Sunday, February 25, 2007

feeding from the bile

Decided to engross myself in my book this afternoon, use my current feelings as inspiration for one of the scenes in my book, and it proved quite useful. Took me a while to find somewhere to have a coffee and write as the deli I found the other weekend was shut. No opening times posted, though I do recall reading ona flyer - come and sit and read the sunday papers, or words to that effect, obviously not on a sunday though. It's quiet in the city centre on a sunday afternoon, found a quiet corner in a coffee house and got down to some writing. Wonder if I'll ever finish iit, but at least it is giving my mind something useful to d, rather than wallow in pity and 'what ifs'. Met up with ad later to go and see Hot Fuzz. Entertaining, bit of light hearted humour always helps. Talking of which, last sunday we were singing a john bell song, kind of contempory liturgy put to a familiar tune, which has the verse:

Jesus Christ is raging, raging in the streets,
Where injustice spirals, and real hope retreats,
Listen, Lord Jesus, I am angry too.
In the kingdom's causes let me rage with you

ad had typed it out on the song sheet, but had made a typo: Jesus Chris is raging, raging in the streets. I had a job not to refrain from laughing - that's me on my commute to work, raging in the streets.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's a winner

I've sent in a couple of reviews to teletext recently, I missed my Jarvis review, but my Regina Spektor review was a winner! Though I don't think this edited version flowed as well as my text, butthey have to adapt it to fit the screen restraints.regina spektor review

Regina bookends

It seems that as a regina spektor gig saw the beginning of a relationship with v, another one marks it's end. We both had our reservations about full commital, not least the difficulties of living on separate continents. How do you ever know, there's no all encompassing formula, and all the what if's and unknown variables. For someone with a mathematical mind it's too hard to calculate, and yet we shared so many beautiful times together and i always enjoyed engaging in conversation, as we had so many things in common, especially our eclectic taste in movies and music. Last night when the end became apparent, there's that numbness that engulfs, as if all you blood is failing to be pumped to it's correct location. The mouth goes dry, saliva stops and you try swallowing cos it feels like there is some great obstacle in your throat. There's nothing to do but wallow in self pity, trying to see what could've been done in the past to have a different result. How someone of such beauty would have an interst in the first place, a wilderness set before devoid of any replacements that could meet such a standard. A few seasons ago leeds were playing at the san siro and now they are in danger of playing chesterfield at saltergate next season, and you just wonder what you could've done to win one more corner.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Regina Spektor live

The last time I saw Regina Spektor live she was playing in the small room at the leadmill and it was an amazing performance. On the way home I bumped into a set of international students who wanted to find west street. I obliged by showing them as it was easier than giving directions. They were all pleasant to chat with and I met up with one of them later to talk 'english culture'. It was v.

Nothing quite so exciting this night, though as it was sold out I tried to blag my way in as a teletext reviewer, which I thought was fair cop, seeing as I had a hand full of my teletext planet sound reviews with me. They were convinced but cos my name wasn't down they couldn't let me in - boo. I didn't want to force the issue, but the door dude said that there was a few tickets that could be purchased on the door. Better than nothing I thought and took up the offer. Pleased I did, met ad inside who had already got his ticket. Surprisingly full venue, playing the main stage and there was quite a bit of chatter. This was disappointing me, cos there is nothing worse than chattering people at a gig. However, as Regina entered the stage a deathly silence fell as her powerful vocals captivated the audience. Her live vocals are really something else, so vivid and full, a sound that her recorded material does little justice to. She performed a number of solo pieces on piano and guitar, her vibrant anti-folk tunes with witty lyrics transfixing the audience. Then a session band joined her for some tunes from the new album and I thought it detratced from the rawness and simplicity of her vocals, something of the vitality of the songs was lost. Certainly a good gig, and worth giving up yet another evening for!

Took a few clips for you tube:

Sunday, February 18, 2007

NME new rave tour

klaxonsTonight I felt old.

I've never been to an NME tour before where they peddle the new 'cool' bands, but I'd purchased tickets ages ago cos I wanted to see the glorious css again. It was full of giddy students. I arrived early to catch all the bands and see if any of the hype was worth it, and I sequestered myself near the back by the mixing desk. New Young Pony Club, just seemed to be trying too hard. An opening act willing the audience to go crazy for them, and getting a half arsed response. Sunshine underground band seemed to have a fair following and were better than average. Css followed, and it seemed a rather rushed set, though they still are a fantastic live spectacle. Lovefoxxx wowed the crowd with her eccentricities, stripping down to a purple catsuit which had the male hormones flying. Then, with the crowd whipped up into a delirous frenzy the headline act, The Klaxons, took the stage. New rave eh? Well it was loud and vibrant, but shallow. Scratch at the surface and you are left with nothing, no musical inventiveness. The new heroes of music or flash in the pan, I think time will show the latter to be true.

