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>Of cats and trees (T – 10)

9 April, 2010 Leave a comment

>Ok, so I’m writing this at just after eight o’clock in the morning and I’ve already been awake for five hours.

Picture the scene.  Son No 2 is staying with us for a few days, and the cat has taken exception to this fact.  With no good reason – Matt has barely seen the cat since he’s arrived, but it’s enough for Pedro that there is another human being in the house.

He’s got the hump, basically.

To the extent that he’s keeping out of the house as much as possible – including through the night, although he has deigned to cross the doorstep in the early morning if bribed with food and cat milk.

Anyway, this morning I woke up at around three and went to check at the back door.  No sign.  So back to bed, where I tossed and turned until around half four, when I thought I’d give it another go.  Still no sign – but a faint yowling could be heard on the breeze.

So I’m at the bottom of the garden, barefoot in the dew, dressing gown on.  Yes, definitely a plaintive cat cry.

Back upstairs, clothes on, torch.  Mrs W behind me in dressing gown and training shoes.  Down the bank at the bottom of the garden we crawl, around past the neighbour’s garden, to the foot of a big bank of leylandii.  A very big, very tall bank of leylandii.

And there he is, right at the top.  Yowling.

So I’m trying to climb this tree, in the pitch dark, Mrs W holding a torch below.  Not a chance.

We leave him there, and wait until daybreak.  Mrs W goes back to bed – work in the morning.

Half past six, I’m there, now armed with our longest stepladder.  All six foot’s worth of it.  Clambering up the bank around the back of the trees, I can finally see him, and by climbing up to the toppermost rung on the precariously-balanced ladder, I can actually touch him.

But I can’t dislodge him, or pick him up.

Plan B.  Scrambling round to the other side of the tree, I can see a gap in the foliage to the flat top of the trunk, which has obviously been lopped in the past.  The place Pedro had been perched when I last spotted him.  I find that I can balance the end of the ladder on the top of the stump and support the bottom of the ladder myself, thus creating a walkway for Pedro to stroll casually into my waiting arms.

Does he do this?  Does he buggery.  Instead, he backs away and perches precariously onto one of the highest, flimsiest branches left on the tree.

Now bear in mind the tree is actually growing right on the edge of a vertical bank.  On one side of the tree, the drop to ground is probably around ten feet.  On the other side, the drop must be nearer thirty feet.

Guess which side Pedro is on.

Plan C.  Throwing caution to the wind, and the ladder to one side, I realise that by straddling Pedro’s tree and the one next to it, I can actually climb up to the top and get to the stump where he had been sitting.  So that’s what I do.  You now have to realise that I am therefore up in the air, one foot on one tree, the other foot on another tree, and a clear drop of about thirty feet between my legs.  But at least I’m in a position to grab Pedro if he comes back to the stump.

What I do when I’ve grabbed him, I’m less sure.

At this stage, I’m wondering if firemen do still get cats down from trees, but in the event, my thoughts and efforts are academic, because eventually the poor pussy – who is of course absolutely terrified at this stage – steps out too far and the branch he’s on can’t hold his weight.  And so, of course, he falls gracelessly to the ground below.  And gets up and trots off into the house to eat his breakfast.  Apparently, none the worse for his adventure.

Me, I’m still stuck up in mid-air straddling two trees.  At half seven in the morning.  Thinking that at the age of fifty, my tree-climbing days should be well behind me.

Anyway, a couple of restorative coffees later, and having got this out of my system, I now need to shower because I smell like a midden and ache like a bastard.  In the meantime, the cat has eaten, washed and gone to sleep at the back of Mrs W’s wardrobe.

I’m too old for this.

Categories: Matt, Pedro

>Day 206: B’dum B’dum….

7 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Buzzcocks – Time’s Up

Stuck around the house for most of the day today, with only the joy of a trip to the dole to break up the day.  Boredom indeed, as our cover stars today might have said on occasion.

However there was some comeback on yesterday’s jobseeking activities – most of it positive!  Firstly the bad news – the potential contract in Liverpool isn’t going to happen – they want specific financial services experience – possibly the only thing in my CV that I can’t point to directly, or manufacture from somewhere.  So discussed it with the recruitment consultant and decided not to push forward this time.

