Aug 20 2016

Solo

Mrs Masher has gone.

And she’s taken the kids with her.

There was nothing I could have said or done that would have prevented her leaving.

So I didn’t.

It’s now five in the morning, and an hour ago, I watched them disappear into the night, in the back of a taxi.

So, now I’m all on my own.

Alone.

But I’ll be fine.

Sainsbury’s do a fine range of microwave meals.

And, of course, when they all come back from their holiday in the south of France, in a fortnight’s time, I’ll be as pleased as punch to see them.

Till then though, I’m single again.

I have two weeks in which to let my hair down and be a batchelor boy once more.

Come and go as I please.

Do what I want, when I want.

Wherever the fancy takes me.

Think I’ll start with some tea and toast.

Then maybe I’ll do a bit of hoovering.

Aug 09 2016

Taste Test Tuesday

TTTwaterWorking for the water board, as I now do, and having seen what goes into providing clean, safe drinking water to the populace, I find myself advocating tap water over mineral water, more and more.

In truth, I used to do this anyway, long before I was actually involved with the wet stuff. I’m an educated man, y’see; I read books and I watch the Discovery Channel, so I was already aware that tap water goes through so much cleaning and filtering that by the time it reaches the consumer, it is as clean and safe to drink as any of the “Bottled at source” waters that can be bought off the shelves of one’s local supermarket.

Now, the current Mrs M is prone to buying bottled water and I always moan at her about it and again extol the virtues of Affinity Water’s finest.  And her argument is always the same: “I don’t care how clean and safe it is, it just doesn’t taste as nice as bottled water”.

I wondered whether she was right. A blind taste test would tell us and so, I purchased some bottled water: Evian – probably the best known of all the brands – and Sainsbury’s Scottish Still Water and I stuck them in the fridge along with an Oasis bottle that I had rinsed out and filled with water from the tap, so that they would all be at the same temperature.

This evening, I decanted the water into three identical glasses – A, B and C – and presented them to Mrs M for tasting.

She took her time, sipping from each glass several times to be sure, before announcing that she preferred the taste of Glass C.

I could barely contain my victory dance: Glass C was indeed filled with water from the tap.

Of course, as everyone knows, Evian is backwards for naive.

I’ll say no more.

Aug 06 2016

Honest John’s Motors

ArthurDaleyThe current Mrs M has bought herself a nice new car.

This meant that she needed to sell the old one, of course.

Not being one to want to faff about with a constant stream of visitors wanting to take test drives, and looking for a quick sale, she thought she’d give WeBuyAnyCar dot com a try.

So, having done some research on prices of similar cars of similar ages and condition, she entered all the details into the WeBuyAnyCar website and was pleasantly surprised when it offered her a price pretty much around what she wanted and expected – £1850. Of course, this was all subject to a proper evaluation, so she booked an appointment with our local WeBuyAnyCar office – a portacabin in the corner of Currys’ car park.

On the day, I took the car up for it’s appointment, as Mrs M was delayed at work. I presented the chap with all the paperwork and details of it’s full service history by a local Vauxhall dealer. And both keys. Then, armed with his clipboard, he took a walk around the car, checking things over, before we went back to his ‘office’, where he offered me eight hundred and fifty quid.

A thousand pounds less than what the online quote had offered!

And on top of that, there was a £49.00 admin charge!

When I queried this new offer, he explained that the car wasn’t in as good a condition, as had been entered on the online form. Really? Trust me, there was nothing wrong with the condition of this car. Yes, it had a few very small scratches and marks, but nothing more than what you would expect from an eight-year old vehicle. In fact, for its age, it was in a bloody good condition.

He also pointed out that the mileage was higher than had been stated: Mrs M had put 56,000 down. It now read (two days later) 56,020.

I politely told him that I wasn’t interested and walked out.

Dejected, Mrs M said “Fuck it, I’m gonna stick it on ebay”.

Within an hour, it had forty people watching it and then, four hours later, it was sold. The following day a chap came round to collect it and, having given it a once over, he paid the full asking price of 1850 quid without a quibble… in used twenty pound notes.

OK, I know WeBuyAnyCar is a business and needs to make money but, by offering less than half of the car’s true value?

Seems a little unethical to me.

