52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

and I could write a song a hundred miles long...

Right then, competition time kids.

Ever fancied yourself as a songwriter? Ever fancied sitting back in your mansion with your movie star wife as the royalties come rolling in? Of course you have. If Noel Gallagher can do it, how hard can it be?

Here is your challenge:

You may have noticed that all Coldplay songs are basically the same: there's a whole lot of wondering and questioning, things are broken and can't be fixed, puzzles are missing pieces... that kind of thing.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write your own Coldplay song.

As always, there is an excellent prize - the honour of picking the title for a post on this blog.

Here's my entry:

"Things Are a Bit Shit Now (But It'll Be Alright)"

I'd like to play with you-ooo-ooo
Monopoly or Clue-ooo-do
But I cannot get past Go (oh-oh)
And Professor Plum has gone
What's right has now gone wrong.

ooooooh, yeah
ooooooh, yeah

Things are a bit shit now
But it'll be alright
(it'll be alright)

....and so on.

Over to you, and feel free to take the piss as much as you like. For heaven's sake don't spend too long on it, or before you know where you are, you'll be all serious, wearing black and writing slogans on your hand.


Tomorrow, we draw a line under Glastonbury 2005 with Ben from Silent Words Speak Loudest giving us his Festival Earworms.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Won’t be long til summer time is through

This is probably a bit self-indulgent of me, but I've had a long day at work, so I thought I'd pop up some more photos from the weekend to cheer myself up a bit.

This lake is just off to one side of the Pyramid Stage, and you pretty much needed to wade through it if you wanted to get out to the stage. It's around here that they had the canoe out, I think, although I didn't see it myself. Good to see that the burger vans still seem to be doing some decent trade, eh?

This was just below the field where we were camped, and you can see where the river ran out and down into the rest of the site. Some of those people are probably still looking for their tents.

Now that's a depressing sight - that's at least 4 foot deep, I think, and is about 10m away from the tipped up toilets. We had to wade across this lake to get down to the stages. At this point I was still wearing my walking boots and was eyeing up the distinctly unappetising prospect of wading though raw sewage. I needn't have worried. Lord Bargain waded across, and then took off his wellies and stood on a piece of plastic as C. ferried the wellies back across to me so that I could pop them on and wade across. Now that's friendship, and I salute you!

We had a gazebo pitched up with our tents, and it was really useful for standing under whilst we waited for the rain to stop on Friday morning. I don't think it would have offered us much protection against a lake though.

C. & Jamie ponder their view of the Other Stage on Saturday. You might not think it to look at this picture, but it is already considerably drier underfoot by now, although that mud is pretty sticky.

And then the sun came out..... The Pollstar and Statue John enjoy Brian Wilson on Sunday afternoon. That slightly forced grin the Pollstar has (on the left) is what happens to you when you spend two whole days tramping around in wellies 2 sizes too small for your feet.

Emma C gets down and boogies as Brian Wilson (rather bizarrely, it has to be said) plays "Little Saint Nick", and my decision to carry around a Santa hat for three days pays a joyous dividend.


A massive electrical storm has just started in Nottingham, and it's pouring with rain. Oddly, instead of being glad that I'm indoors and waiting for my pizza to cook, I'm a little bit nostalgic for my tent in Somerset......

Roll on 2007.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Dusty brown boots in the corner by the ironing board

Hello. It's taken me a few hours of queuing in a field and then some more queuing on the M5, but I am now finally home from the best festival in the world.... and I haven't even had a chance to get into the shower yet, so you might want to hold your nose whilst you read this.

It rained a little bit, but nothing too bad....

It all started so promisingly. We arrived on the site at about 22:30 on Wednesday night to find that the gazebo was already up. 2 seconds later, our tent was up and the cold beer I had brought in the cool bag had been cracked open. Nice. Thursday was absolutely brilliant. The festival site is something like 900 acres in size, and there is so much to see and to do. It was really good to have a whole day with no bands on to have a good wander around. Plus the weather was fantastic. Really brilliant. People were burning. You can worry too much about the weather in the run up to a festival, I reckon.... I got all worried about the poor forecasts for last year, and it turned out to be muddy, but it wasn't really all that bad, and you just get on with the serious business of enjoying the festival.

I'd survived a muddy Glastonbury before, so what could go wrong?

Well. How about a month's worth of rain falls in the course of about 4 hours on Friday morning in the middle of the longest and most violent electrical storm I have ever been witness to. OK, actually I slept through some of it, and when I woke up, I had that kind of warm cosy feeling that you can only get when you are tucked up inside your sleeping bag in your completely dry tent and listening to the sound of the rain smashing down onto the canvas and the thunder and lightning crashing overhead.

It wasn't until I got up that I really began to appreciate what was happening. About 10m from where we had pitched the tent, and across the metal walkway, where there had once been nothing but tents, now there was a river. As we walked down into the site from Pennard Hill (where we were camped), things just got worse. Toilets had been tipped over into the water, presumably filling it up with raw sewage that people were wading through wearing flip-flops.

Hundreds of tents had either been washed away or were completely immersed - in the same water that the toilets had tipped into. The queue for wellies was already massive. Luckily I had thought to bring some with me. Unfortunately, it looked as though someone had walked off with them, and I was going to have to spend the day in my walking boots.... especially as the largest wellies on sale seemed to be a size 7, and I needed at least an 11.

The sheer volume of water that collected on the site was amazing. It doesn't take much for 125,000 people to churn wet ground into mud, but this was something else - there were lakes.

Joe Bananas took a delivery of some wellies a little later on in the afternoon, and they needed to have a police escort.... but on the plus side, it turned out that my wellies had only been tucked away in someone else's tent after all, so I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief and leave the crowds to fight amongst themselves.

It turns out that a couple of stages were hit by lightning and the stages were all shut down until the storm finished. None of this really affected me, as I spent most of the morning trying to take everything in and make sure that everyone in our party was sorted out with a pair of wellies/big boots or whatever they needed. As a result, I missed the Undertones, and didn't really get to see anybody on stage until I checked out Elvis Costello (so, so), Bloc Party (fantastic), The Killers (pretty good) and The White Stripes (just brilliant - such a compelling live act).

Things looked a little bit brighter on Saturday morning - the whole site was absolutely soaked, but at least it had stopped raining. As I made my way down to the main stage at about 07:30 to watch the British Lions surrender tamely to the All Blacks, I took the opportunity to take a picture of the ground around the Other Stage....

This was where I was planning to spend about 6 hours that afternoon watching a run of bands. Nice, isn't it?

As it turns out, it's amazing what you can put up with. From this rather comfortable position (bar just out of sight on the left-hand side), I watched The Stands, KT Tunstall, Athlete, The Futureheads, Echo & the Bunnymen and Interpol... all of whom were fantastic.... before heading over to the Pyramid Stage to watch New Order and Coldplay.

New Order played like the legends they are. I've not had the pleasure of seeing them live before, but they looked really up for it, and played a fantastic set.... including a storming 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' dedicated to John Peel, and the slightly bizarre sight of Keith Allen and a pantomime horse joining them on stage for a rowsing rendition of 'World In Motion', the official song of the England Football team for the 1990 world cup. Sadly they didn't bring on John Barnes as a special guest, but I suppose you can't have everything.

What can I say about Coldplay? The set was the highlight of my weekend, I think. Amongst other things, they played a pretty mean version of 'Can't Get You Out of My Head' as well, dedicated to Kylie, of course. They were magnificent. Nice planet. They'll take it.

And on Sunday, the sun came out again. Wellies and shorts weather. More bands: James Blunt, The Bellydance Superstars & the Desert Roses, Brian Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, The Las, The Beautiful South.... All excellent, although I think I'll spare you the detailed reviews for now, except to say that Brian Wilson's set was a real highlight: he played hit after hit as the sun blazed down on the crowd. At one point, and I swear I'm not making this up, a surboard appeared at the front with a guy balanced on it, and he surfed across the front of the crowd. Seriously.

It's not just about the music either. Much of the joy of Glastonbury is to be had from wandering around the Green Fields, Lost Vagueness, the Stone Circle and places like that. A particular highlight was witnessing a wedding taking place (between Sponge & Susie, in case you were wondering) in the Chapel of Love & Loathing. When the ceremony was complete, the bride, groom, vicar, congregation and nuns in stockings and suspenders danced away to 'Highway to Hell' by AC/DC. More ceremonies should be like that I think. I also enjoyed a lot of the sculptures around the site (some of which will no doubt be appearing on Stand by Your Statue in the near future). There was a giant griffin, an ant made from an old motorbike, some whicker men, a sculpure made from wellies, some cows, some elephants.... but I was especially taken with this cut-down Range Rover.

