My 50th Birthday

Eek! Facebook tells me its 154 comments. Thank you all – it has helped brighten my day significantly, even if it felt like I spent the whole morning liking them all. Apologies if I didn’t like your particular greeting – they were coming thick and fast so one or two may have got through!

To say I wasn’t particularly looking forwards would be your standard English understatement, at Olympic standard. You all know the year I have had, and that I’ll be glad to see that back of it.

That said, it’s not been too bad considering I was expecting to be a gibbering wreck. I’ve had a couple of moments, but I can see them coming a lot better.

We went out for a Spanish meal last night – my mum booked it and kept the destination secret. That was quite amusing as I had to drive there, and mum hadn’t been before so she didn’t know where we were going either. We got there eventually though!

Quite a nice variety of dishes and an incredibly sweet desert – must have had a whole bag of sugar in it!

When I got home there was a balloon tied to the door knocker, and a card through the door. When I opened it this morning it was from all my neighbours. I have fab neighbours. You can tell I live in the north 

I had planned to head into Manchester or the markets today, but the hobble made me reconsider it, and I decided not to. So instead I spent the day tidying a little more – Hey do I know how to party? A little music helped somewhat!

There’s a few more black bags to go soon.

I’ll probably have a couple of visitors over the next few days, but the first Christmas visitors proper are planned for next Wednesday – one of Reece’s friends is popping round for the evening. I need to try to persuade Reece to tidy his room a little more yet, and a few of Robert’s friends are here the week after. I see more tidying in my immediate future!

This evening was the boys’ swimming lessons (That’s why we went out last night) so was the simple pasty tea with my parents. My brothers came up for cake afterwards.

I have a couple of new CDs starting to fill a couple of gaps I noticed in my recent cataloging, A couple of cycling related books, including Geraint Thomas’s book, a magazine subscription and some nice bottle cages to help dress up my best bike. They’ll be fitted by lunchtime tomorrow 

Overall, it has been quite a lot better than I expected.

Anyway, I have been quite a lot brighter than I was expecting, so I think I am turning a corner, ready to start the new year.

First night out without Susanne

Those of you I mentioned it to beforehand will know I felt more than a hint of trepidation. My first proper, planned night out in a VERY long time, and it was to our favourite rock n roll club and with our favourite band.

I was concerned it may have been a little overwhelming, knowing it was a sellout as well, but everyone was fab – it it a cracking club, with lots of fab people. I am not going to tag everyone I spoke to, or who hugged or kissed me, as there were so many that I’d forget someone.

Bob and Gary – you guys lead the club, so it is down to you guys. Thank you both – top blokes. The word from you on behalf of the club are much appreciated.

The Rimshots – a fab band that I am proud to call friends, The words, both publicly and privately meant a lot. The contribution is also appreciated,

The sinners – as I said last night sod that. You are a bunch of saints! The money I took away and will be dropping in at the hospice later totalled £400.72. With the other donations I know of the full total (including gift aid) stands at just over £4000.
There was a lot of love there last night (I don’t normally get soppy!) and a good few hugs and kisses. Even a few from the ladies!

Today I am hobbling but happy – thank you all.

Seven in Seven – Day Seven

I have enjoyed doing this one – thinking about various tunes that have some significance for me. Thanks for the nomination Steven Cumbo.

Given one of the comments I wondered about changing my mind about either the song, or removing some of what I was planning to say, but I am not going to let a few terrorists make me change. (Note this was just after the terrorist attack on Paris)

This is a band Susanne and I got to know quite well over the years. They have stayed at our house (before we moved) after a gig, and I ended up using the barbie to cook breakfast

When we went to Paris for Susanne’s birthday a few years ago, we had been looking for weeks to try to find something rockin’ on – we thought a major city must have something going on and had failed to find anything. On arrival we had booked to go to the Moulin Rouge, and managed to get tickets to see Harry Connick Jr (We only found out he was on when we got there).

We were out seeing the sights. I think we had been at Notre Dame, and I suggested heading up to have a look at the Sacre Coeur. Susanne pulled her face a little but I said we should get the headline touristy stuff done, then we can explore better should we go back. While wandering around the area we passed a café and noticed a sign in the window advertising The Rimshots. A closer look and they were playing the one free night we still had – RESULT!

So, we went up to see them. Not knowing the timings of Parisien gigs like that, we were there before the band. We got a drink and were just seeing if we saw anyone we knew, and the band arrived. John spotted us and there was a loud “What the F*** are you two doing here?”

Anyway for the track. They have lots of really good material of their own, but they also have a liking for Hank Williams. With the dedication on the start of this (it was just after Susanne was first diagnosed) I couldn’t pick anything else – could I.

The Rimshots – Ramblin’ Man

I can settle do-own and be doing just fine…

I nominate Gray Prentice, Helen Allmark, Mike Cater – seven tracks that mean something, or just get you up on the dance floor or whatever. I look forward to your choices.



