Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finally, Some Decent Snow.

Finally, some decent snow.

As it’s now December 1st I can consider getting festive, only consider mind you. I hang the advent calendars, one each. One for Doggo and one for MD. Daughter’s not happy about that. In fact she’s appalled that I’ve bought advent calendars for the dogs and not for her. So she goes and gets one for herself. I hang it between the boys’ ones.

I get the bus again and it’s bang on time but there are only two of us on it. It’s usually rammed. They must all be on a duvet day. Once off the bus, it’s a nice walk in lovely snow, so un-British.

The weather is glorious, white over and bright sunshine. It could almost be Austria.

The main roads all appear to be fine but some of the minor roads look a bit challenging, including the street my company is on. We spend the first half an hour at work watching everyone drive round it sideways.

As you can tell, I’m really busy at work this morning. There goes the phone again. Someone requiring assistance. I slip my coat on and nip outside to assist with the snowman building. Which incidentally is a disaster. Wrong type of snow.

Having got over the advent calendars, Daughter is now as high as a kite. She has not only a day off today after her college decided to shut but also an offer from a university. Albeit from Huddersfield, which is in Yorkshire, and where it snows.

The local college here, The Roundhouse, was closed as well but they didn’t seem to have told the students. There were several dozen of them trying to break in.

The sandwich van doesn’t turn up so a quite a few of us have to put our coats on, muttering ‘I am just going out to Greggs and may be some time’, like Captain Oates at the South Pole, before disappearing off into the blizzard.

Shame on the sandwich van for not getting through, I get two parcels delivered today by different couriers. I'm impressed.

L spots a photograph of a former schoolmate of the kids in the newspaper. The lass is now a successful model and the reigning Miss Nottingham City. She asks our two if they remember her. Son replies with a few memories of whom she dated and whose class she was in. Daughter’s response is shorter and to the point ‘Yeah, she's a bitch’. Don’t you just love the differing responses?

We get sent home at 4pm and thanked for coming in, which is nice. All but two of our staff made in.

Dog training tonight is cancelled. No idea why.

(Wednesday 1st December)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gosh, I’m Quick Tonight

Disappointingly there’s still very little snow around these parts this morning. I was actually hoping to run to work in the fresh snow but it’s too icy underfoot from the bit we got on Saturday which has now frozen. So I get the bus and hope for a deluge later. I’m the wearing running gear on the bus; everyone else seemed to be wearing duffel coats and wellies. The bus is on time and the roads totally clear. All a bit of a damp squib as usual.

It plays at snowing for most of the day before finally getting the hang of it around 3.30. It looks as if my run through the snow is on after all. Despite slightly bemused looks from my work colleagues I set off on my usual route through Chaddesden, where I sometimes hop on the bus. The conditions are excellent, fresh snow is great to run in, very soft underfoot, not slippery at all.

In Chaddesden, the live bus times say there’s one due in five minutes. I don’t believe it and I carry on to Spondon. Now the boards are saying seven or even eight minutes to the next bus. Somehow I’m out pacing the bus or else it’s stuck somewhere. I carry on to Borrowash, where the signs are now saying ten minutes. Gosh, I’m quick tonight...

Decision time though. Do I wait here or push on the extra couple of miles to Risley. I decide to go on. I just get into Risley and the bus catches me up, so I jump on. Seven and a half miles I reckon. Not bad.

I intended to get off the bus in Bramcote and run the last three to four miles to home but once settled on the bus and kind of snug, I change my mind. I’ve done my stint and stay on the bus all the way home.

The bus driver turns out to be a bit of a psycho. The roads are pretty good really, until he gets on to the bus lane through Bramcote which hasn’t had much traffic on it. It doesn’t stop him doing 40+ on it and you can feel the bus sliding around a bit and there’s no seatbelts on the R4. Well at least he’s having fun. Then a car pulls into the bus lane to turn left and I think if the car doesn’t get around that turn sharpish we’re going to shunt him from the rear... Phew that was close.

An hour or so after getting home I walk the dogs to meet L who is walking back from town. Now it’s not so much fun. The temperature is dropping and the paths are rapidly icing up. Not easy when you’re under collie power either, causes a bit of wheel spin.

(Tuesday 30th November)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Need Of Socks

After their walk this morning L texts to say Doggo needs some socks. Ah. Ice in the paws again.

There’s a rumour going around that they might start gritting the roads with sugar. Well what they’ve called 'sticky salt', salt that has been coated in sugar molasses to help it stick to the roads better. I can just imagine what a mess that’ll make of my bike. The salt on its own is bad enough.

I head over to training, half expecting us to get snowed in at the equestrian centre but nothing happens. Bit disappointing really.

Doggo is off his food tonight. So MD kindly steps in to help him eat it, until we haul him off. I offer Doggo a biscuit instead, which when he hesitates for half a second, MD nips in and steals. We have to extract it from his jaws. Honestly, that dog is food obsessed.

BBC’s Panorama programme tonight puts the boot into England’s World Cup bid. Quite why they and the Sunday Times wish to jeopardise our bid I’m not sure but it looks as if they might be successful.

It does surprise me though that some people expect organisations like FIFA, the IOC and even national Governments not to be, lets say, a bit dodgy, when that is often the default setting. They just don’t see themselves as... dodgy. With any of these organisations if you want anything from them you have to play their game or else you’ll get nothing.

In the unlikely event that we still do get the World Cup it will probably be because the delegates will be worried what, if they don’t pander to the crazy English, our media will expose next.

(Monday 29th November)

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Slightly snowy on the park this morning.

We have a total charade with Doggo as we leave the park. He stands stock still and will not move. Then slowly he lifts his left paw. I have a look; he has a bit of ice between his pads. I remove it. He puts his paw back on the ground but still doesn’t move. Then he slowly lifts his right paw. I repeat the treatment with his right paw but still he doesn’t move. Ok. I’ll have a look at the back ones as well.

L and I head into town on Sunday night and have a look around the Market Square. Daughter is out too, in the pub again. Honestly, I blame the parents.

Our Market Square, since it’s revamp, is usually just a giant patio with a water feature at one end but for Christmas they’ve got the ice rink back again and have done the rest out as Hogsmeade, according to L (Translation for unbelievers: A picturesque little hamlet of thatched cottages and shops, which is the only all-wizarding village in Britain, with enchanted candles hanging in the trees and on the main line to Hogwarts. Yes, it's a Harry Potter thing). She might have a point; they seem to have included a train.

However, it’s supposed to be Dickensian, just shows the council can’t get anything right and it’s so kitschy, complete with Dickensian burger stall.

The Christmas tree is nice though.

They’ve also included an Olde English tavern. Which must really have annoyed Nottingham’s many Olde English taverns and particularly the nearby Grade II listed Bell Inn which is quite olde and quite English, dating from around 1437. Just to show willing we pop in for a drop of traditional Olde English ale but they don’t have any... just good old traditional San Miguel and the like. Hmm perhaps not, we move on.

They’ve got Sooty Stout in Broadway, that’s more like it.

So the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy comes to its conclusion with ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest’ or to give it its Swedish title ‘Luftslottet Som Sprängdes’ which translates literally and badly as ‘The Air Castle That Was Blown Up’. It seems that in Swedish an ‘Air Castle’ is what we would call a ‘Pipe Dream’. With that info the title starts to make more sense.

The film picks up exactly from where the second one left off and because of that it’s kind of important to have seen that film. Preferably you need to have read the books because again there’s quite a lot of unexplained stuff going on.

Our heroine Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has somehow survived being shot in the head, as well as in the hip, and is now in hospital. Just down the corridor is another patient, the man who tried to kill her, her father Alexander Zalachenko. He’s having an axe removed from his skull, which is where she left it. Amazingly neither of them has a police guard. So it’s not difficult for the clandestine group inside the secret police, which we now know as ‘The Section’, to attempt to assassinate them both. They manage with Zalachenko but by more chance than anything they fail to get to Salander.

