Thursday, May 22, 2008

For Absent Friends

Well it was only a matter of time before the presence of this little blog would permeate into the blogosphere; I'd kind of hoped I might build up a half decent collection of semi-interesting posts before I released it on the unsuspecting world, but I accidentally blew my cover by posting a comment on my good friend PT's considerably more mature (in age, if not content) blog Now What Happens?

Pete posted up an entry in response that is full of reminiscence and reflection, echoing a sentiment that I have increasingly felt recently. I'm not having a mid-life crisis because I am extremely happy and content with just about everything at the moment, but I still find it hard to accept that it's the best part of 25 years since the halcyon days at Queen Mary College where so many of my most valuable friendships were forged. A seemingly insignificant decision I made in late 1983 to join the drama society and audition for the Christmas panto was an embryonic moment that through a series of events and associations has defined my circumstances today. Life would have been very different if I hadn't been so keen to dress up in tights that day.

As Pete says, for years we used to virtually live in each other's pockets, especially during the period when we shared an office at Intourist, yet we've only met up twice in the last eighteen months or so. It's pretty disgraceful really, but now we're separated by half the M25 and M3 motorways, it's not so easy to pop round for coffee. Fortunately in this hi-tech age it's so much easier to keep friendships going, so on the odd occasions we meet up we don't have to spend hours catching up on things. Of course it's not just Pete who I've neglected; from Dorset to Dubai, Milton Keynes to Munich and all over the Home Counties there are countless friends I've seldom seen since Emma was born, but when Oliver arrived on the scene the cards, flowers and gifts still arrived from them all by the truckload. I guess this kind of loyalty is the benefit of the many years we spent building the friendships - not that I'm taking that for granted.

It reminds me of a card I received from a girlfriend back in 1984. She had carefully handwritten the following verse, something that struck me as very profound and wise for a seventeen year-old.

Time sifts our friendships and our friends,
For time alone can be the test.
And with the passing of the years,
We lose the false and keep the best.

And when, beyond the distant hills,
The setting sun of life descends,
We find God's greatest gift has been
The love of true and faithful friends

She dumped me two weeks later.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Spirit of Radio

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. That's alright, I probably forgot yours too. Anyway, the family all chipped in and bought me a Roberts Internet Radio; the WM201 for those who are interested. I'd never really explored the world of internet radio before but having a dedicated device that does not require the PC to be on appealed to me, and this particular model is fully stereo and supports both wired and wireless networks.

It takes a lot for a high-tech gadget to impress me these days, but I have to say this little box is the business. You register the device at the Reciva website and set up a profile of favourite radio stations while you're there. The next time you go to the radio, it updates itself with these settings to give you shortcuts to each of those stations. You can of course still use the radio to search for new stations by name, genre or geographical location, but using the web site is a lot easier.

I started by searching the rock genre, with particular emphasis on progressive rock. Amongst a generous selection of channels, one stands out over the others: the curiously named Delicious Agony. The first three tracks I heard were by Peter Gabriel, Yes and Kansas - all of which I own and could easily play myself if I wanted, but somehow hearing a radio station playing my kind of music was more satisfying.

There are some very wierd spoken-word stations out there too, dealing with all sorts of topics ranging from the paranormal to abnormal. Yesterday eveing, whilst trying to calm Oliver after a feed, I flicked through the kids genre looking for baby friendly music. I found a station called 101 RU Lullaby, which sounded promising, but in fact seemed to be broadcasting some Russian bloke singing about his cabbage harvest accompanied by a detuned harmonium. Since this had very little calming influence on Oliver I jumped to my favourites list and chose Beach House Radio, a Spanish station I stumbled upon that plays a mix of chillout, dance and electronica - not the sort of thing I'd normally listen to, but it's very relaxing and always seems to send Oliver into a blissful sleep.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pray Lewd

Tap, tap, tap. Testing, testing. One-two, one-two. Is this thing working?

Well, good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to my blog. I've been meaning to do one of these for ages, but as a fully qualified procrastinator I've never found the time, which is a shame as I'm sure amongst my varied interests (music and video production, sailing, pub quizzes, The Bahamas, and so on) I would have found plenty to blog about.

But that was then; well pre-2005 to be accurate, when Lin and I were the classic double-income, no kids couple, able to enjoy our indulgent lifestyles without a hint of parental responsibilities. Fast forward to today and life is very different - a three-year old daughter and nine-week old son mean hobbies and interests are pretty much on hold and holidays extend to Dorset and Cornwall rather than Dubai and The Caribbean. Not that we're complaining - we count ourselves very lucky to have managed to pack so much in before starting our family, even if it might not have been the original plan.

So why Ranch Lines? Well, our lovely little house is affectionately known as The Ranch by our family. When I say little house I should say bungalow, and perhaps not so little after the extension that went on in 2005/2006 - I notice Google Earth has up to date images now. I'm not going to give you any details as you may be undesirable and come round and nick the garden furniture.

And Pray Lewd? Well this entry is hardly the real deal; more of a prelude of what's to come hopefully. Pray Lewd is a challenging piano piece by Jim Steinman - I can play it a bit - but not half as well as this guy.