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>Finally! Three points!

29 December, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Wailing Souls – Most Wanted: Classic Cuts 1978-1984

Back to football today, in celebration of an increasingly rare event – an Everton home win!  Yes, it was only Burnley, and a Burnley reduced to ten men with half an hour to go at that, but I’ll take that at the moment!

At the start of the day, I wondered whether the game would go ahead, if the fog blanketing Cheshire was at all widespread.  I’d have been sat in the Main Stand unable to see the near goal, never mind the Park End.  Happily the fog seemed to lift somewhere under the Mersey, and the ground was clear – if a touch crisp.  Happily the long johns had been called into service and my nether regions were reasonably snug for the duration.

The Bank Holiday brought about a capacity crowd, which was nice to see, although inevitably when the ground is full, the proportion of fuckwits in the crowd increases significantly – those who go to one or two games a year, get their football knowledge from Sky and have an opinion – usually wrong – on everything.  I don’t know why they go, if they hate the players, the manager and the style of play so much.  I on the other hand would never shout expletives at the players on the pitch (hem hem).

Admittedly, it wasn’t a day for the purist.  Burnley are a well organised spoiling team, and without particularly threatening themselves, were adept at restricting us to a) pretty passing moves that stopped short on the edge of the penalty area or b) long ball humps that came straight back to us.  Stalemate, and a first half that finished goalless, with very few chances.

And a very real chance that the second half would pan out exactly the same way.

Luckily, it didn’t.  The game turned on a couple of incidents, just enough for Everton to make the breakthrough they just about deserved.  Firstly, Burnley had a man sent off for a second bookable offence – a silly tug on Steven Pienaar’s shirt right in front of the referee.  Initially, Everton failed to capitalise on the extra man, persevering with the Yak up front by himself, supported by Tim Cahill and then Marouane Fellaini.  However as the game move into its final phase, Moyes brought James Vaughan on for Bily, and within a minute or two the lad had scored, a tap-in after the Yak had failed to convert.  Despite Yakubu looking suspiciously offside when the ball went in, the goal stood and – finally! – we had our noses in front.

The points were wrapped up in the final minute, when Pienaar squeezed a neat shot in at the near post following good support work from the Yak.  Three points, a nice climb up the table and a few more players coming back from injury.  Despite some tough games coming up, the future’s feeling a bit brighter than it was before the game.

Plus points – the return of Neville and Vaughan, some neat approach play and the continuing improvement of Fellaini in a deeper-lying midfield role.  However we need to find a bit of ruthlessness up front to start converting draws into wins.  In a very tight league, every point will be valuable this year.

Incongruously, I’m typing this in sub-zero temperatures with some hot reggae playing in the background.  The Wailing Souls have been around for decades, but their best period is covered by this album, a dubbed-up collection of 12″ mixes from the late seventies and early eighties.

Here’s ‘War’ for your delectation.  Ire Ridim!

Categories: Everton, reggae, Wailing Souls

>Awopbopaloobop…..

1 November, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Scientist v. Prince Jammy – Big Showdown at King Tubby’s

Ah well.

Preston was not to be, then.  After a very strange interview that focused heavily on a role I had twelve years ago, I came out of the company’s offices knowing full well that it wasn’t going to happen.  Sadly it seems that, although the first two guys who interviewed me had thought I was perfect for the role, their understanding of what the role required was completely different to that of the Chief Exec!

So the company is back to the drawing board and, it would seem, so am I.  But not quite – the response down in Staines to the outcome was firstly sympathy…but quickly followed by a pleased ‘so we can keep hold of you for a bit longer, then!’

Indeed they can.  Yes, the journey is a nightmare, and staying away from home for most of the week is a drag, the work is good and the people I’m working with are friendly and helpful.  Oh, and the money’s alright, too!

