Sunday, April 28, 2002

Sore feet and tired legs are the order of the day, after 2 nights of dancing. Friday night was Four Corners night at The Croft. Biggest crowd so far, and some of the strangest dancing yet seen, thanks to a strange Mr Been meets Max Wall chap, who had Orynthia and I chuckling, when we weren’t swiftly moving our toes out the firing line. Then last night it was off to Blowpop, to see Scott Hendy and Andy Smith in action, along with the Blowpop regulars. It was a treat to see Pete Smithson, briefly recreating the glory of his nights on the dance floor.

Prior to Blowpop, we joined Crescentia and some of her friends for a birthday meal at La Quentos. Strangely the conditions in the restaurant matched the rain swept streets outside, as an air conditioning unit leaked water on Orynthia for most of the evening. I suppose it helped to give us the authentic high humidity experience of a Mexican night out. The staff were mortified and the delicious complementary cocktail that came Orynthia’s way made up for the strange experience of eating in the middle of fine drizzle.

On the subject of food Teresa has pointed out that I forgot to mention the lovely brunch that we enjoyed last Sunday with her and Steve Dew. We went to Café Maitreya on St Marks road. It is a fairly new vegetarian place, where Teresa appears to eat at least twice a week. Really nice food, fantastic Cheesecake although as we were one of the last groups of people eating they did not have enough for all of us to have a portion. Run by really nice people, I expect that we shall be returning, although it may not be easy, as it’s reputation is spreading quickly leading to problems in getting a table.

Yesterday. We bought one of the super small digital camera’s for £40. It is an amazing thing. The qualty of the pictures is not fantastic, but for quick, fun photo’s it great. Took a few shots round town today after we failed to get into the animation festival at The Watershed. Hope to put some of these on the site. Also went to a new outdoor market in St Pauls. Of course it rained and blew a gale! Needs to have a few more stalls but could be an interesting addition to Sundays in Bristol.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Orynthia has started a new job in the last week or so. She is now back in the world of the web, which is really good news and better still her new office is across the road from mine, which means that we can meet up for lunch or after work. So as well as an interesting job, she gets the chance to travel in wonderful old fashioned style of the train journey from Redland to Temple Meads.

The train journey is a really nice way to start and end the day. Redland station is 15 minute walk from our house, a lovely walk it is too. Through Redland Green, watching the Squirrels rushing around whilst the birds swish noisily too and fro, It is my idea of perfect countryside – because it is in the middle of the town!

Been buying a few CD’s of late. Picked up new releases by Elvis Costello and Craig Armstrong yesterday as well as an EP by the raucous Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Then last night we caught up with our good friend Steve Vowles, who has been working in Madrid for the last 6 months. As a thank you for looking after his city ticket whilst he was away, Steve gave us a lovely CD by a Spanish group called La Buena Viola, although it is sung in Spanish and I don’t understand a word of it, I love it. It matches the mood of the glorious sunny weather that we are experiencing at present, subtle melodies, understated vocals with occasional lush but not overbearing string arrangements. It is a fine piece of work. Imagine that Belle and Sebastian had grown in San Sebastian rather than Glasgow and you won’t be far wrong.

Just started reading another book that has been recommended by our friend Bill from New York. It’s called The unexpected Salami and was written by Laurie Gwen Shapiro. It gets a mention in the Australian section of the epic travelogue that is on the website that Bill and Doreen put together after their world trip. The site is really interesting with some great photos and I’m not even a twitcher so I’m sure that a lot of the really exciting stuff goes over my head. I’ll let you know what I think of the book.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

Today was the last day of Bristol City’s season. We drew 1-1 at home to Stoke City. We finish in 7 position in the league, 2 places better than last season but not good enough for the promotion playoffs. I’m not upset about the prospect of another year in division 2. As I get older, I start to value the social side of going to the match almost as much as the quality of football itself. I’ve been going o a regular basis since 1970 and have accepted the fact that City will never become a Manchester United or even a Southampton. We have bad games and good games. Obviously I love the really great performances by the team or indeed the really exciting games such as the recent game with Reading. However on many occasions I have the most fun on days when the football is not too good. I have been lucky enough to watch the matches with the same group of people for the last 6 or 7 years (indeed in some cases for nearer 20 years!), I also meet up with lots of people in the Nova Scotia pub for a quick drink before the game. Some of the people are amongst my closet friends, many more of them are only linked to me through football. Now the popular conception of the English football fan is of a racist, beer monster storming around the country abusing anyone who is not one of them. This people do exist, however my experience of going to football is an ever expanding collection of interesting, funny, loyal people. It is great to spend time with people that have searched out life in so many different places all over the world. It is also great to be in a place where no class system exists. The view of the 17 year old person with an underpaid agency job is just as valid as the millionaire popstar, the accountant or the unemployed 55 year old. We all moan and groan as the season progresses but it is lovely thing to say to so many people today, "Have a good summer, see you next August" and know that you will be able to pick just were we left off this afternoon.

