Heard this on the radio this evening and loved it, thought I’d leave it here as I’m bound to forget who it was otherwise. I love the original version too by Steve Winwood, this is very different but utterly beautiful:
Pictures from the last few days – we are hoping for an adventure today (we have a little local bank holiday today so aren’t at work) so another photo to follow later.
Current favourite listening. We saw the gig at Celtic Connections earlier this year, the highlight of the festival.
I was down south for the weekend at a briefing for my new Open Uni course. As usual it was very good and I am currently feeling very enthusiastic about it! (let’s see how long that lasts!). It was also nice to get the chance to stay with the parentals for a couple of days.
Course materials for the new OU course. Here’s my Project365 confession: although I had thought “If I can’t think of anything else I’ll take a picture of the books”, I totally forgot on the day, so this was taken on the 24th. The very first day this year I forgot to take a picture!
Lights over Buchanan Street.
We are currently away having a (very sedate, it has to be said) adventure, photos of which will be posted when we’re back in a couple of days when the location will be revealed. I did however want to note something here in case I forget it later.
The hotel where we’re staying has Classic FM on the radio in the dining room, so breakfast is a very pleasant and refined affair. Classic FM are currently doing a countdown of sorts (I’m not a regular listener so am not sure exactly what it’s of – most popular, most requested, or something more random, I don’t know) and yesterday they played (as number two hundred and something) the 3rd movement of Vaughan Williams’ 5th Symphony. I’m a sucker for Vaughan Williams at the best of times, but I am particularly fond of this symphony as it was on the very first vinyl record I ever bought (I’d been buying pop stuff on cassette before, but it took till my late teens to persuade my parents that having a record player would be a good thing). I actually bought the record as it also had, as a filler, “Serenade to Music” which is a shortish choral piece by RVW which I was studying as one of my A’level music set works, but the symphony grabbed me immediately – it is emotionally raw, astonishing, and just transports me to another level. I’d not listened to it for years (my record player was broken in my last London burglary and I’ve not replaced it, and I’d not listened to that record for a long time before that), but sitting there at breakfast yesterday listening to it on a tinny stereo I just shut my eyes and felt my soul soar.
I think a belated new year’s resolution will be to buy and listen to more classical music this year. I had forgotten that soul connection, but it’s still there.
Our newest, shiniest nephew was born at 11.45 this morning (8lbs 8oz, what a chubster!).
And this afternoon HD heard that he has got a temp job, just for a couple of months, and not in Scotland so there will be a bit of commuting and separation going on, but it’s a couple of months of not dealing with the Jobseekers’ Allowance people and takes a bit of the financial pressure off us both (particularly as I still don’t know when my own job is going to start – Disclosure Scotland (the criminal record checking people) are taking as long as they’re taking).
We are now on our 3rd glass of champagne of the evening 🙂
In other news, we managed to get out to a concert last night with a couple of friends from church, marking the opening of this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival at the Fruitmarket. The concert was called “Music Like a Vitamin” (there isn’t a direct link, but you can probably find it from the festival link). HD was only able to come for the final hour so missed all but the final act and a bit (he was driving back from his job interview). The line-up was James Yorkston and Adrian Crowley singing the songs of Daniel Johnstone (whoever he is) first (they were a bit shambolic but not in a bad way), then Emma Pollock and her band (a bit rocky and bangy-crashy for my liking, oh I sound like my dad – she had a great voice though, I’d like to hear her doing folk music as I think it would suit her voice better), then Karine Polwart (the act we’d gone to see), and then Alasdair Roberts (who I didn’t know but really liked – kind of folky, kind of surreal, and bizarrely he reminded me a bit of Kenny Everett), and then finally they all came back on stage to do a couple of songs. Actually the final two songs were my favourite bit, they were just extraordinary. We all felt that we’d have preferred it if perhaps there were fewer acts and they could have done longer sets (they all did 35 min sets with 15 min breaks between) as it felt a bit bitty. But it was a good night, and good for us to get out and have a life 🙂
We went to the WOMAD festival at the weekend and had a lovely time. I only got to see 3 out of my 7 “must sees” (see last entry), didn’t think there was as much music I wanted to see or really grabbed me, compared to last year, and the weather wasn’t great (Saturday was gloriously sunny most of the day, but it started raining on Saturday evening and basically didn’t stop till we were packing up on Monday morning, so it ended up being a bit of a mudbath by the end of the festival). But, it was still a lovely weekend, we had fun with the family and the kids, and it was good to be away. I’ve put photos on facebook, but won’t have time to put them on flickr (and from there to here) till the weekend probably.