The food was ace too: square pies, cous cous, a Dimbleburger, noodles & sweet chili sauce, donuts, treacle sponge & custard.... but my favourite this year was the bakery down by the Pyramid Stage. I visited that stand a couple of times over the weekend and enjoyed a variety of pastries, breads, flapjacks and iced buns. Nice.


It was as brilliant as it always is, and I won't know what to do with myself this time next year when the festival takes a year off. Perhaps I can repeat the experience by pitching the tent in a paddling pool in the garden and have someone follow me around the place with a watering can held over my head?

Right. Must shower and try and get my head back into the real world for work tomorrow. Dropping out of society and living in a tent without showers or proper toilet facilities for one weekend in the year is great, but I don't think I could do it all the time. I haven't really got the hair for dreadlocks, for one thing....


In case you're interested, I watched 10 of my 15 Glastonbury Earworms being played, which I don't think is too bad, all things considered.

And yes, I did spend much of the festival wearing a santa hat.... I don't know why.... but when you are the best part of 2m tall, it certainly makes you easy to spot in the middle of a crowd, that's for sure.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

and I just can't contain this feeling that remains.....


As promised / threatened, here are my Glastonbury earworms: The 15 songs that I am most looking forward to hearing performed over the course of the festival. I've not had a really good look at the schedule yet, so it's entirely possible that some of this lot clashes or would involve a long chase of about a mile across the site that I may just be physically unable to make..... I've also missed out load of good stuff appearing elsewhere on the bill.

Plus, of course, part of the joy of the festival is going with the flow and just stumbling across your festival highlight in somewhere like the circus tent. It's not a festival to flog yourself around the site trying to stick to your schedule.

Still, here they are:

15. Here Comes the Summer - The Undertones

One of my favourite festival memories is basking in the sun in front of the Pyramid Stage, pint in hand, listening to Jimmy Cliff. I have high hopes that this will provide a similar memory on Friday afternoon. The forecast is hopeful, and you can't get much more summery than this song, can you? (a small word here for those hairy hobbits, the Magic Numbers. They've failed to make the cut here, but they certainly know their way around a summery tune)

14. The Black Horse & the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall

This one's in for Lord Bargain, who needs watching at all times whilst in Somerset to make sure he doesn't fall over and break his wrist again, like he did a couple of years ago (he didn't mention it? He was on his way back from watching Mystique, you know.....) Ok, so maybe it's not "Other Side of the World", but this is the one that grabs me. The first of a run of bands I'll be watching at the Other Stage on Saturday.

13. Unconditional - The Bravery

I'm quite curious to see this lot. The album's pretty good, but I'm always slightly suspicious of bands that are quite so perfect looking and arrive in the UK with a tidal wave of hype. Their feud with The Killers is clearly nonsense as well. This is a cracker though.

12. Mr Brightside - The Killers

I think the Bravery album is more consistent than "Hot Fuss", but this one has the better singles. This was apparently the first song that they wrote together, and in my opinion they've not done anything better since. They were apparently approached to replace Kylie on Sunday night on the main stage, but wisely turned it down. The second album will tell us once and for all if there is any substance to them, but in the meantime they're worth a look, I reckon.

11. Goodbye my Lover - James Blunt

Unleash your sensitive side....

10. My Doorbell - The White Stripes

I'm thinking about my doorbell. When ya gonna ring it? When ya gonna ring it?

Unmissable live. And that's just Jack White's new flamenco goth look.

9. Helicopter - Bloc Party

Because it's the most coruscating guitar lick I have heard all year.

8. Regret - New Order

I think there's every chance I'll be at the main stage to see this lot as they come on after Keane and just before Coldplay. Still, they are legends, aren't they? One of the greatest intros to a song ever, and when they play it, I'll be thinking about this man.

7. This Saturday Boy - Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg is a Glastonbury institution and will be playing the Leftfield tent as always on sunday night. The Leftfield is the most "right on" of the bars/venues, and is run by the trade unions (as far as I can tell). Throughout the festival they will be hosting various debates featuring luminaries like Tony Benn. I saw BB play there in 2003, and it was so hot that the tent was turning into some kind of oven. The bouncers were so concerned that they began passing back pints of water - a nice touch. They only stopped passing it back when nobody could take any more off them, because every single person in the crowd had a glass in both hands. It's that kind of a place. BB usually plays unaccompanied and with a blank set list, taking requests from the crowd. He always plays this one though, and because it normally features a trumpet solo, BB fills the gaps by pretending to be a trumpet. Legend.

6. God Only Knows - Brian Wilson

Beautiful song. I knocked back the chance to fork out £50 to see Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds a couple of years ago, and I've been regretting it ever since. I don't intend to pass up the chance this time (probably better value for money as part of this particular package though, eh?)

5. Evil - Interpol

My great discovery of last year. They look like the kind of band that only come out at night, so it will be interesting to see how they cope with daylight.

4. Rabbit - Chas n'Dave

Contrary to popular belief. It *is* the original Dave.

3. What If - Coldplay

Do I need to explain? (and frankly I think I've said enough about them already)

2. The Hounds of Love - The Futureheads

I was listening to the album in the car this morning, and it's fantastic, it really is. A new wave barbershop quartet with thick Sunderland accents. What's not to like? I have a feeling that this will be one of the sing-a-long moments of the festival. I'll certainly be singing along, anyway.

1. There She Goes - The Las

Well, I have to say I never thought I would get the chance to hear this at all. The great lost band of the 1990s with one of the greatest singles ever recorded. It will be a real privilege to see this performed. I'm also hoping that John Power's comedy drummer from Cast will have tagged along... never has playing the drums looked like such fun.


Well. That's probably your lot from me until Monday at the earliest.... and by then I could easily have left an important part of my brain, somewhere...somewhere... in a field in Somerset. Alright!

Monday, June 20, 2005

I just found God where he always was...

I'm now officially very excited.

Only tomorrow to get through in the office and then I'm more or less home and hosed and heading down to the festival on Wednesday evening.


Glastonbury is just brilliant. This is my 5th time (1993, 2002-5), and the 25th festival in all. There is absolutely nothing like it. You could not see a single band and still have an absolutely fantastic time - I think lots of people do.

What's so great about it?

Apart from the hours spent trying to get a ticket, the music, the green fields, the hippies in their dodgy pixie hats, pitching your tent and going for a pint - only to go back later on in the dark and spend at least an hour looking for it, the teepees, the hari krishna tent and their free lentils, Dimbleburgers, Square Pies, the Mandela bar, women in white leotards performing ballet whilst attached to a hot air balloon being walked through the circus field, the stone circle, the organic wind-powered coffee shop (see you there on sunday morning for coffee & muffins), waking up at 6am with a pounding headache only to find that your tent has become an oven, Michael Eavis and his ropey chin-strap beard, the joys of a whore's bath, the wine bar that plays nothing but 80s classics at full volume, a minute of noise held in memory and honour of John Peel (who will be missed but never forgotten), the Glade - the only place in the world where the Ozric Tentacles will live forever, the miniature of sound - the world's smallest nightclub, Lost Vagueness, the queues to get off the site on Monday morning... and I suppose even the toilets.....

Apart from that, what has Glastonbury ever done for us?

It's a special place.

But as you can probably tell, I can take it or leave it......

Glastonbury earworms tomorrow.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside...

Cast your mind back to the 1980s. It was a time when dinosaurs ranged freely across the stadiums of the world, serving up lumpen, plodding rock to the grateful masses. Those times are now gone, and many of the dinosaurs are now thankfully extinct. Today's stadium acts are a very different beast indeed. And yet U2 remain.

As far as archaeologists are able to tell, U2 evolved at some point in the Jurrasic Era, and have proved remarkably resistant to the ravages of time since then. Bands have come and gone, but still U2 fill out stadiums. They had their little crisis in the 1990s, when widescreen, po-faced rock didn't seem enough any more, and they went all post-modern on us and travelled around the world in giant lemons and rang up the pope and things like that. They still sold out stadiums.

