Monday, October 30, 2006

Today's challenge is to stop X Factor having the Christmas Number 1 song. I like a challenge but this one is probably the hardest I've ever had. There is a single coming out in UK by a guy called Stewart Francke - based in Detroit, highly rated by Springsteen, suffered from leukemia but now fully recovered - charity single on behalf of the Leukemia Research Fund - details here.

Stewart is an amazing musician and has a fantastic soul sound. Trouble is he is totally unknown in the UK so getting publicity is not easy. Andy Gill (Independent) gave his last album 4 stars, as did the Times. He'd be great for Greenbelt, especially if he had his backing band - but it all costs money. Promoting a single properly in the UK can cost minimum £2000, and that's before any talk of a video. Maybe I could start an anti-X Factor campaign as the basis for launching the single - if only 8m vote for X Factor then that still leaves a further 48m or so to go out and buy the CD.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another year of my life as passed in the last week. Not long now before the mid-life crisis strikes.

The last week has seen me start at the gym, session with personal trainer which almost killed me – so 3 more sessions booked to see if she can do the job properly.

Saturday I took the car to be washed for the first time in 4 months – pointless washing the car in Norfolk as spend most of the time travelling along country lanes that leave the car covered in mud. I go to the hand car wash which has been set up in Dulwich Hamlet car park – so only over the road for me. They always do a really good job and I feel sorry for them when I bring the car in from Norfolk as it must be about the worst they ever have to tackle. Unfortunately there was a really obnoxious bloke at the car wash, complaining his car hadn’t been cleaned properly and refusing to pay. The argument went on for at least 15 minutes and eventually he was told to go and never come back. At this point he went to get in his car and swore at the car wash people. Up until this point I had been standing, bemused at his excuses for not paying. But his swearing tripped off my alter ego and I suddenly found myself storming up to his car, banging on the window , telling him to wind it down. I then went on to tell him that I lived here and that I didn’t expect to hear that kind of language on my patch. Rather than pulling out a gun (which tends to be the norm for road rage round here) he half heartedly apologised before the car cleaning people intervened, probably worried about what would happen next. Anyway, they did a spotless job on the car and I spent the rest of the day debating whether I was crazy or just stupid for getting involved.

Sunday we went up to Southwark Cathedral and got advent calendars for ourselves and relatives. This week I am embroiled in work, trying to work out various numbers for current bids. It’s a frustrating time at the moment as they seem unsure what I should be doing at the moment – I have a few things lined up but nothing that involves much brain power. I can only hope that things improve over the next couple of months.

Music for you to check out:
Rachael Yamagata

Monday, October 16, 2006

There's a man I much admire, and who many who read this blog will know. He's the person who I believe is most responsible for Greenbelt being the festival it is today - and not a charity that ended up going bust. You don't see him much at the festival these days - this year I think his main apearance was in the Ox Bar. And yet his latest album received 5 stars in Maverick Magazine (thinking man's folk mag). His name is Andy Thornton.

I won't go into detail of Andy's life, I suggest you simply read threads below to get some of the background on him. I first met Andy when he was the General Manager at Greenbelt. He had the delightful task of seeing the festival through some of its darkest hours when tickets sales were in free-fall and spare cash was a mith. I won't say quite how I met Andy, but it had something to do with money. When Helen and I got married we decided we wanted to have Freedom Samba (Late Late Service) at the end of the service (none of this Wedding march stuff for us!) and Andy kindly transposed the music for us.

Aside from his current day job at Citizen Foundation Andy is a very gifted singer/songwriter. As usual at Greenbelt I spent most of my money on a year's supply of CDs which I have been working through ever since. There is one outstanding album - and I mean outstanding - easily in my top 10 all time favourites - the album is called Sunflower Girl, written a year after the death of his wife Donna. It's an album that draws on the emotions and presents Andy at his best. You can read some reviews here and a good interview/review here. And of course the BIG news is that Andy is getting married again next April to Eugenie Harvey, the author of Change the World for a Fiver.

I had asked Andy if he would suport Michael McDermott when he was due to be over here last summer - hopefully I can persaude him to play with Michael in the future as I see the makings of an excellent double-bill.

Go out and buy a copy of the album, it's worth every penny.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

So my 6 hours a day commute to and from work has finally come to an end.....for now. The last couple of weeks I've felt very tired much of the time so it will be good to get an extra 2 hours sleep each day.

