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Eastern Counties Bank April 30, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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Friday night out on the town, a few beers with the boys & most enjoyable it all was too. A little too cold to enjoy the beer garden, but huddled around the patio heater like boy scouts (and girl guides) roasting marshmellows was somewhat quaint.

I worked late and got the bus at 8.30 & here's where the fun started ..

I was in a very good mood having had a rather fine day at work and was looking forward to a beer. I got my money out to pay the bus fare and only had a £20 note. This was obviously not intentional, but there are sings on the bus stating 'change given' so I didn't get unduly concerned – I was buyting a £4 return ticket anyway ..

"You're having a joke" said the driver, "you people must think we are a bank or something, what do you expect me to do with that?" .. oh, well I must have missed the 'welcome to eastern counties buses, hope you are well this evening' ..

I should point out that it is the left wing and environmentalist within me that means that I catch the bus regularly when going into town. I could afford a taxi, or leave my car at a friends overnight, but the bus in communal and 'for the people' and mildy amusing in a people watching sense .. I even encourage others to do the same.

I apologised for the high demonomination of note, stated that I didn't intentionally ruin his evening and waited for the change .. "you are lucky I have just come on this evening" .. at this point, I was quite ready to hand him the note and say 'keep the change, you miserable bugger', but I resisted. If you state 'change given' then give change and don't complain. If you don't want 'people like me' ruining your evening by handing you £4 for a service, then state 'no change given, so don't even try it, you buggers' ..

He then opened his official looking wallet which was teaming with £10 and £5 notes and handed me the change. I gestured to the wallet and apologised for makeing him short (of change) and wished him a happy evening. So much for Customer Service.

Beers were great, conversation very funny .. especially being asked by a couple of 'middle aged' ladies whether Church's was a gay pub, shortly after myself and three friends walked up to the bar .. I think they were emitting a homophobic air, so probably should have played games, but missed the opportunity .. my girlfriend walked in 5 mins later so wouldn't have lasted long.

The bus trip home was much better, an old (female) school friend being suggestive with two young men/boys – the outtrage – and she was such a nice young girl at school. People watching indeed..


Beards and Bowling Shirts April 28, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music.
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Wednesday.. all my troubles wouldn't come out to play ..

Work went really well and we decamped to the pub afterwards with my old boss and my new boss on drink buying missions .. can't argue with that. London Pride always tastes better in London to my taste. Both new & former bosses are Scottish, so the thought of just having a quick pint after work isn't in their vocab, it has to be four or five, otherwise what is the point?!

I met up with an old school/band friend & city type WJR. Our 2nd sojorn in as many months, which is quite a feat given that we have probably only seen each other a couple of times a year for the past decade. Always a pleasure chewing the fat & solving life's mysteries .. we were close through school, chased girls, learnt guitar and played in bands together through our teens, so lots of sarcasm and insults.

I hopped on the tube at Barbican (I hadn't seen the close up view of the towers for a while and they looked great in the sun set – why didnt I bring my camera) and we met up at King's Cross via a vital food stop prior to drinking too much more and forgetting to eat completely.  A smokey, very smokey, pub rammed with hard drinking football types. It was the Champions League semi final. I copuldn't believe how many people were riveted to the screen. It wasn't like an English team were involved, and the proximity to Arsenal was pretty remote.

Two or three more beers in the pub and catching up over the past few weeks activities. I hadn't even heard of some of the substances, let alone witnessed them!

WJ works for a record distributor and made the necessary calls to get us in to see Four-Tet at the Scala. Four-Tet are one of those uber-cool breed of computer geeks made Indie maestros. I was a fan prior to seeing them, so a happy coincidence they were in town that night. Thanks to Laurence for getting us in.