A couple of years ago they recaptured the sound that originally made them great, and released "all that you can't leave behind". Irony was not forgotten, but was certainly on the shelf, as the Edge unleashed some guitar sounds he hadn't used since 1986, and Bono hid behind slightly less darkened glasses.... and they hit the road and sold out stadiums across the world.

My own relationship with U2 has had its ups and downs. I bought "Rattle & Hum" on cassette in the late 1980s, but that was just a blip really, as I had no real interest in them. This indifference deepened into a strong dislike at University - a dislike triggered partly by the fact that they seemed a bit, well, forced with "Zooropa". They felt like a proper band who were playing around with their sound and with their audience. Their authenticity was disappearing under a sea of lemons. Another key influencing factor on my opinion was the fact that during this time, my relationship with one of my housemates was deteriorating very quickly. Tina was a lovely, straightforward girl from Birmingham who I had met in my first few days of my first year. We got on like a house on fire. We shared a house in the second year. For reasons I can't really put my finger on, and without us ever really falling out, we stopped liking each other. Quite sad really, but because Tina was an absolutely massive U2 fan, and listened to nothing but U2 all the time, I began to associate U2 with Tina, and couldn't bear to listen to them.

That was a bit of a shame. I still don't rate "Zooropa" very much, but I can remember sitting in my room in my halls of residence listening to the radio when they played "who's gonna ride your wild horses?" off "Achtung Baby", and I realised what a great run of singles had been taken off that album. I didn't actually get out and buy it for many years.

My opinion began to shift around the time of Pop. U2 were still a band in transition, but now my ears were a little bit more open to them. I was studying for a Masters degree in York, and one of my housemates was a lovely, gentle man called Paul. Paul was also an enormous U2 fan, and could wax lyrical about them for hours. We sat and listened to Pop together, and we decided that we both particularly liked "Staring at the Sun". I started to listen to some of their other stuff. I think I even picked up a copy of "The Joshua Tree" around this time.

So then I bought "Achtung Baby" and rediscovered how brilliant a song "one" is. When the last couple of albums came out, I think I pretty much went out and bought them on release. I was converted. Now all I had to do was to see them live.

Finally, after missing out on the "Elevation" tour, I managed to get hold of some tickets for the "Vertigo" tour at Twickenham, and yesterday I got to tick them off my "must see" list of bands.

So what were they like?

They were everything I was expecting. I don't go to many stadium gigs, to be honest. I generally prefer to see bands in smaller venues if I can. That said, I think I can say that I have never been to any concert before where absolutely everybody in the whole venue was pumping and totally in tune with the band. Bono had us eating from the palm of his hand pretty much from the minute the band ambled casually onto the stage and launched into "Vertigo", to the moment 2 hours later when they played the last volcanic chords of their last song....er..."Vertigo" again. I turned around at several points during the course of the show, and just marvelled at the sea of people just totally lost in the music. Amazing.

The highlights for me? I thought that the band really began to take off when they played "Beautiful Day", but the set list probably tells its own story...

Vertigo, I Will Follow, The Cry, The Electric Co. / Bullet With Butterfly Wings (snippet) / I Can See For Miles (snippet), Elevation, New Year's Day, Beautiful Day / Here Comes The Sun (snippet), I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, All I Want Is You, City Of Blinding Lights, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Love And Peace Or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky / The Hands That Built America (snippet) / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet) / Please (snippet), Running To Stand Still, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Where The Streets Have No Name, One
encores: Zoo Station, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Yahweh, Vertigo

How many bands could maintain that kind of quality throughout? I don't approve of bands playing the same song twice, mind.... but it was actually better second time around, and it is a corking song....

They were magical. I was expecting "one" to be my favourite bit, but actually it was "Where The Streets Have No Name". There are some guitar riffs that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and that's certainly one of them, especially when it follows a reading from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is accompanied by the flags of Africa scrolling across the screen of lights at the back of the stage. (I realise that for some, that will just reinforce all of the reasons why they hate U2 and Bono in particular - hell, it's the kind of thing I used to hate about them - but I swear it works in context and there is surely no doubting their sincerity, is there?)

Ladies and Gentleman, it appears that not all stadium rock dinosaurs are extinct after all. Catch them whilst you can.

The only thing missing from my day was that they didn't play "Alive and Kicking" or "Don't You Forget About Me".

What's that?



How about "Promised You a Miracle"?



But Bono was once married to Patsy Kensit, wasn't he?

Friday, June 17, 2005

I got my arms, I got my hands, I got my fingers, Got my legs…

Righto. This week's earworms come to us directly from the head of a legendary poseur and serial statue botherer.....

Ladies & Gentlemen....

Earworms of the week - Guest Editor #5 - Statue John from Stand By Your Statue

[oooh, that's an old photo!]

Huge thanks Mr SwissToni for the honour and prestige that comes with being the guest ear wormerer of the week.

Basically my head should have been stuffed full of U2 songs this week, ‘cos I am going to see them on Saturday, but I haven’t listened to any U2 yet. Oh well. Here is what has been polluting the statue ears instead on the bus trip to/from work each day this week…

10. Crazy Frog

Sadly, It’s still pretty difficult to make it through the week in this country without catching a snippet of the whining, irritating froggy git at the moment.

9. Forever Lost - The Magic Numbers

Bought the new album this week and have been enjoying it loads. Summery melodic music sung by big hairy brothers and sisters with added banjo. I’d imagine that they’ll go down a storm playing live at Glasto, but think they’re on at the same time as New Order, which is a bummer. I think this song may have been their first single – its certainly quite a catchy singalong number…

8. Venice Beach – The Egg

I do like The Egg. An Oxford band who rock live, they’re kind of a live dancey type proposition who actually play proper instruments. Gasp! There’s a bit of New Order in there, a bit of Roses, that sort of thing. Venice Beach is one of their slower songs and is pretty darn beautiful. It’s kind of a therapeutic thing sitting on a dank Oxford Bus in the morning listening to someone singing about Venice Beach. Expect to hear it on some sort of TV ad soon…

7. Jolene - Dolly Parton

Proudly stands at the top of my most played tracks on my Ipod, by some distance. Have to get my Jolene fix at least 3-4 times a week.

6. Only This Moment - Royksopp

New single from the quirky Norwegian electronic popsters. A little bit cheesier and more uptempo than the songs on their first album. Looking forward to seeing them as the sun sets on the Friday night at Glasto this year…

5. Drop It Like It's Hot - Snoop Dogg

I am hugely fortunate to live with a generous chap who managed to bag a couple of Live 8 tickets, and, looking at the potential bill and all the big superstars lined up, I have to say that I’m looking forward to seeing Snoop Dogg the most! Purely for the cheesy entertainment value really. Of course, this view will change very quickly if Status Quo are added to the bill.

4. One - Metallica

Was reading this article this week about sad songs, and this was the only one on the list I had. It rocks like fury.

3. Looking Glass - The Las

The Las by The Las is just a classic album innit! And I can listen to the whole thing on my bus trip into work in the morning. This song to me is the Las equivalent of “I am The Resurrection” or “Sweet Child Of Mine”. Expect to hear it near the end of their set at Glasto this year – the one must see band in the line-up that I shall endeavouring to get right down the front for. Genius. Can’t wait…

2. Jus 1 Kiss – Basement Jaxx

Following which I will be running off to see Basement Jaxx. This is my favourite track wot the Jaxx have done ever. Party music of the gods.

1. Ain’t Got No (I Got Life) - Nina Simone

Sadly downloaded on the strength of hearing this song on an advert for Mueller yoghurts, this has been rocking my boat the most this week. Nice song for the summer…


Cheers SJ....

Coincidentally (or actually not), I will also be spending my Saturday enjoying the widescreen sound of those stadium rock behemoths U2. After that we're on the downwards slope to Glastonbury. Hurray!

As I'll actually be at the festival this time next week, I'll pop up my Glastonbury Earworms just before I go on Wednesday.... the songs I'm most looking forward to hearing at the festival.

I can't wait.

And the forecast is pretty good (always important when about to spend 4 days in a tent).

Happy days.


Oh, and in case anyone's interested, you can have a look at a picture of me taken at the end of the swimming phase of last week's triathlon here & one taken during the cycle phase here

Yes, there may be lycra.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Because he’ll never, never, never, never, never, never do it again (not until the next time)

This blog would like to interrupt normal transmissions to issue an apology to all readers.

It has come to my attention that the level of swearing in the last few posts has been unacceptably high. I really don't know what's come over me. I offer no excuses, but can only seek your forgiveness and forbearance on this matter.

