Monthly Archives: January 2006

Mumble, mutter, etc

This morning’s weight was up to 208.0 pounds (14 stone 12 pounds, 94.3kg). Not going to worry about it for now, though.

Went to bed early last night, slept a lot better, and felt a lot better after that than I did yesterday. I walked to and from work, even though it was very cold this morning.

No exercise tonight though. Just having a bit of a rest.


This morning’s weight was down a bit to 207.6 pounds (14 stone 11.6 pounds, 94.2kg).

Didn’t sleep well last night, woke up feeling a bit rough, so I ended up getting the bus to work. It was a nasty cold morning, so I didn’t really mind not walking for once.

Behaved myself at lunch again – another of those nice hoisin duck wraps from Pret and a bananananana.

Started to walk home, but the combination of feeling tired, developing a headache and thickening fog made me decide to give up at Gateshead and get the bus from there.

Still feeling tired, so I’m giving the exercise routine a miss tonight.


While enjoying that nice bottle of Shiraz, I was watching Lewis on ITV1. This was a pilot programme of a spin-off from the much-missed Inspector Morse series based on Colin Dexter’s novels. Morse was very popular indeed[1] and starred the late John Thaw as the crossword-solving, real-ale-drinking, ever-so-slightly-grumpy Chief Inspector Morse, and Kevin Whatley as his long-suffering sidekick, Sergeant Lewis. Morse died in the last episode, and sadly, John Thaw died not long afterward, robbing us of any chance of a revival of the series (prequels, that kind of thing).

Anyway, ITV have decided to attempt a comeback. Lewis is now an Inspector, and at the start of the story is just returning from secondment in the British Virgin Islands. He finds himself working with Sergeant James Hathaway on a murder case that (in typical Morse fashion) develops into something quite confusing indeed.

The body count mounts, and as with the classic Morse series, it’s never quite what you’re expecting.

A thoroughly enjoyable pilot – I hope more episodes will follow.

[1] I only caught up with it at the end of its run, but I’ve since seen every episode on DVD

That seems to be coming along nicely

Some time last year, I bought six bottles of Wolf Blass President’s Selection Shiraz while they were on offer from those nice Tesco people. The plan was to keep them for a while to allow them to mature. A few years back, I had a bottle of this stuff, and it was one of the best I’ve ever had[1]. I’ve had some since, but they weren’t really as good. I put that down to partly the normal annual variations in wine, and partly to not letting the wine mature enough. The last time I sampled a bottle of WBPSS[2] was a couple of months ago, and at that time it was quite gluggable, but nothing special.

Anyway, I decided that tonight would be a good time to sample it, and see how it was coming along. Good move. It’s doing very well indeed, thank you. This evening’s bottle of the 2003 Shiraz turned out to be very nice indeed. It had that lovely spicy taste that a good Shiraz has and was very smooth and extremely gluggable. Went down very nicely, and just like that bottle I had a few years back, left me wanting more.[3] Now I just have to persuade myself to wait another couple of months before I open another one…

[1] The only seriously better one was the one time I bought a bottle of the Wolf Blass Black Label, which they describe as more or less “the best wine we can make with the grapes available this year”. And it was wonderful stuff. Hideously expensive – it’s normally about £40 a bottle, but I got a special deal at £30. And it was worth every penny. Really.
[2] If you’ll excuse the abbreviation
[3] Normally, if I finish a bottle of wine on my own, I don’t feel the slightest inclination to open another. On that occasion, I was disappointed that I didn’t have more of it. And if I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow, I’d have been very tempted to make a start on another bottle tonight.

That can’t be right!

But apparently it is. This morning’s weight was back up again to 208.4 pounds (14 stone 12.4 pounds, 94.5kg). A temporary thingy, I’m sure.

Had another relaxed day. Back to walking and exercising tomorrow.

The Smiths – The Queen is Dead: 20 years on

Eeeep! I was reminded recently that this, one of my all-time favourite albums, will be twenty years old this year. This really doesn’t seem possible. That would mean that I’m getting old or something. :uhoh: I remember, back in 1986, when The Queen is Dead was released, there was a lot of fuss over the 20th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper. At the time, that seemed like ancient history to me. And now another twenty years have passed, and it seems like a good time to look back…

The Smiths were the definitive indie band of the early/mid 1980s. Led by Morrissey on vocals and Johnny Marr on guitar, they were my favourite band at the time. Morrissey’s superficially depressing lyrics[1] were counterpointed by Johnny’s chiming and inventive guitar work and arrangements.

