Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Goldfrapp Scale...

It's hard being a woman in the music business. Keep quiet and you get walked on, speak your mind and you're a bitch. Still, sound and lighting technicians in the Bristol area use one woman as a reference point for all others. When faced with a new artist they ask: “How difficult to work with is she on a scale from 0 to Goldfrapp?”
[From Popbitch / Darren]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Electric Picnic 2008...

Stu and I are going to go to Electric Picnic this summer. It'll be the first proper festival either of us has gone to. Clodagh first put the idea in our heads when we were over in Cork last year and to be honest we didn't need much more encouragement than that. The tickets go on sale at 9am today and the lineup looks OK. Maybe not as fantastic as some of the other big festivals but it'll do us nicely.

The line-up so far announced is: Sex Pistols, Sigur Ros, Grinderman, Franz Ferdinand, George Clinton & The P-Funk Allstars, My Bloody Valentine, Goldfrapp, Christy Moore, Wilco, The Gossip, Duffy, Underworld, Tinariwen, CSS, Tindersticks, New Young Pony Club, Josh Ritter, Lisa Hannigan, Cathy Davey, That Petrol Emotion, The Breeders, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Sinead O'Connor, Henry Rollins, The Waterboys, The Roots, Kila, Micah P Hinson, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Hayseed Dixie, Candi Staton, Juana Molina, Turin Brakes, Faust, Midnight Juggernauts, Tartit, Hadouken!, Silver Apples, Mark Geary, Teitur, Blitzen Trapper, Absentee, Balanescu Quartet, Lou Rhodes, Adrian Crowley, One Day International, The Yard Dogs, Tobias Froberg, Boss Volenti, Dawn Landes, Constantines, Yacht, Lionheart Brothers, Large Mound, Emmy the Great, Foals, Kormac & the BSQ Band, Jape, Noisettes, Dublin Gospel Choir.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Arsenal TV (finally) on Virgin Media...

Virgin Media have finally announced the launch of Arsenal TV on its TV platform on Channel 542. The new channel was available from Tuesday 18th March, free for all Virgin Media’s XL TV customers, and included as part of the Setanta Sports pack for TV customers on M or L packages. About bloody time! I've only caught the odd glimse of it so far so I'll have to wait until 5pm to get a proper look and find out if it was worth the wait.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dublin...

Having barely recovered from the previous night's partying we rather gingerly made our way into town yesterday to join Helen on the Dublin Bus City Tour. And let me tell you there is no better way to clear the head than sitting on a a windy open-top bus.

The bus tour itself was great. A suitably witty local tour guide talked us through the history of Dublin including Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Gaol and dropped us off at the highlight of the trip, the Guinness Storehouse for a queue-jumping tour. Word to the wise, book online to walk to the front of the hour long line - even if you book the tickets in the queue like we did! The Guinness 'Experience' was fine; the free pint in the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor being the best bit though.

We then rejoined the bus tour to be dropped off in town. There we had a bite to eat before meeting Jenny in John Kehoe's for a pint or three.

Today we are just packing up and getting ready to head off to Dublin airport. Jenny has very kindly offered to give us a lift.

Dublin is a lovely city and well worth a visit. In fact all of Ireland is a great holiday destination. We've had to pack in a lot in the last week as there was just so much to see. My liver could do with a rest though!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St Patrick's Day...

Dublin being *the* place to do it, it just had to be done here; celebrating St Patrick's Day with the locals. Well, the locals and 650,000 other tourists. The parade was great fun. The theme was 'Energy' and more resembled a carnival parade. It was bitterly cold but we didn't seem to care.

Once the parade was over Helen, Stu and I headed to the Market Bar where we stayed for the next nine hours. Fran, Nicola and Jenny joined us until we were swept out with the rest of the rubbish and started our bar crawl in earnest. At some point Stu got chatting to some radio DJ. We eventually made it back to our hotel about 3am: one of our earlier nights so far on the Sceptre Isle.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jude and Gavin's Wedding...

We woke up early on Saturday morning. Earlier than perhaps we should have, for we both had slightly dulled heads from the previous night's festivities in the bar. But we were excited. Excited because today was the big day. The reason for our trip to Ireland. Today was Jude and Gavin's wedding and nothing, not even a woolly head, was going to quell our excitement.

We raced down to join Gavin in his last meal as a condemned.. er.. single man - a sumptuous full English breakfast. He seemed quite calm. Unlike both his and Jude's sets of parents who's were as excited as school children.

We all had a few hours to kill before getting suited and booted so Stu, I and a bunch of other guests headed across to the country club attached to the hotel for a swim, spa and sauna. Which was a lovely way to detox and prepare for the twelve hours of retoxing to come.

