Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Book reviews

I owe some ... here goes

I am Ozzy

Ozzy's autobiography - well sounds like he rambled into a tape recorder and some other guy tried to make sense of it all! Actually it was a captivating read - he is a pretty humble guy in many ways to who life seems to happen with some stunning results! He tells it how he remembers it, but he admits that he has probably arsed up his brain cells over the years and that others are at liberty to contest his version of events. Black Sabbath's rise is interesting, like other stars who I've read about there is this bit where... "we were in the van driving here and there, doing loads of gigs, any gig, we had no gear/money/anywhere to live etc. We got this manager and he was hawking us about, we made the album, this went well, that less so, we went back on the road - then the manager called and said The album is no 1, 10 whatever"... It is amazing that the move from nobody to star is a) so quick b) seems to not be noticed directly by the star other than the van becomes a limo, the hotel gets nicer and the women, drugs and alcohol more plentiful.

The bit about Randy Rhodes death was painful to read - it is clear Ozzy still has never got over that tragedy and still can't accept what happened that day. Some of the animosity towards the others in the band comes out, esp the Dio version of Sabbath straight after his departure (however one of my favourite line up of all time) but he does say in one sentence the truth of it for him... "I just wished they'd not called it Black Sabbath". Interesting that now that group/line up is of course immortalised as Heaven and Hell and sadly was cut short by Dio's death - who'd have thought he'd buy it before Ozzy?

Good read if you like Ozzy but possibly not if you aren't a fan of some sort - there is no hidden message anywhere.

Holy Warrior - Angus Donald

Blood thirsty retelling of Richard the Lionhearts crusade. However neat twist in that this one has Robin Hood there as the Earl of Locksley and is written as the narrative from an old man who was there viewpoint - that man is Alan of Dale. Little John, Will Scarlet etc. all turn up. Interesting twist on the Hood legend and not a bad telling of a sorry part of UK/European/Christian history frankly. The sacking of Messina is chillingly told, as is the massacre of the Jews in at Clifords Tower in York in 1190. So very blood thirsty, lots of people put to the sword throughout but an interesting twist on the tail. I want to read the prequel to this now - Outlaw.

The Fort - Bernard Cornwell

I love Bernards books. Well researched and brilliantly written. This is no different. It tells an interesting tale from the American war of independence - namely the Penobscot Expedition. In 1779 the British landed a force to fortify a stronghold in what is now Maine on the USA east coast. This was to be a new land called New Ireland and was hoped to be a springboard to repel the rebellion elsewhere in New England. However it was a disaster - at that point the area was part of Massachusetts and the state set up a force to repel the English at its own expense with it's melitia but they were untrained and not really up for the fight. Despite a large navel fleet including some Continental ships i.e. belonging to the fledgling federal govt they failed to subdue the British and the expedition ended in failure.

Cornwell tells the story from both sides with a large dose of writers licence but with much of the facts relayed. Paul Revere plays an interesting part and that was an education for me - he wasn't the great hero I thought he might be. John Moore one of the greatest soldiers the British army saw in the 18th and 19th centuries and possibly the man we should thank for defeating the Napoleonic forces appears as a young man - and this was truly the first battle he ever fought. Now I didn't know that! I know he created the light infantry - built all the Martello towers I have spent my life looking at near where I live etc.

So not just interesting military history but also interesting interplay between the characters which Cornwell has supposed from his research. He also feels that the Commodore of the fleet was badly treated afterwards simply as the state needed get the £3,000,000 it spent back from the other states in the new federation. Interesting views indeed. Fabulous read.

It's snowing

Is it still November? Doesn't look like it outside - we got the long awaited snow over night and it has carried on snowing on and off all day, only mostly small flurries but more looks to be coming down now. I'm surprised it took this long, normally if the wind comes in from the east in the winter we cop it - we live on the slope of the North Downs and the snow just gets unloaded from the North Sea on us as the cloud comes in. I think 10 miles east it will have largely fallen as rain, that isn't uncommon but as the height rises we get the snow.

So snow in Kent - my daughters school shut early at lunchtime, but at least they tried to operate unlike many. Mrs F has gone off and her school has stayed open. No trains running by the sound of it but frankly that is hardly surprising you pay £4000 plus for a season ticket and they provide the biggest joke of a service in the country! Probably in Europe! I don't want to sound like a whingeing old man but I did commute to London for a few years 20 years or so ago and the only times I don't remember getting in were... the hurricane of 86, to be fair there were trees all over the line that I could see that day, the really bad snow the year before that when we had yards of the stuff outside and no one in the rest of the country had a flake! and when the IRA used to blow up or threaten to blow up a station. To be honest the terrorist threat was greater to delaying me than the weather but now seems it is always up the creek as soon as the temp is 0 or below. Remember last New Years Day when they screwed up my sons girlfriend getting to our family meal!