Better news from Preston – one other candidate being interviewed tomorrow, so some feedback by Thursday, hopefully.  Current vibes are positive, but the company do want to see someone else for comparison purposes, at least.  Recruitment consultant is upbeat, but then aren’t they always?  It does look like it’s a two-horse race though, so the odds are as good as they could be I suppose.

And still better news from London – I’m going down there next week to do some serious scoping of the project, with a view to kicking things off asap, if everyone is happy.  I quoted some daily rates that they accepted without question – so which are probably too low – but which from my perspective at least will give an acceptable return on the work done.

So it’s a bit of a juggling act at the moment – keeping things moving forwards on all fronts, whilst keeping as many options open as possible.

One slight moment of panic at one stage today though – I emailed Mrs W. to keep her up to date with progress, copying in an email from London, to which she replied.  Not to me, but the the FD down in London.  Oh dear.  Luckily, she didn’t say anything that was libellous, embarrassing or downright rude (for once!) so no damage done – but she was mortified, of course.  Naturally it was my fault – putting the email in an attachment rather than in the body of my email – how could I?  I was more amused than alarmed I have to say – at least after I read her reply!

How filthy was the weather today?  Where did that come from?  And aren’t cats supposed to be extremely reluctant to get wet?

Not ours.

He insisted on having free passage outside all day, then coming in, sopping wet, at random intervals.  Then getting dry.

Getting dry involves jumping onto my lap and transferring wetness of fur into wetness of clothes.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Then going out and doing it all again.  Bless him.

Very early Buzzcocks on the soundtrack today.  Time’s Up is (was) a bootleg of Devoto-era Buzzcocks, that – I think – eventually got an official release.  It includes the tracks that eventually found themselves onto the ‘Spiral Scratch’ ep with a mix of tunes that were released by Shelley-era Buzzcocks either as singles or on their first LP – plus the wonderful Beefheart tune, ‘I Love You, You Big Dummy’ that Magazine eventually recorded – and which they are still using today, in reformed guise, as their final encore.

Yes, it’s lo-fi and messy, and all the better for it.  Bear in mind that this is the motherlode – the whole Manchester scene – Buzzcocks, Magazine, The Fall, Joy Division/New Order, Factory Records, the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays – and yes, Oasis – it all started with this band and this bootleg.

This is ace – filmed at the Lesser Free Trade Hall – the site of the famous Sex Pistols gigs that kicked the whole thing off.  If the date at the beginning of the clip is to be believed, this was actually filmed at the second of the two Pistols gigs and would have been Buzzcocks’ first ever concert.  Obviously Breakdown is dubbed over the top – wouldn’t it have been great to hear the actual audio instead?

Categories: Buzzcocks, Pedro, recruitment

>Day 184: Tyres are Knackered, Knackers are tired…

15 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby

So, any chance of a quiet day today? Well, yes and no. I had a few things to see to that would keep me out of the house today, but I had no Exploding Plastic Inevitable in the kitchen to deal with today, and The Hunter spent most of the day in sleeping, rather than hunting, mode.

Even genocidal killers need their beauty sleep.

So it was out early, to pick up a birthday present for my nephew and birthday cards for him and for Son No 1. Their birthdays are a day apart, a source of great consternation to my Son just before Nephew was born, as he did not want to share his birthday with anyone! Luckily fate intervened and their birthdays are a day apart. Which also makes them easy to remember.

Birthday stuff sorted, a quick dive into M&S to give Mrs W a few options for tonight’s tea, and after a very quick (and free) turn around HMV, it was off to Rock Ferry to sort out a couple of tyres for the car. I’ve been putting this off for way too long, to the extent that I’m pretty well driving round on ‘slicks’ at the moment, which is highly naughty and getting more unsafe by the day. Finally grasped the nettle and, eschewing the big tyre chains, took the car to Bathers, an independent (and cheap) tyre company that’s been in business (although God only knows how) since I was a small boy, and probably for many years prior to that as well. They had to order them in, but they’ll be waiting for me tomorrow at eleven.

Called in on the ageing parents since I was in their neck of the woods, but they were out…what’s that all about? Turns out they were in my neck of the woods, over in Warrington – but hey ho. I’ll call in tomorrow when I pick the tyres up.

