In the Back Room

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I am sure I wrote a post on the Blackspires gig at The Star – but the demons of the internet seem to have taken it off to hell. Or possibly limbo. Wherever the lost posts go. So here are some piccies and maybe a tiny bit of rambling to go with. We rehearse in the mezzanine above Jimmy’s roofing warehouse. Free, but cold. Hence the 90s festival-goer getups.

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Night of the gig, at the Star – famous for crap sound, so much so that I have refused to play there for years…but some curtains and some careful training of the sound guys and they seem to have cracked it. A venue that looks the biz, but swallows high-screamy-rock vocals and lead guitar – not good. But as I said, now seemingly better :-) The walls are layered with posters of past gigs, mixed with general rock gig posters, etc. Somewhere in that geological layercake record will be one for at least one of my previous gigs. Wonder where…

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[last set of pictures by Woody Ede]

Jimmy was pulling double-duty guitar god tonight, and lasted the distance – despite technical hitches with his amp head, which cut our (excellent) support band’s slot short by a couple. There’s all sorts of stuff in the pictures that I don’t remember. Looks like a good gig though :-)

Night on the town

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Tourist sights, posh burgers, catchup with John in shiny shiny London town. Apparently the side of the South Bank Centre is broken. One for http://thedailywtf.com

Great night, very chilled. And I am now up on all the “geek dad vs 14-yr old geek girl” chron job hacking tactics. :-) Dad 1 – Girl 0!

Shame I can’t do it more, but it’s good when it does happen. Got the last fast train home, happy but tired.

Project

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So… I’ve been saving this one. Longer than I expected to…. Once upon a time, or about 6 weeks ago, I found myself succumbing to a bit of Friday afternoon internet surfing, a little down about how long the work on my apartment in Berlin was taking. I spotted a bargain. A project. A boat. In Wales! I know, I know, I’ve only just (finally) sold a boat, but I’ve been vaguely on the lookout since way before then, since last year, for my one-person, shallow draft, small adventures boat. I needed strongly to be doing something. Something physical, manual, something with the flavour of escape. I don’t want to be like this, life would be simpler is I was happy idle, but I am not. I’m addicted to learning, to doing things that I have no idea how to do when I start, to achievement, to that sense of satisfaction of a job well done.

I don’t know if I will hive off the boat work to a separate journal – that would make sense, but also run the risk of me getting lost down the rabbithole of alternative blogging platforms, or writing/hosting my own and all sorts of other distractions. Which would also be learning new things, useful things… you see my issue? Maybe just another WordPress site. But I have to decide soon, or I will lose the momentum. Having to sit on this for a few weeks longer than I thought hasn’t helped.

But yeah – meet Ho-Ro – a sweet boat in need of a little (lot) of love. She’s a Trident 24, a couple of years older than me. Her name has musical connections, being something in a pre-sheet-music system of mnemonics for remembering bagpipe tunes. I bought her from a Welsh guy called Peter, who is a professional bassoonist (his wife, also pro, plays viola). Feels Meant.

I stood on her deck, in carpark under a flyover in Swansea and thought – “Yeah, this is right”. Love’s never logical.

 

Expecting the Unexpected

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Well, nothing about this trip has been quite as expected. Due to me forgetting until Thursday that Kev had a new number, I had no idea of the state of my apartment. I hadn’t kept in very good touch with anyone else here, bar Sarah, who I was definitely going to spend some time on Saturday with, so I had no definite other arrangements (Jean had offered, back in October, but we hadn’t spoken to each other a couple of weeks). I took a flyer, just went to the apartment thinking “It’ll be OK”, but when I got there – no toilet. Which was a tad inconvenient, since I had skipped a visit at the airport. I always seem to just miss the train coming off the Friday night flight, so this time I was determined! I caught the train, but it left me contemplating the problem with the (scientifically-proven) brainpower handicap of a full bladder.

I kinda stuffed up. It was dark, I was tired, all the useful stuff like the cooker and my “sea chest” (plastic crate that holds all my worldly possessions in Germany) were hiding under other things, plus a layer of dust. The only buckets were full of plaster. I wasn’t really thinking straight. Instead of setting to, getting the portable light plugged in, finding the red floor bucket and getting the place shipshape, I turned round, got straight back on the tram and went to Rabenschwarz kneipe, where I knew Frieda was working and that she might lend me her futon. I would have gone there anyway for a few glasses of (alkoholfrei) Weißbier, once I had got sorted out, but I am kicking myself now… Ended up with me spending money over the weekend that could have gone more usefully.