Although not normally the shy and retiring type, I’m having a real problem motivating myself to go out and eat in public of an evening, so it was nice to spend one evening last week out with Simon, who lives not a million miles away from Staines.  After a couple of pints in the Slug & Lettuce, we agreed a curry was in order and wandered over to Roshni’s, just next to the bridge over the Thames.  Roshni’s had been recommended to me by one of the directors’ secretaries, so we thought we’d give it a go.  ‘Fine Indian Cuisine’, it said on the door – no back street curry house this!

Oh, it was fab.  I started with some Murg Kathi rolls – a new one on me, chicken tandoori wrapped in a very thin chapati-type wrap, with a delicate sauce on the side…quite possibly the nicest starter I’ve ever had in an Indian restaurant.  followed by Gosht Xacutii – Lamb cooked with coconut and masala spices.  Accompanied of course by a selection of rices, breads and veggy dishes as well.  Far too much, even for two stout lads like us.

We’ll go there again, I feel!

The rest of the week, I was happy to pick up some stuff from the supermarket and graze in my hotel room (a much better room this week) watching DVDs on the laptop.  This week, it was Tutti Frutti, the ’80s series with Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson about The Majestics, failed Scottish Rock ‘n’ Roll band on their silver jubilee tour.  I really enjoyed this series years ago when it was first on the box, and was pleased to see it  finally released on DVD a while ago.  Watching it now, whilst the ’80s fashions have dated horrendously, the show is still really enjoyable with great supporting characters.  The series is completely stolen by Richard Wilson as dodgy manager Eddie Clocherty – the interaction with ‘Miss Toner’, his ‘assistant’ is an absolute joy.

Back home then, to a joyous welcome from cat and wife, to a Chinese takeaway and to a dozy evening that ended up with me falling asleep in the chair until three in the morning.  Takes it out of you, this working malarkey!

Off to Goodison to watch the injury-depleted Blues battle with the Villa on Saturday.  I wasn’t expecting a great deal, but first half at least, we began to play like we can, missing players notwithstanding, and took a well-deserved lead just on the stroke of half time.  But of course, this is Everton, so we came out for the second half completely flat and had conceded within a minute of the restart.  I don’t know what Moyes says to the team at half time, but the number of times we get caught sleeping within minutes of the restart is deeply worrying.

After the equaliser, things went flat for a while, sparking into life with a couple of sendings off near the end of the game, for the scorer (Bilyaletdinov) and one of theirs for a bad tackle on the Yak, who was looking to be close to back to form.  Indeed, overall the team seem to be getting things back together with some decent performances and although it was disappointing not to win, there were some signs that things might be turning around.

Just in time for Benfica on Thursday, a game I’ll sadly miss being stuck down in Staines.

An obscure bit of dub on the soundtrack today, from a couple of King Tubby proteges.  Scientist and Prince Jammy share the album with five tracks each, the ten tracks being labelled ‘Round 1’ through to ‘Round 10’.  Who wins?  It doesn’t matter when the dub is as heavy as this.

Great cover art too!

Here’s Round 5 – is there anything that isn’t lurking somewhere on YouTube?

>Day 191: We’re Swabbin’

22 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music

Back on the housework today, I’ve been letting things slide a bit, and that bathroom isn’t going to tile itself!

So I spent half the morning attacking the ‘rescued’ tiles with a chisel, to remove all the old grout and adhesive. Still got a fair few to do, but I’m getting there – very slowly indeed! Managed to get through to lunchtime with a box of around fifteen tiles, and surprisingly with the same number of fingers and thumbs that I started with.

Chisels and Paul are generally a bad combination.

Not wishing to ride my luck any further, I put all the tiling stuff away after lunch and got on with the second day’s major chore – cleaning the kitchen, most importantly the floor, which – due to a combination of Pedro waltzing in and out without wiping his paws and Mrs W doing much the same – was getting a bit skanky.

