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Sunday, June 29, 2003

Soundscapes For Orchestra

Rock musicians moving over to the classical world has something of a mixed history and is nearly always an awkward transition. The Nice’s Five Bridges Suite, Deep Purple’s Concerto for rock group and orchestra, Emerson’s piano concerto and David Bedford’s translations of Mike Oldfield’s early work all spring to mind.

Similarly projects such as Classical Yes, Classical Pink Floyd etc., offer the novelty of hearing your favourite rock tunes jollied up by an orchestra, but most are flawed, lacking the dynamic which rock has and thus nearly always end up stodgy and corpulent.

Given such reservations the prospect of hearing Robert Fripp’s Soundscapes performed by the Metropole Orchestra conducted by Gert Jan Blom was a daunting one. Thankfully the orchestrations by Andrew Keeling evoke the glacial world of Arvo Part or Henryk Gorecki. Midnight Blue sounded as though it was always destined for this kind of performance.

Miserere Me was equally opulent but blessed with an altogether darker edge lifting Fripp’s work light years away from the increasingly bland constellations of ambient music that are increasingly on view. The use of brass and choir was particularly effective and very, very moving. Despite the thin sound quality of the audio streaming, it was obvious that this was a substantial piece of music.

Unlike other classical revamps Soundscapes sound comfortable in their orchestral setting precisely because they were never located in a rock context in the first place. Their transposition to a classical idiom sounded utterly natural and it’s to Keeling’s credit that he did such a thoughtful and empathetic job with the original material.


It’s been a lazy day. I spent part of the morning on the lawn reading one of the Sunday papers to see if there was any more light being shed on the row between the Blair government and the BBC. Not really. Besides, the whole business is part of the smokescreen tactic to divert attention away from the WMD issue. They still seem to be proving rather elusive despite the fact that a single government intelligence source insisted that Saddam was capable of launching an attack in 45 minutes with them.

Victoria Avenue is one long social swirl at the moment. On Saturday night we strayed across the street to Dave and Julies house where they were holding one of their marathon barbeques. I gather the morning shift (10.00 – 12.00am) was for kids and from midday onward the grown-ups started arriving in force. Debbie and I went over sometime after six in the evening and stayed put until sometime around 11.00pm

Today’s elements of the previous night’s gang assembled at Thomas and Leonie’s house just a couple of doors up from us. It was here that I learned that Dave had only gotten to bed at around three a.m. from the previous evening’s soiree. As we sat in Thomas and Leonie’s house eating, drinking and chatting, I couldn’t help but notice Dave’s face had the appearance of one of those identikit portraits – an approximate version of his normal features.

It turns out that Thomas is also Glenn Gould fanboy and I had great pleasure leafing through a handsome book of pictures of the great man and also a photograph of Gould’s folding piano seat (one he carried round with him throughout his career). Scratched and worn through years of use, it felt like looking at a holy relic.

Our ability to worship the most unlikely of objects knows no bounds, be it the face of Christ manifesting in a chapatee, weeping Madonnas or sticks and bones of dubious provenance or indeed Glenn Gould’s stool. Hang on, that doesn’t sound right.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Ben Bradshaw: Minister For Smokescreens

This morning I listened with growing incredulity and mounting anger as Labour MP Ben Bradshaw berated BBC for telling lies about Tony Blair and the government on Radio 4’s Today programme.

The smokescreen operation mounted by Downing Street to divert attention from their mishandling of the Iraq debacle to the veracity of the BBC’s journalistic integrity is a well-used and effective tactic but is no less impressive for all that.

Can it be long before Blair and co announces a review or commission to look into the BBC’s charter and the corporation’s use of tax-payers money? I can but wonder how Blair now sits comfortably alongside right-wing demagogues such as Norman Tebbitt and other politicians who like to throw their weight around when the media ask some awkward questions.

The degree to which the Downing Street press machine has gone for the BBC convinces me that the Beeb are onto something with Andew Gilligan’s story. If Campbell is so convinced that he or his boss have been slighted or their reputations impugned then why not sue Gilligan or his employers for libel?