Must sees whom I did see were Eliades Ochoa (wonderful, though he had awful problems with one of his guitar strings which kept going out of tune, he had to keep tuning it which must have been really frustrating for him). If you’ve seen the Buena Vista Social Club film, he’s the singer who wears the stetson with the beautiful voice. I also saw Jim Moray (I liked him, HD wasn’t so keen. I think I preferred Seth Lakeman though), and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me that the sousaphone could be funky!) who were amazing, and definitely not Grimethorpe Colliery Band, that’s for sure!
I missed the Skatalites (who were playing on the Thursday night, the day before we got there), Besh o droM (who were playing quite late on Friday night and we were too tired after 2 long days – though actually I could hear quite a bit of their set even from inside the tent, they sounded good so I shall check them out some other time), and Youssou N’Dour and Johnny Kalsi were playing at the same time. I had decided that I’d see Youssou N’Dour (as I’d seen Johnny Kalsi before), but he was on the Open Air stage on Sunday and it was absolutely chucking it down with rain, and in the end even though I did really want to see him I just couldn’t face another drenching.
I also saw a set by a band called 17 Hippies that I really liked, the end of a workshop by Andy Young (who is the A in ALT for those of you who know that band – Andy Young, Liam from Hothouse Flowers and Tim Finn from Crowded House), and a brilliant Scottish band called Deaf Shepherd who play traditional Scottish music. Unfortunately HD wasn’t feeling at all well so we didn’t stay for the whole of their set, but I’ll definitely be looking out for them again.
Despite the rain I managed to get sunburnt – I have a very attractive red nose now! We were talking about sunburn as our little step-niece (who is 5) also got red shoulders, and I told her that HD had called me Rudolph because of my nose. She started telling us about a book she’s got about Father Christmas, and doors you open and behind one of them is Rudolph. HD asked her if Rudolph looked like me. She looked at me, smiled, and said “Well, Rudolph doesn’t have glasses”.
Tomorrow I’m away again for a job interview somewhere exotic (will tell you about it when I get back at the end of the week). I’m getting rather anxious about it, not the job so much but the location as it would be a big big and rather scary move (and did I mention it would be big?). I’m also getting anxious about my thesis, which due to job applications and interviews and things isn’t getting written, and in the meantime HD also has an interview soon, somewhere totally different to where mine is. Having spent one night at Womad not sleeping because of worrying about the interview and the scariness of it all, I spent last night having very vivid interview-and-thesis-anxiety dreams (though they weren’t as psychedelic as rosamundi’s Tamiflu-inspired dreams seem to be!). I was talking to my brother-in-law at the weekend at Womad, and telling him about how we have spent pretty much the entire year thinking that maybe a job for HD and/or me is just round the corner, then it doesn’t work out but there’s something else to apply for and give us hope, and then that doesn’t work out, but something else tantalises us, and on and on and on it goes, so that we seem to be always in this sense of heightened anticipation that never quite works out. No wonder we’re both so stressed. I’m finding it really difficult to pray, so if anyone would like to pray for us I’d appreciate that very much. I’ll be back on Friday so will be able to tell you how it all went then.
I’m happy to put my support behind the current campaign to get Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” into the charts. Actually his isn’t my favourite version (that honour goes to Kathryn Williams, I’m sure she’ll be thrilled), but it is fantastic, and the thought of this wonderful song being X-Factored is just too traumatic to consider. I think I might just buy my first download ever! (I know – I’m a little behind the times).
Not as long an entry as the last one – only two more bands to tell you about this time 🙂
After doing the Come & Try Waulking last Saturday lunchtime, we were back at the Royal Concert Hall that same evening to watch something which had sounded intriguing from the brochure – a pan-European orchestra called La Banda Europa. They are 35 virtuoso musicians from all over Europe, who largely play the traditional instruments of their respective countries. The concert was in the form firstly of small groups of the musicians playing together the traditional music of one or other of their countries, and then for the second half of the concert all 35 played together some music specially composed by Jim Sutherland, the Scottish musician and composer who formed the orchestra. There were some really amazing instruments there – most obviously notable was the carnyx, which is the only one of its kind in the world, copied from one found in a Bronze Age burial site. It was about 6 foot long and had a horse’s head at the end, and was like an Alpine horn except that it was held up rather than balanced on the floor. But also bagpipes from 5 countries, hurdy-gurdies, Swedish nyckelhaarpas, Armenian duduks (sort of like oboes) and all sorts of other things. I think I preferred the first half, when they were playing the more traditional music – although the sound of all of them together was amazing, I wasn’t so mad on the music, and I think I might have liked to have heard them still playing the traditional stuff all together too.
