Wednesday, August 30, 2006

If you haven't already heard about it, there's this online music community thing out there called Although there are similar pages around, this one seems pretty good and it's the one I'm on which is why I'm plugging it. Basically, it's best suited for people who play their tunes through their computers, but it's also fun if you don't do this to go and check what your online mates are listening to IN REAL TIME. Yep, the autoscrobbler software links to your iTunes or WMP and updates your profile as you're listening and then builds up top artists, weekly top tunes, forms a personal radio station and all that. You can invite people to be your friends and you also get given neighbours and you can go and join groups of similarly minded people. You can also have fun by recommending Sonic Youth to people sat busy listening to Coldplay. All in all, this place is a haven for all us anal, alphabetised record collection type dudes! Thus, I recommend it and invite you all to be my chums. For tasters, you can go and check out my own listing here!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chicks on Speed

Sonia and I went to this a week last Friday at Club Snafu in Aberdeen and mighty fine it was too. First of all it was such a nice change to find a friendly and relaxed DJ-style club. This was no meat-market/piss-up brigade set-up, but a professional and welcoming music-led venue (the £6.50 advance ticket price might have had a filtering effect too). After running through some torrential rain, indeed only learning exactly where the club was from some fellow shelterers under a shop front, we got there just before 23:00 and of course found the place nigh-empty. However, this did mean we got an interesting little cubby hole next to the small dance floor, and under one of those thick-glass sections of pavement!

The warm-up DJ was pretty good, and played some good mixes of some C-o-S stuff I knew from 99 Cents. Before too long, the club was getting busy and the dance floor well-populated, and then a genuine C-o-S member came out (the blonde one down the front!). This is the best thing about DJ sets; there is no half-hour wait of boredom as the dancing must continue! Anyway, I have no adjectives or even genre-talk to describe her set, but the crowd (and us) were definately digging it. Indeed, a kilted man down the front even took his top off to show his approval. The DJ booth was on the level with the dance floor and gave it all a good vibe. At the back of the booth was a good-sized video-wall, and well-synched video accompanied the set, which featured as you might expect a good range of bizarre stuff including C-o-S and friends playing their instruments whilst naked on a rooftop!

I must confess that Sonia and I acted our age and politely watched from our cubby-hole, and then, with the party in full-swing, left to get some kip. OK, it was 01:30 and we had a half hour walk home alright?? Thus I cannot say whether the other two members each had a go later on as we were slumbering!

This brings me to a related point however, the propensity of ridiculously late-night gigs in Scotland. Me thinks I am just getting old, but the liberal late-licence deal this side of the border that I usually celebrate unfortunately has the knock-on effect of music gigs going on prohibitively late, especially when I have to be in work no later than 08:00. Take Camera Obscura on a Monday night for example. No warm-up had even appeared by 21:00, with the main dudes barely having tuned-up by 23:00. That's ok once in a while and for a band you really care about, but I am constantly passing-over bands I wouldn't mind seeing as the personal investment is too much. Anyways, you tell that to kids these days, and they don't believe you....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A compact weekend

Ed& Sylvia with some well-dressed friends:

Jo and Mahine:

Henry with Lucy:

Edible E&S:

Simon at Ironbridge:

Chez Andrew, village of Wall:

Bit of a drive the weekend before last to go to Ed & Sylvia's wedding down south. 1200 miles in total in a Peugeout 106. T'was as follows:

Thursday 10th, 15:00: leave Aberdeen for Barnsley. Arrive 21:15. Officially not bad. Wonderful evening sun over the A66 through Cumbria and County Durham.

Friday 11th, 07:00: leave Barnsley for service in Great Malvern. Arrive 10:00 after getting a bit lost due to the wonderful AA Travel Route (not me at all you understand).

Drive across to Hanbury Hall for reception but via Stoke Heath to check in at B&B. Patron upset as my lunchtime-only check in means he doesn't go to local rugby match. Oops. Anyway, Pimms on arrival sorted me out.

Taxi back from Hanbury at night as Black Sheep Beer too much to resist.