I've been trying to hide what a foul, potty-mouthed little urchin I really am for months now, too.

Then I go and ruin it all with a few incautious words.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'm so hollow, baby, I'm so hollow

Sometimes I like to listen to music that reflects my softer side; music that soothes. Last night, for example, I was inspired to dig through my collection for my copy of "Blue" by Joni Mitchell to have a listen to 'River' - which is one of the saddest and most beautiful songs that I own. In a similar vein, when driving back to Nottingham last Sunday, I spent a very pleasant and relaxing hour listening to Nick Drake.

For many years now, I have frequently been struck by an urge to listen to songs of existential angst about lost love and death sung in a honeyed bass baritone. An itch that only Scott Walker can scratch.

I have loads of this type of stuff scattered throughout my music library: Carla Bruni, Damien Rice, Dusty Springfield, Anthony Newley, Devendra Banhart, Vic Damone, Andy Williams.... even a bit of Dido from time to time. That kind of thing.

It was very much with this in mind that I popped out this morning and picked up a copy of "Back to Bedlam" by James Blunt. I first saw him on "Later....with Jools Holland" the other week, and subsequently in a couple of TV adverts for the album. Over a period of a couple of days a combination of his voice and the genuine nature of his performance (just him at the piano, singing with his eyes shut and sounding a bit nervous about his big TV break) really sank into my head. In the end I gave in and bought the album.

On first listen it sounds pretty good.... heartfelt lyrics? check. Lovely voice? check. Lots of piano and acoustic guitar? check. Songs about lost love and death? check.

Just what the doctor ordered for a sensitive flower like me. Perhaps I'll put it on later and have a good cry, eh?

I also bought "In Your Honour", the new Foo Fighters album, because when all is said and done, sensitive is good, but sometimes you just have to rock like a bastard.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die...

"Every single day, 30000 children die, needlessly, of extreme poverty.

On July 6th, we finally have the opportunity to stop that shameful statistic.

8 world leaders, gathered in Scotland for the G8 summit, will be presented with a workable plan to double aid, drop the debt and made the trade laws fair. If these 8 men agree, then we will become the generation that made poverty history.

But they'll only do it if enough people tell them to.

That's why we're staging Live 8. 5 concerts, 100 artists, a million spectators, 2 billion viewers, and 1 message... To get those 8 men, in that 1 room, to stop 30,000 children dying every single day of extreme poverty.

We don't want your money - we want you!"

[from the Live8 website]


One summer in 1985, I sat at home and watched a good chunk of Live Aid. I don't remember Bono pulling that girl out of the crowd. I don't remember Queen's famous performance. I don't remember Bob Geldof angrily hectoring the watching millions to hand over their money because "people are dying". Pretty much the only thing I do remember is Phil Collins performing at Wembley and then hopping onto a plane to get over to Philadelphia to perform a set at the US end of proceedings

Well. He is a legend.

And now this.

I know this is worthy, and the intentions are laudable.... but is it just me, or does the idea of a concert aimed at the leaders of the seven richest countries in the world (and Russia) not quite have the same simple appeal as the original concert 20 years ago? The original Live Aid was easy to understand: there was a famine in Ethiopia and money was needed immediately to help stave off a disaster. A concert was put together at short-notice. People paid money to watch the concert. The concert was on TV. The viewers made donations. Millions of pounds were made, and aid was shipped out to Ethiopia. Easy.

It wasn't just a short-term thing either. The Band Aid Trust had shown a deep and lasting commitment to providing long-term help to some of the poorest regions of Africa.

We've already heard a lot this year about "Making Poverty History" - Great Britain has the presidency of both the European Union and the G8. The British Government, and especially Gordon Brown, seem to have shown a real commitment to getting the richest nations in the world to drop the debt owed to them by the poorest nations in the world (I've covered this before, so catch up on the details here).

This all gives Bob Geldof an idea....

These 8 guys, the leaders of the richest countries in the world (and Russia) are the ones who can really make a difference. If these guys agree to drop the debt, then they could make a massive difference to the lives of millions of people. I know... let's have a series of concerts designed to put the eye of the world upon them as they meet in Gleneagles, and to try to embarrass them into dropping the debt. The tickets would be free, because we don't want money this time, we want to make a much bigger difference.

In a way you know what he means. A bit of concerted pressure on these men could make a far greater difference to the world than another few million pounds worth of donations from the public.

It's not quite as exciting though, is it? All of the excitement centres around the fact that people like Coldplay, Robbie Williams, Elton John, Aha, Duran Duran and a reformed Pink Floyd will be performing (and the Spice Girls might be) and not around the G8 summit at all.

Oh, and those free tickets? Who'd have thought that they'd end up on Ebay? (£1000 a pair, before Ebay took them off sale. I don't know why Geldof is so outraged. These wankers have been doing this for months now to every other gig, so why not this one?)

"Where are my feckin' oars?"

Bless him. His heart's in the right place, but it's all a bit half-arsed isn't it? I know.... we need the French to come over. Let's send some boats! Yeah! Some boats... let's go and pick them up and take them to Scotland!! Let's march to Edinburgh! I'm gonna walk up the M1! Fuck yeah! that'll show them. Mind you, it makes a change from his usual emotional blackmail though, eh? People are dying! Give them your fucking money!

Maybe I'm just bitter because I didn't get tickets.

He's right about one thing though.... those bastard politicians should drop this pointless and destructive debt and do something positive for once in their worthless, self-serving lives.

I think we can all agree on that.

Monday, June 13, 2005

All I want is to find an easier way...

My official stats are now up:

total time = 1.23.37

121st out of about 190.

15:54 swim (128th overall)
39.01 cycle (123rd overall)
25.26 run (115th overall)

I'm quite encouraged. The swim time includes the time it took me to take off the wetsuit and get onto my bike, and can definitely be improved, and I think with more time to get used to the bike and a bit more training, I can improve the cycle and the run times too.

I've also contacted the guy who runs the local tri club, and I'm going to get some proper open water sessions in before London. Hopefully that will help me improve my technique and build up my confidence so I don't have a panic attack on the big day.

As this one was half the distance of London, I reckon that means I could be looking at a sub-3hour time for the full Olympic distance, which is both pleasing and daunting all at the same time.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

So slow down, slow down, you're taking me over...

"worth the wait...."

Well. That's that done then.

Here are the stats:
Swim (750m in a lake) - 7-ish minutes
Cycle (20km) - 39-ish minutes
Run (5km) - 26-ish minutes

[the official stats aren't up yet, so I'm doing this from memory, so please bear with me....]

My provisional time was 1:14:59.

I think they've got that wrong. I timed it on my watch at about 1:23, with the extra few minutes all coming in the swim. I've done a few "sprint" triathlons before, but all of them have had a 400m pool swim. This one was obviously a little different, in that it was longer, and was an "open water swim" requiring that you wear a wetsuit. My wave set off at about 08:30 this morning, and as it was an 'in-water' start, a couple of minutes before the off, I hopped into the lake to get into position and to see what being in a wetsuit in water actually felt like. Initially the water didn't feel too cold, although it was a pretty chilly morning. Then the water began to seep in through the zip on the back of my suit. I didn't have too much time to think about that though, as we were off. The water was quite green, although not too bad, and I set off doing the front crawl at a fairly easy pace. At first the hardest thing was the sheer number of people in the water, and I was very mindful that if my goggles were kicked off, I could probably kiss my contact lenses goodbye.

Increasingly though, I became aware that my chest was beginning to feel quite restricted. I tried to keep this out of my mind, but I started to panic and fight for breath. I thought my wetsuit was too tight and that it was stopping me from breathing. I stopped for a minute, and then carried on, switching to breast-stroke in an effort to calm down. I still hadn't reached the turn that marked halfway. I began to think that I wouldn't finish, and the London Triathlon, with its 1500m swim, felt like a very distant prospect. I made it to the turn okay, but I was still struggling to catch my breath. At this point I made the conscious decision to carry on with the breast-stroke and to work really hard on calming myself down and not fight for breath. I fell off the pace a little bit (although there were still plenty of people behind me), and I made it to the end, where I gratefully staggered out of the water and wobbled over to my bike. I was quite shaken, but at least I had got through. I had a quick look at my watch as I was taking off the wetsuit, and I think it said 11 minutes... not the 7-ish minutes on my 'official' time.... so hence I'm taking that time with a hefty pinch of salt.

