Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Quotation du jour: Donovan ~ Happiness runs in a circular motion, thought is like a little boat upon the sea.

Happiness, ah, yes, i remember that, and i've been happy this week. But tomorrow morning i have to go back to the pit (at, o good grief, 5.30).

Here's the playlist for the past few days:

Friday: Judy Collins - Bohemian
    Florence & The Machine - MTV Unplugged
    Brian Plummer - No Question

Saturday: Tangerine Dream - Phaedra
    Jane Siberry - Bound By The Beauty
    Joan Osborne -- Bring It On Home

Sunday: Bonnie Raitt -- Slipstream
    Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
    Rory Gallagher -- Jinx
    Steeleye Span - Now We Are Six Again, disc 2
    Steve Hackett -- Spectral Mornings

Monday:    Chris Foster, Outsiders
    Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
    Blue Light Rain -- Jazz Is Dead

Tuesday: Ray Cooper -- Tales Of Love, War And Death By Hanging
    Judy Collins -- Bohemian
    The Kinks -- Arthur, Or, The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire
    Spooky Tooth -- It's All About
    Otis Rush & Friends -- Live At Montreux

Sunday, 22 April 2012

April 18th / 19th Toronto -- "War Horse"

Quotation of the day: Michael Morpurgo ~ This one isn’t just any old horse. There’s a nobility in his eye, a regal serenity about him. Does he not personify all that men try to be and never can be? I tell you, my friend, there’s divinity in a horse, and specially in a horse like this. God got it right the day he created them. And to find a horse like this in the middle of this filthy abomination of a war, is for me like finding a butterfly on a dung heap. We don’t belong in the same universe as a creature like this.

And so off i went to Toronto on Wednesday morning, to see the stage production of "War Horse" at The Princess Of Wales Theatre with my friends Julian (www.julianmulock.ca) and Andrea (http://bjfletcherprivateeye.com/team/supporting-cast/andrea-risk). My train left bang on time, arrived in Toronto 15 mins. late, around 11.15.  Not bad....

I wasn't meeting Julian & Andrea 'til 5.30, and i hoped to go to the cinema in the afternoon, to see "Coriolanus."  So the first thing i did was to get a local paper and wander up to The Wolf & Firkin (my fave Toronto pub) to read the movie listings (and have a pint).  Alas, it was no longer playing :o(  No other films really took my fancy, so i decided to go for a ramble.  For one thing, i wanted to make sure i could find the pub, The Elephant & Castle, where i'd be meeting J & A later -- i'd never been to it before.

It was a great day for walking, too: 11 degrees, sunny, a bit of a cool wind.  As i wandered around, i realised i needed to pee.  Fortunately, there's a pub near City Hall i've been to before called The Duke Of Richmond, so i stopped in there (and of course had another pint...). It's okay, not a favourite pub but it's all right.  (Contrary to popular belief, i have not been to every pub in downtown Toronto, although it may be close!) And then ambled off along King Street towards where i thought The Elephant & Castle was.  Not only did i find it, i also found The Princess Of Wales Theatre, where "War Horse" was playing, just a block or so away.  And i took its picture:

So, now that i had my bearings, i decided to have some lunch.  But where?

After some further rambling, i came across a place that i'd been to before but forgotten about: The Friar & Firkin.  (The Firkin pubs are a chain [www.firkinpubs.com], i wish there was one in Stratford.)   Their food is very good and i was most pleased with their ham 'n' cheese macaroni.

Anyway, back to my holiday diary.  After my lunch at The Friar & Firkin (here's the view looking south from their patio):

i still had a couple of hours to kill before meeting up with Julian & Andrea, and so i spent the time roving the streets, thoroughly enjoying myself and seeing sights the average tourist misses.

And then to The Elephant & Castle for dinner.  It's another chain of pubs, there's one in London, Ontario and at least two in downtown Toronto.  I never go there normally (because they don't sell my brand of beer!) but that didn't matter by then because i'd already had, what, four beers and had switched to virgin Caesars.  Frankly, i wasn't too impressed by the food, either: i had shepherd's pie with salad.  I make better shepherd's pie myself, the gravy was obviously made from powder and the salad was just bland.  Oh, well....

And then to the Princess Of Wales for one of the most brilliant pieces of theatre i've ever seen.  (I'm not a regular theatre-goer, mind you -- it's a bit pricey for those of us at the lower end of the income scale.) Singer Melanie Doane, whom you may have heard of, was in it, providing the fiddle, accordion and vocals, and the songs were written by John Tams, once of The Albion Band, one of my all-time favourite English folk groups. The war horses are made of wood. They're puppets!  The brilliance of the production is that you become as emotionally involved as if they were real.  Hell, they are real.  When Topthorn (the other main horse besides Joey) dies from exhaustion, well, i'm weeping buckets now just remembering....And i had tears running down my face at the end, i was overwhelmed with emotion.  Here's the trailer from the London production:

When it came to an end, as all good things must, it was straight back to J & A's house (where i was staying the night), where i finally met their cat Didjit (so-called because she has an extra digit on each foot).  Apparently she doesn't like strangers but she warmed up to me immediately.  We chatted a while, they lent me a DVD, a documentary called "Making War Horse" and so to bed, well after midnight....

