Thursday 31 August 2017

Shattered .. But Still Listening In

I am shattered and want to go to bed. I've hit 350K steps this month and weighed myself this morning and clocked it at 100.2 Kg. While I'm supposed to be 70 Kg for my height and build , that is never going to happen but was wondering if I could get get under sixteen stone (I remember getting down to sixteen stone three pounds in the early nineties and various peopel telling I would hit a brick wall and wouldn't get any further. Some people really don't like you doing anything good for yourself , mainly so they can continue to denigrate you. Well I hit that brick wall and I am sure that pleased a lot of people.

The consultant at my last Diabetic Review was of the same ilk with "well you are still overweight" and "you shouldn't have reduced your insulin", though the guy who weighed me , took my blood and checked my readings was very positive . Today I saw my GP and she was amazingly positive and complimentary and came out with some more sufggestions to help me. She is a shining example of what makes the NHS brilliant, and going to see her always makes me feel positive. She suggested I get involved with Newcastle CAN which I will sign up for when I've published this.

Oh 100.2 Kg is about 15 stone 12 lb , so that was a pleasant surprise, so I am going in the right direction.

Over that last two days I have walked throuh and skirted Leazes Park and both days I have seen a rat! I don't ofte see them , but it could hav been worse it could have been a Tory or a UKIPPER .

So the albums I have listened to obver the last couple of days have been:

  • The Yes Album: Prog Rock with prentetions lyrics but some amazing music and playing . From the opening block riffs of "Yours Is No Disgrace" through live take of "The Clap" to the nine minutes of the three piece "Starship Trooper" finishing up with annother staccatto riff taking us into the finale of "Perpetual Change" . The copy I have contains some out takes but great to revisit one of my favourites from my teens.
  • Genesis Live: Five songs which originally came out as a budget album, but still sounds great to day , including their take on Day of the Triffids "Return of the Giant Hogweed" and culminating on side two with the emotional "Musical Box" and the vicious "The Knife"
  • Bob Dylan - Sheter From a Hard Rain: A very rickety live album featuring Joan Baez and I really ony bought it because it had "Deportees" on, though the whole album is a treat for me, sounding semi amateurish but brilliant.
 Anyway I will leave you with "Deportees" by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, a song that I am working on my own arrangement of, which I may soundcloud soon. So enjoy this and tomorrow is September where I have to hit 11.5K steps a day because there are only 30 days in the month.

There's a video of some nice rats below.

Sleep well my friends.

Monday 28 August 2017

Listening To More Albums

While out walking today I listened to a couple of great albums. Actually prior to that I had listened to some vinyl, namely Nadine Shah's "Stealing Cars" a Tenpole Tudor album and Emerson Lake and palmer's take on Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" all worth listening to and you can see them here if you follow my Instagram Channel.

Nadine Shah's "Holiday Destination" features some amazing percussion driven songs recall Tom Waits and Van Der Graaf Generator, tackling todays issues. The title track written as a response to holiday makers complaining that their holiday had been ruined when refugees were washed up on their beach. If our country wasn't supplying weapons to various regimes maybe things like this wouldn't happe. However the album is highly listenable also tackling growing into "aldulthood" and reading the labels on food. Well worth getting a copy.

That was followed by "Listen To The Band" and early Mike Nesmith compilation featuring great country song after great country song and if you haven't heard them before you certainly won't forget them once you have.

Anyway it's time for bed and I will leave you with the title tracks of both those albums.

Not Quite Making It

The #August50 is out the window and the monthly steps is easily doable but it I hadn't spent two hours walking after returning from a very pleasurable weekend in Dalgety Bay I would have had some major extra walking to do this week, then it starts again on Friday. It is good if you can buid up reserves to fall back on, but often the way you can do that varies like hell and it is far better to have reserves than actually playing catch up, because if you are continuously playing catch up eventually it becomes just impossible (like the #August50).

All the people (Scott, Maureen and Fiona)  I spent the weekend are extremely fit and I seriously expeceted a similar weekend to last weekend walking wise. It wasn't, but I enjoyed some great company , saw some great views (the Forth Bridges) went on a non drinking (for me) pub crawl in South Queensferry and played choose a music video on YouTube on a big telly which was great fun and a great way of sharing music.

Anyway I really need to do some walking today so I will leave you with a couple of pictures and a piece of appropriate music "The Crossing" by Big Country.

The Sun on The New Forth Road Bridge

The Forth Rail Bridge

Thursday 24 August 2017

Listening To Albums

I've decided to give random play a rest and actually listen to full albums on my walks. I'm aiming to do 340K steps a month and Pacer still eems to be working. The last couple of days I've only done 8K but I'm still on tarket to hit 340K which will guarantee a million steps every three months on a rolling basis. My friend Carol is hoping to hit TEN MILLION steps this year, that 900K a month and 30K (maybe 15Km) a day. I know people's step lengths differ but that is still some very hard going over a long period of time and dwarfs my Million Step Challenge , which other people seem to think is a lot.

Anyway the albums I have listened to so far are

  • Fairport Convention - Nine : Not regarded as a classic but it is one of my favourites, Trevor Lucas' vocals, Jerry Donahue's guitar and Dave Swarbrick's voice and fiddle are wonderful. Songs like "Polly On The Shore" with it's dragging bass, the beautiful "To Althea From Prison" and apocalyptic "Bring 'Em Down" have never lost their power for me.
  • Thea Gilmore  - Don't Stop Singing: This is a beautiful labour of love, Thea taking the words of te departed Sandy Denny and weaving a wonderful album. The song "London" made me have to buy it and "Glistening Bay" gives me goosebumps every time. There's a great evaution on the BBC here.
  • David Bowie - The Lodger : The one with Bowie's "League of Gentleman" nose on the cover, and like every Bowie album you put is on and then just love every song. "Fantastic Voyage" , "Boys Keep Swinging", "Yassassin"   I could list every song.
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Imaginos: This is the album that BOC were destined to make , full almost Lovecraftian libretto and when the remade "Astronomy" kicks in you really are out there with them.
I found a live from Union Chapel take on "London" by Thea Gilmore for you to enjoy, the sound is not perfect, but you can always buy the album if you follow the blue link.

