The Compostual Existentialist

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Jobs #0

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.

Stay tuned.

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Music Project–Album #44–A Thousand Roads–Lisa Gerrard & Jeff Rona

imageA Thousand Roads by Lisa Gerrard & Jeff Rona

A Thousand Roads is a film by Chris Eyre released in 2005. This is the soundtrack for it.

I’m very fond of soundtracks and there are many in my collection. Mostly they are of films that I have seen but this is one of 2 film soundtracks of films I’ve not seen.

I’m also very fond of Lisa Gerrard’s music including Dead Can Dance (but more about them in a later post).

So there’s two things: Lisa Gerrard and Soundtracks. What more could I want? Well there is a third thing. World music. I first got into World Music as a teenager when I was taken on a school trip to see the Gamelan at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool. Initially I was resistant but an hour into the performance I began to recognise repetitions, subtleties and changes in rhythm which none of my classmates seemed to appreciate. On the back of that experience I embraced World Music and, over the years, have collected some interesting music (again, more of that in a later post).

A Thousand Roads is a lovely mix of etherical wailing, tribal chants and haunting synths. A rare treat for travellers and explorers of the musical soundscape.


Music Project–Album #42–A Secret History –The Divine Comedy

imageA Secret History by The Divine Comedy

 

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.


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Sweets

Pownall’s didn’t look anything like this

When I was a kid and I walked to and from school (paedophilaphobia hadn’t been invented then and so it was perfectly safe to allow children to walk to school) I would pass a lovely little newsagents called Doreen Pownells. Mrs Pownells shop had a lovely smell of calor gas heaters, damp newspapers and icing sugar. The walls were lined on two sides with huge jars of sweets, the other with a small selection of magazines and household essentials. The window display consisted of little pocket money toys and advertisements for popular beverages of the time. The window of the door was bedecked with little adverts one might find in a small shop from people advertising tutoring, cars and cleaning services.

Ah. Mrs Pownells. I can still smell the foisty shop. I can still picture the little yellow tray within which she would vend penny sweets and chews to passing children. I can still picture the beautifully grand cash register. I can still recall the glee at finding half a penny on the floor and rushing in to buy an aniseed ball.

No wonder I have so many fillings.

If I was lucky I might have 10p to spend on my way home. Remember that 10p back then was a lot of money. It would buy you a bag of ten penny sweets or twenty half penny sweets. Penny sweets usually consisted of jazzies, fizzy cola bottles and jellies, Two pence sweets where a bit more adventurous and would mainly comprise of flumps, mojos and blackjacks. If one were lucky enough to have 20p to spend a whole world of luxury was open to you. For there were 5p sweets there too. 5p sweets usually consisted of Bazooka Jo chewing gums and the like. Further more, should one be fortuitous to manage to rustle up a whole pound coin for your sweet indulgences one would find themselves able to afford the 10p beheamoths that were Jawbreakers; a packet of 3 of the hardest gobstoppers you can imagine that actually changed flavour as you sucked them. Ah it is no wonder I have fillings. The amount of money I must have spent in passing would these day probably have fed a family of 6 a couple of soggy chips from the back of the deep fryer.

Sadly now Pownells has long closed. I believe it now sells hot tubs or is a poodle manicurists or something daft. I fear that this is mostly because children no longer walk home from school and no longer spend their hard begged pennies on rubbish like sweets. Woolton village had, at that time, a total of seven newsagents/sweetshops. This, I am sure you agree, is a phenomonal amount to have in such a small location, but all did a very good trade until the coming of the supermarkets and the arrival of paedophilaphobia. This once great selection has diminished to a poxy 2 sweet shops, one of which, Browns, is situated near a high school bus stop so will always do well, the other near the village chippy, a favorite haunt of lunchtime school evaders. Indeed, the village fete magazine which used be issued annually to all villagers for the princely sum of £1, did, in previous times, bulge with small advertisements from the local businesses. Sadly most of these shops, as I say, have gone. The Village Fete is a closed affair if it happens at all, and the village is now just a series of streets with estate agents selling luxury apartments linking the two major supermarkets that have sucked the soul out of the place.

Jazzies yesterday.

The rich diversity. The colourfulness, the SWEETS. All gone. I fear generations will rise not knowing what a jazzie is. I shudder at the thought of children completing highschool without ever tasting a fizzy cola bottle from a penny mix. Though, my fear may be misguided. I know there are online sweet shops that still stock gems like jazzies and cola bottles. I am well aware that you can nip down to Costco and get a box of WHAM bars. The difference is, buying them from a faceless cash and carry or online shop is no substitute for buying them from a crappy little dodgy newsagent using the 5p you’ve managed to forage from gutters and pavements and then running home clutching a grubby looking paper bag. Nor do you have to explain to your mum why you have no appetite for your dinner.

