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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

what use is love without a heart?

So, it's getting late and I'm still not sure whether I have remembered everything in that final 5% of my packing that I didn't get done yesterday. So what should a guy do? Write out a list? Try to see the bigger picture and make sure that I have my passport and my credit card, shrug and just let it go?

Here's what I definitely shouldn't be doing:

Shuffleathon Update

1. SarahY
2. MandyYreview
3. YokoY
4. AlanY
5. CharlieY
6. KaY
7. spinsY
8. bedshapedY
9. bytheseashoreY
10. Mike Y
11. AlecyaY
sort of review
12. PynchonY
13. Ben Y
14. Flash Y
15. Michael Y
16. Lord BargainY
17. TinaY
18. DelY
19. Mark Y
20. Graham Y
21. Stef
22. AdemYreview
23. ThreelightY
24. Jenni Y
25. Leah Y
26. Pete Y
27. Statue JohnY
28. MonogodoY
29. Him Y
30. Me!
31. TheCatGirlSpeaks (virtually)
Ymy review
her review

The final CD -- Jenni's CD to me -- finally arrived a couple of weeks ago after several attempts to get it through the post from the USA to the UK. Well, it finally got here. I promised Jenni that I would try to get a review up before I left, so....

1. Gene - "Somewhere in the World"

Well, here's a way to start a compilation! I loved Gene. In the UK music press they were always portrayed as nothing more than a Smiths covers band, but I knew that they were much better than that. Sure Martin Rossiter used to style himself somewhat on Morrissey, and fancied that he had a similarly waspish tongue.... but musically it was something of a lazy comparison. Perhaps it wasn't an entirely unfounded criticism in the early days, but as time went on, the more Gene found a sound of their own, and it was a sound that was much more soulful than the Smiths.

If my memory serves me correctly, this song comes from "Libertine", their last album. I saw Gene performing this. It was their last tour and they played before a half full Rock City that had been forced to endure a performance poet by the name of Selina Saliva as the support. They were fantastic. They were always fantastic. They were great when I saw them perform on the Melody Maker stage just after Jeff Buckley.

Wistful. Melancholy. Soulful. An excellent choice.

2. Alanis Morissette - "Out is Through"

I own one Alanis Morissette album. Can you guess which one? This song seems alright to me. It's pleasant enough, but it sounds a bit "by numbers" to me. I'm sure it's heartfelt, but she could have phoned this in. Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair, but I think I prefer her when she's angry? Does she do angry any more?

3. Carbon Leaf - "Life Less Ordinary"

I'm a big fan of the Ash song of the same name, and when I saw this on the tracklisting, I wondered if this was a cover. It's not a cover. It's another slice of American rock. Fair enough, I like a bit of American rock from time to time. This is pleasant, but it doesn't really grab me. It's a bit soft rock.

4. Ben Harper - "Another Lonely Day"

Ben Harper is one of those artists that I am familiar with, but I've never quite got around to checking out any of his stuff. Again, this is another mellow track, but it's nice and introspective and I have to say that I quite like it. One to come back to, I think.

What's his other stuff like?

5. Shakira - "Your Embrace"

Ah, the bonkers bird from South America. She seems to be fairly restrained here though. In fact, I think I would go as far as to say that she's being admirably restrained here. In the hands of a Maria Carey or a Celine Dion, this would be a different song indeed and would certainly be inferior. Having said that, it's not really my cup of tea, I'm afraid.

6. Saving Jane - "Girl Next Door"

Oh, I like the intro to this. I think it's because it sounds just like it could have been by the Foo Fighters.... well, until the vocal kicks in and you realise that the singer is not Dave Grohl, but is a woman. I think I've heard this somewhere. Again, it's a touch "American rock" and I could easily imagine hearing this on the radio, but it is a good record.

A hit!

Nothing wrong with being the girl next door either. Prom queens and cheerleaders (unless they are indestructible) are overrated, in my opinion.

7. Chicago - "If You Leave Me Now"

I think there was a spot of telepathy going on here. I had been earworming this song for about 2 weeks solid when this CD arrived. On the downside, this meant that I was going to have to resign myself to never shaking this bloody song out of my head.

It's a cracker though, isn't it?

8. Barenaked Ladies - "Call And Answer"

Ah, a band I always feel like I ought to loathe. I have history with the Barenaked Ladies, or at least with some of their fans. They always seem to me to be a little too in love with their own cleverness. They are capable of writing some excellent songs though, and this one seems to be pretty reasonable. I can't help that this is another downbeat song, Jenni. It's melancholy, but it seems to have a hopeful heart.

Oh wait a minute, what's this?

"But I'm warning you, don't ever do
Those crazy, messed up things that you do
If you ever do
I promise you Ill be the first to crucify you
Now its time to prove that you've come back
Here to rebuild."

Not so hopeful after all, eh? I think I know where this one is coming from.

9. Anna Nalick - "Wreck of the Day"

Hmmm. I'm not familiar with this one, although I note that it's another sad sounding song. I like this one, it's understated and it's got a jazzy feel.

I like it.

10. Jimmy Buffett - "Come Monday"

This is an artist I have heard of, but as far as I know I have never heard a single note he has recorded. Isn't he the butt of comedians jokes for some reason? Wikipedia tells me that this is one of his "Big 8" songs that he is certain to play at every show.

Nah - does nothing for me. Remind me never to go to a Jimmy Buffet gig.

11. Keane - "Snowed Under"

Just like the Gene record, I can detect the influence of a certain Lord Bargain here. Am I going to be forced to be nice about Keane for the second time inside a week? Well, I'll keep it brief: it's a nice record. He's got a good voice. Will that do?

12. Powderfinger - "My Happiness"

Ah. An Australian legacy? I've tried listening to Powderfinger before because almost every Australian I have ever met tells me how brilliant they are. I've never quite seen it myself, but there you go. A nice record, albeit I feel as though it's about to take off at any moment and it never quite does. Where's the screaming guitar solo? I feel as though they might have a screaming guitar solo in them. The one in the song is a bit.... meh.... They should have gone big! How can you go wrong with a screaming, tongue out, down on your knees guitar solo?

Thanks Jenni. Well worth the wait, and a CD that easily stands up to repeat listening, and you can't really ask for more than that, can you?

I now declare the (*ahem*) 2006 shuffleathon closed!

