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Birthday Breakfast .. April 26, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids, Uncategorized.
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It was my Birthday last week .. in terms of milestones, for the first time my kids made me breakfast in bed ..

Apron strings are tough ones to snap, but it was an emotional moment to get poached eggs on toast cooked for me in a team-like production line (I do hope they washed their hands!). I’m guessing it will be a few years yet until they open the row of dusty cookbooks and/or stay out all night and come home at breakfast time, but they re growing up faster than I can shake a punk rock CD at them ..

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Turned .. January 24, 2007

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I have been in London today for work. I was walking to a meeting room in Corporate HQ and had to walk through a large group of hip young things (or ‘new bunnies’ as a rather irritating Consultant frequently referred to them as). They were all fresh faced and enthusiastic, eager to make suggestions to some chap at the front of the group who was suggesting one of the world’s communication problems that could be solved today .. they all looked really happy, content and on a mission .. it got me thinking ..

5.jpgI was them once! .. and it wasn’t that long ago either .. what happened?? 7 or 8 years ago I swore that I would never be anything other than enthusiastic .. I probably thought I could save the world, bubbling with energy to change everything, not just at work, but playing in a band that really meant something & all that mis-guided ‘yoof’ stuff that we all go through – I was my own personal Red Wedge.. it was great ..

Now, I have turned. I have reached the tipping point where by I realise that I am never going to change the world. I have become one of the people that I used to complain about, that I swore I would never become – the slightly cynical type, out of their twenties, a realist rather than an optimist and so out of touch with ‘da pulse’ of life on the street that I don’t even know that Mika is #1 in the Charts* or all the words to Panic at the Disco’s latest 45** .. and neither do I care .. I am the person that I used to sneer at inwardly as someone that would never change a thing in life and just sit back and take the wage packet handed to them .. I used to hate that .. I really did .. but now ..

I love it. I can sit smug, self assured and content that I have achieved a lot of what I set out to do already .. I’m on course for all the other stuff too. I’m happy in work to the extent that it’s rewarding without being too demanding, pays the bills and then some, plus I look at the happy smiling faces of the new breed and I am not jealous, I’m happy for them, really happy, I just hope their band is a little more successful 😉

 “I was 21 years when I wrote this song, I am 36 now, but I won’t be for long …” sing up William ..

 * I had to look it up
** Can I still credibly use the term 45 as a cultural reference to the 7″ single, hell yes!!

Riga .. November 1, 2006

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Riga wins a lot of awards for triumph over adversity, shafted by the Russians, shafted by the Nazis, shafted by the Russians (again) and then abandoned in the Socialist nightmare by the West. There is a real since of national pride here and the City really feels as though it wants to be left alone to be beautiful.

There is a great looking old town that Church fanatics would adore, stunning art deco buildings everywhere and lovely little alleyways to discover on your wanderings. It is a great looking place, larger than anything else in the Baltics, but because of that there is a lot to take in. Everything is here from Parks and Rivers, modern skyscrapers and quiant timber frames.

There are few essential ‘sights’ other than wandering the Old Town, but this can take up a couple of days with ease & it’s a world away from what some might picture of Eastern Europe .. we also went Antique shopping and bought some neat Soviet Tat, went up the elegant ‘in its day’ Palace of Science, took on the City Bus Tour (how rude can a driver be*) & seemingly walked miles and miles just for the sake of it ..

Top of my/our list was the Occupation Museum of Latvia, which is/was amazing. Jaw dropping facts on what they have been through as a nation – families actually fighting one another for German and Russian forces respectively after the hostile deportations to Siberia and prior to Germans ‘liberating’ the country .. and what a choice to make after being stung by Stalin, for Hitler to liberate you .. fight for Stalin or Hitler or die .. talk about tough decisions in life! It’s a very well put together exhibition and we even visited twice. I welled up at two points during the audio tour and laughed at loud at the absurdity on more occasions. Well worth a visit. Latvians have a right to be patriotic.

On the down side …. It’s not as nice as Vilnius IMHO, although this is a matter of taste .. it is too big to remain quaint and unfortunately too geared up to accomodate the impending hoards of Stag and Hen Parties from (largely) the UK. We were approached 7 times on one street to attend the local Strip Bars and even a polite ‘no thanks’ seems to do little to deter them asking again when you walk past later on. There is a real distrust by the locals because of the English Stag disease – even the listings papers state in the Top 5 things to avoid in Riga are the English! How proud are we??!!

There is so much good here to ignore the place though; rich in architecture, Soviet kitsch and contemporary history, but if tourism of the booze and binge kind continues at a pace, it will be a much less attractive destination. Please can someone build a half dozen strip clubs on some reclaimed land off Blackpool, the UK Government subsidise them for cheap beer and plastic surgery and then encourage the stag and hen types to stay home .. pretty please ..

Talinn tomorrow .. woo hoo ..

* separate post for that when I get home ..

Happy in the haze of a drunken shower .. August 7, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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The weekend flew by in a haze, either an alcoholic haze, the kind that reminds you that there was a time when you could recover in less than 24 hours .. or a haze of energetic speed, two wheeled pedal power, fresh summer meadows & nice food by the river ..

