Friday, March 29, 2002

Today is the first day of a week away from work, as well as the easter bank holidays of today and Monday, we are both taking Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off as well. This is mainly because we are going to London on Wednesday to see Belle & Sebastian.

Spent most of the day hacking away at things in the garden, whilst Orynthia did the more creative things. Managed to clear a path through to old Air Raid shelter. One day we will finally empty it of all the old junk that has left to rot over the years. Not sure what we will do with it then, it's been on our things to do list for about 5 years now!! You can't rush these things.

We are off for a bit of 80's nostalgia tonight. Pete Wylie is in town. Wah, in most of their guises were one of fav bands back then. Although Pete has troubled the charts on a few occasions, I think that he has troubled his bank manager rather more! We saw him play in Cardiff about 6 months ago and he was great. Started the gig with the old Johnny Thunders classic "You can't put your arms round a memory" and went on to play all the hits that should have been as well as telling tales of the confused and strange life that he has lived . Also playing tonight is a certain Glen Matlock once of the Sex Pistols. 25 years on from "God save the Queen" will the middle aged people of Bristol be pogoing through the night?

Big weekend for Bristol City, home to top of the table Reading tomorrow, then away to 2nd placed Brighton on Monday. I think we need 4 points from these games to stay in the hunt for a play off place. I'm not confident that we will get them. our record against the top teams of the past couple of seasons has not been good.

Just finished reading "When we were orphans" by Kazuo Ishiguro . Like all his novels, his languid style, which initially is frustrating. does really draw me in. His books seem to feature the most pompous people doing the most mundane things. Somehow Ishiguro makes this compelling. I wish he would turn his attention to something more contemporary. I would love to see what he has to say about todays issues.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Just in from seeing The Royal Tenenbaums at last. Really enjoyed the film, lots of great scenes, my favourite being the discussion between Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson about the suicide note. I won't say any more in case you have not seen it. Also enjoyed the music, nice to hear Nick Drake and The Velvet Underground amongst others.

Being thinking quite a lot about Margaret Thatcher over the past few days. Not nice I know but it all started when it was announced that her medical people had told her to give up public speaking as she could have another stroke at any time. At last I thought, no more of her bitter ramblings. Then on Saturday evenings Critical List show on Radio 2, Stuart Maconie played both Margaret on the guillotine by Morrissey and Tramp the dirt down by Elvis Costello. Both of which look forward to the day that she dies with vitriolic glee. Now, I don't like to think of myself as a nasty person but I must say that the when the day comes, it will bring many memories of those awful spiteful days, when the only thing that mattered was individual wealth and selfishness. It was also strange to see Ian Duncan Smith trying to claim that the Tory party, could be the party to help the people at risk in our society. We will have to wait to see what happens, when the day does come. I won't shed any tears for her but I may just do so at the thought of the foul, self obsessed, small minded England that she helped to create in those dark days.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

Well, I just put a webcounter on this site. Will it get into double figures before the end of the year?
Shocking news - City manage to win! A 3-1 victory at Bournmouth keeps us in the top 6 and may just be the spur that the team need in the quest for promotion. Huge game for us next weekend, when we are at home to top of the league Reading.

Had a long sleep-in this morning following a late night on Friday. I went out straight from work , to wish good luck to a couple of work colleagues that were leaving the company. Then I met up with Orynthia at The Croft for the latest Four Corners night out. Loads of friends were out and we had a fine dance (well, we danced a lot, i guess other people should judge the actual quality of the performance!)

Today we (along we lots of other people) helped Heather and Spider shift some stuff into their splendid new house. Managed to catch up with Babs who has just returned from a great trip to the States. Babs and Mark went to Vegas before heading down to Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest music festival. It sound's as though Austin is really good place to visit. Maybe one day, we will manage to get to the states and move beyond New York.

Picked up a few second hand LP's in the afternoon. A great Isley Brothers one from 1967, a strange LP of Jewish comedy sketches called "You don't have to be Jewish.." recorded in New York in 1964, and a fairly generic blues album by a guy who's name I have forgotten already. Set us back the grand total of £4 for the lot, so I can't complain. Earlier in the week I also picked up the soundtrack to the glorious Mulholland Dr. and a CD of amazing early work from Steve Reich. Not easy to listen to, the sort of thing that I find really compelling but sends Orynthia rushing out of the room as fast as she can make it.

