Saturday, September 30, 2006

A walk in the sun...

Playlist
Crispell/Peacock/Motion – Nothing Ever Was, Anyway
Pires/Castro - Schubert Piano Music for Four Hands
Rick Altizer – Blue Plate Special
David Bowie – The Berlin Trilogy
Various – Jukebox Shuffleplay New Albums Aug/Sept 06
Haydn – String Quartet Op 74 No 1
Brian Eno – Another Green World
David Bowie – Diamond Dogs
Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets
David Bowie – Station to Station
Glass – String Quartet No 2 (Company)
Glass – String Quartet No 3 (Mishima)
Brodsky Quartet – Variations on Waltzing Matilda
Schnittke – String Quartet No 1
Schnittke – Canon in Memory of I Stravinsky
Tina Brooks – True Blue
Allan Holdsworth – Against the Clock

Slept in till 8:30...

Made a list of all composers by whom I have recordings of String Quartets:-

Alvarez
Bartok
Beethoven
Berg
Borodin
Brahms
Bruckner
Carter
Debussy
Dutilleux
Dvorak
Egge
Glass
Gorecki
Haydn
Hill
Janacek
Janson
Kvandal
Lanner
Ligetti
Martinu
Massenet
Matthews
Mendelssohn
Messiaen
Mozart
Ravel
Reich
Reicha
Schoenberg
Schnittke
Schubert
Schumann
Sculthorpe
Shostakovich
Strauss II
Stravinsky
Szymanski
Thomas
Tippett
Valen
Vasks
Webern
Xenakis

..intending to listen to some today...

Breakfast at home, then got drugged up for the day...

The post brought my last outstanding item from e-bay, the second disc I bought by Rick Altizer - better than the last one, as there's not quite so much God bothering involved...

By the time Anne left for a trip uptown, I was a little incoherent and quite drowsy but the pain was dissipating...

I continued to “operate machinery” though and burned CDs for brother in law Keith and old chum from Germany Jorg and also burned myself a copy of the Bowie compilation “The Berlin Trilogy” I did for Keith, featuring the best of “Low”, “”Heroes”” and “Lodger”...

By the time Anne came home, I was feeling a little nauseous but had a roll for a late lunch nonetheless, accompanied by more drugs...

Late afternoon I did something I never do – I went out for a walk!!

I’ve lived at Crispycat Towers for nearly 20 years but have never visited the nearby Corstorphine Hill Cemetery (which I suppose is not really that odd a thing not to have done since I don't know anyone who's buried there)...



So today I walked down to this oasis of calm, listening to a shuffleplay of albums I’ve bought over the last couple of months, and took a look around. There were some impressive old headstones...



It was very peaceful and I was the only person there and the sun shone down through the trees on the seemingly abandoned dead...



I discovered, at the top of the cemetery, the graves of almost 100 Polish soldiers from the Second World War. I have no idea why they’d be buried in Corstorphine...



By the time I got back home I wasn’t feeling too good and was a mumbling fool when I telephoned my mum to see how she was doing (she has a new cooker)..

I retired to bed for an hour or so and didn’t take the evening drugs and must also cut down on the dosage going forward – I was taking the max possible today...

In the evening Anne drove us down to Keith and his partner Maureen’s place where I had a coffee and a lovely home made cookie...

Keith was delighted with the Bowie and Eno CDs and we listened to a few of them. A most enjoyable evening. The side-effects of the drugs were by this time dissipating while the pain was now confined to certain movements only, rather than being constant as it has been over the last week or so...

So it seems the drugs do work but I need to get the dosage right or they make me ill in other ways – nausea, pins and needles in my hands and feet, confusion, drowsiness etc etc...

Back home and I was wide awake due to the late afternoon sleep and so, while Anne surfed Youtube for videos of Hearts players, I listened to a few string quartets and rounded off the day with some top jazz...

Highlight of the Day : A visit to Keith and Maureen’s

Friday, September 29, 2006

A moment of clarity...

Playlist
Flower Kings – Paradox Hotel
Bad Company – The Anthology
Robert Fripp/King Crimson – Hot Tickles from DGM Live

Woke at 2 am having turned “wrongly” in the bed and subjected my, until then, sleeping body to excruciating pain. Considered getting up as I sat on the bed close to passing out (which would have been a Godsend I suppose) but, on discovering the time, crawled back under the covers and soon fell asleep again...

Today, the temporary cap on my tooth came off. Called the dentist and was advised just to leave it off as the crown goes on on Thursday...

Another call to the doctor and he promises to write to the hospital re the urgency of the op. He tempers my expectation by advising that, as they’ve already told me it will take place at Murrayfield, I am apparently subject to some kind of “waiting list initiative” which means my op will actually be done “privately” by the NHS....

Interesting to note that, despite the initiative, it is likely the op will still take place around a month after the initially proposed date of early” October...

In the meantime a prescription is sent to a nearby chemist for me to pick up. Two new sets of drugs to try and ward off the demons for at least two weeks – strong pain killers and new anti inflammatories (alternative to Ibuprofen of which, yesterday I took 4,000 mg to absolutely no avail – an action for which I was chastised by the doc)...

Early signs indicate I should not raise my hopes unduly....

In the evening, a small treat of Chinese food...

Then Anne cajoles me into trying to sort out a long standing problem with the computer in that we can’t seem to open PDF files or download stuff...

Between “Coronation St” and “The Simpsons” I spend 30 minutes trawling the net for any clues as to how to overcome the dreaded HTTP 403 Error which has been the bane of our lives for probably over a year now...

After the Simpsons, I stumble across an oblique reference to the Firewall we use and realise I must go into its depths and, very gingerly, change things....

A feeling of deep joy pervades my very being (and almost wipes away the pain) as I realise I have cracked the problem...

Immediately, I head to Robert Fripp’s DGM Live site and download a good 100 minutes of the best music in the world...

Highlight of the Day : Finally, finally understanding (or more, discovering – I still don’t understand) why I couldn’t open files, particularly PDFs, or download stuff...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ouch...

Playlist
The Tangent – A Place in the Queue
Flower Kings – Paradox Hotel
Free – The Free Story

An evening of pain – after a day of pain (called the doctor to try and get him to petition the hospital for an earlier operation date – have to call again tomorrow) – and followed by a night of pain...

Watched Sparta Prague v Hearts. It ended 0–0 and Hearts, as expected, are out of Europe...

Highlight of the Day : Any small moment where I wasn’t aware of the pain in my shoulder and arm..

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Physical wreck...

Playlist
Gentle Giant - The Power and the Glory
Fehlfarben - 26 1/2 (4 track promo)
Magic Pie - Motions of Desire
Rick Altizer - Neon Fixation
David Bowie - Various Tracks
King Crimson - Deja Vrooom (DVD)
Gentle Giant - The Power and the Glory (Again)
Rush - Rush in Rio
Shadow Gallery - V

Forgot to say that yesterday morning I returned to the dentist for some preparatory work on the stump of my tooth which will soon be turned into a lovely crown - blood everywhere....

Anyway, today I copied some David Bowie albums to the hard drive in preparation for burning a few Bowie and Eno discs for brother-in-law Keith...

That was after I'd taken Anne into town for a night out with her best chum Lynn...

Watched some King Crimson on the telly (DVD) then played some Gentle Giant full blast...

Got the call to pick up Anne around 11:30 and drove back into town listening to Rush live in Rio...

My drive home will be the last for me in the car for the time being as, due to this damned shoulder scenario, which has already claimed my guitar playing, I can no longer properly change gears, indicate, adjust the volume on the CD player, adjust the rear view mirror or, indeed, steer properly...

Can't get much sleep now either, though listening to Shadow Gallery last thing at night helps...

Lowlight of the Day : No more driving...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Germany calling...

Playlist
Various - Jukebox on shuffleplay
Gentle Giant - The Power and the Glory
Fehlfarben - 26 1/2 (4 track promo)
Rick Altizer - Neon Fixation
Magic Pie - Motions of Desire
Rush - Rush in Rio
Gentle Giant - Free Hand

Fate conspired to flood me with new CDs today (well not fate really, my own CD buying stupidity)...

