Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Goodbye Ian.

Goodbye Ian.
You shall not be forgotten,
for you shall remain in all our memories,
forever young.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bruce is the Answer

I often consider Bruce Springsteen as being the leading light of 'dad-rock' figure - the basis for this being that he is in fact possibly my dad's favourite artist. I have as a result of many hours spent in pubs with Dad and many pennies spent on jukeboxes fostered quite an appreciation for "The Boss" over the years. This year though my appreciation for Springsteen has been rekindled mainly due to the release of We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. The type of American roots music on the record is very different to his work with the E Street Band and to his solo work but yet the music was still exceptionally Springsteenian - it has the big sound delivered with passion and meaning.

On the basis of this album, I decided to give Born in the USA a listen again and found myself thinking how great the songs are - so athemic and so gritty. Additionally I downloaded 'The Ghost of Tom Joad', a song about social injustice in 1990s America, and found that Springsteen's stripped-down Americana sound is as much a match for the work he did with the E-Street Band as the work he has done recently with the Seeger Sessions Band.

I can't do the music, or Springsteen, any justice by describing them and the emotions they can give you. All I can say is go onto iTunes and look for: Shenandoah and Oh, Mary Don't You Weep (from We Shall Overcome); Born to Run (Born to Run); Born in the USA, Glory Days, My Hometown and Dancing in the Dark (Born in the USA); The Ghost of Tom Joad (The Ghost of Tom Joad); and Streets of Philadelphia (Greatest Hits).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Portland Bill Rocks

For your visual pleasure here is a picture of waves breaking against the rocks at Portland Bill, Dorset. The shot was taken just as the sky was clouding over hence the moody blue colour of the sea.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ivor The Engine

Does anybody remember the cartoon called Ivor The Engine? Well when trawling through the YouTube website today I happened upon a few episodes of the short programme. It is remarkable watching it now as it seems to come across like a five-minute Welsh Tourist Board advert. This is as result of not only the location in North Wales but the existence of stereotypes such as coal-mining, choral music, Idris the dragon, the faux-Cymraeg placenames and a general sense of and emphasis on smallness. It may not be as entertaining as watching it when you were five years old but give it a watch anyway.
For more information on Ivor The Engine go to http://www.smallfilms.co.uk/ivor/.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Life's A Riot At Oxford Brookes

So I've been here in Harcourt Hill, Oxford where the sun (seemingly) shines eternally for just over a week. The place is dead cool with something of the rural village about it. Not only are we located on the top of a steep hill on the outskirts of Oxford, but we have a small chapel, a criminally under-stocked shop, a bar that looks like a British Legion and a plethora of fields at every corner. As far as university campuses go this is a campus less ordinary - and in this instance this is good thing.

So all is well on that front but would you believe it that after less than a week all of the postgrad accommodation (Blocks JJ to RR) occupants were subject to a lengthy and rather weak group bollocking. Our thanks go out to the pillocks that were chanting "We're gonna teach your f------ kids" at the top of their voices whilst destroying some of the more attractive examples of local plant life. As a warning, the author of the group telling-off, Dr A. Gibb, stated that:
...If there was a repeat of this behaviour... the names of the individuals would be passed onto the relevant School of Education staff.
I ask why the hell weren't they taken there and then?

Other than this, and a couple of burglaries, life in the village goes on peacefully. Now to the Legion with George...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dogs and Children

When hearing and reading about this story one thing struck me - why was a five-month old left with two rottweilers and where exactly were the parents? The Guardian newspaper writes:
A five-month-old baby girl died of her injuries after being savaged by rottweilers, police revealed yesterday.

The dogs pounced on the baby while she was in her family's living quarters above he Rocket pub in New Parks, Leicester, on Saturday afternoon. Police said she was "dragged for a distance", possibly on to a balcony.

The baby was taken to Leicester royal infirmary at about 4pm, where she died. Neighbours yesterday described the rottweilers as "very aggressive".
At this time my thoughts obviously go out to the parents of the tragic child but at the same time serious questions must be addressed and perhaps a sensible change to the law put forward. At present only certain breeds of dog are controlled under the dangerous dogs act and the legislation is quite weak. Perhaps it is time that legislation was created to ensure that not only the behaviour of certain breeds of dangerous dogs is monitored but also that ensures that owners/handlers are in a position to actually control their animals. At present maybe there isn't a big enough onus on the owners to possess basic handling skills themselves.

In light of this tragedy the law should also be changed sufficiently to make sure that no child is left unsupervised with any animal. Knowing perfectly well that dogs especially are aggressive and temperamental pack animals should appeal to common sense enough to prevent one from leaving their baby or you child alone with them. Also both dogs and young children can be unpredicable and so if left unattended the likelihood of an incedent occuring must be higher.