We then had a quick bite to eat in the bar before donning our new M&S suits (their machine washable range is to be highly recommended) and joining the hundred or so other wedding guests for a pre-service G&T in the bar (as the more observant reader might have noticed the bar is playing a pivotal role in our wedding preparations).

Just before three o'clock we all followed (an increasingly nervous) Gavin into the room where the service was to take place. Beautiful flowers were everywhere as we took our seats and waited for Jude to arrive.

And when she did it bought a tear to my eye. Jude looked stunning in her magnificent ivory dress and flowers in her hair. She all but floated down the aisle to be at Gavin's side.

The service was relaxed and informal with Oscar the page boy performing his ring bearing duties with aplomb. We sang, we heard poetry and we heard the vows. The priest even found time to inject some humour into the proceedings. And before we knew it Jude and Gavin were signing the register and it was all over.

Back at the bar we all agreed at how lovely everything was and got down to serious task of drinking the place dry. After the official photography was done we filed down the wedding line into the ballroom to enjoy a handsome five (or was it six?) course meal as the wedding 'breakfast'. Just before the meal began however we had the speeches. Unusually perhaps, but completely understandably, none of the speakers wanted the fear of public speaking to ruin their meals so we toasted and listened with stomachs half rumbling. The speeches were equally moving, funny and entertaining with perhaps Gavin's being the standing out. But of course it's best men do have the best stories - something about swimming trunks and a train, was it?

The meal itself was totally delicious and before we knew it we were all back in the bar waiting for the ballroom to be reset for the further drinking, dancing and céilidh still to come.

Now fast forward eight hours and we were collapsed in armchairs in the bar having one last beer for the road. We had disco danced our little socks off, Irish danced like locals and drank half the Irish Sea in booze. Not to mention laughing like drains throughout. Such fun. And we have the pictures to prove it!

The next day, as Helen was driving Stu and I down to Dublin, we were all reflecting on what made the wedding such a success. Yes, it was seeing Jude and Gavin tying the knot in such a romantic fashion and, yes, it was the brilliant planning and relaxed atmosphere of the day but what really made it for us was that Jude and Gavin's family and friends were just so... well... familiar and friendly. We were made to feel so welcome at every point of the day by everyone. We really couldn't help but enjoy ourselves from start to finish.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Giant's Causeway...

On Friday we drove up the Northern Irish coastal route weaving in and out of small fishing villages en route to the Giant's Causeway. Pile of rubble really... but a 60 million year old pile of rubble!. Apparently it was fast cooling lava that produced all those stached hexagons. After that we headed off to Londonderry for a climb on the city walls before returning Belfast for nosh, a pint in The Spaniard and then to the Dunadry Hotel to join the rapidly congregating wedding guests.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Belfast...

We arrived safely yesterday at George Best City Belfast airport, hired a car (they only had a BMW, honest guv!) and headed out to our hotel - the rather posh Dunadry Hotel & Country Club. Great venue for a wedding. After having a bite in the bar we popped back into town and took a fun open top bus city tour. We took in the Titantic shipyard, and both the Shankhill Road and Falls Road areas including an intersection known locally as the Killing Fields. Quite scary to think what used to go on there such a short time ago.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Off to Ireland...

Stu and I are off today to Ireland for a week. First to Belfast for Jude and Gavin's wedding and a spot of sightseeing and then on to Dublin for St Patrick's Day. Should be fun. We currently waiting for our Ryan scare flight from Stansted.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thanks Darling...

Today's budget:

·         Delay 2p rise in fuel duty for six months

·         6% increase in alcohol tax - with 2% annual rise for next four years

·         4p on pint of beer, 3p on cider, 14p on wine, 55p on spirits

·         11p on packet on 20 cigarettes, 4p on five cigars

·         Higher first year rate of road tax for most polluting cars

·         Increase in green tax on flights

·         Winter fuel payment up to £250m for over-60s and to £400 for over-80s

·         Require supermarkets to charge for plastic bags if they do not scrap them

·         More cash to tackle child poverty

·         Help with rising energy costs for poorer families

Normal for Norfolk...

Apparently the doctors euphemism for slightly crazy or odd patients is NFN. Which stands for "Normal for Norfolk".

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Roisin Murphy at the Roundhouse...

Stu, Tim, Andy and I went to glitzy Camden's Roundhouse on Saturday to see the rather wonderful Roisin Murphy perform. We preceded the event by meeting Andrew and Grant for a beer at the Black Cap.

I'd never been to the Roundhouse before and I was quite impressed. It looked as if it had been recently made-over. Good facilities (except the woefully small gents loos) and great sight-lines. The support act was Hercules and Love Affair doing a DJ set so we in the perfect mood when Roisin finally took to the stage.

