Monday, 31 July 2006

Huff and Puff and Wembley

I went for my first session with Nick, my personal trainer, this evening. I was a bit apprehensive at first - what would the session involve?

It started off with chatting and some measuring different bits of me as a baseline - I'm as wierd on the outside as I am on the inside with my right side being bigger than my left above the waist, but the other way round below. I've never noticed it meself.

Then a session on the bike (which I like) followed by some stretching and mat exercises focused on my belly. It's very difficult to hold me belly still, breathe normally, lower back flat on the mat to stabilise it and lift a leg - sounds simple? Try it! Since I need to focus on my back then a lot of the exercises are meant to strengthen the band of muscle around my middle. That's going to take some time, I think.

The treadmill is out because it impacts on my back so I had a session on the cross-trainer and that was quite fun in a wearisome way. Then more time on the mats with some exercises followed by final stretches, again taking into account my back.

The hour was over surprisingly quickly and I'm pleased I did it. I can see myself leaving after 10 minutes or so exercises if there wasn't someone there checking up on me - I would rationalise that simply being there for 10 minutes is more exercise than I would normally get and take the easy way out. Now, of course, I've passed responsibility to Nick and, as I told him, it's his job to sort me out. My next session is on Wednesday.

So, that's the huff and puff, what about Wembley? Well, odd as it may seem, you can see the new Wembley arch from the top floor gym at my gym behind Streatham High Road. I was very surprised, but there it was when I looked out of the window wall beside the exercise mats...

Last 10 iPod

Despite thinking (rather foolishly) that my iPod was broken earlier this evening, here are the last 10 songs it played to me:

I Got You Babe ~ Sonny & Cher
All The Way From Memphis ~ Mott The Hoople
Feels Just Like It Should ~ Jamiroquai
Better To Find Out For Yourself ~ Buffy Sainte-Marie
Do The Swim ~ Little Nell
Love Is All That Matters ~ The Human League
Red Letter Day ~ Fox
Lay Down ~ The Strawbs
I Just Can't Be Happy Today ~ The Damned
Modern Moonlight ~ The Dresden Dolls

Friday, 28 July 2006

Dresden Dresden Everywhere But Not A Drop To Drink

I found a new photo of The Dresden Dolls - that's worth a blog all on its own!

Mind you, equally important is the announcement of a new DD experience on 4 November at the Roundhouse! I've already booked tickets for 3 November so the following evening will be a nice bonus.

Cover Me With Pretty Lies - Burma and America

The world is a strange and mysterious place. The big things catch our attention and get plastered over the news. The Israel-Lebannon conflict is the latest, but there are lots of conflicts all over the world, with child-soldiers in the Congo and drug-lords in Colombia. Why does it happen? Why do we allow it to happen?

I've been reading 'Letters From Burma' by Aung San Suu Kyi, a collection of 52 letters she wrote in the mid '90s for a Japanese newspaper. It's not an autobiography although some of her letters talk about herself and her family. Her letters are about current events in her life, Buddhist festivals, her friends and colleagues imprisoned in Burma, Christmas in Rangoon, the civil service, the prices in shops and, of course, her constant state of being under house-arrest one day and 'free' the next, almost at a whim of the mysterious authorities.

I've enjoyed reading this book (if enjoyed is the right word). She comes across as a delightful and gentle woman, the language she uses is very measured and delicate, oddly peaceful to read. An elected leader of her country who has never been allowed to lead.

I've wanted to go to Burma/Myanmar for many years but have always stopped short of booking a flight because of the military government. I hope to go one day.

I also watched a DVD documentary this week, 'Broken Rainbow', about the forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi peoples in Arizona so that the land can be strip-mined for coal and uranium. I got it because it is narrated by Buffy Sainte-Marie, with her as the English voice of Navajo and Hopi people speaking in their own languages.

Some of the tales and images seem a bit sensational, designed to tug at the heart-strings. The basic facts, however, remain unchanged in this tale of government-backed big business riding roughshod over a small group of people nobody really cares about. There is a lovely sequence showing little old grannies and great-grannies digging up the fence posts that split their land in two with spades and scooping away the poor desert soil with their hands. Very touching to see them smile when the post topples.

