Thursday, February 18, 2016

It's a long time since I've done this - but we laid my dad to rest today.  It was a lovely day, or as lovely as these days can be, my dad's friends were out in force - standing room only at the crematorium.

I had a few words to say, which are set out below.   But in a nutshell, my dad was the best dad a boy could wish for, I miss him terribly and the world is a worse place without him.  But the world is a wonderful place for having him in it.

Love you Dad.

My dad was a popular man – he was well loved and he made friends easily.  Whoever you were, he would always remember your name – as long as your name was Curly.
He wasn’t one for giving out lots of parental advice – he led by example really (and what a great example he set).  He did, however, give me two bits of advice that I’d like to share with you.  On the subject of girlfriends – “Always make sure you have a look at their mother first”.  Excellent advice, I’m sure you’ll agree.  On the subject of marriage – “Think about it ‘til you’re forty…then forget it”.  Well, I’m afraid I ignored that particular bit of advice, Dad.  Twice.
I worked with my Dad for a few years, at Levers. I knew about the soap powder and the other stuff, of course, but it was only then I found out just how much of Levers’ business model revolved around the repairing of kettles.
While I was at Levers, no-one really called me by my name.  I was always ‘George Waring’s lad’.  It was often the same when I was out: “Are you George Waring’s lad?”  For a while this used to irritate me – I wanted to be me, not someone’s lad.  But then I thought – yes – I am George Waring’s lad.  And that’s something I should be really proud of.
I am proud to be George’s son, and I know our Jon is too.  And that Andrew, Matthew, Ross and Isabel are proud to be his Grandchildren.  That Pat is proud to have been George’s wife for 58 years.  And that all of you are proud to have known him too.

So thanks Dad, for everything.  If I turn out to be half the man you were, I’ll have done all right.

Monday, April 08, 2013

When England was the whore of the world...

The mother of the nation has gone; she has hobbled off to her uncertain fate, having only a tycoon's salary given to her to fund the purchase of that monkey-shit-brown hair rinse we know so well.

They act like nothing ever happened, but it did. It's too late--too late for the thousands driven to mental illness, premature old age and suicide by the force-feeding to them of a daily diet of despair and the doctrine of their own obsolescence.

Too late for the thousands of teenagers who grew up illiterate but unaccountably proud that their nation spent the money it could have been spent on educating them to buy guns--guns which this country is too feeble and unimportant to need to use.

It's too late to stop the rot--a rot she denied existed and which many thus forgot, which continued to accelerate and and now will not be stopped until all this fucking pretense is dropped.

(c) Cathal Coughlan, 1991

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bread, Butter and Badinage

Today's soundtrack:  Stornoway - Beachcomber's Windowsill

First week back at work passed pretty uneventfully, it didn't take long to catch up on emails and paperwork.  No major issues in my absence, either.  I always have this nagging uncertainty after a fortnight off - does the fact that I wasn't missed reflect on the quality of my team (and my management/delegation skills) or the fact that I am not at all indispensable?

It's the former, obviously.

So, John won the bake-off, then.  We felt it was a tad controversial, that Brendan (a Buddhist!  Who would have guessed?) had probably done enough - but that John was made of stern stuff.  I did get the impression his mum would have rather he'd lost and put this silly baking lark behind him, whilst going on to be a hot-shot lawyer...but I think we all know where John's future really lies, don't we?

Box-set shuffle this week as we finished the second series of Justified (excellent show) and started the latest series of Supernatural.  I love Supernatural.  It is just so marvellously silly, but is also remarkably subversive in its approach to 'religion'.  How does the Bible Belt in the US get its head around a popular TV series that has God depicted as a slightly puzzled looking middle aged man in a Columbo raincoat?  Anyway, Castiel is not God anymore, and he's unwittingly released a raft of new baddies on the world before disappearing...although a pond to a penny he's back soon, hopefully as a nice angel again.  We like Castiel.

Under instructions from Mrs W to make bread and butter pudding this week.  Not sure why, I've never made her bread and butter pudding - ever.  Still, I do what I'm told, and produced something - quite delicious, actually.  Loosely followed a 'Good Food' recipe, and although I'm not sure wholemeal bread is 'traditional' in these matters, it did add a touch of nuttiness to the taste that was very acceptable.  So, basically - lots of triangles of bread and butter, crusts off, in a baking dish.  Layers interspersed with cinnamon and mixed fruit that I'd soaked in warm water for a while.  Custard made with a couple of eggs, sugar, milk and double cream.  Poured over  with a hint of nutmeg and soaked for half an hour or so, then 40 minutes in a hot oven.  Served with the rest of the double cream.

