Taken to document possibly one of the proudest moments of my life, today’s picture shows how a GCSE in Physics, a bit of string, some baking trays and a slow leaking radiator valve can all be combined to prevent a fuse box from shorting out and causing a disaster.
Having been notified that there was water dribbling from the upstairs bathroom, down the kitchen wall and into the meter cupboard, investigations revealed that the valve from the recently removed radiator had burst due to age and was issuing water at a very slow rate but sufficient enough to be problematic.
Application of a spanner reduced the leak to a slight dribble but the resulting issuance was in that awful hinterland of too much and too little. Then the long dead Mr O’Malley’s tobacco stained voice echoed in my head and said – “Capillary Attraction”.
A visit to the shed to collect some string and grabbing a handful of containers later, I had fashioned a rudimentary collection device which stopped the flow downstairs until such a time as the emergency plumber could attend.
I still remember his face when he saw what I had done and if you look up the word Impressed in a Pictionary, you’ll see that same face.
In my youth I regularly visited the gentleperson’s establishment of Bishop Eton Parish Centre, known locally as Birch House, a church club. At the time, it seemed like the centre of the universe. Cheap beer, cheap cigarettes, quirky vending machine in the entrance and two hi-reward fruit machines. It also boasted a friendly hostess and a bloody handy lock in.
Lock-ins, for those not in the know, are when an establishment continues to entertain selected patrons after the doors have closed and alcohol sales are required by law to cease due to the time of day or night. Of course, once the doors are closed and the curtains are drawn, there’s no telling what goes on in there. Drinking mostly. Occasionally until 4am.
As well as a patron, I was also a member of staff and frequently had to facilitate the lock-in despite having a job to go to in the morning. However, in those days the clock was weird and 4am was just a time on the clock while sleep was something that happened for six hours between eyes shut and 7am in the morning. Being a member of staff I was also fortunate enough to be able to monitor the usage of the fruit machines and determine when it would pay out, which it often did, in my favour.
The club was owned by the local parish church and used for functions and meetings of local groups including a group of professional males who followed a sinister type of catholic free-masonry, a Women’s Institute knock-off, a couple of local self-build groups, the youth club (complete with a local weirdo who liked to stare at the girls) and a weird and secretive “invite only” quiz league. It really was a happening place.
Sadly, land values around the area rose and the thought of a quick cash injection for the church became too much for the clergy. As a result, in the early noughties, the club closed its doors for the last time. The building, a graded listed building, was earmarked for “redevelopment to luxury accommodation”, which meant falling into disrepair, catching fire and it and the ground eventually being bulldozed and turned into a gated community of several houses.
Thankfully, the name, if not the memories, lives on in the street name – Birch House Close. Bless.
I suppose my first job was as a paper boy for D Browns in Woolton Village. Browns is still there. D Brown, is not.
Browns is a traditional newsagent. It’s still going purely because it is the first shop on the way to the bus stop from a girls secondary school. Indeed, when half past three comes and you’re lucky to get a penny dip or your copy of the Liverpool Echo as the swarm of teenage girls outside prevents access to any but the determined.
The other curious thing about Browns is, they did not sell cigarettes. They didn’t have to. In fact, if they only opened at 8am to 9am and 3.30pm to 4.30pm, the owners of Browns could quite easily carry on trading for many years to come.
When I was a paper boy there, Browns was run by Tommy. Tommy was one of those people who was well known throughout Woolton village. A semi-dignitary.
My round was an evening round. I would hurry home from school as fast as I could, jump on my bike and head into the village. I’d then collect my 39 copies of the Liverpool Echo; count them and head out into the evening to deliver across the village.
First port of call was the Coffee House. A rough drinking hole, so rough, the chairs had bouncers and the windows were so thickly coated in nicotine the local tramps would lick the outside of them to get their fix.
Next would be Dewhursts the butchers (now a charity shop) where the butcher would joke and tease about how he used to keep an eye on me in my pram when my mum was out shopping.
A quick jaunt up to the village club before heading down to the village cinema and then out round the far end of the village estates.
It was quite a mixed bag of housing. From low income pensioners to upper class toffs in big manses complete with security systems and complex access to letter boxes. I maintain to this day that I had the best round of all 8 rounds at Browns. Why?
Well three things really.
1) Christmas tips were amazing (one year I took home over £100 in Christmas tips)
2) There were more conker trees on the route than anywhere else in Woolton
3) The last delivery was my mum and dad.
Three isn’t the limit. Other things that made the round enjoyable include:
– Bags of sweets bought before departure from the shop
– Only 2 dogs
– It was mostly down hill
– Magazines to read (Including Just 17, More and Cosmopolitan: all of which helped me, as a teenager, understand girls slightly better)
– £4.50 a week wage.
£4.50 a week. Not a lot is it? These days most paperboys wont even pick up a newspaper for less than £4.50 an hour. I didn’t care though. The wealth came from the “manly thighs” I have and the exercise I gained.
Since the news of possible redundancy, I’ve been thinking a lot about my career. Where I’ve come from. Where I am going to. The variety of jobs I’ve held down over the years.
I’ve also been thinking about how “music heavy” my blogs are appearing to be at the moment. I mean, I’m only just started on that, and I’ve still got several months of albums to listen to.
Furthermore, I’ve been looking through my old entries and thinking how different my entries are these days comparatively.
So, I thought why not do a few posts about something different. That way I don’t alienate my already existing audience. Therefore, over the next few entries, I thought I would write about my job history. Each and every job. The fun and disparity I had. The people I met.