Jul 31 2016

Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster*

beebnewsThis sort of thing really annoys me!

CLICKY

They are not ‘engineers’.

They are blokes digging up the road and laying plastic ducts to carry cables.

And they are not even employed directly by Virgin Media.

They are contractors.

Another example of media hyperbole being used for attention grabbing headlines.

If it’s a slow news day and you are going to publish inane stories for filler, please at least get your facts right, BBC.

* No, he didn’t. It was a complete fabrication by the media.

Jul 20 2016

Innit hot?

pigeonRight, that’s enough talk about the weather.

Regular readers will be aware of me using my blog to rant and rave and moan about the pigeons shitting on my car, on numerous occasions.

Both of you may even remember me saying that if I had half a chance, I’d kill the little blighters.

Well…

On Saturday, I took my car up to the local car wash so that they could use their high-powered jet wash on all the bird crap that was covering my car. The sods crap on it daily as they fly into the tree, and after just a couple of days, there is a right mess.

And in this warm weather, it dries out and goes hard and is bloody difficult to get off with a sponge and warm water.

So, I got it cleaned and parked it on the drive, all shiny and gleaming.

A perfect target.

Two hours later, I went out to get something out of the boot and there was this enormous green and white bird poo – still wet – sliding down the side of the car.

I was bloody annoyed. Incensed. Bubbling with anger. “Grrr”, I said.

I got some wet paper towels and cleaned it off, all the time muttering to myself about the bloody pigeons and how I was gonna kill one and nail it to the tree as a warning to other pigeons.

As I walked through the gate, into the back garden, there was a pigeon, just standing on the path, outside the back door, just a few feet away from me.

I swung a kick at it, not really expecting to connect. And I didn’t. But rather than it flying off, as I’d expected, it sort of hopped and flapped it’s way down the garden path, obviously injured somehow. I gave chase and soon had it cornered between the garage and the shed.

This was my chance!

But I couldn’t do it.

If it had been in the tree and I’d had an air rifle or an AK47 or something, I am 100% sure that I’d have had no qualms about ending it.

But, kicking it to death with my slippered feet, as it just lay there looking terrified? I couldn’t do it.

So, instead, I gave it a damn good talking to.

It continued to just lay there, its chest rapidly rising and falling in terror; unable to escape, as I gave it a verbal dressing down.

“.. and if you and your mates carry on shitting on my car, I won’t be so fucking lenient next time!”

That was four days ago.

Unbelievably, my car is still clean.

Jul 16 2016

Fishing for info

 

phishThis piece of phishing spam managed to sneak past my filters today.

So well written is it, that it very nearly fooled me.

Purporting to come from Amazon, it was after my bank details.

Obligingly, I clicked on the link (removed here for your safety :)) and populated all the fields with false information, just so that they might get a little excited, thinking they’d hooked someone.

We had blocked the unusual tries of connection on your account .

As part of our security your account was provisionally lock for reasons of security. 
Please click on link below to prove your account .
 
Verify Your account
  
Warning : if you did not have prove your account, we would otherwise be obliged to go about things has the fence of your account to avoid it please follow given instructions.
 
Sincereraly,
The team of security
As you can see, really well written.
These spammers are getting more sophisticated, so let’s be careful, people.

Jul 12 2016

The smell of the greasepaint

Hathi_JrYesterday evening, we went to see Harry’s end of term school play: a slightly revamped version of The Jungle Book.

Eleven year-old kids are bloody rubbish at acting, aren’t they?

Yesterday proved that much, as child after child read out his/her lines in a stilted monotonous voice, with no pausing or intonation or characterisation.

All except for Harry. He was excellent.

Of course.

Easily, the best of all the elephants.

I reckon.

But by far, the best one there was the kid playing Kaa the hypnotic snake. Enveloped in a purple sleeping bag with attached spots, he slithered his way across the floor and had us in stitches as he swerved and swayed around, putting all the sibilance he could muster into his voice.

But, I’m glad we didn’t have plays when I was at school. Up on the stage, in front of people, is not for me.

Another thing I’m glad we didn’t have, is the school prom. Like Trick Or Treat, a relatively recent American import that costs parents a small fortune.  Mrs M has bought Harry a suit for the occasion and he looks very smart in it, but he’ll probably only get to wear it once, before he outgrows it.