The relocation has been going on since the 1970s and, in part, generated the politicisation of Native Americans but it's still going on today in America, land of the free and the superpower that influences so much in the modern world. The documentary was from the mid '80s with an update filmed earlier this year showing what has happened to some of the people featured in the film. It's desperately sad that so many of the original participants are now dead, with their sons and daughters speaking about them and on their behalf. And the US Congress still supports the relocation. Resistence has spread to the Internet with the Black Mesa Indiginous Support site.

Buffy Sainte-Marie sings about the energy companies and land-grabbing in 'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee'. It's on iTunes. Listen to it if you get the chance and think of the Navajo and the legal forced relocation programme still operating today.
New York Dolls - Dance Like A Monkey

Shake your monkey hips!

Thursday, 27 July 2006

Labi Siffre

Chris introduced me to Labi Siffre a few weeks ago by playing one of his earliest LPs that has just been re-released on CD, 'The Singer and the Song'. It's full of short singer-songwriter tunes that struck a chord so I bought 'The Best Of...' when I saw it in HMV a couple of weeks back. Oddly, it was in the soul section and the closest that Labi gets to soul is that he's black. All of his albums have been recently re-released and that's a good thing.

I remember Labi from a few early '70s hits and his appearances on Saturday night prime time variety shows (Chris saw him supporting the Supremes which sounds much cooler). Songs like, 'It must be love', 'Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying' and more latterly, 'Something Inside So Strong'. He's been covered by Madness (their gloriously happy version of 'It must be love') and sampled my Eminem ('I got the' forms the basis for 'Slim Shady'). Strangely, his vocals remind me of Buffy Sainte-Marie in a couple of songs (such as 'Children of Children'). Played late at night, Labi really works for me, gentle but thought-provoking and challenging.

These days, he's more of a poet and social commentator. See Labi's work here. I'd like to see him play live or maybe meet for a cup of tea. I'm sure I'd enjoy a chat but whether I have anything to say to him is another matter.

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

'Falling to bits' is the technical term

Time for a health update, I think, dear reader.

You missed my trip to St George's in Tooting for my ultrasound scan due my modem dying, but it was just like on telly where you see pregnant women being scanned and seeing their baby on a monitor. Except I'm not pregnant. Nor a woman. I also visited the Vampires again.

Anyway, I had the results today and I don't have cancer or anything, but, basically, I'm fat and full of lipids and 'bad' cholesterol. Oh, I'm learning all the medical terms (I like telling people about my osteophytes as well, so watch out). I learned that my kidneys are different sizes (one is 11cm the other only 10.6cm - I'm a freak) but both have good cortical thickness (so there!). My spleen, apparently, "appears to be morphologically unremarkable" - I might sue over that statement!

Basically, I'm a fat sod and I'm being referred to a gastroenterologist to look at my liver and pancreas, both of which have too much fat in them, to be blunt. Sigh. So that's yet another appointment to look forward to.

On the good side, I now have an appointment to see a diabetic dietician in September (a mere three months after being diagnosed). My doctor weighed me this morning and I've lost almost half a stone in weight in the last 4-5 weeks (I noticed something was happening when I fastened my belt in a notch this week). I've also >gulp< signed up to see a personal trainer at my local gym. I've paid a hideous amount to do so. Wibble. But that should, at least, force me to attend. In the late '90s I was (independently assessed as) gorgeous - fit and toned and felt heathy and full of energy. Then my disc slipped and it's been downhill ever since. My current back and internal problems are a wake up call to get myself sorted out. The next three months will be a pain (to my body and my wallet) but this is my opportunity to get sorted at last.

Watch this space.

Oh Bondage! Up Yours!

O yes, a bit of an attention-seeking cliche to start off with ('I Am A Cliche') but the old ones work for me!

