Gashead's Blog Wonders

26May/111

Obama And Cameron Decide The Big Issues

Sometimes, despite hours of negotiation between diplomats, senior ministers and world leaders geopolitical decisions remain unresolved. Yesterday, stood on a chair half way up the stairs between the second and third floor of my office, I was privileged to witness some behind the scenes negotiation between US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. What they were negotiating will remain a mystery, Turkish entry into the EU, sovereignty of The Falkland Islands, the next Chelsea manager? Their methods, however, were clear to see.

Round One

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

Unfortunately Dave played his paper hand too early here and Barack immediately replied with scissors, round one to the US President.

Round Two

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

Dave thought he would play a sly one and offer paper again, Barack banked on Dave changing his tactics, round two no change.

Round Three

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

This time Dave plays a blinder offering his rock to Barack's scissors, all square after round three, first to pass two points will win this particular argument.

Round Four

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

At last, a decision is made. Barack's paper beats Dave's rock, the will of the US President prevails, Dave heads back inside, inconsolable while a triumphant Obama leaves hoping to employ his skills further at the upcoming G8 conference.

From Obama - Jeff-s Pictures

Thanks to my anonymous colleague for this set of pictures, you can find some of mine below :

Barack Obama Visit To London 2011

21May/115

The Daily Mail, Jessie J and Essex

From Little Noise Sessions 16/11/2010

The Daily Mail 20th May 2011

The Essex-born singer's patter on stage often tickles the funnybones of her fans

 

The Daily Mail 18th May 2011

So no doubt the Essex girl will be hoping she can repeat her success when she jetted out to start her U.S. promotional tour today.

 

The Daily Mail 15th May 2011

British pop sensation Jessie J has brought her unique brand of Essex-bred talent to the first day of this year's Radio 1 Big Weekend.

 

The Daily Mail 27th April 2011

Meanwhile it remains to be seen if she will perform with the UK's own rising superstar, Jessie J after the Essex-born singer put out a plea for Rihanna to perform Do It Like A Dude with her.

 

The Daily Mail 27th April 2011 again and twice in the same article

Jessie J continued to bring her unique brand of Essex-bred talent to northern American and Canada, landing in Toronto on the latest leg of her tour.


In what's become par for the course for the Essex-born singer, she strutted her stuff in a one-legged Lycra catsuit for the performance.

 

The Daily Mail 14th April 2011

But now Essex girl Jessie J is determined to make it Stateside, and continued her mission with an appearance on The Today Show.

 

I could go on but it would waste the rest of my day, The Daily Mail certainly don't waste their time with checking facts. They don't check facts like the one that she is from Redbridge and Redbridge is in London, not Essex.

Why is the alleged county of her birth relevant? Which county was Susan Boyle born in? Which county was Leona Lewis born in? Which county was Alexandra Burke born in? Don't know? Probably because the press don't trot it out in every single article about them.

Why would this fictional birthplace be so relevant in the case of Jessie J? Because it is Essex? Because all woman from Essex are de facto sluts ever since the jokes started and Cilla Black played it up to the max on Blind Date?

Who is this journalist who never checks facts, never checks the comments on their articles in case somebody has pointed out an inaccuracy? Well it is Daily Mail Reporter, that's not much help, they don't even know their name never mind the birthplace of Jessie J. Oh hold on, it's also Marcus Barnes and Sarah Bull and Sandra Parsons and Adrian Thrills. Unless there is an over-zealous sub-editor, all of these reporters have individually decided that the county of Jessie J's birth is relevant to an article about her...and they do not check their facts or get them from reading their colleagues' articles in The Daily Mail.

Jessie J is not from Essex, goodnight.

[UPDATE]
Uh oh, Liz Jones is at it now!

But there’s one important thing we do have in common — apart from both having been born in Essex — and that is a good, strong head of black hair.

17May/110

What is it with Adele and shed buyers?

What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item?

Overlap Apex Double Door Garden Shed by Walton's

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27Apr/110

Running Round Tracks

I was an active lad, at Bristol Grammar School, when they weren't producing the future Darth Vadar they encouraged sport. I was quite big for my age when I was 13 then I stopped growing. But I had got the taste for running fast, not through a particularly fast pair of legs but through a stride length of around 8 feet which compared well to European 400M champion David Jenkins' stride of 9 feet and he was 6 inches taller than me.

At primary school I could beat the entire school single-handedly at British Bulldog, they didn't fancy a high speed knee in their faces and wisely stood aside. I was in a Scottish Country Dancing team when not captaining the Westbury Park Primary School football team. We would be invited to perform at garden fetes held by members of the Caledonian Society (Scottish club for the uninitiated), they liked a feel of the highland games, there was always a sprint and I always won in my kilt and dancing shoes. I worried the usual prize of a packet of sweets might prevent me from competing at a future Olympic Games as the rules on amateurism were strict.

In 1971 they blooded me in the Six Schools event at Marlborough College competing against them, Clifton College, Downside Abbey and a couple of other havens of homosexuality, bullying and sport. Quite what possessed the appropriately named gym master Mr Trott to put me in the senior boys 400M hurdles when I was 13 and everybody else was 17 or 18 and I couldn't hurdle was beyond me. But I was actually in the lead at the 8th hurdle with 2 more to negotiate. I finally got the grit out of my legs by the following morning and was berated for not finishing the race and gaining a point for the school. My mates thought it was a good effort and I enjoyed the pint one of the teachers bought me near Silbury Hill on the way home, I was 13 of course but I wasn't going to remind him of the obvious.