And he’s told me he won’t be dancing with any girls. Because – as every body knows – girls smell.

I’m wondering how long it will be before he realises that they can sometimes smell quite nice.

Jul 07 2016

Having a shit

toiletDropping the kids off at the pool; negotiating the release of some chocolate hostages; bombing Porcelain Harbour; curling one out; taking a dump.

It’s a natural bodily function. We all do it (apart from Her Majesty The Queen, of course). It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

But we do it in private. Because that’s the polite thing to do.

Cleaning up after oneself is also the polite thing to do.

I’ve mentioned it before.

But, it amazes me sometimes, the mess some people leave behind (when I say ‘people’, I mean ‘men’, as I rarely venture into the ladies loos nowadays).

Many is the time I have stood over the toilet at work, trying to piss away someone else’s skid mark.

Even though, there is a bog brush at the side, some people just can’t be bothered.

Today, I walked in to the loo and judging from the smell, it had only just been vacated.

Wow! What a stink.

It made my eyes sting!

I lifted the lid with trepidation and was met with a heavily soiled pan, despite it having been flushed.

I cleaned it as best I could, but I just hadn’t had enough to drink.

But what distressed me even further, is that when I went to wash my hands, it was quite evident that the previous occupant hadn’t: the sink was bone dry.

How can someone make a mess like that and not even wash their hands afterwards?

I know I’m forever having to drum the importance of hygiene into my kids, but have I got to do it with adults as well now?

Jul 05 2016

Out of touch

mobile phoneI left my phone(s) at home yesterday when I went to work.

This is something I’ve done a little too frequently, but luckily, I normally notice when I’m just a few minutes down the road.

But not yesterday.

Yesterday, I realised I was phoneless when I was about halfway through my two-hour journey to work.

I wasn’t going to turn round and go back!

“I’ll just have to be uncontactable, for the day”, I thought.  I actually thought it might be quite liberating.

It wasn’t.

I found it quite traumatic, actually.

Being uncontactable by work colleagues was a worry to me. What would they think? That I was skiving off somewhere?

But not being able to be called by any friends or family was even worse – even though it’s fairly rare that any of them do call me during working hours.

It was just that thought of being incommunicado for a whole day that worried me.

What if one of the kids has an accident and the school can’t call me?

What if my dad falls off a stepladder and no-one is able to let me know?

What if there is a major incident at work and I can’t be contacted to escalate it?

What if…

Of course none of that happened, but it did leave me wondering how I coped, back before mobile phones were invented.

Jul 03 2016

Two-wheel triumph

policebikeToday, I have been out riding with a police motorcyclist.

The feds do a Ride Safe scheme, y’see, where you go out for a ride and a police motorcyclist – on his police bike and wearing all his police garb – follows you closely and then afterward he critiques your riding performance.

And it’s all for free!

Now, I consider myself to be a competent rider – hell, I’ve been riding for thirty-seven years! – but also a careful one.

But, in thirty-seven years, it’s easy to pick up some bad habits, so I thought being assessed by a professional would be worth a go, just to see how my level had dropped.

Especially as it’s free.

The idea, of course, is to ride how one would normally ride. There is no point in riding like you are taking your test.

And so, I tried to forget he was there – not easy when you have a hi-viz clad policeman looming in your mirrors all the time – and just took a normal Sunday ride. Maybe, just maybe, I paid a tad more attention to the speed limits!

Back at the station, Gareth gave me my assessment. I have to admit to being quite chuffed.

“Have you had any further rider training since you passed your test back in… when was it…1979?”

I shook my head and he seemed genuinely surprised.

He went on to explain that I was riding pretty much perfectly, for my level (ie, not advanced) and that if he had to pick me up on anything (he had to, of course) then it would be that I didn’t make enough use of the available road when positioning the bike.

Other than that, I was the dog’s bollocks.

Based on that, I’m kind of tempted to train for the advanced test.

If nothing else, it’ll get me out on the bike a bit more.

Jul 01 2016

Those that can’t…

boy_scouts_-_troop_leaderToday is my wedding anniversary.

By curious, lucky coincidence, it is also that of the current Mrs Masher.