Ostensibly promoting last year's Overpowered CD we were treated to much of that album (stand out track for me being Movie Star) as well as the impossibly catchy You Know Me Better. Overpowered is Roisin Murphy's (formerly of Moloko) second album. A mix of electronic dance, pop and darker funk. And all of that came out on stage. We had extended versions of the songs pretty much seamlessly running one musical opus into the next. We were treated to 90 minutes of great music, great stage presence and hats aplenty. For yes, she was in and out of that dressing-up box for every song. We loved it.

Thanks to Darren for suggesting we go.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Uncle David...

My Uncle David passed away recently so today I'm going up to Birmingham for the funeral. A very sad day as he was a lovely man.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Green Has Ceased Trading...

Dear Loyal Customers, We are very sorry to report that The Green has ceased trading - temporarily, we hope. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you – I mean, where else are you going to go? Thank you for all your custom and for helping to make the Green what it was. We hope we may be able to rise from the ashes soon – to be servicing Islington’s finest gay men and women and their friends in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
All our best, The Green Team
ActiveSync on Apple...
One of my main beefs about the iPhone is the fact that you can't run Exchange ActiveSync on it. Basically that means I wouldn't be able to get my work email, calendar and contacts pushed to it automagically. Well soon, I'll be able to. Apple have now agreed to licence Microsoft’s ActiveSync. Cool. Now if only they can get 3G on it too (coming soon I hear).

Thursday, March 06, 2008

TENS...
I've been suffering from lower back pain on and off since I was a teenager (I damaged it back then and also have ducks disease i.e. a long body and short legs which doesn't seem to help things). Over the years I've been to doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, masseurs, physiotherapists, so far avoided acupuncturists and mainly resorted to anti-inflammatory drugs.

Last November whilst sorting out my attic (i.e. lifting heavy boxes at odd angles) I knackered my back yet again and have been hobbling around ever since. Gentle excercise and buckets of painkillers have helped but not cured the problem.

Then on Sunday Myrtle gave me a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) and it's done wonders for me. The TENS is a small electrical device that delivers electrical impulses across the skin. The device is about the size of a personal stereo and has pad you put on the skin - in this case my lower back. It gives pain relief that is rapid and lasts for days. It works in one of two ways; by selectively stimulating certain 'non-pain' nerve fibres to send signals to the brain that block other nerve signals carrying pain messages i.e. it gives you pins and needles and also by stimulating the production of endorphins, natural pain-relieving hormones. Unlike many pain-relieving drugs, TENS isn't addictive and seems to have few side-effects. And I love it. It may not be a cure but I can sleep at night again now.

Of course the long term cure is excercise. It's widely acknoldedged that exercise will strengthen the core muscles surrounding the spine and ease the tension in the lower back. But in the meantime I can get on with my life.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Goldfrapp at the Union Chapel
Last night Paul, Simon, Darren, David, Stu and myself went to see Goldfrapp perform at the Union Chapel. More seasoned readers may remember that way back in 2001 I'd seen Goldfrapp perform there and it had been one of the best concerts I had ever seen. That claim still remains true so expectations were high. And by some bizarre queue rearranging we'd managed to get quite near the front so an excellent view only heightened the excitement.

Just prior to the start of the gig they played some of the soundtrack to the classic 70s horror film from The Wicker Man - apparently a big influence on the current album Seventh Tree which was being showcased last night. It set the scene rather well for things to come.

The band (fulsome string section, harp, keyboards, drums, bass, guitar and electric violin) all appeared wearing white whereas Alison apparition ed right before us in a short pink smock. It was really happeneing. The show was about to begin.

And what a show it was. Quite sublime. They played the entire new album interspaced with tracks from the previous three; Felt Mountain, Black Cherry and Supernature. Alison's voice was note perfect throughout and the band just sounded great. The sound was spot on in fact. Couldn't fault it. The lighting was suitably moody too - apart from the odd psychodelic wig-out.

Tracks we were treated to included Clowns (about plastic surgery apparently), Number 1, Little Bird, Utopia, Road To Somewhere, Eat Yourself, Some People, Cologne Cerrone Houdini, Caravan Girl, Happiness, Monster Love and of course the current single A&E. Each was great with raptuous applause.

Seventh Tree is Goldfrapp's fourth studio album and a return to the more ethereal Felt Mountain rather than the glam Supernature. Throughout their career Goldfrapp have spanned the music of the 70s; folk, glam, rock, prog, disco and plain old good melodic pop songs. But here they are mainly using the elements of folk and ambient music. And to great effect. The results are magnificent. They have been likened to bands such as Air, Serge Gainsbourg, Jethro Tull, St Etienne, Kate Bush, Roxy Music, Cocteau Twins and Joni Mitchell. All of which I see but to me they have a style all of their own.

Of course the gig was over all too soon. Just 80 minutes. But what a gig. Fab.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

"You want the block? Come get the blocks, and don't f*ck with me!"...
A great advert for 275 to 300 8x8x16 Cement blocks. $1 each. Just don't ask him for any advice.