more on hunting

So tonight’s episode of holiday showdown had a gun toting military family from Lincolnshire going on a holiday-swap with a bisexual anarchist ouple of video artists.

The military monkeys took the anarchists to Texas on a holiday of shooting guns, trying to shoot boar and roping cattle.

then the bi people took the Lincolnshire rednecks to San Francisco for a week of hanging out with trannies, filming the streets of SF for a VJ gig.

What was startling was seeing a bloke, who thought nothing of whooping his teenage son into a testosterone fueled frenzy over a huge gun, describe two men kissing as disgusting and something that no decent person would let their children see… but aiming a Magnum at a human-shaped target (or boar, or deer) was fine.

We’re back to the topic of moral equivalence. OK, so it was intentionally car-crash TV, but the juxtaposition of gun-toting misogyny with anarchist sexual liberalism was a really interesting one, given that bigotry, intolerance and downright nastiness of the Lincolnshire smiling militia.

Shooting good, lovin’ bad. Very odd equation, that one.

As Michael Franti sang – ‘it’s not about who you love, it’s all about do you love’.

As it happens, the wife of trigger happy dan (with his remarkably gay moustache, that made him v. popular in SF!) actually took to the VJ gig really well, but she also couldn’t deal with transgendered dancers in a club. That I’d have had a problem with as well – not because they were transgendered, but just from a human rights angle, I’m not into exploitation at all, and I don’t think transgendered people should be objectified in that way any more than I think women should be. There were a few things in the SF scenes that I’d have issues with, but none of it because it was ‘sick’ or because they were ‘woofters’, more that that level of sexual-obsession tends to stem from either hurt, poor self image or narcissism, none of which need celebrating, just understanding.

But of the two holidays, I’d take a week with the lovely freaky drag-queens of San Fran over a week with the gun totin’, wife subjugatin’ rednecks any day… All the freaky people make the beauty of the world, to quote the lovely Franti again…

four things…

OK, end of year meme, nicked from sharklady’s blog

A. Four jobs you’ve had in your life
1. waiter
2. factory worker (stitching little ‘R’s into Russel Athletic sweatshirts!)
3. Market research observer for Philips
4. solo bassist

B. Four films you could watch over and over
1. the wedding singer
2. so I married an axe murderer
3. bugsy malone
4. muppet’s treasure island

C. Four cities you’ve lived in
1. London
2. Perth
3. Lincoln
4. Berwick on Tweed (er, cities?????)

D. Four Tele programs you love to watch
1. question time
2. never mind the buzzcocks
3. newsnight review
4. family guy

E. Four favourite places you’ve been on holiday
1. Krakow
2. Lake Garda, Italy
3. North Norfolk coast
4. Nashville

F. Four websites you visit daily
1. BassWorld
2. last.fm
3. MySpace
4. Jonatha Brooke forum

G. Four of your all-time favourite restaurants
1. Romna Gate, North London
2. Henderson’s, Edinburgh
3. Mia’s, just outside Reading (best curry I’ve had in years)
4. Ristorante Cascina Capuzza, Desenzano del Garda, Italy

H. Four of your favourite foods
1. just about any veg Curry, but Mia’s Veg balti is pretty remarkable.
2. Fajitas
3. Caprese Salad
4. fresh fruit salad.

I. Four places you’d rather be right now
1. North Norfolk
2. on the banks of Lake Garda
3. Mexico (I’ve never really been but I’d sure like to go… ;o)
4. driving across the US with TSP.

J. Four things you find yourself saying
1. ‘sorry, I forgot’
2. ‘imitate, assimilate, integrate, innovate’
3. ‘anecdotally’ (way of covering myself when presenting loosely observed trends amongst my friends as scientific data)
4. ‘OK, I’ll do it, when I’ve checked my email.’

(and sharklady, note anglicised questions – you’re from here, stop typing like you’re from there!)