Kids today eh? They don’t know what they’re missing (Probably because they are allergic).


This post first appeared in 2009 on my Livejournal.


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Holiday

I’ve been musing and fantasising about going to Wales, I got thinking about the way my Dad used to take us to Porthmadog in the 70’s and 80’s. Instead of taking the A55 along the north coast through Conwy and then down the A470 through to Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog we would scuttle down the A494 via Mold and through Denbighshire to Ruthin and Bala before gimbling down the A4212 which goes round the beautiful Llyn Celyn.

During this time my Dad drove a yellow MkI Ford Escort. It had vinyl seat coverings. Alighting from the car on a hot day would always result in cries of pain as you left the upper epidermal layer of your thighs on the black seat coverings. Regardless of this inconvenience, it seemed like we would always stop at Llyn Celyn and have our lunch while my mum told us about the village that was flooded to make the Llyn.

Lunch on such occasions nearly always consisted of cold bacon sandwiches on white bread with a thickish layer of butter or margarine. The sandwiches would be wrapped in silver or aluminium foil and they would be accompanied by a melted KitKat and a cup of warm milky coffee served from a tartan thermos flask. We would eat our lunch at the road side picnic tables and watch the rest of the holiday making public go past to their destinations. This seemed to be a traditional repast in the Gnomepants household as whenever my Auntie Joyce took us on picnics, the same fayre would be served (though more often than not accompanied by sweets and cake).

Our hearty lunch devoured, we would then continue on our route, down some twisty bendy B Road across the Snowdonian moors bypassing Blaenau and then down the A487, along the causeway (paying our 5p toll…heh) before pulling into Porthmadog itself to do the grocery shopping that would see us through the week of staying in Uncle Nat’s caravan.


In case you don’t know From Left to Right:- Me mam, our Carl (avec trainee scouser moustache), me (the little one at the front in the Paddington Bear tshirt), me dad (balding one) and our Chris (looking thin there, now he’s a bit chunky).

The caravan was near the fabled Black Rock Sands in a caravan site called Greenacres. Now it has its own swimming pools, luxury static caravans, security watch towers and special 4×4 Chelsea Tractor parking facilities, Cocaine snorting area and swinging club. Back then, in the 1970’s/80’s it was a basic caravan site with a small amusement arcade containing table top Asteroids and Space Invaders. If you wanted a swim you would nip down to the beach and paddle in the sewage outflow safe in the knowledge that nasty diseases and child snatchers hadn’t been invented. (Now you need to take a prepreswimmingpoolshowershower, a preswimmingpoolshower and a swimming poolshower before you are even allowed to look at the swimming pool, then you are required to have a postswimmingpoolshower, a postswimmingpoolshowershower and then remain in quarantine for a week incase you pass something on to one of the precious little darlings that people insist on taking on holiday). The sea was unimaginably cold. Well. I suppose you lot that live out near the flipping North Pole (robynz,zelest and think4yrself for example) would probably scoff at me saying that. But Cardigan Bay was bloody cold.

Of course, at this time nasty skin cancer causing ultraviolet rays and holes in the ozone layer hadn’t been invented and if it wasn’t for my fair complexion requiring me to wear a tshirt when I went swimming which although protected my torso, didn’t do much for the arms and legs. Added to that, I wasn’t the strongest of swimmers because I had ear problems as a child and wasn’t allowed to go in water incase I did damage to the surgery. Not that it did like. All that meant was I couldn’t swim very well until I was about 10. But I digress. Greenacres also had acres and acres of sand dunes to explore and views of the Carn Fadrun, the Snowdonian mountains and Harlech Castle.

Further along the beach cars were permitted to drive. Two things stick in my mind about this privilege, the first being my first ever “drive” of a car. When the beach was quieter my dad would take the Escort onto the beach and I would sit on his knee and turn the wheel while he operated the pedals. The second thing being that often people would park their cars on the beach then bumble off to the pub or somewhere further along the beach to enjoy themselves. This would frequently result in people forgetting to check the tidal times and hilarity would ensue when cocky holiday makers would return to find their car somewhere in the middle of Cardigan Bay. Of course you wouldn’t get that today. Pretentious wankers in their smart pristeine cars would probably have some sort of tidal early warning system hot wired into their brain. Also the “risk” of having a car on the beach would probably be too great and the council have probably stopped the practice of cars on the beach in case someone mistakes a Porche for a tube of Smarties and chokes. Or in case it incenses someone’s religious beliefs or some other PC crap.

