31st January

There was an odd synchronicity today as I listened to Musical Migrants on Radio 4 on the way to work. Last night I’d been listening to a recording by English guitarist Michael Chapman, who incidentally we’ve book for the Summer of Love Party this year, and I got to thinking about how I’d first heard his music. It was while I was at school and getting into music listening to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and other big rock bands of the day. Then one day a new boy appeared having moved from Basingstoke to Sunderland as his father was a vicar and had moved parish. He introduced us to a different sort of music, mostly folk, and as well as Mr Chapman I had my first introduction to people like Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Ralph McTell, Richard Digance and more.

So it was odd this morning to hear a similar story  from Daniel Sanden-Warg who growing up in Sweeden and playing guitar like Jimi Hendrix was suddenly introduced to the sound of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle by the new boy at school. he loved what he heard so much that he ended up moving to Norway to study with one of the giants of the instrument Hallvard Bjorgum.

Bit of a hoohah today at the kids school as they were doing some sort of test and just before they started the teacher told them it was to be held under exam conditions and asked if anyone had a mobile phone or other electronic device on them. Almost everyone put up their hands and she collected them in. It was only after the exam that she told them they couldn’t have them back until the end of the day. Then a truly bizarre thing happened she also confiscated our daughter’s coat. This despite it being a very very cold day and the fact that she passed out at school a couple of weeks ago due to, according to the hospital, extreme changes in temperature.

When my wife phoned to complain she was told that the teacher in question had gone home (how convenient) but, continued the person she spoke to, the children were and had been for some time aware that the test was under exam conditions. As I said above the fact that almost everyone handed over a mobile phone would suggest otherwise. There seems to be something seriously wrong with the department in question (Science) at that school. The Physics teacher for example arranged 5 revision lessons in the run up to an exam on Tuesday and didn’t turn up for 3 of them. Our problems date back several years and are at the point where we are considering a formal complaint.

So she’d had to walk round all day, including breaks, with no coat in freezing weather and then at the end of the day had to go all around the school trying to find the teacher with the coat and phone. Not good!

Postkat’s sense of direction is getting worse as he is now in Croatia!

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30th January

What’s the matter with me
I don’t have much to say
Daylight sneakin’ through the window
And I’m still in this all-night café
Walkin’ to and fro beneath the moon
Out to where the trucks are rollin’ slow
To sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow

A week or so ago I blogged about a man I’d heard on one of the 9 o’clock discussion shows on Radio 4 who had been a music critic until he had lost the hearing in one ear and how he’d written a book about his experiences and his attempt to learn to feel music again by remembering experiences associated with various pieces. I remarked that his book was being serialised as Book of the Week on Radio 4 and it started this morning.

He recounted stories such as the time he bought his first album in 1973 (Razamanaz by Nazareth) and when he got home his father insisted on listening to it with him. I enjoyed the description of his father listening to it and actually found myself sitting in a similar position whilst listening to the one he described his father in! I’m sure I’d be the same (or am the same) when listening to some of the stuff the kids think is music (joke).

His description of his memory associated with a piece called Dies natalis by Gerald Finzi was so good it almost moved me to tears. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week (and may consider buying the book). It also reminded me that I hadn’t listened to the final edition of last weeks book – A Shed of one’s own, Midlife without the Crisis!

It was an interesting book some of which I could identify with (Hairs growing in your ears, annoyance, intolerance of litter etc) and other’s that I still have to look forward to. I liked the end where he lists the three rules of middle age

1. You only live once
2. Your main duty to others is to be kind
3. Your main duty to yourself is not to be bored!

29th January

Lindisfarne Castle

Finally finished sorting out the pictures from last year’s Easter Holiday and uploaded them to my Flickr account.

Otherwise a quiet day – well as quiet as it can be in a house which is starting to resemble the United Nations! As I was getting dressed I became aware that there was an oriental looking girl standing over the road staring at the house. I pointed this out to Sarah and she told me that it was a friend of our lodger. In fact 3 of her friends turned up and they proceeded to cook some odd looking concoction in the kitchen. Sarah did enquire but ended up non the wiser – I think she was worried that as the lodger is studying for a Phd in Bio-science that there was some strange experiment going on!

So apart from that and an exploding teenager it was quiet. Oh and I made Lasagne for dinner – far more traditional!

Postkat is in Bolognia with the meerkat – she seems to be stuck around the South of France which, at this time of year, I can’t blame him for!

28th January

Was hoping for a good night’s sleep and a nice lie in but it wasn’t to be! About an hour after going to bed we were woken up by our lodger who had been working but couldn’t open the door. Then this morning our Indian neighbours woke us up arguing at the top of their voices. Then to cap it all someone had kicked the wing mirror off the car again (luckily it was already only held on with PVC tape!)