Now normally the floor just gets a quick flick that redistributes, rather than removes, all the muck – but this time I thought I’d do a half decent job. So all the furniture was shifted, worktops hosed down, floor Dysoned twice – firstly using just the Dyson, then going into all the nooks and crannies with the hose – before getting the floor detergent, mop and bucket out. I’ve been using this new stuff that you pour directly onto the floor rather than diluting in the bucket, but still ended up swabbing the whole floor with hot water as well.

It’s a bigger job than you’d think, when its done properly, but at least the floor was sparkling – for about ten minutes, before Pedro recommenced his ins and outs and the night’s cooking. I’m a good cook, but a sloppy one!

A quiet day apart from that – I pottered around t’internet for a while, caught up on the various blogs and the like that I contribute to, and decided my life needed a bit more Joni in it, following yesterday’s blog. Got a few recommendations, and Amazon is doing the rest!

Today’s soundtrack is hugely welcome – everyone should have some reggae in their lives, and Tougher Than Tough is probably the best one-stop reggae collection out there. A four-CD box set, it is light on Marley, but covers all other bases reasonably well. Add to this a good sprinkling of Bob Marley, the soundtrack to ‘The Harder They Come’ and some Dub compilations from Lee Perry and King Tubby, and you’ve pretty well all the reggae anyone could need.

I love this one – Young, Gifted and Black by Bob & Marcia. Your soul’s intact!

And this – Two Sevens Clash by Culture. It dread!

>Day 131: Is This England?

25 July, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Mighty Diamonds – Deeper Roots

Started the day with a raft of housework today, changing beds and cleaning floors in anticipation of our houseguest, a colleague of Mrs W’s. The girls are out on a ‘works do’ tonight, so I get control of the remote (for once!)

I also had to stay around the house today, following a letter from the water company regarding our water meter – a water meter I had no idea we had, nor where such a thing might be located if we did, indeed, have one. As is the norm, there was no set appointment time – ‘sometime between one and five’, the letter said. The letter stressed it was very important that I was around to give the water man access, so I positioned myself in the lounge with a view of the street, ready to answer the door when needed (we’ve a fickle doorbell, and I didn’t want to miss the man when he turned up).

Sure enough, at two thirty, a big white van pulled up outside. The water man got out, went straight to an inspection hatch on the pavement outside our house, lifted the cover, unscrewed a metal cylinder about the size of my fist, replaced said cylinder with a new cylinder, got back into his van, filled in a few forms and drove off. Never got as far as the drive, let alone the front door.

At least I know where the water meter is now.

Dropped the ladies off in town, then back home to settle down in front of the telly with a Sainsbury’s curry (lamb rogan josh, since you ask – very nice too, with some chick pea curry on the side and a plate of chapatis), a nice bottle of Cabernet and Shane Meadow’s ‘This Is England’ in the DVD player.

I’ve had This Is England for a while now, but never got round to watching it. It always promised to be a touch depressing and unsympathetic – back in the day, probably like everyone of my age, I’d had one or two run ins with gangs of skinheads…let’s just say they were never my youth tribe of choice! That said, I’d heard lots of good stuff about the film so thought, in the absence of a better alternative, to give it a go.

And I was so glad I did. The recreation of post-Falklands Thatcherite England was spot on, and the film was a lot more sympathetic and heartwarming than I expected – albeit with a simmering violence not far below the surface – that exploded dramatically at the film’s climax. Plenty of strong performances, not least from Stephen Graham, in the role of Combo, the racist, violent skin recently released from prison. Watching the film, he looked strikingly familiar from other films, but I couldn’t place him at all and it was only after consulting the IMDB that I realised he had played ‘Tommy’ in ‘Snatch’. I’d never have made that connection – not least because, although clearly a scouser in This Is England (and real life, born in Kirkby), he produced a faultless (to my ears anyway) cockney accent in Snatch. Having a full head of hair probably helped, as well!

All in all an excellent film and I’m glad I got round to watching it. If you can get past the grim subject matter, I’d recommend it to you all as well. Although set in 1983, are their parallels for today’s situation? No skins, but economic decline, the rise of the racist right, the aftermath of a distant war? Is this still our England?