At some point I'll get round to doing a round up. Maybe.....


And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I declare this blog to be on pause for three weeks whilst I get myself off to South America... assuming I can get my packing finished anyway.

See you on 25th March.

Play nicely.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I got my bags packed baby and I'm ready to go....

I've just spent much of the evening packing.

Well, I say that, but as usual I spent most of the timing fretting about what to take and making piles of clothes on the floor in front of the wardrobe. It's C. who actually gets on and does most of the folding up of clothes and the loading of the bags. I'm rather afraid that it was left to me, I would not only take too much, but the stuff that I did take would be rammed rather untidily into a bag.

And I'd certainly still manage to forget something.

Probably my passport.

We're going to be in Ecuador for a little over three weeks, and because we're going to be hiking at altitude for some of that time, there are a quite a lot of bulky items that we need to stow away somehow: sleeping bags, thermarest pads, waterproofs, a down jacket.... they all take up space and leave little room for all the sorts of things that you would normally take on holiday - like pants, socks and t-shirts.

Have I found room for my iPod and speakers? Of course I have.

We haven't completely finished yet, but we've got tomorrow to run through the final checks, so we should be okay. I am a terribly fretful packer though. I will be worrying about whether or not we have everything until the moment that we've checked in the bags at the airport and it's all too late.... and then I won't give two hoots and will relax.

Two more days....


The podcasts for Pynchon and Mike have now been added to the Podcast site for your listening pleasure.... do go and check them out. It's a great way to listen to music, and it really couldn't be any simpler. In fact, when you are there, click on the "subscribe with iTunes" button and you'll never need to think about it again - it will just automatically update your iPod. How cool is that?

Thanks to the efforts of Erika, of course.... she slaves tirelessly over that site, you know.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Just sit down, take it slowly...

My dad had his operation today.

At around 2pm, he was wheeled into an operating theatre in Milton Keynes and had one of his kidneys removed, along with some of the surrounding tissue. I don't know if the removal of an organ can ever entirely be described as routine, but apparently it's an involved but relatively straightforward job.

I spoke to the old man last night to wish him luck. He seemed fairly cheerful and reasonably relaxed. He's been a doctor in that neck of the woods for much of the last 30 years and I think he knew that he was in good hands. He didn't actually know his surgeon personally, but he had heard good things about him and he knew that he was the only booking in the theatre that afternoon and that there was going to be no rush. I also spoke to my mum, and she was laughing about how daft my dad is. He'd been told that he could have some tea and toast for breakfast as long as he had them before 7am this morning. Rather than risk that, my father in his wisdom had decided that he was going to have his breakfast cereal before he went to bed. Makes perfect sense, right?

I was nervous this afternoon. I knew I wasn't going to hear anything until at least six, but even though I was relatively busy at work, I couldn't stop my mind chewing over the "what ifs".

I got the call from my mum at about 7pm this evening. Apparently he's being wheeled onto the ward and is moaning about how he feels a bit sore. No shit! Who knew that having an organ surgically removed from your body would hurt?

Mum's gone to visit him now and I should know more later on. There are more hurdles that will need to be jumped before this is all over, but the main thing for now is that he's up and awake.



Sunday, February 25, 2007

but now I think how I was wrong....

Keane @ Nottingham Arena, Sunday 25th February 2007

What can I say about Keane that I haven't already said? It only seems like bloody yesterday since I last saw them, for starters - although apparently it was October. They're a decent band and they've done some decent songs... it's just that... well.... I find them a touch insipid. They seem to have most of the right pieces in most of the right places, but they still seem to be lacking a certain magic ingredient that would make me love them. Of course, millions of people around the world do love them, including our very own Lord Bargain down the road.

It was Bargs who enthusiastically grabbed me a few months ago and asked me if I had realised that Keane were going to be playing the Arena in February and that tickets had already gone on sale. Yes I was aware, but in the interest of politeness, I kept my mouth shut and simply expressed disappointment that it was already sold out. Yay!

A couple of days later, Bargs came back to me with the happy news that he had managed to procure six (six!) standing tickets for the gig on Ebay. Oh Fraptious Day! Kaloo Kalay! He caught my rather obvious lack of delight and shot me a sour look, but I just couldn't help myself. I've seen Keane live now several times, and although I bought their second album, it wasn't something that I loved (or even something that I have listened to all the way through more than once) and so I could quite happily give them a miss. And now I was going to be going. Great. Well, at least arena gigs are always good, aren't they?

Ah, no... they're horrible souless barns, aren't they?


The backing tape that they were playing when we arrived at the arena didn't exactly improve my mood: all the sweary hip-hop, Nirvana and Depeche Mode in the world are never, ever going to convince me that Keane are an edgy band. Never. I crossed my arms and began to sharpen my poisoned pen for the slagging that my review would certainly give them.

Well, do you know what? Whisper it quietly, but Keane were fantastic tonight. They're only a three piece, but they used the whole space of the arena better than any other band I have seen perform here, and they absolutely filled the place with their presence and with their sound. The main part of the stage was laid out in the traditional manner with the keyboards, microphones and the drumkit, but there were also two raised platforms on either side and a long walkway out to another smaller stage in the middle of the crowd. Considering that two of the band are necessarily static, I thought they used the space well. Tom Chaplain charged from one end of the stage to another, regularly climbing the few steps to the raised platforms to exhort the crowd on the wings. Mid-set, the whole band decamped to the smaller stage out in the audience and played a few numbers. Needless to say, they were rapturously received for their efforts by a sold out arena. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I've not seen a band so well received here.

The first third of the set was probably identical to the gig I saw them play in Wolverhampton in October, but after about twenty minutes they began to play different stuff. It was around this time that I realised that although I was surrounded by a few candidates for the "twat at gig" award, none of them were actually distracting me from the band. It's always a sign that I'm not really enjoying a gig when I start to notice the things going on around me. Keane were looking good (Chaplain in particular looks in fine fettle) and they were sounding good. God help me, but I was actually enjoying myself.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I haven't gone completely soft. I know it's not really his fault, but when Chaplain throws himself around the stage striking ROCK poses and pumping his fist at the crowd, he doesn't half look like a twat, God love him. He's also a man who has clearly been in a little too much therapy, and he can't seem to stop himself from publically beating himself up about his supposed misdemeanors to the other two guys in the band... misdemeanors that Tim Rice-Oxley has been good enough to make him sing about for the best part of a year now. How introverted is that, by the way? How passive-aggressive?

