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Hamptons .. September 28, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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Is there any link between Northampton (concrete like new town in the middle of England) and Southampton (slightly less concrete like coastal town on the south coast of England) ??

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Anyone out there? September 28, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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I am not an avid watcher of TV. I own a Sky+ box and this seems to get me all I need. I can record sketch shows and cold War documentaries to my hearts content, casually pressing the play button whenever entertainment is needed .. without ever having to browse the daily schedules.

The other evening whilst out, my Sky box failed. On my return I had a scan through the channel listing to see what was about.

It was at this point that I realised the extent of the recent Sky upload of new channel listings. Who watches this stuff ..

Unknowingly I found myself flicking to Eurosport 2, 11pm in the evening, Beach Football .. was I the only person watching .. I guess football has an allure, but beach football, Cantona aside, there weren’t a lot of famous faces on show. I was watching through an inability to be arsed to change channel and the fact that my newspaper was more interesting.

That was one thing, but I then thought about the other 997 channels I have on offer. What about these – who at 11pm is watching the other 40+ sport channels,  100 or so ‘Text, Flirt & Date’ options, or the 150+ ‘God Channels’ .. a number of these run 24/7 (although I suspect repeating the same content) .. 11pm is one thing, but who watches this stuff through the night? ..

From an advertising point of view it must be the equivalent to a person standing with a sandwich board in a suburban pub on the outskirts of Preston pub on a Monday night. Yet they all seem to exist.

I could personally survive quite happily with about half a dozen channels, in fact my favourites on Sky doesn’t even fill the screen. So either I am abnormal <rhetorical> or there are people across the UK, and mainland Europe, that are watching Channel 761 God UK on a regular basis. If anyone out there is watching, please let me know, if not, can the last one out please turn off the lights and allow me to browse channels without wading through your junk. I thankyou ..

Where you been? September 26, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids, Music.
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I have been in a daze of late, an Indian summer of the cerebral vertex .. it’s still an upbeat daze, but I do feel a little bit detached from my own reality .. I think it is seasonal so I’ll blame it on the weather, it wouldn’t be British to blame it on anything else.

I’ll paraphrase my past week or so;

Spent a very nice evening with family in Orford at this place. Orford is one of those quaint English Coastal villages that you could run round in 5 minutes, but has an appeal that makes return trips near essential. The restaurant I hadn’t been to before, but they have a really cool Smoked Fish shop (well, cool if you are not a fish about to be smoked) behind it that fills the air with culinary whiffs. My Sister was home from Poland and it was really nice to get almost all the family together.

I got a new/replacement Soundcard for my PC – the other one got frazzled by lightning. I am no technophobe, but the whole home recording lark is designed for people that read techie magazines. Plug and play, my arse. I savour my small triumphs and leap around the room when one piece of technology talks to another – quite rewarding in a frustrating kinda way. The helpline guy was very .. err .. helpful .. but sounded like he was sitting in his bedroom surfing the web and breaking open a beer. I was referred to as ‘mate’ and ‘dude’ .. I guess i am quite ‘dude’ like in a certain light – low light with the sound turned down! I don’t have a problem with that, but would like to have his job.

We celebrated Michaela’s Birthday. She insists she is still early Thirties, but 33 is creeping up to mid 30’s in my book. She looks early Twenties though, so it doesn’t make for a great line of sarcasm. I think she liked her present. A weekend in Paris – she has never been either, so looking forward to that one. I also managed breakfast in bed, birthday cake, romantic night out and flowers .. I know, I know, you don’t have to all tell me how lovely I am.

I took my eldest Son to start acting lessons .. he has wanted to go for a while. He really enjoyed it & was pleased to have been asked to take on the role of a female bear .. nice one .. I also got in trouble for saying that the teacher looked ‘foxy’ .. well she did, it was only an observation.

My band that was a four piece, is now a three piece .. James (RIP – not literally) has given way to apathy and recreational substances and decided he could do no more for the cause. It is a pity to lose such a fine fellow – a very rare find when you get four people in a band that all get along without ego’s taking over… that said, he was pretty crap at guitar and so flaky 😉 .. We are going to start a search for a new guitarist though, or maybe even a keyboard player .. applications accepted for minor to major talents everywhere.

I just got some more films back and am starting to scan through them and will post on to Flickr.

Happy Tuesday

Words of Wisdom .. September 16, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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Self help books are probably my least favourite reading material – some people close to me adore them. It is not that I have a self image of being perfect, more the excruciatingly painful approach that most techniques use. They seem to have been generated by an overly evangelic American (I’m pandering to stereotypes here) that wants to make some money quick and borrow/steal lots of ideas from Steven Covey. It is for this reason that I try to avoid them at all costs. I’m not past the need for guidance though, and have found one technique useful in the past that I was lucky enough to attend through my work.

After attending a very good refresher training event  last week (a pleasant two day trip to Stafford) I am converted once more to the faith .. I can bring some sayings that have stuck .. here’s my own personal High Fidelty-esque Top 5 life coach statements .. adopt suitable pose behind pulpit and project voice accordingly; 

  • It’s not life that makes me happy or unhappy, it’s my opinion of my life that makes me happy or unhappy
  • Nothing is good nor bad, but thinking makes it so (Shakespeare)
  • The quality of my actions cannot exceed the quality of my thinking
  • You are who you think you are
  • What you say is what you get (i.e. if you think you are going to fail, you will)

The most annoying/pleasing thing about this course was/is that you cannot prove the statements wrong. Lotsof debate and attempts, but ultimately you concede in a heap. Feel free to try – I have a book with the answers and can mark your homework.

