`Tis the season (again? So soon?! Yeesss…)

Chipmunks roasting on an open fire,
Frostbite lopping off your toes…

Ahh, that time of year again – a time when we can snuggle up on the sofa and imagine that outside it’s a winter wonderland, where children harmlessly lob lumps of ice at each other and lovers snog under mistletoe (or even within a ten-mile radius of somewhere that there *might* be mistletoe), carol singers brave the cold to warm the night with their Christmas cheer.

And a time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the nth time… 🙂

And as usual, I’m all bah humbug about it. It’s a time of year when we all eat and drink waaay too much and pay for it with rotting livers and clogged arteries – not a good thing to have when you have the coronary-inducing stress of negotiating Christmas shopping crowds and queuing up for an hour at the Sainsbury’s checkout for a pint of milk, behind all the panic-shoppers stocking up…

Now there’s a thing. When I was a lad in the old country, we used to have a phenomenon that vanished a few years ago – the seasonal shop closure, where good Catholic shopkeepers would close up for a few *days* over Christmas, out of fear of thundering reprisals from the pulpit among other things… Then, we’d have mild panic-buying, where you’d have to get the milk and the bread in because it had to last you a few days. Now, we have *one* day where the supermarkets are closed, and thanks to the wonderful cultural melting pot that is London, all the corner shops are still open! Panic-buy? I can’t see why.

The other aspect of this time of year is my old friend, the chest infection, who dropped in to visit and overstayed his welcome, as usual. Not nice – but this time I went straight to the quack demanding antibiotics, and put the dreaded infection in his place. And that’s part of the reason I’ve not been updating – sorry! After this message, I’ll likely not be posting till New Year, so get used to it… 🙂

Christmas Day plans went a little awry since my last post – the bar in Camden is not an option. Bummer! But no matter – we’ll make a day of it nonetheless. Oh yes, we will…!

And of course then it’s off to Ireland for the usual shenanigans and a few more besides. Now that’s going to be a whole lotta fun. I’ve even gone to the lengths of acquiring an Irish pay-as-you-go SIM card for my mobile, so that I can keep in touch without it costing me the usual fortune. Family, friends, booze, food, music, chat, parties, dancin’, boozin’, dashing about from pillar to post, drinkin’, etc. The usual good ‘clean’ fun – can’t wait!

There’s talk of spending next Christmas in France – mates John & Gwyneth are moving lock, stock and baby to Normandy, to run a hotel over there – and it’s looking very likely that they’ll have a legendary Yuletide gathering next year! Let’s face it, London gets pretty bloody boring after a while, especially New Year, so the change of scene will be most welcome. Can’t wait for that either!! 🙂

Well, that’s about it. If I don’t speak to y’all in the meantime, have a damn fine festive season/Christmas/Hannukah/whatever it is you do at this time, and an excellent New Year.

Oops – I did it again!

Having spent the better part of last week recovering from both Friday night’s thinly-disguised birthday riot and Sunday’s follow-up to the Judas Conspiracy at the University of Westminster, I let my confidence get the better of me and got mashed at Floridita in Wardour Street on Saturday night, for mate Rob’s birthday. Ouch…

It was a crackin’ night, and I spent the early part of the evening chatting to a nice girl from Belfast – which all aided and abetted the process of alcoholic imbibement and missing the last train home. So I was there for the night, and afterwards Nacho & I went on a tear around the West End for more booze – but (thankfully!) we’d missed the boat everywhere we went. Chicken & chips and a nightbus – home at 5:30 AM – Sunday was lost to me!

Anyway, it’s going to be a quiet(er) December – at least pre-Christmas. Then there’s talk of hijacking a bar in Camden for Christmas Day and indulging in all the usual Bacchanalean pursuits and excesses – well, some of them at least. And on Boxing Day it’s off to the homeland for further alcoholic pursuits, punctuated by the occasional visit to a friend or relative – and of course there’s the full Conspiracy event; U of W was only a warm-up.

