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>Day 186: Happy Birthday!

17 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Stevie Wonder – Hotter Than July

Son No 1 is 22 today, so a quick phone call to wish him a happy one – I couldn’t get through to him initially, turns out he’s been sitting (and passing!) literacy and numeracy tests as a precursor to an interview next week with the Civil Service. Good for him, at least one member of the Waring family is having some success on the job front!

I left him to ponder on his plans for the evening and turned my thoughts to the day’s activities. However with a stone of tomatoes provided yesterday by the aged parents, I had some cooking to do – pay attention, recipe fans!

I’d already done a quick supermarket run first thing to pick up the other ingredients I wanted for today’s recipe – a sweet pepper and tomato soup, basic recipe courtesy of the New Covent Garden soup company – included in their cook book, which Mrs W has kindly bought me at Christmas. The site’s got plenty of recipes, but not this one – but no matter, this is how it breaks down:

Take six red peppers, cut in half and de-seed. Place cut side down on a baking tray (or probably two).

Skin your tomatoes by putting them in a bowl of boiling water for a minute or two. If you then pierce the skins with a knife, they will come away easily from the tomato. (Really – I had my doubts about this process but it does work like a dream).

Now the recipe calls for eight tomatoes, but I ignored that. Quite apart from the fact I had twenty-odd tomatoes to get rid of, eight tomatoes vs. six red peppers just didn’t seem like the right ratio.

So all twenty-odd tomatoes went onto the baking trays with the peppers, cut in half with the cut side up, this time.

Splash of olive oil over the veg, spoonful of sugar too, salt and pepper. Oh, and a scant handful of fresh basil leaves and stems, chopped.

Stick in a hot oven (190 degrees C) for about an hour. Bits will go black but don’t fret.

In the meantime, chop up an onion or two, a garlic clove or two, and fry gently in your big soup pot for about 15 mins. You want them to go soft, but not brown.

When your veg are roasted, throw the red (and black) gloopy mess on top of your onion/garlic mixture. Bring to the boil then take off the heat for a while. Whizz them up with your whizzy tool of choice into a smooth paste. Add a litre of vegetable stock (proper ready made stock please, not a couple of Vegetable Oxos) and stir thoroughly. Bring to a slow simmer and cook for a while and serve or freeze as you choose.

Some more fresh basil added at this stage would also be very nice.

Apparently you can serve this stuff cold, but really, it’s crying out to be eaten hot, with lots of white crusty bread dipped in, isn’t it?

There are very few people who really deserve the epithet of ‘genius’, but in my humble opinion, Stevie Wonder is one of the people who does. Almost twelve months ago to the day, I saw Stevie in Manchester. He was magnificent, as you would expect, despite a penchant for audience participation I could have done without. I came to hear you sing, Stevie, not 14,000 tone deaf Mancs!

Hotter Than July my be Stevie’s last great album, coming off the back of a run of albums that just might be the greatest series of albums ever – from Music of my Mind through to Songs in the Key of Life. Hotter…is not quite up to that standard, but would be most other artist’s best ever.

Master Blaster (Jammin’) is the track the album is probably best known for, although every track is a winner really. However on my son’s birthday, the only track I can really give you is ‘Happy Birthday’. Credited with introducing a national holiday on Martin Luther King’s birthday (and so not really that appropriate for a personal birthday celebration!) it is possibly one of the few songs that has actually had a real impact on the ‘real’ world.

But that’s not all the Stevie you’re getting today. I can’t take the chance on ‘Talking Book’ coming up anytime soon on the soundtrack, so here’s a bit of ‘Superstition’ for you.

Not just any old Superstition though. Superstition played live on Sesame Street. I came across this on another blog (the excellent Dust on the Stylus) some time back, and can do no more than copy the original poster’s comments before playing you the track…

“It’s the song as we know it but with – is it possible? – even more funk. Then it goes into an uber-funky jam for two minutes, then a false ending. Then – you fucking what? – a minute of Stevie singing ‘Sesame Street’! Over Superstition! Bear in mind that, ten years into a career of classics, the guy was only 22 or 23 here; he has the kudos, the track record, the long-term immersion in music that make it seem to be something he breathes. Set free from the bonds of this earth, he’s adrift in funk heaven. At the same age ‘young’ pop stars like Noel Gallagher and Morten Harket were still years away from making their first records.”

Go on – play it – all the way through. It is the funkiest seven minutes you’ll have all year!