I had a good, but quiet evening. The lovely Frieda consulted with Sabine back at home and, indeed, I could stay. Tomorrow would be another day to deal with. Not wanting to force a whole group’s conversation into English, I said basic hellos to people I did know, then sat in a comfy candlelit corner reading a Lindsey Davis “Falco” book on my Fonepad, having the odd beer (and eventually Fencheltee) and just chilling til closing time. Unfortunately there was a mutual non-recognition incident with a musically-inclined guy called Sven, who I’d had a long interesting chat with on a previous visit – it was only when he was leaving that we both went “oh, I didn’t see you there…” Oh well, some other time!

Finally, as I struggled to keep both awake and warm (a tiredness symptom rather than any lack in the bar’s heating), it was closing time. Frieda cashed up, locked up, and we headed back to hers. Crashed out about 4, warm and grateful.

Glitch?

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I don’t know anyone whose life is like mine. Or whose plans/dreams are at all similar. It makes it difficult to talk things over/mull/sanity check. Makes me feel really quite isolated.

I neither want nor need any one person to add up to the same as me. If you have that, then when one of you (inevitably) changes in a way that the other doesn’t, that can very well be disaster. As can trying to live not admitting you have changed. I try very much not to cripple the future by dwelling on the past, but I do want to learn from it – a tricky balance. I’m in a position for freedom in my life (at least for a time) that few people are. Which is not an accident. It has happened by work and planning and riding out all the changes, bad luck and disasters, and (crucially for my sanity) by never exploiting anyone. I’ve got friends, but there’s no good way to talk about where I am right now with any of them without running the risk of sounding like a total d!ck. That’s the isolating thing.

I’m not a situation that classically seems like it needs sympathy, so I’m very touched that at least some of you get it, at least a little. I am lucky, I have lots of friends and don’t lose touch with many. A few, but that’s people better off out of my life. The good ones are good about staying in touch. Even if our lives go in different ways, it’s good to know they are doing well.

It’s tough to feel I deserve it, to look after myself, to be kind to myself.

Almost as soon as I write this, make it public – the Matrix glitches, and even more good things and good people come into my life.

Life through a lens

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Kaleidoscopic jam night at the Social Club.

Just a look at the world from strange, swirly, multiply-distorted angles – seems highly appropriate to the SSC jam crew, and indeed to all of my friends. I am greatly cheered by reminders of the other weird and wonderful people I do know, all walking their own wibbly-wobbly paths. We may all have our own brand of non-normality but we can also have a (no doubt somewhat shambolic) form of solidarity!

And, to complement that lot, from the master of funky photos himself,  Mr. Chris Nevard, me…

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All too accurate :-)

Pleasure

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I’ve realised that I pretty much think of work as a prison term that I just have to endure until my sentence is over. Ok, so it’s a moderately nice open prison, but still….far too accurate. I want to study and do creative things and enjoy some of the fruits of my previous labours before I get old. I mean, who knows how long any of us have?

As I established long ago, it’s not any one job that’s the problem, it’s work. Easy, hard, interesting, boring, nice people / conditions, horrible ones, long commute, no commute, computers, not-computers, perm, contract, big company, smallest of companies … It’s all the same. It’s doing what someone else wants – and generally far removed from anything directly useful to keeping anyone alive and happy. I cannot connect with any of it any more. There is no retirement anyway – stop doing and you stop being. I think there’s no cutoff where you never need to support yourself ever again, and trying to save to afford one is ludicrous. Warps your whole life, pushing all the fun/relaxation later and later – and you might never get there. At least so I see it. Others are different and that’s perfectly valid too. Favour a far more episodic approach myself.

I’m going to enjoy whilst I am still definitely here and definitely capable. I’m not pushing it all ever further into the unknowable future. I want to be busy about what I want – for as long as it interests me.

I’ve never been career/money/status oriented, but I have been on a long term strategy (in the loosest possible terms) since I was…oooh… about 23, really. Maybe since I decided (at 16 ish) that I wasn’t ever having children. I was about 26 when I seriously realised that being good at what I did technically wasn’t going to cut it for me as a life and I didn’t want to run a company. I made my first “escape attempt” in 2004, had a decent go at it 2010 (personal issues, sadly, meant I messed that up). Now it’s just me, and it’s increasingly dawning on me that there’s no reason not to do exactly what my (rather modest) heart desires…

Let’s see if I can  wrap my head round that notion.