Friday, January 31, 2003

Boy it's cold today. Still we are quite lucky, most of the eastern side of the country has ground to a halt. Lots of stories of 1 hour journeys taking 9 times that long! So we can't really complain. Although I love living in Bristol I do wish that we could get a little more snow down here, we miss out on all the snow related fun.

Spent lunchtime reading a feature in The Guardian about all these New York based bands that are taking over our world, Radio 4, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Rapture and many others. It was also good to see The Boggs getting a mention, must admit that I don't play their CD a lot, but I really enjoyed the gig that they played in Bristol. Also delighted to see that Radio 4 have announced a Bristol gig in April, and that Calexico are coming to town as well!

Looks like Orynthia's dad is going to be in hospital for a least a couple more weeks. We went to see him straight after work last night, and the good news is that he is still in very good spirits. He was joking with the nice old man in the next bed, saying that his problem is that he is diabetic, whereas the chap next to him was diabolical. They both started chuckling away, which was nice to see. So often hospital visits can be hard work as every one tends to be rather downbeat (understandably). Over the past year or so we have had to spend quite a bit of time with people who are unwell in various ways. I tend to avoid discussing the current state of their health, as I figure that's all they have been thinking about. I see it as my job to lead the conversation towards the vacuous, trivial and humorous topics. Consequently after the visits I never know the answer to the "what medication are they on" "why are they doing that" sort of questions which people tend to ask you. It's probably part of that great male tendancy of avoiding issues. You know the sort of thing, never talk about anything serious when you can talk about football or music instead!

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Spent some of the evening sorting out some books for one of my nephews. He is 17 and has just got into the whole “Beat scene”. Managed to turn up 5 Kerouac’s that he hasn’t read. A couple of William Burroughs and an excellent anthology of American poetry from 1945-1960. Also found a couple of biographical books covering that period. Should keep him going for a while. I must admit that although I enjoyed Kerouac when I was younger, I always found Burroughs very hard work. Kept buying his books in the hope that something would click, afraid that it never did. I love the idea of passing books onto other people, but I always hope that they come back to me. I leant him a copy of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and that got returned so the signs are good.

Only 2 more days in work then we are off to France!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Well I just got back from seeing Orynthia’s dad in hospital and he’s doing fine. Looks like it could be in for about 2 weeks, so that can really try to work out what is causing the problems with his legs.

Forgot to mention that we were chatting to Delge (3D) from Massive Attack in the pub before the match on Saturday and he said that they will playing a big open air gig in Queens square, in the middle of Bristol in August. I’ve not heard anything off the new album yet, but people who have tell me that it’s one that you need to work at a bit. Mind you Mezzanine was a bit like that as well, so we will just have to give it a few plays.

Our football last night was really hard work, as well as being pretty cold, it poured with rain for the first 30 minutes and generally blew a gale for the whole match. We still managed to have a laugh as we ran around like headless chickens.

The only thing that I’ve managed to listen to over the past couple of days is the new mini album by The Raveonettes – Whip It On. Not managed to hear the whole thing yet, but it’s pretty good fun.

Monday, January 27, 2003

As expected, it was a pretty tiring weekend. Back to work today for a bit of a rest. Took make things better all our systems were down for most of the day, so we couldn’t do any work anyway!

While I was in work Orynthia called to say that her dad has been taken into hospital because of the ongoing problems with his legs. Lets hope that they can have a really good luck into the nature of his problem, so at least we may start to work out a plan for the future.

Because of time constraints, I did not have much of a chance to look around London. The hotel was really nice and the meal in the BT tower was great. The real star of the show though was the amazing view across London. It was a really clear night so we could see for miles and miles. When we had finished the meal, the lights dimmed and then the restaurant started to revolve, it was truly spectacular. After the meal, we went out to a pretty average sort of club for a bit of a dance. Stupidly, when we came back to the hotel just after 1am, I stated drinking coffee. Consequently I hardly had any sleep all night. Still at least that meant I did not have to rush to get back to Paddington for the 10:15 train to Bristol. Orynthia kindly picked me up at the station, I was at home for about an hour then dashed out again to see the Red’s in action. Sadly a very disappointing 1-1 draw, did not really give Steve Vowles the send off that he was wishing for. In the evening the massed ranks all trooped down to The Bell for Steve’s farewell drinking as he leaves for Madrid at the end of the week. Finally got to bed at around 1:30, by now very tired indeed.