If only I could pogo round the room (and if I had the energy in this debilitating heat) I would do so most joyously. X-Ray Spex was always one of my favourite punk bands in the '70s and their one and only album, 'Germ Free Adolescents' is a classic I've never tired of. 'Identity' and 'The Day The World Turned Day-Glo' are right up there - or slightly behind - 'Anarchy In The UK' and 'Pretty Vacant'. Along with the Pistols, this was a band worth listening to, and I have ever since 1978 (including a few tracks on my iPod).

The new compilation album, 'Let's Submerge - The Anthology' seems to include everything they ever recorded, studio, live and demo versions. There's a great backing track called 'Prefabricated Icon' which, every time I hear the intro, I keep expecting Poly to launch into a stinging song about faux stars or something but she remains silent. It includes her first single (pre-Spex) and a great version of 'Age' credited to Poly Styrene - that went onto my iPod instantly.

I never saw them live but remember seeing X-Ray Spex on Top Of The Pops for the first time in 1978 and thinking' what the...?' when there was Poly with braces on her teeth fronting a band of scruffy oiks who were all over the place. But what a wonderful sound they made. Loud. Scary. Challenging. And with great day-glo socks! On the strength of her involvement with X-Ray Spex I even got Laura Logic's 12" single when it came out - I remember the blue and pink cover but not the tracks. I'd like to hear it again. Whenever I hear wailing sax of a certain kind, I think of Laura.

It was very odd to see Poly/Marion on the 'Punk' documentary, a nice, thoughtful, quiet spoken lady. How we all change. But ...

I'd love a reunion. Please?

Monday, 24 July 2006

Dance Like A Monkey

The New York Dolls are back and I want to dance like a monkey!

Heading for my train at Victoria I had a few minutes to spare so popped through the front door of the little HMV shop on the off-chance that it might have some new releases I'd be interested in and the first thing I see is 'One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This,' the new album from the New York Dolls (it's that difficult third album y'know, a mere 30 years late).

It is excellent! The tracks smack of the Dolls of old while being sufficiently different to be the 2006 version with David and Syl being augmented by others. There's a nice dedication on the inner sleeve: "Sylvain would like to dedicate this album to the New York Dolls who are no longer around... 'SLEEP BABY DOLLS'."

The highlights for me on a first listen are:

Dance Like A Monkey - I want this to be released as a single and reach Number 1 and stay there for a month if only to show people what a real Number 1 is...

We're All In Love - an excellent opener

Fishnets & Cigarettes

Gimme Luv & Turn On The Light

There will be more favourites once I've listened again, I've no doubt. If only I could've bounced round the room to it without injuring meself I would've...

The New York Dolls are back like they've never been away!

I'm now listening to my other new purchase .... 'Let's Submerge - The Anthology' by X-Ray Spex! A whole 52 tracks that looks like it's everything they ever recorded (studio, live and sessions) including a couple credited to Mari Elliott and one to Poly Styrene.

I have a great need to pogo...

Sunday, 23 July 2006


oOOOooooOoooooOoooOOOOOOoOOOOOooooo I can't wait!

7 August is just *too* far away for me to be able to survive without some form of artifical stimulation. I have my lovely Dresden's book to keep me going. I'm seeing Madonna. I have Mary Tyler Moore DVDs. I have a DVD of an academy award winning documentary about the Navajo people battling energy companies for land narrated by Buffy Sainte-Marie. A new New York Dolls album and new X-Ray Spex collection being released this week. I have the world wide resources of the interweb. Will this be enough to keep me going?

7 August sees the release of:

Beginnings/Play It Loud
Old, New, Borrowed and Blue

All major landmarks in the artistry that was, is and always will be the Lords of Noize, the almighty SLADE!

SLADE ALIVE! is issued on 21 August and comprises all their live recordings on a 2 CD set. Then more albums to follow later in the year.

This is such an important event in the history of humankind that it may well lead on to world peace and the inevitable collonisation of nearer star systems. Quite possibly. is the first to advertise the albums and will have my undying gratitude for this gift to homosapiens.

Slayed and Old, New, Borrowed and Blue include 'B' sides never previously released on CD.

I can't wait to feel the noize again!

Fuck The Back Row!

