Monday, July 30, 2007


I quite like writing and I often wonder what it would be like to be a writer. For a few years I've been mulling an idea for a novel in my head. The plot is all there, but the scenes and characters need developing. It's not a straight forward as just sitting down and letting the words just stream forth. Whilst at latitude festival i went to a Q&A with some authors (i don't recall their names). They were talking about the process of writing that they use, the fact that a lot of the time it looks like they are doing nothing, but in actual fact they are constantly thinking of the book. I knew exactly what they meant. I have little time to write and the odd few hours on a saturday morning I can glean, I wander to a local coffee shop to write. I can spend nearly an hour re-reading what I have written to try and get back into the situation, then there are the questions that pose themselves. How would this character react? what would this situation actually look like? Sometimes very little gets written at all. And this is how it was today. With a day off work, for which I was anticipating travelling back from snowdon left me with an opportunity. It's been ages since i last wrote anything and I was spending ages re-reading, then I was questioning my prose, what is the best narrative style. I think I want to use a couple of different styles, which makes it more complicated to write, and I wonder if it would actually work for the reader. So I decamped to Waterstones with the aim of finding some more books written in a particular perspective. The staff there were really helpful and one was able to think of such a book at once, though she couldn't think of anymore at that moment. A couple of books in hand, I thought how i'd relish to be able to do this for a living. Walking, meandering around town with ideas maturing. Reading, to draw inspiration for writing, studying to ensure what i write is credible and makes sense under scrutiny. Instead tomorrow it will be back to the world of data management, minute taking and copious ammounts of tapping on the computer.


This weekend me and jt were due to attempt the three peaks challenge, but we had to cut it short due to me picking up a knee injury on the decent of ben nevis. The jarring of the uneven decent had somehow damaged the knee of my leading leg to the point that it was terribly painful to walk downhill. I feel like a failure, i hate not accomplishing what i set out to do. Not being one of these athletic types, walking is one of the only sporting activities that i'm any good at, and this would be a great test of endurance, of which I've failed to prove I can achieve. What is worse is the fact that people had agreed to sponsor my efforts in the bid to raise some money for christie's hospital where my friend died of cancer last year. I think I can now understand the frustrations of professional footballers who get injured and are unable to prove to the supporters that they are worthy of the transfer fee paid for them. It is terribly disappointing. However I'll blog about are attempt:

Not only had we set ourselves a challenge in climbing the three highest peaks we had no driver and so would also be driving between the locations, making the challenge much harder. We had decided that if we could hit all three peaks within a 24 hour period we'd have done really well. The challenge started early on sat morning as we began the drive up to ben nevis. We were 15 minutes into the journey when I suddenly had a vision of my walking boots still in the kitchen. Great start! After doubling back our journey was fairly uneventful until we got caught in traffic in callander. There was some highland games event happening and it held us up by about an hour, we eventually arrived at ben nevis around 1630. No chance for the planned rest, we donned our walking gear and began the first ascent around 1700. It was really busy with a redcross challenge also taking place. The first hour was tough going ascent leaving us stripped to our t-shirts and sweating profusely. A five minute stop for water and a break left me feeling reinvigorated and able to march upwards, soon arriving at a flatter plateau where the pace could be quickened. The incline soon steepened and the higher we went the colder it became and coats were put back on. In the clouds the uphill trek seemed never ending and the minutes seemed to drag. My glasses became obscured by rain and my fingers were frozen. We took a short break and ate some chocolate and I could feel the energy returning, the chocolate pumping through my blood and the walk continued. It seemed we would never make the top, and then suddenly the high plateau appeared and our goal was reached. Any sense of lack of energy seemed to evaporate as euphoria at reaching the summit reinvigorated. The descent saw our bodies gradually warm and clothes once again stripped off. The setting sun bathing the surrounding landscape in awesome colour, it looked superb. Being tall and gangly I always find descents difficult, like I'm always stopping myself from falling forwards. This causes me to plant my leading leg rather stiffly and down steep uneven surfaces the toll of this caused a pain in my right knee. Battling through, though losing a bit of pace, we were back at the car before the light had faded. Swift change of shoes and the long night time drive began. Jt driving for the first hour and half before switching to allow him to grab a bit of sleep whilst I drove. We continued this swapping of driving and napping every 90 min or so and it seemed to work fine. Alert enough to drive and we reached wasdale head at the base of scafell at 0400. I'd noticed that my knee was still hurting every time we'd swapped driving duties and had bought some painkillers from a petrol station in a determined effort to continue. Starting the ascent of scafell pike at 0430 as the sun began to rise the uphill trek was going fine, but any mild descent on the path was really hurting and i had to make the difficult decision to return to the car. To carry on could lead to me becoming stuck at the top, unable to walk down and that would be crazy. I might also damage the knee further, so I slowly made my way back down, taking nearly an hour to cover ground we'd made in about 20 minutes! Jt carried on to the summit and returned at 0830. This time would've had us well on schedule to complete all the three peaks in 24 hours and we'd have achieved our goal. JT didn't fancy doing another climb alone so we headed back home with a determination to complete the challenge next year. I'll have to invest in some walking poles and see if using them I can take the weight of my knee better on the descents. Grrrr I know i can do this, but I'm as yet unable to say I have.