TR-O: "Um, hi Tom.... look, um... here's our new song"
TC: "Ah OK, great. Let's have a look. [reads out loud]

'Fool, I wonder if you know yourself at all
You know that it could be so simple
I lay myself down
To make it so, but you don't want to know
You take much more
Than I'd ever ask for'

Right. Anything you want to say to me Tim?"
TR-O: "er.... no"

Also, is it disingenuous for the lead singer of a band who have played to tens of thousands of people to pretend to be overcome by the noise from the crowd? Yeah, it was quite a good reception, but was it all that good really? At one point Chaplain remarked how it was always really special being at a Keane gig; that the fans were just amazing. He'd been to other gigs, you know, but it was never quite the same.

Er... Yeah Tom. You're always on the stage at Keane gigs - it's bound to feel a bit different.

Ah, but I'm just quibbling now. I was slightly embarrassed to be there at all initially, but they put on a fantastic show and I'm now really pleased that I went. They're still not my favourite band in the world, and I still think that on record they are missing something.... but fair-dos, it was a good night and a good performance.

7.5 / 10


On a separate note, it is with heavy heart that I said goodbye this evening to an Australian who has been gracing our lives for the last few months. She's an absolute treasure and she's going to be sorely missed around these parts. Have a safe trip Hen but please hurry back.


didn't you see this once sometime last week?

The Long Blondes @ Nottingham Rock City, 24 February 2007

Rock City gigs on a Saturday are always a bit weird. The demands of "Love Shack" mean that all bands have to be off stage sometime around 10pm and are therefore usually onstage at the oddly early time of 8.30.

Rock and Roll!

I first fell foul of this last summer when I casually turned up at about 21:30 only to realise that I had missed about half of the set by the Futureheads. I was not amused. I'm wiser nowadays though. If I have tickets to a gig on a Saturday, I will generally ring the venue to find out what time the headline band are taking to the stage. As the Long Blondes have only done the one album, tonight the critical time was 9pm... and in spite of my late arrival at the curry house (I blame England's dismal thrashing at Croke Park), Sarah and I made it to Rock City comfortably in time to get a drink and to settle down in front of the mixing desk before the band took to the stage.

I don't really know much about the Long Blondes, except that they were very much the darlings of the indie press for a while. Their debut album came out at some point towards the end of last year, and I picked it up in January. I like them. Kate Jackson, the singer, has got a sparky voice and the singles are all really good.

The band took to the stage a little after 9pm and promptly played almost all of those singles in one go. With barely a pause for breath we had 'Once and Never Again', 'Weekend Without Makeup' and 'Lust In the Movies'. Good songs all, but it did have me worrying about what the hell they were going to do for the next 45 minutes. In a way, I was right. Until they played 'Giddy Stratospheres' just before they left the stage before the encore, all of their other material was fairly forgettable. They are however something of an arresting visual spectacle. Well, I say "they", but what I really mean is that Kate Jackson is an arresting visual spectacle. If anyone was born to be a frontman (front person?), then she was. She's only a wee slip of a lass, but she absolutely dominates the stage. She's the best thing about the Long Blondes by a country mile, and tonight, wearing some sort of Dita von Teese-type shorts and a basque, she commands you to look at her. The rest of the band oblige this even further by being almost completely forgettable. Here are the things that I can remember about the rest of the band:
-> the drummer wore glasses
-> the bassist and the second guitarist were women
-> the lead guitarist was left-handed and played his guitar upside-down with the strings laid out for a right-hander (like Hendrix)

That's literally it. The rest was all about Kate Jackson.

Rock City wasn't sold out by any means, but the mixed crowd (with ages ranging from 14 to about 40) lapped it up. I wouldn't say that they were rapturously received by any means, but they were certainly afforded a warm response by an enthusiastic crowd.

So.... pretty good. Have I damned them with faint praise? I think I have.



Friday, February 23, 2007

never to be mine, no matter how I try....

I know I say this every week, but is it Friday already? Blimey. What with MOTs, new car paperwork, Post of the Week shortlisting duties, twitter, pub quizzes and a mounting sense of excitement about our forthcoming trip to Ecuador.... the week has flown by. I certainly haven't had any time to do any work anyway. Curse all those wasted, dead hours in the office!

This will be the last earworm slot before I go away, and therefore the last one for more than a month (boo! how will we cope? etc. etc.) Don't worry though - having spent most of my week listening to them on my iPod, I think that the perfect coping strategy would be to go and download the podcasts. A word of warning: you never quite know what's lying in wait for you. As I discovered this morning, Sarah's list contains both "The Lonely Goat Herd" (which is a weapons grade earworm) AND "I Luv You" by the Ordinary Boys, which is just awful. That came onto my car stereo without any warning this morning as I was driving into work. I nearly swerved off the road in my haste to reach the volume switch before anybody realised what I was listening to.


This week's Guest Editor has been blogging for something approaching 100 years, but his (much garlanded) blog remains an absolute delight.

Ladies and Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my very great pleasure to introduce for your earworming pleasure, Nottingham resident and all round éminence grise (in the nicest way possible) of the blogging scene.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #58 - Mike from Troubled Diva

Well, it’s a bit of a weird week for me to be doing this – as my mental jukebox has been almost completely dominated by the songs which I’ve been featuring on my blog as part of a project called Which Decade Is Tops For Pops?. Without wishing to turn this feature into an extended plug for my blog (the very thought!), the purpose of Which Decade? is to compare the Top Ten singles from my birthday week in 1967, 1977, 1987, 1997 and 2007. So for that reason, these earworms are rather more retro-flavoured than they otherwise would have been.

1. Here Comes My Baby – The Tremeloes.

A ridiculously chirpy and catchy slice of 1960s pop, from the band which featured Chesney Hawkes’ dad. The actual lyrics are all about losing your “bird” (let’s get with the 1960s vernacular) to another bloke, but – as with the mighty Steps, thirty-odd years later – no-one in the band seems to have noticed that they’re supposed to be singing a sad song. Quite the reverse, in fact. The rhythm of this track isn’t a million miles removed from “If I Had A Hammer” (Trini Lopez) – and best of all, there is a COWBELL. Cardinal rule of pop: you can’t go far wrong with a cowbell.

