Saturday, 6 July 2013

A bit crowded

Crowd-sourcing is a big thing at the moment.

Yesterday, the Egyptians crowd-sourced a new President.  I'm not too happy about that, but hey ho, they've probably done it better than the Syrians, or the Turks come to that.

I have mixed experience of crowd-sourcing myself.

My first experience was through the American web site Kickstarter.  Essentially, you see someone's idea, cough up some money and then dadaaaa they go off and produce it.  In return you get the satisfaction of helping someone with a bright idea get off the ground, and you get something back.  It's not an investment...there's no profit to be made.  So the first thing I spent my hard-earned cash on was Revolights

They're a great idea...and I'm a great believer in cycle safety, and they seem to take it to a new level during the winter nights.  It was fun watching the project progress, and eventually after some months, my reward - a set of the lights were sent to me....they are now in full production.  If I remember rightly I put $200 in, which is quite a lot for a set of bicycle lights and a T-shirt...but I don't begrudge a single penny (cent) of it.  However, when they did arrive, I looked at the instruction book and realised that the fitting process was something that could only be done by an advanced brain surgeon.  So eighteen months later, they sit on a shelf in the garage, awaiting my retirement and medical qualification.

My second has been through the website Unbound which gives you the opportunity to support authors looking to achieve publication.  With my interest in street art, you won't be surprised that I pledged to get this book published.  Six month's later, it is still only 25% funded, so I'm beginning to think it may not come to fruition.  Shame...but feel free to be one of the 557 sponsors still needed.  It would make me happy.

I seem to be on a winning streak though now.  Also at Unbound I had the opportunity of helping out poor impoverished Jonathan Meades.  From a young age I have thought of him as a clever, witty and fascinating man, so this was of great interest to me.  Pidgin Snaps has more than met its targets, so alongside my copy, we will also go to the launch event (hope it's not in Marseille).  Perfect.

Foolishly, I missed out on crowd-funding one of my favourite musicians.  I have only been to see two artists twice in the same week.  The Foo Fighters with The Boy - once for an acoustic set in Victoria, and then in Hyde Park.  Lloyd Cole - once in Union Chapel Islington, and then in Brighton - with a somewhat surprised Cat's Mother.  Lloyd Cole may not be the force that he used to be, but musically he is as talented as ever, and for his most recent album he asked for funds to pay for the studio to record it in.  I hummed and I hahahahad, but eventually hesitated too long so didn't pay my money over.  Foolish me.  The new album, Standards, is now available, and it's a real hum dinger.  Well worth every penny.  In fact I would say one of his very finest...easily the equal of any of his Commotions albums.  My favourite track is Period Place which contains the lyric 'Concrete to the left of me, flowers to my right.  these were the best of times.'  Rightly or wrongly it sent me scurrying to check the lyrics of Stealers Wheel's 'Stuck in the Middle'...I'm sure there's a tribute there somewhere.  Anyway, enjoy the video...and then go and buy because this is brilliant stuff, and he seems a lovely man to boot.

Friday, 5 July 2013


I've aged.

It was my birthday last weekend.  To celebrate last year, I handed Danny Boyle the first medal awarded in the Olympic Stadium...a gold wrapped Cadbury's chocolate we rehearsed.  To be honest things have never been quite the same between Danny and me since - after saying thank you he suggested I went to the other side of the stadium to see Emma whose birthday it was also.  "Mind you", he said, "That's more of a treat for you than it is for her".  I was hurt, so handed my seventy other chocolate medals out to the rest of my team.

Previous years have been spent seeing Kings of Leon in Hyde Park (they're rubbish live) and Foo Fighters in Milton Keynes (they're great, but The Boy and Mr Muffin were sick as dogs all day long).  This year was slightly different in that we did nothing.  And by nothing I mean nothing.  We were down in Brighton, and relaxed for the day.  It was glorious.

That is not to say we did nothing to celebrate.  On Friday night we went to see The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globe.  I don't know how well you know The Tempest, but you may in any case be interested to know this was played as a comedy.  And very, very good it was too.  The key character of Prospero I always think is one of Shakespeare's most difficult to play, so it is rarely done well.  But Roger Allam did extraordinarily well once he had warmed up...the humour of the part is something I'd never really thought about before, but it was an excellent turn.  The performance was dominated by Caliban...the fearsome monster...and he was extraordinary, although I do feel sorry for the man in the audience who had his bald head slapped a couple of times...James Garnon played the part with energy, enthusiasm and aplomb...I hope he wins an award.  I absolutely loved his rendition of the speech given by Kenneth Brannagh at the opening of the Olympics:

And Colin Morgan was as Ariel was equally outstanding...and remarkably athletic as he danced and swung around the stage.  And just in case you thought I couldn't work the Olympics into this again, try this (it's called Caliban's Dream):

Anyway, enough of the Olympics...we spent Saturday at lunch with friends and family...including The Muffins.  We started at Formans, which just happens to be the nearest restaurant to the Olympic Stadium...ooops.  Then we moved on to see a new film that I have to tell you has been very eagerly anticipated in our house for over six months now.  We were seriously over excited, and it was a really birthday treat for me.

Which only goes to prove how wrong Grandma in Cyprus is.  I am not 'grown up but act like a teenager'...I am grown up and act like an eight year old, maybe. :-)

It was a shame that we were out when my brother decided to drop in unexpectedly to deliver my birthday present of whisky... :-(  So sorry 'bruv', but the whisky is delicious, and the thought was extremely touching...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

UP is down

To achieve this, UP used an interesting combination of gaffer tape, wasps nest and step ladder.

Now you know as much as me.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Monkey business

When I was a budding Richard Branson, two fellow school chums and I got together to buy albums, record them using our stereo systems, and then sell the records...each one played only three times.  There were some downsides to our approach, not least of which was trying to select which albums to buy.  I think I put the final nail in the coffin when I decided we 'had' to have the Rezillos.  Evidently I was the only person in all of Essex who liked them.  Oh dear.  We could all agree, though, on bands like Brand X (a superb Phil Collins vehicle that even our music teacher liked), Weather Report and The Alan Parsons Project.

Alan Parsons is not desperately well remembered by many, except for this rather amusing sketch from Austin Powers

His albums were not ones that I chose to re-buy when I moved from vinyl to CD, but in a moment of sentimentality, probably prompted by the end of school days, I searched them out on, and found I could buy them for about £4 a piece.  So I have.  I have a feeling that listening to them may not be quite as pleasurable as I hope, but I am looking forward to their arrival....after all 'concept albums' are so 1970s, and I don't wear flares, heals and long hair anymore.

And no, that monkey doesn't belong to Justin Bieber

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Babies are useless aren't they?

New baby made his third trip to the office today, and to be perfectly honest, if he doesn't shape up, he'll have to ship out.  It was his second (month) birthday, and in he trundled, not in his birthday suit, but in fact in his designer babywear.  He didn't do much.  To be honest, he simply smiled and gurgled at the women, and then went off to sleep.  They were distracted, so their productivity levels were hopeless.  He didn't even make the tea, nor even offer to wash up.  Time to pull his socks up...if he had any....