The Day After The Solstice, 2010

It’s been forever… and look, another year has dripped from the roof like melting slush.

I spent the best part of the summer with pneumonia, and the exhaustion recovery entails. A raft of medical appointments (x-rays, cardiograms, consults) followed, even more exhausting as the compass needle was for a while pointing at something worse than a “shadow on the lung”. however, it’s all in the past now.

Mum is now permanently in a (nice enough) dementia care home in Bognor. The stress on the family has somewhat been removed, knowing that she has such care.

I have retired from live Skinbat duties at the moment, I remain (I hope) a fully committed member of the project/object, and hope to be involved in the studio process of the next album (two tracks are in the can and sound quite wonderful) – also the “Live at the Forum” album if that ever sees the light. I hope so, as three of the Skinbat recordings available are amazing.

Music – not music of the year as such but that which has come into my world this year

Goldfrapp live at the Dome

Belle & Sebastian: Write About Love thanks to Sarah for this one
Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea
Chicago OST
C.W. Stoneking: Jungle Blues
Imelda May: Mayhem
LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening
Grinderman: 2
Nellie McKay: Normal as Blueberry Pie
Crimson Jazz Trio: King Crimson Songbook Vols 1 & 2
Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports (how did I miss that?!) thanks to David for these two
Eels: Tomorrow Morning
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs thanks to Liz for nagging on this one
Laurie Anderson: Homeland
Divine Comedy: Bang Goes The Knighthood
Tom Waits: Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
Scarlet’s Well: Society of Figurines get well soon Bid
Goldfrapp: Head First
Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me
Eels: End Times
Scarlet’s Well: Unreal II
Tiger Lillies: Freakshow

TV / box sets:
Lost ended 😦
Celebrity Juice
[most of] Glee
The Walking Dead
Mark Gatiss’ A History of Horror
Mad Men (series 1 and 2 only so far)
CSI (Vegas only)
Hi-De-Hi box set
Lipstick On Your Collar
Miss Marie Lloyd , Queen of the Music Hall (thanks to Dickon)

Film (not all this year’s releases, some blu ray remasters and in the case of WDT only just available)

Wisconsin Death Trip
Toy Story 3
Alien Anthology remastered
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Up In The Air
The Thing remastered
Amarcord remastered
A Serious Man – Coen brothers back on form yay!
Watchmen director’s cut
Zombieland
Kick Ass (apart from the weak last scene)
44 Inch Chest

I’ve probably missed loads.

Books:

Have read all of Cormac McCarthy’s books this year – amazing.
Jonathan Coe: The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim
Stephen King: Under The Dome – as usual, under-rated by critics
Michael Chabon – The Yiddish Policeman’s Union
Gregory Maguire – A Lion Among Men
Richard Dawkins – The Greatest Show On Earth
Nick Cave – The Death of Bunny Munro
Peter Carey: Wrong About Japan
and re-read shedloads of Dickens

O, and I got a degree! I now own a piece of paper saying I have a 2:1 BA(Hons) in Humanities with Media Studies and Literature, which is nice. I have a ceremony in April 2011 with a cloak and everything!

I also got back into fishkeeping this year. When I was around 10 to the time I left home I kept tropical fish with my dad, that tank is long gone. Liz and I had a tank wen we first moved to Brighton, but we closed that down when we moved years ago. I’d always hankered after keeping marine fish, but in the old days they were very hard to keep. Skimming technology has moved on, and though more discipline is required than with a freshwater tropical tank, marines are now possible. 6 months on, I’ve got a nice little reef with corals, fish, shrimps and all sorts. Yes, I do have clownfish, and yes one of them is called Nemo. It’s a nice name.

OK more turn of the year drivel soon

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Inevitability

Mum’s memory/denial problems get worse, resulting in her failing to make doctor’s appointments, which (may or may not be) urgent. At least, she percieves it as urgent in one conversation/on one day – and then “goes for a walk/goes for a bus ride” Just keep swimming.

Curiously, this latest iteration comes just at the end (for me) of a bout of semi-serious depression. In the last three or so days, I have felt lightened and mildly energised, I’ve been really down and negative for around a month, hopefully it’s at an end. And this Mum business doesn’t hound me back into my pit.

