Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I’ve fallen a bit behind with my reading recently, so I only got round to reading The Last Words On Earth by Nicole Krauss today. It was published in the Feb 9th edition of the New Yorker and I found it strangely affecting. Why not give it a go yourself.

As well as trying to catch up on my New Yorker backlog, I’m also reading the excellent Michael Chabon book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which is great fun so far (I’m about 280 pages into this 600 plus page monster).

I also read my first ever complete graphic novel, if that’s the right phrase? It was called It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken by Seth. I just noticed that it’s actually described as a picture- novella on the cover. I started to get interested in these sort of things after seeing the film Ghost World a couple of years ago.

I really like Seth’s style of drawing, it’s very simple yet strangely nostalgic. Sort of reminds of an old James Stewart film, although the book is a contemporary one. I guess it feels old because it’s all down in shades of grey/blue/black.

Our trip to The Field on Sunday evening was a pretty amazing experience. After parking the car, we had a 10-minute walk through the fields to the site of the installation. Here we found masses of fluorescent light tubes, set in rows underneath the main electricity pylons. Then we had to wait until darkness fell, it was absolutely freezing cold, on this very exposed hillside, and poor John and Jane had not bought hats with them (John did not even have gloves!). Eventually the daylight started to go and the tubes started to glow, purely from the electrical fall out from the cables overhead.

It was a strange and spooky experience, which was heightened, by the biting chill in the air, we prompted us to make our departure sooner rather than latter. You can see some pictures here, but they don’t really capture the strangeness of the evening. We rushed home for some hot alcohol to thaw out!

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Really enjoyed the Fiery Furnaces gig in Cardiff. The only problem with The Barfly, is that the stage is so low that it may as well be a hole in the ground. Consequently, in order to see anything you have to get yourself right to the front. Luckily RLF, Beren and I managed to do this. The rest of our little group stayed nearer the back and enjoyed the gig less than we did. The band was much nosier than I expected and a lot of the songs were quite different in the live setting, from their recorded versions. Lets hope they make it to Bristol next time.

Talking about music in Bristol, local improv, free rock/jazz kings Fuzz Against Junk finally have their self-titled album released via the eclectic Invada Rocks label. Anyone who has seen them in live action, will already expect the unexpected. I’ve seen them playing as 3 piece doing folky/blues instrumentals then sometimes they are a 6 or 7 piece outfit sounding more like a mixture of Sun Ra and Hawkwind. The record is full of great ideas, once these boys find a grove they really work it.

In a few hours we hope to go and see this. Should be interesting.

And yes City did make it 11 straight wins yesterday, it’s all getting rather strange! We really aren’t used to this sort of thing.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I’d just like to say thanks again to everybody that sent Orynthia and I their best wishes recently. It was really nice of you all to take the time.

The funeral was held on Wednesday morning, and went as well as could have done. It was lovely to see that so many people wanted to be part of the day, quite a few people travelled very large distances to join us. As well as being a sad occasion, many happy memories were recounted, prompted in no small part by the fantastic collection of photo’s, showing Don with friends and family from his days back in Burma, right up to the last family picture taken on Christmas morning, which were on display around the hall.

So now we have to get on with the next phase of our life, tonight we are going over to Cardiff to see the American band Fiery Furnaces at The Barfly. I really enjoyed their album, which came out last year, so am hoping for a good night. It’s actually a bit of a works outing for me as Mark. RLF and Beren are also making the journey. In an effort to avoid too much shoptalk Orynthia and Jane are also coming along to keep us in check.

We have quite a few things lined up for the forthcoming months, The Libertines on March 4th,Trashcan Sinatras and Camera Obscura in London on March 12th,Jonnathan Richmond on April 11th, Lambchop in Bath on April 19th and finally something a bit different Derren Brown the mentalist on April 29th.

Bristol City have managed to keep up their good form, in fact the midweek victory at Grimsby was our 10th win in row, meaning that the team are in their best run of form since 1905! That win also took us to the top of the league, so with 15 games to go, it looks as though we do have a real chance of getting promotion this season.

Friday, February 13, 2004

I am sorry to say that Orynthia's Dad passed away on Tuesday evening. Although he has been through several operations and was in pain for much of the time, he went peacefully in his sleep.

Monday, February 09, 2004

As requested by Ian (see comments below), you can hear the Banana song here

Friday, February 06, 2004

Many thanks for all the kind thoughts and good wishes; Orynthia’s dad is now looking much, much better.

So other than hospital trips, it’s been a fairly quiet week. We went to see the latest Tim Burton film “Big Fish” earlier in the week, and although it is a strange mixture of Billy Liar, Forest Gump (not a good thing in my book) and It’s a Wonderful Life, mixed up with Burton’s madcap visual flair, it works more often than it fails. For the first time in years, we actually missed the start of the film, something I hate doing. I don’t think we missed too much, luckily one of Ashton’s friends was in the cinema and was able to give us a quick run through after the film.

Tomorrow City are at home again, this time looking for their 8th win in a row, so I’ll be at that cheering them on.

On Monday night I’m off to see The Rapture at The Fleece, this is the 3ed date for the gig so lets hope that it actually happens this time. On the music front, the cutting edge albums, which I have bought home this week, are “Waves In The Ether”. It gathers together albums made in 1947, 1948 and 1950 featuring the Theremin and some fantastically over the top orchestral arrangements. It’s barmy and great fun. The other disc is by Ray Ventura & ses Collegiens. Oddball novelty jazz songs from 1935-47, sung in French. It features a great version of “We like Bananas, because they have no bones” called “Vive Les bananas!” Splendid stuff in both cases.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Well we have had a pretty extraordinary time since I last wrote anything here!

Just after my last entry, we received a phone call from Orynthia’s sister saying that we should get to the hospital as soon as possible. We dashed off as quickly as we could, and when we arrived things were looking very, very worrying. During the afternoon and evening the rest of the family arrived, and we took turns sitting with Don and talking about all sorts of memories. It was a long and frightening experience, only eased by the shared feeling of bemused and shocked support that we took from each other.

After the other patient’s visitors had left we were still sitting anxiously around the bedside, when a strange thing happened. One of the other patients put on a cassette of some wonderful old Frank Sinatra songs. The mood on the ward seemed to change, Orynthia’s mum was convinced that Don could hear the songs and somehow the level of tension seemed to drop by a few notches. Eventually we made our way home, making sure that no-one would be stuck at home without transport, tried to sleep (without much success) and hoped that the phone would not ring in the night. Obviously we cancelled our planned trip to Bilbao.

Saturday morning came, without disturbance. Don had been stable overnight and by the time we got to the hospital, he appeared to be a little brighter. Once again the whole family were in attendance, so as well as sitting with Don, we sat in the day room in small groups and also chatted to other patients who were very supportive. It was decided that most of the family would come back to our house for a traditional Burmese meal at the end of the day, and amazingly we left the hospital sufficiently heartened by the day’s progress to turn the meal into a mini celebration, which had the feeling of a Christmas gathering.

Once again Saturday evening saw family members sleeping over, at various homes. The night passed peacefully and when we went into the hospital on Sunday, amazingly Don was sitting up, eyes open and talking. The sense of relief and joy was really incredible. Some of things he was saying were more than a bit confused, but after 48 hours of being out of it, who could blame him. In fact some of the things he said caused us to laugh out loud and brilliantly he joined in! His face turning into a huge beaming smile, one of the most fantastic sights I have ever seen. Sunday evening saw another mass meal this time at Don’s brothers house, with everyone in high spirits.

He still has a long way to go, but the events of this remarkable weekend will live with all of us for a very long time.