As such, we would normally celebrate it jointly, such as we did last year.

But tonight, I’m home alone, whilst the kids are at Scouts and Mrs M is out, knocking back lattes with her bestie.

Last week, I too was at Scouts.

I was teaching them Semaphore.

And Morse Code.

And the Phonetic Alphabet.

And they seemed to really enjoy it.

It was the first time I’d ever done anything like that – standing in front of a class – but I really quite enjoyed it too.

I can see now why people go into teaching.

Imparting knowledge on to others is really quite rewarding.

I’ve been asked if I might be interested in going back and teach them some basic electronics.

You know what… I just might.

Jun 30 2016

30. A Song I’ve Heard From Someone Else That I Like

racketAbout ten years ago, maybe more, I heard this noise.

A right racket, it was.

It was coming from a car that was just pulling into the car park at work.

The car parked up and turned the engine off, but the occupant stayed inside, listening to the music. From outside the vehicle, all I could really hear was the boomy bass sounds.

I wandered over and opened the car door. “Hi Ralph”, I said, “What the fuck are you listening to? Sounds awful!”

“Limp Bizkit”, he replied. “Would you like to borrow it?”

I listened for a bit longer to what was playing before replying.

“Yes”, I said, “I think I would”.

Jun 29 2016

29. My All Time Favourite Song

moonAsk me that on my death bed, because I might have an answer then.

Because things can change.

It’s difficult to have a single all-time favourite.

I have favourite pop songs; favourite rock songs; favourite classical tunes. But, it’s really hard to pick a single favourite from each category, never mind overall.

But, if I had to choose… if you were to put a bun to my head and force me to pick one, then I would probably go with Fly Me To The Moon, a song that I have long heralded as a personal favourite.  Of course, Frank Sinatra had a big hit with it, but I’ve always preferred Julie London’s version.

In 2002, it became even more special to me. The current Mrs Masher and I were on a cruise ship out Singapore way, for my birthday. Each night, after dinner, we would finish up in our favourite bar, where long-legged Asian girls with improbably small bottoms and impossibly short skirts, would serve us free cocktails, whilst a pianist played gentle tunes in the corner.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

One evening, after downing several Black Russians, I wandered over and asked him to play Fly Me To The Moon. and he did.

And he played it the next night.

And the next.

In fact, wherever there was a piano, Ronald – for that was his name – would play it whenever he saw me. In the bar; in the casino; in the main dining hall. Even as we were disembarking at the end of the cruise, I heard it playing and turned to see Ronald smiling at me as he played it on the grand piano at the bottom of the stairs.

It was ‘our tune’. Mine and Ronald’s.

Jun 28 2016

28. A Favourite Song From The Last Decade

JackoI got nothing. Again.

So…

I can’t remember how long it took, but a while later, Jacko was back on his feet and the concert was re-scheduled. Of course, they honoured our original tickets.

Mrs M and I duly went along, this time with other members of her family, as the original lot weren’t able to make it this time round.

Following on from what had happened to Mrs M previously, we chose to sit down in the seating area, rather than in the crush in front of the stage.

And I was very happy with our seats. Having got there reasonably early, we managed to get a spot quite near to the stage and just off to the right, affording us a very good view.

I don’t remember a support act playing this time round, but what I do remember, is that when MJ came onto the stage and started his first number, everyone went wild: standing up from their seats and shouting and screaming and waving their arms.

I stayed seated, waiting for everyone to sit down again.

But they didn’t.

Everyone remained on their feet.

For the whole set.

What is the bloody point of having seats if you are not going to sit in them?

I wasn’t happy anymore.

And, classical music aside, I’ve never been to another concert since.

Jun 27 2016

27. A Song To Listen To At The End Of A Tough Day

japeyesGetting home after a tough day nowadays, tends to be as a result of my journey home. If the M25 is being a particularly nasty piece of work, I will often arrive home stressed and annoyed.

In those instances, I might sometimes opt to sitch off the podcasts and play some music in the car as I crawl along. What music I choose to play depends on… well, I don’t really know.

I suppose that more often than not, I need something relaxing, to try and wash away the road-rage that is building inside of me and is threatening to explode in an almighty “Tsk!” Something classical usually soothes the savage breast and I find Beethoven’s 7th or Mozart’s 40th or 41st will usually do the trick.