Woke up Thursday morning feeling fine and perky in spite of the, for me, late night. (I'm usually in bed by 9 o'clock.)

Julian had an early meeting and Andrea was sound asleep when i left around 9.30.  I decided to do some more "sightseeing."  Apparently, National Geographic once named the Queen Street line as one of the most fascinating streetcar rides in the world, and i decided to give it a try (instead of spending the morning walking).  I bought a day pass for the transit system. I took the subway to Queen Street an hopped on the street car.  The line crosses the entire city from east to west (15.4 miles!) and i headed east, through parts of town i'd never seen before.  But there was no way i had the time to complete the trip -- i also wanted to visit my old neighbourhood before i headed off to meet Paul & Imogen. So i disembarked from the streetcar, headed north to the subway, and thence to the part of town where i used to live. Spent maybe an hour at my old pub, The Duke Of Kent, then went to meet the gang for lunch.

Imogen had chosen a relatively new place virtually next door to The Wolf & Firkin called The Queen & Beaver (stupid name!).  To my dismay, it wasn't pub-like at all, more like the lounge of an upscale hotel.  And they didn't sell my favourite beer, grr. I was the first to arrive but i was soon joined by Anne, an old friend and a woman i've had a crush on for maybe thirty years. (Very undignified in a man of my age, i know, especially as i've pretty much given up on relationships, but my, she has both brains and beauty which means she's approximately 100% wonderful.  Don't tell Astrid i said that!)

Next in was another old friend, Dave, then Paul & Imogen, and the company and the banter was tremendous.  But the food, er ....  Imogen loves the place for the food and the ambiance, but my very ordinary BLT with (really boring) freshly-made potato chips cost $17! With all due apple-polly-oggies to Imogen, it was too upscale for a simple bloke like wot i am, a man of simple tastes.  And after lunch i got thrown off the patio for smoking! Sorry, but isn't that what patios are for...?

There's really very little left to tell about my Toronto adventure.  After lunch i went over to the HMV store, bought the new CDs by Florence & The Machine and Judy Collins,  then wandered down to the lake and it's so beautiful there, i love all that water. 

And then i just wandered around some more, had a couple more beers in pubs, although i don't recall the names of the places, they weren't anywhere i'd been to before, then off to the train station in plenty of time and had some streetmeat (spicy sausage on a bun) from one of the vendors outside the station and was home by nine o'clock.

I love Toronto, i should go more often, but it's so damned expensive....

All of my photos from my visit are now up on my flickr page. It's http://www.flickr.com/photos/34806425@N02/sets/72157629866313199/show/

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Je Suis En Vacance (Holiday Diary Day 1)

Quotation Of The Day:  Bertrand Russell ~ What man really wants is not knowledge but certainty

Yes, yes, it's true, as of this morning i am on holiday for eight days.  After working at the same beanery for over twenty years, i am now entitled to five weeks per year; i never get more than two or three but that's cool. I only know work.  It's what i do.  It's stressful and my blood pressure is through the roof but i don't know anything else.

Bought my train ticket this morning, going to Toronto tomorrow to see "War Horse" on stage.  I was not sure whether to be pleased or upset, but for the first time ever in my life, i received a seniors' discount (10%).

No, honesttly m'lud, i was born in 1950; my Facebook profile says 1960 but it must be a misprint...

Here's the playlist:

Wednesday: Roy Wood, Starting Up Yes, Talk

Thursday: Various Artists, Come On Let's Go! Big Bill Broonzy, Rockin' In Chicago 1949-53 Television, Marquee Moon

Friday: Ian Anderson, Thick As A Brick 2 The Trews, Hope And Ruin

Saturday: Ian Anderson, Thick As A Brick 2 The Byrds, Younger Than Yesterday

Sunday: Jeff Beck, Beck-Ola Steeleye Span, Live At Last Thin Lizzy, BBC Radio One live In Concert

Monday: Joan Osborne, Bring It On Home, Ian Anderson Thick As A Brick 2, Pink Floyd, Obscured By Clouds

Tuesday: Steeleye Span, Now We Are Six Again, Ofra Haza, Lefelach Harimon

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sighs Pathetically

Quotation of the day: Groucho Marx ~ I've worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

As i continually lament, i rarely have time to post to this blog except on my day off,  and i know how disappointed you, my devoted reader, is by this sorry state of affairs.  (Every blog in existence has at least one devoted reader, of course.)

Today, though, isn't my day off.  My equivalent of the Sabbath was yesterday, yet i posted nothing, nil, zilch.  Wha' happen'?

