Groundhog day

On 6th May last year, I was up early to go telling at the general election, and then spent the evening at the Duchess in York, seeing Show of Hands.

On 4th May this year, it was election day again – for the local councis, and the vote on the AV referendun, and spookily, we spent the evening in York seeing Show of Hands at the Duchess in York once again.

Last year, we saw the LibDem candidate come within a whisker of taking Hull North from Diana Johnson MP, slicing her 7000+ majority to less than 700 votes. The city council was safely in control of the LibDems.

Tonight, Labour control Hull council – last time they had control, they were officially deemed a failing council, and I cannot begin to imagine what is going to happen to our city now. Less than 50% of the electorate have voted against any progress towards proportional representation, which will set the cause back by at least one decade, and probably two.

I feel profoundly depressed.

Sky HD box

In other news, we had Sky HD installed ten days ago, due to the impending demise of our beloved Tivo, or at least the demise of its official listing service. We’ve only gone for the basic service so far, but I’m more impressed than I expected it to be. The Tivo it ain’t, but I can programme it via my iPhone, and it has behaved flawlessly thus far.

weekend 6/7 november 2010

On Saturday we set off for the wilds of West Yorkshire for my birthday Out; we chose this area for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Show of Hands had obligingly scheduled a gig at Sheffield Cathedral.

We managed to leave the house by 11, by which time the postman had delivered my Merrell walking shoes bought from eBay, shop samples, at £8 – a bit of a result. One of the side effects of losing weight is that my feet have shrunk, and I like my walking shoes and boots to, you know, *fit*. And these do, which is nice.

We trundled first to Moortown, near Leeds, to visit BMF Fires, who are our nearest stockist of Jetmaster fires. Sadly, they didn’t have any Jetmasters in the showroom, but they did have this.

red! shiny!
Piazzetta E960 woodburning stove

I was instantly in love. Red! Shiny! Italian! Like the Ferrari of the woodburning stove world, and an absolute bargain at £1950. I asked for a quote to fit it, and it would come to about £3.5k all in, as we’d have to dig out some of the fireplace as well. We’re budgeting for a fire, and although this is  a tad (ahem) over what I’d costed, we didn’t care. Decision made.

They were short on brochures and staff as everyone was at a home renovation fair at Harrogate; only 12 miles to Harrogate, so we thought we’d go and have a look, as we’d never been. There was a smell there, a smell of serious money. Harrogate makes Bath look a bit low rent, to be honest. We had a croque monsieur for lunch in Debenmans, then mooched about the town. I managed to resist red! shiny! Fitflops, and even a pair of very nice flat brown leather boots much reduced. We poked about in some expensive shops, including a kitchen showroom.

We stuck our nose in the Aga shop; “Can I help you?” quoth the bloke. “No thanks”, said I – “I love them, but I wouldn’t have one, because they’re not very environmentally friendly”. So he asked what car I drove! Then I said I don’t have the room anyway, and he told me to move house. Not, perhaps, the ideal sales patter, really. They do lovely kitchenware in there, and I was very tempted by a springform loaf/terrine tin, but I felt £35 was a bit over the top, so resisted that too.

When we got to the exhibition, they wanted £8 each to go in, so we left it, and trundled over to Ikea at Batley. We examined sofas, and decided finally on the kitchen cabinetry range we want, and on the hobs. Still undecided on oven/dishwasher, and will be getting bamboo worktops. Then we had meatballs (oh, how I miss Ikea meatballs), purchased tea lights, a new trivet, a small baby plush rat (don’t ask), and set off for Sheffield.

A cracking gig, starting with Steve coming down the aisle with a mandolin, and ended with Steve, Phil and Miranda going back up the aisle. A lot of old favourites, stripped right back – Santiago, Crow on the Cradle, the Train, Dive; a glorious version of Keys of Cantebury, with just Steve and Jackie Oates (the support act). The audience were perhaps a little intimidated by the undeniably awe-inspiring venue, and there was little singing along, despite the band’s invitation to do so. But a wonderful evening, nonetheless.

