Thursday, September 29, 2005

One Way Ticket on the Funicular Railway of Doom

Busy old times. Well not really, I never am. But if you want to write an interesting blog, you have to at least give the impression that you lead an interesting life. I am absolutely skint. Brassic. Unloaded. Not in debt though. Well not financially, anyway. I went on a blogger's outing last night. We (me, Merk, Rich, Old Bob, Fulla and Austin) went to see a play, Bouncers, with a certain Mr Hoffmann-Gill in it. Very good it was too. Really funny in fact. I didn't know what to expect, I'm not really much of a theatre-goer. I'd recommend it, certainly. It was played really well too, great energy on stage, freed of any shackles of pretention too. It looked like it was as much fun to act as it was to watch. I think that came across to the audience. It did to this bloke commentating behind Merk or Austin anyway. I thought maybe his partner was blind or summat, but I think he was just a twat, convincing himself of his own intelligence by commenting out loud... "ooh it's gonna kick off now". There's always one. Obviously we retired back to The Crown for binge drinking and smokes along with most of the cast.

Before that, I'd seen blog comrade Morti and the very lovely Mrs Morti last Friday. It was good to see them. He seemed to enjoy himself. I'm told anyway, I was absolutely fucking leathered on Baltikas.

I'm being encouraged to apply for a position in the Tax department at work. It's more of a career than payroll, but it sounds so dull. It's delving deeper into the grey abyss known as accountancy. It's not me is it? I'm a renegade creative genius. I'm wordy not numbery. Mind you, there's more guaranteed dosh than as an occasional poet.

I can't wait till payday tomorrow. I hate being skint. I feel helpless at home, like I have to pull my weight with actions rather than just money. I enjoy playing the role of the financially sound one in our house. Without a healthy bank balance I feel on a par the cat in the order of merit. Mind you, I've heard the cat can change a plug.


PS. Walt's taken some top shots of delightful Dawley. See here.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mountain People

As I wrote a couple of days back, that things change quickly in this town once one rubs away the laid-back veneer. Well somethings never do. I visited Andys Records this morning's spitting weather. Stacked as ever like a audio tardis, I've been visiting this little shop since I got into music back in the early 90s. I used to buy Britpop fringe stuff and rare vinyls and discs by bands so new they shone. One of these bands were the Super Furry Animals, when I bought Hometown Unicorn cd single after hearing it on Radio One's Evening Session, and followed that up with their first two realease (on Welsh indie label Angst). I also bought a one-sided 7" track given away at some obscure gig in Bala in Snowdonia or somewhere. Given that they were a Welsh band it was much easier to get these rarities. As they became more popular (ie. available in Woolies or Menzies) I felt a little bit of loyalty for Andy's Records. Well today, 11 years since buying Fuzzy Logic (and playing it first back in the caravan to the rather indifferent audience of my Grandparents) I put my hand in my pocket for their latest album Love Kraft. I hope its as good as Radiator.

Yesterday I didn't do much at all. But then I guess that was the plan all along. I left the guest house when I got hungry again, this time I ate at Yr Hen Gorsaf, the Wetherspoons place. I ordered the Peri Peri Chicken panini, but they'd got no chicken, peri peri or otherwise, so I opted instead for the rather sickly tuna and cheese. Still a couple of pints of Pedigree at £1.65 a piece helped it along (I'm noticing a pattern to these last couple of days). I went to try and register at Travail, the only emplyment agency I've found in town. They share a redeveloped old building directly opposite the pier entrance, I think it used to be the Theological College, but in these godless times who needs that. Anyway, I stumble in, and follow the signs from the surprisingly elegent lobby. I wandered down a corridor, but the only doors I found had signs like Travail Meeting Room 1. As I was trying to not look lost a pretty dark haired girl with sympathetic eyes came through an unmarked door. I asked her if that was the door to Travail, cue confusion. She asked me to repeat myself in a strong French accent. Oh dear! I duly repeated myself, but realised Travail is the French verb 'to work'. I wish my French was better, I only know how to ask for three thousand melons. I gave up, giving her a thankful smile. I'll have to register when I get back to Telford.