Friday, June 27, 2003

Bill Rieflin On The Box

I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing Bill Rieflin on the televised Glastonbury festival. Bill is of course playing with REM and is one of the best drummers King Crimson never had. Way to go Bill!!!! Sadly I thought REM were musically dull.

Talked to Jakko on the blower this morning as he walked his lad in the park. He mentioned earlier in the week that the Hyde Park gig with Yes was cancelled. Clearly disappointed, the gig would have provided the band with a good platform and would have also provided an opportunity to perhaps get into the studio while they were all together. Bummer!

Connex Get The Boot

Connex, a company who run trains in the Kent and Sussex region, are to be stripped of their franchise by the Strategic Railway Authority. I have only travelled on this company’s trains twice. On both occasions it was to visit the Kenty Kimber. The trains were dirty and overcrowded and running late. This however is the general state of the trains in the UK and quite why Connex should be singled out I'm not sure. However, this news should at least make some of the other providers take notice and that fact alone is to be welcomed.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Homeward Bound

We were both very tired when we headed back to train station on our way back to Milan. Italy had treated us very well I thought. Crimson were good although there were clearly some issues within the band. How much longer Robert will put up with everything that goes with the touring I wouldn’t like to say.

Most of our conversation on the long journey back concerned possible futures for Crimson yet there was an inescapable sense that Kimber and I had seen the last of KC – at least in this incarnation. I’ve learned that with Crimson you never say never though so who knows?

Sunday, June 22, 2003

King Crimson: Teatro Romana, Verona

Verona was very hot. We cabbed it from the station to the venue and from there took a walk into the town centre in search of a hotel. Maybe we were tired from the lengthy train journey from Genoa to Verona via Milan, but try as we might we couldn’t seem to find any of the hotels which the streets signs and my little book promised.

We circled around a couple of times but to no avail. One monumental effort of will was required to make the final push in our quest. As we gathered our breath and mopped our brows (and in my case unstuck my gonads from my right thigh), we suddenly realised that the very hotel we’d been looking for was right above us with a very LARGE neon sign directly above our heads. How on earth could we have missed this? To our chagrin it was fully booked. We tramped out feeling very tired and emotional.

We looked across the street and there was another hotel which we had mysteriously failed to see. Thankfully this did have space and so we slapped down the money and raced to our room where Kimberman did the trick with the air conditioning.

Once we had showered we hit the main square and I broke my rule about not drinking alcohol during the day. I broke it four or five times that afternoon as the golden beer was simply wonderful. A bowl of pasta came my way which for me completed a perfect state of affairs.

The main square in Verona was a good place to do some thinking, talking and reflection on how the pair of us had ended up here.

For both of us getting to Italy at this precise time had not been without sacrifice. Kimber was in the middle of a house move and indeed it looked as though the Italian campaign was going to come unstuck because of this.

As we were being driven at high speed from Milan-Linate, Kimber had to sort out problems with the removal men, banks, etc. via his mobile telephone. And of course, there is the problem of leaving one’s partner behind to co-ordinate the packing and all the myriad of snags, stumbling blocks and setbacks which materialise out of thin air when moving house. In short: tension.

For my part, I had to make a very uncomfortable decision to miss Tom’s 12th birthday. Although I had talked it through with Tom and he appeared to be fine about this, I sensed that I was being a selfish, neglectful parent – putting my interests before my son’s. That can be a tough place to be. Of course, the quick-witted reader will move like a greyhound out of a trap to point out that it couldn’t have been so tough because there I was in Italy instead of being at home with the laddo.

There’s worse. The money I was using to finance this whole jaunt was cash earmarked for our annual sojourn to Wales. Once again, I had made a choice to put my interests before those of my children.

Why would I do this just to see a rock group? Isn’t this taking an interest too far? What kind of father misses his own son’s birthday and flushes a family holiday down the toilet in order to feed his own obsession?