In 1972 the school put me in for the 400M in the Bristol Schools junior boys category. A heat and a final, I won both and for good measure kept warm with 6 rounds of the long jump and came second in that. Gloucestershire Schools, same events, same result. South-West of England Schools Championships a good heat, a frustrating long jump in which I came third but could have won without the 400M distraction then second in the 400M final. Second or maybe even third? You mean I wasn't the fastest kid on this block?

That July a coach full of kids headed off to Washington, County Durham with GLOS on the back of our tracksuits listening to Rock And Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter on Radio 1 in constant rotation. A very kindly lady put me up for the three nights and on the day of the first race kindly provided me with a full English, not something you got in Scottish households like mine, that was for teatime or what the English call supper, dinner or some other stupid name for tea. I loved my running but was the nervous sort. I had thrown up discretely in the upstairs loo (even in those days it wasn't all whippets and outside toilets in The North) and left the house sweating, pale and thanking her for the nice breakfast.

The English Schools was an event of precision timing with more competitors than the Olympics with three age categories, two sexes and the full range of track and field events. I checked out the programme for my event, my name was printed correctly though the previous year's record of 51.0 by S.Ovett (Middlesex) was surely a typo. We had to be at the marshalling area, usually a cloakroom, 40 minutes before the race. We left 5 minutes before we had to be on the track racing, I was throwing up again on the headmaster's lawn 3 minutes before the race. Notwithstanding I made the second round but glory was not to be mine that year, nor in 1974 when I competed at Shrewsbury in the intermediate boys category being a mere second in Gloucestershire. Remind me never to get billeted out to a dairy farm again, where the milking machine kicked off at 4am and there was a great pub nearby that welcomed the horde of 14-18 year olds all looking big and old enough to buy many pints on the eve of their athletic displays. Sadly dairy farmers need an early night but they waited up for us, got jiggy and clothes had to be hastily rearranged on the sofa when we came back half an hour after last orders.

By 1975 things had changed. I really wasn't fast enough to get far in the senior boys 400M category, about 400M probably but not as fast as others. The coaches tried to persuade me to run 800M like S.Ovett (Middlesex) and that promising looking S.Coe who gave my mate Gary Parsons a great race at the previous year's Mason Trophy, oddly over 3000M. But the eight hundred looked too much like hard work, I would throw up before and after every single-lap race as well as an average three times in every training session, two laps and my teeth would rot away. The glories of David Hemery were still fresh in my mind from 7 years previously along with the sound of David Coleman's near certain laryngitis as Hemery won the 1968 Olmpic 400M Hurdles gold medal in 48.1.

And thus it came to pass that I had to run a lap with ten three foot high metal things in the way with sticks across the top. I had already beaten the Bristol Schools senior boys 110M Hurdles champion by letting out such a yell when I hit the 6th 3'6" hurdle that he was distracted and ran straight into the 8th one (apologies Chris Hayes). I fashioned an efficient method of running the 400M hurdles with a minimum of bother from the sticks though the inside lane was not a favourite as my technique tended to be ruined by the kerb. Bristol Schools glory by the length of the final straight, there were only three other kids in Bristol stupid enough to get suckered into this event and I appeared to be the only one familiar with the ten sticks and how to overcome them. Avon schools next up (following a local government rearrangement that appears to have bypassed Jessie J's publicists and the entire British music press), the heat was cancelled and the two of us put on a good show though I had to hang around for ages waiting for the other lad to finish and congratulate him on his performance. South West of England championships, another stunning victory despite the other two knowing some rudiments of hurdling technique, it was just the whole lap as well that seemed beyond them.

This was my church, this was where I healed my hurts. Even better we were usually on first so the groundsman had the previous evening to put out 8 lanes of hurdles for 2-3 competitors the following lunchtime. I could skip breakfast, do my race, eat a cheese sandwich and sunbathe before the final 4x400M relay event. For the English Schools the Avon county team was down to 40 from Gloucestershire's 60 and Millfield School, where they didn't seem to do any actual school work, just sport, was in our catchment area. But my epic victories proved I had the potential to make a final so I concentrated on hurdling technique rather than tedious A-levels and was selected.

Along the way we competed against the finest from the southern Midlands in the Mason Trophy at Warley. A proper "Tartan" track as well. But rather worryingly there was one boy, OK man, he was probably 17 like me or older, who seemed very professional. His dad was with him, he had amazing running shoes (my foot went through my good kangaroo skin ones triple-jumping) the most expensive track suit, a dead posh bag which contained NASA technology starting blocks. Starting blocks, for the 400M hurdles? Crikey, he nearly had me psyched out along with the four other competitors, yes this was the full Monty, six lanes of hurdles, six runners, the groundsman was pleased his hard work was not in vain

The race started and that was the last I saw of him and the other four until the finish. For Golden Boy I must have been Indiana Jones armed with a pistol against the fancy sword swisher, I beat him by a good four seconds and even waved to the rest of the team as I raced by on the final bend just like S.Ovett (Middlesex) used to do! This was it, my distance with added sticks to compensate for my declining relative speed to other boys my age.

The English Schools were again oop north in 1975, this time in Durham. The marshalling enclosure was full of some very big men with long legs, obviously there for the high jump...no, you're in the 400M hurdles as well you say? Oh, errr good luck. I didn't dare ask what their times were though obviously below 59.0 to qualify and probably 57.2 for the national standard most counties insisted on as a minimum. Golden Boy was nowhere to be seen, probably off skiing with dad in New Zealand laughing at the others in their C&A skiwear as he ploughed straight into a tree.