2. Male Stripper – Man 2 Man featuring Man Parrish.

“In hot cop drag, in leatherman’s stag, tits and my G-string made my living…” Or at least that’s what I thought they were saying, for years and years – until I actually saw a male stripper in a go-go bar (Washington DC, 1992), and realised that it is the custom, o’er the pond, to shove dollar bills down the performer’s pants. Tips in my G-string.” Tips. Not tits. How naïve I was. Anyways, this is late period Hi-NRG par excellence - and it still gives me a bit of a “funny” feeling, 20 years on. Hey, I’ve never claimed that my sexuality was sophisticated. Phwoooar! Get kokkart!

3. Shine – Take That.

Much as it pains me to agree with Chris Moyles, you really can sing the “na-na-na-na” outro to “Hey Jude” over the outro to this one. Featuring Little Marky (The Formerly Cute One) on lead vocals, this was always the obvious next single from Take That’s comeback album – and while it doesn’t quite reach the astronomical heights of perfection set by “Patience” (you heard), it’s a nifty enough little wriggler in its own right.

4. The Worrying Kind – The Ark.

Isn’t it exciting that Eurovision is only three months away? No, but isn’t it? But for the real diehards, who follow the national finals from each participating country, the fun has already begun. In Eurovision fan circles, “The Worrying Kind” is already making waves. It’s one of the leading contenders at Melodifestivalen, which is Swedish television’s massively popular version of A Song For Europe/Making Your Mind Up. (The Scandinavians take their Eurovision very seriously indeed, see. Such a civilised part of the world.)

As with so many Eurovision songs, it’s fun to play Spot The Influences. Ooh, there’s “Waterloo!” And a bit of Bowie! And a snatch of Mika! And is that The Sweet? And, yes, that’s definitely more than a hint of “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse, a UK Number One in 1970. So much so, that the original composer is already onto the case. Anyway, who cares? Sheesh. This is uber-camp, mega-catchy, and super-fab, and that’s really all that needs to concern us.

5. Same Jeans – The View.

Yes, it’s basically The Proclaimers covering “Brimful of Asha”. And you’re saying that like it’s a bad thing? Makes me want to go lurching round The Cookie Club on Indie Disco Nite, tanked up on cooking lager and throwing shapes with the youngsters.

6. Eight Day Hell - …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.

Blimey, have the Trail of Dead gone commercial or something? This is a totally uncharacteristic happy shiny bouncy pop tune, which oozes radio friendliness – except, when you check the lyrics, it’s actually nothing of the sort.

“In London we played half an hour a day, for a house full of neds who are wanting us dead. In Glasgow and Leeds we find signs of relief, an escape from our grief with a fistful of E's.”

Blimey, are we that bad, I asked Jason from Ver Dead when interviewing him this week for t’local paper. Turns out that the song was written about a nightmarish tour supporting Audioslave. Which would be enough to drive anyone to DRUGZ, I’m sure…

7. Starz In Their Eyes – Just Jack.

It’s taken me a while to get over the initial “pah, he’s just a Mike Skinner wannabe” reaction – but now the dust has settled, this stands revealed as an absolutely spot-on broadside against contemporary celeb culture. So it’s a well worn target, you say? Doesn’t matter a jot, when the broadside is as compellingly well-constructed as this.

Defining Just Jack moment: when some wag at Nottingham Arena stuck this on the PA system during the interval of The X Factor finalists show, which I was enduring on behalf of t’local paper. Talk about apposite! Not that anybody noticed, of course…

8. Don’t Leave Me This Way – Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes.

If the collective votes of the readers of my blog are to be trusted, this might just be The Greatest Pop Single Ever Made. And who am I to argue? Forget the Communards – forget even Thelma Houston’s rival cover version – this is the original, and the best. Try and find the full length version – it goes on for hours, and it will blow your mind.

9. Freewheel – Duke Special.

Watching him down at The Social on Monday night , this turned out to be the standout track from the dreadlocked-and-eyelinered Irishman’s debut album – even though it’s the least typical of his vaudeville-influenced sound, being more of a nod towards “epic, soaring” Snow Patrol country. It’s also the current single.

10. Jenseits Von Eden – Nino de Angelo.

A huge hit in Germany in 1984, I cannot hope to offer any rational justification for this big-production Schlager ballad – except to say that it’s been on heavy rotation in my mental jukebox for the past 23 years, so it must be doing something right.

“Wenn man für Liebe bezahlen muß, nur um einmal zärtlich zu sein, dann haben wir umsonst gelebt.”

Ach, it gets me there, every time. Coldplay and Snow Patrol please note: this is how you do Deep and Important and Meaningful.

I shall now hand you back to your regular programming. Thanks for the invite, Mister Swiss. I’ve had a blast.


Thanks Mike - We've had a blast too. Thanks for playing. As I mentioned, I've spent quite a bit of time this week listening to the other Guest Editor podcasts and I have to say that I am very much looking forward to downloading the podcast version of this! (although there will be an unavoidable delay as the prime creative force behind the podcast site pulls the download together. You can always subscribe through iTunes and then it will magically download itself onto your computer when it's ready...)

If you haven't been taking part in Mike's "Which Decade is Top For Pops?" feature over on Troubled Diva... then what the hell have you been up to? Where else are you going to be able to rank Level 42 above Depeche Mode or to puff out your cheeks and say that you genuinely prefer the Blow Monkeys to the Rolling Stones?

Right. That's it. Earworms Of The Week are now officially closed for business for a month....

Now I'm off for dinner.

L8RS. (God, I'm so anal I can't even say that in jest without getting all anxious about the lack of due punctuational diligence....)

Next Time: I, Brummie (30/3)
Forthcoming Attractions: Samantha (6/4), Cat (13/4)

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen, Pynchon]

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

skin and bones

I was watching Barry Scott doing his thing ("BANG!") on the telly, and impressive though it is, I couldn't help but wonder....whatever happened to Barry Bethal? At the rate he was losing weight ten years ago, what must he look like now? Do you think he's slimfasted himself out of existence?

I suddenly feel the need to know how it all worked out for him in the end. Anyone got any Barry Bethal news?

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oh, the shark has pretty teeth dear....

I went to the dentist today.