So who knows what I'll be listening to this morning. Time to set off for work, and I think I will walk in. It is a sunny beautiful day and the weekend is almost here. Enjoy yourselves everyone.

Wednesday 23 August 2017


This morning I was at the Freeman Hospital sorting out drugs for my cirrhosis of the liver condition, and in the course of the encourt I gave an armful of blood and a urine sample. ALl seemed fine and normal and I went on my way back to work.

I then got a phone call, which was cut off asking if my blood sugars were OK , as I had just given samples I thought it was odd that they were ringing me so quickly which would imply there was a problem. I tring calling the number back and found out it was a practice I had never had anything to do with. They said it was probably the Diabetic Clinic who had changed their number but it had been set up wrong so they can all the phone calls. It turned out it was the Diabetic Clinic enquiring if my blood sugars were OK as I had drastically reduced my insulin intake (much to the apparent chagrin of the stand in consultant). I told them all was good and that seemed to be enough for them.

My mistake was making teh assumption that the phonecall was a direct result of the hospital visit. The thing is , we always assume the most logical (in our own minds) reason for an event, ad obviously a medical phone call would be about my hospital visit this morning.

I was wrong.

On that note it's time for bed and the song has got to be "Wrong" by The Archers of Loaf from the excellently titled "Speed of Cattle" album. Sleep well all.

God Guided My Hand

I'm still reading the Jordan Ellenberg book and I've just finished the chapter that explains how to win at the lottery, which basically means finding a certain time of lottery and having your syndicate write out and enter 300K tickets when the conditions are right, and this can guarantee a profit of maybe £50K , so not for the average punter.

The current chapter talks about the likelihood of the existence of God (He does exist and I follow him on Facebook here and instagram here incidentally) and the mathematician Pascal (and Ellenberg) reckoned that even if there was only a 5% chance that God existed , and the rewards for believing in Him are Infinite Ecstacy , then 5% of Infinity is still Infinity, so it's a great investment either way. OK there's a 95% chance there is no God but the investment is still worthwhile because if there is a God you are well rewarded. However this binary argument is flawed because There may be no (Christian) God, there may be a (Christian) God , but there may be other Gods who will condemn you to eternal damnation so the belief suddenly becomes a very big gamble, now it's happiness or nothing or misery.

It's also like sometimes I will see something like a horse bet, or an album I've never heard of and go for it based on no logic that I can think of and the horse will win (the other week the name "Sea Monkey" was jumping out at me, it wasn't the favourite and was going to bet on the favourite but then changed my mind and made a profit) , or the album will be brilliant and there are people who will say God guided them to this wonderful situation when actually it's nothing more than coincidence and good luck. Usually those things are followed by an increase in belief and confidence until the next one doesn't work out.

Anyway the song that comes to mind is The Saints' "Church of Indifference" , probably my favourite Australian band. Have a good Wednesday everybody.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Sweat, Sweat and Sweat

No blood, no tears but a lot of sweat. Due to one thing and another the lawn has not been mowed. It needed doing on Sunday when I got back but I was too lazy, and then yesterday there was rain. The nights are drawing in , but tonight was very muggy, but I forced myself to do it and ended up very hot and very sweaty and therefore no one would want to be withing a million miles of me tonight. It is strange how you never want to do this things, but you do get a sense of small accomplishment when they are done.

As I've said I doubt I will hit #August50 but this edges me a little closer. I would have to average about four posts a day , which is easily do-able , and I have about four things lined up to write about, and as I only tend to write about 250 words , that would be a thousand words a day , and proper writers do that ten times over.

So tomorrow I have a hospital check up so fasting from eight o'clock tonight I think, then I am not sure if I should take drugs or not, so I will bag them up and sally along to the Freeman, though it means I need to leave the house about seven as I am not sure what time I am supposed to be there. It's a flexible arrangement.

A song for this , well it could have been something by Lawnmower Deth,  but I willl go for the more sedat but no less eerie "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe" by Genesis. You know why.

"When The Sun Beats Down

And I Lie On The Bench

I Can Always Hear Them Talk.


I'm Just A Lawnmower.

You Can Tell Me By The Way I Walk"

Monday 21 August 2017


Just back from a great weekend in Epsom and Brighton seeing Lesley, Matt and Nick , and actually getting to see Brighton Pavilion which is an impressive structure and saw a couple of excellent buskers Linos Wengara Magaya & Gary Cove (playing a vague jazz on Mbira and saxophone). You can see a bit of them here on my Instagram Channel.

I walked 15 Km up and down Brighton Beach ( and I'm sure Matt, Lesley , Nick and Fiona walked further) but that's a record using my latest tracking software Pacer (which is still working on my Xperia, which now has a shattered screen due to me dropping it, I did this many times with my Samsong Note 4 , not a scratch, but my Sony , instant screen shatter) . To put the distance into context Matt will run that far if he's eaten something he maybe shouldn't have to burn off the calories :)

Anyway I wasn't really going to write about the weekend, although I have done it now, and have another one in Dalgety Bay next weekend which I am looking forward to , with Scott and Maureen , plus a bit of time in Edinburgh. I do prefer the train to driving.