Mistress RightNasty of RightNasty Mansions informed me that one of her tranny heroines, Peaches Christ is MCing one the the 'Fuck the Back Row' evenings for The Dresden Dolls in San Francisco. This demonstrates to my satisfaction that the Dresdens reach into all of our lives in some way and bring some sparkle and glamour to our otherwise humdrum existences.

The blurb announces:


A Night of Short Films and Dadaist Vaudeville with The Dresden Dolls & Co. coming this July to a city near YOU

Amanda Palmer will be hitting the road this summer with a typically ambitious experiment: Celluloid vaudeville! A program consisting of short films selected from submissions by the Dolls' feverishly creative fan base will be peppered with thought provoking vaudeville antics in cities across America. Amanda will cap off the night in typical piano-destroying fashion, singing songs culled from popular and not-so-popular film soundtracks (expect John Hughes, Pink Floyd AND Disney Classics. Deep Throat? Oklahoma? She’s still working on it).

Curated by long-time collaborator and indie film-iconoclast Michael Pope (director of the band’s award-winning videos and live DVD), and BriAnna Olson (producer of the band’s music video ‘Sing’) these film shorts are a
mixture of high art, humor, sexiness and downright weirdness. Including never-before-seen band documentary footage and amazing fan-made music videos inspired by and set to the music of The Dresden Dolls, this program is a celebration of true underground filmmaking.Every city promises to be a unique event including local MC’s, artist installations, theater groups and other oddball performance artists who will beguile the crowds with entre-act entertainment. This will be a truly intimate, bizarre cinematic experiment not to be missed!!

The events will be held in Boston, New York, Columbus, Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, Montreal, ST Louis, Denver, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like the art experience is visiting these shores but I'm assuming the show at the Roundhouse on 3 November will at least have a flavour of the event as the Dredsens take over the Roundhouse and cabaretify it for the evening.

In the meantime, of course, I am more than happy to browse through my lovely new book from Amanda, The Dresden Dolls Companion. Full of photos, background to songs, lyrics and sheet music, it will keep me mightily entertained for some time to come. The photos include a couple of Amanda in all her loveliness but none of Brian in drag that I've noticed so far (apparently he enjoys a bit of cross-dressing now and then). Copies are available, as you'd expect, from all good bookshops (of which there are remarkably few) so best to order it here to avoid disappointment.

Saturday, 22 July 2006

Sandi and Owen Number 2

Here's the photo of Sandi and me from the other night in the sweatbox, aka Bush Hall:

Now, I know she's small but she's sitting down in this photo.

So, this photo is me and Sandi Number 2 (Number 1 was back in May at her Islington gig).

And today I downloaded her singing on the Mettle Music track, 'Better Days (Deep Mix)', a sort of Latin-nu jazz-dance track which demonstrates the versatility of her great voice. O yes it does.

Friday, 21 July 2006

Have you missed me?

Hello? Have you missed me? I've been banished from this here interwebby thing for the past week due to my poor old modem dying on me. Today I got a new one and I'm back!

But, where to begin? With my osteophytes and lipids? With losing my job? With my latest visit to the Vampires of Tooting and my ultrasound scan for internal dodginess? With my new physio, Alex, and new exercises for my back? With my new American DVDs from Amazon? With seeing Amanda DresdenDoll in all her naked glory? O dear o dear, so much choice and so little ability. I know, I'll start with ...

Sandi Thom live at Bush Hall in the middle of a heatwave. She's tiny. And by tiny I don't mean petite - but she has a big voice. She was a delight to see again even if the set was only for about one hour. A bit more stage-craft is probably needed when talking to the audience to keep everyone's attention on her but that will come with bigger gigs.

She played her excellent version of 'Living For The City' and most of the new album, but she also added a few new songs, all of which sounded good to me. I particularly liked 'My Heart Is A Beatbox' (or whatever it will be eventually called). She told us that her new single will be 'What If I'm Right?' (click here to see the video) which is a good choice, with Sandi giving it some welly on harmonica. 'Punk Rocker' will, of course, haunt her forever butI can think of lots of worse songs to be haunted by.

