As I’ve said before, I’m intending that this quarter (July, August, September) will be a bit quieter than the last six months (OK, at least six months) have been.
It’s not going to be complete radio-silence, because I’ve still got stuff booked in, and things during the week. But there are empty weekends, and I’m trying to keep them that way.
I won’t deny, it’s a struggle. I see those blank calendar weekends, and they make me twitchy. I am really bad at not doing much, or not having stuff planned. I know I need to do less (and I’m intending that there are other things to replace those insanely busy weekends) so I’m working on it. And I’m getting there. Kind of.
The first week of July was a bit quieter – I didn’t travel much on the weekend, for one thing – although I still ended up being out and about more than I’d planned to be. (It turned out that other friends were helping out with a local event, so it was only fair to go and give a bit of support on that score!) My “I’ll turn up for an hour, and then fuck off” turned into five hours. So there’s still room for improvement on the whole “not doing much” – but at the same time, I didn’t do much except for talking to friends and so on.
It’s early days/weeks. I’m hoping it’ll work out – but we’ll see. This coming week I’ve got a couple of things going on in evenings, but then there’s nothing at all lined up for the weekend. That’s going to be interesting…
Somehow, we’re nearly halfway through 2018 already. It’s been a hugely busy and eventful six months, but right now I’m hoping for a bit of a break. (Yeah, we’ve heard it all before, I know)
At the moment, I’ve got very little scheduled in for July and August – and while I’ll still be going out and about, my current plan is to not be as hyper, at least.
There’s other things in the plan instead, which I’ll write more about as and when I get the chance (and as and when they start working out)
There’s another week of being chaotically busy to get through first, but the end is in sight, and that’s a good thing right now.
I slacked off from writing posts last week – primarily just because I was ridiculously busy, and didn’t get round to it.
The week before had already been daftly busy, including travel to Newcastle for a couple of days, and then social and busy bits on both weekend days.
I can’t even remember now what I did on the Monday – I know I was out, I just can’t recall where/why. That can’t be a good sign.
Then Tuesday evening I was seeing The The at the Royal Albert Hall, and on Wednesday evening seeing them at Brixton Academy, as I may have mentioned before (on more than one occasion) Both nights were great, but on neither occasion was I home before 1am, nor in bed before 3am. And also working during the day.
Thursday was no better, although at least it was more local, by going to the local Geek Night for a bundle of presentations and connections.
And then Friday was supposed to be quieter, “just popping out” for food at a local event, that then meeting friends and chatting, meaning I didn’t actually leave ’til gone 11pm.
Saturday was a day in London, starting with cocktails and lunch at one of my favourite places, The Alchemist in Bevis Marks (near the base of the Gherkin) followed by a play called “Sancho – An Act of Remembrance” at Wilton’s Theatre.
And today was another food event in Milton Keynes, and this evening I’ve finally stopped and been able to relax a bit.
So. That’s my reasons for not updating over the last week. I think it’s a pretty good list, but other opinions may differ. 🙂
Seeing Danny Baker on stage was never one of the things on my to-do list. I’d never been overly taken with his character, or the (very little) I knew about him.
But last weekend, I heard an interview with him on the radio, and he seemed… less of a dickhead than I’d previously thought, and actually with a pretty interesting life. So when I got home, I had a look at details for his current theatre tour, and saw that he was playing in a week’s time in Northampton. And there were still seats available. So I thought “Well, why not? The most that can happen is I decide I still don’t like him“. Ticket booked, and on Saturday evening there I was. In Northampton.
As it happened, the show was a lot of fun. And bloody long. He’d said in the interview (and at the start of the show) that he’s taken over the mantle from Ken Dodd and so on for marathon shows. (My parents used to say about Doddy telling the audience “I’m the only one who knows when you’re going home”, and this was much the same) In this case, he started off at 19:45, there was a 15-minute interval at about 21:30, and he finally left the stage at 23:30. Pretty good going.
Also, it’s worth noting that this is the third tour of tales about his life, and by the end of it we were only just getting to where he started in radio at the age of 30. (He’s now 61) So I’m pretty sure there’s material for a few more tours in him as well.
As it was, a good portion of the first half was concerned with filling out the information from previous tours, so people knew what and who he was talking about during the second half. The entire thing was accompanied with photos to illustrate the events and places – all with bits being pointed out by the snooker cue he was using as a pointer throughout. He’s also incredibly energetic, constantly walking across the stage. God only knows how many miles he’s covering every night – but it’s certainly not an insignificant number!
The stories he told were pretty epic, with a fair amount of name-dropping and so on – but they weren’t all about being the Big I Am. Obviously there’s a degree of this, as it’s Danny Baker telling The Tale Of Danny Baker, but it’s not excessive, this is the stuff that has happened, and he’s the first to admit he’s been incredibly lucky along the way, along with not always being the hero of his own tales.
Not always funny (although more often than not) the entire show came together really well, and the only thing that actually made it feel as long as it was (Steady on, Matron) was that the seats at Derngate get bloody uncomfortable after a while.
I can’t deny, I really enjoyed the entire thing (poxy seating notwithstanding) and came out with a better impression of Danny Baker than I’d had on the way in.
If the tour is playing anywhere near you, it’s worth seeing. And if he does another one, the odds are that I’ll go along again. It might even make it onto the to-do list!
