Monthly Archives: March 2013

It’s Only Rock’n’roll…

Some of you may be aware but I do a bit of singing and strumming of the old guitar.  I’m not brilliant but I think I have something, enough to make me pick the thing up every couple of years and spend some time practicing with the general aim of getting out there and playing some tunes live, a gig or two maybe to feel the adrenaline pumping…  Most of the time other things get in the way; real life mainly paying the bills, ids, wife, family, work, gardening, decorating, dog walking….

I suppose I do better than many who dream of rock’n’roll stardom but end up selling all their gear, sadly never to touch an e-string again.  I’ve never given up just lowered my ambitions; I keep up a small sliver of hope (it’s hung in the loft next to my amps, bass and spare guitar) and try to maintain my MySpace, YouTube and other sites (though most of them are geared towards my writing mainly these days which looks likely to be as successful a personal endeavour as my musical one…).  I did once have a lady comedian who’d actually appeared on TV (in an episode of Jonathan Creek none-the-less) pick one of my songs on MySpace for her song of the week!  Ah stardom!  You do hear of people being discovered, long-lost treasures hidden away but given the vast size of web these days as it groans under the weight of budding ‘stars’ I think I may have to wait a very long time to be discovered!

I decided the other day it was about time that I dipped back into my rock’n’roll days and get back in touch with Andy my sparring partner in my first band days round 1987 along with Will our guitarist.  We started off without a real drummer but did have a wonderful little drum machine!

We were the Candidates for a short while and I managed to blag us some good gigs at the local Bradford Queens Hall – I felt quite brave marching in to the guy’s office – I forget his name but he later left the role under a very big black cloud.  I still remember his thinning blond hair, white Miami Vice suit and thick glasses which magnified his eyes to an alarming size.  Anyway he gave us a gig and it could have been quite a good one to tell our children about!  We were down to support The Levellers who went on to score a few hits and quite a big following.  Instead they pulled out (couldn’t take the competition I think) and instead we supported Jester Turtle (a South African band of who I can now find no record of existing apart from in the dusty corners of my mind – I remember tight zebra trousers and permed mullets and a vaguely Africa meets Abba feel to their music).

Andy was in the last band I played live with (apart from a quickly rehearsed works bands I fronted for a 40th party bash for a fellow colleague when we played Love is All Around).  The Lost Patrol died in 1991 live on stage, thanks to the efforts of our drummer a thin mustachioed chap who decided he needed a pint or ten to play spot on.  He was quite wrong of course, it did hinder his timing a touch and as he got faster and faster me and Andy tried and failed to keep up.  We’d managed to fill the place, again the Bradford Queens Hall cellar bar, with 500 paying customers.  This was partly down to an excellent write-up (by yours truly) hailing us as Bradford’s next big thing and to our support band’s larger group of supporters!  We went on last of course and managed to clear the place in half an hour (it should have been at least an hour) which saved us having to sign any autographs afterwards and meant we could split the profits (a fiver each after costs – PA, security, rider etc – no we didn’t pay the drummer, in fact we never saw him again) and get home in time for a mug of cocoa and the 9 o’clock news!

I do have a record of my solo spot the night before – I’d not been able to get my band colleagues to agree to do a full gig so I did it alone (there was no money involved just a pint – I basically turned up, plugged in and played!)

The massive nerve induced headache subsided after about a week and I’ve only ever done solo spots since (apart from the one off gig mentioned above).  And of course another local band stole our thunder and became the best band from Bradford or thereabouts – to be fair Terrorvision were a little more together than us and their drummer could keep time.

Back to Andy.  He introduced me to a whole range of musical styles, a universe of artists I’d either only briefly heard of or not at all.  He was heavily into eclectic music collecting  and his tastes ranged from Stevie Nicks to Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  He was John Lennon to my Paul McCartney – I was the soft poppy guy he was the razors edge.  I loved the way he played bass.

I’m now back in touch with him and I can’t believe it’s 26 years since we practiced in his basement.  At least we tried and even though we didn’t make it we still have those memories of trying.