And then yesterday, we went to our final concert, and it was brilliant. Capercaillie are one of Scotland’s most well-known traditional groups, and have been around for ages (I first knew about them in the early 90s, and even have a copy of Coisich a Ruin on 12″ vinyl somewhere) (I know, that really ages me – and them!). All of the band members are well-known musicians in their own right – as well as vocalist Karen Matheson who has done lots of solo stuff, the flautist is Michael McGoldrick who has done his own stuff (and who I saw at an amazing Celtic Connections gig 2 years ago when I was first in Glasgow), and the accordion and keyboard player Donald Shaw is the Creative Director of the Celtic Connections Festival. So they have always done solo stuff as well as the band, but I had heard a rumour towards the end of last year that the album that is due out soon would be their last (no idea how reliable the rumour was) so I wanted to make sure I finally got to see them before it was too late. It was a fantastic gig – the first half was more recent stuff that I didn’t know, but much of the second half was stuff I knew from the earlier CDs I have. They do mainly traditional songs (mostly in Gaelic, which I quite fancy having a go at trying to learn sometime – goodness only knows when) and traditional dances, but with a modern twist which I think enhances rather than detracts from them. At one point they invited people in the audience with video capabilities to video them and send it in to their website, I did but sadly the memory card in my camera ran out of space so it stops a bit abruptly. I’ll try and put it up here later on, but in the meantime here’s a photo:
I really really really hope the rumours about this being the end of the band aren’t true. With any luck they’ll be like Status Quo and keep on reforming every 5 minutes and doing another tour. Well, except that they’ll be better than Status Quo, obviously!
In other news, I had good intentions of doing some work today, but I felt so rough in church (man-flu) that I crashed out after lunch and slept for 4 HOURS!!! That’ll be me wide awake all night then (sigh). Oh well. I do feel better for it.
Back in Wales now (I head back to Moldova at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning). HD is working from home so we are doing our familiar his ‘n’ hers laptops in the living room thing.
We actually left last night so I am blogging having actually had a decent night’s sleep (Sunday night/Monday morning’s sleep was not decent at all, too cold and our tent was on a lumpy slope so I had a ridge in my hip and kept waking up halfway down the tent). I’m trying not to think about going back tomorrow (argh, too much to do!) so will think about Greenbelt instead.
For me, I think this has been my best Greenbelt for ages. I encountered God, I met good people, I chilled out, I relaxed, and feel like life is pretty good right now. I’ve mentioned the Trance mass already which was wonderful, and other highlights include Kando Bongo Man (utterly joyful and infectious), a very interesting seminar by my old vicar on genealogy, the wibsite get-together (including getting together with kerensa of Lost in Translation and Real Life fame and fortune), meeting up with London church people on Monday, amongst lots of other highlights. Oh and Beer and Hymns! How could I forget Beer and Hymns? It was fabulous, and I agree with sophs that it really was worship at its best! Disappointed to miss Peterson Toscano though, everyone I know who went raved about it. But the queue was so long, it was full up long before we got anywhere near the venue.
There were some cool kites yesterday too, I took lots of pictures. I think the rainbow ray was my favourite, though the gecko was cool too.
Lowlight was probably the salsa – we were persuaded by a friend (who also went) that the salsa lesson was fun, so we pitched up to find the CMS tent heaving with people, and to be honest I didn’t think the teacher was very good – she probably hadn’t expected that many people, and seemed to be assuming either that everyone had at least a bit of a clue of what to do (we didn’t) or that we would pick it up really really quickly with minimal instruction (we didn’t). After not very long I had all sorts of flashbacks to school PE lessons when I was just as uncoordinated and dorky and just-not-getting-it, and so we left because I thought I would end up needing therapy if I stayed. So that was sad, but maybe we’ll try again some other time.
