Monday, July 29, 2002

Well it looks as though summer has really arrived; yesterday the thermometer hit 100 degrees (F) in our back garden. Now for Bristol that’s pretty warm. Playing football tonight could be hard work. I guess I might spend a bit more time in goal than average if it is too warm. As I sit here typing this, the windows are thrown open and the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelly swings through the air. The album is "Swing ’35 – ’39" one of my Dad’s old LP’s which made it’s way to me after he decided that CD’s were the only thing for him. I love the wonderfully relaxed jaunty tone that this music provides, it is amazing that it still sounds so fresh nearly 70 years after it was recorded.

On Friday evening we went to see the excellent French film "Read my lips". The film features some very interesting use of sound, the female lead in the film is partially deaf and we get to hear things in different ways as she plays around with her hearing aids. The film was riddled with the influence of Alfred Hitchcock – never a bad thing in my book.

After the film we met up with a few friends for a quick drink outside The Ostrich. Thought that we would sit outside and had the strange spectacle of watching a young lad running down the road pursued by a large dog. Then a few seconds later a policeman in bullet-proof vest came running along shouting at the youth "Police dog handler with dog. Stop now" Now logic dictates that no matter how fit you are, you can’t outrun a police dog, but having started to run it must be really difficult to actually stop and wait for the dog to leap towards you. We have all seen those police display teams in action, when they set a dog on a man with a hugely padded arm (I often thought that the dogs must think it’s strange when they get to chance someone with two arms of the same size for the first time), and the dog wrestles the man to the ground. So if you are the one being chased it must be well neigh impossible to stand still and wait for the dog to treat you as tonight’s helping of Pedigree Chum. Anyway stop he did, although we could not see the immediate outcome of that but we did see him being driven away by one of the three or was it four police cars that eventually arrived on the scene.

On Saturday we eventually got round to ordering a new sofa, it is a design by the great Robin Day that was first available in 1957, It is a classic, simple design that would be right at home in your local’s beatnik pad. We are very excited and to make it even more exciting Habitat were having a sale this weekend so it was 15% cheaper than we expected. It arrives next Friday, the day after we return from Cornwall.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Oh dear our intellectual credentials are in tatters! Last night Orynthia and I joined forces with our friends, Jon Collins and James Thomas to enter what is apparently the longest running pub quiz in Bristol. We met for a pre quiz meal at splendidly cheap and cheerful "Indian Fast Food", where the heat of my Chicken Jalfrarzi certainly should have woken up my brain cells. Although the turn out for the quiz was not exactly huge, our lack of ability to memorise the innermost details of a Monopoly board combined with an almost total lack of knowledge of the animal kingdom, meant that we finished the competition battling for the booby prize for finishing 2nd last!

Good news for the quirky side of Bristolian nightlife. At long last The Cube is on the verge of reopening. For those that don’t know of The Cube it is a small independently run cinema (and much more) on the site of the old Arts Centre Cinema in Kings Square. It was the home for an amazingly eclectic mixture of the wilder side of the film and music world. The place has been closed for a year due to fire in the Chinese restaurant which The Cube shared an entrance with. We have had some great nights at this fantastically down at heel cinema. It is due to reopen at the end of August and I am really looking forward to it. Often you took the walk along the long corridor into the building without really knowing what you were about to let yourself in for; always interesting, often chaotic it was a shinning star in the Bristolian entertainment scene.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

I’ve been reading an excellent article in the New Yorker magazine, which talks about the problem of over qualified, over ambitious people being pushed too far, too quickly by companies who think that the way to succeed in this wonderful corporate world is to get lots of lovely newly qualified MBA’s, pay them huge sums of money and keep promoting them before they get a chance to understand what they or the company are doing. The article went on to point out that many of America’s top performing companies are those that actually have people at the top who have worked their way gradually through an organisation, rather than people who have stormed through like a whirling dervish, having no true grasp of what they are doing because they are incapable of seeing the true impact of the decisions they make. Now I am not an ambitious sort of chap but I do know that the bits of BT that I have been involved have only worked when we have had people in charge who aren’t just concerned with the next big promotion and added share options. Mind you, one aspect of the current stock market crash that I have enjoyed is the crumbling values of these share options which we were told were a gilt edged "can’t lose" bonus. My My, don’t I sound bitter and twisted today!

