Thursday, 28 December 2006

Back to blogerama

Apologies for the lack of blogaction, but the last two weeks have been spent on the road, in an edgy, low-res attempt to restage Kerouac's On The Road through the low counties of England. To that end, and hunched to the windscreen like Scatman Carruthers in a Shining-esque fog, we visited friends and family in London, Cambridge, Buckingham and Bedford. Some of the highlights included: Seeing the Slide at Tate Modern, although it did look awfully narrow in an Augustus Gloop kinda way. My mate quit her writing job and decided to go down it in an act of new found liberation. She ended up with terrible friction burns.

My insistence on taking Dee to Sarastro in Covent Garden, a converted theatre dressing room with low ceilings and gaudy decoration, like the Underground if it had been designed by Fellini. Dee bumped her head and knocked over a fellow diner's grapes while breathing in a fag hag's smoke. We retreated after the entrees, musing on how some hummus and celery could have cost us £30.

Visiting the highly racey Buckingham Folk Club, who are at war with the Independent Buckingham Jam Night. Enough material for a couple of plays here.

Eating veggie breakfasts at S and M in Upper Street, where Quadrophenia was filmed.

Watching a mental party of six punting on the Cam in freezing conditions. One of the group looked delighted, everyone else had murder in their eyes.

I could go on, but in the absence of any further posts, have an amazing 2007 y'all and hope it brings all you wish for.

Congratulations to: my pal Emily, who gave birth to baby Jake on Christmas Day. Well done guys.

Looking forward to: Peru in May. We is dee-lighted!

Monday, 11 December 2006

Lincoln refreshments

After spending Saturday stocking up on our karma by studiously avoiding the works Christmas party (we went and ate tasty veggie dips at Stevie Sticks' house-do instead, rather than the microwave canneloni they serve as obligatary veggie fare at the Mail Christmas bash). Then me and Dee got into the Christmas spirit by heading for the Lincoln Christmas Festival, braving biting winds and realising how to deal with hills again (Hull doesn't do slopes, but there's a mound just outside the Mail building which is its biggest peak).

The festival was lovely, over-priced, full of Germans and nutjobs and men in insane rooster-chic headgear. But we all took advantage of the free samples provided by the folks at Sloe Motion, and the sloe whiskey was gorgeous, and there's no doubting the beautifulness of the cathedral - even if some woman had missed the point entirely by barging and swearing her way out of there after a free tour.

Listening: Nuggets (Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedlic Era); Bill Fay; The Klaxons - Magick; Amy Winehouse - Rehab; Lady Sovereign - Pretty Vacant

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Welcome to 70s Hull

Nah, it's not an animation from Logan's Run but an artist's impression of a new club in Hull, Baileys, dating from 1971. The city has always pushed the boat out with nightclubs; one, Romeo nd Juliets, was rumoured to have a slide rather than a staircase between the first and ground floors. Can you imagine the fun that was after a couple of bottles of Strongbow? And Tower, known fondly as Tower For An Hour, where you were likely to stick to the carpet (just before you got to the girl you were about to chat up, apparently). This place Baileys, I found out after asking some grizzled old journalists was above the Co-Op. I wonder if it ever resembled this 70s anarchy?

Rock 'n' roll oblivion, Hull style

Check this picture of the Hullaballoos from 1965. One of Hull's biggest exports to the States - one of their singles hit number 56 stateside - there's something reassuringly Hull about the bloke on the far right. He's got the hair, the clobber and the Daltrey menance, but he's probably thinking how he'd get from one side of Holderness Road to the other in this get-up.

Some students do 'ave 'em

News from my creative writing college course that Some Mothers Do Ave Em creator Ray Allen is to be our next all-day guest speaker. Seeing as my life often resembles a complicated sitcom, I think this'll be an excellent thing. Some of the gasps from the loftier students on the course led me to believe they don't feel the same way - far too lowbrow for their tales of departmental store parental knicker madness or writing-masquerading-as-divorce-therapy. Elsewhere, me and Dee are in winter hibernation mode; eating nuts and watching back-to-back episodes of The Wire, while trying to avoid anything resembling work. Dee's house went up for sale today, and we were both doing hi-fives in the kitchen as it was described as "extremely well-presented" and "tastefully restored". All them Saturday's with a paintbrush suddenly seem worthwhile.