Photo set of the attempt on flickr

Friday, July 27, 2007

Feist teletext review

Yeah - it's another teletext review. I still manage to get excited by seeing them published.

Monday, July 23, 2007


As if a weekend's worth of music wasn't enough on thursday i went to see Feist in manchester. She was awesome, a truely amazing gig. Her vocals are like liquid chocolate, and ease between her sensuous lounge jazz and punky pop. She was backed by a superb band that played a myriad of instruments that added intricate harmonies that aid in giving the sound a real fullness. So much better than the generic guitar bands that are around that lack imagination in song writing. Feist sings so well and she even used a loop to create her own backing vocals, adding them at the start of a song and then singing over them. Then addressing the audience she was able to sing out intructions to split the audience in three to humm various notes to start a song. Superb talent. I made a coupld of videos, one of a quiet song and another of a punkier number. Unfortunately the sound was too loud on the latter for my camera and it is terribly distorted. Here is the quieter tune, one of my favourites, but blighted by a bit of pesky feedback.

Feist pics on flickr

Just found this link on youtube of Feist performing showing her backing vocal looping thing. It's a bit distorted, but gives you an idea

Friday, July 20, 2007


Last weekend I went to the latitude festival in suffolk and it was tremendous. Haven't had chance to blog since as I've been busy every night, which also means I haven't full caught up on my sleep. We were really lucky with the weather too, i'd been praying for some sun, cos rain reduces the fun of camping. And the sun certainly shone. Left work a bit early on the thurs to drive down, giving a lift to ad, sb and ms. The traffic wasn't bad and we made good time, getting there before nightfall. However it was quite a queue to get our wrist bands so by the time we started on the tents it was getting dark. This resulted in one tent taking over an hour to erect, what with poles getting jumbled and the canves getting twisted!

There were a myriad of excellent acts playing at the festival and sometimes it was impossible to choose who to see. I was very lucky to be invited to stay as a guest of monkey swallows the universe as I had been helping them with a marketing scam. I'd written their stage time on one side of a peg and on the other a web address for an exclusive download. We then spent the weekend surrepticiously pegging people, on hats, jumpers, coats and bags in the hope they'd be intrigued enough to check out the band and even download the free tune. It was fun watching people wander around unsuspectingly with pegs dangling from their person.

I saw numerous acts and won't review them all, just a special mention for a few. The strange death of liberal england were even better than when i saw them at the leadmill. They were really drawing adrenelin from playing to a large crowd and I shall have to track down their cd. I was a cub scout also showed promise, bedroom rock backed by sequencers. A vibrant sound that can only mature. MSTU were on fine form and their music really suited the early evening sunshine. Bat for Lashes were plagued with technical difficulties but still managed to perform an entertaining set with natasha dressed in a skeleton costume. Finally Arcade Fire were awesome. Joined onstage by Final Fantasy they played probably one of the best performances i've ever seen. There is little more i can say to embellish this performance. Phenomenal.

Then there was the long drive back, the last hour of which I found a real struggle, battling with sleep and fog.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Strange Death of Liberal England Review

Last minute decision to go to the Leadmill on Monday, mainly to meet up with ag of mstu to discuss upcoming festival marketing ploy ‘operation peggy’. After a couple of local bands, the oddly titled ‘strange death of liberal england’ took to the stage. They did remarkably well to grab the attention of an audience mainly there to support friends in the local bands. Having a unique sound and strange presence certainly helps. Here’s my review that appeared on teletext today which added to the excitement of going to Latitude. More later on my return from the festival. Click the image to see full size.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I came across this facebook application, friend wheel, thanks to ben askew. It links all your friends together by who they know. Ben's wheel was very well interconnected suggesting a lot of people he knows all know each other. My wheel is quite different and suggests a number of disparate 'communities' which i belong to. I'm quite interested in what communities mean these days and which communities we belong to. This wheel shows church friends, people from the youth group i used to help lead, uni friends, highway projects, music friends etc. There are also quite a few people i know that none of my friends know, does that mean i am on the periphery of their communities (or just cos other people from that group of friends just aren't on facebook yet). It's interesting, a geographical one would be interesting too. Geographical communites eh? That's so twentieth centuary.