My teeth have been worrying me for the last week or so, and I decided it was better to be safe than sorry. Who wants to be caught with toothache in South America?

Is it secret? Is it safe?

So I went to the dentist. After about 5 minutes in the waiting room, I was summoned upstairs to the chair. I sat down and waited as the dentist pottered about and asked me a few questions. After a moment or so, I tuned into the fact that there was music in the room. That's not so remarkable in itself: there's often music in the room and it's usually Heart FM or something like that. It was The Strokes, but I didn't really think too much more about it. It would probably be something unspeakable next. It wasn't. It was The Editors. I looked over to the source of the music and saw an iPod Nano perched on a set of Altec Lansing speakers (similar to the ones I have in the kitchen at home).

I looked at the dentist again. He was actually pretty young.

"I think this is the first time I've been to the dentist when they've had an iPod"
"Yeah, I have a playlist of about 1000 songs that I reckon are suitable for patients"
I imagine that some of the old ladies really dig The Editors. I looked over at the nurse.
"Do you get a say in the playlist?"
She shook her head and shot me a long-suffering look. "Nope"
"Are you at least allowed to skip the odd song on?"
She smiled at me. "I've pretty much learned to tune it out"
At this, the dentist grinned at me. Nice.

We talked a bit about iPods in general and about the speakers in particular (he thought they were okay, but found them a bit trebly, especially on Beatles tracks. He wanted some Bose speakers. I thought they were fine for what they were and suggested that if he was after better sound quality, he should try running his iPod through a proper stereo system). We both agreed that I should definitely try to take mine to Ecuador.

As visits to the dentist go, it was a pretty good one. I just can't shake the feeling that it's wrong that I can have this conversation with my dentist. Since I was five years old and Mr. Kingham used to look after my teeth at Earls Barton, my dentist has always been a middle-aged guy. Wherever I have been, and whoever I have been seeing, they have always been middle-aged.

This guy was young. He might well have been younger than me.

I'm not sure I'm ready for dentists to be young. I'm certainly not ready for the thought that dentists have actually stayed the same age and it's just me that got middle-aged.

My teeth are fine, incidentally.

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They say cream cannot help but rise up to the top....*

Post of the Week

If you have seen any good blog posts this week, do be sure to go and nominate them over at the Post of the Week site. You may have a preconception that it's not worth the effort as the same old blogs will always get nominated and the same old people will always win.

Well, here's the thing: Post of the Week will only ever be as good as the posts that are nominated each week. You can have a direct influence on that: if you see something good, go and nominate it. If you don't nominate, it will never be considered. For starters, our very own Mr. Mark Reed has been nominated this week.... (and if memory serves me correctly, he's been nominated before too).

The timetable works something like this:

-> nominations will close on Friday night
-> the shortlist will be published on Saturday
-> this week's judges will send in their votes, and the winner will be announced on Sunday night.

You can get involved simply by nominating, of course, but if you really want to get stuck in, I believe that the site is looking for some more volunteers to be judges. I'm on the rota already and Sarah joined a couple of weeks ago. It's good fun, and you are guaranteed to read at least one humdinger of a post every week. Go on, get involved. You know you want to. I bet you've read some cracking posts this week.

Why don't you nominate one of them?

Here endeth the lesson.

* don't think too hard about the next line to this song.... that's not what I meant at all.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

memory brushes the same years...

It's funny how it's sometimes the littlest things that remind me.

I've just been watching "Heroes". Apparently it's the biggest show on TV; it's the TV show that has been trouncing "24" in the US ratings. It's a programme that has the distinctly "X-Men" premise that ordinary people with extra-ordinary powers are walking amongst us. On the evidence of the first episode, it seems to be pretty good. I like the characters: the invulnerable Texan cheerleader, the guy who can fly, the woman with the seemingly independent reflection, the junkie artist who can see the future.... but my favourite so far is the distinctly geeky Japanese guy who can bend time.

There was one moment though that stands apart for me: Milo Ventimiglia's character -- Peter Petrelli -- is standing on the edge of a 15 storey building, and at first all we can see of him are the edges of his sneakers hanging over the ledge as the camera pans up the side of the building. At that very moment I was reminded of my friend Justin. He used to wear trainers like that. We once got turned away from Rock City on a Saturday night because he was wearing trainers like that. He was outraged. Apparently you could get into anywhere in London with trainers like that. Justin looks a bit like Milo Ventimiglia too. It's the hair and that sulky pout. I've known Justin since I was 7 years old: we went to school together. For a brief fraction of a second, my mind flickered over fond memories of this old friend of mine. And then I remembered that Justin dropped me at the end of 2002. He severed all links with me in a single email and I've not heard from him since.

That was more than four years ago.

It still hurts.

It's just funny how sometimes it's the littlest things that remind me.

I hope he's well and that he's happy.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

cos tony's got a new motor, SR Nova driving like a joyrider....

My new car has arrived! My new car has arrived! My new car has arrived!

Well, to be a little more exact, my new car has been delivered to the dealer. Not surprisingly, the dealer was quite keen for me to come in and pick it up. I could take it away this week and have a "56" registration plate, or I could wait until the 1st March and have a "07" plate on the day that they are first released*. Apparently, some people get excited about their registration plate and always make sure that they get their car on the very day that the plates change over.

Me? I couldn't give a monkeys.

"Ah, but you could pick your new car up before you go on holiday!" He's quite the eager beaver, my dealer.

Er, yes, I could pick up my new car, drive it home, and then leave it parked on the street outside my house for three weeks whilst I go away on holiday. Hmmm. Tempting, but no thanks.

I did still have to go down to the dealership to sign some paperwork and to make arrangements for the pickup. Part of me was hoping that they would offer me the chance to see my new car.

They didn't.

* I can't be bothered to explain this, so for an explanation of British car number plates, try here


Monday, February 19, 2007

but February made me shiver....

I've just had a Square Pie for my tea.

It was a proper bona fide Square Pie too: steak and guinness flavour, to be exact. C. was in London this weekend, and she brought back a raw pie from Selfridges for me to bake at my leisure. She's away again for the first half of this week, and I found it extremely comforting to have pie, mash and kale for my tea, along with a nice glass of red wine (especially as I'd just woken up from a nap).

Now, at this time of the year, that's proper comfort food. Well, any time of the year really. I'll certainly be having one in June at the Glastonbury Festival(assuming I get a ticket).

Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Pie.

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here in my car I feel safest of all....

I put my car in for its MOT this morning. Given that I will be part exchanging at the end of March when I pick up my new car, I was naturally quite keen to avoid any unnecessary expenditure. The guy I rang a few weeks ago to make the appointment seemed mildly surprised that I was only wanting to book in for an MOT and not an MOT plus an annual service, but why would I want to pay £200 instead of £50?

I dropped my car off at 8am and drove to work in the little Ka they lent me. The garage then rang me a little after 10am.

“You car has failed its MOT on one tyre and another tyre is borderline. We can replace the tyres for you no problem. What do you want us to do?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, what kind of tyres do you want?”
“I’m part exchanging my car at the end of the month so I want the cheapest tyres you’ve got”
“Oh, right. Well the cheapest we have is £55. Do you want us to change both tyres?”
“Do I need to change both tyres to pass the MOT?”
“No. Only one was a definite fail. The other was borderline. It’s down to 3mm and the tracking is off. I couldn’t say how long it will last.”

I thought about this for a moment. For some reason, my instinct was to change. But what would be the point? Looking at last year’s MOT certificate, I could see that I have done the grand total of 3000 miles in the last 12 months – bugger all. Every time we travel any distance, we use C’s company car. I’m picking up my new car in four week’s time – and for three of those weeks I am going to be in Ecuador. I made up my mind.

”No. Just change the one tyre.”
The guy at the garage changed tack and revealed his hand: “If you buy both tyres, I can knock a fiver off them both”.
Right, so that means instead of paying £55 for the tyre I needed, I could pay £100. It suddenly became crystal clear to me exactly why garages are opposed to the Government’s proposal to make MOTs mandatory every two years (currently, all cars over three years old need to have the test every year).
“No thanks. Just change the tyre I need to pass the test.”
“OK”. He sounded slightly crestfallen.
“Is there anything else that needed doing?”
“No, that was it as far as I know.” He now sounded a bit grumpy.
“Excellent. See you later then.”

I hung up. £55 for a tyre. £50 for the MOT test. I suppose it could have been worse. I made a mental note to borrow C's car for my trip down to Feltham tomorrow.

Roll on the new car.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

I check out passport photos...

and.... breathe.

It turns out that the dash down to Peterborough to get a new passport wasn't all that stressful at all. I'd spent much of Friday worrying about whether I had all the relevant bits and pieces. I couldn't imagine anything worse than driving down to Peterborough and being turned away without my passport. I discovered to my horror that in the photos I was planning to use, the ones I had taken for my Glastonbury pre-registration thing the other day, I was wearing a hoodie. I ummed and ahhed for a bit, and then had some more taken. It wasn't just that I was worried that they would reject the photos because the hood was partially obscuring my neck or something... did I really want that as the photo that will follow me around for the next ten years? Probably not.... Also to be on the safe side, I got that upstanding pillar of the local community, Lord Bargain, to witness that it was indeed me in the photos. You only have to do this if you have significantly changed from the photo in your current passport... but I've lost a lot of weight and a fair bit of hair in the last ten years, so I thought it was probably better to be safe than sorry.

My appointment was at ten and I arrived early enough to scout out the Passport Agency and to head back into the market to buy a paper and to have a breakfast baguette and an expresso from the greasy spoon. It was delicious too - all greasy and smothered in brown sauce. I gobbled it down and headed over to the big glass-fronted building over the road from the market. As you might expect, there are quite a lot of quietly desperate looking people hanging around at the Passport Office on a Saturday morning. The first thing that you have to do is to join the queue to be processed by reception, where they check that you have an appointment and they make sure that your passport photos are of the required standard. The guy just in front of me walked up to the desk and handed over four pictures of his kid. The receptionist put them into some sort of "ready reckoner" type affair and looked back up at the guy:

"The eyes aren't in the band"
"What do you mean?"
"I can't accept these photos as the child is sitting too low and the eyes aren't in the middle of the picture. You'll need to get some more photos done."
"But I've driven down from Burton"
"Have you not brought your child with you?"
"No, I brought the photos. Are they definitely not good enough?"
"No. We can't accept them. Were you wanting the passport today?"
"Yes. We're leaving tomorrow."
"If you want the passport today, it needs to be processed before 11am."

Burton is at least an hour away from Peterborough. There was no way this guy was going to be able to do it, and he walked away a defeated man to see if he could work miracles with his phone. Before you feel too sorry for him though, apparently the reason he was in Peterborough today was that he had tried to get the passport done at the London office on Friday and had been rejected because his photos weren't right. Nothing like learning from your mistakes, eh?

Ten minutes later, I had been processed and was just queuing up at the cashier's desk to pay. There were two guys just in front of me and we were on the home straight now. The first guy turns back and says to us:
"Until I have that thing in my hand, I'm not going to believe that everything has worked out"
I smiled, but the other guy shrugged. "You've done the difficult bit. The only way I won't be walking out of here with my passport is if a bomb goes off or something".
At this point he was called up to the cashier and he swaggered over to the counter.
"Can I pay by cheque?"
"Yes. Have you got your cheque guarantee card?"
"Do I need it.....?"

It's not really a happy place, and the air is permeated by the faintest smell of desperation. Mind you, it turns out that the other bloke in the cashier's queue was there for the same reason as me - his passport expires in less than six months and he's travelling on Thursday. I told him that I had found myself in the same boat.
"Oh yes? Are you going anywhere nice?"
"Oh really? My wife is from Ecuador!"
We then had a quick conversation about what a lovely country it is and how I really needed to do this and to do that and to eat this and to drink that.... small world, eh? (he was also from Nottingham).

I had been completely processed by 10:15 and set out into the town to kill the four hours before my passport was ready to be picked up. I wandered around browsing camping shops and looking at rucksacks and gaiters and the like, as well as discovering that the local MINI garage had a display model in the shopping centre that I killed 15 minutes having a little play around in before wandering up to have a look at the cathedral. I don't really know why, but I'd never really thought of Peterborough as being the kind of town to have a cathedral at all. Well, they do, and it's a really nice one.

It can date its foundation back as far as 655 AD, is probably the finest Norman cathedral in Britain and can boast things as splendid as a painted wooden ceiling in the nave that dates back to 1230, a thirteenth century west front that has been described as "The most magnificent portico in Europe" and also houses the tomb of Catherine of Aragon and the original resting place of Mary Queen of Scots.

