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>Day 214: You put the first disc in, take the first disc out…

15 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Porcupine Tree – Coma Divine

…in, out, in, out….and continue for the next 70 discs.  All day.

That was today’s job, folks, and very, very dull it was too.

Captain Paranoia had struck and I decided to do a full, permanent backup of my iTunes library.  In the past, I’ve backed up from one external hard drive (where my ‘original’ music and stuff is held) onto another external hard drive – but the backup drive is now too small to hold all my music and films, as well as my photos and other documents – so whilst the plan is to get another, bigger, hard drive for music backups, I thought I’d also copy to DVDs so I have a permanent and largely unbreakable backup.  So that’s what I did.

Unfortunately I have got a BIG iTunes library and, whilst the process is all automated from within iTunes, you still need to feed it with blank DVDs on request.  Which I did – 71 DVDs, at approximately six minute intervals.  As the Yanks say, do the math.

And yes, 71 DVDs is a lot of gigs.  As in gigabytes, not concerts, although there’s plenty of them as well!

Whilst all this was going on, I was pushing for some answers on the job front – and largely getting them, I have to say.

Firstly I took a call re the permanent role in Preston – still the preferred candidate, but one more person for them to consider in this round.  But all being well, I’ll be called for second (final?) interview next week.  But either way, the timings of the permanent role will not have an impact on the contract work in Staines.

So – secondly – let’s ensure the Staines work would not cock up the mortgage insurance.  No response to yesterday’s email, so on to the insurers by phone (following a bit of nagging from Mrs W!)  And, again, good news!  Obviously they won’t pay me while I’m working, but when I stop, the benefit kicks in again seamlessly and – even better – the payment period is extended to add back the period spent working and not claiming!  Result!

Finally, in touch with Staines to confirm that its all systems go for next week – starting work on Tuesday!  There might be some tweaking of Terms of Reference, but the meat of the review – and the cost/expense structure – is all agreed.

So – finally – I’ll be working for The Man again and, for a period at least, not living the high life on your taxes. To the tune of sixty-odd quid a week.  Bring it on!

But Paul!  What does this mean for the blog?  I don’t hear you wail.  I’m not sure actually.  I doubt I’ll be able to update stuff on a daily basis, but I’m not about to stop.  Mind you, stuck in a hotel in Staines – with wireless access to the internet – it might be one way of staving off the ‘sad lonely man in hotel’ syndrome.  We’ll see – no promises.  Enjoy it while you can!

Porcupine Tree?  What sort of name is that for a group, Paul?  Well it’s a mighty silly name, if you ask me.  But – perhaps surprisingly – a remarkably good group.  ‘They’ are essentially one man – Stephen Wilson – playing progressive rock (no shit Sherlock) blended with some ‘heavier’ material.  Heavy on the guitars and the synths, with some flowery lyrical flourishes, they are well worth a listen – if you like that sort of thing.  And I do.

Coma Divine is a live album from 1997 and captures the band on good form.  Long, instrumental passages interspersed with shorter, even poppier, pieces.  Probably one for the committed fan rather than the casual listener but never boring.

Here they are – Arriving Somewhere But Not Here!

>Day 213: Drum….

14 October, 2009 2 comments

>Today’s soundtrack:  Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks Soundtrack

A watched pot never boils, a watched phone never rings…and, especially, an anticipated recruitment consultant never calls.  My last conversation suggested that the ‘other’ candidate would be interviewed either on Friday or on Monday…so, it now being Tuesday, I thought I might get the call.  Cue sound of fingernails being drummed on desk as tumbleweed balls blow by….

But no, not today.  It’s not surprising, it’s not unusual (as Tom might say) but it is a tad frustrating.  Especially as I have to make a firm decision on Staines by the end of the week…and I think I know what that decision will be!

Indeed, I spent a large part of the day putting together some formal terms of reference for the Staines contract, capturing, I think, all the issues we discussed in their offices on Monday.  Sent them down to the FD for comment/approval, then emailed the insurance company to find out the implications for the mortgage cover of accepting such a contract.  Now awaiting responses from both!

Had a good chat with Simon on the phone, now back from his overseas jaunts and looking for the next role.  He’d an interview in the afternoon in London, a very interesting role that I hope he gets – heaven knows it’s an organisation that could use some decent people in it!

I promised to call him next week for a chat – true to form, he’s the one being proactive about keeping in touch while I’m lapsing into my usual laissez faire mode – not good enough Paul!  My excuse that he’s been jet-setting around the world and I’ve never known when he’s going to be in the UK is at best weak – and at worst slightly pathetic!  Come on, Paul, get yourself sorted!

