Month: May 2010

The Long Weekend

I fear that my new abode will very quickly be filled with a mish-mash of antiques and general tat. Mostly the latter.

I’m basing this on a short wander around a vintage store at the weekend. Lots of big old pieces of furniture, as well as a lot of stuff I wouldn’t give house room but quite a few pieces that I would, one of which I’m still tempted to go back and get (a lamp base made from wooden letterpress blocks).

It may also be filled with books as not only did I wander around a book fair (where I succumbed and bought a compendium of Lewis Carroll works) I also made my first ever, and definitely not my last, visit to Voltaire & Rousseau. It’s a magical place, floor to ceiling books, shoogly piles of paperbacks waiting to topple over and a cat snoozing away in the corner.

Voltaire & Rousseau

I also wandered past a music store, mostly guitars, and started to ponder buying myself a piano, or at the very least a good quality keyboard. Nothing I can do with that for now until I know where I’m going to be and how much space I’ll have but it’s another thing to add to the ‘maybe’ list.

And yes, I admit, I saw this today and did stop to ponder… (not sure I’ll ever have room for a baby grand mind you).

I can see me spending more and more time hunting through vintage stores in the future. I’m beginning to find my ‘style’ is more eclectic than minimal, although I do fear I’m being influenced a little too much by blogs like Apartment Therapy (aka, furniture porn). What on EARTH have I become!

Sunday was spent largely doing nothing, much like today, as there is little that needs done around here. Having the house on the market means it is clean and tidy at all times. In fact I deliberately left all my dishes lying on Sunday just to give me something to do this morning (I’m a little OCD about that kind of thing). And now, well right now I’m going to put some music on and sit and read a book.

The rock and roll lifestyle continues.

The short hot summer

What a lovely weekend that was, all sunshine and BBQs and ice cream and other good things which are good. Nay, wonderful.

I’d love to say there was anything else going on, and I really should be taking my chances to spend some time on this ‘ere blog given that, at any moment, some kind soul will buy our house and so will commence 2-3 weeks of madness as we pack up and head off.

On that front we have one potential buyer, but he’s waiting on confirmation from his workplace of a new contract. They like the house and I think they are first time buyers so that bodes well. I think. Maybe.

Basically I’m just trying to avoid speculating until something actually happens.

Largely to stop myself looking for flats to rent, spotting a GORGEOUS one in Kelvinbridge, backed on to the river, huge big living room, wooden floors, balcony… only to see that it’s been snapped up. Not a surprise, but it’s annoying.

Instead I’ve been keeping myself busy, and find myself sitting late into the night surfing the internet looking at all sorts of delicious pictures. I’ve even been taking notes!

“Ohhh that lamp would go well with that chair, and I could have a couple of bookcases behind it and have a wee reading area…”

“Hmmmm not sure about the cushions, but I like the sofa.”

“I MUST HAVE THAT ART!”

It’s official, interior design is the (my?) new porn.

A step into the unknown

Later this week I’ll be sitting down to talk to some people. Some very important people as it happens.

Yes, I’ll be talking to some customers.

I’m slightly ashamed to admit this is the first time I’ll have done this, formally at least and I’m not quite sure what to expect. The main thrust of the conversation is to go over some feedback we received, and I’ll be highlighting what we’ve done to address some of the issues they raised as well as pointing out some of the other good stuff we’ve done.

However, the real reason I’m setting this up isn’t really to go through their feedback, although that’s been very useful, it’s more about opening a line of communication.

Like many, we struggle to get access to our audience so this is a real step forward, I’m positively excited.

The real challenge will be repeating this, and ultimately I’m hoping it leads to some form of customer forum, but first things first.

Band of Skulls

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a band called “Band of Skulls”. Similarly as to when I went to see a band called “Eagles of Death Metal”, the very name of the band prompts raised eyebrows and questions of what type of “noise” I’m inflicting upon myself.

Interestingly, both bands are similarly positioned in the rock catalogue. Neither are “heavy” nor particularly satanic, instead they sit in the musical catalogue alongside the likes of The White Stripes and Kings of Leon.

