All posts by tonyives

About tonyives

A Yorkshireman of a certain age who likes most genres of music and most makes of old car. Travel is a joy, not least to escape the British winter. Travel by bicycle is bliss and if I’m not lost in music then I’m lost in a daydream about a hot day, tens of miles to cover and the promise of a great campsite and a beer. I like to think I’m always learning and becoming wiser. On the latter point then evidence is in short supply.

Australia Bike Ride – Melbourne

(Blog 3 – February 28)

It’s a long way to Melbourne. I feel you may know this fact.

Two ‘back to back’ flights of 7 and then 12.5 hours respectively in Economy, through several times zones, is hard work. The Etihad baggage allowance of 35kg is excellent but it’s split over 23kg in the hold and the 12kg two in the cabin. To my relief I managed to get all I wanted to take into this quota but I did spend literally hours, back in York, weighing things and agonising whether to take it or leave it.

My worldly possessions at Manchester Airport

The flights were generally fine (about two hours of turbulence on the second flight, however, prevented any attempt at dropping off to sleep) but on the first flight I had talkative neighbours and on the second flight the art of communication was abruptly curtailed by a chap wearing a face mask and his wife wearing a burka. I learned a lot off the noisy neighbours on the first flight. One was heading to India for four weeks with his family to see relatives and escape the British weather. He regaled me with his wife’s need for a stent to be fitted on one holiday trip to the country of their birth. He talked of the stress of sorting this out at an Indian hospital. The practises and quality are variable. We both agreed how brilliant our NHS was. He’d come to Blackburn 58 years ago as an immigrant and worked for Phillips in the town.

The other chap was heading to Islamabad for two weddings that both lasted six days each. The six days I also surmise, due to religion, were without alcohol. How would you cope? This chap was an entrepreneur and we went through his Sheffield property empire, his former Indian restaurant project and his furniture shop. The chap was very modest but I think he enjoyed a conversation about business. My voicing that he might be viewed, by his Pakistani relatives, as ‘Mr Big’ and worth tapping up for a bob or two led him to quip “oh, I don’t tell them about all that!”

I learned nothing from the guy in the face mask other than the fact that he eventually took it off. In reality the chances of getting coronavirus, if it’s in the air, on a flight are as likely as that of being cooped up on a Japanese cruise liner. You have no chance of avoiding it.

At last we arrived but being at the very back of the flight meant a wait.

Much to my relief the bike box appeared confirming that my steed had also made it Down Under.

We’ve all seen the Australian Border TV ‘fly on the wall’ series where various unfortunates and miscreants are stopped at Customs for having the wrong visa, importing half a succulent dead lizard or planning to convert an everyday package into its probable street value, as drugs, of c£100k. I was concerned that my oat energy bars might be deemed as dangerous and toxic or specks of mud on the underside of my mudguards would be identified as a bio hazard. Anyway there was no such problems and I proceeded through all the steps of Immigration and was soon sat in a taxi.

My driver, late of some African country, was garrulous and turned out to be a Liverpool FC fan. It seems the world is full of these glory seekers. To make myself feel better I made a mental note to dock this misjudgement off his tip. In retrospect by the time he dropped me in the Central Business District of Melbourne I think he had the last laugh. The fare convinced me that I hadn’t so much as hired the taxi but actually bought a share in it. So from here it was quickly into the hotel room and I unpacked and assembled the bike before falling into bed for sadly what was a deep but short sleep.

The next morning I was up at Stupid O’Clock and getting sorted before scooting around the centre of town trying to buy various supplies.

One such provision was coffee whitener/creamer. I couldn’t see it anywhere. I did ask one older lady about finding it. She looked puzzled at my question and looked behind me to see if I had parked my rocket (after landing from another planet). She’d never heard of such a product. My other disappointing shock was the discovery that they call crisps ‘chips’. How are they still in the Commonwealth?

Mystery ‘Gold dust‘…..
Pit stop

So the morning was about finding all the items I couldn’t sort in York but by lunchtime most of this was complete and the next idea was to stroll down to the Yarra.

