Wednesday, 30 December 2009

New guitar...


Couldn't last for long... always seem to buy guitars around this time of year...

Just bought one of these (Yamaha CPX) as a more appropriate stage guitar than my LL series Yamaha, which isn't electro-acoustic for a start.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Furtheron Music Awards 2009

Best gig of the year.

Very difficult... after much deliberation Muse just edge it I think but Heaven and Hell at Sonisphere ran them a mighty close second.

Others of note - I like Snow Patrol a lot and Judas Priest at Wembley in Feb were great as well.

Best album of the year.

Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us Death Unites Us

Saw these on the second stage at Sonisphere and I was impressed. I listened to this when released on Spotify and instantly bought it. One of the best "metal" albums from a British band in years. Rarely off my listening to list since. Brilliant.



Worthy of note... a lot although this was a quiet year for a while. Okay U2 produced a good but not great for them album, Heaven and Hell showed that the old boys of metal can still produce the goods! Newton Faulkner's second effort disappointed a bit at first but has grown on me, less flashy but good song writing. Biffy Clyro continue to grow and impress with a strong showing on Only Revolutions. Marillion's Less is More was a brilliant example of how to really do unplugged sessions with a stripped back version of some of their old songs... and not the obvious ones. Phil Campbell is a musician too few people know - Daddy's Table his latest effort is again one to check out if you like quieter acoustic rock, in that vein also David Gray's Draw the Line is probably his best all round album since White Ladder and was a definite contender for this title. Muse produced a stunning album in the guise of The Resistance but I just felt this slightly too over the top in places and too Queen derivative in a couple of points, good though it is to see progressive rock so high in the charts and in demand from concert goers.

Best single of the year.

Don't normally do this but has to be RATM - Killing in the Name by getting to Christmas no 1 slot. ACE!

Best DVD of the year.

Joe Bonamassa Live at The Albert Hall easily wins this with his sublime blues rock playing.

Closest other contender would be the Children in Need animated band :-)

The Furtheron Review of the year.

So 2009 – the end of the noughties... I’ve hated that title for this decade, oh crap what’ll the next one be the teenies? please I hope not.
So this year has been one hasn’t it. The biggest recession in my lifetime which I have to say luckily has largely passed us as a family by so far.

Quick summary then...

January

January was a sad month with some tragedies for including the sad loss of the great great John Martyn. Gives me an excuse to point you to spend 5 and a half minutes of your life just listening to this – if you want to get close to the emotion of the man. I found out I know John’s cousin which provided some amazing insight to him.



Also I acquired my PRS CE22 in January – still now my principle “go to guitar” when I plug in the amp.


February


I was told that my old job had gone away and that I was “redundant”. I went frankly into a bit of a tail spin... I had no Plan B, I frankly had bugger all Plan A. In retrospect I probably should have taken the cash and gone off but rereading some of these things show me the turmoil I was in at the time and the panic of both not getting any job anywhere (since in my head I’m a useless twat) and secondly just simply becoming lazy and unemployable once not working.

I did put a couple of videos up including Gypsy




March


Much mention of still remembering the great John Martyn as there were tributes on the BBC. Also I was into career continuation mode – and went off on a course about that which was useful but frankly I should have put more effort into afterwards I think.

One quote from a post on guilt hit me looking back over this... “Probably the biggest critic of my behaviour is me.”

On the music front Mrs F and I went to see Snow Patrol and the U2 CD came out... that reminds me I must do the Furtheron music awards for 2009 post as well.

I posted on the Karpman Drama Triangle – one of the biggest search hits still on this blog. :S

Oh yes and here is a video that made me very proud to post that month



April

I got offered the new job at the company and even then I was not in a good space over it. As I said earlier in this retrospective I should have thought longer and harder and worked on it more and come up with a better route that I had more control over... too late however I accepted the job and moved on with it.

I had a bunch of guitars at the repairers – the Peter Cook Bass which subsequently has moved on to a new home, the newly acquired PRS having locking tuners re-installed and my old beloved classical my Mum got me as a teenager having new tuners and a scratch from a disaster in the music room repaired. That appeared in some classical videos at my youtube channel. However I also posted this video of one of the greatest songs ever.




May

Was a nondescript month it seems reviewing my posts. Losts of random catchups. My old Nunostrat (home made bitsacaster) underwent some work and is better than it’s ever been before. I started making that with my Dad when I was a teenager so it has some of his DNA in it as well as mine.

I celebrated my 5th anniversary of sobering up which seems something of a milestone given five hours was a problem in the old days.

I’d discovered the great “Some Grey Bloke” so I was posting this sort of stuff.




June


We lost our daughters guinea pig unexpectedly.

Had a great time at the London International Music show with son-of-Furtheron.

The new job was really getting to me and many of the posts were me angry at myself for being in a bad space with it all and then it all in smacked into my face with the story of the Puttick family who you may remember were two lovely parents who had a very ill child who when he died took his body to Beachy Head in a back pack and jumped to their deaths. How tradgic – these two people gave so much to their dear little boy and were worth much more to this world than many people who simply take from people around them and the world and give nothing back. A reminder I should aspire to be more like them and less like me.

I didn’t post a video at all that month... so have this... CLASSIC early Fish era Marillion!



July

I bought the amp! Bloody great Hughes and Ketner Dual 6L6 – it’s still brilliant by the way even though I’ve gone all unplugged. We’ll see in 2010 I still have some idea about a band maybe.

Son-of-Furtheron was declared best student of his year!!!

There was a lot about health which was not good and really hinted at what was to come really.

I won a great competition over at Guitar Noize!

Gigs a plenty with Jools Holland in the storm, Jeff Beck at the Albert Hall and Sonisphere, oh hell the best gig of the year is going to be difficult!

Here’s the amp being demoed but someone who knows their stuff...





August

Was dominated by the Sonisphere festival experience... guess what the boy is on about going this coming year as the mighty might Maiden are headlining. Hmm... I’m not bloody camping!!!!

Also the holiday to the USA and the first issues with the vertigo which led me to have several weeks off work and the ripples of this still continue as it’s still a problem although I’m living with it better I think

Here is a TV appearance by my great friends The Sue Menhart Band that we also got to see live whilst in their neighbourhood on the holiday.



September

Was dominated by not being well and I was in and out of work and then returning on reduced hours. I’d also been looking at getting a band together through some ads on Partysounds etc. just before the holiday and I tried to follow them up but I didn’t really find anyone where stuff clicked and given I wasn’t physically or mentally not that well the band idea sort of fell by the way side.

No videos but there is a link as I posted photo off my phone of Gary Moore from a gig in April so here is Gary live this year from Brighton...



October

Another year done and I turned 47 – no escaping it I’m late 40s now without any doubt!

I was slowly getting better during this month, increasing my hours back at work.

Also one of the biggest things for me this year, I asked Toby Burton over at Rock-til-you-drop if he’d consider giving me a slot on the November bill of his Sunday Acoustic sessions and he said yes and booked me in for the November one. Suddenly the acoustic was being grabbed every night and a set list was taking shape including some old self penned numbers that I was dusting off.

Here is someone else who was 47 this year...



November

I did the gig! It was a success, i.e. I turned up, I played some people clapped, I didn’t die on my arse and I actually enjoyed it. Four Dinners deserves a special mention as he not only came along to support he asked me for recordings to play on the legendary Drunk Punk show he hosts. That meant I dug out the recorder and started recording for the first time in years. But I enjoyed it and it has really taken me in a new direction and motivation on the music.



December

So here we are at years end

I went the USA on work for the first time in ages which was useful meeting all my team face to face for the first time. We had snow... a lot of flipping snow and the UK travel chaos was complete. Luckily with a little bit of planning and care I seem to avoid it and get Son-of-Furtheron home for Christmas from Wales and to from work as I needed to.

More songs were recorded and some more written. I got a gig lined up for March where I’ll be live on the Scooter Forums Radio world tour as long as we figure out the technical nonsense.

I set up a reverbnation page which is hosting my music and gigs.

Here is my good friend Giles who is stunningly talented!



So for next year?