Well, I don’t quite have the answer to that one yet but once I do you’ll be the first to know. Otherwise, answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Feeling uncommonly tired or lazy, we cabbed it over to Teatro Romana - a splendid Roman amphitheatre.

We took our position right at the very back of the venue sitting on the broad stones with our back against bushes. RF’s brooding soundscape was the perfect compliment to the dusky twilight and our view of the Verona skyline.

There were times during KC’s set where the sound of the nearby river could be heard. Swifts and swallows darted about overhead as the band played.

This was the first time I’d seen Crimson play outdoors. It felt very special.

Of the three gigs we saw, this one had the most flash photography going on. KC soundman Greg and John Sinks stalked the perps as best they could and the house staff also intervened. As each flash burst, I couldn’t help but think of my own faux pas the previous day in Genoa.

After the gig was over we went backstage to say thank-you and goodbye but the promoter had already whisked the band off to a restaurant. I said tara to Bill M, we bought our T-shirt and walked back over the bridge into the town for a late night meal and beer before bed. For me, Crimson sounded so vibrant and potent. There’s an edge and tension and also a rapturous almost perverse joy within King Crimson’s music that makes this fat Geordie bastard feel very alive.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

King Crimson: Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa

Farewell Milan, Hello Genoa...

The Kimberine and I shipped out of our hotel, crossed the street and entered the impressive façade of Milan’s main railway station. Despite speaking precisely no Italian, we managed to get tickets to Genoa in the next leg of our mini-KC tour.

Accepting the slightly odd practice of having to mechanically validate travel tickets away from the point of purchase, this was such a smooth experience and one I would be keen to repeat. The train to Genoa was busy but we found seats easily. The carriage was clean and comfortable, the seats easily accommodated my burgeoning girth and the view was lovely.

Amazingly, we realised that we were actually sitting in a smoking carriage. Amazing because my snout is fairly sensitized to tobacco smoke and yet as I sat there with Milan rolling further away from us, I would never have guessed that we were in such a place. Praise the Lord for air conditioning! We’d joked that we should head off home because the first day had been so perfect that basically everything else would be downhill from hereon.

But we were wrong. Genoa was a lovely port with the town seemingly piled up on top of the surrounding hills. We taxied into the middle of town and wandered around looking for the venue first and then a hotel within walking distance.

At the venue we bumped straight into Bill Munyon and from there, we got whisked in to watch Crimson rehearsing. We talked to Robert. He was clearly in a lot of pain from his back injury and obviously struggling with life on the road. He went off to soundcheck and I blotted my copy book by taking a couple of photographs as they played. Robert stopped the music and asked me what I was doing?

No excuses. I’d let my ego get the better of me and put my brain on hold. “Hey! Bill Munyon taking photographs then why not me?” Well dummy, I might have replied had I bothered to ask myself, Bill had asked for, and been given permission. It was part of his job. I was there as a guest but that didn’t give me the right to take pictures without asking first. But of course none of that went through my mind and so I upped and snapped without thinking. The result? Profound embarrassment, and a resolution to not ever to get caught out by myself again in future.

After the soundcheck Tour manager, Mary Jo Kaczka, took us backstage to sort out a couple of passes and it was only then we realised that KC were actually performing on a covered over orchestra pit. The real stage was vast. Really vast. I wondered what an opera production in this venue must be like.

While MJK checked us in, we stood in the KC office. This mobile outfit of packing cases, laptops, phones and everything from staple guns, elastic bands and petty cash vouchers was impressive bit of organisation. Imagine what you need to do your job from the paperclips up. Well it was all there. Set up and packed away every single day. These people are the unsung heroes of the show.

In the afternoon we found a suitable hotel and spent a wonderful afternoon eating olives and drinking some cool beers. I could live in a place like this I think – although I can’t see how I’d get any work done whatsoever.