But, at other times I might feel the need to be elevated out of my traffic-induced funk, and will put on something a bit more lively. As I did the other day, when I found this golden oldie whilst scrolling through the library.

It was so good, I played it twice.

I picked this particular YouTube clip because I thought it was better than the original and not because it features Kirsten Dunst, who I really do not have a thing for. *

*Yes I do.

Jun 26 2016

26. A Song I Would Give To My Offspring

sonosI got nuffin for this one.

Of course, our kids will possibly never hear songs in true Hi-Fi. Yes, LP records are starting to make a comeback, but I daresay they will only appeal to the cognoscenti; the afficionados; the audiophiles.  With all the speed and convenience that downloading an MP3 offers, I can’t see that many youngsters will be rushing down to their local record store, to pay sixteen quid for Ed Sheeran’s latest 12 incher.

I’ll admit that I have also swapped convenience for form. Back in the day, I thought nothing of spending stupid amounts of money on the very latest thing to wow me from the pages of the Hi-Fi magazines: the best British speakers I could afford, standing on ludicrously expensive speaker stands; a properly decent, direct drive, German turntable with a top of the range Ortofon cartridge and a 5mm platter mat and a spindle clamp to hold the record flat; British amplifiers from Cambridge and oxygen-free cables to connect them all up.

It all sounded marvellous.

But, as my musical interests have waned and my ears no longer capture those subtle harmonic frequencies that added to the soundscape produced by all this kit, I’ve since stuck it all up in the loft and replaced it all with a small midi system that better suited the furniture in our living room.

And it all sounds just fine (although Mrs M would prefer it to have a bit more oomph!).

But, I’m even looking to replace that now.

In the kitchen we have a wireless speaker that is linked into the home WiFi. Using an app on a mobile phone or tablet, we can use it to listen to a bazillion different internet radio stations, although – at Mrs M’s behest – it remains firmly locked on to Kiss FM.

But, it can also stream our entire record collection from a Synology NAS drive that sits in the study and is backed up to a WD Elements drive in the shack. With search functions and playlists, it really is very convenient, and so I’m now looking to add other rooms into the system.

With Mrs M’s musical tastes and her penchant for volume, that may well be something I’ll regret.

So, rather than a song, the latest method of playing them is what I’ll be passing on to my kids.

Jun 25 2016

25. A Song From My Childhood

MilkBottlesThere are many songs that I remember distinctly from my childhood.

And, when I say “song”, I mean proper songs, not nursery rhymes or infantile chantings: “Milk, milk, lemonade, round the corner chocolate’s made”, being a case in point.

No, I’m talking about proper songs that were in the charts.

Such as Rolf Harris and his Two Little Boys.

But it’s best we speak no further of that one.

Chuck Berry wrote some wonderful rock ‘n’ roll pieces, but I mainly remember him for his Ding a Ling.

Dave Lee Travis as Laurie Lingo and the Dipsticks is another that we should only mention in hushed tones.

The Goodies had their Funky Gibbon whilst Jasper Carrott rode a Funky Moped.

And Ray Stevens was letting it all hang out with The Streak.

But, I can only choose one, and so I’m going for Benny Hill, with a song that both amused and upset me at the time.

Jun 24 2016

24. A Song That I Wish I Could Play On An Instrument

pianoBearing in mind my complete ineptitude with musical instruments, being able to play almost anything on almost any instrument would be a bonus.

In fact, I’d be quite happy, even if I learnt to play just this with any degree of complexity.

As it is, I taught myself how to play the start of it (with one hand) on our Yamaha keyboard, but I’ve since forgotten how.

But, whilst perusing the YouTubes for a suitable clip, I happened across this happy little chap showing off his skills.

Makes you sick, doesn’t it?

Jun 23 2016

23. A Song That I Can Play On An Instrument

musical instrumentsIt is a sad fact that I cannot play any songs on any musical instrument.

I really wish I could.

But I can’t.

Last year, I repaired an old keyboard that was being thrown out and I’m pleased to say that my daughter still enjoys playing on it, and I’ve no doubt that it has helped her develop some musical skills.