So what is this Conspiracy lark? I hear you cry. Well, I thought I heard a lone voice asking, but I could be hearing things (the old ears aren’t what they once were, ooh no when I were a lad and pints cost tuppence ha’penny and you youth of today you don’t know you’re born and I still have all me own teeth you know… <snip>) – anyway! It’s a musical experiment, orchestrated for the most part by producer Dew, where we all sit about in a club in Mullingar, get twatted and make suspiciously un-musical noises. For five hours. Terrific fun, and this time out we’ll be joined by my mate Ian (not the Mad Alfredo one – the other one), who’ll hopefully be flexing his Ibanez Universe to great effect.

And most of you will still have no idea what I’m talking about – to be honest, it’s a tricky one, and the best place to go for some kind of illumination is the Judas Conspiracy website – that explains it far better than I ever could. And that’s about as good as you’re going to get, I’m afraid!

And so I resign myself to a very very busy month before flying home – followed by a very very very busy time in Ireland – work has a habit of picking up just when you’re winding down for year’s end. Not that I’m complaining, mind you – the bike could use some TLC, and I have my Christmas to pay for….

But I won’t be drinking. Much. Not till Ireland, at least! 🙂

The Aftermath

It was a blast. Feeling somewhat delicate due to several hours of systematic alcohol abuse, but satisfied. After a shaky start (more of which later), the evening cranked up to a respectable level of rock’n’roll excess, and I ended the night with a smile on my face. What more can you ask???

The shaky start was down to the venue. The management of Parker Place decided they didn’t want the live music acts to start until 11PM! Oh – and they told me this at 9:30, when I was asking how we could turn off the house music to get the PA live. Much grumbling ensued, and we got a compromise – 10:45. Wow – thanks! But the venue cost me nothing, so there wasn’t much I could do about it…

Anyway, we decided to get Adam (half of Eight Foot Elvis) up to spin the decks for a while (this we were allowed to do), while waiting for the alloted hour to come. And come about 10:50, I was up there playing a tune for the faithful groupies who waited patiently for me to perform. I played two songs, then hopped off and handed the reins to Ian of Mad Alfredo – steadfastly ignoring the cries of “More!” (yes, there actually were some – poor misguided souls!).

And Ian got on down with his home-grown tunes and a sprinkling of covers – come the last song, Man of Constant Sorrow, I was moved to leap up onto the stage and belt out the backing vocals, much to Ian’s amusement. But hey – it was my party, and I was quite drunk. And I suspect my performances were somewhat below par as a result, but everybody else was trashed, so they seemed to enjoy it. My kinda crowd!

Ian had to tear off to catch the last tube, and it was Gin Panic’s turn to raise the temperature to a healthy level. And with Dew on the mixing desk, they had possibly the best sound I’ve ever heard them produce. Well, Dew’s been working with these guys for a while now, and he knows what they should sound like. And next week, they’re all jetting over to Ireland to record an album with him. All very professional! 🙂

They rocked. They rolled. They raised the roof. Dew later confided to me that he was asked four times to turn it down, he he. He needed no encouragement to disregard them, but I told him to blast it out – I had an axe to grind with the place, and the music was certainly LOUD. Dellamorte finished the night with his wicked breaks – ultimately playing in an impenetrable fog generated by the smoke machine (why? Who knows?!) to a rapidly-dwindling crowd. Nuff respect to the man – he played the night out. Cheers mate!

And of course big cheers to the posse who turned up – you made the night, people! I really felt the love in the room, y’know? 😉

Oh – and a big hi/bye to Kiz, who’s departing this sceptred isle next weekend to return Down Under – this time apparently for good. All the best Kiz – spare a thought for us when you’re sunning yourself in Byron Bay and we’re freezing our b****cks off! Somehow, though, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her… 🙂

That’s it from me – I’m going to detox gently and wait for some semblance of humanity to return to me. Sometime around the middle of next week sounds feasible….

Party time!!!!!!

