Honest people

Not CSI but better.


Beautiful wife and child are in Cardiff today visiting hard working sister-in-law. I have the day, and indeed the night, to myself. This usually means I naff about all day and then spend the evening with all my musical toys out, recording something new.

Today though I went into town with Richard Guitarist in his new car. He was shopping for an acoustic guitar and, despite being tempted at Gary's Musical House of Delights on Cowley Road, Richard finally gave in and bought a wonderful sounding Martin guitar elsewhere. We celebrated this excellent purchase with bagels and coffee then went into the centre of town for camera goodies and other sundries.

When I got home, in the afternoon, I immediately set up Studio W and got to work recording something I'd had in my head for a while. Drums, then Warr Guitar bass, then Warr lead, then electric piano, then a Frippesque Warr Guitar layered thing, then percussion and then mixing. A cd now exists and the rough mix is available on MySpace. The song is called 'Home'.

It is now nine in the evening and I'm missing the female contingent.

My little bassist 2

My little bassist 2
Originally uploaded by Roostar
"Dad, what's the blues scale again?"


My little bassist

My little bassist 1
Originally uploaded by Roostar
She drools.

She hits the strings a little too hard.

She probably needs to think harder about her dress sense.

She's a bass player!


Comme Toujours

I was sent this video and wrote this piece of music to it. I'm playing a Warr Guitar and using a looper pedal.


Paperwork 2

Well it's twenty to midnight and I've finished the paperwork for the dayjob.

It's been fun putting my 'with attitude' playlist on headphones and bouncing around on the chair at the kitchen table to:

NWA - Straight outta Compton (and a song about the Police)
The Tubes - White punks on dope
Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
CSS - Artbitch
Elvis Costello - 13 steps lead down
Jenny Owens Young - What the f**k was I thinking (hey, my mum could be reading this)
Neil Young - lots and lots
Gary Willis - Cartoon Fetish
and for that matter iTunes tells me I've listened to around 50 songs tonight, including Tasmin Little's new free album.

About three songs from the end I noticed I was singing along - which is always a dodgy choice when lovely wife and child are sleeping upstairs.

Don't go near the coffee. Don't go near the coffee. Don't... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz



The subtitle of this blog should make my feelings about paperwork pretty clear. But here I am still doing it at quarter to midnight.

That's all. I just needed to let it out.


How hard is it to celebrate your birthday?

Soul Beaver (the longest running band I've ever played in, and something of an extended family) has been trying to have a birthday gig for over a year. We have hit a few snags along the way - vanishing keyboard players, venues closing and lots of childbirth, for example. Our eleventh anniversary show, complete with support band and free entry has been scuppered as the landlady of the venue hadn't paid her PRS bill and decided going bankrupt was cooler than finding the money. So the venue is shut down and boarded up while we, the frustrated band, are still looking for a place to play.

Yesterday we agreed that we wouldn't let it drag into a twelfth anniversary show, so stay tuned.


Natural History Museum, Oxford

Natural History Museum, Oxford
Originally uploaded by Roostar
Here's a shot of the museum in an HDR stylee. Three photographs with different exposures merged together. It was taken without a tripod, which explains the slight blurring.

Oxford Natural History museum roof

Oxford museum roof
Originally uploaded by Roostar
You might be able to spot a dinosaur head on the right.

Newton's feet

Newton's feet
Originally uploaded by Roostar


Originally uploaded by Roostar

Natural History

A good day today. J, Freya and I went to Oxford and enjoyed the Natural History museum and the amazing Pitt Rivers museum. The staff in this odd and beguiling place fitted in perfectly with their surroundings. They were welcoming and knowledgeable and if you live anywhere near Oxford I urge you to get down there. The picture here is of portraits of the staff.

In unrelated news, goodbye Bobby Fischer.



So much paperwork to do for the OFSTED visit next week. I don't tend to post about the dayjob but I'm having to fight the urge this week.

But I have fought and won.

Much excitement as I delve further into the delights of photography. Once the paperwork craziness is over I'll be out taking pictures of something more interesting than my living room. Luckily I have a pal who shares my enthusiasm for talking pictures and talking about camera related technology. Some might suggest that being a musician made me nerdy enough but why not have two areas in your life to be nerdy about. If I played more chess I could possibly bring that up to three, but there isn't really much in the way of 'chess gear' once you've got a good board, nice pieces and a chess clock. Or is there? Let me know.

Possibly bad news about the Soul Beaver gig. I'll check the details and let you know the horrible truth. It's safe to say that Oxford might have lost another venue though.