Here ends the first lesson ..

Dawson .. September 16, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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After the Montreal College Tragedy earlier in the week, I clicked on the BBC’s links to the college site to check up the location of the college, having visited there earler this year – I spotted one link that I think they should consider removing from their pages.

We all fall down .. September 12, 2006

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The stress busting marvel that is the Internet. This was sent to me by my Sister and I am now addicted.
I give to you the German Bears and all you need to do is move your cursor.

“In search of the quiet life, we all fall down ..” come on, sing along ..

Hank .. September 11, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music.
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Whilst perusing the latest issue of Uncut, I stumbled upon an article of stars that died whilst in their prime .. it had a picture of Hank Williams looking stylish and charismatic. It was one of those 1940’s smouldering b&w shots that could have come from the same lens as the Billy the Kid portraits or Bonnie and Clyde .. if the decades didn’t all fold into one.

My surprise came when I saw that he was only 27 when he died (although 29 according to Wikipedia). How can that be? How can someone in a cowboy hat be under 35? The ageing charm and wise grin in all the pics suggest a man far more progressed in his years .. how could ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ not have been written by someone in their 50’s.

Maybe it is just me?! The perception I had was based on those old pics and the way I came to discover him. The fact that he was long dead in the water before I even picked up any link .. probably via Dylan, who himself was in his 50’s before I cottoned on to him too. I had an image that he was a drugged up middle aged man, twisted by the success of the new kids on the block. Some career and legacy for someone that died still in their 20’s .. respect to the man.. 

Old Nag .. September 11, 2006

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This could only appear as one of those Monday Morning news articles .. but what happens when they get divorced and have to share out the water trough and the bale of hay ..

Road Trippin’ .. September 7, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids.
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I had a great week away with my kids last week. It was like a Hanson UK tour without the gigging – I’m sure they took the same amount of drugs, and drunk as much booze too! I was such an alcohol lightweight that I consumed 1 bottle of Magners across a seven day period & that included 6 trips to resturants and 3 bars ..

We started off in Brighton, made like crazy on the beach as it was really sunny, perused the Lanes and then ate Pizza. Brighton to me is a place I could visit more on a very regular basis, but seem to space out visits too much. A lot had changed in terms of shopping layouts. The drive along Hove and Wothing with the sun setting was very scenic and really made me appreciate the British summer time.

We then headed for Portsmouth – never having been to Portsmouth I was expecting very little except Naval grime and debauchery, but it is/was a great place to visit. We started in Southsea, beautiful gentrified seaside lawns and open spaces, and a trip to see some fish. I still love Aquariums even at my tender age, and manage to cast aside thoughts of animals in captivity for these places, it doesn’t seem to apply the same way with fish .. if they kept dolphins, I know I would object – hmm hypocrite – anyway .. we managed to visit the massive New England Aquarium in Boston earlier in the year, so I was a bit concerned that this would be a let down for the kids, but it proved not to be the case and we spent the best part of three hours gazing .. the comment that the dead rats being fed to the Otters smelled like McDonalds was particularly amusing .. ho hum ..

The dominating Spinnaker Tower was next on the Itinerary. Its a new structure and London Eye-esque in terms of visit and experience, very friendly and efficient. An amazing view from the deck – you can see the entire Isle of Wight, across the Solent and Ferries passing in and out of the harbour – we were up there exacly a week after the 3 sailors died & very humbling to think of the dots on the horizon in retrospect. Highly recommend a visit there though.

Shopping round Gun Wharf, a trip to the Cinema to see Nacho Libre (Jack Black in a good performance of a fairly light plot) which worked up an ideal end to the day. I love Portsmouth.

The next stop was Bath, stopping along the way to see some rocks .. I had one child enthralled by the magic of the moment and the fact that some 3-4000 years ago all this devil tomfoolery happened, and another child giggling constantly at his audio guide in German (he struggles with English so has no comprehension of the German language) and attempting to repeat the wording to anyone that would listen .. either way, an entertaining way to make use of your entrance fee.

Bath itself was for me, my choice, you offer your kids a beach, some fish, some rocks and a tower, now I want to go somewhere I choose .. I think I have visited Bath before, but remembered very little about it. The approach is something of a welcome mat and grand finale all wrapped in one .. amazing hilltops with row upon row of gorgeous town houses of ancient country stone, fitting into a modern, even urban, landscape .. I wanted it all .. in fact I want to live here .. and they had an apartment for sale in my price range too!

We had a great time taking in the sights, even the kids started to appreciate them. We failed to take in the new Spa Pool as under 12’s were not allowed in. The manager kindly offered a visit for all of us to the smallest of the pools only, but at £39 a throw, I wanted to see the roof top pool and knew I would want to come back for more .. next time .. it looks like a lovely building and well mapped to its surroundings.

Then three days in London before our trip home. I won’t go into too much London detail as it feels obvious, but staying around BlackHeath with my Aunt was really nice – footy on the heath with the sunrise over Canary Wharf, followed by the best Pizza the UK can offer. Then a day at the Science Museum .. literally a whole day .. followed by a visit to see Ed, Jacqui and Amy, followed by a weary wander back to the heath.

I usually default to holidays abroad, but after last weeks jaunt, I really loved spending time with the kids in this country and visiting some of England that I rarely get to see, they seemed to lap it up too .. I may well do more of it. 7 rolls of film to develop to boot … Mmmmmm ..