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>Word Travels Fast! (T – 17)

2 April, 2010 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Porcupine Tree – Staircase Infinities

After one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages, woke up ready for a trip into Manchester to meet up with Kevin and some of my old mates from the old job.  But first, off to the Supermarket to stock up for the Easter break.  Big trolley to shove all the chocolate eggs into – right next to the booze and calories, natch.  A relatively straightforward shop, albeit augmented by Mrs W’s quick waltz round the clothes section.  Still, don’t have to watch the pennies quite so much now!

Then off into Manchester, and to the old firm’s offices.  Bumped into a few people outside, who congratulated me on the new job, word obviously having got round quickly!  Nice to be able to answer truthfully when people ask me how it’s going – the days of the brave face and the ‘it’s all ok, really’ platitudes are past.  It really is ok now.

Then to Giraffe with Kevin, for a tasty burger and Red Stripe.  We put the world to rights for a good hour or so before going back to the office where I met up with Anne-Marie for congratulations and hugs.  It’s good, this going back to work lark.  For some reason I got to kiss lots of women as a result!

So.  I’m in Manchester.  No longer watching the pennies, and Fopp just up the road.  What’s a boy to do?

Half an hour later, I emerged with the new Joanna Newsom, Them Crooked Vultures, the new Jimi Hendrix release and a few Traffic albums from the early seventies.  One of which I already own.  Don’t you just hate it when you buy something you’ve already got?  Or is it just me that does it?  It only cost me three quid, at least.

Back home, and a quick text to Matt, who has been spending the week in hospital having his radiotherapy treatment following his throat operation last year.  This has been far less of an ordeal, boredom being the primary concern rather than any specific medical issues.  You can read about his experiences here.

After a big lunch, there was no need for a massive tea so we had the remnants of last night’s (home-made) pizza alongside some potato skins and chicken bits.  Watched the end of Supernatural series 3 and – of course – caught up on Masterchef.  The six contestants reduced now to five following the departure of Terry, who may well cause himself serious self-harm as a result.

Simon reminded me yesterday that the guitar playing hasn’t had a mention in a while and, if truth be known, it did go a bit quiet for a bit.  Having said that, I have been picking up both the bass and my six-string more often on the past week or two and enjoying every minute of it.  Although my fingers hurt as a result.  Not a virtuoso by any means but still enjoying the tinkering!

One man who probably can lay claim to the title of virtuoso is Steven Wilson, driving force behind the horribly-named Porcupine Tree, who actually produce a very acceptable blend of Proggy hard rock.  Staircase Infinities is a half hour of nicely melodic, guitar-driven rock that is extremely pleasant to have on in the background.

Categories: fopp, Kevin, Matt, Porcupine Tree

>Day 141: Old friends and new opportunities?

4 August, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Garbage – Beautiful Garbage

Got myself out of the house today, and into Manchester City Centre…I had a meeting with a recruitment consultant, and had arranged to meet up with one of my ex-colleagues for a coffee beforehand. Plus Mrs W had tasked me with getting a couple of her posh watches re-batteried.

Before that though, I had a good half hour on the phone with my Birmingham mate, on the wind-down before heading off to Malta for a week or two. All seems to be ok in Brum at the moment, but it was good to spend a while putting the world to rights!

Off into Manchester then, and after dropping the watches off at Debenham’s I headed down to Spinningfields to meet up with Ann-Marie. Got a sneaky peek at the inner part of the new offices, which was nice, before heading off to Cafe Nero for a quick cappuccino and a catch-up on the gossip. Again, all seems well enough at the old place despite the ongoing upheavals that I’ve alluded to in previous blogs. Oh, and Ann-Marie thinks I should jack it all in and move into catering full-time. And she might be right!

After coffee, it was off to meet with the recruitment consultant. This is an agency I’ve been registered with for a while, so they know enough of me to be comfortable of my suitability for the advertised role, and they feel pretty confident that I will get a chance to speak to them directly in the not too distant. The meeting was less about me, and more about the detail of the role, which again is encouraging. It does look like an interesting role, and one I know I could fulfill, but as we know there’s a lot of competition out there and it would be dangerous to take anything for granted.

That said, I came out of the meeting feeling pretty good about things and felt I ought to engage in a bit of retail therapy. So I did. Nothing silly, but I needed a replacement case for my iPhone, the existing case having split at the headphone socket. The perfect excuse to indulge in a bit of gadget fetishism in the Apple Store! Naturally a quick trip to Fopp was also called for, resulting in a few CDs (none costing more than a fiver) to add to the collection – including some Depeche, Kev! Then it was back to Debenham’s to pick up the two watches – both now working (although the back of one of the watches detached itself when I got it home – I’ll need to drop it off again next time I’m in town).

Back home then, to let Pedro out for a run, and to catch up on my housework(!) Mrs W wanted a loaf for sandwiches, so the breadmaker got yet another runout, and the kitchen needed a bit of a tidy-up generally, which it got. Mrs W has given me a list of chores for the rest of the week, so I’ll need to show some progress there, in between my drive to get Everton up the league table (brutal pre-season by the way, flogged lots of underperforming prima donnas, and bought in a load of kids who might actually want to play for me…that’s the theory anyway).

Garbage on the soundtrack today – not literally, the group of the same name. They seem to have gone a bit quiet of late – have they split up? But their first few albums are full of choons with a bit of bite to them and although they are never at the top of the playlist, they are always worth a listen.

So have a listen to this – it’s ‘Shut your Mouth’ performed live at the Electric Ballroom back in 2002. Oh, by the way Ann-Marie tells me she stops reading these thing when it gets to the ‘music bit’ so I can say what I like about her now……..

……..but I’m far too much of a gentleman to do that!

Categories: fopp, Garbage, recruitment

>Day 69: A Dog’s Life

24 May, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Otis Redding – Otis Blue

Oh, before we get into today’s business – this is what the raw meatballs pictured yesterday turned into…yummy!

A busy day today – we’d arranged to meet Son and Girlfriend in Manchester for a spot of lunch, and then over to Leeds to visit the Dog’s Trust with a view to having a new pet in the house. So it was an early(ish) start to the day, out of the house and over to the Big City.

As is traditional, met up with the kids outside Fopp. Even though it’s now owned by HMV, this little store is still a goldmine for all sorts of gems (Can you have a goldmine for gems? Thought not. But you know what I mean.) at ridiculously low prices. So it was that I came away with a couple of Doves albums to fill the gaps in the collection, a couple of discs by Tokyo Police Club (Canadian, not Japanese) and an Aztec Camera album I never knew existed. At a mix of £5 and £3 each, it would have been rude to leave them there.

Then across to the new HMV in the Arndale that replaced the hapless Zavvi, but failed to be tempted by anything in there. The existence of Fopp (and, it has to be said, the internet and Rapidshare) make it difficult to be tempted by CDs at a price point above a fiver these days. Which means that, eventually, there will be no record stores in the high street to browse. Which will be a real shame.

Met up with Mrs W, then off to the Slug & Lettuce for a spot of lunch. A private party in the main eating area meant we were perched on the high stools in the bar, but that was fine. It’s ok, the Slug & Lettuce. Clean, airy, tasty uncomplicated food and a decent selection of drinks as well.

We left the kids (Kids! They’re 19! The same age as me – in my head, anyway) to continue wandering the streets of Manchester (off to Affleck’s Palace, I believe) and we headed off to Leeds. Right to the very far side of Leeds – a bit disconcerting when I reached my usual Leeds turn-off on the M62 to have the Satnav tell me there was another 30 miles to go. But we got there in the end, having sat in the inevitable traffic jam for a while, an agonising two miles before our turn off.

The Dog’s Trust centre in Leeds is a very attractive, modern facility and if anyone is looking for a canine companion I would urge you to pay them a visit. They are very careful about the families they re-house their ‘tenants’ with, and their particular circumstances and experiences. Which must be a good thing. Mrs W confirmed our on-line registration with them, and then we went to have a look at the pooches.

But then a strange thing happened. Or rather, didn’t happen. I fully expected Mrs W to fall in love with most, if not all, of the dogs and for the difficulty to be deciding which one we tried to form a bond with. But for whatever reason, the spark wasn’t there. So we came away dogless. Now it might have just been the day, the dogs on offer, or it might be that there really are ‘dog’ people and ‘cat’ people – and we’re on the side of the feline – I don’t know. Now never say never, things may change in the coming weeks, but for the moment it looks like we won’t be going back.

Anyway, long journey home to discover an intriguing envelope lying on the mat. Opened it to discover Everton had sent me a concertina’d cardboard ‘clappy‘ thing to take to Wembley next week. Which is nice, if a little bit ‘nu-fan’ – what’s wrong with the old wooden rattles? Still, it is a nice touch by the club and the kids’ll love it.

Well, I’m spoiling you with today’s soundtrack. Otis Blue is one of the greatest soul albums ever released – no, scratch that, one of the greatest albums ever, in any genre. It catches Otis at his peak and every track is a gem – the covers (Satisfaction with horns – the way Keith Richard always imagined it), the originals (Respect – only bettered by Aretha’s version) and some great versions of Sam Cooke songs, Otis acknowledging his great hero. Clocking in at just over half an hour, the album doesn’t outstay its welcome, but not a second of its 32 minutes is wasted.

Here’s Otis at Monterey – possibly his finest moment, playing to (and toying with) the ‘love crowd’ with I’ve Been Loving You Too Long and Satisfaction. Pure gold.

Categories: dogs, fopp, Matt, Otis Redding

>The patient is still breathing…just

12 January, 2008 Leave a comment

> I know the impending death of the record shop has been blogged to death recently, but I feel I must share this with the readership.

No names, but you will know which chain I am talking about.
Visited my local emporium on Friday lunchtime, as is my wont – no shopping list, just the intention to break up the day and browse idly for a while.
To my delight however, the entire works of Creedence Clearwater Revival were piled up in the special offers – all at three quid a pop. Various other old favourites for the same price. Pretenders, Johnny Clarke…and the Albertos for a quid!
Suitably laden, I stood in the queue to pay, and listened to the assistant discussing the relative merits of early- and late-period Tom Waits. My turn to pay, and got into a chat about the reasons Mardi Gras was so poor compared to the earlier Creedence albums.
So sad, that what used to be the norm is now so unusual, but a joy to know that there are still people working in record shops with enthusiasm and genuine love for the ‘product’ they are selling – and that there are chains and stores still willing to employ them.
The sun is shining and all is well in the world.
Categories: fopp, record shops

>Fan or Fool?

8 September, 2007 Leave a comment

>So next week the ‘Deluxe Edition’ of Elvis’s first album will be in the shops. Me, I’ve got the original vinyl album from 1977, the extended CD re-release on Demon from 1993 and the two-disc Edsel re-re-release from 2001.

So no real need for me to own a fourth version of the album, you might think? Well, no, I’ll be there in the newly re-opened Fopp (hurrah!) in Manchester when it comes out, and no doubt I’ll pick up the Deluxe Too-Rye-Aye as well, plus anything else that catches my eye in the five quid section. Which is all as it should be.

But I’ll still feel more than slightly ripped-off by the whole thing.

Categories: elvis costello, fopp