Friday, 30 December 2005

Look What Happened...

Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't I? So, here's my review of MY year.

I played the guitar and helped arrange songs for Ottershaw Players' annual rude revue in February. Not as much fun as actually being in the show, though. I'm looking forward to the next Farrago, in March, as I'll be playing Sherlock Holmes.

March to June was spent rehearsing Les Liaisons Dangereuses, again with Ottershaw Players. Preceded by 3 months of preparation. The play was generally a critical succes, though not a financial one, unfortunately. Looking back, I think I should have got the pace picked-up somewhat, but I'm proud of how well it went. Currently, I'm planning for the production of Habeas Corpus next June.

I've now managed to keep blogging for a whole 6 months, with 1149 visitors, at time of writing - I'm not in Scaryduck's league, but I'm happy that anyone reads this with any regularity. I don't think I've left a gap of more than a week, or so. And that was when I was on honeymoon in Shanghai. And knowing that I've inspired the likes of Delmonti to start blogging makes me happy. And having 'met' new blogging acquaintances like Mel and MaryB is great.

Blimey. June was busy! I got married, for the 2nd time, to The Wife (for the 1st time). And I know that this one is for real. Kathleen makes me very happy indeed and I consider myself one of the luckiest men in the world for nabbing her. And the honeymoon in Shanghai wasn't bad either!

I used up a ton of holidays going to drama school auditions and, frankly, not doing nearly well enough to get in. Good luck to some of the fantastic youngsters who I saw at the auditions, though I was also encouraged to see a few kids who weren't very good at all, so I wasn't completely living in cloud-cuckoo land. Lately I've enjoyed directing a lot more than acting. And I may have to start thinking about ways of changing careers in that direction.

A year ago I was promising myself that by this time I would not be in my current job. But I am still there. If I make no other resolutions this year I will endeavour to sort out my finances and get out of debt so that I am in a better position to make changes in my life and career.

Tuesday, 27 December 2005

More Time To Kill

Researchers from the Thompsonian Institute tell us that this year will be a full ONE SECOND longer than usual.

What to do with that extra second? I think I feel a meme-tag coming on!

I will use the extra second in 2005 to do one of the following five things:

1. Blink for a little longer than usual.
2. Do the hard crossword in The Sun.
3. Debate whether it's midnight at the first or the last chime of Big Ben.
4. Take advantage in the lull to get a drink at the bar.
5. Take advantage of The Wife.

OK - now if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged. Let me know what 5 thing's you will be doing with your extra time.

Sunday, 25 December 2005

Season's Greetings


Merry Xmas (or Christmas).

I thought I'd spend this morning laying out a collection of small dairy products and putting fairy-lights around them.

Then I realised I'd misheard and today we're NOT celebrating the birth of little baby cheeses.

Hey ho. Hope you get all you've wished for.

Peace, love and light - as Spike would have said.

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

THREE days to go?!

I commend JohnnyB's latest missive to those of you who wake up in the night, disturbed by a noise which could be (a) some leaves blowing across the roof, (b) three large grizzly bears searching for porridge in your kitchen in a bizarre Goldilocks revenge scenario, or (c) one of the things Johnny suggests - and you know you've imagined them all when it's happened to you.

Which reminds me:

When I was young (oh, about 10, I think) we had a teacher who told us a story which he purported to be true.

It seems that a youngster was awakened one summer by his curtains blowing gently in the breeze. One of the curtains billowed out in the shape of a face. He pulled the curtains and there was no-one there. So he went back to bed and closed his eyes. Then an intruder appeared in the bedroom and...

And, I've no idea what happened next because I was scared shitless by that story. And even on the hottest nights I can't bear having windows open in case the curtains billow in the shape of a huge, scary face.

Eurgh! It still gives me the willies. And not in a good way.

So - what ghosty-scary-type things still scare you, years after you should have got over them?

Thursday, 15 December 2005

Is Your Name Pete?

Mine is. Is yours?

If so, you might like to join The Pete Collective, an entirely unnecessary gathering of people called 'Pete'. Click on the link, or on the corner banner - up there - at the top left. See it? Good.

I'm not sure if you're allowed to join if your middle name is Pete. They don't make it clear. I'll ask and report back...

Thanks to my lubberly sister for telling me about the site. Cheers, Jo!

Wednesday, 14 December 2005

Happy Birthday...

...To The Wife!

Whisked her off to the West End Centre in Aldershot to see Wob play. He did quite a few new numbers tonight, so we reckon a new album is imminent.

Here are a couple of pictures 'in performance':

And, in a more thrashy mood...