Naturally, I had to hang around at the end to meet her and get signing done. In front of me was a gaggle of pubescent girls all screeching and wanting things signed which made me feel rather conspicuous but so what? Sandi signed a poster for me and the inside of her album booklet and she's so sweet. Chris took a photo of us but hasn't sent it to me yet (hint hint).

Thursday, 13 July 2006


I'm in two minds, I really am. I remember Dr Yellowly from my childhood years who was junior partner in the surgery in Ryton (now referred to as Old Ryton Village since the village has expanded into a feeder town for Newcastle). Dr Yellowly was nice, he explained things. Of course, that was many years ago in a different world and he retired a long time ago.

I don't have a doctor any more - I have a practice. In the last four weeks I've seen three different doctors about my diabetes and not got a complete story out of any of them. Is it me? Am I expecting too much? Are my expectations different from the reality of being a doctor in the 21st century? Are they contradicting each other? I don't know.

I know about my back. I (in general terms) understand what's happening and can work towards improvement because of that understanding. I don't understand diabetes and I'm not getting any help to understand it. It's not just about having too much sugar/glucose in the body, it's about damaged nerves, lower immunity, nutrition, circulation, heart, kidneys, eye degeneration and gawd knows what else. Luckily I have access to the Internet and can search for infortaion and sites that helps me know what questions to ask.

I was given one sheet of badly photocopied A4 paper about diet and that's supposed to cover nutrition. Um, no, it doesn't really. It doesn't cover it for anyone let alone a vegetarian since that complicates matters. I had to ask to see a nutritionalist. I had to ask about a diabetic clinic (which doesn't seem to exist at my practice for some reason). I had to ask for more information so I can understand and manage my ailment so I'm going to be referred to the diabetic information centre at the local hospital. All fine and well, but why do I need to ask for this? I should be offered it.

And why is diagnosis by computer screen? Look at the screen, ask a question, type in the answer. That worries me. The doctor I saw today seemed to think, from a glance at the screen, that I'd just had an operation. Have I? It's news to me. I had an operation six years ago but I now have symptoms that might lead to another operation. I was told by one doctor that my last blood test would determine how long I've had diabetes but the doctor I saw today said that the test wouldn't identify that. Hhmmm. At least she told me that my urine test was fine and no problems were identified. At least I have good wee.

I'm not entirely content with all of this. I have my ultrasound scan of my innards next week so I wonder how much of a chore it will be to drag information out of them following that ...

Those damn Glam Rockers!

O yes, those Glam Rock fiends are at the root of the latest political intrigues in the so-called 'cash for peerages' spinerama.

An extract from the biography on Lord Levy on the BBC website:

But Michael Abraham Levy, now 61, has never forgotten his working-class Jewish roots or lifelong commitment to the Labour Party. Educated at Fleetwood primary school, where he was head boy, and Hackney Downs grammar school, he went on to become an accountant.

But he made his money as an impresario in the 1960s and 1970s, managing singers including Alvin Stardust and Chris Rea, and as the founder of Magnet Records who gave the public Bad Manners. Having sold the company to Warner Bros for £10m, he met Tony Blair at an Israeli diplomatic dinner in 1994, the year he became Labour leader. The two soon became tennis partners, and Mr Blair made him a life peer - Baron Levy of Mill Hill - after Labour's landslide election victory in 1997.

Alvin, how could you? I feel so let down by you. I've given money to one of Tony's cronies? I'm shocked, shocked I say.

At least none of my wonga has gone anywhere near Chris Rea or Bad Manners!

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Buffy in Toronto

It is officially Wednesday 12 July (in Streatham) and that means that tonight, at 8.30pm, Buffy Sainte-Marie will take the stage at Hugh's Room in Toronto. I should be there. But I'm not.

What makes it even worse is that it looks like there are still tickets available for a mere $55...

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Sri Dalada Malagawa

The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy is a wonderful place. I first went there in the early '90s, reaching Kandy by train from Colombo, one of the world's great train rides up into the hills of central Sri Lanka with jungle on one side of the train and panoramic views over the plateau leading to the coast on the other. Kandy was one of the capitals of the kingdoms of Sri Lanka and tea plantation country begins higher up the hillsides from the lovely small town.