Teatro Carlo Felice is a huge opera house bedecked in marble and wonderfully upholstered. After we heard Crimson soundchecking, Kimber and I both realised that the sound was superior to that in Milan. Whereas Teatro Smeraldo had a boxy quality with little definition on the bass end, here everything was bigger and broader, more expansive if you will. This has nothing to do with the volume. This was the venue working and actually encouraging the sound to fill its space.

The gig itself was very powerful and I found I had a lot of difficulty keeping in my seat. However, I realised that the sight of a large (i.e. fat) balding Geordie wildly gyrating in an alarming fashion in the third row from the front would be something of a distraction not only for those behind me but also to the band itself.

The set was similar to the one played in Milan with a couple of substitutions here and there – including a surprise outing for Frame By Frame. However, there was a greater edge to the playing than at Milan, which built to an amazing degree. The crowd were very receptive to what was going on and hung on Adrian’s every utterance be it vocal or instrumental. Belew is an incredible showman who has that knack of making everything he does look easy.

Maybe that’s why he used to get stick from disgruntled prog-heads who like their people to look all furrowed-browed and mega-serious. His solo in LTIA pt IV is high octane stuff to be sure.

Across to the right of Belew and lost in the purple shadows, Soundscapes are integrated into the main body of the music with One Time and Power To Believe Part III evolving into something altogether more subtle than first meets the ear. Fripp’s solo on this one is devastating and incredibly moving.

Spontaneous applause, cheering and mucho air punching appeared to be happening everywhere I looked. It seems that lots of Italian women loved the band as well. Of course it was mostly a male thing but I think I saw the most females at a KC concert I’ve ever seen. A goodly portion of them were singing along with the words as well!

Afterwards we met up with Michael who had seen the band the previous night in Milan and had travelled on to Genoa. He was impressed with what he had seen and heard over these two nights. Kimberman and I could do nothing but nod our large and sweaty heads in agreement.

A short walk back to our hotel and we took turns to shower off the days grime. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Friday, June 20, 2003

King Crimson: Teatro Smeraldo, Milan

Although I wilted in shock at the soaring temperature which hit me when we touched down in Milan, we gathered our strength and took a cab over to our hotel which we had sensibly booked in advance via the internet.

By pure luck the hotel was within walking distance of the Teatro Smeraldo and as soon as we dumped our bags, we legged it along the busy, hot streets of Milan.

When we arrived, Pat was busy with the set-up and sound check. He was joined by Robert (who was walking with a pronounced limp following trouble with his sciatic nerve) and Trey. Adrian

arrived a little later and the boys played through a couple of numbers to get the levels sorted.

Kimberouac and I skipped out to a nearby juice bar and let the guys alone for that pre-show prep.

Despite the fact that Kimber and I are only fluent in Italian enough to be able to ask for “two beers please”, we managed to successfully negotiate our way through airport taxi’s, ticket counters, newsagents, food counters, restaurants, hotel receptions and stage door staff without a single hitch.

This probably has more to do with the fact that most people in Europe speak English whilst in the UK it’s almost regarded as a badge of honour in some quarters not to be able to speak anything other than our own pidgin pie of a language.

Later on, we took our seats to hear Robert soundscaping. As he bleeped and droned, a couple of hundred people chatted, shouted hello’s and made arrangements to meet up to go shopping a week on Tuesday.

It’s a mistake to assume that everyone who comes to a King Crimson concert is interested in Fripp’s solo work and a significant portion of the crowd clearly agreed. I just relaxed, listened to the music in a different way and began to float off in a puddle of my own sweat.

Once the gang were on stage things were considerably different. TPTB 1 and Level 5 were devastating, steamrolling over the audience and flattening out any opposition. I’d joked with Robert that I’d be the geezer in the crowd shouting for Moonchild during the set. I don’t know why I was surprised but of course some blokey a few seats away did just that. Inevitably, as the band ploughed on through a remarkably coherent set others also took to shouting out their requests – chiefly Cat Food and Epitaph.

