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>Day 215: Out on the Tiles

16 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Various Artists – The Complete Motown Singles, Volume 5: 1965

With the impending resumption of the working week – suddenly the pressure’s on to finish all the half-arsed (and half-completed) jobs that are kicking around – including the bathroom tiling, which those of you with long memories will recall I started way back on Day 179.  Over a month later, I finally got round to putting back the tiles I’d taken off – hopefully sag-free – along with the mirror tiles to replace those I smashed in the removal process.

Two key problems to deal with (well, three, if you include my general cack-handedness when it comes to Bob The Builder stuff like this).

Firstly, the reason the tiling was needed at all was to rectify a few rows of tile that had been forced into a space that was too small to accommodate them – hence the bowing of the tiles on the wall.  So if the tiles were actually to fit the same gap this time, I either had to trim the tiles or – hopefully – compromise on spacing to squeeze the buggers in.

Secondly, the mirror tiles were not made to the same dimensions as the tiles they were replacing, necessitating a gap around them that had to be filled somehow.  I am hoping the gap is groutable, as it is really too narrow to successfully cut tiles down to size.  The gap also means I need about four tiles to defy gravity during the setting period, lest they slide down the wall into the gap above the mirrors.

So today, it was all about sticking the tiles to the wall and getting them to stay there, keeping flat to the wall rather than bowing.  And – I think – I just about achieved that.  Tomorrow is about grouting and cleaning, when the job – should – be a good ‘un.

Before and during pictures up there – there will – eventually – be an ‘after’ picture as well!

Quiet on the job front today following the frenetic bursts of activity earlier in the week – just formal confirmation from the insurance company of the terms around temporary work – essentially I can do 90 day’s worth without my claim being affected.  Just need to sort the Job Centre out now, and I think we are good to go!

The rest of the day was spent making sure I had sufficient kit together for my Staines trip, and doing a bit of prep around the issues involved.  After a bit of consultation with former colleagues, that angle was satisfactorily covered, and I also seem to have commitment to a lunch from the good man who provided the introduction in the first place!  Coupled with plans for dinner with Simon when I’m down in Staines, and my social life won’t completely grind to a halt while I’m out of the North!

Double Bubble on the Masterchef front, with the final semi-final and the ‘eliminator’ for the final.  Puzzlingly, the preview on the internet suggested there would be five contestants in the eliminator – how would that work, after four semi-finals?  All became clear, when the two final semifinalists could not be separated by the judges – so they put them both through!

And they were good, Steve and Daniel.  So good, that both made it through to the final, along with Simpering Sally (Marianne, actually).  So it was goodbye to hot favourite Ryan, and to Matt, who’d seen off other hot favourite Ludovic.

Smart money must be on Steve – but I wouldn’t write off Marianne just yet…

Motown produced some of the greatest music in the ’60s, and 1965 was probably when the best of the best was released, pretty well everyone being on the top of their game.  The ‘Complete Singles’ series is exactly what it says on the tin – a series of box sets, containing every single ‘A’ side and ‘B’ side released in a particular calendar year.  Amongst others, 1965 gave us:

Ask The Lonely
Nowhere To Run
Stop! In the Name of Love
Tracks of my Tears
Shotgun
Uptight (Everything’s Alright)

Wow!

It also gave us  ‘Do The Boomerang’ and ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Me’ – but overall, the level of quality control is exemplary.

Here’s Martha and the Vandellas from 1965 with Nowhere to Run – Forget the Supremes, these girls were the best Motown girl group by a distance!

>Day 205: Fr-fr-fr-Frustration!

6 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Leftfield – Leftism

As Marc Almond once stuttered, albeit in very different circumstances, I would imagine.

It’s frustrating enough being out of work and waiting for the phone to ring, or the emails to arrive, when things are quiet – but it’s doubly frustrating when you are actually waiting for something tangible – in this case, some feedback and updates from an interview that took place over a week ago.  It’s triply frustrating when the lack of that feedback is holding up another opportunity you are chasing!