Off for a Dim Sum lunch with the family members that went to the Prince Buster gig at 12;30 tomorrow, so I guess I should head off to bed now. Then tomorrow evening John Stapleton has invited us down to little session that he is doing at il Bordelo (a fairly new club on a boat. So it's a mixture of food and music tomorrow - what could be better?

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

I have been a bit slack, when it comes to updating this site. the trouble is we never seem to be at home. Had a really good weekend, the highlight of which was seeing Prince Buster on Sunday evening. That's right the ska legend came to town and what a man he is. He had the large crowd dancing like lunatics for 80 minutes. After the show Orynthia even managed to get him to sign a CD. The gig should have taken place last year but was postponed in the wake of September 11th. We had started to worry that it would never happen but the man came good.

On the advice of my friend Bill, I have just read the excellent Are You Experienced? by William Sutcliffe. A splendidly funny read about a young man "Doing" india for all the wrong reasons. Although we have never done the full backpacking thing, anyone who has done the slightest amount of self organized travel will recognize the fantastically observed portraits of the people who delight in telling you that you have just done it all wrong!! They always know a better place or cheaper deal and relish telling you all about it.

I was delighted to see an illustration by Marcellus Hall in the latest edition of the New Yorker. I really like his work. In a recent edition of the same magazine he did a great piece on the Knitting Factory in New York. We spent a couple of nights in the Knitting Factory at the end of last year (including New Years Eve) and he really caught the atmosphere of the place. I might send him an email to see if he minds me putting a link to it on this site. You take a look at some of his other work by go to his web site by clicking on his name.

I also learnt from the New Yorker that they are starting to worry about a water shortage due the lack of rain. No such problems here, another day of howling gales and drenching rain. Good old England.

Bristol City go from bad to worse, lost to lowly Notts County on the weekend, to slip to 6th place in the league. As I write this the team are in action at Chesterfield. We really have to start winning some games or we are going to miss out on the Promotion play offs, let alone outright promotion. COME ON YOU REDS!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Whilst watching the local news on TV last night, we were curious to see that Stapleton Road in Bristol, was named by David Blunkett MP as one of the 5 most dangerous places in the UK. Many of our friends live in the Easton area and are quite happy to do so. That's not to say that we are not aware of the problems that do exist in the area. It was very strange to see the TV debate on the state of the area taking place in The Casbah cafe on the wonderful St Marks road. The coverage made it sound as though, only a madman would venture onto these streets. The same streets and indeed cafe where we have enjoyed lots of fine nights out. Good food in a relaxed enviroment. We just hope that the bad coverage does not put people off going to this part of town. What the traders and community need is more money being spent in the area by people from other parts of Bristol, not less.
Sad news in Bristol, Vital Distribution is closing the Bristol warehouse. Now the name Vital, may not ring a bell with most people but for many years it has been part of the fabric of the music scene in Bristol.

It all started from the back room of Revolver Records back in the late 1970's. Revolver was, for me, a crucial shop. It turned into a place of Saturday morning pilgrimage, as I would venture into town, my head buzzing with the names of obscure bands that I had heard on the John Peel show during the course of the previous week. Where else could you go to get those singles by Spizz Oil, O level, Those naughty lumps, This Heat and hundreds of other bands of dubious musical pedigree. Well Virgin may well have sold them in those days (unlike now), but it just could not compare with the magic of slipping into that small doorway and the journey up the stairs and along the small corridor festooned with scrappy bits of paper, from people who were "into Slits, Wire, Gang of Four - seek Bass player - enthusiasm more important than ability". You then emerged into a small room, which was a cornucopia of delights for the enquiring musical mind. I sure that this was the first place that I heard the like of Captain Beefheart , Big Youth, Tom Waites and many more. The staff were different as well. They actual knew about and loved music. Over the years we enjoyed great if opinionated service from Mike Chadwick, Steph Thornton, Grant Marshall (yes, Grant from Massive Attack), Sean Mayo, and Bob Jones.

