Monday, March 28, 2005

The recent death of Jim Callaghan prompted a few memories for me. The memories are not really of the former Prime Minister, but rather of a particular holiday we had in the late 1970’s.

Mum and dad had some friends who lived in Sussex, in fact they were relatives of my mums best friend. And one summer we spent a few days staying with them.

It was rather like stepping into another world. The family had obviously made a lot of money over the years, and lived in a huge house with grounds and and cattle. They weren’t farmers you understand, just people who had land (and they had plenty) and the money to own 20 or so cows, just for fun. To make them seem even more exotic, the husband had been married prior to his existing situation, and I was amazed when his ex-wife came round to have tea with his current wife! At the time, divorce was still a pretty unusual and messy thing, so the seeing the two of them sitting and chatting amicably, seemed amazingly bohemian to a simple young boy from Fishponds.

One day we went for a walk in the countryside around the house, and Jim Callaghans house was casually pointed out as we strolled past a succession of ever more amazing properties. I was stunned to think that people we knew could live in such close proximity to the Prime Minister.

Back at the house a treasure trove of delights awaited me. Whilst the admittedly splendid scenery around the house did very little to excite me, I was very much of the opinion that the only real purpose for grass was to play football on it, not something you easily do if the grass was long and covered with cow pats!

However part the families considerable wealth had been spent on a huge record and book collection, so I spent many happy hours working myway through the cream of 1970’s rock music, whilst flicking through some stunning antiquarian books. I needed little else from the holiday, yet as well the vast array of recorded music available to me, the south eastern location of the property meant that I could also pick up Radio Caroline with almost crystal clear clarity, something that was virtually impossible in Bristol.

This I decided was the life for me, although we have never owned the big house, the land or indeed the cows! Also I’ve never had a Prime Minister living around the corner. Luckily I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with books and music. Bliss.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sunday afternoon was really very pleasant. We made the most of the short spring interlude (we're back to damp weather again now) by meeting up with a few of our friends for drinks and food at our favourite dockside location Arabi 'n' Tap. Six of us worked our way through a succession of coffee's, teas, main meals and cakes, whilst sitting on the rooftop deck enjoying the sunshine. The afternoon was not however without it's perils, Orynthia and our poor waitress suffered at the hands (or should that be bottom!) of a passing seagull. Luckily the damage was not too great and did not tarnish a lovely afternoon.

We nipped home for a couple of hours before walking up to the Orpheus cinema in Henlease, to see "A very Long engagement" which stars Audrey Tatou and is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film tells us the story of a group of French soldiers in world war 1, who were due to be executed for injuring themselves in an effort to be removed from the frontline. Jeunet sense of visual flair, gives the film some remarkable trench scenes. Over the course of the film, we focus in turn of each soldiers, learning what bought them to hideous situation. One of the soldiers situation takes centre stage as polio stricken Audrey Tatou attempts to find out the truth of what happened to her fiancée. It's an engaging yet confusing film, once again Audrey Tatou is captivating.

last night we went to see The Raveonettes at The Fleece. When I last saw them I was left feeling slightly disappointed, they seemed rather too controlled, contrived even. Well the months have been kind to them, and although they had only just flown back from SXSW in Texas, and by the look of it, left their collective wardrobe behind, they sounded great. They still use the dreaded "click-track" which means that all sorts of sounds were coming through the P.A. including the disembodied voice of Ronnie Spector at one point. Yet they managed to come across as being pretty free, and very enjoyable. Also on the bill were Dogs, who I quite enjoyed, despite the fact that without The Libertines or The Strokes having shown them the way, I can't imagine that they would be with us today. We arrived midway through Boxer rebellion, who left us both completely underwhelmed.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Musical contrasts have been the thing for this weekend. By the way, I really like the way American TV shows like West Wing can use a phrase like “What’s The Thing?”. When we try to use it England it never sounds quite right, yet the American accent throws the right amount of weight and suspense being that simple phrase “The Thing”. It can impart a sense of gravity and intrigue onto the most mundane of subjects.

Anyway back to the music. Friday evening saw us make a long overdue visit to that strangest of all music venues in Bristol - Seymours in The Dings for the launch gig for the release of the new CD from Bucky - All the new mistakes. Seymours really is a great little venue, the music room has a wonderful “Phoenix Nights” atmosphere, from the glittering pillars to the pictures of Cliff and Shaky on the world, everything is fantastically uncool. Anyone with the sweet tooth of a 10 year old should also check out the amazing Tuck shop element of the bar, as it contains a startling array of goodies, many of which I have never seen before.

It was a top night, with multiple collaborations going on between Bucky, War Against Sleep and My Two Toms. We picked up a copy of the aforementioned CD, and rather good it is too. You can never accuse a Bucky song of outstaying it’s welcome as most them are only around 1 minute long, but the production on the album really brings out the best in the band.