Sunday was pretty quiet, popped out to Mat on his 21st and after dropping him back at the hospital we nipped into Sawadee’s for a quick meal. We are just so pleased that this fantastic little restaurant is so close to our house.

I'm off to play football tonight, whilst Orynthia takes her mum into the hospital to see her dad.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Busy few days coming up. I’m off to London tomorrow afternoon, for a work related trip. The customer that we look after is putting a few of
us up in a swanky hotel and BT are giving us a meal in the BT tower. Not sure if the restaurant still revolves, I hope so, watching London at night from one of the highest points in the city should be pretty good.

No time to lounge around the next morning, I’m booked on the 10:15 train to ensure that I get back in time for City’s match against Stockport. It will be Steve Vowles last City match before he heads off to his new life in Madrid. Pretty weird, Steve has been going to games for more years than he would care to think about. I guess he will make it back for occasional games when he visits Bristol, but it’s a strong link to break. Then on Saturday evening it’s down to The Bell as friends from many years meet up to say farewell. Sunday is my nephew’s 21st birthday. He is in hospital at the moment, so that will be a pretty strange day. I remember that when I was 21 I really did not what any fuss made about and was determined that I was not going to have a big party or any expensive gifts. It was just another birthday to me. In hindsight, maybe that was a bit mean on my parents. It’s a pretty big milestone for them, and maybe I should have let them mark it.

Wow! What a glorious morning.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Well the Wynton Marsalis / Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra gig last night was just fantastic. Although I was looking forward to it, I was slightly apprehensive as Wynton can be little bland on record. Well no such problems last night. The 15-piece band was awesome, not much can beat a 12-piece brass section going at it full tilt. When that sort of band swings, it really swings! We had lots of laughs as well. Amongst the generally slick looking band our favourite was a gentleman who looked for all the world as though he had wandered in from Shirehampton working men’s club, slipped into a suit and thought he would take a chance on sitting with the band, hoping that no one would notice an interloper in the ranks! It turned out that as well as playing bass Sax, he could play a mean bass clarinet, but it still looked as though he was nipping off stage for a quick pint or two whenever he got the chance.

I’m currently reading “Stupid White Men” by Michael Moore. It is an often hilarious account of the ills that have been unleashed on the world by the all conquering white man. He has lots of interesting and pertinent points to make. I must admit that I was totally unaware of the funding problems associated with American schools and with books in particular. The representation of schools in the states that we tend to see always look like shining beacons of enlightenment in comparison with our financially embarrassed institutions. In preparation for our forthcoming short trip to France (only about 10 days to go now), I stocked up yesterday on some other reading matter. Bought a couple of novels by writers that are new to me. Nick McDonell is probably new to most people, Twelve is his first book and he is only about 18 years old. I caught the end of programme on Radio 4 on the weekend when 3 people from very different backgrounds were discussing this and a couple of other books. All them were singing the praises of this novel, but for very different reasons. So I figured that there must be lot’s of ideas at work, if can it can touch different people in different ways. The other book I picked up was The Earthquake Bird by another debut novelist Susanna Jones. This was prompted by an article, which she wrote in The Guardian on Saturday, describing the origins of the novel. The book is set in contemporary Tokyo (Nick Mcdonell’s book is set in New York by the way, so as everyone who knows me will tell you, that my two main obsessions taken care of!), and I liked the way she spoke about the mechanics of moving around Tokyo on the excellent rail and underground system and the different atmosphere that each area has, that you feel as soon as you leave a station. The title also had echoes of my favourite author Haruki Murakami, sounds like a mixture between two of his books, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and After the Quake.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