So back homewards, but not before stopping off at the pet store to pick up some flea stuff. The animal kingdom is taking its revenge on Pedro by infesting him with a bunch of tiny critters dedicated to eating him. Fine, but not when the same critters think they can take chunks out of Mrs W and me as well!

So – Frontline for the cat, spray for the furniture and upholstery and – when the Frontline has worn off – a flea collar (plus bell!) for the beast. Maybe the merry tinkle of the bell will alert the frankly sluggish local wildlife that they ought to get their skates on if they don’t want me chasing them round the bedroom with a Tupperware box…

A welcome spot of Lou Reed to listen to today. Coney Island Baby was released in 1976, and showcases Lou in relatively mellow mood, in stark contrast to the album that precedes it, ‘Metal Machine Music’, a contractual obligation album consisting of an hour of feedback and white noise. Coney Island Baby is a far more listenable piece of work, although some might find it a bit lightweight compared to the likes of Transformer, Berlin and Street Hassle. And they’d be right, but there are a few gems buried in the album, not least the title track.

Here’s a stunning live version of Coney Island Baby, probably from the mid ’80s. Lou’s tinkered a bit – a lot more about the ‘glory of love’ than ‘playing football for the coach’ but some lovely guitar work towards the end.

Categories: Car, Lou Reed, Pedro

>Day 183: What Have I Done To Deserve This?!

14 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Prince – Emancipation

So after last night’s excesses, I was hoping for a nice, quiet morning to recover gently, before the double header of the Grand Prix and the Everton game.

Not a chance.

Just got myself settled, when I get the call that The Hunter has struck again, trotting past Mrs W in the kitchen with a mouse between his jaws. I finally cornered cat and prey in one of the bedrooms, where my efforts to separate the two were hamstrung by the bed itself, underneath which cat chose to base his feline activities. Eventually, after haring round the bed and crawling underneath it, I managed to grab the cat and persuade him to let go of the rodent, which I was then lucky enough to trap underneath the Tupperware box that doubles as a humane mouse trap.

Rodent saved and released into the wild, cat grounded (again), Paul ready to resume the recovery position.

Not a chance.

One look at Mrs W’s face told me there was something else to deal with. Something quite bizarre – there’s been some sort of ‘explosion’ in one of the food cupboards. Tentatively opening the cupboard (How had this happened? Was there some sort of angry beast in here – chased in by the cat? What?) I discovered a spray of tomato salsa – everywhere. It looked, I kid you not, like someone had opened the cupboard and projectile vomited over every available space.

They hadn’t. Honest. I didn’t drink that much ouzo last night.

After a quick forensic review of the crime scene, this is what I think must have happened. Remember yesterday’s barbecue? It was accompanied by a range of relishes, including a squeezy jar of salsa that we’d had for a while. It was the contents of this jar that had emptied itself over the cupboard – unaided by human or animal. I can only assume that the contents of the jar were ‘on the turn’ and had started to ferment in some way – leading to a build-up in pressure that had relieved itself by forcing the lid of the jar open and spraying the contents over the cupboard. Is this feasible? Has this ever happened to anyone else?

It’s either that or we’ve got a poltergeist.

So, cupboard and contents cleaned and rearranged, I could now sit down and relax, no?

No.

Mrs W had retreated to the garden whilst the spring clean was under way, where she had discovered the remains of the squirrel who’d tangled with Pedro yesterday. Pedro (or maybe some other creature of the garden) had kindly dragged the stiffening beast up onto the lawn for us to find.

And for Paul to dispose of.

So, on with the gardening gloves, a couple of plastic bags, and Sammy Squirrel was given a rather undignified incarceration, leaving only the question of which recycling bin was designed for squirrels (no, he did not get a Christian burial I’m afraid). He ended up in the green one, largely on the basis that this was the next to be collected.

Finally, I got to sit down. For five minutes, before cranking up the barbie for the remaining burgers and sausages, not consumed last night.

Then it was time for the Grand Prix. An interesting race, the frontrunners risking a two stop strategy when a one-stop seemed to be the preferred option for most teams. And the one-stop proved to be the right one, with the two Brawns making the pace as the pitstop strategies unfolded. Hamilton, on pole and on a two-stop, pushed the two Brawns hard – too hard in the end, spinning off on the final lap. With the Red Bulls nowhere, the only twist comes with the finishing order, a resurgent Barrichello likely to push Button all the way to the end of the season.