The Band of Skulls gig was in a venue I’d never been to before, the Classic Grand in Glasgow, which is up four flights of stairs in what I presume was an old cinema. It’s a tight venue and even standing at the back of the hall, the band were no more than about 60 metres away (that’s about 200 feet in old money).

I bought their album after spotting a brief recommendation in, I think, Esquire. I initially forgot about it but soon started coming back to it time and again. It’s an oddly paced album, and I often found myself checking to see what was playing, only to find it was one of theirs. This is partly down to sharing lead vocals between the male guitarist and female bass player, and also because the songs themselves happily float from rock, to pop-laden ballad, to a drug-hazed blues drawl. Not since Gotye have I been so happily flummoxed by the change of pace the album has.

And the live experience isn’t half bad either. The sound mix was spot on, and the Grohl-esque drumming added an appropriate intensity that some of the album tracks lack.

One advantage of going to a ‘small’ gig for a relatively unknown band is that, in a few years time, I’ll be able to see them again and see how much they’ve learned. I’m not entirely sure Band of Skulls will offer me that opportunity though as they’ve already got one helluva live show, and delivered a damn good night.

I’m not one for making predictions about bands, but if this lot don’t end up on the main stage at Glastonbury some day then there is something wrong somewhere.

Lost Key

It is a ramshackle place, half-closed blinds filter streams of dusty sunlight across the threadbare carpets. Somewhere a breeze creeps through a gap and dances through the hall, ruffling the thin trail of smoke as the joss stick quietly smoulders.

The furniture is old, loved and carefree, a random matching of patterns and leather. Echoes of parties and laughter remain but are quickly fading. The painting over the fireplace is offset by the tiniest fraction, remains of the last fire lie in the grating.

It is time to move on.

From upstairs the sound of drawers sliding open, doors banging shut as the occupants hunt for the key. As soon as they have it, they will pack up and go their separate ways.

Too early

I AM WITHOUT LIE-IN, AND I AM ANNOYED!

It’s really not fair you know, the least we could get is a warming or quiet word to let us know it’s gonna happen but noooooooooooooo.

One day I’m perfectly able to sleep until 10am on a Saturday morning, the next and I’m lucky if it’s 8am.

I’m sure this is an ‘age’ thing.

With apologies to my olde wiser readers, whilst these things may be common knowledge to you (and if it is, could you PLEASE update the life user manual please, ta) it’s a recent discovery for me, and not really a pleasant one.

Along with the realisation that the hairs growing in my ears are longer than those on my head, this new desire to be awake before 8am at the weekend seems unnatural, unfair and entirely pointless.

Can’t I revoke this, or at least appeal on the grounds of IT’SNOTFAIR?

Worst still is that this newly found desire is worsened by the intake of alcohol. A couple of weeks ago, after one too many (or three too many, I lost count after the first Jägerbomb) I awoke, and please bear in mind this is after getting to bed at around 1.30am and that I was very drunk, not only before 8am but before 7am!

In that instance I can only conclude that my brain had been enjoy my drunken state so much it decided, after all about 4.5 hours sleep, that I should wake up again.

Seriously. What the fuck?

In saying that, it does mean that I’m starting to develop a very nice mid-afternoon napping habit…

First things first

I’m in the midst of interviewing to fill a vacancy for a technical writer in our team. I’m also thinking ahead as to how to get them integrated into how we do things. And then I remembered what we have done previously.

“Hello, welcome to our wonderful company. Here is a copy of the software, and the installation guide. Go!”

OK, it’s not quite like that but it is a good opportunity to check over a part of the documentation that is crucial but can be neglected.

Product installations come in all shapes and sizes, from those simple wizard driven screens to systems which require all manner of pre-configured and pre-installed supporting applications. The latter can be the trickiest as often there is a myriad of possible, valid, scenarios, and can lead to a lot of presumption.

Regardless, the installation is the first time the real users get to get their hands on your product and so it’s a good place to get reviewed by the closest person you’ll have to a new customer. A new member of your team.