Categories: Andrew, recipe, soup, Stevie Wonder

>Day 162: Great Sport (and Everton…)

24 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Catatonia – International Velvet

A day to feast on the best sport around – oh, and to catch the Everton – Burnley game as well.

Firstly the European Grand Prix, which took place around the back alleys of an industrial estate between the beach and the docks in Valencia, so far as I could make out. Jenson Button continued his one-man effort to throw away the most commanding lead in the driers’ championship in Formula One history, whilst McLaren contrived to chuck away victory by getting the tyres out for Lewis Hamilton five seconds later than they should have done. Millions of pounds of investment in the best technology money can buy, and the race is lost because they can’t have the tyres ready when they are needed.

Which all contrived to give Rubens Barrichello his first win in five years, and he looked like he enjoyed it a lot. I especially liked his jerky little dance when he got out onto the podium. There should be more silly little dances by obscenely wealthy sportsmen and women.

A quick dash from the TV to the computer, to watch Everton play Burnley on Shanghai Sports with some flavour of Chinese commentary. Everton continue to press the self-destruct button by a) defending like twelve year olds in the first half and b) missing the penalty they were gifted that would have brought them level. I hate it when we have to play the newly promoted teams early on in the season, when they are still fired up and believing anything is possible. Can we bounce back in a ManYooesque fashion at the weekend? Don’t bet on it.

After a detour to collect Son No 1 from his Skye trip, I caught the tail end of the Ashes. And at last there was something to cheer about, by virtue of the Aussies being even worse than we are and shooting themselves in the foot just when it looked like they were possibly going to pull off an unlikely upset.

Called Son No 2 on the phone, to discover mid-conversation that The Hunter had cornered another bird, this time outside, beneath the kitchen window. Managed to get the cat indoors, although the bird (which was clearly still alive and, as far as I could tell, unharmed) didn’t seem inclined to move anywhere. A few hours later, the poor thing was still there, and it became increasingly obvious that the trauma was going to do it in, even if it was physically undamaged.

Very sad, but the poor thing’s catatonia does give me an-in-no-way contrived link to today’s soundtrack, the first album by the Welsh funsters’ first album. A patchy affair, rescued by the wonderful ‘Mulder and Scully’ and ‘Road Rage’ – and, of course, Cerys’ accent which comes deep from the valleys.

Here’s Mulder and Scully at Netaid in 1999. Does your mother know you’ve gone out dressed like that, Cerys?

>Days 150-155: That’s Entertainment!

17 August, 2009 3 comments

>Today’s soundtrack: The Clash – From Here To Eternity

Mrs W and I have spent the last few days as entertainers and entertainees, with family and friends up and down the country. Firstly, Son No 1 came up for a couple of days, en route to holiday with his girlfriend and family in Skye, then Mrs W and myself went darn sarf to stay with a friend in Titchfield, down Portsmouth way.

Got up to the usual stuff with Son No 1, generally involving visits to family, eating nice food and watching dodgy films. We let him sample the Waring Pizza Experience, this time with added Garlic Bread, made on an additional (home-made) pizza base, spread firstly with crushed garlic in melted butter, topped with mixed herbage and some mozzarella and cheddar. Very tasty indeed, although there was a bit of consternation in the cooking process as the ‘bottom oven’, which spends most of its life as a grill, got just a wee bit smoky at the high temperatures required. Mrs W took a fair amount of convincing that I wasn’t actually trying to grill the bread – and I’m still not convinced she really believes me!

Anyway, come Friday, we dropped Son No 1 off at his meeting point (to be collected again in a week or so’s time) and we headed off down the motorway to Robin’s cottage in Titchfield. Using my iPhone’s new Satnav application instead of the TomTom. It worked really well, only having a bit of a wobble at the A34/M3 junction.

Weather was fine, which was lucky because we were having a barbecue with some more old friends that evening. But not before a quick trip to the local pub – the dogs needed a walk, you see – to sample the local brews.

Back at the cottage, Gail and Phil arrived and we sat out in the sun and ate and drank. And talked and drank. Then we drank a bit more. Mrs W admitted defeat around midnight, just before Robin’s neighbours joined us for a bit more chat and a bit more drinking. Eventually things wound up around half three/four.

Woke up the following morning feeling remarkably sprightly, considering the previous night’s excesses. Unlike some others, I might add. Phil and Gail left (after promises of a repeat match at theirs in November, and Gail’s commitment to a Glastonbury trip next year – I won’t forget!) after breakfast (barbecued bacon rolls – yummy!) and we settled down to a lazy Saturday – we walked the dogs, bought the paper and kicked back.

