Review of the Year: 2014

Hello 2015! (Yes I know I’m a couple of days late but I’ve been busy dammit)

This year has been crazy in a good way. Holidays and gigs and time with family and time to myself. Which pretty much sums up some of my resolutions for last year. So to review last years resolutions:-

1. Keep this Blog going. Yes. Well it’s still here. Not really successfully by still here. This may turn into a “try again this year” resolution.

2. Lose the Cheese weight Well this was a fail. But not a complete fail because whilst I’ve not lost weight at least I’ve not had a gain. I’m also no any healthier which was another part of this goal but I can also file this again under “try again this year”.

In another part of my mind I have a little voice saying “Eat the Cheese”

3. Read More! Erm, no. The only book I read last year was “The Last Days of Richard III and the Fate of his DNA” by John Ashdown-Hill. It was a great read but the honest truth is I don’t fell like I have time to read everything I want to read anymore with the time I spend on other things I wasn’t to do. The other option is to timetable in time to read but then it just feels like a chore. This resolution may be missing from this years list.

4Refresh my language courses Another No. I think this one may end up not only been given up but the actual books been given to the charity shop.

5. Enjoy my university course Meh, enjoy may have been optimistic. I am working on it and looking forward to the end result but hard work is hard work and it’s very rarely fun.

6. Go to More Gigs I’ve definitely managed this one. The complete list is:- Rizzle Kicks, The Eagles, Manic Street Preachers, The Beautiful South, The Searchers and Katy Perry. I also went to the theatre quite a lot; Avenue Q, The Perfect Murder, Evita, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Beyond The Barricade, Les Miserables and Mamma Mia. This year should be just as busy I hope with one trip to the theatre and one gig already booked. (I also realise I still have reviews to do for some of these)

7. Make the hubby a jumper Well I started one, does that get me half a point?

8. Actually make something for me! I did!

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Ok it did end up been for a fancy dress but it is still completed and the warmest jumper in the world. Thanks again to Mrs Moon for the inspiration.

I also have my Fair Isle jumper which is complete but that baby deserves its own post.

9. Have more nights out I really did, and the best was most certainly Halloween, which the above jumper was made for. Whilst I’m not going to keep this resolution exactly the same I want to have just as many awesome nights out this year.

10. Learn a new skill Erm, no again. I may just pretend this doesn’t exist.

11. Continue with my crafty time I most certainly did, crafty time is the only thing that stops me from going crazy! It also gave me some lovely end results.

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12. Stop biting my Nails Well yes and no.

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My nails can look like this. However I do still bite them. And sometimes they look…well disgusting. So more consistency in my nails is next years resolution.

13. Complete Tut No. However he did get more time than the last year so I’m counting this as a success.

14 Make time for me Yes. And I plan to carry this on as well.

And for this year, well carrying on from last year I will have 15 resolutions:

1. Keep the Blog Going.
2. Stay Healthy.
3. Keep going on CLC and do the best I can.
4. Go to as many Gigs as possible.
5. Go to the theatre as much as possible.
6. Finish the Husbands jumper.
7. Complete more things for me.
8. Keep my social life busy.
9. Keep my nails healthy.
10. Complete Tut.
11. Spend more time with my sewing machine.
12. Spend more time baking.
13. Travel more, even if it’s just in the UK.
14. Discover new music.
15. Keep time for me.

All in all, last year was amazing, but I have a feeling this year is going to be even better.

Top Ten Tuesday: Knitting Songs!

I know an ambiguous title but trust me! Whilst on the plane to Corfu (take me back to the Beach!) I was listening to a song and realised that it had a line about knitting in it. Then I remembered a couple of others and then I did a bit if research and realised I had enough to make a Top 10! So in at 10….

10. Love of the Common People by Paul Young

Knitting Line: The closer the knit, the tighter the fit.

Knitting Rating: Sound advice there but I think it was a metaphor.

