Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Post To End All Posts

It's 11am on Sunday and I've already had the weekend to end all weekends. No exaggeration.

Rewind a few hours to Saturday morning. I set off for Central London to get myself some new stuff for the up coming Heidelberg gig. Whilst on my travels through the hoards of people I found a couple of Weller DVD's in one of the many music shops, both heavily discounted, which I had planned on watching in the evening.

I got home, got comfy, and started to emerse myself in the DVD of Studio 150 (Weller's Covers album). Halfway through the interview I get a call from Woodcutter (remember, no real names policy!). He had managed to get hold of some tickets for a BBC show that Weller was doing and told me that if I could get to the TV studios within about half an hour, then I could get in as well.

Not needing to be told twice, I was calling taxi firms by the dozen whilst getting dressed so that I could get there in time. As with all All Mod Cons' journeys, it's never just plain sailing. Traffic lights insisting on being red, idiot drivers, drunken pedestrians and roadworks all conspired to stop me getting there in time. Thankfully my taxi driver was from a country where other road users are a secondary thought and I made it. Wristband on, I went in to meet the others. Woodcutter was accompanied by Sakura, TopMod, 1967 and a few more (my memory isn't functioning properly to remember everyone's names, sorry!).

We were all hanging around, having a few drinks (cokes in my case) before the show started. It gave me a change to get to know some of the other people a bit better. Stories were being bounded around by everyone, we all had our little anecdotes of Weller experiences to share and I soaked them all up intently.

On the table next to us was a face I recognised. It was non other than Eddie Piller, whom I'd met last year on the way to see Weller in Germany and who had very kindly got my ticket signed by Paul after the Berlin gig. I spoke to him for a little while, duly getting him the beer I owed him for my autograph.

After a few delays we were all let into the studio, the whole thing is due to go out on TV at some point, so all of us piled down to the front. Due to some fuck up with the ticket allocation, there was only about 120 of us instead of the planned 500. Talk about intimate!! Anyone of us could have reached out and grabbed the mic stand, we were that close! To one side of the stage was a Strings section, and to the other was the Brass. A full on musical cacophony!

Weller came out and continued to play a set of about 20 songs, including some of my favorites. Wild Blue Yonder was fantastic (a former Song Of The Week), Wild Wood was utterly amazing (Eliza McCarthy accompanied Paul centre stage with her violin and was magnificent), Peacock Suit, Seaspray, All I Wanna Do and Invisible are all ones that stick in my mind. Graham Coxon (of Blur fame) and Gem Archer (of Oasis fame) also played. Gem played Echos Round The Sun, a track co-written by Noel Gallagher, although I must confess that this isn't one of my favorite songs. Because it was being filmed, we weren't allowed to use any sort of cameras, which I was pretty gutted about. I didn't think I would ever get this close to Weller again to get a decent photo...

I, personally, thought that the whole session was incredible. I'm much more of a fan of intimate gigs than heady stadium shows and last night was just about as good as it gets. Everyone sang to all the songs and much "Weller Lovin'" was had by all. When the set was over I dived the whole 1 foot to the stage and grabbed not 1, but 2 plectrums! Both of them were used by Paul! The evening was getting better and better! But it wasn't over yet...not by a long way...

We slowly edged our way out of the studio, all loitering around and going through the songs that were played. Winding our way through the maze of corridors that make up the BBC I heard Woodcutter mention that there was a bar & get together up on the 4th floor. So off we all went, although I'm not sure if we were meant to be there or not. Sitting outside with Sakura, I met Ed the Manchester lad and City fan, along with his lovely (and slightly mad) other half, Mel. Ed is probably one of the nicest blokes I've ever met, and another avid Weller fan. He had managed to get a small collection of setlists, and he gave Sakura and I one each, "As long as I've got one each for me and my boy" he said. What a legend, and I'm looking forward to meeting them again in Brixton.