So, where was I last week? To cut a long story short, Toronto.
Basically, last year I got really lucky. CocaCola had a summer holiday promotion where the label of each Coke product was printed with a design and a code. And as I drink a lot of it, I thought “What the hell”, and kept entering codes from them.
And I won.
At the time, they were saying that you could claim the holiday at the destination on the winning label – and in my case the winning label was for Dublin. I really wasn’t overly bothered – I’ve been to Dublin, after all. But I got to the point of thinking “Sod it, might as well claim, at least it’s a break”, and then when I spoke to them they said “Which destination on the list did you want?”. So I went back to the list, and saw that Toronto was on there, which has always been on my list. And that’s what I did.
The prize was actually for up to four people, and included flights, half-board hotel, and transfers between the two. All told, quite a significant contribution. I only went with one friend in the end, with a room each, so it was all good.
The run-up to the break had been fraught – it’s where a lot of the “You had one job” post came from – but the break itself went well. (It turned out that the agency in question had made fuck-ups in every single aspect of the booking, although I’d caught all but one in the run-up to the holiday, and the last one finally bit us in Toronto, where the agency had booked the transfer to the wrong hotel – same brand, different location, a $100 taxi ride apart)
All of those fuck-ups are being dealt with, and have been referred back to both the agency and to CocaCola as well, so it should be entertaining to see what crap hits the fan from that.
Anyway, the week itself was great. We had a hotel right in downtown Toronto, which meant that everything was easily available, and during the week, we covered pretty much everything we wanted to in the city. It’s a very walkable city, and we covered about 70 miles all told during the week. As well as the classic touristy stuff (CN Tower, driving to Niagara Falls etc.) we got to do culturey stuff including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and also visiting most of the local districts and regions within the city. It’s been busy, but not hyper-busy.
We got back yesterday, having been awake from 6am Toronto time, flying back at 18:30 Toronto time, arriving at Heathrow at 06:30 BST, and I then beasted my way through ’til gone 10pm on Sunday before admitting defeat. Hopefully that should enable me to reset my body-clock somewhat.
It’s been well worth it though, and all told I reckon it’s pretty much balanced out a bundle of the money I’ve given to CocaCola over the years…
This year seems to be another one with a lot of band revivals – and I’m happy about it.
First of all, the band “The The” announced that they were going to do their first tour in twenty-odd years. Having been a fan for a long time, I got tickets.
The first-announced one, back at the Royal Albert Hall (where I saw them *cough* years ago) is the single most expensive gig ticket I’ve ever bought – the gig sold out in minutes, and I was in the queue, so the only ones that remained by the time I got there were ridiculously costly (but also have hospitality included, so I’ll make it pretty much work out, somehow) but fuck it, got one anyway.
Then they announced a second gig, this time at Brixton Academy on the following night. Much much cheaper. So I got one for that too.
Later, they also announced a smaller warm-up gig, in Nottingham. Yup, got that too. (It’s ridiculous, and I just hope it’s worth it)
There are a couple of others this year as well, including Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, both of whom I’m going to see.
And then yesterday, the Cowboy Junkies announced they were coming to the UK for three concerts – in Glasgow, Manchester, and London. I think the last time I saw them was on their last visit here, although for some reason I appear to have missed one a couple of years ago – had tickets, didn’t go. I’ve been a fan of them even longer than I have of The The, so it was a no-brainer.
Glasgow and Manchester went on sale today, and I’ve got one for Manchester. The London ones don’t go on sale ’til the end of the month, but I’m already seriously considering getting one for that too. It’ll depend on the price, but it’s pretty likely, if I’m not going to see them again for another decade…
[This follows on from a conversation I was having over the weekend, so I thought I’d write a bit more about it here. You lucky people]
This year so far has in many ways been an exercise in frustration. I’ve felt like I’m keeping on having to fight things all the way, just to get people to do their sodding jobs. It’s incredibly annoying, frustrating, and just leaves me tired and pissed off.
I know I’ve written about this kind of thing before – it seems to be a bit of a theme round here. And it’s not even like I expect miracles – all I want is for people to do their fucking jobs right. That’s not too much to ask, surely?
For example, one of the current bugbears has been a particular travel agent, who is supposed to be organising a break. It’s been in the process now for about six months, with the travel happening next month. I’ve given them a decent length of time and space, and absolutely nothing happened. Indeed, the only time anything started happening was once I got in touch with them about six weeks ago, to find out what was going on. All of a sudden the tickets and so on appeared, along with acknowledgement that they’d dropped the ball, that the initial contact had left the company and there’d been no handover or successor assigned to deal with me.
The problem was that the names on all the bookings – flights, hotel and so on – *all* had spelling mistakes. I’ve raised it with them, and they’re “going to deal with it”. But man alive, this is the job they’re supposed to be good at, that they do all day every day, and they still make mistakes like these? I’m honestly not reassured, and won’t be until I’ve arrived at the destination and know that everything has worked out. Which is hardly a relaxing start to a break, it’s fair to say.
The stuff with the bank, the car insurance people, and the windscreen people have also been fine examples. Along with several others I’m not in the mood to add just yet to the list here.
All I want is for people to do their jobs. Why is that so bloody difficult?