Monday, May 31, 2004

Well we missed out on promotion again! Sadly City never got close to top gear in a very tight game, the fact that we only had 1 shot on target in the whole game, despite dominating for about 20 minutes of the 2nd half tells it’s own storey.

Despite the outcome we had a really nice day, having arrived in Cardiff some 6 hours before kick off, we had plenty of time to enjoy the occasion. We spent an hour or so in the wonderful museum, checking out the fantastic collection of art and chatting to the friendly staff and fellow fans of City and Brighton. Have to say that we chatted to lots of very nice Brighton fans both before and after the match, they were suitably modest about their success, hopefully we were graceful in defeat. The stadium and the noise generated by the 65,000 fans was fantastic, it was just a shame that we did not got get the chance to hear the 35,000 City fans in full voice as we surely would have done had we managed to score. Still next August I guess it will be back to the 11,000 regulars for another season of 2nd division football.

We are off to Berlin on Wednesday, so thanks to today’s bank holiday we both only have to work 1 day this week, how civilised is that. Still I better make the most of Imperial whilst I can, sadly the shop is going to close at the end of September, and so my dream job will come to an end. Although I’m sad for myself, I’m feel more for Mark and Babs, whose baby it has been and RLF, Jay Chris and Gaz who have given such brilliant service to the shop. Most of all I feel sorry for Bristol, which is losing a vital part of its music heritage. The landlord has accepted a much higher offer for the rent from someone who wants to open a bar in our location, I can’t really see that Bristol really needs another bar, but hey that’s business I guess.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

What an incredible night we had at Ashton Gate. 1-0 behind with only 2 minutes to play, we amazingly managed to win 2-1 sparking euphoric scenes all around the ground. So we now head off to Cardiff at the end of the month for one final match in this roller coaster season. If we win that it will be division 1 football for us next season.

I just have to say bad luck to Hartlepool, they really pushed us all the way, giving us a tougher match than both Plymouth and QPR did recently, it must have been a very long journey back to the north east for their fans after those final few minutes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

So yesterday I had to slip into a suit and attend a funeral for the 2nd time this year. Sheila my mum’s friend of nearly 50 years passed away last week. As is often the way with funerals the initial sadness of the event turned into a very pleasant if occasionally sombre occasion as old friends were reunited to share their memories of this lovely lady.

When I was born our family had 2 floors of 4-story house in Redland, Sheila and the rest of her family occupied the other 2 floors. When I was only 18 months old, we left the beauty of Redland for our own house in Fishponds, however we still made very regular visits to see Sheila and family in Redland. These visits obviously made a deep impression on me, as soon Orynthia and I decided to get married and therefore needed to find somewhere to live Redland was always at the top of my shopping list. Luckily we found a lovely flat on Chandos Road (still one of my favourite roads), where I could observe my first home from the kitchen window. When we finally outgrew the flat we moved across Redland Green to other side of Redland, I still love it here, so in addition to the other benefits of knowing Sheila and her family – the fantastic dry sense of humour, complete lack personal vanity, innate common sense and the willingness to do what you want to do rather than what other people think you should do – I’ll always be grateful to them for showing me what brilliant place this is to live in.

Last night we went to St Bonaventure’s to see Sufjan Stevens, Rosie Thomas and Iron and Wine. This was a rather odd quirk of fate as Sheila’s last job in Bristol was working at St Bon’s. My main interest in the gig was the chance to Sufjan Stevens whose Seven Swans album is one of my favourites of the year so far. Before the gig their was lots of discussion about the running order, it turned out that Sufjan was first up, playing a delightful set which was augmented with his entertaining drawings and discussions as he took us on a virtual trip around his home state of Michigan. Next up was Rosie Thomas a hugely entertaining character best described as kookie, her songs were not really to my liking but you could hardly fail to impressed by her witty and warm personality. Finally along came Iron and Wine, now the 2 albums released by Iron and Wine had mainly struck me as pleasant but had not prepared me for the beauty of their performance. A particular highlight of the evening was a great cover version of the Flaming Lips gem “Waiting for Superman” which was just marvellous. Time to listen to the albums a bit more closely I think.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Newcastle trip turned out to be a very “arty” experience. As hoped, the William Roberts exhibition at the Hatton Gallery was both comprehensive and exhilarating. Thursday evening was spent in Art Deco splendour of The Tyneside Cinema watching the confusing but spellbinding “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” On Friday we crossed the Tyne to Gateshead, pausing to look at emerging silver slug (we liked it honest) which is Sage, the new concert hall, before heading onto the sweeping Millennium bridge and the huge Baltic gallery. Then on Friday evening we went to the preview opening night of the splendidly irreverent Fluxus show at The Waygood Gallery. All sorts of crazy fun to be had here, the highlight of which was a performance by Alison Knowles, which you had to see to understand. On Saturday morning we spent our last few hours checking out the gallery at The Biscuit Factory. So all in all our artistic hunger was pretty well served.

Thanks to the super efficient metro system we even managed to get out to the coast for an hour or so for a brief visit to Tynemouth. Also managed to grab a cup of tea at the amazing home of Newcastle United, what a stadium! Newcastle reminded me a lot of Glasgow, especially in the way that you can move from a very nice area into a slightly dodgy one, simply by crossing the street. Overall though, we really enjoyed our trip to this vibrant city. The only downside was the stag weekend party, which took place on the landing outside our hotel room during most of the early hours of Saturday morning!

Managed to get back to the West Country in time to watch Bristol City’s lamentable performance in the 1st leg of our play off match against Hartlepool. Somehow we escaped with a draw. We will have to play an awful lot better on Wednesday evening, to have any hope of getting to the play off final.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

OK we are off here for a few days. Will let you know how we got on next week.