Robin and Mrs W then went out for hair of the dog and I made the mistake of staying in to listen to the football.

Oh dear.

I suppose it might just be the kick up the arse the club obviously needs. If there was ever a game to miss, that was the one, I guess.

After a lovely tea of chicken cooked in garlic and coriander with new potatoes and salad, we settle d down to watch Indiana Jones on Robin’s television. Actually ‘television’ sells his kit a bit short, being a 50″ high def plasma behemoth that makes our ageing box look like a portable. When the ship eventually comes in, I think we may need to do something about our telly. But not just yet!

Up early on Sunday for the long drive home, which happily passed without holdup or incident, to be greeted like long lost family by an evidently puzzled Pedro (looked after in our absence by our wonderful neighbours – thanks Andrew and Natalie!)

Overall, a really pleasant few days both up here and down there. We should do this more often – although not too often, as I’m not sure my liver could stand it!

Given the blog title, you’d have hoped for some Jam on the soundtrack, but iTunes chose fellow punxters The Clash. From Here To Eternity is a live album, collecting together tracks from various Clash performances across their career. This gives the album a bit of a disjointed feel, but does not detract from their power as a live band. I saw them twice, I think, both times in Sheffield and they were superb both times. Possibly the most intense live experience I’ve had, and very difficult to capture on film.

Here they are in Manchester, back in 1977. Rough as old boots but full of passion and power. He’s in love with rock and roll woah!

Categories: Andrew, Clash, Robin

>Day 122: The Graduate

21 July, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – ‘B’ Sides and Rarities

Up early today, to load the car with festival stuff and get on the road to Portsmouth. Today is Son No 1’s graduation, in Portsmouth Guildhall, and I need to get down there in good order, to park up and meet up with him and my first (and ex) wife before the ceremony starts.

The journey got off to a bad start, as I got to my usual M6 junction to find the road leading to the motorway was closed. Now satnav is a wonderful thing, but entirely useless in this situation. I drove off to find a route to the next junction down, but all the satnav wanted to do was swing me round in a big loop back to the junction I couldn’t use! I suppose if I’d stopped the car and reprogrammed the satnav to avoid said junction I’d have been fine – but no, I thought, how difficult can this be? Very bloody difficult, was the answer. Eventually I retraced my steps and joined the M6 at the junction north of my usual point, having added a good half hour to my journey in the process. Luckily my innate paranoia of being late had added sufficient cushion for this not necessarily to be a problem.

And so it proved, as without further incident I got down to Portsmouth in plenty of time to meet up in front of the Guildhall. I’d been a bit worried about meeting up, and spending a large proportion of the day, with my ex-wife – but I needn’t have worried as after a slightly stilted and nervous few minutes it was fine and we ended up having quite a nice conversation about this and that, catching up on respective families and such. It’s nice to have reached the point where we can do that.

But anyway, the day wasn’t about us, it was about our son, resplendent in suit, tie, gown and mortar board. After taking a few pictures outside and battling with the swirling wind, we left him to find his seat and we made our way up to the circle for the ceremony itself.

Someone once described war as ‘hours of boredom and moments of terror’. Substitute ‘pride’ for ‘terror’ and you could be describing the average graduation ceremony. Seeing your firstborn son walk onto the stage in his gown, to be awarded his degree, is surely one of the proudest moments a parent can experience. Unfortunately the experience lasts, at most, 30 seconds. Seeing a thousand or so other kids doing the same walk across the stage becomes, unfortunately, mind-numbingly tedious in a very short space of time. In an overheated building, with little ventilation, also becomes very uncomfortable as well.

All that said, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and at the risk of repeating myself, I was (and remain) incredibly proud of my son – he’s worked hard to get a very good degree and was very deserving of his moment in the spotlight.

So after the ceremony, the photographs and the gown return, we went our separate ways – which in my case, was to a hotel in Southampton – staying down in advance of the drive across to Southwold the following day. I’d arranged to meet up with some old colleagues in the evening, who picked me up from the hotel and whisked me off to the pub for beers, followed by a curry at Poppadom Express (which I can heartily recommend). A nice few hours putting the world to rights, particularly in the context of Simon’s impending ‘resignation’. It’s a difficult time for the Southampton team, but they are a good team and are being left in safe hands and, with the right degree of local support, they should still prosper. Doesn’t make Simon’s treatment right, though.

