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>Hoooooooooooooot!!!!!

13 June, 2010 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Mott the Hoople – The Ballad of Mott (A Retrospective)

And so it begins – the 2010 World Cup is two days old!  And already I’m sick of that bloody noise, droning on and on incessantly throughout the game.

But enough about Mick McCarthy.

England get off to their traditional awful start, shooting themselves in the foot with yet another dreadful goalkeeping error.  Whilst you have to feel for Robert Green, it was woeful.  I suspect that’s his World Cup over already.  Please God let Ledley King’s tournament not be over, as the thought of Carragher lumbering about in the centre of defence, a leg-breaking tackle and sending off just waiting to happen, doesn’t bear thinking about.  Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and others must wonder what they’ve done to upset Capello.

Still, good to see Messrs Donovan and Howard playing well, as did Joe Yobo and the Yak in the Argentina – Nigeria game.

It’s early days, but no single team has really stood out so far.  Possibly the South Koreans, but then they were playing a Greek team who were so abject it was untrue.  Argentina made hard work of their win against Nigeria, but there is so much talent in their ranks one would expect them to go far.  I hope they do – if only for the joy of seeing Maradona strutting about on the touchline like a bearded, bouncy, wind-up weeble.  Diego could dominate this tournament – in a very different way – as much as he did in 1986.

So today the delights of Algeria v Slovenia, Serbia v Ghana and Germany against the Socceroos.  Come on Timmy!  Plus, of course, a Grand Prix to fit in as well.  Mrs W can have the telly back when I’m at Glastonbury.

A bit of Mott playing in the background as I type.  Back in the mid-70s, Mott were *my* band – firstly the early, pre-fame rocky stuff on Mad Shadows and Brain Capers, then the later, glam-flecked Dudes phase when they bothered the charts for a brief period.  The glam stuff never really sat well with them, they were rockers at heart, but when they were good, they were very good indeed.  And no-one wrote better songs about being in a band than Ian Hunter.

And here is just such a song!  The Ballad of Mott!  A song by Mott, about Mott.  Tune!

>Day 210: Footy on the box…

11 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Rites – Downloaded tracks

Out early this morning, to pick up a few bits and pieces to see us through the weekend.  Picked up The Times too – it’s not often these days I bother with a newspaper, but I fancied a long, leisurely trawl through the paper today for some reason.  Oh, and there was a code to download a raft of live REM tracks as well – which probably made the difference between picking up The Times or The Guardian today.

I’m easily bought.

Then back home, to an empty house, Mrs W. Pilating at the gym.  So a quick blog, then a comfortable few hours with the newspaper, with one eye on Soccer AM on the TV.  Multitasking again, you see.

Lunch was a delightful BLT on freshly baked bread – one advantage of The Hunter’s early morning runs dragging me out of bed is the ability to get a loaf on good and early, so that it is baked and rested in time for lunch.  Watched the last Masterchef quarter final in between mouthfuls of BLT.  A couple of very competent chefs going through this round, especially young Ryan, a very serious young man with an air of quiet confidence about him.  Semi finals next week – who needs Strictly X Factor when you’ve got excitement like this?  Well, Mrs W. for one, I suppose.

Then in the afternoon I watched the England game on the computer.  This is the match that no-one wanted to televise, so it ended up being broadcast on a ‘pay per view’ basis over the internet.  Now it may have been ‘pay per view’ in theory, but of course in practice there were any number of, er, ‘unofficial’ streams out there, were you of a mind to explore.

Which I did.  However I actually ended up watching on an official stream, albeit free of charge.  Bet365 were streaming the match on their site, free to anyone with funds in their account.  So I deposited ten quid, watched the match, withdrew ten quid, everyone happy.

Except Robert Green though, I should think.  Let down by Stevie G not letting a ball go out for a throw, and by Rio failing to judge a hopeful long ball, his bid to keep the green jersey lasted about fifteen minutes before bringing down the Ukranian forward and earning an early bath.

