Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Home, Home On The Range

Mrs Wife and I have just returned from a hectic few days in London. We had originally booked the trip to see Michael Jackson at the O2, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, but as we'd bought and paid for flights and hotel, we decided to have the holiday anyway.

And, in the space of five days in the capital, we:

  • Went to the Comedy Store's improv night, where we were entertained by the hilarious talents of Josie Lawrence, Andy Smart, Lee Simpson, Suki Webster, Richard Vranch and Stephen Frost.
  • Dined at the Hard Rock Cafe with Baby Brother and his girlfriend (who had been due to see Jacko's concert with us).
  • Visited the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the London Tombs, St Paul's Cathedral, Covent Garden and Camden Market.
  • Took a cruise along the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich.
  • Saw Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (or Gandalf and Jean Luc Picard or Magneto and Professor Xavier depending on your own personal geek persuasion) in Waiting For Godot at the Theatre Royal.
  • Attended, at Mrs Wife's request, We Will Rock You, which wasn't as bad as I had thought it might be.
  • Avoided a Biblical downpour by spending £27(!) on cinema tickets for Transformers 2. Which seemed almost identical to the first one, but with more gratuitous shots of Megan Fox's cleavage - ie it was pretty darn good.
  • Met up with Mrs Wife's cousin and a friend of mine from my university days that I haven't seen in more than seven years for a boozy afternoon in Theatreland.

All in all, a pretty productive, if tiring, five days.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Time For T

In the next few hours, I'll be setting off, via Falkirk, for T In The Park.

By my own reckoning, this will be my ninth T In The Park, but my first since 2006. While my brain remains free of the imminent alcoholic fug, here are my thoughts on each of the previous eight I've attended.

1997: My first festival, and T In The Park's first at Balado, near Kinross. My two friends and I take scandalously little drink and are generally unprepared for what awaits us. Highlights include Saturday headliners Kula Shaker and The Charlatans, while the weekend ends with a second tent jam-packed for John Squire's post-Roses band The Seahorses.

1998: Saturday's highlights include Audioweb and Super Furry Animals, who are so good that instead of going to see headliners The Prodigy, I instead go to the CD tent, buy a Super Furry Animals bootleg and return to my tent to listen to it. The rain came in the middle of the night and never stopped. My two friends bailed for home mid-afternoon on the Sunday, but I was determined to stick it out, despite the thigh-high mud, just to see Ian Brown. I cadge a lift home from two girls from school and get home around 2am, having been mesmerised by Brown's fantastic performance.

1999: This was my first year attending with folks from uni, one of whom I'll be sharing a tent with this weekend. I can't actually remember too much about what bands I saw, although I do remember Nicky Wire trashing the stage and giving away James Dean Bradfield's white fender guitar after the Manic Street Preachers' headline set.

2000: Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) and one of her friends accompany me to Balado to see Travis, Moby, Ocean Colour Scene and Beth Orton. I have no recollection of rain, but that line-up is hardly the most rock'n'roll, is it? Although I've just looked up the full line-up online and it seems we chose not to see Muse or The Flaming Lips....

2001: The first year in which the three of attending this year went together. Again, my overall recollections are hazy, but I do remember seeing Paul Weller's acoustic set. Having suffered through the whole of Wheatus' horror show, Weller promptly came on stage and started flexing his ego, playing Style Council songs and little-known solo work. Then Noel Gallagher joined in, they played That's Entertainment and everything was right with the world. Stereo MC's were also among the surprisingly fantastic acts.

2002: I left for T In The Park 2002 immediately after graduating, eschewing a night on the piss with my fellow graduands for a night eating cold food in a muddy field. The sound quality at the main stage was woeful, turning Oasis' headline set into a faint swirling noise. It also had the same effect on Primal Scream. Doves and The Cooper Temple Clause were both brilliant though.

By 2003, Mrs Wife and I were saving hard for a trip around the world. And by 2004, we were in Australia.

So by 2005, having returned from foreign climes, I was ready for a return to T In The Park. A huge group of us from Brechin set off together and turned a large part of the campsite into our own compound, cordoned off with yellow and black police tape. One of the most enjoyable Ts in terms of the pre-festival banter, plus the weather held out, which is always a bonus. Yet again, Super Furry Animals and Ian Brown are amongst the bands I see, although Ian Brown throws a strop early on during his set and storms off, having played a few Stone Roses songs. Still a great weekend though.

2006: Mrs Wife (who by this time is the newly-appointed Mrs Wife) again accompanies me, and I'm lucky enough to have a free press pass this time. Sound quality at the main stage again plays an unwelcome part, ruining the Arctic Monkeys and Hard-Fi sets, but The Who more than make up for it.

And, for a variety of reasons (primarily the £200 cost of a ticket and the number of neds) I've not been since.

Who knows what T In The Park 2009 will bring? I'm hoping to see Nick Cave, Jane's Addiction and Blur, but aside from that, the weekend is a blank canvas.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday Soul: Aretha Franklin - Respect

The First Lady of Soul giving a thunderous performance of her signature tune - the faster tempo really makes this version stand out.

Friday, July 03, 2009

An Unwelcome Lift

Today, for the first time in my 29 years roaming the Earth, I found myself stuck in a lift.

Returning from a lunchtime game of five-a-side football, myself and five colleagues decided that, instead of climbing the stairs from the basement of our building, we would take the lift to our second floor office.

Upon entering the lift, just as we were about to begin our ascent, one of my colleagues jumped up and down a few times to shake the lift for a laugh. But in doing so it seemed he tripped a brake.

We had only barely started moving when the lift came to an abrupt halt. Pressing the buttons for any of the building's eight floors had no effect. And so it was with some reluctance that we pressed the alarm button.

The gentleman on the other end assured us that help would be on its way imminently. Which left the six of us crammed in the lift with nothing to do except wait.

Having just returned from a strenuous game of football in a hot sports hall, we were all already sweating before entering the lift. But the enclosed space, which had no air conditioning and little ventilation meant that only a short time elapsed before all six of us were sweating buckets. And shortly after that, condensation started pouring down the elevator's mirrored walls.

The banter flowed freely while we were locked in our tiny metal cell. Although when we began to discuss which of us would be eaten first if we were trapped in the lift overnight, and five of us agreed that we'd start with our small Chinese colleague "because he'd be leanest", I could sense that the colleague in question became just a tad more concerned.

Finally, after what seemed a lifetime, but was only really 25 minutes, the engineer prised the doors opne, allowing us to gulp down some fresh air. And bask in a round of applause from our assembled colleagues.

Leaving the office today, I took the stairs.