Had myself a fun night out on Saturday (my birthday proper – thanks to all who remembered!), traipsing around Covent Garden with mates John & Stu and getting ratted. Now that’s what birthdays are about, he he…

Of course, the main event is still to come – the party supreme at Parker Place in London WC2, just off Kingsway. The proceedings are set to kick off between 8 and 9, so there’s time for you to (a) go home and change, (b) chow down some soakage for the evening’s alcoholic excesses, (c) whatever. There’s a map below, which should help you find your way there – it’s just out of Holborn tube, cross Kingsway, turn left, first right, and Parker Place is there on your right. Easy peasy!

The line-up is a mighty one indeed – we have the superb Mad Alfredo on first, followed by the rawk-mungous Gin Panic supplying the live music end of things. And this night will be ***LIIIIIVE***. Once the bands are done, we’ll have Eight Foot Elvis spinning the decks with their usual excellent eclecticism, and finally breaks-meister Dellamorte (of Free Style Customs) will be wrapping up the proceedings before the venue closes at 3. Yes – 3!!! I’ve pre-booked my place at the drying-out clinic…

Where the party's at!

See you all there! It promises to be a bloody wicked night…

And the world caught its breath…

…as Prince Valiant was humiliatingly vanquished by the Goblin King, who then went on to retake his throne for another four miserable years. And the world shuddered as it contemplated a warmongering fundamentalist religious far-right regime in power in the largest nation in the “free” world – bent on spreading democracy around the globe, even though the regime apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the word. And Prince Valiant went off to lick his wounds and apologise to all who cared to listen, for not repelling the naysayers who besmirched his honour, or even being terribly interesting when it came to it. Meanwhile, Father Jack sat watching telly on Craggy Island, and barked to nobody in particular, “Who elected that gobshite again??!!!!”…..

[NOTE: To those who might be inclined to take the above literally, you need to get out more!]

Mes amis, la vie est belle!

Sarcasm provided for nothing, gratis and free of charge, of course. Latest news, this just in: My Car’s Been Nicked. Oh joy. Like I needed any negative developments in my life just now… Yes, you read correctly, the VW is mine no more. Left it parked outside for a couple of nights, then came out this afternoon to find it gone. Just like that. Now there’s the usual palaver with the insurance company to look forward to, and the eventual pittance to be paid out….

At least I still have my bike, although I may have to sell that yet. At the moment, my DVD & CD collection is being decimated on eBay in order to make up for lack of funds. Ah well, at least I have the birthday bash to look forward to! And New Year in Ireland….

For those of you I missed with the e-mail campaign, and also those who didn’t visit the website in the past month, I’ll just repeat the info on the Birthday Extravaganza: it’s being held on the 19th of November in Parker Place, 51 Parker Street, London WC2B 5PS – click on the name for a map. It’s just around the corner from Holborn tube, and it’s a 5-minute stagger from Covent Garden – and it’s being held on a Friday night! Are we good to you, or are we good to you?!?! 🙂

If you have a long memory, you may recall that I and a couple of ex-Velcro Fly songsters teamed up in the early part of this year and flew to Ireland to record a couple of tracks with Dew – well, the second of those tracks is now complete, mastered and ready to be served up for human consumption. Mate Stuey reckons it sounds like Velcro Fly, while Dew thinks it sounds like Steely Dan. Given that the track is a tribute to Steely Dan, performed by three erstwhile members of Velcro Fly, this is not surprising. In any case, it’ll be making its way onto the downloads section on Happenins UK soon – I’ll keep you posted.

Well, my last trip to the Emerald Isle was memorable as usual – haring around the country in a hired Rav4 (I only booked a Group B car, honest!), I managed (just!) to get to see all the people I went there to visit. And came back *knackered* – once, just once, I’d like to have a holiday in Ireland and come back rested. Just once…. Maybe I’ll get my chance at Christmas/New Year time, when I’ll be going over again. Booked to fly on Boxing Day and come back on the 6th of January, this should be a long enough stay for me to sit still for a few moments. Although it’s the alcohol consumption that usually does it, and I’m sure this trip will be no exception. Go teetotal? Shyeah, right!!!

Much to do, and little time in which to do it – must dash and at least attempt to do something constructive. TTFN!