A great set from Wob. Thanks mate. And Happy Birthday to you for the weekend.

Also caught a FANTASTIC guitarist by the name of Tristan Seume. No singing, just solo, acoustic guitar, but to an exceptionally high standard. I reckon he has 8 fingers on each hand, the freak. Anyway - check him out as he's marvellous!

Unfortunately we had to leave before Blimus started playing. Their name suggests a Japanese Primus tribute band, but I don't think they were. Banjos and lap steel guitars may seem to be a bit country and western (i.e. BAD in my book!) but from the looks (and sounds) of their website, I think we may have missed a right treat.

Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Since late October, we've been working in a different office, while our usual building in Andover is undergoing renovations.

Having time to spare now that I'm going to work on the train (and how relaxing is that, after driving to work for the past few years), I thought I'd take the opportunity to document the journey - dull as it is!

So here are the stations I pass through each morning.


Lordy - what a dull place. No coffee-shop, newspaper kiosk, taxi office, although Weybridge, Chertsey and Virginia Water all have these facilities. The woman who works in the ticket office has an awful attitude (the blokes are OK though), they never grit the platforms on icy mornings and the ticket machine on platform 2 has been out of order for at least 2 weeks. This is where I have to wait for my train every morning. Luckily it's only the 2nd stop on the route, so it's very rarely late.


Not as dull as Addlestone. There's a cafe, a taxi office and several large companies have major offices within a 5 minute walk. The car-park used to contain several small offices (shacks really), one of which was the external location for Edward Woodward's office in the Callan TV series.

Unfortunately, there's also a shrine of flowers on platform 1 for someone who must have been killed at the station.

Further down the road are a most excellent Indian restaurant (imaginitively called, The Chertsey Restaurant) and Moore's Wine Bar, which has comedy nights each Wednesday.

Virginia Water

This is where I change (just a short stroll from platform 3 to 2) for the Reading train. The guys in the ticket office are friendly, as is the woman who sells soup and coffee in the newspaper kiosk. Up the road is a parade of shops. This is probably one of the most expensive and exclusive places to live in the country, but you wouldn't think it if you wander up to the Londis to buy some gum or a magazine.

Further up the road is the old Sanatorium, where Bill Bryson met his wife (they were both working there) and various pop videos were filmed while it was derelict in the 1980s. Also locally is the lovely Royal Holloway College (which must be on
e of the few London University colleges which isn't actually in London).

I went to 6th-form college in nearby Egham, so the area is like a 2nd home to
me. If only in my mind.

Finally, Virginia Water is also home to Wentworth Golf Club. Venue for the world match-play championship each year and it's where I got married first-time around
, back in prehistoric times.


Ah. Sunningdale. Home to another championship-standard golf course and many, many big , posh houses. It's got a Mercedes dealer, a big Waitrose, and (if you're driving) a very annoying level-crossing over the A30.

For some reason, the recorded announcement on the train goes wrong here. All the stations on the line are listed by a male voice in a sober, even manner. But when you arrive here he says "this is Sunningdale" and the last syllable comes out in a surprised squeak, as if the guy doing the recording was poked with a stick at that moment.


It's very posh indeed at Ascot. The railway station is large, with four platforms. Presumably to cope with the huge influx of people during race meetings, especially Royal Ascot. And I believe it's also an interchange with the Guildford line. Outside the station is Jagz jazz club. I like jazz, but I've never been here. Maybe I'll give it a go and report back. Change here and you can probably get a bus to Windsor and look at the castle. Probably.

Martins Heron

All I know about this place is that it's a large 1970s-looking housing estate, with one of those identikit Tesco superstores (complete with pointless clock-tower) right next to the station - also built by Tesco apparently. I keep wanting to put an apostrophe in (Martin's Heron), but there isn't one. Which doesn't make any sense to me. Most of you will have seen Martins Heron as it's the location for Harry Potter's house (where he lives with his aunt & uncle).


Awful photo.

Once home to the
Met Office before they moved to Exeter. Which means it's a much longer commute for the guys and girls who do the weather on the BBC. It really is one of the dullest places in the world.


Another bad picture - taken facing into the sun. Sorry about that.

Wokingham is quite a sweet little town. The town centre is small, but the swathes of housing development swarm out for a few miles in each direction.

The railway station is at the grotty end of the district though. And as I don't ever get off here, I can't find much else to say about it.


The end of the line. Because on the day I took the photos, I ended up on the fast train from Wokingham which missed out Winnersh, Winnersh Triangle and Earley. For which you are probably thanking your own personal god as it's made this entry a good deal shorter.

