Monthly Archives: May 2007

A honeymoon couple go into a hotel and ask for a suite

“Bridal?” asks the receptionist.

“No thanks,” replies the bride, “I’ll just hang onto his shoulders”.

Mind the Gap

Astute observers of this blog may have noticed a slight delay over the long weekend with the publication of the second half of my gig review. I do apologise of course. The problem was reality creeping in to the mix. I think that that gap might have been the longest since I started my second attempt at regular posting. I’ve back filled to atone of course.

When gamboling first started it was self published with a tool I’d created myself. It was annoying and difficult to publish anything and so there were often huge gaps where nothing got published. The old site is still available over there on the left under “Older Archive”.

Then after one long almost six month break I signed up for Blogger and tentatively started going again. Initially I did this on a seperate site but then I moved the blog back to it’s rightful home. Finally at the begining of the year I moved up to seven days a week. By gradulally stepping up the pace it’s just about been possible to keep up.

So what about the delay? Well weirdly the most difficult thing for me and writing are three day weekends. They almost always mean that something is happening on the weekend for a start (like I’m away or like this weekend when we had houseguests) and in May this year we’ve had three. I know everyone else has had two but I had to go away and climb a mountain remember. And all of that throws the whole delicate balance off track. Add to that the fact that the formula one season’s been in full swing and so I’m posting pretty regularly over on SofaF1 and you’ll see that I’ve been pretty stretched.

Do I mind? Well it annoys me whenever it happens. So it’s fortunate that it doesn’t happen too often. But on the other hand if I wasn’t out in the world experiencing things then I wouldn’t have anything new to write about. At least despite the 555 posts I’ve written in the last 3 and 3/4 years I haven’t run out of inspiration. I’d be much more upset about that.

Why was the police officer sitting in the tree?

He worked for Special Branch.

Cats Eyes

He stepped out into the rain and already his hat had begun to be soaked through. He turned back towards the door to lock it. While his hand was returning the key to his pocket it brushed against a packet of cigarettes. It was a difficult choice. He could light it here, but would it go soggy out in the rain. He had no choice, once his hand felt the pack he had to light one. The air was so damp the first two strikes of the match failed to take. He chuckled to himself as the third time lit true, with him it wasn’t three strikes and out.

He turned back out into the rain and that’s when he saw the cat. It was just sitting there staring back at him. A cat which probably would have looked cute sprawled on the grass in the sunshine, but tonight it looked back at him with those reflective eyes, it looked back at him and it seemed to know something. He wanted to just walk past it, but he froze just staring at it, staring at it staring at him.

The cat got off of his hind legs and started walking towards him. There was a fork in the path, the cat took it. Just as it was about to walk past on the other fork it turned and gave him one last look, and then it walked on.

He stepped forward and then stopped. Water actually sloshed off of his hat and onto his feet. He hadn’t meant to stop, not in the rain. But he found that he was suddenly unsure of himself. This deal was too important to miss, if he didn’t come through on the deal the consequences would be terrible. But somehow, something made him stop. Stop out there in the rain. He turned back, unlocked the door, and stepped back in. The cat had unnerved him.

The Coincidental Gig – Part 2

[This is part 2 of the review, please check part 1 if you care about such things]

Well first can I say that the sound was terrible. It was impossible to hear either band properly. This possibly came from laziness on the part of the engineer. Mother Black Cap seemed, from what I could tell to be guitar led whereas the dukes were supposed to be vocalist led. I think that the engineer just decided to put everything on the same and loud and hope for the best. My mate Adrian could have done better but then he was a sound engineer.

Mother Black Cap

I’m not sure about the lead singer. There I’ve said it. His name is Glam, and on this gig Glam was looking decidedly less glam than when I’d last seen him. Although he did still have that stocking glove on so I suppose I can’t complain too much. It was odd though because it does look like he’s on a progression away from glam towards being a west coast surfer / new york geek rocker. And that’s fine, he can look any way he pleases.