Happy times. Irreplaceable times. These days Porthmadog is spoilt by the frightful hordes of frightful families in 4x4s and other fat arsed cars. Screaming overly spoilt and cotton wool wrapped kids, disenchanted husbands and hyper-fussy mothers who either don’t give a shit about their kids or give too much of a shit about their kids. Cafe Bars, expensive boutiques, surf shops, stinky burger bars and snooty retired pensioners trying to recapture their lost childhood in their autumn years. But I doubt kids today have as much fun as I did dicing with death and mistaking cars for tubes of smarties when I was their age. This year I would love to travel to Wales along that route described. Eat cold bacon sandwiches and drink warm milky coffee from a tartan thermos flask. I long to stand on the platform of the Ffestiniog Light Railway, inhale the steam from the trains and admire the view across Cardigan Bay. Relive part of the magic but not all. Before such practices are banned because someone might get offended or some boffin discovers that there is too much salt in cold bacon sandwiches or that holidaying in Wales is bad for the environment. Happy fond times.

Thank you for reading.


A song that reminds me of an event

Way back when, in the time of never-never. Before sinister government face recognition software trawled tagged helpfully pictures on Facebook adding your face to the giant database that “does not exist”. Before the twin towers fell. Before the millennium of anti-climax. A much anticipated event occurred. Warnings in the estoteric press and from hippies and floaty vagina types about how the world was going to end because of the event were abound. The foolish paid daft wads of cash to observe the event from the furthest point south they could get to. Boats and aircraft were chartered. My pre-wife and I headed for relative isolation equipped with tent and telescope with solar observation module attached.

The main intent was to follow the hordes to the overpriced traffic jammed Southwest to observe the total solar eclipse of 11th August 1999. Common sense, however, reigned. Travelling south with all the holiday traffic to Cornwall, the Guardian destination of choice was utter madness. However, I knew of a relatively quiet place. Not many people went there for it was relatively undiscovered. It faced south over the sea, took about the same amount of time to get to and promised to be an adventure and a half.

So it was agreed, we would head to North Wales and to Aberdaron, camp, then ascend Mynnedd Mawr to observe the eclipse.

We packed our stuff and set off in the green nasty. Long term readers will remember the green nasty as the car that was killed by fire. It was a good car. Handy for camping. It had a cassette player and a selection of cassettes were chosen for the journey. I even compiled a “eclipse” compilation. Driving over the hill and into the village with Aberdaron and the bay before me while today’s song was playing burned itself into my mind. Whenever I hear today’s song, I am there;

Brain Damaged/Eclipse by Pink Floyd

….Driving down the hill into the village….just as….”and the sun is eclipsed by the moooooooooooo-ooooooooooon” is sung.

It was quiet there. Few people about. This was, of course, before being popularised in the Guardian and other such papers as the area to go because “Cornwall is too expensive, far away and full of awful tourists like yourselves”. We pitched our tent in a relatively unpopular field and the next day ascended Mynnedd Mawr. With, it seemed, everyone else who had the same idea.

Usually that place is quiet with few visitors. We got there early with the campsite being literally at the base of the mountain and as we set up and prepared ourselves for the event more and more people arrived with the same idea. Indeed, the look of horror on other people’s faces echoed mine as it meant that I was not alone in the realisation that that part of Wales was becoming more well known than before. Coach loads of people started arriving, all up the old army track way people had parked their cars blocking the passing places and being horrible and common. I was pleased because we had got there relatively early and as a result we were able to park right at the top by the coastguard view point.

Of course, with all these young types in their flash cars there, the radio seemed to be playing in unison. Which ever station it was….was playing today’s song too. Everywhere you went that week you would drive or walk past other cars also playing the album that today’s song is from. Collective imitation? Who knows? What I do know though….it was a bloody good eclipse enhanced by the beauty of Bardsey island. Sure there were lots more people than I had expected but I understand that there was nowhere near as many people than who were trying to get into cloud covered Cornwall. And when ever I hear today’s song, I am there….on top of Mynnedd Mawr, with my telescope with solar observation module…Total eclipse of the Sun 1999…Fantastic.


Tagging

One of my on-going projects is the tagging of past LJ entries. This morning I mined these two classics from way back when.

Paranoia – http://stegzy.livejournal.com/237973.html

Antisocial behaviour – http://stegzy.livejournal.com/254642.html

Ah, such innocent times. Though looking back has reminded me that for some reason or other the intention to move to Yorkshire had lurked, almost unnoticed. Hmmmm

Edited to add – My dinner last night consisted of



Cumberland Sausage and mash with cabbage


Home made onion gravy.