Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wukulele Festival 2010.

I am officially excited!
The Wukulele Festival now only 9 days away.

My newly formed ensemble, me (Uke & Vocals), St. Anley (English Concertina) & The Girl On A Wire (Vocals & Bowed Psaltery), will be opening the fringe gig at the Wheatsheaf pub then I'll be the rest of the gig.
I've had to part with my beloved baritone uke for a couple of days while it has a pickup fitted.
When it comes back I've promised myself I'm going to hook it up to my P.A. and knock out a couple of Ramones hits (which won't be in our set list for the festival) to entertain the neighbours

Due to some petty bureaucratic nonsense, which means only two musicians can play at the same time, we've had to compromise a little.
So, St. Anley will accompany me as I sing and play then I'll accompany The Girl On A Wire as she sings.

The whole festival looks like being a winner and I can't wait.
So, my advice is be there because there's nothing else on this tiny island worth doing instead.

Meanwhile here's a pictorial representation of our band:

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Halnaker Windmill Revisited.

Linda and I set out for a drive to nowhere.
That's not strictly true.
We went out to find suitable pieces of wood for winter fuel and the woodlands along the top of the Goodwood Estate are littered with conveniently sized logs i.e. they fit easily into the back of our car.
We figured that because the Goodwood Revival is on at the moment no one would notice a shifty couple of ne'er-do-wells up to no good in the woods.
But, as happens with many of our schemes, we got distracted.

We saw the footpath sign to Halnaker Windmill and decided it would be more fun to walk up and take a look round.
I visited the windmill last year with my bicycle but, to be honest, I prefer the company of Linda.

The path takes us though a tunnel of trees:
We meet some donkeys:
On arriving at the windmill Linda does her "Tales of the Unexpected" dance while I play the jaw-harp:
I placed 7 white plastic cats along one of the beams in the windmill:
Then came the treat.
The Battle of Britain flight (Hurricane, Spitfire & Lancaster Bomber) began to circle around us while they waited to do a fly past over Goodwood. Sadly I got into a bit of a 'tizzy' with my phone's camera and only managed to get a picture of them receding into the distance:
Linda did one last pose for the camera:
Then we put on our disguises and went off to raid the woods for errr, wood.
Now that's what I call a grand day out.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Ukulele Right Of Passage.

In the U.K. if you pull out a uke some card will adopt a nasal whine and warble 'whennnn I'mmm cleanin' widoooooowwws'.
It's happened to me on so many occasions I thought 'well, alright then' and set about learning 'When I'm Cleaning Windows' by the late George Formby.
I can't say I'm a Formby fan but during the process of beating this song into my head I've developed a great respect for him.
I've still some work to do but, for the moment, this is as good as I can get it:
  When I'm Cleaning Windows by Outa_Spaceman
I have another reason for wanting to play and sing this kind of song.
Some musicians I know have been getting gigs in old folks homes.  The material they choose is, usually, completely inappropriate for the audience they are attempting to entertain so I decided to put a set of sing-a-long songs from the 30's and 40's together that they might enjoy.

I'm all heart (and empty wallet).

Here's the masters version:

Now, where's that Tiny Tim album...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Bluebell Railway Visited.

Many, many years ago my parents returned from a short stay with relatives in Beckenham Kent.
They brought back two items that fascinated me as they seemed unbelievably exotic.
A pressed brass tray with featuring a depiction of a railway engine and a small, blue ornamental jug with the words "Bluebell Railway" printed on the side.
From that moment I knew my life would never be complete until I to had visited this mysterious Bluebell Railway.

Linda and I visited the railway last week.

I found the engine shown on the brass plate:
At the time my parents visited this was the only engine the railway owned. It was used to pull the two carriages the line had then.
Things have changed and the engine shed is crammed full of engines in various states of repair.

I decided to lash out on first class tickets for our journey so Linda would be impressed by my largess and we wouldn't have to mix with the riff raff in the second class carriages.
It was a worthwhile expenditure as the first class carriage was beautifully appointed and had lights which Linda obsessively turned on and off throughout the journey (I was content to obsessively raise and lower the compartment window blinds).
The first class carriage had a corridor which Linda marched up and down when she got bored of turning the compartment lights on and off:

Then, ignoring the verbose warning signs, we hung out of the windows and took pictures of one another: 

I'd hoped to get a picture of the drivers of the engine which, I think were twins, and most definitely female.
So, that's it then.
Another life ambition ticked off the list.
I'd hoped to make this an exciting post but,  for some reason, I can't.
Ho hum.