Live music

In the past few weeks I’ve attended 3 gigs (with a 4th happening on Thursday). I’ve not written up any thoughts about any of them, a habit I’ve fallen out of because I know I struggle sometimes to capture my thoughts about live music, and I’m guilty of always having just attended the ‘best gig ever’.

I should pause and try and recall things in the cold light of the morning rather than when I’m still bubbling from the atmosphere and emotions a gig usually instils.

So, with that in mind I won’t ‘review’ the gig I attended last night (Band of Skulls), instead I’ll go back a couple of weeks and start with Ash (the band, not the volcano).

Ash have always intrigued me. I like some of their stuff but some of it doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but having last seen them at T in the Park many moons ago I thought it would be worth a punt. And it almost was.

They are touring to support a ‘greatest hits’ style release so they played all their well known tracks, a couple of new songs (one of which was excellent and I’ll need to track down) and even threw in a cover of a Weezer track (Only In Dreams) and two verses of Teenage Kicks to cover up when the bass guitar failed.

Alas, just as when I saw them at T in the Park, and that was with a different line-up, they remain distinctly raw when playing live. Several times either bass, drums or guitar would wander away and take a few moments to come back to the beat or melody. Suffice to say they are not the tightest of bands. I’m still less than convinced by Tim Wheeler’s vocals either but that doesn’t seem to have held them back (or has it?) yet, despite those flaws, it was a fun gig and great to hear some of their tracks in the relatively cosy setting of the ABC in Glasgow.

Contrasting that to the next band I saw, at the larger O2 Academy, would be foolish as they are worlds apart despite being closely related. Doves are a band that have been in my collection for longer than I realise and upon skimming through the setlist I realised just how many tracks of theirs I know well.

What was odd, as to my ears they are can be very poetic in lyric and gentle of melody, was the “Oasis-lite” style crowd. Maybe I’m missing something, as I definitely have Doves closer aligned to Elbow than any of the yob-rock outfits the Gallagher brothers inspired.

Regardless, Doves rocked. A much bigger and more rock orientated sound than I had been expecting, they rolled out thumping track after thumping track, and balanced their set well. Was great to hear tracks like Pounding in that setting, and I can confirm it is perfectly named.

Bonus moment was an extra encore of dance beat driven jamming, a nice little homage to their days as Sub Sub. I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Doves live but I was pleasantly surprised.

I’ll write up my thoughts on the gig last night soon.

X marks the spot

Outside there is the most eerie golden glow as the sun sets. Half the sky is light, half the sky is dark as the rain falls from a thick dark cloud.

The weather, it seems, is undecided which, funnily enough was my state of mind a couple of hours ago.

There I stood, pencil in hand, ready to put a cross in a box but… which one?

Sometime in the next few months I’ll be leaving this constituency, so that wasn’t a huge consideration for me and, like many others I’m sure, I know that I didn’t want to vote for the Conservatives.

There is, of course, an odd slant in my ‘online’ life where most of the people I follow have a similar mindset to mine and I’d take a fair guess at many of them voting Lib Dem, some voting Labour and others voting Green. I’m sure one or two of them voted Conservative just as I’m sure one or two of them won’t have voted at all.

All of this didn’t really help me though, looking at names I barely knew, and trying not to associate the leader with the party politics. We don’t elect a Prime Minister, we elect a party so quite why there is such a large fuss about the personalities of the party leaders still puzzles me. Yes, of course one of them will be Prime Minister in the morning but it would’ve been good if the newspapers had focussed on policy rather than the fact that, for example, Gordon Brown called a bigoted old woman a bigot.

I will probably watch a bit of the coverage on TV then retire to bed, knowing that, come what may, someone will be in charge of running the company and I won’t agree with all of their decisions and policies. I will take care of my own affairs as I always have and deal with the consequences.

Others will rant and rave, moan and complain but, ultimately, there will always be politicians and as the type of person who is usually attracted to being a politician typically ends up more interested in power and money than the people they are supposed to be representing (exceptions to every rule granted) it’s safe to say that in a few years time I’ll find myself, once again, standing ready to cast my vote without ever being completely sure if anything really ever changes.