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Postcards from the hedge .. July 27, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids.

A few weeks ago, my 10 year old son wrote me a note and put it on my bed .. it read ..

“I have a girlfriend called G****, her no. is 6*****, from George .. can I call her tomorrow?”

He was too embarrassed to tell me and giggled a lot when we spoke about it. About 6 months previous, I had a bet with him and 1 of his friends when they were going through an ‘I hate Girls phase’ that if didn’t get a girlfriend by the time they were 24, I would give them £1000 each. In return, if they did, they had to give me £500 each. I was quietly confident I would win! He didn’t want to tell me as he had remembered the terms of the bet .. tee hee ..

He was even sweet enough to ask if he could give me the money when he reached 24 – I agreed, I’m nice like that 🙂

About a week or so after the note, I was told that he had split with G**** (an expensive 10 days!). Apparently she swore at him and he asked his friend to tell her she was dumped. Nice. If only all things in life were that simple. 

Anyway .. this morning I woke up to find another note on my bedside table which had a smily face on it and read ..

“I’m back together with G****”

Ahhh .. what a sweetie .. I’m not sure when he wrote the note or when he put it there, but when I see him tomorrow I will give him a big congratulatory hug. 


School Ceilings .. July 26, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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Now that all the School kids are on holidays, and anyone that I know that is a teacher looks like they have the weight lifted from their world for 6 (or even 8 in some cases!) weeks of their year, I was/am in a reflective mood of those heady days of Summer when days seemed to be never ending and all your mates were just five minutes away .. 

The heatwave is madness at the moment – the local press are pointing back at the Summer of 1976 for comparison .. that year is probably the earliest I have memory of, Martin Buchan and Gordon McQueen Pannini stickers on the front of my pushbike, cycling races around the block and lighting fires on the ‘rec’ with a box of 2p matches from the corner shop, with the shop keeper never seeming to worry what six year old kids were going to do with matches .. and to think I’m scared to let my 7 year old cycle out of the driveway!

I was driving past my old high school the other day. A guy I went to school with is a successful builder now and lives opposite the school & he was just coming out of his drive in an oversized 4×4 mobile. He certainly wasn’t the ‘boy most likely to’ at school, and who knows, he may not consider his life a success, but it got me thinking about your thought process when you are at school age .. there really shouldn’t be a care in the world as you haven’t that much to care about.

Life is so easy if only you realised it ..assuming you have a loving relationship with your parents and siblings, and are not so mentally deficient to get picked on by the oh so caring individuals in the playground, it is like living in a complete bubble of safety and naive security from the real world. 

I remember a mental ceiling of 2 levels at that age .. the 1st was the leap from Primary to High School .. mixing with the big kids who had body odour and poor attempts at facial hair. It was a giant leap in attitude, but in retrospect was falling off a log. I’m sure there was more parental anguish than my own.

I had come from a school on the other side of town, so hadn’t the familiarity of old class mates, but once I had disregarded the blazer my Mum insisted I wore on Day 1 (I did literally wear it on Day 1 and Day 1 only), life was a breeze. It was a case of don’t believe the hype .. it was disappointing to learn that 1st years didnt get beaten up on the hour every hour.

The 2nd ceilng was from school to work. Now that really was the great unknown. Where as the Primary to High School leap allowed you to have the visibility of kids biking past your house and other kids older brothers who sneered out you when you called for them, work was a different matter.

At 12 or 13 I couldn’t even comprehend the world of work (some days I still feel like that now). I remember aged 14 or so spending some days helping my girlfriends father fit carpets and that was as close I could get to perception of work – swearing at Customers, looking at girls from the van window & smoking a lot of cigarettes (not me btw!) .. it didn’t seem like a world that you needed to study too much to achieve, but it was very good fun. My point being that at that age, I didn’t have the information or context to visualise a world of work, be it open plan offices or building sites – the whole thing had no linkage to Algebra and the Capital Cities of South America.

The big bad world is more to do with rival schools and the supposed mass brawls that are going to occur with a gang from down the road .. if my memory serves, none of these ever came to fruition at my school. I can think of a number of times when they were supposed to have done, usually due to a romantic interchange that shouldn’t have happened, but there was never anything dramatic in the outcome.