Although I did get a sense of a little Fountains of Wayne in one of the new songs so perhaps it is a genuine musical shift to match? I thought, at first that it might be the sound problems. His mike might have been a bit high for him. But I went back and listened to the tracks on their myspace page* (which is not very easy to read in FireFox but I’m sure most of the media world don’t use the cool browser so it shouldn’t be a problem for them in getting signed) and I found that you can hear that weakness in his voice on the tracks there as well. It’s not fatal for him. He may need some more practice or crucially he may find himself more comfortable at singing a different kind of song.

On the subject of material I did actually quite like it. Quite a few songs you felt you knew where you were going even though the song was quite unfamiliar.

There is an sense of the grand about their style, especially in their finalé “The Dark One” (a part of which is included at the end of this section). It hinted at the overblown quality of Muse or Smashing Pumpkins. Perhaps the kind of fancy producer you need to get that sound would be able to correctly bury the lead singer’s voice in the mix?

I’m sure I’m being too harsh. The songs were really interesting and the band seemed pretty tight although not as tight as the Dukes. But in the final analysis if it was between them and The Dukes, I’d pick Mother Black Cap every time.


Rick Witter and The Dukes

The Dukes kicked off with their current single the raw, “The Year of the Rat” and it was exactly at this moment that I thought the night took a turn for the worse. The sound was pretty awful, and although I could make out the tune I remembered from theirspace it didn’t sound right. Rick was lost completely in the mix and was almost having to shout to overcompensate. The quieter songs were easier to listen to and I preferred them mainly because I could work out what was going on between the different instruments. But that’s hardly their fault.

What can be laid at them is that the Dukes don’t seem to have exactly settled on what you could refer to as a style. There seems to be about three different song writers I could identify. My personal favourite was what I imagine to be the style of Rob Wilson mainly because it had a bit of a guitar solo in it. They did grow on me as time went on, but somehow I didn’t quite connect.

I do think they did fare worse under the sound engineer than Mother Black Cap did, and listening to their studio offerings does make their sound make more sense… and yet I still don’t feel convinced by them as a band, and because of the inconsistency of the style I’m not sure they are either. I’m not sure they’ll exist a year from now.

*I wanted to say theirspace. Do you think that would have worked?

The Coincidental Gig – Part 1

There is a rule in journalism which is that if you’re going to get drunk while doing an interview then you better remember to take a tape recorder with you. This occurred to me as I sank a pint in the third pub I had been to yesterday. I wanted to write a review of the gig so I had two choices: stop drinking or try and record some of the gig for posterity. I, perhaps unsurprisingly, chose the latter and then hardly remembered to record anything. The only problem with the “more beer” plan was that I had almost run out of beer and there was no way, no way at all, to get any more. I had arrived early to secure a table outside, and had actually managed to do this but with no back up I couldn’t leave my table to go to the bar. All around me other patrons were circling. One moment somebody would put their beer down on the table and then from the other angle somebody would ask me, “is anyone using that chair”, then another beer would get plonked down. It was like I was being stalked by a pack of hungry hyenas, but with less laughing. To escape the horror of the situation I cast my mind back to how I had got here in the first place.

Normally when you decide to go to a gig there is some decision making process involved. There is usually a moment of, “oooh I really want to see them” or “yeah why not” about the whole thing. But for this gig there hadn’t been. It had all started when a friend of mine, Joe, had been over having a few beers. He was telling us this nice little story, another of our friends Zoë had called him up and said, “do you want to go to this gig with me, I’ll buy your ticket but you have to agree before I tell you who it is”. Joe being the agreeable kind of guy that he is had agreed, and it had turned out to be not as bad as he thought because it was actually to see Rick Witter and the Dukes (who? Well Rick Witter used to be front man in Shed Seven. Who? Well I probably can’t help you other than to say, reasonably successful Indie band from the nineties).