View across the river

This is the river that runs through Melbourne and close to the centre has the MCG (Melbourne Crocket Ground), Australian Open Tennis venues and the Olympic village. Melbourne hosted the Olympics in 1956 and the Commonwealth Games in 2006. The MCG has evolved as a stadium over the decades but today is a massive structure hosting cricket, Australian Rules Football and other ad hoc sports. I wanted to get from under the eaves of the stands and see the pitch. However, a tedious ‘jobsworth’ said me that the future of mankind would be threatened if I went past a temporary barrier and so this photo shows how close I could get. The setting in a Park is delightful and watching a Test match here would be remarkable.

Inside (just) the MCG

So noting this was to be a relaxing day I strode off into the suburbs and had amassed 30,500 steps by the time I got back to the hotel. What’s that you ask? Yes, of course I had got lost!

All the major brands are here

This Central Business District is attractive and resplendent with premium brand shopping and sky scrapers of shiny steel, glass and concrete but may not be typical of the suburbs. My unforeseen ‘walkabout’ had found unremarkable but tidy residential housing that may be more representative of the Australia I was to find later. The town planning seemed spacious compared to anything on our busy little island. It’s hard not to imagine this might be a Canadian or US metropolis in design. The centre is beautiful and well serviced with trams and rail links. In fact there was the odd bicycle lane as well.

Back in CBD the millennials abounded. They were either students or employees from within these tall buildings. ‘Café Society’ was evident on most street corners as were the ubiquitous phone headsets enabling the young upwardly mobile to perambulate and communicate. I have a great cynicism that much business was being discussed on their phones although I did like to speculate that conversations were dissecting the news that someone had illegally penetrated the stationery cupboard and made off with the ‘post it notes’. I suppose they were ‘talking’ into their phones rather than walking along looking at them. Needless to say I was an unusual sight, given my age, amongst striplings. I concluded anyone over 32 years old was lost, a tourist or a cleaner.

Spot the old person!

The ethnic mix is diverse. Voices on the street might reveal some European languages of tourists but the number of folk of Chinese heritage is large. As I type this the next table has a very boisterous conversation in Mandarin (I assume) of office workers taking their lunch. In fact throughout the city the signage of shops or business for Vietnamese, Korean or Chinese services is common. Given the climate, democratic processes, political freedoms, economic opportunities and commutable proximity to Asia it is obvious why so many want to emigrate to this piece of rock.

‘Chinatown’ part of CBD. There has been a Chinese community here for 150 years.
Not sure this will catch on in Acaster Malbis

The next day after another poor night’s sleep (due to pernicious jet lag) I sorted my temporary replacement SIM card for my phone and visited the Immigration Museum. It is only latterly in the last few decades that the Government has allowed non-white immigration in the volume they have today. Historically Britain’s former white colonies ie. South Africa, Canada and Australia have had racist histories as regards the acceptance of people of colour and probably even worse as regards the indigenous populations. Very interesting. In the 1830s the population of Australia was 70,000. Today it’s nearer 25 million.

There’s quite a lot to uncover and not least was my discovery that at its peak the Australians had 60,000 troops deployed in Vietnam. It’s hard not to think that this was exclusively a US war. (New Zealand also had a small involvement).

After a recommendation I visited the State Library for Victoria. It’s a beautiful building with wonderful spaces and exhibits within.

There was a little time left to take the bike out of the hotel for a test spin and I went back to the Yarra river. There is a fantastic purpose built cycle path beside the water.

So my packing for my departure north is complete and I’m ready to leave this urban centre. Sadly this £9.99 bargain from B&M will remain. You can take the boy out of Yorkshire but not Yorkshire out of the boy. As the case has wheels I did wonder about dragging the 2,500 miles to Cairns but the moment passed!

Goodbye old friend

Australia Bike Ride – Prologue

(Blog 2 – February 22)

My bike rides in the USA were such life defining events that still today not a single day goes by without something coming to mind about a person met, a hill climbed or a sight seen. I wanted to have one more epic ride.