Saturday 12th 10:00: set off walking back to Hanbury Hall with 3 bags to collect car.

Saturday 12th 11:00: set off to Ironbridge to meet old Nottingham housemate Simon for excellent pub lunch and walkabout, noonish.

Saturday 12th 15:00: back to Barnsley to go out with folks for dinner. My dessert is a double espresso.

Sunday 13th 09:30: leave Barnsley for Wall, Northumberland to meet old sixth-form mate Andrew, now with two children, arriving noon for, get this, pub lunch!

Sunday 13th 15:00: leave Wall for Aberdeen, arriving 20:00. Meet up with Sonia, having not seen her for two weeks.

Relaxing really. Unsurprisingly, the weekend just gone was spent gardening...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Star Wars in 20 minutes

Got this from Anna. The Reduced Shakespeare Company plans to condense the whole of Star wars into 20 minutes! Sounds like the best condensation/alternative take since Star Dudes!

Friday, August 04, 2006


Not a good view on April 16 1746.

Our guide demonstrates the weaponry:

Not a drop drunk from it since:

Finally got around to going to Culloden the day of the housewarming. This is quite a brave thing to do for an English man round these parts! I must say that it was an excellent day out, made all the better by the fact that we bit the bullet and paid for not only the guided tour of the battlefield, but also for the separate exhibition/museum, as both were excellent.

Despite being warm the day was overcast, and this only added to the gloomy atmosphere of the desolate field. The numbers are incredible, 9,000 Redcoats (2,500 being Scottish) and around 5,000 Jacobites met on the field on April 16 1746. The Jacobites were exhausted due to a failed attempt to reach and attack Cumberland's camp in the night, and due to Bonnie Prince Charlie not having arranged food for this day, as the battle had been expected the day before. Cumberland's troops in sharp contrast were well-fed and well-trained.

Now, essentially, all of this came about because of power and the desire for it. Yes, there had been suppression, which had given the Jacobite cause such a following, but it was one man's desire for the crown on the one side and one man's desire to keep it on the other. However, that aside, Culloden is justly emotive for the Scottish because of what happened on that day and following on from it. Cumberland (later to be called 'The Butcher') had obtained a copy of the Jacobite battle orders, and he distributed it amongst his men, but with one fake line added, 'To give the enemy no quarter' (no mercy). With this in mind, the Redcoats were given the same order, and carried it out to the letter following the battle. For the battle went as expected, although it very well might not have done if some events had been different. For example, Bonnie Prince Charlie had fallen out with his chief military advisor and so did not heed the advice to have the battle on the hills nearby, thus giving the smaller Jacobite force a height advantage. The moor was chosen by his inexperienced friend O'Sullivan. The boggy ground greatly hampered the fiercesome highland charge, causing separate divisions to run into each other as they tried to avoid uneven ground. In any case, the Jacobites were soon in retreat and the Redcoats advanced, and anyone found on the battlefield was slaughtered, with bayonettes, gun-butts, and boots. This included innocent bystanders, women and children. A barn where injured Jacobites had been placed was locked and burnt to the ground. As part of the highland clearences, as well as many other new laws, Gaelic and bagpipe-playing were banned; an entire culture was made unlawful. Such English over-reaction is mirrored more recently in Ireland.

Given this, it's easy to understand Scottish nationalism, even after 250+ years as that is only a handful of generations, but it should still be kept in the world of the rational. When an English fan is dragged out of his car and beaten due to his little flag, or a man on Union Street set upon by 11 because of his shirt, then this is the behaviour of idiots, albeit Scottish ones. I am one of the world's biggest non-football fans, but if England get to the final few games in a tournament, I will start to take an interest. I do whole-heartedly agree that the coverage, arrogance and hype that goes along with them is hideous and for this reason alone, I do love being up here all the more when these things take place. Due to this I get along with Scots who want any team playing England to win, although I admit I do find it a little sad. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the origins of this nationalism should be kept in mind by both 'sides', but we should take care that we don't embark on the slippery slope to sectarianism.

On a final note, if the Jacobites had won, we'd all be Catholic by now.

I'm going to killed aren't I?