The film then follows Salander's rehabilitation process and also the preparation for her impending trail where she will charged with attempted murder. The same powers that be, who locked her in a psychiatric institution at the age of twelve, are hell bent on returning her there.

Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) meanwhile is preparing a special issue of ‘Millennium’ magazine exposing the whole shady lot of them and in the process hoping to exonerate Salander. What follows is a complex web of intricate plot lines and characters, which is why you need the background story. Many people muck in together to help her; her friendly doctor is on side, as is Blomkvist’s sister Annika Giannini, an attorney, who is to defend Lisbeth. Her fellow computer hacker Plague even rides in on his white horse to assist. The old men of ‘The Section’ however, have no boundaries and are prepared to do whatever is necessary to silence everyone, prevent exposure of their group and bury their secret forever.

Finally though Salander and Giannini have their moment in court, outsmarting the prosecution and turning the tables on their key witness Lisbeth’s former psychiatric doctor, Dr. Teleborian. That’s quite fun to watch.

Unlike part two, which was all action at the expense of a more meaningful plot, this film is the other way around and most of the action comes towards the end as Salander explores an old factory left to her in her father’s will. That said the suspense of the scene is diluted by knowing that her psychotic half brother is lurking there. The action with the nail gun doesn't disappoint though.

For a film that still sprawls itself over two and a half hours, it is still lacking in detail and I can’t imagine it makes much sense to the casual viewer. Obviously a lot of material had to be cut from each of the books, which are huge tombs, but they have made some odd calls about what to leave in and out. There are also superfluous additions. Scenes added of Neiderman and an unnecessary sub-plot concerning Millennium boss Erika Berger and a stalker that was altered from the book but still left needlessly in the film. It achieved nothing and if the minutes were so valuable, why waste them?

Both of the last two films had a badly cut feel about them and when I dig deeper I find out possibly the reason why. All three films were intended as a six part mini-series but were then cut down to a reasonable film length. With that information, it begins to make sense why it doesn't make sense. I look forward to seeing the DVD's of the full versions sometime.

Neither this film nor 'The Girl Who Played With Fire, were as compelling as ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ but it's not bad. Overall the series has been a little disappointing and for once I'm actually looking forward to seeing Hollywood’s take on these. Not all car chases I hope. However Hollywood’s Salander, Rooney Mara, has a lot to live up to. The films may have been a bit messy but Noomi Rapace has been outstanding throughout.

(Sunday 28th November)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bare Midriffs, Oil Drums And Random Dancing Girls

There’s an inch of snow on the car this morning at 6.30am. I best not tell L or else she’ll stop me going to the dog show in Richmond. Which amazingly is still on, although they have delayed the start until 9am. It was 8am, so thank God for that.

The ring road is clear, so good on Nottingham City Council for overreacting to the cold spell. So its wagons roll. Slowly. The M1, oddly, isn’t clear. The traffic info reports that one jack-knifed lorry between J28-J29 southbound is blocking the road and another one is blocking the exit at J28 northbound. I’m heading north but people are causing congestion by slowing down to look at the incident on the other carriageway but how bad can that be at 7am? Quite bad as it happens. And the slow moving traffic hasn’t cleared the snow off the road.

It’s hopeless, at this rate I won’t get there until lunchtime. So I decide to abort, turn round and go home to surprise L. Well it’ll be more of a shock, three cold bodies rejoining her in the bedroom. Except we can’t get off the M1. J28 is blocked as I said, with the length of the queue at J29 that might as well be blocked and by the time I get to J30 I’ve seen the length of the queue going back south. So if I came off now I would have to risk the A roads.

As it happens the roads are now almost empty and snow free. In fact we’re back travelling at 70mph+. So we carry on. The M18 is fine. As is the A1. It’s a bit ‘interesting’ getting up the farm track to the venue but other than that all ok.

We miss walking MD’s first two courses but somehow we wing and a prayer it around them both. We’re clear in one but not in the other. The judge on the first one compliments us on our improvisation and then later hands us the trophy for third place, along with a rosette and a Cadbury’s selection box. Worth the trip already. That’s the high point of MD’s day but Doggo then has a real purple path. Three runs, three rosettes. 8th, 7th and then 4th. Excellent. There’s life in the old man yet. Ok the weather reduced the field by perhaps half but no complaints from us.

The 18 points MD gets for his third place moves him over the 75 point threshold, he’s on 85 actually, which means I can now opt to move him up a grade to grade 4 should I want to. People rarely do this and tend to wait for the win that forces you to move up. We'll wait for the win, at least for now.

Absolutely no problems on the roads driving back home so we’re in plenty of time to get to Rock City for our third gig in four days. We nearly did four in four, Paul Smith at the Bodega, but thought we ought to spend a night with the boys and I have it on good authority that solo he’s nothing special.

We might be in plenty of time but with a door time of 6.30 we still miss the opening band of three, Rewards. I didn’t even now we had three bands tonight.

We do catch second up, London’s Goldheart Assembly. Who were once supposed to be one of those happening bands but I don’t think much happened. Something might happen tonight though as they drag an oil drum on stage... The band have been known to use unusual objects as musical instruments and tonight appears to be no exception. Perhaps the fact that the bands two lead vocalists are both ex-zookeepers at Whipsnade Zoo accounts for such eccentricity or maybe not.

They start off a bit messily, with guitarist John Herbert on vocals, using the oil drum and I can’t really make head nor tail of their first two tracks. Track three though is mellower and much better with the bass player, James Dale, taking over vocals, which he seems to do from here on in. From there they kind of kicked on into a sort of more standard indie style and were rather good.

So to another hugely interesting set from We Are Scientists. Keith Murray and Chris Cain are two of the nicest guys you’ll ever see up on stage and rather appropriately they now have a song about ‘Nice Guys’ to open with. It’s probably not autobiographical, when Keith Murray singing ‘Nice guys finish last’ he can’t possibly be talking about himself and it doesn’t stop him complaining about the snow. Though I’m sure they have snow in America too. Perhaps he’s worried about it snowing in Rock City; it certainly seems cold enough in here tonight.

‘Chick Lit’ stokes an already lively crowd before ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ makes things really kick off. The oldies are still the favourites. So much so everyone susses the intro to ‘This Scene Is Dead’ even if Keith does try to disguise it a bit.

They roll ‘Inaction’ into it, a trick they do a few times, making up for the time lost to the inevitable stage banter which comes between most songs. Keith casually swigging on a beer, Chris appears to be on juice. The pair of them have a very good rapport with each other, honed through plenty of live shows, and with their audience. It’s clear they love what they do. Then Keith throws his beer at the drummer and... ‘It's A Hit’.

‘Impatience’ is eventful. First some random girl dances across stage and then Keith breaks a string. He gets tangled in his shoulder strap as he attempts a guitar change and it’s to his credit that he manages it without missing a single word of the lyrics.

For ‘Textbook’ Keith leaves the guitar duties to Aaron Pfenning of 'Rewards', who we missed earlier. I think Rewards is basically just him, although random dancing girl might also have something to do with it but I’m not sure. He’s one half of the band Chairlift, who I vaguely know of. I guess we should have been here earlier if we wanted to know everything.

Once he is guitar-less Keith climbs the crowd barrier so that he can get closer to his public, well mainly the adoring female ones. Of which there appear to be many. In fact later, as we do our usual post-gig debrief, L only really talks about Keith's bare midriff.

‘The Great Escape’ is as popular and proficient as ever, but also many of the new tracks from 'Barbara' are well received. Particularly 'I Don't Bite', lead single 'Rules Don't Stop' and the excellent ‘Jack & Ginger’. What their material lacks in variety they make up for with the sheer energy with which they deliver it live.

