30th September

Went to see Sarah’s sister and all the little Aussie nephews and nieces, three of which we were meeting for the first time!

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As well as Lissi and Ben and the 4 Aussies there were the two sons of Sarah’s other sister (but thankfully not the other sister herself!) plus Sarah’s two brothers and their girlfriends, her mum and her dad – it was quite a houseful. After lunch we went off to the park and we had so manny children with us we had to count them to make sure we had them all when we were heading back. Afterwards we went to one of her brother’s houses as him and his girlfriend had just moved in a few days ago where we had pizza for dinner.

It was a really nice day!

29th September

Last night I discovered that both my headlights and one of my sidelights had gone – bulbs always seem to go in batches! So I had to pop into Halfords and buy some new ones. I’m absolutely sure that Halfords give car manufacturers a kickback to make the process of changing the headlight bulb as tricky as possible to they are able to charge as much to fit the bulb as the bulb actually costs to buy!!!!!

28th September

Got on the scales this morning as was pleased to see that the weight is continuing in the downward direction! It’s now almost halfway between the last stone marker and the next one. My total weight loss is now in excess of 1.5 stones in 6 weeks which is quite good going really. I was particularly pleased to see it had gone down as yesterday was the first time I had exceeded the 600 calorie limit for fast days and I felt a bit guilty about that!

It’s good to see that they’ve found the missing schoolgirl that disappeared off to France with her maths teacher but there’s something niggling at me. A 15 year old girl from an affluent area goes missing with a teacher and half of Europe’s Police are alerted to try and find her. However when a kid from a disadvantaged background goes to the Police and authorities and tells them she is being systematically abused she gets patted on the head and told to run along and stop making up stories.

Oh my god the people in the next office have got the radio tuned to Magic FM! The music choices are so twee it’s unbelievable. Everytime I walk through I have one of those “Sliding Doors” moments! In one reality I keep walking, in the other I have a reaction like John Belushi in Animal House when he passes the guy on the stairs with the guitar!

I’ve just discovered that there is a folk club in Dartford that has gigs with quite big name groups. For example next week on Tuesday they have Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick appearing for their 39th anniversary. The reason I found it was that I was looking for local shows by a band called Lady Maisery and it turns out they’re playing there next January for the princely sum of £8 – sounds like a bargain to me!

Driving home tonight I got stuck in traffic on the M25 – I blamed Sarah as every time she asks me how long I will be and I give her a time there turns out to be a traffic jam just up ahead! This happens with such monotonous regularity that I often refuse to answer the question just in case! So it was almost 7 when I came through the tunnel. As I did I saw the traffic all stopped on the other side of the road. There were a number of people standing looking at someone on the ground. My first thought was that someone had been knocked off their motorbike but it turned out that they had jumped or fallen from the bridge above. The news later reported that they had died.

27th September

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Second night at the iTunes festival at London’s iconic Roundhouse. The same trek from Bromley South Station all the way through central London up to Camden, the only difference is that today I’ve got Sarah with me instead of Lissi and we’re off to see Madness, even though we’ve got tickets to see them in Brighton in December!

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We get into the arena just as Reverend & the Makers are starting their set, it seems fuller than last night and the audience are a lot older!! Sarah finds a spot behind the mixing desk and I go off to get a drink. Bloody barman tries to charge me more for a half of cider and a bottle of water than they did for a pint of cider and a coke last night. I challenge him and he admits his mistake hmmm! The prices of soft drinks at the venue are ridiculous – a pint of cider is £4 which obviously includes duty but a pint of coke which doesn’t is £3.20 (and it was poured on the first night from a 2l bottle that costs 99p in a supermarket! Bottled water is £2 for a small bottle that probably costs about 40p in a supermarket and for some reason I’m not allowed the top!

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Sarah isn’t a fan of standing venues, she has a dodgy leg which means that she is easily knocked over in a crowd! I found this out at the last Madness gig we went to when the people in front of us went loopy when the band came on and threw themselves around crashing into her (I don’t think it helped that he also launched his drink skyward at the same time!!) Anyway during the support act I set off to find out if we can get a seat upstairs. I head up to the balcony and speak to the security guard who send me off to the box office. I explain to them the problem and after a little thought they say yes! Only I have to go and get Sarah as we have to surrender our wristbands in order to get tickets for the balcony. Before long we’re sitting in the back row of the balcony, almost dead centre watching the last song from Reverend & the Makers who aren’t too bad!

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Madness! What can you say about them? They were, as ever, outstanding. How many bands can start off with three massive hits, throw in a couple of new songs, a couple more hits, a Beastie Boys cover then end the set with four monster hits and still have two more hits left for the encore. Even then there were hit singles they didn’t play like Michael Caine and Driving in my Car! They’ve had so many hits it gets to the point where when they play a song and you’re sure they’ve already played it!

The one thing that really pissed me off were the two blokes in front of me. One of them barely stopped talking for about the first half hour of the set! And when I say barely I mean it he didn’t even seem to be pausing to breath! He just kept talking and talking and talking. Ironically his mate seemed to be videoing the gig on his mobile presumably to watch later when his mate shut up! it got to the point where I was looking round to see where else we could go and sit when he finally got up and wandered off. I just don’t understand why people do this, if you want to talk stay in the fucking pub, what’s the point of going to all the hassle of going to a gig and then talking all the way through it? Idiots!

