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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Just a quick one...

Waiting for a call to start, so thought I would just make contact so you don't think I have forgotten you.

  • work - busy, same old same old, need to do a "process improvement plan".  If every one of these improved things even 0.1%, then by now we would be 249% perfect.  Which tells you all you need to know.
  • Home - hot, but enjoying good weather, another day from the plasterer, final stages being completed.  Need to get the painter in soon to make it the same colour as the rest of the house.
  • Life - nearly got one last night.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Whether the weather be hot....

The sun is shining, for the second day in a row.  When we were in April, the sun shone for a couple of weeks, and the UK started to resemble a Mediterranean country.  When I say that, I mean of course that it was hot, the roads were melting and the Union Jack shorts and vest tops were out in force.  Now I am a great fan of the vest top, however I have concluded that, as a rule, they look better on women than men.  Now shoot me for being gender-baised, and of course rules are there to be broken, and round here they often are with even the bulldogs having tatoos, but I digress.  I was talking about April, and a fine month it was too.

Since then we have had plenty of rain.  And of course on the weekend of Wimbledon and Glastonbury, it is the law for it to rain.  So what a shock it was yesterday to be so hot I didn't know what to do with myself.  So I found some shade and blew the froth off a cold one.

Now I am back to work, looking out the window, which is wide open to catch any small breeze going, looking at the sunny vista and listening to those eternally chipper birds and their infernal song.  I even have my top off (steady ladies) and am still too hot for words.

Oh well, at least we are past the longest day, and are now on the long and inexorable slope down to the short days and long nights of winter.

And on that note, I bid you a happy week, until we meet again...

Friday, 24 June 2011

And . . . relax

And before you can blink and take stock of where the weekend went, it is Friday again.

I continue to be busy, but I have had just a moment to consider what kind of busy I am being.  Am I busy because there is a lot of work to do but that work is all contributing to something useful, and something that I am enjoying because I am adding value.  Or, am I spending an inordinately large amount of my time fighting a machine, to try and coax it in to changing direction, or making a decision, or at least contributing to what I am trying to achieve.

When I find out, I will let you know.

In the meantime, have a good weekend, and speak next week.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

And another one...

I'm feeling on a bit of a Bowie roll, so thought I would bring your attention to another of his songs, Five Years.  I would have preferred to have embedded that also, now I have mastered that wonder of modern technology, but can you adam and eve it if they have blocked embedding for this clip.  Still, worth a look.

I have just recalled a small and mostly insignificant moment from my past.  As you may or may not know, in the Nineties (younger readers can Google that one for a history lesson), I was in a band.  We wanted to "make it", as all young bands want to do, even though "making it" really meant spending two years sleeping in the back of a transit van, driven by an overweight ex-Iron Maiden roadie (you just had to be there, maaan) who has a penchant for Motorway Service Station Pasties (and we know what Rhod Gilbert has to say about those) and anything that could be eaten, drunk, smoked or otherwise ingested with one hand.
Anyway, one time we got ourselves a gig at the Camden Falcon, which may mean nothing to you, but at the time it was THE PLACE to be seen as a young band.  I seem to recall something like that was where Suede were found, and maybe Morrissey was in the audience.  There again, too much Pepsi Max may just have damaged that memory beyond repair.
Anyway, digressing again (note to self, must do more digressing), back to our gig.  The routine for such an even goes something like this:
  • Nameless/faceless/useless support band (played by us in this scene) arrive at venue
  • there is one only person on duty when you arrive
  • the said person has no idea who you are, where you need to go, or who will be doing the sound check
  • you buy a pint, wander round, sit down, stand up, wait a bit longer, smoke a fag, and then realise the dingy door at the back leads to the "venue"
  • you enter said venue, which is always painted a uniform black, except for the punch holes and sick stains
  • within the room are the undead.  They are creatures that prefer to avoid both sunlight and water.  They are the sound crew and the engineer and anything else that needs doing, all in one human form
  • you wait another couple of hours, you let the main band set up their gear and sound check
  • you then setup your gear in front of the main band's gear.  The stage was small to start with, and with two band's gear on it, the space for humans is severely limited.  Being in a band trying to "make it" means you put up with pretty much any and all sh!t, and are very adept at playing your instrument in a space the size of a small wardrobe
  • if there is time, you do a sound check, which consists of the engineer making sure every mike is plugged in and turned on.  The average sound check goes like this: "kick drum", thump, thump, thump.  "OK, snare". Thwack, thwack. "High hat", tic, tic, tic.  "Whole kit".  Boom de boom.  "Lead guitar", twang. "Rhythm guitar", strum.  "Vocals", la la la.  And for the support band, if it happens at all, that is how long you get for a sound check.
  • Then you just wait around until 9pm, play for 45 minutes to a crowd smaller than the band, before waiting until half midnight when the main band finishes, at which point you remove your gear and yourself back to whatever sorry hole you dragged yourself from to get to the venue.
Obviously all that is with rose-tinted glasses; it is rarely as fun as that.