In Brighton I was wondering if I'd see Nick Cave , but no , there was also a big "Free The Nipple" parade, and great to see people to dress as they want, it wakes me irate when people are ok with others carrying round assault rifles and other weapons, but explode when they see a woman breastfeeding or actually displaying a nipple. It's ok for men to be topless but not women. It's often worsen with the odd asian / middle eastern couple where the man is just wearing shorts and woman is completely covered bar a slit for the eyes. The thing is sometimes nudity empowers people, sometimes modesty empowers people, but it should be their choice and they should not be oppressed and denigrated for that choice. Though I am offended by people who wear face masks in everyday situations, this includes IRA Terrorsist balaclavas, asian pollution facemasks in Newcastle, and niqabs , they all offend me equally.

Anyway less of that and we'll have Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" before I get off to work. I think the #August50 is dead and buried, to hit it I would need to post thrirty times before the end of Bank Holiday Monday (but you never know).

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Still Not Vegan

Since my last post I've had chicken in a wrap and salmon in a John West morrocan mix, so I am nowhere near vegan, but I am definitely off most meat groups. I am fine with bacon but chunky meat, steaks. mince generally turns me off , and I only have chicken cut into small pieces in wraps at Butterfingers in Darn Crook. I still like most fish, so generally nowhere near vegan.

6Music just mentioned that Lovefilm is ceasing on 31st October and posed the question "When was the last time you watched a DVD?"  and the fact that in the future that the next generation will not think of having their own copy of a film or music. I certainly need to do a cull of my CD and DVD collection. The James Bond DVDs went to the Westgate Ark Charity Shop because every James Bond Film is on permanent rotating play on TV.

The days are getting shorter, but it's still very sunny and the radio is forecasting rain, which obviously may or may not happen.

I don't think I will hit 50 posts in August for #August50 but it was a bit ambitious, I would have to do two posts a day and at least two days of that period I won't be posting because I'll be in SCotland and London, but it was an idea.

"There's A Ghost In My House" by R Dean Taylor came on 6Music but I'll leave you with The Fall's take on it. Just noticed in the video Mark E Smith bears a distinct resemblance to Gavin Webster (see below). Enjoy your Wednesday my friends.

Monday 14 August 2017

A Few Thoughts on Going Vegan

No I'm not going vegan , though I enjoy vegan and I am really happy at the growing number of vegan outlets in Newcastle, though a few people have taken my Facebook posts to mean that I have become vegan. (similarly because I support GAY rights, some people have taken that to mean I am GAY, well only in the fact that GAY is an acronym that means GOOD AS YOU so I am as good as you though my sexuality is standard) but back to the vegan thing.

Vegan food is inventive, although I find the vegetarian / vegan sausage / bacon thing a little odd especially the bacon thing. If you want something that looks and tastes like meat then eat the meat. Sausages are a little different, they are offal enhances by spices and other tasty additives, so replace the offal by vegetables and add a vegan casing and that is fine, though I've yet to taste a vegan sausage I like.

Non vegans often argue that man is a carnivore / hunter so we are built to eat meat. Well look at our teeth and jaws and "claws" , just like a lion or a tiger aren't we , readty to rip our prey apart.

Just from a resource thing veganism is sensible, we take or food at source instead of letting it go into a cow, pig or sheep then get converted for months or years before killing the animal and cooking it.

I am not a big meat fan, though I lkie a bacon sandwich, I am fine with eggs and like most fish. So I am not vegan and am just fussy but if someone offers me vegan food then I (99% of the time) love it.

So what song do I choose this morning?  I just got a mention at 6:45 on the Chris Hawkins show for a made up Half Man Half Biscuit song title. This was the email:

"I had a nut roast at The Cozy Dove in Newcastle yesterday before the match (I support Preston so I didn't go)

Also the best HMHB Tribute band name is "It's Not Half Man, Mum"

My Title is

"I Printed My Sunday Roast (On My 3D Printer) Before The Match""

I was thinking mybe Paul McCartney, Half Man Half Biscuit but there are many vegan bands about and I have just remembered a Robert Wyatt song that would be perfect, if very dark. "Pigs In There" .. and that is one of the reasons for being vegan.

Sunday 13 August 2017

No Regrets and Changing Opinions

My first job was in the 1970s so I suppose mentioning names doesn't really matter too much as it's not defamatory. Of course I was a bit anti mainstream music at the time and I was working at Jame Mercers in Preston as an office clerk. It was a nice place to work and there were some great people there, but the money was not that great but you got a Christmas bonus and taken out for a meal as well.

One of the guys Phil Livesly was always immaculately dressed and maybe could have slipped unnoticed into "Life on Mars" or "Abigail's Party", but he canme in raving to me about he'd heard this brilliant song "No Regrets" by The Walker Brothers , I immediately countered by saying it was commercialised and the Tom Rush original was far superior. This was all good natured, and he's one of the people I do miss from my past.

"No Regrets" by The Walker Brothers came on my player today, and it is a stunning version, so I have changed my opinion on this. Part of this is because of Scott's amazing voice. What I then got to thinking was "I wonder if Phil has heard any of Scott Walker's work since then" and what would his opinion be now.

A contemporary Scott Walker album is not for the faint hearted, and I have a feeling that "Tilt" or "Soused" will not be on Phil's iTunes (I know he'll have an iPhone) . So on this I will include both versions for you to listen to , enjoy both , and if you dare ... go and explore some contemporary Scott Walker.

