Monday, 31 December 2012

Eat, Drink, And Eat Some More

Went to Cosmo Restaurant today.  It is an "Eat As Much As You Like" place, so for around a tenner each we (myself, Mrs D, and 4 children) managed to stuff away several plates of curry, chinese, mexican, sushi, chips and cake.  All washed down with as much as soft drink as you like (a bottomless glass - a bottomless glass is a tube, surely?).
Just what you want after the previous week binging on rich food, too much drink and generally being lazy and (probably too) relaxed.
And after these final seasonal excesses comes the traditionally long and boozy night that is New Years Eve.
But not this year - for the first time in my adult life, we will be having "a quiet night in".  Doubtless, alcohol will be cosumed and rubbish food eaten, but this will be done from the comfort of the sofa with no agenda of forced enjoyment.  Who knows, we might even get the Scrabble board out (yes, thats right, I'm living on the EDGE!).
Tonight will consist of watching a couple of DVDs, listening to the Madness Box Set I received for Christmas (note to self: consider a Madness retrospective post in 2013) and building a Haynes Internal Combustion Engine model.

Obviously, this will be the last post of 2012.  So in the spirit of good will to all - thanks for reading 12 months worth of my drivel, and hopefully you'll be back to be bored to tears with more inane ramblings in  2013.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Something's Missing In My Life

All the Christmas shopping is now done, everything is wrapped up and I'm planning on doing nothing for the next couple of days.
(Finished before mid-day on Christmas Eve?  I must've forgotten something)
Not that I had that much to do - fortunately I'm married to one of those people who has been organising Christmas since mid-October, right down to the buying of her own presents and handing them to me with the instruction "hide those somewhere"

A few amusing observations from my minimal shopping trips in the past week:
  • People standing around in Argos clutching tickets whilst staring up at a TV monitor - just like a retail version of Ladbrokes or Coral
  • Shoppers carrying huge boxes of toys, gadgets, electricals, or shoppers shuffling along under the weight of 26 carrier bags.  And then stopping at the already crowded bus stop
  • All the bargain shops seemed to be playing the same 15 songs, ranging from the predictable to the very predictable, all in perfect synchronicity.  I can't help but conclude that a 'Radio Pound Shop' has been set up to further sanitise and homogenise our shopping experiences
  • Visiting HMV - this is generally an amusing excursion, comparing what it was like in the past to the overpriced, badly organised, alternative Dixons affair that it has now become.
    The chucklesome event occurred whilst browsing the Spoken Word/Comedy section.  A rack spacer between "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" & "Spike Jones" bore the legend "Jethro Tull" (maybe the Cornish comedian has replaced Ian Anderson?  I think it was just an error of the 'Thelonius Monk/The Loneliest Monk' type)
  • Supermarket customers with two trollies loading them up with the equivalent of the EEC food mountain.  The cynic in me says that about 30% (or more) of that stuff will be in the bin by New Years Day as they'd forgotten about it and it's now out of date.
    And when does anyone buy Advocaat, apart from in December?

Despite these personally amusing diversions and annoyances, I thought about the Christmas presents I had received in the past.
The memory lists the usual childhood and adolescent boys presents - Action Man, a bike, Scalextric, various books (usually of some educational/historical intent).  But figuring high each year was the plastic construction genius of Lego, specifically the Technical stuff (later renamed Technic).
Over the course of a few years I received a veritable smorgasbord of plastic bricks that could be clipped together to form models that you may want to display on a shelf - and then broken down to it's base components and re-built into something else.
In the spirit of dewy-eyed nostalgia, the sets I had (complete with reference numbers, because I'm that sad I can remember them) were:
  • 854 - Go Cart
  • 955 - Mobile Crane
  • 8843 - Fork Lift Truck
  • 8845 - Beach Buggy/Desert Racer
But the one set I never did get, and still yearn for, is 8860 Auto Chassis.

And who wouldn't want that?
Reclining seats, 2 speed gear box and a flat four boxer engine.  It may be left hand drive, but as it is lego it is easily converted without having to send it back to the manufacturer for modification.
30 years I've been waiting for that, and I'm still hopeful of getting it.

Monday, 17 December 2012

10 From 2012

It's nearly the end of the year, so in the spirit of "everyone else is doing, so I'm going to as well", here is my Top 10 Musical things this year (with a twist).
These 10 acts, presented in list form for your logical delectation, are the 10 acts that are "new" to me this year (ie I might have known something about them, or they existed before 2012, they just never 'passed through my transom' (as a wise man once said (David St Hubbins)).
Each band is listed with a suggested track if you want to hear what they sound like (unless you already know, in which case I'm teaching my granny to carry coals to Newcastle (or something like that?))

