Friday, 30 March 2012

K25 Part 3 - I Don't Need Anyone

The latest of the K25 treats has been unveiled (you can see the previous ones here). Rather than being from the acoustic set at Abbey Roads, this time we get to see a happy and relaxed Kylie rehearsing for one of her Anti-tour shows in Melbourne (and, in a few days, the UK).

The opposite of the big budget Arena tours, these are small shows featuring less well known songs;- b-sides, demos and rarities. Designed to have an intimate and noncommercial feel, the gigs sound like absolutely amazing nights.

Here is the lady herself singing "I Don't Need Anyone", which was on the Impossible Princess album (released as "Kylie Minogue" in the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales):



Wednesday, 28 March 2012

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 25

I was spoilt for choice again this week but plumped for 4 Non Blondes with What's Up which I remember as being one of those songs which gained a lot of air-play and seemed to define the spirit of 1993. Or maybe that was just me...

Whilst I didn't choose this, do check out this version of Sade's No Ordinary Love - perfect music to chill out to...


Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunday Sounds 39

This week's Sunday Sound was going to be this until I realised I'd blogged it before! Instead, I've chosen another bird - here's the song of the Nightingale to help you chill on (what is for me, at least) a lazy, sunny Sunday:

You can see more of this, and other birds, here


Saturday, 24 March 2012

10 things... I Don't Get

I tweeted the other night that I don't "get" Celebrity Juice (there was a special edition on the TV as part of Sport Relief) and it set me thinking about other aspects of popular culture and modern life which I don't get. Here are a few. Specifically, here are 10...

1. Celebrity Juice. Keith Lemon, Holly Willoughby, Fearne Cotton. I don't get it, I don't get them. And vice-versa.

2. T4. I get the concept of Yoof/Hangover TV but have never understood why it's called T4.

3. Alex Salmond. In particular, Alex Salmond's popularity in Scotland - For all his politic cunning and nous, I have never found him an attractive personality.

4. Oasis. OK, they hardly qualify as part of either popular culture or modern life anymore but I could never understand how people could prefer them to Blur and other "Britpop" acts. And in my head it's still the 90's!

5. Period Dramas. With a few honourable exceptions - Gosford Park and Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day spring to mind.

6. Nandos. I've been twice but really struggle with the concept, described to me by someone once as "like a Gastro-pub in reverse."

7. Why 10 O'Clock Live was recommissioned in the same format rather than being re-thought and shortened.

8. The AVIVA Paul Whitehouse ads. How they think they do the brand justice, I'll never know.

9.  Embarrassing Bodies. Why, why why would you want to watch it? Why? Just, why?

10. Dickens. And I can say this with more certainty now that I've finally read A Christmas Carol. A good friend still thinks I should try Tale of Two Cities at least.

You can see other 10 things lists, here.


Wrapping Ourselves In the Union Flag...

Much as I love the Union Flag, I'm not normally a fan of wrapping ourselves in it in a jingoistic or protectionist sense. But I am all in favour of flying it at public venues and major events and not being ashamed of proclaiming that goods or services have been "Made In Britain". 

I like to see British Athletes do well on the world stage and - for all my republican credentials - I like to hear the National Anthem played when our representatives win. Here's hoping we'll hear it again this weekend in Malaysia after Button's win in Melbourne last week, but I digress...

This year, of course, our athletes won't just be on the world stage - Britain will be the world stage. In 125 days the Olympics will be opened in London, followed by the Paralympics some 158 days hence. Our Olympians and Paralympians will be competing in front of a home crowd and chasing every medal possible. Our ability to host what is, arguably, the biggest show on earth will be front and centre. This year, more than most, Britons will be being judged and it presents the opportunity for us all to be proud to be British.

I fully expect that, come the Games, we'll see the flag flying proudly. Indeed, there already is a London 2012 logo which uses the flag...

This week, the Team GB Olympic kit - designed by Stella McCartney and Adidas - has been unveiled. The various versions are based on a monotone version of the flag, with differing shades of Blue and Indigo taking the place of the traditional colours, and red flashes are featured elsewhere.

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of all iterations but I'm pleased that there is a consistent look across all sports and disciplines - and for Olympic and Paralympic athletes alike. It is smart, it is different, it is distinctive and the athletes (and fellow blogger Stephen Glenn) seem to like it.

