Thursday, 29 October 2015

Weird shit

Some people believe there are messages and meanings in dreams.  I like to keep an open mind on things I don't understand but last night I dreamt some weird shit.  I was visiting a lake I fished many years ago that is now a syndicate.  One of my friends was fishing there, he is not a member of the current syndicate and I doubt he ever will be.  When I left I wandered down the road and found myself in the Hertfordshire town of Tring.  As far as I can remember I have visited this town just once in my life and I can remember nothing about it.  I returned to the lake to find my bearings then once again set off for home only to find myself in Scotland.  At this point I realised I was never going to get home and soon woke up scared and sweating.  What the fuck was that all about?

Monday, 26 October 2015

Two tests

The trouble with the tour to UAE is by the time I've remembered there's a game on half the play for the day is over.  Sorry but cricket vs Pakistan on turgid pitches just doesn't jump into my head when I wake up in the morning.  It doesn't enter my mind amidst the chaos of getting myself and the kids fed and off to school/work and it's now too cold to use the secret radio perch at work.  (Long story...)

I was forced to follow the match with my phone but I didn't miss much over the first four days of the first test.  The pitch was a road, Pakistan batted first and made 500+ with Malik making 245.  In reply England went past Pakistan's score built around a monster 263 from Cook.  It was all set to fizzle out into a boring draw.

I had the radio on in the boat, for the first time I had a chance to listen to some play on TMS but I didn't expect what happened next.  England took wickets, pressure built, England bowled Pakistan out with Rashid taking 5-64.  England were set an unlikely run chase in failing daylight and were always a couple of overs short.  Pakistan wasted time of course but we would have done the same.  The match ended in a draw but the moral victory went to England, not that it ever seems to make a difference.

The second test followed a similar path for the first couple of days albeit at a slightly brisker pace as the pitch was much better.  Pakistan won the toss again and made 378, at stumps on day two England were 182-3, the match was perfectly poised, day three would be crucial.  This day fell on the weekend so I would be able to follow on TV.  

By the time I had woken up England had collapsed and Pakistan controlled the game.  They pressed home their advantage on day four, building a massive lead and leaving England with an uphill task to survive.  Going into the final day the score stood at 130-3, with England still 361 behind a win was beyond us, could we bat for three sessions and survive the day?  In short no.  Root fell early and wickets tumbled.  A great partnership from Rashid and Wood gave us hope but Pakistan took the final wicket with just a few overs to spare.

England have performed well over the two tests and really deserve to be 1-1 but that's cricket.  The bowlers have all done well but in the batting England have selection dilemmas.  As Opener Moeen Ali hasn't really been a success so far but will almost certainly get one more match.  Buttler has been short of runs for some time now and it would make sense to rest him.  However his potential replacement, Bairstow, is already in the side and hasn't impressed either.  One of these two should be make way to give James Taylor a well deserved go in the team.  Long term I think Buttler will come good and be England's keeper for many years to come.  If Bairstow plays in the third match it will be his twentieth test for England, he should have scored a hundred by now...

Monday, 19 October 2015

Fall Out Boy - Wembley Arena

Maddie's birthday was back in February and my present to her was tickets to see her favourite band at Wembley.  She had to wait for eight months but finally the day was here and Maddie rushed through the door after school and changed hurriedly.  After this quick pit stop we were on our way to London.

To me London is an alien place that I can only tolerate for short periods and driving in London is an absolute nightmare.  Heading this way to a teenagers concert should be the road to hell but luckily Maddie isn't one of the sheep that likes One Direction and their ilk.  My daughter has taste and likes a wide variety of music but particularly rock and punk.  Fall Out Boy manage to straddle these two genres.  I wasn't familiar with the band until Maddie started playing me their music and the more I heard the more I liked.  I still don't know much about them but they have been around a while, are American and the bassist Pete is the main songwriter. I'd describe them as... a bit like Green Day?  Whatever, they are a pretty good band.

After crawling through roadworks on the North Circular we eventually arrived at Wembley to be hit with a £20 charge to park!!  Fuck sake.  No choice, pay the racketeers and forget about it.  I'd seen several bands here in the eighties and nineties; AC-DC, Alice Cooper and UB40 are three memorable ones.  Wembley arena has been over hauled since I last visited,  it's all much fresher and I'm sure the entrance had changed ends?

Maddie met a friend for a rendezvous that wasn't as long as she'd hoped, time was short. We had decent seats half way up along the side left of stage.  We didn't know anything about the supports and didn't have long to find out.  First up was someone called Charley Marley.  I have to think twice before I recall his name because in my mind he was immediately and permanently rechristened 'Charlie Farley' after the "Two Ronnies" character.  I can't remember much else about him except he jumped around a lot.  Next was Matt & Kim.  Matt played keyboards and sang.  Kim smashed the hell out of a drum kit and they both danced around a lot.  The music was catchy and dancy and good fun.

We were getting ready for the main event but no, another support and someone I'd heard of, Professor Green.  This was a surprise because it seemed to me he was playing to the wrong audience and I expected he would sell out Wembley himself?  The half hour or so was okay but it was just okay.  For an up and coming star of British music I'd expect more than the Prof gave us.  I recognised the last couple of tunes and judging by the reaction so did the audience which finished the show on a high.

Not long to wait now...  The lights went out and Maddie started screaming.  The lights came on and Fall Out Boy hit the stage with a bang.  They started the show with a classic "Sugar we're going down".  The tune sounded fantastic and the crowd went absolutely nuts.  This is my favourite FOB song so I was a little worried they'd played their ace too early but they kicked on and kept the crowd buzzing for the whole show.  They played loads of blinding rock songs, Maddie would know all the titles but the ones I remember are "American beauty/American psycho", "Phoenix" and "Uma Thurman".  

A live performance is the ultimate test, many musicians sound great on record but can't capture it in concert.  Some bands come to life on stage and Fall Out Boy are in this category, four good musicians who sound like they've played together for years.  At one point the lights came down and the band vanished only to reappear in a cordoned off area in the middle of the arena floor right below us.  Here they played two acoustic songs including "Immortals" before the drummer took over from the main stage.  The lighting and visuals were excellent throughout the night.  FOB passed the live test with flying colours for me and got the thumbs up from the purple princess.

We really enjoyed the gig but for me the best thing about the night was sharing the experience with my daughter.  Maddie was in her element.  She danced the whole night, sang just about every word, held up her phone and punched the air putting me in mortal danger on the back swing.  Maddie was totally immersed in the experience, seeing a cherished band play a great show took her to a euphoric place away from the daily routine where time is meaningless and the music is everything.  I know this because music has taken me to the same place many times and it was brilliant to be there for Maddie.

Then it was all over.  Back to the car, stupid queues in the car park, a crawl away from Wembley and a tired drive home.  The next day I was knackered but it was well worth it.