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Pervert .. October 30, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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The milk of human kindness shone through today .. After four days in the beautiful city of Vilnius, we continued our trek through the Baltics and headed for Riga.

Vilnius really does have it all .. a heady mixture of stunning old town that would grace the romantic highs of Paris or New York, with the essential dirt and grime of a former Soviet satellite and all the re-building and corrupt glamour that that brings. I’ll get round to writing more on that when I’m on a keyboard that isn’t primarily cyrillic alphabet though .. today was what I intended to post ..

So who told us that the clocks had changed then? Well no one actually. We managed a late night out on Saturday and were kind of drunkenly bemused as to why the bars weren’t closing as the daylight seeped through.

Sunday was a pleasant blur that involved drinking coffee and Soviet era camera markets that would have had at least three people I know salivating dangerously .. any camera you like for eight of your UK pounds and a selection wider than any eBay search would grant you.

It wasn’t until early alarm clocks and a rushed breakfast later that I looked up at the clock in the hotel lobby to find us 90 mins early to get to the bus station that it hit us! We had been wandering around for 36 hours, 1 hour ahead of ourselves .. I am never early for anything .. as JC pointed out ‘welcome to Clive 2.0’ .. oh how he laughed ..

The girl selling bus tickets was in a bad mood at 8.30am on a Monday .. I would hate to deal with her later in the week. We were lucky to be in her presence obviously .. it was way too much trouble to pay for one ticket cash and one on a card .. machinery wasn’t invented for such requests .. I think she tried to spit at us on the way out, but that might be my imagination .. I bought her flowers and ran ..

With 2 quid of change in our pockets there were no beggars to be found .. why is that .. they are usually too hard to get rid of?! Jon approached a kid with his change indicating in as safe manner as humanly possible that he could have the money for free .. time froze at this point .. tumbleweed of barbed wire blew across the forecourt and the KGB spotlights were full on in Jon’s face .. the seconds turned to hours as the kid looked bemused, shook his head and the 2 old ladies near by shouted abuse along the lines ‘dirty old pervert, leave that kid alone’ .. I couldn’t help but laugh .. we couldn’t even give our money away & got abuse for trying..

Jon found the nearest street cleaner who then thought his numbers had come up in the lottery and we went on our way .. I have only just stopped laughing .. Riga is amazing .. TV Tower, Soviet Museum, crazy markets, its like groundhog day .. though the park in the centre is along the lines of Central Park and it has a big city feel about it .. it is going to be very good.


CBGBs .. October 24, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Music.
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From a newsletter I get from the economist .. punk rock updates via a Corporate source .. waving goodbye to CBGBs .. in case you were not aware ..

“The day the music died
CBGB, the legendary nightclub that launched the careers of such bands as the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie, held its last concert on October 15th. True to its reputation, the club went out with a sweaty, punk-rock bang culminating with a three-hour set from Patti Smith. The rock veteran’s performance included a number of show-stopping songs from her famous “Horses” record, as well as a few covers of Ramones and Blondie hits.

The club’s closure marks the end of a long battle. Hilly Kristal, who opened the club in 1973, lost his lease on the lower-Manhattan space in August 2005. He owed thousands of dollars in rent to the club’s landlord, the Bowery Residents Committee (BRC), a non-profit group that helps the homeless. Mr Kristal disputed a series of rent increases and claimed he was not billed properly. He took his case to court and enjoyed the support of countless celebrities; Steven Van Zandt, a member of the E Street Band, organised concerts and vigils to raise money for CBGB. But after losing in court Mr Kristal finally agreed to close the club. He hopes to open a new CBGB in Las Vegas next year, and plans to take most of the well-battered, graffiti-accented decor with him, including the urinals. The club must be stripped bare by the 31st.”

Britain from the Air .. October 23, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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For as long as I can remember, I have always bought a Magazine around Christmas time that contained a calendar, gratis, amongst its Xmas Booty. The theme was fairly consistent, although I drew the line when Jordan or Pamela Anderson were involved. Genuinly there was little about the sexual thrill involved, although the pics are largely easy on the eye. The other criteria was that the weekends were displayed as a group, i.e. not splitting the Saturday and Sunday, and there was room to write comments and diary dates againast each date.

After a dissapointing year being served up pics of overly thin young ladies that I neither recognise nor find particularly attractive .. Billie Piper being the odd exception, but then she is a Doctor’s assistant .. this year, I have made a consious leap forward and get organised in advance and break from the norm .. so, on Saturday I purchased a Calendar of ‘Britain from the Air’, 3 months in advance of when I needed it, a topic that may as well have been steam trains or rare stamps, but either way I get abuse, so I will learn to ride the wave.

I will also have to live in hope that Billie is hiding behind the picture of Stonehenge and by the time we get to May she will have jumped out and surprised me ..

Belfast Boy .. October 18, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Blogroll, Idle Thoughts.

BobbyNot a holiday as such, but a neat little trip to Belfast for work .. me as a first time visitor too.

I hadn’t visited Northern Ireland before, but like many others, particularly others of a similar age, am fascinated by the colourful past and the conflicts that seem implausible to a non-sectarian, non religous, almost politically apathetic part of the world such as this. Political Leaders whose faces are as much part of my youth asKenny Dalgliesh and Kevin Keegan .. and yet they are still there today .. where’s king Kenny these days? 