Music – more new songs hopefully then a focus on the gigs in Feb and March. I hope to line up some in Kent as well etc. I might look for some musicians to join a “band” but very much using the set list and the current set up as the starting point. We’ll see.

Job – I have some plans in my head. If there is a chance I might take the redundancy as I have an idea on retraining to then take up a new career. Getting the pay off would allow me to get into that with the safety net of some money to keep the wolf from the door. However if the redundancy option isn’t there I’ll have to rethink whether I can just take the plunge as I really do think it is time to move on.

Family – Daughter of Furtheron needs to pick her GCSE options, we’re nearly there on that I think already but just some last decisions. Son of Furtheron will continue to work hard at uni I know as he always does. It will be my brothers wedding in August and I’m the best man believe it or not! And just before that Mrs F and I celebrate our silver anniversary which I’ve already booked a short break for back to where we went for our honeymoon. So here’s to 2010.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

So this is Christmas...

And what have you done?
Another year over?
And a new one just begun...

Hats off to Mr Lennon there.

I'll soon have to to the Furtheron review of the year in terms of music and life.

But in the meantime Happy Christmas to all the readers of this continuing ramble through my mind...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I need some of these


Christmas is nearly here. Daughter-of-Furtheron has broken up from school for Christmas, Son-of-Furtheron is home from uni, Mrs Furtheron has finished at school and all the Christmas performances are over. In the office we've had the end of year celebrations and day by day less people are turning up as those that haven't used up all their leave are using it up... I've blown that and am here until Christmas Eve, but never mind at least then I'm off until the 4th Jan as we have a site shut down.

With all this though a phenomenon has arrived, Mum and Dad's taxi service. Mrs F was shuttling girls to and from the cinema yesterday evening and has some complicated movements through the day today.

So I think I need to get some of these and those beady seat covers for the drivers seat and plastic ones for all the others and a meter to try to get payment for all this taxi service!!! :-)

Monday, 21 December 2009

RATM - Killing in the name of

I was so pleased that this hit the number 1 slot. Nothing against the X-Factor except that I am fed up with the manufactured pop star thing. It isn't a new issue... Bay City Rollers anyone? etc. but increasingly there isn't anything edgy anywhere.

Funny the edgy track chosen is 17 years old!!! Still it is the message it sends which is good, there are a huge number of people out there who will buy music when moved to do so. Hmm maybe some new bands should take heart from this and get out there and promote themselves and we'll get something new interesting and different up in the charts in 2010...

You can hope can't you?

Sunny Wales

That isn't a statement I often make but it was very sunny and lovely in Wales on Friday. I did run ahead of the snowstorm on Thursday down the M4 stopping about Chippenham for the night. As I say whilst our part of Kent was gridlock on Friday morning with several inches of snow I woke to a glorious sunny day and had a lovely drive right along the end of the M4 and up the coast road.

We came back Saturday via the M40 and dropping of my sons girlfriend near Uxbridge - they had a bit of snow... but then as we hit the North Downs near our home the snow was piled high. Mrs F had spent a couple of hours digging out the drive thankfully and despite a scary slide on the approach we got home fine.

Back to work today - getting there not an issue but getting back along our road to get home... now that is a different point :-)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Snow.. not yet!

Heavy snow is forecast for the South East overnight. Darn!!! I need to get down to Wales to pick my son up to come home for Christmas.

Maybe I'll shoot off tonight instead then have the issue of getting back on Saturday...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Sunday, 13 December 2009

New Songs

I've loaded up two new songs as promised.

Go to here or they are in the widget in the right hand bar of this page just down a bit...

You Make Me More - is dedicated to all the people I've come across in my life who have made me a better person... those that give energy to people not those that suck it out of you.

My Baby - is a little diversion for me. This is a jazzy chord progression I've had lying around for ages. I thought it needed some tongue in cheek lyrics so this song is a play on the fickleness you sometimes see certain people have in relationships and love.

Enjoy...

Pointless things to do on a Sunday Morning...

Number 27

Wash and hoover your car in the pouring rain.


... oh and thanks to all the wise arses walking up my road from the shop who thought it necessary to point out to me it was raining. I knew that but the car was covered in filth and I was doing it no matter what!

Friday, 11 December 2009

New songs to debut on Drunk Punk show...

I've a couple of new songs that'll be debuting on the Drunk Punk show on Scooter Forums radio tomorrow night from 9pm

I'll be posting them up to Reverbnation and hence into my widget... look right and down on Sunday.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

She's going...



... the Peter Cook bass that is.

This beauty has been in the collection for about 20 years now, but I'm no bass player, it only ever came out rarely to add bottom end (mostly root and fifth) to my home recordings. Given I took about 8 years out from any of that activity it generally hung on the wall for a long time. My son did use it briefly when he was playing bass in a band about 4 years back, then he converted to 6 string and that was that. However also in that period he convinced me that really a 5 string was required for modern bass playing so I bought a black Ibanez 5 string off a guy at work and now I have two basses I hardly play. Prior to that her only real use was when the bass player in a band I was briefly trying to get together about seven years ago used it as a backup and Drop D ready tuned for a while.

The recent upsurge in my home recording hasn't found me pulling the Peter Cook from it's place in a gig bag behind the rack of other guitars at all even though I had the electrics looked at early in the year - the switch on the jack socket for the active circuit was bust and a pot loose etc.

I found a vintage guitar forum with a discussion about Peter Cook instruments (see brief history below) and joined in sharing a picture of this and my similar 6 string. I mentioned I was thinking of selling and a guy pinged me saying he was interested. So the deal is pretty much concluded now I just need to sort out getting the payment from him and shipping it. He is planning to ship me an empty quality hard case to avoid any major hassles on that front.

Part of me is sad to see it go since having two Peter Cooks can't be that common but frankly I don't use it, it'll free up space on the rack as I'll move the Ibanez into the Gig Bag and give me some funds to purchase some speaker stands for my PA speakers and at least one better microphone for both recording and live use so that I can start thinking of self contained gigging soon.

Her new owner is a man who appreciates what a good instrument this is - the maple center section is a lovely piece of wood and he is a bass player so she'll get better use than at my hands and get to be shown off in public from time to time hopefully... which she deserves at her age :-)

Peter Cook Guitars what I know about it...

Peter Cook was based out West London way. He was involved is a bunch of stuff in the 70s and 80s. Ned Callen guitars anyone? That was Peter Cook under another name. He used to assemble guitars from Mighty Mite parts at one point as well that were sold by their distributors I believe. However he is more known for his custom jobs... he made several for John Entwistle of the Who over the years. Also there are a few twin necks about that are "firebird" look alikes... One of them sold on eBay earlier in the year, bugger I missed that! Around the turn of the 70s into the 80s he launched a range known as Axis which my bass and 6 string are part of. The 6 string I have though just has Peter Cook Custom on the truss cover so I believe was possibly a special order but I don't know for certain. The bass has the AXIS brass truss cover. These were hand made in Peter's workshop and are super instruments especially given they are available (although rarely) at astonishingly good value prices. The range was short lived as Peter on his own couldn't compete with the big boys and he moved into retail with his shop Peter Cook's Guitar World. I met him when he worked there once and we talked about my guitar and bass a bit. My 6 string has a Peter Cook strap he gave me free that day! He left the shop which still trades with his name but is no longer in the music industry to my knowledge.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Book reviews, Mark Billingham - In the Dark, Will Adams - The Lost Labyrinth, Jon Fashman - Unpossessed City

I'm behind on book reviews so here is a catch up on the last couple.


Jon Fashman - Unpossessed City

I loved his first novel - Geographer's Library. This wasn't quiet as good but was intriguing as the plot switched back and forth and you weren't exactly sure who was who and what was what in it. It is set mostly in Moscow where an American finds himself after getting into debt and deciding that "run away" was an appropriate tactic. He then unwittingly finds himself caught up in a complicated plot to spirit ex-USSR scientists out of the country.

I'd recommend this as a good read - the description of Moscow and the life within it was excellent giving me a better insight the underlying plot than many novels do.

Will Adams - The Lost Labyrinth

This is his third novel I think, and with a similar plot and many returning characters. The main one is Dan Knox who is an archaeologist who has a knack of making the greatest discoveries of the century... book after book and this one is no different.

