Monday April 23, 2012
Now, where was I? Ah yes, Christmas.
I wanted to tell you all about the wonderful festive happenings here, but I got distracted by something or other. Now all I can remember is that we had two trees. Not as an extravagance, but because the first one was so small that it fell over when the first shiny chocolate was lashed to one of its stumpy little arms. It then spent the rest of the holiday in the garden, where it made a nice feature, peeping out over the lawn grass.
The only other notable event was that the cat ate some tinsel, which went unnoticed at the time, and only became apparent when nature took its course in a rather half baked way. Now we call her Tinselbum.
Domestic misbehaviour has not been confined to the cat though - oh no. Following on from the legendary occasion when our washing machine decided to become a kettle, the latest example of appliance retraining involved an attempt by our lovely Neff oven to reskill as a cupboard. The man came and fixed new elements, but while he was doing so he noticed our dishwasher, and announced that there was a fault with that particular model, and that we were in danger of being incinerated by it. So, now we also had a dishwasher that wanted to be a fireplace. A short while later another man came with a replacement motherboard, and showed me where the overheating was occurring. Having had the thing about nine years, we were apparently only hours away from incineration. Now – I'm not paranoid, but I'm really not sure what I can trust in this house any more. The most recent incident involved the downstairs bathroom basin, which blocked itself in a failed bid to audition as a pond.
Everyone and everything else has been less flammable, and exams continue to approach. I will not say 'rapidly' approach, because time. as we all know, is constant, and nothing is ever approaching rapidly, especially not fixed points like 'nine o'clock' as they are fond of saying on the radio. None o'clock has been coming since eight o'clock, and at a fairly even rate, as the clock on your wall will confirm. I actually don't mind split infinitives that much, and I may well punch the next person who corrects me for using 'less' instead of 'fewer', but I think I will go to war to stop people saying "Now, with the Olympics/exams/Xmas rapidly approaching..."
There are still around 200 shoplifting days to Xmas here in Peckham, and I expect them to pass in a uniform and unruffled manner.
Saturday November 12, 2011
Lights! Camera! Hamper?
I never said never.
Well, the world seems to have fallen apart completely now. See what happens when you don't keep telling it what to do in regular blog entries? Or maybe it wasn't me that took my eye off things. I notice that many of my erstwhile blog companions have fallen by the wayside – which is sad. I will attempt to reconnect, and also to rebuild my sidebar now that the formerly reliable, generally-unnoticed-and-undervalued-because-it was-free service provided by Blogrolling has gone the same way as Lehman Bros and Gaddafi. It was always the minutiae of blog maintenance that got me down, and it is a daunting prospect to write tons and tons of links all over my template. But needs must, and it will be done.
Much growing up has gone on round here in the meantime, some of it by me. I am now teaching at a music college in London, which feels very grown-up, and a lot of new areas have opened up in my life/head, which compensates for the loss of time spent doing internet puzzles in my darkened office. I was never very keen on film – stupidly not so for one who wrote music to picture over many years. But I think this was a bit like the dislike of writing blog posts I developed when I was reading and writing most of the day on projects that were not really 'fun' in any recognisable sense of the word. All better now.
So – the daughter is applying to universities, hoping for a place to do languages. The son is playing the guitar a lot – and well – and is hoping to apply for a place in AC/DC. I have told him that the band's name comes from the only chords they know, but this just annoys him. And he is now as tall as me, so annoying him is becoming unwise.
The household runs on and there is still no reliable solution to either the way clothes get dirty, dust piles up on my unused equipment, or the cat can't decide whether she wants to be in my office wailing outwards, or outside my office wailing inwards. I am considering cutting a cat-flap in the door, but even this wouldn't stop her standing directly in front of the screen, typing nhgfsddddddddddd and sticking her tail up my nose.
I have not joined Facebook, and I will not, until it is simpler, more fun and in any way beneficial to the life I actually lead.
On a lighter note, Xmas approaches and we have been strategising. The Granny Algebra seems to have been resolved – we get Granny K, but the question of presents remains. And here we have a new development. Forget bees and goats and do-goody things like that. We did that a few years back, but we then felt so bad that we had to buy everybody proper presents – socks, DVDs etc. – as well. That was a lose-lose if ever there was one. I have just given some money to a man who comes door-to-door raising funds for good causes, so I have already done my bit for the Third World this Xmas; I have paid for about one leg of a cow that is shortly to be dispatched to South India somewhere. At least I know it won't get eaten.