Oh, I forgot.
I saw this sign and thought of Wartime Housewife:
I should also mention that the Bluebell Railway is in West Sussex and not Kent.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Test Recording My Baritone Ukulele.

Since coming out as a uke player I've decided to start recording all my songs with the instrument.
But first I have to perform a few experimental tracks this being the first.

Recorded with 'Garageband' using a stock drum beat I added three over-dubs  via the built in mic on my computer:

  Uke Test 01 by Outa_Spaceman

That went well.
Now I have to get the serious microphone out and experiment with that.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Village Fete.

August Bank Holiday Monday arrived last week.
Linda became animated and insisted we visit the Wisbrough Green Village Fete.
I'm never keen on these events as they always seem to be a pale imitation of the village fetes I went to as a child.

On arriving at Wisbrough Green we are directed to a large field where we are to park the car.
The field is under the control of an overworked Venture Scout who seems to be buckling under the responsibility and the onslaught of 4 wheel-drive vehicles. My heart goes out to him.

Linda and I wander down to the village green where the action is.
The first thing that greets us is the 'entertainment':
To be fair the lad's doing his best to provide musical entertainment and is only the warm up act for the brass band.
He had one neat trick.
By moving one of his legs, or elbows I couldn't tell which, the top of his hat lifts up and a teddy bear pops out.

I buy a terrible cup of tea for £1 from a tent run by the Girl Guides and go to look at what must be my favourite type of exhibit, inexplicable pieces of machinery:
In truth I do know what most of these machines were intended for as my father used to repair them.

The Red Arrows Display team flew over on their way to some air show and a 30 something woman looked up to the sky then shouted at her children "Look! look! Spitfires".

I enjoy another piece of redundant farm machinery:
Linda and I decide that the bales in this machine were, given the amount of moss growing on them, probably the last ones it ever made.
Restored/preserved Fergusons and Fordsons are all very well but I grew up with them and find them prosaic now.
I would love to see/climb about on one of the really big combine harvesters that I see in the fields nowadays or even one of the monster tractors that clog up the roads here about.

Restored cars:
A thing of beauty perhaps but I spent a good deal of my childhood 'helping' my father (i.e. being used as slave labour) restore these type of vehicles.
The M.G. in particular is a disturbing reminder of my lost childhood.  To my memory I've 'helped' restore seven of them.
The resto' jobs on these two are first class in my opinion but bear in mind that a Nissan Micra could out accelerate and out brake these relics and should you want to start them on a cold morning well, best of luck.

The 'Fun' Dog Show:

This was essentially a beauty pageant for dogs.
Linda, having been raised by dogs, knows what to look for in a 'good' dog and fumed at the choices made by the judges.
This picture was taken just before a loud cheer went up and a English Bulldog pup had a rosette pinned to it (I blame the Churchill Insurance ad, Oh, yes.)
Linda nearly exploded.  She has very strong views about the breed points that define these dogs.
(It was very cute though.) 

The child racing was announced (one of the few announcements I understood from the rubbish P.A. system).
I would have had a bet but there didn't seem to be any bookmakers at the fete.
The sack race was hilarious and, had I been able to film it without getting beaten to a pulp as a suspected paedo',  I'd have cleaned up on 'You've Been Framed'.

So, sad to say, I prefer my memories of the village fete rather than today's reality.
Mind you, I didn't go into the flower and veg marquee.
That could changed the whole experience.

Lastly, here's a picture of a street name that should give Mr. Old Fool a bit of a chuckle:

My New Toy errr, Tool.

It's my plan for next year to build myself a new shed.
Given that I'm hopeless at sawing straight measures had to be taken.
£39.99's worth of measures in the form of a Mitre Saw.
The first product of this wonder power tool can be seen in the picture.

I ran excitedly to Linda to show her what I'd achieved.
"What is it?" she asked, "It's a square" I replied.
"Oh, that's nice" she said.

From Earth To The Moon And A Trip Around It. Pt.IV

At midnight the moon was full.
At that precise moment the travellers should have alighted upon it, it the mischievous meteor had not diverted their course.  The orb was exactly in the position determined by the Cambridge Observatory.  It was mathematically at its perigee, and at the zenith of the twenty-eighth parallel.  An observer placed at the bottom of the enormous Columbiad, pointed perpendicularly to the horizon, would have framed the moon in the mouth of the gun.  A straight line drawn through the axis of the piece would have passed through the centre of the orb of night. it is needless to say that during the night of the 5th-6th of December, the travellers took not an instant's rest.  Could they close their eyes when so near this new world?  No!  All their feelings were concentrated in one single thought:- See!  Representatives of the earth, of humanity, past and present, all centred in them!  It is through their eyes that the human race look at these lunar regions, and penetrate the secrets of their satellite!  A strange emotion filled their hearts as they went from one window to the other.