Anyone who is at a loose end in Bristol over the next few days should check out the Venn Festival. Lot’s of interesting music at various venues around Stokes Croft.

Monday, May 10, 2004

So the football did not work out quite the way we hoped. City did their bit by beating Blackpool, however QPR managed to win at Sheffield Wednesday, clinching their promotion and condemning us to the uncertainty of the play off’s yet again. Although all City fan’s can look back on many occasions this season where we allowed points to slip away, I don’t think that we can begrudge QPR their success. In particular we have to give due respect to the brilliant job done by Ian Holloway. Now Mr Holloway is a much derided figure in the red half of Bristol because of his connection with our city rivals, but when you look at the financial mess that QPR have been in during his time in charge, it would be churlish in the extreme not to acknowledge the fantastic job that he has done for his team.

The match itself was a slightly surreal experience, as soon as city established a 2-0 lead midway through the first half, our job was done, so for the next hour myself and 19,000 close friends spent our time reacting to the various rumours and factual updates coming to us regarding the Sheffield Wednesday – QPR game. As always on theses occasions the misinformation was much more fun that the facts, but for the final 20 minutes or so we all knew that we were destined for 2 games against Hartlepool rather than the fast train to division 1.

In amongst bouts of work in the garden this weekend, I finally managed to finish the sprawling Jonathan Lethem epic “The Fortress of Solitude”. Much like Bristol City’s season, this was a partial success. Lot’s of brilliant interludes, but I found it rather disjointed and lacking a convincing conclusion.

I also read a couple of fascinating articles on the contrasting fortunes of two brilliant women connected with the arts in America. Firstly Saturday’s review section in The Guardian featured a absorbing piece on Maeve Brennan. Apparently a striking and brilliant figure on the Irish American literary scene, she suffered a prolonged and painful decline into mental illness and obscurity, whilst the staff of the New Yorker magazine attempted to support her as best they could. Then in that very magazine I read a marvellous piece on the effervescent Dorothea Tanning, born 10 years earlier than Maeve Brennan in 1910, she has enjoyed a very different life storey. Orynthia and I were only aware of her intoxicating picture “A Little Night Music” from 1946, which we came across by chance in Edinburgh several years ago. What an amazing character, she now describes herself as an emerging poet, not bad for someone who is in her 90’s.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Managed to avoid the bank holiday showers at Redland Fair, and picked up a very intriguing item. It is a portfolio of approximately 30 pieces by someone called Joanne Makepeace dating back to the early 1940’s. The work is a combination of still life’s and what looks like either wallpaper or fabric designs, but the main think which caught our eye is the collection of great interior design pieces, which look almost like architectural drawings. We don’t know anything about the artist, other than the fact that the work was created when she was studying the west of England academy. The chap that sold them to us said that he discovered them whilst doing a house clearance. So now we need to sort out some frames, to put the best pieces up in our house. Who knows, it could be here first exhibition, 60 years after the work was made!

I went to the Zutons and the very impressive Dead 60’s last night. The Dead 60’s sound just like The Clash when they played their punky version of Reggae, it’s the 2nd time that I’ve seen them and have to say that they are a great live band, they have a single out a couple of weeks, hope that they can capture the energy of the live sound.

Big, big match coming up for Bristol City this weekend. If we can beat Blackpool and QPR fail to win their match we will gain promotion to division 1. The way the season has gone so far, I’m sure that something dramatic will happen in the last minute of the match to decide our fate one way or another. My friend Steve is even coming home from Madrid to watch the match, that’s dedication!

Sunday, May 02, 2004

So after Thursday evening Orynthia really is convinced that Derren Brown is the devil. He put on a hugely enjoyable and unsettling show, which left us open mouthed on occasions. His magnificent stage presence and showmanship create the perfect environment for him to spin his magical craft. He can be both charming and disarming, the perfect combination for an act which relies on the audience allowing itself to be manipulated into seeing or believing only what HE wants us to believe. Since seeing the show, I’ve spoken to a few friends who take the world of magic and mind control pretty seriously (they do a few mean tricks themselves), and they have explained how some of the things would have been done. However they were both very impressed with the stagecraft of this extraordinary man.

As expected Friday was a pretty manic day, I caught some of the slightly chaotic free lunchtime performance from Joy Zipper, and then nipped home before returning to town via my former commuter train to meet Orynthia and Helen for the walk to Spike Island. We managed to grab some free wine and food, before making our rounds of the 100 plus studio’s. As usual the huge array of styles on offer makes the whole experience a fascinating one. I really feel that we are so lucky to have this sort of facility in Bristol. The place is open until Monday tea time, if you live in Bristol you really should take a look, it’s free! After leaving Spike Island we took the short but interesting walk along Cumberland Road to The Louisiana for the Joy Zipper gig. Got there in time to catch most of the set by support act Lucky Jim, which was not very lucky for us as they were pretty uninspired. The Joy Zipper set hit some real highs but also had a few meandering moments.

Yesterday we had a wandering around sort of day in town, the highlight of which was a visit to the magnificently named Pieminister on Stokes Croft. Fantastic pies at great prices, if only they were open in the evening. Also went to one of my favourite mooching around shops, the confusingly named Here, also on Stokes Croft. It’s full of quirky and inventive things, a great collection of comics and graphic books, interesting art and all manner of strangeness, I feel it’s a bit neglected by most people in Bristol which is a shame, it deserves our support.

Saturday evening was spent with Teresa and Steve, so we finally had a chance to see their gorgeous new kitchen, and catch up with each other. Today the sun is shining, so time for some work to be done in the garden, let’s hope it can stay dry for Redland Fair tomorrow.