Seven in Seven – Day Six

Penultimate day.

This is my Lemmy moment.

“What’s a Lemmy moment?” I hear you ask. Well I heard that on a show where he was going through his top ten he included one of his own songs. We expect people to be all modest and self deprecating and the interviewer pulled him up on this. His response was along the lines of “Look, I’m a musician. If I don’t like what I am doing, and don’t think its any good what am I doing it for?”

So, this track is from one of my bands. I have two main bands that I have some recordings of. I was close to using the more recent band, but I decided to go with my older band. This band dates really from the 80s through to the early 90s, with a brief (one night only) reunion for a friend’s 40th a few years later. I have a recording of that gig. Given we had not played together for about ten years, and only had three or four rehearsals we did OK, including one song that has about five key changes!

We struggled a little as there was a Manchester band doing very similar material (50’s flyers) who were better known than we were. No matter how we tried to learn something they didn’t do, we’d turn up at one of their gigs and hear our new material! Our guitarist Ste even commented once that we even made the same mistakes in the same songs!

What we had, that we really didn’t use enough – we should have pushed this and based most of the set around it – was two brothers that sang. I don’t know why, but there seems to be something about brothers singing harmonies that works really well.

The track I have chosen is a song that was a band composition. It was recorded in Westhoughton – I think we all currently live within about Two miles or so of the studio.

Pink & Black – paradise.

Thanks to Joe Kelly for the pic used

Seven in Seven – Day Five

Day five of seven. You can relax soon after today only two more to go

I struggled a little on this one. I wanted to get away from the rockin’ stuff, but also I wanted to have something that I don’t associate as much with Susanne. You all now know abut my main musical “home” and you know about Susanne.

I was looking at something from Marc Almond/Soft cell, I was looking at classical music, maybe something from Joy Division or The Buzzocks, but I decided to go with a song that takes me back to my teens.

I was sixteen, and in my first band – Split Gizzard. It was mainly lads I was a school with and my brother on drums . I think we only played one gig, and that place is now a Spar store.

We did a right old mixed bag – Stiff Little Fingers, Survivor, UFO, The Meteors (apologies to those who had to put up with my vocal), Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and this.

I also remember getting up and playing this with a band in a pub. I was rather tipsy, and just as I was strapping the bass on, the bassist in a throwaway remark said something like “by the way, we do it in C” So I am playing with a band I don’t know, and I am having to transpose on the fly…

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

All day long I think of things, but nothing seems to satisfy…

Does anyone else find it amusing that in the Iron Man films, Tony Stark wears Sabbath T-Shirts almost all the time, the film shares a name with a Sabbath track, yet the music seems to be all AC/DC?

Seven of Seven – Day Four

Day four of seven. A slight change of planned sequence…

Brit Rock N Roll

I don’t really do brit rock n roll. By and large I think we missed the point. Rock Roll should be dangerous. Jerry Lee marrying his thirteen year old cousin and setting pianos on fire dangerous, Chuck Berry doing prison time dangerous. The American Rock N Roll has more of an edge – we cleaned it up too much.

There are a few exceptions exceptions but for me there are two front runners, and I ummed and ahhed a little between them. In second Place is the Pirates and “Casting My Spell On You” with Mick Green. Without Mick Green’s influence on Wilko, Dr Feelgood may have been a little different.

Instead this guy modelled himself a little on Gene Vincent. He may not be the best singer, but that doesn’t matter too much with rock n roll – for me performance is everything. Tracks like “Right Behind You Baby” are pretty good, but his best known track is my fave bit of brit rock n roll. Later covered by The Clash on London Calling.

Brand New Cadillac – Vince Taylor and The Playboys


Seven in Seven – Day Three

We were lucky enough to see this band last year. They are a band that have done all the rock star stuff – drink, drugs, girls, wrecking hotel rooms and suing each other!

Their sound to me just oozes sunshine – I think the harmonies contribute heavily in a Beach Boys evolved kind of way.

We were watching a TV documentary on them a couple of years ago, and watching the way Susanne was reacting to the music I decided if we got the opportunity to see them we should, even if it meant a trip to Paris or Brussels to do it. I kept my ears open and it turned out that as part of their world tour they were coming to Europe and including the UK. Dates were announced and there was only one in the initial batch of dates that was on a Saturday. By this time Susanne was working as a TA in a school, so time off in term time isn’t possible. Heading into Manchester by the time she had finished work would have just been a little rushed to be a real treat so the one Saturday gig it had to be – Glasgow.

I ordered the tickets – not cheap – and gave them to Susanne as one of her Christmas presents – by this time I had also booked a couple of nights in a hotel too to make a weekend of it – and I bet the shrieks as she opened the present up and realized what it was could be heard for miles!