I went back and watched a bit of cricket between the thankful rain interruptions. Boy, we are missing Simon Jones. And don't the Western Mail know it. The lack of the Glamorgan speedster at The Oval was almost enough to knock Gavin Henson's groin strain off the back page - almost. Apparently he's seeing a specialist doctor in Germany who has treated people like Darren Gough and Michael Owen, no-one knows how this injury has arisen. Well on page 8 of the same publication is a big picture of Miss Charlotte Church. I wouldn't have thought it'd take an expensive genius German quack to work that one out. I watched L'Appartement last night. Great film, so well structured. I first watched it when I was at Uni here on S4C (a week after it had been on channel 4). I only watched because the stunning Monica Bellucci was in it. Any way I was gripped, all these seemingly unconnected sub-plots all interweaving on a film every bit as tight as The Usual Suspects. As the film was approaching its climax, S4C (which was always a temperamental channel when showing Channel 4 stuff) just shut down. Just black silence. Quarter of an hour until the credits. When I realised it wasn't coming back on I screamed with frustration. I went to bed defeated and deflated. I got up early and was down Pier video by ten. I knew I'd seen L'Appartement on the shelves before. I couldn't see it now. I appraoched the guy behind the counter asking him where it was and if it was due back in today. He shrugged and casually told me I was the seventh person who had asked him since nine o'clock. It was a week before I finally got to see it all the way through. It was worth the wait.

I can see a little fishing boat in my bit of sea from my room. Very relaxing. It's taken a few days and I have occasionally missed having a conversation, but I feel very nearly chilled out to the max, to use the parlance of our times. As I strolled back from Andy's Records and Spartacus (Coronation Chicken baguette thanks for asking, and as good as ever), A bloke came flying down the steep San Francisco-esque Loveden Street next to the Town Hall, on a homemade go kart. He was no kid, he was easily mid twenties, a fluttering shock of scruffy long brown hair flying over his green sweater matching the movements of a yellow triangular flag at the back of the cart as he whizzed past me. I tried to take a photo but he zoomed away down the road like old footage of F1 drivers like Fangio or Stirling Moss. That wasn't the only odd thing I've seen today. I went back into town to pay the landlady, and as I came out of the front door of the launderette a dragon walked past. He was pretty heavily built, I doubt he could fly. Then loads of kids following him with sashes on indicating some charity or other, I chucked some silvers in and carried on. At the King's Square was a group of people in what appeared to be Jacobean dress folk-dancing to a couple of musicians. A small group of holiday makers plump in their West Brom replicas (aren't stripes supposed to be slimming?) and a trio of moustachioed bikers had gathered around, and the violins played with a backing beat of the sea behind them. Saturdays are odd here.


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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Strange News From Another Star

I felt a bit melancholy walking around a grey Aberystwyth today, it seems Merk took the weather with him. I strolled past the shops looking for somewhere, something to eat. I bought a newspaper and wanted to spend the afternoon in The Cabin, a chilled-out old fashioned café where no-one minds if you smoke or sit there all day. It seems I wasn't the only one with that idea, as it was busy all the tables taken, and not a great selection of butties. Plan B. I didn't know what Plan B was. I wandered back towards Great Darkgate Street, passing The Vine (packed), Subway (hmmm!). I meandered into Eastgate and gazed into the windows of The Orangary, a brand new eaterie in the formerly scruffy-as-fuck Talbot. Looked really smart, but with smart prices. And I don't trust places where the wine menu is longer than the food menu. Still no luck, so onwards downhill back towards home. Then I remembered the lovely big burger I'd had on Monday at the Bar Essential. As I entered I noticed they were showing the cricket too. Bonus. So Steak Baguette and two pints of Brains later and I'm once again a happy liitle camper. The melancholy though wasn't all about hunger. I was pacing around town, not recognising any faces. Despite it's appearences this town moves quickly, well at least it's people do. I was only here long-term five years ago, where was everyone. The truth is that students inevitably move on, and so do a number of young locals, out to find work, out to find civilisation. They'll be back, it's over-rated.