Aaanyway. Back to the hotel for my last sleep in a bed for a few nights, before the long trek cross-country tomorrow (why is Southwold so far away from everywhere?)

Purely by coincidence, it’s one of the Latitude headliners on the soundtrack today, from a collection of obscure/alternate tracks that is sprinkled with some absolute gems. The compilation includes a version of ‘Red Right Hand’ that the band did play at Latitude – but here’s a clip of them performing the song at Glastonbury around ten years ago. A far more restrained version than the one we were treated to at Latitude!

>Day 95: Opportunities (let’s make lots of money?)

19 June, 2009 2 comments

>Today’s soundtrack: The Wedding Present – Peel Sessions

My God, Canal Street must have been quiet tonight!

Impressive turnout for the Pet Shop Boys at Manchester Apollo, and whilst the crowd was actually quite mixed, there was no denying the prominent presence of designer jeans, tight t-shirts and expensive aftershave in the crowd.

And that was just me.

The place was rammed (NB: please don’t look for double entendres in everything I type today – they are all either unintentional or figments of your own overenthusiastic imaginations) which was no surprise really – they had already sold out the O2 Arena in London for the following night, and are already selling tickets to their natural Manchester venue, the MEN Arena, for later this year.

Too late to get down the front, so hung about a third of the way back, with a great view that was unfortunately blocked late on by a group of four young lads who seemed slightly overexcited by the occasion. Managed to manoeuvre into a decent position for most of the set though.

Support band were called ‘Frankmusik‘ – a synthesiser band led by Vincent Frank who, despite appearances, is currently dating Holly Valance. Remix duties for the Pet Shop Boys led to the tour slot, apparently. Not really my cup of tea, although the bass frequencies set my designer jeans flapping rather pleasantly.

As you would expect with the Petties, it was less about the two group members and more about the visuals, which had a very interesting ‘cubic’ theme – lots and lots of white boxes. Obviously there were dancers – three girls and a big black guy who got a very enthusiastic cheer from the audience – and very clever and varied projections and stuff. And costume changes and silly hats.

But what about the music, Paul? Well it was fab, actually. Obviously mostly pre-recorded and sequenced, although Chris Lowe did seem to be playing something most of the time, whilst stood behind his desk, obligatory sunglasses in place throughout (Chris. A word. You’re indoors mate, and it’s already dark.) Again sonically superb, and Neil Tennant can definitely carry a tune in his own inimitable way. And they’ve got a very deep and high quality back catalogue to call upon. Highlights? Lots of happy singalongs to Go West (a bit gay, that one), Domino Dancing, Always on my Mind and Left To My Own Devices amongst others, a quite moving ‘Jealousy’ (with dancers on stage) and a fine encore of Being Boring and West End Girls. It says something about the quality of the set that I thought ‘Oh yeah – forgot about this’ when West End Girls started.

Was it rock and roll? Probably not. Was it fun? Oh yes, probably as much as I’ve had (on my own) for a very long time.

So a good end to a day that could have been quite difficult. Following his interview ‘success’ yesterday…and my final understanding of just what the job entailed, Son No 1 and I needed to have a chat about one or two things. Potentially awkward, as I felt the role was completely wrong for him – but I wanted to get this across to him without pissing on his firework, as it were, or influencing him unduly – he’s old enough to make his own decisions. In the end it proved ok – I think he had his own reservations deep down, and his girlfriend and Mum also gave him the same message. So he’s (rightly, I think) turned down the role, and his search (alongside mine) continues. Doesn’t detract from the fact he was mature and motivated enough to explore the opportunity, go through the interview and assessment, and even be prepared to take on the role as a route to asserting and gaining his own independence, despite his reservations. Hugely proud of him for all that.

In stark contrast to the Petties, it’s the Wedding Present and John Peel on the soundtrack today.

Bet the Pet Shop Boys never did a Peel Session.

The Weddoes did plenty, and they are all collected on a six-cd box set that my iPhone and iTunes is totally infatuated with. It’s all good stuff in a gruff, indie sort of way, but I find a little goes a long way.

Here’s a pretty ropey clip of them performing ‘Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?’ from back in the day. A title that could just as easily belong to a Pet Shop Boys tune, now I come to think of it.

I don’t just throw this blog together, you know.

>Day 94: The Deluge

18 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Clash – The Magnificent Seven ep

Off to Manchester today for a couple of reasons – Son No 1 had his second interview for his job, and I had a meeting with one of my ex-colleagues about a potential interim role that might arise from some work they have been doing.

