Monthly Archives: August 2007

august echo

quaverThe festival happened. It is happening, again, as that big lad keeps saying in TP series 2 which is still not available in the UK.

It rained gently and persistently in Edinburgh. I saw Herring (disappointing), FuerzaBruta (astonishing), Slint (charisma-free), Smashing Pumpkins (again). I drank Kronenbourg, Tennents, Kirin, Hoegaarden, fine-ish wines, Havana. Over the period of constant ‘socialising’ I got to that great stage where the hangovers lose their brutal edge and become a fuzzy inconvenience, to be dispelled by the lunchtime beer.

To escape the weather Stu and I jumped on a train with Jonny and Esme and went to Leeds festival. It shone, and blazed, and burned for four straight days. We stole a number of attractive straw hats from the hat stall to keep our pusses intact. We saw lots of bands. We drank Carling, Strongbow, Grolsch, wine, vodka, Morgan’s. I was exposed to some new genres, including – but not limited to – gabba, sillystep, daftmash and gooncore.

Some bands that I saw that I liked are Eagles of Death Metal, NIN, !!!, Interpol and UNKLE. The traditional Sunday-night destruction of the entire site was forgotten this year, which was refreshing.

The return to work has been interesting, as I have a deadline for a whitepaper (next Friday, seven days). So working 13hr days until then, including the weekend. Get back to you when that’s over.

show me your fringe

This is the first time in seven years of the Embra festival that I’ll be there as a visitor. Given the scarcity of vacation, I only have 17-22 August to see shows.

The good news is that I have the afternoons free, meaning at last I can see some proper theatre and that.

So I need you to post, via the magic of comments:

  1. what is good.
  2. what you have booked.

pintMy zygotic wish list so far contains the traditional Richard Herring and the Dunc-recommended Fuerzabruta.

I’m kind of curious about Jon Richardson from the Russell Howard slot on BBC 6 Music (always excellent for hungover Sundays). Probably not enough to book him though.

I did manage to catch half a dozen London previews; kind of a proto-Edinburgh. Of those I would recommend Glenn Wool, Robin Ince and our man Stewart Lee, taking the art of repetition to dizzying extremes. I would mention Daniel Kitson but he sold out long ago.


sisyphusSince I drove to London and its gold-paved roads last December, my car has languished unused in the multi-storey car park around the corner.

This is a terrible waste of a great motor, so now is the time to get it polished up and sold.

After seven months in the slammer the Nissan has a finger-width coating of dust and an amazing collection of spider webs and cobwebs. Greyed-out windows.

More significantly the car alarm has completely drained the battery, so the beast sits inert and cannot move. Time to call out the ‘home start’ service.

Normally the mechanic guy arrives with a magic box, a small red briefcase with electric ju-ju inside. Wire this up to the battery and press a button, voila. This time however the local garage sends out a burly black geezer in a full flatbed truck. Exactly the kind that cannot drive inside multi-storey car parks.

Our only option then is to roll the dead car down to street level manually, and furthermore “try and do it in one go mate”. So I hop in and the dude pushes me toward the downramps. The momentum builds fast and with no power steering I haul the massive dodgem around the downward spiral, looping crazily and narrowly avoiding parked cars. The guy sprints ahead of me waving his arms comically and checking for other drivers.

Finally I emerge into sunshine and jump-start the motor using the truck. Sign papers and shake hands. First trial over.

I give the engine a few minutes to think things over, to get used to the idea of running normally. Then cautiously I drive off, and 200yds later promptly stall. Dead car again. Sprint back to the repair truck before he disappears. Another jump-start.

tachoThis time I sit with my foot pressing the gas pedal, carefully keeping the revs up. For twenty-five torturous minutes. This is maddening, a bit like being in a stress position – if you move your foot fractionally the revs drop alarmingly and the engine has a seizure. My ankle is sending weird pain signals, but I daren’t move it. The truck is long gone. Finally I can’t take it any more and decide to make a break for it. Foot down. Second trial over.

Then the real fun begins – driving through deepest central London, on unfamiliar roads, in stop/start lunchtime traffic, all the while trying to keep revs high. Utter nightmare. Keeping your right foot down means braking with the handbrake and praying for the engine to keep going. Repeating the Google Map directions in my head like a mantra. Not thinking about being appallingly late for work, shirt streaked with grime and dust and spider husks.

Finally with nerves and tendons at breaking point I get to the right place and park up. Thankfully I chose a good SE1 garage and the bloke is incredibly professional; an oasis of sanity. Relax. Third trial over.

let’s push things forward

Interesting email today.

Dear Mr Aaron Bell

Thank you for contacting us. Your booking reference number is nnnnnnnn.

Attached is the fulfilment package for your appointment at the US Embassy in London.

Please do not bring mobile phones or any electronic devices, such as Blackberries, IPods, or PDAs as they are not allowed within the Embassy. We also strongly advise that you do not bring large bags, such as backpacks, suitcases or packages to the interview as there is no place to store them.

Note: Applicants who do not follow these instructions will experience considerable delays at the security check point which could result in the interview being cancelled.