If you like Indiana Jones like stuff this is ideal. A reasonable read and one that I'd recommend although I think Mr Adams needs to stretch out for his next novel, but then some have made very good careers with the repeat character / plot thing...


Mark Billingham - In the Dark

First time I've read one of Mr Billingham's and basically I only got this in one of those buy one get another half price type deals in WHSmiths. I was impressed. This was a gritty crime drama set in modern London with bent coppers, young drug dealers and gang members, career criminals etc. all in the mix. A bit of a diversion for me in some ways but I enjoyed it and it reminded me of Martina Cole (I think that is her) who I read one book of a while back.

I look forward to getting more of his back catalogue so I can't say fairer than that can I.

Christmas is coming...

Anyone remember the old rhyme?

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!

My Dad used to often recite it. Today would have been his birthday but sadly he was taken from us back in 1984... blimey I've been alive more without him now than with him! I was 22 when he died, I'm 47 now.

Anyway - Christmas is suddenly baring down on us at a huge speed. Only a week and a day or so and I'll be off to pick up my son from university. Looking forward to him being home again. We've put the tree up - well Mrs F and I did that bit and put the new 200 multi-function lighting rig on it. I have to say they do look better than the batter old two other sets we used to wind around the tree hoping it'd look ok and every year saying we'd buy some new ones, well now we have and all the options for flashing etc. boggle me, we used to just be grateful if the majority came on and some of those busted we had replacement bulbs for!

Daughter-of-Furtheron decorated the tree (with Mrs F helping) in a style of silver, white and a dash of red. :S They keep me away from aesthetic stuff... wisely so.

So tree up, lights in the windows, Christmas cards written - Mrs F did that whilst I was away last week and I've done one or two specific ones I had to. We're even wrapping up the presents this week... largely as we've commandeered sons bedroom as a storeroom and clearly need to return it to bedroom status by next week!

Next week Mrs F is wrapped up in school productions etc. Friday we have a pre-Christmas get together for a bunch of current and ex-employees. Mrs F is off on her girls Christmas night out at the weekend. So the festivities are well and truly here - some how it seems to have suddenly arrived for me this year.

I have to say I'm looking forward to Christmas this year - it'll just be the 4 of us with the mother-in-law on Christmas Day. Boxing Day will be at my sisters as has been tradition for some years and then New Years Day a big family meal at a local restaurant, largely held in memory of Mum as New Years Day was her day for many years when the kids were little. This time there is about 20 of us all told when you include kids, partners, etc.

I hope everyone else Christmas preparations are going to plan (or not if you like the last minute panic/rush to be part of your perfect holiday).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

In Da Studio...

Okay stretching a point since I actually mean - In the little box room that is crammed with guitars, books, AA paraphernalia (I hold the stock for Public Interest stuff in our local area), Christmas presents... etc. But it has my little recorder in it so today it is the studio. :-)

I'm recording a couple of new tracks - so watch this space.

I've signed up to Reverbnation as an artist... nothing like self publicity is there. My page is here. It's quiet neat as you can then get a player for your material without it being available for Download - well it is up to you to set that and then you can get widgets to bung on your blog... note the two news one to the right of this post.

If anyone would like to promote me on there blog then go here and you can grab the code for a widget of different types which you can put on your blog etc. (If you are on blogger in layout tab click on add a gadget and then select the one that allows HTML to be pasted in and viola - done!

I have to add the March gig I've got but need to find the venue first... but soon there will be more than one upcoming gig.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

What's occuring on the music front

Well a lot!!

Soon I'll have to put up an "Upcoming gigs" widget on this blog. :-) Yes true folks I've got another gig. This time in March and actually not just a gig... look I'm of the age when live music on the TV was a huge rarity (although actually it's probably rarer now!) and as a teenager I waited for a new series of Rock Goes to College, or Sight and Sound in concert. Ones that stand out... the last ever Lizzy TV gig, John Martyn blowing me away with just him and a guitar and that voice!, The Police, Supertramp, Queen... etc.

Anyroad the March date isn't just a gig I'll be broadcasting live... yes live... to the world... yes the WORLD on the legendary Scooter Forums Radio! Well I think the date is in March there is some confusion on that at the moment :-)

So now two live dates fixed... blimey it's nearly a tour :-)

Okay in preparation for the next Rock-Til-You-Drop acoustic gig I'm planning to do, which is btw 14th Feb at The Libertine, see I need an "upcoming gigs" widget :-) I'm working on some new material having learnt the lessons from the last time, i.e. the intricate instrumentals didn't work so well in that venue, so more vocal material needed.

I'm working on two new self penned numbers which have lyrics written and music ready. One is currently called "You make me More" it is a feel good song about those people who you meet in life that give you inspiration those people who give you energy rather than sapping it away. The other one is a little jazzy guitar riff I've had about for a while and had a vague idea for lyrics but they came together the other day that is currently called "My Baby" and is a jovial ditty about how feckless some people can be in love and relations. I'm hoping to record them both soon so that they are available for listening pleasure before the gig. Lastly on the self penned front I've an idea for a song and some half written lyrics for a song that is currently called "Within" watch this space on that one.

I'm looking to some other "covers" as well to provide a greater repertoire and offer something different for the Libertine gig. So I'm working on the following

Newton Faulkner - Dream Catch Me... Not sure the guitar is very high in this one, I might look to one of his others to cover perhaps.
Phil Campbell - Maps. Mr Campbell is an big direct and indirect influence - some while back whilst After the Garden was on in the car Mrs F said "You should do stuff like this". That was one of the several seeds people planted that has got me to this new position as an active solo acoustic performer.
David Gray - Fugitive... another big influence
Madness - Johnny the Horse. Recommended by Four Dinners and given all the unbelievable support he is giving me over at Scooter Forums radio I can hardly refuse can I?

I might also throw in Dave Mathews - The Space Between we'll see.

I got some new memory cards for the BR-600 recorder so no excuses there now and I'm going to order a couple of decent microphones once the Christmas expense nonsense is behind me.

Home from home...

Well I'm in the good olde US of A this week for work. First time I've traveled on work related stuff for something like 18 months, which is so odd given I've had a USA boss for over 6 months and the rest of my team is based here, but that is how life is sometimes. I've had other less "global" jobs and traveled much more. Today is a big workshop (the pretext for traveling) with another group then I've got a couple of days in the office to try to catch up with "customers" and "partners" before flying home on Friday.

I'm staying in the same hotel I've used now for years and which the family stayed in the summer on our USA holiday. Funny it seems all so familiar now - I almost was confused as they've moved the TV in the breakfast room!

The trip out was ok but very tiring. Why do airlines get you all to bundle on the plane thinking that you daren't hold up the process or all the other passengers and crew will think you are the one that caused the delay so that come the time to push back everyone is in and ready only for the pilot to say... "It's very busy at Heathrow this time of day and we have a 1 hour delay here at the gate". Err... why not let us stay in the lounge then? I presume a) they think they'll lose some of us or b) they need to get you on the plane to free up seats in the lounge. Anyway after sat on the tarmac we taxied around for another 45 mins then took off... 1 hour 45 mins and you've gone about 300 yrds in a plane that can do 500 mph? Air travel - mind boggling!

We landed in Boston and one thing was exactly the same as in London. The weather. Rain was hammering down. One good thing on the delay meant we were through immigration quick as no other flights were there at the same time and I got my Chevy Impala hire car sorted and set off to drive to Connecticut. Of course now was the start of a very raining rush hour in Boston so the drive down was slow. Still all in one piece and not the worst one I've ever experienced which I blogged about on my old blog some years back... slipping along I95 in an ice storm... never again!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

New tracks...

All of which made their live debut at the Libertine gig.

Gypsy



Waterfall



Solo Sunday

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Christmas shopping... DONE!

In the spirit of the cult of done we have done the Christmas shopping. A full paced blitz through Maidstone and Amazon on-line shopping and by lunch Mrs F and I could head off to a Mexican restaurant for a Burrito!

I need to just pop out with Daughter-of-Furtheron today to get some bits with her but then that really is in essence it.