Ultimately in this case any change in the law will be too little too late but hopefully preventing people from owning dogs if they cannot train and nurture them correctly should be a start.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

First Time at Villa Park

Recently found at my parents' house: the ticket and match programme.
Saturday 23rd September:
Aston Villa 2 Charlton Athletic 0

So this was my first time at a Premiership football game for over 10 years and my first ever trip to Villa Park. My only other experience of 'top flight' action was Coventry City versus Everton - which ended 0-0. Luckily for me there was repeat performance at Villa Park.

I am the first to admit that my passion towards Villa has waned over the years. A waning that was ultimately facilitated by the stale regime of Doug Ellis. During this period if I've wanted to hear good news about football I've relied on my other team - Celtic - to provide this.

Anyway, back to Villa park, and the first thing that struck me was the sheer magnitude of the stadium - both large and majestic. The last stadium I had been to was Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium. The difference in the size being Villa Park's 41,500 capacity to the Abbey's 4,000. Being quite far back in the North Stand still wasn't a problem as the stand was so steep you still felt like you were right by the pitch and had a magnificent view of the whole stadium.

So, what about the match? Well I'm not much of a football or sports writer, so, this comes from the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport/):

Aston Villa extended their unbeaten run in the Premiership thanks to fine strikes either side of half-time from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Luke Moore.

The sublime Agbonlahor met Gareth Barry's floating cross to give the home side a deserved first-half lead.

And when Moore latched on to Juan Pablo Angel's precise pass, the striker confidently put Villa two up.

New owner and chairman Randy Lerner would have been impressed with his Villa side who dominated throughout and punished a Charlton team which lacked creativity and confidence.

In summation it is an experience I will be looking to repeat. I can only pray now that after years in the wilderness Aston Villa have finally returned to play some football.

Update: I recently found the match programme and ticket. An image was taken to replace the image taken of Villa Park taken from the BBC's website. I was amazed at some of the names in the starting lineup who've long since left.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Looking into the Leamington Tornado

On Thursday 17th August whilst riding to work at Kantar Operations on Tachbrook Park Drive, Leamington Spa I was taken aback when I thought I saw a tornado. I was riding in the direction of Warwick Gates when in the distance there appeared to be a tornado. I must admit I was originally skeptical of it being a tornado as it wasn't actually touching the ground (as far as I could see) and just had the appearance of a small kink in the clouds - by this I mean that there was no evidence of it moving in a cyclic motion.

Later though I was to discover that this was actually a tornado courtesy of the BBC's website (http://news.bbc.co.uk). The website describes:
The funnel cloud was spotted during the evening rush hour on Thursday as torrential rain swept in. Eye witnesses said the tornado lasted a number of minutes and appeared to finish in countryside near Warwick and Leamington Spa.
Additionally, upon trawling the net further, I came across a weather discussion forum (www.ukweatherworld.com) whereby a short video of the tornado, taken from near Harbury (a village just outside of Leamington Spa), was available to download. To take a look click here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dans Le Jardin by Lucy Foster-Turner

Photo by Lucy Foster-Turner.
One of the better pictures of Les Feus Rouges at Cannon Close - deep in discussion between songs (or drinks).

Friday, May 12, 2006

Cemetary Path


Picture taken whilst walking towards the Locomotive (a pub) along the dusty cemetary path. Looks trés vieux without any real intent for it to do so! Nice.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Is this the most beautiful song ever?

Hoppí­polla
by Sigur Rós


When I first heard this song on the advert for BBC's Planet Earth series I thought it was taken from a song by Athlete or someone of that kind. Little did I know that it was actually by an artists that I thought was a hip-hop artist - no nothing of Sigur Rós!

Anyway I just had to download the song to see if it sustained its majesty throughout. The answer is simple - yes it does. I think that judging by the understated melody and the power of the instrumentation this may possibly be the most beautiful song ever written. With the song being sung in (presumably) Icelandic I haven't a clue what the song is about, but perhaps this innocence of the ear contributes to its beauty.

If you haven't experienced Hoppí­polla yet, get yourself to iTunes!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Don't Move! @ The Jug and Jester

Having seen Mason and Joe play acoustically at Moo in the Summer and being duly rather impressed I jumped at the chance to go see them, along with their newly acquired drummer, 'going electric'. No-one shouted"Judas" though - this is what we'd been waiting for! As their name would dictate as soon as the set started no-one was going anywhere - except my loser bandmates from Soviet Jetstream. Its okay though Graham, I'll consider staying to play at your wedding if my solo stuff goes nowhere!

Anyway, I think I put my feelings to Mason after the gig something like:
"That was great, it sounded like The Byrds in a head on collision with Love and then The Doors picking up the pieces."
And to be fair that sums it up for me. There is the song-writing drive of the Byrds pre-Notorious Byrd Brothers with the cross-picking jangle of the Clarence White-era Byrds. There is though a lack of the candy-coated nature of some early Byrds stuff and with the edgy bass and jazzy beats elements of The Doors' sound and demonic nature of Love's chord changes.

Basically this band are my kind of music. If I was the leader of a band I would wanna sound like this. Sod your indie-swagger rock, this music is where it's at. Musical sensuality with a sour twist of lemon. Order me one.
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