Check tuning please

Some lighter posts in the next few days, as we’re about to go into the recording studio – today was a prep day, tomorrow and Sunday for music making. (And next weekend too.) (And my axe.) So, two points for today.

1. I tweeted about Jeremy Corbyn and it got picked up by the Huffington Post. What a world we live in.

2. A Portrait of Drummer with Dog

Some thoughts on what it’s like to record to surely follow.

Happy Birthday Rick!

Sorry I forgot to send you a card. Instead, I watched 90 minutes of Jonathan Creek, just for you. And it was…fine.

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There’s a minor plot point in this picture so spoilers I guess?

I haven’t seen Jonathan Creek in a while. Last time I watched, Julia Sawahla was in it, and married to Adrian Edmondson and that’s the only memorable thing that happened. (Nothing like the halcyon days of Maddie, when a five minute farcical sketch that ended with a body falling out of a wardrobe was the height of Sunday TV genius.) In this Christmas special, Jonathan is married to Polly, who doesn’t seem to like him much, and no longer lives in a windmill, or does anything with magic. Apparently getting older means losing all your personality. And that’s kind of how Alan Davis plays Jonathan now – as a quietly spoken, bored man, who seems really annoyed that bodies turn up and people try to kill him. It’s an odd acting choice.

So, the first 20 minutes didn’t particularly pull me in. Surprisingly, though, the plot was compelling – I found myself wanting to know what was going on. The mystery revolves around a young couple who move back to the house where the wife grew up, so she can try and figure out the weird things that happened when she was younger. It turns out that Jonathan once saved her husband from a being convicted of killing his first wife, and that her stepfather may have a mysterious and murderous vault on the grounds. And then, really odd things start happening…

The mystery doesn’t really hang together and there are a few too many competing plotlines, but David Renwick has always had a skill for weaving together a story that mildly piques your interest. Some excellent acting from the supporting cast (including Warwick Davies as a vicar) helps, but it could have been a lot more if Jonathan and his terrible wife weren’t a storm of cliches, exemplifying the bored, middle-aged couple who hate each other none of us want to hang out with.

6 unicorns out of 10 (mostly for surprise and nostalgia, plus one extra point for the actor who looked like a young Stanley Tucci in a wig.)

Golaço!

To finish the trifecta of self-reflection for the New Year and also because I can only write unimaginative things because of the most inflamed and painful sinuses I have ever had, here are some things I’d like to achieve in the next year. I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t do all of this, but it’s useful to have some focus. Also, I really like lists.

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Have I gushed about magic whiteboards yet? They are the best and I love them and want them around me at all times
  1. Write! The whole point of this blog – I’m going to try and write something every day. I love writing, and always have, but haven’t yet found my voice. I’m hoping that if I keep to the discipline of one piece every day, even a trifling list like this, I can develop a style that’s engaging and create work that has a point. (I’m not very good at points – my tendency is to waffle round a subject I’m interested in and not conclude anything concrete from these wafflings. ) This probably has something to do with the fact that I think while I talk, rather than before. Perhaps this process will change that.
  2. Music! My goal is to write more songs. I have a hit rate of about 3 or 4 a year. This is not a lot. I get hung up on perfection, on capturing the spirit of the idea in my head in the best way possible. In 2017, I’d like to get to the point where I can throw lots of songs out there and have lots of them fail, and still end up with 3 or 4 songs in the repertoire. (This is also writing, I guess. There’s a theme here.)
  3. Relationships! I said in my post that I owed lots of people emails. And I still do! Life is busy, yo. But I say it again – I would like to be better this year at visits and seeing people and catching up.
  4. Travel! I haven’t travelled nearly enough in the last few years, mostly thanks to a lack of disposable income. I have a list of places I’d like to go to, which I’m going to save for another lazy list post.
  5. Career! I’m pretty good at fundraising and while it’s still interesting, I’m not completely sure it’s what I want do forever. I’m luckily currently in a workplace, where there seem to be opportunities to develop in a different direction, which I’m keen to take. So, a vague aim – by the end of the year, I’d like to have a better idea of what I want to be when I grow up.

Right, 5 things, nearly 500 words, it must be Ibruprofen and sleep time. May Lord Azrael spare your life until we meet again.

