Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's My Birthday..., so Happy Birthday to me !

I've been back at "work" for 3.5 days now. My god it feels like longer. Yesterday I had to slope off early before I put a foot through my monitor.

Monday I sat down to a mountain of e-mail accrued since I went off on tour (300 messages. That may not be a lot to some people but it's a mountain to me).

Tuesday I had to attend a company Strategy and Marketing meeting in a faceless conference room in a faceless hotel next to Manchester Airport. Rarely has so much management speak and corporate horseshit been contained by 4 very flimsy walls. Prior to the meeting starting one of our number was talking about the computer game Civilisation. He informed us all that "that version of Civilisation is now obsolete and you can get it for 6 quid from Woolworth's" the time the meeting had finished I was starting to believe him ! A whole civilisation for 6 quid !! Bargain !!!

You'll be pleased to hear that I was today sent a "Summary of Actions" from said meeting. 6 hours of waffle, maple syrup and bullshit has produced an actions list that doesn't even fill a half a side of A4 paper. Glad that was such a productive day. And the purpose of said meeting ? To decide how we should write reports to each other about what we have been doing...I give up, I really do.

Tour now over and completed reasonably successfully. Scotland was a little rocky (for those not familiar with the details I refer you to and choose any of the threads that look depressing) but once we left that fair country, demeanour's improved and we finished up with 2 storming shows in London and particularly Birmingham.

Those two show's were helped beyond measure by the presence of the awesome genius that is Damien Dempsey as special guest. I think anyone that was there who has or hasn't seen Damo before would have been completely slayed by his opening song (and if you weren't then you have no soul), a new song, called "Masaai" (sp?), from his forthcoming album. A quite frankly unbelievable vocal performance on that song from the great man on both nights.

Big shout out's to Oscar, for keeping it all together; Ian, Jules, Mark & Sam, for accompanying me to various far flung hostelries; Mr Dave M from Inverness, apologies for Scotland but I think London was an improvement; Colin the bus driver for the cow hat; The Wonder Stuff for, on their day (and there are more of those than not), being an awesome live experience; Deb, for always looking out for me; James, for making me wanna laugh even when I don't feel like it.

Think of me later, sitting in the Crown, smile on my face, pint in my hand...I'll stop now...

Go Easy, Step Light-ly, Stay Free...

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Full English Please...No Tomatoes...

I know, I know...I said I was going to Blog the current tour and so far I've managed to do absolutely nothing. So here is a brief story so far from a bloody freezing cold Inverness.

Northampton What a very extravagant venue. All art Deco and staff in shirts and ties. Did it and left really

Nottingham The Rescue Rooms has had a coat of paint and a dust ! Once again all very uneventful

Manchester Rocking show with lots of old faces about.

Shrewsbury Very similar to Northampton. All very sterile.

Wrexham Where to start ? Poor ticket sales. The jockey wheel on the trailer broke. Erica not feeling well. Malc's gear went south. Bloody great show !!! The man screaming "play Golden Green again" all night got his wish.

Carlisle A venue seemingly run by the local chapter of the Hell's Angels. It was dirty, cold, dark and nasty. The PA was appallingly bad and the power tripped out during changeover. Again, a bloody great gig. Although we all could have lived without the 11pm stage time.

Aberdeen Freezing cold in the town but the gig was like a sauna it was so hot. Hard to breathe so Milo was having a hard time of it. Glad to get done and get out of there.

Aberdeen however had some stunning pubs including the Prince of Wales and the Old Blackfriars who also served us with great food all day and the beer of the tour so far, Inveralmond Ossian.

More later...honest !

Monday, October 30, 2006

Just like going on a school trip...

Much happier me today.

My copy of the Good Beer Guide is packed, I've chosen a few well placed watering holes already, all I need to do now is wash some t-shirts and and grab my tool box.

Yes my friends, the people I least expected to come through for me, came through for me and I am going on tour...YIPPEE !!!

I've no doubt this will depress the DoubleD beyond imagining but be comforted by the thought that we will miss you brother.

I may have to figure out some way of blogging the tour. Better find a guide to the nations internet cafe's then.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Playing Catchup

Crikey ! It's been nearly a month since I posted anything here. I'd like to say I've been too busy to drop by but in all honesty I've been in what my bro' would call a bit of a funk. I've been having one of those "oh the pointlessness of it all" months when the ills in the world have been bearing down on me a little to hard...well that's how it's felt anyway.