Anyway time to do some practice – and boy do I need it…


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Crystal Days (Verse)

I looked and wondered
With absent mind
Between the wind and sky
Ice cold with fingers white
Bitter deep and sore
And asked the silver light

With sadness and clear clear tears I cried
“When will the days reward me
And will the heat grow near?
And why does the pain dig deeper
And freeze my heart with fear?”

And once the night fell
And in my head such a thundering
Clattering dangerous bell
Will I ever get to breath again?
And oh what a price to pay
On the coldest of Crystal days

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Living in the Future?

I have a dilemma.  I’m soaked in a society where the old mixes with  the new in a way seemingly unimagined by Sci Fi filmmaker of the past or indeed the general public.

It must be very hard to produce a film based in a future of say about 40 to 60 years from the present.  Just look at Bladerunner – an excellent gritty looking adventure set in Los Angeles in 2019, 6 years from now!  The film was made in 1982 (the year I left school so quite a long time ago) but I’m sure the venerable city doesn’t look too much different to how it did 30 years ago (though I’m sure if any of you are more familiar with the place you’ll tell me if I’m wrong?).

Even books can get it wrong (I’m thinking 1984 here though of course there is no Sci Fi wizardry in this classic book and looking at it from the 1940’s quite possible to imagine such a dystopian future).  None the less anything set in a future within our lifetimes does seem to replace everything rather than embellish it with the potential new.

I have noticed a tendency nowadays to set things in the ‘near’ future which can be a little bit of a copout.  It means they can use current land and city scapes, dress the characters up pretty much as they are now and even use the same vehicles.

I think the job is made harder by some of the things that set time periods apart in the past being less important now.   Hair styles for instance.  There is a clear distinction between the hair styles of 1964 and 1974 and again from 1974 to 1984 but I would argue that in general our general everyday hair styles are now pretty much the same as they were back in 1984 (and I’m not counting the trendy styles seen in film and on TV).  Ok there were a few differences but not as many.  The same with clothes: again look at the mid-60’s to the mid-70’s and then jump to the 90’s.  Yes it’s still possible to look at a TV programme or film from the early 90’s and see the style differences but they are less subtle.  I have worn jeans, t-shirts and trainers for a long time (not the same ones obviously and I do wash them occasionally ) but in general, the same style.  Watch something from ten years ago and you’ll not see much difference stylistically.

At this point I just have to talk about ties.  Just what are they all about?  Men have been wearing basically the same bit of cloth around their necks for a hundred or more years – but why?  What use do they have?  In the sixties the futuristic programmes showed a distinct lack of ties in the future, a future we are now in (think Space 1999 etc.) yet we still wear the things.  Of course they do have some uses: they are excellent devices for soaking up coffee or soup (and as long as they don’t dry out too fast you can refresh yourself later) but otherwise quite dangerous (always make sure you don’t dangle it in a shredder at least if you’re wearing a white shirt – red ones are much better in these situations).

The biggest difference that sets the decades apart is in the technology.  Mobiles/cell phones are getting bigger (which seem a bit of an anomaly really given how we laugh at the bricks from the ’90’s) and TV’s are now flat, thin large screened and can show programmes in HD and 3D (though for some reason you can still see Bruce Forsyth..).

There’s probably a lot more examples (and please feel free to mention them here) but the point is that where in the past the changes were big (black and white TV to Colour, short hair to long etc.) now they are small and subtle.

And so our future will look pretty much the same with similar if not the same buildings, populated by similarly dressed people but if you look closely…



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Animal Tales

Once upon a time in a land of people with voices honeyed with the grit of the north and peppered with the laconic wit of the midlands, a man was teased and tortured by the beasts that dwelled within his home.

The king was a mild looking creature of pure white fluff but his eyes could either drown a person in love or instill fear in equal measure.  Oliver ruled with an iron paw, his sabre sharp claws always ready to extend and gently taunt the poor man.  The very worst part of the man’s day was usuallly in the early hours when the rest of the world was at peace and the silver moon sent gentle light through the partly open curtains.

The king was often inpatient for his morning meal and a gentle stroll in his grounds.  The man needed to serve not slumber so several jabs and a couple of well aimed head-butts were all that were needed to get the servant up and moving.