You Gotta Have Faith

We all have it in one form or another, and one of the problems is that concepts of faith is usually hijacked by religion to get your support without any real promise of a reall benefit to your reself. Your life may be bad but you need to have pain and poverty and then you will get unspecified rewards in heaven, really? I am agnostic and there may be a god but I have not seen any evidence in my lifetime or any real evidence from the past. People cite The Bible as support or evidence, but that book is continually being rewritten and amended. There's a King James' Bible , sixteen hundred years after the events supposedly happened. You think that would be accepted as evidence in court, yet we swear to tell the truth on The Bible!!

The faith I do have is the faith I have in my actions adn what they cause. I work and therefore onece a month I receieve money in my bank account to stave off poverty. That is then used to pay bills and I believe that the people requiring money with receive it.  We put a hell of a lot of faith in eletronics and people and most of th etime it is well founded, although tis week two things happened where my faith was not rewarded.

Firstly Betfair withdrwals are nrmall y in my bank in two days, and this week withdrawals from Wednesday and Thursday have still not landed. A worse example is my insulin prescription that I ordered on Monday. I went to pick it up from the chemist (I'd injected my last on Saturday morning) , and they said they had received nothing. Insuling is fairly important to a diabetic. The first thing they said was " .... and as it's Saturday we can't ring the doctors" ... that was swiftly followed by "but we'll give you an emergency box but could you ring the practice on Monday". The NHS don't usually let you die and I am thankful I don't live in the USA. These two failures maybe say we  have to be aware that sometimes things we have faith in fail us.

You thought I was going to include a George Michael Song, though you will have seen The Who picture when you opened up the post. I always like this song from their "Odds and Sods" compilation.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday

Saturday 12 August 2017

30th Century Man 2: Scott Walker vs Tom Waits

Last nigh I finished watching 30th Century Man and Fiona got hooked. She said that Scott was very like Tom Waits. I disagreed, but then thought they do have a lot of similarities. The main difference is that Tom Waits' music lives in a skewed version of reality while Scott Walkers' seems to me to be in a completely different universe.

As I'm witing this I'm listening to "Cossacks Are" the opening song from "The Drift" which features in the film. After watch the film you are left wonderfing the closing percussion instrument is, as you see dustbins and slabs of meat being used.

Both artiss started out reasonably mainstream, the main difference that Scott was a pin up and Tom looked like a tramp (a description often given to me). Scott charted with the Walker Brothers and when he split he was successful as a solo artist until "Scott 4". Tom's success was augmented my others such as The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart covering his songs.

Then for Tom came "Swordfishtrombones" and for Scott "Climate of the Hunter" where they both truly left the mainstream. Tom often used made up intruments but his composition still are recognisable as songs.

Someone wrote about Scott's pieces (and this is how I remember what they said) "they're not songs, they something else" and I can see what he means. You don't listen to a Scott Walker album and get away with not paying attention.

Currently playing is "Clara" inspired by the execution of Mussolini and his girlfriend that Scott had seen on cinema newsreels as a child , and the adults would not explain what had happened, it features the meat percussion.

His pieces are poems mixed with tone pieces, they give the impressions of massiveness and claustrophobia, they do make you feel, but you have a feeling of not knowing where or when you are, maybe something like a mental flotation tank.

Tom Waits is clearer, he takes you on journeys , on foot or in a dodgy automobile, he is Americanm but not a TV American, his stories are engaing and you often wonder "what's that playing". They are songs though.

I think the only other people I could group with these two are Captain Beefheart, The Fall then to some effect Bowie, Zappa and Siouxsie and maybe Pearls Before Swine.

I was surprised to hear that Scott Walker never listens to his work once it's finished. I can understand an autor not reading his own books, but given that Scott is often ten years between albums he does have time to listen to his amazing work.

Having said that Tom Waits is almost a relief after listening to Scott Walker. Two amazing, amazing artists.

Friday 11 August 2017

30th Century Man

I'm currently watching the ten year old documentary "30th Century Man" (I seldom watch two hour programs in one session) about the reclusive and supposedly evasive Scott Walker. One the the big moments is when he comes into the studio wearing a pulled down baseball cap, and you think what's he going to be like, is this going to be a car crash, but his latest album is a collaboration with drone noise band Sunn O))) so you know he can talk to people and he comes across as open, knowledgeable and easy to talk to.

The film features contributions from lots of musical icons (see the tags) and I noticed one very interesting parralel. Scott had been drinking at the opening of the Playboy Club in London, got very drunk got talking to a girl who could drink more than him. They went back to her flat and he noticed that she had a lot of Jacques Brel albums which she kept playing and translating for Scott.

He became hooked on Brel from this and a couple of days later he met Andrew Loog Oldham for afternoon Black Russians. Scott mentioned Brel and Oldham said that's a coincidence, there's guy sent some piano versions of Brel English transciption that he'd done which were not that good. Scott said I'll have them. Andrew Loog Oldham was the guy who sued the Verve for using the orchestral tape loop of "The Last Time" on "Bitterweet Symphony"but that's an aside. So a girl in a flat got Scott Walker into Jacques Brel.

In the sixties the BBC gave Scott a TV series expecting a middle of the road entertainer, The show last six episode and the BBC destroyed all the tapes so all that is left are fragments and photographs. They got Scott Walker not a Jack Jones or Tom Jones.

Cut to David Bowie (Executive producer of this documentary):

David was dating one of Scott Walker's ex girldfriend, and was a bit pissed off that she had lot's of Scott's albums, which she kept playing which pissed him off even more. But the more she played the more he realised what a great voice this guy had, and so became a real Scott Walker fan. So a girl in a flat got David Bowie into Scott Walker.

