Monthly Archives: October 2010

All the pieces..

I’ve not long got in from seeing the excellent Mark Chadwick playing in the Rescue Rooms in my beautiful home town of Nottingham.

The evening started with my customary and infuriating habit of arriving at places at least 15 minutes before I need to, so I found myself nursing a coke (I had the car you see), near the door to the live music venue when the man himself walked past me and settled nearby – but looking ‘in the zone’.

I bottled it and didn’t go and talk to him and seek a photo, I was half kicking myself but half thinking I shouldn’t make a nuisance of myself when he’s got a show to do…. and of course I’m a massive coward.  People say you should never meet your heroes anyway, right?…

So, the venue opened and I found myself a decent spot and really enjoyed the support act – Dan Donnelly – who played a set on his own where he utilised lots of clever sampling of riffs and cunning percussioning on his guitar to put on an impressive one-man-band style show.  Very engaging, and as the venue started to fill up and show its’ appreciation of his efforts – which was good.  Below is a video of him covering ‘Plastic Jeezus’ which was suitably entertaining.

He probably played for no more than 35-40 minutes but it was good, it’s made me go and investigate his work.  Had I not been at the gig alone I’d have probably gone and bought a CD from the man himself as he manned the merchandise stall, but I didn’t want to lose my vantage point so missed that particular opportunity.  I shall retrospectively purchase some of his work though!

On to the Mark Chadwick who didn’t keep us waiting too long – best known of course for his work with The Levellers, I’ve been enjoying his solo album – it’s a bit of a grower.  Given the live treatment though it really brings it to life even more, Dan Donnelly returned to the stage to provide backing vocals and fill a variety of instrumental gaps along with a drummer, guitarist (Sean Lakeman) and a bass/double-bass player.

A mixture of mostly tracks from his own album (which is what he’s touring, after all!) but a few Levellers classics thrown in – I say classics, but not too many ‘well known’ songs of theirs (raucous encore of ‘Just the One’ aside).  My own personal highlight was ‘Maid of the River’ – a favourite Levs song of mine, an album track from Zeitgeist that I don’t think I’ve ever heard performed live before.  I loved it.

As with any phone-based videos the sound quality isn’t particularly representative of actually being there, but I’m glad I have been able to capture it nonetheless!  Even though he either deliberately or drunkenly mixed up the words – it seems somehow arrogant to suggest he might be an error when he wrote the song!  He had been quaffing a fair amount of red wine though, and it was quite late in the show… you never can tell with these things!

I’ve got a few songs on video but am not going to sit and upload them all tonight… so keep an eye on my YouTube channel if you really want to see them (all two of you who read this 😀 ).

After the show I found a likely spot to finish my drink and reflect and got talking to fellow Levellers fans, Jen, Amanda and Brian.  They’d travelled from distance to see the performance, and Jen has been to no less than 179 gigs by the band in the last 8 years – and I thought I was  a real fan – clearly not!  She didn’t lack the courage I did before the gig so insisted we accost Mark after the show for a photo, which is on her camera so hopefully I’ll be able to retrieve it once she’s safe and home tomorrow.

I might also have bumbled some nonsense at the glassy-eyed singer about how happy I was I’d heard him sing one of my all time favourite songs live.. he was probably thinking “bastard! I did all this solo stuff and you’re still harping on about a Levellers song”… it reminded me of the time a drunken me decided to tell Colin Tarrant how moving I’d found his portrayals of Brian Clough… I guess it must be nice to get positive comments from people no matter how badly phrased!

A top night – I’m really glad I went even though I couldn’t manage to cajole anybody into coming with me… and at least if I’m left in a similar predicament with future Levellers related gigs I might’ve found a new friend or two who will be there!  As for meeting your heroes, Mark had clearly had a bit to drink and looked a bit bemused, but was very gracious so I’d say if you get the chance, you should do so!

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Biltong market research..

As anyone who has befriended me on Facebook will know, I’ve become a little obsessed with Biltong over the last few months – to the point of actually producing it on a small scale at home.  To further my knowledge, and because I’m easily led by a similarly obsessed but more instant-gratification-driven colleague, we ordered numerous packets of different types from Susmans, a leading UK-based purveyor of dried meat goodness.

So far I’ve sampled some stukkies, some Peri Peri beef bilton and some ostrich biltong from their extensive range.  All very enjoyable, of course – given that I was motivated by the what-I-now-realise-to-be mediocre mass produced stuff you get in supermarkets – indeed, a few months ago I’d have said it was awesome.  I also had a nibble (ooer) on one of my colleagues’ Droerwors (a kind of dried sausage).

I wouldn’t say I’m underwhelmed – but the best of my home-made efforts have been comparable if not better than what I’ve tried so far.  I do have a few more to get through though – and if nothing else it’s made me strengthen my resolve to get hold of a good chunk of ostrich meat to try drying myself.  All in all, a worthwhile exercise – and one that meant I got to eat lots of meat!