Unlike many other things during the festivities. This year we think we might go for something less political correct and rather more Dickensian, like one of these Marks & Spencers hampers. We know enough bons viveurs who might enjoy receiving one, and we include ourselves in that list. Even better, if myself and spouse each treat each other to half a hamper, like this one, then we are so sorted on the domestic Santa front. Just a few socks and DVDs to exchange on the day and bosh! we are all done before you can say "myrrh".
A few months back we survived having our local Post Office burned down and a bus torched just round the corner so, frankly, Xmas should not be too much of a problem.
To be continued...
Thursday December 24, 2009
Very Small Seasonal Greeting.
Just a teeny weeny little entry - a sort of blog 'Celebration' - to say that I am alive and relatively well. Just not motivated to write regularly about my life.
Lots has happened, but not much of blog noteworthiness. Holidays were had, cats let in and out. Books have been written but not published. Guitars have lain unused and rusting.
Anyway, just to say Merry Xmas to any who drop by.
Saturday May 30, 2009
Who's Got Talent?
Well, now is the time to say a few things about BGTalent. No one will care tomorrow, and probably neither will I.
I seriously wonder how long this whole thing can survive. It's gone way off beam this year. Last night we had a child who was obviously too young to be taking part. She crumpled under pressure - and they gave her another chance! Because she was little and cute. I sympathise with her, but the kid with the football last series didn't get a second chance when he loused up. He was slagged off by the jury for incompetence and dumped. John Terry didn't get another go at his deciding penalty against Manchester United in last years' Champions League final. Perhaps he should have cried too...
We, as the public, have a final say in these things, and perhaps we will all switch off at such mawkish entertainment, at watching people not cope with grace under pressure. Regardless, this year we have three tiny kids (of 12 or less) in the final ten, and one 47 year old who is seriously struggling to behave like an adult. Is this fun any more? Simon Cowell has been brilliantly clever about the whole thing, and so far has just about managed to keep a balance between entertinment and competition, between discoveing talent and laughing at inadequates. But there are two main structural problems with the show.
1. Really talented people will avoid it. They realise that 'making it' is not a matter of showing up on a TV show and bluffing/appealing to the mums. This is not enough. All the contestants who make out that the prog is their only chance of success are JUST WRONG. It isn't. The show is a long queue for celebrity, not a real forum for 'talent'. Listen, roll up your sleeves like all the other talented people of all kinds, painters, singers, sailors, pole vaulters, cartoonists etc etc. and get to work. All the artists-achievers you like and admire did that.
2. The jury. We have Simon Cowell, who owns, directs, profits from and basically runs the whole thing - couldn't leave him out, then. But also. to be fair, as a judge he effectively represents the calm cool head of business. We also have Amanda Holden (who is she?) representing everymum, and finally Piers Morgan representing slimy idiots. But - either the public do the judging or they don't. Get rid of the jury at the final stages, say I. All we need is Ant and Dec doing little "How did it go"" pieces.
Oh and 3. Raise the entry age to 13.
Been too long away, tapping away on this keyboard. Now I have two more books to do. One deal signed, another hovering. But that is not the really big news. Last Saturday I actually did a barbecue. I am as pyromaniac as any red blooded male, but I've never done BBQs. The best thing was that the children liked the food, so we are having another tonight. I am looking forward, as last Sunday morning, to smelling my shirt, and finding it delightfully smoke-scented.
Fingers are healed, mock exams have been coped with. (Can you revise for your mock GCSEs by practising derision?) I did a gig in the Purcell Rooms, which was a bit of a new high for me, having done pubs, theatres and clubs, but rarely ever concert halls.
Wednesday April 22, 2009
Fair, meet Book.
And what a month or so that was.
Once upon a time this was a nearly daily blog about small happenings. That seems now to be as lost as the time I lose having discovered Spotify. Jigsaws on the internet were idleness enough. Now doing 2D jigsaws while listening to dodgy old 70s music I can't hear any other way is dubble dubble idleness. I never wanted to use the net as a mirror to ego but to try to describe the last month presents a bit of a challenge, one I have finally lost having spent my lunch hour at a book launch (not mine), drinking House of Lords champagne while talking to some charming novelists and a particularly interesting Islamic scholar who put me right on a few points of sharia law and Qur'anic scholarship.
Let me explain.
Having been involved in an ignoring competition with music for a couple of years, I have won a bit of a victory in the last few weeks, in which good ole gentle, warm music has come whispering back into my ear. Or rather, I have done a succession of different and very rewarding sessions, some for money and some not. It started with Comic Relief but continued through a number of other things. There is no accounting for these things. It is a bitter truth that all practitioners of popular music get better at it at roughly the same rate as people lose the desire to ask them to do it. Perhaps I have entered a brief sunny autumn of fun and enjoyment. after which the mellow evening of a once fierce noonday heat declines into an isolated winter. Whatever.
