Tis the season…

…and I’m *knackered* already! With all the festive celebrations yet to come, I’m running out of steam…! Been out three nights on the trot, as well as dashing around trying to organise things for the seasonal festivities, buy the occasional gift, send cards, entertain, etc, etc – (whine!). As the fella says, I’m getting too damn old for this shit…

Been exceptionally busy with work, and on the few occasions when they let me out, I’ve been partying hard. Mind you, the last few nights I’ve been out without a drink, as I’ve been the designated driver. Yes, the Saab is back – very much so! And if it keeps me off the booze, you KNOW it’s gotta be good, he he…

So the Christmas celebrations are starting in earnest with a night out in Jongleurs comedy club in Camden tonight (23rd), then another night out in Camden tomorrow night, then Christmas Day in Camden with the Gin Panic mob, then on Boxing Day crawl home. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it!

But Christmas Day and Boxing Day are about all the days off I’m having this side of the New Year, because we’ve got soooo much work on – my brain is bleeding, and I really really *really* need a holiday. There again, some would argue that my one-day business trip to Rome counts as a holiday – I’d have to disagree, fun though it was. Leaving Stansted at 7am, arriving back at 10pm the same day is a bit of a long one, and if I go again I’ll be doing it differently – believe me!

All in all, though, being busy is a good complaint, and I’d be whinging more if there was no work at all. Hopefully 2004 will be our year – not quite expecting millionaire status just yet, but hopefully it’ll set us on the right path. Which will be nice… 😉

No Australia trip to look forward to this year, although Vix & Jonny are back living over here, Kiz is back for a few months, Ben & Brooke are here for another couple of weeks – so apart from the weather we might as well be in Oz! A tentative plan to drive to Ireland for New Year has slid off the agenda, which is no biggie – it was a bit silly anyway, and characteristic of me and my mental travel arrangements (see Rome, above)!

After my rant this time last year about the Christmas retail frenzy, I’ve succumbed and actually bought two or three presents this year – although I’ll freely admit that some of it was a study in economy gift-buying! Sod it – apparently it’s the thought that counts, and they cost bugger all! 🙂

And on that note, to all the people for whom I bought nothing, I’ll leave you with this thought: may the festive season deliver you all pleasure and no pain, and the New Year bring you all your hearts desire…

Busy busy B—

Soz for the lack of updates! I’ve been exceptionally hectically busy between work and play, so I haven’t really had the chance to post anything. And apart from that, I didn’t really think there was anything worth posting…! Anyway, my mate Steffie noted that I hadn’t been updating, so I’ve been kinda shamed into scribbling a few words. 😀

Well, the birthday bash went off like a nuke! I was horrendously drunk – so drunk in fact that I left one of my birthday gifts at a pub in Camden. It was a bottle of wine, and needless to say it wasn’t there when I phoned up to check – bummer! So – to Adam, Alex and Kerrie: sorry, guys, I truly am a complete arse… 🙁

Besides all that, I’ve got a ton of work on, which I’ve always said is a good complaint – right now, though, I could seriously do with a looooong holiday somewhere warm. The work keeps on piling in, which bodes well for our little concern, especially given that December isn’t really the time of year you’d expect all this to be happening. In fact, I’m going to be the first staff member from Synthetix to be undertaking international business travel – I’m going to Italy on the 11th for a feasibility study. Oooh, I feel all important… 😀

In other news, the Saab is back on the road – yay! I dug the battery out and charged it up, without considering for a moment the effect that would have on the immobiliser and the security-coded stereo…. After some embarrassment with the alarm going off in my garage, I managed to get it sorted. Close one, though. And on the 10th it’s going in to have the bodywork repaired, have a service and MOT – and then I’m going to be out in it aaaaaall the time, oh yes!

As I write, I’m just in from watching Mitch Benn record a show for BBC Radio 4, and what a side-splittingly hysterical night that was! He’s performing in Balham on the 15th of December – if you haven’t seen him, I hugely recommend you go. Of course if you *have* seen him, then you know you have to go anyway… 🙂

I’ll write again soon, but December’s shaping up to be an insanely busy month. While I’m here, let me just take a moment to wish my twin sisters Kathy & Ailish a mighty fine birthday on the 3rd – go paint the town red, girls! As I’m sure you will…

Take care, people – keep it country.