Dropped Son off at his interview location and wandered across town to Spinningfields, where my old firm has just this week moved to posh new offices. I got down there and realised I didn’t actually know which building they were in, but eventually found where I needed to be. Very pleasant new surroundings from what I could see – and I hope the move has not impacted adversely on the cost savings they obviously had to make three months ago(!) – would hate to see further personnel fallout as a result of an unfortunately-timed move to new premises.

Walking across town, I managed to get drenched to the bone as rainclouds gathered, and unloaded, over Manchester. Hopefully this will get June’s required rainfall out of the way this week, leaving next week dry and sunny so I can sit in a dry Somerset field chillin’!

Met up with my ex-colleague, who I’ll call Mark (since that’s his name) and we hot-footed it down to Wagamama for noodles and a chat. Very interested in the project he described to me, and I’ve confirmed he can put me forward as a potential candidate for the proposed ‘troubleshooter’ role when they present their report at the end of the month. Obviously can’t say any more than that at this stage. Delighted they are thinking of me, and shows the benefit of not burning your bridges.

My first time at Wagamama, and enjoyed it a lot (although Mrs W had something to say about the resulting garlic breath). Spicy noodles, chicken, duck dumplings (which were ace) and some ‘black’ Japanese beer went down a treat. Couldn’t finish my plateful, which as many of you will appreciate is not typical Waring behaviour!

Wandered back into a (slowly drying) town centre, to get a text from Son No 1 that his assessment would continue until 8:30 in the evening at the earliest, so headed back home, planning to pick him up later.

Duly drove back into Manchester for 8:30, and (after a few ‘holding’ texts, finally picked Son up at around 10:15. After a long and intensive day – the process started at one o’clock, he’d been given the news that he’d passed the assessment and had the job, if he wanted it. Which in itself is great news, and I’m proud of him for having the drive and initiative to go out looking for work well away from his current Southern base. What he has to do now, on the back of what he learned today, is decide whether the proposed role actually reflects what he wants to do and is a role he will be comfortable with going forwards. And if, after due consideration (and discussion with friends and relatives) it is something he wants to do, then we’ll support him all the way.

Downloaded the latest version of the iPhone software this evening, and my phone can now do all sorts of wonderful things like…send picture messages! And support cut and paste! And record voice memos!! All things of course, that cheaper, less trendy phones have been able to do for years.

It’s still ace though.

Got The Clash back on the soundtrack today – I’m sure we’ve had them before. Today’s waxing is a single from the ‘box set’ of singles, which includes each single released by the band in a facsimile of the original sleeve. The Magnificent Seven comes from Sandinista!, at a time when the group were diversifying into rap and other musical forms some distance from their original punk roots, and this single contains eight (count ’em!) tracks including a number of ‘dance remixes’ and dub versions of this and other tracks from Sandinista. Not all of them work, but the fact that the group was prepared to stretch itself and explore new avenues is one of the things that stands them out from the rest of the punk massive. a recent debate on the Word blog asked whether The Jam or The Clash were the better band and, while they were both wonderful, it was The Clash’s desire to experiment and stretch, within the group context, that swung it for me. Paul Weller had to break up The Jam to realise his musical ambitions, he couldn’t do it within that context. The Clash could.

Here they are in June 1981 performing The Magnificent Seven on the Tomorrow Show in the States. How good is this?

Categories: Andrew, Clash, interview, Wagamama

>Day 93: Start of a busy few days

17 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Patrik Fitzgerald – Safety Pin Stuck in my Heart ep

A very busy few days in fact! Main job today (after signing on) was to drive over to York for an Audit Committee meeting at the second of my two Universities, York St John. YSJ (as it will henceforth be abbreviated) is a relatively small (and new) University, on the edge of the city that grew out of two teacher training colleges that date back to the 19th century. After developing close links with Leeds University as early as 1920, it became a full college of the University in 1990, achieving its own university status in 2006. It now has four faculties; Education & Theology, Business & Communication, Health & Life Sciences and Arts.

The compact campus has a nice mix of old and new buildings, and recently opened a new facility extending the University’s capabilities even further.

Right, that’s the advert over, how was the meeting? Well very successful really, I managed to persuade management and the auditors to effect some specific changes to the plan for the coming year that I thought were necessary, and by close of play (at around 6:00) it felt like we’d covered a lot of ground diligently and productively. Naturally i took the opportunity to talk to the auditors about my situation – just so they know if they are looking….