I'm off to USA on Monday - typically I've had some vertigo issues this week after at least 3 weeks clear. But it's no big deal and I'm sort of looking forward to the trip to catch up with my team mates in USA and to have the first face-to-face with my boss since he became my boss in June - apart from us having dinner with the family and some of the team whilst on my summer hols.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Brought up by The Booze

I finally got around to watching this programme yesterday. I was off sick as I've been back to having mild - moderate vertigo attacks again which is flipping annoying.

Anyway this documentary was about Callum Best the son of legendary football and drinker George Best and was a Children in Need special about the effects of alcohol abuse on the children of the alcoholic.

I'd recorded it as it had been promoted within the AA fellowship. However I'd sort of expected something very typical without much substance. I was very very wrong. It was brilliantly done. Unfortunately as it was over a week ago it doesn't look like it is on the iPlayer which is a shame - they have space for so many complete series of popular things it is a shame that they can't find space for this one programme.

Any how - Callum Best talks very candidly about his relationship with his Dad and how alcohol affected it. He meets the children of active and recovering alcoholics and people working in the support of families and at treatment centres etc. One of the best documentaries on this topic that you are ever likely to see if you ever get the chance.

I hope they repeat it / make it permanently available on the iplayer site.

There is a short piece here about it from the morning news show.

Powerful stuff - I've lived the side of this equation as the active alcoholic and seen the damage it has inflicted on my kids - I'm very very lucky in that I stopped at a point where my relationships with them had something left still to salvage and very grateful that they were willing to be part of my sober life.

It's been a few days of mixed emotions being a bit ill again with the vertigo and attending the funeral of a friend in AA who died too young from cancer - died sober mind which was a great tribute to her. The chapel where the service was held was packed with people and it really was a great celebration of her life which was also nice. Her children were there remembering their Mum making jokes about her personality and again nice to see a family that could have easily been broken apart by alcoholism bound by such obvious love to the very end of her life. Another day I feel a bit Furtheron...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Living the Dream

I'm having a great time at the moment.

On Saturday one of my songs appeared on the infamous Drunk Punk show. If you listen I appear about 1 hour in and at the very end.

I've got stuck into recording some more material using the Boss BR-600 which I've had about a year and not done enough with. All I need to really figure out now is programming the rhythm machine in it.

Some new material will soon be released via Divshare again no doubt. Watch this space.

So recording, played on the radio, a gig in Feb lined up, writing new material... and madly a possible interview for Scooter Forums radio. It's mad I really am living the dream right now! :-)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Catch up

So it’s all been a bit hectic recently... I think this’ll continue until Christmas probably. Still it’s good really isn’t it?

Firstly this weekend was our daughters 14th birthday. That meant a night out with a load of her friends at the local ice rink, me cooking a Chinese meal with her for Saturday night and then a big meal out and going to the cinema to see Christmas Carol on Sunday. BTW I thought the Christmas Carol was really good, the animation was stunningly good and they kept really true to the Dickens story - worth seeing.

She got a load of presents that she wanted including the web cam we’d promised her – in fact I’d bought 2 of the same one so we could install one on the family computer as well. So Sunday morning ended up with us waving at each other in different rooms in the house on web cams... at times like these I wonder why we bother with technology. Oh no I remember one thing is so that hopefully we can have the odd web cam waving session with our son in Wales... we’ll be able to gauge the beard development much easier this way :-)

I had a moment with the Chinese, for some reason from the word go it didn’t go right and when I’m panicked in the kitchen the whole thing suddenly seems like the end of the world with me. Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron saved the day in the end and it all tasted nice although we should have invited about 4 other people the amount we’d cooked!

I’ve a couple of new songs progressing well in the writing stakes and started trying to learn something for the 14th Feb that Four Dinners has recommended. Oh yes big thanks to him as I’ve now made my debut on the internet radio! I stupidly missed the live show (as I said it was busy this weekend) but have caught up now.

I’m busy on the Christmas shopping front with me having ordered a load of stuff off websites etc. To get things done sooner rather than later. Best yet was a relatively small gift turning up in a box large enough to probably hold 30 if not 50 of the things! Best of all was the relatively little packing in the box, a jiffy bag would have been better!

Friday I was involved all day in a big AA seminar we’d been planning for ages well over 18 months of actually committee work etc. The day passed off as a great success I think, at least that was the early feedback.

So it’s been a busy few days. I could do with a rest frankly!

Gig video

I screwed up the link I think

Friday, 20 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

New creativity

Suddenly I found myself spurred on into new realms of creativity – the gig clearly did me some good.

As per the previous post I already have finally got my act together and started using the digital recorder I bought a year ago. On more than one occasion in the last year I’ve pulled it out looked at the manual, poked a button or two, scratched my head and gone off to do something else. Most of that was just my lethargy but I didn’t have the drive to get on with it. Admittedly my first attempt was simple only three tracks and a quick fiddle with pan settings then mastering to a stereo mix and getting that onto the PC and from there converted to MP3. But hey it was a success for me. I do intend to do some more as soon as I can find the time. I’d like to figure out using the drum patterns better as well. But I think at least a couple more simple ones.

Secondly last night I had some time on my hands as daughters regular swimming practice wasn’t on. So I sat down guitar in hand and thought, “I really should have a bash at writing some more material”. I started strumming out a riff that has been around for at least a year or more – I already had a part lyric in my head which the riff itself had simply presented to me and so I dived in starting with that. Before long I had written the whole thing. It needs that critical look at it again in the cold light of day but it’s been a long time since I wrote something like that, it felt a bit like the old days.

I real happy with where I am at the moment with the music – it has some direction and purpose as I say the gig really was a real inspiration. Furtheron...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Getting brave!

So in for a penny in for a pound. Flushed with success of the gig on Sunday I've taken the plunge dug out the BR-600 (digital recorder) and the tome of a manual and recorded one of the original pieces that debuted at that gig.



This is "I Used To Know Her".

Monday, 16 November 2009

Sunday 15th Nov – gig at The Libertine

So I did the gig. Let me just put some of this into context as for many people this’ll be one of those shrug the shoulders and mutter “So what?” moments.
I’d not played live at all since stopping drinking. It had become a slightly stupid thing in my head about whether I could do it sober.

  • I’d never played an acoustic gig like that, i.e. me an acoustic guitar and my voice only.

  • I have in a couple of bands been the second lead singer – i.e. taking the lead vocals on one or two tracks but never the guy singing for the whole thing.

  • The set included a smattering of my own material all (expect one) had never heard the light of day outside of my practice room.


Here is a summary of my reactions.

Venue – the venue is a nice cozy little place with a small but adequate stage, it managed to host three piece Strange Behaviour at the end complete with drum set without any issue. The staff were friendly and helpful and the food (Sunday roast beef) was excellent!

Organisation – big thanks and vote of appreciate to Toby Burton of Rock-til-you-drop for promoting the whole event. He promotes several different gigs for more mature musicians this one being a regular monthly one. All was good, PA set up was pretty good for me all went well.

Crowd – thanks to all those who came along. I was somewhat knocked back by the level of support I got. I had my family there, including the surprise guest of my son, my brother and his other half came along. Then a whole list of current or ex bloggers. Deejay who is an old work friend travelled all the way up from Kent for the gig. Col of the late lamented AxeVictim blog was there to offer his usual "encouragement"... or should I say heckling from the bar! :-) Istvanski of A Load of Bollocks was there as well along with Kenski of Fillmore Five fame. So a whole bunch of other guitarists of a certain age... Finally the legend that is Four Dinners was also there when we arrived sat at the bar tucking into... yes a huge roast dinner. I can't think of a more apt way to meet him. He joined our family table and was a great companion for the day. another couple of friends who were planning to come along did turn up about 3 minutes after I'd finished my set! There were obviously a host of others and I was made to feel very welcome and got a good reception.

Other Acts - Toby Burton himself was on with a duet when we arrived having been stuck in the hell that is London traffic so only heard his last two numbers - I wish I'd heard more. Next up was John Rigby who played a driving stand up set with some thought provoking lyrics. Michael Woodacre (Woody) was up next with a diminutive guitar and harmonica to play a great blues/folky set slightly hampered by not getting the best sound out of the on board guitar electrics, capturing the crowd with a Bob Dylan classic. Strange Behaviour were a three piece playing their first ever acoustic set and very good and well received it was too.