Here's a rubbish clip of CSS performing css suxx for you courtesy of me

and a small flickr photo set

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jarvis is back

In sheffield at least. Thursday evening jt came down to visit and we went to watch jarvis cocker perform at the plug with A. It's the first time I have ever seen him perform live, lamentably I missed him during his days with Pulp. However, he did not disappoint, what a performer. He interspersed his songs with jovial chats about sheffield and his life spent in the city. Challenging the audience to name four rivers, before rattling off four and claiming "still got it!" Though his arsenal still contains some really good tunes, some really don't live up to his pulp days standard. Despite this, his spider like writhings and stage energy more than make up. His songs still contain observational wit and he manages to hide cutting lyrics beneath cheerful and upbeat melodies.
Had the next day off work so took the opportunity to go for a walk around stanedge with jt. Not the best walking weather as it was quite drizzly, but not awful. A steady wet and muddy walk made a really nice day, certainly better than going to work.jarvis cocker
Today I've managed to get a number of jobs done around the house, that have been piling up in recent weeks, good to have made some headway, though there's still plenty to be done. Found a nice new coffee bar/deli in town as well, where I gave a bit more thought to my book. I'm going to have to set some regular slots aside to make some more progress on it.

Jarvis photoset on flickr

Die Grosse Stille

I've had a really busy week with commitments most evenings, which meant I have been rushed off my feet. One of the things I wanted to do was to go and see into great silence so I met up with a couple of friends at the showroom, including curig, a and M&E, though E admitted that she fell asleep during the film.
It's a film that I heard about around a year ago and sounded like an interesting experiment in docu-film making. German film maker Philip Groning had requested to film a group of Carthusian Monks, and sixteen years later was granted permission, provided he added no additional sound or commentry and used just natural lighting. What is produced is an almost three hour insight into the regulated and silent life of these monks. Dedicated to regular prayer, study and silent meditation, you are drawn into their routine. These scenes of their ritualistic life are interspersed with stunning images of the surrounding Alpine scenery which slowly transforms as the seasons change. The day to day chores of the monks are conducted with integrity and also a warmth. It is during these scenes that the personalities of the monks comes across, despite the lack of talking. There are shots of the monks, alone facing the camera, where they seem to radiate an air of confidence and contentment with compassion. The slow pace of life with plenty of time for silence and reflection is in stark contrast to my rushing around at the moment, and there is something about their use of time, space and silence that I think we can all learn from. Why these men choose to live such a life remains a mystery, and what purpose it might serve is not made clear, and is left to the viewer to form. Certainly an interesting piece of art work, with definate underlying spirituality. Sunday afternoons the only time reserved for a recreational walk and conversation, opitimised by the wonderful scenes of the monks sliding down a snow laden hill side in their shoes. Marred only by a conversation with a blind monk who proports that because God is infinately good then there can be good to come out of all situations, and hence he gains strength from his disability. An argument which does not stand up in the face of many atrocities that the world has seen, and perhaps an easier statement to make when living an aesthetic lifestyle as this.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Snow at last

trees at RedmireI was disappointed on Thursday that there was no snow, after the media frenzy. I thought I may be snowed in and unable to make the early morning meeting in Leeds, but no. Instead I awoke to no snow and the news media going crazy over two flakes of snow that they had. There was even a guy on the news in some wood broadcasting live "Look there is almost two inches of snow on these branches" he exclaimed. However, last night it began to snow in Sheffield, and it even settled quite thickly where I live. Today I woke up and it was drizzling, the snow had all but turned to slush and I was a little sad. Not to worry, I had planned on going for a walk up to stanedge and the snow would've fallen much deeper there. The bus journey up to Lodge Moor was interesting, the further from the city centre the deeper the snow became. One of the great things about living in Sheffield is travelling a couple of miles and being out into some awesome countryside. I walked from the bus terminus following the road, which went from brown slush to compact white snow as the traffic became lighter. Unfortunately it was also quite foggy, so much in fact that I didn't realise that I had arrived at the reservoir because I could hardly see it! Carried on up to Stanedge Pole and snow became less disturbed, as only a few people had been this way. Including some joggers (or fell runners) who were still making good pace despite the conditions. The snow was becoming really deep, and it was quite tough going, so much of the energy in the footsteps seems to be absorbed by the snow and the forward momentum is low. There were drifts of snow where I disappeared up to my knees, and it was a bit of a shame that I couldn't see the view blanketed in snow. The walk was great, and my legs feel like they have had a good work out. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to do some winter walking later in the year.
There are some more photos added to my stanedge flickr set