Anyway, at the Camden Falcon, the engineer, let's call him Swampy, was an undead of the long haired variety.  Now, don't get me wrong, I like long hair as much as the next Rapunzel, so no problems there, it is just the damage it seems to do to their ability to speak.  Anyway, this one did speak, and actually very eloquently (so that is one in the eye for your prejudice then.  Ed).  And as we were setting up, he was to utter what was to me words that will not and indeed have not ever left me, to this day.  These words, which will be underwhelming with all the build up, were simply "There has been nothing new in music since Bowie in '79". 

That has always seemed profound to me.  And actually, take a listen, coz his presence is very much with us still.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth...

Some of you, those of a certain age, and of a certain musical persuasion, may recognise the line from Rock 'n Roll Suicide by David Bowie.

Never tried this embedding thing before, so here goes:

I am neither considering taking up smoking, nor committing suicide, but it is a line about time that I can recall, perhaps the only line.  I do remember Bruce Quarterman from Uni (not even half a man - oh how we laughed) who oft quoted "time is an abstract concept", which works fine when you are a student, not so much if you are a watch repairer.  Or are trying to catch a train.  So best put to one side his advice then.

This week motors on, work continues on the house (plumbing and plastering today, electrics tomorrow, floor levelling Thursday/Friday) and work remains unfeasibly and unsustainably busy, but then that is the modern world.

How I long for a flagon of ale and perhaps a goat or two to herd.  Not so keen on the Black Death and falling down sickness.

Enough of this, better go do some more conference calls.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Just a quick one...

I notice my posts are decreasing, and that is largely due to the massive amount of stuff going on in my working life, and also my home life.  I have avoided calling it my personal life coz that would imply I have one.

I have to believe that there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, and not some wotsit with a torch bringing me more work, but one can only say that so many times before you stop believing it yourself, let alone trying to convince others.  The tough economic climate is definitely partly to blame, and occasionally tough colleagues do not make it easier, but I am not sure I can or will be able to carry on at this pace without making some changes somewhere in my life.  No other thoughts on that one right now, so watch this space, as they say in NASA.

We are off to Brad and Angelina at the weekend, an overnight stay that is always enjoyable (and I have to say that in case Brad is reading, ha ha) and I am very much looking forward to it, firstly for the fun and good company that will be enjoyed, second because it will take me away from my "won't it be lovely when it's finished" house, and thirdly because I need to make sure I was not dreaming when I recall the pole-dancing pole in their back room.  All I can say is that after three pints of Stella, you would be surprised how good I look wrapped round a pole.

And on that note, I shall bid you adieu.

Friday, 10 June 2011

And . . . relax

Very quick, coz I have a worktop to collect.  It is 4m long and I plan to put it on the roof rack.  Am I mad?  Probably, but will tell you next week.

Have a good weekend.

P.S. iPhone update.  Was in a churchyard, and mentioned that there was usually a specific tree species found in graveyards.  Quick Googling on Safari told me it was the Yew tree, which is the tree of life.  Those I was with were mighty impressed.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Holidays, are they worth it?

They definitely are, but in a couple of very dark hours this week I have paused a moment to consider that very question.

Work is hard.  This seems to be becoming the norm, and from anecdotal comments from friends, I think it may well be the same all over the corporate world. 