Here a few of pictures of where I think the kit works:

Andy Murray, Tennis

Jack Rodwell, Football

Lizzie Armitstead, Cycling

And one where it works less well - I don't really get the X-Factor/X-Men girdle/cummerbund...
Jonnie Peacock, Athletics (Track)

I started by saying I wasn't a fan of people wrapping themselves in the Union Flag, come the summer, though, I want to see many, many athletes wrapped in the flag - and maybe some of them will be like that gorgeous golden version in the pictures above.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Is your iPod worth $8billion?

Rob Reid uses ©opyright Math™ to explain how it could be...



Wednesday, 21 March 2012

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 24

I wanted to post The Bluebells' Young at Heart this week but to tie it in with the Volkswagen commercial on which it featured. Unfortunately I couldn't find that, so The Bluebells will have to wait for another day...

Other leading contenders were Ugly Kid Joe's Cat's in the Cradle or k d lang's Constant Craving but the artist I eventually chose is no stranger to these pages. It's the divine Ms Annie Lennox and the haunting Love Song for a Vampire:


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sunday Sounds 38: Just Drive

As this post goes live, the lights will be going out in Melbourne's Albert Park and the first Grand Prix of the 2012 Formula 1 season will be underway. I can't begin to describe the excitement I feel about having it back - or about the fact the there's a McLaren 1-2 on the grid.

One thing that is missing, though, is Fleetwood Mac's The Chain as this race will be carried live on Sky, with the BBC only having the highlights later. It's a new era for coverage of the sport in the UK and such a shame as the BBC's coverage had been excellant in the previous 3 years since they regained the rights from ITV (whose record we will cast a discreet veil over...)

At time of writing, I've not yet watched the coverage of qualifying but the thing that struck me last week whilst I watched Sky's season preview programme was how much of a tribute to the BBC it was. From the pre-title poetic sequence, to the look and feel of the graphics and nature of the pre-filmed features, there was little to differentiate it from what had gone before other than the swanky studio. And, of course, there were a number of familiar faces - Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz - and voices - David Croft, Anthony Davidson and Natalie Pinkham - from the BBC's TV and Radio coverage.

The credits are low key and pay homage to the history of F1. Even here, though, there is a link to the BBC coverage - the track chosen "Just Drive" was used by the BBC over a montage of highlights at the end of the 2010 season.

Here are the credits:

And here is your Sunday Sound, Just Drive by Alistair Griffin, in full:



Saturday, 17 March 2012

Guilty Pleasures 12

Once upon a time there was a car show - a reasonably standard magazine format show dispensing consumer advice on the one hand whilst also featuring aspirational super-cars on the other. But all was not well behind the scenes and most of the presenters walked out of the show and (pretty much) straight into a new show on Channel 5, imaginatively entitled 5th Gear.

I say "imaginatively titled" as the show from which they had walked out was Top Gear... 

From the ashes of that show, a new show was born. A new show, also called Top Gear. But this show was not a car show. This show did not dispense consumer advice on one hand although it did feature lots of aspirational super-cars on the other.

This was an entertainment show. Built with a mix of super-cars, "races" in which the presenters take on bizarre challenges, guest stars who get to drive a reasonably-priced car (currently a Kia Cee'd), an unidentified tame racing driver and, most of all, Banter.

And so this new show became a staple of (eventually) Sunday evenings. And every week during each series, I guiltily lay my Liberalism to one side and prepare to laugh, snigger and wince at the pronouncements of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

It's all kicked off each week with "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers:


Note for American readers: The US version of Top Gear, although a close copy of the original, hasn't quite managed to get the right dynamic between the presenters right yet and lacks the banter that holds the UK show together.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Simon's Cat in "Shelf Life"

It's been a while but there's a new Simon's Cat video out. Once again, this will be a familiar scenario for cat owners everywhere:


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 23

After the trickiness of last week's choice, this week's was easy. I didn't even look beyond Disc 1, Track 1...

Here's Tasmin Archer with Sleeping Sattelite:

Of course, there were a number of other options - you can see what I else I could have picked here.


Monday, 12 March 2012

What would you do with £60 a month?

This is a cross-post from Lib Dem Gains.

This is another post about the Liberal Democrats push to increase the Personal Allowance towards (and beyond) £10,000. I make no apologies for that, although I do promise to focus on other things in future posts.

