Thursday, September 29, 2005

fish? curry?

For Dan.

He made a tuna curry for his tea t'other night. I repeat, TUNA curry. This is what it might have looked like:

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

rip it up and start again

Soundtrack: King Crimson - In the Court of King Crimson

What an odd day. Despite the prospect of having to stay at work until 8pm tonight, I've got a right spring in my step; despite leaving the house late this morning I still arrived at the train station early! I must have been bouncing. These were the thoughts that carried me on my walk to work:

Thought # 1

This is a sad one, but it's bin day tomorrow. Usually after a week we need to break open the second bin bag, but last week we finally received our recycling box. Our waste has gone down so much! I don't think the bin bag is even a quarter full, we've put so much into recycling. This makes me happy because I hate not recycling. It was really easy in Tooting as the council would just give me orange bin bags that recycling could be thrown in to, and they'd collect it every week. So I ordered a recycling box for the new house, and started this week. Today I feel like a superhero.

Thought # 2

It's been a stressful weekend. There was a Bowlie meet-up, which involved me not only playing a gig with The Gresham Flyers, but also setting up the gig (with Thom, John, Sally and Geoffroy). Although it was relatively easier than the last Bowlie All-dayer, you still can't relax until it's all over. Thankfully it went well. Anyway, leading up to this weekend, my sister Sue was finally moved to Cardiff (I had to keep renting the place for a month whilst she completed her Masters). The problem with this weekend was getting hold of the elusive landlord to get our deposit back. He suddenly turned very slippery when it came to us wanting something from him. Anyway, we managed to get him to tentatively agree to come over on Saturday after Sue came home from university to find him in the house! She managed to add emotional weight to our argument of needing our deposit back quickly because she had a Sainsbury's cashier steal her debit card last week. Bastard.

This passage doesn't even begin to describe how much chasing Sue and I had to do, and how we still weren't sure whether we would see him even half an hour before he was due, but the upshot is we got our deposit back. Minus £100 because the garden wasn't 'up to scratch'. Thom and I spent 5 hours and a week of not being able to move sorting the garden out the weekend before, but I'm sure the landlord would've taken more off our deposit if we hadn't. Bastard. It was worth losing that money just to get the whole debacle over and done with.

And yes, the cheque cleared.

Thought # 3

I was listening to the Kaiser Chiefs on my walk to the train station. I'll have to say this quietly so as not to offend the rest of the band, but The Gresham Flyers certainly have an affinity with this band - on the spunkier songs, anyway. It's the melodies and energy I think - it's very similar to our alcohol and nerve-fuelled live sound. And I'm sure the mutual respect of Blur and XTC helps too. This reminded me of walking home last night and coming up with a Kaiser Chief-esque couplet. All I need to do now is write the rest of the song around it.

Thought # 4

I'm currently knitting some 'glittens':

They are sparkly fingerless gloves. And they are Doing. My. Head. In. I've already had to 'frog'* them once. Now I've just started knitting them again, but there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I know what I did wrong last time, that's fine, but when it comes to the hard bit of making the finger holes, it's going to go all wrong again, I can tell. So to prove I can knit, and in time for our Scottish tour, I finished the scarf I started in March. It's black, red and white ribbed, and gloriously cuddly, and about 4foot long. I was going to make it about 8foot, but I had a cunning plan instead...

You might have noticed that baker boy hats are in fashion right now. It's getting nippier, so it's time I had a winter hat. Every morning in Waterloo station I pass Accessorize, and I keep seeing these hats. Yesterday I finally popped in to see how much they cost. £28!!! They can sod off, there's no way I'm paying that. So yesterday I got my arse into gear, cast this scarf off early, and with the remaining wool I'm going to knit a cute ribbed hat to go with my scarf. I'll post pictures of the scarf when I get a camera in my hand.