All work and no play…

…Makes Al a very poorly bunny indeed. Laid low with a chest infection, I must humbly apologise for the lack of updates for the past couple of weeks. This is largely because I’ve been insanely busy and not doing anything very interesting, and more recently with the dreaded infection…

Bit of a bummer, really, because I’ve not had the dreaded infection for a few years now – I thought I was rid of them. But here I am, wheezing and feverish, coughing up great lumps of something that has no place in the human lung – seriously, some of what I’ve been churning out resembles the nasties in some of the more lurid science fiction pieces I’ve seen! But I digress…

November is lining up to be a busy month, so I’d better work on getting myself fit as a fiddle for the rigours ahead. This year, to break with tradition (and a fine one, IMHO) my mucker Gwyn & I are having TWO birthday confabulations, instead of the usual miserly combined one. There is method to this apparent madness, as will soon become apparent.

So – Gwyn’s party is on the 8th, I believe in Archway (in an attempt to trash the gaff before they move at the end of the month!), then I’m off to Ireland on the 10th for a crashingly brief three-night stay. My family will probably not let me hear the end of it, but nevermind. Then on the 15th, MY party – wahoo! And at this party will be a very special guest, my favourite Antipodean, the (in equal parts) lovely and loony KIZZA. Yes, by popular demand she’s back for six months only, to repeat the mayhem of her last visit. And good luck to her, I say! 🙂


Yes, Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, the adverts have had a tinsel-trimmed flavour for the past two months, and I’m preparing to gorge myself on food & booze with my delightful chums in Camden for the second year running. Let’s face it – if every Christmas could be like last year’s, then it would make the whole production almost bearable… (You can just hear a ‘bah, humbug’ straining to get out, can’t you???!!!)

I’ve got a tentative idea of the happenins UK music scene appreciation website online at the moment – click and have a look. It’s slowly beginning to gather a trace of momentum – since mentioning it to a few people, the interest level is rising, and Ian of FastFood is so keen, he’s signed up on my message board! Welcome aboard, me hearty – arrrr….

Time to throw the doors open to ideas and suggestions on this one: what would you like to see on a website devoted to a London music scene? At the moment, I’m thinking of a gig listing, gig reviews, band biographies, gossip columns, message board – maybe even a classified ad section or bulletin board where disenfranchised musos can be wooed by their more idealistic/enthusiastic counterparts into dusting off that old axe and stomping the boards once again. I tell you, the damn thing has legs – any and all suggestions mightily welcome, however silly! I’ll start a thread on the message board for y’all to post your ideas (now if *anything* gets posted, I’ll “drop out o’ me standin'”, as they’d say back home!)….

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye!

Charity gigs, karaoke fancy dress, alcohol poisoning…

…sounds like an interesting weekend, doesn’t it??? Though “alcohol poisoning” may be a slight exaggeration! Had a funky time on Saturday round my old mucker Nick’s place, celebrating other half Jo’s birthday with a fancy dress karaoke night. Sounds wild, and it was! Of course, I got my wires crossed as to the theme of the evening, and went dressed as a preacher – wide-brimmed hat, long jacket, the works – only to find that I was supposed to have dressed as a pop star! Oh, how we laughed…

Partied till 5 in the morning, then collapsed into comatose ‘sleep’ for 5 hours, then trudged home to my own bed. I wasn’t fit, but I had to drag myself out for a gig in the West End (which I subsequently discovered was for charity) – with a heavy heart (and liver, lungs, kidneys, etc) I dragged myself up to the Borderline.

And what a gig it was! The can-do-no-wrong Gin Panic excelled themselves with an electrifying performance, and guitarist Adam gained huge kudos by slinging his guitar around him in a mighty 360° stunt – we truly were not worthy! Then the headline act, Fast Food. If you haven’t had the pleasure, I recommend these guys – almost as highly as I recommend Gin Panic. Singer/guitarist Ian is the most incredibly wired guy I’ve seen on stage in a long time, and the set was brilliant – definitely be seeing those guys again!