Pat and Trey are an absurdly strong rhythm section and when the band played tracks from TCOL I was interested just how much these compositions have benefited from having these guys constantly working over them making changes of emphasis here and there on the originals. Actually it seems more akin to intent than anything directly musical. Maybe now would be a good time to go into a studio and record The ConstruKction Of Light album.

Other highlights of the set for me included a diaphanous TPTB 2 and the wonderous Deception Of The Thrush. It was fascinating to hear how well tracks such as TCOL and LTIApt4(Belew’s soloing was simply stunning in this epic piece) blended with the PTB set. Even odder to hear how seamlessly a punishing version Red rounded the whole thing off.

It was also welcome to hear tracks from the Double Trio and even the Discipline era. Afterwards, Robert commented that the inclusion of this material was a way of bringing the audience back into the mainstream of the concert experience – many of them would be unfamiliar with the new material.

It’s a strategy that worked and worked well if the rug-cutting and outré frugging which exploded all about the Don Kimbrini and myself is anything to go by.

After saying goodnight to the gang, JK Headcorn and I walked through the balmy night, along streets we didn’t know. We were elated, excited and thirsty. Fortunately, we found a bar which was open at about 1.00 a.m. Drinks and panini were purchased and consumed in state of high emotion.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

If You Can't Stand The Heat...

I’m staying overnight at Kimber’s place in Kent. If I think its hot right now apparently Italy is going to be like an oven thanks to a heatwave that is pushing down on Europe at the moment.

The news reports that in various capitals the death rates amongst pensioners are up due to the excess heat; people aren’t keep hydrated and simply pegging out.

Our guide for the next few days will be this little book.

Fact-packed and easy to use (it seems), I’m hoping it will help JK and I out during our jaunt. We’ve already booked our hotel in Milan but have decided to trust to fate as far as Genoa and Verona are concerned.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Off To Italy

Blimey! It’s hotter than a docker’s armpit round these parts. This heat (hey – great band!) isn’t good for me. Still, the Kenty Kimber assures me that Italy will be a whole lot worse and that I might as well write out my last will and testament right now. It’s only being so cheerful that keeps him going.

I’m heading off down to London and thereafter, over to Chez Kimber tomorrow, pausing in the capital only long enough to be glad that I’m getting straight out again.

Then Friday sees the beginning of the KimberSmith Foundation Italian Campaign. I’m travelling light this time and will be leaving my laptop behind in favour of an IBM golfball typewriter with a specially adapted lead for those humid hotel rooms which I’m sure to encounter.

Seeing Crimson is always an exciting prospect. Seeing this particular Crimson and in this context feels very special indeed. I feel a bubble of excitement rising up inside me – although that could well be the after-effects of last weeks exploding bowel.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

A Bad Case Of The Kurt Schwitters

From Sunday through to Wednesday I have been squirting litres of a noxious paste through the ever-tightening eye of my sphincter.

Gripped by gripe and beset by the sweats, I drew upon reserves of will-power I never knew I had, as I managed to walk to the doctor’s surgery and back without exploding in a plume of projectile diarrhoea.

After 24 hours, the antibiotic has kicked in and in the words of that old Lennon & McCartney (or is it McCartney & Lennon?) classic “I Feel Fine.” Well, OK at any rate. Onward and upward.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Tar Beach: New Artists From New York, 17 May - 23 Jun 2003

Bringing together a bunch of artists to provide differing perspectives of one location and its impact is a good idea. Herding them together in a cramped, inadequate space isn’t.

Ironic then that an exhibition that takes as its unifying inspiration the city that never sleeps, New York, Sheffield’s Site Gallery falls asleep on the job when it comes to presenting the work of six young artists to rest of the world.

Perhaps it was an attempt by the gallery to emulate the famously cramped conditions of the Big Apple by shoehorning this collection prints, video, cibachromes and sound installation into such a tight space. If the intention was to recreate the claustrophobia and confusion caused by those towering streets then in this respect it can be said to have succeeded.