Still luckily I don't have to go anywhere so I finished my latest book... review to hopefully follow and swept the snow off the path/drive... only for it to come back again - still keeps me fit!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

one step at a time...

The interview came and went and I didn't get the job... I blew it - the preconception was that the job was a long way from what I'd previously been doing. I liked the guy who owned the company but in the end he really wanted a team leader on the up not someone like me who's done that job some years ago.

Never mind - onwards and upwards as they say

Monday, 22 November 2010


I've been somewhat quiet on here lately, so what's been going on...

I've been decorating - that took a lot of October up. We have a large open plan house, it wasn't originally like that but someone (before our tenancy) put an arch between the lounge and the dining room (very 70s) removing the old fold back doors that were there - they were on the back of the garage when we moved in, what a joke they had to go! - and they also moved a wall through 90° to remove the hallway but make an entrance porch but the stairway is now in the lounge. That means when you decorate now you have to decorate, the dining room, the lounge, the stairway and the upstairs landing. This means all 8 room doors in the house have to be painted and three large cupboard doors as well! Anyway that was a minimum three weeks with me working pretty much everyday - I did have one day off to help out at some AA thing.

November - well the decorating bug had got hold so I did my sons bedroom. In fairness we'd bought the paint he wanted in the summer but I just hadn't got around to it - clearing his room was a nightmare. How can someone only 20 years old have so much crap already!! Anyway that was finished this weekend with Mrs F helping me get the new border stuck up - and I had to do a little "adjustment" in the lounge to accommodate the new fireplace we collected Saturday.

Oh yes and there were the gigs in Oct (Lamb and Flag) and Nov (The Libertine and Strood) so any downtime from the decorating was spent practising. I've written one new song that got an airing at The Libertine gig. My Baby got a full band treatment at Strood.

Anyway - I have started to apply for some jobs. Well a few jobs - but it's been frustrating. Now I was clearly living a delusional life (not the first time) but I thought I would phone up, send CV etc. and people would go - "This guy has a lot of experience, knowledge, etc. we should at least talk to him". Reality has not been like that. It is either - we need someone like this... they then describe a bizarre person with so many characteristics/knowledge that you think "They'll never get all that". The agent on more than one occasion has said "This one is proving difficult to fill" No shit Sherlock! Or you need industry specific knowledge - I partly get that but to me also bringing someone in from outside I'd have thought would mean that person would look at stuff in new ways and offer new/different solutions, also that person would be really engaged in learning that business not bored with it all.

Anyway - I do have an interview today! So I'm off to that this afternoon.

And it is Daughter-of-Furtheron's 15th birthday that must be a good omen surely.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Gigs done!

Ok - Looks like that might be it on the gigs front until 2011.

The private party gig was a laugh - I did a short solo set and then was in an "easy listening" jazz band thing a mate has put together. I know it isn't really my sort of thing but then playing something you don't listen to or play much can stretch you.

My brother-in-law, sister and some friends came along. My brother-in-law is a bass player and he said "The band sounded great" - so must have been good.

The Libertine was another great afternoon of fun. Only three acts due to late illness withdrawals but I still enjoyed it and Toby of RTYD fame indicated how much he thinks I've come along in terms of confidence, quality and choice of material in the last year. That is nice to get comments like that.

So 2011 - the year I finally get the recognition I deserve and get catapulted into super stardom? I doubt it hopefully some more solo gigs - the drummer from the jazz band thing has suggested a couple of Kent based open mic nights I might like to try out. Also I might try and put a band together or join something else. I got asked to try out for a jazz funk type outfit the other day - which again would stretch me as a player. We'll see.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

gigs this weekend!

I'm playing a private party in Strood on Saturday. If anyone in the Kent area would like to come along I have some limited invites available - email me.

Sunday I'm playing at the RTYD Acoustic Sunday at The Libertine in Borough. I'll be on sometime between 1:30 - 3:00.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Impressive service

I've used Award Session before for leads especially. They make such a range, it's like you just pretty much custom order what you want, they use top quality components and they have never been an issue. I ordered some recently and they arrived in double quick time.

However I noticed an issue with the billing - I emailed them and it was sorted out in double quick time as well.

Top service award of the year so far goes to Award Session!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Rock Til You Drop 2010 awards

The Rock Til You Drop 2010 awards are nearing.

This is a bit cheeky I know but hell everyone else does it don't they...

Could you all just click on this link to the voting form and put Graham Hunt - Within in the best CD category and Graham Hunt - Let Me Love you Tonight in the best song one?

I'd be very grateful... ta!