No sooner had I been to FOPP and shelled out on two Gentle Giant remasters of albums I already have...


...along with a 3CD set of "Rush In Rio" (the DVD of which I already have), but, upon returning to Crispycat Towers, three more CDs awaited me from e-bay...

Firstly, a radio promo single culled from Fehlfarben (probably my favourite German band)'s new album "26 1/2" which celebrates their history since 1979 (hence the title) and features various big name (erm that's if you're German) stars...

Fehlfarben were probably the most important band of what was known as the Neue Deutsche Welle (German New Wave) back in the period 1979-81 - I know this as I lived there during that time....

Happy days...

Also behind the door is a CD by Norwegian Proggers, Magic Pie - totally unknown to anyone outside prog rock circles but held in high esteem within them...

And, finally, a nice little power pop CD by Rick Altizer (which features King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew). Notwithstanding the overt (and that's putting it mildly) Christian message of a couple of the songs, this is a good entertaining album - I have another by him on its way...

In the evening, due to loud headphones, I miss a call from German chum Jorg. He leaves a message however, and I call him back....

It turns out, he has just experienced a quite serious, seven week long, illness involving fainting, deafness and ringing in the ears, fever, loss of appetite, liver problems, sweating, fear of people, claustrophobia and, I suppose not surprisingly, depression...

Glad to say he is now almost fully recovered (although, in true German fashion, he will "take a cure" at the end of the year) and, after the initial illness discussion, we get on to the subect of music, comparing notes on recent acquisitions and things we're looking out for, gigs we're going to etc etc...

Jorg is the only person I know with more recorded music in his house than me (although Dr Prog runs us close)...

In the course of our conversation, he reminds me that, when he was visiting last October, he left me a list of CDs to burn for him...

After a good long chat (during which I demonstrate a distinct rustiness re my German), and promising to visit next year for Documenta, I bid him goodnight and immediately start burning the first three CDs - Eno/Manzanera's "801 Live", "Mainstream" by Quiet Sun and a disc by ex Bowie guitarist and mainman, Reeves Gabrels with David Tronzo...

The rest of the evening is spent listening to CDs, burning CDs, scanning covers and generally musicking around without actually making any music...

All topped off with the third episode of "Spooks" shown last night and which I totally forgot about but which Anne taped while I was out - where would I be without my Executive Producer?

And, finally, "Whistleblower" with an expose of the grubby, grimy world of court bailiffs in England...

To bed listening to Gentle Giant...

Highlight of the Day : A phone call to Germany

Monday, September 25, 2006

Soaked but entertained...

Playlist
Various - Jukebox on shuffleplay
Helene Grimaud - Reflection:R Schumann/C Schumann/Brahms
Maria Joao Pires/Ricardo Castro - Schubert "Resonance de l'Originaire"

The HMV sale strikes again as I find a great little 2 disc set of Schubert's piano music for four hands reduced to £5 and also for £5 Helene Grimaud's 2005 album "Reflections" comprising a Robert Schumann Piano Concerto and 3 songs by his wife, Clara Schumann, along with a sonata for piano and cello and two rhapsodies by Johannes Brahms.....

Lovely...

Tonight I'm out with James Jamieson to the "Out of the Bedroom presents" evening....

So I don't miss first act, Impossible Songs, I forego the offer of waiting till 8 to get the car from Anne, who will have returned from her aerobics class by then and, instead walk for the bus - and get soaked in a horrendous rainstorm (at both ends of the bus trip, during which Ms Grimaud keeps me company)...

Also on tonight are Hannah O'Reilly, Acoustic Idol of a couple of years back, and the excellent Steven Carey, who played on the same bill as me back in July at Pol's house gig in Lasswade...

An entertaining evening all round - and great to see Jamie again...

I leave around 10 or so and the rain's off...

Back on the bus to Corstorpine and up home to Crispycat Towers...

Finish off the night with the SPL Football highlights including Hearts' victory over Aberdeen...

Highlight of the Day : Another Helene Grimaud album - I have quite a few - she's my favourite modern day pianist...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

And relax...

Playlist
Hawkwind – Epocheclipse
Nine Horses – Snow Borne Sorrow
Nigel North – Baroque Lute (Weiss/Vivaldi/Bach)
Oslo String Quartet – 20th Century Norwegian String Quartets (Valen/Egge/Kvandall/Janson)
Steve Reich – Reich Remixed
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Frozen Architecture
Michael Bruce – In My Own Way
Neal Smith – Platinum God
Blood Sweat and Tears – What Goes Up! The Best of
Deep Purple - Anthology
Joni Mitchell – The Magdalene Laundries : A Collection (CD-R)

Up at a very respectable 7:07 this morning and to the computer to send updates for the Crispycat website to webmeister and computer/electronic beats genius, Craig Sutherland...

This included the news of CBQ’s sad demise as a performing artist as well as the release of “The Best of CBQ 1996-2206”...

The plan now is...

Operation
Recuperation
Album Production

....and that should take me through to next summer, then we’ll see...

Amended the background colour for the blog from white to black as the white didn’t seem to have as much impact...

By 8:37 I was ready to move on to other things...

Hmm like surfing e-bay for re-mastered versions of Hawkwind CDs I already own!!

Sorted out the classical and compilation CDs – another couple of hours – while listening to some baroque lute music and some excellent 20th Century Norwegian string quartets...

Spent the afternoon doing nothing, just listening to music while surfing the net, while Anne listened to Aberdeen v Hearts on the radio (3-1 to Hearts away from home)...

Then to Anne’s mum’s for the fortnightly family tea...

Back home, I compiled a Joni Mitchell disc for Meg the Black Cat’s ex-mum Julia and watched two episodes of the new series of “Arrested Development”...

A relaxing day...

Highlight of the Day : All my CDs are now back in order

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Order restored...

Playlist
Spock’s Beard – Day for Night
Spock’s Beard – V
Spock’s Beard – Snow
Spock’s Beard – Feel Euphoria
Roxy Music – The Thrill of it All Box Set
Iron Maiden – Edward the Great
Pink Floyd – Echoes
Jacques Loussier Trio – Vivaldi
Crimson Jazz Trio – King Crimson Songbook Vol 1
Michael Bruce – Halo of Ice
Hawkwind – Doremi Fasol Latido

Up at 5:58 today and just sat for an hour listening to some Spock’s Beard...

Then I made some coffee, opened the cat flap for Meg the Black Cat, and went to the computer...

I added some new links and deleted some old ones which don’t get updated as much as I like – nothing worse than going back day after day to the same old page – and I changed the colour of the blog to white from dark blue (as you can see I subsequently amended it to black)...

Anne rose when the postie arrived, delivering my recently purchased 4DVD set of “The Two Towers” – once “Return of the King” arrives, I’ll watch all three “Lord of the Rings” films in one long session – I’ve had the first film, "The Fellowship of the Ring" for a couple of years now..

Last Friday I bought a new pair of Chelsea boots (I like Chelsea boots) which I thought were exactly the same type as some boots of which I’ve had two pairs in the past...

Accordingly, I didn’t try them on – I hate trying things on...

It wasn’t until around Sunday night that I got round to trying to wear them – but I found I couldn’t get my feet into them (unless I wasn’t wearing any socks, which is not really practical). Also, the “legs” of the boots were longer than those I’d had before and I imagine they would cut into my shins as I walked...

So today, we drove to the shop on the other side of town, and they very kindly took the boots back...

I couldn’t find anything else I wanted – despite trying on around six different pairs of shoes – but we did get a pair of trendy boot-like slippers for Anne – if slippers can ever be termed trendy that is...

In the HMV sale, which has strictly underwhelmed me, we bought two £2.99 DVDs, “Dodgeball” and “Being John Malkovitch” – once watched, we’ll hand them in to the Oxfam shop or Lothian Cat Rescue...

To the centre of town and lunch today at Patisserie Florentin – just like the last time we were there, we managed to spill coffee all over the place...



Back home, after a quick stroll into Stockbridge, past this impressive building which is now a Pizza Express, a visit to the Oxfam Music Shop (no buys today) and the purchase of some lovely bread, Anne worked in the garden and painted around the front door (with Meg the Black Cat adding paw prints and hair to the proceedings) while I finally sorted out all the CDs which have been out of any kind of order since we redecorated the back room in June...