So I spent the morning trying to get some arses into gear – and getting nowhere, quite frankly.  At least I’ve done all that I can do to push things on.

Taking a step backwards for a minute, I know – from being on the other side of the table – just how long these processes can take, and where they sit on the priority list when things are manic – but knowing that doesn’t actually ease the frustration that much!

In better news, I took a couple of calls from one of my more reliable consultants, about another contract opportunity in Liverpool that might give me 3-6 months’ work.  Just waiting to get some more details on that one – perhaps this is the one that will eventually come good?

Still, pointless fretting about it – you have to manage your impatience and continue to show a brave face.

So – how to fill the time?  Well, if in doubt – bake!  Two loaves today – a slightly off-the wall Spelt loaf for me, made interesting by the addition of milk powder, lemon juice and zest and poppy seeds, and a more mainstream rustic French loaf for Mrs W’s sandwiches.

Oh, and I finished cleaning off the old bathroom tiles at last – after days and days of hacking away with a chisel at the old cement, my dad gently broke it to me that the cement would be water soluble – and so would wash off easily.  And it did.  How foolish do I feel now?

Unfortunately no excuses left for not retiling the bathroom now…

Having sorted out the Glastonbury ticket sales, the fun now starts trying to guess who the headliners are going to be for this ‘special’ 40th anniversary festival.  Current speculation has the Stones, David Bowie and Coldplay as favourites, closely followed by Bob Dylan and the Foo Fighters.  My money is on Radiohead – but as Son No 2 pointed out, my money is on Radiohead every year.  Got to be right eventually though…

I suspect Coldplay will be there though – in which case I shall be elsewhere.

Filled the rest of this loooong day by managing my football team a touch further.  As my young team of promising starlets have aged, matured and gelled, and buoyed by their success last season in the Europa League, they are now a fixture in the upper reaches of the Premier League despite a hideous lack of sensible funding from the Board.  Currently top of the league (in Christmas 2013) although an upcoming away match against a frankly unbeatable Man City might soon drop us from those heady heights.

The Boy went to see Little Man Tate in Sheffield  the other night – one of their final gigs before sadly splitting up.  His review is here, and you will note he is pretty disparaging about the support band, Artery.  A shame they were poor – back in the day – when I was his age, actually – they were one of the leading bands on the Sheffield alternative circuit, along with Cabaret Voltaire, early Human League, Clock DVA etc.  Looks like they’ve recently re-formed and are doing the rounds again – although I would suggest a gig supporting LMT is not the right sort of slot for them.  Now if only the Cabs would re-form and get out there…

This is what Artery were like back in  the day – somewhere in Sheffield, 1978.  I might even be in the crowd, somewhere…




In contrast, today’s soundtrack features electronic noiseniks Leftfield, who are actually not all that leftfield, when you listen to them.

Leftism is their first album, and doesn’t include Phat Planet, used in the excellent soundtrack to the Guinness advert with the surfers and the horses, but is still a pretty good collection of beats and techno, with a nice dubby companion disc attached for good measure.  Oh, and a good selection of guest vocalists, including John Lydon, who brings something a bit special to ‘Open Up’…

>Day 191: We’re Swabbin’

22 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music

Back on the housework today, I’ve been letting things slide a bit, and that bathroom isn’t going to tile itself!

So I spent half the morning attacking the ‘rescued’ tiles with a chisel, to remove all the old grout and adhesive. Still got a fair few to do, but I’m getting there – very slowly indeed! Managed to get through to lunchtime with a box of around fifteen tiles, and surprisingly with the same number of fingers and thumbs that I started with.

Chisels and Paul are generally a bad combination.

Not wishing to ride my luck any further, I put all the tiling stuff away after lunch and got on with the second day’s major chore – cleaning the kitchen, most importantly the floor, which – due to a combination of Pedro waltzing in and out without wiping his paws and Mrs W doing much the same – was getting a bit skanky.