Listening: Midlake - The Trials Of Van Occunpanther; Jarvis - Jarvis; David Axelrod - Songs Of Experience; Lord Kitchener - London Is The Place For Me; The Holloways - Two Left Feet

Watching: The Wire Season Two; The Mighty Boosh Live

Monday, 4 December 2006

You're like Manchester, you've got strangeways

Over to Manchester for a day in a proper top 10 city. Went mainly to look at the Urbis collection of shots of the Hacienda, although perhaps eight pictures mounted on a wall before you get to the Urbis shop is pushing the definition of 'exhibition'. Even so, Urbis is an amazing space, and we mooched about the Level One photographs depicting modern China on the verge of its Olympicfacation. Then spent the afternoon making the inevitable comparisions between Hull and Manc while browsing through five floors of second-hand vintage at Afflecks Palace and finding a record shop that stocks new vinyl and not just tatty old copies of Queen reissues (Picadilly on Oldham Street). Then a desolate and gusty drive back over the M62 to the mean streets of 'Ull.

Thursday, 30 November 2006

I've got a bike and it cost me £5,550

When the great, mad Syd Barrett died in July, it led to a vast outpouring of grief on messageboards the world over. Bizarre, cos the former Syd lived the majoroty of his life in seclusion, avoiding fans, popping to the shops for a Daily Mail and wearing ill-fitting clothes inappropriate for the seasons. Personally, I'd rather remember him for Lucifer Sam and Arnold Layne than as some kind of 60s prophet who had crossed over to a higher level. How did Syd personify his seer-like status? By popping to B and Q and making botched DIY. Which has now been auctioned off and raised £120,000 to promote young artists in Cambridge. Which is great. I can understand his paintings like Still Life With Lemons going for £4k. But the chair to my left, with that nasty stain that he kept in his utility room? Grand and a half??? Just goes to show there is a harmful side-effect to drugs and Pink Floyd. Surely remember him for his music and not for a homemade breadbin containing some pegs! (£1,400)

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Insects are all around us

Off to Hull Welly club to see Isle of Wight mashheads The Bees, after a brief entree with a pipe smoking actor who's just set up a B and B, in local drinkerie Dukes.

I didn't mind The Bees, in fact I really liked the summery pop nuggets on their debut Sunshine Hit Me, but their clearly weed-supported instrument-swapping, beard-wearing approach did start to wear a bit thin after a while. Big props however for doing a cover of Brazilian psychedelicists Os Mutantes' track A Minha Mehina. You might remember it from Match Of The Day. Nice to see an older crowd too, although they were a bit reticent to rush the stage, making me briefly wonder if they were gonna set off fireworks from the stage a la Great White. But an okay band if you get off on Gomez and the Beta Band.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Leeds Abbey Dash

Up at an impossibly early time for a Sunday (7am) to run in Leeds and raise cash for Help The Aged/our trip to darkest Peru. All sounded okay on paper, but the one road out of Hull was closed and we were put on possibly the longest diversion in history, meaning I rocked up at the start 25 minutes after everybody had left. For crissakes, people were even starting to finish the seven miler when I set off and all the bollards and traffic calming had finished, meaning I had no idea where I was going. Somehow, I manged not only to finish the route but to sidle my way past eight of the slowest runners to finish in a commendale 5,442nd out of 5,550. The fear of finishing last actually led to me recording a PB (personal, not Pete, Best) and it was great to pass one sarcastic runner who had shouted "at least I'm not last" as I entered the grounds of the beautiful Kirkstall Abbey. Being at least a mile ahead of me, she probably felt safe, but I assumed by best Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man tude, and cruised past her.

Elsewhere on the weekend, went to Hull's newest Real Ale pub, The Hop and Vine. The owners have taken over a former tapas bar, so the pints of Copper Dragon sat rather weirdly with candelabras and Spanish tables. Felt like a secret gent's club, playing some winsome old folkie called Vin Garbutt "the best folk singer, ever", the barman moistily opined.

Friday, 24 November 2006

Highs and lows of a blogless month

1. Seeing maverick gypsy punks Gogel Bordello at Leeds Met on Halloween night. The band were more freakish than the students, the fiddle player looked like Bill Bailey but was wearing a sleeveless Slayer shirt (and in his 50s at that), and the whole band felt like 4am in a Ukrainian nuthouse. Beautiful stuff.

2. Breaking my Springsteen duck. Travelled to Brummyham for a night with the Boss and his Seeger Sessions 15-piece band. When he asked for a D-flat harmonica I thought he was going to break into Thunder Road and I would have burst into tears on the spot. But he didn't. He did Froggie Went Courting instead. But the band were truly amazing.

