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>Another Year Older…

>Today’s soundtrack:  Various Artists – 12″/80s

So – another year, another birthday.  Spent in far more enjoyable circumstances this year than last year, without a doubt.  This time last year I was working my way through an all-day interview session with a predetermined outcome (quite possibly) that did not involve me being the winning candidate.  This year however, back in the saddle, it was over to Manchester in the sun for a spot of lunch with Mrs W, Son No 2 and his girlfriend.  We went to the Hard Rock Cafe in the Printworks, and very enjoyable it was too.  Despite gentle threats, I managed to avoid the birthday sing-song from the waiters and we filled up on nachos and a variety of burgers.  I commend the Red, White and Blue!

After the inevitable trip to Fopp, we went our separate ways, me laden down with CDs both purchased and gifted.  Coupled with the monthly download from eMusic, I’m now well stocked up with a range of new music to listen to on the trips up and down the motorway, to and from work.

Ah yes, work.  Week two passed very smoothly, thank you very much.  Lots of meetings in different places as I continued the induction process, all passing off very smoothly indeed.  Oh, and a birthday card from the team on Friday as well.  I’m going to like this job.

With the extended weekend giving us the chance to recharge our batteries, it’s been quite a lazy couple of days.  Got back in time on Saturday to catch the second half of Everton’s disappointing draw with Stoke that inevitably condemns us to a season without European football.  Now whilst part of me thinks this might be a good thing – fewer games, a focus on the domestic competitions – I’ll miss the midweek games against obscure Slovenian teams and the inevitable exit to a half-decent Spanish outfit in the ’round of 32′ or whatever they call it these days.  A fate Liverpool are now condemned to after their meek capitulation to Chelsea yesterday.  So it looks like Chelsea’s title rather than ManYoo’s, thanks initially to Stevie G’s misguided backpass that let Drogba in for the first goal.  What was going through Stevie’s mind, I wonder?

I think Liverpool’s close season is going to be hugely interesting this year.  Will the FSW still be there?  Stevie and Nando?  Not if their body language is anything to go by.  Which doesn’t leave much.

Double bill (quite literally) of Tarantino this weekend – we watched the two Kill Bills over Saturday and Sunday.  Hugely enjoyable, entertaining tosh, borrowing heavily from the chop-socky kung fu films of the ’70s, with a bit of manga thrown in as well.  Loved it, and on the big telly, the blu-ray version looked great.

Despite all my new purchases (and gifts) over the weekend (oh, since you ask, some Fall, Weller, Santana and the new Laura Marling, plus downloads of Midlake, Caribou, Luxuria and a Cath Carrol album I found lurking on eMusic), today’s soundtrack comes from that much-maligned decade, the ’80s.  The 12″ collection does what it says on the tin – collects extended 12″ remixes of songs released in the eighties.  As I type, I have Pete Wylie’s ‘Tribal Mix’ of Sinful playing in the background and very fine it is too.

The 12″ remix was very much an eighties thing, and I was an absolute sucker for it at the time – I must have bought more singles on 12″ vinyl than on 7″ – just to get the extra tracks and the remixes.  Some were great – notably the Trevor Horn remixes of the Frankie stuff – and some were pretty awful (the Langer/Winstanley extended mixes of Costello’s stuff spring to mind).  But to inveterate collectors like myself, it was a great time to be buying singles.

Here’s Grace Jones, with Pull Up to the Bumper.  Not the extended version unfortunately, but very redolent of the era.  This couldn’t be more ’80s if it came with its pastel jacket sleeves rolled up and a pair of espadrilles on its sockless feet.  But it is still very good indeed.

>Can I just say… (T – 14)

5 April, 2010 1 comment

>…this is the funniest thing I’ve seen all weekend…

Categories: chris kamara, football

>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 171: F5 Day!

2 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – The Best Cuban Album in the World…Ever!

F5 Day? What on earth are you talking about, Paul?

F5 Day! Otherwise known as Transfer Deadline Day – a day largely spent (at home, or in the office) pressing the ‘F5’ key on my computer on a regular basis – ‘F5’ being the key that refreshes the current web page, which today is the web page that shows all the transfer gossip and deals as they happen.

Wasn’t it obvious?