Why estate agents are not always my favourite people

Battering my way through paperwork for the dayjob I stopped to read the BBC news and found this article. It contains the saddest quotation I have read all year.

"If you try and sell your house, estate agents will tell you to get rid of the books, they are viewed as tired and middle aged."

Reading for pleasure, anyone?


The Prince of Danish

I just found my notes for a lecture on a Shakespeare play some years ago. If I don't type up my notes straight away they can mean nothing to me later on.

An example: "Hamlet's Dad hoovering in the background." Did I mean "hovering"? Who knows. The lecture wasn't even on Hamlet.

Perhaps this is another sign that the play is more important than the study of it.


New Year, again.

OK. After a few less than cheery posts here's something positive.

Over the last year I've been planning an album or two in my head. The only missing ingredient was an instrument which took a lot of planing an even more time to make (although it was worth every second). I've been playing the instrument (a Warr guitar) for a while now and I'm still struggling with it's interesting tuning and playing style. I had a chance to play it with Richard Guitarist and although I was fairly ham fisted in my approach, I was pleased with the possibilities.

In the last week, while being ill, something has shifted. Dreams of nightmare styled banality (all to do with the dayjob) have appeared and only now seem to be shifting. In the days I've been having odd flashbacks to tiny moments in my past. A shelf in a classroom from junior school days, posing for a photograph on my last day at secondary school, crossing a wintery street in Italy and the taste of my mum's cheese and chive pie (my favourite dish as a boy). So, today I made some cheese but chive pies but without the chives as we only had two tiny stalks growing in the garden. So, cheese and onions pies. I forget what point I was trying to make...

Oh yes. Today, in a moment of peace while driving home from a Borders near Swindon, all my plans for the album)s fell away to be replaced by something new and far more thrilling. More soon.

Today's picture was taken form the car a few minutes before I sorted the musical part of my life out.



This morning, feeling rough from yet another night of tossing, turning, sneezing, coughing and trips to the loo I drove to college for a 'Staff Development Day'. I wasn't in the mood for this one but felt I had to go as I'd be letting my colleagues down otherwise. Since I try not to write about the dayjob here I'll briefly summarize my experience at work today as - arrived, was told I was too ill, left.

When I got home both J and the baby were in better form than yesterday, which was good. I was, however, surprised to find reporters circling the street. It seemed that yesterday a family from a few doors away had been skiing in Colorado when their eleven year old son had had a terrible accident and died. The press arrived in the shape of a young reporter, respectful and just wanting some local comment. An hour later I spotted a man setting up a video camera on a tripod, dutifully filming the front of the family's house and panning around for, what, local colour? Another reporter arrived soon after and the two of them knocked on all the doors for comment. When they reached us I politely refused to say anything other than that they were a lovely family (that's all I knew about them from personal experience. The reporter wanted more and looked deeply annoyed when I refused.

Another hour, another reporter. This one J dealt with. More charming than the last but just as desperate to get something more substantial than what we actually knew. It was a terrible tragedy, they are a lovely family. This reporter walked off further for more interviewees and then sat in his car for hours. I had the uneasy feeling he was waiting for the family's return so he could ask them how they felt. Luckily he left before they came back.

So much for a more cheerful post. I'll try again soon.



All three of us have come down with, what some call, the devil bug. We are all sick, achy and a tiny bit irritable (not much sleep over the last few days).

Back to the dayjob tomorrow. Hurrah.

A more cheery post should follow soon.


The New Year in terrifying detail

This new year's eve J, Freya and I went to stay with our friends Richard Guitarist, his wife Sarah and their daughter Elodie. Rich and I spent quite a lot of the evening playing music in his project studio (Warr Guitar and Les Paul works really well, by the way) then came back down to argue about heating a fodue and spending a considerable amount of time photographing it.

The rest of the evening, once the children were asleep, was spent in a sort of seventies theme night. Elton John album, previously mentioned fondue and some reminiscences from those of us old enough to remember the seventies. Then the babies woke up and we had to lose Elton and drink some 30 year old port. Mmmmmm.

Much food, drink and conversation later we all celebrated the actual new year by mostly ignoring it and debating whether Jools Holland was a fun person or an annoying git.

This morning - happy new year - having been woken by Freya - I had to drink a lot of coffee and eat some chocolate brioche before regaining any sense of being human. J actually found me in the kitchen unable to work a microwave.

A sleepy but fun morning chat with our pals ensued and then we came home. Tonight, having a pounding headache, I decided to tempt fate by finishing off the port and eating too many biscuits with stilton. The joy of middle age - apparently.

So, 2008. Headache, slightly drunk but happy.