Thursday, 17 July 2008

Hold Steady Welshboy

If you are going to have a rock album then start it like this

Me and my friends are like, the drums on Lust for Life'
Me and my friends are like treble whisky, coke no ice'

Ok so I’ve already written about a Hold Steady gig, but everything has changed now. They’ve written a quite outstanding new album and this could be one of the last opportunities to see them in a small venue for some time. Its one of the good things about being able to manage your own time at work, (well at least when customers aren’t doing it for you), you can have meetings in the right parts of the country.

The gig was at The Irish Centre in Leeds which held lots of promise for drinking and partying. Afternoon meeting at the Leeds depot then out for an early tea with Doc. The picture is from another work venture when we had to go to Barcelona to man an exhibition stand.

Even at the time we knew it shouldn't be like this, firstly;

We fell for the Ryan Air trick, where your Barca flight lands very close to France, then its good luck chaps find your own way to the city 60 miles away.

( WARNING – however tempted you are if you ever find yourself in this situation, do not get on the Barca Bus with the scousers who have been drinking since arrival at Liverpool Airport. They don't make mp3 players that loud or with batteries that long. Oh and does anyone really think John Lennon wanted an airport naming after him?)


It was snowing…'first time in 15 years’ they said…how much better I felt knowing that!

Still the mood improved as we watched our ‘local friend’ (Craig was living in Spain at the time) order his tapas in Spanish and get himself a huge plate of almonds to eat. The steak and chips were a real struggle mate.

Sales meeting finished we headed into Leeds, four pints before a gig is always going to lead to some small catastrophe or another. This one turned out to be the waitress performing her ‘the real hustle’ trick on me. I’m not sure they should show that programme so early on TV, Rosie is planning on being the new Raffles. Anyway through 1000’s of hours of practice and a million mph hand motion the waitress managed to relieve me of my credit card. Or maybe we were drinking, talking and both handed our cards over to pay…………. I wasnt worried at all the next day.

The Irish centre is excellent, it’s a working mens club for Irish people, which means lots of locals, 4 bars, and loud music and about 800 here to see the band.

Favourite T-Shirt seen ‘only users lose drugs’ although the ‘choose milf’ was a close second.

Now I know Doc likes a few beers but the whole music scene thing doesn’t really do it for him. Sinatra is about as far as he goes. I learned later that he had described the album as ‘oh it’s a bit bloody noisy like all the stuff Paul likes’. Well at least we know where the generation gap is!

So why stand 4 yards from the speaker?

The band were really fantastic, they know they’ve written a great set of banging new tunes and are really enjoying playing them live for the first time. I don't think I've seen a band having such a good time on stage for ages.I lost my pal after he went for a smoke and an escape to slow the blood pouring from his right ear. Eight rows back, centre stage is always a good slot and so it proved, great sound and just out of spittle range. One hour forty minutes later all the best songs played (thanks to Doc for bringing me a drink) a fantastic killer parties and we’re all the hold steady. Awesome

Bring on the festival gigs.

Great live video of 'Last Night' from the gig

Its only a hill Shad

The plan this weekend (family away) was to stay at Shad’s on Saturday night and then walk in the White Peak district. We also had a dawn duel to sort out for Sunday morning.

Its always an experience staying at Shads, in fact I'd go further than this, its always an experience doing anything with Shad. The most unpredictable person I’ve ever met and as a consequence its never dull.

We spent a dull evening in the pub and went to bed early!

ok not really.

Warning rant bit…..

What is it with the latest obsession of the press, to yet again regurgitate the 'breakdown in society and family' theory to explain knife carrying. It really is utter b***ox. There are so many things to belong to these days, you would really have to try very hard to be an outsider. Whether its an online community, a band community (Hold Steady Unified Scene), work, school,gang, the local pub or maybe a family!

or even The Jericho Community Manchester

there are bloomin loads of opportunities to get positive influences.

What reminded me of this was two of Shads local pubs which are both fantastic. The first is ran by the mighty Titanic Brewery and to quote, ‘local pubs for local people’. It was bouncing and so noisy, all generated by peoples voices, smiles and energy. I think the trick was, clean, friendly, reasonable prices, great choices of drinks…(I missed the strawberry wine…made locally damn) and set up so everyone is close enough to talk to anyone but all with seats…brilliant.

The Pub

The second was even more traditional i.e. hadn’t changed since 1958 and the atmosphere again was ace. And they had a turn ‘ Silken’, how do you review a duo that play songs from 1957 to 1962 and then do requests. Lets be honest they won’t make it to the entrance hall on X Factor but for a bit of a foot tapping excellent value.