And some left for tonight!  Nom nom!

Just watched Plucky Everton sneak a draw against the mighty QPR at Loftus Road.  We never really got into gear against a QPR team that have struggled to be more than the sum of their parts this season, although typically we met them just as they began to start playing as a team rather than a collection of strangers.  Without Fellaini and Gibson, we are very weak in central midfield - and it showed today.  We also struggled down the right with Seamus and Victor not really (at all) gelling.  Throw in a sending off on the hour and it was backs to the wall.  Thankfully Jagielka had a marvellous game at centre back to keep us in the game and, although we never looked like sneaking it, a draw was not an unfair result overall I felt.

Stornoway on the soundtrack today - a nice little band in the Guillemots/ BSP/ James mode.

Beachcomber's Windowsill is their debut album and whilst they are never likely to hit the Mumfordesque big time, they are just the sort of band who you'll chance across on one of the minor stages at a festival and who will entertain you most satisfactorily for an hour or so.  That's not to patronise them - I just think they fit a particular niche and fit it very well.

Anyway, this is 'Zorbing' - lead-off single from the album.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Not At All Pointless!

Today's soundtrack:  R.E.M. - Songs For a Green World

So that's that then - my home-holiday draws to a close, and probably with it this daily stream of nonsense.  I've enjoyed doing it though, so - perhaps - I'll carry on at weekends?  Don't hold your breath though...

Up and out this morning with the dog to see the Old Folks.  They like to see the dog.  Nice cuppa and chat with my mam & dad while the dog buried a bone in the garden.  It's not his bone, it actually belongs to my brother's dog.  Who will have a bugger of a job finding it now.  I like to think of them both, in turn, hiding the same bone from each other on alternate visits.  And each wondering why the bone is never where they last buried it when they come back.  Perhaps they will assume the bone has mystical qualities that allows it to transport itself from place to place on its own.  Perhaps this will blow their doggy minds.

We then went off to the forest for a stroll in the crisp autumn sunshine.  Not our usual route, we stopped in the main bit of the forest on our drive back through.  Dropped a bit of a goolie, as the bit of the wood we chose was obviously the 'bikers' section - lots of people riding quickly down hills and jumping over logs and stuff.  I had to keep him on the lead most of the time, lest he got run over by a runaway BMX-er.  He then led me a merry dance, taking me a bit 'off-piste' and into the muddy, boggy areas of the forest.  Bearings well and truly lost, we were lucky to find our way back to the main road just a hundred yards or so away from where I'd parked.

Been entertaining myself today watching my mate Gavin on the telly!  He was on the quiz show 'Pointless' (Episode 33 - catch it on iPlayer) with his mate.  And he only went and won the thing!  Sadly the jackpot is not of 'Millionaire' levels - particularly since the previous jackpot had only just been won in the previous episode, so he won't be retiring just yet.  After a dodgy first round, the boys improved as the game went on, until their deep knowledge of obscure Brit Award winners saw them through.  You'd expect nothing less of an Afterword regular!  He should just about be able to afford a round next time we all meet up...

Another mate of mine who has been doing great things is currently blogging about his trip to the USA, as part of an 'International Visitor Leadership Programme' administered by the US Department of State.  Noordad is a local councillor in the North West and as part of the trip is visiting Detroit, Washington, New York and other places to talk to US politicians about areas of common interest.  Hopefully this trip will inspire him to do even more good things for the people in his neighbourhoods.  His blog is here if you're interested - there's some inspiring stuff there.

REM on the soundtrack today - an 'official bootleg' of a 1989 show in Orlando, part of the tour promoting the 'Green' album, just as the group were transitioning from 'big' to 'gobsmackingly massive'.  I've a few of these albums, released by a company called 'Leftfield Media'.  The quality is variable (I've a Randy Newman one that sounds like it was recorded from outside the building) but this one is pretty good, both in terms of sound quality and the strength of the material.

I finally got round to seeing REM live on the 'Accelerate' tour and they blew me away.  I expected them to be pretty much going through the motions at this stage in their career but it was one of the most powerful shows I'd seen in years.  God, they must have been great in their prime.

And here they are, on the 1989 Tour, doing 'Pop Star 89' - in black and white, no less!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Today's soundtrack: Curtis Mayfield - Superfly

A nice lazy day today, in contrast to yesterday, when I boxed off all my outstanding chores.  So having walked the dog early on, I've been chillin', reading the paper, tinkering on t'internet and generally recharging in advance of the return to work on Monday.