Now normally the floor just gets a quick flick that redistributes, rather than removes, all the muck – but this time I thought I’d do a half decent job. So all the furniture was shifted, worktops hosed down, floor Dysoned twice – firstly using just the Dyson, then going into all the nooks and crannies with the hose – before getting the floor detergent, mop and bucket out. I’ve been using this new stuff that you pour directly onto the floor rather than diluting in the bucket, but still ended up swabbing the whole floor with hot water as well.

It’s a bigger job than you’d think, when its done properly, but at least the floor was sparkling – for about ten minutes, before Pedro recommenced his ins and outs and the night’s cooking. I’m a good cook, but a sloppy one!

A quiet day apart from that – I pottered around t’internet for a while, caught up on the various blogs and the like that I contribute to, and decided my life needed a bit more Joni in it, following yesterday’s blog. Got a few recommendations, and Amazon is doing the rest!

Today’s soundtrack is hugely welcome – everyone should have some reggae in their lives, and Tougher Than Tough is probably the best one-stop reggae collection out there. A four-CD box set, it is light on Marley, but covers all other bases reasonably well. Add to this a good sprinkling of Bob Marley, the soundtrack to ‘The Harder They Come’ and some Dub compilations from Lee Perry and King Tubby, and you’ve pretty well all the reggae anyone could need.

I love this one – Young, Gifted and Black by Bob & Marcia. Your soul’s intact!

And this – Two Sevens Clash by Culture. It dread!

>Day 179: Chips Ahoy!

10 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Hold Steady – Live at Lollapalooza 2006

Chips ahoy in the bathroom today, as I started my re-tiling project. Today was about taking off the ill-fitting tiles, salvaging as many as I could for re-tiling, and preparing the underlying wall ready for re-tiling.

I don’t know who did the original tiling, whether it was the original builders (my guess) or people who owned the house before us, but whoever, it was a botch job even I would have been ashamed of. One section of tiles had bowed out away from the wall, creating a ridge above the sink that was looking more and more unstable. My solution – to take out all the unstable tiles and to re-tile, using as many of the original tiles as could, avoiding the need to find matching tiles somewhere. Inevitably some of the tiles were going to break in the removal process (although not as many as I thought would, I managed to salvage most of the tiles I took off) so the plan is to put up some mirror tiles above the washbasin, to replace the frankly cheap looking mirror that’s been hanging there since we moved in.

My main concern was the state of the wall underneath the tiles. Re-tiling I can cope with – levelling and replastering a sagging wall is a step too far for me. Happily, the wall underneath looks sound, flat and dry – it is just the tiles that are (were) a mess.

Having got the tiles off – I needed to remove around thirty tiles in total – I got the sander ready. I’ve got one of these Black and Decker Quattro things, which really is the ultimate boy’s toy – drill, saw, screwdriver and sander all in one bright orange battery-driven thing. On with the sander attachment and the next thing, I’m whipping up a dust storm in the bathroom. I’m still staggered (and secretly quite proud) just how much mess I managed to make! Of course, I forgot to take all the stuff off the bathroom shelves before starting, so everything got completely covered in the plaster dust (including me – any one would have thought I had grey hair…).

Having got the wall into a satisfactorily flat, loose plaster-free state, it was time to get the Dyson out. Happily the beast coped admirably with all the dust, tile chips and general detritus I’d created and I’m now ready for Phase Two of Project Retile – cleaning up the ‘saved’ tiles, removing all traces of old grout and adhesive before sticking them back up again. Oh, and trimming the tiles where necessary so they actually fit on the wall this time!

Note the quality of the shower rail, by the way…

However, we’ve a couple of days of nice weather forecast, so Projects Mow The Lawn and Clean The Driveway might have to take precedence…

Next, it was on with the breadmaker to make the dough for tonight’s pizzas, to be consumed whilst watching the England game. I’m not quite sure why, but it’s become customary to eat pizza when watching football on the telly at Waring Towers.

Not that I’m complaining, you understand.

