Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Yesterday Orynthia's dad finally came home from hospital. Must admit I can't remember exactly when he went into hospital, but I guess that it must have been sometime in January. He still can't walk but I think it's a relief to be at home, it saves Orynthia's mum an awful lot of dashing back and forth to the hospital. They probably still need to a more user friendly house, so they still have a bit of upheaval to go through.

I had to make use of the excellent NHS drop in facilities myself yesterday. Ever since the Ashton Court festival, one of my eyes has been looking rather red, which did not worry me too much, but over the weekend, I noticed that a little lump was forming on my eye. So rather than wait a couple of days to see my local doctor, I nipped along to the walk in centre in town. I had to wait about 40 minutes before seeing a doctor, who then informed me that I had conjunctivitis, so nothing to worry about. He gave me some drops to take for a week and that should sort everything out. My only problem now, is trying to get the drops in my eye, rather than on my cheek or forehead! Its fine at home when Orynthia can deliver the drops, but left to my own devices it can get a bit messy.

The countdown to the start of the football season is now well under way. City's first league game of the season is on August 9th, when we are playing Notts County at Ashton Gate. A few weeks ago we lost Scott Murray our top scorer from last season, so I'm pleased to see that we have bought in Lee Miller a promising young Scottish striker and we are also looking to pick up a winger from premiership Middlesbrough. So hopefully, all the old crowd will be able to meet up, in an optimistic frame of mind, in that fine old pub the Nova Scotia for a pre match drink on the day. I was talking to some of the lads I play football with after our game last night, and they were fascinated by the idea that I have lots of mates that I only ever see at football related things. I suppose, it is quite odd that sometimes, I will see these guys 3 times in a week, for several hours at a time and yet in most cases we know very little about each other. Married or single, where they live, what they do for a job, nothing like that really gets discussed. We mainly end up talking about football and music, as we share the moans and groans over the next nine months of being a fan, of a unglamorous team.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Well I’ve made the work decision and I could be leaving. More will be known in the next week or so, but basically its up to the company now. Quite excited by the prospect!

At the moment I am loving the long awaited debut album by the over monikered Martina Topley-Bird, Quixotic is a gorgeous CD. Delighted that she will be playing at the Massive Attack extravaganza in Bristol next month. Also picked up the new CD by the Mink Lungs, although have only skipped through it so far. Finally picked up Street Dad by the grovesome Out Hud. It’s very different to the live band which I saw supporting Radio 4 a few months ago, no vocals for a start. But it’s full of splendid dubby electro tunes. Think New Order produced by Adrian Sherwood, and you will be on the right lines.

Having finished the under whelming Secret History by Donna Tartt, I’ve moved to something much more interesting, Ghostwritten by David Mitchell. His Number 9 dream was one of my favourite reads of last year and this earlier novel by him is just as intriguing and engaging. The echoes and influence of Haruki Murakami still leap out, but it’s fine stuff.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Woke up this morning (queue blues riff in the background) in an extremely tired state. All the result of the weekend exertions at Ashton Court, with a late night BBQ thrown in for good measure.

Saturday was a very sociable day, as we bumped into most of our friends pretty soon, as they gathered together watch Steve Dew's final performance in the now defunct Parkers Barton. Once they finished we set off on the traditional wander around the site, looking for exciting new food stalls, of which there were none and checking out the vast array of 2nd hand clothes. We hung around long enough to catch an impressive performance from Little Barrie, before heading home before the arrival of Robert Plant. We were home only briefly as Geoff and Emma were having a BBQ to celebrate Emma's birthday. Although, we did not arrive until about 10pm, we still managed to grab some very tasty grub before the serious drinking began. Eventually we walked home at around 2 in the morning.

