Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We ended our bank holiday weekend by going to see the latest Ken Loach film - “The Wind that shakes the Barley” at The Orpheus.

Anyone that knows anything about the film, will be aware that it’s no jolly romp, it is a fascinating account of how people who start out unified with the best of intentions to change things for the common good, can be driven apart.

It’s set in the Irish countryside in the early 1920’s and makes for grim but fascinating viewing. The resistance it portrays has obvious links with events around the world, which fill our TV news shows every evening. It does make me ask which is the best way to the solution - armed resistance with increasing factionalism or the slow and peaceful track whilst keeping the moral high ground.

Think of the situation in Burma, years of calm protest with occasional awful bursts of violence has seen the democratic resistance dragging on for decades. Then again how many lives have been saved by their refusal to go for the headline grabbing armed conflict? I just hope that in the end they get the reward that they deserve.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Spinto Band were great fun on Sunday night, came across as a mixture between Talking Heads, Weezer and They Might Be Giants. Bouncy, energetic and full of top tunes they come with the guarantee of a good night out. Pleasingly the venue was much less smelly than the night before.

We been in the midst of a little chaos at home, as we had a new free standing unit built for our kitchen, this means that the old unit is in the hallway and for a few days the contents were spread around the rest of the house. Everything (other than the old unit) is now back in the kitchen and everything is looking very neat and tidy, not always our natural state of affairs! We also got some visitors from Australia staying with us, so for a few days we have relocated to our other bedroom, it's almost like having a mini holiday of our own. We had to take a little collection of clothes with me, find somewhere to put my wallet, keys, work pass, small change and the like. Woke up this morning (cue blues riff) and had that momentary sense of confusion caused by facing a different wall. Managed to get to the bathroom and back without any mistakes and was delighted to find that I had taken the correct clothing for work into the other room, a rare case of forwarding planning working out.

Orynthia has the day off work to show our guests around Bristol, true to form after a glorious summer, the weather today is grey and damp. Still our guests are travelling for 9 weeks through Europe and America, so I'm sure that they will encounter plenty of hot spots along the way. How fantastic to be on holiday for 9 weeks, I've never been off for more than a month at a time, so I can't really imagine how you go back to work after being off for that length of time. I tend to forget things after going to lunch, so over 2 months away from the office would leave me devoid of any work related memory at all.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We went to see the marvellous M Ward at the rather smelly Academy 2 last night. Very low stage, so it wasn’t the perfect place to see this wonderful guitarist in action. Still the songs were sublime and the band and Mr Ward seemed to really enjoy themselves.

You can enjoy the video for Chinese Translation from his forthcoming album if you go here.

Back to the same venue this evening to see The Spinto Band.

Best not mention Bristol City – yesterday was very, very bad!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Summer Sundae was great fun, Absentee, Camera Obscura, Calexico, Buzzcocks and Belle & Sebastian were wonderful. Credit also to Liam Frost, Richard Hawley, Isobel Campbell, Tunng, Joan As Policewoman and M Craft who were all pretty good.

Talking of Camera Obscura as I often do, you can find a nice little promo film about the band by going here and then here for part 2. If you go here you can find a promo video for the title track of the latest album and forthcoming single Let’s Get Out of This Country. What more could you want?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How strange to wake up this morning and to switch on the TV news in the middle of the government security statement. I've forgotten the name of the young chap with the slicked back hair who was reading out the instructions, but his steely tone certainly sent a chill through the early morning air.

Not wishing to personalise this serious event too much, but I know that my mum will be having kittens now. I only told her yesterday that we would be going to New York later in the year, she is a professional worrier so I'm sure the anxiety gene will have kicked in with this mornings news.

In 2001 we had our New York trip booked up well before our Xmas trip, so when the news of the shocking events of September 11th started to reach us it, we had those inevitable selfish thoughts regarding our own safety. Pretty soon we decided that unless anything else happened, we would stick to our plans and make the trip. We didn't want to be voyeurs of others peoples misery but, the signs coming from the city were that once the dust had settled (literally in this case) they wanted people to visit. My mother was very concerned about this and had to put on her best trembling stiff upper lip voice when wishing us a good trip.

So we went, and had an amazing trip. We kept away the ground zero area, however we did spend some time with a friend of a friend who was working in the second tower at the time of the attack. The things he told us about that day were truly awful but he was doing his best to get his life back on track.