Good things that have happened this month:
  • Those nearest and dearest to me all seem hale and hearty
  • I've applied for a new job which has at least given me something to look forward to when the postman shows up each day (nothing yet, I'll keep you posted)
  • I've been reading "Ginger Geezer - The Life Of Vivian Stanshall" (thanks Nick) which is a ripping yarn indeed

Bad things that have happened this month:

  • Work. Generally. Nothing specific. Just getting out of bed feels like a waste of time Monday to Friday right now (this appears to be the major reason for my current funk).
  • Discovered DD can't do the next tour (hell, I don't even know if I can yet)
  • Did I mention work ?

I was listening to the Icicle Works recently and came across the lyric "Leave your dreams where they are, They last a while that way" which seemed very appropriate at the time.

I think I may have reached the end of another of those 7-8 year cycles where I just need to do something different. I certainly need to get away from my current "manager", the kind of person I have striven my whole life never to become or to be anywhere near.

Sorry for the overall depressing tone but as I said earlier, sometimes I just need a place to Vent.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Here Comes (There Goes) The Weekend

From Monday morning I work for Friday night
Collect my wages, then try to paint on the smell of soap

Thank you Mr Weller !

I know I use this place primarily to moan about stuff. So as a pleasant surprise I present my weekend (and this may take some time).


No work today...really. It was Staff Appreciation Day. Now I have to admit that my idea of being appreciated is being given an extra day off, having large bundles of easy to carry cash stuffed into my hot and sweaties and being pointed in the general direction of the nearest ale house. Alas and alack it was not to be. We were transported to Birmingham's Ackers Trust for a "team building morning". The kind of thing that generally fills me with dread. I won't go into details but the team I was in won the day and we were awarded with bottles of wine, which is always a good start.

We were then whisked off to a very nice Italian restaurant to be fed and watered. I left as soon as possible to go home, get my dancing trousers on and head to to one of my brothers fine acoustic shows in the outpost of crumbling industry and poor taste known as Wolverhampton. A fine performance, fine company, lotsa booze and a conversation involving US immigration, dysfunctinal parents and whether Marilyn Manson is entertaining or not later, we found ourselves in a very expensive taxi back home where everyone proceeded to pass out on various sofa's at around 4am. A damn good nights work if you ask me.


No alarms, just kinda fall outta bed when it feels right. Kept the kettle primed all morning for the supply of Tea and Coffee to weary rising revellers. Everyone appeared very sprightly considering the previous evenings excesses. Then my wonderful wife cooked up a full English to die for...god bless her x

Suitably fed and watered one of our number headed off to the north for my brothers 2nd show, that night, and a Sunday of mountain biking. The rest of us were headed for the 21st Telford Beer Festival.

One of my great hopes when we moved here was that I might find myself what I call an "old man's pub". The kind of place once described by another of my eloquent friends as all "brass taps and oak" where it's possible to put "a shine on the bar with the sleeves of our coats"...oh boy did I find one o' those. The Crown Inn is a haven for Real Ale drinkers. A no smoking back room and no intrusive music playing, a proper pub to visit for the purposes of drinking ale. It has become mine and my dear lady wife's home from home on Fridays, most Saturdays, occasional Sunday lunchtimes and random Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays too. We tend to stay home Thursday as The Sopranos is on E4 at the moment.

The rest of Saturday was thus spent in The Crown sampling such wonderfully titled brews as Pot Belly Best Bitter, Sadler's Gentle Ginger, Falstaff Voyeuristic Intention and the wonderful Paddy O'Hackers Genuine Irish Stout (brewed in Lancashire !!!). Extra company was supplied by a table full of gentlemen aged between 55-65 who appeared to be chasing down each pint with a large glass of wine and who gradually became rowdier and rowdier until they just slunk off home; a woman at the next table who was most insistent that we should take her 17 year old son as our lodger; a fine looking 13 month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier who took a very keen interest in our bags of pork scratchings and at the end of the night the local chav's put in an appearnce so we could all laugh at their pathetic sense of sartorial elegance. I'm no fan of Pete Doherty but his lyric "There are fewer more distressing sights than that, Of an Englishman in a baseball cap" is one I wholeheartedly concur with.


Nothing...absobloodylutelynothing ! Well, I walked Jules down to the station to get his train home (a 7 hour trip while trying to avoid the result of that days Grand Prix). I then walked our hyperactive dog over the nearest hill and went home for a day of doing absolutely nothing.