Perhaps he just wanted to avoid being pelted with flares.

Penalty missed, England were coping with the pressure up to a point – that point being Cashley’s inability to defend compounded by an attempted header away that merely succeeded in diverting a shot that David James probably had covered into the corner of the net.  After the goal, a combination of fine goalkeeping and decent organisation kept the scoreline at 1-0 to the end, without ever really looking like England would get back into the game.

Good job it all counts for nothing, qualification being achieved before kick off.

Tonight’s tea was a fairly decent prawn stirfry – spring onions fried off with some fresh ginger and chilli, fresh prawns added to the mix until they were properly coloured, then a combination of red pepper, pak choi, button mushrooms and baby corn added to the mix and cooked through.  The whole thing then dressed with some nam pla, soy sauce, lime juice and zest and finished off with a sprinkling of fresh coriander and served on a bed of noodles.  Lovely!

I’d love to tell you all about today’s band on the soundtrack, but to be honest, I know nowt about them.  The eight tracks I have on iTunes were downloaded from the band’s website, but I can’t recall what directed me to their website in the first place.  Must have been on someone’s recommendation, but I can’t remember who or when.

What I can tell you is that they are hard rocking in a no-nonsense way, they are Scottish, they have no Wikipedia entry and they are the third of three bands called The Rites listed on last.fm.  They do have a MySpace page, which hasn’t been updated for months, and it looks like they split up a while ago but are playing some reunion gigs shortly.  Nothing on YouTube that I can find.

Oh no! no music for us today Paul?

Would I let you down?  Of course not!  I mentioned REM at the top of the page – lets have some more REM!  And some monsters!

>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 175: Hope You Like My New Direction!

6 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Scritti Politti – Songs to Remember

So – you like the new look? 175 days in, and I got bored. Plain blue is just soooo yesterday, darlings, and spots are where it’s at in the brave new blogosphere. Unfortunately now I’ve started to tinker, the layout will probably change on at least a weekly basis, until I get fed up and revert to the original look.

But for now at least, you’ve got spots.

Up early today to man the kitchen, churning out rashers of bacon and the odd sausage for our overnight visitors, before they headed back off to Birmingham for the inevitable post-holiday decline. That’s the only thing about holidays – you have to come home.

Oh, in all the excitement, I forgot to tell you all about my latest baking experiment…I made brioche the other day – very yummy it was (and still is) too! Baked like a normal loaf, but with four times the butter, and eggs and milk making up the liquid content rather than water, it is as sweet and rich as it sounds. As much cake as bread, it’s not a loaf you’d eat with ham and cheese and I can’t imagine it toasted, but simply spread with a thin smear of butter it was delicious! A special occasion loaf, I think.

International weekend for the football, so no club matches in the big divisions. I had to get my fix by watching the England friendly. Slovenia the opponents, presumably to prepare the team for the ‘real’ game on Wednesday against Croatia. And a strange game it was too, some bizarre refereeing and some even more bizarre defending.

If Robert Green is the answer, then the question can only be ‘Can we find a keeper even more eccentric than David James?’ What possessed him, in the first few minutes of the match, to catch a ball two yards outside his penalty area? And what were the officials doing, that they missed it?

They spotted the England penalty though. It now appear penalties are given to the attacking side if you fall over whilst trying to break a defender’s ankle. A boon to our attackers, but a bit of a pisser for the poor defender!

So 1-0 at half time due to a spawny penalty. Lead doubled after the break by Jermaine Defoe, scoring quite a cute goal after coming off the bench. He’s now scored hatfuls in the last few internationals,all after coming on as a second half substitute. Cue inevitable calls from the ‘experts’ for him to start up front in the next game. Now I may be missing something here, but the common thread in all his recent England goals is that he scored them all after coming off the bench in the second half. Now this tells me that he is probably most effective as an impact player, coming on fresh when defences are beginning to flag, rather than as a starting forward.