So, Reading.

Home to numerous companies; the Madejski stadium, where the Royals play (formerly the Biscuitmen - a far better nickname). Site of the old Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory.

There's a lovely Victorian gothic town hall, housing a great concert venue and the museum.

And it's where I met The Wife. For which I will be eternally grateful to it. Thank you Reading.

Oh, and thanks to Delmonti for the informative notes on the photos...

Saturday, 10 December 2005

Seven Songs

I've been tagged my Meljoy. So here are

Seven Songs I'm enjoying right now
(well, now-ish!):

Tom Lehrer - I Hold Your Hand In Mine
Gogol Bordello - Start Wearing Purple
Radiohead - Karma Police
Genesis - Return of the Giant Hogweed
Jellyfish - The King is Half Undressed
Sex Pistols - Holiday in the Sun
Kris Kristofferson - Help Me Make It Through The Night

This is my first meme-tag thing, so I've no idea how you are supposed to tag other people. So if you're reading this - you're tagged!

I've also been tagged by Mary, so here's my list from her memes (much longer, this one):

Seven things to do before I die.
Dive with whale sharks.
Get solvent.
Eat truffles.
Direct a play professionally.
Play in a band.
Get Grand Master Bowman status at archery.
Stop breathing.

Seven things I cannot do.
Pick up a spider.
Eat tomatoes.
Spend a day without checking my email.
Listen to opera.
Watch ballet.
Touch my nose with my tongue.
Refuse a meme-tag, by the looks of it.

Seven things that attract me to my spouse/partner.

Her body.
Her sense of humour.
Her fabulous cooking.
Her patience.
Her smile.
Her musical taste.
Everything else about her.

Seven things I say most often.

I Love You.

Seven books (or series) I love.
Stephen King's Dark Tower series.
Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels.
Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.
Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter.
Spike Miligan's war memoirs.
Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.
Anything by Bill Bryson.

Seven movies I watch over and over.

The Shawshank Redemption.
Duck Soup.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
It's A Wonderful Life.
Donnie Darko.

Seven people I want to join in.
Mel (this bit!).
Thom Yorke.

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Music Was My First Love

Here are some things I've been enjoying listening to recently.

Just received my copy of Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike by Gogol Bordello. Heard them on Mark Radcliffe's show on Radio2 last week - they did a cracking, up-tempo version of Start Wearing Purple. They're Russian/Ukrainian/New-Yorkers and the music is a sort of punk, gypsy thing, with a bit of ska and (I think) dub thrown into the mix for good measure. Think of the bastard child of The Pogues and The Clash, via Pavement and you'll have the right idea.

And a big shout out to Nizlopi. Bought their album (Half These Songs Are About You) a few months ago when B3ta featured the fabulous JCB Song video. Now they're releasing that track as a single. Let's see if we can get it to number 1 for Xmas. Before G4, Cliff, Blue or some other pile of shite gets there.

If you can get to see any of the following guys, please do. They are all great and worth your support. The amazing, barnstorming Wob; the excellent Mike Halliwell, courtesy of our friend Matt; and the excellent but evasive Mr Love & Justice.

[Evasive because every time they have a gig somewhere handy I've already got something else on. Marcus - sort it out!]

Finally, a plug for Pandora. It doesn't appear to be fully geared-up for users outside the USA yet (how familiar is that for those of us who want to download music legally!). But it's a great little tool to use to discover new music based on your current preferences.

Monday, 5 December 2005

More blinking photos...?!?

If you're not sick of seeing photos from LWW (as we call it) yet, there's some more over at the Ottershaw Players website.

Saturday, 3 December 2005

Aslan's pavilion & the stone table

Aslan's pavilion & the stone table

Taken from the stage-manager's desk just before the start of Act 2. No flash on my phone camera, so it's a bit dark. The 'stone table' (just to left of centre) breaks apart after Aslan is killed on it - that's when I had fun with pyrotechnics!

The lamp-post in snowy Narnia.

The lamp-post in snowy Narnia.

A closer view of the lamp-post and the 'back' of the wardrobe, through which the four children emerge into Narnia.

Friday, 2 December 2005

Set for Tumnus' house

Set for Tumnus' house

A close-up of Mr Tumnus' house - with lots of fake food on the table.

Narnia in the snow

Narnia in the snow

This is the 2nd scene in Act 1. Narnia.
With the wardrobe's back at the left, Mr Tumnus' house on the right and drifts of snow everywhere.

The opening scene in our play.

Our opening scene in the play.

Oops! That came out a bit blurry. Bloody camera phones.