Let’s hope not.

With synchronicity at work, a touch of reggae on the soundtrack today from The Mighty Diamonds. Not the most famous of reggae bands in this country, although their ‘Right Time’ is one of the classics of the genre. Deeper Roots was released in 1979, and in my version comes with a separate album containing dub versions of the main album. And mighty fine it is too. My copy is a snide internet download – but I’m not sure how readily available the disc is in the shops anyway.

And through the magic of YouTube, here they are in Channel One Studios performing Long Time. Ridim!

>Day 27: Welsh Wales

11 April, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – Tougher Then Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music

Up and out today, to enjoy the good weather while it lasts. Off to Conway (or Conwy, as the locals would have it) for a quick wander. A long, long time since I’ve been, and the first time for Mrs W. A very smooth journey – motorway/dual carriageway pretty well all the way now – I’m sure in years gone by the journey involved lots of single carriageway stuff. The journey along the coast road takes in some excellent views over the Dee estuary and the Irish sea as well, both resplendent in their ‘blueness’ today.

Of course, with it being a Bank Holiday weekend and all, Conway was packed and it took a while to find a car park (and then to generate some small change to pay for the parking). Once parked up, we wandered through the town onto the quayside where I was delighted to see that the ‘Smallest House in Great Britain’ was still there and that no-one had discovered a smaller house yet. I first saw the house on a school trip to Conway back in the ’60s – for some reason it made a bigger impression on me at the time than the castle itself did. Slightly confusingly, it was bigger than I remembered it…. Apparently the house was lived in until 1900, when it was deemed ‘unfit for human habitation’ which given the standards of the time must have meant it was pretty grim. It does beg the question though – if the house is ‘unfit for human habitation’ is it still reasonable to describe it as a house? In which case it might not qualify as the smallest in Great Britain? Hmmmm…

Wandered in the general direction of the castle but gave the full tour a miss this time around. In any event, Mrs W’s stomach was calling out to her and we went in search of sustenance. Sadly, the options available to us either involved long queues or cramped seats so we decided to ‘save ourselves’ for our tea. Which tonight involves a lot of pre-prepared Tesco snacky stuff chucked into the oven.

What? Standards slipping, you say? Don’t you think I did enough cooking last night?

Last night’s fish bake was very fine, I have to say, but hard work. Lots of pans on the go, especially when I decided to accompany it with another cauliflower cheese, which meant cooking up two separate sauces at the same time. Inevitably something had to give, and the cauliflower cheese was slightly disappointing, certainly when compared to the monster dish prepared a couple of weeks ago.

As I type, the footy results are coming through. ManYoo struggle to a somewhat spawny win at Sunderland with the young Italian kid scoring again with his first touch, and Chelsea very nearly chucked away a 4-0 lead, holding on to win 4-3 in the end. Oh, and Big Red buried Blackburn 4-0 earlier in the day. So still very interesting at the very top. Disappointingly, Arsenal also won, 4-1, but the scoreline doesn’t really reflect the fact that Wigan led for most of the game, and that three of the Arsenal goals came in the last 20 minutes or so. That probably puts them out of reach, although there’s the small matter of a game to win against Aston Villa tomorrow.

Toughter Than Tough is a 4-disc box set, covering Jamaican music from the early ’60s through to the early ’90s, tracing the music from its early calypso origins, through ska and rock steady, reggae and its variants (lovers, roots etc), dub and on to the toasting performers of the late ’80s and early ’90s. There’s hardly a bad track in the set, although for me the series peaks on the third disc, which covers the late ’70s and the reggae explosion that accompanied the punk era. Culture, Black Uhuru, Burning Spear and of course Bob Marley are well represented, but it’s also delightful tunes like ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ by Althea and Donna that bring a smile to your face and a skank to your step.

Excellent hair and glasses madam! In mi khaki suit an’ ting! Riddim!!

Categories: Conway, reggae