Monday, January 30, 2006

But badgers couldn't compensate at twice the price for just another night with the boys

Soundtrack: For Your Pleasure by Roxy Music

On the whole, a successful weekend for doing good stuff and catching up with pals.

Friday night ended up being a night which I hadn't planned for, and so much the better for it. The boy Smudge emailed me on Friday afternoon to offer up a nite on the shandies, which I initially declined. After my other plans (fortuitously) fell through, I was pleased to be able to have an entertaining evening out with him and some other associates of his, including KiwiTom and Mick.

Saturday was taken up with some art (the new Gilbert and George thing at White Cube - I'm sooo Hoxton!) in the company of RedheadWalking and Mr. R. Then onto Mr. W and Mr. A's palatial Shoreditch abode: it was good to see them and their feline pal Dave. Some jolly chat in good company.

Sunday, Ms. Robinson came to visit and helped us to dig some of the allotment. We had a good gossip over a lunch of cheese and ham toasties (our proposed pub lunch was scuppered by our local being packed to the bleedin' gills).

Feel pleased that a lot was packed in, but must admit I'm tired now.

It's going to be a long old week.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The teams that meet in caffs

Soundtrack: PJ Harvey

Have had a pleasing couple of days. Flat-out busy, but productive - it's really set me up for an active weekend. Feeling all Fifty-Foot-Queenie again.

Have had a couple of good cafe chats with some grrls this week. One in particular saw me and Ms. Robinson in a much-loved venue, the New Piccadilly Inn in Soho. We both managed to demolish a fry-up in ten minutes straight, no idea how that was possible...then a pal of Ms. R's happened to wander in. I have heard tale of Maeven before, so was pleased to finally meet her.

Received the most recent copy of Bust magazine yesterday. Perhaps that's why I'm feeling so right-on?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Olde English Spangles. Chopper Bikes. John Simm in a three-star tank top.

Soundtrack: Ta Den Lungt by Dungen

Strange, Norwegian tunes courtesy of Smudge. [Ta la!]

I was sat opposite a chap on the train on Monday night. Ipod on, reading a music magazine, in his early 30s, I suppose. As I always do, I cast an eye over his mag to see if it was any good.

A two-page spread on the best of Glam Rock. Promising. Then, a similar feature on AOR. AOR? Eh?

My travelling companion shut the magazine and dozed. Finally, I could see the cover, and this is what I saw.

A Metal Hammer/Classic Rock publication: The 1970s.
And a ribbon strapline: No Disco! No Abba! No Bay City Rollers!

Hello?! The 1970s without those things just isn't the 1970s! And before I get into a row with one or more of you about this, I just want to say that there is room in my life for classic rock, glam, AOR (as long as it's Steely Dan) , disco, Abba AND the mighty Rollers. And personally, I don't know how it's possible to say that glam rock and Abba are two separate and distinct concepts.

While we're on the subject - Life on Mars appears to have distilled the essence of 70s ('Is that Blue Stratos?') and re-animated it on our TV screens. I can't recall much about the decade, but I think they've got the brown polyester quotient about right.

Appropos of nothing...up until recently I had never been exposed to this man very much. If you have E4, for gawd's sake watch him. He's vehr funny.

Monday, January 23, 2006

In memorium

It's easy to get caught up in the gloom of the anniversary of a death, so I'm going to say some things here that hopefully won't be too depressing.

Kenneth Arthur, 1929 - 1990

My Dad was a fun-loving sort of chap. Early photographs show a boy that was perpetually untidy (the collar of his jumper always seemed to be fraying, his hair always unkempt).

I gather he met my mother at a youth club in Sutton. They moved the family to Devon in the early 1960s. My Dad loved the countryside from the get-go (unlike my mother) and wasted no time getting himself onto various cricket and football teams. He would also pretty much go angling in a puddle, if there was nothing better on offer to fish in.

I suspect he felt rather outnumbered, with a wife, five daughters and an ever-dwindling pool of sons-in-law.

His latter years were dogged with poor health. The advice to give up smoking went largely unheeded, but we couldn't find it in us to get too angry with him about still sneaking a crafty roll-up in the shed. Eventually, it contributed to his death.

I could go on about him for ever, but I wanted to make the point that this man wasn't the perfect father, or the perfect husband. He was useless with money. He was terrible at confrontation. He was an awful flirt.

Here's to you, wherever you are - and as a life-long agnostic, I sincerely hope you didn't make it to heaven.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I was dressed for success…

Soundtrack: Slanted and Enchanted by Pavement

My recent anger has subsided and turned to boredom. I hate this bloody month, it gets to me every time. 31 days of misery stretching out before me like a gaping chasm.

