Wednesday, 31 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 212

Worm's Wood.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

It's Got Ukulele's, It's Got Bicycles. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

This video was highly influential on my choice of a Resonator Ukulele:

On A Plate 2013: 211


The Bamboo Band at Littlehampton Long Bench Event.

As ever, with anything to do with the Bamboo Band, I have no idea what's going on here.
This film was taken prior to us doing something approaching a set:
Jim, in true Calypsonian tradition, singing a song about the newly arrived Jolly Travelling Folk.

Shame there wasn't a wind/pop shield the mic.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Glasses. (Updated with all the things I'd forgotten about.)

During the Optic Neurotica-do-dah my eyesight changed.
I waited until I was sure my eyesight had settled down and stumbled off to Spec-Savers.

I got to put my head in several interesting machines which weren't anywhere near as bad as the optic interrogation with bright lights I got when examined in the hospital.

I am directed to a room with a soft-spoken Indian optician in it.
I look at eye charts and green and red squares whilst having various lenses put into the sort of frame I'd really like, but isn't available to buy.

Imagine my disappointment.

After the examination I am invited to choose some frames.
This is a bloody minefield an' no mistake.
In the end I chose the frames I decided were the most unfashionable yet still had a certain style about them.

That was a week ago.
I went back to collect my new face furniture:

01: Reading/Close-up:

02: Distance/Driving:

Shit, it's my Dad.

(I didn't specify the 'Antler' option.)


During my eye examination the soft-spoken optician casually suggested I might consider making an appointment with my G.P. for a blood-pressure test.
I didn't bother to ask why he thought I might need my blood-pressure testing, as soon as I returned home I made the appointment.

Up the health centre my blood-pressure is taken by the practice nurse.
She tells me my blood-pressure is fine if not perfect (for a man of my age).

I ask the nurse if she can check my weight.
I seem to be losing quite a lot of it recently.
I know this because all my trousers seem to belong to some fat bloke.

I am 90kg or 14st.
I've lost 1.5st since my last check-up.
Which is a good thing according to the nurse.

Not if you've got to buy new trousers it isn't.

On A Plate 2013: 210

Bognor Regis.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 209


Saturday, 27 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 208


Friday, 26 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 207


Thursday, 25 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 206


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 205


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Bamboo Band Up The RAFA

With the Bamboos at the RAFA tonight.

We played:

Into- Nobody's Business.
Both in the notorious key of E.

Then, in celebration of the royal birth, we played Lord Caresser's Edward VIII:

We were accompanied by Harry on the Double Bass.

So, the first time I hear Edward VIII I'm so busy playing it I didn't have time to listen.
(Am Dm E7 if your interested.)

This sort of thing keeps a uke player on his toes.

On A Plate 2013: 204

Bognor Regis.

Summer Sale: 20% Off at Ivy Arch Etsy Shop.

Ivy Arch is having a pre-Summer holiday sale at her Etsy shop:

You'll need the voucher code form here: Voucher Code

Read this completely genuine endorsement:

Dear Sir, or Madam,

Since taking possession of my hand-crafted Ivy Arch cushion, in vintage fabric with appliqué ukulele, my life has become one of endless happiness and great good fortune.
Shortly after sitting on the cushion for less than 7 minutes I became the inheritor of many millions of dollars from several Nigerian benefactors working on the behalf of deceased clients and as a consequence now live in a diamond palace on the moon.

O. SpaceMan - Moon.

Go there, buy stuff.

Hardcore Uker

In a posting, on one of the uke jam FaceCloth groups...
It must have been Wukulele's group...

"Why is this important?"

It's important because it goes someway to making sense of this posting's title and also gives me the opportunity of smugly announcing 'I'm not on FaceCloth'.

Anyway, in the posting on Wukulele's FB group page, an invitation was made to 'you hardcore ukers' to join the Littlehampton uke jam on the prom outside the East Beach Cafe after the Wukulele jam.

'How do you know all this if you're not on FaceCloth?'

I know because Linda is on FaceCloth and I asked her to join the uke jam groups for me, now piss off!

I intend going to both jams therefore I am hardcore.

I think of Wukulele as my 'home jam' and have taken to standing at the back as I can, by watching Harriet B. who very self-effacingly leads the charge of rhythmically thrashed ukuleles, help to keep those less experienced players somewhere near the region of 'in time'.