She’s certainly no child prodigy, but she has learnt how to play several songs… each with a degree of recognisability.

When I’m sitting upstairs, tinkering in the shack, I will sometimes hear her practicing. Last week, I was quite impressed when she segued almost seamlessly between Lukas Graham’s 7 Years (as mentioned previously), Beethoven’s Fur Elise and an Irish Jig written by her music teacher at school.

I’m quite chuffed about her skills. But, I’m not living vicariously through her musical talent: I do have a little myself.

When I was a kid, we would often stay with relatives over the Christmas period, and one particular year, I managed to master the opening couple of bars (yeah right, like I have any idea what a musical bar is),  I managed to master the first thirty seconds of Strangers In The Night.

With one hand.

On my uncle’s organ.

(You’ll notice the emphasis on the grammar and the word spacing there, for without it, this could have been a very different blog post.)

Hammond organs were all the rage back then and my uncle owned a beauty, which must have set him back a few bob.

None of us could play it though, apart from my grandad, who was a natural.

I’ve never forgotten it and I can still play that opening thirty seconds.

But only with one hand.

Jun 22 2016

22. A Song That Makes Me Laugh

laughing emoticonI don’t think there are any songs that make me laugh.

Not out loud, anyway.

But there are many songs that I find funny.

Most of them – of course – from the musical scribe of Eric Idle and his Monty Python chums.

“Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”, is a favourite.

But then, so is the Lumberjack Song.

And “The Galaxy Song”.

And the one about “Brave, Brave Sir Robin”.

Decomposing Composers; Finland; SPAM; Camelot; I Like Traffic Lights; The Philosopher’s Song; I Like Chinese; Noel Coward’s Penis Song; Eric The Half A Bee; Sit On My Face… etc, they are all funny songs (that sadly, I know all the words to).

But, I can only pick one and so, I’m going with this.

Enjoy.

Jun 21 2016

21. A Song That I Want Played At My Funeral

coffinHah! An easy one for a change.

For a long time, I’ve had two songs that I’d like played at my funeral.

The first – as everyone is walking in, would be Time To Say Goodbye, a poignant and beautiful song that I think is most suitable to just such an occasion. It was hearing Lesley Garrett singing it, that first enamoured me to the song, but over the years, I’ve probably come to prefer Sarah Brightman’s rendition. Here, she sings it live, along with Andrea Bocelli.

Then, afterwards as everyone is waking out, still in tears from the brilliant eulogy that I’d prepared beforehand, the unmistakable voice of Freddie Mercury singing his swansong The Show Must Go On, would waft over the speakers.  The poignancy that Freddie knew he was dying as he wrote this, is never lost on me, and I find it’s one of those songs that gets my hair standing on end, as a result.

And just to finish it all off I’d like, if possible, to throw this in right at the end.

Jun 20 2016

20. A Song That I Want Played At My Wedding

wedding-ringsUmm, well, as I’m already married and currently have no plans on doing it again…

I’m a bit of a traditionalist and at our wedding we had the Trumpet Voluntary by Purcell and Jerusalem by William Blake and Sir Hubert Parry. Mendelssohn’s Wedding March played us out, of course.

At the reception, after I had made my rubbish speech, the brand new Mrs Masher and I did the first dance to ‘our song’… as is the tradition with newly marrieds.

Don’t ask me what ‘our song’ was though.

I can 100% guarantee that Mrs M would know, but I really haven’t the foggiest.

Jun 19 2016

19. A Song I Listen To When I’m Sad

old wembleyI don’t do that.

So, instead I shall tell you about my penultimate concert attendance.

Back in 1992, the late Michael Jackson played Wembley Stadium.

The social club at BT managed to get tickets at greatly reduced prices and so I bought half a dozen and when the date finally arrived, myself, Mrs M, her sister, brother-in-law and two nieces all went along.

We arrived in plenty of time and at the insistence of the two young girls – and much to my annoyance – we opted to stand in front of the stage, getting as near as we could.

After much waiting around, Kriss Kross came on and made us Jump and then there was much more waiting around for the main man to come on.

