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Showing posts from April, 2009

Is music the voice of God?

I was reading Chapter 4 We Agnostics of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. This was prompted by part of that chapter being used as a speakers reading at one of my regular meetings this week. Truth be told the "God" part of the programme of AA has been one of my biggest issues but the spiritual issues are central to the core of the programme and recovery. I was drawn back to this chapter as part of a "is all well with my conception of a power greater than myself" checkover. It is good - I won't go into I remember going on about it on my previous blog once before about my concept of a God or whatever shorthand you want to call it, I don't have a traditional religious view lets just say that. There is one bit at the back end of the chapter that I like a lot. "Who are you to say there is no God?" That was a revelation to me some time back, see I had until then had the answer to everything - or so I thought but the acceptance that just quiet possibly

Classic Album Review – Strangers in the Night – UFO

“HELLO CHICAGO! WILL YOU PLEASE WELCOME FROM ENGLAND…. U…. F…. O….!!!!” If that means anything to you then you are probably in your mid 40s and were a renegade from the punk explosion of the mid – late 70s. That is me!!! I recently bought this album (the remastered version) on CD having for years gone on to my son and others about how great this album was… no IS! It’s a live album – recorded on a USA tour by UFO in the late 70s. At that point they were a “bubbling under” heavy rock band. Punk in the UK ruled the roost and therefore they got little coverage except in the pages of Sounds the one weekly music paper that cater for the rockheads among us in the UK – I think Kerrang’s lineage would lead straight to Sounds. I’d been into punk as it start – esp The Clash and White Riot, The Damned had impressed and of course the Pistols when playing not preening were icons. But then it all went popular and Vivian Westwood. I left stage left and discovered Judas Priest etc. In that di

Swine Fever...

I normally avoid doing this but I can't help myself today... Right anyone remember Les Dawson... here goes then... My mother-in-law... she is sometimes a real trial of patience. My wife's tolerance to her to be honest is very thin these days and it shows, my son isn't too helpful in that department as well and I think daughter-of-Furtheron is beginning to also let irritation show through. On a Wednesday it's a tradition that my wife and the kids go to see her mother for dinner after school. I don't mind I normally get a chance to watch the Indy Car or whatever I've recorded through the week that they'd just interrupt and moan about whilst I stuff an un-healthy cheese sandwich ("But you aren't suppose to eat cheese Dad!")... They arrived back last night in full rant the pair of them about the mother-in-law. Firstly she had gone into a rant about these fools not knowing what they were talking about as you can't catch swine fever, she shoul

Being a parent... and recent events

I’ve not had much to blog this week really. Firstly I’m headlong into the new job now and trying to get my head around it. A colleague from Ireland congratulated me yesterday when he was visiting and said “So what’s the new role all about then?” I answered back with the spiel I’ve been using but then said “But to be honest I really haven’t a clue at the moment I’m trying to head my head above water”. He clapped me on the back and said I was the only honest person he’d asked that question of in his visit. The good news is however that the new role has some interesting bits to it, I’ve seemed to pick up some of our High Performance Computing bit – Grids and all that stuff. Not something I’ve done much with before but of great interest, what these Computational Chemists and Biologists do is very clever you know… As well as work being a lot busier home life seems to be a bit at 100mph as well. Last weekend we dashed to Wales to drop my son off back at uni – 600 miles in 2 days tak

Marillion live vids

Thank you whoever you are... with one of Mr S Rothery's stunning melodic and apt guitar solos. Fantastic Place - which is one of my all time fav songs I LOVE Marillion - their music always uplifts me and inspires me. Hence I thought I'd share these two classics for anyone who doesn't know them. I hope you are inclinded to go find out more at their website . As an aside - I'm in the audience in both these, the first from the Somewhere Else tour and recorded at the Forum - that was the time on three successive days I went to a gig, my own make do stay at home festival, Megadeth, Marillion and Muse on successive nights. Actually I have a DVD of bothe Marillion and Muse gigs from those occasions as well. Fantastic Place was recorded at the now sadly lamented old Astoria on the Marbles tour. I'd only come out of rehab a few days before and that gig was a revelation - I went to a gig, didn't drink and really enjoyed it... I'll be honest I nearly didn&

Alone again in a world of madness

I'm having one of those "three degrees off center from the rest of humanity" days at the moment... Mrs F picked up a message on the voicemail at home. It was from the banks fraud department. They had "detected some uncharacteristic transactions" on my account. They had then "frozen" my access via the internet, stopped the transactions and effectively shut down the account. I called the internet helpline people but the answer was phone another number at a different time and talk to the fraud people. I did and they sorted it out pretty quickly and I have now had to repost the transactions which they had stopped. What were these "uncharacteristic transactions"? I was giving some money to both my kids... what are they trying to say about me? That I'm a bad parent who never gives the kids any money? To be fair it was pretty good for them to spot what happened and it could have been some nefarious character pilfering my hard earned savings. Oh

A night in by myself

... so I thought I'd play some guitar...