I have only been to the Scala once before but it is split on 2 or 3 levels so easy to get a good view. Free form noises and jazz movements from the Four-Tet folks. I can't say I recognised a whole lot of 'songs' as it more of a vibe than a set-list, but it is one of those musical genres that I am totally in awe of. I love the sounds created and the beats they (or he) manages to fit them within but can't even begin to think about how to replicate them. Most bands I like and would go see, I can aspire to steal bit parts from, melodies or lyrics perhaps, or at worst work something out on the guitar that sounds similar .. I wouldn't even get close with this one, even with the ability to play samples, he seems to be playing far too many for one pair of hands to comprehend.

One of those moments where it would be best placed to grow a beard and slip on a bowling shirt ..

I had to leave without being able to take full advantage of the Domino after show party as the last train home was looming, but a great night out and even the hangover and aching limbs the next morning were a small price to pay.

Happy White Gadget April 26, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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The technical bods within my social circle would be proud of me. I was brought up in a DIY environment where anything could be fixed by Sellotape & if an extreme circumstance arose, age old electrical tape would step in to force .. I love my Dad for that, no soul searching in B&Q for him.

The negative side is that in later life I can't fix anything – a hopeless case in the eyes of prospective father-in-laws who all expect by birth right that all men know what a carburetor does and can fit a kitchen in 3 hours flat. Hence the broken iPod of a few days back was giving me serious grief – out of warranty and numerous visits to the apple support site for resets and hopes and prayers ..

Then in a moment of desperation, just prior to booking it a stay at the Jobs Hospital, I hit it very hard on the right hand side .. the beautiful thing started working. Doesn't say that on the apple web site, maybe I should add it to the FAQs?

Genius I thought! I have hit numerous electrical appliances over the years & none have ever responded to such forceful handling. All is well now. I've loaded up the Cockney Rejects Vol 1 & 2 last night and enjoyed a straight run through of both on the way into London today. Poignantly passing the landmark Bethnal Green along the way.

Life is sweet ..

Floating Doughnut April 26, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Kids.
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In the wee small hours a 7 year old child was crying, distraught with nightmares and decided to come and tell his dad..

"I've been having really bad dreams. I was swimming along, yeah, and this girl came up from under the water and squirted me with something, yeah, that turned me into a doughnut (cue unsympathetic laughter from father), yeah, and then I turned into a bigger doughut, yeah, and couldn't swim, cos I sunk"

I made a solemn promise that I would never let any girl turn him into a doughnut. We then both went back to sleep.

Transformation .. April 24, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.

For the first time in my life, last week, I exfoliated! As part of the continuing episode's of questionable sexuality, I got a great L'Oreal Men Expert gift bag (from my brother) for my birthday & I love it .. soon this could be a picture of me ..

The whole exfoliating part was great though, I'm sure I look 10 years younger .. ahem .. it's actually called 'Anti-roughness Exfoliator' which implies that I was, prior to the aforementioned episode, 'rough'.. how macho of me.

It suggest only exfoliating twice a week, but I reckon twice daily would have better results at such a late stage in life – I'll keep you updated on how it is going ..

House Band April 24, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Music.

Woo Hoo .. we are in the finals (i.e the last 5) of the SGR FM House Band competition. The grand prize of playing in the studio for the day at the county's premier local radio staion no less ..

Vote for They Fight Crime by clicking on this .. or don't, if you can't be bothered ..

Sick White Gadget April 22, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music.
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Imagine the horror of arriving at the gym with 'The Hits' channel blaring 24/7 to find your trusty iPod delivery a sick, sad face on the screen stating 'consult apple.com/support' !!!! This kind of thing shouldn't happen to me. I was salivating with excitement about 30 mins on the cross trainer listening to The National's Alligator LP, my new best band in the whole world ever, & instead had to suffer the effects of Justin Timberlake and Will Young .. man I hate the gym now..

Despite the useful FAQs section on the Apple www site, the sick white gadget sits next to me clicking occasionaly and not making any signs of regaining full health … sob ..