Saturday saw us making a visit to the Colston Hall for an evening of Baroque music from the English Symphony Orchestra and the Bristol Choral Society. It was great to see a full choir of 100 + singers surging through the works of Handel and Bach, with the brilliant Zadoc The Priest proving to the big tune of the night.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Spring time in Bristol

Spring time in Bristol
Originally uploaded by tomory.
A hard working Bee enjoying the sunshine in our garden today.


Originally uploaded by tomory.
Spring has arrived in Bristol. Here is our 1st Bee of the year!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Recently we've been spending time a bit of time, trying choosing where to stay when we visit Berlin and Ljubljana in September.

Over recent years we have been amazingly lucky with our choices the highlights being our apartment in Chelsea, New york, which was so "New York" it hurt. When we went to Paris in 2003, we had a brilliant stay in the midst of one of those amazing Parisian apartment buildings, where you could almost feel the presence of Jean-Paul Sartre in the air. Then we we went to wonderful Vilnius and stayed in a show home for new rich of the Baltics. Last year it was Berlin and that lovely house and garden.

We picked out a few places which look really nice for this years trip. Part of the fun in doing this is the element of the unknown. The places we stay in, are not part of some huge global hotel chain, where everything looks the same, not matter where you are. Sometimes it can be tricky working out how things work, but that is part of the fun. Hotels just don't have that element of fun about them.

Monday, March 14, 2005

My word, it's been yonks since I wrote anything here. No real reason, other than I've not found much time to sit in front of the Mac recently.

As ever a large finger of blame can be pointed in the direction of football. A particularly pointless weekend has just passed, watched City fail to win at home again, before losing 2-0 on Sunday morning when playing for Bryan Munich.

Also been catching up with a few old films, including "In the mood for love" (fantastic), "Spirited Away" (very good) and "Betty Fisher and other stories" (very clever).

Our mums have gone away on holiday with each other! How will it turn out? We are most intrigued.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

We've been doing a lot of family socializing over recent days. It's all been pretty relaxed and quite nice, could be the lull before the storm though. This weekend will see both of our respective mothers going away on holiday together. Although they have obviously known each for many years, they don't really know each other that well, they also have very different personalities, so it will interesting to hear how their week together goes. It does feel as though we are masterminding some weird sociological experiment but it really is down to them, we hope it goes well.

Other than that, we saw Sondre Lerche at the Louie last Saturday. Once again he played it as a solo show and was really very good. A tad more scuzzy than when we saw him in Cardiff last year, he had the crowd lapping up everything he gave them. On occasions I thought the chat was a little too "cute" but I seemed to be alone in that.

I've finally started reading "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell, the trouble is that I got my copy of the book back in January, so I'm lugging around the huge hard backed version, even though the much lighter paperback version has just been thrust upon an excited nation. When the paper dust jacket is removed, the book does take on a vaguely biblical look, which has provoked a few concerned looks and remarks from some of my colleagues at work. The same thing happened last week, when I wore a T-Shirt with a nice picture of a toaster emblazoned across my chest. Apparently it was the cause of some debate and discussion before someone finally asked me, what it signified? I just replied with something along the lines of "Well it's just a toaster, everyone loves toast don't they" caused more confusion, as some people were sure that I was hiding some great meaning from them. oh well, sometimes it's best not to explain too much.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I need to say thanks to former Imperial customer Kristen for sending me a fantastic link, all the way from snowy Philadelphia.

We share a love for the music of Sufjan Stevens, and she kindly sent me a link to this wonderful Canadian site which hosts loads of concert and session recordings from interesting bands. As I write this I'm listening to a show he played with his band in Toronto last year. As well as that gem you can find full recordings of gigs by The Shins, The Magnetic Fields, Broadcast, Fiery Furnaces and loads more.

Talking of music and things Canadian, after reading masses of great reviews I picked up the album from Arcade Fire - "Funeral", yesterday. Only had a chance to hear it a couple of times so far, but I'm liking what I'm hearing. They are playing Bristol soon, so I may get a chance to see them in the flesh. I've also been enjoying the Bloc Party album and a lot of Rufus Wainwright in preparation for his upcoming Bristol visit.

Shoes - I know it's not something that men are meant to talk about, but I'm getting concerned about the paucity of the display on my shoe rack.

I think that I can point the finger (or should that be toe) of blame at Elvis Costello and Nick Cave. Both of these gentlemen have recently entertained me musically and sartorially, and both have been resplendent in their fine footwear. leaving me feeling somewhat inadequate in the shoe department.

It used to so different, back in the 80's I was quite happy to spend out on an ever-increasing range of fabulous 50's themed shoes from Bonie Maronie near the bus station in town. When that fine (if slightly overpriced) shop closed, I had a barren spell for several years before discovering a shop called Robot in Covent Garden and succumbed once again to the lure of the
pointy rockabilly shoe again. In between times I dabbled with the English gentlemen look, with several pair of fine brogues - leather soles and everything. Oh how sophisticated and grown up we were.

Then suddenly years after everyone else, I decided that general daily shoes were not important, but a lovely pair of Converse trainers were, and that was that. My shoes became more and more average and non descript, which is still true to this day. It could be time to have a change of approach again and to look for shoes which I won't need to keep hidden under the table.