For the closing ‘After Hours’ Goldheart Assembly return to the stage accompanied by their oil drum, Aaron from Rewards and the random dancing girl for the usual communal sing-along. The Scientists always seem to bond with their support bands.

The encore of ‘Dinosaurs’ and ‘Cash Cow’ completes a short but very sweet gig, only just over the hour mark including encore.

Afterwards we chill in the Ropewalk. Chill being the appropriate word, its well below freezing outside. We discuss the gig and bare midriffs of course. No. I didn’t get a photo of it.

(Saturday 27th November)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Crawling Back Under The Duvet

It’s a bit cold tonight but worse than that they’ve dumped a load of grit on the road which will make a right mess of my bike. So I crawl back under the duvet this morning.

I stay there a touch too long and just about make it on time to work but end up eating breakfast at my desk... L too ends up having breakfast at her desk. Rebels, we both are. Her excuse, probably, the deer having a bit of a MD problem, nothing they couldn't handle I would think.

She forwards information to me about the hilarious ‘Shake Weight’.

Which amazingly seems to be genuine. Although according to all the fitness magazines there is no way it would ever work and it’s already been rightly pilloried in an episode of South Park. I don’t think she intends to put one on her Christmas list.

We have a bit of dog trouble in the pub later. Well, to be more accurate, we have a bit of customer trouble. Some drunk crawling on the floor in front of Doggo which he seriously doesn’t like. I don’t think the chap liked being told off by him. He was lucky, some dogs would have bit him. Doggo doesn’t bite. Even if he had wanted to give the annoying guy a nip, he'd struggle, he’s hardly got any teeth. Whole thing freaked L out thought, so we might not be going there for a while.

They’re out gritting the roads again tonight. Probably an overreaction.

(Friday 26th November)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Salubrious Surroundings

They’re got some snow in quite a few places this morning I see. Quite a bit in Yorkshire. That’s where I’m supposed to be on Saturday.

Daughter says she doesn't want to go to Uni anywhere where it snows. She won’t be going to study in Vienna or Zurich or Geneva or Colorado or anywhere like that then. Shame we would have visited.

At this rate she'll be staying in Nottingham, we’re still snow free or there's always Warwick I suppose. L checks the Warwick webcam in case we need to take a shovel when we go over there tonight. Nope, no snow in Warwick.

We’re in the salubrious surroundings of the Warwick Arts Theatre on Warwick University’s campus. Last time we were here was a few months ago and among the acts on the stage was the Principal of the University thanking us for leaving Son in his care for the next three years. Pleasure.

This means we get to visit the exiled one tonight. We offered to buy him a ticket but he declined. Too many parties to go to I guess. Whether he’ll have time to make us a drink before we come home I’m not sure, we'd need to take our own coffee and milk of course and perhaps we’ll take our usual flask as backup, just in case.

In the end we manage to spend half an hour or so to spend with him before the gig. Time enough for a quick coffee, a toastie and the lightening of the wallet by around £20 courtesy of the on campus Costa Coffee. Students too it seems are highly fleeceable.

Then we head into the Arts Centre which hasn’t been occupied by a student protest although apparently somewhere on campus has been. Son tells us the occupation ended peacefully when they withdrew toilet facilities from them. No staying power these modern students.

Support tonight’s comes from a band called Phosphorescent. The band is mainly a chap called Matthew Houck who performs with an ever changing group of musicians.

They were ok, worth a listen. In fact at first they were pretty impressive but they soon settled down and their alt-country/folk songs all became a bit samey, one paced. Houck himself has a strong, if slightly irritating voice and you can’t criticize his band for not giving their all because to a man they certainly did. In particular their keyboard player, whose face I never saw, but they were a blur of movement throughout. Their last track mixed things up a bit and started out a bit livelier before it too settling down into a similar comforting plod to the rest of their stuff. Probably just not my thing because they had plenty of admirers tonight.

Rewind to 2005 and my first trip to the Leeds Festival. It wasn't too big a wrench to desert the Queens Of The Stone Age on the main stage, not to my liking, to head to what was then the 'Carling Stage' for the breakthrough acts. A band from Brooklyn called The National were on there entertaining a small crowd. Warming up for the delights to come, mainly Saul Williams, Charlotte Hatherley and Ladytron... as I recall. I had been quite taken with some of the tracks on their second album, 2003's 'Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers' and at Leeds they were excellent. Playing a surprisingly up-tempo set which I later discovered was mainly drawn from their new album at that time 'Alligator'. That was five years ago.

Now two critically acclaimed albums later, 2007’s 'Boxer' and now 'High Violet', one of the albums of this year, they are playing venues such as the Warwick Arts Theatre and it’s far busier than the Carling tent was.

After an entry accompanied by Neil Young’s ‘On The Beach’, it’s with ‘Boxer’ they start and ‘Start A War’. Vocalist Matt Berninger stumbling around like a punk drunk fighter and telling the crowd off for whistling at him. He’s joking, I think, and all the band are in high spirits throughout the night, with the Dessner brothers, Aaron and Bryce on guitars, verbally sparring with Berninger between songs. The National are a very family friendly affair because completing the line up are another set of brothers, Scott and Bryan Devendorf. Bryan somehow smashing a cymbal during ‘Mistaken for Strangers’.

There’s also an additional two members touring with them, adding among other things trumpet and trombone to many tracks. Which are very evident on beefed up rendition of ‘Slow Show’, an often requested wedding song... so they tell us.

'High Violet' may be close on album of the year but it’s actually ‘Boxer’ that provides the most stand out moments tonight. The two I’ve just mentioned plus a very lively ‘Squalor Victoria’, a fantastic ‘Apartment Story’, what they describe as one of their many songs about social anxiety, and the closing ‘Fake Empire’.

They tell us a lot of stuff about their songs. ‘Afraid of Everyone’ is about how f***ed up American politics is. Whilst ‘Conversation 16’ turns out to be about marriage and not they say about cannibalism. I didn’t actually think it was...

They are excellent, if a tad too polished at times. What annoys most is that throughout the night they are fighting off requests for oldies. To be honest I didn’t expect much, if any, really old stuff because I didn’t think anyone would know it but the knowledgeable crowd tonight proved me wrong with their repeated requests. So why not give in and play some? They won’t. Claiming they have a set list to adhere to and anyway Berninger claims to not know the words... Then they do play ‘Available’ and a bit of ‘Cardinal Song’ off ‘Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers’ but it’s mainly a case of showcasing the quality of their last two releases. We get all but one of 'High Violet' and seven tracks from 'Boxer'.

'Alligator' is only plundered twice, first for a corking ‘Abel’ with Berninger screaming the chorus down the microphone at us and then for ‘Mr November’ in the encore, when he does similar.

The highlight from the new album for me is the utter misery that is ‘Sorrow’. Love it.

Finally they give into a request and say they will break band protocol for a guy near the front and insert a song into the set. It’s the excellent ‘Green Gloves’ but hardly an oldie and it’s not inserted, as it replaces a much older track ‘Lucky You’ from the ‘Sad Songs’ era, which is criminally binned.

Berninger croons his way through ‘Runaway’ to start the encore before fierce versions of ‘Mr. November’ and ‘Terrible Love’. They close though with an epic, attention grabbing, totally unplugged version of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’. Which was just superb.

Aaron Dessner and Berninger start the song stood on speaker stacks close to the crowd before Berninger journeys deeper into the throng, standing on the crash barrier being held up by a fan and leading the audience in an acoustic sing-along. Terrific stuff.

(Thursday 25th November)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You May As Well Be Walking

It’s minus two this morning; I skip the bike and get the bus which is a bit tame. I might run later depending on what time we have to be at the gig tonight. I haven’t managed to get hold of the stage times yet.