Notes to play again, most willingly plucked. But at the same time the buns are on the table again, for, quite unlooked for, I have been commissioned to write yet another book on Indian history. I wasn't even trying to pitch the idea when the editor I was talking to just told me to write it. This was not on the street but at the British Book Fair, which just happens to have an Indian theme this year. I have never been to anything like that in my life before. I played 'spot the author' because I assumed that the oddballs in weird hats not wearing official event tags were probably kooky writers. Quite a thing to behold. Listened to William Dalrymple read from his travel books. Am not a fan of his historical writing, although his travel books have an undoubtedly entertaining quality to them. They talk in the chronicles about the tented city that the Mughal emperors carried around with them, and I think the British Book Fair was a reasonable modern recreation. All life was there - lights, literature, poetry, talking and eating, the whole thing set up to conquer the world.
Meanwhile the fambly has had its ups and downs, with serious illness visiting a near relative, and even young Jake breaking his finger bouncing a basketball. Who weaponised those little globes then? My mother turned eighty and we had a lovely party in the middle of rural Oxfordshire. All life can sit around on shelves at a book fair, but it goes on all around us too, willy-nilly and without charging.
In sum, there seem to be so many people trying to tell us all about human experience, yet somehow it never runs out.
Tuesday March 10, 2009
Nearly done now, so the mind begins to wander back to blogging. Not mush incentive to read or write blogs when you are rattling off thousands of words a day or sitting for hours reading dreadful, indigestible books written by authors with a mission to confuse and distress their readers. After a hard day at the (unnaturally quiet) British Library and a long ride home on a (stupidly noisy) bus full of people determined to yell into their mobiles as if the batteries had failed and it was just lung power that was getting them through – a man frankly doesn't feel like dealing with any more literature. By then I resent reading people's tee-shirts.
I have about 114k words to kick around, and by now I feel I should be chucking stuff out, not sticking it in. It takes me four days to read it top to bottom, while 'interrogating' it, which is an expression I picked up from an old friend who writes features for a national paper. He is the only proper writer I know and he says it is a 60/40 writing /editing split for him. With me it's about 30/70. Something wrong perhaps.
What else then? We went on a day trip to Whitstable on a nice bright Sunday a couple of weeks ago. A brilliant idea, and one that about ten zillion other people had too. So we literally couldn't find anywhere to put a foot down, never mind a tyre. We ended up in Tankerton, which is the next place along the coast, and appears to be a town built around a convenient bus shelter that somebody noticed in the 1930s. These days, judging by the shop fronts, the inhabitants are defying standard economic theory and actually are doing nothing except cutting each other's hair.
Comic Relief is coming up, and for ex-musicians like me this is when the phone rings and they ask you if they can use x y z piece of music you're on again without paying you. I said yes and am awaiting my good karma. The piece in question is actually 'The Biscuit Rap' from the Two Pints 'musical' special, wot I did five years ago and never actually saw. Thank heavens for YouTube! With a minimum of googlization I found it and watched it. I quite enjoyed it although I have no detailed memory of doing it at all. My children do though. The only downer in all this is that I picked up this Saturday's Guardian Guide and spotted one of those '20 Things' pieces about Two Pints. "Ha!" I ventured. "Bet they don't mention the Biscuit Rap."
But they did. They said it was 'rubbish'.
Wednesday January 07, 2009
Book 2 on the runway.
Buns for tea, and maybe a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for good measure. (I don't much like buns.)
Monday December 22, 2008
Blogging batteries have been low recently, all the while that, ironically, there has been quite a lot of stuff happening to write about.
I did a gig. In fact two of them. In a theatre. (Ahh, the theatre - how I have missed it! How it didn't even notice I'd gone!) All for the sake of an extraordinary vocal impressionist, who might be coming to a theatre near you in the not too distant future. Having spent so much time standing on stages over the years it was a strange reacquainance with the sensation of being looked at (occasionally) by a lot of people. I quite liked it.
The cat has learned to use the cat-flap, after a week of being stuffed (by me) through it both ways. She has no idea that it is her microchip that opens it, I am sure. Very confusing, because it is transparent. She doesn't like pressing her head against it so she dabs at it. Otherwise she sits inside looking out at a small television-screen shaped part of the garden and watches, And watches. The cat who use to come in and eat her food occasionally stares back.
Got a call from the police at 1 a.m. recently, looking for someone to come and collect one of my nieces, who was yelling in the background as the duty sergeant explained that the young gel had been dumped off at the station, having thrown up all over his cab and refused to pay for it. That was his story. The young gel, whose mobile had our number first up, later gave a different account of events. She says her drink was spiked. Perhaps. I think the only doubt remaining now is whether it was her twenty third or twenty fourth drink that was spiked. Anyway. I shopped her to her parents, who came from wherever to get her home.