But there was something odd about this, my friend Adrian knows Rick Witter. And just as I was explaining this to Joe, Adrian called on the telephone, making it nice and doubly odd. I mentioned the fact that there was a gig and he said, “I am so there”. Actually he said some words like the words that he uses, but you get the idea. So in a way from that moment I was forced into it. I was going because two of my friends were going. Adrian and Joe had met before but I was the common factor. There was no escaping my destiny.

So a few days later, destiny fully playing its course I get a phone call from Scott. He’s got a new band (Mother Black Cap, I last reviewed him in Bugfly) and they are playing a gig coming up. “Excellent”, I think I better go and see them. But horror of horror’s the gig is on the same night. Just as I’m gearing up to tell him the sad and tragic news he says, “yeah it’s going to be really good because we’re going to be supporting Rick Witter you know from Shed Seven”. So now I must go. I have to go it’s written in the stars, the world is conspiring to get me to the Islington Academy on the 25th May.

I turn to Adrian (who was sitting to my left when the call from Scott came in – I am not figuratively turning to Adrian, I am turning to him in actualité) to tell him about the whole Scott thing when he says, “I’ve just been looking up Rick’s band ‘The Dukes’ and it’s got one of my mates in it”.
I challenge him at this point, “I thought you were mates with Rick”?
“Well,” says Adrian, “I know Rick, but I’m mates with Rob. He used to be in the band with me”.

So as I looked at my two millimetres of beer I thought “that, in a rather enormous nutshell, is how I got myself in this mess”. A new problem had been added into the mix with the table. Because the beer was now at a record low level people kept coming to try and clear my glass! I had to hold on to it – it was my only hope.

Suddenly a call from Nick trying to confirm where this third pub is (I’d been moving around trying to find one with an outside table). He tries to tell me that he’s just going to find somewhere for a bite to eat and that he’ll head over afterwards, but I tell him he’s not allowed to. He must come and rescue me. And to his credit he does.

A few minutes later we are happily seated outside a couple of pints between us, and our conversation turns to how although an outdoor table seemed like a good idea earlier it might now be getting a bit cold. But after all the effort I went through I’m not moving. We agree that stoically not moving is the order of the day. Which turns out to have been the right decision because just as Nick is heading to the bar who should he almost bump right into but a friend of his that he hadn’t seen for a year and a half? She had lost their phone all that time ago and so had lost Nick’s number and their new phone had come with a new number. They’d last seen each other when they both lived in Nottingham.

So now this is really quite weird. But I had to ask the question was I a) destined to see this gig or b) destined to get Nick in the right place to meet his old friend or c) this destiny thing doesn’t exist – get over it? Rich arrived and we had some more beer so it became a moot point.

About 5 minutes later Adrian arrives and points out the name of the pub. It’s called The York, and is right opposite the venue. York is where Adrian used to live, and was where he met Rick and Rob from The Dukes. It’s certainly time to leave and go to the gig…

[Click here for the concluding part]

Scorching – Part 3

[This is part 3 of the 4 part story Scorching. If you’re interested in that kind of thing then you may want to check out parts one and two before you read this. Or of course you may not.]

Steven didn’t know what to do. He turned around a few times hoping that by the time he turned back the guy would suddenly be alive. He decided to stop being silly and besides he was getting dizzy. So he stopped and looked properly. There didn’t seem to be anything obviously wrong with him other than the obviously uncomfortable angle in which he was lying and the fact that his eyes had rolled back in his head. It looked to Steven’s untrained eye like he’d had a heart attack. Well the sex had sounded pretty amazing. Just as he was trying to decide if that would be the way that he wanted to go he heard a noise on the stairs.

“Gloria, don’t come in here a second.”

The steps stopped coming for a second and then they started again. “Steven?”
She walked round the corner, saw what had happened and then fell on the floor. She looked back up at Steven from all fours. Steven suddenly realised she’d gone into a kind of attack style crouch.

“What,” she snarled, “did you do to him”?

“Nothing. I was going to ask you the same question. He must have died just after you left the room.”

