Monday, July 31, 2006

Singalong The Sound of Music

Me and Simon's family dressed as nuns after all three hours of last Fridays Singalong The Sound of Music at the Prince Charles. I had heard about this for years, just found out it's happening all over the world, and I wasn't disappointed, lots of nuns, Austrians, nazis, and a lot of singing, booing, hissing, miaowing, mooohing, etc. hosted by the great Candy Floss who kept Simon's mum on stage to judge the next lot of fancy dressers.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Bevis Frond and Teenage Fanclub: Ain't That Enough?

London is still so hot, and up until last Monday there was something almost every day or evening keeping me creeping through the soupy hot air for hours, tubes stopping in tunnels, train drivers who sound like they'd rather be stoned, not being able to move out of the wrong pubs, starting far too long walks that otherwise would have been refreshing, last Sunday it took us almost four hours to get to a family barbecue, where everything was already burnt black by the time we arrived. And then last Monday, courtesy of a spare ticket, Vanessa had pulled out again, the hottest gig of the year. And also definitely A Gig Of The Year. Considering that Teenage Fanclub seem to have mostly the sort of fans who will sing along to every line and know every song backwards it was weird to know most of The Bevis Fronds material, and not much of The Fannies. I've seen them quite a few times, mostly at festivals, but I don't own any of their records, and somehow on these occasions they passed me by a bit, they were fine but not that engaging for me. However here, in the sweaty, smokey, blokey, and unbelievably thick air of The Forum, after two hours, two sets, the first being a full playback of their Bandwagonesque album (I need to get that btw!), hands in the air, they gradually morphed into a really great band, with one wonderful song after another, it slowly crept up on me, but by the end, dancing with strangers, sweating like pigs, drunk, riding a time machine to a place I hadn't been to, it dawned on me that this was a really proper legendary gig. It took a while and I almost left, but kept bumping into people, getting another drink, washing my hands, running around, and then towards the end, a revelation. I'm sure my experience of this gig is fairly unique though as the hall was rammed with twenty and thirty somethings reminiscing a particular point in the early 90s (i love early 90s nostalgia too btw, special time for me too) where sunkissed sixties US pop styles caught up with a loved up, raved up UK indie scene and opened a window that apparently still hasn't shut. I loved the way all this crept up on me slowly and didn't hit me over the head, it was very gradual and the greatest hits set in the second half was actually a bit more happening than the playback of that legendary album which most of the fans from near and far who had gathered here had come to see.

But initially me and Gavin were really excited to see The Bevis Frond open up, since they rarely play in London. I own their excellent Live in San Francisco album from 1997, and, having also seen them recently at ATP, seem to know most of the material played for this brief "greatest (non) hits" set ("This is my biggest hit .... that wasn't actually a hit"). Main man and songwriter Nick Solomon is hilarious between songs, like an English middle aged Lou Barlow, very endearing and self deprecating, wearing the same T-shirt in which he is pictured on that 97 live album (!) but just a little bit older, a benevolent obscure stoner rock god floating through his own little universe, friendly, laid back and happy to connect, but not afraid of taking the piss out of himself and everyone around him. The lineup has since explanded to a five piece, and just as at ATP, they sounded really big and made some good expansive guitar noise, starting with an apparently customary jam but then went straight in to the songs. They are big, wonderful, haunting songs and they sound good in a big room on a loud sound system, Maybe, Hole Song No 2, Stoned Train Driver, Lights Are Changing, etc. and seem to gradually connect with the not so teenage fans of the Fannies. I mean there's some puzzled faces too, but it's not hostile. They're playing their annual three hour show at their local beer hall in Walthamstow in October, I hope I can make that one. Beautiful.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ten Tips for Surviving Summer Sun

I spent most of the hot day yesterday in a field in Essex, where we were camping for the night, a birthday party, the sun came out at 7, the roosters were waking everyone up anyway, though thankfully our tent had shade till about 9. just getting ready and packing up took hours, it was very nice out there but there was little shade and the little there was wasn't all that effective, there was a tree but not all trees give proper shade, and a marquee, but again they are bit dodgy in my book when it's as hot as this. I did a brief walk through the baking countryside and came across a car full of half naked young guys sitting in a small lane in the shade, they were just 'cooling down' one of them explained as he let me pass through. . Anyway, i'm really feeling the heat and it's not so nice, headache seems to have just about receded, and i don't want to feel like i did yesterday evening again. So for the next few days I'll follow the common sense guidelines issued by the Department of Health...

