Friday, May 31, 2002

We went to see the Experimental Pop Band on Wednesday after having another nice meal at Tico Express. The gig was good if not a little dangerous. Orynthia and I were standing behind the world’s most enthusiastic dancer. That’s enthusiastic but not gifted, allied to the fact that his build was somewhat on the heavy side and that his arms were moving like a threshing machine a full tilt, it meant that we had to keep our wits about us in order to stay in one piece.

World cup started today in the best of ways. A great victory for the huge underdogs Senegal in their match against France. Tomorrow morning will be my first early start as we have 3 games to watch, starting at 7:30am. Then we are off to spend the weekend with our friends Mark and Bab’s for a long weekend of football and to avoid the Jubilee street party that will be taking place outside our house.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

I finished reading the wonderful Number 9 Dream a couple of days ago. As I mentioned previously, I feel that David Mitchell’s writing really does echo that of Murakami. Obviously a straight copy of another writers style could leave you with that nasty hollow feeling, that all those note perfect "tribute" bands induce. I do think that Mitchell injects enough of his own style into the ever more complex plot, to lift it above mere pastiche.

As ever, I have moved onto the next book and this is a considerable change of style.Human Punk by John King is a rough and ready tale which starts with a young mans introduction to adulthood as the onrushing tidal wave of Punk sweeps out of London to challenge the traditional norms of society. The main protagonist in the story is the same age as I was at the time, which makes it very easy to make comparisons. It is fair to say that in the summer of 1977 I was still held under the spell of the likes of Genesis, ELP and the rest of the prog rock massive and it was not until the end of 1978 that the penny finally dropped. Obviously, I wish that I had wised up earlier but hey, I was young! The main thing that does strike about the book, is just how lucky I was, to avoid the casual violence that appeared to be part of the average teenage boys life according to most writers that document this period. I was doing all the right things, going to football matches and gigs and I was aware of unpleasant things that happened, yet they never seemed to happen to me. I suppose this is due to the rather obvious fact that I always preferred to hang about with people I liked rather than mindless psychopaths. I guess my dad was always going to lead me away from the onrushing Chelsea or Arsenal hooligans rather than starting a ruck. Likewise the people that I went to gigs with always went for the music rather than the chance to punch someone. Certainly fights at gigs were just part of a night out at the time of Punk and the early Two Tone gigs. Pleased to say that it just went on around me, rather than in my face.

On the current music front I have recently picked up the Alice CD by Tom Waits. One of two new recordings that he has put out. As with most of his stuff it is still growing on me but worth buying for the title track alone. In a different style altogether, I have really been enjoying Blazing Arrow the new CD by Blackalicious, a really funky hip-hop CD, which I just can’t stop playing. Talking about not been able to stop playing things, the current listening on tape is the new Bell & Sebastian CD. It is the soundtrack to the film Storytelling. It does seem to be a proper soundtrack, lots of instrumentals, some snatches of dialogue most of all some really beautiful melodies. The album comes out in a week or two but we managed to borrow an advance copy from a friend of ours and tape overnight before returning it. It is a real Joy.

Hey that was 541 words without mentioning the World Cup. Only 3 days to go!!!! I’ve got most of my leave sorted out and feel ready for those early morning starts. Bring it on.

Friday, May 24, 2002

We went to see "Bend it like Beckham" last night and really enjoyed it. Some top footie skills on display from Parminder Nagra as Jess Bhamra. I read somewhere that she went to a Brazilian soccer school, where they were taught dribbling skills and tricks in the same way people are taught dance steps. It must be quite strange to see people lined up going through their step overs and drag backs as though they were in a line dancing class. Maybe some of the Bristol City lads could attend before the start of next season, then again I suspect that most of our players already spend as much time in the clubs as they do on the training ground.

I spent Wednesday in London for annual BT Sector conference. We had to sit through hours of toe curling bad sketches hammering home the various messages that management want us to take forward over the next year. One of the problems was that all the "actors" were BT people. It really made you realise why real actors get paid to read words aloud. Don’t get me started on the scripts!
The afternoon team building fun events were mercifully brief and painless. My main cause for concern was that went I got back to my fantastic hotel room, I was more than a bit worried that my luggage had not turned up. As we were having a black tie evening meal, this was a little disconcerting. The bag eventually turned up and the night passed without any further drama’s I finally wondered off to bed at about 3am and managed to wake up in time for breakfast at 8am without any real discomfort.

This time next week the world cup will have started. Can’t wait for it to begin. Most of us are still unsure of our viewing habits. The only thing we know is that for the next month the days of the laying around in bed will disappear, as we struggle out of bed for those early morning kick off’s.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Went to see the Bosnian film No Man’s Land at the Watershed last night. A very touching film set in the main, in the trenches between rival sides during the civil war between Bosnia and Herzegovina. 3 men are trapped in the trench, we watch with equal measures of amusement and despair as they and the UN peacekeeping forces try to get them out alive. Tonight I’m off to see DJ Shadow. Not to sure how he will play it, will it just be one man on a stage playing records?
At long last we have used the bread maker that we were given for Christmas and guess what it makes stuff that tastes like …..Bread. We have done a bit of sorting out of Christmas related stuff. Finally got round to buying some picture frames on Friday night. This meant that as well framing Anna’s recent gift, we could also frame up some great Russian photomontage prints that we picked up in New York at Christmas. This was a strange shopping experience as we bought them in a huge shop called Canal jeans, on Broadway that sold, ah you guessed already! Well hidden away at the back of the shop they had loads of great prints $20 for 2, it took us about 10 minutes to work which 2 we were going to buy. Anyway they are up on the wall now and they look mighty fine.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

Well we watched Ring 2 and shock horror, as expected it was nowhere near as good as the original film.

We are having a bit of a stay at home take it easy type weekend, although Orynthia got very excited when she found out that The June Brides were playing in London tonight. For those of you that may not know, The Junes Brides were one of those classic early 80’s indie bands – Jangly guitars, Baa Baa Baa chorus lines, wobbly weedy vocals and the obligatory trumpet player. This was back in the days when indie bands sold 1000 copies of a single, never appeared on TV and either wore second hand suits or black 501’s with two roll turn up’s. They made a couple of great pop singles and a nice LP before being lost to the world of proper jobs as indie somehow became Oasis, Blur and any guitar band in the country, no matter which multi-national label they signed to. I never got to see them play live, although they did play once with local indie kings The Brilliant Corners. The gig was in The Hope centre, a converted church in the middle of densely packed flats, because of the location, the venue had very tight noise restrictions placed upon it. This meant that all gigs had to be over very early, consequently my friends and I were drinking in The Adam & Eve next door as The June Brides played. Shame. Anyway we shan’t be driving to London tonight, maybe they will play a bit nearer to home and we will get the chance to pretend to be 20 again.

Did not make it to the cricket yesterday afterall. Gloucestershire managed to play rather too well. By the time we would have got to the ground, the game would have only had about an hour left to play. We did not fancy paying £9 for that.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Still have not got round to putting any of the digital photo's on this site or on another webpage. Just down to time really, we have taken lots of snaps and had some great fun playing around with the images on photoshop. It the past week we have been to the theatre a couple of times. Saw A chorus of Disapproval by Alan Ayckbourn and Endgame by Samual Beckett. Contrasting approaches to the our frail concept of control over our destiny.

If the weather holds, I'm off to the cricket this afternoon. Gloucestershire Versus Nottinghamshire at the County Ground in Bristol. it is the 3rd day of a 4 day match, Gloucestershire are in an excellent position to win the game. What could be better than an afternoon in the company of OAP's and skivers?

