Month: January 2014

Goodbye 2013

A mixed bag, 2013…  on the one hand: I fell off the “exercise more, drink less” wagon, and had a rather serious (looking back on it, didn’t seem like it at the time) motorbike accident; on the other: I visited 4 new countries, and gained independence/revenue by becoming a contractor.

Overall, I think I’m happy to see this particular New Year, as a fresh start (or re-attempt).  So – New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Eat one-handed
  • Drink water
  • Become British

And some probable side-projects:

  • Surrender to baldness… allow niece/nephews to shave my head?
  • North Korea – this year, hopefully, I’ll finally get around to my dream Trans-Mongolian, North Korea, Central Asia trip.
  • Get back on that hoss… the rowing machine hoss.

Enough looking forward… time to look back… Gigs…

  • Braids, at XOYO… a random gig, I saw it listed, at XOYO – so just around the corner – read a description of the band, figured it’d probably be alright.  And yeah, it was alright.  Except they’ve completely re-designed the layout of XOYO, so I was very very disoriented.  Yet the barmaid still asked if I wanted “my usual”… a little disconcerting.
  • Dave Dobbyn & Don McGlashan, at the Union Chapel.  You can’t really go wrong with those three ingredients.  Seeing Dave Dobbyn in London is kinda a kitsch right-of-passage thing for an ex-pat Kiwi… but I felt rather jealous of those who were doing it for the first time at this particular gig.  They alternated Dobbyn/McGlashan songs… mostly playing quite obscure stuff, until wheeling out the big guns at the end.
  • Sinéad O’Connor, at the Royal Festival Hall.  Caro had bought the tickets for this, and I went along.  I’ve only listened to Sinéad properly quite recently… she’s rather good, but her bat-shit insanity gets a little grating.  Turns out – her fans are the same!  But for a couple of hours – quite amusing.  Very enthusiastic fans… stuck in a fully seated venue.  Two girls in front of us couldn’t help themselves but dance terribly, sometimes seated, sometimes unable to resist standing and blocking other’s views.  But yeah, good gig
  • Terrible covers band, Fidelity Christmas Party.  So yeah, the festive season, work parties, etc, etc.  Fidelity party was at the Lingfield racegrounds, out in the country.  So I rode down on Wednesday morning, spent a couple of days brain-dumping my knowledge of my project to a few new guys, and stayed at the Marriott at the venue of the party for a couple of nights… planning on riding back to London on Friday evening.  Which meant a 30 minute ride from work on Wed evening to hotel… through ridiculous fog.  So… turned out to be a 50 minute ride of constant terror.  Left my bike at work on Thursday evening, caught bus to venue – got changed, partied, woke up, and caught taxi to work.  Somehow left phone in taxi.  Rode to East Grimstead or whatever to pick up phone on Friday evening, the driver still had it in his car, and had gone home.  So, found hotel to stay the night.  Opted out of cheap/cheerful Premium Inn in town… thinking I’d find a nice pub with rooms to spend the evening in the countryside.  Found a place – checked in, realised that it was actually just a hotel, with small run-down bar, no kitchen/food, and very dodgy overall.  But, had a very cheap, very cheerful restaurant a 5 minute walk up the road, so I coped.  Woke up the next day, went to taxi office, still no phone, waited an hour, eventually turned up.  Back to London…
  • to do some work, and then see Electric Six.  Which didn’t happen.  Well – the work did… I’d been afraid that I’d be too tired to see/enjoy Electric Six (a bit of a guilty pleasure gig… I keep seeing their name pop up, so figured I’d finally give in and go see them)… but as it turns out, the work stretched out into the evening, so I ended up being stuck in the office until much too late.  Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be… Electric Six probably needs to be seen at Heaven (refer previous post).
  • Placebo, Brixton Academy.  An ex-workmate told me that Placebo was one of his top 5 bands, which I didn’t understand – as he is quite smart… so I figured I’d give them another chance.  (It’s not that I dislike Placebo, but more… yeah – couple of nice-ish songs, but I wouldn’t ever consider them desert-island-disc type material).  So – went to the gig, first impression – wow, enthusiastic fans.  Some people really really like Placebo.  Second impression – I’m still not one of those people.
  • Following night: Katzenjammers – not a gig, another christmas-period event.  German bar, steins, sauerkraut, etc.  But a late night, with lots of drink, little sleep… by this point I was already tired of the ‘silly season’…
  • So Tricky, at the Electric Ballroom the following night, was always going to be a struggle.  I was very seriously considering flagging it… but I’d missed his gig a year ago – when he played the entire Maxinquaye album, to go to Iceland… so pulled myself together, and made it there… very tired, very hungover, and just holding it together.  And was pleased I did.  It was one of those gigs where you think “wow – I’d forgotten just how awesome this guy is”.  And that was with a gig where I don’t think Tricky himself was even on stage for the first 15 minutes, plus 2 pauses for “encores”… during which he really made the crowd demand it… probably a total of another 30 minutes off-stage, and then the last 30 minutes was him just repeating the same chorus over and over again (with a couple dozen crowd members on stage with him).  But yeah – really, really good.  This video sums it up quite nicely, despite poor quality… short clips of a few songs, Tricky covering Ace of Spades with a dozen crowd members in on stage, in such a way that when it is followed by what is probably his most famous song, it’s nearly a let-down; and the insane final half-hour.  I just watched the entire thing again, and got the shivers.  Tricky is going into my list of top gigs.
  • Jeebers’s Birthday – left work a little early on the 24th… had a few drinks – then headed home.  Stayed awake for as long as possible, to try and catch people in NZ coming online for Skype talks, but couldn’t stay awake for that long, and only caught Mum.  25th – slept in, and headed to Caro’n’Dom’s at about noon.  Too exhausted from the month to be particularly good company, but Malachy seemed to like my gift of a dancing/singing Baloo (although his grandma seemed to like it more..), and I received in turn a pair of sweet Incredible Hulk lounge pants, which I am wearing right now.  It’s a good look.  Good food, good drinks, good conversation (despite, or because of?, my inability to contribute much) – and then some whisky tasting, leading to my staying the night on the couch.
  • Boxing Day – stuck around, helped build a Duplo airport/heliport, and generally just lingered until Dom’s wider family started turning up.  More food, more drinks… but I forced myself to leave once the red wine started flowing… to get home for work the next day.
  • New Year’s Eve… left work early, headed to a bar for some drinks with the Programme Director from work (he doesn’t like being called a Project Manager).  After a couple of drinks in Islington, a plan was floated to perhaps drop off his stuff at his place, and head to the West End to find something/somewhere to do for the evening.  I opted out, suggesting a couple more drinks locally, before heading our separate ways… as I didn’t have the energy for a full-blown night out.  A couple more drinks locally somehow turned into the barman suggesting politely “the way you guys are going through those wines, wouldn’t it be sensible to order a bottle… save a few quid?”.  Well – he’s the expert.  Next thing I know, we’re discussing politics, love, (no sport that I can recall), chatting up random girls, etc.  I eventually headed home – well, to my local – to see in the New Year.  But, I’m not sure I made it… I think I realised I’d probably drunk a little more than was good for me, headed home – and I rather suspect that for the first time in abut 20 years worth of New Year’s Eves – went to bed before midnight.  New Year’s Eve in England… I don’t really get it.  It just doesn’t work.