* A technical knitting term. It means 'rip it' - the sound a frog makes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

a journey through technology

Soundtrack: Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power

I love technology. It just takes me a while to adapt, and sometimes I get it wrong. I received my first CD player in 1994. In 1998 I bought my first mobile phone and started using the internet. I doubt I bought anything online until this century. I bought a Minidisc recorder in 2001, but that's no use now. I bought an mp3 player and started my first blog this year. I love the idea of RSS and all that technical malarky, but I won't get round to using it until everyone else does.

So, my new advancement in technology? Renting DVDs online! It's such a good idea, but why haven't I done it before?! Why has it scared me so? I was talking to my American friend Rick yesterday; he's a member of Netflix and couldn't say enough about it. I wasn't convinced, until he explained how the whole DVD renting thing just fits around your lifestyle. And it's really cheap. And there isn't a video shop in my village, so I've got nothing to lose! So I've gone with Amazon, and already have 25 DVDs lined up. It's a bit mad that there is a service that's so obvious, and accessible, and cheap, and such a good idea - and I've been to scared to do anything like it. I'm sure it will change my life. ;)

Friday, September 23, 2005

fried spam

I've just turned word verification on in my settings. There seems to be a lot of spam recently (a lot more than there was in my day), so it's probably the best idea.

I'm going to miss the messages of business opportunities. And I'm going to miss messages of 'love the site'. They might have an objective in spamming, but at least they're polite with it.

And every girl needs a confidence boost every now and then. :(

being a girl, part 2

Soundtrack: Vashti Bunyan - Just Another Diamond Day

I did it then. I managed to venture into Lush AND buy stuff. It took me two attempts though.

Number 1 - I'd been at work since 7.30, and finished at 6.30. I was hoping to finish at 4 so I could slope off and do a bit of shopping, but alas, 'twas not to be. So on the way back to Piccadilly Station I walked via Carnaby Street, safe in the knowledge that I would pass Lush. Well, I seemed to remember always having to walk on the opposite side of Carnaby Street. Once I was at O'Neills on Great Marlborough Street (the street before Carnaby Street) I could smell it! I knew I was close!

So I went in. I held my breath. I got a headache. I didn't know what to do. It all looked so odd. There were, like, cakes of stuff (soap?). There was jelly. I stuck to the bottles, but couldn't smell anything because all I could smell was Lush. I ran. I smelled of chocolate cake all night.

Number 2 - Yesterday I finished a training day on Shaftesbury Avenue, and had to walk up to Regent's Place. I thought 'I know! I'll go up Regent Street. I'm sure there's a Lush there!'. Sure enough, by Great Windmill Street I could smell it. And a third of the way up Regent Street there it was. I had an hour to kill, and I planned to make the most of my time. It all looked a bit scary upstairs, but with a certain degree of trepidation I found my way to the basement, and before I knew it an hour had passed... Again, I had no idea what to do, what to buy, what to do with what I bought, or even how to buy it. How do you buy jelly?!! But I figured it out, with the help of a lovely girl who swooped on me smelling the Ring of Roses butter cream soap saying 'I love this stuff, I love roses, I love using it, I love the smell etc etc'. She walked off. Finally I plucked up the courage to ask her exactly what I was meant to do with it (basically it looks like a slice of pink-iced cake).

Then it was like complete enlightenment. It was weird. Suddenly, I just wanted to buy everything in the shop. I didn't care, every product had different properties. Every product was filled with magic. I restrained myself though, and walked out with the pink cake...

some blackcurrant jelly...

and something in a normal bottle that smells of grapefruit and lemon and makes me smell all sherberty...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

being a girl

Soundtrack: The Zombies - Odyssey and Oracle

I think one of my better qualities is that although I'm a girl, I'm not really that girly. I have short hair, I don't wear make-up and I don't take more than half an hour to get ready for a night out (including the shower). But I've noticed over the years that my girliness is creeping up on me.

As soon as I was allowed to start dressing myself, skirts and dresses went out the window. I was a strictly leggings, cycling shorts and waistcoat girl (this was the 80s). At college I was a cords and velvet jacket girl. And at uni I was a jeans and band t-shirt girl.