We waited and we waited. It was very crowded and was getting hot and stuffy. It was then that Mrs M came over all peculiar (well, more peculiar than usual) and had an attack of claustrophobia. “I’ve got to get out of here”, she said, and with barely a pause she started punching and pushing her way through the crowd. And she wasn’t hanging about as she went, pushing people out of the way as I followed a couple of steps behind, apologising to everyone: “Sorry…. yes, sorry about that, she’s…. yep, sorry…”. Once we’d got out of the throng, I took her by the hand and led her toward the rear of the stadium where I could see empty seats.

Comfortably seated, we sat and waited whilst Mrs M calmed herself down, and still there was no sign of the main event. Then I noticed all the refreshment stalls were starting to close up and police officers were starting to place themselves around the stadium. One stood on the aisle steps next to me. I looked up at him. “He’s not coming on, y’know”, he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked

“Michael Jackson. He’s not coming on. He’s not feeling very well.”

I looked at him disbelievingly, but then heard a voice come over his police radio: “Standby, the announcement is about to be made”

Michael Jackson’s manager then came on to the stage and announce that MJ wouldn’t be coming out to play. The crowd laughed, thinking it was all part of an act, but I grabbed Mrs M’s hand and we legged it outside.  We were out of the stadium, out of the car park and back home, inside an hour.

Stuck in the middle of the crowd, it took Mrs M’s sister an hour and a half just to get out of the stadium and then another two to get out of the car park.

For once, I was quite grateful that Mrs Masher had thrown a wobbler.

To be continued.

Jun 18 2016

18. A Song That I Listen To When I’m Happy

Fireworks of various colors bursting against a black backgroundI don’t really listen to songs depending on my emotional state.

Yes, if I’m happy, I might put on some perky music to add to the mood, but I can’t think of any song in particular.

So…

I got nuffink.

So… (again)

1988 was the year I saw my third different artist in concert: Jean Michel Jarre at the London Docklands.

Having been a fan of his music for many years, I’d long forgiven him for being French and was keen to see him when I heard about his Destination Docklands concert.  I applied for tickets but they sold out pretty quick and I lost out. A couple of friends gleefully rubbed it in, when they informed me that they had managed to get tickets. “Come down with us”, they said. “You might be able to get a ticket from a tout.”

I thought it was worth a shot and so we all headed down there together.

I found a chap blatantly selling tickets and bought one from him. It looked real enough, but the test would be whether it got me in.

Result!

Not only did it allow me access to the concert, but I actually paid considerably less for it than my mates did!

And the show was thoroughly magical… despite the inclement weather (Princess Diana attended the night before and I think the rain held off for her… because she was a princess).

Rain aside, it was a magical evening.

The piece of music I am selecting is Rendezvouz II, because I remember being totally captivated by the whole piece; standing in the rain watching the fireworks and lasers playing overhead, lighting up the clouds and the surrounding buildings and then, as the choir kicked in, all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I had the closest thing to what I would call a religious experience.

*Note that the YouTube clip isn’t from the Docklands concert, but I think it gives you the idea.

Jun 17 2016

17. A Song That I Listen To When I’m Angry

queen-knebworth-1986I got nothin’

And so…

The next band I saw in concert was Queen.
I’d been a fan of the group since leaving school and owned most of their albums.

My girlfriend at the time and I, were on a motorcycling holiday in 1984, travelling around northern France.
As we came into Paris, I noticed posters on the walls advertising Queen in concert in Bercy.  “The Works” tour.

Turning my head round, I shouted through my helmet “Fancy that?”. She nodded and so I diverted our route away from the YMCA we were headed for and followed the signs for Bercy and the stadiumPalaise Omnisports.

To be honest, as we walked up to the ticket office, I didn’t expect any tickets to be available as we had just chanced upon it, but I managed to buy two with no problem at all for the following night’s show.

And, it was good. Our seats were a little far from the stage, but we had no obstructions and could hear the songs easily.

The French people surrounding us seemed to be having a good time and were singing along raucously… although I’m sure none of them actually knew any of the words.

I next saw them in 1986  when I went with some friends to see their “Magic” tour, when they played Knebworth – no-one realised at the time it was to be their last ever gig.

We were quite near the back, which suited me just fine.

