I had the Salad Niçoise…

So. The years of OU work have “paid off” and I now own a shiny new degree, and can put other letters after my name (other than Idiot that is). BA (Hons). I might get some cards printed up. I just looked into post-grad OU options, but they have severely trimmed their choices in the last couple of years and very few of the combos “grabs me”. Hmm. Graduation day was great fun, anyway, dressing up and being all pomp and ceremony. P and L enjoyed, and afterwards we had a be-suited wander round and an Italian lunch. I had the Salad Niçoise…

What else? Work is dire, there’s no money about post-recession, it seems. I ought to advertise to bankers and politicians, as I am led to believe that they have all the money these days.

Health: hmm. For a few weeks suffered excrutiating chest pains – was investigated for the obvious but given a clean bill of health (though I still have to visit a cardiologist to be finally “signed off”- was checked for a recurrence of the lung malarkey from last year (negative); cholesterol (negative}; liver problems (negative) &c… BP was a bit high (as it has been for the last 5 years) but I was seeing a new doctor, she put me on meds… and… the pain receded (though this of course may not be anything to do with BP) – but – the recurring fierce headaches of the last few years have – touchwood – ended. Like magic. No solpadeine for the last three weeks. No headaches. The unexplained chest pains have receded also.

What else? Easter holidays – Llama farm with P and her mate … 2 dance comps for P, both successful … Beatles Rock Band 🙂 … until next time…

Nearly 19, she was…

My little friend Yodi has just died, she was my (our) little chum for nearly 19 years; P has know her all her life; she’s been pretty ill for a couple of years though not in pain, but the end came when the vet found that she was riddled – I think that’s the technical term – with cancerous growths, and her liver functions were impaired (in other words, constant pain was setting in). Awful, sad time for us 3.

Work is proving very hard this year, with additional threats posed by the advent of cheap “coupon” style deals undercutting profits and devaluing the work we do.

I’ve been suffering another “low” period pretty much since Xmas, though L and P do their best to keep me cheered up. The strange thing is I know it’s happening, but seem unable to snap out of it. Feeling a bit better since the sun has come out, I suppose.

We’ve booked a holiday on the Welsh Borders in a woodland cabin, using the Forestry Commission thing. Should be nice, and I’ve never been to that part of the country at all.

P’s dancing is progressing, she got a second scholarship place to the Centre for Advanced Training (The Place/Laban Satellite) for Contemporary Dance, and now has a place for the Brighton Young Dancer’s Collective later in the year. Latin and Ballroom are going well, she has dance club at school and street/disco once a week for fun.

Just about to graduate in a few weeks, at the Dome. Looking forward to a Salad Nicoise afterwards.

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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Frozen Water prompting Drivel

So much cabin fever/low-grade boredom that I thought I ought to “do an update” to this blog. Hmm. So.

The New Year Nifty Night gig went well, Skinbat Scramble did a set amalgamating with the Sons of Quag, so a melange of a set ensued. All good stuff though, and in homage to the soon-to-be weather, I slipped in “Stopped By The Woods On A Snowy Evening”. I also played sampler in the Old Dolphin Brigade, and the Skinbats all joined them for sonic shenanigans.

Another notch closer to graduating, with the last-but-4 essay handed in. The energy for doing the last 4 will have to come from somewhere, I’m not sure quite where at the moment.

Mum; seems OK at the moment. though Xmas proved a bit trying at times. Memory (and its loss) is a funny thing – and hard to fathom. Mood swings, aggression, denial, apathy – all mixed in a souffle of “where did I put that” and repetitive requests – Do you want a cup of tea? – No thanks – Do you want a cup of tea? Harsh.

Xmas was (in spite of above) very pleasant, L was off through until New Year’s, P got ballroom shoes and competition dresses (among lots of other stuff) and none of us were ill.

New Year has been a bit of a damp squib for obvious (weather) reasons, P only went back for 2 days before school closed (it has remained closed since) and it’s still snowing at the moment. L was unable to get to work (no buses) for 2 days, so the Xmas hols have sort of vaguely extended tendrils out into 2010.

Which means lots of PS3, Lost and Pushing Daisies boxsets – and oh yes I almost forgot booking up a 2-week trip to the States for Easter. VEGAS!

Open | Cambridge | New Skinbat Songs

This year’s (the last mwa ha ha) Open Uni Course has started, and I am essaying in earnest. As this is the “home straight” of the degree, my incentive rug has been pulled out from under me, as the result for this year can’t have any impact on my grade (as long as I pass) due to the way courses are aggregated – I simply need to “turn up”. Makes it difficult to work hard. Ho hum.

Last weekend up to Cambridge for P’s last ballroom “qualifier” of the year – she’s just moved up to pre-bronze level, and was very nervous. Didn’t get any medals at all. Never mind, for Blackpool she’ll be competing in her previous level, and so she’s got ages to build up the pre-bronziness. Cambridge was full of guffawing hoorays as the students returned to college, and that was just the parents. Tish-boom.

Yesterday returned to the Granary to progress the next Skinbat recording. Two tracks which had been previously bass and drummed were sprinkled with some guitar, synth and vocal in more or less first takes. Some editing is required (especially of my parts), but the bones are there. Two tracks were emergent – “Dead Rabbit Universe” and “Stereo Jack”. Great day with Guy Denning at the engineer controls.

I Was Missing | OU Start

Clouds are lifting from me; I missed a gig at the weekend, which wrenched, but I’d have been no good for it, if I ever am. I’m feeling way way better at the moment.

So, we’re all back to work/school (P is happily – so far – at Hove Park)… my work is still dangerously fragile. Mum’s health is up and down. I suppose the rest and relaxation from the Cornwall holiday are leeching away in the day to day trivia and aches.

My OU stuff has arrived for this year (the last year). Big box of books and paperwork – looks more daunting than I hope it is.

Sudden flurry of social engagements and obligations, such that we’re having to miss some invited events; Dance Comp this coming weekend for P,

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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.

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