Month: April 2012


A couple of weeks where I should really have remembered the concept of a list.  I like lists.  In fact, I really like lists.  But recently I’ve had so much I need to do/organise – that I never got around to making a list of it – so nothing’s been done/organised.

First up – a couple of gigs, bands I’d never heard of – but the brief in the gig-spam I get caught my attention.

Toy – at XOYO – pretty much your stock-standard London indie-rock.  Not bad at all, but I wish I’d remembered to take my book.  Stuck in a basement with a couple of hundred young ‘alternative’ camden-types without anything to distract me – not an ideal evening for a grumpy old man.  And yeah, that’s about all I have to say about Toy at XOYO – I had to find a youtube video to remind me of the gig (although that’s becoming more of a common requirement.  Grumpy old senile man, perhaps.)

The following night – Arthur Beatrice at The Lexington.  Pretty much your pub with a small venue for up-and-coming acts type set-up.  I arrived early, had myself some dinner – then headed upstairs to the venue.  Found myself in a very small venue, with the barman for company.  And not another soul.  Set myself up at the corner of the bar with my bottle of wine and my book, and waited.  Finally more people started arriving, and eventually some music was played.  One of the support acts was a guy with two turntables and a microphone.  He seemed to want the crowd to dance and engage.  The crowd didn’t seem to want to.  And then Arthur Beatrice.  I’m not entirely sure if that is the name of a person, or the band, or what.  But anyway – rather good.  Their keyboard was broken – and apparently that is normally a core component of their music – so many profuse apologies from the young lady who would presumably normally be playing that.  But they made do.  I discovered that another consequence of my arriving so early was that I had more time to drink, and drink I did, and therefore became a little intoxicated – and was struggling to concentrate near the end.  Which was a shame – because they really were rather good – and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for their first album.  No videos of the gig itself – but I recommend checking out what is available out there.

Following evening – Justin had talked me into seeing some “world music”.  Amadou & Mariam, whom I’d never heard of – but apparently really should have.  I did the normal research – and yeah, I really should have.  How good is Amadou & Mariam?  Really good.  Headed out to SheBu to watch that, and rather enjoyed it – except for the large number of antipodeans that come with being in SheBu.  Where else could somebody walking out of a gig say to his mate “Let’s head to the Walkie” with a straight face?  (For those of you who don’t know what the “Walkabout” is – it’s essentially a franchise of bars specialising in large sports-bar type venues catering to hundreds of drunken young kiwis, saffas, and especially aussies)  Good as a last resort when trying to find a place showing rugby rather than soccer on the TV – but nothing more.

I was supposed to return the motorbike at around this time – but called up and extended the hire.  One more weekend, I thought.  So one more weekend is what I did.  Saturday – went for a ride around south London – dropped off my tickets for Gomez to Chook’s place, breaking into his gated community to do so.  Organised to meet Caitlin at a pub somewhere – but discovered my phone refused to show me a map to get there.  But on a motorbike – no problem, I’ll just quickly come home, have a look, and then head back down south.  So that is what I did – met up with Caitlin and her crew at a pub where they were watching some football or some such.  Chook & Chris then came and joined us – and we watched some horses running around a track, jumping over stuff.  The Grand National, I believe.  I bought a sweepstake ticket – and managed to draw the 2nd favourite.  And then the 1st favourite went nuts – so all of a sudden I had a ticket for the favourite.  I hate gambling – but it doesn’t count when it’s a sure thing.  Anyway – watched the horses race.  Apparently this is the first year of a heap of new measures to make the whole thing less nasty to the horses.  I’d hate to have seen what it was like previously.  Horses went down all over the show – at least one was shot.  Anyway – my horse came in third, and I got myself a £15 return for my 2 quid flutter.  Which I believe, in the parlance, is called a “result”.  I took my winnings and ran, before I could be talked into starting a proper drinking session, which is what it looked like the day was about to turn into.

Made it home safely, and started pondering options for my Sunday ride.  Opted for Windsor – and headed out there in the late morning.  Got there in time to glance at the castle, and find a pub for a Sunday roast.  Soon discovered that the entire town seems to be a tourist trap.  Had another look at the castle, without bothering to go inside – and then headed home – just catching the start of rain as I re-entered central London.