Their observations, reproduced by Barbicane, were rigidly determined.  To take them, they had glasses; to correct them, maps.

As regards the optical instruments at their disposal, they had excellent marine glasses specially constructed for this journey.  They possessed magnifying powers of 100.  They would thus have brought the moon to within a distance (apparent) of less than 2,000 leagues from the earth.  But then, at a distance which for three hours in the morning did not exceed sixty-five miles, and in a medium free from all atmospheric disturbances, these instruments could reduce the lunar surface to within less than 1,500 yards!

Among the equipment in the Columbiad were maps of the moon, drawn by astronomers from observations made through giant telescopes.  These the travellers had before them as they circled the moon and studied its mountains, craters and plains.  No clear sign of life did they observe among the lunar landscapes, but suddenly Michel Ardan exclaimed:  "Look there!  cultivated fields!"  "Cultivated fields!" replied Nicholl, shrugging his shoulders.  "Ploughed, at all events," retorted Michel Ardan;  "but what labourers those Selenites must be, and what giant oxen they must harness to their plough to cut such furrows!"
"They are not furrows," said Barbicane; "they are rifts."

The Frenchman was always fanciful, whereas Barbicane and Nicholl were never anything but strictly, seriously scientific.  Barbicane insisted that the lunar rifts were natural, although anyone more imaginative might have believed them to be fortifications thrown up by the inhabitants of the moon.  He would not even accept Michel Ardan's suggestion that the reason for the disappearance of the rifts from earthly view at certain seasons was that the dark lines were rows of trees, which lost their leaves with the coming of winter and consequently became invisible.
"There are no seasons on the moon's surface," was Barbicane's conclusive argument.

Floating in the void, with no atmosphere to obscure their view, the three space-travellers were beholding the surface of the moon as not even the most powerful telescope on earth had been able to present it to the human eye.  They were four hundred miles distant from it, but their glasses brought its physical features to within four miles.  Eagerly they searched the lunar landscape for signs of man's handiwork, but "not a work betrayed the hand of man; not a ruin marked his course; not a group of animals was to be seen indicating life, even in an inferior degree.  In no part was there life, in no part was there an appearance of vegetation."

"Ah, indeed!" said Michel Ardan, a little out of countenance; "then you see no one?"
"No," answered Nicholl; "up to this time not a man, not an animal, not a tree!  After all, whether the atmosphere has taken refuge at the bottom of cavities, in the midst of the circles, or even on the opposite face of the moon, we cannot decide."
"Besides," added Barbicane, "even to the most piercing eye a man cannot be distinguished farther than three mile and a half off; so that, if there are any Selenites, they can see our projectile, but we cannot see them."
The absence of atmosphere on the moon brought strange and novel experiences to the men from earth.  There was no gradual fading of daylight into dusk and dusk into night.  The change from light to darkness came with the suddenness of and electric light switched off.  Nor did the heat give place to cold in stages.  The temperature fell "in an instant from boiling point to the cold of space."

Another consequence of this want of air is that absolute darkness reigns where the sun's rays do no penetrate.  That which on earth is called diffusion of light, that luminous matter which the air holds in suspension, which creates the twilight and the daybreak. . . does not exist on the moon.  Hence the harshness of contrasts, which only admit of two colours, black and white.  If a Selenite were to shade his eyes from the sun's rays, the sky would seem absolutely black, and the stars would shine as on the darkest night.  Judge of the impression produced on Barbicane and his two friends by this strange scene!
At five o'clock in the morning, the explorers passed only twenty-five miles from the top of the mountains of the moon.

It seemed as if the moon might be touched by the hand!  It seemed impossible that before long the projectile would strike her, if only at the north pole, the brilliant arch of which was so distinctly visible on the black sky.

Michel Ardan wanted to open one of the scuttles and throw himself on to the moon's surface!  A very useless attempt; for if the projectile could not attain any point whatever of the satellite, Michel, carried along by it's motion, could not attain it either.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

So Long To "The Professor".

Laurent Fignon:  12 August 1960 – 31 August 2010