Thursday, October 30, 2003

Last night's Fuzz against Junk gig was a disappointment. They missed the drive and exuberance of Steve Dew on drums, although Keith did his best to replace the irreplaceable, it was just not the same. The other problem was that the expanded FAJ line up just seemed to be too unwieldy. Never mind the forthcoming album is good, so we can concentrate on that for a while. They are playing again on Friday with The Egg at Fiddlers, but we won't be able to get to that one.

One of Orynthia's colleagues is a huge fan of The Egg, so much so that he is going to dash away from a black tie ball, in order to catch their set at around midnight. I really hope that he arrives in his suit, I love it when people wear inappropriate clothing to things. A few years ago, several of us decided to sympathise with a friend of ours who had to go to evening games at the city ground wearing suit (he had to come to the ground straight from work). So there we were, sitting proudly amongst the leisure wearing masses, looking like a group of off duty hit men. Suits on, ties flying the breeze. We did get some strange looks from the people around us, as sartorial elegance is normally frowned upon in footballing circles.

I'm never sure which is the worst scenario, go to an event dressed to the nines (or as close as I can get to that!), only to discover that everyone else is in jeans and T shirts, or looking like a weekender when the rest of the gang are ready for an Oscar party. Dress codes are one of the changes that I am going to have to get used to over the next few weeks. My current job is a suit and tie sort of affair, can't quite see that being suitable in the record shop somehow. I do quite enjoy getting into a suit and dressing up for the right occasion (such as the Dexys gig on Monday), but wearing a suit day in, day out does take the edge off those situations. Part of me has always yearned for those long lost days from the pre 1960's period, when a man would not dream of stepping from the house, without his brogues on his feet, wearing an immaculate 3 piece suit and trilby perched upon his head.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Last night we witnessed the triumphant return of Dexys. The band were on top form, and Kev prowled the stage, looking for all the world as though he was a benevolent dictator from a small south American country in the 1930's. Passionate performance, interspersed with customary on stage chat of the "So Kev tell us ….." which all worked perfectly. This review in The Guardian sums it up.

Today I cashed in my rail season ticket, as I will no longer be using the train to get to work. I also had my last lunchtime visit to the little café on platform 11 of Temple Meads station. For the past year or so I've spent the hour between 12 and 1 in the café, reading a book or The Guardian whilst enjoying a large coffee and a piece of splendid home made cake for the bargain price of £1.99. The memory of their splendid Cherry cake, Flapjack and Bread Pudding will live long in the memory. I'm not really sure what the situation will be with regard to lunch breaks at Imperial, whilst it's true that Park Street is well blessed with trendy cafes, somehow it just won't be the same as popping in to see the pleasant old couple that run the place.

Monday, October 27, 2003

BBC Radio 6, what a great station. Where else could I hear the glorious Take the skinheads bowling by Camper Van Beethoven at 5pm in the afternoon? Magnificent.

I’m starting to get very jealous of our friends Jon and Katja. Next Tuesday they are off to New York for their first visit. We’ve been chatting with them about their forthcoming trip for a couple of weeks and yesterday afternoon, we compiled an email telling them about some of our favourite things to see and do. Later we popped round to see them and bizarrely I found myself thinking that we were going rather than them! I’m sure that they will have a great time, how could they fail to, it’s the best place in the world. Jon’s even playing a solo gig at Arlenes Grocery on November 11th as part of the IPO festival.

We had a very hectic and social weekend, Four Corners on Friday night, followed by a party at my friend Jackie’s house on Saturday night. We made full use of the extra hour, by staying up until 4am. Didn’t really mean to, but as usual in Bristol, getting a taxi home on a Saturday evening was virtually impossible.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

You must try this!Go to the splendidiser section of the site. enter your URL of choice, why not use this page and enjoy!

Last night I watched a wonderful programme on the BBC radiophonic workshop. It was a unit which provided all the strange and spooky electronic music for BBC TV and radio shows from the late 1950's onwards. This was in the days before synthesisers and samplers, so they had to invent new ways of making music, mainly by using banks of tape machines, which they loop or cut up to create the desired sounds. The most famous example of their work in this country is the theme music for Dr Who, but the programme was packed with examples of their work, many of which bought back very distant memories of TV viewing in my youth.

Much of the music still sounded amazingly contemporary and inventive and it was interesting to hear about the flood of complaints which some of their "music" attracted at the time. It seemed that things were never quite the same once more sophisticated machinery became available to them. The lack of equipment prompted amazing ingenuity and creativity which was sadly lost when things changed in the 1970's. A few months ago the BBC broadcast a play focusing on the enigmatic Delia Derbyshire, one of the most creative members of the team, it charted he disillusionment with the changing face of the BBC, which prompted her early departure from the team. It also focused on her delight and amazement when years later she was hailed as a inspiration by the likes of Stereolab and Aphex Twin.