Left the meeting to find out that Son No 1, on his way up for his second interview in Manchester, had broken down and was awaiting 1) the AA and 2) his mother, so he could transfer cars and continue his journey in his mum’s car. More news on the outcome of the interview process tomorrow – suffice to say I am more nervous for him than I have been for any interview of my own, and far more nervous than he is. He’s surprisingly (I hope not too) calm about the whole thing!

Chippy tea tonight, for convenience and, well, because sometimes it’s just what you need. We’ve a few local chippies, none of which are perfect, but the fish tonight was especially good. Pedro agreed too. Chips could have been better, mind.

Punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald on the soundtrack today. One of the more unusual backwaters of the punk revolution was the emergence of a number of ‘punk poets’ – the estimable John Cooper Clarke probably the most famous, but there was also Mark Miwurdz (see what he did there?) in Sheffield, Attilla the Stockbroker and the aforementioned Patrik Fitzgerald amongst others. In Reggae, artists like Linton Kwesi Johnson and Michael Smith came to the fore, and in the States Patti Smith and others brought poetry into the punk arena.

Anyway – Patrik Fitzgerald. I kind of lost track of him after his first three eps, on the Small Wonder label, but his Wikipedia page suggests he’s had a long and varied career without ever troubling the mainstream. I bought his first two records, Safety Pin Stuck in my Heart (“a love song for punk music”) and Backstreet Boys, the title tune of which perfectly captures the violence and paranoia of the era.

Here’s ‘Safety Pin…’ with some images from the era. Ok, the guitars a bit shaky and the vocals a bit wobbly, but the charm is self-evident…to me anyway!

>Days 89-91: Where did the weekend go?

15 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Jeniferever – Choose a Bright Morning

Apologies for the slight break in service – must’ve been busy for the last few days!

No idea where Friday went – sitting here three days later I’m struggling to remember a single thing I did…which probably means I spent the whole day sat in front of the computer ‘fannying about’ for want of a better expression.

The computer gets a fair amount of hammering in our house, largely due to me it has to be said, and is beginning to show signs of wear and tear. It occasionally decides to freeze on us, and has a tendency to present me with the ‘blue screen of death’ and turn itself off from time to time as well. It has also started to show graphical problems on occasion when I turn the thing on, with “artifacts” (which I think is the technical term) appearing on screen. This can be fixed using the ‘turn it off, then turn it on again’ technique that has served me well over the years – but for how long? More worryingly, one of the fans inside has begun to make a horrible whining sound and to spin more slowly than it should. The thing seems to be welded to the motherboard as well, so may not be easily replaceable. I’ve picked up another fan to mount inside the case for a fiver, but don’t think this will be a long term solution. We’ll see.

Son No 1 had another interview in Bristol on Friday – not yet heard whether he’s through to the next stage but good experience nonetheless.

Off to Huddersfield on Saturday to pick up Son No 2 and bring him home – Doves in Delamere Forest! Every summer around this time the Forestry Commission put on a series of outdoor concerts in the middle of the woods. This year, Doves are sandwiched in between Paul Weller on the Friday and Katherine Jenkins on the Sunday. Two years ago I went to see The Feeling there (I know, I know) but gave it a miss last year. A shame, because I missed out on seeing Elbow and I Am Kloot, both bands I was lucky enough to see later in the year anyway but it would have been a grand night out.

As it proved to be on Saturday. The forest is quite literally on our doorstep, but unfortunately there is no direct walking route from home – otherwise we’d walk. So there is a need to drive round three sides of a square and park up – a three minute drive, followed by a ten minute walk from the road to the stage.

Interesting dynamic at this concert – it’s all very middle class and comfortable, parties taking tables, chairs and hampers. It’s the only concert we’ve ever been to where the arena fills up from the back as people stake out little campsites with their rugs and such, leaving a big empty space in front of the stage.

So naturally, after a beer and a baguette we took up position on the barrier at the front.

Support band were called ‘Delphic’, a Manchester band in a kind of New Order/Klaxons style – lots of synths and sequencers combined with traditional guitar, drum and bass. And pretty good they were too – a short (30 minute?) set with individual songs running together. Not the most ‘visual’ of bands, especially when playing with their synths (oo-er missus) but not a bad way to spend half an hour.