As it happens, there’s talk of maybe making that a monthly event, where the bands play for free to benefit a good cause – now that’s the spirit. And funnily enough, all this musical eventfulness ties in rather neatly with my next up-and-coming projectette – something of a coming full-circle for happenins, you might say. What I’m proposing is to take the happenins.co.uk domain and make it into a music portal of sorts, a kind of a meeting place for all involved and interested in the current London music scene. There will be band biogs, gig listings and eventually downloadable MP3s, along with message boards and whatnot. It’s still in the theory stages, but I’ll keep you posted on developments.

Sod it, I have to do something to amuse myself, don’t I?? I mean, I’ve just cancelled my trip to Turin to see my old buddies Anna and Dani tie the knot, due to appalling skintness. Spewin’, as my Aussie mates would say…

Well, right now I’m still recovering from the weekend. Those cocktail things Nick was plying me with on Saturday night did me no favours – and I did myself even less by having a few beers at the Borderline! You’ve heard this song before: I’m never drink- ah, screw it, who am I kidding? See ya down the boozer…

Autumn leaves a-falling…

Wow – that came around quickly, didn’t it??? It seems like only last week we were sweltering in the grip of some of the hottest weather in living memory, and now the rainy weather has set back in… Ah well, nothing lasts forever, does it??? Just Christmas to look forward to now – and maybe Hallowe’en, although I might give the trick-or-treating a miss this year!

I’ve had a funny kind of month – sorry I haven’t really been keeping up to date on the old ‘happenins’. It seems that I’ve spent my time either building up to a hangover or recovering from one – sometimes simultaneously! Between various events, social visits and a slowly developing alcohol-fuelled relationship(!), I’ve not had a whole hell of a lot of time to keep the site in shape.

Last week, my sis Jhone and nephew Caelum were over to visit, which meant something like 5 nights of alcohol on the trot. Since I’ve been softened by the English lifestyle, I can’t really sustain that pace anymore! Needless to say, by the time she went home I was suitably enfeebled by alcoholic toxicity and desperately in need of a system flush – still am, as it goes! 🙂

Just a quick note on the fundraising side of things: huge thanks to everyone who dug deep and sponsored me – it will all help to make a difference, and I really appreciate it. Watch this space for details of the next extravaganza…

October is set to be another busy month, with work busying up again (and I was so enjoying the rest!), and numerous social obligations to fulfil (I make it sound such a chore, don’t I???) – although I’ll have to cancel my travel plans to Turin for my friends Anna & Dani’s wedding! Skintness prevails, unfortunately, but I’ll get over to visit them soon enough.

I think I’ll have to plan another party chez moi – the place is feeling quite bereft since the last shindig, and I do love a good bash. Especially if I don’t have to travel for it! 🙂 Anyone who’s interested, keep an eye on the site – this is where you’ll hear about it first.

Plans are afoot to put some life into the old website, with numerous options being considered. Any suggestions to the usual address or the message board please, folks – what would YOU like to see on happenins??? You never know, I might even listen to them…. 🙂

Right – got to slope off and see my brother and sister-in-law in London; it’s been a busy time for visiting relatives! Can’t drink too much, though – I’m still attempting (with limited success!) to detox.


You are feeling sleepy, veeerry sleeeeepy (part 2)

Wow – what a fun weekend! For the ill-informed, I had my advanced hypnotherapy course on Saturday and Sunday, and it was hugely interesting stuff. The high point for me was when I had my arm turned to stone by the instructor – interesting…. There was certainly a reprobate element to the class as well, so I fit right in with that little group. Future alcoholic sessions are in the offing – and of course, there’s the diploma course next year. Bring it on!

I’ve still got the odd twinge here and there from the sponsored walk – guess I did more damage to myself than I thought! Still, I keep telling myself that it’s nothing a few glasses of wine won’t sort out. Drinking problem? Me? It’s only a problem when it runs out! 🙂

Life in general is busy just now, although work has eased off to a much saner level – for the moment. I have an overwhelming ‘eye of the hurricane’ feeling; there is much potential work looming, and knowing my luck it’ll all come at once! Still, as I always say, it’s a good complaint – it’d be pretty bad if I’d no work at all…

My sister Jhone and delightful nephew Caelum are coming over to spend the weekend with me – although I suspect that Caelum, at the ripe old age of 8 is still a little young for me to be buying him his first pint, I’ll do my best to show the pair of them a great time. Jhone and I can knock them back while he nurses his Coke…. 😉

Right – I’m out of news, or I can’t be bothered to type any more – whatever. I’m off to organise my terrific social whirl, such as it is…

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah!

