Monday, October 28, 2002

Well we had a pretty wild weekend from a weather perspective. Gale force winds ripping through the south west. No damage to our property, but I was due to play football yesterday, that was called off, thanks to the weather. Still it meant that we had a nice quite day at home. We have got a few problems with our computer at the moment, so Orynthia spent part of the day trying fix that without any joy. So if we are a bit slow in responding to any emails, that's why. We don't seam to be doing very well with electrical things at the moment. Our Digital radio has also stopped working, so we had to take that back on Saturday. The trouble is that they aren't expecting another delivery until December! At least we can pick up most of the digital radio stations through our TV Digi box but it's just not the same.

We made our 2nd visit to the splendid Wagamama's restaurant on Friday evening, 9 of us went out, a combination of family and friends and we had a really nice evening. The place was packed, in fact because of it's no reservations policy we had to queue outside for a little while. It's quite strange to see long queue's of people outside a restaurant in Bristol, I guess things will settle down in a few weeks.

On Saturday evening we walked up to the Orpheus cinema to see "Insomnia" the latest film from Christopher Nolan, the man behind the inspired "Memento". Once again Nolan plays around with the conventions of time, as the Alaskan setting covers the landscape in 24 hour daylight. Al Pacino, arrives in town as a man with problems. The lack nocturnal rest bite takes it's toll on Pacino's character, as his life starts to unravel, due to the prompting's of cold and menacing fugitive, played by Robin Williams. The film was good rather than great, just missing a certain spark.

The reds go from to strength to strength, another good away win this weekend (our 5th league win in row!), has consolidated our position in 3rd place. Two home matches to come, so let's see if we can keep it going. The draw for the 1st round of the FA cup was made over the weekend, we have picked up a very interesting game. Away to a team called Heybridge Swifts! Never heard of them. Could be very embarrassing if we come a cropper!!

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Well we have had some fantastic news this week. After months of contract work at Sift, Orynthia has been made a permanent member of staff. This really is wonderful, not only because it's a great achievement on Orynthia's part, but also because it takes away the anxiety that would inevitably arise as the end of each period of employment would approach. No more buying of the paper to look through the job adverts, no more time spent preparing CV's for job applications. It's really great news, it also allows us to plan a few more things, as we don't have to worry about Orynthia's contract coming to an end in a few weeks.

To celebrate this exciting news, Orynthia has managed to pick up the cold that I was suffering with last week. Now of course, I shuffled around the house feeling sorry for myself, thinking that I was going to die. Orynthia on the other hand eats a hearty meal to fight off the bugs and goes to work as if nothing has happened.

I picked up a couple of excellent CD's yesterday. The writer and broadcaster Charlie Gillett has put together a series of 5 double CD's, each showcasing the musical heritage of a particular American city. The one's I picked up yesterday, cover New York and Chicago. The New York one starts in the 1930's with the like of Cab Calloway and Charlie Parker, travelling through the subsequent decades we encounter the likes of Billie Holiday, Clyde McPhatter, the Chiffons, Bob Dylan, Suicide and Queen Latifah plus many other less well known artists of the 40 track selection. It's the sort of collection that makes me want to have a family party and watch as the differing types of music engage or enrage the various generations. The Chicago one is in the same format but with more blues based music, so here Jimmy Reed and Sonny Boy Williamson start the party rolling before we bump into people like the Staples Singers, Jackie Wilson and Curtis Mayfield amongst others.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

The other day Orynthia was clearing the pockets of an item of clothing, which she had evidently not worn for a little while. In the pockets she was surprised to find several small pieces of paper with exotic sounding names written upon them. Her initial confusion then gave way to the realisation that she must have harbouring the remnants of one of our football sweepstakes.

Anyone that has ever watched an important football match in the company of Steve and me, and a large gathering of likeminded people, will be well aware of the benefit that the sweepstake can bring to watching the dullest of games. We try to go for unpredictable occurrences, so that everyone who has a player’s name in their hand really does have a chance of winning something. We normally like to have prizes for the first and last people to score. As that keeps the interest up for the 90 minutes, in addition we always have a prize for the first player to require medical treatment, sometimes the first or last player to be booked. For matches that have a particular historical theme, we may throw in the name of player from a previous era that could be mentioned in the commentary. For instance, if England were playing Germany, it would be quite normal to pull the name Geoff Hurst from the hat, even though the esteemed Mr Hurst has not kicked a ball in anger for well over 20 years. It just takes a mention from John Motson and your initial stake money will be heading back to you quicker than you can say, "some people are on the pitch….".
My favourite though was in a F.A. Cup final a few years ago, when we decided to acknowledge the age old tradition, of the lid of the F.A. Cup being used as an item of natty headwear by a member of the victorious team. This time the excitement of the sweepstake would not been concluded until someone could claim a pound, because their man had placed the valued piece of silverware upon their sweat stained skull. That particular year Manchester United won the trophy, which was duly passed around the excited players. We oohed and aahed as the lid suffered a succession of near misses. At last it reached the often profligate Andy Cole, he raised the lid towards his head…. The owner of slip of paper bearing Mr Cole’s name yelled in anticipation, only for the typical Andy Cole moment to happen, he actually managed to miss the top of his head and crash the lid into his ear!! Groans and laughter all around the room. Credit though to Andy Cole, he was able to compose himself and at the second attempt managed to crown the cranium, as we all collapsed in fits of laughter.

Anyway, on a rather macabre level we did think that it would have been highly amusing if Orynthia had been found murdered, whilst having the name of some of the worlds finest footballers in her pocket. Obviously this list of names, in true Agatha Christie style, would provide a convenient list of suspects for P.C. Plod to work his way through. You can imagine the conversation. "Now then Mr Ronaldo, can you tell me why Mrs Orynthia Thomas would have a piece of paper in her pocket, bearing your name, on the night she was murdered?"