My main memory from that gig was a Scottish chap who was seated next to us  on the grass. He was alone and had had a fair bit to drink, but he was friendly enough and was quite chatty. When Big Country – one of the support acts, along with Status Quo – came on, he immediately jumped up and started dancing. He was quite funny to watch, DRUNK as he was, cartwheeling around us and giving it his all.

When Big Country finished their set and left the stage, he picked up his jacket and carrier bag from the floor and off he walked. “Rrright, thas it, I’m orf”, he shouted with his deep Scottish accent as he set off toward the exit.

I’d never imagined someone would pay a full price ticket just to watch the support act.

Jun 16 2016

16. A Song From A Favourite Album

RAF_roundel.svgI don’t have a single favourite album.

But I suppose that I do have albums that are favourites.

In as much as, I play them more often than others.

Which means that I probably need to look at the albums stored on the car stereo and look at what I play the most.

Hmmm….

OK. From the album Best Of The Who (which is quite possibly the most played album I have), I’d like you to meet the new boss.

He’s the same as the old boss.

Jun 15 2016

15. A Song That I Wish I Heard More Often On The Radio

toasterI got nuffin’.

Because – as previously mentioned – I don’t much listen to the radio anymore.

So anyway:

It occurred to me, that the number of concerts that I’ve been to (excluding classical), you could count on the fingers of one hand. Even if you had a finger missing.

My first was back in 1983. I was friends with this girl. Well, woman. We’ll call her Linda. Because that was her name. She was a tad older than me and had a touch of class about her. You don’t get much of that around here, so I was a little bit taken with her.

Besides that, I was twenty years old and full of hormones and was desperate to reach third base with her.

Whatever that means.

Hell, I hadn’t yet reached ANY bases with her and it was beginning to look like I never would.

But, she was a big fan of Paul Young – who was quite popular at the time – and so I thought that two tickets to see him at the Hammersmith Odeon, would probably go a long way towards me getting the chance to stretch some knicker elastic.

Whilst I wasn’t a fan of Mr Young and the tickets were a bit pricey, the potential reward was enough to get me flexing the ol’ Mastercard.

Besides, he came from Luton and he liked toast, so he couldn’t be all bad.

But, it really wasn’t my cup of tea and I can’t say I enjoyed it much.

Linda and I went our separate ways not long after.

No bases were ever touched.

Jun 14 2016

14. A Song That I Hear Too Often On the Radio

radiogagaWell, this is difficult, because I very rarely listen to the radio nowadays and even when I do, it’s mainly to listen to comedy shows or talk stations.

And even then, most of that listening is done in the car, having been downloaded in podcast format earlier.

But, I used to listen to the radio a lot. I was a huge fan of radio.

Like many youngsters back in the mid-seventies, I was weaned on BBC’s Radio 1. The likes of Noel Edmonds and Dave Lee Travis were my breakfast companions each morning and if I got home from school early enough, Diddy David Hamilton would be there to tell me that everything stopped for tea, at three.

But I grew out of Radio One when I realised that there were other stations to listen to.

I started listening to various local radio stations and the likes of BBC Radio London and GLR took my fancy.

For a while, Chris Tarrant on Capital Radio became my new breakfast pal, until I tired of the incessant adverts that punctuated the station’s output and went looking elsewhere.

I found Danny Baker’s Morning Show on BBC Radio 5 and I was genuinely upset when that show came to an end. For me, though I still rate him as one of best radio presenters, that was when Danny was at his peak.

When my parents returned from a fortnight’s holiday in 1980, my dad was aghast to see that I’d had an FM receiving aerial fitted to the chimney. With a rotator. Atop an 18ft mast. All this, just so I could listen to Timbo when he did the late night show on BBC Radio Essex!

But, I also enjoyed searching for those more esoteric stations, and would sometimes spend evenings lying on my bed with a shortwave radio listening to the exotic delights of the Voice Of America; the BBC World Service and other stations around the globe – most especially the English-speaking Russian stations, which fascinated me.

But, as I say, times change and the only radio that I tend to hear live nowadays, is Radio 4.

Or Kiss FM.

Because Mrs M always has that playing throughout the weekend and I get to hear every bloody song in ‘The Charts’ several times a day.

But this one – which I’m really not a fan of – seems to get more air-time than most.

I wish it didn’t.

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