Edinburgh Photos…

The March –

in The Meadows –

next to the Grayfriars Bobbie pub (a regular flyering zone during the Fringe) –

looking back from The Royal Mile –

the white band snakes its way down to Prince’s Street –

Didn’t manage to meet up with many people I knew that were there – some some St Luvvie’s, but didn’t see Andrew and Lynsey or Jyoti who were there too. However, I did find Gareth and Jane –

Now, these t-shirts were confusing –

…I thought Franciscans took a vow of poverty??? Were there also Franciscans against Chastity and Obedience? Nuns For Promiscuity? Bishops for Swearing? Trappists for a good ole’ chat? Very odd…

This MPH banner on Edinburgh Castle was great to see – it was about a hundred feet long –

and finally, my favourite street in Edinburgh, from whence came one of my Lincoln nicknames, ‘The Lady’ –

St George's Day…

Well, it’s St George’s day, patron saint of England. A day to celebrate all things english… seems fitting that St George himself was actually a Palestinian. If he tried to get in today, he’d be put in a camp for asylum seekers. As it was, he was brought here after the crusades, that fine act of British slaughter with some weird moral angle… or is that the current occupation of Iraq, I always get those mixed up? Bugger me, it’s both…

Anyway, things I like about england –

walking round london in summer, knowing that rain will only last about 15 minutes, the language, indian restaurants, the BBC (yay!), 240v power and sensibly shaped plugs, the NHS royal mail and the education system (or what’s left all all three), our collective history of dissent, comedy post-python, the scarcity of guns, the lack of a constitution, the university system, our literary tradition, the newcastle metro, the lake district, regional accents, the high percentage of vegetarians here, the Church of England (and our groovy archbishop), car boot sales, Lincoln Cathedral, the British museum, natural history museum, the tate, tate modern, national gallery, The New Statesman, Ethical Consumer, The Guardian, Mulitculturalism (no idea what Trevor Philips was on about the other day), the mersey sound poets, greenbelt, Wimbledon fortnight, Cornwall, The Stables in Milton Keynes, Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common, The Devils Punchbowl country park, village pubs, billy bragg, protest marches, traidcraft, cafe direct, Show Of Hands, North Norfolk coast, Lindisfarne, The Otter Trust, and loads of other stuff. to be updated…

I shan’t list what I don’t like about england – save that for another day.

So what’s been going on? Been trying to make ‘And Nothing But The Bass’ available for download via my shop, which seems to have worked, except that I can’t seem to bypass the ‘postage’ costs function… I’m sure people would feel pretty hacked off at having to pay

Gigs seen, gigs played

long time no blog, appologies.

Anyway, last week I went to two gigs. First one was a guy called Michael W. Smith. Second one was Kelly Joe Phelps. The comparison was quite incredible. WH Smiths was playing at Hammersmith Apollo (cap. – 3,500), KJP was at The Stables (cap. – 350). The WH Smiths gig I went to cos his bassist is a friend of mine, and very nice bloke. The gig itself was pretty excruciating – it’s always hugely frustrating to see great musicians stifled by a really really bland act. It was clear that the guys on stage were very fine players, but the overall vibe was blandola. Safe in the extreme, sort of Richard Clayderman meets half-assed Riverdance. The chat between songs was cornball par excellence – Forrest Gump with a guitar. Clearly I was in the minority here as the largely frhu audience were well up for Smith’s crass between song chat and attempts at brit-relavence (favourite moment – at the end of one song, he starts reciting the words to ‘God Save Our Gracious Queen’, before waving a huge Union Jack and playing.. wait for it… ‘Pride’ by U2 – a band from Dublin. Which is in the Republic of Ireland. Oh shit, big mistake. Which WH was clearly oblivious to..)

