Saturday, July 31, 2010
I'd had a difficult morning, with lots of little things getting on my tits. I'd had no peace at breakfast, everything seemed more difficult than it ought, and I felt that my efforts were being undervalued... you get the picture. It was probably just me. When we boarded the Red Arrow bus to Nottingham my complimentary copy of The Times (if you don't mind) reported that the day was almost a sellout and that we'd be lucky to get in. Great, thanks. No, really.
I rang Trent Bridge from Nottingham City Centre, and they said they had tickets left, at a cost of £35. Each. We charged down to the ground, avoiding scalpers and touts by the dozen. When we finally made it to the ticket office, the keenest tout in the universe almost carried us to the gates, showed the £55 tickets to the bloke on the door to prove that they were kosher, and offered them to me for £55 for two. I ended up giving him £40 and we were in. I was patting myself on the back when I realised that there was one thing I hadn't checked. That's right, the seats weren't together. Oh well, such is life. We weren't far from each other, and the seats were good, not to mention the saving of 70 quid on the total cost. The people around us were chatty and pleasant, and we got together at lunch and at tea. After the tea interval I bought Lynn down to where I was sitting, as there were two seats that had been vacant the whole time. It was a great day's cricket, and it is unlikely that I will get to Trent Bridge again anytime soon. We saw Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steve Finn all bowl long spells, and Graham Swann bowled a few overs too. We saw 12 wickets fall in the day, the weather was good, and we can now add Trent Bridge to our sporting highlights album.
Friday, July 30, 2010
We finished our day in a couple of local alehouses, The Hollybush in Makeney and The Dead Poets in Holbrook. After bidding farewell to our pals, Lynn and I walked the short distance home, slightly squiffy but very happy after spending the day with good friends.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I can't do too much shopping though, as the luggage allowances seem to be a lot more stringent these days. 20 kg max. Boo!
We stopped at the Hurt Arms in Ambergate for a welcome pint of Spitfire and some deep fried heart-attack food, and came back along a much more direct route. It was about a million times better than spending hours fooling ourselves that working in an office is either healthy or of any consequence.
Monday, July 26, 2010
On Sunday we went for a walk to The Dead Poets' Inn at Holbrook, via the fields. We wanted to check out one of the sections we walked on Friday as we felt that we might have missed a turn. Sure enough, we found the well-hidden footbridge and made our way to the pub along a different route. On the way home we stopped at the White Hart in Bargate. Why? Because it was there.
Apart from the trip to the pubs, Sunday was as restful as a Sunday ought to be. And not before time.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
One solitary chap danced all night, giving it some of the northern soul soft-shoe shufflle. He was occasionally joined by others, especially once the drink had kicked in.
The music was great, the ale was both tasty and healthy, and the evening ended too soon. We went home happy, and it was great to hear some live music done well.
Friday, July 23, 2010
We arrived at Sadler Gate after enjoying an evening meal at the Standing Order. I had nachos, Lynn had noodles. Comfort food. Then it was a short walk down to the venue. The Big Blue Coffee Company was a pretty easygoing place; we bought some drinks and waited for our two friends to arrive.
I was happy to meet Ian, the chap who runs the venue, and it seemed like I'd get to play a few songs. He also organised for me to borrow a guitar. Marc, a member of Willowstree, let me use his Ovation Applause so I was sorted without any carry on.
I played three numbers to the small but appreciative crowd - Shining Light (the Facebook song), Wish I Was You, and Say Goodbye. Great fun.
We stuck around for Willowstree, and also for Vanessa Vale. Both were great, and if I lived closer I'd be going again. Before we left I purchased a copy of the Derby Singer Songwriters Club's latest compilation CD, and I gave Ian a copy of SCALA News. Then it was off to Derby's oldest pub, The Dolphin, for a celebratory pint. Wahoo!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I have (hopefully) organised to play at an open mic this evening in Derby, at The Big Blue Coffee Company on Sadler Gate. I need to borrow a guitar but hopefully some kind soul will trust me with their instrument so I can bash out a few songs. Of course, I bought my own harmonica...
I hope someone is nice enough to help me out with a guitar; I haven't played for a week.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Is there a song in this?
The Airbus journey from Singapore to Heathrow was OK - I was pretty shredded by the time we boarded so after enduring the staff's well-intentioned efforts to force feed me, it was a joy to put in the earplugs and sleep. I did quite well. Plane sleep isn't as good real sleep, but I was pretty much out of it for more than seven hours.
When I woke up I watched Stones in Exile, which was as good as I hoped it would be. I filled in the rest of the time with junk comedy shows.