3. Lies, damned lies, then racist comedians. Nuff said on this subject, so I'll leave it to the PressGazette

4. Raising cash for Peru. Me and Dee are off to Machu Pichhu to hang with the alpacas in the amazing Inca city. Someone said it was the "lost city". So how comes I've subbed three stories in the last month about people who are off there on charity missions. And how the Dickens are we gunna raise £5,000. Anyone wanna buy some old Zappa vinyl?

5. Ticketed twice in a day by Hull's parking nazis, for being parked down my street. Flew off the handle at a council voice, who told me that there was nothing against them ticketing me every two hours and that I was lucky to be only ticketed twice in a day. Mmm, right.

6. Reinstalled blog. Feel a lot happier.

Back, by jiggety!

Wow! I've lost a whole month! That's how long its taken me to retrieve my blog files, pore through them, realise that whatever I did back then wasn't half as fashionable or feisty as I thought it was and then decide to only republish the selected highlights. But this is the new blog of the old Eldred Jiggle files, which were set up in early 2005.

For the new-to-this-Sandi-Blogsvig, here's some recaps.

1. I was born during a Chick Corea solo (he wasn't in the hospital at the time, he wasn't allowed) in Nottingham, England, in 1974.

2. I have been a sort-of-journalist for the last 12 years, long enough to realise that it's populated by weirdos and some of the most uncreative, undynamic monobrowed folk I've ever come across. Journalism is just jism without the ournal.

3. This blog is about my life and my sometimes-ability-to-make-sense-of-it.

Hope you're glad to have me back in blogland.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Weird dream

Maybe my brain was still buzzing from creative writing last night, but I had a strange dream, one that I can actually remember and deosn't involve me thinking I'm an L-shaped room. I was in Beverley, listening to Corrections author Jonathan Franzen. But gone were his slightly preppy slacks and his bookish demeanour. Instead he was reading extracts from David Beckham: The Biography while dressed in motorcycle leathers. i remember thinking how cool he was. And when he came to the end of the chapter, a curtain lifted and I realised he was being backed by the James Taylor Quartet, a band I neither care for nor would help fix a puncture for, even if they were on the way to a prestige gig. The Taylor quartet launched into some tuneful acid-jazz fandango, and the crowd of Beverley liked it. It was quite a scene, I remember my slightly discombulated dream-like state thinking. What can it all mean?
Earlier, in Creative Writing class, we all have to write a What If? premise and chuck it in the hat, pull out another slip randomly and then write a story around it. Typically, I pulled out the What If written by Rachel, fast becoming my nemesis and clearly a hater of men. What If Women Ruled The World And Men Were Their Subjects?, she asks, in a kind of "is Hull still trapped in the 1970s way". I, typically, decide to write my short through the eyes of Russ Meyer, imprisoned by a bunch of harridans led by Britt Ekland and Anne Widdecombe (not my take, I hasten to add, Cindra-Jo). Rachel spent the rest of class making daggers at me.
College incidentals: Elizabeth's What If? still managed to revert back to her mother's knickers! Christine on the course used to be married to the bass player of Steeleye Span, who wrote All Around My Hat!
Listening: Reverend And The Makers

Masterly Macbeth

Wow! What cultured lives we lead! Part of mine and Dee's therapy from a week in the thralls of a multi-media integrated news hub is to get to the theatre. First this week there was the History Boys, and now, at our "local", a masterly production of Macbeth in the round. Now Shakespeare has never really rocked my world, and at school I always gravitated towards Orwell and Sylvia Plath rather than the Bard, but Hull Truck bigwig (and possibly Orlando Bloom's Dad) Gareth Tudor Price seemed to know this. Not a tunic or cod piece in sight here, as the characters of this none-more EMO Macbeth wore trench coats and jack boots. It starred Fidel Nanton, known to the Hull Crowd as Clive Sullivan from Windass's equally epic rugby play Sully. Even though I half-expected Fidel's Banquo to slip into "my legs, my legs" at any moment, this Macbeth was dark, creepy and bathed in lots of incense, evil whispers and an amazing sound system. No witches here, just lots and lots of garbled voices that gave a nod to Twelve Monkeys as much as Sir Toby Belch. I never did. The fact it was Friday the 13th and that Hull was cloaked in a creepy fog that turned the fledgling St Stephen's development into a twisted installation, made Macbeth all the better. Branagh take note, Hull Truck is up there with the big boys.Listening (while painting): Nick Cave - There She Goes My Beautiful World; Vic Godard (my favourite singing postman) - Whats The Matter Boy; Hull FC getting thumped in the Challenge Cup Final by St Helens - sorry boys.Watching: The Wire (season one); Galapagos (masterly); That Mitchell And Webb look (are they the new Punt and Dennis? Opinions welcomed.