Another of our local hostelries delivers Sunday dinner (yes you read that correctly, this has to be the greatest business idea I have discovered since coming across the Australian drive-thru off licence). So we ordered 2 in and lounged around the house all day watching bad movies and wondering whether we could be bothered to do anything...the answer was no.

Here comes the weekend - I'm gonna do my head
Long live the weekend, the weekend is dead

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Glasgow Scum

Those of you that know me are aware that I have a voracious appetite for music. I've played in bands, worked for bands and been listening to the good the bad and the downright awful for a long, long time now.

Ever since I bought my very first single (Slade's "Skweeze Me Pleeze Me" for the interested among you) I've been searching out new music. It's led me on a wonderful journey and left me with and continues to present me with incredible experiences.

You've probably all heard me bitching and whining about how so and so is the worst thing I've ever heard blahblahblah but never, and I mean NEVER, has a piece of music driven me to turn off the listening device I was currently using in order not to listen to anything at all, due to what I had just heard being too awful to take in while listening to anything else that followed it...UNTIL NOW !

Step Forward Flood aka Glasgow Scum

For those of you with either an adventurous nature or a cast iron constitution, follow the above link to said "artistes" page at Channel4 Radio, scroll to the bottom of the page and listen to the track "Hell Is Only A Word"...all I can say is..."No it's not mate, it's this piece of "music" you have visited on a poor unsuspecting world"...

Oh the horror...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wer der Kerl im Schwarzen ist

I have an 18 year old son (believe me that swift passing of time came as something of a shock to me too !). He will be moving off to University life in a northern town in less than 2 weeks. I'm gonna miss him.

He hasn't been living with us for some 9 months now. We moved house last November to a town around 40 miles from where we were living. He was doing very well at the college he was at, he got fantastic AS level results, and wanted to stay there for his A2's. So, since last November he has been living with his Grandmother back closer to his college. It proved to be the right decision as his A2 results were every bit as fantastic as his AS's and he earned himself a place at his 1st choice University studying exactly the course he wanted.

So you'd think I'd have gotten used to him not being around every day by now. Well I haven't. But as long as he was at his Grandmothers he was only a 40 minute drive away, whether he was coming to us or we were going back to where he is. But very soon it will be more like a 2-3 hour drive away and that, to me, seems like a long way away.

I know he's going to do fantastically well at University. He's got that inner drive that I think I used to have when I was his age, but which has been beaten out of me over the years. My brother has it too, they're alike in a lot of ways.

He has been living for 18 years now on what was once Europe's largest council housing estates. When it was first built it must have seemed like paradise to the people who were moved there from old inner city neighbourhoods. My Mom says that when we first went there it was like being moved into a palace. Hot and cold running water, central heating, a bathroom and a toilet that was indoors ! But over the years it has succumbed to the same problems that seem to trouble most working class estates of its kind. Crime, vandalism, violence, a lack of respect for other people generally. One of the reasons (the main reason ?) we ended up leaving there was because of the people we were living amongst. Most of them were great and we got along well with them but just a few made it a misery for everyone else.

Our nearest neighbours you could only describe as the perfect dysfunctional chav tribe. Mom, Dad and their 4 kids, it seemed like. But the kids could boast 3 different fathers. Mother swore like a docker. The two eldest kids were both smoking before their teens and had no respect for their mother never mind her downtrodden husband. The Mother continually told me her kids were like that because of the environment they had been bought up in i.e. the same place my son had been bought up in. So go on then, explain why he isn't like that ?

He amazes me every day. He speaks French and German. After 2 weeks on holiday in Spain he was speaking enough Spanish to converse with the hotel staff. He is totally self-motivated. Never once have we had to prompt him or push him or hassle him to put in the work required to get the exam results he needed. When at 14 he found out his school wouldn't enter him for French and German courses he asked if he could study French at home with a private tutor. He did this and the school entered him for the GCSE exam. He got an A*.

I love music and will search out things that aren't in the mainstream. He has taken it further than that. We bought him a compilation CD of rock music in order to save him from the peer pressure to listen to the Spice Girls and Britney Spears. The band he latched onto fom the CD ? Rammstein, a band from the former East Germany who sing entirely in German. He persuaded me to take him to his first gig (well the first gig he asked to go to rather than the first one we had dragged him to, I think he went to his first sound check before he reached 1 year old !) to see Rammstein in Frankfurt. The show was fabulous and me and him slept on benches at Frankfurt airport to save the hotel bill. I loved every second of it.