There were two semi-finals, all but one lane used in both, with the aim of the six places in the final despite there being seven lanes in my semi-final...oh, the podium can only fit six people, well I don't mind standing on the grass to get my certificate if it comes to it. I ran my semi, came third or fourth behind an ex-Harlem Globetrotter and somebody who probably ended up as a Hollywood double for Superman. I watched the second semi-final, drinking some juice. It looked fast, they looked big, well within their abilities. Ten minutes later the unofficial results came in...I WAS IN THE FINAL!!!!!

But soft. Groundsmen are not the most academic of people but they know their track markings, at least most of them do. One chap had been checking a set of hurdles near some tedious git who was probably the long-lost McWhirter triplet and happened to remark one set of hurdles was on the wrong spot, a 110M hurdles mark a foot or two away from the 400M markings. Moving hurdles is a fag but him and his mate had quickly moved them to the right spot before the second semi-final. But the McWhirter triplet had to establish himself as a man of probity and integrity. Not stopping even to note a couple of passing train numbers in his book he slipped his anorak back on and headed for the official tent. He had always wanted to get inside the official tent full of the manner of men he aspired to be, equipped with more than one stopwatch, a blazer, a non-specific old-something tie and white trousers contrasting with shiny shoes. He would show them, he could out-tedious the most tedious of people, his collection of locomotive numbers ran to entire bookshelves in his neatly arranged study that he kept locked safe from his wife and teenage children when he had his weekends at the end of the platform at Crewe.

Our manager disappeared then returned with an uncertain look on his face. He had been told one hurdle was off its mark by a few feet and some athletes had objected that their interrupted stride pattern was the reason they got to see the back of my shorts more than they wanted. Stride patterns were things I forgot about by the end of the back straight. The committee were deciding what to do. Oh well, early start tomorrow I suppose if the worst comes to the worst and I have the 4x100M heat to run right now.

Just before I was to run the decision came through, we would have to run our semi-final again, not tomorrow but two hours after the original race as the groundsmen couldn't put the hurdles out first thing tomorrow and the title contenders didn't want two races on the day of the final. Objections were lodged, then rejected. I ran the race again after a relaxing 4x100M heat, came 4th I think and my official time placed me seventh or eighth overall i.e. I WAS NOT IN THE FINAL!!!!! 

In those days I didn't swear, so no WTF here (apart from that one) but equally no LOL (whoops, ROTFLMAO not). My only hope was an outbreak of dysentery centred around the London Schools team or expulsion from school or something else that didn't happen. Still I had a good hard luck story to entertain young ladies on Thursday's Heavy Night at Tiffany's when I grew my babe-magnet Solzhenitsyn beard.

My last great day on the track was in the school sports in 1976. A tough afternoon but I beat the Bristol Schools 100M champion in his event.

Later, after many attempts at psyching me out, I beat the Bristol Schools 400M champion at 400M. I think they both let me win the 200M. I also won the triple jump, second in the long jump and my house team won the relay where I ran the first leg, less pesky baton changes and I knew bends!

By 1976 growth hormone was obviously rife in the British food chain, there were three rounds this time, I barely made the semi-final and finished a broken man. Before I left for university  (another blog post or ten or even a novel remarkably like my autobiography), wine women and song I ran a few British League and Midlands League races getting my best time down to 56.6, 25th in the Scottish rankings and having a lot of fun. In the British League I would normally be second string, Jim Dixon from RAF Cosworth ran for Bristol AC and he was tall, and he was a world record holder. It was actually a veteran's world record, fastest man in the 50-60 category and he was around 51 and got round the track in a time numerically similar to his age. However he wanted to keep running and if he felt a twinge in his body then I would get the nod and race the first string in his place. Even one point for last was something, I tended to get two or three points and often ran the senior men 4x400M relay just to keep me from getting fat as this was always last so I couldn't eat!

 

26Apr/110

Adele is your girl when it comes to storing lawnmowers

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26Apr/111

Stalking Damon Albarn

Early Days

The first time I heard Blur's There's No Other Way it was like discovering an outtake from Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Throughout their lifetime Blur drifted in and out of my mainstream, Country House doing much to persuade me Oasis had won the phony Britpop war. I heard the occasional gem like Out Of Time but they never quite made my elite Buy Every CD The Day It Comes Out list that is already far too big.

Their time passed and the boy moved on and I started hearing about Gorillaz. Some sort of cartoon hip hop band you never see, or so they said. One day I bought a compilation for Warchild called Help! A Day In The Life, ready to be copied onto my NAS drive for later listening, maybe when I retire. I played a couple of tracks then noticed a song called Hong Kong by Gorillaz, big heavy beat, miscellaneous hip hoppers bouncing around the studio no doubt. No, complete generalisation fail on my behalf. I played it 10 times or more that day and a week will not pass when I don't listen to it again.

As is my way when I hear something so utterly amazing I nipped out to Selectadisc in London's Berwick Street and bought everything I could lay my hands on by Gorillaz in search of that magical other track or two. As is also my way I backed the CDs up onto my network, filed them away and didn't really register the brilliance of Demon Days El Mañana and the stonking closing of Don't Get Lost In Heaven and Demon Days itself. This has since been corrected.