Then the shop started to distribute records as well as just selling them, soon it became an important cog in the whole post punk music scene. Although Orynthia and I never worked for Revolver (Which changed it's name to Vital at some point), countless numbers of friends did and although many of them moved onto other things, the "Vital" social crew are still a great bunch of people to be with.

In the 1990's the shop was sold and was never really quite the same, it limped on for may years before closing a few years ago. Vital hit a peek on the back of the Oasis explosion before dark clouds started to appear a while back.

Bristol just will not be quite the same. Then again, no place ever is.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

More on the trip to Spain.
On the Saturday morning, we set out for Guadalupe in the new car that Pedro had bought with his TV winnings (He was featured on a popular Spanish quiz show, whilst we were in Madrid). Steve and Janet were taken by the lovely Jorge and Annalise. After about an hour of fairly dull motorway driving, we turned to head into the mountains. Immediately we saw some wonderful birds which were either Cranes or Storks. This was the start of an amazing twisting journey through the mountains. Poor Pedro had to wrestle with his steering wheel as we turned this way and that for about 45 mins. Eventually we arrived at this amazing small town which was completely dominated by the monastery that was to be the setting for the wedding. We have lots of pictures waiting to be scanned. I think these will do more justice to the setting and the day itself than I can. It was a great occasion and the Spanish people really went out of their way to make 2 humble speakers of the English language only, very welcome.

We finally made it to our bed at around 4 in the morning, having danced to some truly awful Euro pop. Never mind, the atmosphere remained splendidly good natured right to the end, and although everyone had more than enough to drink, no one was suddenly turned into the sort of raging English person that we see all too often.

The journey back to Madrid was even more spectacular the journey out. Overnight, snow had turned the previously rugged mountain ranges into soft and gentle cotton wool covered fantasy lands. Not the best of conditions for driving. I was pleased that Pedro was at the wheel rather than me. Upon our descent, we then ran into very thick fog for a couple of miles before this gave way to rain for the rest of trip back to Madrid.

On our return to the hotel, we were pleased to see that we had been allocated a much larger room for the last couple of days of our trip. On the Monday, Orynthia, Janet and I went on a walk through the old town to the Segovia bridge managing to catch site of a woodpecker in one of the parks along the way. We returned to our lunch by way of the grounds of the Royal Palace, where we saw some very strange green birds, as yet they remain unidentified. Our last night in Madrid was spent with Steve and 4 of his female friends, and we had a few drinks in a couple of nice bars.

Lucky me. I don't have to return to work until 11th March. Orynthia is working, so I am just mooching around for a couple of days. Nothing I like more.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Well, we are back from our trip to Spain, and a fine time we had.

On arrival in Spain, we were a little surprised to find that our room was about the same size as the double bed which filled it! However, it was very cheap and in an amazing location - Within 30 yards of the magical Plaza Mayor. Within 30 mins Steve Vowles (from Bristol), Felipé (soon to be married) and Pedro (current TV star) met us in the hotel. As is the way in Madrid we found ourselves heading out for the evening at around 11pm for Tapas and wine.

Over the next few days, we visited the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia museum. We almost went into the huge Prado, but decided that the collections were just too old for us. In many ways we are very predictable in our choice of art, we really only like 20th century stuff. Managed to find lots to enjoy although the Warhol / Basquiat/ Clemente exhibition took about 5 mins of our time. I think that was about 4mins 50 seconds too long. Maybe I am just getting old, but I just don't get the inane scribbles that Basquiat managed to pass off as art.

Had quite a relaxed time really as we all knew that we had a big weekend in front of us with the wedding in Guadalupe. Managed to have a crazy walk around the back streets of Madrid when about 8 of us were trying to find a vegetarian that Felipé had allegedly booked us into on the Thursday evening. Poor old Pilar was walking around on a crutch following a skiing accident. Of course, when we found the place it was closed whilst building work went on. Another walk around before sitting down to eat at around midnight.
To be continued.....