By the time Doves came on, the space in front of the stage had filled up to an acceptable level and a bit more atmosphere was being generated – even some half-hearted crowd surfing a bit further along from us. Good band Doves – and they put on a good show with a decent number of encores and all the ‘hits’. They are on in the second headliner slot at Latitude so will definitely catch them again. I’ve recently said nice things about their new album, ‘Kingdom of Rust’, which is definitely worth your consideration. Nice bunch of blokes too.

So Sunday was largely taken up with a trip back to Huddersfield to drop the boy off, and with the conclusion of the first series of ‘The Shield’, again something I’ve talked about recently in glowing terms. The climax of the series didn’t disappoint either – so now on the lookout for Series Two. Still got a couple of boxes of CSI and The Corner to watch though.

We also started to catch up on Celebrity Masterchef, which is a bit of a guilty pleasure for Mrs W and myself. Cooking doesn’t get tougher….

Speaking of which, the second attempt at bread rolls was a resounding success on Saturday. This time, I progressed to a ‘wash’ with beaten egg and a sprinkling of grated cheese on top before baking, which gave a nice savoury tang to the crust. And hot from the oven, split and filled with grilled bacon, they were a joy.

Jeniferever – you’ve never heard of them either, have you? Great name though, you have to admit. Swedish band, although they sing in English, in a style most closely reminiscent of Sigur Ros without being as ‘otherworldly’ as their Icelandic counterparts.

‘Choose a Bright Morning’ is their first full album, released in 2006. It has recently been joined by Spring Tides, and both are worth a listen. Not on the festival circuit this year as far as I can tell, which is a shame.

This is ‘Alvik‘ from Choose a Bright Morning.

Categories: Andrew, Delphic, Doves, Jeniferever, Matt

>Day 88: Interview Success! (but not mine…)

12 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Pet Shop Boys – Introspective

Minor bombshell this morning with the announcement that the shy and retiring Mr Ronaldo was on the verge of moving to Real Madrid for a piffling £80 million, and a salary that could amount to half a million a week by the end of his contract. Now whilst it would be easy to say that it is an obscene amount of money (which it is) and that no footballer can be worth that much money (debatable – Real anticipate the move generating around £500 million in wider income – shirts, sponsorship etc), I can’t deny that I’m looking forward to the impact of the sale on the shape of the Premier League next season.

For a start, what impact will it have on ManYoo? With a potential transfer kitty in excess of £100m (assuming Siralex gets all the Ronaldo money), they could add four or five world class players to their squad, which should more than compensate for the loss of one (albeit exceptional) player. More interestingly, this may now give The Boy the opportunity to play in his natural position, rather than being stuck out wide to accommodate Ronaldo. Thus allowing him to finally develop into the player he can be.

But then throw Man City into the mix. It looks like they have tempted Tevez away from Utd and will no doubt spend big (if not wisely) elsewhere. How will they perform – will Hughes (or his successor) be able to mould a team from a collection of talented, wealthy egos?

What of Chelsea? Yet another new manager, unproven in the English game – a Scolari or a Hiddink?

Will Big Red across the park be able to find any money down the back of the sofa to attract nine quality players to add to the two man team they’ve latterly overperformed with?

Oh yes – this close season and next season could be fun.

Good news on the job front, for Son No 1 at least. Took him into Manchester for his interview, which has resulted in a second interview/assessment next week. Coupled with a parallel interview with another company in Bristol tomorrow, his future is looking reasonably bright – without underestimating the hurdles he’s still to climb.

While he was undergoing the interview process, I headed into town for a coffee with Kevin and Alison from the previous employer. Nice to meet up with old friends again and pick up on the office gossip – and nice to be one step removed from it as well. Think they’re missing me though. Like a hole in the head, no doubt, but missing me all the same. Bit of celebrity spotting as well – one of the actresses from Corrie was having a coffee on the next table. Now whilst it’s sometimes difficult in Manchester City Centre not to be bumping into actors/actresses from Corrie, I do still get a mild frisson to be breathing the same air as our local minor celebrities.

I am nothing if not shallow.

In a whirlwind day for those around me, Mrs W dashed in and out of the house after work, rushing to get ready for a charity do in Frodsham supported by her employer. Not really her cup of tea, a bit too much pressure to put your hand in your pocket, but she got a decent meal and a night out out of it. More than she gets from her husband.

In Pedro news, we have adjusted his diet from sachets of food to tins of food. Basically, to try and fill him up a bit. Initial signs are good, although he’s still hoovering up everything put in front of him. It worries me to speculate how much food would be too much food – not sure we’ll ever get there! We are reliably informed this is not a new thing, he’s been this way since birth, so we are working on the basis it’s not worms – he’s just greedy!