Another factor in my choice of standing at the back is the boost in volume to my resonator uke since I've started experimenting with using a plectrum to play it.
Standing or sitting in front of a plectrum twanged resonator uke is something of an acquired taste.
So I'm told... In no uncertain terms.

One more, perhaps worrying, reason.
Since taking a fleeting interest in Jazz I realise I know very little, if anything, about music theory and therefore nothing about music so now I feel in good company with the beginners at the back of the room.
They always have a question or two that I can usually answer correctly.

'Where are the toilets?'

Today the sun burst into the jam:
After the jam I hit the ice cream parlour with Ivy A. and Harriet B.
I wasn't going to eat, just coffee.
I saw the Ice cream dessert menu.

I have never in my life eaten a Peach Melba.
I order a Peach Melba and eat it.

Still Life with Peach Melba.
If you haven't eaten a Peach Melba I recommend having a go at it.
Searing ice cream headache blindness aside, it was great!

Into the Auto-Ma-Car and on to Littlehampton.
'You seem to be spending a lot of time in Littlehampton just recently' says Linda with one of those sideways looks which means something in body language, but fortunately I'm a man and so can just  ignore it.

Hit the beach jam!
This was so much fun.
Littlehampton uke jam can put together quite a well drilled side together nowadays.
Some times we are augmented by the subsonic lilt of the Tuba played by Mr. Stanley Tofield.
There's nothing alarmingly difficult in the LUke collection of song books, in fact the E chord hardly ever shows it's face.
(Ukers will know what I mean. BTW I play the dreaded E chord by baring strings 4. 3. 2. with my left index finger whilst damping the first string (A). Try it, it works.)
All the 'crowd-pleasers' and jam favourites get an airing and, surprise, surprise, there's a crowd to be pleased and they are!



Linda draws my attention with shouting.
There are several pictures of me on FaceCloth.
This one about sums it up:
Strangely enough when I was about four years old this is more or less what I had in mind when people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up.
I didn't tell anyone of course.
Even at that tender age I realised that being a seaside song and dance man was way beyond what I could expect my life to become.
(Though in my imagination I was wearing a stripped blazer and a straw boater and it was Scarborough or Bridlington not Littlehampton.  Oh, and I could tap dance as well.)

On a lighter note, here are a few more of the HardCore:

This last shot includes LUke's official film-maker (the lady with the brolly and an iPad in an artists easel) I'd direct you to her work, but she hasn't quite got the hang of YouTube yet.

The guy in the centre of the shot is HardCore Keith.
He's the real deal.

Don't forget your flask and sarnies.

Monday, 22 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 203

Bognor Regis.

The Condition: Jazz Ukulele Indicator II.

Despite a morsel of doubt during the earlier part of today I believe my recent relapse is over.
There was a false 'end of replase' dawn here: The Condition: Yorkshire Steel in the Hour of Chaos.
I mistook a couple of, relatively 'good' days for the final stage before normality.
I made a mistake.

I won't go in to the day-by-day drudgery of the past few weeks outside of pointing out I worked on two major week-long events.
My plan, such as I had one, was to carry on as near normal as was possible.
It was hard work.

In retrospect it probably wasn't such a good idea to attend the MS Soc. meeting.
I wasn't really ready for what I encountered and it fed into one of the other problems of relapse.
I hadn't realised depression came with the package.
So, the major difficulties this last relapse presented me were dealing with a combination of the relapse itself, the recent hot weather, and, what I assume was, relapse induced depression.

I have a tendency to morbid speculation at the best of times but the relapse down was a whole new world of glum.
What causes what is a puzzle.
Is depression inevitable during relapse?
Do the physical symptoms trigger the depression?

I may never know I'm just glad it's over... for now.

 Linda re-filmed the MS Ukulele Jazz Indicator II as a companion piece to the posting:
The Condition: Ukulele Jazz Indicator.
To me it seemed the best way to compare the relapsed and post-relapse SpaceMan.

This time I chose to play Rhythm Changes which is based on Gershwin's 'I Got Rhythm'.
It's 32 bars long and has, more or less, two chord changes per bar
I may not actually look very different from one film to the other, but I can tell there's a whole world of difference.

I'm not so keen on being the leading male in the first film again anytime soon. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 202



As a consequence of attending the Littlehampton Uke Jam I met Jim:
Jim is on the left of this picture.
Jim is on a mission to revive the Calypso music of the 1930s-40s.
Jim has a band named The Bamboo Band which spearhead Jim's mission.