It was quietly and modestly very impressive indeed, and I was reminded all over again how calming I find monumental architecture like this (Nottingham has none). I was in the cathedral when I received the call to go and pick up my passport. I actually stayed on for another 15 minutes just enjoying my surroundings before heading off to collect my passport.

When I picked up my new passport, I saw it had this symbol on the front

It's a biometric passport - it has a little RFID chip in it, and as I discovered from the little machine you can have a play with in the Passport Agency, when it is scanned, it calls up my photo and details from some kind of central database. I understand that when I pass through the USA on my way to Ecuador in March, I will have my fingerprints taken and my retina scanned. I can only assume that this information will probably be added to my database entry, and *pop*, there go my civil liberties.

I don't remember being asked about this.

Anyway. At least I had my passport. I got back to the car, let out a big sigh of relief and started the engine. As I looked into the rearview mirror before reversing, I noticed that my face was covered in odd blotches. I had a closer look.

Ah. Dried brown sauce.

I'm so smooth.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

I was your sorry-ever-after...


Is it Friday already? I thought the week after you come back from holiday is supposed to be horrible? This one doesn't appear to have been too bad.

Hmmm. Perhaps that's because:

-> I go to Ecuador in exactly two weeks today
-> because I have been busy faffing about with passports and things, I haven't done a jot of work all week! Hurray (and I got promoted too! Nice one! Same again next week then?)

Anyway. Onto more pressing matters. This week's Guest Editor is an absolutely charming gentleman. He's a scholar, a connoisseur, a raconteur, an aesthete.... basically he's an all round good egg. Who wouldn't want to have someone like that gracing their pages?

...and he asked really nicely too.

Without any further ado then.... Ladies and Gentleworms, it is my great pleasure to introduce for your earworming pleasure....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #57 - Pynchon

Let me tell you how I got to be Earworm Of The Week.

I asked Swiss Toni. He said OK.

Hell, I never said that it was a great story...

So, anybody fancy a Thunderbirds countdown?

Five! (Der...)
Four! (Derr...)
Three! (Derrr...)
Two! (Derrrr...)
One! (Derrrrr...)

Earworms are GO!

10. "They Don't Know" by Kirsty MacColl.

I heard this on Wogan's show this week, but I know it well.

It's a glorious, wonderful pop song. I think it was Kirsty's first single, and was not a hit, but a note-for-note version by the comedienne Tracey Ullman made the UK top 10 in 1983. Kirsty even sang on it. The "Baybee!" bit in the middle was Kirsty. Tracey Ulllman apparently couldn't hit that note.

I saw Kirsty MacColl in 1995 and she played this during the encore. Of course it was brilliant. She explained that the song was an attempt at writing something that could have fitted onto the "Grease" soundtrack and was a bit of a spoof. Doesn't matter. It's a great song.

Kirsty MacColl. What a talent and what a sad loss to music it what when she died.

9. "Because You Are A Woman" by Brett Dennen.

I heard this on the Jonathan Ross show.

Not much to write about here, because I know very little about this guy. I've looked him up and he looks like a ginger haired, male Kelly Osbourne. Don't let that put you off. I like this song a lot. Stripped down, deep and soulful.

There is a clip here.

8. "Roll Away The Stone" by Mott The Hoople.

I was in W. H. Smiths buying a magazine when a song (not this one) came on over the speaker system. I remember thinking to myself, "That's a complete rip off of 'Roll Away The Stone' by Mott The Hoople" and it was. I cannot remember what that song was, but this song has been stuck in my head ever since.

There are some bands that remain in the public consciousness. You know who they are. You probably love some of them. The Floyd, the Stones, the Beatles, Led Zep. Of the newer bands I would even add Oasis and U2 to that list. Most bands don't remain in the public consciousness, for all sorts of reasons. Mott The Hoople are one of those. They recorded a clutch of great songs, had a fantastic charismatic lead singer and then faded away. But I remember them.

There is a clip here.

7. "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse.

I used to really hate Amy Winehouse. I couldn't bear anything I heard from the "Frank" album. I hated her whole gobby, mouthy, hard drinking, tough lady persona. Then I heard "Rehab" and things changed. She was funny! Then I heard this and... I think I'm in love! I've bought the album. An essential purchase for 2007. I'm seeing her in concert next week.

What would you call this? Modern soul? That'll do. Hypnotic backing track, sneery vocals and in the video she looks like she would eat you alive. Fabulous.

There is a clip here.

6. "Two-Way Romeo" by The Bang Bang.

The Bang Bang do not really exist. They are a fictional band who appear in the fictional documentary "Brothers Of The Head" about a showbiz impresario who forms a rock group fronted by a pair of conjoined twins. It's a great and strange and weird film. You should check it out.

Yes, this song is faux punk/new wave/pop and the lyrics are dreadful, but it has drums and guitars and feedback and howley vocals and swearing and you can bounce around the room to it. It's wonderful.

There is a clip here.

5. "Disguises" by The Jam.

One of the pleasures of the shuffle mode on an MP3 player is the way that sometimes a tune will pop up that you have completely forgotten about.

This song is a cover of an obscure Who song, frankly thrown away by the Who, who stuck it on the "Ready Steady Who" EP (along with "Circles" which was also a great track), and also by The Jam who stuck it on the B-side of "Funeral Pyre".

It's a great track. Brilliant drumming and bass by the most underrated rhythm section to come out of British New Wave (Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton), brilliant phased guitar by Paul Weller and a strange kind of dub reggae breakdown right in the middle of the track (something that The Jam should have explored again). It is a truly fantastic track. Probably better than the original by the Who, if I'm honest.

4. "Surrender" by Cheap Trick.

I found myself in front of the TV watching a double bill of "That 70's Show" (it's dreadful - I won't make that mistake again). I was just dozing off when the opening credits of the second episode started. My interest perked up when I realised that the title music was a cover of Big Star's "In The Street" with, at the end, a snatch of what sounded like "Surrender" by Cheap Trick.

Cheap Trick were never very much over here, but I believe they were quite big everywhere else. Strangest looking band in the whole world. Two of the guys looked like they had stepped straight out of the "Spinal Tap", while the other two guys looked like they had stepped out of geek academy. I cannot say that I know very much about them, but I do remember a "Rock Goes To College" show that they appeared on and I thought that they were very good.

