Showing posts from February, 2012

Did you go to the Oscars?

Or the Brits?  Or the Grammys?   (Isn't Grammys spelt incorrectly?  It isn't an apostrophe meaning a belonging to Grammy and if it is a plural of Grammy then surely it should be Grammies?  - just thinking...) No?  Well neither did I.   It made me think, does every industry have these big award things?  Well for IT in the UK we have the annual BCS awards - no I didn't get an invite to them either.  However that looked quite a glitzy affair from the photos.   However there wasn't much coverage on the 10 o'clock news about those awards or the Cost Sector Catering Awards 2011 .  I was pondering the fact that the industries that probably least require any more publicity since they are all about publicity in general (film, music, tv etc.) are the only ones that get mass media coverage but I'm sure the winners of the Social Care category in the Cost Sector Catering Awards are as deserving of recognition (if not more so probably as by definition they don't have e


My version of Gordon Giltrap's Heartsong. Some editing and the fingerpicked section is based on some of Gordon's shapes with a fair about of adlibing - not a slavish copy! :-)  Enjoy!

To boldly go...

Or to go boldly if you aren't into splitting your infinitives. I blogged on this a while back that there are actually fewer humans and it has been longer since we went to the bottom of the deepest ocean on earth than man going to the moon!   Here is a great summary by the BBC on the current challengers in the race to the bottom of the ocean .  Doesn't that sound like a Jules Verne type novel/film with Victorian adventurers and lots of steam pipes hissing and scary previously unseen monsters of the deep attacking you...   oh only me then

Book Reviews - Ghost Rider by Neil Peart and Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. I can't remember who recommended this one.  Anyway if you want a great insight in how to start a business from nothing with the only attitude of helping out a few mates and grow it into a business with 85 employees, international recognition and then can sell it for £22million then this is the book for you.  Derek has a very different approach to business, no doubt since he'd been a professional musician and songwriter most of his working life, trained and the Berkley School of Music (just being there is a definition of a hugely talented musician) and therefore had no idea about the "right" way to set up and run a business.  He didn't bother with things like privacy statements and T&Cs for example... my legal advisors will be shaking in their boots at this point!  He describes his method of hiring people as "ridiculous" - i.e. he asked current employees if they had any friends who might be able to do the job and w

Is he talking about me?

Funny some weeks back I posted on here that I was sort of moving more towards SoundCloud as the window on the web to my musical endeavours.  However almost no sooner had I said that than I had a new host of people who've become fans at my Reverbnation site.  How the wheel of fate churns... so I've decided to have a SoundCloud and Reverbnation widgit on here now. Also I've found some stunningly good music via this as well.  If you want free music to listen to you can do a lot worse than heading over there and plugging into some of the artists.  Clearly play my stuff first then look at the artists I recommend and just look about.  I've found really good metal artists, great folk singer songwriters and others. Finally one such discovery on there led to one guy ( Markke ) putting this comment about my material on my site.   From the rhythmic catchiness of "All At Once", to the gentle acoustic sensitivity of "Partial", to the haunting contemplativen

Panorama programme on "Britain's Hidden Alcoholics"

Panorama last night on the BBC had a very interesting programme about Britain's Hidden Alcoholics .  It was presented by Alistair Campbell (I can't say one of my favourite people, he embodies the unelected "spin doctors" that often seem to be more influential in policy setting than the politicians we actually elect these days).  Anyway that is irrelevant to the programme's topic which I thought he presented excellently. He speaks from personal experience when dealing with problem drinking and alcoholism.  He rightly states that the focus of media attention seems to be on the very public binge drinking culture prevalent in the younger generation in Britain today.   Those endless newsreels of the falling down drunks littering the streets of many inner cities and towns across Britain every weekend. However he believes there is actually a bigger problem with hidden middle, professional class drinking.  Given I was not too dissimilar to Mr Campbell in that I was a fu

Muppet Movie!

Yes we went to see the Muppet movie :-)  Now for me the Muppets were an integral part of my adolescence - the shows they used to have on the TV were just great entertainment, Fozzy with his awful gags, the hecklers, the chickens, Gonzo and his mad stunts, the Swedish Chef and of course, Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the resident band - who were a great influence!  What a great name as well! Ok so the movie is centred on a great muppet fan who finally gets to go to LA and go on the Muppet Studio tour.  However this blurs truth as the show was originally recorded in Hertfordshire England!  When he gets there it is a ramshackle place virtually forgotten and about to be pulled down.  He sets out to find the Muppets and put on a new show to save it. The Muppets never age and the gags are there in spades for the adults.  My daughter said I wasn't to laugh out loud!  But she was laughing all the way through! Two brilliant bits that show this shows timeless qualities.  Kermit a

The New Troubadours

A while back I reflected either on a post here or on someone elses blog about the demise of the Troubadour, in the last few years we've seen Davy Graham, John Martyn and Bert Jansch pass away taking with them a legacy of the solo guitarist forged in the folk clubs of the 50s and 60s.  Davy Graham is a case in point - rarely ever quoted in "the most influential guitarist ever" polls but really he should be, he was a real trail blazer with creating a steel string instrumental fingerpicked style that continues to this day.  Yes Bert Jansch and John Renbourn continued and expanded on it but esp Anji by Davy was a pivotal piece in establishing that genre of playing. Anyway recently I realised I should reconsider my position on this statement - i.e. there are plenty of excellent troubadours out there performing and recording and it is a very healthy scene.  Let me tell you about some I've been listening too over the last year or so. Jon Gomm - WOW - that was the three

Morning has broken...