I also realised I've been walking to quickly. I've been travelling at the speed one walks around Tescos or Telford Town Centre, get there, do it, go home, job done. When I went for a walk later in the evening to get some booze and feed more twopences at the pier (I know, I know, but I'm not checking the nags, so I've got to gamble a little bit), I decided to take the pace down, and savour the stroll. Even though it was nearly dark and there was a little early Autumn drizzle in the air, there were some kids under the jetty having a barbeque. The familiar smell of sausages combined with the sound of the calm sea sucking back the pebbles. Intoxicating. I had a wonder around Pier video, but I guessed they wouldn't accept my membership card as I hadn't hired a film out for half a decade. I watched as someone else hired some Adam Sandler vid, their card looked more like a driving licence with photo and barcode. Probably had fingerprints too. Shame because they've still got a huge arthouse and European section, and plenty of dodgy 1970s Fench and Italian erotic horror flicks too. Instead I went back and hit my beers while watching Eddie Izzard and listened to The Arcade Fire album (which is absolutely fucking tops by the way).


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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Auf Weidersen

Quieter day today. Went with Merk to Wetherspoons for some fodder and liquid revitilisation. As we were tucking in a train come in, no worries but that meant we had two hours to kill before the Merkster had to go home. He seemed a bit down, so we went back to the pier, and yes, I won him a Winnie the Pooh this time. He was no more enthusiastic than yesterday. At least this one stayed on dry land. We sauntered back to the train station, where Merk ascended back to life and work. The relaxing part of my holiday now began. I milled around a bit, watching people alight from the train into arms of mothers and lovers. I wondered off, back to my room.

I'll tell you a little about the room, it's a twin room so there's a redundant bed. My bed is next to the window, which overlooks the back of the seafront b&bs and the newish Kings Hall building, home to some appartments and shops and a nice carvery. This is what I can smell. With my window open wide, everything I do is to the accompanying odour of roast beef and lamb, and as these rooms are above a launderette I can occassionally whiff the homely smell of washing powder and tumble dryers. Heaven. In the gap between the Kings Hall and the seafront houses I can see a small part of Marine Terrace, the main seafront promenade at the North end of town. I can see part of the sea, which is currently calm as it has been all week, it is greyer than earlier in the week though. All along Marine Terrace there are flags representing the small countries of Europe such as Catalunya, Brittany, Cornwall and the like. Anyway, I can just about see one fluttering from my room, and I'm trying to work out which one it is from here. I've not managed it yet.

I watched a couple of films (Belleville Rendez-vous and the haunting Picnic at Hanging Rock) before getting a sandwich and four cans of Brains SA and retired to watch the comedy football from Belfast. I couldn't help finding the smug commentators humbled funny. I watched Twin Town and went to bed.


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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pocketful of Twopences

Woke up without too much of a hangover after a good night's sleep in an unfamiliar bed. Mulled about a bit waiting for Merk to get up. When he did we went for a walk along the seafront. It was a warm afternoon, the sun was shining strong with the gentle sea breeze just freshening it up. There were some tasty lasses on the beach in various stages of undress, which was nice. We strolled along to the Pier, to spend some change in the arcade. I changed 50p into twos and took my Vegas-style cup of shrapnel to the pushers. I couldn't get rid of it, I kept winning, the pile of coppers kept growing. I was feeding coins in one machine, when the one next to me 'dropped', noone else was near it and I had been on it earlier, so I allowed myself to them. Winner! I beat Merk 2-1 in the great air-hockey grudge match. But I did win him a little Piglet thing, which he was less than impressed with.

Hungry, we took ourselves to the Bar above the snooker hall, and I devoured a Chicken Provençal. Well I devoured the bits that didn't find there way onto my shirt. Merk had a ham baguette, and we were joined by one of the bargirls, who was chatting Merk up while having her dinner. Merk was oblivious to it. Full of grub, we wandered further down the seafront. I looked through one of the ubiquitous 20 pence telescopes all seafronts have to have. A little sail boat was bobbing on the horizon. By this time the blue skies had been replaced by more interesting heavier clouds and the sun kept making irregular cameos from behind them, lighting up different parts of the sea as it did. We had icecream, served by a buxom woman, weathered like the seawall behind her. Double scoops. After arsing about on the beach (sacrificing the aforementioned Piglet to the elements, and chucking seaweed at Merk), we headed back to Bath Street.