So I went to the barbers at the top of the road yesterday and all the talk was of the strange goings on at our newspaper/general store. Over the past couple of months it’s been amazing to watch the progress of this shop. What was once a well stocked and seemingly thriving enterprise, has gradually been depleted of virtually all it’s stock. You can just about buy a newspaper or one of the handful of magazines that they have, as long as you don’t try to go to the shop before 10am, as it will inevitably be closed before then, quite strange really as most people like to get their morning paper somewhat earlier. You can forget about buying anything else, row upon row of empty shelves stand before you. No food, no drink not even any cigarettes. Yet the staff sit behind the till all day, even though they have nothing to sell. My barber is convinced that it is being used for some illegal purpose and he has spoken to strange Russians coming in for a haircut claiming to be linked to ownership of the shop. If they were trying to give us the experience of Russian shopping, it is certainly pretty close to the sad stores, which we saw in Russia in 1988.

Managed to get some tickets yesterday for a couple of forthcoming gigs, Beth Gibbons is playing in late February and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come to town in March. We already have tickets for the splendid Teenage Fanclub on Feb 14th, so things are starting to look up following the post Christmas lull.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Well it’s been a pretty busy week. It’s strange but although I was only away for one night with my training course, the whole week has really flown past. Last night we went to see the latest Harry Potter film. Orynthia is a big fan of the books and she really enjoyed the first film. I must admit that I am not much of a fan of “fantasy” films and to my shame I actually fell asleep when we saw the first H.P. film! Almost managed to stay awake for the whole duration of the last nights show. Orynthia loved it, and I always enjoy watching the way she jumps about at all the sudden scary moments in this sort of film.

I have just watched a short programme on channel 4, where a girl from London wanted to try to prove the six degree’s of separation theory. You know, the idea that anyone in the world can be connected to anyone else through just 6 people. It’s a game we often play with famous people; this girl set herself a really tough task. The person that she had to meet was a nomadic Mongolian horseman. Pretty tough! In the end, it actually took 9 links before she meet the bemused Mongolian miles from anywhere.

Tonight we are heading down to Bristol’s home of 60’s soul and boogaloo. It’s “Four Corners” night at the croft. Lets see if our old friends John, Ian and Phil can get us shaking a tail feather or two.

After weeks of thought I finally bought a ticket to see Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Jazz Ensemble at the Colston Hall next Tuesday. It’s £25 for the ticket, but I guess it could be the only time that Wynton comes to town, so my friend Steve and I figured we should take this opportunity to see one of the major figures of the current jazz world. Luckily our friend Jon works in the box office at the Colston Hall, so we have some excellent seats. The timing is unfortunate though, Tuesday is Bab’s birthday so I’m missing out on a meal at the glorious Hotel Du Vin, no doubt Orynthia (who loathes jazz) will give me the full rundown of the fine food that I missed out on.

Not had a chance to listen to much music this week. Mainly Mercury Rev – Deserter’s songs, Velvet Underground – Box Set and Roddy Frame – Surf.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Well if anyone wants to make a comment about anything I write (why would you?), I think that you should now be able to do so. Have a go and see if it works!

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Well. I’m back from a couple days at the very grand Horwood House, a few miles outside Milton Keynes. It actually wasn’t too bad. The other people on the course were OK, and the time passed pretty quickly. The trip also gave me a chance to catch up with my old friend Temps for the evening. He lives about 3 miles away from Horwood House, so it was an ideal time to go out for a meal together. This may seem a bit odd as Temps, still comes to all the home games at Ashton Gate, but it has been known for our conversations to get interrupted by the football from time to time! After a lovely meal in a splendid old pub called The Lone Tree, we popped back to Simon’s house where I was able to say hello after a long absence to Carolyn and their unusually amusing Kids.