Orynthia and I went to 24 hour party people earlier this week. It is the film that tell the tale of the rise and fall of Factory Records. Steve Coogan who plays Tony Wilson the figurehead for the company narrates it. The film concentrates on Joy Division, The Hacienda, and Happy Mondays. I was one of gloomy young men that took Joy Division to their hearts, and remember being devastated when John Peel announced that Ian Curtis was dead. I saw them play once at Trinity Hall, and they were fantastic. Watching them in a semi-derelict church, seemed like the perfect way experience them. I went to Hacienda, I think only once (maybe twice) and it was an eye opening evening for me. In Bristol at the time, clubs small, dark, edgy places. So to step into this warehouse of a building was quite a culture shock. As was the music. At the time dancing was not something that any one liked to admit to doing. The culture in Manchester was very different, not yet in its full ecstasy driven madness, it was still a sight to behold. The film caught the wonderful contradictions of the period really well.

Orynthia has had an amazing week of job related issues. Nothing is fully resolved yet so I won't go into any more detail. Fingers crossed it should all be resolved in the next week.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

At last, I have managed (with a lot of help from Webmaster Orynthia) to put up some pictures of our trip to Guadalupe for the wedding of Felipe and Mercedes. If you want to read what I had to say about it at the time, you can, by looking at my entry from March 7th.If you want to look at the pictures go to the link to Felipes & Mercedes Wedding.
At least City have managed to put us out of our misery today. 4-0 down after only 34 minutes, we ended up losing 5-1 at Blackpool. Huddersfield won, so we stay in division 2 for another season.

I have just finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It was leant to me by Ian Wallen (literally my oldest friend, as I have known him since I was less than 4 years old). It came highly recommended but I have to say that it did not really do much for me. The writing style, such as it is, is very simple. I felt as though I was back in school reading something in a bible studies class. The blurb on the back advises that Paulo Coelho has sold over 20 million books worldwide. Then again a lot of people like Sting!

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Well the period of national mourning is almost over. I suppose we all knew that it was going to happen, it’s just that the timing is so unfortunate. Only a couple of weeks after the last warning that even he is mortal, it happened – David Beckham is injured! What fantastic irony that in the midst of the 20th anniversary of the Falklands war and with less than a couple of months before the next titanic meeting between England and Argentina, that the major star of English football, should be felled by an Argentinean pre-emptive strike. The initial despair of last night has started to lift, everyone that I spoke to today suddenly knows the innermost detail of recovery times for broken bones in the foot, and they all confidently pronounce "6 weeks, he’ll be ready. No Problem". We will have to wait and see, at the moment it is Argentina 1 England 0.

Last night we went to The Old Vic to see the fantastic Peter Postlethwaite in Scaramouche Jones. It is an epic one-man show as a man looks back on his extraordinary life and the century that he has spent it in. I was a little dubious, as I saw a brief clip of the play on TV, which showed "PP" in full clown get-up over acting to not very comic effect. I have never been a fan of clowns, indeed the older one gets the less funny they become. However, within the opening couple of minutes of curtain up, the snippet I had scene emerged and it was clear that it meant to be a cheesy aside, in stark contrast to the rest of the performance. A gripping and moving piece of writing from Justin Butcher.

Orynthia has had a mad week with work related stuff. She has a short-term contract with an excellent local web company, starting next Monday. It is a really exciting opening. We wait to see what it could lead to.

Shock horror, the football on Monday night went well. I could still walk on Tuesday, well with the aid of a stick anyway – only joking.

Monday, April 08, 2002

Back to work today. Not too bad considering that I had been off since 29/3.
Just heard that we have been awarded a huge 2% pay rise!! Still, lots of our
friends have been losing jobs lately, so I can't complain.
The weekend went well, had a good time at both Four Corners and Espionage,
hooked up with lots of people and danced our way into the small hours at
both nights. Local noise merchants The Heads played at Espionage and
although I quite enjoyed the sonic rush for a short while, I must admit that
Orynthia and I had to take cover at the back of the boat after about 20
minutes. Lightweights!!

Whilst we were at Four Corners I received an unexpected and slightly belated
birthday gift from John Stapleton and Jane Tily. Sometime in the late
1950's or early 60's a series of record were released which featured actors
reading lines from a script (which was included with the record) then
leaving a pause for you to reply. A bit like a language tape, but with a two
way dialogue rather than repetition. I have had one of these records
featuring a wildly over the top Vincent Price for a number of years. John
managed to find one with the marvellous "Slapsy" Maxie Rosenbloom. Now, you
may not be aware (I wasn't) that Slapsy was world champion boxer in the
1930's before turning to the silver screen, playing mainly, and no surprise
here, punch drunk old boxers for comedy effect. The record features lots of
sketches written with Slapsy in mind. It is a fine thing. I'll be looking to
pick-up more of these if I can.

We had a great meal on Saturday evening at a newish restaurant called Tico
Express. It features interesting tapas style (in portion size and cost but
not always in the type of food) dishes, which wiz around the room on the
sort of conveyor belt that you see in those swanky London sushi bars. Plus a
small selection of hot dishes. We really enjoyed the food, and it is good to
see a non stop procession of dishes heading towards you.