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ghosts review

Decided on another trip to the showroom last night to go and see ghosts. I enjoyed the brisk walk to the cinema, as there was a real crisp coldness in the air. Probably the first time I've really enjoyed proper cold air this winter. There's nothing like wrapping up and walking in the cold, icy fingers pricking your cheeks, and the glow on entering a warm building.
It's exactly 2 years since at least 23 illegal chinese immigrants died whilst out cockling in morecambe. This film based on a true story is told by documentry maker Nick Broomfield. It holds on to some form of documentary in it's telling, not quite having the feel of a movie. For the most part I felt an observer, rather than feeling drawn and involved with the characters. Ai Qin believes she can earn a better life in the uk and provide for her family, she quickly learns that this is not the case as she is forced to live in squalid conditions in a rented house with many others. The film documents the work that services the food industry, meat factories, fruit/vegatable picking. The monotonous and hard work that goes to serve our supermarkets, carried out daily by people on the poverty line. Here the immigrants use false documents to garner work through an agency, where they earn about £100 disposable income from 40 hour weeks. It casts a bleak picture, and whilst you cannot condone entering a country illegaly, once caught up in the web it must be impossible to leave. Forever indebted to the loan sharks and gangs who paved your illegal entry, you are subjected to a life of hard work in some of the countries most demeaning jobs. Eventually forced to cockle, the immigrants are discouraged violently by the locals from carrying out their work whilst they are working. So it is whilst working at night that they are caught off guard by the quick changing tide. It poses difficult social questions, how to deal with illegal immigrants who could not possibly repay their debts if deported, and yet carry out important work in the food, health and care sectors. Would this work continue to be delivered if the illegal (or for that matter even the legal) immigrants did not do it. On the anniversary year of the abolition of the slave trade, issues like this show that it is very much still thriving. Challenging.

The families of the cocklers who died are still trying to pay back owed debts, the morecambe victim fund are trying to raise funds in support.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


i've attempted my first video upload to youtube, it's a small excert of monkey swallows the universe from the gig the other day.

that's novel

i was sitting in a park in the shade in sydney, basking in the december heat when i had an idea for a book. i scribbled a couple of the ideas down in my notebook and decided i would start writing a book on my return to england. and that is what i did, whilst job hunting i began writing, but then time seemed to ebb away and i never had chance to add to the words, instead dropping a few words here instead. Recently i've been getting fed up with work, and with the hassle i had sans car i was considering galavanting off somewhere to write my book. i'd been chatting about it with v when we were enjoying chilling out in tea rooms in prague, thinking they would be ideal places to chill and write. So with the prospect of spending lots on a car, i was thinking i'd rather spend it on some time out. however, i'm not that bohemian, and worried about the bills and subsequent lack of cashflow. anyway, i decided that i would restart the writing and purchased a notebook in which to collect my thoughts on plotlines and characters. wasted most of saturday watching the abismal cfc, so spent a couple of hours today re-reading my manuscript and adding my thoughts to the notebook. quite excited about it actually, wish i could spend some more time on it, but i get caught up in all kinds of things, i never have the quality time to dedicate to it. but at least the ball is moving again, hopefully someone will read it....


last saturday i took part in an event at broomhill methodist. three people from around the circuit were sharing stories of various journeys they had been on, part of which was a retelling of my time in israel/palestine with highway projects. the evening started with the sharing of food and conversation, followed by two talks. a break for drinks and more conversation followed by the final talk and questions. the format worked really well, but with just over 20 minutes to share some of my experiences it was quite a challenge. It really is impossible to summise how experiencing another culture affects you, how sharing my love of christ in work and deed works itself out practically. I often feel i get so much out of giving to others. and of course my trip was punctuated with the commencement of a war. reflecting on my time there reminded me of feeling of some use, a purposeful vocation. not that the mundane is without purpose, on mission everything is more heightened, added to the context of another culture, really impacts my faith journey. which was the purpose of the event, we are all on a journey, which sounds trite, but at the same time ideas, events and circumstances can have a great impact on our journey of faith and our understanding of the divine. i found great encouragement from m experience on an experience exchange project in zambia. a chance to utilise all his skills to their full in assisting projects throughout the country. challenging and humbling, really made me consider doing something similar in the future.