Monday, May 28, 2007

So life goes on.

Saturday saw us taking in a few bands as the Dot-to-Dot festival came to Bristol for the first time. For those that don’t know, the festival featured an array of bands spread over 3 different locations. We took a fairly elderly approach and decided that rather than dash around like lunatics we would just watch the bands which we wanted to see, so we even popped home for some food at one point rather than watch some bands that we had no interest in – how grown up!

On the way down we nipped into the car boot sale type thing in The Cube car park and had chance to have a quick chat with the always charming Francois and finally got to meet Elena who is one of the people involved with the upcoming Tom Waits night there. I don’t know what it is about The Cube but I always come away from the place thinking that Bristol is just about the best place in the world.

First up for us where the excellent Fanfarlo, a gentle indie lo-fi gem of a band, then it was the rather more chaotic Ratty Rat Rat, who were messy but fun. We then nipped home before heading out again to catch Architecture In Helsinki, who I was initially disappointed in before being won over. The plan was to go home after them, but I thought we might as well stay around to see the much written about Kate Nash, shouldn’t have bothered. She struck me as a complete fake, with her oh so strident repetitive swearing and look at how shocking I am approach, it was just all a little desperate and tiresome – Don’t believe the hype!

Yesterday. we had a pretty lazy day as the rain lashed down without pause. Took the chance to catch up with a curious film from Hong Kong called Dumpling, which is worth a look if you are not too squeamish. Then more by accident than design we finally got to watch the BBC4 programme Hotel California - LA from The Byrds to The Eagles.

Although I like to pass myself off as someone who loves the 1977 years zero approach of punk, I must admit that the early 1970’s work of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young has always held a certain guilty attraction for me. I think that somehow it’s still coated in the air of sophistication that I aspire too, no matter how much I try to cover it up. It was fascinating to see the change from the hippy idealism to big money success at all costs approach that gradually took. How something so simple and intelligent could become mired in such self-absorption and rampant egomania was a testament to the power of drugs and money. Still I been playing my Joni Mitchell albums all day as imagine hanging out in my boho Laurel Canyon shack. I guess I’ll never learn! Go on give "Edith and the Kingpin" from The Hissing of Summer Lawns album and play and I'm sure that you will see what I mean.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Last night we met up with an old friend, well to be exact my oldest friend, to see a band in a tiny pub in Midsomer Norton. I’ve known Ian since I was around 4 years of age, so amazingly it’s over 40 years of friendship that we have to call on. Because we live on opposite sides of town, we only tend to catch up with each other 3 or 4 times a year but when we do the bond is re-established with effortless ease. How lovely it is to have a friendship such as that.

Imagine then the feelings going through my brain when I received a shocking phone call at home today from one of my colleges. Just over a year ago, two chaps joined us who not only went all through nursery and school together, they have also worked with one another in seven different jobs as well as making music together. All told they have racked up around 25 years of the best sort of friendship. Today one of them turned up at work complaining of feeling unwell during the night, a feeling that had carried on into the morning. He left work with instructions from his long time friend to get things checked, sadly he went straight home and then suddenly had a massive heart attack which has taken Terry from us.

At work I sit next to his long time friend Kevin, so it was clear for me to see the fabulous bond that these two guys had, Given my joy at catching up with my old friend last night, the shattering sense of loss which must be going through Kevin struck me hard. I roughly knew where Kev lives so on the off chance that he would be there; I drove down to see if I could catch up with him. As luck would have it I caught sight of him outside his house so was able to go in and spend a short while with him and his family as they struggled to come to terms with this mornings events.

As always on these sorts of occasions there were tears and laughter as stories were told of events from the past. Last night they had been working together and Kevin’s brother said that he still had the image in his head of Terry getting the crowd going as he took control of the mic to show his MC skills. Tomorrow Terry was due to be taking some local kids that he coached at football to see his beloved Arsenal, so sad that this terrible blow couldn’t have waited at least a few more days, if it had to fall so soon in his life.

Truly a man who was part of his community, I’m sure that many, many people will miss him and his infectious chuckle. Terry’s struggles to stay awake at team meetings and presentations were always a source of amusement to the rest of us, sadly we’ve lost him to a sleep that he won’t suddenly jerk out of.

A few months ago I was sitting next to Terry on a short coach journey back from a meeting, unusually rather than my normal inane chat about football and music we discussed things of a more spiritual nature. Whilst I stated my opinion that death brings an end to everything, he was quite sure that something else would follow and that he had high hope for one that would bring him. I’m sure that he didn’t envisage making the journey so soon but for his sake I hope that his vision of the future is right this time.

Terry Young R.I.P.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

On Sunday evening we went to see the "This is England" the latest film from the very talented Shane Meadows. It's a brilliantly unsettling look at life in 80's England. The film charts the progress of a young lad as he make friends with a group of skinheads, showing the way the promise of friendship and a sense of belonging can foster loyalty which leads to some very unpleasant situations.

The kinship offered to the 12 year old by his new streetwise friends tempts him into ever more worrying scenarios. It's a testament to Shane Meadows skill as a director, that you can understand the attractions of being part of this gang. We are allowed to see behind the veneer of the shaved heads and the Doc Martin boots to the witty and supportive soul of the group.

The film is set at the time of the Falklands war, so it's a period I remember well. I grow up in Fishponds, a suburb of Bristol which always had a smattering of skinheads even when the rest of England appeared to be devoid of them. Having said that I didn't ever really have that much direct contact with our local "Skins". In the very late 70's the burgeoning mod and Two Tone scene saw a rise in their numbers, but I was still able to keep out their way. As someone who went to a lot of gigs around that time, I became quite used to huge fights breaking out in the middle of gigs, sometimes Skins were involved, sometimes Punks, sometimes the curious Psychobilly slam dancers who would provoke a little ruck. It was always the skinheads that caused me the most concern, although as I said earlier I had no personal experience of them.

Earlier in the weekend we went out for a fantastic meal at Green's Dining Room at Zetland Road, how nice to have such a wonderful place within walking distance of our house.

Bank Holiday Monday was spent at Redland Fair, as ever a very social occasion for us. I must be getting old as this year I bought neither records or books, yet I did buy a small 50's looking vase - I know, I'm shocked as well!

Tonight we are heading down to The Thekla to see the American band "Saturday Looks Good To Me", not really sure what sort of crowd they will attract as they have a pretty low profile. On Saturday we were meant to be seeing the excellent Absentee, but sadly the gig has been scraped as tour headliners Larakin Love have split up, how selfish of them!

Other than that, we've got tickets for the Venn Festival, Apples In Stereo and The Decemberists sitting in our ticket drawer at the moment.

Over recent weeks I've been enjoying new albums by Panda Bear, Cornelius, Apples In Stereo, Au Revoir Simone as well as the songs for the "Young at Heart" project and the live EP from Joanna Newsome.

I'm currently enjoying a book which I have started and given up on a couple of times of the past 25 years! It's Herzog by Saul Bellow and for some reason I'm really enjoying it's acerbic take on the life of a middle aged man in early 1960's New York. Maybe I've just reached the right age at last, because for all his flaws Herzog now comes across as a very believable man.

Oh yes, Bristol City got promoted - how amazing is that!