I never used to enjoy this thing called 'clothes shopping' that girls are meant to be so good at. I'd walk into a shop, realise they didn't do my size, and walk straight out. I could probably say that throughout 3 years at uni I spent about £50 on clothes (excluding the XL band t-shirts). I spent hundreds on Doc Martens and trainers though...

I think losing a bit of weight did it to me, but about 3years ago I started wearing skirts. Suddenly I realised that skirts could be fun! It took me another couple of years to have the courage to wear skirts without tights, but I made it. And now barely a day goes by when I'm not thinking about the right shoes to go with my skirts, or whether my hairclips will co-ordinate with my colour du jour. I've learned to accessorise.

And now, after work this afternoon, I'm tempted to pop down to Regent Street and visit Lush for the first time. I've always crossed the street when I've come to that shop because of the smell, but now I'm getting excited about other girls talking about shower gels called Sonic Death Monkey and I. Must. Have. Now.

I'm even considering starting to wear simple make-up for the first time.

What's happening to me?!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

busy, busy bumble bee

Sorry, I haven't had the chance to divulge about Saturday's shenanigans. Instead I'm going to cheat.

This is what Thom posted about Saturday on The Gresham Flyers' website:

Well THAT was fun!

Welcome to another brief (eh?) installment from me; I know I'm breaking my own rule and posting more than once in a month, but someone's got to do it...

Thank you everyone who came down to West Kensington last weekend (especially the two girls who aren't on Bowlie and only knew us cos of our gig with Saturday Looks Good To Me; you are our first offical fans, I think!), your support was very much appreciated. Certainly the most bizarre gig I've ever played and I hope you liked it. For those of you that weren't there, allow me to elucidate...

There I was, at home on Thursday evening, watching The Simpsons when the phone rings. It's the promoter for West One Four with bad news- the venue's double booked on Saturday! We're going to have to move to Sunday night. Thankfully we had a rehearsal scheduled for Sunday night, so I knew it wouldn't be a problem. I called the rest of the band to tell them, and they were all agreeable (though the issue of 35 heads through the door became a moot point due to the change). So I phone the promoter back. Then he tells me it's still going to be on Saturday, but in the bar downstairs. Fine, I say, and phone everyone again. We're not pleased, but a gig's a gig.

Come Saturday, we trundle to West Kensington, eye up the area around the venue, along with the 'interested' looks from the local gangs and unload the gear as quick as possible. The barman tells us to close the stage door as people are prone to wandering in, picking up anything valuable-looking and wandering out again. Point taken before any gear does, the door gets closed.

We set up on stage for sound check. It's at this point we realise that a) the pub resembles a Wetherspoons in all aspects; comfy sofas, faux-wood decor, sports on the big telly, b) The 'stage' is in fact a raised non-smoking area with bannisters round it. and c) Dan, the enthusiastic soundman is hampered by the fact that he's had to cobble together the PA from a stray mixing desk and spare bits from the venue proper. And he's never worked here before. To his utter credit, he did a fantastic job, and I reckon with the right tools he's a magic bloke to have behind the desk. However, by this point, Sharon looks beyond the state of despair.

The other bands soon arrive, and it's obvious that due to the venue change, two of them (Black Cabs and Dialog in this case) have decided that they don't want to play. Hooray, we think, we're headlining. While we're soundchecking, the guitarist from Dead Monroe comes over and questions the situation, asking what we think about the poor choice of venue and the attendant deficiencies that a pub PA will bring. They don't seem happy, and after watching/ hearing us soundcheck, promptly walk out, claiming the PA can't handle their sound. A shame, cos I'd have liked to have seen em.

Then there were two. The only trouble is, this is a pub, and the Flaming Monkeys are all aged about 14. The bar manager tells them in no uncertain terms that she can't let them play in a pub. Ah. They (and their undoubtedly pushy father/ manager types) retreat to their people carrier (comlpete with tinted windows!) and sulk before driving off, no doubt muttering under their breath.