This was their third studio album after The Smiths and Meat is Murder, not including the collection of radio performances and b-sides Hatfull of Hollow, and includes some of their finest work:

The Queen is dead

Pounding drum work from Mike Joyce, and some nice silliness in the lyrics:

So I broke into the palace
with a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said, “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing”
I said, “That’s nothing – you should hear me play piano”

Johnny’s guitar makes wonderful noises, and Morrissey ends with

Life is very long when you’re lonely

Frankly, Mr Shankly

The music bounces along nicely, quite cheerfully, but the words are about being crushed by a dead-end job and having dreams of fame:

Frankly, Mr Shankly, this position I’ve held
It pays my way, but it corrodes my soul
I want to leave, you will not miss me
I want to go down in musical history

I know it’s over

For once, the mood of the music and the vocals are exactly in agreement. A genuinely sad song about dejection and rejection

Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
and as I climb into an empty bed
Oh well. Enough said.

I know it’s over
and it never really began
but in my heart it was so real
and you even spoke to me and said
“If you’re so funny
then why are you on your own tonight>

If you’re so terribly good-looking
then why do you sleep alone tonight?
because tonight is just like any other night

The only upside to the desperation is this sign that he isn’t quite crushed:

It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind

Never had no one ever

More of the same, really.

I had a really bad dream
It lasted 20 years, 7 months and 27 days

It’s the precision that lifts it from being merely maudlin. That and the guitar work…

Cemetry Gates

(That’s how it’s spelt on the CD!)

A more cheerful little number about meeting in the cemetery on a “dreaded sunny day” and reading the gravestones, and wondering about

all those people all those lives
where are they now?

Bigmouth strikes again

Comedy. Really.

Sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking
when I said by rights you should be
bludgeoned in your bed
and now I know how Joan of Arc felt
when the flames rose to her Roman nose
and her Walkman started to melt

Well, it made me laugh, anyway.

The boy with the thorn in his side

Back to the sadder side.

The boy with the thorn in his side
behind the hatred there lies
a plundering desire for love
how can they see the love in our eyes
and still they don’t believe us

and when you want to live
how do you start?
where do you go?
who do you need to know?

Vicar in a tutu

As silly as you might expect

There is a light that never goes out

One of my two favourite Smiths song, along with How Soon is Now?. Lush string arrangements, a swooningly romantic song with a characteristically dark undercurrent.

Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people
And I want to see lights
Driving in your car
Oh please don’t drop me home
Because it’s not my home it’s their home
and I’m welcome no more
and if a double-decker bus crashes into us
to die by your side such a heavenly way to die
and if a ten ton truck kills the both of us
to die by your side the pleasure and the privilege is mine

Some girls are bigger than others

A closing piece of silliness. Rather breaks the mood created by There is a light…, which is probably why it’s there.

So there it is. Twenty years on, and I still love it. The band made one more album before splitting. Morrissey has had a solo career with ups and downs, Johnny has played with numerous bands (Electronic, The The, The Pretenders, etc) and more recently has formed his own band – the Healers. Neither has really come close to the quality of work they produced together. If this was the kind of site that used words like that, I’d mumble something about “synergy” at this point. A Smiths reunion is on the “most unlikely” list. And that’s probably for the best…

[1] There was a lot of black humour there, which sailed several kilometres above the heads of people who didn’t like the band.

Waterboys at the Sage Gateshead 27 January 2006

I might have mentioned my occasional trouble with getting round to doing things. This might be a record, even for me. It’s taken me 23 years or so to get round to seeing The Waterboys. I’ve been a fan since I heard early releases like A Girl Called Johnny and December. For those not familiar, the Waterboys is a band fronted by Mike Scott and consists of whoever happens to be playing with him at the time. One previous member was Karl Wallinger, who went on to create World Party, responsible for some more excellent music. The Waterboys’ first three albums were in a style Mike Scott called “The Big Music”: everything including the kitchen sink thrown in, lots of saxophone, and nicely over the top. It was in this period that the band’s biggest hit was released. If you’ve only heard one Waterboys song, it’s probably The Whole of the Moon, which is as good an example as there is of what Mike Scott is about. Passionate, intense and quite, quite bonkers. After that, Mike surprised just about everyone by moving to a folk-rock stlye. Teaming up with fiddle player Steve Wickham, a revised Waterboys line-up recorded the Fisherman’s Blues album. While in a different style, it still had the Waterboys trademark of passionate performance. After a bit more folkiness, Mike switched by to a more rockist style with Dream Harder, then released a couple of albums under his own name, then reformed the Waterboys for some more albums.