So...I'd managed to see Weller up close, I'd got 2 of his plectrums, and now a setlist. Doesn't get any better right? Bollocks it doesn't! After half an hour of mingling, the band turned up! Including Weller himself. I was standing a few feet from the man and Sakura looks at me and says "Get your camera ready, we'll get you a photo". She's known Paul for a fair while, and went to talk to him. I followed like a nervous child. After talking to him for a while she says to him "This is All Mod Cons, can he get a photo with you?". And this is where it get a little surreal for me. He looks straight at me and says "Hi, how you doing. I've seen you at a few gigs". If there wasn't so much noise going on, he would've heard me let out a little schoolgirl squeal. "Yeah, I'm good thanks, would you mind if I got a photo?", "Yeah, no problem". In my book, that constitutes a conversation. I was utterly over the moon. I stood next to Weller, his security guy took the photo, I shook his hand and said thanks. I've not been able to stop smiling, I even fell asleep with a grin on my face. I've made phone calls to pretty much everyone I know, sent copies of the photo to anyone I know that has a mobile phone.

I got 4 hours sleep last night, and I feel as fresh as a daisy. There was nothing bad about last night. At all. Everyone I met; Topmod, 1967, Ed, and the others, thank you for helping make it an amazing night. But especially to Woodcutter for getting me in and making that call to me. And to Sakura, without you introducing me to Paul I wouldn't have had the guts to speak to him myself. I don't actually know how I can thank you. For once words actually escape me.

This was the most perfect evening, ever.

Here's a few photos!


The Stage! (Before filming started)


My setlist (courtesy of Ed) and my 2 plectrums.


And the BEST ever. Paul Weller and All Mod Cons. Fucking Perfect.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The 100 Club

A little while ago I was invited to see The Jamm at the 100 Club on Oxford Street by a friend of mine, whom I shall call Sakura (keeping my "no real names" policy). Not only is she a completely lovely lady, but she's also a huge Weller fan. She's seen The Jam about 70 times, and Weller since he went solo around 50 times. Now that's what I call a serious fan!

Anyway, we went to the 100 Club, which is situated on London's Oxford Street and has been hosting a plethora of music since 1942 (originally a restaurant called Mack's). The list of bands and artists that have performed here is way too long to list them all. But to give you a little taster, some of the acts that have graced their stage include...Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, The Who, The Kinks, The Clash, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Oasis, Kula Shaker, Echobelly, The Jam and of course Paul Weller. The club has also had Metallica and The Rolling Stones perform secret "warm up" gigs there.

I'm not sure if the size of the club has changed over the years, but I doubt it. It's incredibly small, and the stage consists of just a few stage boxes. It's effectively just the basement of a building. You're right there with whomever is playing. I can't even begin to imagine the atmosphere of the place when headliners are filling the dark confines with their musical bonanza. Even though the smoking ban is a good thing, this place is just screaming out to be filled with layers of hazy smoke, peppered with lairy stage lights and vibrating guitar chords.

We took our place to the left of the stage and I listened intently to Sakura's stories of The Jam, flipping through her exclusive photos of Paul Weller, some of them with her in as well (oh the envy!) whilst we waited for the Jamm to come on. The Jamm are, obviously, a Jam tribute band. They've been performing together for years and years but have decided to call time on playing at the end of this year after a fairly extensive UK tour. Having never been to a Jam gig (being only 5 years old when they disbanded!), I was eagerly looking forward to hearing some of their music played live. I'd checked out their MySpace page and heard a few of their tracks before going, and in my humble opinion they sounded pretty damn good. Well, I wasn't disappointed. They played a really good selection of songs, and were even persuaded to come back on stage and do an unplanned encore, much to the delight of the rather energetic (and slightly middle aged) crowd.

I did manage to video a few of their tracks, but my phone seems to be unable to cope with any sort of bass at all. I've picked the 2 better recordings, which are below, although the quality of the sound does fall away a little. Keep an eye out for the extremely strange man bouncing away at the front of the stage. You can't miss him. He's the only prancing around with a full on silver mullet. Sakura had seen him before and told me that he has modelled himself on Bruce Foxton (bass player of The Jam). I went to the bar and he was standing next to me, he turned, looked at me and introduced himself..."Hi, I'm Bruce". Hmmm...of course you are mate. Whatever flicks your switch!