Postman called this morning with my new ‘handsfree’ car kit – my last one was fine, until I knocked off the microphone attachment with my head when getting out of the car a while ago, leaving me with a piece of a kit that was great for one-way communication – I could hear everyone fine, but no-one could hear me – but, quite frankly, lousy for the job it was intended to do.  The replacement has no moving parts at all – so nothing for me to break, hopefully.  Disappointingly, the thing only comes with a charger designed to fit into a cigarette lighter in the car – and it needed an initial ten hour charge to get up and running.  Absolutely useless, as the various chargers in my car only work with the ignition on – and I wasn’t about to take any ten hour drives anywhere!  Luckily, I had an old Sony mains charger with the right connector on the bottom, so I took a chance with that, and it seemed to do the trick.  Warranty completely invalidated in the process though, I should imagine…

Spent the afternoon copying a couple of films over to my computer before running the discs back to Blockbuster – and then reviewing the online LoveFilm list, which we had allowed to run down to nothing.  A great process in theory, but in practice the website makes the selection process so difficult it is a real ballache.  Still, loads of crappy films are now queued up for our viewing pleasure – just in time for the postal strike to stop them being delivered anyway!

No matter, who needs DVDs when we’ve got Masterchef?  Second semifinal tonight – tall, serious Ryan up against tiny, excited David.  Ryan is the one who looks like he means business – you expect David to still be making butterfly cakes in the kitchen with his mummy – but on the day, it was a really close call.  Ryan getting the nod, but with David pushing him all the way with a good performance in the professional kitchen and some spectacular courses in the Masterchef kitchen.  Not good enough to dislodge mean, moody Ryan though – this lad has champion written all over him.

Not literally, of course.  That would look messy.

The Twin Peaks soundtrack is as mean and moody as our Ryan, the perfect soundtrack to the television series and, of course, to today’s witterings here.  Twin Peaks was one of the television ‘events’ of the ’90s – weird and unsettling in a way that only David Lynch can really achieve – that sense of something very disturbing existing just beneath the facade of everyday life.

I loved it, and got the first series on DVD when it came out, to share with Mrs W, who had never seen the original.  Probably on a ship somewhere at the time.  Sadly, we were watching it when Mrs W hear that her mother was seriously ill, and it got abandoned as we made a mad dash down to Birmingham – and because of the connotations we’ve never felt like picking it up again.

The music associated with the series is stunning though.  Sparse and moody, yet with an underlying beauty, the music soars at times with a huge sense of optimism.  I’m going to stop there before I start getting quoted in Pseud’s corner – but just listen to this.  You’ll see what I mean, hopefully.

>Day 212: Head out on the Highway

13 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  CSS – Cansei De Ser Sexy

Up and out ridiculously early today, heading down the motorways to Staines for a planning meeting around the contract work that – might – be taking place shortly.  It’s a long drive to Staines (just south of Heathrow, just off the M25) but it’s the ‘right’ side of London if you’re driving from the North West, and the public transport option would involve cars, trains, tubes and taxis – and around as much journey time as the drive.

Or at least it would have done if it wasn’t for the big crash on the M40 around Northampton.  I’d been making good time up to that point, skirted Birmingham (taking the easy option of the toll road) and was all set for a 9:30 arrival in Staines.  Then everything ground to a halt.  A three-lane halt at that.  Traffic was stationary for a good hour, after which we started to roll forward, steadily, but at around 5mph, for a couple of miles.  Got to the obstruction just as it was cleared to the hard shoulder with all lanes open – the motorway had been closed completely, then expanded to just one lane, up till then.  At this stage the ‘big’ crash didn’t look too nasty – a taxi hitting a Jag, from the looks of it – and there didn’t seem to be any ambulances involved, happily.  There was a big pile of suitcases on the bank next to the motorway which suggested that someone’s holiday (taxi on its way to Heathrow?) had been spoiled – but it could have been far worse.

Rest of the journey passed without incident, and I ended up getting to Staines just on eleven.  Enough time for an hour’s chat with the FD about the assignment – and for me to confirm my interest – subject to progress on the permanent role that’s still lurking in the background.  We’ve agreed a way forward, agreed charge-out rates and expenses – and will make a final decision on Friday about whether to proceed or not.  The company is still talking to other people about the role, but I do get the impression I’m the preferred candidate again.

Which is nice.

Journey back passed without incident, and I was home for half three – just enough time to churn out yesterday’s blog and to prepare for the evening’s entertainment.