Which leaves me with the fact that school days are great – I loved school, I learnt of lot of interesting facts that I will never use, read books that would never want to read again, but it was great stuff to learn .. however there are so many life skills and basic adult life contexts that would have been far more use to me & may have even made crossroads in life appear different.

Careers advice was a sham – “answer this questionnaire” .. output result .. “right, you need to be a legal clerk” .. there was no discussion about what it meant in 30 years time when you are racked with creative guilt about following a drab banking profession, or struggling to pay the mortgage cos’ you want to be an ‘artist’ .. it was a black/white response of ‘do this’ .. what about the rest of life too .. what about questioning ones desire to travel, to have kids, to do some voluntary work .. ?? Why didnt schools get people in who had picked certain career paths, paid them a few quid to talk about the gritted truth about bricklaying in winter time or commuting in London rush hour?

If I had the drive I would set up a company to do just that, charge all local authorities a shed load of cash for my co-ordination skills .. if I could be arsed .. obviously should have tried harder at school to build my self motivation. 

I am guessing that work experience and the availability of the Internet means kids are more readily armed with a greater worldly awareness, it must be easier to read about the mistakes others have made. Regardless I think it is something that I will make sure my kids are focused on .. Movie Producer or International best Selling Author and nothing less now kids .. no pressure ..

iPod Lists .. July 25, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music.
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I love these lists on blogs as it tells me enough about the person to know whether I want to read any further .. ahhh .. High Fidelity .. 

Sort by song title
First Song: ‘A’ Bomb in Wardour St – The Jam (Direction, Reaction, Creation Box Set)
Last Song: Zurich is Stained – Pavement (Slanted & Enchanted)

Sort by time
Shortest Song: Gooseneck Problem – Yo La Tengo (Genius + Love = YLT) – 4 secs
Longest Song: Sunsquashed – Yo La Tengo (Genius + Love = YLT) – 26m 20sec

Sort by album:
First Song: At the Library – Green Day (1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour)
Last Song: Through my Sails – Neil Young (Zuma)

Top Five Most Played Songs:
Act of the Apostle – Belle & Sebastian
Wise Up – Aimee Mann
Lost Cause – Beck
Secret Meeting – The National
Sleeping In – Postal Service

First 5 songs that come up on Shuffle:
Last Post on the Bugle – The Libertines (The Libertines)
Ones & Zeroes – Jawbox (Novelty)
The Electric Version – The New Pornographers (Electric Version)
New Age – Blitz (Punk Singles & Rarities)
Swing & Dine – The Melodians (Trojan Rocksteady Box Set)

Search ….

“sex”, how many songs come up?: 15
1st Song : Dress Sexy for my Funeral – (Smog)

“death”, how many songs come up? : 99
1st Song :  Soul Meets Body – Death Cab for Cutie

“love”, how many songs come up? : 525
1st Song : Palimpsest – (Smog) from ‘A river ain’t too much to love’

This Beautiful Creature .. July 24, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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It has been a busy week for me. I have by rights, for the first time in a while, felt that I have earned the wage packet this week. In a working life it is good to get a few personal victories to keep the enthusiasm. Even if the bubble of my working corporate lifestyle has little in benefit to the fighting in the middle east or the state of the NHS, in my bubble there are still battles to be won, and when you win some, it helps ..

I had the pleasure of the heatwave in London last week. I picked out the most micro-fine of shirts that I owned and walked at a moderate pace to the office, rather than the iPod fuelled yomp that I normally partake. Sweaty office types ducking out for cigarettes and then dashing back to their air con, tourists in sun hats hastily bought at a souvenir stall when they realised that the UK doesn’t always have rain.. it was a merry sight.

Work aside, I opted for swimming rather than the gym last week, on the basis that my cheap as chips gym admission doesn’t include the price of air con, and swimming has an advantage on days like that.. the sight of 3 of the 4 cross trainers full of dripping, sweaty, stinky, overweight, 40 somethings at the start of the week put me off using the unused one..

The weekend was a good one. Friday night was perfect. Boys night outs tend to be beer focused, and if food is involved, Pizza wolfed at an alarming rate to get to the beers is the norm. So my suggestion of an upmarket leisurely evening at Trongs worked wonders .. 3 hours of eating, gossip and sarcasm was great .. Trongs is definitely my favourite Chinese I have ever been to in any city, and fortunately it is in my home town .. Mock or Monk Duck, a veggie equivalent is top drawer .. we even made it out for a couple of beers afterwards too.