City Smoke, bodies & nuclear disaster .. April 21, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Reviews.
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It takes a mighty appetite to eat a whole copy of Time Out in one day, but on Wednesday, that was the task. A perfect cultural day trip to London Town ..

We started out with breakfast at the amazing S&M Cafe in Brushfield St just opposite the market – lovely 50s kitsch and great vege sausages (I'll post some pics when I get them developed).

The main event was then a trip to see the Bodies exhibition at Earls Court. I had missed out on the last day of the Bodyworlds event in Brick Lane a few years back (there was a 3 hour queue on the last day) so wanted to check this almost identical show.

I hadn't visited Earl's Court before and was impressed with the building. Not so much an architectural masterpiece, but more the sense of scale – Bodies was in about a 20th of the overall building & Stamford Bridge on the near horizon looks tiny in comparison.

Bodies was £16.50 to walk through the door – tickets in hand and our allocated time slot provided, we were away. There were a fair few people there, but not the hoards I had expected. I was anticipating, given Ria's warning, that we would be ushered around and have people kicking at our ankles, but thankfully this wasn't the case.

The first room contained a fully shed human skin, it was both shocking and refreshing in equal measure. I gazed at it wondering if the person that it once belonged had managed to find an alternate skin, and the whole life after death, or life after having your skin ripped from your back, debate was within me.

The major exhibits were full human bodies, plasticised and put into poses of various muscular exertion. It was fascinating. It wasn't art, at all, more a 70s medical exam with Bakelite props, but it was fascinating. The bodies originated primarily from China. This was in itself of moral concern. Allegedly there are questions about the legality of where the corpses came from & whether the approval of their use had been granted .. it's those kind of questions you don't want to ask when you are squinting at the intestines of what was at one point a pre-natal mother.

The Chinese appearance was obvious in the facial stance of many of the bodies. I did question whether the guy positioned in basketball pose had ever done a lay-up in his pre-death years, and I also doubt that the guy throwing darts with his central nervous system flailing behind him, was ever in his local pub team. There wasn't the comedy element of Bodyworlds, with the hats and fancy dress, but in many ways that was/is more respectful.

I learnt a lot, I don't remember my liver being where they seem to think it is, but then I haven't cut a cross section of my abdemon recently & for that alone I'm glad I went. It is overpriced, and it's only an hour and half all the way round at best, but it is an insight into the human body first hand & moral debates aside, it isn't that creepy.

A trip along the very pretty District Line stations (well pretty compared to the Central Line!), a stop at Embankment for a walk in the park and a Coffee stop, then next on the upbeat was the Fallout Photo exhibitionat the Oxo Gallery. To mark the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl & an eye opening look into the many arguments against nuclear power – don't do it kids. This was thoroughly depressing as a member of Western civilisation to see the effect that a thirst for power can have on those nearest and dearest to the source or the dumping ground. A brisk walk along Southbank cleared the head though.

We stopped off at the Photographers Gallery. There was the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize winners there .. not that inspiring other than the Alec Soth pics which were great & should have won by far in my opinion. The video entrant by Phil Collins (no, not him) was amusing as it was a Karaoke picture of a Smiths album – where do you get ideas like that and get paid for them?

Then we went for some beers .. very nice cherry beer too .. and after a rather animated falling out we headed for Strada in Gt Queen St. The best pizza outside of mother Italia.

It was a great day out and happy birthday to me.

Happy Birthday to me .. April 18, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.

G 10th Bday (14)_3.jpgI didn't get breakfast in bed! Perhaps my levels of expectation are too high, or maybe I just didn't hint loudly enough.

Had a very nice day with the kids sitting in the sun, running around the park, eating junk food and visiting the cinema .. Ice Age 2 .. a very good sequel, equally as funny as the first and perfect for low levels of concentration when you are getting older and wiser and in need of contemplation ..

I got a bamboo tree, a book about the war, a neat wash bag with macho moisturiser, wrinkle cream, a shower radio, some cufflinks, some beer and some chocolates.