Australia offers such an adventure. I’ve never been to Australia but have genuinely loved the country and people from afar. It seemed time to get acquainted.

I booked flights to go in January and even managed to work in some fabulous warm weather bike training in South Africa in November. Even better was that I contacted Louise Sutton at Leeds Beckett University about some proper nutrition for the 40 days away. Louis is a sports nutritionist/practitioner, as well as lecturer, and was interested to help. She set an MSc student, Cameron Blake, on working up a regime. All good? Not quite.

However back to South Africa. On our holiday Anna also cycled, she was having a ball (maybe seeing what my addiction was about). One day after an unbelievably windy stretch, which meant she was working hard, she clambered back onto the bus and looked out of the window. She saw wildlife but the number was doubled. She had double vision. We shortly found out it was Sixth Nerve Palsy and the prognosis was that it would eventually heal but it could be in a few weeks or a few months time. Anna was left to wear glasses with one lens frosted and instructed not drive. In every other respect she was absolutely fine. Obviously I couldn’t leave Anna without a chauffeur and so my plans and flights were cancelled. She described my decision and subsequent demeanour was like living with someone who was grieving!

The present Mrs Ives looking cool in Franschhoek, South Africa about to climb a very steep hill out of the town.

As if by magic on one day in February the nerve started working and the double vision went! The hospital confirmed that all was well on February 13th and I’m now booked to fly to Melbourne on February 25th. The University has continued to offer help and I’ve had some brilliant guidance given and explained to me by Cameron. A tremendous boost. I will elaborate on this regime in future blogs as it can help all endurance cyclists.

Master Blake and his pupil

For those who’ve followed my rides then I have a tested and tried system and a plan. Much of this was in place but I have been left with a mad rush of organisation. Such activities were booking flights again, getting a bike box, sorting out a visa, buying food, finding all my stuff and packing, weighing it and worrying about taking certain items or leaving them behind. When all the obvious things were resolved there was the small matter of understanding the route/camping in detail and not least taking care of things in York as I won’t be back until early April. It’s been hectic to say the least.

The bike was thoroughly overhauled. New wheels and tyres, new chain and rear cassette, new headset, new brake blocks and cables. I have taken this pristine bike and ‘squeezed it’ into a box.  I’m hoping it doesn’t get dropped and bent by baggage handling. The tent and kit in general is as per most of my jaunts. The bike weighs over 13kg and all the luggage, mainly hung over the back wheel, weighs another 13kg. For what it’s worth I’m around 76kg. Let’s hope that the bike was serviced well!

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The bike up on the stand at Cycle Heaven. Lots of component replacement and checking. Thanks Ash, great job (I hope!)

One shortfall is my fitness. I’ve cycled c500 miles since Christmas and also had the odd spin in the gym. This isn’t bad but our wet and windy weather has been savage and I would have done more but for this. There is no way you can prepare for such a long ride other than be in a reasonable condition, I am. I expect I’ll get fitter as I ride along. Initially the weight of the bike and the luggage will take their toll on my quads. After that you get used to the ache!

The route I have calculated has an average distance of 80 miles a day and 460 metres climbing. By any standard that is demanding. The early days involve more climbing and I should be fresher. The temperatures, to start with, are ideal – mid 20’s. As I get further north then the temperatures rise during the day to be around 30°C – this is still very nice.Inevitably there will be many slow days of single digit miles per hour travel. Also I will have to be up and packed after sunrise to achieve getting to a campsite by dusk. I never like to ride in the dark: motorists have enough of a challenge seeing cyclists in daylight.

Other obstacles are bush fires or detours. The latter can be an immense burden on a cyclist. What is an inconvenience and small diversion in a car can be hell on a bike with extra miles or ascents. If there is no other cycling option to achieve the target or get past a hazard I will consider public transport.