Anonymity vs celebrity

A couple of things today have made me think about anonymity vs celebrity. I heard on the radio that some ridiculous number of people have now watched the lady singer from Britain’s Got Talent on YouTube. She is a good singer from whatever I know, and I’m no expert on it. But why is it that this is such a phenomenon? I just don’t get it – apparently it is more the USA that is hitting the performance than the UK, again I don’t know why. Will her success last? Who knows has she the stamina and acting talents to lead a West End production 7 or 8 times a week? Has she the market appeal for album and concert sales year on year? We’ll see. One thing though she has lost her anonymity. Two weeks ago she could have shuffled around my local Tesco’s and no one would have given her a glance. Now she is a celebrity, probably more justified than many celebrities to be sure. To be perfectly honest whilst I might harbour dreams of being recognised as the genius I truly am would I really l

Deep pride

My son as you'll know if you are a regular reader of this blog is currently at university... at the back end of Wales! A little recap... Whilst he was at junior school we began to get a little concerned, he struggled with reading and sometimes his written work was poor, had words missing, lots of spelling mistakes etc. We kept being told he was bright and worked hard and that he would catch up. Then a new teacher did some tests and told us he was dyslexic, funny I think she was expecting some kind of hostile reaction from us. We were just glad to know and asked for help, he got some but still struggled. Thank God for Harry Potter as that at least gave us books he wanted to read and he pushed on. We never entered him for the 11plus (sorry Medway selective secondary school selection test - or whatever nonsense name it has now). Principally then the test was very biased towards English writing creatively and comprehension - not good for him. He went to the local high school

Guitars return

The guitars are back from the menders. The classical has a small fill on the front, it has sealed it up but there is a mark as feared where the colour was in the finish, but it's okay. New machine heads fitted on that which it needed as the others were worn out. The PRS has puka locking tuners on it now and that is good. Good all round.

Swimathon success

My 20th anniversary year competing in this event - I can't believe that! Anyway I did the full 5000m i.e. 200 lengths of a 25m pool, the other three in my lane were all about the same speed we all finished in a minute of two of each other. I did a 1hour 43mins - which I was really pleased with frankly. I feel bloody knackered now! My daughter did 100 lengths, 2.5km in 52mins which was very good, but I think she and another girl considered it a training session. I'm sure I saw fly being swum at one point! Mad!

Gig Review – Gary Moore Folkestone 16th April, support Buddy Whittington

Yes folks that isn’t a bad line up is it? The man who has been described as the “best Bluesbreaker ever” supporting the perennial Mr Moore. Firstly let me again explain Folkestone Leas Cliff as a venue. It is right on the top of the cliff in Folkestone, on a clear day you can see France from the top of it. If you approach on the road the only sign of it is a little glass café, but you descend down the cliff as it were into an old (Victorian I think) dance hall which is small and the layout is wrong for modern gigs really, i.e. the stage is on the long side not the short side of the floor plan. Still it is a favourite venue of mine given it’s size etc. Plus supporting gigs outside the standard metropolises can only be a good thing can’t it? Folkestone continues to host really top acts, I’ve seen Gary Moore several times there, Motörhead similarly, Sepultura, David Gray, Turin Brakes, The Hoosiers (that was for my daughter), Megadeth even have played there – now that was a gig!