9. Don’t Marry Her by The Beautiful South

Knitting Line: Those Blackbirds look like knitting needles trying to peck your head.

Knitting Rating: In what world do Blackbirds look like knitting needles. IN WHAT WORLD! (I do like this song though)

Bonus: Another Beautiful South Song Woman in the Wall (warning: it is a very depressing song)

8. I can Sing by Barenaked Ladies

Knitting Line: I can knit a scarf, but you can’t knit a sweater.

Knitting Rating: Best for beginners. (Plus the video is awesome for the line “The true instrument of Death Metal – the Bango.”)

7. Stephen by Ke$ha

Knitting Line: Stephen, I’ll Knit you a sweater

Knitting rating: Vocalising the true dedication of knitting a loved one a jumper/sweater. (Actually she appears to be a stalking in the video so YMMV)

6. All I Want by Joni Mitchell

Knitting Line: I wanna knit you a sweater.

Knitting Rating: See above, but with less stalking

5. I’m Going Slightly Mad by Queen.

Knitting Line: I’m knitting with only one needle.

Knitting Rating: Freddie, my dear, what your doing is called crochet.

4. Doozer Knitting Song by Doozer

Knitting Line: ALL OF IT! But I especially like: You know knitting’s friendly, and knitting’s fun, knitting’s good for everyone!)

Knitting Rating: It’s great but what’s a Doozer?

3. Vindaloo by Fat Les

Knitting Line: Knit one, Purl one, Drop one, Curl one, KICK IT!

Knitting rating: Listen to when you’ve had a visit from the frog, you want to kick it then (also the song that inspired this post)

2. I’ve Got A Dream on Tangled Soundtrack.

Knitting Line: Bruiser knits, Killer sews, Fang does little puppet shows, and Vladimir collects ceramic unicorns.

Knitting Rating: Not just knitting but sewing and making puppets! The Snuggly Duckling is practically a Craft Club.

Bonus: Rapunzel knits in her morning routine.

1. When I’m Sixty-Four by The Beatles

Knitting Line: You can knit a sweater by the fireside, Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Knitting Rating: Knitting by a fireside when you’re 64? Sounds like my retirement plan (except my retirements probably going to be at 74!)

If you don’t like the YouTube links it’s also available on Spotify (but with Bernard Cribbins instead of The Beatles, but really who would complain about that?)

Fun Friday: Britpop: Why Michael Hann from The Guardian doesn’t quite understand it.

Alternative Title: Come and ‘ave a go if u think ur ‘ard enuff.

So I so this article: Britpop: A cultural abomination that set music back.

Wow. Now that is a statement.

One that I’m going to argue against venomously.

So going to take you back to the Summer of ’94. It was glorious weather, listening to music, riding my bike and eating blue ice pops. While I can guarantee you I do this age 25 now, aged 15 ten years ago, I was actually aged 5 in the Summer of ’94 (however it proves the point that no one really changes). So how can make an argument for something I didn’t experience as an adult.

At the time I wasn’t really aware of the whole music battle, Oasis v Blur, the style, the culture. All I knew, in that more simple time, was the songs came on the local radio station and I liked them. Especially Country House. I remember singing that one very very loudly. And as an adult I looked into the music of that era more and found myself liking more than I disliked. Hence I became a fan of Britpop music, the reason Ms Kesby linked me to the article. So here is my response as an adult, and a fan, of Britpop music.

(At this point I would like to state I am a Guardian reader, I’m not just disliking them because I’m part of the Daily Mail lot)

So the best place to start is at the beginning. But when is the beginning of Britpop? In the article 3 separate possible starts of Britpop are given; The cover from Select in 1993, the release of Parklife in 1994 or, the most controversial, the 1990 World Cup. Apparently the release of World in Motion by New Order was the first note ringing in the Britpop Era. According to the author it was the perfect combination of Beer, music, football and fashion. Actually the perfect combination of the above is Three Lions
. Whatever your opinion on the best football-beer-chant unlike the authors opinion I think the more reasonable start day for Britpop is somewhere in 1993, as it’s impossible to give a specific date.