Friday night JC and I did an attempted pub crawl. It was a case of the fellow from the Twix advert, always travelling to the same welcoming but largely vanilla flavoured bar in town each night out & occasionally the need arises to check out the competition. We started at the Fat Cat, a brilliant pub where you literally spit on the sawdust as a right of passage. Ales to chew on and pork scratchings in 7 varieties .. probably. Its such a good atmosphere in there and everyone in there always seems at ease. A brilliant summers eve in the beer garden and a pint or two later we headed for The Dove. Now the Dove has all the right ingredients to be a great pub; top Landlord, staff, real beer, great building, good location etc .. but the clientele looked too much like my staff restaurant for a Friday night of getting away from it all – there was no one, bar staff excluded that wasn’t male, fat, bald, forty and wearing sandals – most with socks. It was a bit off putting. We moved on, which was a pity cos the pub itself is great. We then ended up spending most of the evening in Churchs, which is always a pleasure. It was a nice enough night to sit outside and watch the world and all that it sends.

That might all sound a bit like a tourist information film for a night out in Ipswich, but to be honest, a combination of those three, probably would be what I would recommend the humble visitor.

The night then hit the inevitable ‘seems like a good idea when your pissed’ stage, and I met up with Michaela and we headed to Furry for a boogie and some foolish, unnecessary extra beers. It was very good fun in that the tunes where there, we met a load of people to chat too and dance with in an uncontrolled manner (me that is, not an ex co-op junior), but ultimately it was foolhardy .. We got home at stupid o’clock and due to the inconsiderate parking regulation around Ipswich Town Centre, I had to get up at stupid o’clock to move my car off yellow lines .. ouch that hurt.

Saturday was the hurt. Sore head for most of the daylight hours, followed by a Scooter ride in to Town and a wander round coffee-shops and magazine shops whilst Michaela had a radical hair cut for very little money .. thats sarcasm folks .. Girls, I’m generalising, always look great after a haircut, but it never really looks that different and always seems to cost a shed load of cash, Suffice to say, Michaela did look great after her haircut, in the same way that she did before, and it ‘probably’ did cost a shed load of cash.

We then went out for food. After a couple of top visits to Trongs of late, we decided to try Temptation, a buffet style emporium that offers an all inclusive menu for circa £10. Great news if you want to eat a lot, but not so great when all the food is the consistency of paper paste, has a greyish tinge and tastes strongly of MSG. No mock duck either, obviously. I wasn’t impressed & ate very little, salivated at the thought of the Trongs menu board and needed a milkshake on the way home to hit the spot.

Watched Date Moviefor light relief in the evening. It was simple and to the point, but wore very thin, very quickly. The scatter-gun of gags meant that some hit and made me laugh hysterically. The cat on the toilet sketch made Michaela fall off the sofa par example, but it was a 30 min sketch show rather than a movie full of ideas.

Sunday was back to life day .. I feel great and the world is going to know it, kind of day. Michaela and I went out on a mammoth bike ride in the sunshine. We visited Waldringfield for lunch and ate at the Maybush by the river. The feeling of having earned the right to eat lots of food certainly makes it taste that much better .. and after the disappointment of Chinese the day before, I was in happy town .. Mmmm .. I am starting to turn this into the CAMRA guide for East Anglia, but great food, great beers ..

The bike ride home took a little longer than the approach, but it was all worth it, and the self righteous feeling of the homecoming was oh so sweet.

Sunday evening I met the boy Trenter for another bike ride to the pub for an evening of catch up, sarcasm, tea and sympathy. Well in reality we both talked crap and made plans for another covers band that might not, might possibly never happen – whilst getting slightly merry in the process. They are the best bands ever those ones. It was a very nice evening and a pleasure as always.

Today was work work work. Not before getting the kids back home after their week away. It was lovely to see them again, and they said they really missed me too. I got gifts, a Buddha playing a sitar type thing, an ‘I love Dad’ stick of rock and a ‘Thank You Dad – for being great’ place mat .. which was all very sweet of them. I am great though, so I deserve it ..

La dispute c’est fini May 22, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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I had my ipod on random in the gym the other day and it spun up the Yann Tiersen Soundtrack to Amelie .. it got me thinking of the opening credits where Amelie's parents define what is 'special to them' .. I created my own, for no other reason than I was on the Cross Trainer for 30 minutes and the music I was listening to was Instrumental .. so .. Stagedive likes ..

  • Inhaling the steam from the kettle when it boils (parental advisory) 
  • Gazing at the blue tiles at the bottom of the swimming pool (ahem .. they pass quickly)
  • The smell of 'old school' printers Ink.
  • Grinding Coffee Beans by hand.
  • Putting the needle on the record.
  • The smell of New guitar strings.
  • Grade 1 haircuts (receiving, not giving)

I don't think I qualify for shock treatment because of any of the above (maybe the ceramic tiles, but just pretend I didn't mention that) & it easily passed the time taken to get to the fitness finish line.

Next list please ..