The bike was fairly uneventful, except that it was my first ride on my new bike. Not just my first race, but my first actual ride.... You might remember that I ordered this at the backend of April, but what with me being in Korea, them forgetting to order it, it being too small and them having to re-order, I actually only picked the damn thing up on Saturday afternoon. Still, at least it arrived and it was great. It was nice to actually overtake a couple of people for once. On my old mountain bike (weighing a tonne and with tyres so big they wouldn't look out of place on a tractor), that was definitely something of a rarity.

And then the run... the transition from the cycle to the run is one of the hardest things about this whole ridiculous sport. It's not just the wobbly legs either: the first km or so is all about finding your legs, getting your body accustomed to using the same muscles that you used on the bike in a slightly different way. I find that although my brain is telling me to run faster, because I feel okay and not too out of breath, my body just will not respond. I often cross the finishing line feeling very tired, but looking relatively comfortable. It's weird. I think it's because swimming and cycling can both be quite strenuous, but neither of them are especially hard on the heart or lungs... but the cumulative effect of all of the events mean that the body just refuses to respond.

Anyway. I got through it. Which is more than can be said for C., who was forced to pull out during the course of the swim. I nearly panicked and pulled out, but I pushed on. Then again. I'm not an asthmatic. C. went through the much the same experience - the constricted chest, the shortness of breath and so on - but in her case it triggered an attack, and she just had to stop.

She was gutted, and is totally determined to enter another event this year so she can prove to herself that she can handle the open-water swim. Actually, I'm now really worried about London. The aim of this race was to get a feel for the swim, and I clearly need to get some more practice, as I can't risk panicking on the big day. During the swim today, I felt that my wetsuit was too tight and was impeding my breathing. On reflection, I think it was more likely to be a combination of the excitement, the number of people and, above all, the coldness of the water.

I just need to get back in the water and put some more work in before August.

1500m swim? From where I am now, it feels like a mile.

honk honk....


This post is powered by Rogue Smoke Ale.... my very own Ice Cold in Alex moment (because, hey, I've been off the booze since tuesday). Weirdly, when I walked into my mum & dad's house on Saturday night, my dad was sat watching the film itself on the BBC, and it had just got to the scene imagined here earlier in the week, and pictured above....

I don't know if it means anything, but it was a coincidence, and no mistake.

Friday, June 10, 2005

West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe!

Evening all. After last week's ramble, I'm just going to jump straight in this week.

I'm pleased to present for your pleasure this week's guest editor: something of a legend in these parts for services rendered in response to a confused request about where to start with Joy Division....

Ladies & Gentlemen....

Earworms of the week - Guest Editor #4 - Mark Reed a.k.a. Retro-Boy

In an honour passed down by SwissToni, here are my ten earworms:

Earworms, for all their graceful naming, are those songs that Can’t Get Out Of Your Head.

10. Coldplay – “Fix You”, “The Scientist”.

Until I put their CD on in the office four minutes ago, the main piece of music that was strumming through my head was the moment the guitars start in “Fix You”, the chiming guitars of a end-of-album, elegaic chorus type thing, which is pretty much every song off the album. In the fashion of most truly successful British groups, the music sounds in a state of exhausted, hopeful melancholia. My favourite Coldplay song, and the one that melodically is always stuck in my head is “The Scientist”. Up until the point I first heard it, Coldplay passed me by completely, being just another band, overhyped by the talentless cloth-eared cretins from the NME and devoid of any original ideas. “The Scientist” though is excellent. It works from the concept of an ordered, logical person trying to control and order his life around scientific principles and then finding that emotion ruins everything. That a life made of order, of control, of logic, is fundamentally untenable when emotion occurs. And that every forumlae and theorum cannot unravel the mystery of feeling.

09. Crazy Frog – “Axel F.”

ding ding dingadingdingdingding ding ding dingadingdingdingding ding ding dingadingdingdingding ding ding dingadingdingdingdingding dinging cunt.

08. Foo Fighters – “The One”.

I wanted to say “Best of You” to appear hip and with it, but erm, I’m not, and I won’t. I don’t own a copy of this song, never bought one in ‘hard’ format or MP3, but then again, I don’t know if it ever came out. If it did, it was on a movie soundtrack, or on the b-side of a single, and almost every Foo’s single has b-sides made up of rubbish live songs or something. They definitely did this when I saw them on their tour. Anyway, it’s stuck in my head now, with all the roaring drums and the geetars and the wonderful chorus of you’re not the one / but the only one / who makes me feel like shit… and I can never remember the words.

07. New Order – “Regret”

This song is never far from my mind. For about four years I always thought it was going to be the last great NewOrder song I ever heard. And so I spent five years and two months dancing around my bedroom to it until I finally saw them live. Air bass! But what is it about them? I don’t know. I love the intro, with the minor chords and guitar slives, and the drum bit on the 12” where the whole song stops for the shortest and least-rubbish keyboard / drum solo evah. Maybe it’s the mix of melancholy and joy. Who knows? And the cover? Two cowboys on horses in sunset. Kewl. Much snazzier than the cover to the Oasis record, which is, if I remember correctly, a garage? What a shite cover that is.

06. The Tears . “Refugees”

What is basically a Bernard Butler with Brett singing over the top is actually really very aces and brilliant, but it does sound a little tired, a little old-dog-not-getting-new-tricks, a little heard it all before, even though we haven’t, and the album is tons better than I feared, and certainly much better than the first few gigs, and probably better than the last Suede album.

05. Nine Inch Nails “The Hand That Feeds”

Often its just the little things that make all the difference, and little parts of songs that get stuck in my head. (I’ve had the horn ending for a Robbie Robertson song, “Testimony” stuck in my head for weeks now), and so I haven’t got this actual song in my head, just the wimpy 80’s-nu-romo-keyboardy bit. It’s a great song, probably the best individual Nine Inch Nails song since 1989 actually.

04. U2 . “Vertigo”

By this point you can tell that I really pay very little attention to the outside world, and when I say very little, I should say NONE. I generally never listen to the radio, or watch TV unless there’s something that I am specifically aiming to watch or listen. Hence, I suppose I get exposed to very little new music. But even I manged to get sucked into this one, even though it’s in no way new. It’s what Henry Rollins calls the U2 effect: get exposed to it enough and you find out you have it wether you want it or not like nasty STD’s or a cold. It just slipped into your shopping basket when you weren’t looking. I’m still trying to work out what the words are to this one. I think the idea of him singing “give us what I want/and nobody gets hurt” a bit rich when tickets are rare as gold bricks.

03. Har Mar Superstar – “Transit”

I have no idea why I like this self-obsessed, utterly irresistable, charming diminutive, podgy New York sex hedgehog, or his bad/brilliant pastiches of a sexcrazed Stevie Wonder. I just do. And the idea of a chorus of ladies pleading “Har Mar is so sexy / he gets all the ladies / I want him to touch me” always makes me laugh. This guy should, at the very least, be supporting U2 with a gaggle of lady dancers. Oh. And he has a dance-off with someone in “Starsky and Hutch”.

02. Kylie. “I Believe In You”.

Pop music at it’s finest. And like all great pop music, it’s both supersmart and superstupid at exactly the same time. And it makes you want to dance, sing, do anything.

01. They Might be Giants “The Alphabet of Nations”

A list of 26 nations, repeated three times, in one minute 26 seconds, and each and every nation (barring, possibly “West Xylophone”), is one that the US has been at war with at some point in the past two hundred of so years:

Algeria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Dominica, Egypt, France, The Gambia!
Hungary, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Libya and Mongolia!
Norway, Oman, Pakistan
Qatar, Russia, Suriname
Turkey, Uruguay, Vietnam
West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe!

A song you can take anywhere, and one that we, as Not Boring parents, sing to the little guy. Portability is the key, and unless we go senile, it is accessable at a milliseconds notice. Even faster than an iPod!

There you are, not a cool selection amongst them!


Thanks Mark. I see we had the bloody frog again. Next week I hope to be able to bring you someone who is fast becoming an internet legend....yes.... dig out your whistles and glow sticks....it's Statue John from Stand By Your Statue


It's that 'sprint' triathlon I'm doing this weekend, so probably no post until Sunday night.... I'm sure you'll cope.