Monday – first day of a 5-day course.  I was to spend a week learning “Oracle 11g: New Features for Administrators – Release 2″.  In reality, I already knew pretty much all of the new features for administrators, even release 2 – but Oracle loves to make money… and in order that all the exams I’d already passed to result in pretty certificates and a heap of letters to put on my business card – I had to also pay a couple of thousand pounds to do a course to learn the stuff I’d already proven I knew rather well.  Well – I’ll let my company pay the couple of thousand grand – seeing as it’s them that want me to have all those certificates and what-not.

Broke up that week with a single gig – Noah & the Whale – at SheBu again.  But this time I had tickets for the balcony – nice and civilised with seats and such.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect – I’d heard of Noah & the Whale quite a bit, but never really got around to listening to them properly.  I also had the impression that they were probably quite pretentious “poor-little-rich-folk” types.  After the gig – I now have the opinion that they are rather good, and I should really listen to them more.  And yeah – still fairly sure that they’re poor artsy rich folk.

Ended the week with drinks on the top floor of Centrepoint.  Apparently it’s quite hard to get in there – but Paul got us a reservation, and we sat on the 33rd floor, drinking wine, eating overpriced bar snacks – looking out over London.  I believe it was supposed to be super impressive – but I didn’t really get it.  33rd floor?  Come on – I used to live beneath the goddamn SKYTOWER!  But yeah, good for something slightly different to the norm.

And today – trying to organise myself enough so that I can at least catch my flight to Iceland this evening.  I’ll leave the whole UK work permit expiring in a week problem until I get back.  Let alone trying to get my motorbike A2 license before June.  Oh – and the whole needing a visa for Cambodia also – despite the fact that the UK visa people may very well hold on to my passport for weeks, or even months.  It’s looking very likely that my flight to Cambodia was pretty much just throwing money away.  On the upside, <warning: inside joke which will look like nonsense to those on the outer>, it does mean that I’ll be standing up Buzz – he’ll be gloating about for once being the first man on the moon, and then I’ll just never turn up.  Sweet.


Well, after a month or two of feeling like everything I touched turned to the brown stuff – I finally cracked and panicked… trying to use money to buy happiness.  Apparently “Money can’t buy happiness”.  Bollocks.  I went out (or rather – sat at my laptop) – spent a whole heap of money, and am now happy again.  I’m just going to avoid reading the automated weekly SMS’s regarding my bank balance on my brand new phone.

Anyway – back to chronological order… first up, the gig which I had to re-buy tickets for (which I must have been very lucky to do, buying another ticket on the day – when the gig ended up being sold-out).  Kill It Kid.  Who it turns out, are/were neighbours with a workmate of mine.  Met up with Jess beforehand – as she was also heading to the gig (I believe it was Jess who pointed the way for me to ‘discover’ these guys) – ate some cerviche and drank some cocktails – before heading to the gig.  And yeah, pretty good.  Two vocalists – a guy and a girl – both with amazing voices.  But possibly a fair bit of arrogance – but I guess that comes with a stupid amount of talent.  (I’ve heard.)  So yeah – rather good gig, and probably worth the purchase of 3 tickets to get myself in.

And while at the gig, Jess managed to convince me to finally head along to the blues jam night at one of her local haunts (the lead guitarist is working with her on her own songs).  So the following night, that’s just what I did.  Listened to a heap of random people get up on stage and play blues.  Including one harmonicist who was either very very nervous, or a cokehead.  Well actually – my strong suspicion is a mixture of the two.  Anyway – a good chilled night, with perhaps one or two cocktails more than was strictly necessary.  (I got an SMS the next morning from Jess claiming she was still drunk.  I had to head out to Reading to spend the day, along with the Managing Director of my company, at Oracle headquarters at a ‘workshop’ – but managed to bluff my way through the day.)

I then had about a week off – before Low at the Royal Festival Hall.  I was caught up at work until fairly late, and then had to head home to get my tickets – and was therefore running very late.  And I was worried, as I had suspicions that the venue would be of the type where you couldn’t enter partway through a ‘performance’.  But when I got to the venue, it was perfect timing really – between the support act and the main act – and it turns out the hall entrance policy was rather lenient in any case.  So I’d arrived with the makings of a stitch in my side for no good reason.  I stocked up on wine – and took my seat (this was another terribly civilised type gig).  And then the gig – very good.  It’s not a particularly internet-search friendly name – but I found at least one video – (don’t be put off by the noisy start – maybe skip to 0:50).