At squash last week we were all discussing how L runs at 11kph on a treadmill whereas my squash opponent only runs at 10kph. He seemed horrified to discover this fact but claimed to not be unduly bothered by it, but all three of us knew where it was leading.

This morning the email arrives ‘I blame L’ he complains. ‘After all her talk of "oh, I couldn't possibly run any slower than 11k, I mean, you may as well be walking!"’.

Oh dear. So as expected he just had to have a go and now he’s regretting it. I email him to check that he wasn't thrown off the machine into the back wall. Seems not and he ran further than usual because the episode of the comedy he was watching hadn’t finished by the time he’d completed his usual 3k. I would have thought all this was to the good... but he’s not happy.

I daren’t tell him that L has since confessed to me that she's now actually running at a sneaky 11.2kph. Then again, I consider telling him she’s doing it at 12kph... but decide it’s probably not advisable. L accuses me of deliberately planting sneaky little seeds about this kph thing in both of their minds. Moi? As if.

Tonight’s stage times afford me a small window of opportunity for a run. So I do the jog-bus-run scenario again, only this time without a whippet to pace me. Which is a shame but probably for the best; at least my legs think so.

Meanwhile L goes off for a pre-gig gym session warning that if she's got a black eye and a broken nose afterwards it's because she’s gone for 12kph. I’m to pretend not to notice. Blimey, she’s getting almost competitive and that seed has sprouted roots.

I’d be so proud of her if she’d done 12kph, black eye or not. Though if she’s in casualty and needs collecting I'm kind of busy until at least 10pm tonight. Thankfully when I meet L in town later there are no signs of bruising.

L's only here for the blood, that is Florida’s Surfer Blood. After that I might have to keep her awake through the ninety minutes of the morose majesty of Interpol.

There has been quite a bit of internet chatter about Surfer Blood and they are certainly different from tonight’s headliners. For a start singer John Paul Pitts is attired a touch like a public schoolboy but they also sound totally different.

They launch energetically into their first track 'Fast Jabroni'. That is as energetically as a five piece crammed into such a limited amount of stage space can. It's a good song and they appear at their best when they are playing simple up-tempo guitar driven pop songs like that, rather than the few slower numbers they throw in.

However a few songs do veer off successfully into different styles and show they’re capable of mixing it up a touch, such as on ‘Twin Peaks’ where there’s all sorts of things going on. Their best known moment so far though is the annoyingly catchy anthem that is 'Swim', which closes their very short set.

The band are pleasant enough in a quirky sort of way but are just one of several bands doing this sort of thing at the moment. What other bands don’t have perhaps is a keyboard player with such impressive hair along with a set of maracas and other cool things that he keeps in a bag of tricks slung under his keyboard.

Presumably it's usually the record company’s idea but bands should never self title an album. It's just plain dull for a start and utterly pointless. You should know who the album is by, I would hope, and it's so lazy. It shows a lack of creativity which tends to be repeated throughout the tracks on the album, so it should serve as a warning to us buyers as well. If you must do it. First album only. Never after that. Certainly never your fourth as Interpol have done.

The signs are that the band themselves aren’t that enamoured with it either, which backs up my thesis, because only five tracks are played from it tonight. Add to that the fact founder member Carlos Dengler left straight after the album was complete to 'concentrate on other things'. Maybe this shows he wasn’t that keen on it either. That said; it isn’t too bad. A little underwhelming on first listen but it's a real grower. Carlos, you should have given it another spin mate.

'Success' the opener on the album and also the opener tonight, is slower, steadier and more funereal than their last two albums, harking back to the style of their debut, 'Turn on The Bright Lights'. Things immediately get a touch livelier with the next track, a rocking 'Say Hello To The Angels', proving that they had rare upbeat moments even on their debut album.

The plus side of the new album only being lightly touched upon was that tonight became pretty much a retro night and this yielded a quite brilliant set full of juicy treats with six tracks from each of their first two albums.

'Antics' supplies us with ‘Narc’, which soars along whereas ‘Length Of Love’, a nice extravagance, swaggers.

With Carlos D gone, the new boy on bass is David Pajo, who it has to be said is pretty anonymous throughout. Perhaps he’s nervous; he appears to have a quadruple brandy next to his water. Is this to help him get through it?

Main stays guitarist Daniel Kessler and main man Paul Banks, who met in a philosophy class you know, are positively lively by comparison. The band’s lack of mobility is legendary but they are far from statuesque tonight. Not that they leap around the stage or anything. That would have somewhat spoiled things.

Paul Banks is positively chatty, well almost. He even puts names to a couple of songs. Nice hat by the way Paul. He even smiles a bit. Daniel Kessler smiles a lot and his expertly delivered guitar hooks are accompanied by some neat footwork.

There’s only one track from 'Our Love To Admire', which was a bit harsh on what isn't a bad album and 'Rest My Chemistry' wouldn't have been my choice either but it’s affecting enough.

Everything is accompanied by a never ending fog of smoke that envelopes the barely lit stage, so the band all have their own little lights so that they can read their set lists. All this means there’s not a lot to aim the new camera at. So it’s just a case of stand back and appreciate the music which is as tightly performed and as expansive as expected.

The trio of hits from 'Antics', their more populist more upbeat album, are all present and correct: - 'Slow Hands', 'Evil' and 'C'mere' and it helps to lighten the mood of the darker stuff. Those numbers also blend well with recent single 'Barricade' but it was their choice of oldies that excites and makes it such a great night.

‘NYC’ isn’t always in their sets, which is a shame, as it’s just so fantastically moody and wonderfully done tonight, wallowing in its own exquisite misery. As for ‘Leif Erikson’. Just amazing. Well I think so but L’s looking a bit bewildered. I guess with Interpol you either revel in their intensity or... well, not.

There are some new slow burning epics too. Particularly the dazzling 'Lights'. When Banks poignantly cries ‘That's why I hold you dear’ you feel that perhaps he means it.

They close with a thumping 'Not Even Jail' which means that 'The New', a real rarity that sent the forums all a chatter when it surfaced mid set at their last gig two nights ago in Germany after (apparently) seven years of not begin played, isn’t in the set tonight.

Ah, but it is. Disappointment turns to delight as the encore from heaven for any hardcore Interpol fan follows. Not that I would regard myself as hardcore but anyway. You would have thought it unlikely that they'd play 'Untitled' but to not only play it but then follow it with 'The New' and then 'PDA' is simply sensational. That’ll upset them and make them drool in equal measures back in their home country across the pond. That’s an entire encore from the darkest depths of ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ and some way to finish.

(Wednesday 24th November)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Frustrated Swimmer

A pleasant ride in, apart from when a car tries to jump the lights in Sandiacre and almost drives straight through me but then just sees me at the last minute. So I live to fight another day.

The route for the 2011 Kilomathon has now been announced and as expected it’s centred on Derby and is no longer a Nottingham to Derby run which was the attraction for us. So we did right in avoiding it and its naughty £45 price tag, opting for the more prestigious Reading Half Marathon instead.

The route though is quite interesting. Starting by Darley Park before looping out of Derby via Findern, Stenson, Barrow and Sinfin before finishing at the Moorways in Allenton.

The organiser is from Derby and I wonder if had half an eye on nostalgia when he set the route, as it seems to encompass part of the old Derby Ramathon route, which I believe started and finished at Moorways back in the 1980’s. If it’s similar next year, I might give it a go.

I cycle to John Carroll pool which is shut do to the ‘water quality’, whatever that means... it’s never exactly been clean. They say it might open at 7.00 or it might not. Which is nice and indecisive. No matter, I’ll just pedal up to the new pool at Djanogly... or rather I won’t, its Ladies only until 6.45 then shut. How sexist. Men not allowed a post work swim then? I suppose in desperation there’s always Beechdale... or not. Closed at 5pm, just as people were leaving work. How convenient.