As regards social media (or self promotion!) then I shall not only publish a blog on my own website but I shall post occasional updates on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve just recorded an interview with Jonathan Cowap on BBC Radio York. He currently has no immediate date for broadcast but I will alert listeners in the York area when he puts it up. He’s also requested I ‘check in’ once in a while with updates if I come across something interesting. It’s a long way to go to find nothing interesting!

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Jonathan Cowap – 9am to noon on BBC Radio York

Melbourne is a place I’d like to look around but there are other jobs to do such as buy the items I cannot buy in the UK eg. a SIM card, certain foodstuffs and a camping gas canister. I shall write again after touch down with how it is going and my next steps.

 

 

Australia Bike Ride 2020

(Blog 1 – February 19)

They say you should never meet your heroes. I’m anxious because Australia is one of mine.

I’ve spent a lifetime enjoying the people, the sports competition, the apparent relaxed lifestyle, their humour, their music and many images of a beautiful country with often stunning scenery. However not least is my gratitude and admiration that so many have fought and died in wars for a freedom and way of life that I enjoy today in Yorkshire.

So what’s the plan? I exit Melbourne on February 28th and start my bike ride of  2,500 miles to Cairns. I’ll trundle through Sydney and Brisbane before coming to rest quite near the top of the country. That’ll be in early April. I will be riding solo – the Grey Nomad Goes Down Under! – and camping most of the way.

A journey north through four States and two time zones

I expect I will find that but also a drifting ship that is slowly but inexorably moving away from Britain and our former Commonwealth. I’ll find a multiplicity of ethnicities, a tilt toward Asia and maybe the USA in its culture, cuisine and language. I’ll find some coastlines to die for and maybe some busy roads nearby that I will have to be careful to avoid dying on.

Continue reading Australia Bike Ride 2020

Record Of The Week # 86

Bob Dylan – Another Side Of Bob Dylan

If I was bragging I’d tell you I bought my first Dylan album in 1974 – Before The Flood. I say this because we all know that any affection for Bob carries kudos for the follower. It suggests that you are serious about your popular music – its history, construction and icons. However, I haven’t dwelt on his catalogue until the last few years. Of course I knew a lot about Dylan through the 70s onwards. I’d collected a couple of the 60s albums but I’d only played them once in a while. If pressed I’d say that Blood On The Tracks was the meisterwerk. Now I’m starting to truly listen to his catalogue and trying to reconcile all I hear with his own personal development. The earlier stuff is exceptional.

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Another Side Of Bob Dylan was his fourth release and came out in 1964. By all accounts the ‘voice of a generation’, with his protest songs, disappointed the masses by abandoning his rôle as their spokesman. There’s still considerable profundity in most of the songs but none that you can trace back to the upheaval of 60s America. The upheaval came in the form of the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war, Kennedy’s assassination and the growing non conformity of a generation that regularly protested and abandoned the uniform of dress codes and short hair. Peace and love were just around the corner.

“All I Really Want To Do” is a beautiful tune and the words are still apposite for a boy pursuing a girl. He wants nothing serious or complicated but just wants to be friends. I think he’s underestimated as a leading composer of popular music in the 20th Century. A strength here is that his voice is crystal clear and his phrasing is unique but not yet raddled with age and cigarettes.

The record is still in his folk pre-electric phase. The whole album was recorded in one day and the instrumentation is harmonica, piano or guitar by Dylan. There would be literal tears a couple of years later when electricity crept into his repertoire. Many of the devoted folk music fans thought he’d sold out.

I’m attending an eight week night school at York University where we dissect some Dylan songs for their poetical content (after all he did get a Nobel prize for them). “Chimes Of Freedom” is one such. Over five verses his brilliant use of English conjures up faces, landscapes, traumas and emotions:

“Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing”

This seven minutes never drags. You savour each line to enjoy the brilliant pairing of words in often powerful or explosive couplets. If you’re not doing that then you are trying to extract a meaning. His acoustic guitar plays the tune with occasional mouth organ.