My performance - wasn't bad I thought. A couple of moments that the vocals wobbled a bit and the odd fluffed chord but I got through. I had included a couple of more "delicate" instrumentals which did really suit that kind of a gig to be honest so I'll have to rethink the set list for next time. Oh yes looks like there might be a next time as I had a chat with Toby and February may work for me to make a return appearance.

I very glad I did it. It has laid some of the ghosts in the head to bed I've proved I can still get up and do something like that despite the gap in years since I last did this kind of thing and also that my own material (there were two of mine slotted in the list) didn't seem out of place and therefore worthy of an outing.

So what next? Firstly learn some other material, maybe take another couple of my own and try out for solo acoustic. See if I can move some ideas on paper to completed songs as well as I'd like to increase the quantity of my own material. Secondly get off my bum sort out the recorder I have at home and try to record some of my own stuff including the lighter instrumentals so that I may consider having some CDs to sell in future.

Overall in the cold light of the morning after I'm overall happy I did it and feeling good about it. We had to drop my son off at a hotel in Kings Cross - the rack rate was £250 a night! But he'd managed to get it for under £100 - result!! Anyway the traffic in London is a nightmare isn't it! But we drove up there and then back around the Shoreditch route to the Blackwall Tunnel and never got lost! I was just knackered after the driving.

My son being back was official photographer and got some nice stills so I'll post some of them once I get them, he is in transit back to Wales now also Mrs F has a video of one number on her phone so I'll have to try and load that up to YouTube or something.

Once again massive thanks to Toby for putting it on and giving me the opportunity and to all those who came along to support.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

..the one in which my wife lies to me...

In a good way. Last night I'm cooking a curry wondering why my wife had insisted on 3 Naan breads, Bombay potato, samosas etc. The door bell goes and she asks me to get it. Stood there grinning like a Cheshire Cat was my son!!!

He'd come all the way back from Wales on the coach to be able to be at my gig. To say I was touched is an understatement.

I'm so lucky to have the family I have.

Yesterday morning my jitters about this whole thing made me question why I was doing it. Now no longer a problem.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Muse at O2 12 Nov 2009

The Muse gig was great!

We had really good seats, at the side just about level with the front of the stage so a really great view if side on. The stage set was very impressive, huge risers for all three of the band and they opened with them on the top of these structures about 30ft in the air - i.e. level with us :-)

They played a lot off the new album particularly at the start of the show kicking off with Uprising which was a great one to start with. Other stand outs included United States of Eurasia which worked well even without the orchestra. That was actually the only one where Matt Bellamy played piano - and that was again on the huge risers with a great light show using the risers as projectors.

As the show progress more of of the older hits came out including the live anthem Plug in Baby which was a highlight. The final encore was Knights of Cydonia which they opened with when I saw them at Wembley Arena in 07 but frankly I've always thought should be a climax of a show and I was right I think... :-)

Sell out crowd who for the most part were on their feet from the start to the finish. An excellent night's entertainment.

Hmm... just musing... (sorry had to get that in) but prog rock gets a hugely bad press and old foggies like me who listen still to Yes, Rush etc. often get those stuffy looks from people that prog rock was something to have been left in 1976 but what is Muse if not prog rock? And look how popular they are... Marillion back in the top 10 again? Maybe :-)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Gigs...

Tonight I'm off to see Muse at the O2 with a friend - sadly Son-of-Furtheron (my ever faithful gig partner) is too busy at uni and can't get back for this so I'm going with a friend of mine who is a huge Muse fan and chuffed to bits when I offered her the ticket.

Oh yes and Sunday is THE GIG!! I.e. me and an acoustic and my debut as a solo performer at The Libertine Pub in Borough.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Stop being a miserable so and so....

I'm not a very happy person at the moment. I'm really not enjoying work at all... and sadly not only do I let that really get to me, I let many people about me know that it is really getting to me. That isn't plesant.

I'm off to see Muse tomorrow at the O2 with a friend.

I have my gig on Sunday... at The Libertine in Borough. If you are in the area come along for the afternoon starting at 1pm.

I have reasonable health - it's a lot better than a few weeks ago

etc. etc.

A friend passed away earlier this week from cancer. I ought to be more grateful about what I have and I ought to try to be more happy about it... my life is very good frankly. The old quote from Abe Lincoln about being as happy as you choose to be (I paraphrase) feels very apt.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Fireworks

We went to the big free council display on Sat night. It was excellent as ever, less popular than years before but there was no big fair this time attracting a lot of the local youth.

We took Daughter-of-Furtheron and a couple of her friends. No sooner were we on "The Lines" (big open space slap bang in the middle of the Medway Towns that is own by the army I believe) and they were off doing their own thing meeting up with some others that they knew would be there. Mrs F and I were left standing alone with a cup of coffee each.

Suddenly I was thinking - where has all the time gone? D-o-F is 14 in a few days time, my son will not be a teenager this time next year! Next July is our silver wedding anniversary! Funny some days spark (sorry that's an awful pun) old thoughts... like my 5 year old son setting up a cash till to get his Grandparents to pay 5p entrance for our home firework display one year... which was a bit rich given my Father-in-law had supplied a significant proportion of the ordance! The last ever firework party at home and the subsequent damage to the fence and my hand! The old Scout group fireworks parties that took over from our home ones where normally our son was in charge of the bonfire and we took a box of fireworks to add to the display. They used to be great fun. And lastly a couple of years back my son taking loads of photos of the fair and the display for his A Level photography course - which gained us more than a few odd looks.

Mrs F and I were alone for Sunday roast yesterday as well - a new chapter in life for us but an odd feeling one in many ways.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Royal Mail - no problem



I used to have one of these... It's a Dean Markley Promag easy install acoustic guitar pickup I think I lent it to someone a while go and it disappeared - I've searched the house. It's gone.

So gig looming I thought - order one you berk! So I looked on Strings Direct and found them for just under £50. So I ordered it.

I only noticed when I got the dispatch notice that I was 5p under the limit for them using ParcelForce and realised it had been dispatched via Royal Mail 1st Class. Darn I thought "the strikes!". If I'd have bought a plectrum it would have been on Parcelforce and trackable and easy to pick up (ho ho!) at the local Post Office. But I shouldn't have worried, less than 24 hours after my ordering it was delivered by my friendly postie.

So Royal Mail - brilliant!!! I hope whatever the outcome of the dispute currently that great service isn't undermined.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Later...

Suddenly a really good Later with Jules Holland.

To be honest this series there's been a couple of shows where I've struggled to latch onto anything. Is it me or since the BBC got rid of shows like Top of the Pops and there is nothing (other than Jonathan Ross I suppose) in the way of variety shows that Jules seems to have a lot more "chart" acts on than before - this series people like Calvin Harris for example. In the dim and ancient past I'm not sure that he'd have been on a show like Later but there is precious little live music output on the BBC any more is there.

Anyway - Sting playing his latest stuff which is very folksy - deliberately so, I suspect after the mammoth world tour playing the old Police hits he needed something completely different to recharge with. Whatever people may say about it - his vocal delivery on the one piece on last nights 30 min show was frankly... stunning! Oh how I wish I had the talent of that guys little finger!

Then Nora Jones - not particularly my cup of tea but a top notch performer.
Jay-Z the rapper was also on...

So already a not very shabby line up - to be frank anyone of them could have been the "headline" act pretty much. But hang on we're not done yet. The Foo Fighters were also on the bill.

I can't wait to see the Friday extended edition.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Book Review - The Prophecy Chris Kuzneski

I think this is the second of Mr Kuzneski's books I've read - I think I read Sign of the Cross sometime back.

So - fast paced interesting thriller with the added spice of being linked to the greatest of all sooth sayers - Nostradamus.

The interplay between his two regular Jones and Payne frankly did begin to wear a little thin at times with me. We get that these two ex-special forces guys are inseparable best buddies and will wise crack their way through the book but can we have a break from it at times?

Also I'm afraid that for me the ending was a bit rushed and frankly a little bit unbelievable but then many thrillers are plus the final punchline was a little limp.