Actually, I've been off the sauce for most of the week, so I'm hoping to have an "Ice Cold In Alex" moment when I get home... but I'll probably post an update right after that to let you know how I got on. In case you were worried, there probably won't be photos (C. is entering as well), so it's probably safe to read before the watershed.

Have a good weekend y'all.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I know you'll get me through

I am rubbish with girls.

I'm not sure that this has always been the case. When I was at primary school, I even had a girlfriend. I thought that Louise was the prettiest girl in the class (I gave her a handmade Valentine's card once when I was about 6), but I only really had eyes for Rachel Cook, and used to watch whilst she did handstands against the wall and showed her knickers to the world (which I am convinced to this day she did entirely deliberately... the little trollop). Ah, the joys of young love.

I've talked about this at length before, so I won't go into it again, but from the ages of 7 to 18, I went into private education, and didn't spend a whole lot of time with girls (I finally managed to get a proper girlfriend when I was 21).

As far as I know, I have never chatted up a woman in my whole life. Never. I don't think I've ever gone out "on the pull", either. Wouldn't know where to start.

Actually, now I think about it, I'm not very good at talking to women at all.

Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to blame it on my schooling. It's not just girls I'm rubbish at talking to; to be honest, I sometimes struggle to make conversation full stop. I can do it if I put my mind to it - you have to in order to be a functioning person, don't you? - but sometimes I just can't see the point. I have the magic talent of displaying on my face exactly what I think of someone and what they are saying to me. If I think you are a twat and that you are talking from your arse, I will look as though I think you are a twat and that you are talking from your arse. I'm probably more proud of this than I should be, as I'm sure that it holds me back from time to time. Hm.

As you might expect, all of this makes me hopeless at parties, and I'm the kind of person who dodges the other guests and heads off towards the bookshelves or the CDs so that I can have a good nosey.

I reckon that blogging is another reflection of that element of my personality. It's a way of dipping into someone else's life without really needing to go through all that complicated "getting to know you" stuff. You don't need any small talk. There's no expectation that you will have to talk to anyone. You can just pop in, read the most personal things about someone else's life, and then just move along. No messy interpersonal entanglements. No misunderstandings.

If you do decide to leave a comment, you are cloaked by anonymity and can take as long as you like to think up that pithy one-liner.


Except it's not like that, is it?

As a result of reading weblogs, not only I am better informed than I have ever been before, but I now care about the lives of people that I have (in most cases) never met. I worry about them and I want them to be happy. I'm interested in their opinions on any number of subjects, from poverty in the third world all the way though to what they thought of that album they bought last week. I'm not just a dispassionate observer. I look forward to reading new posts, I like to leave comments, and I love hearing what they have to say about what I've been jabbering about. Every day I get a little thrill when I see I have new comments, or if the comments I have made elsewhere have sparked a reply.

Only today, I laughed out loud as I read a review of "Sin City" - a film that I had been considering going to see - on Troubled Diva:

"Stunningly creative and beautiful cinematography, though. I'll grant you that. But a turd in a chocolate box is still a turd".

You just don't get that sort of review in the paper, do you? Short, to the point and saves a wasted journey.


I think what I'm trying to say is that I think you guys are great.

And some of you are girls too**.

I must be growing as a person, or some other self-help, therapy-speak nonsense. So thanks for that.

And speaking of self-help, therapy-speak nonsense, I have to leave you all to spend some time swimming in lake Me.


**This being the internet, I suppose you never really know for sure. Just so there's no confusion, you do all know that the photos I put up on here aren't actually me, don't you? I'm actually a 43 year old housewife from Luton with a rich internal life. )

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?

For some reason, my thoughts this evening have been dominated by the strange notion that we all live on one big street. With that in mind, let's have a quick wander down the road and peer in through a few people's front windows, shall we?

  • The lovely, generous-spirited Aravis has been having some rather disturbing dreams, but seems to have managed to escape before the cannibals living next door to me ate the rest of her leg. "The doctors are working on me and I know I'll be fine."
  • Charlie has been pondering the product being advertised in his latest piece of spam: Spur-M. A 500% increase in volume, apparently. "Geoffrey ---- 47, Male, UK. What you claim is wrong. My sperm volume didn't increase by 500%. It increased by ZILLION %. WOW! I can't believe this… I feel like I am back to 16 yrs."
  • The ever fragrant Ka has been pondering the start of her thirtieth year: "I want to be foolish forever! I want to be young forever! I want to be in rehearsals forever! Screw opening night! This is the show that must never ever go on!". Well, buggering off to Brazil is a pretty good start, eh?
  • Pop legend, Lord Bargain, has been BBQ-ing in a reflective mood: "Barbecue's at the Bargain residence are great fun (if you can stomach the pop music I'll subject you to) - the joints are rubbish but you might get a Tesco Finest sausage and a glass of half decent vino rosso... "Just say the word, Lord B, and we'll be there. As long as you stop quoting Phil Collins lyrics.
  • The Wombat is back, and is still as mad as a box of frogs. All is well with the world.
  • As well as revealing a mysterious past wreathed in Britpop history, The Urban Fox says thank you for the music, and from now on is going to be treating us all to a soundtrack to each post: "it might be chosen for obvious reasons, or it might not. It might be because the lyrics match the theme, or it might be because the sound evokes my mood at the time of writing. It might be for the purposes of lame punning or bathos. It might be because I'm listening to it while writing. Hell, it might be for no sensible reason at all." Great news. Here's hoping for some more insight into the most enigmatic bin-raider and nocturnal barker on the street, eh?
  • Sassy Jenni is back from a weekend with two young kids, and is sounding more than a little bit grouchy...."Waking up at 3am will result in everyone being crabby...and possibly easily irritated." Ah. Hard-earned wisdom, although I'm 31, and frankly I still think it's okay to kick my brother.
  • Flash is on the cusp of spilling the beans about She Who Changed Everything, but is threatening to turn it into a novel. Can't you blog it AND turn it into a novel? A chapter at a time, or something? Oh, and for God's sake go and listen to White Celebration, will you everyone, before Flash does himself some damage?
  • Di at PeepsSheep is struggling with her back: "I saw lots of people in wheelchair's today and that reminded me how this time last week I was mentally choosing what colour chair I would like". As a fellow sufferer, I feel you pain, tiger, I really do. And don't do down your photography either. Or your painting. I keep meaning to pick up one of your fantastic t-shirts. Do you still do them?
  • Mark has been musing again: "Masturbation isn't a replacement for you, or a preference over you. It's a thing men do. We've been doing since the dawn of time, and possibly earlier. There are times when a man has to scratch an itch". Ah, spread the word, brother. You and Flash should exchange wanking theories sometime.
  • Nothing from Tom tonight - he's out for dinner with Girl Person and Tony & Katrina Gaunt ("she of the beautiful, turquoise eyes").
  • Statue John is having a Mrs. Mac special, as over at the Ultimate Olympian, Mrs Mac's son presumably curls up in embarassment and gets on with his triathlon training - he has some crucial lycra purchases to make and some photos to take, I reckon.
I think we're about caught up now (yeah, I know I haven't done everybody, but it's late. Next time, eh?). God. That was actually quite hard work. Next time draw your damn curtains.


I think I just heard hippy troubadour Devendra Banhart being used to flog cathedral city cheese. What a strange and wonderful world we live in. And with that: bed. Perchance to dream (although not of my cannibal neighbours, eh Aravis?).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song....

Shall we talk about music for a bit?

I have a real urge to get back to basics here after the excitement of the last couple of days.... no photos, I promise.

The producers of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross made a great decision on Friday - they booked Coldplay to perform, and those crazy rock n'rollers, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee of Motley Crue only got to perform like seals in an interview. It won't come as a surprise to anybody, but they're not the sharpest tools in the box. If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist, then the greatest trick Motley Crue ever pulled is convincing anybody that they are a legendary rock band.

Are they bollocks.

They were rubbish then, and I have no doubt at all that they are rubbish now. They always struck me as a kind of Poison-lite, if you can imagine such a thing. You don't get Bill & Ted gaining entry into heaven quoting the lyrics from Dr. Feelgood at God, do you?

Bill S. Preston Esq: He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood. He's the one that makes you feel alright.
Ted Theodore Logan: He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood. He's gonna be your Frankenstein.
God: Bugger off

The End.

A lot of noise about their lifestyle masking an almost complete lack of talent.