I head home before heading back out later for a pizza and a few jars with a friend. The route to the car park is blocked by a massive lorry, must be Interpol arriving for tomorrow. Looking forward to that.

After the pizza we pop into Langtry’s where they have Hobgoblin on, which is just the pick me up for a frustrated swimmer. Not that I would ever normally regard myself as a swimmer until I’m unable to swim that is.

(Tuesday 23rd November)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Knock Three Times

Someone asked L this morning how old our little puppy was. I wasn’t immediately sure whether they meant our nine year old who is in puppy remission or the one who will forever be known at home as ‘the puppy’ but is now two and half although going on six months old. She meant the latter and the woman’s eight-month-old collie dwarfed him for height.

Good news for Ilkeston Town FC, liquidated back in September. They now have new owners, SR Education, who are specialists in apprenticeships and training for sport. The club who had their status in the Blue Square North terminated will rejoin the league structure probably three to four levels down the league pyramid from where the new owners have pledged to elevate them back to the BSN within five years. Hopefully with better financial management than that of recent times.

As I arrive home from training this evening I hear someone knock loudly three times at our front door. Daughter races down the stairs to answer it, opens the door and then stares at me accusingly. Why was I knocking? Do I not have a key? But it wasn’t me, I was unloading the car. It also wasn’t me thinks Doggo, I was having a sniff and weeing up that bush, as usual. In fact, possibly to emphasise the point, he goes back for another salvo. MD just barges his way past her and into the house in search of his dinner. Surely not...

(Monday 22nd November)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wikipedia At The Ready

The knee seems to be knitting back together after too much ball kicking yesterday, well until I engage in another bout of said ball kicking on the park this morning and have a relapse. The boys don’t seem to notice.

The afternoon is spent bed shopping for Daughter and then the evening...

L, Daughter and I have booked tickets for Harry Potter 17 tonight or is it Harry Potter 7? I’m not sure, I lost track at number three. Apparently though this is the last book, so it’s the last film... though actually it’s not because they’re releasing another one next year. Confused.com? I am but that’s my usual state with Mr P. Still I’m willing to give this one a go, if only to complete (or, as it turns out, nearly complete the set).

The cinema is packed but no one complains about the click-click of Daughter’s knitting needles or the endless stream of pilgrimages to the toilet, which seems higher than usual tonight. Is it boring some people? Or have they not read the books and have simply gone to Google 'Regulus Arcturus Black' and the like, on the sly? Some folk are less underhand and openly have Wikipedia open and running on their smartphone (that's me) in an effort to keep up with the plot.

The headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, is dead. On the surface that should not matter much to our now ex-students who have taken a year out, presumably at the taxpayers’ expense and are bumming their way round the UK. Yep, rather than go interrailing like normal teenagers, they have gone off on foot with a tent they found at the bottom of Hermione’s handbag.

Hermione is the first woman on earth ever to pull something useful out of her handbag. She also has a complete wardrobe in there, not only for herself but for Harry and Ron as well, presumably right down to their underwear. Though this isn’t confirmed. Of course the boys would have happily worn the same outfit throughout, so the clothes weren’t essential but the tent, yeah, that was useful. Welcome to Harry Potter - The Road Movie.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Their trek has a purpose. Voldemort has installed a new regime at the Ministry of Magic, no coalitions there, this is an outright takeover and they’re painting Harry as a wizard with a price on his head, complete with stylish ‘wanted’ posters. When Bill Nighy tells you ‘these are dark times’, you better believe it.

Hermione waves her wand and erases herself from the photos on her parent’s mantelpiece. A move that isn’t just teenage vanity. She completely wipes herself from their memory, so that she can join Harry as he’s escorted from Privet Drive by his allies, dressed up as at least half a dozen decoy Harry Potters.

Yet they are met with an attack from the Death Eaters. Hagrid drives their air born motorcycle and sidecar the wrong way up the Dartford Tunnel in an attempt to lose them. Use the bridge Robbie it’s far quicker.

The safety of the Weasleys’ Burrow is achieved but at the cost of Mad-Eye Moody and that owl thing (Hedwig?) which bites the dust early doors. Then what do they do? Lie low? Nope. They hold a wedding there, which predictably also comes under attack. From which the three escape and set off on their camping trip across the English countryside in the absence of any form of coherent plan.

Harry’s mission is still to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes that contain fragments of Voldemort's soul. Harry accompanied by his trusty sidekicks infiltrate the Ministry of Magic to steal one of the horcruxes which is in the form of a locket. By the way, to gain entry to the ministry you have to flush yourself down the toilet. All grown up stuff this.

Having achieved this they find the locket to be indestructible and take turns in wearing it to dilute its powers, as whoever wears it experiences deeply negative thoughts.

At this point the film starts to feel very unlike a Harry Potter movie and a world away from the first film which was undoubtedly a kid’s film. The pace is slower in this film, perhaps too slow for some. They’re not veering off on some subplot every five minutes and making the whole thing feel cluttered. There’s also less time devoted to the special effects, though it has its moments. The music is also less intrusive, the more senior actors and actresses are kept mostly on the sidelines and there’s less overall action, which means less for the kids to enjoy I suppose. It's a more mature, much less cheesy and dare I even say grittier film. This is not your everyday blockbuster and it’s all the better for it.

There’s plenty of air in this film, space that could easily have been compressed to make the two parts into one but it is kind of good that they haven't and not just for their bank balances. By doing this they have succeeded in making a film that mere muggles like I can follow.

For the first time a Harry Potter film is character driven. It's a film about the friendship between its three principal figures, who, to be honest, all act their socks off. Any notion that they ditched the 3D version in case Daniel Radcliffe was exposed as a cardboard cut-out can be dispensed with.

The film takes a few risks, gets emotional and is at times as moody as its teenage cast. Full of long silences, meaningful glances and tension that you could cut with a blunt wand.

They all throw their toys out of the pram at one point or another of course. Ron reckons Hermione has fluttered her eyelids at Harry once too often and storms off in a huff. Bad call mate. Whilst he’s gone, left alone in the tent together, feeling all sad, lonely and disillusioned, the pair bond and cheer each other up, by dancing to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds who are playing on the radio. For a moment Harry seems to contemplate renegotiating their ‘just good friends’ contract but if he did, they cut that bit out.

Still the pair of them pitch camp atop Malham Cove. Which is a nice romantic spot, when it isn’t raining or when there aren’t Death Eaters after you, just don’t tell the National Trust.

Though they didn't even pop down to the Buck Inn for an Old Peculiar and that's just not realistic but then again, if this is fantasy, perhaps it's not supposed to be.

Then comes the most ‘chilling’ moment of the whole film. I could actually see L shaking next to me as Harry strips off to dive through the ice to retrieve the sword of Gryffindor. Brrr. That must have been cold, particularly as the locket tried to drown him. Ron’s reappearance rescues him and then when it falls to Ron to finally destroy the locket with the sword, ‘poor’ Harry’s naked again. Though this time he’s being warmed by an equally naked Hermione. The locket is playing on Ron’s paranoia and throwing up a hallucination (unless someone filmed them on their mobile) of Harry enjoying a prolonged rally of tongue tennis with a topless Hermione, who’s been kinkily sprayed silver. That’s one for the Emma Watson aficionados.

If that was racy then the return of Dobby was, well, sad.

His last ever scene was possibly the most poignant ever performed by a CGI elf, and I ask is one allowed to get misty eyed over such matters? Hope so.

Then there was the excellent animated sequence about the origins of the Deathly Hallows, which was very clever and the ending... well I can't really spoil that for you because this ones to be continued.

Overall I didn't have great expectations but I was pleasantly surprised with the latest from Mr P. I might even be coerced into the next one.

(Sunday 21st November)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Blonde Moments

I think I’ve done my knee in kicking Doggo’s ball across the park for over an hour. I must get him a new one, his current one is flat and takes some kicking.