Africa Express

Glastonbury 2007, my second attempt at surviving the hellish conditions of Michael Eavis' fields in Somerset where trench foot and hypothermia are common ailments in late June. That weekend we had decided to stalk The Magic Numbers who had played the Pyramid Stage and then had to look at me 4 feet away from Romeo in the Guardian Lounge.

We were all clapping for more at the end of a 45 minute set but Romeo apologised and said they were playing shortly on The Park Stage and had to go. So off we trooped up to the stage we had been at the night before when Michael Eavis spoke proudly of his daughter's first project and introduced Lily Allen as the "very special guest" to kick things off. We, like many, were expecting something more along the lines of Radiohead but Lily had been at every Glastonbury since she was in her mother's womb and had to endure the childhood embarrassment of her dad Keith selling booze from the boot of their car. As such it was an inspired choice.

There were a hundred or so people up there when we arrived and some spawny kid called "The Human Beatbox" or something like that was entertaining the crowd with his mouth and a microphone. Various Land Rovers arrived to the left of the stage and people got out, including The Magics, Sir Billy Bragg and some heavy looking African dudes in clothes that would look strange anywhere but Glastonbury. I will choose another day to fully document the wondrousness of the evening, meanwhile read here and here for a flavour of what 169,000 people missed. Terry Hall and Lynval Golding came on after an hour or so of amazing African jam sessions and the full orchestra of world music kicked off A Message To You Rudy with Damon Albarn on the keyboards just where we were standing left of stage.

At one point he looked down at me as if he saw the joy in my face and smiled as if to say "you're fucking loving this mate aren't you" and I was. The evening was a triumph, we never got round to seeing Madness playing at Lost Vagueness, this was what Glastonbury should be about and after five hours the Africa Express gig ended, reluctantly, with what seemed like fifty musicians and a crowd of by then around a thousand belting out Rock El Casbah.

Afterwards I sussed out that Damon was the curator of Africa Express, the ultimate collaboration. One year later after one of the worst ever periods of my life I read that Africa Express were playing at Koko in Camden as a part of the 2008 BBC Electric Proms. This time around kick off was 8pm with a scheduled finish of 3am! Damon was everywhere that evening joining in onstage playing his melodica Augustus Pablo style or just being there

From Africa Express Koko 2008

The usual suspects turned up including The Magic Numbers

and significantly Chicago's Hypnotic Brass Ensemble who were later to join Damon both with Blur and on Gorillaz 2010 Plastic Beach world tour. The evening ended with a suitably refreshed Rachid Taha leading Rock El Casbah once more but the highlight was earlier in the evening when Baaba Maal, Amadou et Mariam and the best of Africa turned up the heat for what seemed like hours of magical, mysterious tunes.

Blur

In 2009 Blur overcame acrimony and reunited. First up was a gig at the East Anglian Railway Museum, a few miles from my home. I found the Ticketmaster pre-sale, snapped up two of 180 tickets, only to find Ticketmaster insisting I was from The Republic Of Ireland when I tried to pay. This went on for a good ten minutes, I ended up starting again only to be told the inevitable no tickets available. Notwithstanding I had to pick up my granddaughter from a party in Braintree that very same evening so I insisted she be ready by 10pm and we would see if security had knocked off early. We arrived at 10.15pm, Blur had knocked off early so their fans could get the last train home for London at around 10.18 or so!

Next up they were playing at The Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff-on-Sea. This time there were no ticketing cock-ups and Vicky and I joined the legions of boys and girls now in their late thirties wearing Fred Perry polo shirts for an amazing evening. The Essex boys were highly spirited and at one point my safe position stood half way back ended up on the barrier as I got swept up in the excitement, it was an enormous party after all, even the ever cool Alex James was visibly loving it.

From Blur, Southend Cliffs Pavilion 21/06/09

I managed to get back to my prime video spot though my shirt would not be dry again for several hours.

I changed my opinion on Blur v Oasis, the latter looked increasingly ridiculous with their sibling if not wibbling rivalry destroying the band while Blur came back with the passion I love in all my family of bands.

We went to Glastonbury 2009 but the sheer exertion of finding a camping spot on the Wednesday set off swollen glands and I reluctantly had to leave before they came on stage on the Sunday evening. Still, it couldn't have been better than the Cliffs Pavilion gig, intimate, thrilling...apparently it was!

Massive Attack

Massive Attack are part of my family of bands. They are from Bristol, my home town from birth until I moved to Essex in 1980, rumoured to include fans of The Forces Of Darkness (Bristol Shitty) but despite this amazing musicians. I buy everything they ever release, love them. Of course my Mum in her 80s is too cool for school and when I mentioned Massive Attack recently she told me about the time in Somerfield on the Gloucester Road when she got talking to a tall "coloured" chap who was off to Japan the next day with his band, step forward Daddy G!

In late 2009 the boys were on at Brixton Academy, possibly my favourite venue. They had been recording with Damon Albarn, an unlikely combination you may think until you see this

Yes, that's Vicky and me spotting Damon again 5 minutes in. He went on to perform Saturday Come Slow both that evening and the following February at Hammersmith Apollo.

Earlier in the year I had accused Bono of stalking me having turned up at Coldplay/Killers and Cat Stevens unannounced, now I was being stalked by Damon.

Gorillaz

2010, somebody wakes Gorillaz up from their slumber. They announce they are to play at Coachella but need a little warm up. I signed up for the Sub-Division fan club promising priority booking for their concerts. Probably worth the £25 and I get a limited edition Stylo car, of course the car never got made but I got a fantastic litho instead which is framed and above my bed now.