Of course, nowadays most websites dealing with rolling news like this update themselves, to save you the bother of the manual refresh, but that’s not half as much fun. Pressing the F5 key helps give the illusion that you control this process, somehow.

So what did this last minute flurry of transfer activity actually achieve? Very little, actually. Everton ended up doing one of the few ‘major’ deals of the day, acquiring Johnny Heitinga from Athletico Madrid. Johnny, who is an evil looking mother, can play both centre back and full back, which gives us plenty of cover at the back following Sylvan Distin’s arrival last week. We could have done with spending a bit more of the Lescott money, but sadly that was our lot for this transfer window.

I didn’t actually spend all day sat in front of the computer breaking my F5 key all day, you’ll be pleased to hear. Oh no. That would have been too sad by far. Anyway, Mrs W is off work and we needed to be doing some ‘married couple’ stuff.

No, not that sort of stuff, you potty-minded bunch. I took her out for lunch, to one of our local pubs, the Riverside Inn just outside Weaverham, which had been recommended to me a while ago, but somewhere I’d never got round to trying out. Not so Mrs W, who I found out had been there at least twice before with work colleagues. But it’s in a nice location, on the riverside (Duh!) and with a decent menu…and with a ‘two for one’ deal on as well!

I know how to show a lass a good time…

And very nice it was too, although it got pretty busy as lunchtime progressed. But popular is good, if it was rubbish there’d have been no-one there!

It’s another of those ‘Best Album…Ever!’ compilations today, this one devoted to the sounds of Cuba. I wouldn’t say this was my favourite style of music, but when it’s good, it’s very good indeed. My appetite was whetted by the ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ album and film, when Ry Cooder journeyed to Cuba, re-discovering a group of senior citizens – ex singers and musicians who had not played or sung professionally for decades. The film is the story of them re-discovering their muse, eventually touring and performing at Carnegie Hall in New York. It’s a heartwarming film and some of the music is sublime.

This compilation was no doubt released on the back of the Buena Vista Social Club, and while it’s not a bad compilation, the standard is a bit variable.

‘Chan Chan’ is one of the tunes featured both on this compilation and on the BVSC album – here it is being performed by Ry Cooder and a number of the original BVSC members.

>Day 165: Nothing (much) Ever Happens

27 August, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate

After the excitement of the last couple of days, today was a relatively quiet one and nothing (much) did indeed happen. But no mind – not every day can be a whirlwind of event and happening. So let’s talk about what did happen today, then let’s find something more interesting to talk about.

An early shopping trip was required – ostensibly to pick up one or two ingredients for tonight’s tea (another Aussie Steak Combo, if you’re interested – Mrs W’s latest foodie craze). Not that I’m complaining – what’s not to like about a baguette, stuffed with steak, bacon, cheese and fried onions? Nothing – that’s what! It’s not quite enough, on its own, to commend the festival lifestyle to Mrs W, but it’s doing its bit! Anyway, the shopping trip turned out a bit more expensive than anticipated, as I spotted a particular Sauvignon Blanc that Mrs W likes on the shelf (Montgolfier) so a couple of bottles found their way into the trolley, as did a digital set-top box for the portable telly in the kitchen.

Back home, and the set top box was duly installed with surprisingly little fuss. So we can now watch over fifty channels of crap in the kitchen, instead of the previous five. And listen to the radio, if we are so minded. Mrs W, as I knew she would, had a few words to say about the thick black lines that have now appeared at the top and bottom of the telly as our old analogue box struggles with a widescreen feed, but hey, that’s progress, honey.

And that was really as exciting as it got all day, I’m afraid. A bit of housework, stripping beds prior to the arrival of some houseguests tomorrow and that’s yer lot, really. A bit of blogging, a bit of surfing, a bit of reading.

The Aussie Steak Combos were, of course, to die for. Ribeye rather than Sirloin, I would suggest.

So what else shall we talk about today?

I did place a cheeky order with Amazon for the final series of The Shield (that would be Series 7 -we are halfway through Series 5 at the moment and Series 6 is waiting on the shelf, but best to be prepared) and the new Arctic Monkeys album (and you can read what Son No 2 has to say about that album right here), as well as the DVD release of Tutti Frutti, which you may remember from back in the 80’s…Scottish Rock & Roll Band? Robbie Coltrane? Emma Thompson? A pre-Victor Meldrew Richard Wilson? Well you should – very good it was too.