So here we are, 23 years on, and the Waterboys are touring. Steve Wickham is back on fiddle, together with the latest drummer, bass player and keyboards player. But this is Mike Scott’s band, and to be honest, it’s all about Mike. Friday night, and Hall One at the Sage Gateshead is the venue.

After an opening set from Thea Gilmore, Mike and the band came on at around 8:30. They rattled through a good selection of old and newer material including Glastonbury Song, a deliciously over the top version of The Pan Within, and in Red Army Blues, Steve’s electric fiddle did a remarkably good imitation of the sax on the original recording. Other highlights were My Dark Side, Peace of Iona and Long Way to the Light. Any band with as much history as the Waterboys has so many songs to choose from that it’s not possible to include everyone’s favourites, but Mike did a fair old job of it.

Now we all know that the “thank you, goodnight” bit is a tradition, and that encores are a standard part of the package, but it makes it really obvious when the band leaves the stage before performing their two best-known and probably best-loved songs. Of course, some bands get a bit sniffy about having to carry on playing their one big hit, and some even avoid playing them. Their choice, of course, but while I always want to hear people’s new music, it’s nice to keep in touch with the past, to hear the songs that made you love the band in the first place.

So, it was a Very Good Thing that the encore included a glorious rendition of Fisherman’s Blues. Steve’s fiddle playing has never sounded better, and Mike sounded like he was enjoying himself[1]. The encore also included a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Independence Day, which was a surprise for me. It was also the only song where Mike wasn’t either playing the guitar or electric piano.

The encore finished at about 10:15. Now there were signs in the foyer about a strict 10:15 curfew, and it looked like some people believed that and seemed to be heading for the doors. I noticed that the house lights were still off, so stayed put. Everyone else got the point and more clapping, stamping, shouting, whistling and the like followed. Yes, it appears that Mike doesn’t know the meaning of “strict”[2].

Sure enough, the band came back on. Mike sat at the electric piano, teased us a bit by playing a few random bits and pieces before launching into the inevitable crowd-pleasing The Whole of the Moon. As good as it’s ever been, and still quite mad. In a good way, of course.

The Karma to Burn tour is nearly over now, but the accompanying CD gives a reasonable sample of the way the band sounds these days. Recommended.

[1] He also enjoyed a bit of banter with the audience, responding to a shout of “come on” with “I’ll play my song when I’m ready” (or words to that effect, I wasn’t taking notes… )
[2] I once said that Mike didn’t know the meaning of restraint, and that I was in favour of hiding the dictionary to make sure he never found out :tongue:

Good stuff

This morning’s weight was down to 206.2 pounds (14 stone 10.2 pounds, 93.5kg). Still higher than it really needs to be, but at least it’s now heading in the right direction.

Of course, this is likely to be higher tomorrow, as I’ve been having a nicely relaxed Saturday. Not only that, but I’ll probably be similarly relaxed tomorrow.

Back to the exercise on Monday. Really.

Just a minor blip thingy

This morning’s weight was up just a wee bit to 207.2 pounds (14 stone 11.2 pounds, 94.0kg).

No exercise today, unless you count clapping a lot at the Waterboys concert. A review will follow…

I still say it’s nothing like me

But I bought it anyway. I keep it on my desk at work, which provides some amusement to colleagues, some of whom persist in the outrageous claims that I bear some resemblance to this Simon Cowell person. Naturally, I strenuously[1] deny[2] these allegations.

Still not Les

The model, which looks nothing like me is quite amusing, really. Its disproportionately large head wobbles, and when you press the button and it says:

That was pathetic


Words can’t express how dull you are


You are the most boring person I have ever met

Or words to that effect, anyway. Quite useful when certain people approach my desk :grin:

[1] Or is that dramatically? :lol:
[2] And I deny that I do that a lot :tongue: