"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Sunday 30 April 2017


L runs off early to do something called PiYo. I think I have the spelling and the capitalisation right. The boys and I have a lie in. Then I take them on the park where L comes to us.

The afternoon is spent watching the Tour de Yorkshire on TV, which for the first time we’ve not attended and done the sportive. It seems that not many did do the sportive this year as people cotton on to the fact that every year its route gets more removed from the route of the actual race. I’m really glad I did it in year one when it was pretty much all on the actual route.

In the evening, I have a birthday treat for myself as favourite bands of mine British Sea Power, Frightened Rabbit and Honeyblood are all on the same bill at the Handmade Festival in Leicester. Last night Handmaidens, tonight Handmade. Freaky.

I’m immediately feeling a bit nostalgic when I arrive because a trip to see a band in Leicester used to be a weekly occurrence (back in the day...) such was its draw for bands but probably nowhere has been butchered of their traditional gig venues more than the Leicester.

The Granby Halls went before we entered the new millennium, The Charlotte lasted barely a decade longer as a gig venue (but at least it's still there) and the revered Magazine went before I could even get there. All big losses but for me a trip to Leicester almost always meant a trip to one of the city’s two universities.

However, it’s been sixteen long years since my last visit to a Leicester university and that was to the much loved De Montfort Uni Arena (formerly the Leicester Poly Arena of course) to see Feeder (naturally). The Arena was one of the best around for sound and atmosphere, apparently it was loved almost as much by John Peel as it was by me. Sadly, it closed its doors to bands in 2003 and then sat there for a decade or more waiting to be reborn but it never was. It’s been even longer, 1992, 25 years since I was last at Leicester University (Zodiac Mindwarp by the way). That would probably have been in the Percy Gee building, never a favourite of mine and it never got the bands that the Poly did but it was decent enough.

The Percy Gee building is where I am tonight. In 2010, it was revamped as the University got into bed with the Academy organisation that you could say had done so much over the years to put so many venues like those in Leicester out of business. Whereas once a band would climb the ‘ladder’ of venues within a city as they grew in popularity, now they can do it all under one roof. Which is probably why it has taken me so long to make my first visit as Academy visiting isn’t really one of my must-do pastimes.

The four rooms under the Academy roof tonight host the 5th Handmade festival of which it is also my first visit. As I walk in at around 6.30pm, God Damn are playing loudly on the main stage. Apologies to them but they are so not my thing and especially not when my head is still a little tender from the night before.

Happyness upstairs in Academy 2 are better. Yes they’re a bit jangly 90’s indie but still very pleasant to listen to.

Moving back into Academy 1, I have to confess that musically it's a nice venue and ticks most of the required boxes. Unfortunately it has the standard appalling Academy range of drinks. I had hoped they'd have a beer tent as it's a festival and there are plenty of decent food tents outside but no. There's also no access to the Uni's own bar which used to do a decent pint or two but that may no longer the case of course.

One of the reasons I’m here is to see Honeyblood, who are a real favourite of mine at the moment and they are up next. 

Consisting of just singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale and drummer Cat Myers with a sound reminiscent of the Belly era but they pack more girl power per pound than many bands with twice as many members. Sadly, they cram just six songs into their half an hour slot but still leave a big favourable impression.

A lot of bands seem to be struggling to set up and sound check in the required window. Superfood back upstairs in Academy 2 really struggle and come on well late but then it probably serves them right for being so arty and technical.

I would have really liked to have seen them again but I give up on them and head back downstairs to the more stripped back Scholar Bar where Superfood’s loss is Get Intuit's gain. They seem to have no such problems getting straight 'into it' and they turn out to be the find of the night.

Their songs are all played with a manic intensity and singer Jamie Glass is a joy to behold. They play a set full of wit and humour along with some pretty decent guitar playing which backs up some really catchy tunes. One of which, their recent single ‘Barbiturates’, is an absolute pop classic.

British Sea Power don't seem to struggle getting their foliage set up with time to spare but getting the necessary wires in the right places seems to take a lot long and they too come on late.

Their new album contributes a large portion of the set and in fact the opening five songs which, from a record that is still only a few weeks old, seems to subdue even their hardcore support. A pulsating combo of 'No Lucifer' and 'Remember Me' eventually restores disorder, then the bears are in the crowd... and everyone's trying to grab them for a selfie, meaning everything is again all right with the world.

