This weekend I got a chance to catch up with old friends, watch my daughter have fun with her oldest pal and take the train to Exeter to enjoy the delights of Manson's Guitar Shop. It was a fabulous weekend.

Last night I went to Oxford with my great pal, Russ. We had a bite to eat and then enjoyed the wonderful madness that is Zappa Plays Zappa. Frank's son has taken his dad's music out to an appreciate audience. I'm a long time fan of this stuff but my pal had only just heard his first FZ album a few weeks ago.

We were treated to all of the (') Apostrophe album and many, many treats from Frank Zappa's immense catalogue. They played City of Tiny Lites, Montana and Muffin Man, as well as about ten other insane, complex and fun tunes. I was impressed by every member of the band but (of course) kept noticing the work of Pete Griffin, ace bassist. It was good to have such an amazing band playing in Oxford. I assumed I would get to see the gig and be home much earlier than I would if it had been in London. But no, I got home at exactly (to the minute) the same time I did from the Ronin gig in London two weeks ago.

Now, to the woodshed.


Children in Need

Children in Need by WJCruttenden
Children in Need, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

Walking my daughter back from school on Friday we thought it would be sensible to stop at our local shop to buy a 'treat'. But outside the shop we found a cake stall. This plate of cakes was £1 (we overpaid) and by this point we'd already eaten one. Delicious!
Once more, on the night of Children in Need, I was reminded of the great work that cynics have done to improve the lives of children. We didn't do much, but we did something.


Of course

Over the years I've amassed quiet a few book of poetry and amongst them is the Norton Anthology. It's a glorious tome with examples of poetry from the earliest known examples to modern works. I love poetry and if I had the time and money would take a course to improve my knoweldge and appreciation of it.

But, times are hard and there's precious little time to do anything, so I began to design my own course. What's the point in having a library if you don't use it? So far I haven't left the research stage, but this is a great stage to be in. Essays on versification and syntax are keeping me away from the telly and filling my notebook. When this project is finished I might even convince someone to let me teach it.



It's fascinating to me how the language in our house has changed in the last few years. My daughter is now four and she has been a fellow conversationalist for the last two years. More recently her language has become more sophisticated but it's the basic utterances that have affected us the most. When things are not going as she's hoped she has a tendency to say, "That's just rubbish!" This has now become the exclamation of choice for all of us. Telling jokes is something else. She's known the structure of jokes for years but had no idea what made jokes funny. Until now.

So now I'm wondering how long it will be before I begin to steal her jokes.



An upcoming gig is getting me all excited. The gig itself should be a a lot of fun. It's the trio again (guitar, piano, bass) with a shaken up set list and almost no time to rehearse. But more than this is the chance to play something of my own as an opening act. I was going to bring the Warr Guitar but some experimenting with the bass has given me an altogether riskier but potentially more rewarding idea. let's hope I don't bottle out (or get bottled off).


Am I getting old?

Well, my eyesight is getting worse, I'm a bit run down and I've torn the cartilage in my knee and get regular physiotherapy (with an operation in the offing). But, my eyesight has been far from 20/20 since I was seven. I'm a bit run down because I'm an older father of young children. And my knee? That didn't wear out because I spent too  much time bending down to pick up the remote control; I busted it during a stupidly showy off yoga moment.

But still, the question hangs in the air. I have the distinct impression I have passed a point in my life where my I can't pretend to be young anymore. That's physically young, mind you. I refuse to become a grumpy old man and fight with my contemporaries who have begun to do so. Modern life in not rubbish and there were far more frightening things around in the past. Just watching Top of the Pops form 1976 is enough to confirm that. I listen to new music and although modern pop can sound derivative and shallow I will just have to refer the honourable member back to Top of the Pop from 1976 again.

Music, which has saved me in the past, keeps me going. As do my children, friends, chess, art in general and that strange itch to see what is coming next while desperately trying to live in the moment (yes I know it's  cliche - but it's still valid).

What has happened though, and it feels like a recent change, is an appreciation that I'm closer to the end than the beginning. This is not meant to sound maudlin, which is why I described the feeling as an appreciation.

Anyway, can't stand around chatting all day. I have things to do...


Seasonal biscuits.

IMG_2232 by WJCruttenden
IMG_2232, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

More biscuits being made. This one (made by Freya, decorated by me) didn't quite fit the Halloween season and will definitely be gone before the Christmas season. It's safe to say biscuit making is back!