Another thing to boggle your mind is that this Rimbaud inspired lyric is written by a man barely 23 years old. He was a reader of classic literature but not a scholar or graduate. “I Shall Be Free No. 10” is a satirical talking blues. The “No. 10” is probably an acknowledgement that this tune and style wasn’t original. He covers contemporary topics with mentions of Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali), Barry Goldwater, Russians and Cuba.

Despite the same instrumentation he’s shifting throughout to different types of melody and lyrical themes. He was a boy who’d absorbed folk music by learning and playing it. He came from the Mid West to NYC to play the clubs and learn from the major folk artists of the day. In fact he didn’t initially record his own songs. Eventually when he started to record you could hear traces of many early musical influences such as English, Irish, Scottish, South American and African American in the sounds he made.

“Motorpsycho Nitemare” is a rambling story. He’s on the road and needs a ”place to stay”. He knocks on a door. After hostility and suspicion a farmer gives him a bed. The generational divide is apparent as this free spirit collides with the middle-aged establishment. Complications arise when Rita, the farmer’s daughter, steps into view looking “like she stepped out of La Dolca Vita”. I think you can guess the plot and it’s complications from here. The album finishes with “It Ain’t Me, Babe”. A song subsequently widely covered. The folk pop song grabs you immediately with its hooks. Its simple melody unfolds as Dylan plays chords on his guitar. Of all the songs this allows the mesmerising quality of his voice to captivate you.

I can tell you from our night school class there’s enough in each of the 11 songs to make it into a potential classic. I‘ve talked about a few here but each one is important.

Needless to say his trajectory was skywards at this stage of his career. It’s easy to see why each album on this path is coveted and still as important today as when they were released.

The Guest List, Aortas & My Cartier – Week 6 : 2020

I’ve been lucky enough to be on the guest list when attending a gig with the Mighty Jessney from Vixen 101 but never in my own right. So it was a thrill to collect my free tickets at The Sage in Gateshead to see Country music star, Brandy Clark, on stage.  It’s not so much the avoidance of the cost but I now felt part of the music industry. If I consider how many albums I’ve reviewed on websites, and in the press, then a little ‘recognition’ was splendid. Under ‘Music’ I have a review of the concert. Check it out, she was magic.

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We made a weekend of our trip to the North East. We stayed at a very modern and swish B&B near Hexham. This enabled us to visit Carlisle (impressed) on the west coast and avoid the rain. The next day was a walk on Hadrian’s Wall. After a mile or two stumbling up and down rocks, hills and mud we made a decision to do it again!

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Sadly I hit a pheasant driving into York. It simply strolled out in front of the car and there was nothing I could do. Horrible. When I got to my destination in York I checked the front of the car and extracted a few long feathers from the grill. On my I return I drove past the spot where we collided. There was no sign of the bird. I hope it was not fatally hurt and had just wandered off. Unfortunately that couldn’t be said for the one I ate on my stay up in Hexham. We dined at the Barrasford Arms, near Hexham, and the menu was a delight and I had game by way of a change.

When my then employer, Moores, was bought by an American company in 1996, the directors received a bonus. I bought a coveted watch – a Cartier Santos. I think it cost about £1,600. As a smart executive I was wearing Jaeger suits, shirts and ties and the watch was a compliment for all this sartorial elegance. (Nowadays I’m often found wearing fleeces, jaded jeans and a Swatch or maybe my Apple Watch). The Cartier usually sits safely secured in the house. However the battery does eventually expire and a visit to the jeweller is necessary to replace it. To maintain the waterproof seal and have an expert eye cast over its workings I take it to an approved Cartier specialist. As with all luxury items, with moving parts, the cost isn’t just about the purchase price. To replace the battery, check it over and replace a fragment of blue glass on the winder it cost £218. An expensive business you’ll agree.

For whatever reason we’ve been in and out of Boots (the chemist/pharmacy) over the last few weeks. The visits are for various reasons but latterly it‘s been to try and buy some hand disinfectant gel. This had meant visiting many outlets. The north of England has been gripped by coronavirus anxieties and the gel has sold out in most places. The chap in one of the Leeds city centre Boots told us that he was also out of facemasks. Anyway I am struck by how tired and run down so many of the shops are. A quick Google suggests that the company is considering about selling out to a private equity company. Let’s hope punters, in the interim, don’t abandon them in a fashion that they are abandoning their stores.

Lastly, I finish with medical matters. Before you worry..  I’m feeling great and behaving as regards diets, exercise and nearly always remembering to take my medication. However as the clock ticks well past 60 then the interest that the NHS is taking in my wellbeing is unnerving. I’ve gone an age group related routine regime to check for bowel cancer every other year. Not a nice project to administer when it comes round! Then after a visit to the surgery over something else I had my cholesterol levels checked. Another random visit had the doctor taking my blood pressure and don’t get me started on prostrate health… I went through the whole investigation and my lasting memory is asking the assistant practitioner what his training was for the rectum test.

So thinking I’m clear of more blood samples and prodding I was dismayed to see the latest letter drop onto the mat. This was an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening. This main artery can burst and there’s a 15% chance of survival if it does fail. So catching it can be a useful thing to do but the leaflet went on to advise that 2.4% don’t survive an operation to repair the aneurysm even if it hasn’t burst. Gulp.

So I tripped into the surgery for the ultrasound scan noting that over 1% of those scanned have a problem. I’m delighted to say I have no problem but I’m watching the door mat with anxiety for the next test the NHS has on it’s plan.

 

Record Of The Week # 85

Lynne Hanson – Just Words

Canadian Lynne Hanson has been compared to Lucinda Williams and Mary Gauthier. That alone should be enough to grab your attention. For me it was one of those CDs that was so good it kept creeping back into the player. It certainly shortened a few long drives. I can now add she also reminds me of Mary Chapin Carpenter.

 The opening song on Just Words is “True Blue Moon”. It has all Carpenter’s tunesmith sensibility with a story about a failed relationship and her accumulated cynicism about love’s temporary nature – “happy ever after lasts as long / as a rainbow in June”. Despite her misery the melody is a real earworm and the band’s arrangement layered and slick.

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“Long Way Home” has another great melody and an arrangement that hangs off a steady bass and drum rhythm. Her voice is expressive with an attractive range and timbre throughout. Maybe it’s the recurring theme of the unshakeable grief and longing for a departed lover that makes her vocals yearning and soulful. “Just Words” is about verbal bullying: a modern and topical subject. In alignment with the angry and raw message the sound has rousing yet eerie atmospherics with some discordant notes that amplify the tension. All this builds up to another great guitar solo from Kevin Breit. His CV includes playing with Rosanne Cash, Cassandra Wilson and Norah Jones.

 “Lollipops And Roses” chugs into life with a raw electric guitar playing chords that signal something menacing ahead. The lyrics spit out words like “bury me”, “bitter train”, “scrub away” and “feel her hate”. Hanson’s melancholy regret is sung over a swamp rhythm that’s so hot that you can imagine the walls sweating. The breadth of some of the album’s sounds is confirmed with “Would You Still” (love me, miss me, remember me etc.). This has a funky off beat emphasized by the percussion and M J Dandeneau’s brooding and masterly bass.

 The whole album hits a compelling groove as it dovetails voice, instrumentation and melodies into something quite special. This sounds like an Americana artist at the top of her game.

 

Brandy Clark, The Sage, Gateshead – January 31 2020

I drove 100 miles north hoping to wallow in Brandy Clark’s repertoire about bored or beleaguered housewives, delicious revenge ditties and heart melting love stories. She has a beautiful voice and has written some classic country melodies, not least on her own albums. Previous concerts revealed a consummate but serious, and not particularly engaging artist. She was getting her time in the spotlight after years of stoking the star-making machinery by writing amazing songs for other country Royalty. However on the night, in front of an audience of over 400, we got a relaxed woman at ease with herself and beyond chatty!

