Monday, October 01, 2012

Uh-oh! He's blogging again!

Today's soundtrack: Graham Parker - Vertigo

*Blows dust off homepage*

Hello?  Anyone still out there?

Ok - I know I've been neglecting you all, but I've been busy!

To recap - I started seriously blogging back in 2009.  I'd been made redundant, and I wanted to do something to keep my brain ticking over, and to document how I coped with both redundancy and the ensuing job search.  I kept it up, pretty much on a daily basis, until I got back into full time employment about 12 months later.

It helped - really helped - me deal with the stresses and strains of unemployment, and it makes fascinating reading on the occasions I looked back on what I'd written.  It wasn't all about me - one of my sons got very ill - and then got better - whilst I was blogging.  We lost a dear family pet, but gained another (who we also lost last year), and always in the background was the supportive, comforting presence of the mysterious Mrs W.  The format was pretty constant - start playing an album at random from my iTunes library, write about the featured artist (usually with the help of YouTube), and stir in some bollocks about music, football, cooking or housework.

So why start again?  Well, happily I've not been made redundant again, but I do have a fortnight off work.  We spent this year's summer holiday money on the house, so we've not gone away - and this, combined with the lack of a Glastonbury this year, left me with loads of holiday that had to be taken or lost.  So for the next fortnight I'm going to be around the house, catching up on the odd chore, doing a bit of cooking - and, if I don't do something else, steadily getting on my own nerves.

So I'm going to get on your nerves as well.

So far, it's been all go - out with the dog first thing to Delamere Forest (the dog that has replaced the succession of cats run over on the road outside the house - do keep up), then out for cooking ingredients and some boots to replace the pair that are falling to pieces with every step I take.

Having a dog has been a real shock to the system - but in a good way.  Archie - for it is he - is a young Jack Russell who was a 'rescue' dog, and he's been with us for most of this year.  A lot more high maintenance than the cats, but a joy for all that.  And, having to walk the dog has been giving me plenty of exercise and had me exploring parts of our village that I'd never have come across otherwise.  Only the other week, I followed a bridle path that runs about half a mile from our house, to find it led right into Delamere Forest, where Archie can run off the lead to his heart's content, chasing (and failing to catch) squirrels and rabbits.  And where I can sneak a crafty coffee, and bacon barm, from the van that parks up in the car park at the far end of the forest.  This has now become our 'standard' weekend walk, and (assuming the weather and my legs hold up) will become the start of every day I'm off for the next couple of weeks.

It won't all be fun and games though - chores will be done.  Oh yes.  Next week, a skip is getting delivered, for me to pour the contents of our garage into.  There are tins of paint in there that we inherited from the previous owners, over twelve years ago.  I fully expect to find a Japanese soldier in the further recesses, steadfastly waiting for the end of the Second World War.  I certainly expect to find whatever has been nesting in the corners as well (ulp...)

I'll keep you posted.

But hold on, Paul!  Back up there you said something about buying cooking ingredients!  What's on the menu today, matey?

I'm glad you asked.  Tonight Matthew, I shall be attempting Nigella's Peanut Butter Cheesecake.  Merely typing those words has added two inches to my waistline.  Peanuts and their butter will be involved.  Along with cream cheese - pots of it.  Sour cream will be added, as will eggs and extra yolkage.  There will be chocolate on top - as well as in the base, which will be buttery and biscuity as you would expect.

Here's the recipe.  Pictures will follow tomorrow.

Delighted that Graham Parker popped up on shuffle today.  I've always liked GP, from his early days as one of the 'angry young men' of punk and New Wave alongside Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson.  GP was never a punk though - he had far too much soul to be so narrowly defined.  Backed by The Rumour, possibly the best backing band an English singer ever had, he produced a raft of great albums early in his career (Howlin' Wind, Heat Treatment, Squeezing Out Sparks) and continued to produce some great stuff off the radar up to the present day.  Recently, I've been investing in his 'official bootleg' boxes, which collect together live performances from across his career, demonstrating perfectly that not only has he still got it, but that he never lost it either.

Vertigo is a double album 'compilation', unusual in that it contains full copies of both the original 'official live bootleg', 'Live at Marble Arch', as well as the aforementioned 'Squeezing Out Sparks', possibly his best studio album.  And it's none the worse for that.

Here's GP and the Rumour back in 1977, performing the sublime 'Silly Thing'.  It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing!

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