At a loose end this afternoon I decided to put up the picture I had bought Sarah for Christmas. I was trying to think of something for her to do with the Stage show (or film) Priscilla Queen of the Desert but most of the usual things, t-shirts, CDs, DVD, etc she already had. Then I had an idea to find a framed poster for her but this turned out to be harder than I thought. I eventually won a poster on ebay and then set about getting a frame for it. This was harder than I thought as it turned out to be an unusual shape. I eventually worked out that it would fit in an A2 frame but would need a mount. I found first the frame and then the mount on ebay but the latter was scary as it meant getting the dimensions correct.

Eventually they all turned up and to my relief it all fitted together but shortly afterwards I spotted an issue with the frame. The little pins that held the back board in place were falling out one by one and by mid afternoon I had about 6 on the desk in front of me. To cut a long story short I did eventually get a replacement frame in time to hand it over on Christmas day. The person I bought the frame off never asked for it back so as it turned out to be the exact size of a board of pictures I’d had in an exhibition a few months back I ended up taking that one home and using it for the display board albeit with a load of gaffer tape on the back to hold it together!

The first thing I noticed as I went to hang the posters was that the two hanging devices that were supplied were different but I go ahead and screw them to the frame. My first thought is to add some picture wire to allow me to hang the pictures but when I’ve done this I’m not entirely convinced that it was the best idea. So I took a deep breath and measured up for the first frame, my display board, which I decided to hang in the empty space just inside the front door. I pinned the hangers to the wall and gingerly attached the picture onto them. To my shock it worked and looked great. So I repeated this with the Priscilla picture even though the hangers that came with the frame worked differently. My first attempt left the picture with a slant, caused we think by me measuring to the top of the mantlepiece which we decided may not be exactly level. I moved the hanger up about a cm and bingo it was done!

We had two German students arrive today and we had to pick them up from the coach park down the road. It was meant to be at 5 but just as we were about to leave the organiser rang us and told us it would be 5:30. So we arrived there at 5:30 and after a couple of minutes the organiser came over and told us he didn’t know how long they’d be as all he had heard was that they were leaving Gatwick at quarter to five.

We sat for a bit in the car and then after about ten minutes we both vocalized the same thought at the same time! If they were leaving Gatwick at quarter to five there was no way on god’s earth they’d have made it to us by 5:30!!!! And indeed it was nearly quarter past six when they finally got there!

Postkat has now made it to Nice with my meerkat toy – he said the people there aren’t that nice!

27th January

Pay Day!!!!! Actually given the length of time since the last one I’ve actually done quite well this year. I survived all the way to payday despite having to pull out an additional £90 to change my car insurance over earlier in the month. And! I didn’t have to borrow money from Sarah (or spend my brithday/Christmas money) to buy her birthday prezzie.

Working lat last night had the advantage of allowing me not to feel guilty about going into the school this morning for a Governors meeting. It was luckily quite a short one and we are almost sorted now for the advert etc allowing us to move forward in our quest to find a new Head Teacher. It would also appear that the blues from the past couple of days seem to have lifted and in fact I found myself the exact opposite in that I was quite outgoing this morning!

A couple of days ago one of my favourite bands Ratdog played together for the first time in a couple of years. The band is based around former Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and has been having a hiatus while he has been playing with Furthur, another post Grateful dead band. He has also been busy opening a state of the art webcasting studio in Marin California which is where the performance took place. The show was webcast live from the studios but due to those annoying time zones this meant that the event started at 1am and ran through to the very early hours.

Apart from the fact the gig was on a Wednesday night, it was also Sarah’s Birthday and I had to get up for work in the morning so I didn’t have a hope of watching it live. I was quite disappointed to find, however, that when I got to work the next day there was no replay facility on the website. Thankfully though some enterprising soul had captured it and I’ve just been able to catch up with most of the first set on youtube.

I had noticed that the PC in the dining room was running very slowly tonight so I looked and it only had 128mb of free space left on the hard drive. So I did a disc clean up on it and by the time it had finished an hour later there was 4Gb of free space! Runs a bit better now!

Postkat is back on track with the meerkat as he has now arrived in Venice

26th January

A black eyed dog he called at my door
The black eyed dog he called for more
A black eyed dog he knew my name

The last two days I have felt low for no discernible reason, it just suddenly came over me yesterday. It’s odd because on Tuesday night I felt as good as I had for quite some time, really positive and full of life but by the following morning it had all gone and been replaced by an empty morose feeling. I have in the past suffered from full blown depression but where I am at the moment is far from that (thank goodness) – but I do need to find a way out of it as soon as I can.

I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin’ me insane

That’s the odd thing – I have got a head full of things I want to do, as I said I started sorting out those pictures I took last year the other day and since buying the microphone I’ve been thinking about sound recording a lot too. I even revisted some of the recordings a did a while ago but there’s still this mental block that for some reason has left me in a state of melancholia. It’s bloody annoying!