Three hours of buggering about with CDs – it looks exactly the same now to the untrained eye – but order has been restored (although the classical discs and compilatons are still mixed up – a job for another day)...

An unlikely inclusion in the soundtrack to this activity was Iron Maiden’s greatest hits set, “Edward the Great”. I’ve had this for around three years without ever really giving it a listen. I can now advise that it rocks...

My good mood seemed to have stretched on from yesterday – even rebutting the fact that Queen of the South lost again...

In the evening we watched taped episodes of “CSI :Miami” and “Law and Order” followed by “Match of the Day”...

Before finally retiring, I listened to original Alice Cooper Group guitarist Michael Bruce’s album “Halo of Ice”. Recorded live in Iceland in 2001 and consisting entirely of AC classics, it’s an album that any Cooper aficionado should seek out...

Highlight of the Day : My CDs are back in order

Friday, September 22, 2006

All I do now, is dick around...

Playlist
Rheostatics – Best of the Rheostatics
Brian Eno – Vocal Box Set
Roxy Music – The Thrill of It All Box Set

Today I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders with no gigs on the horizon and no need to rehearse or listen to my songs...

A few glasses of wine and then a leisurely Indian Takeaway was accompanied by “Coronation St” which was ok, even though I've kind of lost track of the plots these days as I've missed so many recent episodes....

Later, “The Simpsons” – another very funny edition - hamster in space, Mr Burns taking over the Church, Lisa going Bhuddist...

And, late on, Sparks on the, otherwise excruciating, Jonathon Ross Show, doing a medley of their new single, “Dick Around”, and their most famous hit, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”...

And then to bed...

Highlight of the Day : Sparks, dicking around on Jonathon Ross

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The knife beckons...

Playlist
Rheostatics/Marin Tielli/Violet Archers - Jukebox Shuffleplay again..
Frost - Milliontown

Well that's it over for a while now, probably till sometime in 2007 if ever again at all...

No more CBQ live...

Thanks to everyone and anyone who came along to either, or indeed both, to the Fringe gigs last month and the September gigs this week...

On balance I have to conclude that the Beanscene is just not conducive to live music - they are coffee shops and, in coffee shops, people drink coffee and chat and, the louder the music is, the louder they chat, so it all seems rather pointless playing there...

So now I look forward to having my shoulder sliced open and bits of bone scraped away to try and avert any further impingement on my arm - it's now at the stage where it's agony to lift it any higher than around 45 degrees to my side, or to reach out to do anything - hence guitar playing is not the best thing to do...

I am advised the op will be at Murrayfield Hospital in "October or November" - ah, how I love the decisive pinpoint accuracy of the NHS...

But I will record these last 15 songs at some point and the new album will be released in 2007...

Highlight of the Day : Last ever CBQ gig...

P.S. Re the place of music in one's life, an interesting response from Robert Fripp to a friend whose son is about to head for LA with his band (from Robert's diary 15/9)...

Friend:
My son is moving to LA next month to play music. I saw his band perform last evening. They are ready, at least he and are in agreement on this. Is there anything you suggest to help these young men?

Robert Fripp:
If they succeed, they’ll get fucked. If they fail, they’ll get fucked. That’s a given. The key is: this is a learning experience. I advise young men to have music as a hobby. Music is a wonderful hobby. It is an awful way to earn a living, but possible for a young single man for a period of time, until he has children. Then, his wife will say: your children need food, an education, a home. And then, he will lie for money & play music that is dishonest for him, or find a different job.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Demise...

Playlist
Alfred Hill - String Quartets
Rheostatics/Martin Tielli/Violet Archers - On Jukebox Shuffleplay
Frost - Milliontown
Richie Havens - Best of 1967-69

A rest day today...

A new disc from e-bay - Frost's "Milliontown" - an hour of veritable prog-rock...

Back on e-bay, I bought two 4 Disc sets of Lord of the Rings (pts 2 and 3 - I already have pt 1). What a fool...

A boring match on the telly - Rangers v Dunfermline, while Hearts and Hibs thrash Alloa and Gretna respectively - plenty of goals but no Old Firm - so no TV...

Created the last flier for the last gig...

Of course, just as I'm printing them the ink cartridge runs out...

Och aye...

Bad News - Fave Canadian Band, Rheostatics are to play their last ever gig next March in Toronto - an e-mail from member Dave Bidini confirms the band's demise...

Damn..

Highlight of the Day : New prog

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Failing to connect...

Playlist
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin
Cloudland Blue Quartet – The Acoustic Ersatzreal
Various – Power Shovel Audio

After last night’s enjoyable gig, which seemed to have restored my faith in performing live, tonight it was off to St Andrews for another Beanscene...

53 miles there and 53 miles back...

What an idiot I was to accept this one....

St Andrews is a busy town of an evening, there’s no getting away from that fact – and there were ample numbers of attendees. Except they weren’t really “attendees” – they were there by coincidence....

There was a demoralisingly high number of people in the café (virtually all of them) who couldn’t have cared quite frankly if The Beatles had reformed for one last gig on a cold Tuesday night in the back of beyond and were standing there playing right in front of them (even though it would have been a miracle, given the less than vibrant current state of messrs Lennon and Harrison)...

But it was up to me to win them over...

Despite the fact that I drew rousing applause at the end of the gig, I never really connected with anyone during it apart from what looked to be a three or four year old girl who danced in front of me quite charmingly for the entire set...

The free food was good. The free coffee was good...

But driving for over two hours all told there and back to play for 30 minutes to people who weren't there for music but to drink coffee and chat (and they couldn't be blamed for that), was not good....

It left me thinking “what's the point?”...

Of course the point was , it was up to me to win them over...

To make matters worse Anne quite rightly gave me her “I told you so” routine when I got back as, as Executive Producer, she’d predicted it would be a waste of time to drive all the way to St Andrews to play for 30 minutes in a coffee shop and had said I ought to have turned down this gig when I was offered it...

She is so right it's infuriating...

And so to Thursday night at Beanscene Nicolson St, Edinburgh, my last gig for a while – pending my shoulder op and recording the new album...

One positive of the day was listening to the latest free CD from "The Wire" on the drive up - a compilation featuring the future of Tokyo's underground scene on the Power Shovel Audio label - some top notch electronica sounds - studio bound, perhaps like I ought to be...

Lowlight of the Day : A poor performance from CBQ - failing to connect...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Crazy wisdom...

Playlist
Various – Now That’s What I Call Prog Rock (3CD-R)
Beethoven – String Quartet Opus 135

7:20 and to the computer..

Printed out the Italian holiday to give to my mum today as she has no computer...

Also printed the revamped fliers for tonight...

Out at 8:30, took Anne to Lothian Cat Rescue and then went to see my mum. We had a good time and...

I gave her a CD of tonight’s proposed set as she won’t be able to come along....

I gave her the framed photo of the pic which I put on the blog a few weeks ago...

I told her all about the Italian holiday... I went out and got a few bits of shopping for her....

I tried, to no avail, to fix her exercise bike....

She gave me bad news re an old friend of my dad’s, who's been diagnosed with untreatable and inoperable cancer and has been given around a year to live...

Left Loanhead around 11:40 and got back to the cat rescue around midday, to pick up Anne and take her to lunch at a place called “The Retreat”. Excellent fayre and good value too - and a large family of peacocks in the garden...



We came home via Homebase so Anne could buy some earth for her pots in the back garden...

I restarined myself from buying a large mirrored ball...



Back home, I rehearsed the set for tonight, had some coffee then Anne went out on a few errands. When she came back we watched “Coronation St” from last night and the 2nd part of the “Spooks” story – brilliant!!

Then I was drawn to running through the set again and did some slight lyric rewrites and additions and tried a couple of songs in different keys or faster rather than slower – to which Anne gave her opinion as Executive Producer...

And so a few things were changed at the last moment..

Out to the Beanscene for 7:30 and soundchecked by 8. Old chum, comedian and drummer Mr Jim Park arrived out of the blue followed shortly by old friend and singer Mr Malcolm Logan, who I’ve not seen properly for a good few years...