I mentioned in this post about Caron Lindsay's idea that we should relate the figures of tax saved to real-life examples of what this money could be spent on. It appears that Caron's wise words have been listened to by the party as members got an e-mail from Party President, Tim Farron on Friday.

In it he discussed this issue and launched a website encouraging people to think about how they would spend an extra £60 a month. (This represents* the basic rate tax saved by increasing the Annual Allowance from £6,475 when the coalition took power - which was unchanged from previous year - to £10,000.)

So what are you doing with the £16.67 you're already saving in income tax each month? What would you do with an additional £43.33?

For myself, it'd make things a bit more comfortable while I pay down debt and save for a trip to Australia. I appreciate, though, that that isn't going to help with an economic stimulus, so I shall also purchase new clothes, which are even more desperately needed now I've lost over a stone in weight!

You can respond here and say what you would do? Note that the website asks for an e-mail address which is, presumably, for authentication purposes but may also lead to you being added to a mailing list.

Once you've completed the form, the site will also give you information about the impact of the policy locally. In Bristol, 16,200 people will be taken out of Income Tax altogether.


*Pedants note - the actual figure before rounding is £58.75.

Iconic Images 21

I've wanted to post about the story behind this particular Iconic Image for a while now, ever since I heard it on the Today programme some months ago. Yesterday, though, I came across a video which does the job for me. First, though, the image - a war-time poster that has become a common sight in card and gift shops all over Britain:

And now, the story of the poster itself:

Oh, and how cool does Barter Books look?


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunday Sounds 37: The Political Edition

When I'm at the gym, I typically either listen to my own music or assorted podcasts. Occasionally, I'll do an extended stint on one of the exercise bikes and read whilst listening to the dance music which gets played. It was in such a position that this week I heard a voice I hadn't heard in years - a voice that can be beautiful and melodic but carries a rasp and hint of menace at the same time.

The track itself wasn't particularly memorable (as is the case with me and most dance music) but the featured artist of this edition of Sunday Sounds was decided there and then - this time with her own material.

Here's Skin with Skunk Anansie and Yes It's Fucking Political. Turn it up. Loud.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 22

This week's options were, again, myriad. Amongst the highlights I could have had were Erasure's Take A Chance on Me, Annie Lennox with Why, Elton John and George Michael with Don't Let the Sun (Go Down on Me) and Friday I'm in Love by The Cure.

The song I've chosen, though, is more of it's time, and less likely to be featured elsewhere on this blog - or even to be played on the wireless (except, perhaps, in the North West of England). It is star of Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Spender and Crocodile Shoes - Jimmy Nail:

I loved it at the time - and I still do!


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tuesday Titter 19- Let's Dance for Sport Relief III

When I started this series of posts, I intended the third entry to be Noel Fielding's performance of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights... and then I discovered I'd previously blogged it here. Soooo... after much research and deliberation, here's one I missed last year: Ade Edmondson as the Dying Swan... If you're not familiar with his ouevre, the end may not make sense - if you feel in need of a primer, click here.

As ever, enjoy and again, as ever, remember that the show is in aid of a really good cause.


Monday, 5 March 2012

A Well Loved Book

Few books have has as much of an impact on my life as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Whilst there are many authors whose work I revisit (or intend to revisit), none are subject to the 4-yearly regime I implement with these tales from Middle Earth.

And so it is that every leap and Olympic year is, for me, a Tolkien year - with the bonus of a film to look forward to this year, too. I'm currently re-reading The Hobbit but my copy, printed in 1986, is, showing its age... 

I'm going to have to replace it for next time, although the last time I tried to replace it, I kept spotting typo's. Ironic, as the copy picture has a number of typos of its own, particularly missing full stops  I'll keep a hold of this copy though, which has served me well for 26 years, and cherish it like the old friend it is.


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Got To Dance: and the winner is...

Tonight saw the final of the third series of Sky's flagship talent show, Got To Dance. The show is open to all styles of dance from solo contemporary acts, to street dance crews, to tap, to ballet, to ballroom. 

Pitching unashamedly for a family audience and presented by the irrepressible Davina McCall, Sky hit upon a winning format when they developed the show. The appeal is aided by a stable panel of judges: Ashley Banjo, Kimberly Wyatt and Adam Garcia.

