With the new year well and truly underway, we are emerging and the world is getting back to normal.
The first-few-weeks-back-at-work frenzy is levelling out and thoughts turn to fun!
Fun for me means - among other things - music. This always makes me thankful that my hobby and my work are more or less the same thing. There can't be that many jobs that combine both if you think of it.
Accountant: "I love sitting counting stuff. When I get home of an evening I count bathroom tiles to keep the buzz going".
Supermarket check-out queen: "When I finish work, I hurry home and stack stuff in the kitchen cupboards. It always gives me a big thrill. Value beans at the front...always!”
Undertaker: “Time with the deceased is never wasted. When I get back from a top interment I sit there with my family wishing they were in the ground....or that I was just dead!”
Truck driving is a less cut-and-dried occupation. Through the show over the years I have learned that many drivers enjoy driving and when the day is over they hurtle around in ludicrously overpowered cars or attempt to become undertaker fodder via warp-speed motorcycles.
Over Xmas and New Year there wasn't a lot going on and, apart from the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the live music itch wasn't being scratched.
Step forward Country legend, Marty Stuart.
Bob Harris Country producer and mate, Al Booth, had a spare ticket. I had first heard about the gig having been tipped off in a roundabout way by a listener: Mary from New York.
She is an Anglophile (there are still a few left) and live music fan.
The concert was so low-profile I had seen no advertising for it at all. This may explain why the gig was only two thirds full.
Being an enthusiast and not an expert, I hadn't had much time for Marty over the years as every time I had seen him it had usually been at an award ceremony, so had not really witnessed him play.
My vision was coloured by his image; that of a perma-tanned vision in rhinestones with a faintly ludicrous hairstyle (let’s call it "Downhome Bouffant" or maybe "Country Mullet").
Boy was I ever wrong. He has been around for a while now being roughly the same age as me and spent some years as guitarist in Johnny Cash's band, as well as marrying one of his daughters, although he is now hitched to Country legend, Connie Smith.
He ran through a very polished set of originals and covers and instrumentals with a cracking band, including the tallest and thinnest guitar player I have ever seen. The show climaxed with some Gospel featuring gorgeous harmonies.
Image is such an important part of music that we tend not to realise how much it affects us.
When I think of the number of CDs featuring photos of perky teens or oily geezers in tuxedos that I have discarded without listening to, due to my innate prejudice, I wonder how much great music I have missed out on over the years.
Talent show contestants immediately get flushed down the khazi as they will turn up everywhere, so no need to spend time on them. However, some artists start off badly for me but improve.
Joss Stone as a perky teen with big voice didn't resonate with me particularly; for her first album she had coaching from a middle-aged Betty Wright. Why not just get Betty to record the stuff in the first place? Latterly she has been working with a variety of people including Jeff Beck so her credibility rose. Likewise Katy Melua who started out as a Mike Batt protege singing twee tunes about bicycles. Then along came William Orbit and she became suddenly a more interesting artist.
I know, we are heading towards the "ageism" debate and a whole "good looking sells" argument. I suppose that is just the way the world turns.
I maintain not being good looking enough has prevented me from having a glittering TV career. Shortly, I will change this argument to include "I am also too old".
Actually thinking about it...I probably am too old!
Dark Lady and I have been busy making wedding plans and trying very hard to ensure it is as stress free as possible. We are planning something low key. So low key I am not sure I have been invited.
We were looking at cakes the other day as we probably need to have one of these. We are not too keen on having the standard three tier with the plastic Bride and Groom stuck on the top, so we looked on the internet at various cake sites. One we saw which looked pleasant enough, but nothing startling, retailed at a mad £999!
Mentioned it on the show and, as a result, thank you to everyone who offered to make us a cake. You really are very kind.
Think we are all sorted now, although the DL vetoed the idea of a Bob the Builder supermarket-bought job. My local supermarket will print a pic on the cake using some Fancy computerised icing system. Few months back went past the counter and there was a sign pointing out that they had the right to veto "unsuitable pictures".
Wonder what brought that about? A plethora of confections featuring bottoms, breasts and worse? Or Wedding cakes resplendent with the photo of the former wife/husband or police mugshot?
Taking time off from the planning we headed to the Mermaid Theatre in London for a Radio 2 In Concert special featuring OMD.
Before the gig proper started we went upstairs to watch Jo Whiley doing her stuff with the band and also a live set from Jonathan Jeremiah, who seemed familiar and played some wonderful songs backed by a string quartet. I have a suspicion that I have played him as part of the library a year or so back.
We took our seats one row back from the stage which boasted an unparalleled view.
On came the band and the couple in front stood up blocking aforementioned view!
I politely tapped the woman on the shoulder and asked her to sit down and she said
"Why don't you stand up?"
Not sure what the riposte to this should have been. I was on the horns of a dilemma here: was I spoiling their fun by asking then to remain seated? Or were they being inconsiderate by blocking our view?
Luckily they sat down after a few minutes and remained so for most of the gig.
I felt for a guy on the front row nearest the aisle who walked with the aid of stick. His view was continually blocked by people rushing to the front to Dad dance. So much so that his patience began to wear thin. By the time the band launched into "Enola Gay" he was using the stick as a weapon to hoik people out of his eyeline.
The weekend came and it was off to the Lake District for my Aunt’s 80th Birthday lunch.
You are so useful and kind with all your help with gift ideas. When people are into middle-age and beyond generally they have everything they need and in many cases are looking to downsize and simplify their lives. To that end the word had gone out:
Hmm, a problem. You had come to the rescue for my Dad several times now with a snorkel and the idea of having him fired from a cannon. What to get for an 80 year old music teacher?
The ideas came pouring in. We needed something musical, so extreme sports and a gigolo were politely declined. Although a bungee jumping Chippendale playing a zither did flit across my mind for a moment....only a moment mind.
I will tell you the rest of the story in the next blog which, if I remember, will also contain a glowing review of a vinyl to CD burning turntable I have just bought; soon I will be able to play you some of the albums and singles in my collection that are not available in other formats and so, at the moment, don't get an airing.
It is currently in its box. I just hope I can get it to work!