Can we also look into more detail to the two bands that have already been mentioned, New Order and Lightening Seeds . Both were formed in the 80’s, released songs in that decade, gained a fan base in that decade yet had their biggest hits in the 90’s and have been claimed for Britpop by the author. It doesn’t look like the author look into the culture of Britpop. He just created his own definition. As one commenter on the Guardian website posted

Whose bright idea was it to mark the anniversary of a period in music that many people cherished with a piece by someone who clearly despised it?

The example he uses seem to not be the defining Britpop bands but just bands he seems to remember from that time. I would say it was lazily researched but I’ve been researching this blog post for about 2 weeks so I can back up my arguments, so I’m guessing he did no research at all. If he had done as much research as me I might not have felt so strongly against his argument because I would have felt it was reasonably researched.

Hann states that Britpop became a

grotesque simplification

And yet his own wording made Britpop a culture of music, football and beer. Last week BBC Radio 6 voted Common People</a> as the greatest song of the Britpop era. This is the point Hann seems to be missing. The music was for the people who had been let down by society at large, the common people
who

dance and drink and screw because there’s nothing else to do

Hann appears to associate Britpop with Football Hooligans and the lad culture. In fact, with the exception Pulp and Blur, the bands he mentions seems to have more in common with the Madchester Scene of the very late 80’s and early 90’s. This was a slightly different scene but in essence they came out if the same feeling. Britpop, and to an extent Madchester, and the culture created was about the people who understood the lyrics about council houses, drugs, drinking, cigs and the hopelessness felt by the people who missed out of the affluent 80’s. The 80’s that happened in London and “down south” involved yuppies, high fashion, Thatcher and the market boom. Elsewhere in the country we had the strikes, job loses, Thatcher and evictions. Notice the one thing common. But that’s an argument for another day. Hann himself makes reference to the caricature of

council flats, bad drugs and transgressive sex

and yet immediately try’s to distance Pulp from this statement. Yes his comment they were arch and wry is correct but in The Professional Cocker sings

I’m only trying to give you what you’ve come to expect.
Just another song about single mothers and sex.

Yes it may have been said a little bit with the tongue in cheek bit even at Pulps 2011 Leeds and Reading performances Cocker described Something’s Changed as

the closest thing [we perform] to a love song

.
This isn’t hearts, peace and love. This is reality.

When I went to watch the Manic Street Preachers the other month when they played Design for Life and If you Tolerate This (Your Children Will Be Next) they announced it as “songs from our Britpop era”. They didn’t make this a negative or a positive but that is how the band themselves described them. But the thing is I think they still relate to the genre because the Video links that they had before the show started and in between songs was showing a village in Wales that had been effected by the mining strikes in the 80’s. The boarded up houses, the abandoned mine buildings with the keep out signs on the wire fences, the feeling of a ghost town, it was something that echoed around Yorkshire.

Once again with the exception of Blur (once again, they are the exception that proves the rule) the majority of the bands that found mainstream success in the Britpop Era were “Northern”. I use this term loosely as I am aware that Manic Street Preachers are Welsh. Almost using it in the sense that London uses it which is anything above the M25 is “Northern”. Which brings me back to Mr Hann. I believe the reason he seems disinterested in Britpop is because he didn’t understand it. Yes there is North/South divide in this country and Britpop is just another incarnation of it.

