Saturday, June 30, 2007

End of an era

This week has seen the end of two eras. The first came on Wednesday at the community centre. Earlier this year one of the major tenants, sheffield college, who held their ESOL classes at the centre, informed that they would be leaving in September. That added to the fact that a number of trustees planned to step down, and seemingly no more volunteers on the horizan things were looking quite bleak. A survey conducted by Sheffield City Council, who own the building, highlighted major repairs that were required and as their community building fund is very small it seemed like winding up the charity that has run the building as a commmunity centre for nearly 25 years was the sensible choice. Not a decision taken lightly, but a recognition that there was not the time or energy required to raise significant income and funding for refurbishment. And even if we did, for how much longer would the centre continue to be sustainable? So on Wednesday we held a number of meetings, agm and extraordinary meetings to agree to wind up the charity over the coming months. It's sad in a way that another local resource will close and the building most likely sold byt he council, but it has served it's cause well over the years and things always come to an end. Better to end positively than to fizzle out under financial strains. At least we hope to have considerable funds when the charity closes which we hope will benefit other local centres and groups in the area.

Then on Friday I heard that Fopp were in financial difficulty and within hours a press release said that the chain had closed. I was a great fan of Fopp, and I've probably spent many hundreds of pounds over the years on music, film and books in there. It was great, a wide range of excellent music, and support for local unsigned artists. Many a time I'd pop in to buy an album and come out with at least four! Maybe it is a sign of the times and it's only people like me in their 30s that still enjoy buying music in a tangiable format that you can hold. I love the art work and reading the words and placing the disc in my cd player. Though I guess these days I listen to most of my music on my iPod. There was always a great selection of contemporary novels too, and there's been a number i've just bought cos they looked interesting, and you knew that cos they were on sale in Fopp it wouldn't be rubbish. I don't know where I'll shop for my music now.

My flood pics have also been popular, I've had more views for them then for any other set of photos and I was even asked if one could be used for a website. You can see it here

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sheffield Flood

What a day yesterday was. It was just raining and raining constantly. It got to the point at work where the site was closed and we were told to leave cos Grimethorpe was almost cut off by floods. Left about 3pm and thought I'd be home by 4pm. How wrong I was. The river Don had burst it's banks in sheffield causing traffic gridlock. I spent over four hours on the A61 not knowing if it was passable. Every now and again it would go for ages before any vehicles passed from the opposite directions. Numerous emergency vehicles overtuck and came past. I was quite concerned when one police land rover came past towing a boat! Just outside Grenoside a huge flood was just about passable, police were allowing a number of cars to pass in turn from wither direction. I had to mount the kerb and skirt the edge of the flood water. Then it was fairly good going down into Hillsborough, though I noticed all the traffic lights were out. At the roundabout I suddenly realised I was unable to continue my journey as Penistone road outside Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground was now a deep river. All routes home were cut off by the Don, so I abandoned the car in a side street near Leppings Lane. I then had to take my shoes and socks off, roll up my trousers and wade knee deep through the Don that was now flowing over the road. The water wasn't too cold, and it was quite strange feeling my way across with my feet, knowing that there should be a kerb somewhere around. There were numerous people making the journey through the water and at each side a bank of people holding aloft mobile phones and cameras to capture the event. At this point I decided to call in at m&e as they lived nearby. They too had had eventful journeys home and had walked from town. No power, so we had some sandwiches. Refreshed I walked back home and then went for a walk down towards the don, which is only 2min walk away. All Shalesmoor and Kelham Island had been badly affected. Luxury riverside appartments looked marooned and underground car parking areas were submerged. I took a few photos to record the events.

More pictures on my sheffield flood flickr set

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reviews that never appeared

Here's my reviews I sent to teletext for the gigs at the Spitz. They never appeared on screen, i blame the amount of pages devoted to the current spate of festivals. Best not let the words go to waste:

Shady Bard at Spitz London 9th June

Shady Bard make music about the environment that is a far cry from the
fey folky guff Swampy and his friends may conduct whilst living in
holes. Using orchestration to enhance piano and guitar melodies, Shady
Bard conjure visions of fruiting woods and rolling seas, ignited with
sonic soundscapes. Frontman, Lawrence, sings passionately about issues
that are clearly close to the heart, challenging the listener as he
rasps 'It's all our fault'. This is Eco-rock for people who wash.


monkey swallows the universe live at the spitz 9th june

Once again Monkey Swallows The Universe manage to woo the crowd.
Already a wealth of material allows for a varied set of acoustic folk,
downbeat melancholy and upbeat twindie-pop. Guitars gently create
melodies that are embellished with strings and melodicas. Songs of
love triumphing over adversity are sung passionately with a subtle
tone that is reminiscent of Emma Pollock at her best. How bands can
conjure a feeling of warmth and freshness is a mystery, but one that
MSTU seem to have solved.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


How good is Bjork!