They both covered Jaques Brel's "Amsterdam" so were obviously both fans.

Apparently they contacted Julian Cope who is a big fan, but Julian is even more interview shy than Scott so they just show the letter he sent in reply.

The song I will choose is a Brel translation from the sixties, but that voice is amazing, so for you education I'll include his debut solo TV performance on the Dusty Springfield show "Mathilda" or "Mathilde" depending on how it's listed .

Enjoy your Friday.

Thursday 10 August 2017

A Sight For Sore Eyes

When the opening notes on the solo piano start playing "Auld Lang Syne" you can be pretty certain that a Tom Waits song is on the way, and this came on the player today (I put it there so it's not magic like some people seem to attribute to iTunes, Dezzer and Spotify) and I have either forgotten it or not heard it before ... or maybe I have

... that melody playing I have heard before and then I realised it's the same as "In The Neighborhood", the song that hooked me on Tom Waits from the amazing "Swordfishtrombones". "A Sight For Sore Eyes" from "Foreign Affairs" predates "In The Neighborhood" by six years, but let's face it you're allowed to plagiarise or borrow from your own material.

I have been sharing quite a lot of Tom Waits recently and if you don't know his work you should really make the effort, you will be rewarded by one of the richest veins of songs by any writer, mined by Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen and The Eagles.

As he ages he does get further from the mainstream , but he was never really that mainstream, it's just that people with discerning taste appreciate the guy.

Anyway that's another gem I've shared with you and another post towards my #August50, and the sun is still shining very brightly.

A Favourite Rhyming Couplet

On my walk today a growling, sinister , pedestrian bass guitar came onto my headphones signalling the introduction to one of my favourite Half Man Half Biscuit songs, soon to be joined high pitched amaterish but efficient sounding guitars. The lyrics namecheck lots of seventies and eighties touchstones, "Jackie" magazine, Flintlock ,  Sade and T'Pau.

This is one of my many favourite songs of theirs documenting the minutiae of everyday mundanity. The album is "McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt" named after three footballers in Michale Palin's "Ripping Yarns" episode "Golden Gordon" the synopsis of it is:

"Barnestoneworth United is the worst football team of 1935,who lose every match. Gordon Ottershaw is,however,their loyal fan,determined to prevent them from being disbanded after their final game. To this end he recruits the players from the renowned winning team of 1922 who turn up to defeat rivals Denley Moor."

The IMDB entry is here and the episode is here on youtube (this may be removed at some point).

Anyway back to the rhyming couplet that inspired this, it's from the final song "Everything's AOR Now" but actually links yuppies with 1960's wrestling. My grandma used to watch it every Saturday intoduced by Kent Walton featuring such stars as Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo and the subject of this couplet:

"She’s the main man in the office in the city
And she treats me like I’m just another lackey
But I can put a tennis racket up against my face
And pretend that I am Kendo Nagasaki"

And when that came on it did bring a smile to my face. The full lyrics are here . If you love it as much as me you can get it here and all Half Man Half Biscuit's recording here, and lots of free session here.

Enjoy my friends.

Summer Is Back

Several times this week people have said the equivalent of "so that was the summer", when in fact I lost count of the summery sunny mornings we've had this year. The sun is streaming through the window now. We are all subject to the weather and we don't want a drought situation so we need rain, and usually we get it at night which is fairly sensible. I think that the weather has only stopped me walking once, and that was in Pockley and I still got 2.5K steps in which is about half a kilometer, and it didn't affect my Million Step Challenge , it was just another sub 11K day.

It looks like I am sort of on track for the #August50 , but I still have to do two posts a day for most of August, but it is doable, but I am going to walk in today so expect to keep my steps up.

I really to appreciate the colours of nature on a day like this, often unfeasibly enhanced by the camera on my Sony Xperia XA, not always in a good way sometimes looking back it's like I'd been in the middle of Ben Wheatley's "A Field In England". If you know the film you will know why I said that, if you don't know the film film , watch it and find out. Incidentally it was released on all formats simultaneously, the TV broadbast being on Film4.

So I'm going with "Summer Means Fun" which I thought was by The Beach Boys, then remembered it was by The Fantastic Baggys, but someone said it the original was by Jan & Dean, but I found this excellent version by Bruce and Terry which I had never heard before, because, as far as I'm concerned, summer is still alive and kicking. Well that wasn't a grammatically correct sentence was it , but what the hell. Have a brilliant day and enjoy the sunshine!

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Confirmation and Awestruck By James Holt - Deaf Rock and Roller

I was just thinking why is it easier for me to walk and hit targets. Many years ago you maybe had the mechanical, not very accurate pedometers, or you could ride a bike that had an odometer, but as I've said I can't do anything regimented, although some of the stuff I do at work requires a hell of a lot of precision , determination , accuracy and it is almost regimented, the sort of thing that i usually rebel against. The thing is, because I am controlling it, I can change it when I see a better way. I am just introducing some things that I haven't seen done before, and only discovered because I wondered if it could be done, tried it and found it could be done... but I digress as usual.

I think one of the reasons I do find it easier to do my walking is the hand held computers we call oor mobile phones can record and confirm what we are doing and where we are up to with it. Ten years ago you couldn't really do that, twenty years ago it was mechanical and not very accurate.

So I know how far I've gone, how far I have to go and I can check any time I want to or need to. I have had issues with software but Pacer seeems to be doing the business, although today my phone turned itself off, unbeknown to me so I lost a big chunk of recording my walks. Technology always finds another way to screw you over. ALthough I am no longer on the Million Step Challenge I intend to hit 340K a month so I still need to keep and eye on how far I am walking.