Sunday was more of the same, managed to catch another of the Monday night football lads playing in his band Organelles. Very good they were as well, a gentle, ethereal sound featuring some gorgeous trumpet playing, I'll keep my ears open for them in the future. Sometimes I feel as though I'm the only one of our football crowd that isn't either in a band or in some sort of creative group. We have an eclectic mix of musicians, DJ's, wildlife cameramen, and artists all running around together, in fact on one occasion a few weeks ago, we worked out that we had 7 drummers playing in one of our games! Somehow we still manage to play without any sense of timing! After that we saw another one of Steve Dew's bands, the inimitable Fuzz Against Junk, as they took us back to the days of the psychedelic jams of the early 70's. much to Orynthia consternation we then wandered off to watch riff merchants extraordinaire Gonga, it certainly felt like we had travelled back 30 years in time! By now the clouds were starting to gather and the temperature had dropped a few degrees. Luckily we managed to find a lovely warm tent, selling hot chocolate, and cakes where we could sit down a relax for 20 minutes. Next up were the highly rated Brighton band The Electric Soft Parade, I have to say they we a huge disappointment, so much so that we walked off to stand in front of the empty main stage for 20 minutes to wait for McKay to perform, rather than endure any more of their self indulgent nonsense. Mckay was great, she seemed to be genuinely thrilled to be back in Bristol and put in a storming performance, shame that it was only 45 minutes long, due to the 11pm curfew. It was nice to end the weekend on such an upbeat note.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Excellent piece in Thursdays Guardian on graffiti star Banksy. A former resident of Bristol, he has acquired an air of mystique, through the fact that hardly anyone knows who he is. His reputation rests on the brilliantly humorous and inventive work which he produces. Lot's of his work is on display around town, a few years ago he made the move to London and things look as though they have gone very well for him. A couple of small books of his work have emerged and he did the cover for the latest Blur album, take a look at his website for a snapshot of his work.

You can find a report of his show with pictures here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Boy oh boy, was it hot in The Cube last night! Still we really enjoyed Wonder Boys. We dressed as cool as we could, Orynthia in her amazing 2nd hand dress from Glastonbury, me in my Shag designed Aloha shirt. That’s cool as in not hot, not as in Milan fashion week. After the film, we nipped into the deserted Bell, where Ian Green told us that he had a picture of his mum and dad from the 1950’s dressed in the same manner. Fine by us.

Everyone getting pregnant at the moment, well a slight exaggeration. In the past 2 days I heard that one of the lads I play football is going to be a dad, as is one of my workmates. Also heard from Australia that Carlson and Cathy are expecting twins! Also down under it’s a matter of weeks before Sorelle and Jen both give birth. Then again, I was chatting to someone else in work, who been caught up in a terrible run of unexpected deaths recently. It’s strange the way these things always seem to come in groups, for the moment I’m quite happy to keep away from both end of the spectrum.

On the music front, I've really been enjoying The Thrills album So Much For The City, its perfect summer pop music, but how can a band from Ireland write so many songs about the USA? Also picked up the Kings Of Leon CD, not quite sure about that one yet. I am enjoying Again by Colder, even if it does sound like it could have been released in the early 1980’s. Last but not least Kraftwerks Tour De France 2003 EP is a fine thing.

D Day is getting nearer for my big work decision. I think my mind is made up, fairly soon I could be heading off in a new direction, only snag is, I don’t really know what the direction is?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

What a very untypical English summer we are having. Yesterday it was so hot the our train home was cancelled as the tracks had buckled in the heat! Despite that we still played football last night, how daft are we? For once I managed to score a bit of a blinding goal, as I hit a peach of a short from about 30 yards. I don't know who was more surprised, the lads who are used to my lame efforts every week, or me.

Getting back to the railway tracks issue, I do wonder what happens, in other - hotter parts of the world? Yesterday I think that it was about 32c, pretty warm for Bristol, but no comparision to the tempretures which the lines which snake across the dusty plains of Spain, India and the USA are exposed to. How do these countries cope?

Tonight we are going to my favourite cinema, The Cube to see The Wonder Boys. For some reason, they have decided that on Tuesdays it’s only £2 to see a film. What a bargin. We missed The Wonder Boys first time around, although the feedback was pretty good from our friends.

Things are starting to build nicely for the start of the football season. Bristol City's first league match is on August 9th, however we have lost a couple of important players from last season's squad and at the moment no fresh faces have come in. According to the bookies, we are 3rd favourites to gain promotion behind QPR and Sheffield Wednesday. We do have a couple of pre season friendlies lined up, but I think I'll wait for the real stuff to begin.

On Thursday Orynthia's dad is going home for the day, for a sort of trial run to see how he gets on aroud the house with his wheelchair. Then it's back to hospital for a short time before he comes home for good. They are still hopping to move house, as their current home has dreadfull access problems, loads of steps everywhere, really impractical for both of them as they get older.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Can't quite believe it's Friday again, the week has just flown past. We are aiming for a quiet weekend after lots of recent late nights, and the fact that next weekend will be spent at Ashton Court for the festival. Time to spend a bit of time at home, we've still got stuff to put away following the Glastonbury weekend, if we don't do this weekend it may never get done!

