24th March


Beautiful day!

When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez
And it’s Eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don’t pull you through

The beautiful day gave way to a beautiful night, cold and crisp as the temperature fell and the cloudless sky offered no resistance as the heat evaporated away. In the west, framed by the perspective if the road the moon hung low in the sky. Two days after the new moon the tiniest sliver of light showing the birth throes of a new crescent moon. High above the moon in an elevated position at eleven o’clock in the night sky Venus sat shining brightly.

Sadly even though I tried to take photographs they didn’t do the scene justice but for the second time this week I was reminded that you don’t have to live somewhere remote way out in the country to be in awe of the natural world around us!


Counting stars by candlelight
All are dim but one is bright
The spiral light of Venus
Rising first and shining best
Oh, from the north-west corner
Of a brand new crescent moon
Where crickets and cicadas sing
A rare and different tune
Terrapin Station
In the shadow of the moon
Terrapin Station
And I know we’ll be there soon


23rd March

Don’t you hate it when people lie to you?

Don’t you just love it when technology catches them out?

“I tried to contact you yesterday” I was told “but as you were on site I couldn’t reach you”

No you didn’t – I checked my phone all day and there were no missed calls. And even if you did call me you didn’t leave a message because I picked all the messages I got up. And you certainly didn’t e-mail or text me because I responded to all of the e-mails & texts I got.

In this day and age it’s hard to try and use technology to cover your tracks when you’ve cocked up. Like the time someone sent me an e-mail with 3 attachments to try and make out that they were what I had sent her. I just went straight to my out box and saw my original e-mail only had 2 attachments and she’d added the thrid before sending it back to me.

People come on, you’re going to have to try harder than that OR you could just tell the truth!


22nd March

There is a point around 6am where our street is empty, no people, no cars just empty street. The only sounds that can be heard is the song of the many birds and the low rumble of the trains as they enter or leave the station.

On a morning like this morning when the sun is starting to climb in the sky and its rays are burning off the early morning mist it’s beautiful – well as beautiful as the metropolis gets. Twenty minutes later and it’s gone!

So anyway the reason I’m up early is that I’ve got a video shoot up in London and I need to be on site for 8am ready to shoot against a Green screen by 9. In the end, despite South Eastern’s best efforts, I’m ready to go at 8:45. However the first time I press record is at 12:15 three and half hours later!

So while I was waiting I was leafing through the literature about the event and I found a name I recognised. A few years ago after writing on my blog about an event that happened to me in Sunderland it ended up being reblogged on a site called BoingBoing. After that it all went crazy and before I knew where I was my server was crashing everyday under the weight of traffic, I was in the Sun and the Daily Mail, interviewed live on Sky News and for the BBC (Radio & TV). we even found the story as far away as Eastern Europe and Turkey!

The guy who kicked all of this off was Cory Doctorow and it was his name I’d spotted as being one of the presenters and as it turned out one of the people I had to interview!


Word of the Day: Biomechatronics

Never had anyone roll up their trouser legs before during an interview! Pretty impressive “bionic” legs up close under the tv lights!

21st March

Ooh Look…..

My portable oxygen supply to relieve my cluster headaches has arrived ! And there’s 2 of them! So much for the idea of taking it to work or on holiday when I have an episode!

There’s a small part of me that’s starting to wish I’d never found out what I was suffering from! In the past I lived a normal life and then every 12-18 months I’d get s bout of very painful headaches which would last 4-6 weeks and then things would go back to normal.

Since discovering that Cluster headaches are the cause I seem to have spent most of the time thinking about them. In stead of just getting on with life between clusters I’ve been looking into causes, cures, signs etc. Is that twinge above my eye a shadow meaning a bout is imminent? Having drugs and oxygen on standby isn’t helping.

So there’s a tiny bit of me wishes that I hadn’t bothered and had just put up with the headaches when they came. Of course when I’m awake all night for the 30th night in a row feeling that someone is jamming an ice pick in my skull while crushing my left eye in a vice I suspect I may feel differently!

19th March

Born in a house where the doors shut tight
Shadowy fingers on the curtains at night
Cherry tree blossom head high snow
A busy main road where I wasn’t to go
I used to sit on the garden wall
Say hello to people going by so tall
Hallo to the postman’s stubbly skin
Hallo to the baker’s stubbly grin
Mrs Thompson gave me a bear
Brigitte and some people lived upstairs

My ears have finally stopped ringing!

The new dishwasher arrives tomorrow so hopefully no more washing up woes!

Oxygen arrives on Wednesday for to relieve my cluster headaches should they suddenly strike!

So I’m driving home and Sarah rings and asks me how long I’m going to be – I reply 25 minutes but now you’ve asked me it’ll probably there’ll be a traffic jam and it’ll take an hour.

Well you know that expression many a true word spoken in jest…..

What annoys me is that the traffic jam had no real cause that I could see other than it needed to come off the M25 and go round the roundabout and down the slip road onto the A2. I am firmly of the opinion that the thing that causes the traffic to bunch up like this is that the road markings don’t facilitate the easy flow of traffic round the roundabout. It’s been like this since the multi-million pound makeover of the junction when a bridge was built to take traffic from the A2 over the road and onto the M25 towards the tunnel. This should of course have relieved the congestion on the roundabout but it doesn’t seem to have prevented the queues.