Being 36 has had no significant effect on me so far, I think it's too much of a mid-point between 30 & 40 to feel young or old, but the storm cloud of 4 years time will no doubt creep up on me sooner that I think.

Off to London for a tourist day trip tomorrow, I'm hoping to see this, but if too busy we'll settle on some galleries. I have been taking pics on a film all day and forget to take the digital out of the case .. so here's a pic from George's party last week just to help me in the party mood ..  

Easter Cometh April 17, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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It's one of those elongated weekends where the sun shines and the days are long .. ahh the joys of spring .. I have been wondering the percentage of folks in the UK that Easter actually means something to. I am non-religous and most of the people I know are too. We do however all buy shed loads of chocolate, symbolising birth, and get 2 days off work on the premise that the Bible is true and 'our Lord' rose on the Sunday. It all seems slightly hypocritical, maybe I should abstain and not eat Chocaolate and go into work at no cost to my employer .. maybe ..

Thursday night Michaela and I kissed and made up and went to Milsoms for food, the first time we had seen each other in over a week so nice to catch up.  Friday we drove to Walberswick and took the little row boat ferry across to Southwold and walked into the village. This is a fantastic part of the Suffolk country side and the views in the sunshine were lovely. It's a world away from City life and yet only takes 30 minutes to driver to. The little tea shop we stopped in had the most amazing cakes .. as we entered a couple were leaving and had left 3/4 of their carrot cake on the table!!! I was seriously tempted to just sit down and continue where they left off, I headed in that direction with some confidence, but Michaela yanked my arm in the other direction and I settled for Earl Grey without the excessive calories. A sunny walk along the beach with Sizewell in the distance followed by fish and chips and Broken Flowers on DVD in the evening .. entertaining in that Bill Murray is entertaining, but I wanted a conclusion and didn't get one.

Saturday I blitzed the garden with Creosote (or Creosote Subtitute – what was in Creosote that is so bad for the earth?). I did the equivelant of placing a bomb below a tub of crosote and standing back and everything, grass included, is now dark brown, but the fumes and the finished result is worth it. Why doesn't someone market crosote and marker pen after shave .. Hmmm.

After very successful domestics & a satisfied grin on my face, Saturday evening was my birthday pizza celebration. I was ironing a shirt in preparation when I reached into the under sink cupboard for the iron. As i pulled out my hand, I caught the top of a bottle of Olive Oil that fell, slow motion, to the floor. A 1litre bottle of Olive Oil doesn't bounce, it's also incredibly difficult to clear up a litre of olive oil and broken glass when you are already running late! After delicately cleaning the devastation that had been created, I went back to ironing favourite shirt #1. Shirt ironed, I turned to to the mirror to check out the stylish, happening individual that I had transformed into .. a problem .. I had blood stains all down the front of my shirt. In the rush to clean I had a piece of glass suckj in my hand and blood covering three fingers .. I did contemplate tripping out with a tale of football thuggery and battling off seven Brighton fans, but I'm a pacifist and it wouldn't have been believed – I also quite like Brighton – cue favourite shirt #2.

It was a very good turn out and pizza and following beers were very easy to consume. Great company, thanks folks .. I got updated on tales of pregnancy, seriously out-geeked on 80's synth sounds, had explained the benefits of nasal hair removal (eww), asked the same question 8 times by the same person, disected relationships and drunk too much beer. A hangover and an Easter egg later and it was Sunday. Thoughts :

  • I have 8 birthday cards already and my birthday isn't until tomorrow ..
  • I have a new scanner sitting next to me in the box that is whining 'open me and plug me in'
  • My lawnmower needs fixing and I am not talented enough
  • It's sunny and my scooter was made for sunny days
  • No work until Thursday .. yay ..
  • The house is empty, think I'm going to play some loud punk rock, but oh oh oh which loud punk rock to play ..