We got some films developed this week, and was quite surprised to see photo's going back as far as last September when we went down to Cornwall for a short break. Consequently discovered pictures from all our recent holidays, Cornwall, Nice and Paris plus lots of other nice shots. If I find any time I'll to make some of them available via this site.

Having finished the Raymond Carver short stories, which were excellent, I finally got round to reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I'm about 200 pages in and it's starting to grip, but I can't help thinking that it's taking a very long time to get where it's going.

Don't want to say too much, but I've got to make a very big decision regarding work over the next 10 days. Nervous but excited!

Monday, July 07, 2003

Well since our return from Glasto, it seems like 90% of the conversations I have had with people have been about THAT weekend. I'd forgotten how many people from Bristol go to the festival, those that didn't make it tended to watch lots of it on TV, so everyone has been comparing notes, on what they saw or did. It sounds like everyone who went had a great time.

We had an interesting night out on Friday. A number of artists have been commissioned to create artworks relating to the dock area of central Bristol, included in this group are our friends Anna Oliver and John Pym. This Friday marked the launch of the project, so I meet Orynthia straight from work and we set off to catch some of the work. Anna's work was the first thing that we saw, over recent months Anna has been asking people to send in their stories and memories of the docks (you can see these at her website, see link on right of page), she has taken over a derelict corner of the docks and decorated it with these stories. Some funny and poignant stuff here and anyone who has lived in Bristol for any length of time will find something that triggers a memory. Yesterday we took a look at John's installation, once again he plays with daylight and space in a slightly unsettling way. Worth taking at look at if you can. It's located opposite the main fire station in Bristol and it was good to see the fireman checking it out and encouraging their mates to take a look.

Later in the evening, we ventured up to a pub call The Greyhound In Clifton. Over the past couple of weeks, our friend rob has started playing old Ska, R & B and rock and roll records in the backroom of the pub. Rob had assured us that hardly anyone turns up, so we ventured in expect to find a handful of people. We were somewhat confused to walk in to a small room which featured about 15 very drunken blokes, who were in the later stages of a "stag" night. What joy! We managed to find ourselves a table in the corner which was farthest away from them (only about 10 feet), whilst Orynthia was waiting to be served, one of the happy gang who had been sitting on the Pool table behind Rob, leant forward and just kept going. Landing head first with good old thump! His mates gathered round and managed to get him back on the Pool table whereupon he decided to throw his cigarette away, unfortunately he decided to throw it into Robs record box! Things started to get a bit heated (in more ways than one!) and for a while I thought that we were heading into a classic bar room brawl, with us lot hiding in the corner. Luckily some of the stag party managed to combine with the landlord and calm things down, before the group were ushered away into the night. Not quite the quiet end to the evening that we had planned.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Well, I can still feel the sunburn on the back of my legs, and I could swear that my festival wristband was still in place, but the Glastonbury experience is over!

What a brilliant 4 days, everything went remarkably well. Hey, the lovely John Stapleton even put our tent up for us, the day before we arrived, in order to make sure that we could camp with friends from Bristol!

Arriving on a sleepy site at around 9am was a strange experience. The 70,000 people who were already on site had obviously enjoyed a lively Thursday evening, as people were about as common as a guitar solo in the dance tent. Thanks to John we were able to obtain passes to get into the backstage camping area for the One World Stage, where we had access to reasonable toilets and even shower and sauna facilities!

Whilst we were in the Left Field tent waiting to see Jeremy Hardy (one of the few no shows over the weekend), the sound of rain falling on canvas could be heard, for the next hour it rained pretty hard, before eventually turning into the dull drizzle which greeted us, as walked over to see Chuck Prophet entertaining the small and soggy crowd in front of the One World Stage. Luckily that was about as damp as things got, by the time we had grabbed some food, and wandered over to watch Yo La Tengo giving a sometimes inspired, sometimes indulgent performance the sun was breaking through and all was well. I spent a while relaxing in the backstage area where the luxury of having proper chairs, a bar with no queue and odour free toilets we proving to be very popular. We managed to catch up with Orynthia’s sister and her kids for an hour or so, enabling us to hand over the additional drink and food which we had bought into the site for them. Later we caught a short burst of the Skatelites as we munched our way through a Gambian meal. Then it was over to the main stage to see about 25 minutes of REM. Although to be honest we were so far away from the stage, we had to watch the performance on the giant monitor screens, before we snuck off to The Other Stage to catch a remarkably lively Primal Scream in action. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Bobby G. as animated as he was in this show. Although John and his other “Blowpop” pals were putting on some entertainment in a marquee in our camping area, we retired to bed at about 1am, with earplugs firmly in place, as the party was due to go on all through the night.

