Monday, December 20, 2010

Like it or Not

One of the great things about prog rock is that nobody really takes it too seriously - especially those who love it. Hopefully even those who don't can see the funny side of this.

Southern Freeeeeeeez

If this is a review of the year, there is a nice, albeit freezing cold, symmetry about it. This time last year we were gazing out on a snow laden garden, impassable roads and shut schools, and for the first time in decades contemplating a white Christmas.

"Enjoy it while it lasts - it'll be years before you see it like this again", we told the children.

Not even a full year, as it turned out. Two weeks ago we couldn't even open the front door for fear of losing Oliver in a snow drift, and as I type this now, a fresh blanket in the last 24 hours has enabled Lin to build yet another gargantuan snowman on the front lawn. It looks like it's got better prospects of surviving till Christmas Day than last year's.

December 18th 2010

December 25th 2009

In between all this we've briefly had a summer and managed to get up to a few things of note. A few things of note - that's a good place to start:

Lin continues to play regularly with the East Peckham Silver Band, entertaining the public throughout Kent and East Sussex. She has also continued to fulfill engagements playing solo bugle at ceremonies and funerals, including Last Post at Westminster Abbey on Remembrance
weekend - just a bit nerve-wracking!

Lin has also started piano lessons - with an aim to be able to play fluently by the time she's admitted to a nursing home. At the moment she's sounding more like Les Dawson than Les Miserables.

Meanwhile, Jon is enthusiastically rehearsing with his works band. This year they've played 50% more gigs than last - a grand total of three, but still managed to help raise £900 for various charities in the process. There's a number of other entries on the blog if you're interested in learning more.

Talking of work, things have been quite settled there. Lin is still doing three days a week as practice manager at a local GP and Jon will be "celebrating" ten years at Teligent in 2011. With the "Televote Season" now over, he's looking forward to a quiet Christmas and the chance to enjoy Saturday evening TV without one eye on a computer screen and one ear on a BT conference call.

Emma and Oliver are a constant source of enjoyment. Emma moved up to Year 1 in September and is doing very well - "Unerringly polite" was one of the comments on her school report - that was a shock to us! She also contrived to win the Plaxtol Village Duck Painting contest for the second year running, and followed this artistic triumph by winning first prize in a competition run by Tonbridge Council to celebrate the centenary of the town's swimming pool - see elsewhere in this blog for a picture of her receiving her prize from Duncan Goodhew.

Oliver started nursery school in September. It was typically traumatic to start with, but he's settled in very well and the staff are having no trouble with him.

He's still quite a baby at heart; rarely stringing sentences of more than three or four words together, never far from his dummy and comfort blanket, and totally disinterested in using the potty - so it's a real shame he's developed a taste for chicken jalfrezi.

With children turning three and six in March we are very much looking forward to a magical Christmas. Of course we are playing the Santa card at every opportunity to make sure they go to bed on time, tidy up their rooms and generally behave properly. On the other hand we are constantly moving the chocolate decorations onto higher branches of the Christmas tree as the pair of them devise more and more devious and dangerous ways of reaching them - skipping ropes, practice golf balls, radio-controlled helicopters; anything is fair game in the pursuit of chocolate.

For anyone interested, I'll be posting up a new album of pictures from the year during the next couple of days - there will be a link on the right here somewhere. In the meantime, drive carefully, stay safe and have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Jon, Lin, Emma and Oliver


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Morning Judge

It was Oli's nursery school Nativity play this morning. Once again, a triumph of saccharin-sweet cuteness over any semblance of artistic integrity; but to be fair, the rehearsals were snowed-off last week.

When Emma was at the school (and always cast as an angel) I have to admit to being envious of the parents who got to see their child dressed in the fluffy sheep costume that always drew "Ahhhs" from the audience. Our patience was rewarded this year when Oli emerged from the wings in that prized outfit.

On closer inspection, we actually think it's a rabbit costume. Or a High-Court Judge. Either way it's stretching the the Nativity story a bit.

Still - "Ahhhh"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where Does The Time Go?

Five months!

Sorry - I've been busy. Must be something to do with having two children under six that means that there are no idle moments in which to disgorge my random thoughts. Of course this gives me an ideal opportunity to post some "Review of the Year" type entries without being repetitive - if I can find the time.

Maybe the intensive band rehearsals haven't helped - although once a week on Wednesday evenings is hardly intensive. Still, it was good enough for us to pull off a pretty decent performance in Strood at the weekend. Having warmed-up with a three song set for Children in Need a few weeks ago we upped the ante to a full fourteen song set last Saturday and managed to raise £420 for charity at the same time.

  • Stand by me
  • I’m a believer
  • Make me smile
  • Baker Street
  • Ain’t no sunshine
  • All of my life (Phil Collins)
  • Candy (Paolo Nutini)
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • Don’t look back in anger
  • Take it easy
  • Lido Shuffle
  • New Shoes
  • Hey Jude
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This was the first time we had performed Boz Scaggs' Lido Shuffle; a song I have wanted to have a stab at for years and years. Having lost a rehearsal to snow recently it was touch-and-go whether it would make the final set, but I'm so pleased we persisted. Some audience comments afterwards said it was our best song - presumably in recognition of how difficult it is, as there were some slightly ropey moments during the performance, but from a purely personal point-of-view I was so relieved to nail the synth solo. I just wished I'd turned myself up a bit more!

Sadly our vocalist has confirmed that was his last gig - he's never been comfortable with the more rocky stuff we do - and whilst there are two or three of us who chip in with backing vocals I don't think any of us will be stepping up (certainly not me!). Auditions start in January I guess.