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The weekend went well and we managed to do everything that I hoped that we would. Unfortunately, I seemed to have paid the penalty for too many late nights, I managed to go to work on Monday and indeed play football that evening. After that my body just said NO! Woke up on Tuesday, with a throat that felt like I had been swallowing coarse grade sandpaper all night! I’ve stayed home from work for the past couple of days and am feeling better for it.
I’ve used the time to watch a couple of old Spike Lee films. Firstly on Monday I watched Mo’Better Blues. I have played the soundtrack album to this film pretty regularly over the years but it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film I’d forgotten about the way the film bookends itself with the childhood sequences. Great music, good film. Today I finally made my way downstairs at about 11:30 and after a quick bite to eat, I settled down to watch Do The Right Thing. This is still an amazingly powerful film about the way different races get along, or don’t as the case may be. As always with Spike Lee a great soundtrack does not just add to the story, it’s an integral part of the tale. No easy answers at the end of the film and indeed the conflicting quotes from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X give us few clues to the way forward. I think that in many ways. That is the strength of the film. Nobody in the film is right all the time; foolish words and deeds quickly contradict the good things they seem to say or do. Some people just try to get along, which is we can do. Great music, Great film

On Tuesday evening we watched Clockwork Orange thanks to it’s first ever TV showing this weekend. It’s really difficult to view a film like this with an open mind, after so much hype and comment over the years when it has been unavailable in the UK. We both agreed that after the first 30 mins we could have quite easily have turned off as the catalogue of appalling violence, looked to be heading into cul-de-sac. Once our narrator is caught, things started to become much more interesting and it was amazing to see the connections with present day debates on law and order, and the treatment of offenders. Also it was a brilliant portrayal of the sort of political opportunism, which we though was a new invention. A thought provoking and original film, even after this length of time, still very relevant.

I’ve been reading Toby Young’s, How to lose friends & alienate people. A splendidly acerbic account of his period working in New York and the amazing lack of success, in his working and personal life. On the few occasions that I have seen or heard Toby Young On TV or radio, he has always come across as epitome of the English upper class prat. To his credit, he makes no effort to cover up the worse traits in his character and you can see why people failed to warm to him. However from the way he tells it, he makes a pretty convincing case about the lack of humility or human caring that these very high flying people have in their lives. It may well be the same in London but this book should leave a few people squirming. Then again it’s quite interesting to read the reviews of the book on Toy’s website. Virtually all the American reviews, seem to accept that, this is the way life is, and question why Toby Young would bother pointing out the incredible self importance and lack of comradeship in his short lived contemporary’s. Whilst the rest of world finds all very amusing. The other thing that really comes across in the book, is that people only want to know you, if you are of some use to them. A friend of mine, who is pretty successful in his field, has said to me how much he hates New York, although its somewhere that he has to go fairly regularly, he always does it for the shortest amount of time that he can. Now as someone who loves going to New York on holidays I have always found this strange, but reading this book confirms the impression that my friend has given me. Everyone wants a slice of you or is your best friend when you have something they want, if you don’t have what they want – move over!

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

OK, if you live in or near Bristol and enjoy food, you MUST go to Sawadee, a newish restaurant at 223 Cheltenham Road. It’s the only place in Bristol that you can buy Burmese food (only 1 dish so far, but it’s great) as well as Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Laos, Indonesian Malaysian plus the more usual Thai, Chinese and Indian. The amazing thing is that all the dishes cost just £5.99 for wonderfully tasty, fresh, authentic food. We went there last night, with a few friends and every one was very taken with the place. Only our 2nd visit so far, but I’m sure that we will be going many more times.

Tomorrow evening we are off to see McAlmont & Butler at the Anson rooms, the start of a busy few days. On Friday night we might go to a club called Level because Grant from Massive Attack and Geoff from Portishead are doing DJ sets. Then on Saturday evening, we are hoping to have a meal at the newly opened Bristol branch of Wagamamas, before we head off to see cheeky scouse mop tops The Coral. If we were a few years younger, we may well have gone onto Blowpop where our friend John Stapleton has booked the intriguing DJ Krush. I can’t see that happening though. Then on Sunday, Orynthia’s mum & dad are coming over for lunch. Not much sleep to be had, but it should be good fun.

Autumn is starting to head towards us, although the sun is still shining it’s starting to get a little nippy. Whilst walking along the lovely tree lined Redland Grove this morning, a sudden gust of wind sent loads of golden leaves tumbling to the ground. It will soon be time to get out those winter jumpers out.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

I have just finished reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. Another fascinating read from this most English of writers. His work often reminds of a line used by Pink Floyd on Dark Side of the Moon; "Hanging on in quiet desperation, is the English way." He is better than anyone else I have read at capturing the stuttering, ham fisted way in which we stumble around trying not to "do the right thing" without causing offence. Ultimately ending up trapped in a morass of hidden turmoil, all because we did not want to cause a fuss or make a scene. Atonement is a superb read, hopefully about an England that is in the past, but I’m not so sure.

Orynthia has been off on a girls weekend, to celebrate a friends 40th birthday. In her absence, I’ve not really done too much. Saw the reds in splendid form yesterday, as we thrashed Chesterfield 4-0. We were a bit worried before the game, when we found out that Chesterfield had never won a league match in Bristol in over 100 years of the them trooping down here to play City and Rovers. Added to the fact they had not conceded a goal in their last 5 games, it looked like one of those sequences had to end. We all thought that this would be the time for them to break their duck. Pleased to say that they were never really in the match, and not for the first time this season, our boys really did play some great football at times.