It’s an incredible place to visit as well .. worth a weekend away even if it’s not the first name on your list of destinations. The locals are really friendly, my work colleagues are notoriously dry in their sense of humour, but dry verging on black humour as opposed to stale. The city too is full of some great buildings, especially the main City Hall and the up and coming waterfront area.

There are still a lot of pointers to the past, not least the largest collection of CCTV Cameras and Barbed Wire that I have seen anywhere in the world .. it’s easier to get into Lubyanka than it would be a Belfast Police Station and the appearance is less threatening also .. but if you look past that .. and it seems that everyone does .. the City is a cool place to be. It has the Irish charm of Dublin without the tourists!

The nightlife is really busy. I was only there for one evening but the bars and clubs from the centre down to the University area were packed, and that was mid-week and on a night when the International Footy team was playing some 500 yards away.

I had the chance before heading to the airport to take the City Tour. Not my preferred choice of sight seeing, but time was limited and I wanted to see it all quickly. This part was the surreal bit .. the trip started off in the expected way, taking in the City Centre and the waterfront .. all very impressive ..

The Shankhill and Falls Roads are names that immediately conjour up news casts from the 70’s and 80’s .. tit for tat bombings and retaliation from the Military Wings .. the wall Murals and Flag waving on this part of the tour were amazing, there’s a deep rooted pride and culture on full display .. part of you applauds the belief, a larger part hopes for the heavy dose of calm and empathy remains for good. It’s as if every gable wall has to be painted in full colour – I cannot picture the same scene anywhere else in the World let alone UK.

You move from Shankhill to Falls via the ‘Peace Line’ .. a gate that still closes in the evening and opens in the morning .. it was all very hard to comprehend .. and even better, you travel through all this on a big red open top tourist bus, with happy narration and cameras flashing all over. It was a case of ‘did that really happen?’.

In mid October the bus was over half full so someone has a market tapped ..

The murals are certainly more than half the appeal of the place. I tried to get a copy of a book a fellow bus tripper had told me about but it was sold out in the Info Shop .. I then happened to mention my trip to the taxi driver on the way back to the airport, who piped up with ‘well I’m compiling a book on the topic too if your interested’ .. and the kind fellow even sent me a CD Rom with all his pics on it too .. Nice ..

Baggy Trousers .. October 17, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids.
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There are many times along the parental trail that have impact and importance, from first steps to an appreciation of American Hardcore, I had however looked at going to High School belonging to my own memories, to flick through thoughts of stolen kisses in the playground, trips to pubs underage and excessive over achievement.

There now comes the time that I have to relegate those thoughts to the same folder as when my Dad told me about World War Two and meeting Rommel in the Field Hospital (i do wish I had paid more attention) .. suffice to say it all means very little to a kid of 10 .. its murky two dimensional, black and white to a kid of that age and hard to relate to..

Well back to present day and poor little me has the emotional equivalent of standing on a rake in the back garden when I was invited to a trip round my Son’s High School .. well the one he starts next September to be precise ..

For a variety of happy accidents and catchment areas, it is the same school as the one that I went to, all be it some 20 years down the line .. surely not that much could have changed .. With waves of nostalgia and pencil smells we were taken on a guided tour by a Prefect and a ‘Senior’ Prefect .. I have to say i would have happily been a paying punter to take this trip and was positively tripping the light fantastic. There was sadly no signs of Miss Saunders and her 2ndYear History lessons .. oh such passion fuelled crushes at that tender age .. Mmmmm .. 1-2-3 I’m back in the room ..

The school has undergone something of a massive transformation. It was once, back in the day, a school of moderately high suburban standing that served a catchment area in the few thousands. Global warming and the rush of housing developments later and the school has expanded three fold to cater for 1700 people, sorry kids, sorry students.

In the words of Harold Macmillan, the kids of today have really never had it so good. I was pretty pleased with my lot as a kid .. even in Thatcher’s Britain we had school books and the occasional crap trip to the coast. It certainly didnt seem impoverished and post three day week fall out. It is a case of what you are used to though .. now the school boasts an incredibly impressive arsenal of pretty much everything .. I don’t just want to go back, I want to move in!

On the moderate scale all class rooms are kitted out with Projectors and PCs, the Library is well stocked with contemporary fiction and the playing field is the size of a large inner city car park .. I am guessing that this is de rigour these days but then there is the rub. The school once had a single sports hall and an assembly hall .. now ..

pause and appropriate drum roll ..

.. the music room has a decent keyboard on every desk, there are four or five band rehersal rooms with full drum kits and branded electric guitars (whoever was smart enough to wing that one deserves a knighthood), the drama studio (huh?) has an impressive lighting rig and blackout facilities, the media center has Macs, the dance studio has a sprung floor, the gym is brand spanking new and better equipped than my Corporate equivelant .. they even now do media studies at A Level ..

How much would I have given for rehersal rooms at school .. I probably wouldn’t have bothered going home.

I am getting over excited on behalf of my Son, it makes me smile thinking about it two weeks after the fact. I tried to relay these emotions when I returned home and some seems to have rubbed off .. I had a request to learn some more bar chords tonight .. Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World ..