Too busy for gossip!

Well, that’s my excuse…

… and I’m sticking to it!!!

Been to Italy, rambled in the Alps, dined on wild boar and pollenta, drank the local wine, took snaps of bits of Turin (but didn’t see the Shroud – apologies to the Catholic contingent!), watched the entirety of series 10 of “Friends”, and generally had a good time relaxing and catching up with Anna. Dani was away on business, which was a shame, but they’ll be coming to visit in November, so I can catch up then. Anna sends her love to all who know her, by the way. As Dean Martin would say, That’s Amore…

But the big news (well, some of it – there’s a few big news items!) is that the group birthday bash has been booked for 19th November at Parker Place, in Parker Street WC2, just off Kingsway. For the geographically ignorant, click here for a map (cheers Ian! ;). So far, I’ve managed to elicit the services of the astoundingly good and rock-mungous Gin Panic for entertainment purposes, not to mention the crackin’ly good Eight Foot Elvis on the decks afterwards. I’m currently in the process of trying to enlist Oprah Mad Alfredo (formerly Ben Jamin) for further musical pleasure, and you never know, I might get up and strum a couple of tunes myself. We’ll see…

But the whole point of this do is that it’s a joint birthday bash, in the tradition of mine & Gwyneth’s historic events – with a twist. This time, we’ve got a new co-birthdayer, in the form of Gin Panic stickmeister Mono, so half of England should be showing up to this event! I swear, that man knows more people than I’ve had alcoholic beverages – and that’s saying something! In any case, you’re all cordially invited, and I can promise you a kick-ass evening. Invites will be winging their way to all and sundry via e-mail shortly, and in the unlikely event that I’ve forgotten anyone – just spread the word!

Other news – hmmmmm…. You’re not going to believe this. I’ve got a motorbike. Yes, another motorbike. And yes, I know I already have a car. I’m selling that to try to pay for the bike, not like that’s a tragedy or anything. Oh, come on – anyone who knows me knows that I belong on two wheels! In any case, I pick it up this weekend, and proceed to shorten my life accordingly. As I’m sure everyone expects of me!

So, having recovered from this momentary blip of insanity (whatcha mean, “momentary blip”???), I’m now selling an L reg. VW Golf 2.0 GTi 8v, not to mention my beloved acoustic bass guitar. If you’re interested, or know anyone who might be, get in touch. They’re currently in Loot and on eBay respectively, but I can always make outside arrangements, being the shyster that I am…

Can I just say big up to Stuey for a phenomenal barbeque event on the weekend – much food and alcohol was in evidence, to the extent that I lamented my choice to drive there. The company was good, the wine fine, the food excellent, and the evening was a hit. More of those would be appropriate, if we only had the weather for it!

Well, best crack on with my work. I’m off to Ireland in a couple of weeks (another holiday? So soon?? You betcha!!!), and I’d hate to have to be lugging my laptop with me to polish off unfinished work – so I’d best knuckle down. More on the new bike when I pick it up, and maybe a photo or two. The philistines among you can look elsewhere, but the bike fans are in for a treat! 🙂

The evenings draw in…

Well, not wishing to state the obvious or anything – just to pre-empt the pedants, I *know* that they started drawing in on the 22nd of June! Bah… But anyway, it’s getting noticeable – where we had seemingly endless hours of brightness, now there’s a relentless twilight coming not long after tea-time. It’s all a bit disheartening, really.

But it’s not all bad! I’m hoping to get together with mates Mono & Matt (alliteration unintentional, I assure you!) for funky jam stuff this week. And if not, heads will roll. Or I’ll cry. Can you bear waiting for the teeth-grindingly suspenseful conclusion??? Thought not. 🙂

Did I tell you about the Melting Pot gig at the Purple Turtle in Camden? Yes, I believe I did – an eclectic mix of talented musos rocking the joint in no uncertain terms marked the birth of the totally inspired Truly Independent Promotions, with hopefully a bunch more to come. The review and the pics of the evening are over on that distant relative, happenins.co.uk. Go on, have a squint…

I’ve had queries about the Message Board, specifically why the #@%! is there a line through it instead of a live link? Well, it was taken advantage of by some perv who was promoting Russian mail-order brides or postal prostitution or some such – suffice it to say that in my untarnished purity I deleted the message board without reading their filth. (Kept their e-mail addresses, though… :D) In any case, the queries were sufficiently sparse to lead me to believe that not enough people care about it for me to bother reinstating it. So I won’t.