The pleasure I took from watching that programme, was a stark contrast to the sadness I felt earlier in the day, when I read about the death of Elliott Smith. I became aware of his work when Elvis Costello mentioned the Either/Or album in his list of albums of the year for 1997. I picked up a copy, which took a couple plays before the full scope of his talent crept up on me. We then saw him supporting Belle and Sebastian in Nottingham, well heard rather than saw, as he was sitting on a chair, so I only really saw the top of his hat. We also saw him hanging around at The Bowlie (although he was not performing), where our friend Stuart had a brief chat with him. The subsequent albums were good but he never became the star, which he was tipped to be, in hindsight that appears to be down his determination to remain his own man, coupled with the drink and drugs problems which I was unaware off before yesterday's shocking development.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

So yesterday saw the release of the new album by The Strokes and the career spanning DVD from Belle and Sebastian. Two very different bands, both however have their home on the newly rejuvenated Rough Trade Records. Back in the late 1970's Rough Trade was at the forefront of the burgeoning independent record label seen, which exploded in tandem with punk. I must say that it's great to see the label in such good health again with the likes of The Libertines and British Sea Power also doing well for the label.

Last night was the first cold session for the Monday night football. I've always enjoyed playing in the cold weather, once you get past the initial "What on earth are doing out here…" and start running around it's fine. It also tends to prompt a faster game, as everyone is running around like lunatics in an effort to keep warm. Sometimes when the weather is too warm the games can become a bit languid for my liking, of course the main reason I don't like the warm weather is that the slower game is often more skilful and I was never blessed with the greatest amount of finesse. I much prefer running around like a nutcase and lamping ball into outer space!

Next week is looking pretty busy! So far the schedule looks something like this: Monday - play football, Tuesday - Dexy's at the Colston Hall, Wednesday - Fuzz Against Junk + Damo Suzuki (former member of Can), Thursday - The Lucksmiths at The Porter Butt in Bath, Friday - Last day in work, leaving bash, Saturday City V Sheffield Wednesday, Sunday - The Raveonettes at The Fleece, Monday - Start new job at Imperial Music, I also have of couple of farewell breakfasts, to squeeze in so it's fair to say that it's a pretty hectic time at the moment!

Friday, October 17, 2003

So there I was in the car showroom, struggling to act like the responsible 41 year old that I am. I was there to pick up and pay for our new (new 2nd hand, not new - new, you understand) car (yes another Fiat Seicento, which won't surprise anyone that knows us) when the dreadful moment arrived, the salesmen passed the phone over to me saying the bank just want to verify that you are the owner of the debit card. Fine, I think I know my mothers maiden name, I know my full name and at a push I could probably guess my date of birth, What can go wrong?

The first question throws me completely, "Other than utility companies can I tell them any other direct debits that we have on this account." Instantly I freeze, then suddenly inspiration comes and I mention a charity direct debit which we have, I radiate a warm glow of satisfaction. The follow up question comes and it's the banker "What is your mother's maiden name?" Bingo! I pass the phone back to the salesman with confidence, only to hear him say "Oh no, that's a shame" not really the response I was hoping for. The sales chap hangs up and tells me that my bank have rejected the transaction and that I need to call them.

So I'm covered in confusion, and convinced that not only will I not be able to take the car home, but worse still I'm going to be arrested for credit card fraud and whisked away to Staple Hill police station for the night. So I do the only thing that could save the situation, I call Orynthia! Whereupon I realise that the direct debit information I gave, actually comes from the other bank account which we have, hence the rejection!

A few minutes later, Orynthia calls back to say that she has spoken to the bank, they are not able to do anything without the trader being on the call, so Orynthia gives me all the information she can think of regarding the account and the (ever so patient) trader calls his people again. Eventually the moment of truth arrives and the phone is passed over to me. This time the first question is the "mothers maiden name…" one, I answer and then I get asked the direct debit question again, having been primed I can now answer this one. Then disaster, they ask me how long I have had the account?

I'm sure that once you get past 30 everything that has happened previously, appears to have taken place in the last 3 or 4 years (if you can remember it all!). Question - When did you first see Nick Cave. Me - oh about 4 years ago, actual answer 1985! When did you go to Milan - oh about 3-4 years ago, actual answer 1992. See what I mean. So this sort of question just throws me completely, and I tell the guy on the other end of the phone that I have no idea. He won't take that as answer so, we get into a conversation where he is trying to get me to guess at a date. The best I can come up with is that I know that I did not have the account before we were married, so it's some time since February 1987. "So", the guy say's "we can say that you’ve had the account for 15-20 years?" No, I reply, it's 17 years at the most but it might only be 4 or 5 years. We go on like this for a while and eventually, I think that the chap starts to pity the poor senile person that he is talking to and just seems to give up trying to get a definitive response out of me. He asks me to hand the phone back to the trader and after a nervous minute or two he gives me the thumbs up, and the deal is done.