I've just finished watching her performance at Glastonbury that I recorded and she was astonishingly good. Her music is incredible, diverse and ground breaking. I started re-listening to Debut earlier this year when i was thrown back into the realm of singleness. And I found it uplifting, one of the first albums I ever bought on CD and it still sounded fresh. Incredible.
Bjork at Glastonbury by bbc
There's no-one else that makes music as passionate as she does, her lyrics are often calmly erotic brought to life with her unique voice. Just watching her bounding around the stage like some alien pixie backed with an incredible ensemble of horns, keyboards and electronic jiggery pokery. The way she could hold the crowd with her, almost, unaccompanied version of Venus As a Boy highlights the power of her vocals. When she turned to sing 'I love him, i love him' at the end of Pagan Poetry my spine was tingling. I'll have to see if it's possible to see her live sometime.

photo is from bbc glastonbury flickr stream

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

updating blogger

I'm slowly bringing my blog into beta mode, and i've found this lovely code to make a label cloud in the side bar. If you want the code it is from phydeux3. I'm struggling to get a widget to work. It keeps throwing up and error that has me clueless. I'm slowly back blogging a few items too. Sorry I've not been around on the blogosphere much, I've been carried away milling on facebook.

Monday, June 18, 2007

central st martin's

London again, this time just for the day on the train. I went down to see the final year degree show at central st martins. HC was exhibiting her final year piece which was the main reason i went along. However, i really enjoyed browsing all the displays. Spent over 2.5 hours there was so much to see and investigate. A number of the pieces seemed to be influenced by construction. Either by items discarded, or by structures themselves.
One such piece had a small space you could climb and squeeze through which was fun. The process of construction in shaping our surroundings. It was amazing to see so many inovative ideas, so forward thinking and vital. Such a change to the mundaneness of everyday life, it's great to see that there are people who are experimenting and trying new things, whilst i spend days bored at work tapping on a computer. Unfortunately cos hc was part of her installation, cos it included performance art I wasn't able to chat about some of the pieces with her. After browsing i found myself a coffee shop to sit and write some of my book, i seemed to hit a bit of a roll, which is good. I have all these scenes in my heaed, it's all about interpreting them onto the page, it's not straight forward.
In the evening i met up with cem and we enjoyed yo sushi, I was particulalry amused by a young girl sat opposite who was attempting to stick a noodle up her nose, until her mum intervened.

More photos in my st martin's flickr set

Friday, June 15, 2007

But still the rain comes

It seems like it has been raining none stop for an age. Today was like Sheffield Shanty by mstu the journey to work was crazy. First I had to skirt around the edge of a pool that had developed on penistone road. Further ahead on Halifax road I had to negotiate a flood that stretched about 30cm deep right across the road. the traffic moved slowly through it and continued it's slow progress. Then the worst flood, just following the car in front it was impossible to guage the extent of this pool of water. Once in the water i was just hoping the car in front would not stop, again it was at least 30cm deep and it seemed unending. When was it going to end, to make it worse a car in front seemed to be emitting white smoke from it's bonnet. It seemed an age before I was out onto drier land again. Water seemed to be pouring in from neighbouring fields and ran like torrents down the roads. Still it wasn't over, the next acumulation was on the by-pass through the Dearne Valley. At the bottom another huge flood spread across the road under a bridge. This was shallower if skirted on the furtherst point to the right of the road, but it continued right onto the roundabout, which had to be negotiated through the water. Still not over, as arriving in Grimethorpe my route to the site was blocked by a flood that was too deep to even begin to try. An escort van went ahead and the water was brimming over the bonnet - no way I'm doing that, so i took a wide diversion to approach the village from the north. Best start collating those animals two by two.

Monday, June 11, 2007

london weekend and mstu

Leading up to June I'd been feeling a bit down, probably cos in another world I'd've been travelling to canada to spend time with v. Instead I'd decided to try and keep myself busy, which i think i've done pretty successfully. This weekend I took the opportunity to visit hc in london and see monkey swallows the universe live at the Spitz. Arriving around mid-day, i'd got a fair amount of time to kill and wandered into green park to read in the sun. Nice and relaxing, i'd arrange to meet hc around trafalgar late afternoon, so wandered over to see if i could find a nice coffee bar nearby. Arrived at trafalgar and noticed that there was due to be a free palestine march. It sounded interesting so took a seat on the steps outside the national gallery and awaited the arrival of the march. I'd happeded to be sat next to a group of knitters, who apparently meet up in random locations around the city to knit. There were a couple of guys too - how metrosexual. One of them was knitting with a pair of huge needles, about a metre tall. It seemed to be attracting considerable attention.