  • The Wildhearts - 29 x The Pain
  • Graham Day & The Gaolers - Soundtrack To The Daily Grind
  • Ducks Deluxe - Fireball
  • Frank Turner - Try This At Home
  • Devo - Space Junk
  • Richard Hawley - Tonight The Streets Are Ours
  • John Wesley Harding - I'm Wrong About Everything
  • Allo Darlin - Northern Lights
  • Spector - Chevy Thunder
  • First Aid Kit - Emmylou

In fact, whilst I'm here, I might as well add Top Tracks & Albums from the Year as well:
Top 5 Albums:
  • Paul Weller - Sonik Kicks
  • Bruce Foxton - Back In The Room
  • Madness - Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da
  • PiL - This Is PiL
  • First Aid Kit - The Lions Roar
Top 5 Tracks:
  • Paul Weller - When Your Garden's Overgrown
  • PiL - One Drop
  • Bruce Foxton - Number Six
  • First Aid Kit - Emmylou
  • Allo Darlin - Northern Lights

And to conclude The Rigid Digit 2012 Cultural Almanac (yes, its another list)


  • Here Comes Everybody, The Story Of The Pogues - James Fearnley
    OK, some of the prose is a bit 'flowerey', but the book captures the essence of being inside the band that has grown up together - the smiles, the seat, the fights.  And it does the one thing that all good rock biographies should - it makes you want to go and listen to the back catalogue, only you'll do so now with a bit of insight as to where the band's heads were at the time of writing
  • Men In Black 3
    Personally, I didn't think it was as good as the first two, and there was no Frank The Pug, but it was still a well written, well acted film which continues to debunk the "is there anybody out there?" school of thought
  • The Muppets
    Kids Film? Yes it probably is, but it's not stopped me watching about 10 times so far.
    (I'm including this, because although the film was 2011, I never saw it until the DVD release this year) 
  • Only Connect remains the best quiz show produced by the BBC (or indeed any other Channel)
  • Special mention to BBC4 and it's music documentaries, particularly the '... Britannia' strand.  This year has seen Chas & Dave, Squeeze, Thin Lizzy, Britpop, Manchester/Factory Records, Paul Carrack (to mention but a few).
    The Alan Yentob fronted 'Imagine' programmes are also usually worth a look 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Another Long Term Search Draws To A Close

The Gents were/are a Mod Revival band from Doncaster.  They were active between 1980 and 1989 releasing 9 singles and two albums.
The first album 'How It All Began' I used to own, but lost at a party around 1990.  The second album -  'Waiting To Be Seen' - I never did get round to buying when released in 1987, and I've never seen it since (I did have a taped copy which has been (badly) transferred to CD).

The Gents - that is one of those terms, like "Gentlemans relish" or "Oral Practicioner", that you hesitate to type into Google.  Searching for "The Gents" AND "Waiting To Be Seen" returns mostly links to The Gents website, a couple of videos on YouTube, but no CDs for sale.
Until now
Detour Records will be releasing 'Waiting To Be Seen' for the first time on CD on 10th December.  This will be the second release in a planned release schedule of 4 CDs.

The first album 'How It All Began' was released in 1985 and contains a solid set of 11 anthemic songs including "New Direction", "The Faker" and "Revenge" (see below).
Detour Records issued this album on CD in 2011 and is sitting on my CD shelf (filed under 'G' between Genesis and The Georgia Satellites) awaiting its partner.
'Revenge' was released as a single and should be filed under "How The Hell Wasn't That A Hit?"

Admittedly waiting until 1985 to release their first album did leave the band somewhat behind the curve of the original Mod Revival which was all but over by late 1982/early 1983, but I still believe that song deserved a wider audience.

The second album 'Waiting To Be Seen' was released in 1987 and was predominantly "more of the same", split on the album as the "Dancing Side" and the "Listening Side".  This is the title track:

Is it time for a Mod Revival Revival?
The Chords reformed in 2010 and have released 'Another Thing Coming' in 2010 & 'It Was Twenty Years Ago Today' in 2012
Secret Affair are touring, and have recently released a new album called 'Soho Dreams'
Add in Bruce Foxton's current album 'Back In The Room', Paul Weller's release earlier this year 'Sonik Kicks' and the 30th Anniversary Edition of The Jam's 'The Gift' and it's beginning to look like it.

Is it time to kit myself out with a Fred Perry shirt, Sta Press Trousers, Dessert Boots and a Parka?  How much for a second hand Lambretta?