There is a clip here.

3. "More More More" by Andrea True Connection.

Andrea True was a (coughs) adult move star, active in the early 70's. The story goes that she was stuck in Jamaica at a time when political upheaval was ravaging the Island and nobody was allowed to leave the country with any money. So, she invested all her money in producing a disco track to generate a master tape that she could take out of the country. This was the track.

I think it's a real classic, which is nothing that the Pynchon ensconced in the punk wars would ever have admitted in 1977. True, Andrea True was only a passable singer, but she does emote quite spectacularly, and the backing track is pure genius. It'll make you want to dance. You might recognise the backing track. The band Len sampled it for their 1999 hit "Steal My Sunshine".

There is a clip here. (Actually, minimise the clip when you play the track, because it is dreadful. Andrea True didn't know how to move or dance. I hope she was a better performer in her proper career.)

2. "Solitary Man" by Neil Diamond.

I bought a best of Neil Diamond compilation for a fiver in Sainsburys. Probably all the Neil Diamond a sane person would ever want and this is one of the standout tracks. Was this Neil Diamond's first single? It might have been. Somebody else can probably confirm that.

There are some songs of which it is impossible to do a bad cover version. Johnny Cash covered this. Chris Isaak covered this. Hell, even Cliff Richard covered this. They were all great versions, but this is the best. All down to wonderful singing, wonderful lyrics and a wonderful tune. Is there anything else?

There is a clip here.

1. "74-75" by The Connells.

This track was once voted #5 in the list of VH1's top 100 greatest one hit wonders of all time. It should have been higher. I found this on You Tube on a random search.

Shiver up the spine time. It's a song dripping with melancholy, regret and sadness. It's also a very, very personal choice at the moment and somebody elses blog is certainly not the venue to go into my feelings about it. Another time, perhaps.

There is a clip here.

Thank you and good night.


Thanks JP, a magical selection of carefully chosen aural nuggets indeed. You're a marvel.

The moral of this particular story? If you want to have a(nother) go in this slot, then all you have to do is ask.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to look up where the hell the Passport Office is in Peterborough....

Next Time: Mike fromTroubled Diva (23/2)
Forthcoming Attractions: I, Brummie (30/3), Samantha (6/4)

Download the Earworms of the Week Podcast here (and don't forget that from there you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes - then it worms its own way onto your iPod every time it updates. Newly uploaded podcasts include Bedshaped, Stef, Alan, Mandy, Bargs and Cat... get them whilst they're hot. I've just been listening to the podcast of Mandy's choices, and I have to say... a seamless shift from "Bad Medicine" by Bon Jovi into "Sweet Child O'Mine" by Guns n'Roses? Oooooh. Nice! )

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen]

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

our time is running out....

It only really dawned on me yesterday quite how little time I have until we leave for Ecuador. We fly out on the morning of Friday 2nd March. That’s only a touch over two weeks away. C. is away this weekend, so we’ve only really got one weekend together to pull everything together and to buy all the bits and bobs we’ll be needing for the trip.

Just looking down the list we’ve been given, this doesn’t look like an entirely trivial task: alongside the every day items like clothes, walking shoes, insect repellent, sun cream, hat, sleeping bag and head torch are such delights as gaiters, 1 litre nalgene water bottles, a breathable waterproof jacket / trouser set, a poncho…. They’re all items that should be fairly easy to get hold of, but I’m still slightly nervous about quite how little time I have to get it together.

I’ve also had to get on the phone to the nurse to arrange for the anti-malarial drugs. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds because there are a number of different drugs, each with its own set of benefits and side effects. We are going to be dipping in and out of malarial zones whilst we're away, so I had to decide if I wanted to take the drugs on a start / stop basis or if I just wanted to take them continually for three weeks (plus the run-off period). In the end, the fact that I have been told that the combination of malaria and the WTs would be absolutely knockout, I opted to play it safe and I’ll be on Malarone for 4 weeks. Expensive, but also the most effective anti-malarial prophylaxis available. I hear that weird dreams are a common side-effect, but given that last night I dreamt that a celebrity hairdresser gave me a cut that involved long hair stuck straight upwards all around the crown of my head with a shaven bit in the middle dyed purple, I think I’m having enough weird dreams already....

As I was thinking about all the things I needed to get done, my mind turned to my passport. I may be able to get many things when I'm actually in Ecuador, but a passport is the one thing you have to make damn sure that you remember. I’ve had mine for ages, and I knew full well that it expires at some point in September this year. It has long been at the back of my mind to check what Ecuador’s requirements are for entry, as I had a feeling that some countries need you to have a minimum of six months to run.... Sure enough, Ecuador is one of those countries (well, I read that it was, rang the Ecuadorian consulate to confirm this, and they didn’t seem sure. I decided that on the whole it was a chance that I couldn’t afford to take). Whoops. The postal application process for a new passport takes three weeks that I don’t have and involves sending off my current passport. This leaves me with little alternative but to apply in person, so this Saturday, I will be making an unscheduled trip to the UK Passport Office in Peterborough to get my passport renewed in person. I had to make an appointment and everything!

Well, at least it will be done then, eh?

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... but he never meant shit to me

I probably should have mentioned this earlier in the week, but Bob Dylan is taking his turn “In The Dock” over at The Art of Noise, and I was the mug who agreed to prosecute.

In The Dock” is a fantastic feature and over the weeks it has stimulated some interesting debate. One thing that has really started to bug me though is the fact that it seems nigh on impossible to carry out a successful prosecution. It all started off so promisingly when we had a hung jury with The Beatles in the very first case. Since that exciting start, I think that only “Misogynistic Hip-Hop” has been sent down, and that was a bit of a no-brainer. I don’t know if the readers of The Art Of Noise are especially conservative, but there does seem to be a tendency to take the feature way, way too seriously. The way the Bob Dylan debate is currently going, you’d think that if he were found guilty, our Bob would actually be sentenced to death or something. He’s not a sacred cow – I’m fairly sure that he can be convicted and that he will survive the insult.

So anyway. Go over there and vote. I don’t much care if you agree with me or if you decide to acquit… you are all entitled to a vote, so for heaven's sake go and make use of your mandate.

Just remember that it’s only for fun, kids!

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