Saturday, July 30, 2005

boy on a bus

It was a pleasure to take the train to work the other day. This is something I almost never do as the appalling logistics of hooking up public transport links from a small village outside a small town on one side of the Pennines to a new town outside of an old town on the other side of the Pennines just isn't worth the effort of writing to Alastair Darling about.

However, it was another one of those motivational corporate shindigs at a city university venue devoid of students in the mid summer. Amazingly, a search on thetrainline revealed I could get there from here with no changes in less than an hour... so off I went. Great... wish I could do this every day (when things go to plan of course). Very civilised. Read the paper. Listened to the radio (I have a new phone... it lets me listen to the radio or watch Sky News or take photographs in appalling clarity of the passenger sitting across the table from me's crotch when they're not looking... or even when they are... Hey, I think he was pleased.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

not quite the last dog and pony show

As you've heard, few things are as eagerly anticipated by the Family Backroads than the latest Harry Potter instalment. One thing that is looked forward to even more though is the latest Bob Mould album.

Despite an official release date of 26th July, somehow my copy made its way over the Atlantic direct from Yeproc arriving yesterday. The deluxe version, with its extra packaging was too tubby to get through the letterbox, resulting in me and Snicket heading off on a dawn raid to the post office this morning to pick it up. Since then it's accompanied me both ways across the Pennines cranked up nice and loud, sunroof open, shades on.

If you've read any other reviews of Body of Song (handily referenced within Bob's blog entries over recent days), you'll pick up that the record is something of a return to form. This is true, but in a way that does a disservice to his more experimental work on Modulate, as Loudbomb and as half of the Blowoff dj team which has entertained DC's shirtless masses since he walked away from the full-on live band experience of the Last Dog and Pony Show.

In Body of Song, Bob has created a record which draws upon his solo, Sugar and Husker Du years but, actually, couldn't really have been made any time other than the present. It's more up than down for a change... in the past his cup has often been more half empty than half full, and this brighter sound lifts not only the dance influenced cluster of tracks but also the more traditional four on the floor rock tracks.

He's brought together a weighty but varied group of colleagues to work across the project including Sugar's David Barbe, Fugazi's Brandan Canty and Bob's Blowoff buddy Richard Morel. Some of these are likely to make it into the crew Bob's using to tour the record later this year and who'll be in the UK playing the Mean Fiddler on September 6th. Based on the strength in depth offered by Body of Song plus Bob's plan to air tunes from across his career including, for the first time since their split, Husker Du tunes in a band context, the autumn shows should be well worth dropping by.

Last time Bob was in the UK (along with the Flaming Lips) he was plugging Modulate and had lashed himself to the strict tempo of a pre-recorded DVD soundtrack (plus Carry on Camping visuals). This delivered an intense but unnervingly consistent show each night. By reintroducing the dynamics of a live band to his sound whilst incorporating the more electronic influences of recent years, Mould looks set to reinvent himself in the live environment in the same way that Body of Song reinvents his sound on record. Sound of the summer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

backroads and the half-baked plot

Well I broke into an early lead, soon to be overtaken by Alley. Now Mrs B is well out in front and I don’t think I’ll ever get back in the running.

I’m talking, of course, about the arrival of three copies of the latest Harry Potter, courtesy of Amazon, on Saturday morning. It’s not been this quiet around Backroads Manor since Snicket superglued his lips to Alley’s Gameboy.

Of course the main challenge is for the one furthest ahead in the book not to give away key plotlines as the others seek to catch up. Typically, the one in the lead asks the others where they’re up to. The one in second place tends to answer by saying something like “just passed the bit where Harry gets his wand polished by Ginny Weasley whilst she chomps on his exploding bon-bons” followed by squeals of protest from the one in last place (usually me) shouting ‘stop spoiling it’.

If things weren’t hard enough, every time you switch on the radio they’re always interviewing some jumped up little witch who’s won a competition to meet J K Rowling. These kids have no concept of the idea of spoilers and are forever blabbing about twists and turns in the plot. The little Veruca Salt they had on Five Live this morning gaily told listeners how great JK Rowling had been about ensuring none of the children at the book launch overheard any snippets about the… “MAJOR PLOT TWIST THEN REVEALED BY IMBECILE CHILD ON NATIONAL RADIO”. Great.

I’m staying in. No radio, no TV, no interweb. Until I grow up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

i am not an animal. i am a human being.

Despite the sweltering temperatures, such is my desire to swing, I’ve been going to the driving range of a lunch-time. Sadly, there are no swingers there, just a few doggers in the car park, so I’ve been practising my golf instead.

All was going quite well until, whilst steadfastly gripping my shaft and staring at my balls staring back at me, I felt a fly land on my left cheek just in front of my ear. Well, it had taken me so long to get into the correct position, with the right grip, head central, bouncing on the balls of my feet, club nice and straight, I though ‘sod it I’ll deal with the fly in a second when I’ve dispatched my ball up the pseudo-fairway ahead’. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise it was a horse-fly and just at that critical moment it decided to chomp into my flesh. As my ball dribbled horribly off the tee and plopped onto the mat right in front of me I removed my begloved left hand and swiped at the the fly. Off it buzzed, but too late. What’s more, still peckish it came back for afters and had a go at my chin. This time my reflexive swipe must have clipped the little angel’s wings and it fell gently onto the mat. Compassionately, I ground it into the floor with sixteen or seventeen gentle hammer blows courtesy of my virgin seven iron.

Irritated but energised I propelled the remaining balls in my basket as far as I could (i.e. not very far) and packed up to go back to work all sweaty and professional like.

Next day, I waddle into the bathroom for my daily ablutions and a fiddle with my Mach 3 only to find that no longer is the usual chiselled Beckhamesque Backroads staring back at me but something that looks more like a satellite dish. A reaction to the horse-fly has caused my cheek to swell out so far that I can no longer see my ear. As for my chin, well my manly goatee now looks like a mere postage stamp on the wide open plain of my protuberance. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that my face is as sore as hell, or that my work colleagues now have to contend with a weird carnival mash-up of Sophie Ellis Bextor and David Coulthard.

Monday, July 11, 2005

i'm you number one fan

Did anyone notice, whilst they were watching Madonna’s set at Live 8 the other week (you know, swearing, pissing her band off, still being annoyingly doable, etc) that someone was holding up a sign proclaiming (I AM YOUR NUMBER ONE FAN!!). Now these things always worry me. Doesn’t that just shout out ‘I’m a schitzo-uber-stalker with no life, a bedroom plastered in ‘fan-art’ and shares in blu-tac’? Wouldn’t you have thought that, after reading books like Misery, and seeing plenty of stalkers being put away and given restraining orders that people would realise that this sort of attention seeking behaviour is not going to endear them to their idol… in fact rather the opposite. Weird.

Speaking of bunny-boilers did anyone catch the Celebrity Love Island wash-up programme on ITV2 the other night. I think it’s odd how Jayne Middlemiss won the thing when clearly she is a most unhappy camper and the coverage during the last week more or less annihilated her character. As for Paul Danan, I’m sure nothing can be done to help, but Lady Isabella??? How thick do you have to be? Wise up girlfriend.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

endless nameless

Couldn’t be bothered hitting the road at the usual ungodly hour this morning, so took in a little quality time with the Backroads Junior Allstars over breakfast, before reaching the conclusion that chaos on the M6 ain’t so bad after all. By the time I eventually got on the road, news of the explosions in London were beginning to interrupt Popmaster on Ken Bruce (I mentioned my mid-life crisis didn’t I?) just when I was racking up a fairly decent score. Oddly I was on the same stretch of road when 9/11 happened, phoning up colleagues to fire the web up and get the news. Anyhow, breaking news of this sort is always kind of spooky to listen to, but I’m a big fan of ‘rolling bollocks’ so I ditched Radio 2 (I know) and headed over to FiveLive to listen to loads of people saying ‘it’s too early to speculate but…’ before reeling off a whole load of semi-informed suspicion about who did what. After a while I flipped Coldplay on to cheer me up. No effect.

By the time I got to work someone had whacked Sky News on in Reception and people were huddling around listen to people saying ‘it’s too early to speculate but…’ before reeling off a whole load of semi-informed suspicion about who did what.. Interesting stuff.

I wandered past to my desk. Fired up the old difference engine and went on to BBC news to read some people saying ‘it’s too early to speculate but…’ before reeling off a whole load of semi-informed suspicion about who did what. Mmm.

I have absolutely no point to make here, but if I did, I’d be writing columns for the Sunday Times rather than saving this crap onto a memory stick to upload when I get home so as to avoid logging into Blogger whilst at work.

Until next time.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

up the hill and down the slope

Sorry about that. My blogging performance has a direct correlation to how busy I get at work. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to tell you. There is. It’s just that I tend not to blog about work for reasons of wanting to keep my job and as, from time to time, I end up spending more hours working than doing things that are safe to blog about… hence the radio silence.

So… what, you ask, has been happening in the Family Backroads? Well, Alley has passed her SATs, Snicket has passed Chicken Pox on to his best mate Kerby, Boo has passed her first non-pesto like business as she moves into solid food territory, Mrs Backroads has passed comment that I could do with doing a bit more exercise and I have passed McDonalds today without calling in for a Double Bypass Burger and fries. So far so good.

As for any plans currently being drawn up, well me and Mrs B are upping our latin and ballroom dancing lessons from one to two hours a week as we approach competition standard (in our heads), I have unfashionably acquired some golf clubs and booked in a few lessons on the basis that I’m due a mid-life crisis, can’t afford a motorbike and an affair is too dangerous… or is that can’t afford an affair and a motorbike is too dangerous… either way golf, by way of a compromise, is not as dangerous as motorbiking, but does allow me go clubbing and play with my balls.

What else? I’ve been listening to the fantastic Tift Merrett CD and have to begrudgingly acknowledge that the Coldplay record is growing on me in a 70s proggy kind of way. Finally, at risk of ripping a hole in the gossamer thin veneer of blogger chic associated with these pages… the Family Backroads awaits delivery of three copies of the new Harry Potter book next week.

Shut it.

P.S. - Boston Legal is quite good.