There's John and Dave:
If I had a drum machine that sounded anywhere near what these two blokes do with a djembe and a set of claves I'd marry it.

The Bamboo Band membership is quite fluid, but Jim, John, Dave, Jan seem to be the core of it all.
Jim given me an open invitation to sit in with the band whenever they play.
An invitation I take up anytime I can.

Before meeting The Bamboo Band I had a vague idea of what Calypso was.
I knew it was related to the Ska and Blue Beat music I love, but I wasn't sure exactly, outside of geographical location, how.
I'm still not sure and Jim took the trouble of explaining it very carefully to me.

With BeHeld every nth degree of any performance is dissected and debated and on and on and on...
Things are somewhat different in The Bamboo Band.
With The Bamboo Band Jim will email me to tell me where they're playing.

Jim doesn't work with a set list as such, but uses his extensive knowledge of the genre to assemble a collection of post-it notes with various song titles and an indication of the key it's played in written on them.
The post-its, stuck in a note book, are in no particular order, Jim decides the running order on stage during the performance.
I've had 3 or 4 rehearsals with The Bamboos yet still have no idea what I'm doing, at all, in the slightest I just throw myself in with reckless abandon of it all and hope nobody notices I don't know what I'm  doing.

The Bamboo Band are playing at the LOVE LITTLEHAMPTON ARTS FESTIVAL organised by The Littlehampton Organisation of Contemporary Arts:
Of course the seemingly endless sunny weather (about two weeks now) has completely disappeared.
What the Hell, I came to raise the, errr, roof, so to speak.

I have decided to go electric for this gig.
Here's my massive rig:

One of the stage crew gave me a crate to stand it on to make it look even more impressive.
This amp is not as daft a choice for this open-air gig as it might seem at first glance.
My uke works in the upper frequencies of the overall sound picture and, much like a tambourine, can usually cut through anything.

We were originally booked to play for about half an hour, but the Portuguese Folk Song and Dance Group have pulled out so we get to play for an extra quarter of an hour.

And away we go:
Jim brings the joy of Calypso to the masses.
As I'm not familiar with all the songs on the post-it notes, plus the occasional songs like 'Yellow Bird' Jim decides to drop in, I decided to play my uke in a kind of cascading arpeggio style which is my pale imitation of African bands like The Four Brothers.
This means I can usually twangle my way round any given chord sequence and fake it if I'm not entirely sure what it is.

We rattle along, I twang my uke and jig about wearing a completely inappropriate solar toupee until a gust of wind removes it from my head.
Playing with the Bamboos is like nappy-free playtime.
I love it.

Despite the distance from the stage to the audience they seem quite enthusiastic, but unwilling to get any closer or, God forbid, dance.

The 'Green Room' was a blue tent filled with fizzy pop and crisps ('Murican's note: Fizzy Pop = Soda. Crisps = potato chips)
After the gig I hung out and had a couple of tins of Fanta which is an orange flavoured solution of several different chemicals and leftover toxic waste invented for NAZIs to drink because they couldn't get Coca Cola syrup during the war.

I wandered round the festival site and fell in love with an owl:
I have Fanta induced infatuation with you natural born killer.
I didn't manage to get this owl's eyes in the picture.
They were astonishing and filled with a  completely predatory raptor focus.

I found a sad example of the decline of the Bumble Bee:
A dead bee.
One last word of thanks to Stacy MQ who, I think, organised it and features in OnAPlate 201 actually holding the plate.
Stacy is a 'crazy Americano' and seems very, well, exotic I suppose, but then again I don't get out much so most people in Littlehampton seem exotic to me.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 201


Friday, 19 July 2013

On A Plate 2013: 200


Brimham Rocks. Burn Baby, Burn.

The comments on the 'A Photo Opportunity Presents Its Self' found me thinking of Nidderdale and, more specifically, Brimham Rocks.

I was born about four miles away from this odd place.
In those pre-National Trust days the site was owned by a bloke known locally as Essy.

Occasionally, usually when the sun was out, Essy would sit in a small wooden shelter at the end of the track leading to the rocks and collect a small fee from visitors, I think it was about a shilling, for the privilege of wandering about the place.
Most of the time he wasn't there though.