Of course, it's their lifestyle, more specifically a book talking about their lifestyle, that has brought them back. They're currently in Europe on tour (hence their appearance on a chat show). Oh what jokers though. We saw some footage of crazy ol' Tommy Lee putting himself through the X-ray machine at customs! There is a section on their show called "Tommy's Titty Cam" where Tommy persuades female fans to show the audience their breasts!

Totally bonkers mad, mate.

Mind you, we did learn that Vince Neil's most recent wedding was performed by none other than MC Hammer. How cool is that? This nugget led to the following exchange between Jonathan Ross (who can't pronounce the letter 'R') and Vince Neil (who can't spell it):

Ross: how did you know he was the right man for the job?
Neil: he's not a white man

He wasn't making a joke. Ross had to explain his speech impediment.

Coldplay were much better. They performed three songs: current single "speed of sound", "in my place" and "fix you". The last one in particular is fantastic, with some lovely church organ style keyboards, and the refrain:

"and the tears come streaming down your face
when you lose something you can't replace
when you love someone but it goes to waste "

That one's going to be massive. Mark my words.

As has been said elsewhere, Chris Martin is never going to be cool, but he definitely has something about him. I like the fact that he isn't so far up his own arse that he isn't able to take the piss out of himself. The band gave Jonathan Ross a signed copy of the Crazy Frog single, and Martin threw in a bit of "ring-a-ding-dinging" during all of the band's three songs, which I thought was very funny (although by time he did it for the third time, perhaps he was protesting a little bit too much?)

What do I think of the album? Early days yet. Standouts for me so far are 'Square One' (although as statements of intent go, it's no 'Politik'), 'Fix You', 'Talk' (the one with the Kraftwerk riff), 'Speed of Sound' and 'X&Y'. As with "A Rush Of Blood to the Head", the last few songs on the album don't seem quite as good as the first few. It's also apparent that Chris Martin has lyrical themes that he can't get away from: things are broken and can't be fixed, puzzles are missing pieces, there are lots of unanswered questions. As Lord B pointed out, they're his equivalent of Bono's bullets ripping the desert sky.

It's harsh to judge an album on only a few plays though, and my overall impression is good. It's far too early to hail this as a classic though (as almost every single review I have read has done). I really want this to be a classic album, but only time will tell.

When Jonathan Ross finished, I flicked the telly over to fall asleep in front of "Later...with Jools Holland". At its best this can be a fascinating mix of bands and a really good place to discover new music. At its worst though, it can be smug muso back-slapping (when I tuned into this last week, they had the Kaiser Chiefs as their headline act, and Van Morrison whining about how the bastards were stabbing him in the back... again). This week had, amongst others, New Order and the Coral. I have a real blind spot for The Coral - I assume they are shite, and have avoided them on that basis, although I actually quite like their current single. Are they any good? I really want to hate them.

James Blunt was also on. I've heard the name, but this was the first of his stuff that I have actually heard. My first impression was poor - I thought he had a terribly affected voice - but on reflection I think he was just nervous. I've heard a couple of songs since, and a whole lot of TV advertising (clearly the record company is thinking he may be the new Damien Rice). I'm thinking of giving him a go, actually.

Any thoughts? Anyone got the album? Is he on at Glastonbury?


I also bought the new White Stripes album, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it at all yet... although I'm liking Jack White's flamenco-goth look. Classy.


This is going to be my last post about Coldplay for a little while. I promise.

At least until I get back from Glastonbury, anyway.


Look at that. A whole post and no pictures. I think it's safer that way, don't you?

Monday, June 06, 2005

And people they don't understand...



Like a terrible, shambling drunk, I woke up blinking in the cold light of the morning and realised I may have done something terrible; something unforgiveable. With a nasty sinking feeling, I fired up the laptop and there it was - or should I say there I was.

I wouldn't mind so much, but I hadn't touched a damn drop - I'm in training, you know.

I'm not sure I know how to face you after that, but I thought that the long journey towards pushing those photos off the page starts with the first post.

And just when I needed another long and rambling post, now I discover brevity.

.... only joking of course. I've got no regrets. I'd do it all again tomorrow, I tell you!

You should probably consider that a threat.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

if you really need me, just reach out and touch me...

I'm going to give you plenty of warning, but if you are of a nervous disposition, I strongly advise that you don't read this post.

Do not scroll down the page.
Do not pass "Go".
Do not collect £200

....certainly don't look at the pictures.


Anyway. It's been quite a busy weekend.

Lord B. and I (and Lord B's darling daughter) met up with Mark, Ellen & Xander on Friday night at the glamorous location of Pizza Express in Nottingham. I have to admit I was a little bit nervous beforehand; I am generally pretty rubbish at meeting people I don't know and small talk is a skill that I don't seem to possess. As it turned out, I was worrying about nothing and had a really good time. You'll have to ask the others what they thought, but I thought the evening was a real success. Even the sulky waitress was unusually warm in the presence of two such darling bubbas.... I think I saw her smile at one point.

If you're interested in what we all look like, Mark has popped some photos up...

On Saturday I made a few essential purchases.... but I'll tell you about them at the end. It's not too late to bail out now and find a less distressing website to go and look at.

We then headed down to my mum & dad's, where we spent our sunday in the deepest darkest Northamptonshire countryside, walking with some lovely Llamas.

Oh yes.

I think my Mum has got tired of asking me what I want for my birthday or for Christmas. Like most guys, I never really know what I want because I usually nip out and buy all the stuff that I really want for myself. As a result, my Mum has started to get all imaginative on me: for my birthday this year, she gave me a voucher for a cheese shop in Covent Garden (I think the idea is that they post me a 'cheese of the month' every month for a year, but I haven't really looked into it properly yet). For Christmas 2004, C. and I were the proud recipients of a voucher to go on a Llama trek. We raised a collective eyebrow, and then dutifully booked a date, put it in the diary and promptly forgot all about it until this weekend.

I tell you what - it was absolutely brilliant.

Here's how it works: you roll up at Catanger Llama Trekking at around 10am, have a nice cup of coffee and a biscuit, and then you get introduced to the Llamas you are going to be spending the next few hours with. You then walk about 6 or 7 miles through some lovely English countryside with the Llamas, stopping about halfway for a picnic. It was ace.

Llamas are very friendly, naturally inquisitive and walk at a decent pace -- not too fast, and not too slow. They are also incredibly soft to the touch (the farm actually has some alpacas, who are from the Llama family and are, of course, famous for the softness of their wool). C. had a chap called Spinach, who was extremely even-tempered, and I had a perky little chap called Napper. After a bit of a wrestling match for the first mile, Napper and I got on just fine once we had come to a simple arrangement: he could eat whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted - as long as he didn't break stride. That suited us both I think.

We also met a couple of babies. This little chap was born on Friday. He's pretty big for 2 days old, huh? He also looks like he's just stepped out of a tumble-dryer....

It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday, and a great gift from my mum.

Right. This is your last chance. There is some deeply disturbing content coming up. If you don't want to have nightmares, you had better leave now.

Still here?

Well, don't say I didn't warn you.

As you may be aware, I am currently in training to take part in the London Triathlon. That's 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. The swim is in London Docks, and you have to wear a wetsuit. Although I have done sprint triathlons before, they have all had a pool swim. An open water swim is obviously quite different - the water is deeper, everyone starts at the same time and you feel different in the water because the wetsuit makes your legs more buoyant. So that it doesn't come as a nasty surprise to me in London in August, I wanted to get some practice in, and I am doing a sprint triathlon with an open water swim next weekend (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run).

So I needed a wetsuit.

Can you see where this is going yet?

I ordered mine a few weeks ago, and it turned up on Saturday morning. I hadn't quite appreciated quite how tight-fitting these things have to be......

It gets better.

And it's still not too late to run away from your computer screaming....

Without wanting to go into too much detail, the combination of swimming, cycling and running presents quite a lot of opportunity for chafing and bruising. As you'd expect, triathletes have tried to combat this by producing a suit that helps them to compete in all three disciplines without needing to change clothes, whilst also minimising the risk of doing themselves irreversible damage, or significantly reducing their chances of having kids.

It makes sense to have one of these things.

So I bought one.




Friday, June 03, 2005

I tried to impress you, but you threw it back in my face....

Sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post, I really do mean to keep it short and simple. I want to write something snappy, and then put the laptop away and spend my evening doing something completely different, like talking to my girlfriend. Or, more realistically, having failed to put the laptop away, I'd like to be able to spend my time doing something other than hunching over yet another overly-long and complicated posting.