Go on hands up - who has got an image and an audio loop of Cat Stevens playing in their head right now? Anyway - I opened the front door this morning and was greeted by... blue sky.  Whilst to the west there were threatening rain heavy lead grey clouds to the east it was a pale blue sky with golden pink on the horizon and on a few lighter whiter clouds in that direction.  Birds were chirping away on in the case of the ring collared Doves coo coo ing at each other.  The last little piles of snow are still in some of the local gardens from the piles we had about 10 days back but this was the first day since Autumn I remember leaving my house for the walk to the station in daylight.  Spring will soon be here it seems and the cycle of life in a year rejuvenated again.  If the doom mongers and catastrophe predictors are right we'll never see the like again as the long predicted end of the world will hit us.  You know I can't help feeling that they are wrong, as ever ...

Our house...

... in the middle of our street!  Well actually we're not we're near the end going down the slope towards the shops.  Anyway enough of this Madness... (get it!) It was 20 years ago today Mrs F, myself and a wee 18 month old toddler that is somehow now the lanky bearded thing that is Son-of-Furtheron moved into the house we now live in... *fanfare in background* I feel in love with our house the moment we walked into it - it ticked the boxes in terms of location, size, style etc.  Only problem...  Well there were a lot actually, someone had put some awful slatted wood up the side of the staircase, the wiring was a deathtrap (despite the previous owner claiming the multitude of additional sockets was a selling point), the back of the garage - well wasn't it was some old dividing internal doors someone had put there when they were no longer needed between the dining room and the lounge, the bathroom was awful - a deep blue suite, yes remember the 70s?   Etc. etc.  widows n

Those who are left behind

The five regrets post that I put up came about as I was thinking about something ...  I don't know why but a melancholy moment the other day led me to wonder about that people in my life who are no longer in my life. The greatest tribute to someone is that they are remembered with fondness and regret that they are still not about by those that knew them when they were. Clearly on my list are members of my family, both my parents, my lovely old Aunt who was a woman who never spoke ill of anyone and would give you her last penny - she nearly did frankly, when she died and I had to tie up her estate it was so little I didn't need to go to probate in the courts and still she'd bought my son (who was only about 4 then) the huge Lego Pirate Ship he'd wanted for Christmas even though I'd told her to get him a smaller one as I knew it was expensive.  My Nan and my Grandma - although I can't deny a tough relationship with my Grandma, she was a demanding woman and qui

The top five things people regret when they are dying.

The top five things people regret when they are dying. Sorry for a bit of a bleak post - I quickly copied this from somewhere and have lost the link annoyingly.  But the list still stands 1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. 3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. PS - I found the link - it was an article in The Guardian

Gig Review - Snow Patrol The O2 11-Feb-2012

So gig reviews are a bit thin on the ground on the blog these days - since I don't have as much "disposable income" as I used to and also frankly less bands on tour I'd like to see.  Anyway this was this years first gig for the family Furtheron.  Daughter-of-Furtheron, Mrs F and I went off to The O2 last night to see Snow Patrol. Venue - The O2 is good for us since it is a simple schlep up the A2 into the car park - I've heard people moan about the cost of the car park but if we were going to say Hammersmith it'd cost us a lot more with train fares and that is even now with me on a season ticket and able to get the other two discounts. We arrived early enough to get a meal in and join the queue to get in just before the doors opened.  We didn't have the greatest seats due to us booking a bit late but we were up in the Gods but on the front row - so no one in front and almost in line with the stage so look down and along.  Venue was warmer than I'd ha

Book Review - Raven Eye by Giles Kristian

Anyone who is a regular reader of this here blog will know that "historic fiction" is pretty much an ever present on my reading list.  My favourites include Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Conn Igulden etc. So not surprisingly given my purchase history this novel has been "suggested" to me more than once by the robots that scour my previous purchases at the most well known of on-line bookstores.  I read a quick synopsis and downloaded it. So this is set in deepest darkest Wessex in the Dark Ages - the bit from when the Romans tired after 400 years of building roads and palaces etc. in England and withdrew back to a crumbling Rome and before the dashing French Normans arrived to instill civility once again on the heathen pagan Celts of England.  However it wasn't really like that was it?  I've always been fascinated by that period of our history largely since so little is known as there wasn't much written down but you look at finds like The Sutton Hoo

Quantitative Easing - I just don't get it...