It was an enjoyable performance for me and the positive response encouraged me to play more gigs...

After I’d packed up, I went for a drink with Malcolm and discovered that his four year old son has Spina Bifida (which shows how long it is since we spoke at any length). But the wee guy sounds like a bit of a hero and I’m sure he’ll do ok in the long run, with the support of Malcolm and his partner Angela...

We agreed to meet up again for lunch in a couple of weeks...

Home just after eleven and caught the highlights of the weekend's Scottish Premier League football on Scotsport, including Hearts scraping a win against Motherwell 1-0 away from home...

Another good day...

Highlight of the Day : Meeting up again with Malcolm and Jim Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Prog'n'spooks...

Playlist
Various – Shuffleplay
National Health – Of Queues and Cures
Various – Now That’s What I Call Prog Rock (3CD-R)
Vivaldi – Concert for the Prince of Poland

6:30 rise and to the computer to update the diary for yesterday and then to add recent photos to the Pictures of the Day blog...

Accompanying this was a superb shuffleplay session on the Jukebox....

I worked on flyers for this week’s gigs rather than the folding booklets I did for the Fringe ones – so a bit of compacting required...

As ever, only after I’d printed them did I notice an error...

So I redid them...

My Russion CD supplier has finally admitted the Adrian Belew and Tony Levin CDs I'm waiting on have never been sent and are out of stock - so we've agreed he'll send me the new Muse CD and the latest disc by the Brad Mehldau Trio...

Played the set again. Not as good as yesterday but still ok..

In the afternoon, inspired by the botch job the compilers of “The Best Prog Rock Album In The World...Ever!” did, I created my own 3 Disc set, “Now That’sWhat I Call Prog Rock” and, in keeping with the genre, my 3 CDs contain just 14 tracks...

Using the ratings for the top 100 prog albums at the Prog Archives website, I firstly removed anything before 1969 and after 1978, then anything I didn’t have, then included only the highest ranking album by each artist/group...

This left me with the following:-



Genesis – Selling England by the pound
Yes – Close to the Edge
Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King
Van Dr Graaf Generator – Pawn Hearts
Rush – Hemispheres
Gentle Giant – In a Glass House
Emerson Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery
The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Birds of Fire
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Focus – Hamburger Concerto
Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn
Premiata Forneria Marconi – Per Un Amico

..more than enough to fill three discs...

Disc One
Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon (Side 1) (19:11)
Yes - Close to the Edge (18:09)
Supertramp - Rudy (7:09)
Emerson Lake & Palmer - Karn Evil 9 (29:38)
Disc Two
Genesis - The Cinema Show (11:02)
Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn (Pt 1) (19:05)
Van Der Graaf Generator - A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers (22:59)
Focus - Hamburger Concerto (20:20)
Disc Three
Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick (Side 1) (22:16)
The Mahavishnu Orchestra - One Word (9:52)
Gentle Giant - Way of Life (7:29)
Rush - Hemispheres (17:59)
Premiata Forneria Marconi - Il Banchetto (8:33)
King Crimson - The Court of the Crimson King (9:22)

Anne’s mum, who was most interested in our holiday snaps, came round for tea, for which Anne had made a quite excellent lasagne...



Later on, highlight of the day was the return of “Spooks” – for me the best UK programme on the telly, better even than “Dr Who”...

We recorded the second part from BBC3 (while watching “Match of the Day 2”) to watch tomorrow during th day at some point as, when it’s shown at night on BBC1, I’ll be playing at the Haymarket Beanscene to probably a couple of people with big cups of coffee enjoying a nice cake each...

Maybe it’ll be you...

Probably not though...

Highlight of the Day : The return of “Spooks”

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Another Saturday night...

Playlist
James Jamieson 13 Songs
Cloudland Blue Quartet – The Acoustic Ersatzreal
The Flower Kings – Paradox Hotel
Various – Just some tracks from a selection of CDs
OSI – Free
The Flower Kings – Unfold the Future

OK so here’s how I end up buying a CD on e-bay...

I get an e-mail saying I’ve been outbid on a CD
I go to e bay and check the other bidder
I look at the last thing they bought
It was a CD for $0.01
I go and look at what that seller has on offer
I see there is a CD involving Adrian Belew for $0.55
I search the net for a review of this CD
I find the artist’s website and see that most of his CDs involve Mr Belew and that various reviews are singing his praises
Not put off by the fact he’s an overtly Christian artist, I resolve to buy the CD
Postage is $6.55, bringing the total price to around £4
Do more searching on e-bay and buy another CD by same artist – this time, a mere $4.99 - around £2.75
Sit back and wait for the CDs to arrive from the USA

And that is how easy it is to get cash out of Mr CBQ for something he’s never even heard before...

Breakfast at home today and then a brief trip into town for me to buy, write and post a card for brother-in-law Richard (Tricky Dicky) whose birthday it will be on Monday...

I also buy a photo frame for Anne for a picture I took a few weeks back of her and her sister Jane and brother Keith. We have a duplicate of this prepared for her mum and one of me and my two sisters and my mum to give to my mum next time we visit...

Around midday I surf the net, aided by the presence of a sleeping Meg the Black Cat....



...then I run through my set for this week’s gigs – much better this time and I actually enjoyed it...

Then I just played some tracks from CDs for an hour or so. In the meantime Jane had phoned Anne and the two of them went off to a garden centre with Jane’s kids Ollie and Kitty...

I wander aimlessly about the house, watching a couple of comedy shows on ABC1 and flicked over to Sky Sports News a couple of times to see how Queen of the South were doing...

They lost 2-1 away at Dundee. One point from six games. It’s actually worse than last year....

In the evening a nice Indian meal from the place down the road, just a main course and boiled rice each – we always order far too much from these places...

Two episodes of CSI on video, a read at the Nick Hornby book whilst listening to OSI’s “Free”, Match of the Day and bed, listening to an old Flower Kings disc...

Another Saturday Night....

And I forgot to rebid for the CD I was outbid on...

Highlight of the Day : Just playing some tracks for an hour or so...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Music is a time machine...

Playlist
The Flower Kings – Paradox Hotel
Cloudland Blue Quartet – The Acoustic Ersatzreal
Various – Super 70’s Rock
Various – The Best Prog Rock Album in the world...Ever!
Impossible Songs - Border Crossing

Bright and sunny today....

Up early as ever and took the car to the garage re a possible problem – turns out though that it’s not a problem, just a feature of diesel engines so I’ll need to get used to it...

Found myself at ASDA and as you’d expect, trawled through the CDs, buying two 3CD sets, “The Best Prog Rock Album In The World...Ever” and “Super 70’s Rock”...





Of the 95 tracks included over the 6 discs, I already have 62 but the £14 I paid in total is probably worth it for the remaining 33 songs...

Back home, I mucked about on e-bay and the net in general, buying the new CD by Frost, a track off of which was on the freebie disc I got with the Classic CD mag I took with me to Italy (and left there)...

Later, I ran through the set again for next week and this time it was good, so I am uplifted by that. Self doubt and disillusion were setting in prior to this...

To be honest though, I really can’t be bothered playing live much more – it’s impossible for people to gain any decent impression of what my CDs sound like by listening to me singing whilst accompanying myself not very well on an acoustic guitar (feel free to chip in here if you want to cheer me up)...

I’m due an operation next month which will probably curtail any guitaring for a while and so have nothing further lined up beyond next Thursday...

Towards the end of the year I’ll record these fifteen new songs - I think I prefer to record my music and sell it over the net and perhaps play once or twice a year but with the full band...

We’ll see how it goes – I’ll probably be right up for solo performing again by the end of next week when I’ve done another three gigs...

I’d thought we might go to the cinema this afternoon as Anne was bored while I was keeping myself occupied with the computer and the guitar and the singing and all...

But we watched “The Shipping News”, a DVD we bought just over a year ago but had never got round to viewing as this seemed a better idea. What a great “little” film. Enjoyed it. Recommended...



Made me want to go and live in Newfoundland!

I spent some considerable time late in the day finishing off the diary for the Italian holiday whlst listening to the Prog Rock CD...

And so full details of the holiday are now set out below...

"The Simpsons" was excellent tonight - the one where Homer is hypnotised and relives a traumatic event from his childhood....