During the weekend I read charming piece on P G Wodehouse in The Guardian. It reminded me, what a joy it is to read the sparkling prose of the great man. Since the start of the World Cup my reading habits have fallen back to magazines and newspapers rather than books. Time to rectify that and Wodehouse is the man to kick start the reading campaign.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Well the end of busy weekend is here. Once again Ashton Court was the normal mix of average bands and lovely people. We had a very social time amongst tens of thousands that turned up. No major musical treats, my highlight of the weekend was watching people career down the hill, in front of the Academy stage thanks to a track made from bits of cardboard on Saturday evening. A wonderfully haphazard collection of individuals speed towards a metal fence at high speed. Most of them managed to loose their balance and crash to the floor before eating the metal! The sun shone for most of the weekend and we even managed to eat some food which we had not tried before, It was a French sort of stew thing made from Potatoes, Bacon and Cheese which was cooked in an huge pan, very tasty and filling. No Jerk Chicken for us this year but a new West Indian restaurant has just opened on Whiteladies Road, which is excellent news.

Said goodbye to our new friends from Korea today, We spent sometime with them on Friday evening and it was amazing to see the kids playing hangman in English. They have only been in England for a year and the youngest of them is only 7 years old. They were a really nice family the husband is a producer and director of TV programmes in Korea (he works for MBC). Maybe one day we will some of his work on English TV.

Anyway, we are both exhausted, must be all that fresh air, so I think it’s time for bed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Well the summer looks as though it has arrived and with the 2 day Ashton Court Festival approaching this weekend the timing couldn’t be better. Last Sunday we had the unusual experience of a Thomas visit to the country! On Sunday we visited Slimbridge, home to many thousands of birds who live in close proximity to water, so we saw masses of different types of Ducks, Geese, Swans and Flamingos. Although the birds are free to leave the whole did have the feel of a zoo, so consequentially the initial excitement of seeing so many birds soon gave way to a sort of pleasant "Oh look, there’s another rare South American Duck" type experience. Much more exciting was a trip around the outlying parts of the reserve. We clambered into a trailer attached to a Land Rover were driven out towards the Severn Estuary. For the next 90 mins or so we were able to see a smaller but much more interesting array of wild creatures. The highlights of which was a magnificent swooping aerial display by a Buzzard and later watching a wonderfully bored, fully-grown Hare siting quietly in front of a gate which we were waiting to drive through, eventually it bounced away into the next field. Whilst on this trip our group of about 15 people were guided by a couple of rangers, both of them lovely guys who’s obvious love of their job shown through, as they excitedly pointed out features of the landscape to us. Fantastically knowledgeable and yet completely free of ego, if only all strands of work could produce people who are at the top of their profession and yet have no desire to flaunt it.

During the World Cup we struck up a friendship with a Korean family living just around the corner from us. Now if you watched any of the Korean games you will know that during the tournament it looked as though everyone in Korea was wearing a red T-shirt with the rather strange slogan "Be The Reds" written on it. On Saturday morning the whole family (Mr Choi wearing his recently acquired red T-shirt) came round to present me with a splendid Bandanna with the slogan emblazoned on it underneath the Korean flag. This was passed to me in an amazing box made out of paper in a sort of Origami style by Mrs Choi. A really lovely gift, sadly they are heading back to Korea this Sunday, so we won’t really get a chance to know them.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I love this What time/date is it?. Boy that guy works hard! best viewed in IE I think - but what do I know?
It’s a strange thing but I have found a couple of new TV programmes, which have become "must watch" slots in our week. The 1st of these by a couple of weeks is the splendid Six Feet Under, which always starts with a wonderfully haphazard death (man killed in giant food mixer, former porn star electrocuted in the bath by her pet cat etc) and then goes onto show the attempts to provide the sort of funeral that the family and friends of the deceased want to see for their dearly departed. We also get to watch the painful process of the family who run the funeral parlour business trying to co-exist, when they should not really live in the same state let alone the same house. It’s made by the same people who made American Beauty and it shows. The other show is The Job, yet another show about New York cops. Pleased to say that the emphasis is drawing out as much humour as possible from gleefully acknowledged stereotypical cops, You know the sort of thing, the elderly overweight Irishman, the wisecracking lead man who is not quite as sharp as he thinks he is, the two innocent newly recruited Latino cops (one of whom has not said a word in the 1st four shows, as far as I can remember). This has all combined to produce quite a few laugh out loud moments, which comes as quite a shock after years of drab TV.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Well the Lambchop gig was just fantastic. The Fleece turned out to be a perfect venue for a band on top of their form. On this occasion, Lambchop were a 6-piece band rather than the 12 (I think) who came to town last time. We were treated to a much more varied show this time around; we even had the unexpected spectacle of watching Lambchop "rock-out!" on a couple of occasions. The intimacy of the venue seamed to suit the band much more and the joyfully exuberant response from the crowd appeared to really delight the band.