I went to Kandy specifically to visit the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Dalada Malagawa. It is the final resting place of one of Lord Buddha's teeth, rescued from his funeral pyre in northern India and taken to Sri Lanka two and a half thousand years ago. It's been fought over and moved countless times but it has been in the Temple for a long time now.

Several times each day a puja takes place, a ceremony of worship, at which the doors of the inner sanctum are opened so that people may see the golden casket covered in jewels in which the tooth is housed. In front of the doors is a large table that gets covered in flowers of all colours and varieties, flowers piled high while the Kandian drummers pound out their hypnotic rhythms and the odours of incense fill the air. People of all ages pay their respects at the Temple and leave their offerings of flowers or rice or money. It's not a ceremony of awe - it's a live and living ceremony with people chatting and laughing, queuing to see the casket, pushing to get close to it. After all these centuries you can almost feel the belief in the air.

My first puja at the Temple was in the early evening as the sun went down and electric lights flickered on, with candles and incense sticks glowing. I was allowed to enter free since the guard remembered I had visited the Temple earlier that day. I climbed the stairs to the first floor sanctum as the drummers started pounding and the floor-boards shook. The crowds became restless as the doors to the inner shrine opened and people formed a disorderly queue.
A toothless, stick-thin old man offered me his lotus and orchid flowers so I could make the offering for him, wanting me, as the only westerner present, to be part of the ceremony. I smiled but declined and I regret that. My offering was some soiled Sri Lankan rupee notes in the big brass collection bowl. I was touched. I could feel the belief running through the Temple. After I had passed in front of the Tooth casket I went to the back of the hall to sit down on the floor and absorb the atmosphere of the Temple, watching people pass, listen to the drums and the chatter. It was a most strange experience.

Above the table in front of the inner shrine is a plaque with a summary of what Buddhism is all about from the Dhammapada in Pali and in English. The English translation reads:

Abstinence from all evil
Performance of all good
Governance of one's mind
It's the teaching of the Enlightened One

I like thinking of Sri Dalada Malagawa and Lord Buddha and the Rabbit in the Moon.
But that's another story.

A Medical Lesson

Now, gather round students, the radiologist has taken his x-ray and provided the following report:

"There is a transitional vertebra at the lumbo-sacral junction consistent with partial lumbarisation of S1. There is degenerative change and disc space narrowing at L5/S1. There are small anterior osteophytes at the LS/L4 level and also on the superior aspect of L5."

So, class, what does that mean?

Keeny A: Sir, sir? He's falling to bits?

Well, student Keeny, something a bit more detailed would be welcome.

Swot A: Sir, I suspect this is all about a slipped disc, or, a more accurate description would be a herniated disc [looks smug]. The patient obviously has a problem at the junction of S1 and L5, illustrated here on my chart [points to help Keeny A understand].

Thank you, Swot. Anything else, class?

Swot B: Sir, I think the lumbarisation means that all is not well since the first sacral, S1, is beginning to behave like L5 due to the degeneration in the spinal column.

Keeny A: Oh sir, I was just going to mention that. But what's one of those osteophyte things?

Swot A: An osteophyte - if you'd done last week's homework instead of going to the pub - is a boney growth on the vertebrae and these can rub against each other - and against spinal nerves and other organs - causing pain, slightly worse than that hangover you had on Tuesday.

Keeny A: O, thanks...

Yes, thank you Swots A and B. So, there we have it class. Please inspect the diagram and memorise it for a surprise test in September...

Friday, 7 July 2006

Top 20 Gladys for iPod

Since I can't sleep tonight (due to lack of sleep last night and then a few hours kip this evening messing up my sleep pattern) I thought I'd review my Gladys tracks on iPod. My new double CD compliation of her Motown years arrived today so I've loaded more onto iPod than I previously had. The track listing is now:

Just Walk In My Shoes
I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Got Myself A Good Man
The Nitty Gritty
Cloud Nine
Friendship Train
You Need Love Like I Do (Don't You?)
If I Were Your Woman
If You Gonna Leave (Just Leave)
Daddy Could Swear, I Declare
If You Ever Get Your Hands On Love
Baby Dont Change Your Mind
License To Kill
Bourgie Bourgie
Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me
Come Back And Finish What You Started
Neither One Of Us
So Sad The Song
Love Overboard
Here are the pieces of my broken heart

Now, I'm not saying these are her best tracks or even my top 20 favourites but slow and quiet songs don't often work on iPod since they get drowned out by background noise (such as the tune). These tracks should work.

And (courtesy of Chris) here is one of my favourite photos of the people making that glorious noise!

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

I met her in a club down in old Soho...

... begins one of the great songs of 1970 and of all-time - 'Lola'.

'Lola' was my first ever single - it was in the chart over summer 1970 and I got it for Christmas that year when we got our first record player. I also got (I'm not ashamed to admit) a hits compilation of the Seekers with Judith Durham's great voice (I finally got a Seekers 'best of' CD a couple of years ago and still play it now and again).

I summarised 'Lola' a while ago as 'falling for a tranny' on a certain website and got chastised because it's 'really about' loneliness and first love. C'mon, pull the other one, it's got painted toe-nails.

I love 'Lola'. It will always have a special place in my heart and in my record collection. I've just been listening to a Kinks singles collection and they did so many great songs but if I had to choose one song, it would be 'Lola'.

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Last 10 iPod

I haven't been playing iPey much recently, what with not travelling to work and wotnot, but I went in today and listened to iPey so here are my last 10 toons:
Take Me Home Country Roads - Toots and the Maytals
Gravity - The Dresden Dolls
U Got The Look - Prince
Back Off Boogaloo - Ringo Star
Look At Last Nite - SLADE
Kids In America - Kim Wilde
Think It Over (Before You Break My Heart) - Brenda Holloway
Gone Daddy Gone - Gnarls Barclay
Colour My World - Petula Clark
Hey Baby! Howdja Do Me This Way - Buffy Sainte-Marie

That's every decade of my life covered quite nicely, and I'm listening to the New York Dolls as I blog so that's another vote for the '70s.

I went to work today in part to test out how comfortably I could do it and it wasn't too bad, really. Walking in the street and transport are problems, dodging people in case they bump into me, the exagerated ups and downs of pavements and slight inclines (both of which are instantly noticed by my back - you'd be astonished how an otherwise flat pavement develops lumps and bumps when you walk on it gingerly). It took half an hour or so to recover once I got to work but that's less than it took last week, so I'm getting better.

I spent the latter part of the afternoon at a meeting at the Home Office which was supposed to be chaired by the Home Secretary except he called off and one of his ministers chaired instead. The meeting was so obviously planned with the Home Secretary in mind - several presentations with little time for discussion or awkward questions, easily recognised from when I was involved in running a ministerial group years ago. All stage management with little real content. It then took me about an hour longer than usual to get home, mainly because I hobble so slowly, but at least I did it. It gets very frustrating when I walk almost normally at home where the floor is flat and I'm in an environment I control and then start hobbling as soon as I get outside.

Ooooo the NY Dolls have just started the gay clapping song!!!

Monday, 3 July 2006

I nicked this photo

I like this photo and nicked it from the Dresden's MySpace site. Just thought I'd share.

Go there and read Amanda's latest blog, 'Panic! at the Mindfuck' - sounds like fans of Panic at the Disco (a rather silly name) are not nice people. Personally, I'd rather see Amanda's 'Fuck the Backrow' show...

Vampires and Waste Products

More diabeatnik tests this morning at St George's Hospital. First job after waking up was to fill a specimen bottle with the first wee of the morning - the doctor was quite insistent that it had to be the *first* wee. So I duly wee'd. Straight into the bottle with no spillage - such bladder control! Chris suggested taking a photo of it since I was so proud and here it is.

Vampires weren't on top form this morning (or maybe it was my veins) but after sticking an enormous needle into one arm without drawing blood so she tried my other one (good job I have two, really) with more success. At least Beverley Knight was on the radio this time, singing 'Keep This Fire Burning'.