I have made an appointment with my Doctor and it will be great to get some positive feedmack on my weight loss and insulin reduction. My doctor is incredibly supportive and a great example of NHS brilliance, I'll tell you who she is if you ask me face to face.

I'm going to give you two songs, the amazing James Holt , a deaf rock and roller, his "Whatever Happened To John" reminding me of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues", He is a revelation, a musician , a producer , plays all his own stuff, every instrument, and an inspiration to everybody. Listen and enjoy.

Prime Time

Reading "How Not to Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life" by Jordan Ellenberg  and there are some complex concepts in there and we're talking prime numbers (or should that be Prime Numbers) and he make a stange but true point n and n+2 are more likely to be a pair of prime numbers than n and n+1.  Now given that after 1, 2 and 3 only odd numbers can be prime, it seems a strange point to make. 29 and 31 are prime but 30 isnt, 31 and 33 are not both prime but I think 131 and 133 are. It also talks about the apparent randomness of prime number distribution, which obviously cannot be random because the nature of numbers is set in stone ... sort of.

Below is one of my favourite TED talks on very large prime numbers by Australian DJ Adam Spencer. This talk held no interest for me, or so I though but it is a brilliant way to spend twenty minutes and you learn a lot as well.

So it's 7AM and we need a numerical song to go with it and what about The Jam's "Away From The Numbers" , my nay is spent dealing with numbers but there are times when maybe a rest would do me good

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Here Comes The Night

Tonight it's cold and wet, the days are getting shorter and we'll soon be waking up in the dark as wll, looking out from our windows at work into the blackness, then looking at the clock and seeing that it's only three o'clock.

The think is , is this is the world we live in, days fluctuate like an giant elastic band getting longer and shorter depending what part of the year that we are in. Rain is good because it waters gardens and plants. Dark is good because it makes us appreciate the light, it the way that cold makes us appreciate the warmth.

I can't recall the weather being so bad that I wished for something else, for quite a long time. Tonight even though it was slightly raining , I put on my waterproof hat and walked for half an hour clocking up 3K steps. Tomorrow will be interesting to see how long Pacer keeps recording my steps as I expect. Will it clok 5K steps for me to get to work, I'm sure you can't wait to find out.

Anyway, the night is here so I'll leave you with "Here Comes The Night" by Them, sleep well my friends.

The Trouble With Shooting Ghosts of American Astronauts

A ridiculously rubbish play on words, in my last post I said that Google Fit didn't seem to be tracking steps, but was it my Sony Xperia, or the operating system or the software. Today I installed something called Pacer and it seems to be recording the steps OK so it looks like it's Google Fit.

It is a small trial when something is not working and you don't know which part of the chain is the problem , and it may be one part or more than one. Remeber when a bulb went in Christmas lights and trying to track which was this problem one. Though it does feel good when you sort it out.

Tonight I went out for an extra walk to hit my 11K, and I've done nearly 12K so that's cool.

Anyway as I type this "Ghosts of American Astronauts" by The Mekons is playing, just a lovely surreal song whihc I will leave you with. My blood sugar is down to 4.4 so I need to sort out something to eat.

Enjoy your evening my friends.


This was going to be my second post yesterday for #August50, but I didn't get round to it so that's one failure to start off with , although I am writing it now. This morning I was thinking that the milk was lasting a hell of a long time, then I poured it in to the tea (I'm not a milk in first person which still seems very odd to me), the milk was finally past it's sell by date, another failure!! But !!! If I had written this last night I couldn't have written about the sour milk.

When I worked at EE someone said to me they felt under pressure because we were always expected to deal with emergencies (like Summer, Valentine's Day and Christmas, that was a running joke about marketting), but I said that mobile phones were now a 24/7 thing and you always expected to be able to make a call or use your phone. I said imagine you came home and hit the light switch and nothing happened you'd be straight on the phone (assuming it was working!!) to the power company because you expect power and water 24/7. Phones have become a utility, and need to be always available and we make sure that they are.

Yesterday I walked to work and Google Fit recorded 3.5K steps , normally it's 4.5K to 5K (the highest as been 6.6K via Cowgate and Westgate Road), so I was disappointed , and continually during the day it's been down on what I expected. Fenham Library to home was recorded as 100 steps when I know it's 5-600, so that was another failure, but is it the Sony phone hardware , the Android Operating System of the Google Fit App, or even the EE network. For me it's a failure but I will deal with that.

There's a few other things like moving the Song of The Salesman site, trying to set up the Joomla database connection. It makes some suggestions but doesn't tell you what information you have to give it, and the help and talk boards all say the same thing "you must have put the wrong information in". Well guessing doesn't really help in this situation.

All these are failures but they are challenges to be addressed and I will will deal with the ones I can, and I do like a challenge though not as keen attempting the apparently impossible which is a situation I often find myself in.

And in an amazing piece of synchronicity Chris Hawkins on 6Music has just put on "Needle In A Haystack" by The Velvelettes which seems fairly appropriate given the subject. Have a great Tuesday everybody.

Monday 7 August 2017


I love showering but always find drying myself a bind and was thinking what a great idea a full body air drier would be. No wet towels , afterwards, no picking up wet towels to dry yourself with if you are not first in and just the feeling of warm air on your body would almost be like a mediterranean holiday. I love warm water on my body and warm air would be just as good.

The thing is many years ago what would be the next step, Yellow Pages? Your local libriary? If you asked friends they may think you are some kind of deviant... warm air on your naked body.... you pervert sir ... how dare you. But we use hair driers (or is it dryers?) , we use hand driers , and I do like the Dyson Airblade, and we also have fans to keep us cool when the weather is hot , so all the bits are there.