Looks like being a Masterchef week this week, as the semi finals get underway.  Two chefs head to head each night, working in Michelin starred kitchens and cooking their own stuff in the studio.  For a while it looked like the Scottish lad was going through, but in the end ‘Simpering Sally’ (as we fondly call her) made it through to the final.  Bring on the next one!

A touch of Brazilian on the soundtrack today.  CSS – or Cansei de Ser Sexy (I got tired of being sexy) with their eponymous debut album.  Good fun, in an upbeat poppy electro sort of way, I missed them at Glastonbury a couple of years ago but they went down a storm apparently.  Not, admittedly, a band I would have gone out of my way to see, but in the overall scheme of things, the world is a better place for bands such as this.

Here they are at Glasto in 2007 – yes, it had been raining.  Dig the jumpsuit though!

>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 205: Fr-fr-fr-Frustration!

6 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Leftfield – Leftism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately no excuses left for not retiling the bathroom now…

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

>Day 192: Help The Aged (Professional)

23 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Pulp – This Is Hardcore

I had my ‘Workshop for the Unemployed Professional’ today, so it was up and out, to get to the Swan Tavern in Winwick for ten o’clock.

An upstairs room in a local pub, a couple of flipcharts and ten, mostly mature, ‘professionals’ from a range of backgrounds, sat round a table.

No coffee or tea.

The course was ostensibly there to talk to us about writing CVs, job searching strategies and interview techniques. In reality, it turned into a bit of a Samaritan session for a couple of the attendees (one poor, lonely bloke in particular) to get a few things off their chest in relation to the inadequacies of the Job Centre staff, the state of the economy and the foibles of recruitment agencies.

Oh, and the ‘poor, lonely bloke’ wasn’t me. Honest. Although I was sat next to him.

In between the regular diversions, there were one or two useful tips that reinforced what I largely already knew, and a couple of hints about how to tweak my CV to better effect, but over the years I’ve heard these things time and time again. If nothing else though, it was a timely reminder of the basics. Which is no bad thing I suppose.

Then off to the Job Centre itself, to sign on for the next fortnight. ‘Kev’ (how can he get away with ‘Kev’ on his official namebadge? Surely ‘Kevin’, as a minimum? No surname, of course) and his trainee, Debbie, had the pleasure of my signature today, although I did have to justify why I’d not applied for a job they’d kindly told me about last time (the salary was less than half my last salary).

But no matter, I’ve got an interview for a proper job on Friday! A call from the recruitment agency about the role they told me about last week – my CV went in on Monday and they want to see me this week – first interview, well in advance of a full shortlist being drawn up. Got to be a positive sign I feel.

Back home, to scan some relevant pages on CV/interview presentation and send them down to Son No 1, who has an interview himself today. Hopefully they reached him in time, they may be of more use to him than to me.

I finished the fourth book of the ‘Red Riding’ quartet today. Four books spanning nine years, based around police corruption, child pornography and murder, with a barely fictionalised Yorkshire Ripper committing his crimes in parallel.

Life on Mars it ain’t.

It’s not an easy – or comfortable – read, and David Peace’s stylistic repetition of key passages across all four books can get a bit grating at times, but ultimately it is a powerful piece of literature. You do need to read all four books, as it is only in the final book that a number of strands from the earlier novels are brought together into a form of resolution.

I’m not sure I’d recommend the books, but as someone who lived through the period covered (1974-1983) and lived in Yorkshire for a significant part of the period – and was thus acutely aware of the Ripper and his activities – some of them very close to where we were living in Sheffield – it did have some resonance.

But it won’t be for everyone.

I’ve now got the three films to watch on DVD – they must have simplified the books considerably for them to make sense – but will let you know what I think.

Coincidentally, we have quintessential Yorkshire band Pulp on the soundtrack today, with an album that has pornography and exploitation as its core themes. Pulp were around in Sheffield for years without making any national waves – I remember hearing of them around the same time as the Human League, Heaven 17 and the Thompson Twins were having national success – Pulp stayed very much a regional secret until they finally hit the big time with Different Class, and particularly with Common People. The follow up to this vastly successful album was ‘This Is Hardcore’, a far darker and more cynical album. And far less commercial, with commensurate (lack of) commercial success. It’s not an easy listen and the humour that was evident in Different Class is buried far deeper here, but it’s still a good album.

‘This Is Hardcore’ on Jools back in 1998. Altogether now: “This is hardcore, you make me hard…”

Categories: Pulp, recruitment, red riding

>Day 188: Ring, Ring…

19 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: ABBA – The Complete Singles Collection

…why don’t you give me a call?

As the Swedish popsters sang very early on in their career.