Well, summer may be (unofficially, but obviously!) on its last legs, but I’ve lots of travel plans starting to grow legs and walk about here. Beginning this weekend with a trip to see my lovely god-daughter on the borders of the Northern Wastes, followed swiftly by a trip to sunny Italy to see my old flatmate Anna. Ah yes, happenins veterans will recall that mad one-day whirlwind trip to Rome last December, but this will be a much more leisurely visit. Might give the Turin Shroud a miss, but I’m sure there’s plenty of other stuff to amuse me!

Just on a random side note: I really don’t expect that turd in the Renault Laguna who was tailgating me mercilessly at 85mph on the A21 the other day to visit this website, but if he does – yer an arse, mate! Someday you’ll be driving like the pillock you were the other day and the poor unfortunate in front of you will have an engine seizure or blowout or something that’ll make it too late for you to brake. Result: instant pileup. However good a driver you think you are, you’re not that good. And even if you are, it’s not very comforting for the person whose rear bumper you’re hugging with such dedication. Nuff said – rant over.

Well, I suppose I’d better do some work. After all, these little trips away have to be paid for somehow – and Mr MasterCard will be breathing down my neck very soon, I think… 🙁

So little time…

Hoo-ahh! I love summer; the opportunities to get out and have a laff are an order of magnitude greater than during the winter. I mean, you can do some of the same stuff, but differently – in winter you can go out and party, but in summer you can go *outside* and party, and if you miss the last train home it’s not such a shivering horror waiting for the night bus.

And of course, there’s barbecues, outdoor activities, beer gardens, scantily-clad sun-worshippers, Hyde Park… Ah, summer in London is definitely worth the long winter wait! Although I suppose summer anywhere is worth the wait – with the possible exception of the Sahara… 🙂

And it’s much more fun to go out in the summertime; like this Wednesday (18th) when I’ll be out at the Melting Pot night in the Purple Turtle in Camden, my mate Ian B’s gig promotion debut; if the weather holds I’ll be out in a t-shirt. Now you couldn’t do that in November, couldja?! Back to the gig, though – it’s kicking off about 8pm, it’s a little late for flyers now, but come along regardless. It promises to be an outstanding event…

I’ve had a couple of fun-packed weekends, starting the one before last with soon-to-be-hitched mate Edd’s stag weekend. Down in deepest Sussex, close to Hailsham, we engaged in paintball for the afternoon, then went to the farm’s open-air swimming pool(!) and chilled with beers and farm-produced cider – cool! Camping and barbecue in the forest finished the night off – slightly earlier for me than I would have hoped, due to excessive cider consumption. Oh, but it was lovely!

Then last weekend I swung by mate Vix’s birthday barbecue for a brief hello (luv ya dahling, mwah, mwah), then ploughed on into Camden for what turned out to be a riotous evening with Alex & Mono – and this Brazilian bloke called Jesus we met randomly in the World’s End, but he disappeared early. That night culminated in a drunken climb to the top of Primrose Hill to admire the panoramic views of London by night; I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a camera with me, but that would have been foolish, really! 🙂

Been working my little nads off, which is why it amazes me that I get the time to go out and do all this stuff! I’m sure it’ll all catch up on me, but for the moment I’m having too much fun. I’ll rest when winter comes again, he he…

The GTi has had a couple more tweaks to replace a cam belt and cure an oil leak, also a tweak to the engine management system that’ll hopefully make it run better. So it’s in pretty good shape at the moment; it’s well-behaved on motorways and obscenely quick around town, and it’ll do me for a little while to come. It’ll be a more comfortable car in cooler weather, though, that’s for sure!