However thanks to Berners-Lee and Arpanet we have the Internet, the worlds biggest reference library and if you search Google for "full body drier" this is what you get. There are a lot out there. You can get this fairly snazzy one by Valiryo on Amazon, though at £900 to replace my shower towels I am still tempted. I don't know of any friends who have one.

So I had a great idea but found that someone had got there first, though if someone were to offer me a free one I would take it straight away.

Anyway , although it's Monday it looks like a gorgeous day so I will probably be walking into work and no doubt looking for things to video and photograph. Also this post is keeping up the #August50 and if I do another one tonight then I should be starting to get towards the 50 that I am aiming for.

So the song has to be Polly Jean Harvey's "Dry" ... one of those songs that is not on the artists album of the same name like Led Zeppelin's "Houses of The Holy" , what else could it be ... have a great Monday everybody...

Sunday 6 August 2017

Jumping In The Deep End

Well I've moved everything and now need to think how either WordPress or Joomla will benefit me. Both use a MySQL Database so that means that maybe I should get TOAD to get the hang of that. Seeting up Joomla I can't find the database , and even logging into the databse causes a timeout. I really thought I was past this but it looks as though I'm not, it's piqued my interest.

It's like jumping in at the deep end and I am not sure I am able to swim, but this is a possibly foolhardy way of finding out. I am going to leave it a day just in case overnight updates have to take place as that so often has to happen.

As well as all this I am trying to write , both words and music and get the hang of the technology. I just want to simply record things , not set op input channel and assign inputs to them , but maybe I will get the hang of it and get the sound on sound sorted out.

Anyway as I write this TOAD is downloading and after that I am going to bed, so I'll leave you with Ginger Baker's "Toad" performed by Cream.

Sleep well my friends.

Funny How

While people are not reading my posts as much as I thought , it doesn't help if I don't post on Facebook, even so the average hits per post have dropped from 50 to 25. Something that has been bothering me for about about a year is changing to format and hosting of Song of the Salesman and my friend Bob Armstong's sites.

Bob's is a static site so that was simple , but Song of The Salesman is an Access Database driven .Net site, which has served it's purpos and I don't think people are bothered what song was used for a Guinness Advert in 1999. I am looking to move it over to Joomla as people are more bothered about current information that past.

Today is the first day this month that I wont hit 11K but I am ahead of the target having done 4K so far, and I am going to brave the rain and do a few more steps soon.

Anyway, it seems recently I've not really been writing about the fun stuff, like music and travel and film, though I have been watching and listening , and I have just had an idea to put some of Bob's images together  and soundtrack it for a youtube video, and maybe use something like King Crimson's "The Night Watch" which is about the Rembrandt painting.

That seems a great point to stop and maybe I will post again later for #August50

Saturday 5 August 2017


I'm quite surprised that people have stopped reading the blog. I will keep posting but it looks like I must have managed to offend everybody. My last post got ten hits, and that was probably just robots.

Anyway, this was just to say that I am pleased that I swapped my iPad for a Kindle Fire. Although I've hardly scratched the surface with it , I am using it to play music and watch TED talks and some YouTube videos, and it certainly is easier and outperforms my iPad Air (which is now, as far as I am concerned an ex iPad).

I thought I was doing well on Google searches but it turns out that if you have posted about what you are searching for , and you are logged in, it will bring back your posts, giving you the false impresssion that your search engine optimisation has been very successful.

Although I was going to go to bed early again , the internet has kept me awake, continually looking for ideas and stimulation.

The EFL kicked off and Preston won their opening match for the first time since 2008 , nine years back, against one of the expected promotion hopefuls. As with most seasons the Sky pundits see Preston as cannon fodder for the big clubs like Sheffield Wednesday. Next week it's Leeds, who turned us over severely last season, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

I was having a problem transferring data from my phone to my PC. My phone is a Sony and it turns out is you don't use the SONY USB cable (that's UNIVERSAL Serial Bus) then the connection may not work. So the question is why can't you use a generic cable to connect the two devices ... unless SONY want to make you pay more.

Anyway it's later than I thought so I'd best go to bed, and what better song than The Cure's "Let's Go To Bed"

Friday 4 August 2017

Random Precision

Yesterday my rando play played three consecutive tracks from the Van Der Graaf album "Present" starting with the opener "Every Bloody Emperor" and finishing with "Nutter Alert", this was followed by a couple of Spirit songs thwn that awful Cream song then two Stone Roses songs. At first I thought it had slipped off random play but as I was walking and I like the album I was OK with it.

A couple of months ago I was talking with Juliet and Kirsty and about how people don't really understand the concept of "random". She had provided a "random" data sample, then the requester came back and said they wanted data from Area "A" , Area "B" , well each area they covered. Kirsty pointed out that that this wouldn't be a random sample if you started applying criteria.

Jordan Ellenberg point to an American Lottery result where the same numbers were selected two draws in a row. In a true random selection 1,2,3,4,5,6 is just as random and likely as any other. Ellenberg points out that the improbable is highly probable. The nature of random is that it may appear ordered, it's not, but our minds always try to order things, and see logical patterns, and we can see logical patterns where the probability is just complete randomness and even chaos (think reading tea leaves and the I-Ching which is basically throwing sticks. You can add divination by cards like Tarot (I do have two Tarot decks but they are just works of art), which again uses randomness to determine fact, which really is not a practical or logical path to go down.