Or maybe that is the problem – too many things I want to do and not enough time to do it in. Tonight for example I’m working up in London till 8pm which means I won’t get home till about 10 so won’t have any time to do anything constructive. That on top of losing half my weekend to work as well means I’ve not had much free time in the last week. Maybe that’s the source of the low feeling.

I had to go up to London for a video shoot in the afternoon so I caught the train to Cannon Street arriving there at around 5. The problem with arriving in London at that time is that everyone else is going home so you’re fighting against a solid tide of people who are heading to the trains (swimming against the tide – a metaphor for my life really!) – it’s the same if you’ve done an all nighter and are trying to get home at around 8:30 in the morning!

So I arrive at the venue and my camera is delivered. The first thing I notice is that there isn’t a cable trunk but I take the camera anyway. Once inside I’m lucky that there are power sockets on the floor for me to plug into but when I do and switch the camera on – nothing! I try lots of things thinking maybe it’s the socket, it’s not, maybe it’s the power cable, it’s not before finally noticing that this particular camera has 2 on/off switches!

That panic over I also notice that there isn’t a video tape. This of course is kinda essential if you are to make a recording but luckily for me I’ve had this problem before and I always try and throw one into my back before leaving. Then I’m supposed to take a sound feed from the venue PA system. I ask if there’s anyone who can help but there isn’t! So I have to go into the AV room and work out their patch system. Again luckily for me there turns out to be a socket marked record out so I plug into that using the cables I found in the AV room and run them back to the camera. The levels aren’t great but they’ll do!

Then once I’m set up the presenter is one of those restless souls who insists on moving constantly throughout his presentation so I’m having to following him all the time. Then at the end of the event they invite the punters to have a drink which are laid out right next to me so I’m having to pack up the camera whilst being trodden on by those souls desperate for a drink! The topic of the presentation was how to network and of course I can hear all the punters trying out the techniques they’d just learnt while stuffing their faces with pies and booze. The client then offered me a drink which I accepted as I bloody needed one by then!!!

Oh dear Postkat seems to have taken another wrong turn as he now seems to have taken my meerkat toy to Athens.

25th January

Bonie wee thing, cannie wee thing, 
Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine, 
I wad wear thee in my bosom, 
Lest my jewel it should tine. 

Wishfully I look and languish 
In that bonie face o’ thine, 
And my heart it stounds wi’ anguish, 
Lest my wee thing be na mine. 

Wit, and Grace, and Love, and Beauty, 
In ae constellation shine; 
To adore thee is my duty, 
Goddess o’ this soul o’ mine! 

It’s my wife’s birthday today and it’s also Burn’s night so I thought the above poem by the great man to be rather apt even though it was written in 1791. Our son was somewhat excited this morning – even more so than the missus! we almost had to scrape him down from the ceiling!

I had a weird dream this morning – I dreamt the boss called me in for a word! He then showed me a video on his phone during which I was seen to walk through a door – he told me it was a security video that he’d been sent by a venue and asked me what I could see that was wrong. He played it again and in the brief few seconds I was visible I couldn’t see I was doing anything other than walk through a door. I said I didn’t know…..

…..he then told me that I could be plainly seen wearing headphones and as he played it again I could see my purple skullcandy’s on my head. he then proceeded to tell me that the hotel had complained as wearing headphones in the venue was prohibited due to health and safety reasons because, for example, I wouldn’t be able to hear the fire alarm go off!

A Facebook friend of mine posted a status about a dream she had where she was with her Gran and how seeing her Gran in her dream had made her feel both happy and sad. It sparked off a memory of a dream I had many years ago just after my first daughter was born which almost reduced me to tears.

My mum had died almost 9 months to the day before the birth of what would have been her first grandchild. She loved kids and would have been so happy to have been a grandmother but it was not to be. A few months after the birth I had a dream where I walked into the living room from the bedroom in our flat in Walthamstow – a journey which involved going round a corner and as I did I saw my mum sitting in a chair looking at my daughter who was sitting in her little rocker. As I walked in she looked up at me and smiled.

It’s hard to even describe how I felt after that dream. It was like she had returned from the other side to let me know that she knew I was a dad. It was so real that all of those feelings of sadness I had about her not seeing her grandchild just disappeared.

Postkat has managed to get off the Prince of Arabia’s boat and has managed to get to Berlin with my toy meerkat now.

As we were going to bed I heard a load of shouting outside in the street, not and unusual occurrence as drunks seems to wander down our street regularly on their way home and there does seem to be a general fashion for communicating with your companions in public at the top of your lungs round here! Anyway I looked out of the bedroom window but couldn’t see anything. I then went off to find where the cat was hiding (under daughters duvet!) and by the time I got back there were blue flashing lights. In total there were 5 Police cars outside the window all with lights flashing – our bedroom was like a monochromatic disco!