I think I need to write some streams of consciousness in my (occasional) (well, that’s an exaggeration – virtually unused more like) written diary about what happened inside this year, and maybe I’ll give you the selected highlights of that some other time. But yeah – a good Greenbelt this year, very good indeed. Looking forward to next year already.
So here I am with my free half hour in the internet cafe (go on you Greenbelters who aren’t Angels, join up you know you want to – free half hour in the internet cafe and all sorts). Greenbelt is great so far – glorious sunshine (and not humid and sticky like Moldova, except in the tent, where it’s very very hot and sticky indeed), great people, I’ve already bumped into lots of ship and wibsite people, and been to more things already than I did over the whole weekend for the last few years!
Yesterday I went to the Trance Mass which was put on by Visions alt.worship church from York. I decided to go partly because I’m camping with Visions (it’s HD’s church, although he doesn’t actually live there), and because I knew I wanted to go to a communion service but the Sunday main communion service here usually winds me up. So I went, not really expecting to get that into it (I’m not the world’s clubbiest person, it has to be said), but after 5 minutes I was sobbing, it was amazing. I think after months of having peripheral God-contact to be confronted that directly with God was a bit overwhelming, and will take some processing I think. It meant I missed the opening 20 minutes of Billy Bragg’s set, but the bit I did hear was worth it, he was on form as usual. Today HD and I randomly wandered into a seminar where an author was talking about getting published – unlike most of the world I don’t have a novel inside me at all (maybe a boring textbook though), but it was a place out of the sun so as good a place as anywhere to chill out! I also saw Kathryn Williams (whom we saw at Celtic Connections in January) in the Performance Cafe, always a good place to catch good music, as usual she was great and lovely, and then I wandered along with C to the grandstand and took part in the Iona Community Big Sing – where a group of people from the Community teach the crowd a load of songs, in harmony, and then we all just sing them, it was great fun. Later on today’s list is comedy (Peterson Toscano) and music (Kanda Bongo Man, a Congolese musician who sounds great), and of course tomorrow the wibsite bash.
Most importantly though, today I had a shower. Hooray!
In other news, I meant to blog about my fabulous new toothbrush, but forgot, so I’ll tack it onto the end here. When I got to HD’s on Wednesday I found that my shampoo had exploded in my soap bag, and I discovered when I went to clean my teeth that the toothbrush had not escaped the explosion. The prospect of a soapy mouth twice a day was too much, so I bought a new one which is much more fancy and expensive than I’d usually go for (they didn’t have the cheap economy ones I normally go for). It has a thick fancy handle and a thing in the brush bit which makes it feel like my mouth is being massaged, it’s just wonderful – life will never be the same again!
The best live concert I’ve been to for ages. They were absolutely fantastic. If they ever appear anywhere near you, do whatever you can to get a ticket. Absolutely bloody brilliant.
They do the traditional Romanian gypsy music, with the most unbelievable energy – I started off really chuffed that I was sitting in the front row, but once people started dancing I gave up my seat and joined them. They played for nearly 2 hours, it was exhausting! They also had a guest singer, a Macedonian gypsy singer called Esma Redzepova, who was equally incredible. She was rather vast and wore the blingiest gold dress I’ve ever seen (it’s not too easy to see in the pictures), but I thought she was beautiful – really smiley, and with the most incredible voice. That was such an awesome concert, I’m still on a high.
Here are some of the (many) pictures I took. The “TIFF” at the front of the stage stands for “Transilvanian International Film Festival” which is going on this week, this event was part of that (the festivals seem to be quite broad in the events they put on – like the theatre festival last week, there seems to be a fair bit of live music attached to this festival too).
In other news, when I got home from the concert last night I noticed a small bruise on my ring finger. I didn’t remember hurting it, but I put my ring on another finger just in case it swelled up overnight. This morning it had indeed swelled, and is now a curious red colour. It doesn’t hurt at all, doesn’t seem infected and isn’t gross and disgusting (unlike certain other fingers I could mention). I shall keep an eye on it – after last year’s shenanigans when I had to go to the hospital here following a yucky insect bite reaction I don’t really want to have to go through that again. Rest assured though, if any grossness and disgustingness and medical treatment ensue, I shall follow Ian’s example and share it with you all (for educational purposes, obviously). Honestly, the things I do for you lot.