Saturday dawned sunny and bright and we all emerged from our tents to wish Jane a happy birthday. Musically the first thing on the agenda was an old favourite of Orynthia’s schooldays, Linda Lewis. A brilliant voice and a lovely personality masked the fact that her choice of songs left a bit to be desired, it was however a nice way to ease ourselves into the day. And what a day it was, the sun shone brightly as we enjoyed great sets by The Thrills and The Stands before heading back to main stage to see the effervescent Polyphonic Spree burst on the stage as the vast crowd melted in the baking sunshine. By way of contrast, I then made my way over to The Other Stage in order to see Interpol. They were great, it can’t be easy to playing brooding music on a hot sunny afternoon, but they managed to pull it off. Amazingly Carlos managed to keep his jumper on for the whole set! Next up were The Libertines, who despite all the problems facing the band at the moment, managed to put in a blistering performance and they deservedly went down a storm with the crowd. We then went back to the main stage to see Suprgrass, must admit that I’ve never really “got” Supergrass, so after 3 or 4 songs we went back to the camp to meet up with our friends before The Flaming lips set. They were the one band that virtually everyone in our group wanted to see and they didn’t disappoint. A madcap wonderfully engaging show, which importantly also features some killer tunes left everyone beaming from ear to ear when they finished their set with a cover of Breathe by Pink Floyd. We decided to ignore the bleating of Radiohead and instead went off to one of the strangest parts of the vast festival site, Lost Vagueness. An amazing area which features a Ballroom complete with Cancan dancers and cocktails, a silver service restaurant with a strict dress code and our destination for the evening The casino. Now to gain entrance to the Casino you have to be dressed up, as most people who go to Glastonbury turn up with 1 T shirt, and a pair of shorts, they will very kindly hire you the most amazing clothes – Ball gowns, Tuxedos, feather boa’s and the like. Luckily for me I managed to get the last man’s jacket, other wise I would have had to wear a dress (as many men did). The entertainment inside The Casino was sublime; a bizarre decadent 1940’s style cabaret review has us alternating between uncontrollable laughter and open-mouthed astonishment. The (cheap) champagne flowed and the whole thing turned into the greatest fancy dress party in the world. We stopped for an hour or so in the Blowpop tent, telling everyone what a fantastic time we had. Finally we staggered off to bed, very drunk long before the 5am finish. Brilliant!

On Sunday we were eased into the day by the occasionally brilliant My Morning Jacket, before heading up to the sun drenched grass outside the Acoustic Stage to see Roddy Frame, after a few years in the wilderness Roddy appears to be right back on form and the large crowd cheered him on wildly. I then took the long walk back to The Other Stage to see The Raveonettes only to be greeted by a deserted field, as they were apparently another no show. Orynthia than watched Macy Gray on the Main Stage whilst I enjoyed The Rapture with guest dancer Bez joining them for their final song. Orynthia walked over to join me and we watched the charming Grandaddy together. As with all the American bands, they were very keen to tell us exactly where in the U.S. of A. they came from and seemed to be genuinely delighted to be playing the festival. By now we were getting seriously tired, so we decided to grab some food then head back to the comfy seats of the backstage area of The One World stage, where we listened to Calexico playing a great set. We managed to drag our legs round to the front of stage area for their last song and that turned out to be the last band we saw. A fitting way to end it for us, as they were superb. Rather than watch Moby or Tricky we went to the Green field area to see the Glastonbury stone circle and see at close hand the breathtaking firework display at midnight from the hill, which gave us an amazing view over the vast and wonderful site. We made our way slowly back to our campsite, taking in the beautiful and relaxed atmosphere of the green field tents and Tipi’s along the way.

Monday morning, we all slept in late, before dismantling the tents and saying goodbye to friends old and new. It was clear that the traffic was going to take a very long time to disperse, so after dropping our gear in the car, we walked back into the site for a final meal, whilst we watched the site slowly being dismantled. We finally left at around 4pm after 4 unforgettable days. So many things to see and do, so much terrific food, from every part of the world. So many lovely people.