Sometimes when disparate pieces of art are thrown together it can lead to unexpected tensions and correspondences that enhance and inform. Here though it just looks messy and haphazard, and every piece of work suffers as a result of its cramped quarters.

A shame since there are some good pieces. Melissa Gould’s “Neu-York” overlays a map of 30s NY with street names from Berlin of the same period; a simple yet effective rendering of Nazi ambition and how a world might have looked had it not been thwarted.

An honourable mention of Kevin Cooley’s Night For Night series must be made. His large format photographs evoke that spectral Edward Hopper vision, a sepulchral, sleeping giant New York in which events seem to have either just happened or are about to.

The most successful of them all was Steven Vitiello’s excellent World Trade Center Recordings: Winds After Hurricane Floyd in which recordings of the groaning movements of the building, in which Vitiello had a studio on the 91st floor, mingle uneasily with traffic, helicopters, rain, and somewhat eerily given the location, passing planes outside.

Sadly his work had to compete with the grating mechanical click-clack of a slide projector which had been thoughtlessly placed immediately outside. Thus Vitiello’s concern to bring to our attention those sounds which are normally absent from our lives was unnecessarily obscured and sabotaged by a gallery who should know better. A great pity.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

John Reid - Doctor In Trouble

The leader of the House of Commons, Dr. John Reid, is no stranger to the pages of this diary. Yesterday he gave another master class in deception and obfuscation when he went public on the Today programme with allegations that rogue elements within the security services were out to blacken the character and reputation of the Prime Minster, actively briefing against the government.

The ferocious exchange with presenter John Humphries was a classic of its kind. Reid’s standard opening gambit, to take issue with some points of fact in the preceding report, bogged down any chance of shedding any light on the matter: who are these rogue elements which are at the heart of Reid’s assertion? Reid simply brushed this reasonable question aside, refusing to substantiate his allegations, preferring to concentrate on the veracity and standards of reporting by the BBC.

Reid condemned those reports that Blair and co spun intelligence reports in order to emphasise that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction represented a threat which could be deployed in forty-five minutes.

Despite the fact that Humphries did rather better than his colleague, Jim Naughtie, did with Reid a few weeks ago the story became the fact that a senior government figure was making allegations about allegations about allegations. John Reid had successfully lit fires and the resulting smoke drifted about obscuring the view to a significant degree.

That he chose to make such startling allegations on a day when Blair would be facing a tough day in the House of Commons may not be a coincidence. Sure enough, the opposition ran with it and instead of Blair’s handling of the intelligence being the issue, Reid’s allegations became the top story.

Predication: Dr. John Reid will be receiving a knighthood at the earliest opportunity for services rendered.

Today it is bright and sunny and I’m off to Sheffield’s Site Gallery to take a look at Stephen Vitiello’s installation Tar Beach.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Capital Of Culture Punishment

Yesterday whilst I was dining with the chaps at Locus+ there was intense speculation as to whether Newcastle-Gateshead’s bid would be successful. Well, this morning at 8.15 a.m. we found out it wasn’t. The job has fallen to Liverpool to carry the flag as the UK’s nominee for the Capital of Culture 2008.

There’s always an element of politics with these things as well as a certain amount of blinkered chauvinism, andtruth be told the NewcastleGateshead alliance was always a marriage of convenience.

Had you asked any native of area about the links between the two places before all the Capital of Culture malarkey they would have snorted contemptuously. After a solid year of hype-speak about how intertwined these two places have become, away from all the bluster, the contemptuous native snort would still be audible.

As I wandered around the various corridors of the political community over the last couple of years, there’s always been an almost total indifference to the arts. The stance that Gateshead to make a large scale commitment to public art as a central plank of regeneration was regarded as something akin to lunacy by the surrounding local authorities – particularly its newly adopted twin, Newcastle.

That might not have been the public statement but it certainly was the view behind closed doors.