So, the question is, what to do?  What I do is spice up life by having some building work at home.  Now, on the "percentage complete" scale, things are still moving towards 100%, but the trouble is that going from 89% to 91% doesn't really register, and so we are beginning to get the feeling that things will just never end.  I think, and hope. that last night was my lowest of low points, and today I am feeling slightly more chipper, and with my dad doing some more painting today, and the doors arriving, I am ready for the next challenge.  This is likely to be getting Maggot 2's room prepared for the first coat of paint tomorrow.  I am likely then to be finishing it on Saturday morning.

We have a free window this weekend, which is exactly what we need, and I plan to do some DIY, but also spend some time with my family.

Until tomorrow....

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Just a quick one...

I am now back from my little holiday on the Isle of Wight, and very nice it was too.  The joke, for those not in the know, is that when you step off the ferry on the island, you need to set your watch, back fifteen years.  Now this is a little harsh, but also a little true.  There is something about places that are "at the end of the line" that always attracts the slightly different or the very different or the person who, in their own personal search for happiness, has chosen a path with a "no through road" sign at the start. 

I do not want to be too flippant for fear of upsetting the locals, especially since most of them look like the could or, and maybe have been, two rounds with Mike Tyson.  And that is just the women.  However, it must be noted that there were plenty of tattoos, piercings, odd haircuts likely conceived in the kitchen, and a general sense that normal ain't so normal there.  Our first few days seemed to consist of passing through various council estates, all with roads that are one and a half cars wide, and with the obligatory row of cars on one side means a constant pulling behind a car to the let the oncoming traffic come on.  This is very much like the road in which we live, which is a Victorian road built wide enough presumably for a couple of horses to pass each other without touching, but not so good for cars.  Our road is about two hundred metres long.  Now I am not sure how many miles of road there are on the Isle of Wight, and Google could not tell me, but the rather alarming majority of them were too narrow for two cars to pass whilst both in motion.

To be honest, for the first three days of the trip we were totally underwhelmed by the island, however on the final two days we did go, late in the day, to the Needles, and en route travelled the southerly coastal road, and some of the scenery was amazing, our "autumn" as Maggot 2 says when he sees something awsome.  Even the man-made stuff was appealing.

Aside from the Needles, which we thoroughly enjoyed, even with the tacky fairground at the top, we visited two of the "top attractions on the island".  The first was Blackgang Chine (BGC), at which we bought a Super Saver ticket for that and Robin Hill.  BGC was truly awful.  There were a few funny moments, a crooked house that was crooked, and a singing pet shop that was full of pets singing, to name but two, but overall the place was a mishmash of unrelated and frankly uninteresting "exhibits".  We concluded that the designers had obviously never seen another "theme park" of any sort, perhaps in light of the fact that they may have never left the island, except perhaps those advertised on the back of The Beano.

It does have an interesting issue to deal with.  The site is the location of several landslides, and indeed some elements of the park have been closed as they have fallen in to the sea, requiring the owners to keep moving attractions inland.  There are a couple of houses on the site that are presumably abandoned by their owners, including one fantastic house that is now a walkthrough story thingy, the exact subject of which I have long since forgotten.  This must make for an interesting business model; is it worth investing in a ride or attraction that could be in the drink in a few years' time?  The answer seems to be a resounding no, or rather, the decision was obviously made that no attraction should cost more to put up than it can make in profit in a year, which very much sets the tone for the quality, or lack of it, and also the high number of bits that incur additional charges to be enjoyed.

With all this negativity about BGC, we did not hold out much hope for Robin Hill, but we could not have been more wrong.  This was a lovely day out, enjoyed by both adults and children alike.  The site was attractive, and there was a fantastic toboggan run that we all had two goes on (and it cost money too, which we paid with pleasure) and also a falconry display which was just fantastic.  The final bird that was flown liked to come in low, and skimmed a number of heads, including ours, at great speed.  It was fantastic to see the bird flying, and also to listen to the enthusiastic commentary from the falconer.

The sun also shone for the final three days, which added to the fun and pleasure, and meant we could visit the pool on the site.  The maggots swam, I simply made sure they were safe, from the side of the pool.  A chap needs to be careful with too much shock to the old ticker.

As for the site, it was a lovely, quiet site, with plenty of room, two great playgrounds and a real sense of country serenity, with some essentials, for us at least, thrown in.  A great site we would visit again, were it not on the Isle of Wight, a place to which I fear we will not be returning any time soon.