First up were the "rehearsals" with all sorts of caveats about it being not the full show, no films, just the group. Oh and they are on at the tiny Cambridge Junction but being a rehearsal it's only £15 a ticket for Sub-Division members. Like I cared. Oh...and Mick Jones and Paul Simonon from The Clash are in the band by the way. WTF?! I last saw them together at The Bristol Hippodrome on the London Calling tour and completely adored Big Audio Dynamite. I can endure this rehearsal I am sure.

So I decided to take the day off with a spare ticket in hand, drove up to Cambridge with Plastic Beach on the stereo though no Bruce Willis in the passenger seat. When I arrived, way too early, there was a Dutch woman sat reading a book by the door quietly raving about the earlier sound check. I headed to the pub for a couple and came back in time to find a small queue. Nobody wanted my spare ticket and the box office was trying to flog remaining tickets to the public at the £15 fan club price. Not exactly popular it seems. The audience was mainly 30s and 40s, few street-wise kids who you would expect for a band made for the MTV generation. So I let them all go in first to get a few Lambrinis in, emptied my bladder just in case and walked in straight to the front pausing on the way to buy a couple of T shirts.

After much anticipation on came the band, when I say band I mean a small army of violinists, backing singers, guitarists, drummers, keyboard players and of course Damon. It was his birthday and he sat down to a chorus of "Happy Birthday". What followed was special. No dark screens, the ensemble dressed in naval gear, The Clash boys with officers' caps to hide their baldness.

From Gorillaz Rehearsals - The Junction, Cambridge

Not everybody was there, Lou Reed boomed out of the speakers but was probably in New York giving an interviewer a hard time. Bobby Womack was another virtual attendee. But we weren't complaining, the strings exhilirated, the choir sang Don't Get Lost In Heaven and Demon Days lushly, it was wonderful. Yet there were tickets going begging.

At this point I could probably have died a happy, contented and fulfilled man. But wait, there's more. Next up was The Roundhouse, another gig partly pre-Coachella rehearsal, also to be broadcast on the web. More Sub-Division priority tickets and this time a full supporting ensemble of Mos Def, Shaun Ryder, Kano, Bobby Womack, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Bashy, Gruff Rhys and The National Orchestra For Arabic Music...oh and films as well!

The heavy rhythms rather ruined the sound on half of my videos but they felt great vibrating against me as I stood by the right hand speakers! We left so glad we got to see our boys and wondering if we would ever see them again.

From Gorillaz at The Roundhouse 29/04/2010

Next big thing for us was Glastonbury, several of the participants from The Roundhouse were on the bill but no Gorillaz. Deus ex machina time, Bono finally paid the price for jumping off the stage at Live Aid when he spent half of Bad trying to get back up again and he needed spine surgery. No U2, somebody else was needed to replace them. One day in May I ran around the office like an idiot when I heard Gorillaz were their replacement. The perfect Glastonbury band. Collaborative, visual, generally loved. Mission on, find as much naval gear as possible and we will wear it for all five days and spend four days explaining to people we hadn't just sailed into Worthy Farm.

From Glastonbury 2010

They delivered, everybody there loved it including many people who didn't think they would, yet the armchair festivalgoers watching on TV were unimpressed by the gaps. For us it allowed us guerilla visits to The Cider Bus nearby and the talk there afterwards was how good a show it was, Lou Reed aficionados being particularly vocal. One younger chap was particularly surprised at the sheer quality and number of guests, he didn't think he would fancy them but now he loved them.

From Glastonbury 2010

Of course there was still a small matter of a world tour to complete. We had standing tickets for The O2 in September but this date was rearranged. Touring commitments were cited yet Gorillaz' visuals were all over the launch literature for Internet Explorer 8 at around the same time. I begged for tickets to the IE8 London launch expecting Gorillaz to turn up, I got none, they didn't. The show was rearranged for November and we went.

From Gorillaz O2 Arena 14/11/2010

Gorillaz came, they played, they conquered. Unbelievably this was so much better than even the three other shows we had been to. Sadly we only caught the end of Little Dragon (since rectified) but De La Soul were amazing and got the audience pumped up and loving it.

From Gorillaz O2 Arena 14/11/2010

As for Gorillaz, the music had developed on tour and grown. Empire Ants was insanely good. Bobby Womack was almost in tears talking about how he had come to love the songs they wrote for him to sing, Cloud Of Unknowing is beautiful even without Bobby's voice.

From Gorillaz O2 Arena 14/11/2010

Damon was all over the place keeping up the momentum they had supposedly lost at Glastonbury, this was the supreme version of Gorillaz 2010, fully developed. Little Dragon and The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble could never not play a Gorillaz tour again, they added so much. Will we ever see them again?

From Gorillaz O2 Arena 14/11/2010

Probably...as for Damon.

The Future

July, The Manchester International Festival, Dr Dee written by and starring Damon Albarn. We will be there, will it be any good, look mate you're talking Damon Albarn...

24Apr/113

Twitter Boredom

My 567 followers on Twitter might have noticed I have been quiet of late, not sharing my grumpiness, fun moments, philosophical pretensions or any of the other shit that appears in my timeline.

I say "might", but in reality the majority of them won't have. Those that truly might have noticed are here. These are the people who have proven their ability to read their timeline by occasionally responding.

Up until very recently I read every tweet in my timeline, that is to say every tweet by every person I follow, all 400 and falling. Using TweetDeck for Android this is not difficult as it stores entire weeks of Tweets and remembers where I last read from. The disadvantage is that you see an interesting tweet deserving of a response, reply but it was so long ago they just think you are mad or "random" (there is an "In Reply To" function in Twitter to see which tweet evoked the response but few twig onto the point of it). But now I can't be arsed, I will live for the moment and glance across occasionally to see what is being said now or in the last hour or two.

The two people and the dog who read this blog may question this change of attitude, put it down to 50s grumpiness, drama queenery or just think I'm feeling sorry for myself. Some of this may be true and each person's timeline is of their own making, nobody forces me to follow who I follow. The reality is I am having the time of my life, my future looks very bright despite the tax bods doing their best to dampen my spirits. I follow a vast number of tweeters purely for information, stage times, late ticket releases, breaking news and similar, I don't expect any interaction, they are there for a different purpose. The rest are a combination of people who make me laugh, think or simply like.

The ones who increasingly annoy me and need to be culled in order to keep Twitter as vital as it was in the early days fall into some categories. There are not 50 or 100 categories like in some cheap Channel 4 or Five show to be commented on by B-List at best celebrities who have no direct recollection of the events or circumstances but make a fist of it to keep their income above that of pantomime regulars thereby allowing them to avoid this peculiar form of seasonal employment.

Category 1 (I will be updating this post over time so this category may be 73 in time, with a few ciders and a grumpy attitude one Sunday evening in November) is definitely the "how are you all?" merchants. Read your timeline first, this is how you find out how "you all" are. If "you all" replied simultaneously it would lead to Replies column chaos. But it never happens because so many, like the "how are you all?" merchants, never read the timeline of all the people they follow. They sit back and rely on their replies or a secret list of their homeboys for their Twitter interaction. They used to use MSN Messenger but Twitter is cool, according to the person they think is cool, everybody else thinks is a knob. Many of these people won't unfollow people they have no interest in because they might unfollow back and suddenly a body part shrinks. Anybody following more than a specific number of followers (I will not reveal this number but on future social media courses for people who were too thick to get into media studies courses it will be referred to as Burns' number) is obviously a follower tart or a user of Replies or lists.

Category 2 is the link freaks. I can use an RSS reader to follow entertaining or cute video aggregators, I can follow a source breaking news Twitter user. I want to read what people have to say, not what somebody else created that you found amusing and think I might, usually I don't and if I did I would be aware of this source already. On top of this the bulk of my Twitter use is mobile so endless links really don't work in Twitter and won't until fast 3G coverage extends beyond 10% of my daily travels. As for people who post this stuff as Headline/Video/Turd/etc. Of The Day when it was something from weeks ago...I have no words.

Category 3 is the category with no name. This is nothing to do with Billy Balthorpe, the man with no name or even Clint Eastwood. There probably is a name, maybe somebody can tell me in the comments. It's the people who suddenly acquire a social conscience relating to the latest bandwaggon. From not knowing who the hell he is or placing the country in the wrong continent they suddenly start denouncing the leader of country X where there is a popular uprising's policies and ask us to RT. They pass on Tsunami warnings for Easter Island despite a) not knowing where it is b) having no followers from there but they felt sad for the long faced people there c) not having verified the source and discovered that it was downgraded to roll up your trousers an extra inch if paddling there two weeks ago.

Category 4 ...can't be arsed at the moment, there must be some popular TV show on tonight I can make loads of comments about so people think I'm really funny despite all that shit I wrote last night about not being able to sleep in permanent fear of @gashead tweeting me back "Get off Twitter or you will never get to sleep FFS, LOL, ROTFLMAO"

p.s. this new blog post will appear as a linked tweet on my Twitter timeline, 'kin' hypocrite eh ?!!!

15Apr/110

Jessiejonline.com have yet to acknowledge they rip-off YouTube users’ videos

You may have seen Wednesday evening's blog about JessieJOnline Inc of web, YouTube, Twitter and whatever else downloading two videos I posted to YouTube at far lower quality than my original then re-uploading them with absolutely no credit to me whatsoever to their own YouTube account.

At 5.36am the following morning I received a comment on my blog purportedly coming from JessieJOnline.com saying

Sorry about this. We took random videos of Jessie J and decided to upload them on our Youtube in order to ‘regroup’ a bunch of Jessie J videos under one huge account. If you want, we can credit you. We are not claming those videos to be ours in any way! I hope everything’s okay.

At 7.43am the same day I decided to be big-hearted and responded

Hi Info, as you could see by the tone of my blog I ultimately tried to make humour from this. I can hardly accuse you of breaching copyright when I have been filming words and music also in copyright. Also, like Michael Corleone the murderous Godfather, I'm a reasonable man!

How about you update your two videos with maybe a link in the description to my "higher quality originals" and if I send mine as a video response you could approve that. Fans win, I get some credit and we are warm and fuzzy.

I will link to your website in my video description as it really is rather good and I'm very much in favour of the modern equivalent of the punk era Sniffing Glue and other free sheets by fans for fans.

I will also update my blog to say we are sorted if you are happy to do this?

So the big question, did Jessie J ever live in the real Essex or just pre-1965 boundary!

Good luck with your website,
Cheers
Ali

As a gesture of goodwill I updated the description on both videos the same morning with

For possibly the finest Jessie J resource on the web see http://www.jessiejonline.com/

this took me approximately 30 seconds in total.