Getting out of Heathrow was a breeze, and the National Express coach ride was pretty easy - not many passengers, and we made a new friend. A very pleasant chap called Peter, from Huddersfield.
We got our wearying bodies to Hull in time to check-in, shower, change, eat, have a pint before it was time to head out for our first adventure - the Rugby League local derby between Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers.
And what a good night it was!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The flight was excellent, it is the first time I've travelled with Singapore Airlines and I am impressed. The service was great and the food was edible. The riesling was awful but that's OK, there were other beverage choices... I watched The Runaways movie and listened to Yellow Submarine. Also Plan B's latest album. The plane was clean, I think new, and the conditions were excellent for flying. Nary a bump.
If the next leg, the longer one, of this journey is as as good as this afternoon's trip, I will be a happy camper.
Farewell, rainy Adelaide. I'll see you in a few weeks.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The forecast wasn't great; I stayed outside making the most of the faux spring for as long as I could, pottering around, meditating on all manner of things, before indoor tasks demanded my attention.
The grey clouds have now crept over, the wind is getting up and, I suspect, the rain is on the way. C'est la vie - it is winter after all.
I am reminded of a little poem I wrote a few years back:
Bleak, grey canopy
The storm clouds conspire to hide
Their silver lining
Copyright © David Robinson 2002
Monday, July 12, 2010
I was up before 4.00 AM to watch the World Cup Final. I'd seen the other 63 matches so I thought I should complete the set. It was probably worth it, but I'm not too upset that there's four years until the next one.
We are striving to get everything sorted before we fly out. Installing the house sitter, and ensuring that all the other details are taken care of, so that we can leave without any cares or hassles. I told our Mexican gardener that he needs to diligently watch over our cactus plants. He hasn't moved a muscle since.
I found time to tinker with my scooter this afternoon - it's going to need some help when I get back I think... I also cleaned a few of my bikes (it's easier than actually going for a ride). I swept and tidied the shed. I packed.
I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep. And another productive day tomorrow.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I will be happy to get the grind of the long haul flight out of the way; this necessary evil can be a bit of a pain in the arsenal but I guess it's not too bad. As long as my fellow passengers maintain a moderate sense of decorum and an acceptable level of hygiene, I will be happy enough. I usually just settle in, order a drink and amuse myself with any one of my gadgets. Sometimes I even manage to sleep. Sometimes.
England, here we come!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I understand fully the passions that are aroused, both on and off the field, when a sporting contest takes place. I've won and lost with the best (and worst) of them, as a player, coach and spectator. I get passionate too, really passionate, but there's ways of dealing with it that don't necessarily include making an arse of yourself. Channeling base impulses into something more acceptable is part of our responsibility as higher-thinking social animals, surely. The way people react to things leaves me wondering what are they like when addressing the issues and challenges that confront them in everyday life. Not very well, I would wager.
People get louder, and ruder when they are winning, whinge when they are losing, and go quiet when a likely victory turns to defeat. Good-natured banter gives way to ill-reasoned offensiveness as soon as the going gets tough. The amount of aggression that most of these heroes expend is proportional to how far away they are from their perceived foe, or how well protected they are. People get personal when their comments are bested by another, and everyone can tell that they have lost the argument. Today I saw defeated players getting involved with spectators after the game had ended. What a nonsense. Probably the lowest brain cell to spoken word ratio known to humanity. There is almost nothing heard at a football match that is worth repeating. Even tabloid journalists are probably, just probably, more witty and incisive.
Lighten up guys. There's lots of things in life that are worth getting heated up about, but sport ain't many of them.
Be like me - internalise everything, and turn black inside. Nyuk!
St David the Pious
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Thursday is payday for some, and the second last day of the working week for many. Me, I'm beyond all that. Albeit temporarily.
I spent the day watching Spain beat the somewhat overawed Germans, getting a haircut, writing an article, and then having a terrific lunch and afternoon discussing and listening to music with a mate. Ray Davies, Johnny Cash, Ron Sexsmith, Magazine, John Henry and more...
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I haven't been out on my bike.
The dark and cold mornings have been a disincentive, I have been very busy with music & writing and, if I am honest, I have almost enjoyed the break. Fortunately, the wheel is turning (if you will pardon the pun) and the time feels right to correct my orientation slightly.
Even though I ride a mountain bike, the Tour de France tends to inspire. To put it simply, it is great TV. The competition, the tactics, the drama, the expert commentary and (not least) the scenery all combine to provide hours of great viewing.
I have also been asked to write an article for a magazine about a week-long bike tour I embarked upon a few years ago, so that has caused me to reflect on my cycling adventures generally.