As I was watching Emerdale/getting ready to hit the pubs I heard music from outside. I muted Kane Dingle and could hear a brass band. I hurried Merk out, and there in the bandstand infront of a dozen stripey deckchairs with blue-rinsed loungers was a decent sized band belting out such brass classics as Procul Harem's Whiter Shade of Pale and summat by Elton John. Great scenes. Onwards though, it was pub time. Once again we started at Scholars, as last night it had been the only drinkerie with enough people to be classed 'lively'. It wasn't tonight. Ah well, a couple of pints of Brains, and on the move again. Again we retraced the steps of 24 hours back, and found ourselves in the Cambrian. Again it was pretty quiet. My idea of coming here after the main holiday season and before the students restart felt like it was back-firing a bit, at night-time at least. Couple in there, and we decided we would go the Rummers for the night. Hallelujah, when we crossed Bridge Street and walked down the little entrance to the pub, it was heaving. A hive of activity. And that was just outside. Surprisingly we found somewhere to sit inside and drank and drank and talked about shit. Time called and the Spar was duly utilised and we ended a great day with sausage baps and good tunes.


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Monday, September 05, 2005

Grey Skies

We ascended the train under unassuming grey skies, the day still steamy from the stormy night before. Still hoarse from the shouting it had done. The Wild West beckoned. I spent most of the two hour journey winding Merk up with endless enthusiastic questions, I was geting on his nerves. When not acting like a child I was trying to eye a girl further down the carriage, it was working too. Shy looking dark haired cutie, she was eyeing me back, this all the way from Caersws to Borth. I was going to talk to her at the platform at Aberystwyth, but she was first off the train and never looked back. Her loss.

At Aber the air was fresher and the sky was bluer. We checked into our rooms, at £17 we weren't expecting anything flash, and we didn't get anything flash. I did however, get a nice view, Constitution Hill at the edge of town and about 3 foot of sea view between two buildings on the front. I keep getting a whiff of nice grub from the nice restaurant on the prom. This was making me hungry so I dragged Merk to Bar Essential for a burger and a pint of Brains. Huge meal, comfy chairs. I needed a kip now.

After refuelling and recharching we went to hit the beers. This invovled a couple at Scholars, another couple in the Cambrian (with a successful game of Pepsi Chart Challenge), a couple in the practically deserted Rummers, and an unsuccessful walk the length of town to the Glengower (closed), before returning to that scruffy but loyal mongrel The Bay. A few more in there including a rogue G&T. Time for Spar (obviously) and home. Job done.

More soon...


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Friday, September 02, 2005

Two Steps on the Water

Last night was a good night up at the dogtrack. I didn't make much money, I think I had a nett loss of 20 pence, but obviously I was drinking heavily so like the acorn that grew substantially. Twas a good laugh nonetheless. It did take me until race twelve (of twelve) to finally take some cash back off the bookies though. It's a funny sound up there though, some accents sound so thick it sounds like they're taking the piss. When ordering my burger and chips I'm sure I sounded posh in comparison, then I asked for gravy so the delicate balance of the whole universe was righted again. Phew!

The beautiful city (ahem) of Wolverhampton is again the venue tonight, this time for Shaz's leaving do, it'll be the trendy bars, but they might serve Baltika in Revolution. I've got to get the train back so I can't get too mashed. And Telford Utd are at home tomorrow, with an early kickoff.

What the frig is going on in New Orleans, anarchy is ruling, and it seems like those in charge aren't doing much about it. What a nightmare, it looks like post-war Baghdad (Hmmm – there's a thought). Hurricanes are different to earthquakes or tsunamis, you can predict quite a while before a hurricane is about to hit, why was nothing more done, especially with knowing the unique and vulnarable geography of the city? They've fucked this one up proper. Who said Americans couldn't do irony, tragically September is US National Preparedness Month. Meanwhile, there has been a lot of rumblings about racism in the area, racism at an institutional level. The media too reflects this with two similar images of the flooded city, compare and contrast the methods of obtaining food, the resourceful white family finding groceries, and the lone black looter.

Oh well.

It is so quiet at work today, since flexi-time was brought in it has been free reign for the habitual Friday dodgers. Even I didn't get in until ten, and I'm finishing at half four, then the week off, happy days. Added to that, all the managing partners are on their jollies, so Chad's busy playing Championship Manager, and with help coming from the rest of us downstairs his Torquay United are surely only hours away from their first win of the season.


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