Newcastle has always looked down its nose at Gateshead. Yet over the years with the installation of Gormley’s Angel of the North, the Baltic and the soon to be arriving Sage Music Centre, Newcastle realised that without Gateshead, their bid for Capital of Culture would look a bit thin. Overtures were made and strategic alliances were constructed and with great ceremony, the great and good made all the right noises.

In the disappointment of not winning the coveted award, there will be bullish press releases from the great and the good reaffirming their commitment to the arts and that despite not winning the nomination, culture in Newcastle-Gateshead will be at the forefront of rebranding the region.

Wait a minute, I must rush to the window. I swear I saw something of a porcine nature nudging its way serenely through the clouds.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Short Term Memory

It’s been a very hot day here in Whitley Bay and Newcastle. This has occasioned the arrival of THE SHORTS. Joe stopped me this morning in the house and plaintively asked if I was going out dressed “like that”.

I told him not to worry and that I’d be gone before his friends saw me. Satisfied with that he went about his business.

After the school walk I got home, showered and put on the trousers (or tressers as Joe calls them) and headed off to meet with Jon and Jonty at Locus+. I’m doing a couple of days work for them over the next few weeks and they were kind enough to pay me up front. Once again, it’ll keep the wolves at bay for a few more days.

For those who like to know about these things check out their website.

We went to lunch at a trendy bar in the middle of Newcastle’s historic Grey Street and were joined by Richard Grayson, relatively fresh from his stint as director of the Sydney Biennale. Richard was in good form and made me laugh on several occasions – certainly helped the oysters we all had slip down a treat.

It was agreed that Jon looked uncomfortably like Mark E Smith, whilst his colleague, Jonty, was a dead-ringer for Keanu Reeves. They were kind enough not to point out my resemblance to a Kelsey Grammar gone to seed (that’s when I’ve got hair) or Steve “Phil Mitchell” McFadden (from the soap Eastenders) when my head is clean shaven which it currently is.

Tonight when I got back, Debbie’s birthday was stretched out for its fourth day following the arrival of a birthday cake which Alys had made as an alternative to a morning of exam revision.

Monday, June 02, 2003

The Older Generation

A lovely meal last night at the Kismet although I had a bad case of gastric reflux which caused me to sit and stare at a book and a computer screen in the wee small hours. Debbie was similarly afflicted. All the doors were open because of the oppressive heat and I could hear Debbie tossing and turning.

I tried to tackle some creative strategies that might provide some income. I’ll let you know what if anything transpires.

As I picked Joseph up from school, the blower rang and it was Jakko returning my call returning his call which was almost certainly returning my call. or something along those lines.

We walked and talked along from Cullercoats to Whitley Bay. As I was waiting for Joseph to return from the shop (he’d been dispatched to procure the mushrooms), I chatted with Jakko. Suddenly from behind me an elderly gentleman started bellowing at me for getting in his way. I was completely taken aback by his aggression which at one point took him deep into my personal comfort zone. I cut Jakko off and took the old boy on.

He blinked at me when I told him to stop being so rude. A simple “excuse me” might have done the trick. He bellowed even more and pushed his face right next to mine. Joe stood watching. I politely but very firmly told him his manners left a lot to be desired. He stepped back and beat the retreat, muttering all the way. Sheesh! The older generation eh?

Tonight Debbie got in from work and we celebrated her birthday by hiding her presents around the house. Eventually, she managed to gather them up from all the nooks and crannies and sat down to shred the wrapping paper. Tonight we top the evening off with Pulp Fiction. Hurrah for violence !

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Heathen, Blue Sky Thinking & Kismet

It’s Sunday and David Bowie’s Heathen is blasting out on the downstairs player. This can only mean one thing: housework. Washing dishes, dusting the surfaces, mopping the floors and other sundry items.

Thereafter, I was condemned to the lawn and forced to watch the clouds drifting slowly over the blue sky. God, sometimes it’s a hard life.

Tonight we’re off to have a meal at our favourite Indian restaurant – the Kismet. It’s all part of the second day’s celebration of Debbie’s impending birthday. Debbie’s mum, Doris, is treating us all. Yipee !


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