Derby record their sixth successive home win, which keeps them in the dizzy heights of fourth place. Just ahead of Leeds and Forest... could get interesting. This win was if anything a touch fortuitous. A slightly dodgy penalty in our favour. Our new midfield player does have a few problems staying upright, mainly due to the fact he’s Spanish. Then having got ourselves 3-1 up, we give away a penalty and finish the match with ten men. We were hanging on desperately come the final whistle.

Post match, I rendezvous with L in Derby and we take the short bus ride to Burton and the very pleasant Coopers Tavern. Where they have a bit of a Kinver thing going on. The Kinver beers turn out to be pretty good despite all suffering from their individual blonde moments, e.g. they're all pale beers and not usually to my liking.

Then after a misunderstanding about the whereabouts of the 9.30 bus, e.g. we miss it. We have another hour to kill before the 10.30. Which is spent in the Devonshire Arms before we nearly miss the 10.30 as well.

Home safe and sound eventually.

(Saturday 20th November)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Perfect Sense

It's very foggy and damp this morning, though I don’t think it was actually raining but my jacket was soaked with Notts/Derby mist when I finally reached work through the gloom on the bike. After which I eat breakfast at my desk.

L confesses that she had breakfast at home today. She can’t do that. That’s just plain weird.

There was this bit of a nonsense story on the BBC website the other day.

The woman objects to folk like me having breakfast at work, as she sits reading the papers... and it appears he'd even got in early to eat it before official work start time.

It makes no sense to eat cereal at work... unless you’re one of the growing band of people who run, walk or cycle to work or go to the gym or swim before work, then it makes perfect sense.

L has a cunning plan of a romantic meal of chicken chow mein tonight, followed by perhaps liquid dessert in the Plough. Sounds good to me. It also appears to be a strategy to keep her off the Leffe in readiness for tomorrow's plan, which is a blow out in Burton... Hmmm. Last time we went to Burton we end up being practically AF because the beer was too strong.

Apparently I am allowed a whippet for Christmas. I’d be allowed to train with it and it would even be allowed to sleep on our bed. L says she would get a little jacket to keep it warm and a sparkly lead.

Wasn’t quite what I had in mind but I’ll let her know.

(Friday 19th November)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If It's Not Whippets, It's Buzzards

The other day I bought a new drinks bottle for my bike to replace my old mouldy one. The very next day it’s at college full of blackcurrant squash with Daughter. So I have to steal it back this morning.

It’s a bit traumatic on the road this morning. If it's not whippets, it's buzzards. Old buzzards that is, on bikes. Wizened old men who are actually incredibly fit and take great delight in burning off the allegedly fitter younger cyclists. One zooms past me in Spondon this morning. In fact he undertakes me at the roundabout, clearly I was holding him up. Problem is when I'm in old buzzard territory, I have a feeling I won't be burning anyone off.

L checks the Warwick Uni webcam. It's chucking it down. So I presume that weather is heading our way, just in time for cycling home.

Thankfully, I get home before the rain starts but the journey home is still not incident free. I’m passed by a not-quite-so-old buzzard. Probably around my sort of vintage in fact. There really is no hope for me.

Squash for the fourth week in a row, I'm spoiling him. I win the first game, easily. Which unsettles me more than it does him; lulls me into a false sense of security and its all downhill from there. Not helped by some very tired legs. Too many buzzard problems.

You can’t beat a good rumour and allegedly Rock City, possibly the Rescue Rooms and perhaps the entire DHP stable have been wiped out by fire. DHP own most of Nottingham’s music venues.

They quickly put up a correction on their website. Skunk Anansie were not fried alive last night. Everything is still standing and fully functional. Good job, we’re there twice next week. L is disappointed, she was looking forward to crawling through the charred ruins of Rock City to get our latest batch of tickets.

It’s a nearby Indian or was it bar, that went up in smoke. Formerly known as Posh Spice or was it Templars? We went there ages ago when it was called Anilas. It closes and reopens every six months. Won't be reopening for a while this time.

(Thursday 18th November)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pub Quiz Team

Daughter asked this question the other day. What factories are in Nottingham?

I’m not sure why she asked but it’s a very good question. Is anything made in the UK these days? Apart from bizarrely a few Japanese cars.

We have a lot of big companies in Nottingham but I’m pretty sure they're all just head offices of people like Capital One, Experian or Eon who don't actually make anything, apart from money.

We have Boots but not sure they actually make anything here. We also have John Player... but not sure they actually make anything here either. I'm pretty sure Siemens do though, and Bell Fruit and National Auto parts. Games Workshop are here, they may have a factory or it may all be made in China. Then there's Speedo but again not sure if it's not all made abroad.

A gold star goes to L who chips in with Kodak. We think they’re still open. There was a doubt about its future when they axed 35mm film production but having done a quick Google, it does still seem to be there. L also mentions Pork Farms. They have a factory. We should form a pub quiz team. We're on roll. A sausage roll even.

Dog training is a bit of a wash out. Someone gets thrown from a horse in the car park of the equestrian centre where we train and this understandably disrupts things a touch. The rider landed on her back and didn’t look good, yet the chap who was with her (her father?) sits her up. That’s not a good idea, even I know that. The girl looks close to passing out and he eventually agrees to someone calling an ambulance.

MD ends up starting his training half an hour late and then only gets a short session but Doggo doesn’t get to train at all, for an unrelated reason. There hasn’t been another class using the other side of the arena and I wasn’t going to set up all the equipment on my own. So we end up heading home early.

I did notice that after a long time in the ambulance the horse rider did finally emerge and seemed to be ok. Just shaken it would appear. So all good there.

(Wednesday 17th November)

Monday, November 15, 2010

A New Training Device

It’s too cold to cycle, maybe even a touch icy, or is that just the inner wimp in me speaking. L probably delays me deliberately, out of concern for my safety. Bless her.

The other option if I’m not cycling would have been to run in but I have to be out of the house before 7am to catch the right bus to do that. I’m way too late for that. I will run home instead.

Almost with the first email of the day L hits me with an enquiry about next year’s Bupa Great Manchester Run. Entries opened this morning at 08:30 and usually sell out pretty quick. The race has a 38,000 limit, which is big, very big. Entry is available on a first come, first served basis, until the final 10,000 places are left when the entry is changed to a ballot.

I suppose we might as well enter now, avoid the ballot and snap up numbers 1 and 2... Ten minutes later we’re both in but I don’t think we got 1 and 2. They’re probably saving the low numbers in case Gebrselassie really does come out of retirement.

Apparently the race goes through Coronation Street but even that didn’t put me off entering. I’m not that interested in seeing it, well not since Frisky the cat died.

My coaching course tonight is cancelled. Typical council. It’s only week two and they’ve cancelled one already. They probably forgot to book the room. I suppose it’s convenient with me having a gig tonight. I’ll probably see the organisers there. My worry though is what will it clash with when they rearrange it. I haven’t got that many gaps.

I had tonight kind of sorted, my course was scheduled to finish at 9.00 but could well have finished earlier and I was quite confident of a 9.30 stage time for the Gaslight Anthem anyway. There are two supports and doors aren’t until 7.30. Although they usually come on early.

After work I jog up to Chaddesden, get the bus to Bramcote and then run home from there.

Now I have most of the technological training devices on the market but tonight I eschew the GPS and Nike Plus devices and just run with the good old fashioned ipod and my watch. I do after all know how far the route is and there’s no evidence to suggest these things actually aid speed.

It’s not far home from Bramcote, around four miles but a nice leg stretcher, which I do at a nice steady pace. Jogging perhaps. Ambling even. At which point I see a training aid that I really could use. This one is cheap technology. Well upfront at least, though the ongoing costs may be huge. It might also be difficult to source.