As BSP close with their epic instrumental ‘The Great Skua’ I move onto a band with a set full of them. There's been quite a bit of talk about Gallops over the years although mainly because they did the rock 'n' roll thing of making one well received album and then splitting up. Now they’re back and, well, perhaps need to be viewed from afar with the aid of some substance to be appreciated fully. 

Upstairs Jaws are much sweeter on the plate, perhaps too much so. They remind me a little of Haircut 100 or perhaps it’s the Foals sound they’re after. Not my thing either but as they’re already well on their way to stardom they don’t really need my approval anyway.

I haven't seen Frightened Rabbit for a while and I have always been a bit disillusioned by the way they ultimately turned out. For a band build on the misery that Scott Hutchinson spread across their first two albums they have gone on to make that despair quite upbeat and now the band are very much rock stars that have embraced a sound that is bordering on stadium rock. I never thought that would be how they'd go. I’m not sure how you can rewind that and presumably the band don't want to.

That said, classics like ‘Heads Roll Off, ‘Fast Blood’ and real oldie ‘Square 9’ still sound great but whether they need three guitars to pull these off I’m not sure. FR entertain but it still doesn't feel right hearing them rock out so much.

The hardcore fans here continually call for the cult track ‘Snake’ which Hutchinson maintains is just to piss him off (as it's rather naff) but it’s probably more of a call for a more stripped back sound and maybe he should consider embracing the project.  

Hutchinson does further stoke my nostalgia trip when he alludes back to their performance at the much missed Summer Sundae Festival. I was at that one too and while that probably won’t come back either Handmade is certainly a nice additional to be going on with for now.

(Sunday 30th April)

Saturday 29 April 2017

Not Your Typical Girl Meets Girl Story

This morning we sample another new Parkrun this time at Shipley Park, which thankfully is nowhere near as hilly as the one at Bestwood. Of course we also sample the café afterwards.

Then it’s the final home match of the football season as Derby take on and beat Wolverhampton Wanders but in what is really a totally meaningless fixture.

In the evening we’re at Broadway to see the Handmaiden with a Shipstone’s Nut Brown Ale in hand.

The Handmaiden is an adaptation of Sarah Waters' ‘Fingersmith’ by Park Chan-Wook, the man who made one of my favourite quirky films ‘Stoker’. The original was a sort of Victorian Dickensian affair but Park has moved the story to Japanese occupied Korea in the 1930s. Which is an odd choice but we’ll go with it. The dialogue is in both Japanese and Korean with different coloured subtitles for each language which is a nice touch, if a slightly surreal one as it’s largely pointless.

The story revolves around a young ‘fingersmith’ Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) who is hired as a handmaiden (aka a maid) to a Japanese heiress Lady Izumi Hideko (Min-hee Kim) but she has an ulterior motive but then to be fair, so do most of the characters. Her aim is to persuade Hideko to marry Count Fujiwara (Jung-woo Ha) who is actually a conman and whom she is working for. Once he has married Hideko he says will commit her to an asylum and steal her inheritance.

Things begin to go a bit tits up (if you excuse the rather appropriate phrase) when the two women start making lustful eyes at each other seemingly from the off. This could well be due to their complete isolation in their mansion and also the complete lack of any heterosexual options, although this is obviously a very un-PC thing to say. All the men are repulsive characters who would rather get their sexual kicks at the ‘erotic’ book club ran by Hideko's unpleasant Uncle Kouzuki (Cho Jin-woong) where Hideko herself is required to be the narrator. Previously it was her aunt, who went on to hang herself from a tree.

When Hideko asks Sook-hee how the Count would make love to her once they are married Sook-hee demonstrates, albeit with an improvised girl on girl version. The film doesn’t hold back in it’s coverage of this but it’s all very tastefully shot and you find yourself admiring the fantastic cinematography... among other things. It even seems almost educational, I mean scissoring, does anyone really do that in real life? Please enlighten me.

So now the two lead female characters are in love or at least in lust and there’s barely yet been a conversation between the two.

At this point, I should perhaps mention that the story is divided into three parts and part two revisits part one from a different perspective. This involves revisiting scenes as well as moving back and forth through time. Which isn’t as confusing as I would have thought.

The first two parts were really clever but the third part got a bit messy and the whole thing ends up a bit disappointing with a scene near the conclusion that seemed unnecessarily violent and out of place with the rest of the film.