Anyway, it was very nice to meet up with Anothony, a great bassist, and very nice guy. Next, I’ll just body swerve the gig, and spend more time chatting…

Onto Kelly Joe Phelps. so far from WH Smiths that it’s not true. The support act was Brian Houston, a fantastic dylan-esque singer/songwriter from Belfast that I’ve seen play lots recently. He’s brilliant. nuff said. KJP’s band was Scott Amendola on drums (last seen by me playing with Sex Mob in San Jose in July 2001) and Keith Lowe on upright bass. From the off, the gig was amazing – the communication between then was brilliant, the songs were really open to loads of improv, they were making eye contact, having a great time playing fresh, creative, free-wheelin’ music. It was fun, exciting, new, engaging, dangerous, moving wonderfulness. Everything that George Michael Dubya Smith wasn’t. I could watch that every night. Got the latest album, which is great. again. All three of his CDs that I’ve got are great. ‘Shiny Eyed Mister Zen’ is in my all time top 20. Get it.

What else? ah yes, recording session – hip-hop R ‘n’ B track with the guys from Commonwealth (I played on a remix of one of their singles last year) – there was already a synthbass part on the track, which was well played and written anyway, so a lot of it was about recreating that with a more live feel, then adding some fills and a slap line. It took a while to get the feel they were after, but it was worth it. I’m sure the final track will be very fine indeed. It’s a good song. I’ll let you know when it’s out.

The weekend was spent in Lincoln – Rick’s stag do – went out in Nottingham for a fun night out. Always nice to catch up with chums from Lincoln.

Oh, almost forgot – gig on Friday, with Lovesjones. A bit of a left-field one this, as I was covering for the keyboard player, and the stage was TINY so I could only use my processor and one bass for the whole set, but it went well. A few of the tunes were ones I’d not been sent, but playing keyboardy stuff is a piece of piss – it just involves waffling around in the key, you don’t have to be there on the downbeat, and you don’t even have to get the right root note! Bass is a far more satisfying role to play… Anyway, it was loads of fun, was was followed by a solo set, which also went well….

To this week… Monday was a teaching day, then the small person and I watched the 2nd Harry Potter film, which is fantastic, even better than the first (which I really enjoyed as well…) Tuesday Andrew arrived – not seen him for ages, great to catch up.

Gig with Theo Travis at the National Theatre went very well. Nice big crowd, we played very well except one bizarre moment when Edwina Curry walked past and we both fell about laughing… not easy to play flute whilst laughing. Anyway, good gig, boding v. well for future theo ‘n’ steve gigs.

After that, dropped stuff at home and headed off to The Klinker to see Rick Walker and Matthias Grob play. We got there half way through the set, which sounded really good. The Klinker’s a very strange club, but a great place for experimenting. V. much looking forward to tonight’s gig there with Rick Walker. Didn’t stay long at The Klinker as I was knackered.

Wedneday was a do-nothing much day (though I did buy a new Bonsai, so we’ll see how long I can keep this one alive for!)

and now today – gig tonight at the Klinker. See you there!

SoundtrackBruce Cockburn, ‘You’ve Never Seen Everything’; Public Enemy, ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’; The Smiths, ‘Louder Than Bombs’; THe Bears, ‘Live’; Coldplay, ‘Parachutes’; Kelly Joe Phelps, ‘Slingshot Professionals’; Medeski Martin and Wood, ‘The Dropper’; Bruce Cockburn, ‘Humans’; Chagall Guevara, ‘Chagall Guevara’.

Bloglessness…

Blog posts seem to be getting rarer – sorry about that. This time the reason is that I’ve been away for the last couple of days, recording at dB Studios in Lincoln. The session was for the next album by Chris Bowater – he’s a gospel singer/worship leader, who I used to gig with a lot when I lived up in Lincoln, and I’ve played on his last three CDs (this one being the fourth). It was a really interesting session to play on in that it ran the whole gamut of bass playing from ‘duck eggs’ (one note in each bar) through to E-Bow and looped atmospheric stuff (on one track I did a ‘normal’ bass line, fretless melody line, and then three layers of twinkly, sparkly ebow loveliness!) – it was a lot of fun to be playing at both ends of the spectrum, very arranged and very open. On the fretless melody tracks, it was largely a case of playing a meandering melody through the whole track which will then be cut up and used at the basis for some other themes (doubled by the string quartet or whatever). Chris’ music is interesting in that even though his main ‘gig’ scenario is leading congregational singing in churches, his albums are far far more ‘music-led’ than most of the stuff written for that setting – the church music scene in general is pretty stagnant and normally at least 5 years behind anything else that’s happening in music, but Chris being a very highly qualified and experienced pianist and writer tends to put a lot more emphasis on the creativity of what he does, which is quite inspiring when it comes to coming up with bass parts…