The first video is "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight".



The second video is "Saturday's Kids"



If you go to their MySpace page, make sure you check out the song "David Watts". It's one of my personal favorites. Hopefully they'll play it in Putney in December...when I'm off to see them again! Feel free to come along!

Posts to come include....music review, Paul Weller in Germany, more DIY (even more challenging than the last one!), and a good old fashioned Rant.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Intermission

Having a few minor issues with YouTube at the moment, so the intended post is a little delayed. Especially as it's a heavily laden video post. Musical bonanza no less. Now that's build up for you.

In the meantime, things, right at this particular moment in time, are pretty damn good. Lots of "Life" bits are swimming along nicely. I'm beginning to think that maybe it's just a lull before normal service is resumed and my daily chaos returns. However, whilst it lasts I'm going to enjoy every moment of it.

Immediate dates for All Mod Cons to remember...the 10th and 24th of October (not wanting to wish my life away, but they're going to be good dates and it's sweet having something to look forward to). There will be posts explaining these later.

I will leave you with a picture from a brilliant film. Quadrophenia. If you haven't seen it, make sure you do! And let me know what you think!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Impromptu Photo Post

Not a bad effort with my phone I thought. It's the view from Wandsworth Bridge. And the crane on the right says "ST GEORGE". Click the photo to see a bigger version.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

DIY Weekend

Well, the general theme of the last set of comments was to do the gig, the DIY, both, and something else. So, I'll go with that. I'll leave the gig for the next one because I haven't finished uploading the videos. Which means that you're left with DIY. Personally, I find this sort of thing incredibly boring, seeing as it's what I do pretty much every single day. But every now and again it's nice to show off what you can do. Even if it's not very impressive in the grand scheme of things.

I'll keep it fairly brief otherwise I'll end up falling asleep halfway through writing! The job I just finished had a section of wall that had some rather random pieces of wood attached to the wall. They didn't seem to be doing anything in particular, they weren't supporting anything, or covering anything and the client wanted them removed. So, I carefully took them off. But as is always the way, things don't end up being simple. Especially when you start it on a Friday afternoon. Anyway, along with the wood, most of the wall underneath came away. Mainly due to the fact that these rather innocuous bits of timber were attached with 5 inch nails. They must have REALLY wanted them to stay in place. The gas pipe running down the corner was also taken away (by a qualified plumber! I don't get involved in things that could blow me up. Paint isn't that blow up-able thankfully).

Here's the resulting hole. Dado rail missing, skirting board missing, big hole, wallpaper peeling off. Lovely.

Bit of a better view of said hole.

All the loose "stuff" was removed. Peeling paper, dust & dirt, all the edges were trimmed so that the plaster would be smooth at the join.


Then the plastering began. Which is not one of my strong points. God only knows how plasterers manage to do things like whole ceilings. I actually wouldn't mind learning, because they can earn an absolute fortune. Some take home 3 or 4 times what I earn in a day. But with a relatively small patch like this, I can cope. After leaving it to dry (over several days unfortunately), the area then got sanded so it was glass flat and painted in PVA so that the surface was ready for painting. I also decided that it was more of a pain in the arse to cut a new piece of dado rail to fit to the old bit, so removed it all and put a new piece in. I couldn't do the same with the skirting board though, so I had to cut a section and place it into the hole at the bottom, fill and sand the edges so that it was smooth and paint it.

Base coats of paint were put onto the walls first to bring it up to the surrounding wall, then tops coats were done. All the wood was primed, undercoated, then finally 2 top coats of oil based eggshell.

And this is how it looks now. All nice and flat and shiny. More importantly, the client was happy with the end result. Which is always a bonus as far as I'm concerned. Not that I like the colour. Magnolia is a bloody awful choice. But hell, I don't have to live there.

