OK its gone too far

As this is only my second entry I was going to do something quirky & fun, maybe about listening to the mint  David Bowie vinyl I just scored off eBay.

BUT this evening I was kind of watching BBC2. The BBC, greatest broadcaster in the world, all other countries envy us, jewel in the crown, blah blah blah

Wake up and smell the coffee. 

This program was called Moses Jones, and if you haven't seen it, DON'T. I'm sure in BBC speak it deals with adult themes in a robust and forthright way or some such tosh. I wasnt particularly paying attention until a scene where a woman in a restaurant gets attacked. Now I'm not going into details, I dont want to give you nightmares, though I probably will have them. Just to say that it was the most vile disgusting and sickening thing I have ever seen on television, and if this is what now passes for entertainment, then we are all going to hell in a handbasket.

The BBC of late has shown some staggering lapses of taste and judgement but this is so far over the line it beggers belief. I have always been against the twin 'C' words (control and censorship!) but like bankers if our broadcasters cant behave with 'taste and decency' then maybe it's time they were made to, we are after all (like the bankers) paying for this...

The Beginning

In the  begining was Facebook, and it was good. 

But all my  pearls of wisdom and pithy banter were only for a limited audience (who never bothered to read them anyway) 

So I am come to the wide world stage as The vinyl Dragon (what does it mean, one day I will tell...)

I describe myself as a middle aged Sci Fi and Hi Fi junkie, Now living a few miles from where I grew up in South Wales (UK). Is there more to me then this? We shall see, but don't hold your breath...

And I'm not great at taking anything too seriously.