Tuesday, 31 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 365


Monday, 30 December 2013

Round Things.

On A Plate 2013: 364

St. Cats.

Some Thoughts on Clowns.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 363

Felpham. (for Saradwyn3)

'Copacabana' (Manilow,Feldman,Sussman) Hypno-Batchelor-Pad-Psychedelic-Lounge Mix.

Prep-ing the Flying Aspidistras set has been an interesting project.

'Copacabana' presenting several challenges, not least that I wouldn't have considered playing it for longer than it took me to say 'no'.

My musical chum and fellow Flying Aspidistra, Harriet B., asked if we could give it a go as it was one of her favourite songs. I can't say I was overjoyed at the prospect, but should one want to expand ones musical vocabulary, variety is the key.

Many people, calling themselves musicians, I've met in recent years are, at best, reluctant or, at worst, dismissive of anything that falls outside of their comfort zone. Me? Oh no, bring me to the uncharted waters, fill my sails, an' I'll have at it till I'm flogging a dead horse up a creek without a paddle in a flaming pit filled with snakes.

So, 'Copacabana' (lyric written by Feldman/Sussman on a suggestion from Barry Manilow who provided the music), the version Harriet B. directed me to appeared to be in the key of Dm. In this key I can, not very nearly, sing the song in either a Paul Robeson subsonic rumble or an eye watering shriek only bats can hear. Harriet B. let me have her audio demo which she had to stand on a step ladder to sing. It was around this time I noticed the instruction at the end of the sheet to capo off at the 3rd fret.

N.B. Capos are more of a guitarists than a uke players kind of thing.

I tried a version in the key of Fm the suggested capo placement would produce. All well and good, still a bit on the high side, the major difficulty being a bloodly awkward chord sequence.
A trail though Interwebshire brought me to another guitar based version in the key of Cm7. Bingo!

It is at this point that an iPad appears.

I've been footling around with the app version of GarageBand for a while, the first products being 12 tunes to accompany singing in a performance of 'Sweeny Todd the Barber' (not the Sondhiem version!). I decided to record a demo of Copa to give me something to practice playing the uke against. The hit version runs at 113 BPM, but for practice purposes I decided 90 BPM was a better pace.

My first version featured grand piano, double bass, drums, and (cringe) strings. It was okay-ish (except for the strings) and was perfectly adequate as an accompaniment, but I'd become so involved with the mechanics of the song I couldn't leave well alone.

After several re-jigs I find myself with a Hypno-Bachelor-Pad-Psychedelic-Lounge version of the piece, possibly suitable as a soundtrack for a soft-core pr0n movie, if there are are still such things in this day an age, which I very much doubt:
Ah, yeah baby...
The downside, to what is essentially a successful experiment, is that I now seem to have Barry Manilow's f#%king 'Copacabana' encoded in my DNA.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 362


Friday, 27 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 361

St. Cats.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 360


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 359


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 358


Monday, 23 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 357


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Felpham Gothic 2013

On A Plate 2013: 356


Saturday, 21 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 355


Friday, 20 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 354


Thursday, 19 December 2013

On a Plate 2013: 353


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 352


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Condition: Belated 1st. Anniversary Post.

Last Sunday I was merrily twanging away at the Wukulele Festive Ho-Ha, thinking that the 1st anniversary of my MS diagnosis was on the 17th (today in fact).
If I'd known it was actually the 15th (Wukulele day) I'd have enjoyed the jam even more than I did.

I feel lucky, really lucky.

The intervening year has been one of great personal change.
I won't go into tedious detail, but even changes that seemed disastrous at first have turned out to be a blessings in disguise.

So, how am I?

My lower legs are permanently slightly numb and 'fizzy'.
The cramp problem that plagued my waking has abated somewhat, but has found new places to appear, like my elbows.
My hands still cramp up regularly, thankfully playing the ukulele seems to relive it so I'm not sure it's MS related.
My hands seem to have developed an intermittent involuntary spasm.
It think it's similar to what golfers call 'yips'.
It's only a problem if I happen to have a hot drink in my hand, or when I'm at a critical point in an Airfix construction.
I've also noticed a gradual physical 'slowing-down'.
It's not as tangible as a fatigue episode, it's more feeling like I need bit of a sit down.
I don't get out of breath or anything, I just sort of run out of steam.

The more I tippy-tap-tap the more I realise that, for the moment, MS is really not such a big deal.
The only thing worth recording is...

Casual acquaintances, whom I don't see on a regular basis, all comment on how much weight I've lost since they last saw me.
I don't think Linda has noticed, but she has to look at me on a daily basis so she wouldn't necessarily be aware of my not taking up as much space as I used to.

Something a little more serious...

During interview, I neglected to mention my condition to my new employers, I thought it might jepodise my prospects.
This was fine while I was a rank and file cleaner, but I got promoted.

If I wanted to put a comedy spin on my dilemma I'd point out the application form asked if I had any serious medical conditions.
I ticked 'No'. 
I think MS is hilarious (with a hint of irony).

I think I'll keep my secret to myself.

Back to the jam...

Here's a picture of, although they probably don't know it, 3 people that have made a huge happy difference to my life.

Thanks chums!
Here's to being able to take a follow up shot next year.

On A Plate 2013: 351


Monday, 16 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 350


Management Today! 02: 'ang on mate, the gold rubs off this crown!

I'm under no illusion about my current position.
I am here to keep the incumbents seat warm.
I am not to touch anything.
I am not to change anything.
I am neither to agree/disagree to any request made of me by College staff or the cleaning team.
I am expected to wear a shirt and tie.
I am expected to deal with all the admin paperwork.
I am expected to consult an adult if I detect myself having any independent thoughts relating to the delivery of cleaning services to the client.

You get the picture?

On my last cleaning shift I looked like this:

I know that look.
That's my 'worried man' look.

'But isn't this everything you wanted? Everything you worked for?'

Yeah, but..

I ended my first post anticipating tearing into the Nightshift Supervisor.

I visited the client's office to let them know my movements, telling them of my meeting with the Night Supervisor.
There was a collective tutting, raising of eyebrows, and vast exhalations of breath.

'Have you met 'im?'
'course, he's not the one who should have got the job'.
'Y'know what they call him?'

I began to feel my blood boiling, boiling, boiling.

I went back to the Manager's office and reported my recent conversation to the current encumbent.
He seemed genuinely surprised.

The whole thing bothered me to distraction.

The current encumbent and I arrived at the college at 18:30.
I am introduced to the Night Supervisor.

The Night Supervisor is a quite man who avoids eye contact by hanging his head.
He has some mobility issues.
He has a team of 14 to clean the whole campus overnight.
I now find out he is a Supervisor for only half of his 8hr shift, the other 4hrs he has to clean.
This is okay as long as everyone turns up for work or there are no other issues to deal with.
A rare circumstance.

He's a Northerner, like me.
He has a ready smile and a willingness to get things done.
I'm sorry I even contemplated tearing a strip off him.

That blood is still boiling.

The College is plastered with graffito-style slogans about achivement, inclusivity, support.
Fucking shiny happy people.
How dare the staff of an educational establishment in the 21st Century describe a valuable team player as a 'zombie'.

Wow! That relived the pressure.

I now look like this:

"All together now!"

'It takes a worried man to sing a worried song..."

Sunday, 15 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 349


Saturday, 14 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 348


Friday, 13 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 347

St. Cats.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 346

St. Cats.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 345


345 on 11-12-13

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 344


Monday, 9 December 2013

On A Plate 2013: 343