Feeling very philisophical at the moment. Lots to think about and do. Under Helen's guidance I've been setting myself some new goals the last few days. She's wasted as an ill person - has always so much to give to others, and seems to know so much. One of the goals was to join a gym by the new office. Managed to do that Monday - less than 5 minutes walk and it has a small swimming pool. I haggled a lot over the price as not sure how long we will be in the area. In the end I got a very good price. Looking forward to a new fitter, slimmer version of myself! I've also decided I need to play the guitar more. Picked it up for the first time in 3 months this week. I used to always be writing songs but I've written nothing new for at least 2 years. So this week I've driven Helen crazy by experimenting with a 3 chord, 3 word song that is basically the same 3 chords constantly repeated with the lyrics made up of 3 word phrases - it can actually be quite fun trying to work out sufficient phrases that have a meaning, and then putting them in a sequence that allows each phrase to interject with the next. I should add that I've thrown in a few minor chords part way through to try and keep the listener awake and to stop Helen killing me.

This time last year I was just back from New York having seen U2


Bruce Springsteen

U2 again

Wined and dined with Michael McDermott at his favourite Italian restaurant

And watched Blobs dancing in the street.

Will go back the the States sometime but hard finding the time. I had the chance to see Michael play couple of nights in Chicago in November but it will clash with an appointment Helen has so not right to go. I also have an invite for next February but expect work to be too busy for me to escape for a few days. Michael's been playing a few times recently with Buddy Guy and he's got a Christmas date lined up on 22nd December at Buddy's House of the Blues venue - wonder if Helen would miss me if I disappeared for Christmas?

Work is gearing up - still not worked out how to turn the lights on at the office, being a "modern" media building we don't get strip lights, instead we have flood lights which seem to light the walls but not the desks. There is a whole bank of flood lights not switched on that would help me see what I'm writing, but will probably turn the place into a sauna.

I'm waiting to be told what I will be doing this time round - I get the impression they are not sure where to use me and it may depend on consultant costs and whether I should do their job instead. My area last time round got the top marks (but we still lost!) so I expect to do something similar again, albeit better.

On the home front, brother is off to Baghdad again to see if Saddam Hussain trial comes to an end - suspect it will be a wasted journey. I've asked him to try and persaude one of his ex colleagues and personal friend to come and speak at Greenbelt next year. No names at this stage, but if he does agree then I'm sure Greenbelt will be very keen to have him.

Like Pip I will be looking forward to reading Willie William's U2 blogs over the coming weeks. His ability to turn high-tech drama into something closer to an old Amstrad PC never ceases to amaze me - he's very much the man of under-statement. Everywhere he goes though he appplies his magic and turns an empty stage into the inner most thoughts of your imagination. The recent George Michael reviews went on the lines of - singing OK, lighting wonderful. Maybe I could get him to sort out the office lighting?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thanks to Big John I was reminded of the bizarre Cross Rhythms review of Martyn Joseph at Greenbelt. I'd seen the article but not the reply Martyn put on his own site. Martyn talks a lot of sense, which is more than can be said for others. I took the liberty of posting his comments on Michael McDermott's site, together with links to video stream of Martyn's concert DVD - clearly touched a few hearts and hopefully he'll end up with a new fan base in Chicago. I'd love to see Michael and Martyn on the same bill. Very different in syles but both great communicators through their words and music.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Well we moved into the new office - not the greatest move I've ever done as no broadband connection all day - and will be a while later until the server is installed and we can access our main intranet. Working from home this morning - hopefully will be up and running tomorrow.

I had a good look round the area yesterday lunch time - very different from Paddington. Many of the buildings in the area are related to the Portland Hospital. Our building is full of media types, even the BBC are somewhere. Some nice bars/cafes near by and we have a private club in the basement which is open all day so will be good when meeting clients - and it has a pool table!

Oxford Circus is about 10m walk away but tube system means trips to the New Picadilly Cafe will be difficult. From Norfolk is about 10m quicker to office but possibly 10m longer from East Dulwich - plus you have to walk - the best bit about Paddington was that once on a train you would never risk getting wet when going to the office. I came see some wet times coming!

We give a lot of stuff to charity shops each year - Helen's philosophy seems to be that if there is doubt you will ever need it again then it might as well go - good policy as it stops us hoarding. Latest item to go is a CD Helen bought on laughter. Advertised as 30m of laughter we both thought it would be 30m of jokes and laughter - but no - its is 30m of laughter, and only laughter. I think the idea is that it is supposed to make you happy - but after 5m of incessant laughter you feel like screaming and hitting the CD player with a hammer. So if anyone wants a 30m CD of laughter before it goes to some worthy cause, drop me an email.

Monday, October 02, 2006

It's all go at work - we're moving to Great Titchfield Street today to the Media Village building. I'll miss working at Paddington - but not the diesel fumes.

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