Much fun was had as the producer/engineer was Dan Bowater (Chris’s son, and the owner of the studio), who I’ve known for 10 years and have toured with on a number of occasions, and the drummer was Gabriel Alonso, who produced and played on Chris’s last two albums, so it was a pretty comfortable setting…

Then today, I was back recording with Patrick Wood again – Patrick is the keyboardist on the MP3 track based on Highway 1 that’s over on the MP3 page – he’s a marvellous musician, and it’s always a treat to play with him. We recorded two very long improvs (improvs, I’m finding, are rarely short… :o) – and I’m hoping to get mixes of them soon to put up on the site, as they were both some of the best stuff that Patrick and I have played together… Me thinks there may be a limited edition album release coming up before too long… ;o)

So what else has been happening? Ah yes, we’re at war. Well, I say we, but it’s not in my name, as the saying goes. Despite opposition from the UK population, the UN, and his own back-benchers (culminating in the biggest labour back bench revolt in recent parlimentary history), President Blair has seen fit to send British troops into battle in Iraq, without UN sanction or backing, and without any kind of clear plan for a post-Saddam Iraq, or any kind of scenario regarding the future of the Kurds in Northern Iraq, who are shitting themselves given that the Turks who have a history of killing lots of them but are currently in a four year cease-fire are at present in diplomatic talks with the US regarding the use of Turkish air-space and land for accessing Iraq, and who may use the opportunity to cross into Northern Iraq (allegedly, they already have 20,000 armed soldiers stationed there) and resume hostilities. Have I heard mention of this from Blair or Bush? nope…

So, if this does end as quickly as it’s likely to (250,000 ‘allied’ troops? methinks this won’t go on and on, though I guess they thought that about Vietnam…), who’s next? Iran? Yemen? Saudi? Sudan? North Korea? They have been talking about trying to broker peace in Palestine – surely that’s a higher priority right now, given the numbers of Palestinians that have been slaughtered, and the number of suicide bombing retaliations that there have been (is suicide bombing retaliation or just an act of insane desparation??)…

…and what on earth is Britain doing in Iraq anyway? didn’t we bollocks it all up last time we installed a puppet king there? and what about sorting something out in Zimbabwe (a former collony that we are clearly more responsible for, and should be able to apply a lot more diplomatic pressure to), which also has a crazed dictator who is sanctioning extra-judicial killings and other atrocities…

I’ll keep praying for peace, whatever happens.

Soundtrack – during the few moments that I’ve not been listening to news reports on the radio, I’ve been listening to myself (just downloaded Fruity Loops Studio, and have been recording some stuff with it – a bargain at $49 for the update…), also listening to The Cure’s Greatest Hits (very very fine), and now am listening to Lifehouse – ‘Stanley Climbfall’, the opening track on which (Spin) is breathtakingly good.

Weapon Of Mouse Destruction

Just been up to see my mum for a few days – very nice it was too. My mum’s cat is called Gizmo. Well, technically, he’s my brother’s cat, but he’s moved out, and the cat stayed… anyway, Gizzy is the cutest friendliest cuddliest little beasty on the planet… so long as you’re human. If you happen to be any kind of warm blooded furry or feathered thing, and smaller than a tiger, she views you as potential dinner. Mice, rats, voles, moles, rabbits, hares, pheasants, and all manner of garden birds. She’s lethal. A one-feline environmental disaster area. How can one so seemingly cute be such a cold-blooded killer?? Guess the various smiling faces telling us about how they plan to rid the world of evil, whilst perpetrating muchos evil of their own have been taking lessons… Indeed, she’s a veritable Weapon Of Mouse Destruction…

(BTW, Tonight there’s a round-the-world candle-lit vigil for Peace, called for by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Check and see if a church near you is involved and head along there…)

Anyway, whilst in Berwick, managed to catch up with Heath – first known as ‘the boy next door’ when we first moved to Berwick (1986), soon became the drummer in the first band I was in (called various things, I think Mother’s Legs was the longest lasting name, though we never did a gig.) Heath then went to the same college as me, and now works in a theatre just north of London. He’s a very nice bloke, and it was a lovely surprise that he was ‘home’ at the same time as me…

Got a couple of days in the studio this week, with Chris Bowater (gospel singer/worship leader guy from Lincoln that I used to do loads of gigs with) – very much looking forward to that. Playing with Chris was always a fun challenge – he’s got an amazing sense of harmony, and is a great piano player. Other than that, it’s lots of teaching, and getting to grips with Fruity Loops – been programming drum beats, and learning how to automate effects changes and mutes etc… all good stuff…

Hang on, forgot to mention rather fabulous and eventful gig last Tuesday night – I was playing at Delicattesen in Reading (see link on left hand side), with Julie Lee (who I played at Greenbelt with last year), and with Pierce Pettis (who I’d not played with before, but who is marvellous) – I was only doing a couple of songs with each of them… That all went well, but half way through Pierce’s set, some poor bloke collapsed, fell off his chair and had a fit! Didn’t look like Epilepsy, and he came out of it pretty quick. We sat him up, and tried to talk to him, but he was still pretty out of it, and couldn’t stand up to leave the room. So we called an ambulance which arrived in LESS THAN A MINUTE!!! – you can say what you want about the national health service, but that’s what I call speedy response!! They took him in for observation, but the medics said he was in no immediate danger. Anyway, if by some quirk of fate you’re reading this, Mr-Looks-Like-Kenny-Rogers-And-Falls-Over-At-Gigs, I hope you’re feeling much better…

Aside from that it was a stunning night’s music – same line up as the 12 Bar Club gig the week before – Julie and Pierce, with Brian Houston on before them. All three are seriously world-class headline act stock, and if you get any chance at all to see them, jump at it!

One of the best things about the evening was Pierce’s between song banter, which is excellent – very very funny indeed.

so here’s my top 5 banterers (in no particular order)

  • Pierce Pettis
  • Michael Manring
  • Ben Castle
  • Martyn Joseph
  • Mo Foster

In fact, Mo’s stories are so good, he’s written a book – 17 Watts – full of his marvellous rock ‘n’ roll anecdotes, which is required reading for anyone with an interest in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in the UK, and the growth of the music industry here through the 60s and 70s…

Soundtrack – currently, listening to more of the stuff by me and theo (hopefully the street-teamers will have some of this to listen to soon…), and whilst away, the soundtrack was Michael Franti – ‘Songs From The Front Porch’, Scritti Politti – ‘Cupid and Psyche’, Francis Dunnery ‘Man’, Lifehouse ‘Stanley Climbfall’, ‘Pierce Pettis ‘Everything Matters’ and ‘Making Light Of It’, and Juliet Turner – ‘Burn The Black Suit’ – all very fine stuff. The drive home from Berwick was mostly soundtracked by Radio 4 (always fun to learn new stuff just by sticking the radio on – doesn’t happen too often with the TV), and then a documentary about Elvis Costello, ensuring that sometime this evening ‘Armed Forces’ will go on…

A Play What He Wrote

Last night I went to the theatre (er, beginning to sound like a 12 year old writing his summer project – “we went on holidays and it was really good and then we went to the beach and it was really good and my dad fell in the sea and we all laughed and then my mum laughed so much she dropped her ice-cream and we all laughed but she wasn’t laughing any more because she said she had ice-cream on her best clothes and if daddy thought that was so funny…’ etc. etc. or, er, something like that)

Anyway, as I said. Theatre, Last night. Brilliant. Genius. Speechless.