The Department of Health advises people to take the following action:
Stay in the shade or indoors.The sun is at its most dangerous between 11am and 3pm. Find shade under umbrellas, trees or canopies. It is worth remembering that the temperature is at least a couple of degrees cooler if you are by water.
Use sunscreen and cover up.If you can't avoid being out in the sun apply sunscreen (factor 15+) and wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
Increase your fluid intake.The normal recommended daily intake of fluid is 2.5 litres or 8 glasses per day. In extreme heat experts recommend you drink more and include a range of different fluids.
Ventilate your home.Keep some windows open all day and all night and use fans. This is particularly important at night, when the body cools down. However, be careful because burglars are opportunist and will use open windows to get in. Close downstairs or easily accessible windows at night, or when you are in the garden.
Look after the elderly.Older people are more prone to the effects of heat. If you have older relatives or neighbours you can help simply by checking on them and reminding them to drink plenty and often. They should have a mixture of drinks including tea, fruit juice and water. Also help them to keep their house as cool as possible, using a fan if necessary.
Protect childrenKeep a close eye on young children, who need plenty of fluids. A good way to check if they are drinking enough is that they are passing urine regularly and that it is not too dark. You should check nappies regularly. Babies and the very young must be kept out of the sun.
Avoid excessive physical exertionIf you are taking physical exercise you need to drink half a litre of fluid at least half an hour beforehand and continue to replenish your fluids after exercising.
Know the perils of outdoor eating.Warm summer weather is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria so it is especially important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until you are ready to eat them. When barbecuing always make sure you cook meat until it is piping hot, none of it is pink and all juices run clear.
Be sensible with alcoholHot weather speeds up the effects of alcohol so extra care should be taken when drinking. Alcohol will lead to dehydration so make sure that you alternate alcoholic drinks with water or fruit juice.
Keep cool at workThe office is often the coolest place to be in a heatwave. Ask your boss for air-conditioning or fans and open windows where possible. Keep windows shaded with blinds and if possible move your working position out of direct sunlight. Have plenty of breaks during the day to get cold drinks and cool down.
These precautionary measures will help increase protection from heat exhaustion and sunstroke as well as food poisoning and skin cancer.
A Department of Health spokesperson said:
"This week's temperatures are unusually high and people need to take extra care. The tips issued today are common sense precautions and will help people enjoy the weather whilst protecting themselves from the dangerous, and potentially fatal, effects of these temperatures

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

RIP Syd Barrett

there was a vague sense that somehow, miraculously, while and as he was still alive, he could have reappeared and issued another madcap sign of life, however frail or fragile. i know this notion is/was as crazy as any ... crazy old diamond. It was still somehow intriguing to know there was this reclusive legend living somewhere in Cambridge, someone who once communicated very vivid and enduring messages and who was now seemingly lost to distortion, withdrawal and enduring silence. I couldn't help being intrigued by that, and that's that. At least he was still alive, where he wanted to be, apparently, and being left alone.

Last time I was in Cambridge, not so long ago, I wanted to do a walk from Shelford through Grantchester Meadows into Cambridge, but it started to rain heavily, and I had to abandon it halfway through and get a cab into Cambridge where it continued to rain for hours. What did I expect to see or experience there? I don't know... but it was around a time when Pink Floyds first album was on heavy rotation on my headphones. Grantchester Meadows is still there though, and I should go back and do that walk now.

'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn' sounds very vivid and colourful today ...

"Alone in the clouds all blue
Lying on an eiderdown.
Yippee! You can't see me
But I can you."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

basement rush

I hear tense, complicated drones coming from the entrance,
pushing it open
lights guide you through corridors,
my voice gets weak and fades out,
leaves me sluggish, alone with the scream, the hunger, the thirst,
the hole gets more insistent
as you slide down, speaking sense for once,
commanding a stage, whispers from another life
lift up the curtains, screams from the other side
direct the madness
but underneath it all
there's no real number
on your back
as you go in
to talk back
and fight
the rush
where i rest
inside a conversation

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

the boy with the birthday cake hat

he's a fool, but we knew that all along...;-)

i was wearing this charmingly colourful outfit, chosen and put together by various enthusiastic members of our respective families, all afternoon at our summer party, i even walked down the road to the off licence with it...and I was dressed quite modestly to start with...

some more photos here courtesy of 'photographer of the stars' Vanessa Robertson: