Saturday, 15 April 2006

Ahoy there! Is that a holiday I see?

Oh yes it is! Holiday, here I come!

I've just done some final bits of work and emailed them into the office so now my time is all my own to swing in hammocks and plodge in the sea and drink tequila and turn red in the sun! Mine all mine. I am *so* looking forward to this holiday - I haven't had a two-week holiday since autumn 2004 and a week just isn't long enough. Two weeks under a plam tree is what I need.

Chris is, of course, all packed and organised and I've yet to start (well, there's a pile of freshly washed summer shirts on the chair and I'm charging batteries for the camera but that's about it). I'm a bit of a last minute packer really. I know where the passport is, the credit cards and money and the tickets. The rest is window dressing.

It sounds like a nice relaxing sort of hotel too. No telly, set in tropical gardens on the outskirts of a small town, rooms in little cottages around the grounds, a real get-away-from-it-all place but within walking distance of town (Playa del Carmen) with shopping, restaurants, bars and night life. I was in Playa in the '90s so it'll be nice to return and see what's happened to the place.

A couple of pre-booked day trips to swim with dolphins and visit Mayan ruins. Other trips easy to arrange when we get bored with the beach (although at the moment I'm wondering if that's possible).

I want to go now! A 6am taxi to the airport isn't that inviting. And I can't tell Chris the time - we have a deal in that so long as he doesn't know the time he's happy to get up, but one hint at the real time and a bucket of cold water is needed!

Look for me under a palm tree...

Friday, 14 April 2006

Top Ten iPod

My current top ten is:

Back To The Drive - Suzi Quatro
Darling Don't Cry - Buffy Sainte-Marie
Panic In Detroit - David Bowie
Mama Weer All Crazee Now - SLADE
He's An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo - Buffy Sainte-Marie
You Can Do Magic - Limmie and The Family Cooking
The Coast Is Always Changing - Maximo Park
A19 - Maximo Park
Glitter In Their Eyes - Patti Smith
Public Image - Public Image Limited

Not very different to my last top ten but I suspect great changes ahead - two weeks in the land of the Mayans will make a difference. Watch this space!


There are many things in life that upgrade or you would want to upgrade. I've just been upgrading virus definitions on my computer. I've upgraded my mobile phone several times. When I worked in benefits we used to talk about uprating - the same thing, really, in a different context.

What has never happened to me is a flight upgrade - until now.

I had a phone call yesterday about the tickets for the flight to Cancun on Sunday and, since there's been a cancelation on the flight, we're being upgraded to Premium seats for the outward flight. Bearing in mind this is Monarch we're flying with then I can't really imagine in my minds eye what 'Premium' really means - it sounds like it might roughly equate to business class on a scheduled airline. I won't get too excited about it until my bum is placed on the seat but a bit extra space, wider seat, better service... that's good enough for me!

Thursday, 13 April 2006

Two Films

I've seen two special films this week: a Spanish film called 'Reinas' ('Queens') and 'New York Doll'.

'Reinas' is a wonderful laugh-out-loud comedy based around the first mass gay wedding in Spain. The course of true love doesn't, of course, run smoothly, and the mothers - the Queens of the title - both cause havoc with their respective offspring and are the ultimate solution to a successful wedding day. I'm not a great fan of foreign language films - I prefer to watch films rather than read them - but this is the exception, full of funny one-liners and excellently staged scenes.

And, of course, there's a gorgeous big shaggy dog that I've decided is a metaphor for the gradual increasing acceptance of gay rights in Spain (deep, I know).

'New York Doll' is a biopic of Arthur 'Killer' Kane that I first saw in New York last November. It's a well constructed film about Arthur, who almost made it with the New York Dolls but lost it all in a haze of alcoholism, reaches rock bottom and both discovers and is 'saved' by the Mormons. Then, suddenly, he has the chance to make a reality of his dream and play again with his surviving band members at the Meltdown festival in 2004. A month later he dies.

This is a very touching film - uplifting in places, sad and funny at the same time. It took Arthur 30 years to realise his dream and play as the Dolls again, but he did it. Dreams can come true.

Saturday, 8 April 2006


April 2006 sees the 40th anniversary of the Lords of Noize - Noddy, Jimmy, Dave and Don first played together in 1966. To celebrate this momentous event, SLADEFEST is taking place over Easter weekend!
I'll miss this since I'll be in a (probably cramped) plane jetting off to Mexico but what a great thing to organise! It doesn't look like any of the band will be there (but you never know).

Have fun to everyone who's going!

Madonna - August is the disco month

Phew! I have redeemed myself by securing tickets to see Madonna on her Confessions tour. I can now sleep the sleep of the righteous...

I missed the chance for tickets in A block yesterday afternoon by inconsiderately being in a work meeting (of little real import) and by the time I was out (only a few minutes) the tickets had gone. Drat. Seriously considered getting tickets further back and thought 'no'. I won't be able to see anything on stage and I don't want to just watch the video screens. No, I thought, I'll take my chances that an 8th date will be announced. Risky, I know...

Then this morning, waiting in vain for a new date, I got tickets in B3 on 13 August and the weight left my shoulders - phew! Not as good as Chris's tickets in B4 on 1 August, but not too further back and with a different view of the stage.

Then, um, just cos I'm nosey, I went back onto Ticketmaster later this morning and noticed that all the 'sold out' notes beside the dates were missing... ever the curious small blue thing (in the words of Suzanne Vega) I went >click< and I now have tickets in A2 row 12 for 3 August as well... I can't believe it... my credit card believes it, of course (o dear).

Friday, 7 April 2006

Retro Record Bag - 1973

My set tonight consisted of songs from 1973:

David Bowie ~ 'Panic in Detroit'
Jackson 5 ~ 'Doctor My Eyes'
Mott The Hoople ~ 'All The Way From Memphis'
Free ~ 'Wishing Well'
Sweet ~ 'Ballroom Blitz'

Free was a last minute switch from Stealers Wheel - I felt the set needed a lift at that point and the pounding bass of 'Wishing Well' works for me. Starting off with the pounding drumming and wailing vocals of 'Panic in Detroit' and closing with 'Ballroom Blitz', one of the best records of all time and in my personal top ten alongside 'Anarchy in the UK' - who could lose?

I was quite nervous in a kind of silly way - what's there really to be nervous about? But I was. Even when Rob showed me the controls and which buttons to press I still had to double and triple check the track number ... just in case. Afterwards, of course, it was a piece of cake. Hindsight is wonderful.

Luckily I followed a none-too exciting set so my short, sharp, loud selection seemed to go down well. Followed by Don's mariarchi tribute to the trip to Mexico in a week's time and Christopher's wrapper-ish selection. Gerald played an interesting selection but unfortunately Dawn and Stephen chickened out (I was sort-of looking forward to listening to some Cure again!).

My set was, of course, the best and received the best applause (modesty? what's that?). I need to resign my job and become an international superstar DJ. How difficult can it be?

Now, I just need to spend another month or so working on my 5-track 1974 set list ...

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

My latest new favourite ...

Have you heard of Sandi Thom? I hadn't until this morning when my email alert for Buffy Sainte-Marie popped up with this article that made me go >click< ...

... and I've discovered a potential hero that lives a mile away from me!

I love the single, 'I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)' which is available for download on iTunes. It's a very simple song with words and percussion and it works big-time for me. I'm really looking forward to the album ('Smile, It Confuses People') being released in June. Doesn't that title just say it all?

London is a dainty place

My iPod rang this morning to the dulcet tones of Maddy Prior singing, 'London':

London is a dainty place
A great and gallant city
All the streets are paved with gold
And all the folks are witty

... and it is a great city. Especially as it was today with sunshine and blue sky even though it was a bit chilly.

I walked across St James's Park to meet Christopher for lunch in deepest, darkest Soho (well, the New Piccadilly caff). The park was full of glorious beds of daffodils with cherry blossom trees spread around, lots of what looked like school trips wandering round enjoying the spring sunshine and the beauties of London. Ducks were splashing in the pond, the odd squirrel scurrying around, pidgeons hunting for seeds and bread... quite delightful.

After lunch I went to pick up Christopher's birthday present (yes, I *am* taunting) and then strolled back through the park to be half an hour late for my 2 o'clock meeting...

Isn't London lovely?
This evening I went for a drink with Janet in a basement pub at the top of Whitehall in which we set the world to rights, shared essential data (gossip) and plans for world domination (job applications) and slagged off various bosses (as you do).
I made two important observations on my way to the pub - the guy in full dress uniform at Horse Guards Parade was a little titch (even in his heeled boots I was taller than him) and Nelson's column is covered in scaffolding. Whatever happened to the good old days when John Noakes would swoop around it tied with a string with scrubbing brush in hand to clean it from top to bottom?

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Superyob at 60

Happy Birthday to Dave Hill, 60 today and still rockin' round Europe!

From the International SLADE mailing list:

A short note about Dave:
Dave Hill probably had the most recognisable fringe of the 1970's and 1980's! Dave (real name is David John Hill) was born in Fleet Castle, Devon on 4th of April 1946. Good at metalwork when at school and learned to play the guitar from a friend. Dave is the only member of the band not born in the Midlands. He originally played in a band with Don Powell called the Vendors. The Vendors changed their name to the 'N Betweens, met Noddy whilst in Germany and then Jim when back in the UK. Slade were born! And the success began! You know the rest of the story!

It's amazing (to me at least) to think he's 60 - I shouldn't really be surprised at his age given my own, but I still think of him as he was on Top of the Pops in the early-mid '70s, strutting on stage bedecked with glitter, lurex and mirrors, anything shiny and outrageous. He's known for saying to Nod and Jim, 'You write 'em and I'll sell 'em!'. And sell 'em he did!

The last time I saw Dave in the flesh was in the winter of 1981 (I think) when SLADE played Cardiff Students Union and I helped out as a roadie after the gig. Outside, as the lorry was being loaded Dave offered me a Benson and Hedges cigarette - I stammered a decline even though I smoked at the time. How could I accept a cigarette from one of the Lords of Noize? Unthinkable!

Dave was on telly at Christmas on the C4 programme, 'Whatever happened to the Xmas Number 1?' when he was one of the '70s musicians brought in to help create a new Christmas song with David Essex on vocal. It's a nice song but was released too close to Christmas to have any impact and only available as a download.

Dave is still a-rockin' and a -rollin' with Don as SLADE (previously known as SLADE2), mainly around Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and playing some gigs in the UK (but not close enough to me so that I could see them).

Happy Birthday Dave, and keep on rockin'!

Monday, 3 April 2006

The Dresden Dolls

I have been pointed towards a new website with loads of live Dresden downloads -

Now, the Dresdens' site is wondrously phsyically engineered but automaticjoy is very simple, just a single page but covered in links for all sorts of live songs by the Dresdens, some original Dresden material not yet recorded and a load of live covers. There are great versions of 'I Love Rock And Roll', 'Amsterdam' (which they played at The Royal Festival Hall last year) and Britney's 'Baby One More Time'. Amanda is just sooooooo cool..... and a special friend of mine, of course.

I'm looking forward to seeing them very much in May at the Astoria. And the new album, 'Yes Virginia' is due out in a couple of weeks time.