Don't ask.

Oh, well, if you must know, i spent a good part of the day cleaning my studio apartment, or tenement, or whatever you wish to call it.  The fashionably scruffy place where i hang my titfer. In the afternoon, i watched a film i hadn't seen in a long, long time, and was very impressed:

I'd forgotten how good it is!  (And Al Pacino is always worth watching.)

Then i sat down at the computer, caught up on email (almost) and when i looked up from the screen it was 45 minutes past my dinner time.  (Not that i'm a computer addict, or anything....)

I didn't even get the laundry done, which is unheard of, for my day of so-called rest.

Oh, and as i know you care, here's what i've listened to this week:


"Guys And Dolls" (1992 Broadway Revival Cast recording)
Bob Dylan, Royal Albert Hall 1966, disc 2
Dusty Springfield, "Dusty ... Definitely"


Dusty Springfield, "Dusty ... Definitely" (love Dusty!)
The Trews, "Hope & Ruin"


The Whiskey Howl Big Band: Live At El Mocambo


Coleman Hawkins, Body and Soul
Jack Bruce, Live In America


Seether, Karma And Effect
Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
Jethro Tull, Aqualung Live
The Waterboys, Fisherman's Blues


Florence And The Machine, Ceremonials
Freddie King, Winterland 1970
Brian Auger, Search Party


Talk Talk, Laughing Stock
Marillion, Misplaced Childhood
Various Artists, The Mississippi Sheiks Tribute Concert, 2010


The Byrds, 5D
Rod Stewart, Gasoline Alley
Bruce Guthro, Celtic Crossing
Steeleye Span, Now We Are Six Again
Syrinx, Long Lost Relatives

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Odds 'N' Sods Newsworld

Quotation du jour -- Louis MacNeice: The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever, But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.

Oh, oops, i forgot to post my playlist last time, and i know how fascinated you all are, so here's what i've been listening to:

Saturday: Rush, "Roll The Bones," Neverending White Lights, "Act 1"

Sunday: Kate Bush, "Live At Manchester Apollo" (disc one and disc two)

Monday: Kate Bush, "Live At Manchester Apollo" (disc two again!), Kathryn Tickell, "Common Ground"

Interesting, i was just looking at the geostats for my last post, the Kate Bush extravaganza, and the country from which i've had the third most visitors so far (after the U.S.A. and Canada) was The Ukraine.  Weird.  Must be a Google anomaly.

I watched this film last week:

Not my sort of thing really.  My interest in gay politics is even less than my interest in politics in general.  But!

This is a film that transcends such categories and it is above all a human drama and wonderful indeed.

This Is Not A Music Blog

Quotation Of The Day -- Ringo Starr: I don't dwell in the past and I try not to live in the future. And I try not to live in my head!

This is not a music blog, although as music is a huge part of my life, i do write (or blather) about it quite a lot.  But rarely have i ever posted links to music downloads. I'm going to change that.

One of my favourite singers is Kate Bush, and in 1979, she embarked on her one and only tour.  Very few bootlegs have ever emerged from that tour, and they have been poor-quality audience recordings.  But her April 10 performance at the Manchester Apollo was recorded by Granada Television for a film called "On The Road." The film was never broadcast, but the audio portion recently surfaced on the Internet -- the first-ever soundboard recording of Kate in concert. I have it, and now, so can you.


Now, most music bloggers would have zipped the file(s) before uploading to their favourite file-sharing site, so that anyone interested could download the whole concert with only two clicks (disc one and disc two, natch).  But i like to be difficult tra la.  I've uploaded each number individually, so there'll be a lot of clicking required.  A pain in the arse, i know, but "paininthearse" is my middle name. (Ha, and you thought it was Elmer.) (Actually, there was a very good reason i did it this way but i won't burden you with the details.)

So, here ya go: Kate Bush, live at the Manchester Apollo, disc one: 

Track 1: Intro With Backstage Chat And Warm-Up Vocals
Track 2: Moving
Track 3: Saxophone Song
Track 4: Room For The Life
Track 5: Them Heavy People
Track 6: The Man With The Child In His Eyes
Track 7: Egypt
Track 8: L'Amour Looks Something Like You
Track 9: Violin
Track 10: The Kick Inside
Track 11: In The Warm Room
Track 12: Fullhouse
Track 13: Strange Phenomena
Track 14: Hammer Horror

And here's disc two:

Track 1: Kashka From Baghdad
Track 2: Don't Push Your Foot On The Heartbrake
Track 3: Act III Intro
Track 4: Wow
Track 5: Coffee Homeground
Track 6: In Search Of Peter Pan
Track 7: Symphony In Blue
Track 8: Feel It
Track 9: Kite
Track 10: James And The Cold Gun
Track 11: Oh England My Lionheart
Track 12: Wuthering Heights
Track 13: Curtain Call And Speech