Do you understand Quantitative Easing?  I don't.  It is printing money in all but name and I look at it as a measure already discredited.  We have have in the UK the lowest ever bank base rate (0.5%) set by the Bank of England's committee for almost 3 years now.  Also in 2009 the bank first used Quantitative Easing in the UK economy pushing first £75bl into the economy and by the end of that year the total as £200bl.   Today as I say near 3 years later the bank is pushing in another £50bl.   How's it do this?  It buys up things like bonds that banks have - so the banks have lent money to someone and have a bond that they'll get it back at some point.  That is an asset for the bank but they can't do anything with it.  Someone comes in and says "Can I borrow a bunch of money?" and the bank looks under the table into a drawer full of bonds (i.e. IOUs) but no cash and says "Sorry can't help right now".   So the central bank buys the bond from the

The Procrastinator's Digest - Book Review

I bought this if you'll remember after posting about my at times crippling procrastination. I finally read it - quite quickly as it isn't a big tome.  I liked the style, each chapter is the same, there is a "mantra" to remember (I think it better to take these and develop your own but that is me), an example from the author's experience in research then some explanation and a smattering of cartoons to make the point memorably through gags.  There are some exercises for you to do to get you in the right zone to get over your procrastination in your particular situation. So what have I learnt.  Actually that far more people are procrastinators than I thought, also that some of the thoughts I have that lead to procrastination are also common.  Really?!  Honestly I didn't think "normal" people would procrastinate over doing something due to a fear of failure... trust me I did think I was unique on that one... this is just my alcoholic self obsession

Search Engine Optimisation and Accessibility

SEO - if you've had any involvement with websites this will be old hat to you, this is all about trying to ensure your website is as high up the search engine list of hits as possible. Some years back I helped put together a website for the local AA intergroup area.  Last year it went a bit stagnant as I was too busy at some points, the software I originally had used had a licence that expired and it wouldn't install on Windows 7.  We had someone who had been elected to lead on this and whilst I was willing to be the webmaster I was looking to them to lead the development etc.  Anyway that person has other commitments and left after some cajolling I'm now officially the person with responsibility. I went to a regional workshop a couple of weeks back and returned with a couple of concrete actions - Accessibility; as a result of the disability access legislation. You can be prosecuted if your website is not accessible.  Did you know that?  So I looked up some of the stuf

Addicts brains are wired up differently

A recent study has shown that "Brains may be wired for addiction".  This study has shown that siblings have similar abnormalities (compared to the general population) in brain structure but one has become an addict whilst the other hasn't.  The abnormalities are in the areas of self-control and emotional response it is believed. My first thought on hearing this was "no shit Sherlock" - anyone who has been around addiction and in particular 12-step recovery groups will normally find an overwhelming belief within the majority addicts that they were "wired up differently" and with retrospective hind-sight consider themselves to have been "an addict waiting to happen" long before they discovered their drug of choice.  As I say this isn't everybody's  view but a prevalent one.  I know little of the addiction issues in previous generations in my family - largely as many were dead long before I was either alive or able to ask them.  Howeve

I am not a robot

Now I know from personal experience the problem of comment spam on blogs - that is why I have comment approval switched on ... and in case the nut case who thinks I should kill myself since I'm a self confessed alcoholic wasting the public's money  (he/she had clearly not really grasped where I was in my addiction) ever comes back... same comment 10 times one day - whoever they were they had a major problem, I hope they are better now not just trying to harass someone more vulnerable. However... Lot's of blogs I comment no now pop up one of those phrases to type in, at least with blogger I can read the things - one site recently after 6 refreshes I gave up as unless I developed some 6th sense I was never going to discern the characters obscured by various arty monochrome hashing and swirls.  These pop up with the witty little tagline "Just to prove you are not a robot"... I know I'm not a robot but ironically this is a robot asking me to prove to it that I

Sanctus - Simon Toyne - Book Review

Sanctus is Simon Toyne's first novel.  I popped over to his website and he has a not unfamiliar lifestory.  He originally wanted to be an actor but found out that wasn't really his first love but ended up in film making expecting Hollywood to beckon at some point... it never did but he has had a successful career but then... the midlife crisis!  He  wanted to make his own blockbusters but never likely to get the backing so decided to write novels.  He took a year out, packed his family off to France (now one thing this tells you - he has a loving family!) and wrote.  Sanctus is the result. The underlying premise of Sanctus is enticing - an ancient citadel in Turkish city that is possibly one of the old permanently and consistently inhabited places on earth.  The citadel is home to a very reclusive order of monks who are rarely if ever seen out of the place.  Rumours abound that they hold a very very dark secret inside the mountain that they have built on.  One day a monk is s