At the repairers

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I took my acoustic to the repairers yesterday. The decision was to leave the classical with it's "battle scar" as the colour is largely in the tint of the laquer on the front and the wood beneath is very pale, he was concerned that trying to patch it will just leave it looking worse and at best simply a noticeable fix of it. Now it's been there a week or so to be honest it is less bothering me than it did at first. Anyway he is going to replace the tuners on it as they've been playing up a bit... still the old girl is about 33 this year so to be fair she's done bloody well. Also he is fitting the replacement tuners to my PRS so that it has puka PRS locking tuners back on it. Excellent! I also talked to him about my Peter Cook bass, on which the active electrics don't work, and my old home built "NunoStrat". I'll take them in next week for him to look at as well - although he makes his own instruments to order so last night I was pon

Assorted CD reviews

I’ve bought a few over the last couple of weeks so I thought I’d bundle them up into a super review… !!! Ballard of John Henry – Joe Bonamassa. Young Joe is the latest white guy to save the blues, like Eric, Stevie Ray, Gary Moore et. al. before him. So this is his latest platter. Very good. Joe B is however not a straight down the line blues only man with a view interesting covers thrown in like Stop! Written by the keyboard player out of Patti Smiths band by the way and also the Anthony Newley hit Feelin’ Good – and that is the best version ever I’ve heard of that track. Joe B’s playing throughout is excellent, he is much closer to Gary Moore type blues than say close to Robert Cray to help you place him if you don’t know his stuff. If you like that Blues with a rock hit this album is a must try out. The opening title track is the star of the show for me along with that stunning version of Feelin’ Good and Stoty of a Quarryman. Songs from the Sparkle Lounge – Def Leppard.

I just might need one of these...

Makes you go all wobbly... the new marshall Haze 15W mini stack

The wife's birthday

Yesterday (Tues 14th April) was the wife's birthday. We didn't do much although I had the day off work, just headed to Bluewater, well it is my daughters favourite place. I bought my wife a new phone for her birthday... guess what? She can't hear that one either!!! My daughter is the same - you ring and ring and it's buried in it's "sock" in the handbag and they are gassing to each other etc. If she ever phones me and it goes to voicemail she is straight on my case as to "Where were you?" etc. Still I suppose some of that is a lifetime of distrust of an alcohlic. My wife is popular, several friends called around later in the day with gifts and cards for her. She is lucky... I'm lucky too.

Bank Holiday Monday

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We went to the Dockyard. Cheaper than Brands Hatch... Not sure my daughter enjoyed it as much but hey ho...

Good Friday walk

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We went for a long walk around some woods near Canterbury , lovely day. Then had tea and a hot cross bun in a cafe. :-) Millions of ants

The collection grows.

So you know that Mrs F has for sometime been concerned with my guitar avarice well she is now rolling her eyes as she sees Son-of-Furtheron clearly carries the same gene... He was very impressed with my bargain PRS CE22 that I got a little while back. He has been looking for something with a bit more versatility than his ESP LTD EC-1000 VB - that is a very good guitar, I think the VB should stand for very black, but it is very METAL!! :-) So he saw a similar PRS CE22 and when it's price tumbled to £799 his agreement with his Mum to spend some long term bond interest he'd accured was secured. So now we have two PRS's in the family and Son-of-Furtheron has taken the first step into multiple guitar ownership... they'll be no hope for him now. It is in really top nick for a 7 year old guitar, no dents or dings on the front, sides, neck or headstock and only the mildest form of "buckle rash" on the back, honestly you have to move it in the light to notice

Book Review – Firefight by Chris Ryan

Everyone must know the Chris Ryan story by now, don’t they? Chris was a member of the SAS and during the first Gulf War was part of a team dropped behind enemy lines who were to pass intelligence back and disrupt the Iraq supply lines. The mission went wrong pretty much from the start. Chris was separated from the rest of the survivors and then managed to escape himself in one of the most incredible stories of survival every reported. Since writing that factual (although Andy McNab and others in the troop have disputed some of Mr Ryan’s claims) account Chris has written numerous thrillers, all of which have an SAS basis (well all the ones I’ve read do). Firefight is no different and if you know the standard Chris Ryan format this one doesn’t flex outside that model very much, er in fact you could have read it before. The hero is ex-SAS who is now lost in a spiral of decline following personal tragedy and a shadow of his former self. He is asked to help out on a final mission and

Vintage guitars

I was perusing a great site you can put in a search criteria and it comes up with matches. I was looking at early 60s Strats as part of a debate with a friend of mine who can’t get the whole relicing thing. I’m in two minds about it but interestingly we found plenty of early 60s strats in terrific condition, so buying a relic doesn’t mean much necessarily in the looks dept, someone could easily buy an orginal 60s strat that looks as good as my 1980s Squire one, come to think of it my Squire is 25 years old now and that looks nowhere like many of the relics, some bumps etc. on it but nothing like the road worn type relicing that seems so popular right now. And if you did own a puka 60s strat now wouldn’t most people just assume it was a relic anyhow? After that I moved on to considering price. After some digging about I found that a Fender Strat in the early 60s when they started appearing in the UK was about £168. Given average weekly wage was then about £10 (according to my f