The Grand Gesture

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Angry Robin when she thought this was for a date
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Happy Robin now she knows it’s to get married

One of those things that crops up in fiction a lot is the idea that if someone does something huge or life-changing or amazing, they’ll win someone’s heart or the cup or they won’t die. I’m often swept along with it, because escapism yay, but it’s started bothering me more and more. Weirdly, it was the Nightman Cometh episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia that got me thinking about it. If you haven’t seen it (and why not?) the plot revolves around a guy putting on a musical in order to win the heart of a woman. Only, it’s the worst musical ever and the woman hates him. And rightly, looks completely disgusted with him at the end. All well and good, and a nice lampshade on the idea. Very soon afterwards, I saw for the first time in ages the episodes of How I Met Your Mother where Barney ends up proposing to Robin. ARG.

Man, I have such a complicated relationship with HIMYM. There’s so much to love about it – it’s sweet, and funny, and inventive. It often gets the grand gesture right – there’s the two minute date, Marshall meeting Lily at the airport, Barney surprising Robin with Canada. But this particular gesture is awful. Barney lies, cheats, manipulates, screws over his friends, and never, at any point, thinks about talking to the woman he’s supposedly in love with about how he feels.  Direct quote from the script, as Robin reacts to this sequence of events:

“You lied to me, manipulated me for weeks. Do you really think I could ever kiss you after that? Do you really think I could ever trust you after that? This this is proof of why we don’t work, why we’ll never work. So thank you. You’ve set me free because how could I be with a man who thinks that this trick, this enormous lie could ever make me want to date him again?”

And then, because it’s actually about marriage, it’s all FINE. No. No, no, no, no, no, no. No. No, no. Awful stuff, insulting to the characters and the viewers. Much like the finale, which kills off a wonderful woman, so Ted can get back together with someone he dated briefly 30 years ago. Ugh.

The one possible saving grace to this mess – could it be a way of leading up to that terrible finale? The writers knew how they wanted it to end, that Tracy (the mother) would die, and childless Robin would be able to take her place at Ted’s side. They knew that Barney and Robin would be married at some point. Are we supposed to think that this is awful? That Barney and Robin won’t work because of how they got there? Or am I giving them too much credit because Drumroll Please is still one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen? I’m going with the latter, unless there are any other convincing arguments out there.

Anyway, conclusions to this ramble? I  dunno, this is a big minefield of a topic that’s quite personal to a lot of people. 1. The right gesture, well communicated and consented to, is awesome. 2. Anything manipulative and more about the person making the gesture, kind of sucks. 3. Barney Stinson is the worst. 4. If time machines are ever invented, I’m using my go to remake the last series of HIMYM.

 

2016 in pictures

When I was thinking about where I am (as described in lots of detail yesterday), I sort of thought I hadn’t done a lot in 2016. Then I scrolled through my phone gallery. And blimey, I did quite a bit of stuff! And took way too many pictures. And let too many babies figure out selfies. Edited highlights in vague chronological order below.

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New Year in Colchester with this beautiful lot.
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Band strategy day 2016! We got quite drunk but also set a good plan. Which we’ve nearly carried out.
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The X-Files came back! The anticipation was more exciting than the reality.
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I bought some stylish new glasses and went a bit hipster. I took the label off.
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BTS tour of Sadler’s Wells – amazing. Theatres are well high, man.
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My birthday! There were many cocktails. And karaoke. Of course.
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Went to Namur with Lani. Walked a citadel to find a man riding a golden tortoise. (We also ate much cheese.)
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Spent Easter helping out with Family Weekend at Sadler’s. This is my dream future living room.
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There was a cheese festival. Not sure what the occasion was. Love of cheese transcends all time.
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I moved to N4 and got welcomed by the SGS collective.
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A picnic in May! Sounds like a good idea, but I have never been as hungover as I was on this day.
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AC DC at the London Stadium! They rocked, natch.
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One of my favourite 2016 shows – No Body at Sadler’s.
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Visited beautiful Charlbury and the lovely Hats. There was an actual old school fair on the village green.
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We played our first festival! It rained. A lot.
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Went on the March for Europe with lots of others and got yelled at by an old man. Neither of these things seemed to have helped anyone.
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Went to Wimbledon for the first time and it was excellent! One day, I will see Andy Murray there.
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Sad times – left Sadler’s Wells for different climes. Had a v good send-off.
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Went to the British Museum in my week between jobs. Scarlet unimpressed at the magnificent Rosetta Stone.
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Visited the delightful Ushi! Paul and Rick were also there.
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More picnics! We did a lots of these. They were awesome.
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Super enjoyable cocktail at the German Gynasium, I think my favourite restaurant of the year.
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New work summer party, overseen by the watchful gaze of our blessed lady Kate Moss.
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Went to the Globe to check off the last of Clare’s Shakespeare plays. Was suddenly unsure about capitalism.
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This dog was the best thing at the Labour Party Conference.
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Was trying to take a picture of a nice view and ended up with a nice picture of face instead.
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This poster was the best thing at the Tory Party Conference.
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Hair cut! Only one in 2016, weirdly. Must do better.
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Had a big work launch thing in November, then celebrated late into the night. This marks the moment in 2016 when I got quite ill, from which I’ve only just recovered.
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I bought an Amazon Echo. I love it. Plus, Christmas started happening.
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I got a wand and had dinner in the Great Hall at Hogwarts! It was pretty awesome.
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Ended the year with lovely people at Christmas, which is how it should be, right?