And the phone did ring, ring a couple of times today. Except it doesn’t ‘ring’ as such. It plays a Hold Steady riff (the opening bars to ‘Stuck Between Stations, actually) that I inevitably fail to hear immediately, however loud I’ve got the ringtone turned up.

First off, I had a call from Kevin in Brum, just catching up on this and that and tentatively arranging to meet up in Manchester next week. Kevin has – inevitably – succumbed to the iPhone revolution and is well enamoured of his new toy. He probably only called me to give him the chance to use his iPhone again, come to think of it!

Then at the back end of the day, one of my recruitment agencies called. Two pieces of positive news – firstly, one of the job applications that is currently ‘in progress’ is still working its way through the system and has not,as I had feared, ‘gone away’. Hopefully some news next week. Secondly, another opportunity has presented itself which could be right up my street – very early days and very hush hush at the moment, but my name has already been mentioned in dispatches and I gladly agreed that they should push my CV in their general direction. They want to move quickly apparently, so hopefully some progress in the next couple of weeks!

In between the phone calls, I was out in the garden, mowing and generally tidying up. Getting towards the end of summer now, so only a few more mows to go this year I feel. No bad thing – it’s not my favourite occupation and gardening is the last thing I wanted to be doing in my enforced spell of ‘gardening leave’.

I was also out early getting the weekend shopping in. No fancy recipes I’m afraid – Mrs W has a hankering for some Indian food and some enchiladas over the weekend, so it’s ready meals and packages for the next couple of days. I do have some chapati dough in the freezer but that will be the extent of my ‘real’ cooking this weekend I feel.

Mrs W took some of this week’s soup to work today – the verdict? “Good, but needed more seasoning”. Now bear in mind that Mrs W does like her salt – she’d put some on her cornflakes if she could – but if you’re experimenting you might want to bear that in mind and up the condiment quotient a touch. I think she gets it from the telly – we’re back into Masterchef (the professionals) at the moment and seasoning is a big thing for the judges. And hence I get told my soup needs seasoning. But I’m a professional. I can take criticism.

A quasi-random music selection today – I hit ‘play’ as usual, but since I turned ‘shuffle’ off on iTunes last night, the first album on the list came up – which, alphabetically, means ABBA.

But it may as well be ABBA as anyone else.

Despite my aversion to Mamma Mia! (I refused point blank to go along to the Manchester production on a works outing once), I do have a soft spot for the Honey Honey Hitmakers. They were a bit of a guilty pleasure back in the day, but over the years a number of very well respected musicians (Costellos and Gallaghers included) have come out of the woodwork to express their admiration for the group.

And what’s not to like? Incredible melodies, a couple of pretty girls, bit of marital tension in the band, and a range of songs that include some of the most bitter break up songs ever recorded. Plus a fair bit of fluff as well, admittedly. But even the fluff is incredibly well-constructed and executed fluff.

This is my favourite ABBA song – ‘The Day Before You Came’. Not one of their bigger hits, but one of their best lyrics and a song that builds gradually through the song towards the climax. Chorus-free, and no obvious hooks, but a song that demonstrates that pure pop music can be intelligent as well as fluffy.

Oh, and Agnetha does look gorgeous in the video as well…

Categories: Abba, recruitment

>Day 157: Letting the Side Down

19 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Long Blondes – Someone to Drive You Home

You may not be aware, but I receive occasional correspondence from the regular readers of this blog. Now the bulk of such correspondence is generally positive. However there is a clear feeling from certain (male) correspondents that I am letting the side down a touch – or, at least, setting a dangerous precedent – by describing my adventures in the kitchen with such relish.

“Women’s Work!” I can (almost) hear them saying. “Don’t be giving them ideas, Paul!” they (might) be thinking.

Well sorry chaps. It gets worse. I spent most of today doing the ironing. And will be doing the same tomorrow, as well as pegging out the washing and attacking the shower with bathroom cleaner.

Best keep all this between us, eh? If it’s any consolation, Mrs W cooked the tea tonight.

And very nice it was too, dear.

(You might be thinking, how slow is he, taking the best part of two days to do the ironing? Well as I might have suggested previously, it’s volume, not speed, that’s the problem here. If I hadn’t started ironing today, I’d have been walking round in work shirts and swimming costumes, since they’re the only things left in the wardrobe).

I wasn’t expecting to have the day clear, but unfortunately a meeting with a firm of accountants in Manchester was postponed at the last minute – will now happen in early September. A shame, but at least the meeting hasn’t gone away, and was rearranged very quickly and efficiently. I also got a call from another old mate today, checking up on things and suggesting a few people I could contact in the drive to get back to work. Good to know that people are out there, thinking about me and trying to see me right.