I drove off into the early evening sunshine, with a relieved smile on my face.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Orynthia and I were talking about scrapbooks last night, in particular the fact that my Grandfather used to keep a scrapbook which I found fascinating as a child. He would cut out all sorts of things from newspapers, sports news, articles on the changing face of Bristol, the occasional polemical comment feature from the national press and assorted other bits and bobs.

When I was young, I found it amazing to read through these scrapbooks, it really sparked an interest in the city I lived in, and this has stayed with me ever since. Thinking about it now I'm curious to know why my grandfather started to collect these fragments. The books started off in the mid 1960's when he would have been well into in 50's. I know that he was forced to give up work well before that, due to ill health, so I guess it was a way of filling the hours. This was in the days before daytime TV, not that he was ever very bothered about TV from my recollections. He would groan his way through Top Of The Pops, with my sister and I, watch the occasional game of football with me, and laugh his way through various 70's TV comedy shows.

He was always a keen reader, and my happiest memories of visits to stay with my grandparents in the country, are of sitting on a bench, in front of the elderberry bush, in the seemingly huge back garden and reading my way though the endless supply of detective fiction that was available in the house. If I was thirsty, I could reach across and pump up some water from the well beneath the house.

Anyway I still wonder why he started to keep a scrapbook at a relatively late stage of his life? Orynthia and I started the conversation because of a section in the Andrew Collins book "Where Did It All Go Right". Apparently his grandfather used to keep folders of cuttings and assorted bits and bobs, and one day Andrew Collins found a folder full of stuff about him, which must have been a bit strange. I don't think that I ever made it into my granddad's book, but once my father was asked to comment on a football match by the local paper, and that was added to the scrapbook. I remember reading that several years after the event and being very impressed, of course these days the Monday edition of the Evening Post has masses of oh so witty, text messages, regarding the weekends entertainment. Somehow they just don't carry the same weight as my fathers comments from all those years ago.

In many ways, web logs such as this are the current equivalent to the scrapbooks of yesterday. Many blogs are crammed with links to other peoples favourite articles and writers. It's nice to think that I'm carrying something on which my grandfather started.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

The view from our house

So only 15 working days left before my change of direction. Starting to get very excited about the upcoming changes!!

In true Bristol City style, what should have our easiest game of recent weeks ended up in a disappointing 1-1 draw on Friday evening. Still it was nothing less than Petborough deserved. So even though their equaliser came in the last minute of the match, no City fans could complain about bad luck.

On Saturday evening I met up with Pete and a couple of his mates to watch the England – Turkey match in the Kellaway Arms. It was a perfect reminder of the all the reasons I have for not watching games in the pub. People drifting in front of the screen, constantly, moronic comments from people around us, then a blazing row erupting between a couple of women who were about 3 feet away from me. It was an education, of sorts! Still England played really well and got the result they needed to put them into next summer’s European championship.

On leaving the pub straight after the end of the match, I nipped home to pick up Orynthia and we went down to The Cube. Another very enjoyable night at this wonderful little place. First up were Empress, a new band to me, a two specialising in quiet, sparse soundscapes along the lines of Aerial M or Smog, interesting without being great. Then after a short break the vastly increased line up of The Pastels took to the stage. A different points of the evening 9 people were on the stage including on lead / rhythm guitar, rather than his normal bass, the lovely Gerry Love from The Teenage Fanclub. Have to say that I was very impressed with the new look Pastels. Some gorgeous, brooding new instrumentals being the highlight for me. Apparently these were from the soundtrack to a film called The Last Great Wilderness.

On Tuesday, we will be back at The Cube again for the film Jeremy Hardy Vs The Israeli Army.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

If you ever travel around Bristol by bike, on foot or via public transport, then this journey planner is a brilliant thing. Unlike some route planners, it includes routes that cars can’t use. So if I want to know the quickest route for walking from our house to Park Street, this will give me a route, which goes through the park at Redland Green.

Tomorrow night were off to Glasnost to help celebrate Helens birthday. The food is usually great, so I guess we will be adding a couple of inches onto the ever-expanding waistline.

I’m reading The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster. Without reading all his stuff, I have been a fan of his work since picking up the New York Trilogy why back when… TBOI is proving to be a very intriguing read so far, which is in stark contrast to Koba The Dread by Martin Amis. Honestly, I really tried to read it, but it is written in such a slapdash yet heavy-handed way that I just could not manage the whole thing. If ever a book need the attention of a good editor it’s this one.