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She was playing five European dates debuting her new album – Your Life Is A Record. (This is before a big US tour starting in February and continuing until May) The six songs from the new album were immediate as regards their impact. She’s said that the arrangements are different to her earlier releases, not least, for the inclusion of more strings. To achieve the sound with her backing band she brought along Kaitlyn Raitz on cello. There was a story behind her latest single “Who You Thought I Was”. Here it tells the end of a relationship but the title idea came from attending an award’s ceremony where John Prine was giving one of the accolades. He was taken aback by a standing ovation; with characteristic dry humour he commented, “I’m John Prine, but I’d like to go back to being who you thought I was”! The other five songs she played are a continuation of lyrical themes and quality melodies from earlier records. It’s released in March and you’ll be well rewarded.

The band also comprised Billy Adamson on electric guitar and Ashleigh Caudill on upright bass. They’d all met up in Oslo (at baggage reclaim) for the first time. They fitted in seamlessly: Adamson’s skilful and well placed flourishes and Caudill’s additional talent on backing vocals. Holding this all together was Danny Young on drums and vocals. The set of 23 songs showcased the first two albums equally. It was here that the humour of her take on life shone through with great introductions to favourites such as “Mama’s Broken Heart”, “Stripes”, “Daughter” and “Get High”. On the latter she commented that around the world fans would sidle up to her and tell her that the character in the song was their own sister!

The slower songs included my personal favourites of “Three Kids and No Husband” and “Hold My Hand”. The ability to say so much in so few words is a true gift. And then came the covers by Waylon Jennings (“Good Hearted Woman”), George Strait (“The Chair”) and Buck Owens (“Together Again”). She played “Blue Bayou” as a tribute to Linda Ronstadt. They were all homages to the influences of her own youth, which illustrated her early wonderment of country or great songwriters and vocalists.

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Thanking the audience and effusively confirming how much she enjoyed playing the UK, she treated us to an unplanned encore song. She name checked another 70s icon, Carole King, and sang “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”: the crowd, now on their feet, said yes.

 

Bob Dylan, Gary Glitter & Hyundai – Week 4: 2020

As January grinds on I still dream of cycling in hotter climes. The warm breeze on my face, a clear blue sky, the hope of finding a sandwich in an hour or so and the open road ahead. Unfortunately Anna’s double vision is unchanged and I remain in Yorkshire. After the eye specialist consultations and their advice to wait for natural healing we await improvement. In the meanwhile my starring rôle as the chauffeur in ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ continues. To be fair Anna is catching buses and has been donning bicycle clips with no complaints

As a consequence of being at home then the phrase ‘the devil makes work for idle hands’ comes to mind and I have been rummaging  amongst  old documents. You can see Page 1 of a list of concerts I attended during 1971 to 1975. I even include the ticket for the Argent concert – note the entrance price. The list includes seeing David Bowie twice in a week. There are some artists I have completely forgotten such as Tim Buckley and (cough) Gary Glitter. You’ll be comforted to know that I only saw Gary as I waited for Vinegar Joe at the old Bradford Park Avenue ground on a sunny afternoon. Other memories of that afternoon include some bloke wandering past me, as I sat on the pitch, whispering did I “want to score some dope?” I think my response was “who are you calling a dope?”

Concert List Page 1

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Another nostalgic thought about the Argent concert is that I probably happily drove into the town centre and parked up near the centre for nothing and strolled to the Town Hall. Today I’d be parking about half a mile away and paying at least £5 to leave the car in a multi storey for three hours. Happy days.

Whist I’m going down memory lane then you’ll note that Mount Park Road in Ealing was not a ‘lane’ I should have parked on. I was spending a year in London with a car at the tender age of 18 years old. I was at Ealing Technical College beginning my Economics degree.  I now prefer its current designation as The University Of West London. Anyway the fine was £2.