I am awaiting a decision on another book idea. There might be buns for tea if it's a yes.
So, Merry Xmas to all! Peace and goodwill etc.
Sunday November 16, 2008
As in cat-. We have paid for and have had installed a hi-tech cat-flap. All that remains is for the cat to understand its basic function. It is a garden interface, a toilet router. As yet this has not dawned on the furry-faced food remover, so at time of writing the device remains merely a -flap, a hole in the door, a small, floor-level, perspex window into or out of our lives.
I was against carving the large hole required in our back door, but my alternative strategy (leaving the door open) has proved unsatisfactory on two main counts. One, the intense cold flooding into the house ten months of the year, and two, the persistent raiding of another local cat, who has been eating about two meals a day at our expense over the summer months. We thought Lizzie was a little too hungry, amd we suspected worms for a while. But no. Repeated visual contact with an unknown tabby provided the answer. We have had visits over the years from the neglected orange tom who lives next door, but he never got as far as the kitchen. This intruder tabby has got the whole thing down to a fine art. Hence the collective flap that produced the hi-tech one.
And now there it sits. So does Lizzie, looking at it and haranguing us in her best 'I am the Queen' voice. "Open this door," she tells us. We simply pick her up and stuff her through the small hole in it. This we have mastered as a standard procedure and we seem agreed upon it as the way forward (or out). How she comes back in is not sorted yet, Someone will probably have to sit in a deck-chair out there and stuff her back through when she wants to come in after toilet/hunting/social duties are completed. So this is progress of a sort.
In other news. I came back from India after a week of five star luxury. The only blemish was on the drive back to the airport, when the driver cut out of a hideous traffic jam to go on an 'alternative' route. Alternative in this context is like comparing The Spice Girls to Cradle of Filth. The substitute road was competely clear and the villages looked beautiful with the early morning mist hanging in the air, dappled by a golden sun rise. Palm trees threw streaks of artful shade across the vivid green vegetation. There were small tea shops crammed with people on their way to work, and not a word of English to be seen on any street sign, signpost or billboard. Nor even standard Devnagri (Hindi) script), just the beautiful rounded, local Kanada lettering. Thre was even a magnificent black cockerel standing on a wall, proud and self-sufficient in his regional kngdom. What there wasn't was a yard of continuous flat road surface. After literally half an hour of being shaken up like a tin of white paint I called on the driver to stop. I got out and threw up spectacularly all over the verge, watched by a group of mildly curious locals. My driver meanwhile went to buy me a bottle of water from a nearby shop. All the good work done on the image of Englishmen by my ancestors, insouciantly shooting and taxing Indians for several centuries, was undone as this gora threw up his last night's kebab (goats's shin) in a faint parody of Empire, bringing his overfed habits and spraying bile in a quiet country corner unaccustomed to intrusion.
Yet other news. We bumped over our sixteenth wedding anniversary. We won at the school quiz night. We saw some fireworks at a safe distance. I painted some wardrobes.
Wednesday October 15, 2008
I Can Haz Raclette?
Double birthday last week, for the two girls in the house. It's all right being born on your birthday, but giving birth on your birthday? That's one hell of a way to get a present.
The twin celebrations are rather unfair to the older party, who gets overshadowed and ignored every year as a way of celebrating getting stitches. This year the festivities involved Mel leading a post-Goth, pseudo-emo expedition to Camden Town in search of funky jewellery and bleeding edge tee-shirts, followed by a full six-berth raclette. For those who don't know, a raclette started out as a kind of cheese but changed its job description and is now like a chocolate fondue but with more fighting and less chocolate. Great fun, a sort of grilled bun-fight. and fortunately the girl who only eats fish couldn't come. Fish and raclette cooking don't really make natural partners, and I was dreading having to supervise fish fingers sitting in a little spade-shaped frying pan.
The cat has stayed close to home, and now that we're into the rainy season she is staying in a bit more. At night she now chases moths around the house. This was not in her original job description, and unfortunately she seems to enjoy it a great deal more than chasing mice. Mice eat our food and the moths she catches are not eating anything we have any interest in, not even our clothes. If she rootled out those little mottled jobs with the threads still dangling out of the corners of their little mottled mouths I would be quite pleased. But no. Instead she prefers big, floppy, lost moths to the small, zippy, determined clothes moths we share our wardrobe and sock drawers with.
In other news I am sitting here waiting for an air ticket to India to arrive via cyberspace. I have been invited to stay in Bangalore, and am much looking forward to it.