So what’s been happening in the real world then? Well, it was Back To The Seventies in the East End last night, as football hooliganism reared its ugly head again. I’m old enough to remember (but far too wimpy/sensible/whatever to have ever been involved in) the regular outbreaks of trouble home and away, that led to fences – and that ultimately led to the tragedy of Hillsborough as those very fences pinned in people trying to escape the crush behind them. So it pains me to see such scenes all over again – we can just hope it is a one-off incident. I suppose if it was going to kick off anywhere, West Ham vs Millwall is as likely a place as any. Wonder if Harry The Dog is still out there, leading from the front?

Continuing the Seventies theme, I have started reading David Peace’s ‘Red Riding’ quadrilogy that was recently filmed and shown on TV. I deliberately didn’t see the series, wanting to read the books first. I’m most of the way through the first of the four (1974) and it’s a dark old read for sure. Was the Seventies really as grim as it’s painted? It didn’t feel that way at the time to me.

All this talk of grim miserablism brings us neatly to today’s featured artist, Laughing Leonard Cohen. I don’t just throw these blogs together, you know. However much it might look like that.

Sadly, I missed Len at Glastonbury the other year – his performance there, and his subsequent shows, have firmly cemented his reputation as an international treasure, and seem to have given the lie to the cliche’d picture of him as a performer of miserable dirges, consumed by self-possessed students in their solitary bedsits wallowing in self-pity. Turns out he’s actually quite a chap, and the miserablism is a bit of a myth.

Songs of Love and Hate was his third album (look! He’s smiling on the cover!), with a ‘Love’ side and a ‘Hate’ side on the original vinyl. The album is probably best known (and loved) for its inclusion of the original of ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, one of Len’s most covered songs.

Here’s Len performing Famous Blue Raincoat back in the Seventies (that decade again!) – on German TV, I think. Great performance with a nice sax solo about half way through as well.

>Day 147: And so it begins again…

10 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Tindersticks – Trouble Every Day

The footy season, that’s what. It’s been a long summer (summer? What summer?) but here we are, back at Wembley for the ‘traditional curtain-raiser’ that I shall always refer to as the Charity Shield. Manyoo vs Chelsea (oh, it could have been us), and a tasty fixture even though it is, nominally at least, a friendly.

Should be an interesting pointer to the new season’s title challenge as well – how will the Ronaldo-less United fare, compared to the Hiddinck-less Chelsea? Will either be as strong as they were last season, and what does that mean for the likes of Big Red and Arsenal?

Anyway, some observations:

1. Nani is no Ronaldo. Excellent goal notwithstanding (helped by Cech and Terry getting in each others way) he still flatters to deceive and was totally culpable for leaving the hugely underrated Carvalho unmarked for Chelsea’s equaliser. Also helped by being up against The World’s Worst Right Back in the first half.

2. Ben Foster is no more England’s next goalkeeper than I am. And I’m rubbish. Expect The Other One to be in goal for United next week.

3. Notwithstanding the inconsistency of refereeing surrounding the second Chelsea goal, play to the whistle!
4. At last United are playing The Boy in his natural position. The (offside) goal was reward for an excellent all round performance.

5. I’ve hit pass-backs more firmly than Evra’s penalty.

6. I fancy Chelsea more than United this season.

Other than that, it was a quiet day, really. Got out into the sun in the morning, baked some bread, ate some bread (with some air-dried back bacon and pork, chilli and fresh coriander sausages), made a few phone calls and ploughed our way through a couple more episodes of The Shield (now approaching the end of Season 4).

Tindersticks were last on the soundtrack way back on Day 24, when the magnificent ‘Hungry Saw’ came up on shuffle. Trouble Every Day is actually a soundtrack album, to a French film of the same name that I have never seen, nor am I likely to given Mrs W’s not unreasonable aversion to anything involving subtitles.

Most of Tindersticks’ music seems to have cinematic overtones that make it appropriate for soundtrack work and the mood of the album does match the film’s rather downbeat themes of lost libido and imprisonment. That said, it still works well as an album in its own right.

Here’s the title track, played over the opening credits of the film.

Categories: football, Tindersticks

>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 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.