And I'm sleeping all through the night now and walking a lot better today (thank you for asking). The worst is (I hope) over. I checked my blood glucose level and I'm at 10.5 this afternoon, a bit high, but not too bad (for me at this stage).

Sunday, 2 July 2006

A couple of firsts...

What an exciting few days I've been having. Not only seeing Gladys Knight and a Pip but also...


No, not the Frankie Goes To Hollywood 'greatest hits', but my vacuum cleaner.

I'm not the most house-proud person in south London by any means but even I get round to some domestic chores eventually. Saturday afternoon and I decided to do some hoovering. I was getting on really well, quite slowly because of my bad back (and all-round laziness) but acres of wonderfully clean carpet were emerging. When BANG! and smoke starts pouring out the back of the machine.

Ooops... I've obviously done something wrong somehow. That just shows how dangerous housework can be, when basic implements just explode on you at the drop of a hat ...

Shoddy workmanship, I say - it's only 15 years old, after all.


I had my first diabeatnik 'incident' on Friday. Because I'm new to the club it'll take a while to get my blood sugar levels properly under control (it's quite un-disciplined at the moment) and it can either go hypoglycaemic (too low) or hyperglycaemic (too high). Mine was too high on Friday lunchtime. It's a wierd feeling and difficult to describe - 'knowing' something is 'wrong' but not being able to put your finger on it, then sweating and lips tingling and going numb.

Needing to walk off some of the excess sugar I headed up to Boots on the High Road for a tester kit so I could start monitoring my blood sugar levels. A nice 15 minute hobble should help get my glucose levels down. Boots didn't have any kits so I walked up towards Streatham Hill to the big pharmacy and got a tester kit there. The long walk back (via Sainsbury's) helped a lot and I was feeling much better on the way home (except now, of course, my back pain kicked in).

When I had finally read the instructions, set up the tester and tested myself I was at 6.7 (I don't know what 6.7 actually means, but 'normal' is between 3-6) so that's not bad at all. Gawd knows what I was before walking it off. I tested again yesterday and I was 8.4 so last night's long journey home probably helped a lot!

So there we are, my first exploding vacuum cleaner and my first hyper - do I lead the exciting life or what?

Gladys Knight at the Royal Albert Hall

Last night belonged to Gladys and I was so glad to see her. From the moment she strode onto the stage at the Royal Albert Hall, a vision in floaty white with silver sparklies, my eyes tracked her across the stage and ears went into meltdown... A true legend indeed.

Gladys was excellent last night and her voice is amazing, so powerful and rich. She looked good and sounded good, joking with the audience and telling stories from yesteryear. She even had an OP with her, as he described himself - an Original Pip, her brother, Bubba. Cor, I've seen a Pip! I don't know why, but that gives me a thrill.

I didn't know what to expect really - Chris summed it up when he said he feared 'supperclub'. But she was far from that and delivered a soulful and funky set, with a great band and brass section and an excellent light show. She's honed her set in Las Vegas for the last three years so that explains the sheer professionalism of the show.

Everyone surged to their feet when she came on stage the first time and again at various points during the concert. She was on stage for about 1.45 hours and sang a great selection of her hits and some tracks from her new album of covers - highlights for me were 'Midnight Train to Georgia', 'Friendship Train', 'Got to use your imagination', 'The Way We Were' (with some amazingly long sustained notes), 'License to Kill' and 'I heard it through the grapevine' as an enchore with Bubba doing his old Pips routine.

All in all, that was a fantastic night out. Especially since we were sitting in the third row from the stage (how did that happen? I could've sworn that we were on the first level at the back opposite the stage and kept expecting to be moved out of those seats...).

The evening ended with wandering round the back of the Hall in search of a stray taxi and seeing a crowd at the stage door which we then joined - for an hour! Bubba came out but we were told Gladys had left straight away - do we believe that or not? I suppose so. Then a two and a quarter hour journey home... yes, I don't understand it either.

But wow! I've seen Gladys and a Pip!