"Would you like to do two sets?" the promoter asks us. By this point, the mood in the Gresham Flyers camp is somewhere between confusion and hostility. We've hired amps, driven miles and set up. We don't have another gig for a fortnight, plus we've told people we're playing. We can't leave now. Okay, I say, we'll do two sets. Dan negotiates the entry fee down to four quid, but even that's a bit steep. I'd rather play to fifty non-paying punters than charge for a substandard night, and the way this has gone, it is indeed sub-standard.

Come 9pm, we get up on stage, and play a set. The assembled punters number somewhere around eight. It's nice to cut loose and have some fun, so the set is relaxed, but not so that we're taking the piss. We include our two top-secret cover versions, but drop a couple of songs just so we don't overdo it. The melodica gets its' stage debut on a couple of songs. A few more people come in, though the promoter turns away probably twice as many people cos they don't want to pay four quid. All told, a good but sloppy set.

The valiant Tim Silver of Fifteen Minutes comes to rescue and fills the slack space with a few choice tunes of his own, including one great song that I remember playing with him when we were in a band about three years ago. Up we go again. Sharon's had a bit to drink, but we pull out all the stops again and play the whole ten-song set. This time, we're on fire. I don't know how it sounded out front, but to me, that was the best we'd ever played the songs. We dedicated Cat Hits Car to Tim as it's his favourite and he did us a great favour. The set ends as usual on an epic version of Pretty But Not Beautiful with an ending that seems to go on for ages- I've certainly run out of octaves by the time the end comes round. Nonetheless, we seem to have gone down well, and despite the sparse attendance, the reception is very enthusiastic. Thank you everyone!

But there's still one thing; it's 10.45pm. The licence for live music still has 75 minutes left! So, in a move of either great bravery or great stupidity, we decide to play some more. The fact that we've run out of songs is neither here nor there, as Waz the human jukebox simply shows us a few chords and we fall in behind him. Before you know it- BAM!- we're playing Sit Down by James. That ends and after a brief pause for Andrew to remember the guitar part, we're doing Echo Beach, which we haven't played for months- in fact, I think it was the first thing we ever played together. Needless to say, we forget bits of it. Our former sax player and original seventh member Jess is in the audience, but sadly neglected to bring her instrument along and I have to sing the sax solo. Badly.

Non-paying punters from the back room come in and sing along/ dance. One even requests something by The Jam (if only...).

Dan strolls off, claiming to have had enough. Andrew gets behind the kit and we plough on. Common People by Pulp and Transmission by Joy Division follow (despite not being familiar with either song, Andrew's drumming was still magnificent). Dan comes back to play keyboards on Transmission. Girls are dancing!! And not just ones we know!!

The soundman, having endured quite enough of this malarkey, tells us to make the next one the last one so he can get the last tube home. I struggle to remember how the bassline to Pump It Up goes (another early rehearsal room chestnut) so instead we somehow end up playing Another Brick In the Wall Pt 2 by Pink Floyd. Out of this comes a drum solo from Dan, a bass solo and band introductions, hotel house-band style. One last flourish and we're off.

And breathe out. We get off stage, collect our gear, and absorb the situation. The mood is generally positive- even Dan, the band's biggest in-house critic is happy with the spontaneous ending. A drunk lady tells us in a roundabout way that we'd be good enough to play Salsa music- a high compliment to these ears. Thinking that we've done well, we beam all the way to the car as we load the stuff in.

One particularly inebriated bloke stops Waz and points him out to a girl he's vailantly chatting up/ holding onto for support.

"See 'im? 'E's in the band!"
"Yes, I am." says Waz
"You were fucking shit, mate."

You can't please everyone.

Monday, September 12, 2005

forever autumn

Soundtrack: Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

I wanted to start by talking about Autumn today. Ms Berry will think I'm copying her, but I ain't, and I'm allowed, ain't I?

The weather's turned, and today is the first day I'm wearing tights. Well, it's the second day, but Saturday was for fashion reasons, so it doesn't count. This weekend, and today too, the weather has been reminding me a lot of being in Seattle last December. It isn't raining, but you get wet when you're outside because the air is so moist. Last week there was actually fog on my walk to work - I couldn't see the park or anything. It's a bit weird, considering the weekend before I turned beetroot pink with too much sun.