One of the things I've been doing is hanging out on The Afterword site, the site that rose from the ashes of The Word website.  Regulars may recall my longstanding devotion to The Word in its many guises - magazine, podcast and website.  Sadly, falls in circulation and advertising revenue led to the demise of The Word back in July.  Unfortunately there isn't a market, apparently, for a well-written magazine covering all types of media - music, film, television, technology, and the business underpinning these media.  However of greater concern to me - and to many other people - was the associated loss of the website, where a strong, vibrant community of like-minded individuals had developed over a period of five or so years.

Fortunately, within this community are a number of people who had the drive, time and technical wherewithal  to design and launch an alternative to the Word website, and so 'The Afterword' (see what they did there?) came into being.  The intention was to mirror, as closely as possible, the original site, albeit without the ties to the magazine.  Over time, the vast majority of regular contributors have migrated across to The Afterword, and a number of new faces have also started to make a contribution.  Overall the transition has been pretty seamless, albeit with the odd hiccup and bout of navel-gazing.  If anything, the site's a better place than the old one, being run by the contributors rather than by the magazine staff.  Anyway, the link's over there - get yourself over there and registered!

With the England international last night, there's a distinct lack of footy to get worked up about this weekend.  This is not a good thing.  I have completely lost interest in the performance of the national team, to the extent that I can't be bothered watching.  And while it's nice to see a couple of the Everton lads getting the recognition they deserve, I'd rather they weren't playing and exposing themselves to injury (or the fluttery come-ons from the squad members at "bigger" clubs).  There have now been two international breaks since the season started, giving a disjointed feeling to the season and too few games being played, for my taste!  By the end of October there will only have been four league games played at home this season, and only one of those at its rightful time of three on a Saturday.  It's not good enough!

Anyway, I've been listening to the great Curtis Mayfield while writing this, and for the second day running it's a film soundtrack - this time for Superfly, one of a series of 'Blaxploitation' flicks made in the seventies.  I'm pretty sure I've never seen Superfly, but that doesn't matter - it couldn't possibly live up to the soundtrack anyway.

Curtis's voice was one of the sweetest in gospel/soul, and it remains sweet here, despite the subject matter - in fact, the contrast between the sweetness of the voice and the toughness of the lyric works incredibly well.

Here's Curtis back in 1973, performing 'Freddie's Dead'...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Smelly dog, smelly dog...

Today's soundtrack:  Various Artists - American Graffiti

So, my fortnight off work edges towards its close and - inevitably - Catholic Guilt kicked in this morning.  All those things I was going to do, that hadn't yet got done - well, today was the day, I suppose.

Firstly though, it was off to the woods again with the dog.  Nice, crisp morning - and for possibly the first time, we didn't see a soul on our circuit of the forest.  In an attempt to liven up proceedings a bit, Archie found something rank-smelling beside the path, and decided to roll in it.  He looked suitably pleased with himself.  Rather stupidly, I rubbed the dark patch on his flank to see if it would come off.  It wouldn't, but it did succeed in transferring plenty of the smell from him to me.

I frowned down at the dog.

The dog grinned back.

"What?" that grin seemed to say. "I'm a dog!  This is what we do!  Woof!"

So homewards we went, dog, me, and this invisible cloud of rankness.

Luckily, we have a dog that is not averse to a drop of water.  Specifically, the shower.  So, upstairs we went.  Me, stripped to the waist.  Shower on.  Dog in shower.  Me, half in and half out of shower, desperately trying to get water onto the rankest bits of the dog.  All too soon, the dog realised that this was not a game and decided to stop playing - at which point he dived past me, into the bedroom, to get dry.  Which he did by jumping on the bed and rolling around until water, residual mud - and residual rankness - was transferred from him, onto the bed.

I love him really.

Next job - ironing.  I'd been looking at the pile of shirts in the kitchen for the best part of two weeks.  They were not going to iron themselves, were they?  No, Paul, they weren't.  I actually don't mind ironing, but I do have a tendency to let things pile up until, basically, I've nothing left to wear.  Which does make it more of a job than it should be.  Mind you, I did have a brand new iron to play with (the old one ended up in the skip on Monday) - which was nice.

Job done an hour or so later.  Feet up?  No - sadly, the sun was shining, and the grass was looking sufficiently dry to take a cut.  So outside it was to cut the front and back - hopefully for the last time this year.  It doesn't actually take too long, and with the help of my (also relatively new) Bosch, I was finished in about another hour.