Eventually the march arrived and a number of seakers addressed the crowd. Some were much better than others, I must admit some of the speakers that were addressing us as comrades and encouraging us to support the freedom fighters were not using the most tactful of language. It's such a shame a week after the event to see the political turmoil that has enveloped the state of palestine. A coalition of democratically elected governers is overturned because other countries refuse to deal with Hamas. It makes a mockery of democracy. And the embargos enforced on the palestinian authorities is one of the main issues to lead to the conflict and in-fighting that only serves to ridicule the ability of the palestinian people to govern themselves. What a situation.

As the afternoon wore on I looked down to see that I was beginning to turn a bright shade of red, so i swiftly made for the shade and awaited hc.

We headed out to liverpool st station and got something to eat before making our way to the spitz. It was absolutely roasting hot in the venue, and we were in time to see the first act. They were pretty poor, playing chaotic rock that followed obvious progressions from loud to quiet. Yawn. Then it was mstu who again put on an absolutley fabulous gig. Nat's vocals were particularly passionate and the new songs hint that the new album will be just as good as the debut. Finally, shady bard, the headline take the stage and wow the crowd with their orchestral indie rock. Songs about the environment, reminiscent of 'we love life' by pulp. Good stuff.

Sunday i appreciated the warm weather, browsed the tate modern before arranging to meet a myspace friend. Passing st paul's i decided to pop in and say a prayer. The sung eucharist had just started, so i took a seat near the back and listened to the pomp of the ceremony. Not my usual thing high anglican worship, but nothing else would have done in this magnificant venue. The architecture and paintings are incredible and with the bombastic sounds of the organ vibrating through the church you can't help but get a sense of the awesomeness of god. Something that is easy to forget when sat around tables with coffee chatting, which is my normal worship preference. I also liked the fact that there were people coming and going at the back of the church, some to get a free look at the architecture, others to perhaps pray or sit in on the service for a while before leaving. It gave fluid nature to the worship, strange in a venue that follows such a rigid formal worship. Of course those who wished to take an active participation in the service could be lead to the front of the church by one of the nuerous ushers.

Finally met up with ys in shepherds bush and enjoyed mint tea and some food at a little arabic cafe before going for a walk through st james park. It was a lovely day and interesting to meet someone who is also a big fan of music.

A few more pics in the flickr set

Fanfarlo on teletext

My review did finally turn up on teletext. Hooray, click on image below to read it in old school teletext style.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Microwave meal for one

Couldn't be bothered to cook on monday so opted for the lazy microwave meal for one option. Cooked some rice and followed the microwave instructions. After the last blast in the microwave I took the korma out to stand and removed the film lid. Hmmm think I'll give it a stir to ensure that the heat is distributed in an homogenous manner. Stuck my fork in and whirled it around BANG! the korma exploded firing splashes of orange korma right up my t-shirt, on my glassses, on the walls, on the ceiling, on my housemates recently washed washing. Everywhere. No quick and convenient meal here, no had to spend ages going around mopping it up. Changed my t-shirt, but thought I'd do the trousers later. Then just as i started eating the neighbour came round for a chat, I felt such a scruff trying to hide behind the door with korma splashes all down my trousers and I hadn't even looked in the mirror and was fearing my hair was also streaked.

Guitar tuning

So I decided it was time to re-string the guitar and start playing again, well by playing I really mean strumming a few chords. I'm not to adept at the whole stringing process and it took me ages to get all the strings on. Later I discovered that my tuner had broken but I set out to get it vaguely in tune by ear. It takes a bit of practice but I'm not too bad at it. Apart from when I came to tune the high E string, for some reason I tuned it to the 7th fret of the B string instead of the 5th. Sounds a bit flat, tighten the string, play a note, still flat, tighten the string, play note, that's almost it, still a bit flat, another the string broke and nearly took my eye out. Going to have to get some more strings now - grrr

What's this?

Went shopping in tesco the other day, wandering around listening to my iPod. I seleected the least busy checkout where a young lad was making swift work of scanning the items and sending them down the converyor. As I was packing I noticed there was a hold up and thought he was asking me something. I looked up and took my earphones out. "Can you tell me what this is please?" He asked waving the object and pointing to is cashier button machine indicating he needed to know what it was to weigh the item. I looked bemused and he asked me again. "It's a courgette" I replied. Unbelievable! It's hardly an exotic item, wish I'd said it was a carrot now, they're cheaper to the kilo.


Another gig review that hasn't made it on to teletext - grrr, I must be losing my touch and I quite liked this one:

Fanfarlo - Runaway Girl Sheffield 28/05/07

Fanfarlo play the musical equivalent of T-shirt weather. Squeezed on
to a small stage, this six-piece produce a wondrously full sound.
Strings and brass accompany this indie guitar pop, breathing life into
the tunes in a manner worthy of Arcade Fire. Songs are sung with
delicate cracked vocals reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
Imminent single, Fire Escape, feels like summer is officially here and
deserves to be heard from every open window. The only downside is the
short 30min set leaves you wanting more.


You should check these guys out tho, they're superb. It was a good evening too meeting up with a couple of mstu members. I have some pictures which I guess I'll get round to uploading some time