Susmans also do non-vacuum-packed ‘fresher’ variants – I might try that, or I might just stick with what I make myself!  The main issue is saltiness, which is probably a product of the need for shelf-life – as I’ve been progressively cutting down on salt in my own efforts after an early attempt stripped almost all the moisture out of the early guinea pigs!

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The Apprentice..

It’s my one reality TV guilty pleasure, and to heighten the experience at work we’ve decided to have a sweepstake.  Great idea, we all thought – I’m having reservations now having selected a female clone of Gok Wan.  It doesn’t get much better if you view her video, either!

Click for her profile here (embedding videos doesn’t seem to want to work 😦 )

Oh well, perhaps it will still be an interesting series, but even with cash at stake, it will be tricky to want her to do well if her application video is anything to go by!!  But still, good luck, Melissa Cohen, nonetheless.

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Under the influence..

It’s funny that it sometimes takes a reminder or an outside observation to make you realise what makes you react or behave in certain ways in certain situations.  I’ve had two such revelations in quick succession this week, which is what prompted me to pontificate vaccuously about it on here.

The first occurred on Thursday when I was playing football.  I’ve never been particularly gifted at the sport, but do enjoy a game of five a side regularly enough, and amongst the groups of people I play with manage to score a few goals here and there (although generally I play in defence).

After snagging a goal early in the game Andy, one of our very gifted players who was on my team, turned to me as I was running back into defence, stony faced and said “Al, one of these days I’m going to see you smile when you score a goal!“.  I hadn’t really thought about it before, but generally I don’t.  It’s true we don’t play infront of a crowd, so people don’t celebrate too ridiculously when they snag a goal or two, but well, they usually look pleased.

As it happens, later in the game I managed to trick my way past two or three of their players and hit a delicate-but-well-placed-shot into the bottom corner.  Those of you who aren’t familiar with my footballing abilities or the typical kinds of goal I score will know that’s pretty unusual.  I allowed myself a clench of the fist and a slight smile at that one before getting back into position.

It wasn’t until I got back home and pondered what Andy had said that I realised my post-scoring behaviour was an exact mimic of one of my all time Forest heroes.  Stuart Pearce was a defender who managed to get a few goals, and usually (with a few exceptions), when he got a goal he’d jog back to position, with a grim-but-determined expression on his face, as his teammates celebrated and literally bounced off him.

I never consciously made the decision to emulate this, but clearly on a subconscious level this made a lasting impression.  Of course, many times when Pearce scored he did celebrate both in Forest shirts and – well – we all remember Euro 96 don’t we?  Interestingly, I did consciously emulate him by practicing endlessly kicking the ball powerfully – which is at least a skill I’ve retained even through gaps in playing in periods of my life.

Rich took it one step further – he practiced so much on his left foot he’s arguably better with it than his right, despite being naturally right footed.  Stuart Pearce it seems, looms large as an influence not only in the football watching habits of the Fisher brothers, but every time they take to the astroturf too – although they might not now realise it.

That said, I remember when playing in a tournament impressing on my teammates to not go over the top if they scored.  We were playing the tournament at the City Ground (on quarter pitches, seven a side), infront of the tiniest of crowds – it transpired it was me that notched our first goal and proceeded to go mental from the experience of netting infront of the Trent End, even if it was pretty much empty!

"Ah, so you're a waffle man!"

The second occasion was the other night, with nothing on telly as usual we had reverted to trusty Red Dwarf DVDs to keep us entertained.  Over the last couple of weeks we’ve wound our way to Season IV, and had got to the fourth episode – one of my all time favourites – ‘White Hole‘.  That’s by-the-by, or perhaps it isn’t, but as Talkie Toaster is talking to Holly about her life expectancy he uses the phrase: “Well that’s better than a kick in the bread-tray.”

Which is a phrase that – whilst not frequently – I’ve been known to utter when things aren’t quite going according to plan, but could be worse (usually at work!!).  I’d previously completely disassociated it with Red Dwarf, which seems odd really given the specific nature of the anatomy being kicked.  I guess if it just trips off the tongue subconsciously you don’t really give much credence to whether it makes sense or not.

Then again, I did watch Red Dwarf a LOT when I was younger, so I suppose I might have internalised more of the phrases and dialogue than I’d care to think about!  Indeed, when somebody (again usually at work) starts talking over-techie at me I’ll quite often say “So what is it?“, mimicking The Cat from the very same episode – alas, the colleague who would reply with “I’ve never seen one before, no-one has…” has left the company!

Brains, funny things ain’t they?  I suppose it could be worse, I could have added ‘Howdy doodly doo!‘ to my every day phrase repertoire!

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