Petties on the soundtrack today – a group with a huge pop sensibility that sometimes hides the quality and depth of their material. Like Doves yesterday, I’ll be seeing them a couple of times this summer – next week in Manchester, then on the Friday night at Latitude. Their live show is supposed to be stunning, and would think that, outdoors especially, it should be a night or two to remember.

One of the areas where the Pet Shop Boys excel is in their remixes, and today we are listening to the ‘Further Listening’ disc of Introspective, including disco and other mixes of their late ’80s material. Excellent stuff.

The album contains a demo version of Nothing Can Be Proved from the film ‘Scandal’ (about the Profumo affair), with Dusty on vocals. Here’s the video – any excuse to see Joanne Whalley as well…

>Day 87: Interview prep (but not mine!)

11 June, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Self-selected soundtrack today, using Spotify. Son No 1 is on the main computer which has all the music stored on it, so I’m typing this on the netbook and setting my own soundtrack. Need to do a bit of research anyway, as we are seeing Doves at the weekend and I need to familiarise myself a bit more with their oeuvre!

Son No 1 is busy researching for his upcoming interview tomorrow – he finally managed to make contact with the relevant company and get details of time and place, so he’s all set. I’ll take him into Manchester and meet up with old colleagues while he’s being grilled. It’ll be an interesting experience for him, whether successful or not. It scares me to see my kids making their first tentative steps into the ‘real’ world – there’s a temptation to do too much to prepare or advise them, but to be balanced with a need for them to be making their own way in the world, standing on their own two feet.

Makes me feel bloody old, as well…

Out early this morning, to get the weekly shop in. With Son No 1 up, we need to do a bit more menu planning to feed the extra body, and we’d decided on a chunky turkey curry tonight – memories of a turkey curry from the dim and distant past for me to try and replicate!

I do cheat a bit with my curries – not wanting to go to the trouble of grinding and mixing my own spices, I do revert to Patak’s curry pastes, which always seem to hit the mark. So Turkey Tikka Masala tonight, accompanied by a Vegetable Balti and a range of breads and rice.

With the son and heir up to stay, my life would not be worth living if I did not take him down to see the grandparents, so off we headed to deepest Birkenhead for a spot of lunch and chat. She puts on a decent spread, my old mum, and I feared for my appetite later in the day, especially after slaving over a hot stove and juggling copious numbers of pots and pans!

Having done our filial duty, we then headed off to the local farm shop to pick up some ‘Cheshire Farm’ ice creams, the ‘Coffee Mocha’ flavour being a particular favourite of Son No 1. We also picked up some ‘Malt Tease’ and ‘Honeycomb’ Ice creams as well….guess which particular sweets are incorporated into these particular tubs? The Cheshire Farm range are well worth seeking out, and as a ‘home grown’ alternative to Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Daas, are just the ticket. Not cheap though!

Back home to slave over pots and pans and, despite a concern that the potatoes in the veggy curry would not cook through quickly enough, everything came together quite nicely in the end.

We watched ‘Best in Show’ while chowing down on the curry, another of the Christopher Guest semi-improvised films (I blogged about ‘Waiting for Guffman’ recently, another from the same stable). Best in Show does stand repeated viewings though. Bit of a cliche, but the stars of the show are undoubtedly the dogs themselves!

So Doves. Over the last couple of years they have slipped into the shadow of local rivals and mates Elbow, and there are a lot of similarities between the sound and profile of the two bands. This year however, following the release of ‘Kingdom of Rust’ and a high profile on the festival circuit, it might just be Doves’ year. Kingdom of Rust is a fine album, indeed all their albums are worth a listen, and the have slightly more of a dance sensitivity than do Elbow, which I’m sure will go down well with the big outdoor crowds. as I said, seeing them in Delamere Forest at the weekend and also at Latitude later in the summer. They are headlining the John Peel tent at Glastonbury as well, but given I’ll be seeing them elsewhere, Neil Young will get the nod this time.

There’s an interesting clip of Doves performing Kingdom of Rust here, along with many other tasty (and not so tasty) bands. The conceit of this little website is that all the bands are filmed performing in the back of a standard black cab, driving round the streets of (I assume) London. Yes really. Well worth a look, the Doves clip in particular is very good.

And here they are on Jools Holland, performing the same song…

Categories: Andrew, Best in Show, Doves