February 2nd 2006 was a big day for him...and me. It was his 18th birthday, that's a big deal for anyone. And it was the first time he could legally stand with me at the bar and say "Dad, whaddya want". Might not seem much to some but it was to me. I told my wife when he was born, don't expect me to be much use before I can hold a sensible conversation with him about football and music . I was true to my word and I hope that now he (and she) thinks I've been OK for him (although I might possibly have bored him to death with tales of how great Trevor Francis was and he says he likes the Sex Pistols album but you never can tell).

He's grown up very fast (remember that you parents out there. One minute you're watching Thomas The Tank Engine videos and 5 minutes later your kids are leaving home). But he's grown up into someone I really, really like and who I know will do well in whatever he chooses to do. This might all sound like me blowing mine and his trumpets to you, but frankly I don't care. I'm gonna miss you when you're not around everyday mate. Love you. Dad x

Monday, September 04, 2006

Journalism ??? (update)

Today the Metro newspaper printed an apology on their letters page in relation to the insensitive and insulting article they printed on Friday.

They apologised for printing the wrong picture next to the article and for any upset this may have caused to the subject, his family and friends. This is a good thing.

However, they chose not to apologise for the insensitive and insulting headline they gave to the article, nor for repeating the derogatory term used in that headline a further 2 times in the body of the article. This is a very bad thing.

I am reliably informed that the piece was transcribed by a PA directly from court reports. So it was not even written by a proper journalist. You could probably say that about the majority of the content of the Metro...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Journalism ???

Earlier this year a man who I am proud to be able to say was my friend lost his life in a tragic accident. His funeral was one of the most difficult days I've ever experienced.

As it was a road accident there had to be an inquest, which took place yesterday. At that inquest the coroner recorded a verdict of traumatic road death.

Also at that inquest an eye witness said he saw my friend riding like a "muppet", using that word, I presume, in the derogatory sense.

The Metro newspaper today decided to run a short article about the inquest presumably because my friend was once a member of a popular beat combo. Not only was the word "muppet" used in the articles headline but in the ensuing 3 sentence article they managed to cram it in a further 2 times.

Not satisfied with that level of insensitivity The Metro newspaper accompanied the article not with a picture of my friend, as they claimed, but of another member of the popular beat combo he was a member of. I can assure you all that the gentleman pictured is very much alive.

So I ask you, in a newspaper article that ran to a 5 word headline and 3 sentences was it really neccessary to use the derogatory term "muppet" 3 times in order to describe someone I would confidently guess they have never met ? Did they not stop to think of the effect this might have on my friends family, children, friends and others who still feel his loss very keenly ? No...obviously not.

The Metro newspaper couldn't even do enough research to ensure they got a picture of the correct person printed with the article, or (and please excuse my pendantry here) to write the name of the popular beat combo of which my friend was once a member correctly, so why should we believe that anything else they write has been researched well enough to deserve any credence ?

I've never been personally affected before about what is known as tabloid "journalism" but I'm bloody angry about this. Sometimes I just feel the need to Vent, and this is as good a place as any. Rest easy Controller...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The First In A Series of Random Annoyances...

I hear Universal music (or whatever they are called this week) are to start a free digital music download service. In order for you to download a file you will have to sit through some form of advertising.

What struck me was a statement repeated in more than one press piece that the files from this service will not be compatible with Apple's iPod and that DRM technology will ensure that users cannot burn the files to audio CD's.

So one of the worlds biggest record companies will produce and distribute media that cannot be played on the worlds most popular portable device for listening to music ! Could you imagine in the far off mists of time if Sony Records had announced that it would produce CD's that would not play in Phillips CD players...yeah I know, a ridiculous idea...isn't it ?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Morris Dancing...Why ?

Morris Dancing is English folk dancing performed by men in bright costume (well white anyway), who wear noisemaking devices (bells, sticks, hankies), and perform in the streets to festive tunes before large crowds (!!!).


Morris Dancing is anything that can be considered to be a complete and utter waste of your or somebody elses time. A morris, to morris etc. Something born of touring but which can be equally well applied to situations in normal life.

Sometimes I simply feel the need to Vent, and this is as good a place as any.