I’m not looking forward to the 23rd. This is essentially the worst day of the year for me. In the days PT (pre-therapy) it would loom in the diary like a hulking great monolith. These days it sort of sits about lumpily like a medium-sized Henry Moore.

Thank god for that very un-English of things, psychotherapy. I think it just about saved me from self-destructing. I understand that it doesn’t work for everyone but I am keen to sing its praises (particularly when I’m getting stick for having had it). I come from a family that believes in bottling your woes up until you are certifiable, which really isn’t the way I ever wanted to be. Neither do I want to be the sort of person who unburdens their troubles on everyone, all the time. I think I may have been like that at points over the past year. [I sincerely thank those of you reading this whom helped me through this bad patch.]

Something that has given me pleasure over the past week has been an email from a relatively close cousin on my Dad’s side, who is living in Brighton. He has sent through some great pictures of that side of the family: real stunning Victorian stuff, all big hair, raffish moustaches and dress uniforms. My Dad was a little ashamed that he had let contact with his family slip. It feels good to be able to redress the balance a bit now.

A couple of days ago I went to Bill’s funeral (mentioned a couple of entries ago). It was OK as funerals go. Bill happened to be cremated at the cemetery where my Nan is buried. I was after going to look for the resting place until I realised the graveyard was about three miles long - sod that (sorry, May). At the funeral itself, it was good to catch up with Liza and Gregg, whom both seemed to be holding it together.

And again, the line from Abide with me that always sets me off: 'Change and decay in all around I see'. It's profoundly gloomy, that. The pessimist's motto.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Burn black

Soundtrack: My body, the hand grenade by Hole

'We all know her rage is endless...'

I'm in a far better frame of mind than yesterday. That isn't hard. I'm still angry but I'm now belligerent angry, not nasty angry. Anyway, that's as far as I'm going to go with this.

Two things. The other night I had a pleasant evening with some old buddies from my indie-popping days at university (Mrs and Mrs Herriett; Mr Partner and Ms. Hignett; Spangletree). At one point Mr Partner said to me, 'isn't it funny, none of us have changed really'.

Does he mean that the years have been kind to us? Perhaps. I'd like to think I'm the same person who used to jump about at the Cockpit and the Knights Park bar to the absolute sounds. But it's ten years ago and a heck of a lot has happened since then.

Last night I watched the two final episodes of Lost. It's been yonks since I've been this excited about a TV series that is as ludicrous as this. As I know I've said before, it's like Twin Peaks all over again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'd christen her Victory, she'd make it

Soundtrack: variously, Dry by PJ Harvey; The Duke Spirit; Da Capo by Love

I'm a tightly curled ball of rage today. Quite how I've managed to not punch someone and/or say something that I might regret, I have no idea.

I'll return to this when I'm in a better frame of mind, but I'm not sure when that will be.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Everybody cares, everybody understands

Soundtrack: XO by Elliott Smith

It always seems to me that funerals happen at this time of year. It's just possible that the whole January/funerals thing in my mind is entirely down to the fact that my father died in January. It seems that I can't get away from the fact that this dark, miserable month is bound up in my mind with death.

Some of you will be eyeing the soundtrack choice and tutting, 'she's her own worst enemy'.

On Friday last week I received a call from my cousin Liza. Her dad (Bill) died on New Year's Eve and the funeral is next week.

Funerals leave me a wreck. I know I'm not the only person whom feels like this, but I find my reaction to them rather extreme. I consider myself to be a fairly rational body, but as soon as I enter a crematorium or church I automatically become a blubbering mess.

[N.B. The one time that this didn't happen was when I went to my Aunt's funeral. We went to the wrong cemetery and missed the whole shebang. My aunt had told my mother that she didn't want us there; she got her wish. The only thing I can recall clearly from that day was a floral display in the shape of a Jack Russell - she had five dogs, three of which were Jackies. Incongruous and funny.]

The weekend was a minor success. I spent a lot of time lying about/dozing/watching repeats on digital telly.

We also spent some time at the allotment: cutting down asparagus plants, mulching rhubarb crowns with manure. I'm feeling positive about the allotment this year. In the next week or two I hope to get some blackcurrant bushes in. Given that you don't appear to be able to buy blackcurrants in shops anymore (well, you can buy them. I just refuse to pay over two quid for a miniscule punnet), I think this is a good idea.