There's a big ride in the Flinders Ranges in September, so I will need to be fit for that.
So, you could say that the encouragement and incentive is there.
I won't be riding straight away; I have to go on holiday. But the moment I return, I will be back on the bike.
You just watch me.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Get up, shower, shave, get dressed, tidy rooms. Turn heater on - it's cold in the house. Watch Tour de France for a bit. Make toast and marmalade for breakfast. Take dog for a walk in the pale sunshine. Chat with neighbours. Tidy the garden. Go to the shops for a couple of things. Listen to podcasts while walking. Start drafting a cycling article. Enjoy leftover stew for lunch. Watch an episode of The Wire. Update website. Stuff around in the shed. Fix up some cupboards. Listen to The Jam. Tidy and sort the music room. Drink wine. Chat with my brother. Become friends with Nasty Nigel via Facebook. Listen to the Happy Mondays. Make a curry. Eat a curry. Watch Corrie.
The sun sets.
Now it is time to go and make some music!
Monday, July 5, 2010
For those who do not know, Roy of the Rovers was one of a number of English football-oriented comics, featuring a range of ripping yarns about players and teams as they dealt with sibling rivalry, boardroom machinations, international espionage, magical equipment and, on occasion, football matches. These men became many a schoolboy's heroes...
Roy's own comic came quite late, after spending many years as the marquee character of the sport/adventure Tiger comic. Scorcher and Score, my own favourite and itself an amalgamation, bit the dust and joined forces with Tiger in 1974, with Roy of the Rovers ascending in 1976.
Scorcher and Score was so important to me. I preferred it to real-life mags such as Shoot! and Football Monthly. In fact, I preferred it to real life. I would read and re-read the stories every week, lost in the magical boy's-own world of Jack of United, Jimmy of City, Billy's Boots, Lags Eleven, Hot Shot Hamish and Nipper. Oh, for those carefree days of yore.
I was heartbroken when Scorcher and Score finished, but at least the amalgamation bought Roy, and Melchester Rovers, into my life.
Now I have a bedside book to remind me of those good times. And, in perfect keeping with my personality, I still have all my originals in a trunk.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Plane tickets. Check. Accommodation. Check. Tickets for Wembley. Check. Relatives and friends contacted (and warned). Check. Insurance. Check. Foreign currency sorted. Check. Plane seat allocation. Check. National Express. Check. Passports in order. Check. Rugby tickets. Check. Mobile phone enabled. Check. Train tickets. Check.
The more you get organised beforehand, the easier the trip. That's Burke's Law.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Not that anyone should be too surprised by this weather. It is the middle of winter, after all.
The sun was providing illumination, if not much warmth, when I left my house on Friday and walked into the city. I was suitably attired, so the journey in was quite an enjoyable experience, despite the freshness. Sunshine tends to make everything better. Except the wings of Icarus, I guess.
As I walked through the parklands, I was entertained by the swooping and diving welcome swallows, flying directly at me before darting off in another direction at the last second. I'm not sure if they wanted a fight, or thought I was going to feed them, or were perhaps just ensuring that I passed safely and responsibly through their home.
I had a lovely lunch at Citi Zen, an entree of battered tempura-style vegetables followed by a spicy fried tofu dish. Despite tofu being essentially tasteless (how did it ever get to be a food?) the main course was surprisingly delightful.
I enjoyed good conversation with my mate John, as we slurped down a bottle of pino grigio while lamenting the shortcomings of the England football team.
We followed up lunch with a few pints of Guinness across the road at The Brecknock, ensuring the afternoon ended on a (slightly blurry) high note.
I walked home, traversing the same route by which I'd made my inward journey. It must have been tea time for the birds though, because there wasn't a swallow in sight.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
In that time I have made over 60+ public appearances, and performed my original songs over 200 times. I've probably churned out somewhere in the region of 50 cover versions too, including an acoustic guitar version of Werewolves of London, of which I am extremely proud (to have survived). Warren Zevon, a true genius.
I have collaborated with other musicians, performed as a duo (Yours Truly, the fabulous Double Blues, and others), and made many new friends. I've continued in my role as a member of the SCALA Board; I have also put together and run ten or so Songwriters' Workshops. I have been lucky enough to have some of my music-oriented articles published in magazines and books.
I have added a Taylor six-string acoustic to my musical arsenal, and have assembled a decent enough recording facility. I've even started recording in it.
I haven't written enough songs. I haven't really developed as a guitarist or singer. I don't network, either personally or via the internet, well enough. But progress, however slow, has been made, and things have picked up in the last couple of months.
Where would I be without music?
In the nuthouse, I guess.