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>Day 173: We ‘Sing’ for our supper (well, lunch, actually)…

4 September, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The High Llamas – Gideon Gaye

Up and out early today, to take Mrs W shopping. The Trafford Centre again – I’m becoming a regular! It was another filthy day though, and we didn’t want to be stuck at home indoors, so a bit of indoor shopping seemed in order.

Once we got to the Trafford Centre, we split up. Luckily for me, Mrs W is not the sort of woman who expects me to trail round after her while she goes clothes shopping, looking and acting like a spare part and nodding non-committally when she asks me what I think about this dress or that pair of shoes. Of course she knows that I’d be as much use as a chocolate fireguard anyway.

“That’s nice, dear. No, your bum doesn’t look big in that at all. If you like it, you buy it.”

So we went our separate ways, meeting up later for some chuck. I was given a project though – Mrs W had decided that we needed some steak knives, so I had to find some. That gave me the opportunity to wander over to the new ‘home’ bit of the centre, on the far side of the road but connected by an ornate walkway to the main shopping centre. And I managed to find some – cheap and cheerful (it’s not like we have steak every night) and not a million miles off being a match for the rest of our daily cutlery (not that we have the silver set in the big box ‘for best’, you understand).

Then it was off to the ‘boy’ shops to pick up a couple of cheap dvds (no cds – music shopping has become almost exclusively an on-line process now). The shops are all gearing up for the launch of The Beatles’ ‘Rock Band’ game (and not for the reissue of the remastered cds, interestingly – the game has a higher profile than the ‘real’ music it’s based upon, seemingly).


The ‘Rock Band’/Guitar Hero’ thing has passed me by a bit – I’m aware of what it is and how it works, but it strikes me as a bit of a shame that kids would prefer to press buttons on a plastic guitar rather than plucking strings on a real one. I’ll admit I’ve been tempted to explore further, but if I’m going to learn the bass lines to ‘Day Tripper’ I’d rather do it on my *real* bass than on a plastic copy.

Mind you, the ‘Rock Band’ drum kits look like they could be fun…not sure about the singing bits though!

Anyway, come lunchtime and we met up just outside the food court. Mrs W was hankering for some Chinese food, and the Trafford Centre is well served, by an outlet of the famous Manchester Chinese Restaurant, the Yang Sing. The Yang Sing is widely regarded to be one of the best Chinese Restaurants in the country – certainly I’ve never had a bad meal there. So how was the shopping centre experience? Well it was pretty damn fine, actually. We had a range of lunchtime options to choose from, eventually going for the ten quid-ish option, which included a dim sum platter and a decent choice of ‘mains’ served with fried rice.

Oh, it was goood – and great value for money too. Neither of us could finish our meals (which, if you know Mrs W and myself, is not that common) and the quality was great.

Leaving me to pay the bill and lug around everything she’d bought thus far, Mrs W went off to finish her shopping. I meandered round for a while, then when she’d finished it was back home to feed the cat before he decided to gnaw his own paw off.

The High Llamas are an Irish band, formed out of the ashes of Microdisney. While Cathal Coughlan went on to form the acerbic (and quite wonderful) Fatima Mansions, Sean O’Hagan indulged his Brian Wilson obsession and formed The High Llamas. Gideon Gaye is their third album and is probably the best album The Beach Boys never recorded, full of sumptuous melodies and harmonies.

This is ‘Giddy and Gay’ from Gideon Gaye (do you see what they did there?) – enjoy!

>Day 167: Holiday – Let’s Celebrate?

29 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Shelleydevoto – Buzzkunst

Mayhem at Waring Towers this morning, as our normal Friday morning awakening was augmented by a giddy bunch of holidaymakers looking forward to a week of sun, sand and general frolicery. Not for Mrs W and myself just yet though, although Mrs W has taken next week off , so today was her last day at work for a while. Me? Every day’s a holiday for me.

I was designated driver for the day, so after a quick breakfast for the troops (having convinced our four year old guest that ‘blue’ milk and ‘green’ milk were essentially the same thing), the wagon was loaded and we set off for the airport. Terminal Three, as Mrs W had reminded me. Once or twice.

After dropping family and cases off at the airport, I headed off to the Trafford Centre. It was my mam’s birthday today, so I needed to sort out card and presents for her. One of the joys of having workdays free is the opportunity to get to the shops at less busy times, although on the Friday before a bank holiday in the middle of the summer holidays, the shops were not as quiet as I would have liked. Still, I managed to get what I needed – plus a new clock radio for the bedroom – DAB, don’t you know, with an iPod dock as well. Since getting my iPhone, my older iPods have been somewhat neglected so I though this would be a good way of getting some use out of the thing. Oh, and I also did a quick Markys run, stocking up on tasty ready meals for the Bank Holiday.