And so to the football. We’ve struggled year after year at Craven Cottage, but a victory lat year had hopefully laid that bogie to rest. And that seemed to be the likely outcome after a first half in which Tim Cahill had given us the lead and we’d never looked under any real pressure.

Second half though, the gameplan unravelled as Fulham came out of the traps the stronger. After a very fortunate deflection they were level, and eventually took all three points following a fine goal from Damien Duff. Git.

We nearly forced an equaliser, but never really looked like we were going to come back into the game, resorting to hoofball at the death. So three defeats out of four, rooted in the bottom three and struggling.

But not panicking. Just yet. Despite a bit of knee-jerking on the forums and message lists, I’m not convinced we’re actually playing that badly now – the season is still there to be turned round, although Moyes could do with blooding some of the new boys to freshen things up a bit, I feel.

Final crank of the barbie this evening to finish off the meat (some nice rump steaks and lamb noisettes) with salad, before the early evening chill sent us indoors to watch the end of Series 6 of The Shield (just one more to go), and finally to bed.

And, finally, some peace and quiet.

Oh, some Prince on the soundtrack today, although not Prince at his most inspiring, I’m afraid. Emancipation is a three-CD set, released by Prince at the end of his ‘Slave’ phase (hence ‘Emancipation’ – you see what he did there?)

Freed from record company control, Prince chucked everything he had lying around onto this three hour set, turning what could have been a half decent single album into a bit of a sprawling mess. That said, even indifferent Prince has plenty to recommend it. This album is partially saved by a couple of decent tracks, including two excellent covers. This is the old Stylistics number, ‘Betcha By Golly Wow’ and (cheesy video notwithstanding) it’s ace. Enjoy.

>Day 182: Barbie Girl (and Boy!)

13 September, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Waterboys – This is the Sea

Ouzo.

I blame the Ouzo.

A long day today, but hugely enjoyable too. For once, the sun shone at the weekend so we decided to go ahead with the plans for a mini-barbecue in the early evening. Mrs W was up early to get the final few essentials – bread buns, spring onions for the salad – and lemonade for the Pimms!

While she was out, I knocked up a quick loaf for our brunch – BLTs on fresh squidgy white bread. Yum!

Mrs W then chased the sun round the garden, while I made a start on cleaning up the tiles salvaged from the bathroom. In the meantime Pedro launched a campaign of shock and awe on the neighbourhood’s wildlife. Firstly, he managed to catch another small vole and disappear down the banks with it before we could catch it. This, however, was a mere appetiser for his piece de resistance.

I was indoors, updating this thing. Mrs W was outdoors, iPod on, eyes closed. Completely oblivious to the carnage happening but a few feet away. Pedro had – somehow – caught a squirrel and was busy going medieval on its ass. Now, to be fair, the squirrels in our garden are a cheeky bunch and have systematically taunted all our cats over the years, always escaping by the skin of their teeth.

But not today. Pedro got one back for the felines. Sadly, this state of affairs could not be tolerated by the grownups, so we chased cat and squirrel around the garden for a while and finally got them separated. Cat grounded, squirrel cowering under the ivy and ultimately disappearing under its own steam.

So no barbecued squirrel today, just some burgers, sausages and chicken. Happily the barbecue was in pretty clean shape, so it was just a case of chucking the charcoal on, getting it alight and cooking the food.

But first the Pimms. One big jug, sliced fruit and cucumber, loads of ice, Pimms and lemonade. The bottle suggests a ratio of 1 part Pimms to three of lemonade. Yeah right. Ours might have been a tad stronger, I suspect.

Slipped down nicely, neither of us feeling any pain.

That is, until I decided to fiddle with the flames. Now let this be a warning to you. Just because a lump of charcoal is sat away from the growing fire, and looks black and cold, do not assume said lump is capable of being picked up by hand and placed on top of the pyre. I did, and I have the blisters to prove it.

Ouch.

But anyway, food was delicious, as was the wine we drank while we were cooking and eating. The shadows lengthened, so it was back indoors for a spot of TV and a drop of Ouzo. At which point it all gets a bit blurry, as I settled down in front of the computer, headphones on, listening to Beatles and typing the rubbish you can see below. At some point Mrs W came down from the bedroom to complain about my singing, and later – much later – I turned off and crawled into bed.