Just got back from visiting my Dad in Devon, Orynthia was driving, so I managed to relax with my eyes closed whilst listening to Storytelling the latest Belle & Sebastian CD. Now I must have heard this album at least 60 times in the past 5 weeks or so, and still I love it. I really think that it contains much of the band’s best work. Songs like "Big John Shaft" are just glorious. Also blessed with some beautiful instrumental tracks, it is that rarest of all beasts, a CD that I find myself humming and whistling along. I am not normally known for vocal outbursts whilst listening to music. So something pretty special must be going on here.

When we were coming back into Bristol, I decided that if I was a writer, I would try to write something where all the characters have the names of Bristol suburbs. You can guess the sort of thing; Bradley Stoke and Lawrence Hill go into town to meet up with that well-known communist Red Cliff. Later they spend some time with a couple of girls, Hen Grove and a couple of foreign students; Cot Ham from Ireland and Be D’minster from France. Then they go back to Lawrence’s place where he has a blazing row with his dad Bart(on) Hill. Phil Ton calms everyone down etc.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Following a recent attack on a small child by a Fox, The Guardian did a nice
piece on inner city wildlife today. I think it's great that the very rare
and strangely named Black Redstarts can be found on some industrial
wasteland within walking distance of Canary Wharf. Now these birds are rarer
in the UK than the Golden Eagle or The Osprey. Less than 100 nesting pairs
in the country and wisely they have decided that they would rather live in
the heart of the city than waste its time moping around in the dull old
countryside. I was talking to Orynthia about this the other day and I think
that I have worked out why I don't like the countryside. We are sold the
idea, that the countryside is a wonderful place where we can relax and do
anything we want to do, in this glorious open space. Now when I was younger,
I would see a nice green field and would immediately think, wow - what a
great place to go and play football, Upon rushing into the field, I would
discover that the grass was knee high, the ground was full of lumps and
bumps and most likely covered in cow dung as well. In other words useless!
Nowadays the ideal use for a nice green space today, is of course, a
sumptuous picnic. If you can succeed in finding a piece of land where the
aroma of the dung does not knock you senseless, you can bet that you will
need an industrial strength roller in order to get the grass down below knee
height. Now compare this to city, where the parks and public spaces are full
of neatly trimmed grass which just demand to used by human beings. Maybe the
wildlife of the UK has finally worked out that it's time to move into the

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Looks as though we may be off to Cornwall on a free holiday for 4 nights at the start of August. Sometime ago we sat through a timeshare presentation in an effort to obtain some free flights to Australia! We are still waiting for news on that but included in the offer was a mini break in the UK. It will be quite a change for us to go on holiday in a place which is not a large city and we are both quite excited about the idea of 4 days with nothing to do. Lets hope that it happens.

We are going to see the quietest band in the world "Lambchop" on Friday. This gig was meant to take place the fairly large surroundings of the Colston Hall, however when they played there last time many people that we spoke to after the gig complained that they could not really hear the band. Considering that there where about 12 people on stage, it is quite an achievement to be that quiet. However it looks as though many people were put off by the lack noise and ticket sales have been very poor. There was talk of the gig being cancelled, luckily that is not the case, it has just been moved to the Fleece. A smaller stand-up venue, which should suit the band quite well.