We got home about 1, and thus had a fairly slumpish day on Sunday. Pete fitted another catflap, which I shall write about on the cats’ blog shortly, and we went to Scunthorpe last night to see Jeremy Hardy, who was most excellent, and just stood on the stage and rambled for about 90 minutes. The chap’s  bit of a leftie, mind 🙂

Lovely weekend, all in all. Now we must batten down the hatches for the rigours of the week ahead.

Oh, and sanity has prevailed, and we have ruled out the red! shiny! woodburner.

it's been a long day …

… and it ain’t over yet.  Was up at 5.30 this morning, and at the polling station at 6:50 a.m. to do telling.  I was first to vote, of course, but only just!  It was busier than normal, according to the warden at the church hall, but not so busy that I couldn’t cope. No Labour teller, which struck me as odd given it’s a Labour seat with a 7+k majority.

I was frozen – really, really cold.  I took a flask of tea, but couldn’t find Pete’s fingerless gloves, which I’d commandeered for the occasion.  I texted him but he couldn’t find them at home, so I rummaged once again in the many and varied pockets of my backpack and there they were. When he came up to vote, he fetched me a hot pastie [fnaar] – that and the mittens sustained me till the end of my shift at 11 a.m.

When I got home, we set out on a day off (or what was left of it).  We were heading to York, and stopped in Market Weighton and Pocklington for strolls, before arriving at our planned destination.  We had a nice wander round the city, walked about half of the city walls, looked at a lot of shops (but bought nothing), ate tea in Bettys (overpriced, over twee, won’t go there again), before pitching up to The Duchess to see Show of Hands (yes, again – what’s it to you?!).  The Leeds gig was the best we’d seen; the York gig was much, much better. We had a cracking evening, and my voice is croaky from the singing.

Got in the car about 30 seconds before the first Sunderland result was called, drove home to Mr Naughtie on the Home Service, and now we are sitting in the living room, whisk(e)y to hand, waiting to see if the true horror of a Cameron government comes to pass, and waiting with huge excitement for the result in Hull North.

Thinking back to 2005, all we really had then was IRC; this year, I have Twitter, LJ, Facebook – too much stuff to parse, really. I shall do my best.

p.s. Despite the ridiculous farce of the polling stations being unable to actually, you know, allow people to vote, I’m hugely encouraged by the turnout figures so far.  And if you think you can extrapolate a government from the the results so far, you’re a better statistician than I, Gunga Din.

a day out to Leeds

Nostell Priory, courtesy of Wikipedia
Nostell Priory, courtesy of Wikipedia

‘Twas a beautiful spring day yesterday, and so we said “soddit”, looked at the map, and decided to visit Nostell Priory, near Wakefield, before our National Trust tickets stop working. It’s a beautiful house, crammed full of completely barking detailing, frieses, chinese hand painted wallpaper, architecture in part by Robert Adam, and most of the furniture custom made by Chippendale.  Enjoyed it enormously, and the couple of miles stroll around the beautiful parkland and lake too.  *And* we resisted the siren call of a National Trust Cream Tea!

From there we sallied forth to Ikea, and purchased two Hol side tables (the coffee table is just Too Big for this room, and the cats keep leaping on it, so it has to go), a Bekvam step stool for upstairs (we have one downstairs and it is the most solid and stable thing to climb on, even I feel safe on it), 100 tea lights and a new door mat. Quite restrained, really. Then we had meatballs, because really, one must, when in Ikea.

Then on to the Brudenell Social Club to see Show of Hands play a standing only gig – best sort they do.  They started with Country Life, ended with Roots, and encored with Cousin Jack, with plenty of favourites in between, including a new song from Steve, and a solo spot from the wonderful Miranda. A cracking evening, and one which we shall repeat in York on election night (we shall get home just as the results start coming in, I suspect).

A grand day out, Grommit, in all.

we went to church

Show of Hands
Originally uploaded by ramtops

Not much could have lifted my spirits last night, to be honest, but perlmonger and I dragged our weary bones to the car, and drove the 50 miles to Marlborough to see Show of Hands performing at St Marys Church in Marlborough, part of their Spires and Beams tour.