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Last night we had a bit of a test run for the impending World Cup. 10 of us watched the European cup final in our house. As the competing teams came from Spain and Germany, we tried to link most of the food and drink with those two countries. This is something that we have done for past couple of major football tournaments, you find yourself eating and drinking some very odd combinations at it can become a real test of the Bristol gastronomic shopping scene. Last night was fairly straightforward. Wine, cheese and beer coming from both countries along with olives, salami and bread covered the basics. Steve cooked a fine Tortilla to round things off. The multi-national crowd were well behaved and a fine night was had by all. We could be having some very odd breakfast meals over the next month.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Found a nice piece on the writer Murakami today.
It echoes many of the things that attract me to his books. I love the detached way he deals with often fantastical situations. I find myself leaping on every new release from him. My introduction to him was through "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" in many way the toughest of his books, however I was hooked. All the books have merits, although on occasions the endings can drift away. My current reading matter, Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell, does have strong echoes of Murakami’s work. It features a split narrative, with the story switching between a 20 year olds search for his estranged father and a period in early childhood. To make matters slightly confusing the 20 year old undertakes regular Walter Mitty like flights of fantasy. I’m about 1/4 of the way through the book and it is starting to really grip.

On Monday evening we watched one of the most frightening film that I have seen in a long time. It was a Japanese film called "Ring", a very understated chiller that gradually built the tension. No gory special effects or over the top "here comes a scary moment" music. It was great very uncomfortable viewing. The follow-up "Ring 2" is being shown on TV next Monday. Can it be as good?

I still seam to be obsessed with all things Japanese. I could go on about the music of Cornelius as well but I better leave it for now.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Another exhausting but enjoyable weekend. The Spike Island show was a great start to the weekend. A real mixture of work, from the Human scale Hamster wheel to flowers that had been planted in shoes. Anna gave Orynthia a print, which was related to a tale of us getting lost in Australia. Then Saturday and Monday afternoons / evenings were spent at the Essential Festival, where we saw James Brown, Culture, and some of the Full Cycle crew plus others. The real standout part though, was the walk back across the suspension bridge towards Clifton late on Monday evening. The sheer number of people walking over the bridge, set off an unsettling swaying motion, that made us all very relieved to reach the other side. Then again the bridge has been standing for 150 years, so I guess we weren’t in too much danger.

Friday, May 03, 2002

I finished reading The Unexpected Salami a couple of days ago. It is good fun, a splendidly improbable plot is just about kept under control, as the ever more convoluted story charges along.. Although it is a funny book, very funny on occasions. I liked the way that the parents proved to be real stars and proved that often the people who you think will be most critical of your actions, can also be the most supportive. I have now started to read Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell, mainly because it is set in Tokyo and has been compared to the work of my current “must read” author Haruki Murakami. Most of the fiction that I have read over the past year or so, has been set in either New York or Tokyo. I like the little buzz of recognition that I get when an author talks about a certain building or part of town, it starts to trigger memories of time spent in those amazing places. At the moment Bristol does not feature extensively in the world of fiction, unlike TV, where Orynthia spend an increasing amount of time playing the “who can recognise that part of town first” game. Anyway, whilst reading this lunchtime, lots of memories of February 1999 came back to me. We stayed in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, where some of the opening sequences of Number 9 Dream are set. Strangely the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that all the opticians had little stands set up outside their shops, with solutions and cloths so that you could clean your glasses! I also think of the amazing record shops, it really appeared that you could buy any record that had ever been released no matter how obscure. The fantastic noodle soups that we ate for breakfast whilst standing on a very chilly pavement at about 7 am in the morning after visiting the amazing Tsukiji fish market and then realising that nowhere else was open at that time of the morning, so we had to spend about an hour over a cup of coffee in McDonalds.

Talking of local sights being on TV, this week I bought the DVD of Portishead playing at Roseland, New York. One of the extra features is a copy of the film that used to be shown at the start of Portishead gigs. It is a video of the journey from Redland in Bristol to the town of Portishead. The start of the journey features Chandos Road, in Redland, at the time the film was made we were living on Chandos Road, it brings back lots of good memories, although it is very strange to see the big red van that belonged to John our former Greengrocer featured in a screen filling close up. I’m sure he would be thrilled – if he had any idea who Portishead were. By the way if anyone reads this who is not based in Bristol, you may be interested to know that Portishead are recording again. No idea when the next record will come out, but I’m delighted to know that we have another one to look forward to.

This evening we are off to the opening night of the Spike Island show. Spike Island is a centre for 100 local artists, and this weekend we get the chance to take a look at the work they have been doing. As you can imagine with so many people involved, the material on show covers all the options. It promises to be a fascinating, amusing and curious evening.