But all things considered not a bad read.

Monday, 2 November 2009

The gig is looming!!

Suddenly it's less than 2 weeks to the gig... blimey!

So at the weekend I did some work on getting the set list finalised. I'm now umming and ahing about a couple of my own instrumentals vs one of Gordon Giltrap's. The problem being the Giltrap one is a bit of a challenge, I play it okay but obviously no where near his level. To still ponder

I've sorted out my little folder of lyrics. I'm okay remembering lyrics but have decided to ensure I have a prompt if I don't a folder with all the lyrics in on a music stand is the way to go.

So all set apart from some continued practice.

I've been offered the loan of an acoustic pickup for the gig which'll be good but it's annoying as I used to have a similar one. After an extensive search, including the loft, I have to admit it's gone. I have a vague recollection of lending it to someone some years back... I doubt it was returned.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Hospital

So I went to the appointment with the specialist over the vertigo yesterday.

Frankly nothing much new to report. He thinks it is Migraine Associated - and I have to say some of the stuff points to that. We talked about the medication and he has pointed out one change which I'm pleased with - there is one I'm taking (an anti-psychotic... yes come on get the gags over with!) that does make me feel most odd when you take it - it's like the feeling you get about 2 hours after someone has kicked you in the side of the head. Well I don't have to take that one so often! Result!

I'm suppose to be more strict on a diet that frankly they had told me about 5 years ago but I'd sort of been a bit selective on remembering what was on it. Sadly it includes things like chocolate in all forms... i.e. on a biscuit as well! I mean! And cutting down on my tea and coffee... and cheese!!! "No Cheese Grommit!"

Still I shouldn't moan it's a small price to pay really isn't it.

Hamsters!

I arrived home last night to find Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron looking "frazzled".

They'd had to separate the hamsters who had been having more and more fights in the last few days. A friend came round who is a trainee vet nurse and said that the little one had been injured - several bites/scratches on her back and look undernourished which would explain the fights, we think the bigger one is keeping her away from the food. So they are now separated and we're considering what to do, i.e. keep them both and separated or look for a new home for one of them...

Hamsters! This is why I'm not a pet person... too much hassle!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

My pal Val

For some reason today I was reminded of an old friend. Val. Val was a lovely lady, she went to one of the local meetings of AA that I started going to when I was first around. Eventually due to her regular "lift giver" going back out on the booze I ended up being her chauffeur once a week to the meeting. She had been through the same rehab as me some years before and she had a gentle lovely recovery. She went off to the theatre with some friends at any opportunity, went to AA meetings in France occasionally with another couple of retires and generally smiled a lot.

Sadly one week she never called me up for the regular lift. I called her number and got no answer - I assumed she'd gone to visit her sister up north as she did occasionally. Another friend tried to get hold of her a day or so later. Sadly then it was discovered that she had passed away in her little flat.

I was thinking about something and wondered what Val would have said to me about it. She was a great influence on me and a it was my privilege to have known her and gained from her advice. The last line of the serenity prayer is "...and the wisdom to know the difference". You can't acquire wisdom over night can you? Wisdom implies long digestion and many influences and a well weathered eye over many situations and issues. I gained a little of the wisdom I may (or may not) have at times from her.

Wisdom - the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight


I stole that from Dictionary.com (hence the US spelling of judgement)

Monday, 26 October 2009

New music

I've added a few new CDs to the collection recently.

Paradise Lost - Faith Unites Us, Death Divides Us

Paradise Lost describe themselves as the "dark side" of rock. I saw them on the second stage at Sonisphere and they impressed me. This CD reinforces that level of impression. This band blend heavy rock with melody and interesting lyrics to create an extremely listenable sound. If you like Metallica, Megadeth, HIM, Magnum etc. then I think you'll like this. British too!!!

Newton Faulkner - Rebuilt by Humans

The dredlocked acoustic maestro returns with a second effort. It's not bad but not as good as his d├ębut. He was injured at Christmas (broke his wrist) and I wonder if that has affected him at all? It's a pleasant enough blend of numbers but the guitar playing certainly doesn't stand out as before.

Iommi - Fused

Recommended to me by a friend from the USA. Glenn Hughes has had a troubled past and some of this is reflected in the lyrics on this album. Tony Iommi sounds much lighter and more mainstream rock than the recent doom laden Heaven and Hell outing. However that all just shows the man's great talent - he can cover more than one base. Given this was less than a fiver it was one of my best finds of recent times.

How old are you?

I saw some ad on the TV - I think for Flora margarine. It was about a guy who as a kid started jumping over the garden wall to keep healthy... something like that... something then about your heart age. I know this was about margarine and polyunsaturates etc. but I'm sure there's a song lyric in there about "heart age"... does your heart age through love or does your heart stay young through love?

Looking for inspiration :-)

Friday, 23 October 2009

More thoughts on the set list...

hmm... hmmm...

(That's me mulling stuff over)... hmm..

Okay so the set list that I'd come up with. Concerns?

  • too many instrumentals?

  • too much of my own stuf?


So to that end I'm thinking of perhaps juggling it about a bit and inserting Snow Patrols Run and possibly Semisonics Closing Time. Not sure on the second one yet - still undecided about it as an acoustic solo piece.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Another British World Champ

Just watched an amazing Brazilian Grand Prix.... if you don't know the result look away now... too late probably.

Mad first lap! But Jenson's tough drive from the far back to get into the points and then to see the bad luck that happened to Barichello means we have back to back British champions for the first time in 40 years. :-)

Well done Jenson - what a worthy result for all your years of effort and especially this year with Brawn coming from a position of nearly not even in the championship less than a year ago.

Add to that Dario Franchitti won the Indy Racing league in America through driving carefully through the first ever IRL race to not have any yellow flags. He managed to stay on the lead lap with the two other title protagonists (Scott Dixon and Ryan Brisco) and when they both needed to dash into the pits for a last gasp top up of fuel Dario managed to just hold on to win the race and the championship. 2 years ago he passed Dixon on the last lap when Dixon's car coughed through lack of fuel!

Brilliant! We might not have anyone in the WRC and poor Toseland has lost his seat in MotoGP but we're still the top in open wheel racing!!!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Committed! And the Set list develops



See that... that's me on the bill! So committed now, and some friends have somewhat surprisingly shown enthusiasm for coming along!

The Set List Develops

So here we are at the moment

Babylon David Gray
Sail Away David Gray
The Circle Ocean Colour Scene
May You Never John Martyn
Beautiful Marillion
On Camber Sands Gordon Giltrap
Dublin Day Gordon Giltrap

Then a selection of my own from

Gypsy
Solo Sunday
I Used To Know Her
Waterfall
Friends Welcome


Order needs figuring out - 3 are in Drop D so will need a rapid re-tune - also the reason I've left out Late Night Radio by David Gray as that requires the top E retuned to C and I just saw this all as a disaster in the making with too many retunes in the set. Two are capo first fret and three are capo third fret. So be led by ease of guitar setting or consider the flow of the set? To be determined.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

BBC Documentary on alcohol - Do I Drink Too Much

I watched the programme - Do I Drink Too Much? Last night. I recommend it - follow the link.

Very interesting stuff. I love the experiment with the monkeys that shows similar to humans in terms of break down of population it those with alcohol issues and those without. I did think the presenter who admitted his father was "an alcoholic" (Did his Dad come to that conclusion? Was he ever properly diagnosed as such? Or was that just an assumption?) and I think he was desperate to not be like his Dad.

One moment in the whole programme smacked me in the face as he talked about a pub he was stood by where his Dad drank every night after work before coming home, and he described the scene as his Dad came in the house after those drinking sessions. He wondered if his father understood or worried about his drinking and the effect it was having on him. I can't answer that obviously no-one can now his Dad is no longer here but that pattern was so close to my own experience it hit a raw nerve. I can answer for me - I did worry, I did know for years, I did try to stop and fail repeatedly, I tried to control it and was deluded I could on occasions until towards the end when the giving up, trying to control it and then bafflement as to why I was back out of control again became a frightening roller coaster hurtling me towards a predictable end. Death. By accident, by my hand or eventually by some failing of a major organ through alcohol overdoes. I sadly didn't realise in the midst of that grip of the disease at that time the damage it was causing my family. I was never really violent towards them, I was occasionally abusive but really I stole them of peace of mind, I gave them cause to worry and be concerned unnecessarily and I robbed them of a father and husband.