Well we are at Friday , and the real Football season starts today whith Sunderland playing Derby and Nottingham Forest take on Millwall. It looks sunny, but it looked sunny yesterday. I will walk into work today and listen to more random music

Thursday 3 August 2017

Tom Waits,Cream Sours and Stone Roses

One of the great things about walking with music on random play is that you get to rediscover music you have forgotten, discover new music, and the odd time uncover some complete rubbish.

While Cream  were a great and groundbreaking band, with a plethora of great songs there were the odd rubbish ones ("Pressed Rat and Warthog" springs to mind, I 'm not sure if Pete Brown was responsible in part for this monstrosity) but today a horrendous almost scat jazz thing came on. I thought I'll give it time. I wish I hadn't. It's called "Hey Now Princess" and it's at the bottom of this post if you want to risk it.

Luckily that was followed by The Stone Roses' "Waterfall" which is one of my favourites of theirs, although there were a few of their songs , many of which sound like "I Wanna Be Adored" , but one came on called "The Foz" which I thought was actually Tom Waits , and then eventually I got a real Tom Waits song , the excellent "Singapore" and then I found an excellent youtube version soundtracking some "Pirates of The Caribbean footage.

So that's the second post today, and I did manage to hit 15K steps , and enjoy so reasonably healthy food as well,

Have a lovely night

The Baltimore Stockbroker

Well the #August50 hasn't started well, so much for two posts a day, although I have a lot of time to make it up, though because August has a few weekend away , I probably only have about 25 days when I can write, so the two a day is sort of essential when I can write.

My walking has got off to a reasonable start, and last night it poured down but today looks like another bright day, that's perfect really , rain at night the sun during the day.

Though there's no direct posts about The Baltimore Stockbroker, it's something I had heard about but not thought about. It came up in the Jordan Ellenberg book an is basically about targetting people to take advantage of them. Anyone can do it, it's just whether you are enough of a git to actually do it but financial institutions and governments do it all the time. This is the full story from Mike Adams blog

"To repeat from the beginning: Suppose you received a letter from a financial advisor who told you a certain stock was going up over the next several weeks. You watched the stock, and sure enough it went up. A few weeks later that same financial advisor sent another letter to say another stock was going to go down over the following few weeks. Sure enough, as you watched, the stock did go down. Then that same financial advisor sent a third letter to tell you to watch another stock that was going to go up. Sure enough it did. With the next letter the financial advisor told you to watch another stock that was going to go up. And sure enough it did. That same financial advisor sent another six letters each time predicting correctly the direction of every stock he told you to watch – a perfect prediction ten out of ten times.

In the eleventh letter he asked for a big investment. What would you say? He had been right ten out of ten times. What the investor does not see is the total picture—the whole story. That financial advisor began sending letters to 10,240 prospects. In 5,120 he predicted the stock would go up; in the other 5,120 he predicted the stock would go down. The 5,120 to whom he sent the letter saying the stock would go down never heard from our financial advisor. Of the 5,120 to whom he said the stock would go up, 2,560 got a second letter predicting that second stock would go up and the other 2,560 got a second letter saying the second stock would go down. The 2,560 who got the letter predicting the wrong direction of the stock those people never heard from our financial advisor again. Of those who got the correct prediction, 1,280 got the third letter predicting a third stock would go up and 1,280 got a letter saying the third stock would go down. You the reader now the full story. Only 10 prospects would get letters with 10 perfect predictions. The other 10, 230 people never heard from the advisor ever again. "

So a small group of people think that the guy is a genius. The book goes on to state , quite rightly, that the improbable is highly probable because there are so many people. It's high;y improbably that you will win on the lottery or a horse race , but people do and sometimes quite handsomely. The thing is with today's speed of communication we hear about these things a lot more quickly. We have tools to help us if we so choose,  but improbabilty and  chance can always throw a spanner in the work.

Part of life is about minimising risk, and we all do that. You set out a bit earlier to get the bus that will get you to work on time, but sometoimes the bus doesn't turn up and you are still late. I try and minimise risk by building in contiongency and options to everything, but it doesn't alwys work , but actually does 99% of the time. I don't tend to miss trains or flights or be late for work or miss paying bills because I have things in place "just in case".

Sorry this is just a functional post, but I suppose the theme points toward the superb Penetration song "Life's A Gamble" . Will I do another post today? We shall see .....

Have a brilliant Thursday everybody 

Tuesday 1 August 2017


I had this mad idea of doing 50 posts in August under the tag #August50. That's like two posts a day. The most I've done is 43 which was last October so it's certainly not impossible, jyust it will take time. I really need to be able to to a post in under twenty minutes but more importantly find something to write about.

I finished the Million Step Challenge having done 1,071,635 steps in three months , which took in 92 days, and daily totals ranged between 2.5K and 22K that's an average of 11.6K a day. I was wondering how I could keep this up and decided to set a target of 340K a month and we will see if I can keep to that. The winter months may be problematic and February will require me to average over 12K steps a day.

Today looks a little grey but I haven't hit 11K for a week, but I am going to to hit that today, starting by walking into work, which is a daily target.

It is always good to have something reachable to aim for, and it costs nothing to walk. Although my weight loss is unspectacular to non existent from this exercise and reasonably sensible eating (bread virtually cut out , but the odd Marathon bar when blood sugar drops) today I was 102.6 Kg (16 stone 2lb) which is the lowest I 've recorded myself since getting digital scales a couple of years back,  and I havent been under 16 stone in 35 years so it's a little progress.

Anyway what more appropriate songfor this post than "The Weight" by The Band. It was going to be used in the film "Easy Rider" but the film producer opted for a same version cover by a band called Smith.

Have a great Tuesday and first day of Augus.