I'm going to spend more time gardening this year than I did last year. That's the nearest thing to a resolution that I'm going to be making this year.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The blood is love

Soundtrack: Lullabies to Paralyze by Queens of the Stone Age

Ah, those mighty Queens.

I feel like crap today. Last night I went to leaving do and then onto Wagamama's before going to a birthday drinks. Ratings:

Leaving do: 4/10 A quick Jack and Coke and a cursory chat before sprinting out.

Wagamama's: 2/10 Disappointing. JJ's dinner arrived. Mine appeared on the counter ten minutes later and there it sat for a further three minutes. Just as I was being asked if everything was alright, a couple of minutes into my meal, I noticed my chicken was undercooked. So, back it went. Ten minutes later, dinner mark 2 arrived. This was better: it was at least cooked (and hot as a bonus...). For every good experience I have in this chain of restaurants, I have two bad ones. Not a great statistic.

Birthday do: 8/10 A celebration for C Clouse's birthday. A nice Soho pub, some good company (T Clouse; old chums HateBoy, Finch, The Boy(s of ) Summers; some nice American record label pals; an out-of-control Japanese girl). I drank some nice organic lager which I erroneously thought would leave me with no hangover (??). Myself and HateBoy had our usual conversation about the 80s and Bauhaus. The Clouses were on top form. Fantabulosa.

Four hours and counting until the weekend. Thank christ.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Breaking glass

Soundtrack: Low by Bowie

I had quite a disturbing experience yesterday evening. After a chance meeting with JJ at the station at Richmond, we travelled home on the bus together. Midway through our journey we heard a commotion downstairs (and no Lloyd Cole in sight. Sorry - couldn't resist that one), but we paid little mind to it.

As we approached our stop and went downstairs, we were greeted by the sight of a large and very drunk middle-aged man in a yellow high-vis jacket, railing angrily at a woman. Quite what had precipitated this, I have no idea, but it certainly wasn't pleasant.

Two South African girls were in front of us and one of them decided to have a pop at the drunk. I really salute her for having a go, but it was clear to all that this man was a) a nutcase and b) violent. Sure enough, the bloke got of the bus, but blocked the door and attempted to take a swing at the girl. At this point, the driver acted. He closed the door and shouted to us all that he would drive on to the next stop. Our drunk then kicked one side of the middle door of the bus five or six times. The glass shattered and showered over us all.

It was surprising how much this scared me.

Unfortunately, there are a set of traffic lights just a few yards from the bus stop. The drunk continued to shout abuse through the shattered door and decided to kick in the other side, which also shattered. By this point, another passenger was on the phone to the police. The bus was evacuated at the next stop.

I'm not sure what the point of mentioning this was, really. I suppose that the peace is breached so infrequently in my cosy little world, that it really had an impact.


Honourable mentions for Lost and the Derren Brown Heist thing on channel 4 last night. I went to bed a nervous wreck.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Her life was saved by rock 'n' roll

Soundtrack: Some VU compilation or other

Well, I'm beginning to see the light...

Christmas and New Year passed by gently, with lots of heavy sleeping and quiet drinking. I managed to do none of the knitting I should have done. I became addicted to Extreme Makeover - Home Edition on Channel Five. Presents were few (JJ and I had decided not to do the gift thing this year) but I did get a pair of the furriest sheepskin slippers ever, which were tip top. And JJ's first ever nephew was born just before Christmas.

Just before new year I had the privilege of being invited to a wedding reception. We've been to a few of these this year, but this was the first for a Civil Partnership. The brides were Shazza and Jo G. The best bit? The venue was five stops on the bus from where we live. We ate a lorra cake and some delicious West Indian foodstuffs, and drank rum punch. A large portion of the evening I spent exchanging frank opinions with Ms Page's husband Mr Hackett, which was great. [Sample conversation - the merits of the band Polvo.] Their eyes glazing over, JJ and Ms Page made their excuses and had conversations with some of the more colourful characters at the reception (Sapphic team sport players). And I haven't even touched on the Raw Sex-like duo whom mangled classics such as 'Staying Alive' to alarming effect.

New Year's Eve was surprisingly good, despite having no expectations - or perhaps because of that? I spent it with Barbakella, Steve A, The Goose, Mr Southin, The Human Maraca and The Estimable Mr Perkins. Starting at a fairly bog standard pub North of Kingers, we went on to Mr Perkins' abode, and danced the night away until past 4. We walked home and got in at 5.

Back in the real world now and I don't want to be here. The half-life that I enjoyed during my break is calling me.

My life really was saved by rock n roll, you know.

Happy New Year to you all. x