What a fun weekend that was! I can say this now, because I’m nowhere near as crippled as I was by the end of the walk… 🙂

In fairness, though, the atmosphere was terrific, as it usually is on such events, and the support was brilliant – the massage therapists were a master stroke, I have to say! And as mentioned in a previous post, the countryside lost its inspiring edge after a few miles – you can only walk through so many ploughed fields and meadows before you’ve got countryside overload….

The first day was OK – a 14-mile warm-up that was tiring on the basis of less than four hours’ sleep the night before, and a good introduction to what lay in store. The “tented city” that we stayed in on both nights was equipped with toilets, showers, medic tent, massage tent – who could ask for more? As it turned out, we could have asked for warmer weather.

Tired and stiff from the first day’s exploits, we turned in on Friday night to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for Saturday’s 23-mile blitz. Unhappily, it was not to be. A clear, clear sky (beautiful stars!) gave us a cold, cold night and most people in the camp spent the majority of it shivering and got very little sleep. I, of course, in an August frame of mine, hadn’t thought of bringing thermals, jumpers, any of that stuff – but Julien didn’t even have a sleeping bag! He had to suffice with a couple of blankets – poor guy!

Saturday’s walk was an endurance test – they even had a big hill to deal with a couple of miles from the finish! OK, some people may say that 23 miles in a day isn’t much, but after 14 miles the previous day and a couple of crap nights’ sleep, combined with my ludicrous fitness level, I was in bad shape. I limped into camp that afternoon, close to the back of the pack, aided by a big stick that Julien had found for me to lean on. The Old Man of the Hills, I dubbed myself thereafter…

I wasn’t especially confident about completing the course at this stage. Saturday night, dosed up with painkillers and wrapped up in every item of clothing I’d brought, I managed to grab some shut-eye and was in better shape Sunday morning than the previous one. Off we went on the last 13 miles of the adventure, and to my amazement I finished it! Quite something, if you only knew what I was feeling… 🙂

I’m thinking of volunteering for the event next year – we’ll see. I’ve got my sights set on bigger and better things for next year’s fundraising – possibly the Macchu Picchu Trail in Peru, if my doctor will let me! I do love these fundraisers, and I’m left with an enormous sense of wellbeing from completing the task and raising a pretty decent amount of money for the charity – with oodles of help from friends, family, colleagues, clients and so forth.

So it’s time again to thank everyone who made the event worthwhile. Those who sponsored me just to see me suffer (as was the case in the Nepal event in 2001!) will be eminently satisfied with the results this time! 🙂 But I have to thank everyone most sincerely for their generosity – your money will be going to a most worthy cause. Anyone who hasn’t had a chance to donate yet – now’s your chance. Hit the link on the left, and go for your life!

Watch this space for the pictures, and I’m sure I’ll have gossip and developments as soon as I’m out and about again! 🙂

Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch…

OK, this is going to be a short one, because I’m still knackered and sore from the whole thing. Overall it went well, with good weather (I’m pretty pink right now!) and great organisation. The people on the trek (I’d estimate the number at a little over 100) were an excellent bunch, and I made a few new friends along the way.

I also acquired a couple of blisters, aching feet, knackered knees and ankles, and a dose of sunburn for those of you who are waiting for tales of pain. Saturday was a killer, with a 23-mile cross-country run leaving the camp full of walking wounded, myself included. The next event of this ilk that I attempt, I WILL make sure to be fitter (I say this every time!)…

Pix will be posted as soon as I can be bothered, and I’ll write in a little more detail about the walk itself. I’d have to say, though, that the Cotswolds, while lovely and very English, are not the most interesting place in the country to walk. After 23 miles of Constable paintings, it kinda loses its edge, y’know?