There is a certain sound that conjures up memories of the 1990’s. Granted, I spent most of the 1990s in a haze of solitude and unemployment. Indeed, I did not really venture much further musically than the compilation album Shine 9. Instead I spent most of the 90s listening to Mike Oldfield, Yes, Triumvirat and whatever I happened upon on my cassette tapes. Those were the days. Days of sitting round, doing nothing. Wasting time.
I suspect that The Divine Comedy’s greatest hits, this album, appears in my music library due to Gay Jamie who no doubt put it on one of his many MP3 CDs he wrote for me back in the early noughties.
The Divine Comedy are that sound. The sound of the nineties. I’d not listened to this album before I began this project and, apart from a couple of tunes I’d heard on the radio or in other compilations, I’m not all that familiar nor enamoured with the band or their work. I was also surprised by the fact that they wrote the theme tune to Father Ted. So that was a surprise when it started playing midway through the listen.
Anyway, I think I’ll just keep the tracks I like off this album and bin the rest.
I never did the Coldplay thing. To me they were too mainstream, boring, bland, over exposed and overused. Listening to this album again did nothing to change that opinion.
While listening I kept expecting the soothing tones of Kirsty Wark or Prof Brian COCKs to pipe in over the top and tell me about the illusionary one armed orphan made of atoms that was in need of some respite or donations so they could buy a camel to dig a waterhole in their flooded landscape with their one eyed baby. Or someone like Lenny Henry to start telling me about Samanfa from Barnes who has over come her addiction to jam and has returned to the area where her abuse of jam started only to be reunited with Kelly her old friend who has now lost a leg. Or something.
If you’ve watched any documentaries or charity programmes since this album was released, there is no doubt you have already heard this album. I don’t know why. Perhaps it just brings to mind unbearable mental images of depression, deprivation and false hope.
Anyway, for you guys, I listened to the whole album. I didn’t want to. I wanted to gloss over it but I am loyal to you and so I tortured myself by listening to it. Please don’t make me do it again…..I can’t. I’ve recycle binned it…
Triumvirat, for me, was one of those mystical bands that were impossible to find in conventional music shops. Whenever I went to HMV and browsed the “T” section I was always unsurprised to not find Triumvirat. Triumph, yes. Trivium, Yes. No Triumvirat. It was hardly surprising having “inherited” Illusions on a Double Dimple on vinyl from my brother who himself had “won” it in a competition.
So with the advent of the internet I was able to find out all about Triumvirat. How fantastic they were. How they were from Germany (not Finland as some sources say). How one of the original band members died in an accident. How the style changed following the death and how the line up changed constantly in true Prog Rock fashion. . I was also able to “obtain” their entire catalogue. Acesticks.
In A La Carte, the curious mix of Emmerson Lake & Palmeresque twiddly gets brushed into the musical recycle bin to give way for a more “ELO” tweeness. Which doesn’t work. There are two songs on this album that I like: Waterfall (sung by Barry Palmer) and For You. I will give a sample for you, of For You for you. For you, to fore ewe. Four eu?
A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC by Hayseed Dixie
You’ll probably now see a lot of albums that start “A Tribute” or similar. On the back of the artist of the previously reviewed album, Beatallica, I was introduced, through a conversation, to Hayseed Dixie.
Hayseed, as discussed earlier, were one of the many “tribute scene” bands that “fused” styles with artists in the last decade. I’m still waiting for a Folk version of Rammstein or a Tweecore tribute to something like Fields of the Nephilim. I guess I’ll have to wait.
I went to see Hayseed when they toured the UK. They played, and played, and played. The Student Union staff at Liverpool turned on the lights. They continued to play. The security unplugged their equipment. They continued to play. We left. They continued to play.
One trick pony.
I’m not a fan of AC/DC. I am aware of their works. But I am not a fan. I guess a lot of this is wasted on me.
A couple of years ago there was a craze where tribute acts would “fuse” music styles and create a unique sound for which to bang out other artists work. So for example – AC/DC was turned hill billy by Hayseed Dixie; Pink Floyd played by accordian players became Polka Floyd. The fusion that worked with the Beatles was the unlikely fusion of Metallica and Beatles to become – BEATALLICA.
Now, when I first heard of them I was blown away. I thought “How original!”.
Michael Jackson’s lawyers didn’t think so and slapped a DMCA notice on them preventing the use of the Beatles music. However, one US court battle later and it was deemed “Fair use and Parody” and Beatallica continued, prevented, however, from making a profit from their music by the court.
Garage Dayz Nite is an early collection of Beatallica’s work. It’s ok. It gets a bit too much towards the end and the joke does wear thin quickly. But if you want a taster of Beatallica, there are plenty of examples of their work on the web, Uncle Google is your friend. But as we are all lazy here is a sample:
A French Kiss in the Chaos by Reverend and the Makers
I met Jon McClure some years ago, just as his Makers were starting out in the big wide world of showbiz. His then girlfriend Laura Manuel (One of the Makers) was working with Mrs-soon-to-be-ex-Gnomepants and Gnomepants Manor would often receive demo cds of the Reverend’s new work.
Personally I thought he was a wanker.
The Mrs liked him though and went skinny dipping somewhere wild with the whole band.
Laura was ok though.
Jon was a wanker.
Anyway, historically, I liked their first album. This is their “difficult” second album. It’s shit. Don’t bother.