New Nifty Eagu and the Glo-Pilots album, “Ezoteric” is out now, and is pretty good. Generously, there’s a picture of me on the sleeve thanks to my short stint as synth player at the penultimate Glo-Pilots gig. Gigs: A skinbat iteration will perform on 6th Sept at the Forum; the exact nature of the beast is somewhat in flux, but may include performance of some of the songs from the GP’s new one, and probably will feature a guest star from the Packabeats. Beat that.

Dancing – Deaf Cat – Hannigan

It’s been a while since I did a blog. Lots has happened. I have finished decorating the kitchen (yesterday) so I should have clean fingernails now (no black grout rammed down them – ouch).

Last week was the summer show for P’s dance school – the excellent Hove Dance Centre, they have a lovely web site 🙂 – it was very good, held at Dorothy Stringer School – nice theatre venue. In addition to the kids and some adult classes doing their thing with (mostly) dancing and some singing, there was a novelty item involving – me. Three of the fathers of the younger girls were asked – along with one experienced dancer who was choreographing – to form a foursome to do a waltz-based dance, cutesy dads and their little girls. I was initially reluctant, for reasons of huge embarrassment and time, but did agree after coaxing. It was kept a “secret” from everyone else – families and most of the other dancers at the school – we rehearsed on Sunday mornings and evenings, P and I did quite a lot at home. It went quite well – the whole event was professionally filmed, so I will see how it went later… I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. There was some applause…

The cat went for her annual check up/jabs and was pronounced deaf. We’ve known for some time that all was not right with her – and suspected her hearing/balance – but evidently she is as deaf as a post. Apart from that, she’s OK for her age. It seems odd that we’d not figured out the deafness, but cats work as creatures of habit – visually – they know that, for example, if she cries and we get up, she goes to the back door to be let out, and if she cries outside the back door (eventually) she will be let in. It’s sad, but we’re all giving her extra strokes. And the nickname possibilities are endless…

L and I to the Komedia to see Lisa Hannigan couple of days ago. Splendid, warm-hearted and uplifting it was. Sort of a meeting between the lovelier end of folk with This Mortal Coil, Velvets, Joanna Newsom, and in spite of minimum electrics, the song-ending apocalypses of, say, Doll by Doll. Great cover of Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” – shiver down the spine great.

At home, algorithms continue to mis-align and disjoint, we’ll work through it.

P is on her last 4 days of primary education. The SATS may or may not be valid, may or may not be important, may or may not mean anything at all – but she did exceptionally well in them. Perhaps, unlike me, she has an aptitude for turning the correct (or at least the expected) educational keys to please her educators. In vaguely related educational housekeeping, I’m still waiting for the results of my penultimate OU year (Creative Writing). I have committed to the final year, which (assuming this year’s result is OK) should get me a Ba(Hons)2:1 even if I crap up the last year.

Catch Up : Scarlet’s Well, Nick Cave, oh a load of things…

No posts for a while from me, which can only be a good thing…
Where to start? Secondary schools… ongoing low-grade worry re P’s placement. It is, in Brighton, quite literally a lottery. Mortgage… ongoing l.g.w. as before, our fixed-term thing ends in Jan, so we have to re-negotiate with an organisation which is part of the collapsing economic infrastructure of the world, and guilty of theft and mis-selling and just generally being bastards. On top of this, it is staffed by 16-year olds who can barely hold a pen and don’t know what they are talking about. Impossible. After an hour or so of talking to them, reading their convoluted terms and conditions and filling in paperwork, it’s giving up time.

What else? Last SKINBAT SCRAMBLE gig went well, it was nice to play a gig which wasn’t Mark-Organised, took a lot of pressure off, we were “just a band playing support”. We rocked, and got some good feedback after… some audients were even dancing…

SCARLET’S WELL at the Bull and Gate. This is – I think – the 6th time I’ve seen SWell, nice little venue (where Skinbat Scramble’s chums Heat From A Deadstar play a lot). Monsieur Mo Rio was first support, must admit that while I quite liked the sound I stayed outside and chatted to some friends while they were on. The WOULD-BE-GOODS were support, and were excellent. I got their new album EVENTYR at the end of the gig, and it’s excellent. Their song Velasquez and I is one of my favourite songs, I think. Scarlet’s Well were great as usual, don’t know if it was the sound at the gig or what, but there was a real robustness to the songs that needed it, best I’ve seen them… bloody great.