The play in question was called ‘The Madness Of George Dubya’, and is apparently an update on Dr Strangelove (or at least that’s what the review in the Guardian said – I’ve never seen Dr Strangelove, so can’t really comment on the veracity of that… but I digress) – anyway, if it is an update, it’s an incredibly topical one. It was, in fact, written in three days in January, and rehearsed in 6, before beginning a sold out run at Theatro Technis in London, then moved on to The Pleasance Theatre in Holloway, London.

The story revolves around a gung-ho US general on an airbase in the UK, deciding to order an all out nuclear strike on Iraq, and being the only one who knows the code to call the order back, you’ve now got your suspence. However, the play revolves around the idiotic mumblings of the US president, and the pathetic attempts to solve the problem by our own prime ministerial buffoon, Blair. Throw into the mix Yasmina The Cleaner – an Al Quaeda operative working as a cleaner on the air-base, a couple of US pilots flying the first plane ordered to drop it’s payload (all the while discovering their long buried desires for eachother), some useless British civil servants, more US army generals and a breath-taking speech by an Iraqi Ambassador and you’ve got yourselves one of the most powerful, funny, moving, disturbing, remarkable theatrical performances I think I’ve ever seen.

Justin Butcher, the writer, has been carving a reputation for himself for a few years now – last year his play, The Seven White Masks Of Scaramouche Jones toured with Pete Possilthwaite delivering the one man show to sold out audiences round the UK. But Dubya is a whole other kind of triumph – it would have been impressive if he’d written it in 3 months. 3 days suggests some sort of pact with the devil in exchange for genius, or conversely an angelic visitation, complete with finished script. Truly unbelieveable. And on top of that, one of the most vital, vibrant and controversial comments on the current impending (pleasegoddontletithappen) war.

‘If’ they get another run at it, you would have to be stark staring mad to miss it. Already they’ve had coverage on CNN, in various US newspapers including the Chicago tribune, on MSNBC, 4 stars in the Guardian, 5 in What’s On, been in the Independent’s top 5 theatre shows in London for weeks on end. Seriously, it’s magical, you have to see it.

phew, that was exhausting. Tonight’s the last night – if you’re in London, you can catch it at either 5 or 7.30. But I’m certain it will get another run. It HAS to.

In other news, last night I was on nightshelter duty again (meant to be next week, but I swapped) – as was evil harv. He wasn’t meant to be, but while we were in the theatre, some sort of serious police ‘incident’ took place outside, and Harv’s car was in the cordoned off zone, and he was unable to move it til this morning!!! So the poor guy ended up sleeping in a freezing church hall on a couch… :o)

Came home, slept, got woken up about five times by the phone. One of the calls was telling me about the funeral details of a friend of mine who died of lukemia last week. I’m not sure what to think about that one. I didn’t even know he was ill til the day he died. 11am – a text saying was on life support. 3pm phone call saying he’d died. WTF???? What? Where? When? How? Andy was officially my land-lord when I live in Lincoln, but the house for most of that time was more like a live-in community. He was a fantastic cook, so we’d throw dinner parties fairly often, there were up to 5 of us living there at any one time – me, farmer Joe, DJ Ben, Biker Wendy… it was like some poorly scripted sit-com, with some very bizarre events. One favourite was Farmer Joe trying to make his own garlic bread, and misunderstanding the difference between a ‘clove’ of garlic and the whole bulb. So he crushed three whole bulbs of garlic, and put them on two slices of bread under the grill. The dogs were yowling for days. Ah yes, the dogs – Max and Polly. Insane and ever-present. Andy doted on them. He married Sharon just before I left Lincoln, and they’ve now got at least two kids (could be three, who knows). I can’t even begin to imagine how she must be feeling. He was only in his late 30s. Still officially a ‘youth’ (18-40). And now he’s gone. I can’t get to his funeral on Thursday – it’s in Lincoln and I’m already mad mad busy that day. But I’ll be thinking about him. About live on Richmond Road, dinner parties, mad dogs, video nights, trips to the pub, Dave Elcock at his wedding reception.