The tribe I belonged to all those years ago would periodically band together and go bilberry picking at Brimham.
I would retun home with my hands and tongue indelibly stained purple .

For many of my growing up years regular motor-bike trials were held there.
Just try riding a motor-bike there nowadays.

I dare you.

During my heavy MTB phase I attempted to ride up to the rocks and was pounced on by a bearded NT jobs-worth driving a Suzuki 4x4 (olive green, natch).
He proceeded to give a lecture on the erosion caused by bicycles.
In my response to his spouting I used the word irony in the correct context for the first, and probably last, time.

A television drama, Tom Grattan's War, used Brimham Rocks for some scenes.
Through the magic of television the protagonists would run past the rocks and down to the beach and restless ocean.
For a while, after the series had aired, confused visitors to the area would stop local inhabitants (like me) asking 'where can I find the beach?'
All us locals would reply by pointing to the East saying 'It's 70 miles that way' then, pointing to the West, "or 70 miles that way'.

Oh, how we laughed one and all in those far off days.

Incidentally, during the filming of Tom Grattan's War, my Granny was put in a flat spin on seeing an unannounced platoon of WW 1 soldiers marching past her *isolated cottage on Stripe Lane.
For a moment she believed the boys had finally made it home.
She enjoyed the series though.

I've witnessed some amazing feats of climbing at Brimham.
More often than not by a guy called Wally.
I would watch carefully where he found hand and foot holds as he danced up the rock face.
When I went for the same holds they seemed to have vanished.

I wonder what happened to Wally?
(I'm not in a rush to find out BTW).

This brings me to one of the reasons for this post.

Mr. Banished mentioned that some scenes from one of The Omen films were shot there.
This reminded me of Burn.

Burn, how can I put this in way that will neither offend anyone, living or dead, or leave me open to being sued?
Burn spent a good proportion of his waking hours either chemically or herbally 'refreshed' and, much to the amusement of those around him, lived in a reality somewhat removed from the actual fact.
Not that we, his friends, were 'unrefreshed' it's just Burn took it to another level, and stayed there.

I am slumped a squalid bed-sit, not mine I hasten to add, I lived in a proper house with windows and running water.
Others, like me, but unlike me, are also slumped around the room.
We were digging Rip Rig & Panic maaaannnn.

The door burst open causing the occupants of the room to dash in headlong animation for the various precious wraps and bags they'd invested their disposable income on.
Bad move BTW.
Leave your stash exactly where it is if you find yourself visited by the redoubtable forces of law and order.
'What, me officer? No, I have no illegal substances about my person, unlike these drug fiends who kidnapped me and forced me, against my will i might add, to ingest their foul concoctions and perform actions so abhorrent to my nature that I shall spend the rest of my days ruminating on the follies I have been exposed to in this room.
Can I go home now, please?'

Anyway, it wasn't 'dem Babylon, it was Burn.

Burn is breathless with excitement.
He has cycled at breakneck speed (about 11 miles as the Burn flies) to deliver his news.
He'd just been to Brimham Rocks and seen the Bee Gees!

The room became strangely silent, all attention on Burn.

'You've fuckin' lost it Burn'.

I can't remember who said that, but it seemed to be the general consensus.

Burn insisted and insisted he'd seen the Bee Gees at Brimham Rocks.
Eventually, in the face of merciless taunting, Burn did 'loose it' and stormed out of the squalid bed-sit which, if memory serves, was actually his.

Oh, how we laughed one and all in those far off days.

One Saturday morning, watching SwapShop with my children, Noel Edmunds (I may be wrong, it might have been that Scofield fellow) announces the first British TV airing of the latest Bee Gees video for their song 'You Win Again':
Blink and you'd miss it, but the Bee Gees were most definitely at Brimham Rocks.

Some time later I ran into a very 'refreshed' Burn (pills by now, lots of pills).
'You were right about the Bee Gees being at Brimham Rocks!'
'Wha' dafuq U talkin' 'bout? Yer' fuckin' mental you'

This is the last conversation I had with Burn.

I don't need anyone to tell me what happened to Burn.
I know without looking.

*When my Granny lived there Swallow Cottage looked nothing like it does in the Estate Agent's ad.
It didn't have a bathroom or inside toilet for a start.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Signs I Don't Understand: 001 Shallow Water.

Much more dangerous than that Deep Water, with all its existential angst.

On A Plate 2013: 199

Worms Wood.