Hello - you are looking damned fine from here... and I hope you are well
It has been a fairly tiring couple of weeks for yours truly. You know - physical, lots of kit to move and send around the country (London Fashion Week, Broadcast and Video Expo etc), and some staff sickness to cover.
All this was preceded a couple of weekends ago by mixing of concrete to fix a 56 inch (approx. 142 cm) 5 inch ( 12 cm) "H" profile steel girder to protect my recently built wall from turning traffic.
Son Chris kindly dug out the 24 inch (60 cm) deep hole through the soil and concrete footing, which was as well as it would have take me and my helper a month of Sundays to do so.
Half a day was taken to attach a reflective chevron plate to the post before rain stopped play. Another to put the post into place.
I am biased, but it definitely seems a good job. If any vehicle gets too close to my wall, it will take the wing off or leave a fabulous dent at the impact point.
Sadly, I heard the news that one of my Mum's oldest friends Esther Harrison passed away aged 87. We first knew the family when we lived in Chelsea back in the 1960s.
Esther was a stalwart of the church going community at Christchurch in Chelsea, and a whirlwind.
Here are a couple of photos that I have come across - one of Esther when she was given her MBE and another meeting one a Brownie's dad when she was Brown Owl.
Music, Music, Music
Since my last outpouring, there have been a couple of gigs - a bit of a showcase with Colour Me Wednesday and The Tuts on 11th February, followed by Rae Morris on the 12th.
I enjoyed both very much, and inevitably took some snaps. Click on the following links:
The next week or so bring me to an intimate gig with Slow Club and then a trip up to the Roundhouse to see the Unthanks promoting their sublime new album Mount The Air.
I have spent a bit of time uploading the photos of gigs to my Photostream on Flickr.
I am trying to get a point across to more "serious" photographers that you really don't NEED a state of the art DSLR and associated paraphernalia to get decent pictures.
The results to date are here for all to see, but I am working through my older digital concert images (until at least 2011 or maybe as early as 2008, if I can find my original images on the PC) and will get them all onto Flickr eventually.
If you are interested the link is <<HERE>>
The photos will still be available to view via the more usual Music / Gig / Artist pages on this site.
The 'mighty' Gunners
Form has been mixed of late, with too many lows to balance the highs. Inconsistency will be the thing which wrecks my expectations.
The win against Manchester City was great, but the defeat in the first leg of the Champions League game against Monaco was awful.
I was allowed back in the hall at Cubs this week for our back after half term games night.
With Mother's Day looming here in the UK, we had have had to think what the Little Darlings can make for their Mums.
We have come up with an arty card showing a plant or tree with a photo of the Cubs face in the flower.
So it is 20+ portrait photos of Cub Scouts next Monday.
The FA Cup is still for my money, the best club knockout competition that the Beautiful Game can offer.
My non-romantic predictions as to which clubs will progress to the 6th Round (Quarter Final) stage.
Remember, folks - this is just for fun...
West Bromwich Albion
In the morning, I reported for duty at the Scout HQ with our team of Cub Scouts for the annual Reigate District Cub Scouts Cooking Competition. Seven groups were represented.
This year's theme was Valentine's Day and the brief was to prepare a two course meal from scratch using four gas rings, for £5 or less, in about 75 minutes.
Among the dishes being served up to the judges on the day were Chicken Pasta, Spanish Omlette, Chicken Curry, Spicy Pork with Pineapple and Rice, Pancakes, Cherries dipped in White Chocolate, Freshly Made Ice Cream and Poached Pears in Syrup.
All the packs produced edible meals and some looked really good.
The winners this year (only half a point separated 1st and 3rd places!) were my very own Gibson Pack with their menu of Spicy Pork with Pineapple and Rice and dessert of Poached Pears with Red Currants and Syrup.
Along with the shield, they get to represent Reigate District at the County Competition later in the year.
A good job by the lads involved.
In the early kick-off, my beloved Gunners and Tottenham Hotspur produced a sizzling North London derby at White Hart Lane.
The only mar on proceedings was that Spurs deservedly scored two goals to Arsenal's one.
Tottenham were terrific in the second half, and Harry Kane played like something that Arsenal must have nightmares about.
As a Scouting and Spurs-following friend wrote to me in txt : "These things happen in threes. First the Cubs Cooking, now this. I'd better get a lottery ticket."
Since my last blog spot, I have heard of a couple more concerts to get my feet a-tapping.