I am an alcoholic, that diagnosis was my privilege having heard others experiences and related my own, how I drank, why I drank and most importantly how I felt about it and how I felt about me and life and my place in the universe. In a room of other self confessed alcoholics I find a bond that is beyond discription I just know I'm one. In the programme the presenter had brain scans whilst intoxicated and a genetic test done to look at whether he met the pattern that shows a predeliction towards alcoholism - fair enough if he needed that. Me I don't. I know exactly what I am. My name is Graham and I am an alcoholic.

Interesting programme although some of the talk about designer drugs to replace alcohol with something less damaging made me smile. Sadly an alcoholic would simply abuse that replacement no doubt the issue being how our brains and personalities need to be satisfied. So nice idea and maybe with some merit but I don't think it removes all the issues by a long way.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Just call me the frog catcher

So last night again we had to rescue a frog that was under attack from one of the darn cats from next door. I managed to grab it and get it in a bucket that we kept in the garage until after dark and the cat had gone.

At least on this occasion my daughter wasn't in the garden screaming like mad... not at the violence of the cat but just because the frog kept hopping towards her!!

Overdue book reviews

I've not done a review of the last few books...

Excavation and The Last Oracle by James Rollins

I discovered Mr Rollins earlier in the year and quiet liked the first book I read - it was a wizz bang non stop global thriller. You know the type where the characters don't spend days in departure lounges or immigration queues so that the plot can move fast from one location to the next.

Both these were very much in the same vein but sadly I now realise Mr Rollins has a formula. That is ... take an ancient legend which has a lost location/temple etc. queue an archaeologist or the like who can find that. However there is always some baddy involved who wants to stop it for some reason.

I preferred Last Oracle largely as I'd recently thought of a book I remember reading that was brilliant called about Savants - I think it was by James Clavell. Anyway I can't find it on Amazon to get it to re-read as I can't remember the title and it doesn't look like it was a Clavell... Anyhow Last Oracle includes kids who are autistic savants and it was some weird connection thing that I'd recently searched for that book then read this one. Gets a "good holiday read" from me.

Conn Iggulden - Bones of the Hills.


Last in his trilogy of Gengis Khan. These have been great reads which have really opened my eyes to the amazing story of this man and the great people he firstly forged into a nation against the background of battling tribes and then conquered a large part of the world. To be frank if he'd have like I'm sure he could have just carried on walking through to the end of Europe if he'd have so chosen. A lot of his life is myth and legend so there is licence to make this a novel but I thoroughly recommend these books as engrossing reads. However this one in particular was pretty savage throughout as it documents his last campaign against the Arabs at the eastern end of it empire.

I'm now reading Bernard Cornwells The Burning Land - which shouldn't take long I can't put it down! He is a great writer for me, he just captures me and takes me straight there. This is the fifth in his life story of a pagan lord who bizarrely has ended up one of pious King Alfred's most trusted generals at the birth of the nation we now know as England. Great stuff.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Biting the bullet

So Toby Burton over at Rock-Til-You-Drop has offered me a place on one of his up coming Acoustic Afternoon in London in November.

Someone said to me the other - "So what do you really want to do with your music?" A relatively straight forward question but one actually I struggled to answer easily. To be truthful I didn't really know. However I have some songs/tunes in the works that have been tripped out on my acoustic for a while now and apart from one or two being up on Youtube I've done nothing with them.

I'm not a great singer but there are probably worse out there, so what the hell I'm going to make my debut as a solo singer/guitarist. Now to find 30 mins of material!!!

Actually that hasn't proved as difficult as I first feared. A couple of David Gray covers are ready for polishing off ready and ideal solo guitar/singer material. Hmm - a little rearrangement of one particular Marillion song and I'm sure that'll work. I have to include my tribute to the late great John Martyn even though I don't play in his style and clearly never ever consider myself to emulate his amazing vocal style.

What else? Oh yes an acoustic version of an old Ocean Colour Scene number I did with a band a few years back that worked well. There are a couple of Gordon Giltrap pieces that are regulars when I sit to play and despite them being a bit of a technical challenge they fit how I'd like to project myself, i.e. someone who can play a bit of guitar.

Then I looked to my own catalogue, there are a few little instrumental numbers - one of which has received several plaudits from those who've come across it on Youtube. There are also a couple of self penned songs, one reasonably new - well the lyrics are and another I wrote some years back whilst in a covers band but we never took it anywhere as it didn't really fit that bands style.

Now to practice and learn them all so I don't make myself look a complete numpty...

More updates to come on my progress.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

This too shall pass...

That phrase has been good to me in the last couple of months. As you all know (regular readers anyhow) I've not been well ... to briefly recap.

  • Stress at work - self induced

  • Busy holiday in very hot/humid New England

  • Vertigo attack on hols

  • More Vertigo attacks at home

  • Time off work

  • Stress because of time off work

  • Back to work full time too soon

  • Stress!

  • Panic

  • Chest pains

  • New medication

  • Off work

  • Slow return to work


Through all of this I've had to tell myself - this too will pass - in time. And it appears to be doing so. No doubt the road that is life will have another hairpin turn or sudden dip I don't see coming and that'll either cause the breaks to have to be applied or a crash that'll require some form of recovery truck to pull me out of a ditch.

Work - I'm in a much better place with it all. Still too much to do and frankly a load of utter nonsense as to what we are doing. I used to get it about what our company did and what I did in that to help it do it... now I just go in potter about, try to move somethings forward and generally try to not get in others way. At least it's not preoccupying my head space like it was though.

Health - I feel a lot better. The vertigo is a lot better, the chest pains better and overall I probably feel the best I have in at least a year but I'd not really noticed how I'd been going down really.

Music - So I said I wanted to get a band together. Given my health that faltered. I spoke to a few people but there are a load of hurdles to cross on that one... finding people of likemindedness who'll stick with it, rehersal time and space, finding places to play (rare locally to me), material etc. So given I'm more interested really in original music I've decided to write and record only at the moment and then see about whether what comes out gets people interested in playing that. I met a guy local to me who has built his own little studio - for a home set up it is marvellous - frankly I know little about it but near professional standard. This guy has a lot of experience playing live, touring, recording and writing. So the intention is to take some of my stuff into his studio with him on the controls and as an additional writing partner. I've already outlined two songs to get going on.

Secondly I might have a solo acoustic gig coming up in Nov - what this space. I'm working on the set list now.

I feel re-energised esp around the music... of course the joke is that ... this too shall pass... :-)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

The current set up...




Rubbish photo off my phone... must buy a new camera!!!

This is the latest set up - just treated myself to a new set of cables to properly wire the FX in on the loop from the amp.

What the kids think of me...



Yes very funny...

the punch line inside of the one on the left is..

"...'Cos I'm your kid. And that's my job!"

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

New Toy



Mrs F's present to me for my birthday was one of these. A Boss Flanger. The name caused much hilarity with my giggly daughter for some reason.

Anyway - great!! Been years since I had a Flanger at my footstep. My continued move from PODs and programmed devices to real valve amps with knobs on and stompboxes continues.

I plugged this in played one of my tunes that I thought would benefit from a Flanger and it sounded super - all controls on 12 o'clock and it's there none of this 6 hours in a "push-this-hold-that" menu to get something I'd think... "Well it's close enough" just top quality sound that you can just tweak here and there if needed.

I've dug out my old Cry Baby Wah-Wah, Boss Chorus and Boss Delay. I'm thinking of getting a pedal board to mount them all on. Mrs F has offered to get me the Boss Phase Shifter for Christmas! :-) Set to Stun Me Zulu... oh he's in our local panto this year George thingy... "Oh yes he is!"

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Dictionaries

What's the point... I'm dyslexic... when I was a kid I was told to look up words I couldn't spell... but the bloody thing is in alphabetical order if you can't spell what's the point - how far after aadvark do you give up?

beaurocracy is the one that had me baffled for too long today...