As I was driving back I was listening to a very entertaining chat and live session with The Flaming Lips on Mark Radcliff’s afternoon show on radio 1. The band is playing in Bristol in the next week or so. But I messed about when it came to buying tickets and then when Orynthia went to get some last week, it was sold out. It’s a shame, we have seen them twice before and they are an unusual and enjoyable live band. Still it’s a lesson learnt.

Forgot to mention that I finished The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith last week. When I wrote about last, I was not very impressed. However, the next section of the book was far more interesting and gripping. Now it may just be coincidence, but this part of the book was set in New York! Suddenly the book just went to another level for me. Unfortunately, when the action switched back to the London, the intensity of the writing seemed to be lost once again and the book just seemed to drift away.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Hello again, although I feel like I should say “Bonjour”. We have spent the last couple of days looking into French holiday information on the net. We have booked a short trip to Nice, in southern France for our wedding anniversary in February, and we have been researching our proposed trip to Paris in April
The trip to Nice, was a fairly spur of the moment sort of decision, prompted by the fact that those splendid people at Easyjet are having a mad sale. So crazy in fact that before tax our flights are £1 per person each way. That’s right, for £4 excluding tax we can both travel to Nice and back from Bristol airport. How mad is that? We have made a provisional booking on an apartment in Nice, our New York Apartment holiday last Xmas really did convince us that this is the best way to stay in a city. It was so great to get up whenever you wanted, and enjoy a relaxed breakfast. If you want to sample the local produce, you can rustle something up in the Kitchen any time day or night. You also get much more space for your money, which is really nice.

Talking of trips, I have got to away for a couple of days for a fairly pointless training course for my job. Not looking forward to it all, at least it’s only for two days.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Had a bit of a dash around last night. Orynthia and I went straight to our favourite local restaurant “Sawadee” where the food is good, cheep and quick. We both had their excellent Burmese curry and were then ready to dash off to The Cube , to catch the 7pm showing of Morvern Callar . Now because the weather has been so cold, Orynthia had driven our little Cinquecento down Cranbrook Road in the morning, so that after the meal we could just hop in the car, drive the short distance to The Cube and then after the film, the even shorter distance to The Bell for a couple of drinks. All safe in the knowledge that we would not have a 25 minute walk home in sub zero temperatures. Well that was the plan! When we got to the car, the door locks were actually frozen! So I had to run up the road to quickly pick up our other car, drive back, pick up Orynthia and we just made it to The Cube for 6:59.

Now anyone that has been to The Cube, in wintertime will know that heating is not a strong point in this wonderfully eccentric little building. When we purchased our tickets, the guy behind the counter did warn that the heating (such as it is) had not been on for long, and that it may be a bit cold in there. Something of an understatement! It was absolutely freezing. James, Orynthia and I sat there with coats, scarves and gloves on and to make matters worse, the 1st half of the film is set in an obviously cold Scottish fishing port at Xmas time. You really felt that you were on location with cast! Strangely, Later in the film the story moves to Spain, bizarrely the sunshine radiating from the screen actually seemed to make us feel little (and only a little!) warmer.

The film itself is pretty hard work. The first section of the film really is grim viewing, as the dull washed out colours reflect the misery and bleakness of the situation that Morvern finds herself in. Even when the film switches to Spain, the loathsome behaviour of the British abroad made for more uncomfortable viewing. However it’s not without merit, without giving too much away, Morvern spends a lot of time listening to a cassette tape, which has been compiled for her. On occasions, this is put to really good use, particularly when she strides into her supermarket, whilst “Some Velvet Morning” blasts out. Obviously made on a very tight budget, the quality of the sound did make it tricky to work out some the heavy Scottish accents. All in all, I left the film feeling (cold!) quite pleased that I am old enough not to have to go to those dreadful adolescent house parties or ever go on an 18-30’s holiday.

When dashed round to The Bell and were greeted by the welcome site of not one but two roaring fires. Coffees were ordered and the thawing process began.