Going back to Common People been voted by BBC Radio 6 as the best song of Britpop its a good point to mention this song never got to Number 1 in the chart. It was kept of the top spot by Robson & Jerome (another thing we can blame on Simon Cowell). Britpop wasn’t every bodies cup of tea when it was popular and I’m not trying to convince people to like it. But I think it’s significance is vastly underplayed and under appreciated. But music goes in phases. There was a backlash against guitar led groups in the late 90’s and sugar pop took over. Think of Spice Girls, S Club 7, Steps and their America sisters Britney Spears and Christina Aguleria. Just as Britpop named British Invasion bands as their influence (although granted oasis comparing themselves to The Beatles was the main offender) we have a generation of band now that were inspired by Britpop.

Lastly Hann mentions an equality that was created by Britpop,

one of the ironies of Britpop is that women did take a prominent role, even in the music of the lad

.
Really? Apart from Candida Doyle can anybody else name a prominent woman in Britpop? Please comment if you can.

So Mr Hann, Britpop was an abomination? I disagree, your just doing it wrong.

Fun Friday: Gig Review; Manic Street Preachers

Here’s some honesty: I’m not a huge fan of the Manic Street Preachers. However I won the tickets in a competition and I’m not going to turn down free tickets to any gig.

Let’s start with the warm up act, The Eagulls.

Hmmm, where to start. I’m gonna write as if I’m actually speaking to them. Boys I really wanted to like you, I really, really did. You were a local band that were part of the post-punk scene. However I don’t know if it was the venue or something else but I didn’t feel we connected. And I don’t even want to lie and say “it’s not you, it’s me”. For all I know it could be a combination of things. It did appear your second guitarist was having some issues with his kit and spent most of your set talking to the tech/sound guys. Lead singer you also kinda reminded me as a weird love child between Jarvis Cocker and Noël Gallagher who was heavily influenced by Kurt Cobain. (Cockers long arms and graceful inelegance, Gallaghers stage presence and Cobains voice (or maybe I’m wrong)) . Either way boys I wish you the best I’m not sure I will ever call myself a fan of your music.

Now the main act. I’ve already admitted I wasn’t a huge fan and it wasn’t my top priority to buy tickets, but when I got a pair for free I wasn’t going to turn down going.

And honestly I had a great time, even with the crowd been a bit empty.

The issue I had wasn’t that I didn’t have a good time, or didn’t recognised the songs, or even was just bored but I had an awfully long day at work and only had 3 hours notice to pick up the tickets. So after a stressful day at work, a rush to pick up the tickets and then finally running to the arena I just didn’t feel engaged enough to appreciate it like I normally would. When I’m going to a gig I normally plan out the day and build up my excitement. I couldn’t do that for this gig and in hindsight it means I think I was a little too tires, stressed and mentally still at work to fully appreciate the gig.

The one good thing that did come out of it was my husband appreciation. As I have said previously while we both like a wide range of music the stuff we actually listen to on a day to day basis is very different and agreeing on something to listen to together can be difficult. However we have now added Manic Street Preachers to the list of bands we will listen to together.

And to leave you with my (very poor quality) video of my favourite song.

Fun Friday: Gig Review; Al Stewart and Dave Nacmanoff

So I have been meaning to do this for a while. A quick google has actually shown me I went to this gig on 13th October 2013 so that really makes me feel bad. Especially as in the end I had such a fantastic night.

Let me explain. My husband and I like all music yet the things we will listen to on a daily basis is very different. More often than not I will be listening to the local radio station. If I do put on music unlike most of my generation I will put a CD on. Husband is more likely to listen to songs on shuffle off our vast collection on the computers. That means I’m more likely to listen to what is considered the Top 40 or if one of my CDs then some sort of Rock. Husband really likes Dance music for during the day but listens to more country or folk later in the day. This is where Al Stewart comes in.

Husband will listen to Al Stewart all the time. I kinda only knew Year of the Cat and even then I could have only had a half hearted attempt at singing the title song. So when he heard he was touring England and was coming to a city vaguely close (it was still an hour away on the train) he immediately snapped up tickets. I agreed to go with him but it was more for the experience rather than because I was a fan. (Sorry!)