But what do I know, eh?

Oh, and Slovenia sneaked a soft goal right at the end due to some awful England defending. From two defenders, one who cost £17m, the other £24m. Best defender in the country? He wasn’t even the best defender at Everton. Not that I’m bitter. Oh no.

I watched the footy whist cooking tonight’s lasagne. Or rather, whilst cooking two lasagnes. One of the perils of this blog is that it actually gets read on occasion. On this occasion by Son No 2, who spotted yesterday my intention to cook lasagne tonight. So I get a text from him – “if you’re making lasagne can you make one without mushrooms and bring it over with you tomorrow?” Cheeky sod. I’m already printing off a load of copies of his cv to take over for him, and he’s also asked me to bake him a loaf of bread as well!

Got me on the soft.

Nice to be typing this with a bit of Scritti Politti in the background. Originally a bunch of squat-dwelling Situationists with cod-philosophical posturing to the fore, they evolved into one of the most melodic and enjoyable bands to come out of the late 70’s. ‘Songs to Remember’ is their first album, and contains their breakthrough single, The “Sweetest Girl”. (The quotation marks, often ignored when quoting the song title, were deliberate – supposedly to make the title ‘ironic’.) Not your typical soppy love song, the lyrics include the lines:

“Politics is pride too
Vagaries of science
She left because she understood
The value of defiance”

No, I don’t really know what it means either – but it’s not your usual moon/June stuff, is it? Best not to overanalyse – just listen:

>Day 83: Is nice!

7 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Jess Roden Band – Blowin’

World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan today, but no evidence of extravagantly moustachio’d gentlemen in improbable swimming costumes trying to force Pamela Anderson into an arranged marriage, carrying around jars of gypsy tears…

Just a game of football on a pitch that looked like the squirrels had been at it, next to a building site. No Everton players in evidence today, Joleon Lescott on the bench as close as we got today. Ultimately it was a stroll for England, although there were a couple of early scares as Robert Green tried to justify his self-proclaimed role as ‘England’s Number 6’. Blushes saved by a goal line clearance and an offside flag, England eventually settled down, and ran up a two goal lead by half time, which they doubled in the second half to complete an extremely satisfying 4-0 victory.

Most of the time I find it difficult to get too excited about the successes or failures of the England football team, largely I suppose because I expend loads of energy in the domestic season berating the very players I’m supposed to support when they put an England shirt on – it just doesn’t feel right to applaud a Cole tackle, or a Gerrard shot, for example. Nevertheless I continue to watch and occasionally, just occasionally, when the team flatter to deceive in the latter stages of an international tournament, my latent patriotism does begin to stir. Not to the extent of sticking flags of St George on to the car or anything like that, you understand.

I have to say though that, whilst it was ‘only’ Khazakhstan, Cappello has finally got England playing some quite classy and elegant football and I remain cautiously optimistic that – finally – we might do ourselves justice at the World Cup next year.

Not subscribing to the waste of time that is Setanta, I was forced to turn to the Internet to watch the match, using Sopcast to pick up an Asian feed, albeit with English commentary. The quality of these feeds seems to be getting better (whether due to faster Broadband or better compression, I don’t know) and I could comfortably watch a full-screen, flicker-free broadcast in the comfort of my study. Not sure about the actual legal status of what I was doing, or that someone else was doing at the other end of the internet, but it’s no wonder Setanta are in trouble. Oh, and with it being an Asian feed, the adverts made for entertaining viewing as well, young kids drinking the delightfully-named ‘Pocari Sweat’ with gusto.

Earlier in the day I’d planned to watch some real football, as my nephew was playing in a tournament down the road in Frodsham. However the torrential rain meant that I chose to give it a miss. Sorry nephew! Maybe if my Glastonbury poncho had turned up in time….