Even so I enjoyed the film and if you love a good tale of lesbian passion with your tales of jealousy and betrayal then this one’s for you.
Afterwards, there’s more Brown Ale on offer in the Scribblers, which L now tells me is one of her least favourite pubs because the wine is son crap there. So we move on to the Blue Monkey where they not only have Amaretto Gorilla but a strong 5.0% Monkey Mild as well.

(Saturday 29th April)

Friday 28 April 2017

Pensionable Age

On the bike again today.

I think I’ve got problems with old age now that I’m 50 but L has had an email telling her she can draw her pension after her 55th next week. Well, it was age 50 when I started by personal pension so we could have been pensioners together.

Doggo is, of course, already of pensionable age and now we’re got MD, who seems to be slowing down. Probably not too surprising as today is his birthday. He's 9, blimey, and still the puppy. In the evening, we order curry and we get him his own naan bread as a treat. 

Talking of birthdays...

We’re got a bit behind with the old Top of the Pops, what with having a lodger but we’re back on it now. It is now 34 years since TOTP celebrated its 1000th edition which was originally on the 5th May 1983. That’s some milestone, although the show eventually well exceeded 2000.

Sadly the BBC repeated the 999th and the 1001st editions but the skipped over the 1000th because inevitably Jimmy Savile and other persona non grata were there. So they denied us a chance to relive that milestone because they wouldn’t edit it. Luckily it’s all available on Youtube.

I recorded the 1000th show at the time onto a music cassette as it was also broadcast live on the radio that night and I played it regularly afterwards, such was the esteem held for TOTP in those days. It will be in the loft somewhere I’m sure but probably not in a good state.

(Friday 28th April)

Thursday 27 April 2017

Almost Indistinguishable

Yay it’s my birthday. Although in many ways it’s almost indistinguishable from any other day.

I have a pleasant bike in to work, which isn’t unusual, after having a very pleasant time before I even got out of bed, which isn't unusual either. Upon arrival at work, I don’t get greeted with cake, just my usual bowl of porridge. I do get a card from everyone at work which continues the theme of needing glasses and alcohol.

L says told you so, things wouldn't change once you reached 50. Nobody even mentions having a mid-life crisis and buying a Porsche and\or running off with a younger woman. Not that I can afford a Porsche even if I wanted one and they don’t make younger women like they used to.

I do get an odd gadget from one of my friends, so odd I'll need to google what it is.

L gets me a ‘marathon package’. New trainers, a promise of a Birmingham Marathon entry (should I remain uninjured) and a pre-race massage by her Pilates chap, that is if no Swedish blonde wants the job. He can always wear a wig I suppose but it wouldn’t be quite the same.

In the evening, in another non-departure from the usual, I play squash and my opponent doesn’t even let me win. Although it is satisfying that he suggests a sixth game rather than our usual five and he is practically crawling on the floor by the time the next pair knock on the door to rescue him.

Afterwards we go to the Dispensary, where we do stray from the usual script. We have a meal and Daughter joins us. 

(Thursday 27th April)

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Identikit Dullness

I’m on the bus today, for a rest. Whisper it quietly but I’m feeling a bit knackered.

I book tickets for Bananarama at Birmingham’s NIA because the Theatre Royal in Nottingham sold out instantly. Well before instantly actually, I think they all went on 'pre-sale'. At least we can probably combine the gig with a night out in the second city. I was hoping they’d have some standing tickets but I think they've assumed that none of their audience will be young enough or fit enough to do something like that. So we have seats, which are probably in a different post code to the stage.

L says she’ll try and find some glitter. Glitter? I'm not sure why...

Daughter is having internet problems at her new abode. All properties do this thing where the previous tenant has to have everything disconnected only for the next tenant to have to pay through the nose to have everything reconnected. Then because it’s invariably different people doing the connecting, it all goes pear shaped. As it the case here. They even tell her to be in, so she has the day off, only to not turn up and then say she didn’t need to be in after all.

Dogging tonight and it’s all on a course that I requested and which did for us at Scunthorpe dog show the other week. Well it is my birthday tomorrow.

I meet L afterwards in the Masons where they have clearly been working hard on NOT celebrating my birthday given the identikit dullness of their beer selection of Bass, Pedigree, Speckled Hen and Harvest Pale. Ho hum.

(Wednesday 26th April)