And then I went on some kind of spending rampage.  Got sick of my cellphone being so gutless that it couldn’t handle answering phone calls.  That’s your main purpose, cellphone!  I don’t care if I can look at my calendar on you, if you can’t handle the basics.  Bad phone.  So – I went online, and bought the most expensive newest technology that money can buy.  The first phone with Ice Cream Sandwich IN THE WORLD.  Which isn’t as tasty as it sounds.  Anyway – buying a stupidly overpriced phone paved the way.  I already felt a heap better about everything.  So I went ahead and fixed some of the problems arising from my emails apparently being deleted – and slightly backed off my angry emails to my hosting provider.  Then I went and committed to a week in Iceland with Jess.  I’d been holding off on that – as it will mean my missing 3 gigs I have tickets for – Gomez, the Magnetic Fields, and Tricky.  All of which I really rather wanted to see.  But – instead, I went and bought flights to Reykjavik.  So – I’m heading to Iceland for a week, hoping to see some Aurora Borealis, and maybe also some puffin(s?), reindeer, and whale(steak).  But as with gigs – I can’t just buy one ticket at a time.  So I went ahead and bought a flight to Cambodia also.  So, immediately proceeding Rough Beats – I’ll be heading to South-East Asia for three weeks, hoping to see some temple complex(es), some diving, and maybe some rentable heavy weaponry.

And then I went and hired a motorcycle.  18 months after doing the ‘Compulsory Basic Training’ – I finally followed through with the next step.  Which was a bad mistake – leaving it so long, I’d forgotten pretty much everything about how to ride a motorcycle.  But what better place and time to try and “get back on that bike” than London, in rush-hour?  I know – London, at rush-hour on the evening of Easter weekend.  So yeah – I went and picked up a motorbike from a fairly nearby hire place – on Thursday evening.  Very very nervous, hoping I wouldn’t embarass or kill myself in the first five minutes.  I managed to do neither – managed to ride the bike back to my place, without even stalling it once – and without crashing.  I got it home, parked it up – and left it there until everybody else had left London for the weekend.  I was pretty much pinning my hopes on this happening – Central London being deserted over the long weekend.  Friday – I went out, and discovered – Yes! – nobody about.  So, got back on that bike, and just started riding around town randomly.  Slowly got the confidence up – and decided the next day I’d try going to some specific places, to force myself to take turns/routes I wouldn’t by choice.  Saturday – went and bought up some ‘kit’ – kevlar jeans, a jacket, etc – and toured around London visiting every place I’ve ever lived.  Headed down to Oval & Balham – and then out to Stratford – checking on the Olympic Stadium.  Rode randomly around North London for a while, and eventually headed home – having started to rather enjoy the whole thing.  Sunday – I’d decided to make a slightly bigger trip – and get out of town.  I’d set my sights on Stonehenge, thinking it was out of London, but not too far out.  Which was incorrect – it is actually quite a long way out, and it turns out that a 125cc motorbike doesn’t go very fast on the open road.  And it’s cold.  But – I persisted, and checked out the rocks out in the middle of nowhere.  Fairly good rocks, some with hats on – showing a decent level of insanity.  But when you’ve seen the pure absolute incomprehensibility which is Easter Island – I mean… come on druids, is that all you’ve got?  Although – to be fair – Stonehenge also had a group of guys dressed up like hippies, playing music – with a poster explaining they needed donations to help raise funds for their project – which I believe was to raise the druids of old from the dead?  Or something.  So yeah – well done Stonehenge.  After Stonehenge, I spent another 3 hours in the cold, heading back to London.  Then headed down to the local pub for a big dinner they’d invited me to.  I struggled to be social, being rather exhausted – and probably came across as even more distant/aloof than normal.  Bought a bottle of champagne in an attempt to become a little more ‘bubbly’ myself – but with only limited success.  Eventually gave up, and headed home.  Monday – just a simple ride down to Balham to visit Chook.  Some lunch, a couple of pints, and a couple of games of pool – all in all a proper bloke’s day out.

And now it’s back to work.  I rode the bike into work this morning – feeling rather ridiculous in doing so, considering it’s a 25 minute walk.  But I need the practice, and gotta make the most of the bike while I’ve got it.  Speaking of which – I’m now going to research how to go about being allowed a bigger bike, which will allow me to go faster than 100km/h.  To enable me to spend even more money.