Saturday I spent the day helping Michaela move house. We picked the rental van up and arsed about for an age getting food and making excuses. Then the two trip across town in searing heatwave were enough for us to break out into a withered heap. There wasn’t that much stuff to move, one rooms worth and the obligatory clothes and shoes overload, but the heat certainly had an effect. It’s a lovely new house and much better area to live than where she used to be, I hope she settles in quickly.

We ate Tai in the evening – aren’t I the oriental. We watched the film Beautiful Creatures, and then collapsed. A very good film and Miss Weiss played her part really well, as well as looking the part ..

Yesterday a lie in, some chores, breakfast in bed and then a trip to Orford. It’s a lovely quintessential English village that just doesn’t seem to change. I love the fact that Cafe life is restricted to one old shack and the village store is as big as a generous en-suite. On a sunny day the place really comes alive with village charm. Drinks in the sunshine and admiring the boats on the river was a great way to spend a Sunday ..

Welcome (back) to the working week ..

Weekender .. July 17, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music, Reviews.
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Day-Glo SheepWhenever the heat gets like this, I just want to run for shade and air conditioning. Air Con must be in the Top 10 of lazy unethical inventions this century, but I am a big fan on days like these .. thank you Mr Air Con inventor ..

The weekend was damn fine. Yesterday we headed on out to the latest greatest Music Festival on earth .. well maybe not, but as Glastonbury isn’t happening this year and it’s only a few hundred yards down the road it would be rude not to. Also Latitude is promoted by the same promoters as Glastonbury and the line up looked a little more intriguing than V or any of the other bland-o-matic Travis/Coldplay ‘only UK show this year’ strapline ..

I went to my first festival 20 years ago this year .. sigh .. that year I left school & went to both Reading ‘Rock’ Festival, as it was known then & Glastonbury .. but we didn’t make it much further than the main gate at the later as the nasty police folk were towing everyones cars away and wouldn’t let us on the site .. I digress ..

The last festival I went to was probably pretty close to 10 years plus, so was looking forward to this with the keen excitement of a reformed grumpy old 30 something with a habit of complaining about crap bands ..

The location was perfect, set deep in the Suffolk Countryside, the organisation at the car park was less perfect but initial stumbles out of the way, we made our way to the site. The 1st port of call was the loos .. you wouldn’t want to spend more time than you need to in a festival loo, but as this was day 3 of 3, I was impressed how clean they were .. I’ve witnessed far worse in London pubs!

The site was really well laid out. Kids areas, Cabaret, Poetry, a really good Comedy Tent that seemed to be the most popular draw of the day, Hattie Hayridge was very funny .. although eldest son, aged 10, thought she ‘ran out of ideas half way through’ in a keen eyed Observer Journalist manner .. Four or Five music stages in tents to minimise the bleed .. the sound in the Uncut sponsored arena was amazing and too good for a festival ..

Top marks from us lot went to Captain (whimsy pop tunes with a smile and a wink), James Yorkstone(a Domino signing I wasn’t aware of before, but a great voice and perfect for a thoughtful Sunday .. will check out some records), Archie Bronson Outfit (Noisy gritted teeth with some great beats to leap around to), The Longcut (stupid name, but Indie Pop Rock weardness with some great tunes and electronic noises) & then on the main stage, the kids loved Jose Gonzalez which proved the power of advertising .. can’t think of many people with 6 nylon strings (Thunderbirds aside) that would appeal to 7 & 10 year olds & we finished up with Mercury Rev .. I love them so they could have just turned up and I would have been happy.

Observations and conversations .. It was a festival that had a very middle class feel to it, there was no litter for one thing, very few queues – even for food or the toilets, everyone was really polite, even the stewards and security, there was also no dance tent/arena, which meant the audience was .. err .. well .. older & err .. middle class I guess .. there were very few teenagers or drink/pill casualties & it was really just a very ‘pleasant’ experience ..

I am definitely up for going for the full weekend next year.   

