Two Weeks

Had a great night out last night with David, the best man. The only thing we didn't sort out was what we were going to talk about in our speeches. He had a great idea that we should write each other's. This is certainly a less worrying concept than we cooked up the last time we met. Then there was a suggestion that our speeches should be written (and presented) as if we were preparing them for work. This would mean the best man's speech would be delivered as an account executive' s presentation to potential clients and the groom's would be given as an English lesson.

Writing each other's could still be problematic, and anyway, we need to talk about content. Or, more importantly, what to leave out.

Last night was fun because we got to go out for Italian food and talk a lot. Then we went on to what his wife (they aren't married but were and look like they might be again so, as Jonathan Richmond once said "I call her wife, because it stops all talk right away.") calls our Nightclub. To me Borders is my second home. Once we've walked the store for interesting books and magazines we settled in for coffee and chess. Three very, very bad games which I am in no way proud of.

They did help fuel my project to make a short film though. It's scripted already and I'll make a start after the honeymoon. If nothing else it should give me something to write about once the 'wedding month' has passed and the new job has kicked in. It's going to be about things that remain as constants in your life. One of my constants is this ability to play chess at a frighteningly low level despite all my efforts to read books on improving my game and regularly playing David, the computer and strangers on the internet.

BTW, I listened closely to Bob Dylan's 'The Highlands' from 'Time out of Mind' the other day. I admit I was cleaning the bath at the time so may not have been concentrating as fully as I might, but all the same... what a spectacularly unfocussed and dull song. It gave me the impression that he really was making it up as he went along. Maybe I haven't got the hang of Dylan yet.

It pails into insignificance when compared to the almost satanic dreck that Borders were playing late last night. Maybe they were trying to get rid of their customers before they had to lock the doors. Maybe a member of staff had had a truly awful day and wanted to take it out on as many people as he or she could. The weapon of choice, for whatever reason, was an early David Bowie track called 'London Boy'. There were several tracks from the same album actually, but they merged into one another. The song(s) sounded as if they came from the 'Laughing Gnome' period but lacked the charm and cunning structure of that now almost forgotten 'hit'. It also reminded me of why so many English people choose to sing as if they are Americans. Bowie's Anthony Newleyesque accent made me want to buy a sweetshop full of lollipops and fire them at the man until he stopped.

Current listening: Wild Cat - Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang


I don't know how many of you are Mac people but, for those of you that are, see if this seems familiar.



Two weeks and two days

A long night of listening and discussing (polite euphemism) brought us to choosing a combination of Bach, Mussorgsky and Vaughan Williams for the wedding music. Reading supplied by Will Shakespeare and Percy Shelley.

Current listening: The most annoying car alarm in the world.


Two weeks and three days

It's all getting worryingly close now. The big panic this week was when Jenna and I were talking about our two nights in a Gatwick hotel and suddenly questioned whether we were actually flying from Gatwick. It sounds silly but we've been here before, two years ago. I had to make a quick phone call just before we caught a coach to a hotel we, technically, weren't booked into. So,as I said, panic.

While Jenna was away with her sister I had a night on my own. I rented a copy of 'Lost in Translation' which I loved. Direction, cinematography, acting, settings, all came together to make me forget I was watching a film. I'd put it right up there with Three Colours Blue (and White and Red) in the 'if someone held a gun to my head and, for a reason not made clear asked for my favourite films of all time' list.

I am also pleased to report that both the bands I play in rehearsed this week and, even better than that, the 'new song' has been finished and sent off to Radio 2's song-writing contest. This song was a combination of a tune Richard (guitarist, engineer and country gent) had written some time ago and a lyric I supplied. The two went together well but we spent nearly four hours working on the chorus, trying to get just the write combination and sound of words.

Also on a music theme, Jenna and I are getting very close to choosing the wedding music. this is good because it has to be selected and checked by the registrar by ... let me see ... this Saturday. I'd better get back to that.

Current listening: In My Place - Bridge Street.


The rain & Sacha Distel

The most amazing rainstorm today. I stood in the door of the outhouse with the kitchen CD player outclassed by what felt like rain with something to prove. I was hypnotised by it.

Also, sad news tonight that Sacha Distel had died. My mum was a fan more than I was, but his recent Desert Island Discs was entertaining. Like Johnny Haliday without the embarrassing wardrobe as someone once described him. Spookily, considering I came online to talk about the rain, his big hit here was 'rain drops keep falling on my head.'


The Project Apollo Image Gallery

Thirty five years ago I was staying up late, watching telly with my trusty Action Man in his space suit by my side. I was just old enough to make out the blurry shapes on the screen and to know that history was being made. They could have sent a poet though.
A great selection of pictures to browse through if you follow the link above.


Three weeks and four days

Something I hadn't mentioned before was the music and readings for the ceremony. Or is it a service? Either way civil marriages have come on a bit since the old cash and carry days. We have been asked to provide suitable music and readings for the day. Suitable in this case means 'with no religious connotations whatsoever.' This is harder than it sounds. My best man suggested 'Whole lot of love' by Led Zeppelin. I've been tempted by 'You know my name' by the Beatles. Just a dream.
On the way home today I heard a half hour radio programme about Bach's double violin concerto. First movement is all formal communication. Second movement: sexy intimacy. Third movement: Rude interruptions, apologies and talking over each other. Could there be a more perfect piece. When I finally got home I played it through and thought this is it.
Then I went back to the Beatles.