And the rest is history

And the rest is History ...
By Laurie /Lozman/Eldred J
An amazing piece of theatre last night at Hull New Theatre. Alan Bennett's History Boys is England's most popular living playwright at his sublime best. Anyone Stateside, I encourage you to see the play/film for a real taster into Britain's sometimes Dickensian public school system. There were plenty of familiar Bennett-isms, but this was raunchy, compelling, contemporary theatre, the first NT production for 23 years to take in Hull. Very talented kids and a trio of fabulous older statesmen actors; Stephen Moore, Isla Blair and William Chubb. It also brought a real cross section of people who otherwise wouldn't go to the theatre. I saw my mechanic Brian, unsure and out of place, still wearing his Saab tie. And my editor sat stoney-faced through it, breaking his glare to delve into a tiny pot of ice cream. There were a few digs at journalism in the play, which pleased me and no doubt annoyed him.Postscript: Asked the editor what he thought of the play today (my first conversation with him in a year. "Didn't like it," he barked. "Too clever, clever, you know what I mean". Each to his own, but I wouldn't describe Bennett as Sartre or Brecht. But this "clever, clever" comment does come from the editor of a paper that is more dumbed down than Dubya, so maybe I shouldn't be that surprised.

By Jove, its Jenkins

By jove, its Jenkins
By Eldred Jiggle
A weekend of praise and celebration (and well done to Hull KR, two rugby teams in the super league now next year - I'm gunna have to learn the rules!) was brought to a great end by taking Dee, Jobes and Donna into the wild wolds of Yarkshire for a Billy Jenkins treat. After steadfastly staying in London for a few years, Jenkins is back on the road with his Songs Of Praise tour to celebrate his 50th birthday. Being Bill, he is playing at a converted woolshed, now village hall, called The Shed, in Hovingham, miles from anywhere (and if you want to see some of the amazing stuff creator Simon Thackray does there, click here). Being Bill fans, we relish the opportunity for some off-roading en route to venue. Most village hall fare is likely to involve jams/tombolas or line dances, so let me put your mind at rest. Jenkins is a blues improviser of amazing skill, but he is just so dang watchable. Cue sheets fall all over the place, he performs one song lying flat on his back, barks instructions to his amazing five-piece band, and leads us on a loosely-conceptual journey through his 30-year music career. It includes Jazz Had A Baby (And They Called It Avant-Garde), First Time The Earth Shook, the haunting jazz of Bhopal and audience sing songs through What A Wonderful World and Everybody's Talkin'. Jenkins' guitar sounds like a beast he can barely control but it's amazing stuff. Stewart Lee said that if "Clapton is God, then Jenkins is the giant turtleon which the entire universe stands". Well said, I think.Wanna hear some on Rupert's MYSpace? Click here

I Stand Corrected

Ahh, reading tours. Hearing writers talk about why they are writers and what their modus operandi is/are is a bit like Jimi Hendrix going on the Purple Haze: A discussion tour ... "well, I played a modal fourth and then a diminished ninth and then I ate a sandwich. Jam putty, I think". Basically, the whole joy of writing and reading is your own interpretations, the escapism into somebody's imaginary/real world. Your visualisation of the characters involved. However, there are exceptions to my flimsy "no reading tours" policy. One is Jonathan Franzen, whose darkly-autobiographic novel The Corrections is, to me, an amazing piece of work. Amazingly, he was in Beverley, a really genteel, slightly jam-making town about six miles north of 'Ull. So we took the opportunity to escape Hull Fair (it all kicked off) and Hull FC (they kicked off, it kicked off) and amble to a gleaming new church hall attached to 13th century St Mary's to hear him read from his childhood memoirs, The Discomfort Zone. Lovely to hear this drone-like St Louis accent just yards from pubs full of rugby fans, even if he was sat directly underneath a giant religious cross. I imagined an Omen type scene if he read a particularly droll passage. It was very good, but then the questions started. Me, I'd want to know what he thought of Bush, did he like Jazz, the films of Robert Altman and where he got his nifty focal prescriptions. But the assembled crowd wanted to know whether he should have substituted the word "narcolepsy" for "narcoplectic" in a "two-way dialogue between the man as mirror and cartoon". Ouch. So we went to Pizza Express.In other news: Teachers may be armed with guns following a spate of shootings in the US. Hmmm, like that's gunna put an end to violence! (source Daily Mirror, UK)

Of Cracktown and its predilection for midgets

Lordi, my blog has gone stratospheric. 17 comments thanks to a link with Dr John's weblog over in the deepest of USA. So having reeled you all in, its time to lose you promptly again with a blog all about Hull semi-legends Cracktown. Two men (one always top-hatted who goes by the name of the Silver Fox, one a shipping clerk with a love of hill walking) who have been hammering away in the clubs of Hull, writing acoustic ditties with a leftish, slouchist mentality for years. Well, last night (namedrop alert) they were in my front room scoffing hob nobs and quaffing Ethiopian fair trade coffee as they readied the art work for their upcoming album There Must And Shall Be Midgets. Housemate Jobes (the Jazzweasel) is playing bass and designing the artwork for the album, with me doing the odd story and review for the papers I'm employed by. Yesterday involved a virtual midget gathering exercise with Jobes, finding and then discounting the munchkins of Oz, assorted Time Bandits and the entire cast of Even Dwarves Started Small, before settling on Nik Nak and Gary Coleman from Diff'rent Strokes (why the loss of the E?). Its a purely Thoresby Street affair, having been recorded and mixed at 134 before a quick saunter down to mine for PR and design chops. The neighbours didn't even know that great music was being created next door. It may not be enough for a blue plaque from National Heritage in years to come, but these guys are a part of Hull's heritage and it was a pleasure to have them in my front room. And the silver Fox never removed his top hat once, which I would generally think rude, but hey, he's a rock star.


A fantastic day in Newcastle for Dee's inaugural appearance in the Great North Run. Thanks loads for your well wishes, blogging comrades, and I'm sure you were with Dee (virtually) as she slugged it out for 13 miles in Geordie-land. The Great North is probably the biggest half-marathon in the world in terms of numbers and there were about 38,000 finishers. Dee had been well-panicked about finishing last, but although she was beaten over the line by a man dressed as a rhino, and a 75-year-old Hindu dressed as a Nun, she came in in a time of just under three hours in a very commendable 34,112th place. Not bad, given that it decided to be sunny in Newcastle (very rare for August, let alone October), and that Dee, in her own words, was "knackered by the end of the warm-up". A tremendous achievement for the girl tho, who claimed that thoughts of a special biryani kept her going during the worst parts of the trek but had to settle for a whopper meal at Burger King in Newcastle Central! I'm sure there'll be many biryanis in the weeks to come, tho.

A Thirsk for knowledge, a Thirsk for strife

En route to the Great North Run, me and Dee decided to stay for the night in Thirsk, north Yorkshire. Described by the local tourist board as a "lovely, charming market town", and the home to All Creatures Great And Small vet-du-jour James Herriot, we were expecting a nice, olde worlde prequel to the endeavours of the following day. What a big bag of wrong that turned out to be. As soon as we arrived in the market square, some local n'eer do wells started throwing grapes at us from the front of the local costcutter. Lovely and charming, we thought. We arrived at the hotel; which has a blue plaque out-the-front saying that William Wordsworth and his wife stayed there in 1802. Unfortunatly the decor within was distinctively 1970s, and we got a bit concerned when the magazine selection in the room consisted of a scarcely-thumbed National Geographic from 1993. I mean, crikey, there were articles on countries that don't even exist any more! And a piece on Shanghai as the place to watch on the world map in 1994! We decided to check out the town in the near dusk, and found that no-one in Thirsk retail has surnames: Polly's Cafe, Deli's Diner, Sadie - The Bra Lady. There was also a card shop, with a tatty Christmas assortment, by the name of Tidings. Not good tidings, we surmised, and strolled on. As there was no restaurant to speak of, we bought fish and chips and ate them in the bus shelter, watching the same guys that pelted our car on arrival successfully stealing a crate of cider from Threshers. How things have changed since Wordo's day.Listening: Friday Night, Saturday Morning - The Specials; Costello Music - The Fratellis; Karen Dalton