You have to wonder about the sudden changes in weather. They say global warming, which would account for a lot, but then you can never quite remember what the weather does. It's always a hotter summer than last year. Autumn always comes earlier than last year. Things are never how you remember them. I could swear Autumn didn't hit until October last year, but here's me wearing my transitional knitted pink scarf for the past 2 weeks.

Anyway, I like it when it's like this. Not too cold that I have to wear gloves at work, or a jumper in bed. The kind of weather where you can just put on tights and a cosy jumper, and you feel snuggly. I'm enjoying my red shoes, black opaque tights, black skirt, red vest poking out, black lose knit cuddly jumper combo today. We were just chatting in the kitchen about the exciting prospect of buying new tights and jumpers. I think a trip to H+M is in order. When I went last week it was too hot to buy the cute jumpers they had in stock.

Yesterday was a proud Autumn day. I cooked a nice lasagne, and put a bit of nutmeg in the white sauce. All the windows were steamed up, and it was grey and murky outside, but inside the house was filled with a warm sweet smell. The rest of the day was split between reading the new Harry Potter and knitting some fingerless gloves for work. I felt like I was getting into the spirit of things. I better hurry up though, seeing as it's turned cold so quickly. I have my black/red/white ribbed scarf to finish before it gets too cold for the transitional scarf. I better knuckle down!

Saturday was a funny old day, but I'll have to leave that until I have more time...

Friday, September 09, 2005


Just a quick bump to remind you of the next Gresham Flyers date.

This Saturday, 10th September, we're playing West One Four in West Kensington, and we can promise lots of surprises! More details on The Gresham Flyers' website.


Soundtrack: Bobby Womack - Poetry in Motion

My dream has come true. Jeff Wayne is performing War of the Worlds live for the first time in April 2006, and I've just bought Thom and I a ticket. Justin Hayward is a special guest. They're going to use the presence (and probably exhumed body) of Richard Burton. And a 48-piece string orchestra, named the ULLAdubULLA orchestra. This is going to be AMAZING.

War of the Worlds is one of those albums that has seen me through life. It's one of my first memories of music, and as everyone my age says, it used to terrify me as a child. I have memories of decorating the house with the family while listening to it, and being too scared to go in any dark rooms. My sister studied the book at school, and her teacher used the artwork of my mum and dad's LP copy for the school display. You might remember my story of going to a friend's wedding, the stressful journey that ensued, and how Jeff Wayne brought calm and serenity. And FEAR. Hehe. I even own a copy of the CD signed by Jeff himself (given to me by my friend George, who herself recieved it when her mum won a copy in a Weston-super-Mare tombola).

This is going to be the stuff of dreams.


This morning was the first morning in our new house that the alarm woke me up. Every morning I wake up way before my time. First someone leaves for work at 5am every morning (thud, brummmm). Then the first Heathrow planes start (meeeeeeeeoionnnnnnnnnnnnn). Then the first train from London (chug-ah-chug-ah). And the sunlight coming through the skylight [insert sound of an epiphany here]. But this morning I slept right through, and damn do I feel knackered now. A bit like I've been stunned into existence.

So I thought, it's alright, I'll sleep on the train. It wasn't as simple as that though. As soon as I lost my tension, started to succumb to the pleasure of relaxation and dreaming, I kept waking with a start. And the problem was thus: if I got too relaxed, there would be the threat of passing wind.

It's my greatest fear, falling asleep on the train and being so relaxed I fart. And my meal last night has done nothing to help matters. Last night I cooked with chickpeas for the first time, and made a delicious chickpea and potato curry from scratch. So chickpeas + spicy = wind.