Chrome Hill

Or 'big bottom lip I’m knackered and really don’t want to be doing this hill’ as Shad called it.

We headed off, both on sat nav to Longnor which is approximately 8 miles Southeast of Buxton ie the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t believe it when my gismo said 55minutes…..its only 33 minutes to Warrington. But it turns out these machines are actually quite good.

Unlike the road from Stoke to Leek!!… kidding 30 or 40mph speed limits all the way and a minimum of 23 speed cameras. I may have missed one as I fell asleep through boredom and wrapped the car round the nearest infants school playground. Just to freak you out even more they had the Death Bikers Beware signposts every 500 yards, I drive a grey Volvo, imagine the signs for that! Grey Volvo’s BEWARE grrrrr.

Eventually we arrived ready for the walk and the duel.

The Kite Duel

Shad’s bought one of these 6 story high posh kid kites…Lord Snooty, he’s even invested in 25 metre long sharpened steel lines to cut down the poor kids kites. I wasn’t having this, so I dug out my old Peter Powell stunt kite, once upon a time I could land this on a running dogs head…so he was going to be in real trouble. (Its no wonder that blonde woman dumped Peter Powell if all he did was fly kites).

Oh yeah the duel, we got to Longnor all excited, sun shining and promptly forgot we had the kites in the boot and set off without them. Still there’s always next weekend after the party.

I also managed to forget to pick up my bottle of water, but luckily Shad was carrying a spare 2 ltr bottle…result. Longnor is a gorgeous old worldy type village and off the beaten track, although it does have four pubs so perhaps this is where the alcoholics get put out to pasture. I only wanted to do this walk because the main hill we were going to climb, Parkhouse Hill looks exactly like the back of a Stegasaurus in the pictures.

It was a lively enough walk, Shads normal obsession with animals, dogs, sheep and pulling the ears off a donkey. The hill turned out to be a bit tough for the young Welshman….maybe it was the extra water he was carrying although I’ve put it down to my superior fitness. He eventually made it to the top 10 minutes late and flopped down next to the stone I was sat on. I didn’t point out the 300ft cliff edge next to him until he yelped……what do my pals expect at the top of mountains? maybe a slide?

A couple of excellent things happened on the way back, firstly Shad said ‘we used to eat nettles when I was a kid’ , I’m sorry but there only is one response to this ‘FOUD’, I actually couldn’t stop laughing for about 10 minutes at the various images of baby Shad in my head munching on stinging nettles. Anyway in the next 10 minutes we must have walked passed a good 3 course meal. Perhaps that donkeys ear was going to make up the Julienne of raw nettle and donkey ear salad.

Next we found a pub, yay. called ‘The Quiet Lady’ and brilliantly the barwoman hardly said a word and the ones she did were whispered. Hopefully we'll come across 'The Free Beer and Party Girls pub' next time. 'Pint of orange and a pork pie each please'.

I know……its not ‘Big Picture’ but it was 1pm lunchtime and it was the only thing they had. We then went on to do what you do when you come across discovered food. This is brilliant we said, it must be local farm stuff………no its from Crewe said the friendly local drunk. Not a word.

The other top thing about the pub is they still had ashtrays on all the tables, this place is so the middle of nowhere that they just ignore the law……pirate villages rule.

Just for a bit of clarification on ‘Big Picture’ one of my pals reckons that cider being apple, counts as one of your five a day. Now this is a great theory as offset pints can now be other drinks…..bloody mary with celery = 2 of your five a day…. this is genius and deserves building on soon.

And finally the whole ‘Beware Death Biker’ thing came back to haunt us as out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere about 30 bikes nearly mowed us down. Luckily I’d parked the grey Volvo in the village or it could have got messy.

And the rest of the pictures

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Roseberry Topping Anyone?

In the old days they may have rolled eggs down the one hill in Albert Park (just behind the train track) or down Eston Bank, but everyone knows that there is only one real hill in the area and its got a daft name. Roseberry Topping is part of the Cleveland Hills and is famous for school trips and being pointy.

School trips these days tend to be to good places like Alton Towers or New York…really don’t ask it still hurts too much.

We got a soggy 15 mile sponsored walk round the Cleveland Hills. Sponsored is even stretching it, as that normally meant my mam, dad, auntie Joyce and nana with other made up names to take it over £3. Oh and while I’m on this exploitation of schools and children to raise money for other schools and children. What the hell were smiley faces about…go on kids sell pictures of smiley children to random adults by knocking on random doors in your street. Could you imagine the fuss now?