Watched the Derby earlier on as well. The Derby has never gripped me the same way the National does, although BBC were giving it the full treatment. I know it’s a Major Sporting Event but, really, it’s just another race, albeit with the ‘best’ 3yo horses on display. Anyway, the pre-race favourite, Sea The Stars, romped home, bankrupting scores of bookies and (having also won the 2,000 Guineas) no doubt soon to retire to enjoy a lifetime of ‘servicing’ a procession of young fillies.

Nice work if you can get it.

Now – Jess Roden – there’s a name that few of you will recognise, and it’s one of the great musical injustices that a man who is surely one of the greatest vocalists the UK has ever produced should be so unknown and underappreciated. I bought Blowin’ back in 1977 when it was released and immediately fell in love with the man’s voice…before my attention was diverted by the sound of snotty, disaffected youth and the three-chord energy rush that was punk. But it was an album I kept coming back to over the years. It’s a live album, recorded in Birmingham and Leicester back in ’76. My vinyl copy includes a stunning version of The Eagles’ Desperado, which strangely doesn’t appear on the sprinkling of copies now to be found on the internet, where it is replaced by an equally stunning version of I Can’t Get Next To You.

Here’s that version of Desperado, however, found courtesy of You Tube. Great Sax solo before the vocal kicks in, as well.

>Day 14: You might not ever get rich…

29 March, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: James Brown – Live at the Apollo

…but let me tell you it’s better than digging a ditch.

But only just. Yes, Sunday, sun shining and ‘Car Wash’ day at Waring Towers. It’s actually not so bad a job when the weather’s like this, and we’ve got one of those pressure washer things which takes a lot of effort out of the job. Just Mrs W’s car today – mine can stay dirty.

Watched the England game last night – had to watch it on t’internet as it was only being shown on Setanta. Actually got a pretty good quality stream of ‘Star Sports’ from somewhere out in the Far East – strangely all the pre and post match analysis is in English, but the commentary is all in foreign. Very difficult to work out exactly what, or who, the commentators were talking about at any point in time, the only thing I could pick up was the references to Peter Crouch, who the commentators seemed to be calling ‘Crouchy’ in a very familiar fashion.

Very disappointed none of the Everton lads got on the pitch – in fact, apart from the second goalie sub, they were the only subs who didn’t get a run out. At least they didn’t pick up any injuries – unlike the forward line, who were dropping like flies. Also nice to see Martin Skrtel have an absolute nightmare. Pleased to see The Boy picking up a couple of goals as well – thought he ran the match and was by far England’s best player. See, I’m over it now.

Then up early this morning to watch the Grand Prix. Luckily, I went by the time on my phone rather than the alarm clock, as the whole ‘clocks going forwards’ thing had completely passed me by. Entertaining stuff – well as entertaining as the motor racing ever gets, I suppose, and always good fun to see a couple of the leading cars bang into each other with just a couple of laps to go. And also nice to see Jenson Button winning – and in some style as well. This being Formula One, there are apparently all manner of appeals and counter-appeals going on at the moment which may affect the final result, but it looks like the racing may be a lot more competitive than it’s been for a long time.

Recipe watchers – not too much to report today I’m afraid – Mrs W picked up some cordon bleu chicken from Marks & Sparks today, although I shall be preparing a cauliflower cheese to accompany said chicken. If I remember (and if it is suitably photogenic) I may take a picture for your delectation later.

Today’s soundtrack is generally accepted to be one of the best live albums recorded – ever. And it is a mighty fine disc, with the Hardest Working Man In Show Business at the height of his game. Recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1962, James and his band, The Famous Flames (who are tight as a gnat’s chuff throughout) play a wonderfully well judged and paced set and carry the audience in the collective palm of their hand throughout. The album is here on Spotify – and below, a clip of Mr Please Please Please himself in action. Nice footwork sir! Shake and Shimmy!

Categories: England, Formula 1, James Brown