Parking Ticket

I expected selling a car through We Buy Any Car.Com. would be commercial rape with some oily salesman. You’ve seen the adverts on TV. We sold a 12 year old Hyundai. The car belonged to a lady now unable to drive and resident in a care home. We got knocked down a bit on the price due to an administration charge and the fact it had some dents. However, it was quick and easy and with little aggravation. More surprising was a 68 plate 5 Litre Ford Mustang on their car park. Apparently dealers don’t want to touch these types of ‘muscle cars’ as they sit on their forecourts for ages. I cannot imagine how many thousands the previous owner lost on this misadventure.

On my bike rides I often ride through Saxton: a pretty village near Tadcaster. It seems to have it all (for it’s population of 1,000+). A calm rural setting with it’s own cricket field, pub, church and a primary school. Surrounding the settlement are large arable fields. I feel as much outrage as the locals to see that some pond life has dumped all this rubbish and cleared off. The reason for doing this is that they can’t be bothered to drive the nearest Household Waste site or that they are avoiding paying commercial charges for disposing of this stuff properly. Frankly if the new Government brings back public flogging for these animals then it will be appropriate.

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Now with a few dark and cold nights on my hands I signed up for an evening course at The University of York – ‘Bob Dylan, The Nobel Poet’. This dissects Bob through the ages in terms of his lyrics. We’re looking at the message (or not!) and the origins of the lyrics composition. They’re about 17 on the course and most are devoted Dylanologists who love the man. I don’t love him but he may the most important composer and artist of 20th Century popular music bar none. (Sorry Paul and John).

I had never seen the harbour so calm as it was at Whitby. My first wife deigned to be taken to the coast for lunch and a walk along the pier. How could you pass up the chance for a ride in a Morgan on such a sunny day? Yes, I spoil her.

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You’ll be pleased to see our ceiling has a new patch on it. If the plumbing has been sorted and it gets painted over I somehow feel I will have lost an old friend I made contact with last year.

 

(Not) Record Of The Week # 84

Dustin Lynch – Tullohoma

Duncan Warwick the editor of Country Music People sent me an email asking if I’d review the above Bro-Country album. I responded in a grouchy way as I’d already given him four reviews for the month (and I don’t get paid for all this scribing). However, he wrote back “Sorry, I was getting so depressed by this and everyone thinks I’m a miserable bastard because I’m always slagging this kind of thing off I was hoping someone else might take it on… And I thought I’d give you a try being a bit cheeky. This is the kind of thing that makes me question whether I even like country music”. So I listened to it and wrote this review. It is truly execrable but it’s popularity as a sound is growing. I attempt to explain why:

Dustin Lynch is one of the manufactured male and manicured mannequins who clutters up Country radio. Eligibility for stardom is a serviceable voice, matinee idol looks and an age of around 30. Lynch found his way to Nashville’s Bluebird Café at the tender age of 16 years old. It’s been a journey where he’s had to ‘pay his dues’. It paid off; he had a debut number one album in 2012.

Continue reading (Not) Record Of The Week # 84

MND, Molars & Megxit – Week 3 : 2020

The brutal disease of Motor Neurone Disease has struck Rob Burrows. The information hit the Rugby League community hard. He is a hero with a sparkling career in an all conquering Leeds team. The affection with which he is held is increased due to his physical size. At 5 foot 5 inches he’s a unique ‘giant’ in a sport full of exceptional specimens of the human form. The diagnosis is beyond cruel when you consider he is only 37 years old. In the various TV clips, of the game in front of 21,,000 fans, it was hard not to have a tear in your eye as he ran onto the pitch for the last 5 minutes. He certainly did.

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Meanwhile back in Hollywood: Megxit. I’ve nothing useful to add to the spectacle of this negotiation other than it never seemed likely that their integration into the Firm would work out. Anyway one unedifying spectacle is that the Queen seems to have been a victim of this debacle. At 93 years old she’s been left to chair this divorce settlement after having been treated disrespectfully by the public resignation. She’s not at fault, why do this to her?

Continue reading MND, Molars & Megxit – Week 3 : 2020