But the Ouzo was to blame, not me.

The Waterboys were, briefly, one of the Next Big Things in the ’80s. This is The Sea was their third album, and the last of their ‘Big Music’ phase, before they got all rootsy and raggle taggle with Fisherman’s Blues.

‘The Whole of the Moon’ was the Big Track on the album, and it sounds as good now as it did then.

>Day 178: Grin and Bear it, Paul…

9 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Elton John – Madman Across The Water

Jobcentre day today, signing on augmented by an ‘interview’ with a consultant to check that I’m doing all I can to get a job. This is my second such interview, and means that I’ve been on the job hunt for just about six months now.

Six months! Where has the time gone?

Anyway. As always, the Jobcentre staff have treated me with the utmost courtesy and respect, but it’s a painful process. There’s never been any suggestion that I’m doing anything less than I ought to on the job hunt, but there are certain things they have to push my way to ‘encourage’ me to get a job. This time, there was some (quite useful, actually) information on becoming self-employed, and some (probably counterproductive) financial ‘inducements’ I can offer to potential employers to persuade them to employ me. Five hundred quid up front if they offer me a job! Another five hundred quid if I actually stay in the job!! A contribution to any LSC retraining costs they may incur in training me up to do the job!

I know it’s easy to be flippant, but we all know that five hundred quid from the Jobcentre is not going to swing any job decision at my level my way. And to be fair, they know that as well. But they have to follow the rules and offer it to me. Fair enough, I suppose.

One thing rankles, though. One of the other ‘opportunities’ offered to me today was a workshop, to advise me on the quality of my CV and my interview technique. Which, of course, I have agreed to undertake. Whilst it’s presented as optional, I suspect I would have to have a pretty good reason not to accept. And you never know, there may be stuff I’m missing, that could help.

But that’s not the issue. My interviewer called the agency running the workshop to arrange my attendance, and referred to me as one of her ‘customers’.

Sorry love – whatever I am, I’m not your ‘customer’. You’re not selling anything, and I’m sure as hell not buying.

Now I’m sure it’s terminology that all Jobcentre staff have been told they must use in referring to us doleys, but it’s just wrong on so many levels. And it shouldn’t annoy me – but it does.

Rant over.

Following the above shenanigans, I strolled over to Homebase and picked up some basic tiling kit, and a batch of mirror tiles for the bathroom. Now I’ve spent the money, I’m committed to doing some DIY – but not today, I feel.

More adventures with the pussycat today – rescuing the bird he dragged into the house today. Thankfully this one was sparrow- rather than pigeon-sized, making it easier to separate cat from bird and to free the bird.

Catching the bird was made a lot easier by its apparent deadness, although when I took it outside it perked up suddenly, and after a few seconds flew off of its own accord. Presumably it was only playing dead, hoping Pedro would lose interest and go.

A tricky one, this. Pedro goes out to play. If we leave the back door open, as often as not, he’ll bring a bird or a rodent into the house. If we don’t, he can’t. But he tends to bring them in alive, meaning I’ve got a chance of catching the thing and releasing it, still alive. If he can’t bring them in, then we don’t see them, and they’ll invariably end up dead. What’s better?

A moral maze, that one.

A bit of Elton John today. Now most of you, when you think of Elton, will think of the ‘flamboyant’, hissy-fit queen, conspicuous overconsumption and over the top Vegas-style shows. Not the music, so much.

But there was a time when Elton was a very hip, credible performer, seen as a sort of English Randy Newman. And he produced a run of albums in the early Seventies that are worthy of anyone’s attention, and are as good an example of piano-driven singer-songwriter material as anything produced by anyone in the last forty years of so. I’m talking about Madman Across The Water, Tumbleweed Connection, Honky Chateau in particular.

When Elton was good, he was very, very good. And this track is one of the best. The lead-off track on Madman, Tiny Dancer is just sublime. You may know it from the film ‘Almost Famous’, or from the Ben Folds version, but Elton’s original performance is the best.