Takeaways from all this? I did a lot more than I realised. And I really like wearing stripy tops. In conclusion,considering the trifle of 2016. Photos good. Fun good. Meat good. What’s not to like?

Hello 2017

I’ve been quite ill for some time, with a nasty cold – nothing super serious, but enough to knock me out of action over the holidays. I didn’t let it affect Christmas, but New Year was a quiet night in, watching as London exploded from my attic room. See the potato quality picture above for proof.

Being just a bit ill for more than a few days means you end up doing a lot of thinking and reviewing and watching a lot of TV. I realised that 2016 wasn’t the worst year I’ve (personally) ever had – that’s firmly reserved for 2014. But it was a year in which I was still recovering from all the stuff that 2014 did to me and all the quick changes I had to make n 2015 to make up for it.

So, I began the year staying in Kent, having gotten out of one of the worst flat shares ever and being exceptionally lucky to have a Lani. I changed jobs, having sort of fell into my previous one due to some debt and desperation. (It worked out incredibly well, but I’m not going to claim I wouldn’t have been in a lot of trouble if it hadn’t come along when it did.) I took a lot of time finding a new flat that’s perfect for me right now in terms of location, flatmate and being forced to confront my hoarder tendencies. And I spent a lot of time figuring out what I want and who I want to be. I don’t have that one cracked yet, but it’s a work in progress.  Looking back, it’s been a much busier year than I expected.

Where are we now? Herewith the current State of the important bits of the Terrie Nation. Yes, I’m grading myself, have you met me?

Home: I love my garret. It’s private, it has all my stuff in it and it’s in Zone 2. I do have the occasional hankering for a big house with a garden and a music room, but who doesn’t? One day, for sure. I’m lucky that I have a great flatmate who understands the boundaries of privacy, but is also turning into a good friend. B+

Friends: I wasn’t so good at maintaining relationships in 2016. I don’t know if that’s because there’s been so much more going on than I realised or if it just needs a greater level of organisation to fit into the changed lives we’re all living. I want to do better. Expect an email. C

Music: The band’s been moving along – we set out a list of things we wanted to do at the beginning of 2016, and have, for the most part, done them, with only slight spillage into 2017. I’m excited about our upcoming recording sessions, in which we’ll get to experience working with a new producer, as well as laying down songs which I think are the best we’ve ever written. More importantly, I’m starting to discover what I want to do with music, largely down to having regular singing lessons. I have a good voice, and I’m hoping that 2017 is the year I figure out how I get to use it a lot more. B

Work: Work is busy and challenging and out of my comfort zone and in the right direction if I want to continue down this career path. See above though – I think I occasionally resent it for taking time away from something I truly love and always want to do (music, not friends – I don’t think you can get a salary from a nice social group?)  2017 is the year of working out how that all fits together. Generally, I seem to be having some success, so…. B- 

That averages out to a B-, I guess? There’s a lot to do in 2017, but I’m feeling personally positive if still completely snot-ridden. (I’m ignoring the sense of political foreboding – possibly more on that at a future point.) Anyway, hello 2017, hello blog, hello good things to come.