Bristol City managed a win on the weekend to just about keep our promotion
hopes alive. We have to rely on Huddersfield dropping points, it could
happen and we may yet find ourselves embroiled in the dreaded playoffs.
Could all come down to our final game of the season, when we are at home to
Stoke. Get those calculators ready!!

Finally, The Guardian had an interesting piece,talking
about old Jazz musician's that have fallen on hard times. It features Abdul
Zahir Batin, who we met whilst we were in New York. In fact we bought one of
his tapes and enjoyed it.

I playing football tonight for the first time since the middle of December,
My legs are starting to wobble already at the thought of it!

Friday, April 05, 2002

Here we are back in Bristol, after a couple of nice days in London. Thanks to the wonder of the APEX ticket, managed to travel on the train for only £18 pounds each. Also managed to find a nice little hotel just between Edgeware Road an Marble Arc for only £40 including breakfast!! Bargins all round. To continue on the theme of bargins, once we had dumped our bags in the hotel, we set off, in the warm spring sunshine, to West Norwood, in deepest south London. For a journey that took about 80 minutes, we were only charged £1 each! By Bristol standards - amazing. We spent a few hours with Orynthia's splendidly named Aunty Tiny, before heading back towards Brixton for the Belle & Sebastian gig at Brixton Academy. We had a quick walk round the fantastic food shops in Brixton before sitting down for a drink in a bar just down the road from the venue. The clientle at the bar was a glorious mix of boisterous elderly West Indians and geeky indie types. Then off to Academy, my first visit to this huge old cinema. The first band to play were a Glasgow 4 piece call "Life Without Buildings", not huge on conventional song stucture, but I did quite enjoy the bass driven melodic lines that lurked beneath the surfice. Reminded me of The Au-Pairs being fronted by Bijork. Around 09:15 B&S ambled onto the stage. A similar set to last years tour but this time instead of being joined by a Dixieland jazz band, this time a local Steel band provided a bizzare but entertaining interlude. Afraid to say that the "sound" was not as good as it could have been, we were about 4 songs in before the string section could really be heard. An enjoyable gig but not a great one.

Thursday was Orynthia's birthday. So as a treat for her we went to see an exhibition of photo's taken by Kevin Cummins featuring The Smiths (Orynthia has always been rather smitten with Johnny Marr). Lots of memories came flooding back, enjoyed seeing the pictures of the fans as much as the band. What splendid hair we all had in those days!! Then it was off to the Conran shop for a nose around at all the things we can't afford, before heading to Soho for lunch. A really nice little Italian in Frith Street set us out in the afternoon, with tastebuds suitably tickled. Saw Lenny Henry in a book shop on Charing Cross Road, before heading off to Hyde Park to watch the Belle & Sebastian invitation football match. I did have thoughts of playing, however it was about 20 a side, on a very bumpy pitch, so I thought I would just enjoy the food whilst watching the indie boys (and a couple of girls) indulge in a fairly robust match. Orynthia also spotted her 2nd Nissan Figaro of the day, to round off her birthday in style. The train home was almost on time, quite rare for a train out of Paddington!

The birthday celebrations continue this evening at The Croft, where we aim to dance the night away with John Stapleton, Ian Green and Phil Darby in control of the decks.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Well, the long Easter weekend is over.
Football first: For Bristol City it was a weekend that may have ended our promotion hopes. On Saturday, we watched the best game of the season at Ashton Gate. Top of the league Reading stormed into a two goal lead with only 4 minutes gone and we all feared the worst. Against all odd's we were back on level terms within a further 8 minutes, thanks to a fine strike by Lee Peacock and a very dubious penalty, converted by Bell. However in the 14th minute we conceded another goal! 2-3 down and only 14 minutes played. Reading shaded the rest of the first half. The second half belonged, in the main, to City. We got back on level terms with about 20 minutes to go but we were not able to force a fourth goal. So, it was off to second placed Brighton on Easter Monday. After conceding a soft goal just before half time, we fought back to equalise with 35 minutes to go. Despite creating chance after chance, we failed to score again. In fact in injury time, Tony Thorpe had a header cleared on the line before Brighton went straight onto the attack to clinch the game 2-1. We now need to win our last 3 games and hope that Cardiff slip up. Can't see it happening. Oh Well.

Sunday was spent with Orynthia's family. Huge amounts of food were consumed. Two Peking Ducks, multiple curry dishes, noodles and Chicken Satay. Before, rounding it all off with fantastic Tiramisu and Banoffi Pie, both made by Orynthia. Then off to see my sister and her boys for lots of music chat before meeting up with Jane and John for a quiet drink. Went to bed still feeling very, very full.

Tomorrow, we are off to London for the Bell & Sebastian gig and to celebrate Orynthia's birthday. Looks like a busy weekend as we are aiming to go out dancing on both Friday and Saturday night. Will our old bodies be able to take it?