Categories: Elton John, jobcentre, Pedro

>Day 163: Research Day

26 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Radiohead – Hail to the Thief

Busy day today, I needed to get myself ready for the interview the following day – which meant finding out as much as I could, from as many public sources as I could, about the company interviewing me. Which, essentially, means trawling through all the information on their two websites – the ‘public’ website which is the link between the company and its customers (real and potential), and more importantly, the ‘investors’ website, which includes more formal and statutory documentation including press releases and full/interim reports and accounts.

So the day was spent surfing, reading, downloading and putting a few thoughts/summaries down on paper. How did we do all this before the internet? With a lot more legwork, and a lot more lead time, to track down, order, receive and review what information we could.

In one sense it’s great, because all the information you should need is readily available (to anyone with access to a computer and a broadband connection) but it does mean that there is no excuse for going into the interview room underprepared.

So I read, and thought, and read some more.

The other advantage of there being so much information readily available is that it allows me to make an informed decision as to whether this is the sort of company I’d be happy working for. And so far, the signs are good. Yes, they’ve had a rough twelve months or so, but so have most organisations. It is clear they have acted decisively to address the issues brought about by the credit crunch, to ensure they are positioned as well as they can be to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise post-recession. They have a clear commitment to corporate responsibility, to the health and safety of their workforce and their customers, and it is clear that they are a business with a well-defined long-term strategy that is still in place, despite the need to address short-term pressures.

All well and good, but what is really important (for me, at least) are the people. And I get my chance to meet the Finance Director tomorrow. Of course, he’s got to like me as well…

Son No 1 headed back down south after lunch, leaving me and the cat to our own devices. Which in his case, meant doing a touch more hunting. I was on the phone to the recruitment consultant, talking about tomorrow’s interview, when I spotted the Hunter crossing the lawn with something small and wriggly between his jaws. Which was a bit distracting, to say the least! Luckily I got through the call quickly, and managed to corner the Beast before too much damage was done. Vole and Cat were separated and each went their separate ways, cat indoors for another ‘grounded’ session!

In other recruitment news, I took a call from another agency about some contract work which sound quite interesting. Not so interesting as to distract me from the interview tomorrow, but definitely something to consider if this role goes nowhere.

Finally some Radiohead on the soundtrack. Hail to the Thief is the third of the ‘difficult’ albums (following Kid A and Amnesiac) that the band released after the “Greatest Album Ever” that was OK Computer. Hail to the Thief represents a slight return to the rockier end of the Radiohead scale, and is less wilfully ‘difficult’ than its two predecessors. Nevertheless from my perspective it’s an album to be admired rather than adored.

Here they are performing the album’s opening track, 2+2=5, on Letterman. With loads of guitars and real drums!

Categories: interview, Pedro, radiohead

>Day 162: Great Sport (and Everton…)

24 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Catatonia – International Velvet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>Day 149: They Call Me The Hunter

12 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Wings – Wingspan

Well ‘they’ call him Pedro, actually, and this morning he completely surpassed himself in the hunting stakes. I was sat in the “study” happily blogging away, when there was a kerfuffle in the kitchen. On investigation, there was Pedro, astride the biggest pigeon in the world, in a cloud of feathers and flapping!

Oh my.

What to do? well, obviously, separate cat from bird, isolate cat, dispose of bird as appropriate. But how? I soon realised that running around after the cat/bird hybrid shouting at it was not going to work, so steadily managed to shut doors, reducing the many bolt holes as much as possible, and eventually got the two creatures isolated in the downstairs loo. Next task was to separate cat from bird. Not easy, when cat is clinging onto bird by at least two sets of claws, plus mouth. Luckily, Pedro decided to try and approach the bird dismemberment task from another angle, and I managed to get hold of him and chuck him into the hallway, shutting the door behind me.

Which left the bird. Miraculously, it still seemed to be alive, if a touch catatonic. Catatonia was good though, if I was to have any hope of getting hold of the thing. Donning gardening gloves, I managed to pick the poor thing up with his wings pinned, and get him outside. Happily once it sensed the outside air and I loosened my grip, it took off, scarred and missing some feathers, but relatively unbroken.

The house of course now looked like there’d been a pillow fight – and the pillow had lost. Released Pedro from the hall, and he wandered out, purring and grinning like he was cock of the garden – which essentially he was (although he’s currently drawing the line at badgers). “How clever am I?” His posture suggested. “And where’s my bird gone?”

Gone, to live another day, as I hoovered (Dysoned, actually) the house.