Then a new show, "Legit" later on...

Getting back to normal...

Highlight of the Day : Super 70’s Rock (Music is indeed a time machine!!)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Downpour...

Playlist
Giuliani – Complete Guitar Concertos
Crimson Jazz Trio – King Crimson Songbook Vol. 1
OSI – Free
The Tangent – A Place In The Queue
The Flower Kings – Paradox Hotel

Rained almost continuously all day today – poured....

So, good to be back in Scotland...

Spent the majority of the day at the computer updating the blog for the first few days of the Italian trip whilst listening to four of the six CDs I was waiting on from Russia – two still missing in action...

Mid afternoon had a dreadful run through the proposed set for next weeks gigs – hopefully that’s that out of the system and I’ll improve!!

In the evening we went with Anne’s mum to Murrayfield to watch Hearts’ latest European game – this time against Sparta Prague. Once again they were outdone by a better side and came a way 2-0 down with a huge task in a fortnight in the Czech Republic...

Back home, watched the first episode of the new series of “Extras” on video before retiring...

Not the best of days but still ok in the big scheme of things...

Highlight of the Day : Accessing the computer again

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to earth...

Playlist
Giuliani – Complete guitar Concertos
Various – Shine On
Various - Shuffleplay
The Crimson Jazz Trio – King Crimson Songbook Vol 1
Frank Black – Fast Man Raider Man
OSI - Free

Up early and waiting for the owner of the villa to turn up at the agreed time of 8:30 to pick up the keys and return our deposit...

He finally arrived just before 9, throwing off our timing a little but still leaving us plenty leeway...

We said goodbye to Veleso as we drove down the mountain for the last time and then on into Como, where we filled the tank and I grabbed a couple of croissants for our breakfast, which we ate as we drove...

A frankly hellish journey to Bergamo airport followed – I’ve never seen so many slow moving, huge lorries on what would have been just about classed as “A” roads in the UK....

We arrived at the Hertz drop off point around 11:40 and were taken by the bumpiest minibus in Italy to the terminal building, where check-in had already been open for 30 minutes or so...

We checked in the cases and then went to security. I had a half-drunk bottle of Diet Coke in my bag. I was asked to drink from it to prove it wasn’t actually some kind of liquid explosive. Then, once I’d proved this, they put it in the bin anyway...

In the usual stramash for seats, we managed to get ones at the wing emergency doors – with extra leg room – but extra responsibility in an emergency – but I figure if the plane’s going down we’ll be killed anyway...

On the flight I started reading Anne’s Nick Hornby book and managed 150 of the 250 pages by the time we touched down at Prestwick – here’re some pics of us coming in to land...






Just as we entered the arrivals hall, the fire alarm went off, so we had to stand for 30 minutes back out on the tarmac before going through the hall again...

Finally, we were out and being taken in a considerably more comfortable minibus to the car park...

A 90 minute non-stop drive back Crispycat Towers went without a hitch apart from a little congestion in Glasgow and we were home just after 5pm...

I transferred the 480 pics and 3 films from the memory card to the computer and we looked through them all...

Four of the six CDs I was expecting from Russia had arrived in our absence – the enterprising Postie had secreted them in the cat flap....

After a snack, we listened to the Crimson Jazz Trio as we drove out to Julia’s in Armadale to pick up Meg the Black Cat – it seems I’d spent almost all day driving...

Meg was fine and Julia was on good form, offering us some ribs in her delicious home made plum chilli sauce...

I had a couple of Cokes while the ladies ploughed through their usual bottle of wine..

We got back home with Meg around 11:30...

Holiday over...

Good one...

Highlight of the Day : The Return of Meg the Black Cat...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Damage limitation...

Playlist
Laura Pausini – Escucha
Laura Pausini – E Ritorno da Te
Laura Pausini – From the Inside
Giuliani – Complete Guitar Concertos

Having been awake in the middle of the night with a roaring headache (too much wine perchance?), I didn’t waken this morning till 10am...

Drove to Zelbio as usual for bread re breakfast after which, we spent some time just relaxing in the garden, no sign of the friendly wee cat though...

Just before midday, we drove down the mountain to Nesso which lies at the end of the road up to Veleso and is right on the lakeside...



Having diced with death all week and having come through unscathed, I stalled the car whilst parking in Nesso by the Church and it rolled back into a harled wall, leaving a wee bit of superficial damage on the back bumper – hopefully not enough for us to have to cough up the £100 odd excess...

We walked down to the lake and took some more pics before heading back to the car and driving South along to Torno, where our boat had docked a couple of times on Friday...

It took a while for us to work out how to get down to the village from the road but it was worth it in the end...

This was my favourite place we visited on the holiday, with its beautiful little harbour setting...



We sat for a couple of hours in a little bar just relaxing, drinking and lunching – pizza for me, large mixed salad for Anne – superb...



We were back home around 4 pm and Anne sat on the balcony reading while I snoozed – then Anne packed (she doesn’t like me to interfere in this process even though I am more than willing to help) while I snoozed – then we sat and listened to the jukebox while Anne continued to read...

Around 7:30 we set of for dinner somewhere – our last night in Veleso...

The wee cat was sitting at our front door as we drove past on our way over to Zelbio – she must have heard us leaving the house...

The pizzeria we were heading for was closed on a Tuesday – so was the restaurant further up the hill and so we returned to the house, ditched the car and walked up to the Albergo Bella Vista, where we’d dined last Thursday night...

Milanese Cutlets each with rosemary potatoes and salad accompanied by white wine and sparkling mineral water and followed by Tiramisu and ice cream...

Tasty...

As we walked home we saw several bats flying around and, miraculously, I managed to get a picture of one of them as it flew overhead...

This isn't the pic - this is our last sunset from the balcony...



And so that’s it all over bar tomorrow’s day of travel...

A good relaxing holiday but the driving was a wee bit stressful at times...

Highlight of the Day : Sitting by the water at Torno Harbour – lovely...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Train to Milano...

Playlist
Various Composers – Adagio Collection
Giuliani – Complete Guitar Concertos
Laura Pausini – Escucha

Rather aptly for today, we left the house for Milan at 9:11 right after breakfast, for which I’d initially gone to the Veleso shop at 8:20 but it didn’t open till 9 and so I’d had to drive over to Zelbio...

We were down the mountain and in Como by 9:50, where we parked up for the whole day near the funicular for just day 4 Euros and, at the train station we bought two returns to Milan for just 7 Euros each...

I fell asleep on the train...

At 11:15 we arrived in Milan and walked down to Cathedral Square from the station. The front of the Cathedral is currently under some very tasteful wraps...

We went inside (after I’d had to remove my hat – as if any supreme being would be worried about an overweight Scotsman’s headgear)...

Boxes were everywhere asking for cash but surely the Roman Catholic Church has plenty of its own – I know, I’ve been to the Vatican...

One man was praying while clutching a very large Ferrari carrier bag stuffed with Ferrari stuff...
Still, it must be nice to go to a place like this and think there’s something special or magical about it. To me? Nice building, nice paintings, nice statues, nice windows etc etc but ludicrous to believe in a God...

That part of the outside which remains uncovered (most of the building apart from the lower part of the façade) is stunning – it’s recently been renovated and the stonework is all white in the bright sun...



We then went into the Victor Emmanuel mall – just how does Louis Vouton get away with selling the same old design year in year out??

There were people spinning round on a mosaic Bull’s balls for luck – traditions eh?

Out the other side of the mall we found La Scala opera house - tonight it’s Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus”....

There’s a nice statue of Leonardo da Vinci opposite the theatre...

We started to look for somewhere to lunch and found ourselves in Via Napoli, which has a big FNAC book/cd/electrical type store...

We chose the Belvedere Pizzeria – a lovely little restaurant frequented in the main by Italian office workers on their lunch hours...

We had two tasty pizzas accompanied by white wine and sparkling water...

After 90 minutes we were back out and over to FNAC where I had a good browse despite Anne’s obvious boredom...

I bought a 2CD set of Mauro Giuliani’s Complete Guitar Concertos – he was Europe’s most famous guitarist around the late 1700’s/early 1800’s don't you know...