The Long Blondes were an indie band from Sheffield, who produced two very good albums in the last couple of years and then split up suddenly, apparently due to illness in the group rather than the usual ‘musical differences’ (unlike The Housemartins, who split up due to ‘musical similarities’, according to the press release).

I saw The Long Blondes for the one and only time at Glastonbury in 2007, on the Other Stage in the pouring rain and about three feet of mud. Despite the inauspicious surroundings, they brought a little ray of sunshine to a quite dispirited crowd and I enjoyed them a lot. Sounding like a cross between Pulp and Blondie, their songs are mostly about relationships, either failing or failed, and are peppered with music and film references. And they have tunes, which is always a good thing in my book.

All that’s good about them is encapsulated in four minutes below – “Weekend Without Makeup”.

>Day 142: Fish and Cats

5 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – Doo Wop Dynamite

Got some cooking for you today! Mrs W came home from work with a couple of pieces of salmon that needed turning into a tasty yet nutritious tea – my mission, if I chose to accept it!

So what to do? Mrs W reminded me of a rather nice ‘teriyaki’ glaze that we have used before, based upon treacle and soy sauce – but unfortunately the jar of treacle had long since been pitched (sell-by date was probably 1993 or some such). So I improvised, devising a glaze that combined soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and maple syrup with some crushed garlic and a touch of sesame oil. Poured onto the salmon fillets (which were by now sat in a pair of tinfoil parcels) and baked in a hot oven for about twenty minutes, they were very tasty indeed. The salmon was accompanied by some potato croquettes and some stirfried vegetables (mushrooms, sweetcorn, sugar snaps, spring onions and bean sprouts) and a crisp young sauvignon blanc.

Very nice too, and a pleasant end to a rather busy and productive day.

Took an early call from a recruitment agency – remember the conversation with my ex-boss a couple of days ago? The agency got in touch with me and after talking through the situation with them, they now have a copy of my CV for consideration – basically they will only submit my CV to the company if it does not reach them by any other means, so hopefully I have avoided compromising any exclusivities or confidences. It’s a minefield, this recruitment thing!

Spent all afternoon on one of my allocated chores – a long time ago, I bought a couple of ‘multi-frame’ picture frames with the intention of identifying, and printing and framing, a few pictures of cats past and present for Mrs W. Naturally, the picture frames have sat on top of the stereo (do we still call them stereos?) for about three months and I have finally been shamed into actually doing the picture thing with them. Once I started, it was actually quite an enjoyable (if long-winded) task and Mrs W was suitably appreciative of the end product. As she should be.

Oh, and I’ll get onto the shower and the garden later this week, I promise. The ironing’s piling up, as well…

Had a long chat with Son No 2 as well today – he’s landed a ticket for the Reading Festival over the bank holiday (to which he’s welcome – wild horses wouldn’t drag me to Reading) which he’s naturally delighted about. However I’ve got his tent here, and he wants to borrow my (voluminous) rucksack – and he needs the sunglasses he managed to leave here last weekend, so I’ve got a trip to Huddersfield to do a bit of dropping off in the next couple of days. Be nice though – get a spot of lunch in while I’m over there I feel! I’ve also got a visit from Son No 1 next week, en route to a holiday in Skye with his girlfriend’s family – be good to spend some time with the lads in the coming week. Special request for home-made pizza from Son No 1 as well – news of my prowess is spreading!

We’ve not had any Doo Wop before on the soundtrack, but I’m right partial to a bit of doobeedoobeedoo from time to time. ‘Doo Wop Dynamite’ is a cheapo compilation on an obscure reissue label but it’s got some lovely stuff on it, from the likes of The Dells, The Orioles, The Platters and The Moonglows. Songs from a more innocent time, when the suits were sharp, the shoes were polished, the hair was processed – and the harmonies were tight!

Doo Wop was, primarily, a black art form but as with so many elements of black culture, it got purloined and ‘cleaned up’ by white artists for the (primarily white) mainstream American marketplace. For ‘cleaned up’ most often you could read ‘watered down’ but occasionally the copyists got it right. I have to say this, because The Skyliners ‘Since I Don’t Have You’ is one of my favourite tracks on the album – and it’s only when I searched for the track on YouTube that I found out they are/were a white band. Preconceptions eh? Sounds obvious to me listening now, but what a great song. Love the bit where he breaks into falsetto at around 1:40 into the song…

And just how sharp are those haircuts? The less said about the jackets the better though…

Oh, and did you know that Guns ‘n’ Roses covered this? Oh yes they did…

Not sure they’d have got away with the video in 1958 though!

>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