Right, for those of you still awake...next will the the Jamm gig, some videos and a small "review" of Belle & Sebastian. There could well be news of the next Paul Weller gig in Germany, my annoyance at Ryanair, fury at my neighbours and more inadvertent Cactus abuse.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Technical Term is "Bollocks"

Just tried doing some tidying up on my phone by moving some files onto my laptop using that there memory card reader thing. Everything was going fine until I selected "Delete" on, what I thought, was an empty folder. Turns out it was the root folder. There's no "Recycle Bin" option on the memory card so that you can retrieve items that were moronically deleted. They're also not in the normal Recycle Bin. They are in fact lost. Much like Monty Pythons Parrot. They are no more. Ceased to exist. They are Ex Files.

Apparently, the Truth Is Out There. Probably along with my files.

Anyway, now that I've completely lost what I was going to do I'm going to leave it up to you as to what I post about next. You've got a choice of "DIY Weekend" or the words and videos of The Jamm gig that I went to last night.

Song Of The Week is another Kasabian track with Reason Is Treason. If you haven't heard it, make sure you give it a listen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Parenthood? That Shit's Hard!

First things first. Ok, maybe I overreacted a little to my maiming of Terence. You're all right, Cacti are hardy things and even IF he loses his arm, I'm pretty sure that he'll manage just fine with one. I'll just have to get him a Disabled Sticker. At least it'll mean he can park anywhere he wants.

I do feel the need to explain something here though. First off, it was Beth's comment that made me think about it, or at least identify what I was feeling straight after smashing the poor kids arm in the window. It was probably the worst feeling I've had in a long long long time. Which when you think about it objectively, is pretty stupid. He is, after all, just a plant. However...and there's always an "however". I originally got him because it was on my list of 12 Things To Do Before I'm 30. I've always been shit with anything remotely connected to gardening. I've no special affinity to anything green, I don't really care much for flowers, and the less amount of "stuff" in my garden the better. So my aim was to keep something alive for at least a year. In order for me to do this, I had to have some sort of "connection" with what I was going to buy. The fact that, because he looked like a little willy and I'm a bit of a child at heart, he made me chuckle the first time I saw him. Immediately there's a bond there. He was no longer just a plant. Then I gave him a name. Which was probably the fatal flaw. As soon as you give an inanimate object a name, then you're screwed. Human nature decrees that as soon as you name something, it becomes much more than it actually is. Feelings are associated with it. And that's what happened with Terence.

Ok, it enabled me to find the motivation and dedication that I needed to keep him alive. Over time I started coming home and saying out loud "Afternoon Terence, how's about some fresh air?" just before putting him outside on the window ledge. He became my little plant mate. Personally, I don't think that's too strange. At the end of the day, I have fed him, watered him, made sure he's had regular light, re-potted him (a real first for All Mod Cons) and I've watched him grow. Albeit rather slowly.

Then through a rather stupid act, I shut him in a window. I felt like I'd killed a kitten. It was bloody awful!

But going back to Beth's comment "This is excellent prep for you for parenthood." Obviously I'm not going to say that having a plant is anything like having kids. If having offspring was anywhere near as easy as keeping a plant, then it would be a walk in the park. But looking back at my reaction, the way that I felt right at that single second in time, it's easy to see how worried parents are about their kids. You invest time and love in your children, it's unconditional. You go out of your way to make sure that they're ok, that they want for nothing, that they're loved and happy and hope that all that you give them is enough to prepare them for what life is about to throw at them. When they get their first grazed knee, have their first crush & have their heart broken, when they fall off their bike or lose their first tooth, parents feel it too. Only much more so. The rollercoaster ride that is parenthood must be utterly terrifying. And probably the most rewarding experience you're ever going to have. I take my hat off to parents because they're bloody amazing.

Ok, Terence isn't my child and I'm certainly no parent. But he is my little green buddy. I'm sure he'll heal himself (with a little help and a careful eye...not to mention the 1p piece that's currently holding him together because he's too small to have his arm bandaged up) and everything will be rosey. Or cactusy.