And Laura Pausini’s last album - the Spanish version though – makes no odds to me, as I know neither that, nor Italian, well enough to know what on earth she’s singing about...

She’s a huge star in Europe and South America and amongst the Spanish speaking population in the USA but virtually unheard of in the UK...

We walked back to the Cathedral and, rather impressively, chose to walk up to its roof rather than take the lift – around 250 steps!!



We were knackered...but the views were spectacular as was the detail of all the stone figures populating the roof of this huge Church...



After taking numerous pics we made our way back down the stairs and had a well deserved soft drink each, which we consumed whilst walking back in the direction of the station...

We walked up to the Sforzesco Castle...



...and through its courtyards but Anne wasn’t up for visiting any more museums and stuff so we came out the other side and walked back to the station where we were just in time for the next train to Como...

On the train, I viewed all the photos so far (450 plus three short films) and before I knew it we were back in Como, picking up the car and driving to a supermarket for more provisons – pasta, sauce, tomatoes, mozzarella and white wine...

We made the journey home in just under 40 minutes – our position up the mountain really meant that to get to either Como one way or Bellagio the other, it was like driving to Glasgow from Edinburgh – but on a much more dangerous road than the M8 of course - fewer miles, more thrills...

We enjoyed Mr Giuliani’s compositions as we drove and, back home Anne read while I did the dishes and then Anne prepared dinner while I wrote up the diary - and we listened to Laura Pausini..

After dinner, we were going to watch “Finding Nemo” but there was no DVD in the box so, instead, we ended up watching a film called “The Opportunists” starring Christopher Walken – it took us a while to work out how to watch it in English rather than Italian...

An enjoyable wee film which didn’t really go anywhere but passed the time..

A good but tiring day....

Highlight of the Day : A trip to Milan

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Rest" day...

Playlist
Various – Shuffleplay
Various Composers – Adagio Box Set

Decided this morning to switch to Shuffleplay on the jukebox and so “Radio Dave” is back on air – it puts the music into different contexts and removes expectation from the listening experience...

In the first hour I heard tracks by Gordian Knot, Bryan Adams, Pink Floyd, String Cheese Incident, Strawbs, Craig Armstrong, Miles Davis, ELP, The Beatles, Herman Van Veen and The Bad Plus...

Of those, I’m pretty sure I’d never heard the Bryan Adams, String Cheese Incident or Strawbs tracks before...

Of course, no doubt at some point I’ll revert to listening to selected albums again...

I woke at 3am today as sleep eluded me again – I have a recurrence too of the virus which was dogging me towards the end of last month and, as ever, the ankle is giving me gyp...

But I’m on holiday so not to worry – and today has been officially dubbed a “rest day” and we will not be driving down the mountain...

At 3 I switched on the jukebox and promptly fell asleep, awaking again just after 6 at which point I got up and flicked through the rubbish cable channels on the TV before falling asleep again on the sofa...

Woke at an amazing 9:45...

Breakfast was rubbish today as the extra rolls we’d bought yesterday had hardened and were almost inedible...

After breakfast we went out into the garden and sat in the garden, Anne in the sun reading, me in the shade writing notes for this...

A wee cat came to join us...



At midday we listened to the bells of the various churches around the valleys and mountains ringing out their tunes...

In the afternoon, we drove over to the Pian del Tivano, where we’d been last night for the slap up meal and where, today, they were holding the “Festival of the Mountains”..

Some nice animals were in attendance including horses, cows, goats and donkeys but it was all a wee bit strange for us. Anne reckoned next time some spoiled city kid moans of being bored cos there’s nothing to do, they should be made to attend “Festival of the Mountains” and they’d never moan again...



We went back home and I relaxed indoors with all windows wide – it was roasting by now – while Anne sat out on the balcony reading – she did a lot of reading on this holiday...



Whilst we relaxed, motorbikes roared up and down the mountain roads and the noise of their engines resounded rather annoyingly across the landscape...

Before cooking our evening meal, we went back to the garden, as the wee cat had returned...

In the evening we drove in the dark down the mountain and north up the lake shore to Bellagio for a concert by the No.Ve String Quartet, featuring four players from the nearby Lecco Chamber Orchestra...

Arriving early and getting a parking spot right by the church, we walked down to the town and had a coffee in the Florence Bar – the best latte machiato I tasted during our stay...

We went back to the church around 9 and it was almost full already. The quartet excelled themselves, playing for just over an hour and featuring pieces by the Italian composers Puccini, Bazzini and Donizetti...



At 10:30 we drove home and finished off the day with a couple of glasses of wine...

Highlight of the Day : Excellent String Quartet performance

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Round trip...

Playlist
Various Composers – Adagio Box Set
Various – Shine On
Various - Shuffleplay

Rose early again and, this morning, under the still-up moon, I noticed a small fire in the woods above the house. The smoke gave off a wonderful aroma...

At 8, I drove over to Zelbio to the second of the two shops there and bought more provisions, then drove on up the road to see what was there – I came across a high meadow with more restaurants and news of some kind of festival to take place there tomorrow...

After breakfast we set off for Switzerland....

Down the mountain, then to Como, filled up the tank, found the motorway and, around 11am we crossed the border, only to be ripped off by the Swiss Border Authorities for a badge to allow us to travel on their motorways until the end of January 2007 – it cost 30 Euros (£20) – we were on their motorway for 20 minutes. Great!

We parked in Lugano and walked to the lake and along its shore. Hot and sunny again...



We made our way into the old town. It had a very affluent feel to it in comparison to Italy...

We took some Swiss Francs from an ATM and had lunch in the restaurant of a big department store where mountains of freshly prepared food and fruit were served up buffet style to the Swiss and tourists alike. I imagined what this would be like in the UK and shuddered at the thought of badly heated food sitting for hours under hot lamps...

We picked up the car and headed north to a funicular we’d read about but, at £10 per person it was a bit steep (ha ha!) and so we drove on and up the lake, stopping off at a tiny village called Gandria, whose lakeside setting promised much but delivered less due to most of the lakeside land being privately owned with no access...



We continued up the lake and eventually crossed back into Italy, parking up at Porlezza where we bought some fruit at the local market and sat lakeside enjoying some freshly squeezed orange juice...



We decided to keep going rather than head back down through Switzerland and soon we were back on the shores of Lake Como, but a ferry crossing away from our peninsula...

After a coffee and watching a procession of various strange folklore groups parading past as we sat outside a bar in Mennagio, just across the lake from Bellagio, we drove a further few kilometres down the shore to Cadenabbia and took the car ferry back over to Bellagio...



...before driving south again to Nesso and up the mountain road to Veleso...

In the evening we went back up into the meadow where I’d been this morning and to a restaurant there where we went the whole hog and had anti pasti (cold meats and pickled vegetables with bread), prima (mushroom risotto and gnocchi) and secundi (venison and polenta with frites and salad) – drink was provided by Mr Weissbier and Mrs White Wine...

A big mistake really as Anne was fairly full after the starter and neither of us could manage any of the polenta...

Our one and only real blowout of the trip though...

Highlight of the Day : Visiting Switzerland

Friday, September 08, 2006

Forecast wrong...

Playlist
Yes – Close to the Edge
Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans
Yes - Relayer
Yes – Going for the One
Yes - Tormato
Yes - Drama
Yes - 90125
Yes – Big Generator
Various – Shine On
Various Composers – Adagio Box Set
Various – Quiet Playlist
Various - Shuffleplay

Anne had been worrying about the forecasts we’d seen on the Italian Cable Weather Channel here – and on the net before we’d left – both had predicted rain and thunder for the area around Milan and up into the mountains – exactly where we were - and yesterday hadn’t been “sunny” but “hot and hazy”...

With the noise of the thunder storm and the unfamiliar bed, I didn’t get much sleep and rose at 5:30, made myself a pot of coffee and listened to some Yes-music whilst watching the moon go down and the sun come up...

The storm had cleared the air and today it was hot and sunny with clear blue skies - the forecasting was completely wrong....

Anne woke around 8 and I walked to the shop but it was still closed, so I went back and picked up the car and drove to the next village for some bread, over on the other side of the high valley our house overlooked....

As I parked the car, I could see our house, and Anne on the balcony...