And bugger me if England don’t do a demolition job on Croatia. It would be tempting to assume this was because Croatia were awful – and they were – but I have to say that England went about their business efficiently and effectively. Robert Green played well in goal (when he had to), Aaron Lennon made the right side of midfield his own, Gerrard and Lampard proved they can play together if they re told what to do and are disciplined enough to do it, The Boy buzzed around and Barry held it together in front of the defence. If I was being picky, I would point out that Emile still couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo, and Glen Johnson is a decent winger but a crap full back – but you can’t argue with 5-1 and a place at the World Cup with two games to spare.

Of course all the commentators and media are beginning to talk up our chances of winning the whole thing, thereby putting the pressure onto the team that will ultimately be self-defeating – although you do feel that Capello is less bothered with what the media think, or demand, than any of his predecessors. And that might just be the difference this time.

Hark at me. I’m doing it now.

I make no apologies for The Hold Steady coming up on the soundtrack again – I love this band. This album is an eMusic download that I think is unavailable elsewhere, a live performance recorded in between Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America. And it’s as sloppy, shambolic – and uplifting and joyous – as any other Hold Steady performance. You must see this band live – they will change your life. You will run away to Minneapolis, drink too much, get high too often and ultimately drown in the Mississippi River.

Probably. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though.

‘Your Little Hoodrat Friend’ is one of their best ‘early’ songs and ticks all the boxes – getting high, self-harm, unfulfilled sexual needs – and the obligatory mention of the Mississippi.

And as Craig says – “Damn right I’ll rise again!”

>Day 177: Can We Fix It?

8 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – Armageddon Soundtrack

Yes We Can!

A bit of bathroom handiwork required today, so I had to drag the toolbox out of the garage, dust the cobwebs of the electric drill and get my hands dirty.

We’ve a shower curtain around the bath that has been sagging more and more in recent weeks, to the extent that it’s beginning to cause the tiling to crack. The rail has never been perfect, the layout of the bathroom means that the rail has to go through a 90 degree bend rather than being straight, and any engineer out there will appreciate that this makes the rail far more unstable than if it was simply a straight run from end to end. Add to this the fact that the tiling in the bathroom has been a bit of a botch job from day one, and we had a disaster waiting to happen.

So I took the rail off, shortened the ‘long’ run by a foot or so, reassembled and re-drilled. It looks now like I’ve got a more stable frame, with far less chance of the rail sagging or the tile loosening.

Which is good. What is not so good is the state of the rest of the tiling, particularly over the sink area. Looks like another project to undertake – no bad thing, while I’m sat here counting the days. Strip off the loose tiles, salvage what I can, replace any broken ones with some mirror tiles over the sink. Got to be worth a go.

Now I do have some previous on this – I have re-tiled a bathroom, many years ago – so I think a trip to Homebase tomorrow for a bit of research could well be in order.

Otherwise it was a pretty uneventful day today – Mrs W is back at work, the phone has been quiet and the jobsites are relatively bare. I did get a call from one of my contacts – the business case exercise I mentioned last week will most likely start coming through on Friday – but in the meantime there’s not a lot more I can do than wait.

So straight on to today’s soundtrack – the soundtrack album for the film ‘Armageddon’. That’s the one where Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck singlehandedly (doublehandedly?) save the world from a big eff-off asteroid that’s about to bang into it. It’s a while since I’ve seen it, but I think it involves landing some spacecraft on the asteroid and planting some explosives, after riding round on some big caterpillar track truck things they managed to get up there.

A load of old rubbish really, but at the same time hugely entertaining, in an over the top, dials turned up to eleven, brain candy sort of way. A lot like the soundtrack, which includes contributions from Bob Seger, Jon Bon Jovi, ZZ Top…and of course Aerosmith, who provide the album (and film) with its blockbuster track, ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’.

Now the purist rock snob in me tells me I should hate this track, but there are times when an overblown rock ballad is just what you want – and as overblown rock ballads go, this is the daddy. I love the way Steve Tyler plays it completely straight – no knowing winks or asides to the camera. Not sure about the way Liv looks at her daddy at the end of the video though…!

Turn all your mental faculties down to zero and enjoy!

Categories: Aerosmith, Armageddon, bathroom