I remember at Cropredy, everyday we were eating potato wedges and the like. Then one day I came back with a plate of curry from the veggie curry place. Channa massala, bombay potato, tarka dhal, raitha, bhajis, pakora, naan... my dad saw my plateful and his eyes lit up. He didn't care that there was no meat - LOOK AT THE SIZE OF IT! He doesn't understand that meals can be eaten without meat. But he didn't find the chickpeas agreeable, and found himself shitting through the eye of a needle. Poor thing. I thought he was exaggerating, but chickpeas do actually make you feel a little uncomfortable. I told my dad what I cooked and he said "Oh no! Never again! Woz on the throne 4 a week. Do poor Thom a chop".

Anyway, my curry was nice in the end, if a little loosening. I just went to heat up leftovers in the kitchen, and a workmate said "Ooh, looks good. Chickpeas are very in at the moment, aren't they?".

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Day 4

Soundtrack: A Cellarful of Motown 2

It's been a slightly captivating week, seeing as there's the odd new job trickling in. And when I'm not working, I'm dreaming because I'm feeling odd this week. It's probably that getting back to work feeling. Thankfully day 4 has seen me stumble back into normality slightly.

So I'm all moved and settled into suburbia. I was walking home last night and all I could smell was cow muck. On my first 'proper' day of living in suburbia, I walked to the corner shop and saw three men washing their car. I didn't see one car being washed after 5 years of living in London. And one of the men even said 'How do?' to me. Glorious! Really our place is pretty faultless, and I'm very happy with it. I think it helps that we've settled in pretty quickly, and it also helps that Thom's a tidy freak so I haven't felt like I've been bogged down in mundane chores. The bad things about our place (noisy low-flying planes, minimal space) are more than outweighed by the brilliant things about the place; our creative storage, HUGE CD collection, a wooden bedroom balcony with fairlyights, a Bang & Olufssen hi-fi set-up, the location, and it's homely and comfortable.

It was a nice week off, being homely. I was ready to go back to work though. I just spent the whole week shopping, it seemed. IKEA, Sainsbury's, and then checking out the clothes shopping in Windsor and Slough. Say what you like about Slough, but it's a great shopping centre! Just a bit o' a dump. A bit like Birmingham but with better shops.


So next year is looking like it's going to be fun. Thom and I are looking to do to Dubai (and hopefully Oman) in January, and then we're going on a US Road Trip and sharing a car with the lovely Sarah and Hannah. I'm quite daunted at the prospect of a road trip - it's going to take a lot of planning and organisation - but it's going to be worth it. It's a bit of a dream of mine. I was chatting to Liz&Phil (who we're renting the house from) as they've just spent a couple of months in America. They were strongly against driving through America, saying it was all a bit dull. I can see their point - I can't imagine anything exciting about driving up and down the M6 either. I think the main thing is to make sure you see a bit of the places you end up in (at least the nightlife!), and just make sure the route is scenic. If we're going to stick to InterstateX everyday it will be dull!

The route is looking like New York - Nashville (through the Smoky Mountains, I'd presume), Nashville - Natchez Trace Parkway over to Austin. Then it's get on Route 66, head to Albuquerque, up to the Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam (I would imagine that's quite scenic!), over to Las Vegas (apparently the drive into the city with the twinkling lights is a sight to behold. I'm picturing Blackpool illuminations here), and then to the end in San Francisco (I'm going to insist driving over the Pacific Highway). Oh my. How can that be dull?!!! I can't wait. I need to book about 3 weeks off work though, so wish me luck!


I was talking to my dad last night about travelling. He's got such a yearning to travel, but never quite goes through with it because he doesn't have anyone to go with. Anyway, he's made friends with the bigot from across the road, and they've book 2 weeks off to get a last minute deal. My dad's thinking of going to Thailand of all places (the most exotic he's had before is Florida!). Then he said how his friend Mark (now back on the scene) spent 2months travelling the Far East last year. He's doing it again in January, and wants my dad to go with him. God I hope he says yes. My dad sounded on the brink of accepting last night. The thing is, my dad is a lorry driver, and Jan/Feb are the quiet times. He's paid of his mortgage, and it's really easy to get agency driving work. He was saying everything seems to be going right since he turned 50 this year. He suddenly has a life again. I really hope he does this.