Just a last note, on the subject of birthday bashes: I realise it’s still very early, but put the 13th of November into your diaries as a strong possiblility for the epic multiple birthday event. More on this as it develops, but we’re looking at a West End venue… 😉

Must dash – lots to do, and…. (see title!)

Oh wow!

I’ve been *totally* out of touch lately, haven’t I??? I’ve just been told off by my sister Jhone, and by the Right Honourable Benjamin Sefton Jenkins Esquire, resident of sunny Sydney, Australia, for not updating often enough – to the extent that they’ve actually communicated with me without any provocation! Wow…

Well, just to put all your minds at rest, I’ve been fine, if rather busy having a whale of a time generally! And obviously too busy to update the website – boo hoo! I’ve got so much to tell you, so gather round, my children, and I shall tell you such tales as will keep you quiet for another couple of weeks… 🙂

First off, get your diaries out! Wednesday the 18th of August should be made free, and the words Melting Pot at the Purple Turtle, Camden should be writ large in bold letters, that ye shall not forget. Kicking off at 8pm and going on till midnight, there’s a veritable smorgasbord of musical acts to satisfy your appetite. This is all courtesy of Truly Independent Promotions, the brainchild of Ian of Fastfood fame, who has turned his considerable talent and wacky outlook to promoting independent music. It promises to be a kickin’ evening, with bands and DJs and maybe the odd surprise – remember, you read it here first, and I fully expect to be purchased copious pints as a reward on the night. I’ll have flyers in the next few days, so drop me a line if you want some. SEE YOU THERE!!!

Speaking of musical shenanigans, I’ve been involved in drunken discussions with my main man Mono and his flatmate Matt, with a view to getting together and jamming out some old-school funk. Never shy of making a public spectacle of myself (I cite June’s Bartok event, for the short of memory!), I’m just gagging to get out there and jump on a stage and flex my bass-plucking fingers, so keep your beady eye on this page for info on that as it develops. If it develops, of course…. 🙂

More news: yet another mate has succumbed to the urge to wed! My mate Eddie White is tying the knot on the 23rd of August, no doubt breaking many hearts across South London in the meantime. It all starts with a ferocious stag event this weekend, so if I live through that I’ll be able to wish them well on the day! In the meantime, join me as I raise my glass to them (any excuse for a drink, to be honest!) – cheers!

Still skating sporadically, although I need a whole lot more practice before I get out on the streets of London for the Friday Night Skate – as evidenced by my last foray into Hyde Park with mates Shariff and Lina, when I undecorously wrapped myself around a lamp-post, resulting in a savage array of cuts and bruises the length of my arm! Quite colourful, as it goes. 🙂

And last week I paid my deposit for the one-year diploma course in hypnotherapy that I had to postpone last year – I start in January, if I don’t blow it out again… I’m well looking forward to it, although mate Ian (DAAAAAVE!) advised me not to tell girls this when I’m chatting to them – they’ll think that I’m messing with their heads, and they won’t get into anything with me! Hmmm, he could have a point…

I know it’s early, but I’m starting to have inklings of a plan for my birthday this year. Given that it’s my 35th, Gwyneth’s 30th, and (as I discovered the other night) Mono’s 25th (just a kid!), I’m thinking that it may be time to have the mother of all birthday bashes! Plans are vague at the moment, but I’m thinking maybe live music, drinkin’, dancin’, and a general late vibe of epic proportions – more on this as it develops…

Travel plans were looking very limited for me, especially given that this is the time of year that everyone flees the country to work on their skin tumours(!), but I’ve had plans develop themselves in the past week or so: Italy in September, Ireland in October, and France for Christmas. That’s a bit more like it! And next year has some monstrous (if tentative!) travel plans – fingers crossed that at least a fraction of them come to pass!

I think I’ll leave it there – always leave them wanting more, was the conventional wisdom when we played live. Although that kinda begs the question: if they don’t want any in the first place, should we not play at all?! Interesting point. And on that note, wanting more or thoroughly bored, I’ll love you and leave you.

Till the next ramble!