“Oh,” she said looking instantly more relaxed, “really”?

“Of course. Why would I want to kill him anyway? I don’t even know who he is.”

“Yes but maybe you thought you would have to kill him to sleep with me?”

“I don’t think so. I’m sorry, you’re lovely and everything but to kill for? Well possibly, but I’m not sure this guy was ever going to find out about us. That certainly wasn’t my plan.”

“What shall we do? Hide the body?”

“Why? We didn’t do anything. We should just phone the police, explain what happened and everything will be fine. I promise.”

“No we can’t phone the police. We can’t.”

“But,” said Steven, “if we just tell them the truth then nothing will go wrong, nobody did anything.”

“No,” she said, “I think I might have killed him.”

“You can’t have.”

“No, I think I did.”

“But you’ll go to prison.”

“I can’t I can’t.”

“But I can’t lie to the police.”

“You have to, you must. I… I… I’ll sleep with you if you will.”

That was Steven’s dilemma. He knew that she was the woman, out of all of the women that he’d ever met in his life that he most wanted to sleep with. She was the one. She was so beautiful. So young, fresh and pure – or at least she seemed that way. He thought to himself, I don’t care if she she’s killed somebody. Why should I care – he thought. And then he thought about himself, he thought about himself, and decided that this was certainly a risky situation.

[Will Steven sleep with her, or will he report her to the police? Let me know and I’ll write it! Or at the very least tune in next Friday for the hopefully dramatic conclusion.]

Jesus and the Devil are having an argument

They both claim that they are better at using computers than the other. After a bit of an argument back and forth they start fighting which immediately gets God’s attention. God decides to settle this once and for all and sets a really complicated series of tests for them both to complete. They start working away, making spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations and tons of really complicated programs are written. Suddenly out of nowhere a thunderbolt strikes and takes out the power on each computer. A tense few moments ensue where they both restart their computers. On the devils computer there are no files nothing left, but on Jesus’s they are all there.

“No fair God, that’s cheating, what did you do?” asks the Devil.

“I didn’t do anything. It’s just that Jesus saves”.

Up in smoke

So from the 1st July there will be a smoking ban in public spaces in England which is going to be very good. I’m not a zealot when it comes to smoking but it can be quite annoying. Some of the best new restaurants around are pubs and you do have this weird mix situation where you’re trying to eat and other people are trying to smoke.

I would love to hope that this move will be the final catalyst for people to give up smoking but I’m not sure about that.

Most people start smoking at school and there you have to go and hide behind the bikesheds with your mates. These groupings become the cool gangs and to get in you have to smoke. Right from that young age smoking is cool. And what are we creating now? Well we are creating a situation where people will have to go outside and huddle together with other members of their smokers gang. Where they are all cool.

All of us non smokers will be sitting smugly inside thinking how wonderfully healthy we are. But somewhere, maybe deep inside, we’ll want to be part of that gang again. They’re all in it together all smokers of Britain have all suddenly become a single gang where they get to automatically start conversations with strangers and shrug off their British reserve.

Ah the coversations with strangers thing. That’s important. The most common pick up line has to be, “have you got a light”. And that has now been denied. Women often accuse men of being stupid but listen to this men are already preparing for the smoking ban. A survey has found that young british men aren’t wearing watches any more. The reason? So they can ask women the time. They can’t ask for a light anymore because being a smoker might be bad so now men can use their watchless status to attract women. This trick has only become available due to the mobile phone’s invention. Because if there are no attractive women around and you need to know the time you can just look at that.

A man walks into a bar

And he’s approached by a POW (Predatory Older Woman) who asks him if he’d like to go back to her place. After they are just getting comfortable in bed the woman asks the guy, “Would you be interested in a mother-daughter threesome”.

The guy is surprised but instantly agrees.

“Great,” says the woman and then calls out, “Mum he said yes!”

— This joke is by Barry Cryer who I saw performing in I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue two weeks ago.