It’s of course insane that the Government could have spent millions and the whole thing was messed up by a few badly painted white lines – isn’t it?

18th March


Dark Star Orchestra
The Garage, London
18th March 2012

Show: The Lyceum 23rd May 1972

Set 1

The Promised Land
Mr. Charlie
Black Throated Wind
Tennessee Jed
Next Time You See Me
Jack Straw
China Cat Sunflower>
I Know You Rider
Me And My Uncle (Not played)
Chinatown Shuffle
Big Railroad Blues
Two Souls In Communion
Playing In The Band
Sittin’ On Top Of The World
Rockin’ Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu
Mexicali Blues
Good Lovin’
Casey Jones

Set 2

Ramble On Rose
Dark Star >
Morning Dew
He’s Gone
Sugar Magnolia
Comes A Time
Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad >
Not Fade Away >
Hey Bo Diddley >
Not Fade Away

Uncle John’s Band

Brokedown Palace – with other drummer

So I went to see the Dark Star Orchestra’s first ever UK appearance tonight at the garage in Highbury, London. They’re a Grateful Dead cover band but one which is well known in the US for playing whole shows taken from the 30 years or so that the Dead toured. As 2012 is the 40th anniversary of one of the Grateful Dead’s most (in)famous tours – their tour of Europe which spawned their triple album Europe 72 it seemed only fitting that the band come over and play some of the 72 shows in the cities where they were originally played. It doesn’t look like we’ll get a visit from the latest incarnation of post Dead bands Furthur so we’ll have to do without any of the original members.

It was obvious from the pre-show blurb that they would be playing one of the four Lyceum shows but which one? There were two which had huge versions of Dark Star and the other two had great versions of The Other One so either way we were in for a treat. There was speculation in the pub before hand with the 23rd May and the 26th May being the favourites. Unless it was the 24th it was going to be difficult to spot which show at first as the other 3 nights all opened with the same song. In fact the two nights mentioned shared the same four songs at the beginning of set 1!

As it turned out the show in question turned out to be the opening night of the run at the Lyceum back in 1972. The Garage was actually a lot fuller than I thought it would be as the band kicked off the show. I was quite close to the front in the middle so I had a good view of the band. Unfortunately I also had to put up with some drunken idiot dancers too and one in particular seemed to think it was a good idea to celebrate the end of a song by throwing his beer up in the air, something he did twice during the first set.

I’ve seen a few GD cover bands over the past few years, The Cosmic Charlies and Workingmen’s Deed from the UK and Deadicace from over the channel in France/Belgium. I have to say though that I found DSO to be a lot tighter and sounded more together than any of the other’s I’ve seen. This could be that they play together on a much regular basis and as the market for GD cover bands is so much bigger out in the States there are far more opportunities for them to play and earn money. I obviously can’t comment on how authentic they were to 1972 Grateful Dead as I wasn’t at those shows as I was only 11 (thank you to the person who asked me that down the front!). My only comment on that score was I thought DSO were a lot rockier that I would have expected from listening to the recordings from that era. I did get a comment from an old timer at the bar during the interval who said they were “too loud and lacked finesse” but obviously that’s his opinion and I don’t know if he was at the original show.

I guess that’s the thing about the Grateful Dead there are so many reasons why people like them. I, for example like the extended jams in songs like Dark Star or The Other One but other people like the danceable rock numbers, there is even one friend of mine who swears that 1995 Dead is the best there is, whereas most people think their final tour was awful. Some like to listen to the music, other like to dance the night away and of course there are all stations in between! This also means that while some people liked some of the above mentioned cover bands others saw different aspects to them – I still think the one I enjoyed the most was Workingman’s Deed as to me they were in the right area musically but other’s didn’t like them because of their vocals.

I was pretty sure I had the right date at the end of the first set but not being someone who memorises set lists so a quick check on deadlists during the interval confirmed what was to come in the second set. They kicked off again with Ramble on Rose before heading off into my favourite piece of Dead – Dark Star. Sadly I never got to see them play it and have only really seen it played live by the Cosmic Charlies and as a short jam by Workingmen’s Deed so I really enjoyed seeing it played right in front of me. It never ceases to amaze me what can be made of something that is essentially a riff and two verses of words. The only studio version that exists last a mere 2:40 and yet the live versions lasted 20, 30, 40 or even in one case on the Europe 72 tour 50 minutes.

The song was just reaching a crescendo when the drunken dancer suddenly re-appeared next to me. Now I wanted to listen to the song and the last thing I wanted was to have my enjoyment spoiled by someone sticking their drunken face into mine and starting to stroke my beard! So I brushed him away and when he came back I lifted my arm and basically shoved him away from me. Luckily for him he didn’t come back again otherwise I might not have been responsible for my actions! In fact I didn’t see him again for the rest of the night although his legacy remained as my feel stuck to the beer sodden floor!

So all in all a good night, bumped into lots of people some of who I knew and remembered and some that knew me but I couldn’t remember them (I’m hopeless!). I handed out a few leaflets for SoL at the end and even managed to give one to the band and tell them they should come and play next year. They did say they’d be coming back but then we’ve heard that before from American bands who then are not seen again. I can quite understand it though as I’m sure they enjoy playing here but suspect that once they get home and tot up the finances it doesn’t look as attractive as it did. The sad reality for most musicians these days especially those in bands.