The venue was Northern Royal College of Music which, whilst a little difficult to find the main entrance to, was a very nice venue. The actual room we were in gave everyone a great view and I think the sound travelled well. It was a little hard to judge exactly the acoustics because we were sat in the orchestra area. As there was no band, it was truly an acoustic set, they added extra seating for the audience. And boy was it needed. It appeared that it was a sold out event.

Up until this point I’ve mainly been talking about Al Stewart but you you see in the title another name, Dave Nachmanoff. He was, I suppose, the warm up act, yet he was so much more than that. Yes he came out first and performed some of his solo work but he also was part of the main act. However what I would say is go seek out his solo work, here is the link to his website. I especially liked “Fragile Thing”. He was also so kind after the show stopped to have his photo with me.

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As for the main show it was really enjoyable and had some beautiful scripted and unscripted comic moments. The little dialogue describing how Al Stewart was the inventor of rap music was genius, especially with the attempts at beat boxing. The crowd also felt inclined to join in, with one yelling “Al you are a musical god” without a beat been missed his reply was “No, you will find that is Eric Clapton.” Perfection. It felt more like a dialogue with the audience rather than talking to the audience.

They are touring England again later in the year and whilst they wouldn’t be first on my list to get tickets for I would go again.

Stitching Sunday – Not a lot of stitching

Happy Sunday Morning!

Yes it’s a bit windy but it’s lovely and bright. I live autumn days like this. It’s also the anniversary of when me and the husband first met so I’m in an extra giddy mood.

Not a lot to update and no pictures as I’m writing this in the train on my phone, please excuse any spelling mistakes.

So in knitting I’ve cast on two new projects, a jumper for the godson for Christmas and a dress for myself also hopefully for Christmas. I’ve also been hearing a bit about nakniswemo so my seeds should hopefully be my project for that. 3 days in and 1,379 stitches completed. A long long way to go.

In other news today I’m off to see the Benedict Cunberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller version of Frankenstein. I’m hoping it will be epic (and will be epically sad if it’s not). Also as it’s the husbands birthday tomorrow we are off to see The Searchers again but this time they are joined by a few other bands, most noticeably Gerry and the Pacemakers. This may seem odd but as I am married to a scouser Gerry and The Pacemakers are practically their city band.

All in all the business above means not that much time for stitching. That 50,000 stitch target feels a very, very long way off.

Fun Friday – Stitching? What Stiching?

The title literally says it all. My craft about has disappeared.

It is just. Too. Damn. Warm.

That has led me to been a bit miserable. Hence no crafting, no blogging and feeling quite ill. It was topped off this morning with a killer migraine. Luckily the worst has past and am no longer laying in the dark.

However I did try one new thing this week. I went to my first ever metal gig. And as much as I thought I was going to end up with a black eye I enjoyed it immensely. I even managed a couple of picture and videos. Have a look.

For now it’s too warm again. Back to cool down I go.

Top Ten Tuesday – Desert Island

So I finally have something for each day of the week! YAY! This doesn’t mean I will be posting everyday as I do actually have a life but now I have a subject on which to post every day.

So without further ado welcome to list day aka Top Ten Tuesdays. This way I was make a list during the week and then post it here and have a natter.

The first one is a classic – if you were stuck on a desert island and were only allowed 10 singles which ones would you choose?

The only rules I’ve enforced on myself is that I will not be using any of my songs from my 30 days challenge.

So (impersonating Tony Blackburn) in at number 10:

Hound Dog – http://youtu.be/GALKFeBsJ-s
(Unable to embed for some reason)

If I was stuck on a desert island I’d be quite miserable so I would need a couple of happy songs. A great song from a great movie with a dance!

Number 9:
Maria by Blondie

Awe the memories. This was on the first album I ever bought for myself. It was some sort of completion album, pretty sure it was Now 38 or some equivalent. It was the very last track on the tape (yes, cassette tape!) and it got rewound and played that much I pretty much ruined it. And started my love affair with Blondie.