Back inside, and with the kitchen floor swept and mopped, and the freezer emptied for defrosting, I was - finally - done with the chores.

*Smug face*

Most of today's jobs were done to a musical accompaniment - as are most things in my life, to be honest - and today we've been accompanied by the Oasis brothers, the Trash Can Sinatras, David Bowie and a suitably mucky compilation from the lovely drakeygirl (whose blog you should also read - link over there to the right).  I also listened to a great compilation of stuff by Tony Joe White, reminding me just how much I love that 'Swamp Rock' vibe.

However the soundtrack to today's blogging stint comes from the soundtrack to the film 'American Graffiti'.  I loved this film back in the day, mainly for the soundtrack, but also for its depiction of a way of life that was so unlike the one I was experiencing at the time on the wrong side of the Mersey.  Diners, great cars, bobbysoxers - what was not to like?

Watching it many years later, the film itself comes across as a bit 'slight' - but the soundtrack is still wonderful.  Loosely 'rock 'n' roll', but also with plenty of doo-wop as well, the music evokes the era at least as well as the film itself.

Here's the Del Vikings with 'Come Go With Me' - apparently one of the songs a young John Lennon sang to Paul McCartney on the day they met at Walton Village fete all those years ago...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In the Hudd

Today's soundtrack:  Bruce Springsteen - Tracks

Off to Huddersfield today, to see Son No 2.  It was his birthday earlier this week (when I was busy Skipping) and although I'd got his present to him directly, via the miracle of Amazon, I thought I ought to go and show my face and buy him lunch.  Oh, and he needed a hand getting rid of an old telly.  If only he knew someone with a skip to fill...

After a spray-soaked drive over the Pennines, it was thankfully dry in Huddersfield.  We loaded the telly up (an old one of ours that was big and heavy) and carted it off to the local recycling yard.  Despite many warnings about trying to dump stuff without a resident's permit, no-one demanded to see our credentials so we stuck the telly in the 'telly and monitor' container and went about our business.

And our business was to partake of beer and burger in The Parish, Matt's watering hole of choice.  I think I've blogged about The Parish previously - but it's a nice friendly boozer that does good food and puts bands on from time to time.  The chilli burger comes highly recommended - even this big boi had to admit defeat.

Apparently Matt was in there on his birthday and they gave him a free drink - a B-52, no less.  I can't remember the exact constituents but there are many and they are highly alcoholic.  I have had my own run-in with the B-52 'cocktail' myself.

*cue wavy lines and retro music*....

Back in the day, I had a job that involved a lot of international travel.  On one occasion I was in Toronto with the local finance director and a group of investment bankers at the time a 'deal' was being discussed.  The FD took us all out to a local bar and, as the evening wore on, he decided we ought to be 'on the B-52s'.  The barman duly lined up round after round, which we poured down our throats.  Until four in the morning.  Which would have been fine, except we had a Board Meeting to attend the following morning.  Moreover, the bankers were on an early flight back to the US the following day.  I managed to crawl out of my pit having had about three hours sleep to sit quietly at the back of the Board Meeting, which passed without incident.  Sadly the bankers were not so lucky.  Short of time, they had to dash back to their hotel, pack and leave pretty much immediately.  Inevitably, they were still completely pissed when they tried to check in.  The airport staff were not particularly impressed apparently, and when one of the bankers tried to play the Big I Am, he apparently got carted off to a little room for the 'rubber glove' treatment.  Flights were missed and, I understand, 'deals' were never done.

I felt a bit guilty after lunch, as I was then off for a routine eye test.  That would involve the optician getting Up Close and Personal with my beer and chilli-infused breath.  Poor love.  Oh, and it was an excruciating process as well.  I had the 'air puffed into eyes' thing that I hate, and the optician was not too impressed by the extent to which I wear my contact lenses.  He also seemed to have great difficulty assessing my close-up vision.  At one point he left the room to 'consult with his supervisor' - at which point I thought I'd be going home with a white stick rather than some new glasses!  Happily it was all something and nothing, and all I need are some new lenses in my old glasses, and a change to my lens prescription.

Brooooce on the soundtrack today, with the box set of offcuts and alternatives called 'Tracks'.  Not a set that I play regularly, but perfectly pleasant and acceptable.  You do feel there is a reason why these tracks didn't make it onto the official releases though...

This is nice though.  An early version of 'Born in the USA' (a Nebraska outtake, I think) played acoustically, and without the bombast of the famous version.