Meanwhile jessiejonline.com have proceeded to add several new stories to their website while, excuse my French, doing absolutely fuck all to credit me in any way whatsoever or to acknowledge that they rip videos off other YouTube users and pass the material blatantly as their own. This is obviously not a matter of concern for them, I will make it so, I will no longer be a reasonable man where Jessiejonline.com are concerned.

13Apr/114

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Many people don't believe in coincidence, they say there is a probability behind events coinciding that we fail to consider. After today's "coincidence" I am less inclined to believe they can be explained statistically.

So, you may be asking, what am I banging on about now!? Well, last autumn I got some tickets to go and see the Little Noise Sessions curated by Jo Whiley in aid of Mencap. Being a member of the Paolo Nutini fan club and a subscriber to the Little Noise Sessions Backstage Area I got double priority booking for the event. First up on stage was a tallish, lively young thing called Jessie J. Sadly her talent had previously bypassed my cultural radar, but I was sufficiently impressed by her first song to get my camera out. I filmed her other two songs along with much of the rest of the show. Even an apparently over refreshed Paolo Nutini performed a blinder that evening. As is my way, I uploaded the videos to my YouTube account the following day for the world to appreciate or ignore (remember this, despite the apparent preamble, it is highly relevant later on).

In the days that followed I read much on the web about "Essex girl" Jessie J. Having lived in Essex for the last 30 years I was interested to find out where in the county she came from. There was stuff about her being born in Redbridge, stuff about her going to school in Redbridge, but nothing about her actually living in neighbouring Essex for any significant period in her life. So I set up a Google email alert on "Jessie J Essex" to establish if there was any basis for this assertion. The alert emails came in regularly, every day one or several websites had published an article linking the girl to the county but never to a specific town or village in Essex. I tried the same search on Twitter, more of the same, much more!

As the evidence mounted, I decided to take up the stance, not purely out of sheer bloody-mindedness but also because all the evidence pointed to the fact, that Jessie J is from London. I started to post comments to newspaper articles pointing out the apparent inaccuracy. I would reply to tweets saying similar, often to the bemusement of the poor tweeter wondering how the hell I saw their humble tweet when I wasn't even following them. Try it, it can be fun, even if it comes across as anal in the extreme and beats asking who on Twitter wants coffee as others do when they get bored. I apologise to all those I have traumatised and I am a great admirer of Jessie J who is one of few young British musicians capable of writing, performing and having hits. My excuse is a hatred of sloppy journalism, not checking facts, merely lifting facts from other sources irrespective of their accuracy. Redbridge was, as I knew all along, once in Essex but has been a London borough since 1965. A bloke down the pub once told me Essex extended as far as Reading many years ago (quite probably true) but people don't refer to The Office based in Slough as an Essex comedy. Jessie J may have been born in an Essex hospital of course, but if she was there are no sources I have found....sorry, I'm rambling and won't even mention Cliff Richard being born in India.

In an idle moment last night I launched another barrage of pedantic corrections to Twitter and one particular tweeter indulged me in a very charming dialogue. I decided I would send what I thought was him but now realise is her a link to my YouTube videos. As security is tight on my company IT systems we can't post from YouTube to Twitter as Twitter is firewalled. Easy I thought, tell her to search on "Jessie J Little Noise Sessions" in YouTube and you will find my videos straight away. I gave it a test run, loads of videos appeared, mine were at the top....hang on, no they are from Jessiejonline but they look just like mine?

Exhibit 1 : This is Jessiejonline's version of Price Tag

Watch this video on YouTube.

and this is mine

Watch this video on YouTube.

I don't remember somebody sitting on my lap with a camera pressing the button to start at the exact same time and pressing the button to stop at the exact same time. I tend to notice these things and my girlfriend, whose laugh you can hear, would tell me if I was oblivious to such an oddity. The only difference I can see is that mine is recorded at 720P whereas Jessiejonline's version is only at 360P, a quarter the resolution, maybe a tiny camera held by a tiny person who I just didn't notice on my lap. I must be getting absent-minded in my decline into seniority. But wait, there's more...

Exhibit 2 : This is Jessiejonline's version of Stand Up

Watch this video on YouTube.

and this is mine

Watch this video on YouTube.

So once again it seems I didn't notice the little person sat on my lap pressing the little camera button at the exact same time to start and again to stop. I really must see a doctor!

But it seems I am not the only one feeling confused. If you check out Jessiejonline's (whoops, that's their Twitter account!) website they are so confused they accidentally linked to my videos by mistake! Now there's a thing, fortunately mine are higher quality so they probably look better. Thanks for the cred..i...t..... o well, they were confused and thought they were linking to their own videos taken by the little person with the little camera sat on my lap who I didn't even notice no doubt.

I'm sure there must be a scientific explanation for this coincidence, maybe some external factor caused us to press the button at the exact same moment on 4 separate occasions. If anybody has an explanation could they let me know in the comments below please?

10Apr/115

Faithless Passing The Baton – The Best Live Band Ever?

From Faithless Passing The Baton

...and then there was Faithless. As many of you may have guessed I tend to spend a lot of my life lurking in CD shops. One day around about the turn of the Millennium I found the CD single of Insomnia by Faithless, full of different mixes, all good improving upon, extending and celebrating the original. Having played it at home I headed straight for Soho's Berwick Street, namely to SelectaDisc as featured on the cover of Oasis' What's The Story, Morning Glory. Sure enough, true to form, they had the first two Faithless albums for around a fiver each. Being SelectaDisc it wasn't the normal versions but the double CD versions with an extra CD of remixes with each. Unlike the usual stuff in the dance genre the second CDs were utterly wonderful creations, different to the original album versions but you didn't ever think "how did they ruin that so, like totally, dude?"