Number 8:
Ever Fallen In Love Someone (Who Shouldn’t Have Fallen in Love With) by The Buzzcocks

This would totally be my thrash it song. If I was on a desert island I would go mental. So to let off steam I would totally headbang to this song.

Number 7:
Love Is A Battlefield by Pat Benetar

No reason apart from I love it.

Number 6:
What Have I Done to Deserve This? By Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield.

I was so torn. I wanted Pet Shop Boys to feature in this list. I wanted Dusty Springfield to appear in this list. While this isn’t the best song by either of them it’s still better than the majority of songs anyone else can produce. So I split the difference and included this one.

Number 5:
While My Guitar Gentle Weeps by The Beatles.

Who was the greatest Beatles songwriter? Lennon or McCartney? Neither. It was George Harrison. He wrote both my favourite songs, While my Guitar gentle Weeps and Here Comes The Sun. But for this list I chose the first because seriously at the moment we don’t need anymore sun so I’m not tempting fate by adding that.

Number 4:
Red Light Spells Danger by Billy Ocean

Ok I give no s**ts if this is consider cheesy/uncool/too disco/insert insult of choice here. This guy is a legend and this song makes me happy no matter what mood I am in. Hopefully one day I will get to see him play live, actually gutted that I missed his tour last year.

Number 3:
Stoned in Love by Chicane feat. Tom Jones.

This is another one of “I don’t care what you think of my taste in music I love it songs”

Number 2:
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Does this really need to be explained? As someone once said “This isn’t a song, its an opera.” As odd as it sounds I agree. The emotions, the changes and, simply, Freddie Mercury’s Voice. If I was on a desert island I think I could listen to it a 1000 times and still find something new with each listen.

Number 1:
Hotel California by The Eagles.

Unusual?

I just think its one of the most perfect songs ever. I could listen to it on repeat. And if I was on a desert island I probably would.

30 Day Song Challenge; Day 30: Your favourite song at this time last year

It’s so hard for me to just choose one song. You see my problem is this; my favourite songs generally don’t change. It’s quite easy for me to choose the 5 songs that I would take to a desert island or any of the equivalent things because the list rarely changes. So to say what was my favourite at this time last year would probably just end up with my first song choice again.

So once again I’m going to play with the rules and give a selection of the songs that I have enjoyed in the last 12 months.

Now the first one, well, it was first released back in April 2011. So not really of the last 12 months. But the majority of people will only know it because of an advert that was released by Microsoft last year. I’m just glad it got the recognition it deserved in the end.

I also have another couple that are from the end of 2011 but only got major chart success in 2012. In fact these songs are the perfect example of how varied my musical tastes actually are.

WARNING: DO NOT CLICK ON THE BELOW IF EASILY OFFENDED BY BAD LANGUAGE

One is basically a hip hop, rap song, the other a Scandinavian, folk band. The biggest disappointment for me is the fact that Of Monsters and Men are only getting “Little Talks” the air play it deserves because someone covered it on Britains Got Talent. The influence of at show and its related ones make me sad.

The next two are solely because they were everywhere last year. Truly everywhere.

This doesn’t mean they were bad songs or overplayed. But as for songs that were my favourites of last year the two above instantly spring to mind.

And lastly Coldplay and Rhianna. Normally I don’t like either of this artists to consider myself a fan yet this song was just perfect.

So that is the end of my 30 days challenge. Yes it’s taken me longer than 30 days but I hope you have enjoyed it. I am also planning on finding a new one to take its place as I really did enjoy it.

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 29; A song from your childhood.

So the song that I remember most from my childhood was recorded 29 years before I was born. So you could say its not really of my childhood. Hell it was even recorded 6 years before my Mam was born. 

But over the years this song has been sung to me many times. The story even goes that when I was about 4 hours old it was sung to me. I couldn’t imagine my childhood without this song.