Monday, January 06, 2003

If anyone wants to learn how to speak "Bristolian" in case they visit our fair city, at last we have an on line dictionary to help you!
Boy it’s cold today, just come back from lunch and it’s freezing. I’m due to be playing football at 8pm this evening. How cold is it going to be then!!

On Saturday night, we went round to Steve Vowles house for a meal. Teresa and Steve Dew were also there for what turned out to be a rather drunken evening. Still we have to make the most of it, because at the end of the month Mr Vowles heads off to a new job in Madrid. It’s something that Steve has been trying to arrange for a while; indeed he recently spent 6 months there, which must have been a useful test run for both sides. At least we know that it’s pretty easy to keep in touch these days and flights to Madrid can be pretty good value if you pick your moment carefully, so we should be able to keep in touch.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Had a really good evening with Kev & Julie last night. The restaurant was a little chaotic, if was the first time that they had opened after Xmas and whoever was in charge of the stock ordering had been somewhat negligent by the sound of things. They even ran out of milk! Still, the food that we had (Pheasant for Orynthia and I) was pleasant enough.

Soon after waking up this morning, we had the treat of a short but pretty vigorous snowstorm. It did not last long, but 7 hours later we still have a sprinkled icing sugar appearance to the neighbourhood.

Whilst we were out doing some shopping today, I bumped into an old school friend that I had not seen for 6 or 7 years. The only problem was that after leaving school, the chap in question changed his name. Now I knew that the one of the names involved was Tony and the other one was Julian, the trouble was that for the life of me, I could not remember which was the current name! I managed to get away with only saying his name once; I plumped for Tony and seemed to get away with it. Mind you I can’t really complain about peoples names. Although most people know me as Tom, some of you will know that my actual name is Andrew Thomas. Tom is just a nickname, which I picked up, in the early years of school life. So the situation now is that the members of my family call me Andrew. Orynthia and all her family, plus all our friends call me Tom. Whilst people who know me from work call me Andy. It can all get a bit confusing, especially when I’m signing Xmas and birthday cards. Orynthia has to say “now you are Andrew to this person” or Andy to this one. I still manage to make mistakes from time. It’s a bit embarrassing when you get confused about your own name.

Friday, January 03, 2003

Not much more news on the body that was found at the railway station yesterday, so I guess we can assume that the person did not die as a result of foul play. It’s strange that something like that can happen and then just disappear from the news stories.

Anyway onto brighter things. On New Years day we managed to catch up with our old friends Kev & Julie, who were back in Bristol for the New Year. We enjoyed it so much that we are going to meet up again this evening for a meal at Hullabaloos on Whiteladies Road. It’s a while since we have eaten there, so it will be interesting to see what it’s like these days. It is very strange to think that it is Friday today, it always gets confusing at this time of year, all day yesterday I was convinced that it was Monday, suddenly we are on the edge of the weekend! Now that’s the sort of working week that I like!!

Last night we watched Royal Tenenbaums on DVD. We saw it in the cinema when it was released and both of us really liked it. I think I liked it even more this time, the whole cast are just fantastic. The film is just packed with so much subtle humour, and as Orynthia has just pointed out to me whilst we were at lunch, the music is great as well. Taken as a whole, it really is a treat.

As predicted on a previous entry, having returned to work, I have managed to get back in the routine of reading again. I am now about half way through The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith. I along with many other people thoroughly enjoyed her previous novel White Teeth; so far this latest offering is not nearly as captivating. Sometimes it appears that she is trying rather too hard, to make pull off a literary trick rather than concentrate on the fundamentals of developing the plot. Still, it may pick up in the 2nd half.

I’ve mainly been listening to the following over the Xmas period: Velvet Underground -box set, Radio 4 – Gotham, Death Cab For Cutie – We have the facts and were voting yes +3, Beth Gibbons & Rustin’ Man – Out of season.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Strange start to the day, when I arrived at Redland station this morning, the sight of several ambulances and police vehicles greeted me. To cut a long story short a body was discovered on the track, the odd thing amongst this sad situation is that the incident did not make the local TV news this evening. Very strange.