Last time I saw him was at Martin Clarke’s 40th birthday last year. he was smiling from ear to ear, telling me his news and looking remarkably pleased to see me. I wasn’t overly friendly with him (it’s always odd being back in groups of people from Lincoln – too much weirdness left there for me), but he was very eager to hear what I’d been up to and to tell me about his kids.

And now on a lighter note, tonight I’m going to see Muriel Anderson play at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court – lovely venue, I’m playing there myself at the end of March, and it’s where I recorded my first album! Muriel’s great, so I’m really looking forward to that one. If you’re going, I’ll see you there…

Soundtrack – been listening to a CD by Ollie Collins ‘Make Time Last’ – rather nice acid-jazz influenced layered bass and keys stuff, with some great sax playing. Before that, it was more of Michael Manring and I…

They say it's your birthday…

…it’s my birthday too, yeah!!!

HappybirthdaytomeHappybirthdaytome
HappybirthdaydearmeHappybirthdaytome!

Thanks very much for the birthday emails – very nice, even those of you that thought it was yesterday, for some reason… :o)

It’s been a very fine day thus far – got up about 10 past 1pm, opened my pressies (loads of books and the Phoenix Nights video) – watched Phoenix Nights (very very very funny indeed. Peter Kay is a genius), then…. tidied the house!! That classic birthday celebratory tradition… :o)

So, I’m 30, and loving it. I no longer trust anything I’m told by mere children in their 20s, people obviously without the experience required to offer advice on anything. People who are 30, however, are brimming with the perfect balance of wisdom, whilst still retaining so much youthful vitality and energy. Which reminds me, it’s time for my nap…

What were those books, I hear you ask… Frank Skinner by Frank Skinner, The Benn Diaries by Tony Benn, Radical Then, Radical Now by Jonathan Sacks (the chief rabbi), Like Water On A Stone (the story of Amnesty International) by Jonathan Power, Some Luck by John Bird (the story of the Big Issue)… I’ve got so much fantastic reading material for this year, it’s fantastic! Along with the ones I got for Christmas, I’ve got about a years worth of great books… all those things I’ve been meaning to read for ages are going back on the shelf, I’m afraid…

Found out the other day that I share my birthday with none other than the lovely Sid Smith, King Crimson Biographer, on-line diarist, and delightful geordie chap. Must’ve been a good day to be born, though I suspect Sid was born a couple of years before me… If you know Sid as well, do wish him a happy birthday – we’ve exchanged birthday emails, which was nice… :o)

Just had a look at the main forum’s page of talkbass.com which lists all of today’s birthdays of the members – lots of birthdays, but no-one else who’s 30.

So for the rest of the day? Well, I’ve just watched one of the heats of World’s Strongest Man – back when I was a kid, it was seriously one of the highlights of the TV year for my brother and I to sit down and watch Geoff Capes competing in this most bizarre of competitions. It all comes flooding back, so I think I’ll watch the next heat in about half an hour… Geoff Capes, incidentally, now keeps budgies and lives in Lincolnshire… so there you go – stay of the weights, kids, they’ll only lead down to a dark (yet brightly coloured and feathered) place…

Soundtrack – for the last couple of days, I’ve been listening to Prefab Sprout’s ‘Steve McQueen’, Patrice Rushen’s ‘Straight From The Heart’, Theo Travis’ ‘Heart Of The Sun’ and Pat Metheny’s ‘Bright Sized Life’ – marvellous music all round.

Right, off to catch the next heat of World’s Strongest Man… grrrrrrr