Last December, I was booked to see a stripped-down Slow Club at the Old Church in London N16 but this was cancelled due to ill health in the band. This has been re-booked for 4 March. So, on a work day I will be leaving early and taking in the show.
On the way up to the dentist in London on Friday, I saw a listing for Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in November. I haven't seen them live since I went to a free concert in the City of London Guildhall Yard at a Jazz Festival back in the early 1990s.
This year really is filling up quite nicely.
Seems that winter is trying to bite here in the UK. Places have managed -13C and in England, Shap (Oop North in Cumbria) came down to -9C.
As is always the way, 1 cm of snow around the South East creates Armageddon, and two hours later the melt has sorted the mess out.
I am old enough to remember the UK having four separate seasons, and the winter being very cold and hard for a few weeks at a time - in truth, I miss it. Cold gives way to damp and wet too easily now.
Having to cover the car windscreens in an effort avoid scraping off the ice early in the morning is now merely a slight inconvenience nowadays.
Which is not to say that I really do wish that the Gulf Stream would behave itself and act as expected.
Lost Cinema Found via Facebook buddies...
While travelling on the 24 bus from Victoria to my Mum's a few weeks ago, I saw that the hinterland around Victoria Station and Victoria Street was suffering from the rigours of serious redevelopment.
With my mind idling on a Saturday morning, I thought back to my school and post-school days and of the cinema which was opposite the Circle and District line entrance to Victoria Underground Station.
Recalling a grand-ish entrance and frontage, I tried to think of the cinema's name and came up with absolutely nothing.
I KNEW (if I wasn't just re-imagining my own history) that it was either a theatre or cinema and that it had been used as a gig venue when Punk was in it's hey-day.
I asked my brother and my Mum and the name still eluded me.
I posted a request for help to my Facebook pals and received a couple of remembers from my old school mates:
David Rice (in the U.A.E.) : "There was. It became a music venue. I saw Blondie there with Lee."
Tim Sollis (in Hong Kong) : " I remember seeing Clannad at a theatre there (could be the place you mention). I also remember back in our school days, there was a sandwich shop next door. I and a few others would go there to get our lunch. I'd use "Luncheon Vouchers" given to me by my mum."
But it was Vic Williams (who is currently living and working in Zambia) who told us that it
was: "The Metropole, was dead posh even had a door man, later was turned into a Dirty Dick's jeans place then a restaurant."
As the site is now a hole in the ground, I searched the interweb with my new found knowledge and came up with this link giving the cinema's (quite interesting) potted history. <<Metropole, Victoria>>.
The site mentions a few other cinemas that I had forgotten about.
Gigs, albums and stuff...
Last week I went on the train to Brighton to see the lovely Emmy The Great at the Green Door Store - a small, dank but quite likeable venue in an ex-stable under the arches of Brighton Station.
Emmy was on a short tour to support the release of her EP, "S". <<Here are the photos>>
Only 3 old songs made the mix but it was, I have to say, very enjoyable.
Another of my newer finds, Courtney Barnett is releasing her debut album proper and touring in the UK in March and April.
I enjoyed the last CD 'The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas'.
Hailing from Australia, Courtney Barnett is a rock/folk singer-songwriter who is very good with words.
I first happened upon her following a heads-up in a tweet by another of "my acts". Her voice is a little unusual, but she does rock and played a couple of sets at last year's Glastonbury.
"History Eraser", "Avant Gardener" and the new single "Pedestrian At Best".
I have pre-ordered the album, "Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit" which is due on 23 March and although I cannot get to her gig at the Electric, Brixton, I will be going to Courtney's gig at Concorde2 on Madeira Drive in Brighton on March 27.
I am at the Scout Hut this Saturday morning assisting the Cub Scouts (not our Pack, though) at the District Cookery Competition. There are only seven groups entered this time.
Gibson Pack will be trying to cook from scratch a main course of Pork Chop accompanied by a sweet and spicy sauce with Rice and Pak Choi.
Dessert will be Poached Pears in a syrup.
They haven't done too bad in the practices, but from experience the judging is very strict.
Chef's badges will be awarded to the team of four.
Having been cooking with the Cub Cookery team for the last three weeks, I have got one more meeting in the kitchen this coming Monday - Shrove Tuesday falls during half term week this year, so it will be Pancake duty for me.
I think that I have gone on enough for this session.
Adieu, Dear Reader.