And I’m very glad we did. With the almost ever present Miranda Sykes, Phil and Steve served up a beautiful set of acoustic music, much of which they played while wandering around the church.

Community singing took place for Roots, Country Life (a slowed down version that didn’t work so well for me), Cousin Jack etc. Phil played a blinder on his fiddle as always, Miranda did a solo with a guitar (!), and there was a new song, at least new to me – Canterbury Tales. Steve’s voice was struggling, though – cold weather, maybe, it was reasonably brisk in the church.

This was a great venue for the band, and they had really nice lighting too. I enjoyed it hugely, and felt much much better for going, Next up they’re doing a Standing Room Only set of gigs in pubs near Wells. We have tickets for the Bristol one in December – can’t wait.

Show of Hands

Show of Hands
Originally uploaded by ramtops.

the extremely fine Show of Hands played an intimate set to 120 lucky people to mark the re-opening of the Village Pump at the Lamb Inn, in Trowbridge. perlmonger and I were lucky enough to get tickets 86 and 87 when we were at the Trowbridge Folk Festival this summer, and we were looking forward to the gig more than I can say.

with the very fine Martyn Joseph as support, and the ever excellent, and seemingly permanent third member of SoH, Miranda Sykes, complete with double bass, crammed on to the tiny stage, it was, in my opinion, the very best set we’ve ever seen them play – 90 minutes of their best songs.

the evening was rounded off with a raffle – we’d bought five tickets for a quid each. First prize was two tickets to the Trowbridge Festival in 2007. And we won! We also had another of our tickets drawn for the third prize, but we threw that one back in, for fear we’d be lynched by the crowd 🙂

a big thanks to John Alderslade and his team for getting the Pump reopened, and for laying on such a cracking evening – and we’ll see you all again in July 🙂


couple of Outs this week … firstly, Show of Hands on Tuesday at St Georges in Bristol. SoH are probably my favourite live band, even though they are folk 🙂 Moyra (WINOLJ) came up from Berks to accompany us, before wending her way northwestwards for a funeral.

she was introduced to Show of Hands by me – I gave her a CD of theirs. The band are more than happy for people to spread their music around like this, and say so at every concert; if only more musicians were able to do this, but the record companies wouldn’t like it, would they?

Phil and Steve were accompanied during the second half by Miranda Sykes, a singer / double bass player from Lincoln with a voice that we knew could do folk, but didn’t know could do jazz. Well, she can!

as always, a most enjoyable night.

last night, we went to see Jools Holland at Colsonall. We see him every year during his autumn tour, and sometimes during the summer too, and it’s normally a great gig. However, not last night …

firstly, the sound mix was dire. Absolutely appalling. The brass section were mixed up too high, and you couldn’t hear any of the vocals properly. Such a shame, because Sam Browne and Ruby Turner are both fabulous singers.

and then there was the elephant chap in the seat next to me. He was *gargantuan*. He can’t have been much more than 20 years old, and while I’m hopeless at judging weight in avoirdupois, he must have been at least 25 stone (that’s 350lbs for my transatlantic readers). He bulged over the edge of the shiny new seat, so that I had to sit twisted and hunched. Then he proceeded to eat. And eat. Two packets of chocolate, a bag of crisps, a bottle of coke, a banana (a banana?! in a concert?! oh yes – the smell was nauseating). At least, that was what I noticed, in about an hour and a half, and then we went to have a dance, and find somewhere else to sit. He’s probably there still, unless they managed to get a crane into the hall.

oh, and the support act was Chris Difford, who used to be in Squeeze. His voice is gone, and he just rehashed old Squeeze numbers, but Glenn Tilbrook he ain’t. Not enjoyable – avoid.

high spot of the evening was the guest star with Mr Holland, one Marc Almond – I must say that a rhythm and blues version of Tainted Love worked remarkably well, although I kept expecting it to segue into the 12″ version :… )