Round about this time One Direction were playing Manchester. I saw lots of comments impressed that this group barely out of short trousers were doing an hour and a half. We saw a bunch of blokes all pushing seventy do three utterly engaging hours. We had a very memorable weekend seeing one of the great bands.

They have a catalogue full of memorable songs – the awesome combination of Don Felder and Joe Walsh on Hotel Callifornia – not forgetting the contributions from Henley on Drums and lead vocal, Meisner on bass and Frey’s acoustic that all add to the track. I could have tried to be all cool and picked a lesser known tracks, but I’ll go with this one that really sums up their sound for me.

The Eagles – Take it easy

Altogether now “I was standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona…”

Seven in Seven – Day Two

This next song is the first proper record I bought.

I grew up listening to The Beatles as my mum is a fan. Sharing a forename with one of them is the reason I took up bass.

There are a few songs I considered including by The Beatles for various reasons – All My Loving an early one that is clearly a sixties song, then out of nowhere George comes in with a very Carl Perkins like guitar solo – showing of of his big influences. Come Together for that bass riff, She’s leaving, I saw Her Standing There, Yellow Submarine to annoy the Ringo knockers There’s just so much really good stuff to choose from.

The Beatles led to me discovering rock n roll. I heard their Rock N Roll Music album, and loved it. I then found out other people had recorded those songs before them, and wanted to hear them and was blown away by what I heard.

I can’t remember how old I was, but we had been on holiday – Teignmouth I think. I had played it almost constantly on the jukebox in the club there, and wanted my own copy when I got home.

I give you Twist And Shout.


Seven in Seven – Day One

Originally posted 8/11/15. I was nominated to post seven songs in seven days that mean something to me.

OK, I have been nominated by Steven for this seven in seven lark. Just seven is going to be challenging but I’ll see what I can do.
So most of you know my first love musically is rockabilly, but many of you may not know much about it. It’s a style that is very difficult to define. No matter what I say, I can think of a track that breaks the rule. It tends to be smaller lineups – 3-4 people, it tends to simplicity. It tends to not have horns (Hello Sonny Burgess!)
So I’ll start with a track from someone you will all heave at least heard songs by, even if you don’t recognise the name. Eddie Cochran. His mainstream hits include C’mon Everybody, Cut Across Shorty, Somethin’ Else and Three Steps To Heaven. He actually has rather a large back catalogue that I could pick from. I could go with Tired & Sleepy, Skinny Jim, Let’s coast awhile. I could pick something where he played guitar for someone else.
Instead I’ll go with something that’s really stripped down. All that is really on this is Eddie playing guitar & singing, and Connie Smith slapping away. Minimalist music at its’ best – Teenage Cutie


The Funeral

Today has been an emotional day to say the least. I could do it traditional Facebook style and start with a picture of breakfast, but I won’t.

I did have a little worry this morning that not many would turn up. A bit of a daft worry, but that’s the sort of thing you do.
The cars arrived with Susanne just before two, and as usual it took quite a long time to get people out of the house, despite everyone having been in place dressed and shoes on for twenty minutes.
The school that Susanne worked at and Reece attends is at the top of our street. The school’s tribute was awesome. They had children lining both sides of the road and all staff were outside. The flag was at half mast. That was a hard few moments – in a good way. The funeral director said it even brought a tear to his eye.
From there we headed to the crematorium. The car park looked rather full, but they don’t exactly allocate areas so they could have been for the appointment before ours. As we headed up I started seeing a number of familiar faces. I was happy we wouldn’t be pea-in-a drum mode. We were a little shielded from seeing actual numbers as we went round. My brothers helped carry Susanne and I followed with the boys, everyone else following behind. I was aware that there were a few people at the sides but being at the front I couldn’t really see.
Deirdre led a fabulous service for us, and I stood to say a few words. It was only as I turned round at the podium I got a view of the turnout, and had a little moment at it being standing room only, with I understand people stood outside. I’d guess there were the best part of two hundred there for her. The number of people that joined the Safari for Susanne was truly humbling. I had a little moment.
After the service, we headed outside, and I had a chance to greet people – the number of people there and some of the distances travelled rather overwhelmed me.
It got a little busy back at the cricket club – I tried to get round people, but there were a number of people I didn’t get to speak to. I can only apologise, Had we stayed till ten, it may still have been difficult.
Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed today. The turnout of people was just fabulous. All of them talking about Susanne with affection. All of them sharing memories.
I am immensely proud of Robert and Reece. It was a difficult day for them.
I did have a book that I was hoping people could add memories of Susanne to – some way she touched them, or some way she made you laugh. It was a little too busy to try to do anything with that. If anyone has such a tale they would like to share, please let me have it – email or on a bit of paper are best but anything will do, and I can add it to the book for the boys.
Thank you all that managed to make is such a special day for Susanne. Those that made it, those that sent messages.
It was a fitting send off.