Anyway, more to come. If you haven’t donated yet, it’s not too late. And if you have, huge thanks – it made all the pain worthwhile… 🙂

Later! I’m off to soak my feet…

The end is nigh…

I don’t know if it’ll be the end of me, per se, but I think it might be the end of me poor feet… I haven’t walked anything like this distance since Nepal, and while I’m comforting myself with the thought that that particular expedition was up a huge hill and then down it again (not too many mountains in Wiltshire, I’m told), it’s still a bit daunting. Don’t forget I was practically unable to walk towards the end of the Nepal trek…

The weather looks a bit sucky at the time of writing, but I have faith in the BBC’s 5-day forecast, which tells me that it’ll be clearing up as the week goes on. Let’s hope that’s a trend rather than a blip! Although to be honest it won’t bother me that much if it’s raining. (just not cold!)

At this point, I’m back into hassle-merchant fundraising mode, and I’ll be plaguing all and sundry with requests for spare change. Even though I’ve raised over £500 so far (see the fundraising page), there’s a bunch of people I haven’t heard from – you know who you are, and I know where you live…! 😉

On that note, I have to make special mention of the people back home in good old Mullingar. The response to Julien’s efforts has been overwhelming, with people asking him for sponsorship forms to take around their friends, family and work colleagues. People who know me from years ago are pitching in, even if I don’t remember them!!! The effort that everyone is putting in is gobsmacking, and I’m very very touched.

Huge thanks to all back home, then: big up to Aggie, Kieran, Jhone, Paul, my dad, Mushroom and all the rest of you – you know who you are, even if I don’t!

To all that I’m dealing with here, remember that you can pledge money – you don’t have to fork over the cash immediately. Even though I’m doing the walk on FRIDAY 29th AUGUST, I’ve actually got until the end of September to collect any pledges, so come on – even if it’s only a few quid, every little helps. DROP ME A LINE with your details, and I’ll add you to the honours list! 🙂

Right – hassle section over. Party people take note: the (not many!) pics from Stu & Mookie’s housewarming will be in the gallery very soon, as will the few pix I managed to snap from my own flatwarming (months ago!) before I dissolved into a drunken stupor… Browse, comment, enjoy!

Music aficionados: the utterly brilliant Gin Panic are headlining the Hope & Anchor in Upper Street in Islington, N1 on Monday 25th August (is that enough emphasis, do you think?!). They’ll be on stage at 10pm, or so they tell me, but try and get there a bit earlier and have a drink with me and the band. They’re a nice bunch, once you get to know them and they’re not biting the heads off bats….

I think I’m out of news, although when I started this I was sure I had loads! Bummer…

Take care all!

Aww, the weather is on its way out!

As inevitable as a crushing hangover after a terrific housewarming party, the glorious weather is slipping away slowly but surely. Although I’m not sure that I always referred to it as ‘glorious’ – ‘this *$%#@£& weather’, I think I called it on one or two occasions. And the doomsayers reckon that this heralds the imminent demise of the planet, but I think the old girl’s got a few years left in her yet!

Last weekend saw a house very well warmed, if the drunken exploits were anything to go by. Certainly my hangover was of epic proportions on Sunday, and a salutory lesson in imbibing plenty of water when going on a piss-up in hot weather…! Stu & Mookie threw a memorable bash to throw their doors open to general socialising, and did it in style, with a top-notch barbeque (guest chef none other than Mr Ian Sands) and enough alcoholic beverage to sink the proverbial battleship.

Speaking of my erstwhile flatmate and boozing buddy, Stu is the latest to join the ranks of the sponsors – cheers mate, and I’ll buy you a beer when we next meet. I, however, will be sticking to water – I think it’s time to follow Toria’s example and go teetotal for a while, so my poor long-suffering liver can have a chance to recover. Photos of the housewarming will be posted in the photo gallery as soon as I get my sh*t together…

And speaking of sponsorship, it’s all kicking off in the Emerald Isle, with the local press running an article on mine and Julien’s fundraising for the BIGFoot challenge. Also, I believe my dear Dad is plaguing his workplace (the local constabulary!) for funds to support us – nice one, Dad. And Julien’s wonderful other half Agnes has managed to chivvy 80 Euro from her colleagues at Oxfam in Dublin – merci bien!

And with that, I’ve got less than two weeks to make myself vaguely capable of a 50-mile walk. Some hope! On that note, I’m signing off and going to the gym. Nothing like last-minute desperation to spur a man on to bigger weights and more reps….