Whenever there was a long car journey they would appear in the glovebox, often played back to back. Their music switched between epics like Insomnia and God Is A DJ (he never looked like a dinner jacket in my church), dreamy instrumentals, Dido featurettes and people like Boy George displaying the quality of the writing with his amazingly passionate vocal.

The word on the street was if ever you went to a festival this was the band to see. Off I toddled to Glastonbury 2005, no Faithless on the line-up, but they were there in spirit every day, often several times a day. From various locations Insomnia would blast out. It might be The Pyramid, The Other or a random stage where the crew loved Faithless and they knew this would a) test their speakers b) draw a crowd. There would be a massive cheer that would often continue spontaneously even where the music that started it wasn't audible. This was the dance song rock fans loved, they were at Glastonbury and Faithless' cathedral was that field in Somerset. I would choke up, often be in tears of joy, excitement, tiredness, the works.

Watch this video on YouTube.

Then I went to the V Festival in Chelmsford and that was their church as well, usually playing at least every other year. The perfect band for the Essex lads and lassies (we're talking real ones, not London's Jessie J who her publicists tell us is one). The beers were got in, then kicked over by people going crazy underneath a tree by the original V Stage. We Came One, we saw, they conquered.

From V Festival 2008

Brixton Academy was their chapel. A small, intimate venue, Maxi Jazz's manor. Could they kick it there? Too bloody right they could!

Watch this video on YouTube.

Harry Collier would change the dynamic singing the softer songs, sharing vocals with Maxi who is even older than me and allowing them to overcome any mid-set tedium. The festival classics were as intact as ever but you knew they had soul, romance, beautiful sounds and big fuck off bass at the turn of a knob. They had everything.

As somebody old enough to be my father I have been insanely excited this last week. Originally I booked the Thursday only as I have granddaughter commitments on Fridays, she was at the previous Brixton gig with her mate, they loved it but this was over-18s only for the Friday. Then a message from Faithless appeared on Twitter. This was their last tour, the dance would never end but the shows would. Straight onto Seetickets, got two more standing for the Friday. Told everybody at work, amazing apathy, OK you have a nice drive to a country carvery on Sunday in your Nissan Micra, Werthers in the glovebox, Vicky and I are off to see British culture at its highest level.

But what to wear? This is never usually a problem for me, trainers, trousers and a cool T shirt under that zipped top black jacket containing my precious camera. The strategy was dress straight Thursday, take all the pictures and videos I needed, stand at the back if necessary for some undistorted sound recordings and take it calm for Friday was the long one. It had been a tough week at work having been to see Big Audio Dynamite for a relaxing Sunday evening before..yeah. Only trouble was the moment we walked into the stalls the sight of the band, the wonderful full on sound, the obviously up for it crowd...within ten minutes we had shimmied beyond the disabled seating, the gents' loos and found ourself on the front barrier, my remaining hair strands moving from the wind the bass speakers were pumping out. This was OUR church and the hymns were fantastic, the organ sound beautiful, the priest dressed in white a tad fervent with his chief choirboy Harry.

From Faithless, Brixton Academy Penultimate Gig 07/04/2011

OK, so a quieter evening it wasn't to be but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

Watch this video on YouTube.

As you can gather I had this strong sense of religion about Faithless, their name, the songs God Is A DJ and Salva Mea, OK Vicky should go as a nun and I could cut a dash in a cardinal's garb or maybe even the big boss The Pope. But hang on. Sister Bliss on keyboards...mind working overtime...we can be The Sisters Of Bliss! And so it came to pass, in the land they called Brixton, on a Friday in April, two nuns appeared perilously close to 9pm ready to take to the altar. Thanks to a fancy dress shop in Berwick Street, Freeport M&S and a strange website with some exciting packages we looked the part.

From Faithless Passing The Baton

Everybody loves a nun, at least they do at concerts. I thought everybody else was dressing up, it seemed not. Security was a breeze, normally men search men, women search women, the poor chap was too embarrassed to get anywhere near discovering my Oyster and ticket were down the front of my knickers! We went in down the right, everybody said hello or stared, we held our hands up in prayer before Sister Bliss...I think she must have been too busy playing some silly music to spot us!

So off down to the favoured left hand side and there we remained, 3 bodies from the front progressively shuffling across towards the centre whenever some of the more exuberant crowd members gave up the dance for the bar or quite possibly the loo. What an evening, as they played beyond midnight it just got better and better, the crowd crazier and crazier.

Watch this video on YouTube.

There was much passion either side of the barrier, the whole cathedral rocked but everybody knew this was the night Faithless would ride off into the sunset to play live no more, but they weren't giving up with a whimper.

From Faithless Passing The Baton

Around 1am the time came, no matter how much we shared the love through the medium of raised fingers, dodgy dance and the language of whoop woo, it all ended...for the time being. Faithless have brought so much joy to so many people. Loved by the rock crowd, sometimes shunned by the more elite drum hard heavy semi-detached house brigade, only the hardest of hearts could fail to be thrilled by that old school chunky organ that they used to up the odds and subjugate the masses to their heavy, heavy monster sound. You have been loved but the dance never ends...

Watch this video on YouTube.