A whippet, all decked out in woolly hat, Lycra and avec pony tail, practically elbows me out of the way as she comes past. Ok she might have asked politely first but as I was all ipod-ed up so I wouldn’t have heard her, and then she rocketed off into the distance like... well, a whippet on steroids. Obviously that annoyed me. I had to chase her down and did eventually catch her. Though I didn’t dare get too close in case (a) she thought I was a weirdo who was about to attack her or worse (b) she got worried that I was going to overtake her and speeded up.

So I kept a polite distance and used her as a pacemaker. Had this actually been a race I would obviously have had to overtake her or at least embarrass myself failing. Her pace was just what I needed and much more effective than all these gadgets. I’m just not sure what L’s going to say when I ask her for a whippet for Christmas.

It’s an early start for Leamington Spa's Sharks, a 7.40 stage time, ten minutes after doors open. I'm stuck outside in the queue and suspect Sharks are playing to about fifty people but no. It's packed inside when I finally get in; they're already hanging from the rafters. What I see of Sharks is quite promising and thankfully they have nothing in common with the 70’s band of the same name. The only 70’s thing about them is lead singer/guitarist James Mattock’s sleeveless Exorcist t-shirt, a film that pre-dates him by a couple of decades.

He strikes a confident figure, has a strong voice and overall I like their lively punk sound. They’re also a good test platform for my new camera. Well they are until, amid much confusion, they abort their set a song early due to a broken drum kit. Just how do you break a drum kit? Not seen that before and how does it hold you back. One drum, possibly a snare, surely does not matter much but they go off anyway. I’ll forgive them; they’re a young band who haven’t learnt the art of improv yet. Then again many experienced bands haven't or simply can’t be bothered to improvise when required.

The chap who walks on next and slings his jacket on the floor before tuning up an acoustic guitar could have been a roadie but how many roadies do you see in a flat cap? No this is Chuck Ragan who certainly fits the experienced description. The American singer/songwriter has been a member of Florida rock band Hot Water Music since 1993.

Like the Gaslight Anthem’s last UK tour support, Frank Turner, Chuck is another ex-punk rocker who has picked up the acoustic and gone folk. They like their maverick acoustic performers do the Gaslight. I’m obviously going to say Frank is better and he is. Chuck was good though, a bit more ‘throaty’ with his vocals than our Frank and whereas Frank has an entire band to back him, Chuck just has his side kick, John on the fiddle. It’s all very, well folk. All we need now is a spot of harmonica, which duly arrives on track four. Anyone called Chuck has to have a harmonica. At which point things do veer dangerous into barn dance territory but between them they ignite Rock City with their sheer energy, Chuck n John quite a match. Move over Kate n Wills.

And so to the Gaslight, who again come on stage a good ten minutes early. Isn’t that refreshing? Provided of course you’re not running late yourself, and thankfully with my coaching course cancelled I’m not. They’re known for playing ‘value you for money’ slots but will be up against one of Rock City’s immovable curfews, so it’s good that they’re getting started early.

Opening with their recent single, odd choice though it was, ‘The Spirit of Jazz’ they get the place jumping straight away, through another newbie ‘Boxer’ and the cracking ‘Casanova, Baby!’

Then Brian Fallon launches into one of his huge monologues before they play ‘The Diamond Church Street Choir’, about cakes, and his mother, who told him that rock 'n' roll was from the devil and gives you STD's and he probably mentions other things but they are largely indecipherable due to his thick New Jersey accent. He rambles a bit, as perhaps you can tell and he’s fascinated by the balloons which have lights in them, so he bursts one to see how it works... and some lag predictably likens it to a condom, which is perhaps how we got on to STD’s and his mother, and maybe cakes but who knows. He’s prone to ramble a bit. Have I mentioned this?

Oh and he also has his flat cap on... and the band have a flat capped roadie. So there’s flat caps everywhere tonight, just shows what I know.

He could have probably talked all night but he’s wasting serious music time. Which when it comes is seriously good. Then he picks up a harmonica in middle of ‘Old White Lincoln’, what else.

Of course nobody can mention the Gaslight without mentioning Springsteen and the band are now clearly sick of the comparisons but they did dig themselves a rather large hole with their second, albeit brilliant, album ’The 59 Sound’ and then shovel the soil in over themselves by going on and on about it.

Now they say they’re moved on, grown up, but they will never get away from it. Though to be fair their new album ‘American Slang’ sounds nothing like Springsteen. It sounds like plenty of other things but not ‘him’. More importantly it sounds like them. Whilst despite the popularity of ‘The 59 Sound’, probably the reason for the near sell out tonight, their best album remains, in my opinion anyway, their first album ‘Sink Or Swim’ from which ‘We Came To Dance’ and ‘Wooderson’ are both particularly electric tonight.

On CD the new album comes over as perhaps a bit too glossy. Whose third album isn't? Live, as ever, it sounds much rawer. 'Stay Lucky' particularly appears faster and punkier, whereas some of the slower tracks sound much more epic and ‘The Queen of Lower Chelsea’ is a stand out moment.

Naturally there are a couple of covers. Wilson Pickett’s ‘In the Midnight Hour’ is instantly recognisable but Wayne Cochran’s ‘Last Kiss’ is met with many a bemused look and sends me scrabbling post-gig for someone with a stolen set list.

Then finally chance for the Brucie lovers to go ape with the closing duo of ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘The 59 Sound’ for which Chuck Ragan returns to the stage to assist.

The title track of 'American Slang' opens the encore but the highlight has to be ‘1930’ from 'Sink Or Swim' which follows. Before the slower ‘Miles Davis and the Cool’ leads us into the usual rousing finale of ‘The Backseat’.

A damn good night. They missed a few faves out but very few bands rotate a set list like these guys do, and they’ll be getting those in Leeds tomorrow.

(Tuesday 16th November)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

For The Hell Of It

It’s a bit of a frosty one this morning, which will probably liven the boys up a bit for L. Not that they, particularly MD, need it.

L has recently booked tickets for a theatre trip with her sister. Nothing unusual in that but when she asked me to put the date, which is in May, in my diary I queried it. 'You’re going down to Milton Keynes for the theatre on a Thursday... why?' It turns out this cultural event isn’t next year but in 2012! That’s bizarre. How can any theatre think that far in advance? How can any person!

We have a couple of staff at work, both thankfully male, who are celebrating Movember are growing a moustache. The idea is simple, start November clean shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month. It’s supposed to be for charity but I think they’re just doing it for the hell of it. You would catch me doing it! Any any case, they've both grown a full beard which isn’t quite the idea, I don’t think.

I drive over to dog training and throw L out of the car somewhere along the A6. She’ll turn up somewhere later and I’ll bring her home again.

Our new TV arrives, blimey that was quick. I even remember how to watch TV and actually watch a whole programme. Probably be the only one, tomorrow the baton (remote control) will be handed over to Daughter and that’ll be that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Potential PB Course...

It said ‘a potential road PB course’ on the entry form. Hmmm. What they didn't explain was that that only applies if you limit your race entries to the Barnsley postcode area e.g. in this hilly part of South Yorkshire.

At the race briefing they even had the audacity to describe the course as ‘almost flat’. I’d actually looked at the race profile on the website and it wasn't flat at all. They clearly have a sense of humour up here.

After a minutes silence, as its Remembrance Sunday, they walk us forward to the start line on the main road. The start itself is a touch chaotic as people push and shove a bit to get over the timing mat which only went half way across the road. In fact it took me longer to get across the start line than at many much bigger races but I suppose with chip timing it doesn’t really matter.

The pace is immediately very fast. This race apparently always attracts a larger than normal proportion of quality runners and today appears to be no exception. In fact Liz Yelling holds the female course record.