So unless we are told otherwise we will be getting on the plane later in the year, looking forward to another fascinating trip to one of the most eclectic places on the planet. The first time I went to New York was in 1984, with the my good friend, the unfortunately named Simon Templar. At the time any potential worry about a trip to New York was purely linked to the supposed wildness of ordinary street life, rather than a terrorist threat. Family and friends were convinced that we would be murdered within seconds of arriving, such was New York's reputation at the time, it's fair to say that Simon and I probably weren't the most streetwise pair of lads, so maybe their concerns were justified.

We managed to get stung within seconds of our evening arrival in Manhattan! We took the bus from the airport to central Manhattan, with the idea of getting a cab to the Vanderbilt YMCA on East 46th street. On leaving the bus we dashed round to collect our luggage before the anticipated gangs of gun touting hoodlums made a play for our enviable collection of black clothing. There must have been a glut of black T-Shirts that year, as no-one took any interested in our cases. We were almost there, now we just needed to take a short ride in one of those famous yellow cabs and we would be safe for the night.

The bus pulled away, and magically the crowd that had been around us melted into the night, leaving Simon and I looking expectantly for a cab. At this point a man approached us, saying that the cab drivers of New York were on strike! Luckily for us, he happened to know where a few strike busting cabbies would be and that he would be happy to help us out. Wow, what a stroke of luck, how nice of this fine fellow to come to the rescue of these strangers in his city. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

He told us to follow him, which we happily did, maybe we should have taken a moment to consider where this chap may be taking us, but no we just skipped along behind him. Luckily for us, the guy wasn't interested in a major scam, all he did was stand in the road, flag down one of the many passing taxi's (obviously there was no strike) and charge us for his hard work. I can't remember how much our special taxi tax was, so it can't have been too much, we took this as notice to sharpen up act and not get caught out again. During the rest of our stay nothing untoward took place and indeed every subsequent visit has been touble free

Monday, August 07, 2006

Saturday saw me back at Ashton Gate for the start of another football season. It was good to catch up with fellow fans outside the Nova Scotia, the general mood was one of optimism. however given the traumas of recent seasons it was tempered with some caution. City managed to get off to a winning start, with a hard fought 1-0 win over Scunthorpe United, only another 45 games to keep the unbeaten run going!

Slightly more exciting, was the fact that we booked a trip to New York in the autumn. We are going for a couple of weeks and are just waiting on confirmation that a nice looking apartment will be ours for the duration of our stay, delighted that we will be flying direct to NYC from Bristol airport as well. We last went at the end of 2001, I'm sure that many things will have changed since then, can't wait to see as many of them as we can. The nice thing about going for a couple of weeks is that we can take our time and have a few lazy days as well, also hoping to catch up with some friends whilst we are in town. In fact some of our musical friends from Bristol will be in NYC at the same time as us, so we hope to catch some Bristolian talent in action. Sufjan Stevens in playing when we are there, the cost of the tickets which I've seen advertised is rather offputting at $150 per person, so sadly I think that we will have to give that a miss.

Saturday evening saw us attending a family wedding, which featured some of the worst music you've ever heard. Classic wedding fodder, painful to the ears, yet I can't really criticize. The DJ at our reception played some shocking stuff and strangely he organise some sort of skipping competition as well, we are still not really sure what that was all about.

Looking forward to the Summer Sundae festival this weekend, so many good people to see: Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura (who have just anounced a gig on the Thekla on October 19th), Richard Hawley, Absentee, Calexico and lot's more. The following weekend we have another treat when the splendid M Ward plays in Bristol, he was fabulous the last time he was here and indeed his 'Transistor Radio' album has had many more plays than anything else on our iTunes, so we are really excited about the prospect of seeing him again.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Had an impromptu walk around the Stokes Croft area last night. We been trying to find a new sofa that we like, without much success so decided to take a closer look at Sofa Riot and liked the look of the place. I’m going to pop in and have a chat with on Friday.

Thought we would eat at Café Kino, and although the menu looked inviting we had to leave for another day. In the early part of the week, it shuts at 7pm, which was just about the time we were peeping through the window.

So we took the short walk along the fabulously interesting Picton Street to the excellent One Stop Thali Café on York Road. It’s a while since we’ve been there, so we were pleased to find that the food is as good as ever and the atmosphere was wonderful. As well as the people eating inside they must have provided about 20 of the take away Tiffin meals for which they are becoming famous.

Lovely to see three independent businesses providing such a interesting and fun place to spend some time.