So the grand plan today is; a nostalgic walk from Hutton Rugby up the clearly marked path (another patio walk) to RT and then an easy loop back, nothing too strenuous as we’re off to see Ash later at a free festival 10 miles away in Middlesbrough. Last time I was here 'r Carl' my cousin was about 12, he’s about 35 now and he got caught up in a huge thunderstorm with Pam and me. Its so long ago its in the days before marriage.

I heard a story the other day about a couple that got married to the tune, ‘another one bites the dust’ again top insignificant rebellion.

We actually turned up in shorts,T Shirts and sandals and almost jogged to the top, mind you we really did sprint down as the lightening stuck the hillside about us. Nothing so flippant with clothing for us these days!! more of this later.

I opted for the 'drive straight to the carpark on the moors from Warrington' option rather than meet Craig first. My first site of him was as passed me in the opposite direction on the road. He must have misread the box and bought Tw*t Nav , as he’s the only person who can be so consistently lost with a Sat Nav. Even when he’s going to places he’s been before like my house.

Its raining, and as hinted I’m very very well prepared, sadly I’ve even sprayed my boots and have the overtrousers. Mr Mary Poppins on the other hand, is wearing a dodgy coat and jeans, but does have a lovely brolly.

The truth is we’ve both thought of this as the sort of walk you do with your mates on the way home from school so no need for real maps or anything. Why would you need a map and a compass when you can nip home for tea? Unfortunately the sky had different ideas and we had dense cloud which took visibility down to about 20 yards and less at the top. So this ‘OMG isn’t the view great’ business when you reach the top didn’t really apply today. Unless of course you’ve always wanted to see the inside of a cloud close up.

Lets see what you could've won

There was one great moment as Craig almost double wet himself though, deciding to relieve himself off the edge of the hillside he neglected to look down until in position and then had to make a hasty retreat from the 200ft drop with a yelp. I put that down to the zip.

Thankfully my head hasnt reached the point where I think graffiti is a bad thing, infact I've got it down as a really good thing if done well. Mulicultural grafitti surely is to be encouraged particularly in rap format with local interest....I'll let you make your own mind up about these two, oh the distracting bottle was my fault.

Then we tried to follow the route back….

This route was from Walking World magazine and wasn’t exactly big on detail, anyway we were on home turf ‘what could possibly go wrong’.

An hour later... very lost, we just know we have to turn right to get back to Hutton Rugby. Unfortunately the only paths to the right were very small paths that seemed to lead into a deserted moor full of cloud. Neither of us were that brave. Craig spotted on the map that our route met The Cleveland Way at Captain Cooks monument right by the carpark. As a slight aside I do blame this chap for all the rubbish movies and sitcoms where explorers get boiled in pots. He really did get eaten by some southerners. I’d be a bit wary if I’d moved to Southampton mate.

The esteem in which he was nevertheless held by the Hawaiians resulted in his body being retained by their chiefs and elders and the flesh cut and roasted from his bones

So we set off along The Cleveland Way just hoping it didn’t loop around too far. It certainly didn’t….well not the way we were walking on it - that’s 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Roughly 3 hours of looping and looping in the wrong direction we ended up on the wrong side of Guisborough. Now this is also a good thing as Guisborough is one of these places that claims to have more pubs per square inch than every other village with lots of pubs. Fortunately we found one still serving Sunday lunch…result...... and with traditional Teesside veg. For those not local, this is stewed in salt and boiled to within a nanosecond of disintegration and then mashed just to make sure theres no structure left.

Still if you avoid the Yorkshire pudding and take the mash and mince option you can just about eat your dinner through a J2O straw.

As intrepid explorers there was only one thing left to do….and yes one £15 taxi fare later there we were back at our cars bang on time. Perfect

The incessant rain had now put me off the free outdoor festival, that and the worry that the clouds might follow us and I may just hear a fluffy version of Ash though the inside of a cloud. I’ve also seen Ash about 10 times already and they weren’t going to be that much better than at Glastonbury a few years ago

What a great jump around it was

While in Scotland a few weeks ago I found John Peel staring down at me whilst a was peeing . It was so disconcerting I took a photo…of John Peel you’ll be relieved to know. I was just pleased no-one came into the loo at that time they would have thought I was bonkers

Just to the right of the white box

Just to make things neat

It was going to be a big few weeks coming up so I headed home for a cocoa and a roaring warm fire…kinda