Breakfast was accompanied by more classics from the adagio box and then we set off down the mountain, shaving 4 minutes off the time today. We drove to Como and were parked and out on the streets by 10:15...

The town is a lot bigger than we remembered from our short visit here for a couple of very rainy days back in the 80’s....

After wandering past the Cathedral and Theatre, we ended up at another square overlooked by a church and took a seat and a coffee to relax for a few moments before walking back down to the lake..



We took an hour long boat trip around various small villages on the lakeside but didn’t take the opportunity to alight anywhere. It was enough for us that the weather was hot, the scenery was beautiful, the boat trip was relaxing - a great time...



Back on land, we walked through the old town again and found a little pizza-slice takeaway place for lunch then a much needed tub each of tasty ice-cream – 30.5 degrees...



We collected the car and drove to the foot of the funicular which would take us to the top of the hill which overlooked the town and the lake. We bought our tickets, boarded the train and waited for 15 minutes in the sweltering heat for it to get underway...

The views from the top were a little disappointing, with most of the town concealed by trees – I did however partake of a very fine home made beer whilst up there...

By 5:30 we were back at the car and drove along the lakeside and up the mountain to the villa again, via the next village, Zelbio, where we picked up some parmesan cheese and from where we took some longer range pics of the house...

As the sun was setting, this little cloud came over the top of the mountain to our left...



Tonight, tagliatelle at home with a tomato and onion based sauce, cooked by Anne and tasting delicious...

After, Anne read while I listened to the jukebox on shuffleplay..

Glancing out the window I noticed a flash in the sky – we went outside and witnessed a lightning storm – no thunder or rain, just the sky being lit up from behind the clouds – it was like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"...

We finished off the night watching an Eddie Izzard DVD, one of four or five in the house. Very funny it was too, especially the "Darth Vader in the Death Star Canteen" routine...

At midnight, the lightning storm was still going strong...

Highlight of the Day : a trip around the lake

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hot but hazy...

Playlist
Laura Pausini - E Ritorna da Te
Yes – The Yes Album
Yes - Fragile
Yes – Close to the Edge
Various – Shine On
Various Composers – Adagio Box Set

Not a great sleep – but I never do sleep well on holiday – can’t get used to strange beds...

Despite this, a rarity in that Anne was up before me – sitting in the kitchen reading..

It’s hot but hazy today...



The villa is great but the views from the windows are even better – we couldn’t have hoped for anything more...



We walked to the local (only) shop to buy the essentials then, after breakfast of coffee, juice and rolls, we drove down the mountainside (17 minutes today) and further up the coast to the town of Bellagio...

We parked the car on the outskirts and walked into the town, which is compact and touristy with plush hotels and lakeside cafes and restaurants...



We walked to the head of the peninsula we’re living on, which divides Lake Como in two and sat there just enjoying the scenery and the relaxing atmosphere before heading back to the town...

We explored the backstreets and main square, noting a string quartet recital was to take place in the church this coming Sunday....

I bought a 5CD box set of classical music – all adagio pieces – to widen the listening choice in the car...

We lunched at a little pizzeria with a wood-fired oven – the pizzas were large and accompanied by some local tasty white wine and sparkling mineral water..

Walking back to the shore, we contemplated a boat trip but decided to keep it for another day. Back at the car we discovered we were four minutes in to the next chargeable hour and so we just went and walked along the lakeside and back to the town and bought some Diet Coke and Sprite to drink back “home”..

We listened to one of the adagio discs on the way back home – but it’s not relaxing driving along these lakeside and mountain roads – we were happy that we’d been provided with such a small car, making the chances of a collision slightly more remote...

At 6, we took a walk through Veleso....



...to try and find the Trattoria which our landlords had recommended but to no avail and we ended up at the only hotel, the Albergo Bella Vista drinking on the terrace and drinking in the views of the mountains surrounding the lake and the sunset...

We decided to have dinner here, Spaghetti Bolognese for me and a Milan Cutlet for Anne – with a lovely big salad on the side...

We returned to the villa around 9 and Anne read her book while I snoozed listening to more of the aggios box set...

We retired at midnight – only to be woken at 2:30 by a ferocious thunder storm raging over the house and surrounding area...

Highlight of the Day : The view from the balcony

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

To Lombardy...

Playlist
The Tubes – Piece by Piece
King Crimson – ProjeKct One : Jazz Café
Pink Floyd – Meddle
Pink Floyd – The Wall
Dream Theater – Octavarium
The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute
Various – Shine On
Art Blakey – Like Someone in Love
Jonatha Brooke – Back in the Circus

Up at 6 and on to the computer to transfer my latest CDs on to the Jukebox...

Sent out some e-mails to people re the upcoming gigs – I’m not expecting big audiences as the festival’s over and the students won’t be back till October – at which point I’ll probably be out of action due to upcoming shoulder surgery..

Off to Italy today and I made my first faux pas by lifting up one of the cases to weigh it, not realising it wasn’t shut – so some repacking to be done...

Then I couldn’t find the car keys – they finally turned up, after around 20 minutes of searching, down the back of the bed settee in the back room...

First leg of the trip was to Glasgow – 9:15 to 10:15 and we drove to Byres Road for breakfast at the Tinderbox and then a quick visit to FOPP where Anne bought Nick Hornby’s “A Long Way Down” and I bought a 3CD box of mediaeval music...

The sun was shining, the sky was blue...



Then to the airport and, following an argument regarding the ticket for the parking Anne had booked, we forgot to take the wallet of CDs with us from the car – leaving us somewhat limited in our choice of listening in the car we were to pick up at Bergamo airport...

As we waited for the check in to open I bought “Classic Rock” which had a cover mounted CD of new Prog Rock – writing this after coming back from Italy, I can say the stand out tracks for me are by Porcupine Tree, Spock’s Beard, GPS (the remains of what was Asia now the originals have reformed to tour the world), The Flower Kings, Fish and Frost – who is apparently someone who writes hit singles for Atomic Kitten and Ronan Keating...

There’s a new Peckhams Deli at Prestwick and, for once, we didn’t feel ripped off by the price of a couple of sandwiches and a bag of crisps purchased at an Airport...

A quick drink in the departure lounge (after having to remove our shoes to go through the X-Ray machines) and we boarded on time for an uneventful flight to Italy...

At Bergamo, while Anne waited on the bags, I headed to the Hertz desk and got the paperwork done for the hire car. By the time Anne emerged, we were ready to pick up the car – a bright blue Fiat Panda...

What we thought would be a drive of around an hour turned out to be closer to two and a half due to the congestion on the roads and the dangerous twisting trail along the shore of Lake Como and the even more dangerous and twisty road 8km up into the mountains to the village we were to live in for the next week, Veleso...



We arrived in darkness and were greeted by the owners, who live in Milan. They very kindly left us some pasta and sauce and a bottle of wine and we dined around 10pm, finally hitting the sack around midnight...



The inside of the villa was superb and we were looking forward to viewing our surroundings come morning...



Highlight of the Day : The villa is great

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All the young dudes...

Playlist
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Live 1975
The Eagles – Hotel California
The Tubes - Personal Selection (CD-R)
Mott the Hoople – Ballad of Mott : A Retrospective
Hawkwind – Epocheclipse
Ian Hunter – Strings Attached : Live in Oslo
Mott the Hoople – The Hoople
ZZTop – Greatest Hits
Steppenwolf – 19 Greatest Hits

Up late at 9:30 – Breakfast at home – waited for postie to arrive – 11am - ah, I remember the days when you could have your post and be about and about by 8:30 am...

Anyway, he duly arrived and, once again no sign of the CDs I’m waiting on from Russia...

Yesterday, I bought an Ian Hunter DVD at FOPP and, upon arriving back home and settling down to watch it, discovered no disc or booklet in the box – so, today, I went back into town to get another copy...

The girl at the counter was very apologetic and opened the new copy there to check all was present – and it was...

I also bought three Mott the Hoople CD Remasters, “All the Young Dudes”, “Mott” and “The Hoople”...

I’m pretty sure I have all the extra tracks on various compilations and live discs already but the sound quality of the original albums is a lot better than on the old CD versions I have...