Restart, rewind, replay... pause

I think that's a line from a Rush lyric. Whatever.

Last night I went to one of the regular AA meetings I go to. It was quite a few folks are off globe trotting the lucky buggers so it was a bit less full than usual. The booked speaker failed to show up so another regular member took the chair.

Boy what a meeting! She really said it from the heart, exactly as it is for her today, many years since she had a drink but still facing life's tribulations on a daily basis and as an alcoholic to do that without a drink can be a challenge.

So many shared back about how it can be bloody hard life at times. It was bizarre as a meeting that many might have thought quiet negative about recovery was in fact the opposite. All these people many with many years of sobriety talking about times when it's been really tough, either now or in the past etc. and all saying that they get so much strength from others who are facing or have faced similar stuff and got through it and didn't drink on it.

I was a bit reflective, possibly a bit down afterwards and this morning but as I say it's sort of worked it's magic with me considering my problems much smaller than some of what these others have had to face and also it's made me realise my biggest problem is simply getting on with it. I know that, enough others tell me that to my face but it still needs me to face it and move through it.

Today has been a pretty good day. I went and did the shopping for Mrs F this morning - and I found everything on the list... that must mean it's time for Tesco to alter the layout of the shop no doubt. I put it all away when I got back. Then I did some emails to do with some AA stuff. I had a coffee and settled into a days work. That hasn't gone too badly as well, including something I didn't want to do - i.e. tell someone how one of their team had performed on something yesterday for me... very poorly. I got a much better result than I expected on that one. Also I was chasing something that had caused an outage on a critical system over the weekend trying to understand and get to the root cause so we don't have the problem again - a load of rework was needed. Guess what a guy openly put his hand up and acknowledged he'd made a mistake. I've sent him a private personal thanks, it takes guts to do stuff like that at times.

Dum de dum de dum... that is how today feels very dum de dum de dum

Sunday, 4 October 2009

New music

So after a while with very little new listening pleasure the birthday and the time of the year has brought a bunch... so here's a quick catch up.

David Gray - Draw the Line

I like David Gray - actually I wish I was him in terms of songwriting and singing. This album is top quality Gray. If you like him you'll like this, but I doubt it'll win many new fans. He seems to have dropped off the popularity stakes since White Ladder but this album is as good in my opinion.

Muse - The Resistance


Muse go more over the top! A good album though with a lot of Queen hints in the arrangements and vocals. Probably more piano from Mr Belamy on this than before and less of a head banger feel than the last two albums.

Rodrigo y Gabriel - 11:11

11 tracks dedicated to musicians who've influenced them. Now these two have a very unique sound and style. Born from their thrash metal history it is however the rhythm work that sets them apart and that is very different. Often people consider it flamenco but they are adamant it isn't, correctly so it's actually very different. I thought they may struggle to match their first effort with this followup but they have done a very very good job.

Marillion - Less is More

An "acoustic" remake of several tracks off past albums. It isn't totally "unplugged" to be fair but the stripped down nature, new instrumentations and arrangements are very refreshing. All in all for a bunch of previously released stuff it is worth getting... there again I'm a Marillion nut so maybe I'm biased.

Saving the planet

I think I am... my Peugeot 406 SW - i.e. a large family estate car, fully loaded with me, Mrs F and Son-of-Furtheron and all his possessions needed for the new year at uni. 600 mile round trip roughly, M25, M1, M6, M54, A5 then the little roads to the wilds of Wales... 50mpg!!! Yes 50mpg! Stick that up your expensive, full of so many metals that'll cause more misery for longer in the environment, hybrid!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Getting better

The good news is that I'm feeling much better at the end of this week. Finally admitting to the problems I was happening and giving into my body telling me to take it easy has obviously been the best result.

I had an ear test at the hospital today as part of the vertigo investigations. They could compare it with the test I had 4 years ago when I first had real issues with the vertigo. The result was that my right ear has an almost identical result - that is the one that has the worse hearing loss in it, I blame the big band jazz band I played in for a couple of years - I stood normally far stage right as you look at it and therefore my right ear was exposed to two drummers and a large row of saxophonists within feet of me! :-) The left ear, the side I have the tinitus and the side of my eye issues during my attacks however was actually slightly better than the previous result.

That is to some point good news. If I have Meniere's then your hearing gets worse every attack on the side you have the issue, so this is a further pointer to my issue being Migrainne Associated. Given this week I feel massively better than last week and the headaches have greatly reduced now I'm on the beta blockers, plus the working less hours and a very conscious effort to not let stuff bother me as much I'm convinced in the end this is all stress related.

Tomorrow will be my 47th birthday and we're going to go out for a meal somewhere for lunch since the evening is already occupied with Daughter-of-Furtheron being in a swimming gala. She was busy in the kitchen last night and I was told not to enter and now a beautiful victoria sponge is awaiting us to tuck into it! :-)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Slowly, slowly

I'm back at work - part time, 4 hours for 4 days this week.

Funny given the fearsome state I'd got myself into about work and how all these things were major stress factors in my life once I'd had the break again last week and then agreed to come back part time now I'm back there seems to be little that really is that urgent. There's always important and needs to be done etc. but in the grand scheme of things in my job it's not like I'm saving people's lives or anything.

I feel very tired - I think as a consequence of the drugs I'm on at the moment. Also I'm having disturbed sleep - again on the packet as a side effect but doesn't help when you don't feel that bright to start with. Or maybe this is just my body asking me to take life at a slower pace.

So slowly back to work and slowly back to life I think.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Doctors, pills and not getting stuff done

The car crash that is my well being at the moment continues to run its course.

I basically have had a few bloody awful days. Friday I felt like shit all day - hugely stressed and feeling very inadequate. Saturday was better although I felt a bit unsteady on my feet at times. Also in the middle of preparing a curry for everyone I had a sudden real nasty tightening pain across my chest. Now I've had chest pain for a while and in good old male style just brush it off as indigestion etc. Sunday was a reasonably good day although I did veg in front of the TV for a lot of it watching motorracing. Monday not so bad apart from again one of those real painful crabs across the chest. I mentioned it to the family and consensus was that I ought to seek medical help. But then Tuesday and Wednesday weren't good mentally. The overwhelming anxiety that I've had briefly took complete control and and really did my head in. Even the simplest story on the news that had nothing to do with me would bring on a wave of hopelessness. I went off sick from work on Wed.

So I've seen the doc and yep obviously all the symptoms are anxiety disorder, panic attacks leading to possible mild heart attacks. So I've been prescribed beta blockers and given some advice - advice I already know. Deal slowly with one thing at a time, ignore all others. Relax. Laugh more. Exercise more and gently, not the bull in a china store mentality I've been known to show in the past.

Ever onwards... or not

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Stress and Fear

I've not posted anything for a week or more...

to be honest I've not been in a good space, I'm still not. Physically the vertigo has got better but I've another problem now that I've got to get looked at.

Work, stress, fear, failure, stress, fear, failure, work... that is the sort of cycle at the moment. I've blogged about work on here before and it's come back to bite me but what the hell it's where I am at the moment. I feel completely at sea at work currently, very swamped and stressed and not sure on half of what I am suppose to be doing what I am supposed to be doing and then feeling there is a ton and a half of other stuff I'm not doing that I probably ought to be doing and especially in the area of all the process improvement stuff that I'm involved with that there is little point as frankly that is trying to mimic Canute in the chair by the seaside!

It has really got me very down. Last year about this time I was depressed as well, it was then I thought because my son was off to uni for the first time. Is it that he is back there at the end of this week? I think it is more this time but interesting that it is a similar time of year which is also as my birthday approaches although honestly I'm not dwelling on that at all consciously, maybe it is a sub-conscious thing I don't know.

I do feel like I'm a hamster trapped on a wheel at the moment - funny analogy that as the Furtheron house has the sound of tiny feet again... i.e. we have two new little pet hamsters that are my daughters. But also I know I'm doing appallingly at breaking out and doing anything about it and the reason behind that is fear, fear of failure, fear of making a mistake, fear of looking an idiot etc.

The tool box where is it?

Oh yes...

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference"

The 12 steps

The Just for Today card

funny I have all these things but find it bloody hard to execute on them.