Being an actual parent? Sod that for a game of soldiers!

Bit of a weird convoluted post this, but hey. I'm sure there's a point in there somewhere.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

HELP!! ANYONE!! From ANY blog!!! PLEEEASE!!

ARGH!!! I think I've killed Terence!! He was sitting on a different window to normal, and I didn't see him when I shut it to go out...the edge of the window caught one of his arms and it's crushed and I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!

So this is a MAJOR plea to ANYONE that knows if a) he's going to die b) if there's anything I can do to help him!

Seeing as I'm UTTERLY useless with all things "green", I've no idea where to start!! I've had Terence for over 2 years and have become VERY attached to him. I would be mortified if he died! So, anyone, anywhere...if you've got any ideas on how I can help him, please please PLEASE let me know!


Monday, September 8, 2008

The Two Of Me

I had a glass or two of red wine
I discussed politics, literature and the media
I flexed my mental muscles and dexterity
I listened and thoughtfully watched my companion
I thought of spirituality and spoke to God
I went back to my past, living as nature intended
I have reached a state of fulfilment not reached in a decade

I am Content


I got pissed on a bottle of red plonk
I talked shit, for hours. Ranting about things I know absolutely nothing of
I played Playstation 2 for 10 hours straight, until 4am
I watched the Viking take his turn, plotting how I would get a better lap time
I looked to the heavens after my 10th crash in a row, "For Godsake, fucking game", I would utter
I didn't shower on Sunday, I couldn't be arsed to get off the sofa
I had a great weekend, but realised that I am indeed just too damn old for this shit

I am Fucking Knackered

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just Plain Lazy

Google Reader. Both a blessing and a curse. I can keep tabs on all my favorite places (which reminds me, I need to update the list on my sidebar to include all of them) and I can read the posts as and when they come in. But it's also made me incredibly lazy. All too often I'll read a post and want to comment when there's a knock at the door, or my phone rings, or I'm just leaving for work, or my dinner is ready (the list can go on and on...) and then I forget to leave my mark on someone else's musings. Which is just plain bad behaviour really.

It's something I need to fix. It's also not particularly funny or interesting. Bit of a damp squib of a blog post really. Ah, fuck it. I'm off to the Vikings for the weekend. He thinks were putting up plaster board in his garage. What he doesn't realise is that we're actually going to play Playstation. If he wants to do DIY at the weekend, then he can bloody well DIH!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

TWAT!!

Little Steed


Are all bus drivers the world over complete and utter dickheads? Or is it just in this town? That goes for cab drivers too. When I'm on my speedy Little Steed I try and obey ALL the laws of the road. I wait at lights, I don't speed down the pavement, I let cars through when they want to get past, I even wait at a pedestrian crossing when I could weave my way through people. So why is it that as soon as I set off I seem to run into every conceivable moron on the road? Yesterday I had a stand up argument with a van driver that ACTUALLY ran me off the road because he was reading a magazine whilst driving. And today I let a car out of a junction, and the bus driver behind me gave me the "wanker" sign. God only knows why. Needless to say he got a severe verbal volley (which even I was proud of) as I went past.

Yes, some cyclists can be utter dicks. And given the chance, I'll pull people up on jumping lights when I fly past them. But if someone is blatantly obeying the rules of the road, why antagonise them? At the end of the day, you're driving something that weighs several tons and can quite easily kill me without you breaking a sweat. The last person that cut me up lost their wing mirror after I caught up with them, accompanied by a "V" sign.

If this kind of childish behaviour carries on, and because I can't run YOU over, then I'll just have to stoop to your level and cycle REALLY SLOWLY down the middle of the road so you can't get past until I'M ready to let you go. Or, I'll just have to carry my door key in my hand so that it can "accidentally" rub the length of your flash motor. Or if you're a bus driver, I might just get on the bus and fart in your little hidey hole.