Monday, October 06, 2003

If you like the Go Betweens or you like hair, then you have to read this it’s a bit scary!

Last night Petunia came round for some food and chat before we headed down to The Fleece, for some rock n’ roll frenzy! Well not really frenzy, but a top night out anyway. 1st up and very early it was, so the audience was the proverbial 3 men and a dog was Adam Masterson. Must admit that I’d never heard of him or his band before, they growled their way through a set of Springsteen pastiches, with all the charisma of a week old cabbage. Maybe the songs are good, but on this showing it was impossible to tell.

Next were new scouse fav’s The Stands. Only about a month since we last saw them headlining at the Louisiana, they ripped through a pretty short set, with the usual aplomb. We liked them even more than usual, as we were able to pinch their seats, when they got up to play. Thanks lads.

Headlining the show was the often erratic, sometimes brilliant Shack. Now few bands have had a tougher time of it than this lot over the last 10 years or so. Yet somehow they are still able to turn out wonderful, tender and touching songs, which often hint at the troubles, they have seen. A genially tipsy Michael Head, seemed to have arrived with no real set list, and was more than happy to engage in banter with the audience and take any requests, which were thrown his way. This willingness to have a go resulted in several songs being aborted well past the countdown! Yet nothing could spoil the atmosphere and no sooner had one song collapsed around the band, than they would launch into one of the seemingly effortless, gorgeous Jazzy, psychedelic, folksy pop songs which make them such a cherished band. The last time they came to town it all went a bit wrong and ended with smashed guitars and barely contained paranoia ruining the gig. This time it was smiles all round and the crowd drifted into the damp Bristol evening with a definite skip in their step.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Before City’s exciting 2-1 victory over Swindon this afternoon, I was chatting to the following people outside The Nova Scotia public house. Graham, who travelled from Naples Italy, Steve, who travelled from Hamburg Germany, Simon and his son from Winslow approx 120 miles away, Richard from Birmingham approx 70 miles away. I felt rather lazy to only have driven about 3 miles to the match. Still we all enjoyed the spirited 2nd half performance and the win that takes us above Swindon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Great result for Bristol City last night, the 1-0 win at Plymouth followed on nicely from the draw at QPR on the weekend. So 4 points gained from a couple of very tricky away games and we now find ourselves in 7th place, with a home game against 5th placed Swindon coming up on Saturday. Dare I say that maybe, things are starting to look up?

I had a chat with my soon to be new boss yesterday, and it looks as though I'll be working 4 days a week in Imperial Music on Park Street from Monday 3rd November. I'm really looking forward to it. It will be great to get away from endless spreadsheets, interminable internal emails and starring at a laptop all day. It's strange really that I should get so excited about a huge cut in wages, but what is really amazing in the number of people who have said to me that they would love to do what I'm doing. I guess it's a bit of an adolescent dream to work in a great indie record shop and that at 41 I should be doing something more sensible. But why should I?

Whilst in the shop I picked up the new Rufus Wainwright CD, the "best of" Dexys Modnight Runners compilation, a great double CD compilation from Domino records and the new single from Camera Obscura. As we went down to The Bell last night, I've only had a chance to skip through a couple of them so far.

The Domino release is to celebrate 10 years of the label, so lots of great tracks both old and new can be found here. Dexys are the sort of band that people either love or laugh at, I think that if you ever saw them live, you loved them. The early gigs with the fantastic attack that the brass section provided were tremendous, I managed to see them couple of time in those days and they were awesome gigs. However those show's paled into insignificance when compared to the "Projected Passion Revue" show which I saw at the Old Vic In London before the 2nd album came out. The brilliantly menacing string section, which emerged from the existing band played a selection of spellbindingly intense new songs. It remains one of the greatest gigs I have ever seen. Sadly the Too-Rhy-Ay album which later emerged was a pale shadow of that performance and for years Dexys just seemed to mean "Come On Eileen", the curse of wedding disco's for years to come. One more beautiful album came out and then it went wrong for Kevin Rowland, well it looks as though he's back on form and I'm certainly looking forward to his return to Bristol on October 28th.

On Sunday we are going to see the inconsistent but occasionally brilliant Shack and The Stands at the Fleece. It's our first gig for a while, and heralds a run of gigs by The Lucksmiths, The Raveonettes and of course Dexys over the next few weeks.

Finally, Our friend Jon and his Modesty Blaise pals are taking part in the extraordinary looking International Pop Overthrow festival in Liverpool in the middle of October. Even more exciting, Jon is playing a solo set in New York when the next IPO festival takes place in November. Masses and masses of bands playing short sets, it all looks very strange.