Then, two weeks of dribble and working on my Creative Writing course; not sure at the moment if I am either Creative or capable of writing, got my first mark back which was adequate though.

Last Night, NICK CAVE and the BAD SEEDS. Remarkable. The whole gig was stunning, highlight (for me the best Cave song ever) “I Call Upon The Author”. Staggering live. We blagged a box from L’s connection at the Brighton Centre, which was very cool. I like to imagine that Mr. Cave walked home to Hove after the crowds had gone, smoking a cheroot.

Next weekend: BLACKPOOL. P has got through to the National Ballroom Grand Finals … glitter, sequins, hairspray ahoy!

The Monochrome Set, Monochrome Set, Secondary Schoo-ooo-ooool

Up to the London on Wednesday night; it was the Cherry Red 30th anniversary party and also The Monochrome Set 30th Anniversary one-off-type gig. L and I were extremely lucky and honoured to be given guest tkts by Bid for this invite-only thing, at Dingwalls.
As we walked there from the station I realised that the last time we saw TMS was at the Camden Electric Ballroom – 1983? I think. Bloody hell. We met up with a couple or three other Scarlet’s Well/MSet folks before, and… bloody hell to the gig too.
Andy Warren, Bid and Lester on stage together! With Jen and Sian from Scarlet’s Well. Really well-chosen set, and exceptionally good. It was easy to remember why the TMS were so good live – much much “harder” than their beautiful records, with bags of energy, Andy’s legs still glued together, bloody bloody good.
Although it was a party rather than a paying gig, the small-ish audience were pretty appreciative.
It was genuinely an honour to be there.

Next day, back to Brighton and looking round a secondary school for Little Boots; she will soon have to be re-christened Big Boots I suppose.

Bipolar Blues

Been unsleeping for the last few nights, pressure of the world on my shoulders and all that.

Spoke to a friend who has suffered for years and the dreaded word bipolar cropped up. Again. I don’t know about that, and manage to maintain an even keel most of the time, but certainly there IS a slough of despond, which sometimes happens to be WHERE I AM. Not manic, certainly, though I do have creative/energetic bursts just before the periods of – how you say? – meh.

The iPod oracle spoke this morning, with the following in Sainsburys buying milk and loo roll.

Divine Comedy – Perfect Love Song
pure sentiment in a – well – perfect pop song, plus associations of being involved in making the video for the song. Tears came to my eyes.
Captain Beefheart – Bluejeans and Moonbeams
childhood memories, regret, beauty, more tears.
Nick Cave – Hallelujah. Christ, pass me the pills and rope. I arrived at the checkout and turned all music off.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To…

The Forum. Well, not funny exactly, but on the way to the Forum yesterday I passed through a rather despondent (but still occasionally crackling 3/5 rehearsal) for the Skinbat Scramble performance which sputtered into being through an afternoon of negotiation, discussion, gentling and garden-based attention to detail. The housekeeping paid off, clouds of gloom lifted revealing that

  • time had passed too quickly, and
  • it was time to play a set to
  • an audience! Of audients, who were listening.
  • We were good, once or twice (or thrice) hitting the zone marked “Zone”
  • There was applause, and (at the end of the evening) a monetary profit. Not one of doom.
  • 5/5ths of the band were happy with the performance – result!
  • Ghost in Mirrors filled a y a w n i n g gap caused by Lack Of Brutai, who were marked “absent” by virtue of not being there.
  • The Kids That Made America (or possibly The Lebanons) were splendid, covering the absence (yet presence) of The Old Dolphin Brigade.
  • Rachel’s Got A Flamethrower, darlings of the local press, packed the hall with sound
  • there was a parachute, and for the SS performance, a slide show.

My lovingly crafted poster, only 2/5 correct! one band didn’t play, one band pulled out, one band changed their name. Thus demonstrating that The Skinbat Scramble and Rachel’s Got A Flamethrower demonstrate a stability of nomenclature hitherto unheard of in Kent.

Good times

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