I spent a very nice Saturday home alone ..which I guess is a little harder to write reams about .. Michaela was out playing with her friends and the kids are now at the age where they want to go play with their friends but still need Dad to be at home for them to trickle back at unearthly hours ..  I did a few chores and then sat on the deck drinking beer, reading lots and playing loud music all afternoon .. I really am great company even though I say so myself .. When the rabble returned we watched Nanny McPhee on DVD and I ate Pizza – everyone else got cooked for by their friends, but I’m not bitter .. a very nice weekend ..

Ladders .. July 14, 2006

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The office I was working in this morning had big windows and I was gazing out in the aimless manner of a Corporate Daydreamer, embroiled in a phone conversation about a 4 decimal place spreadsheet .. I amused myself highly though as the reflection in the window of people walking behind me, in the office, meant their reflection walked under a ladder that was propped up outside the window (are you with me?) .. one guy walked past 4 times .. he is bound to have the worst weekend in history after that .. I should have said something ..

Today I feel a little too happy for my own good. I even got out of bed early .. something is up.

Drivetime .. July 12, 2006

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I had a showbiz call of the ‘rock variety today. We are going to be the featured artist on BBC Radio Suffolk’s Drivetime Show next week .. Its from 16.00 – 19.00 and you can listen to it here if you fancy ..

I am sure the postbag will be overflowing with offers of wealth and greatness after that .. or maybe not .. I might get offered a job as a weather girl or something cool like that. I can press buttons and smile knowledgably about Strattus, Cimmulus and Cirrus clouds you know .. perfect face for radio ..

Coke Zero .. July 11, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.

Big macho marketing campaign for Coke Zero, but I tried it and it sucks .. horrible metallic saccharin taste. Allegedly Diet Coke was marketed too closely to Women & hadn’t the right brand appeal for the male species ..

I’ll stick to Pepsi. 

Birth, School, Work, Death July 11, 2006

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There are a lot of those lists that do the rounds of people’s iPod playlists .. I haven’t one to hand, but was mildly amused by my own iPod picking out a triplet of upbeat tracks for me in the gym today .. It started with Ramones “Beat on the Brat”, switched to “War on the Terraces” by the Rejects and completed with “Dress Sexy for My Funeral” by Smog .. It’s almost a Birth, School, Work, Death collection (that was the Godfathers wasn’t it?) and in perfect order ..

I decided to take back manual control after that, just in case I had visions of an afterlife I wasn’t entirely comfortable with!

Here’s to you .. July 10, 2006

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I was really moved by the remembrance day for last year’s London bombings. What struck me most was how multi-cultural our society has become, particularly our Capital City.

London is a mix of literally every nationality, religion and social happening – something we can be really proud of, despite the headline grabbing difficulties that it may create. This was really brought to the fore by the Obiturary’s for the 52 victims. There was such a cross section of society caught up in killing.

I was also struck by the large number of Polish people killed in the bombings, almost a majority, not something I would have expected, but a sign that Poland’s emigration is really on the up ..

It was very touching to hear the stories of survivors and victims families, how in a couple of cases, some good came out of the tragedy & great to see that the BBC didn’t decide to cheese that side of the event up, but just let people tell their stories..

Living in a predominantly white city like Leeds where racial segregation is more distinct, I wonder if the bombers where aware of who they would encounter on a rush hour tube train, it certainly wasn’t a whole carriage of Bush-loving war mongers. There probably isn’t a City in the world with as diverse a mix of nationalities and religions as London. In the event they may have brought society closer together.

The previous night, Thursday, we played a good gig in Boxford at the Fleece. A venue more known for Jazz gigs, but a very young and enthusiastic audience and some new found friends afterwards. It was a micro bubble of popular culture with a lot of local Indie Kids ..

Friday evening was a visit to Pizza Express, some beers in the Keo Garden and then some more beers in the Swan Garden. My head hurt on Saturday. Took in the sun during the day and watched The Secret Life of Dentists. Highly recommended. A great film, both touching and paranoid, and really really funny.

Sunday I went visiting, my Aunt is here for a few days and spent a very civilised afternoon of Tea and Cakes with her and my Mother.

Best news of the weekend is that Cockney Rejects are to play in Ipswich in November .. I may be ridiculed for it, but Mick Geggus was the main reason I started playing guitar and I haven’t had the opening chords of ‘I’m not a fool’ out of head since I heard the news .. oh boy, hero worship .. I can’t wait .. <mental note : don’t think I will ever couple tea and cakes with my aunt and a Rejects gig in the same post ever again>