Time to be grateful

Yesterday was an odd day… just read the previous post. So I’m attempting a little restart of stuff here now. This morning I had to go to the dentist, “Vlad the Incisor” I call him. Nice chap – Polish I believe, so the Vlad gag fails as that is nowhere near Transylvania still never mind. He poked around as usual and told me there were no problems except Tartar build up on my bottom teeth. He cleaned them, then he was flossing them for me and exclaimed. “Difficult to floss, No?” “Yes it is sometimes”. My teeth are all a bit cramped together. So he has recommended a different brush, so I headed off to the store to buy one, then headed for work. On the longest stretch on the motorway between junctions I see the ominous red lights and hazard warning lights. We all came to a grinding halt and in a few seconds you could hear the sirens. I was stuck for about an hour – some poor lady had gone into the back of a lorry somehow and when they started to clear us through the top of the

I should be happy...

Over this weekend all the frustration, anger, annoyance etc. about the job situation boiled over, no doubt as I had a lot of time in my head with all the driving about. I realised that I'm very demotivated at the moment, not just because of the redundancy stuff, I'd been struggling before that came along. I know it is probably me, I've come to realise that really all jobs suck, you turn up do stuff and then more stuff, get shat on from time to time by the organisation or economy or both etc. etc. I keep trying to restart myself, get going again, but I'm finding it very difficult. I drop back into bad karma again too quickly. I wish I could be like others and just do a job, enjoy it and not look for some great meaning in what they do... I keep thinking what the heck is the point of anything I do really in the grand scheme of things I do very little to move the world in any direction. I'm really frustrated more with myself, one of my characteristics (or characte

Traveling in Britain

Friday was one of those driving days on the UK roads - well it was for me anyway. I set off planning to head M2, Darford Crossing, M25, M1, M6, M54 etc. and to stop at Shrewsbury over night before completing the journey to Aberystwyth. As soon as I set off there were signs saying that the M25 was slow just inside Essex. As I came over the hill towards the crossing you could see the Dartford queues back virtually onto the A2. So I thought, be smart I'll go Blackwall Tunnel, A406 and M11... I did and not too bad that, apart from a short queue to get into the Tunnel. Back on the M25 feeling clever... Next sign - M1 closed northbound at J16. Brilliant. So I cut across through Aylesbury to pick up M40. However everyone was now going up the M40 and that was a joke too. So I stopped had a coffee and then as I joined again heard a traffic report of a crash after J16... well I was J13 and the queues were there! So off and through Warwick (pretty) and cross country to Solihull -

At the risk of causing myself trouble...

I still have no idea/news on the job front. To recap - in early Feb I was told my "role was eliminated" as part of a restructuring of the department. Fair enough. I looked over a bunch of roles that were advertised but basically I had done all of them pretty much in some manner in the last 10 years or so and couldn't see how any of them either would excite me or add new stuff to my CV. So I didn't apply. There was another role however that is in an adjacent department, reporting into the USA directly. That did have some sense of a career move for me with additions to the CV. So I applied. I was interviewed two weeks ago. Now I'm still waiting. I know I pointed out a number of concerns about acountability and authority within the role but... I mean if I was that much of a trouble maker then just politely tell me to move on. I've a meeting on Monday to "discuss the proposal" to make me redundant. My brother said I should decline the meeting saying

You travel half way around the world...

The AA meeting I regularly attend on a Wednesday has been generally small affair in all the years I've gone there, it is probably the closet to my house as the crow flies and I've always considered it my "home group". There are normally about 10 of us, on a good night. Last night was football wasn't it, which normally deflates attendance somewhat and one of our stalwart members who ferries others without transport to the meeting was on holiday so I was expecting possibly no more than 6 or so. But we had getting on for 20 of us which is really good. We meet in a little room in a village hall whilst the indoor bowling club raucously conduct their games next door, God knows what they get up to in there. Among the usual faces, I noticed a new one as I dashed about sorting out kettles and readings (the tea boy was ill as well) so I said hello and welcomed him asking "Are you a visitor?" You can normally tell a visitor from a newcomer, he was well dressed,