Marks and Sparks is a strange shop in the Trafford Centre – they seem to have squeezed three floors into the space of two, and the whole store feels cramped and overcrowded rather than light and airy. It’s not actually that pleasant a shopping experience, I have to say.

Back home, to spend a nice gadgety hour or so setting up the radio, finding new radio stations and allocating preset slots. Pleased with it, it sounds good and isn’t overcomplicated (it’s a Roberts, by the way – there is a similar model made by Pure but that’s ten quid more expensive and doesn’t look as robust). Not tested the alarm yet – but one nice touch is that the alarm can be set separately for weekdays and for weekends, so no need to reset for Saturdays and Sundays. The things they can do, eh?

Then I spent a ridiculous amount of time emptying and refilling my old iPod. Initially it was confused by the fact that I’d changed computers since I last used it, but a factory restore sorted out that confusion. Deciding to fill the thing manually rather than automatically (why, Paul, why?) I then spent a couple of sessions dragging and dropping albums and tracks from iTunes to iPod. Finally finished at about two thirty in the morning, on the back of a bottle of red and a little whisky, so God only knows what stuff I decided to copy across in the early hours!

Touch more Trafford before I sign off – Howard Trafford, to be precise, who became Howard Devoto, originally a Buzzcock, latterly (and most recently) a Magazine. Six or seven years ago, well before the current Magazine reunion, he orchestrated a mini-reunion with his old Buzzcocks mucker, Pete Shelley under the inspired moniker Shelleydevoto. They released one album – Buzzkunst (see what they nearly did there?) – that received some critical acclaim and sold about thirty copies, I think.

Keyboard rather than guitar-driven, the album’s a slight departure from the norm for both Shelley and Devoto, but as a fan of both, it’s a neat little curio that deserves to be dusted off once in a while.

This is ‘Til The Stars in His Eyes Are Dead, performed live – on a video clip that actually appears on the CD release as a ‘bonus’ video file. Howard manages to convince during the course of the video that shorts on a middle-aged man are a definite no-no!

>Day 8: Our Day Out

23 March, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – Music inspired by ‘Oh! Brother, Where Art Thou?’

Off we go again, to the strum of a banjo and a sprightly ‘Yee-hah!’ Can’t beat a bit of bluegrass. Currently listening to Leadbelly covering that old acoustic Nirvana song, ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’, with The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Gene Autry all comin’ up in the next half hour. Don’t touch that dial now….

Anyway, the day out didn’t quite go as planned – blustery winds and the promise of heavy rain put paid to any thoughts of a day out in Conwy, or even to a trip out to Southport. We were determined not to stay in all day, so where else but the Mecca of the Modern Shopping Experience, the Trafford Centre?

Off we set, blown backwards and forwards (but mostly sideways) down the M56 to a relatively quiet Trafford Centre. One of the small pleasures to come from my current situation is the ability to get out to places like this when they are ‘off-peak’, ie not lunchtimes or weekends. So a nice gentle browse round the shops on my own (we split up, of course, Mrs W doing the lady shops and me doing the boy shops) with no real intention of buying anything – just having a stroll away from the wind and rain.

Met up with Mrs W an hour later, wallet no lighter than it was when we’d started despite spending plenty of time in the den of temptation that is the Apple store – my, those iMacs are sooo beautiful – one day, one day – and we wandered into the food court for a quick spot of lunch, which my good lady wife treated me to. Shared plate of nachos and a Jalapeno burger, since you ask.

By this time, the weather had brightened up considerably, although the wind was as strong (and cutting) as it had been previously. We toyed with the idea of a run out to Southport, but decided against it in the end.

Back home, found a cd of Franz Ferdinand’s live gig at the Manchester Academy waiting for me on the doormat – made by one of these companies that specialises in recording gigs (legally, and under license) and selling cds immediately after the event. Picked this one up because Matt had gone along to the gig – no doubt I’ll be able to hear him roaring along to ‘This Fire’ or some such in the background if I listen hard enough. I think it’s a nice idea, and certainly better than trying to hunt down an dodgy snide recording on t’interweb. Waiting for a cd of a Richard Hawley concert to turn up as well – really looking forward to that one!

Twittering along in the background while writing this – still to fully understand the point of Twittering, but it’s probably its very pointlessness that makes it fun. Currently eavesdropping on the saga of the animal infestation of the Word office…

You will have gathered from the tone of today’s blog that the job hunting has gone a little bit quiet of late. And you’d be right. The daily trawl of the usual websites has turned up a blank, as did the weekend papers. Still, one or two things are progressing slowly through the pipeline, and one of my mates (and ex-colleagues) has tipped me the wink about something that might come up for grabs in the not too distant. But not a lot to tell them at the Job Centre tomorrow, when I go to sign on. That’ll be fun, won’t it?