The only downside of our seats in the balcony was that unlike the starry eyed singer from last nights Suggs stood right in the middle of the stage for almost all of the evening and that was the one spot that was obscured by the roof pillar in our sightline so we would only catch sight of him when he stepped to one side! The end of the show was fantastic they suddenly kicked into House of fun and the audience went wild, there were people everywhere dancing really badly! The crowd down the front was bouncing up and down – even the balcony was shaking! Baggy Trousers followed, then Our House before they finished with It must be love. Encores were Madness and Night Boat to Cairo!

At the end of the set the house lights came up and Eric Idles Always look on the bright side of life came over the PA system. Needless to say that it turned into a huge audience sing along with Suggs and Chas from the band leading it from the stage. The audience were still singing it as they were walking out!

26th September

This weather is weird! When I left home this morning there was torrential rain, it was literally falling from the sky. I even saw a drain cover that had been lifted up by the force of water underneath it. It was so heavy I was soaked just taking Ben into school. Then by the time I got to work the sun was shining and the sky was blue!

First night at the iTunes festival this week to see Ellie Goulding. I got two tickets for this one and two for Madness tomorrow evening. As Sarah wanted to go and see Madness I agreed to take Lissi to see Ellie tonight. It took us a while to get across London but once we got to Camden I managed to find somewhere to park quite easily and from there it was about a 10 minute walk to the Roundhouse. We stood in a queue to have our tickets checked and were then given wristbands before being allowed upstairs.

The support band were Haim, three sisters from LA who I thought were quite good. They played some rocky songs which were better than the slower numbers they dropped into the set every now and again. When they were going full tilt they sort of reminded me of Neil Young and Crazy Horse when they’re off on one of their extended grungathons! They did a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well which was a good example of what they can do with all members throwing themselves into it. The bassist is a bit mad though – think she must have been the one their mother dropped on her head as a baby!

After a dash to the bar, leaving Lissi in situ to keep the place, we were ready for Ellie Goulding. They’d set up all of the band’s equipment on risers at the back of the stage leaving lots of room for the singer down the front. When she came on it was odd – she had on what looked like leather shorts and a pvc jackets but she kept the hood up for at least the first two and a half songs. In addition to the hood there was no lighting on her from the front for most of that time leaving her a silhouette on the stage. Thankfully in the middle of the 3rd song the hood came off revealing her hair braided against her head – from the back it must have looked like she shaved off her blonde locks!

The opening half hour of the set seemed to be composed entirely of new songs. I have to confess it wasn’t what I was expecting. I’ve only heard the first album once but always thought her music had acoustic folk-like tinges to it but tonight there seemed to be a much more electronic pop sound to it. The music seemed to be driven by the three sets of keyboards around the stage and I got the feeling that the musicians could probably have been dispensed with. the songs seemed to start and stop according to the computer’s timing!

The set seemed to pick up momentum after she played her cover of the Elton John classic Your Song. She, in her own words, skipped around the stage a lot. Again I was expecting to see her playing the guitar but she didn’t go near one all evening. I started to wonder if she was being “re positioned” as a pop diva rather than the singer songwriter image she has had up until now. This was summed up in the middle of Starry eyed when she pulled off the pvc top and finished the song in just her bra and shorts. She didn’t really look very comfortable and at the end of the song she grabbed her top and left the stage. When she returned for the encores she had put it back on again and told the audience she got carried away!

25th September

Fast Day 13: here’s a curious one! I’ve felt quite down for the past couple of days but today when I’m fasting I feel much better – strange don’t you think?

Our new lodger arrived today – she’s a trainee doctor from Germany – but for a while she was on the missing list! Sarah had arranged for one of her friends to be at the house when she arrived as the rest of us were at work or school. However after waiting for an hour there was no sign of the lodger so the friend had to go. We assumed that she had decided to arrive at 4pm instead but there was still no sign of her.

Eventually the little old lady from a few doors down knocked on our door and told us that she’d found the lodger on the doorstep as she’d arrived even earlier than she’d expected and invited her to go for a cup of tea. They went off and didn’t return until after Sarah’s friend had left. The old lady then invited her into her house where she fell asleep, which is where she currently was. Then when the lodger woke up the old lady decided to feed her so it was nearly 9 o’clock by the time she made it to ours! Seems ok from what I’ve seen of her so far – better than the last two anyway which, lets face it, couldn’t be hard!

24th September

Miserable weather! Awful traffic! It must be Monday morning!!

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One of the contributors to Start the Week on Radio 4 this morning was talking about a production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle that is due to open at the Royal Opera House. I would love to be able to go and see the whole 16 hours of the Ring even though I’m not one of those rabid Wagnerians that are almost as obsessive as Deadheads! The programme ended with a warning “Don’t even think about trying to get a ticket as they sold out months ago” – nice!

So just out of interest I thought I’d see if I could try and find out how much the tickets had been. I didn’t find out exactly but did find a website that pointed out it would be cheaper to fly to Berlin and check into a 5* hotel next year to see Daniel Barenboim conduct the Ring Cycle than it would be to just buy tickets for the London performances. The cost of top price tickets at the Royal Opera House for 4 nights was around £1000 – as they say it’s not elitist!! Oh well back on the bucket list!

Stupid highlight of the day: I managed to get the audio to come out of the socket on the docking station instead of the one on the laptop which means I don’t have to unplug it every night and re-plug it again the following morning usually with a loud bang as I forgot to turn the volume on the mixer down!!