The rest of the beasts were less controlling though the dog could use his big doleful eyes to wind the man around his paw digits, the budgie used constant high-pitched instruction to wear him down and the hamster simply stared, and stared and stared!



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The Right Signals

Today I shall be starting with a rant, something I rarely do in public and usually only when driven to it by my perception of something ridiculous, absurd or plain stupid.  This is usually when behind the wheel of a car but does sometimes happen when I’m a mere passenger (in a car or a bus it doesn’t really matter).

Now I have to admit I am not ranting out of a sense of my own perfection I am not perfect and like all humans (yes I am actually human though sometimes I do wonder, perhaps I’m an alien whose mind was wiped clean or a new species born from humanity but ever so slightly different – then I tell myself to cease the deranged day dreams and get back to driving) I make mistakes every now and then.

I have mixed my colours (reds, blues and whites) in a washing machine and ended up with a lovely pink shirt (very fashionable I’ve heard though not really to my taste).  I have started my car and somehow managed to lock the doors but still been firmly and securely stood at the side of the car, my mouth dropped open in amazement at my stupidity!  I have let my children draw on my face and forgotten completely as I rushed out of the door to go to work (I wondered why so many people seemed happy that day with most people greeting me with hesitant but vibrant smiles).  And I have on occasion forgotten to signal when either changing direction or at a junction – for this I apologise profusely and it makes me feel ever so guilty it really does.

I have noticed an increasing number of people who seem incapable of indicating.  I am not sure if it is a one-off occasion (as with me above and to you people I also apologise profusely and I do understand completely how each evening you now spend some time in tortured anguish over the guilt).

What I am certain of is that there are far too many people not doing it to tell me that most of them simply don’t want to, don’t care or have forgotten that not only is it helpful to other road users to know which direction you intend to go but also one of the things you get tested on when you pass your test.

Of course it could be that they’ve not passed their test which means they simply won’t know which I suppose I can excuse; if you’ve not studied the highway code taken lessons or taken a test then of course you’re not going to know what that little stick connected to the steering wheel is for are you?

The majority of people I’m sure must have passed their test at some point.  So why do they sit there at a junction as traffic drives steadily past, with a look of pained anxiety on their faces, desperate to pull out and wondering why nobody seems willing to oblige?  I have a little rule I usually use – if somebody is waiting to pull out and I can let them do so safely then I will, as long as they are indicating!

There has been a couple of occasions when a car has sat there indicating correctly and I’ve slowed down half a mile down the road, flashed my lights madly, waved my hands etc. only for the person to calmly sit there seemingly waiting for a much bigger gap!  But that type of person is a lot rarer.

I am trying not to let other people’s’ driving annoy me.  Put simply there is not a lot I can do about it, I don’t have a blue light I can pop on the roof, I don’t have a machine gun installed in my car grill and getting angry tends to make me sweat far too much (which then means I have to use the washing machine a little more and I get more pink shirts).

Safe driving everybody.


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Rich – A Poem

Colours fly with speeding change

Across eternal winter rage

Fill my senses drown my world

Vicious winds around me whirl

Can you help me can you see

There is no endless you and me

Once there was a man

Who sat and cried

And cast away his pain

And all around him set in awe

The biting acid rain

Colours fly with endless motion

If every man could swim the ocean

If all the money in the world

Could buy the boy the sweetest girl

Then I’d be yours and you’d be mine

But do you really have the time?

One there was a thought

That didn’t die

Once there was sound an endless cry

Once I was poor until it ended

Filled my world that I defended

And here I lay a bloody sodden wretch

Without the heart and soul that made me rich.

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All Around the World!

Hi all just a quick one today!  I was looking at the stats WordPress supply and noticed that over the last year I’d had hits from all over the world, 30 countries in total!  That is an amazing thought that a few of my simple words can be seen and read anywhere in the world!  There are not an amazing number of people reading my prose just a large spread of relatively few people but none-the-less I’d have struggled massively before the world of the Internet and the blog to get anyone to read my meanderings let alone people as far afield as Malaysia, Canada and Australia!

Anyway as a little experiment if you read this can you just add a short comment to say ‘Hi’ and tell me where you’re from?


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