Which made the excitement of my fortnightly visit to the Jobcentre pale in comparison, really. I managed to get them to sign off on my insurance claim, which Mrs W will be posting tomorrow on my behalf. Had to pick her up from work today – her car’s been fixed, at the cost of a new radiator which was leaking onto a fan, which was then leading to the burning smell as the escaping fluid hit the hot bits of the engine. This might also explain why her radiator needed topping up with fluid more often than the average car? Hopefully that’s that sorted then.

So Wings. The band The Beatles could have been.

Sadly Wings will probably be remembered for their ‘slighter’ material – Mull of Kintyre, Silly Love Songs, C Moon etc – and not for the rest of their material, which on occasion was very high quality.. I was never completely sold on Band On The Run, their ‘classic’, but when Wings were good, they were very very good.

Wings were actually very controversial at first – two of their early singles being banned by the BBC for political (Give Ireland Back to The Irish) or naughty (Hi Hi Hi) reasons. Unfortunately they turned up the saccharine and without the acerbic bite of a Lennon adding some quality control, they became a bit second division. While selling billions of records, of course.

But seek out good Wings – Jet, Live and Let Die, and especially My Love – as good a love song as he ever wrote in the company of Mr Lennon.

Dodgy mullet though, Macca.

Categories: Pedro, Wings

>Day 145: RIP Willy

8 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Mink Deville – Cabretta


I learnt today that Willy DeVille, the driving force behind Mink DeVille, had died yesterday of pancreatic cancer. Willy who? I suspect many of you are saying. Who indeed. Mink DeVille were one of the original New York CBGBs bands, but a more different band to The Ramones and the like you would struggle to find. They played bittersweet tunes with a latin flavour, more soul than rock. Doc Pomus said of him:

“Mink DeVille knows the truth of a city street and the courage in a ghetto love song. And the harsh reality in his voice and phrasing is yesterday, today, and tomorrow — timeless in the same way that loneliness, no money, and troubles find each other and never quit for a minute.”

So nothing random about today’s soundtrack – Cabretta was their first album, containing Spanish Stroll, their ‘hit’ – along with nine other sweet songs. Here they are performing Spanish Stroll on Top of the Pops back in ’77.

Think you’re so slick? Well all right…

A busy day today, with one thing and another. Had to take Pedders to the vet today for his boosters and a general health check. In the past, with our other cats, the big problem has been getting them in the cat basket in the first place – always involved a fight, scratches and yowling. Pedro? I opened the door of the basket and he just walked straight in. Bless him.

Because of his bowel problems (already discussed on here in far too much detail) he’s a bit of a celebrity in the vets, and they all seemed pleased to see him fit and well. Got a bit of Pedro’s history from the vet as well – don’t think we really realised just how poorly he’d been, that it was touch and go as to whether his bowel operation would work at all – happily it did, and his checkup confirmed he’s fine, although we do need to watch his diet carefully.

Then in the afternoon it was off to the Job Centre for my 13 week ‘interview’, which was with a nice lady who went through my ‘Jobseekers Agreement’ with me. This is the point where I am supposed to face facts, and recognise that I’m not going to get the highly paid job I’ve been looking for on my doorstep and reassess my job-searching parameters. Basically, reduce your salary expectations, widen the type of job you’ll consider and the distance you’ll travel to get there.

Fine in theory, but in practice is likely to lead to lots of pointless applications for jobs I’m overqualified for, or for which there will be far better candidates out there. Yes, in theory I am perfectly qualified to apply for financial controller roles paying £25k a year, but no-one in their right minds is going to actually employ me to do that! Luckily the lady I was interviewed by was sensible enough to understand that so we did what we had to do for the ‘system’ and that was that. We discussed the need for a further meeting in a couple of weeks time and agreed there was no point in having such a meeting – very sensible.

In better news, I had a call from the agency regarding one of the jobs I’ve applied for recently, and I’ve been selected for interview in a couple of weeks’ time. Still a long way to go, but definite progress!

Everton’s final pre-season friendly this evening, home to Malaga. Couldn’t raise the enthusiasm to actually go, but apparently they performed very creditably in winning 2-1. Joleon Lescott played, and it now begins to look like he’ll be staying, which would be good news. Goals below – look out for Malaga’s consolation goal – a cracking free kick!