Sunday, 18 December 2011

skwee bop

Thanks to my lack of ability as a stress engineer and mind-reader, the last few weeks of work have been somewhat slightly stressful. Thankfully I had the opportunity to have all conscious thoughts smashed out of my tiny skull with some powerful gigs.

Thought-smashing was achieved most ably by the mighty Napalm Death and a trio of support acts with generic death metal names. One of them played a song about working in a fast food restaurant ("this one's called Whopper Slavery"); the next band played a song about TV presenter Noel Edmunds. It looked/sounded like this.

And then old-enough-to-know-better Brummie death-grind behemoths Napalm Death took to the stage.

Everything after that is a bit of a blur, but I woke up the next morning with ringing ears, countless bruises and an overwhelming urge to buy everything they ever did ever.

Nine days later I found myself limping back to the same venue for something far less abrasive. Support came from Mojo Fury, a band I saw supporting And So I Watch You From Afar earlier in the year. They were much as I remember them; which is to say that they were jolly good, but rendered utterly forgettable by the sheer brilliance of the main act. The main act in this case being Amplifier, a band that has been continuing to release superb records for some years in spite of the fact that almost no-one seems to buy them. What they play could be described as prog, but without all the flute solos and songs about hobbits; instead they go for big riffs, cosmic guitar effects and two-disc concept records about a dark matter trading space octopus.

I realise I'm probably not selling them particularly well. Trust me, they're awesome.


In between all this awesomeness, I did something that I am not terribly proud of.

I played Dungeons & Dragons.

In my defence, I only did so in order to fulfil a promise to my good friend The Lieutenant Commander (known formerly as The Lieutenant), who will be soon be spending much of his time in a submerged tin can firing missiles at unspecified patches of land.

D20's were rolled. Booze was consumed. Our bold party of adventurers displayed a remarkable talent for rampaging off on wild goose chases and getting beaten up by local small time gangsters. Our monumental ineptitude ensured that the baddies won and the nobility of an entire city were burned to death by religious zealots.

And then I died and got reincarnated as some kind of gittish Mr Tumnus.

Sunday, 4 December 2011


This week; family shenanigans, interspersed with experiential leadership training through the medium of mental and physical torment in the frozen north.

The latter took the form of a week long course in the Lake District. The Lake District looks a bit like this...

...except in my experience much more dramatic and much, much more bleak. I can only assume that the adverse weather conditions have been photoshopped out (you can tell because of pixels, or something). Or it was taken on 1 of the 145 days that it does not rain in the Lake District. Specifically, not at the end of November. How the hell should I know.

Point is, I spent the time getting to know myself and others much better by jumping off bridges with them, dangling off cliffs attached to ropes tied up by them, and huddling together in blind terror at the top of wobbly poles with them. There was also plenty of time for self reflection at the local pub, where the wild-eyed landlord with unruly hair would stay open as long as the amount of money being spent on booze significantly outweighed the cost of the collateral damage we incurred.

In spite of my deep seated inherent cynicism, it was a good week in which I learned a lot of things that I expect to be forgetting very soon.

Before all that was mum's birthday thing. This involved bimbling to London to see The 39 Steps (which was excellent), and to enjoy a poncy meal* (which was frankly a bit too poncy for me to really enjoy). How poncy? Poncy enough that as we were about to leave, Paul McCartney sat down at the table next to us with whoever he's married to nowadays. So now mum can tell everyone that she had a meal with Paul McCartney on her birthday.

After the whole Lake District outdoor activity death misery was the other family doohicky, a get together for a meal in lieu of grandma having to buy presents for anyone. Which is fair enough, since her failing eyesight, hearing, memory and just about everything else makes it more or less impossible for her to do... well, anything really. To underline her encroaching senility, she spent much of the day calling me by cousin (Simon)'s name. But that's okay, because she's been doing this for about twenty years now; and I like a good running gag.

At some point, I had a birthday too; wherein my splendid friends and a mischievous Pixie showered me with gifts including, but not limited too, an OCD chopping board, a pirate-shaped USB stick with Monkey Island 3 on it, toys and comic books, and some more GARY FUCKING NUMAN.

Thanks gang.

*I couldn't remember the name of the restaurant we went to, so typed "poncy italian restaurant london" into Google. The restaurant we went to, Bocca di Lupo, was the third result returned.