I've tried. I really have. But I just don't seem to be able to do it. Once I get started, I just have to sit there until whatever is on my mind has finished pouring out of my head and into the computer.... and then I spend a bit of time shifting stuff around so that hopefully what has emerged is a little bit more readable than a stream of consciousness ramble. Before I know where I am, it's past midnight, C. has gone to bed, and another relaxing evening at home has bitten the dust.

Not that I'm obsessive, you understand.

That's why I'm starting to love Fridays; I get to hand the keys of the blog over to someone else to write a bit of content for me, and all I have to do is to do a bit of judicious cutting & pasting.

(except this week, obviously - cutting and pasting apparently not enough for me now)


This week's list should be a treat for all you music connoisseurs out there, as our guest editor is something of an expert in the subject. If he went onto mastermind (and he may - he's been of Fifteen to One, after all), I think his specialist subject would be "Pop Music".

Without further ado, I am proud to present......

The Man!

The Myth!

The Legend!

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #3 -
Lord Bargain

10. Coldplay – Everything’s Not Lost

In difficult times, you need slow, sad songs for company. There’s no point listening to a happy song if you’re feeling rubbish, and so over recent weeks Coldplay have been excellent company to me in some pretty hard times. And there is nothing better for comfort than this gem, tucked away at the end of “Parachutes”.

9. KT Tunstall – Other Side Of The World

I have this song in my car. I can play it at any time I want to, just at the push of a button. Why, then, is it far more exciting, and I turn it up much louder than I ordinarily would, when I hear it on the radio? How does that work?

8. Climie Fisher – Love Changes Everything

I think this is one of the best pop tunes of the last 20 years. Full stop.

7. Akon – Lonely

Only that it seems to follow the Crazy Frog on TV adverts pretty much every time. I think there’s a half decent song in here somewhere trying to get out, and it is clearly catchy, but, well, it’s just tat, isn’t it?

6. Roxy Music – Oh Yeah (On The Radio)

I went to a barbecue on Saturday night with some friends. One of them bet me that I couldn’t identify every single song off the triple “Driving Rock Ballads” CD from the first two notes. Now, spotting “Drive” by the Cars, or “I Want To Know What Love Is” or “Walking In Memphis” isn’t that hard, but to get this quite impressed the crowd. The fact my dad used to love Roxy Music and so I grew up with this song clearly helped….

5. Crazy Frog – Axel F

Oh come on. Don’t try and pretend that you haven’t heard this song as much as anything else in the last week and, whilst unbelievably irritating, it does get stuck in your bonce. I wonder that if 30 seconds of “Speed of Sound” had been played in every advert break on every TV channel for the last month whether that might have got to no 1 instead….

4. Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc

Lots of TV and radio airplay for this one. I actually can’t really decide whether I like it or not. I think it is a good tune, but am still undecided as to whether it is genius, or silly cartoon nonsense.

3. Tony Christie – I Did What I Did For Maria

A tragic song of brutal bloody revenge as a man takes murderous revenge on the cold-blooded killer of his wife. It is told as the husband wakes on the morning of his execution and recounts the shooting of this psychopathic villain and his subsequent death.

And all this from a man last seen trying to find his way to p*ssing Amarillo.

2. Coldplay – Speed of Sound

From time to time, and it doesn’t happen very often, I will turn on the radio, or one of the music channels purely in the hope that if I listen long enough I will get to hear a certain record. And this has happened with “Speed of Sound”, I have found myself listening on the off chance it’ll come on….

1. Brother Beyond – The Harder I Try

On Wednesday, I managed to convince a colleague of mine, who is the same age as me, that in a previous life, before I joined the industry I am in, I used to be the lead singer of Brother Beyond. Being able to sing this song, and all the words to their follow-up single (“He Ain’t No Competition”, don’t you know), as well as knowing the name of their albums and even that my stage name was Nathan Moore, he believed that I was an ex-pop star. It took a Google search to realise I was having him on…

Thanks m'lud (although I hope that's the last time we see that bloody frog in this list). For those of you who have been wondering what's been in my head this week... mostly Coldplay, as you might expect. I'm seeing U2 on the 18th June though, so I really need to start listening to some of that soon, I suppose.


If I disappear without a trace after this post, then allow me to humbly suggest that you point the dark finger of suspicion towards Mr. Mark Reed a.k.a. Retro-Boy.... who is in Nottingham today to pick up an award for being a genius, or something, and who I will be meeting later on for a beer and a pizza**.

Unless we take an instant dislike to each other, Mark will also be next week's guest editor....


Have a nice weekend kids - I'm off Llama walking in the Northamptonshire countryside..... I will reveal why I am doing this when I return on Sunday....


** Lord Bargain will also be in attendance this evening, so if I do go missing, then I suppose it would only be fair of me to suggest that he may also be implicated....or at the very least have some explaining to do

...Or it could just have been a dodgy pizza.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

but my heart is open, my heart is open to you

You may be aware that the new Coldplay album - X&Y - is being released on Monday. This is a pretty big deal. This is going to be one of the biggest releases of the year. Their last album, 'A Rush of Blood to the Head', has sold something in excess of 10m copies and won the band a whole heap of critical praise and awards (including a Grammy). Their record company are depending on them: the new album was originally scheduled for an earlier release date, and its delay was cited as one of the reasons why EMI announced a profit warning to the Stock Exchange back in February.

No pressure then.

Like many people, I first really became aware of Coldplay when 'Yellow' began to take off. Their debut album, 'Parachutes', came out in July 2000, although I didn't buy it until 2nd October 2000. I can pinpoint the date exactly because I popped into a Virgin Megastore as I walked into work to pick up a copy of 'Kid A' by Radiohead on its day of release, and picked up the Coldplay album at the same time, mainly because 'Yellow' had been earworming me for weeks and weeks.

Do I need to tell you which of those two albums I have listened to the most?

When Coldplay were named as the headliners for the Friday night of Glastonbury in June 2002, many people were sceptical: their new album was still a couple of months away from release, and many people thought that they simply weren't big enough. I was lucky enough to be there, and from the moment they came onto the Pyramid stage in total darkness and launched into 'Politik', I was completely captivated. As is often the case with these moments, it wasn't until I heard it replayed on the radio when I got home that I fully appreciated quite how magical the whole show had been. The crowd singalong to 'Yellow' raised the hairs on the back of my neck (and I'm sure it will when they play the festival this year as well)

That was it - I was hooked. I counted down the days until the release of the album in August, eagerly logging onto the Coldplay website as they previewed a new track every day. I saw them play live again at the Nottingham Arena in October 2002, and they were magnificent all over again. The CD hasn't left my car since, and it's a fixture on my 'most played tracks' listing on iTunes.

Apart from the single, 'Speed of Sound', I haven't heard much of the new album at all, and I can't wait until I get my hands on it on Monday morning. I'll probably stop somewhere on the way to work to pick it up, and then I'll try to plug myself into a pair of headphones and shut out the office for a while to give it a good listen.

I want to say this before I hear the new album, and before I get excited all over again. Without a shadow of a doubt, Coldplay are my favourite band in the whole world; I have connected with them in a way that I haven't connected with any artist since Morrissey.

I'm not sure what it is about them that strikes such a chord with me. Maybe part of it is because I share a similar background to Chris Martin - public school education, bit shy, losing my hair, late-starter with girls, prone to a bit of insecurity....that kind of thing. He's proper famous now, of course, has pots of money, an Oscar winning wife and a little baby girl with a mildly silly name, but he still doesn't seem entirely comfortable in his own skin, and I can relate to that.

Alan McGhee, the founder of Creation Records and the man who signed Oasis, famously described Coldplay as producing "music for bedwetters", and the funny thing is that I can see what he means. It is a bit sappy, isn't it? Lots of piano, lots of questioning lyrics about the meaning of life and unrequited loves. Still, if the alternative is overly long, derivative dirges and ape-like posturing, then I'll take the bedwetters every time. Coldplay say so much more to me about my life than Oasis ever have.

Even when I'm not sure what Chris Martin is singing about, it touches me. So much yearning. So much wondering.... and amidst the wreckage of our lives, and the mess we've made of the world we live in - so much hope:

And we live in a beautiful world,
Yeah we do, yeah we do,
We live in a beautiful world.

Oh, all that I know,
There's nothing here to run from,
Cos yeah, everybody here's got somebody to lean on.