This years competition, all hyperbole aside, at a higher standard than ever - and the winning act really brought something new and different this year. Here are Prodijig with their final performance:


Sunday Sounds 36: The Waiting For... edition

Whilst putting together one of my NOW! That's What I call a Tune! posts, I considered using today's Sunday Sound but it lost out in the end. I love k d lang and this song is one of my all time favourites. I couldn't remember having seen the video before, though. Even if I had seen back when the song was released (in 1992) it wouldn't have struck me in the way it did recently: the video features scenes set in a theatre where the players are (rather aptly) performing a production of Waiting for Godot. And, yes, I do want geek points for spotting that...

K.D. Lang - Constant Craving [Video] on MUZU.TV.


Saturday, 3 March 2012

(Not So) Guilty Pleasures 11

This week's Guilty Pleasure is from "An Audience with Kylie", broadcast in 2001 which saw her do a number of numbers and a sketch with erstwhile co-star and boyfriend, Jason Donovan... but it is more memorable to me for this VERY special version of Especially For You (although the surprise duetist works better when, well, when it's a surprise!)


Thursday, 1 March 2012

In which the widow goes to London

Ehm, this post has turned from an intended few words and some pictures, into a blow by blow account of my trip to London... Feel free to skip to the visuals!

On Monday, I took a long ear-marked trip to London. The intention was to visit the House of Me exhibition of Annie Lennox memorabilia at the V&A but by the time I got time booked off, I was one day too late. So, Megabus booked, I set off with no clear plan although I did have a couple of ideas.

I left the house at six to get the bus which ended up getting into London an hour late... not surprising as the timetable always looked ambitious, given that it was never going to avoid the rush hour traffic. So it was half Ten and I had arranged to meet my Uncle at One. What to do? Go to an exhibition but possibly rush it? Or just mooch. I chose to do the later.

I've not been to London in years and it's a city I've never been able to fully picture in my head. I know bits of it but over-reliance on the tube has meant I've never learnt to relate those pieces together. Armed with my phone, complete with GPS mapping, I decided that I was going to spend the day overground. So, from Victoria Coach Station, I headed towards Parliament Square.

Once there, I wandered up Whitehall to Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, to Oxford Street with the intent of heading beyond to where my Uncle works, near Warren Street tube. It was at this point that disaster struck - something (possibly the mapping application, although am not sure) had been chomping through my battery power ever since I had got up and around 12ish it gave up the ghost. Now, I had foreseen such an eventuality and planned to put the phone into one of the charging stations that Vodafone provide in their stores. I had another problem, though - I wanted to charge it for a decent amount of time but I didn't want to tie myself in to being back at a particular place by a particular time, especially when I was unsure how far away exactly I'd be going and how long lunch would be. I ploughed on.

Based on my memory of the map, and by luck as much as anything else, I found my Uncle's work and went for lunch, still undecided about what to do in the afternoon. Several exhibitions seemed promising and my preference was for the Lucian Freud show at National Portrait Gallery. I decided that would be it, but still wanted to find somewhere to charge my phone...

I mooched back southwards, taking a different route and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. I also popped along to the Royal Academy where I toyed with the idea of going to the Hockney exhibition, which was probably futile as I'm sure it would have been sold out for the day. I also popped into Fortnam and Masons for a wander round their foodhalls. In case you're ever in need of a cauliflower in Piccadilly, it'll only set you back £3.

Anyway, I got back to the National Portrait Gallery to discover that the Freud exhibition was sold out for the day! I also discovered it was £14 a ticket which seemed steep, although that probably betrays a provincial state of mind. (And wasn't as bad as £16(!) for Westminster Abbey.) By this time it was 10 to Four and, having deposited my phone in a nearby Vodafone, I went round a couple of the Portrait Gallery's galleries. Portraiture isn't really my thing but they had some more contemporary pieces which were of interest, including some Warhols, Paolozzi busts, and a wall of various people connected with Private Eye over the last 50 years.

I then went next door to the National Gallery with it's warren of galleries and enjoyed works by, specifically, Constable, Turner, Poussin, Rembrandt, Titian, Monet, Manet, Cezanne and Degas. Having retrieved my phone around 6, it was time for more mooching before heading back to Victoria Coach Station and the bus for home. This involved a walk down the Mall where I saw Buckingham Palace for the second time in my life - this time intentionally!

Anyway, here are the promised pictures, and a promise of more to come!:

Mercedes F1 car (outside Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Oliver Cromwell
Lloyd-George (and Churchill)
Roux at Parliament Square (on list for when I win lottery...)

151 days to go!
184 days to go!