“All the Young Dudes” has the distinction of being the first LP I ever bought. Late summer 1972. The first single I ever bought with my own money was Elvis Presley’s “The Wonder of You” in the summer of 1970....

Today, I also picked up greatest hits discs by Steppenwolf and ZZ Top for just £3 each...

On the way home I bought picture frames to give as presents to my and Anne’s mums once I have inserted recent pics of their respective offspring...

Back home, Anne and I watched some (six) Italian language programmes (which she’d recorded in the middle of the night a couple of months back) while we had lunch...

Ciao!

Then I watched the Ian Hunter DVD. Very good it was too, a concert from Oslo in 2002 at which he not only had his regular band but was accompanied by an 18 piece string section...

Stand out tracks were the opening “Rest in Peace”, a Mott “b” side from 1973, “All the Young Dudes”, “Saturday Gigs”, Mott’s farewell single from 1974 and “Michael Picasso” his song to his best friend Mick Ronson, describing how hard it was for him to cope with Ronson’s death from cancer...

I find this one of the most moving songs I know...

After the DVD, I put the family pictures into frames and transferred recent CDs onto the Jukebox – I’m back up to 1,200 albums and 12,000 tracks...

After an excellent evening meal from Anne, we headed out to Meg the Black Cat’s ex mum Julia’s house to leave Meg there for a few days while we take a break...

I was called upon to catch and put outside, a goodly number of Daddy Longlegs beasts, while Anne and Julia quaffed some white wine...

It’s upsetting to leave Meg behind but we know she’s used to Julia’s house as she lived there for a long time before we adopted her. And her old friends, Pandy the Fluffy Cat and Dylan the Crazy dog, are there to keep her company while we’re away....

Back home. The house is empty without Meg....

We watched a piece by Stewart Lee we’d recorded earlier tonight, in which he railed against censorship, the blasphemy laws, and religious fundamentalists...

Right on, man – with you 100%.

Highlight of the Day : Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lights going out....

Playlist
Rheostatics – Whale Music
Rheostatics – Music From the Motion Picture “Whale Music”
Rheostatics – Introducing Happiness
Rheostatics – Music Inspired By The Group of Seven
Rheostatics – The Blue Hysteria
Rheostatics – The Nightlines Sessions
Coro Gregoriano de Lisboa - Mass For Peace
The Tubes – The Completion Backwards Principle

A bit of a Rheostatics day today....

And very probably an Indian too far tonight...

Two episodes of Corrie bookended an edition of “Tonight” which looked at the likely new influx of people from Rumania and Bulgaria next year following the last wave from Eastern Europe which started two years ago....

“McCartney v McCartney” was a sordid little tale dominated by paparazzi and gutter-press journalists pontificating over the unfortunate celebrity divorce...

I remember watching the start of a documentary about Scientology, which didn’t seem to be shedding much light on the “religion”, before my own lights went out...

Woke up around 12 and stayed up till around 3:30 am putting together a best of The Tubes compilation, like the Cooper one I did a week or so ago, complete with cross-fades etc and then listening to it...

Highlight of the Day : Rheostatics

Sunday, September 03, 2006

To have and to hold...

Playlist
The Tubes - Love Bomb
Gilrs Aloud - Chemistry
Cloudland Blue Quartet – The Acoustic Ersatzreal
Sparks – Hello Young Lovers
The Tubes – Young and Rich

Up early again, around 6 am, and updating stuff on the net...

Pam was up at 8 and Anne shortly thereafter – Pam wanted to watch the backstage footage from the Tubes DVD from last night – Anne made breakfast and I copied Girls Aloud’s “Chemistry” and Pet Shop Boys’ “Fundamental” for my wee sister...

At 10 I drove Pam to the airport – she gave the thumbs up to three new CBQ songs, “Another Piece of Cake”, “He Thinks Of You” and “No Concrete Idea”..

She’ll be back up at Christmas...

Back home we got ready for Martin (IT guru extraodinaire and builder of our PC) and Michelle’s wedding today...

Before heading off, I had a quick run through the September CBQ set – I’ll be playing Edinburgh on 18 and 21 September and St Andrews on 19 September...

A bit of a tired and bored run through, if I’m honest...

The wedding was a romantic affair with plenty of Scottishness about it. Martin and Michelle are a lovely couple and the best man’s speech brought a tear to more than one eye in the room...

The meal was very tasty indeed and followed by an unscheduled Fire Alarm – which gave Michelle the opportunity to be photographed with some firemen – women eh?



In the evening we were joined by some more friends and had a good night of it – although I wasn’t drinking and only danced once due to the ankle still being a bit iffy – of course my dancing style was the “your dad at a wedding” style (even though I am no-one's dad)...

Highlight of the Day : Martin & Michelle’s wedding

Saturday, September 02, 2006

WPOD 2...

Playlist
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Songs of the Sombre Reptiles Vol 5
Fountains of Wayne – Out of State Plates
Rheostatics – Greatest Hits
Rheostatics – Melville
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Best of CBQ 1990-95
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Best of CBQ 1996-06
The Bad Plus – Motel
Reid Anderson – The Vastness of Space
The Church – Uninvited, Like the Clouds
Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental
The Tubes – Wild West Show Live in London
Fee Waybill – Read My Lips

Started the day getting sucked in to the internet, reading various blogs for possible changes to my links to freshen up my daily reading around the world wide web...

Also got lost in looking at various art sites leading off from this one about Kassel’s Quinquennial Documenta Exhibition – next one starts June 2007 – I’ll be there...

Then a name generator site – thinking of changing my name to something more exotic..

Breakfast at Patisserie Florentin and we made a bit of a mess of the table due to its “shakiness” with coffee flying everywhere – the staff weren’t bothered though when we apologised...

Very tasty latte today...

Caught part of the radio commentary for Scotland v Faroe Islands – what a change from a few years ago when our team reached its absolute nadir having to claw its way back to a 2-2 draw. Today? 6-0 Scotland.....

On telly (Sky had the rights to the Scotland game) England v Andorra – 5-0....

Then a little bit of the Proms on BBC 2, before sister Pam and mum came round for the evening. Pam’s staying over tonight and we’re taking her to the airport tomorrow....

We ordered an Indian (even tho’ mum doesn’t like Indians – she’s brought her own sweet & sour chicken) and I go to collect...

Very tasty indeed – the wine was flowing again and we spen the rest of the evening watching The Tubes Wild West Show on DVD – 2 hours of non-stop entertainment, apart from pausing around 10:30 as mum made her exit – pity she missed out on seeing Quay Lewd’s OTT performance of “White Punks on Dope”....

After the show, the interview with lead singer Fee Waybill – then the TV highlights of Scotland’s game – during which Pam finally conked out...

Worryingly, yet again no sign of the CDs I’m waiting on from Russia - £30 odd squid down the pan??

Highlight of the Day : White Punks on Dope...

Friday, September 01, 2006

There is surely nothing so precious as time...

Playlist
Keith Jarrett – Fort Yaweh
Cloudland Blue Quartet – September Setlist
King Crimson – Nashville Rehearsals
Rheostatics – Introducing Happiness

Led to the music of Keith Jarrett today by a blog entry at The Bad Plus site re great jazz albums of the years 1973-1990, not generally held to be a vintage era for the medium but the music to which it led me, holds up well across the years...

I seem to have spent much of this week just watching telly – and so it was again tonight...

“Emmerdale” – passes the time...

“Coronation St” – the best soap on the box by far...

“The War at Home” – reasonable new US sitcom...

“The Simpsons” – Friday night highlight...

“The Law of the Playground” – dreadful talking head pish reminiscences of what happened to Z-List celebs when they were at school – walked away from this one for some King Crimson...

“The Best of the Worst” – below par “quiz” show along the lines of “Have I Got News” and “They Think It’s All Over”...

“The Charlotte Church Show” – watched the excruciatingly embarrassing first half then gave up....

“Dear Green Place” - disappointing pilot for possible new comedy from the “Still Game” people....

What a waste of time....

Just before bed, Meg the Black Cat entertained by jumping up onto the new shelves in the back room, knocking over books and generally behaving like a lovely but mischievous wee cat....



Highlight of the Day : The Simpsons...