Current listening: You know my name... - The Beatles.

'Reverse air-rage' on Russian jet

Those of you sick of me going on about wedding preparations might find this amusing. Click on the title for the story. I can sense air crews the world over thinking 'it's about time.'


The two dogs

Well thanks to flickr.com I can now share some photographs with you. These two were part of yesterday's gig.
Two dogs
Originally uploaded by Roostar.


Four weeks and two sleeping dogs

Today seemed to be the point in the marriage countdown where there guest list threatened to explode in a scary, out of control manner. Jenna and I agonised over this list, keeping it small but feeling pain at excluding so many people we love. However, 'recent developments' have caused the list to be slightly tweezed. Luckily the size of the reception venue has helped us stick to our original plan without offending anyone. There will be at least one post hooneymoon gathering with food, drink and music. Emails will fly when we've sorted that out.

Today I played music in front of a live audience for the first time in months. Great fun. It always is fun to stand in for someone else. You get to experience different arrangements of songs, different songs for that matter, new people and ideas too. Today was no exception. We played blues/rock/soul to a mixed audience, chilling in a field under a mostly blue sky. Two DJ tents, men playing drums, a barbecue with a veggy option and the sound of the Muppet Show album mixed with Zappa's 'Road Ladies'.
I only screwed up a few times (playing 'Brick' a semitone out for a whole verse and thinking "boy, someone is really out of tune" untill the horrible truth dawned).
The sleeping dogs in the title belonged to the man whose home we were playing at. They slept head to... er, tail during soundcheck then came for a wander about on stage during the otherwise intense climax of the second set. Everyone's a critic.

Home now, it's still light (wierd after a gig) about to have pizza and wine. No stress.

Current listening: One Man Guy - Loudon Wainwright III


Four weeks and three days

Look at all the changes. Wedding lists have gone out, there isn't much left to do except buy clothes - oh, and find the money to buy them with. Luckily I have two gigs this week: one singing, one as a bassist.

I managed to get back into swimming today. It makes no sense but I already feel as if I've been exercising for weeks, not scarfing low-level comfort food on an all too regular basis.

Next week I face the horrors of a job interview. This time I fully intend to ask plenty of questions to make sure it is the right job for me. Last time I was so pleased to get the job I forgot to check it made sense to take it. I met plenty of great people but ultimately couldn't keep on with it. Rash and stupid are the words that spring to mind when I think of my resigning without a secure job to go to, at 40, just before getting married. Brave is what my lovely friends all say.

And finally, the weather. Today has been one of those typically untypical British days. Cold and cloudy in the morning, with the radio reporting rain that wasn't falling here. I went to the local market town for more paper and diabetic chocolates (for a wedding guest). By the time I was home the sun was out and by four I was roasting. As I look out of the window, Jenna is catching up on sleep and a calm night is slowly descending on the village.

Current listening: Hairless Handle - Piore Z


Four weeks, six days and no dead animals

Time seems to be speeding up. We had a long shopping trip to a major metropolitan area and returned with some chocolates and a Goodies DVD. So, the wedding clothes are not in our hands, the invitations are not out and the reception still isn't officially booked.
Today we went to more local places and sorted out a variety of low level wedding stuff and one very important thing - the wedding ring. Or, to be more specific, Jenna's wedding ring. Mine is still safely sandwiched here on the desk between a Bach box set and a Kent College prospectus.
This should also be the week that I get back to playing some bass in front of an audience. I'm sitting in for a nice man called Carl as the bassist in his blues/rock/soul band. I am very keen to get out there and play.

Current listening: Surfacing - Orin Ambarchi & Martin Ng


Five weeks and five days (and more dead animals)

The dead or dying animal omen theme continues. I don't belive in signs though, so the dead mouse, dead baby bat and (most freakish of all) frog with half its face missing mean nothing to me.

I keep telling myself.


Six weeks and a dead fox

Only six weeks to go to the wedding. I've decided to abandon the apologetic tone of this blog and will plough on with wedding news safe in the knowledge that some of you find it interesting.

So, today we bought the rings. Mine does not make me invisible (although I can dream) and now resides by the computer. Jenna's is being sized.
We also have the post wedding stay over sorted. A posh hotel for the two nights before we get whisked off to Polenta in Italy. OK, it's Positano, but that always make me think of Postman Pat, or Il Postino. Polenta makes me think of food (mmm, food) which is never a bad thing.

I got a little freaked last night watching 'Will & Grace' when Grace got married and discovered she didn't even know her new husband's real name. If Jenna turns out to be a Doris I may take a while to get over it.

Now, the sad tale. Ach! Excuse the pun. Yesterday I saw a fox in front of my car. Obviously injured and unable to move its back legs I was debated whether to get out and wring its neck, or drive over it (I certainly couldn't leave it in this state). Just as I decided to take the cowardly way out and run it over it looked up at me, eyes directly to mine, full of hopelessness and frustration (yes I'm anthropomorphizing). I went to put the car in gear but at that moment the fox dragged itself off the road, using its front legs, and propelled itself into the undergrowth of a field. Looking over the road I saw a woman in her car who had stopped to watch, tears streaming down her face.

Well, I thought, this is a great omen.

Current listening: Back Home Blues - Charlie Parker