Birthday Week

Woo yay I’m officially older than I used to be. As time has wandered on I’m tending to find that I’m blurring the boundaries around the cursed day itself, and spreading the celebrations across a full week. This year’s Birthday Week has been full of treats, and has pretty much dulled the blow of the dread four-one.

To start then, one of the most eagerly anticipated comebacks of the year, a band who’d been away for far too long hit the UK. We were one of the lucky few to get tickets for their gig.

No, not flippin’ Led Zep, although we are talking about a band whose drummer also died suddenly and too soon. We caught Crowded House at Wembley Arena last Sunday. We’ve been part of this community for a while, and it was a huge rush to see the boys in full cry again. The last time we saw Neil Finn was as part of the Finn Brothers tour, the night after Paul Hester, the mercurial Crowded House drummer, had been found dead in a Sydney park. That evening was part wake, part celebration, and one of the strangest concerts I’d ever been to. Bic Runga, the support act, kept bursting into tears during her set. Hester’s place was taken by a mike stand and snare drum stage centre, a tribute to his place in the band.

This time was a much more celebratory occasion. Most of the outstanding Time On Earth album got an airing, and of course all the hits, which I roared along to with abandon. This is part of the fun of a Crowdies gig, of course, and if you don’t get chills from a full Wembley Arena flawlessly singing Four Seasons In One Day with no input from the band whatsoever (in fact they’ve been known to put down their instruments and just listen at this point in proceedings) then you’re dead from the hips down. A joyous, transcendent evening. 

I spent the dread day itself at work, and as we’ve been so crazily busy lately it span past without me really noticing, which was just what was needed really. I was taken out for beers at lunch time, and a straw poll came to the conclusion that I looked 36, which helped matters considerably.
Dinner that evening was taken at Myalacarte, a great new restaurant local to us that prides itself on seasonal British food. It’s friendly, reasonably priced and the food has the yum factor cranked up nice and high. The Aldershot pork chop I tore through was rich and unctuous, deeply flavoursome and the perfect choice for a chilly winter night. Especially with the Laphriog I had instead of dessert. Central heating for grown-ups.
I took a day off yesterday, indulged in a big fat lie-in, and a quiet solitary potter around town, which sounds deeply sad, but suited my mood no end. A little self-indulgency goes a long way towards giving a guy a feeling of quiet pleasure. 
And somehow I ended up browsing in a couple of guitar shops and well, erm, it wasn’t planned or anything but I did have some birthday money, and the guy was offering such a ridiculously good deal that I would have kicked myself otherwise and you know how it is…
Everyone, meet Ruby.

She’s a Vintage VR100, a punky plank I’m planning on thrashing mercilessly. Simple, stripped back, a no-nonsense grin machine. And even Clare approves of the choice. I’m so happy I could just fall over.

Finally, a couple of sites that deserve your perusal. My good friend Dr Timothy P Jones has started a blog where he turns the news stories of the day into poetry. This site is getting better by the day, and I’m waiting for the day when he responds to my challenge to summarise the Daily Sport.

Finally, a new quarterly magazine of fantastika is about to launch, and could use your support. Get yerselves over to Michael Knost’s website, and sign up for Noctem Aeternus. It’s free. It’s got a new Ramsey Campbell story in issue one. What other impetus do you need?

Tonight, a carol concert in Chelsea, and the Christmas deccoes go up tomorrow. Looks like tis the season…


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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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