Liz isn’t here today and she isn’t a Yorkshire lass anyway but there’s still plenty of Yorkshire grit on show and that’s just the women. They breed ‘em tough and fast up here, as well as immune to the cold, in their lycra shorts and skimpy top in all weathers. I can’t keep up with hardly any of them and my view of the race is a sea of bobbing pony tails disappearing off into the distance, and that’s just the men.

My first complaint, cause there’s going to be one, and it’s a big one, is why the mile markers? It’s a 10km race, so obviously it needs to be marked in kms. Surely, that goes without saying.

I’ve seen a few races do this and it is only a few but I've no idea why they do it. Its no help whatsoever when you’re trying to pace yourself. Surely it's not a case of not wanting to spend money on km markers because they’ve already got a set of mile ones... This race did splash out on chip timing after all.

Still having recalculated my splits for a sub-40 minute 10k from a nice round 4:00 minute km to a slightly obscure and eye watering 6:25 minute mile, that’s as opposed to my recent 7:20 half marathon pace, I give it a go. Despite the not the flattest of ‘flat’ courses, I impressively (I think) and painfully, attack the course and was on my 6:25 pace for most of the way.

I survive the early climbs they chuck at us, in a successful attempt to soften us up, and the traffic that got among the race and at one point turned left across us. I was on my pace until the long, almost two mile, uphill drag to the finish caused me to effectively chuck the towel in. With hindsight, I could have probably run it better had I know that hill was coming and left something in the tank. I’ll know for next time...

Still a good time, 41:10 (chip time) and I think I may have enjoyed it, a bit. I think. Apart from the red t-shirt, it is never good to see red when you cross the line.

L was ecstatic with her time and I feel slightly outdone but we gloat together later in the Lincolnshire Poacher and she even lets me take her for curry.

(Sunday 14th November)

Friday, November 12, 2010

What Normal People Do On A Saturday

A strange day today. A lie in, a park session and then the rest of the day in. Perhaps this is what normal people do on a Saturday. I do a few jobs that have been on the 'to do' list for the last decade or so but only a few before I turn the computer on. Fatal mistake. Well some of the many jobs I need to do involved the computer, buying stuff you know.

Then I spend so much money on-line that it would have been far cheaper to go out. In fact it would have been far cheaper to have gone away for the weekend. Abroad.

Well I did need a new camera, desperately; those gig photos really weren’t up to scratch. We’re also been without a TV for some time. So Daughter will be ecstatic at that purchase. L too will be elated that I’ve got her a new cosy camping mat... perhaps, so that she can sleep in a tent next month when we go up to Langdale for the 10k, rather than having to spend the night in some posh hotel. I even got some new torches to illuminate the way.

Derby lose. Told you it was an strange day. I've kind of got used to them winning very week.

Spending the day in, also turns out to involve spending the evening in when L turns down my offer of a romantic Mexican cannibal film at Broadway. It's a shame but sensible and she placates me with an early night instead. Which is all good before tomorrow’s Barnsley 10k, that I’m trying to take seriously. Hence we're alcohol free tonight as well.

Instead we indulge with a heavily cheese-laden Lasagne for tea, for the carbs naturally. We’ll need to run fast to work all that off.

(Saturday 13th November)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fashion Conscious Email

Its mega windy this morning so it seems to make sense to run into work rather than to cycle. Cycling would be more ‘entertaining’, sideways gusts and all that but running is perhaps safer. It’s more of a steeplechase than a run, as I had to hurdle many a fallen branch.

How hard should it be to email a knitting pattern? Ok... why do I want to email a knitting pattern you ask? Good question. Don’t worry about it. The fact is L emailed one to her work from our home account and it never arrived. So I emailed it to my work and again it never arrived. So in the end I picked it up at work via webmail, so that I could print it off. For some reason both our works’ email systems must have thought it was dodgy. I can’t see why though, it was just jpeg images. Must be some new fashion conscious email filter they’ve introduced.

L and Daughter keep complaining its cold and of course it isn’t. They’ll want the heating on next. True, the weather has perhaps got a bit chillier recently but it’s hardly wintry. Then today I get an email from Cairngorm Mountain saying they’re opening for skiing this weekend... as I was saying, the weather’s starting to get a bit colder now.

I run home from work, apart from the middle nine miles, where I hop on the bus. I’m only 10k training now, so no need to overdo it. Just as I’m nearing home the music in my ears is drowned out by two dogs going nuts. I seem to have inadvertently ran past the ‘boys’ and L without noticing them. I backtrack and make my apologies.

Tonight we head down to the Johnson Arms’ mini beer festival. It’s only a small affair but still worth a look. In fact, although they have a good long rotating beer list, the actual selection on at any one time is only six beers and they usually stock five. Thankfully some of them are good ones. In fact there were only a few on the rotating list we fancied but most of them seem to be on now. L cosies up to the Adnams’ Dutch Style Bokbier (5.3%) whilst I only have eyes for Milestone’s Old English Ale (4.9%). Well, I have a brief flirtation with the autumnal charm of Derventio’s Standard Bearer (4.5%) but I’m soon back in the arms of the Old English for the rest of the evening.

(Friday 12th November)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anything Is Possible

I try to get out of bed this morning to go for an early morning run. If I’m going to get that 10k time back below 42 minutes I’m going to have to train a bit. Perhaps not this morning though as I hear the rain lashing against the window, again. I snuggle back into bed with L and by the time I get finally up the only viable option to get to work is by car, and of course hope that no one’s parked up in the middle of the A52 today.

My meeting, cancelled from Monday, finally happens but I have to cancel a pub lunch for it, so not terribly enamoured to be there. It goes ok though.

Then it’s squash, which I lose 4-1. Although there were several pluses. First the game that I won was 15-1 (yes we play to 15, which is none standard but don’t ask), and was nearly the first 15-0 whitewash for either of us. It would have been well funny if I’d achieved that. The second plus was that we carried on playing after the match to aid my opponent’s 10k training. We played two more games and I won both. My superior fitness winning through.

Not that I ever expect him to actually do a 10k of course but he did drunkenly agreed to one last week, so I’m revelling in the possibility at the moment. I guess anything is possible.

Anyhow I’m calling the score 4-3 and if we’d kept playing I’d have won overall eventually. After that I had to practically carry him to the pub.

I get home just before L, who’s just back from the cinema and a brick session (that’s my training plan) at the gym. So we’re both in need of sustenance and because Daughter had staked out the living room for some TV programme we have to take the bottle into the bedroom. Not a problem.

(Thursday 11th November)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Almost Dead

On the bike today and rather bizarrely I get shouted out by a chap who had not only parked his car in the cycle lane in Risley but then got out of the car without looking. I have to swerve to avoid colliding with him.... and he shouts at me! He was a huge chap, well overweight, he could have done with doing a bit of cycling himself but I think probably even walking would have been beyond him. I probably burned more calories in that swerve than he will do in the rest of the week.

This morning L asks whether she’s got life insurance. She has but does the fact she’s enquiring mean she's more ill that I thought?

It’s the tuition fees demonstration in London today. Son was on about hitching a lift on the coach to blag a day out in London. Though I can’t see the NUS letting him get away with that. All the same I look out for him on the BBC news. No sign. Turns out he stayed in Warwick. He’s well out of it.

Can’t believe this photo from the BBC website. Talk about staged. All those cameramen just happened to be there when that lad kicked a window in...

I cycle to the pool for a swim. I think that’s three weeks in a row. When I arrive I text L ‘Alive. At pool’, as I usually do to confirm that I’ve survived another battle with the traffic. Her response ‘Almost dead. At work’ isn’t encouraging but quite witty. Hope I don’t need to resuscitate her later with Leffe.

It’s Doggo’s late training session tonight. His one evening a month when he gets the training all to himself. MD isn’t happy though and sits there looking a bit pathetic in the car. He does that very well.

(Wednesday 10th November)