From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Archive for July 2013

Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle

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Back in January, when London was under a constant grey and weeping cloud, I trekked to Brixton and collected an old bike that I couldn’t yet ride. My blog entry on collecting my old Dutch explains all, I had decided in my mid-thirties to learn how to ride a bike. And I have. A mixture of listening to friends tips, a steely determination on a few Boris bikes when my friend Stephen and brother-in-law Adrian still hadn’t fixed mine up, a long bike ride sandwiched between my sister and Adrian which served as an unofficial cycling proficiency.

As my legs pushed up Kingsland Road in stifling city heat the other day (London has a habit of chosing between oxygen and sunshine, it’s impossible to breathe) I spotted a notice board with a quote from Albert Einstein.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

I instantly connected with this from the cyclists point of view as opposed to a new life mantra (Luther has been back on don’t you know? I need to sit very still for that). I think back to the many hesitations I’ve had as learner. Too slow when traffic lights change, too scared along the canal path that runs past my flat, too cautious around any movable object in general. The romantic, and slightly hipster, notion I had of peddling around care free like a scene from a French film isn’t the reality.

The point of my typing this is in The Guardian today Philip Hoare described not wearing a helmet as a case of civil liberties. How do I make my point without throwing too much weight behind the word helmet as an insult?

As someone who is effectively the Bambi of the cycling world I heavily rely on direction from responsible cyclists, courtesy and awareness from pedestrians and vehicles, unbreakable concentration and my cycling helmet. While I know that in a case of Hat Vs. Double Decker it wouldn’t act as a force field, it still helps as a reminder that I am vulnerable on two wheels. And you know, I think that’s a very good thing to have at the forefront of my mind while I practise and practise. Even after I stop ducking under the bridges along the towpath, and stop choosing to crash into concrete over the possibility of colliding with anyone or anything, I’ll never not wear one.

helmet

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Written by Anon PA

July 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Sunday Swoon. July 21st 2013.

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1. The much talked about Shake Shack may possibly topple my favourite burger joints in London (Patty & Bun and Dirty Burger). Don’t be put off by the queues, they are brilliantly quick at whizzing through orders. I was talked in to trying the Shake Stack (a cheeseburger with a lightly fried Portobello mushroom that is stuffed with their cheese sauce) along with crispy crinkle cut fries and one of their Concretes (frozen custard ice cream with “mixins”). If you leave your London cynic at home you’ll enjoy the enthusiastic and friendly (very American) service.

2. On Sunday evening I spent an evening utterly frightened and puzzled at a secret location in London courtesy of Punchdrunk theatre company. The Drowned Man was my first experience of promenade theatre, and though I suspect I missed huge chunks of the storyline due to lack of guidance the attention to detail and vastness of sets was impressive. I love that we all came away with a completely different experience. It is pricey but if you feel flush and want to immerse yourself in something completely different then do go. Tickets are limited but still available.

3. Public Service Broadcasting were a Glastonbury highlight for me. I thankfully remember their gig at the Lexington this week far more clearly and it will go down as a highlight for 2013. I’ve had a slight obsession with them since hearing London Can Take It on 6 Music a year ago. And for all the nerd girls out there you’ll find a heart-throb in bow tie wearing banjo playing J. Willgoose, Esq. A true fiek (fit geek). A band you have to experience live.

4. Adore this new track from Friends. Dev Hynes seems to be cropping up on so many amazing tracks right now. He’s made Samantha Urbani sound as if Kate Bush was born in the Bronx on The Way.

Don’t Stand Your Ground

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Over the past couple of years I’ve experienced, and been told many stories, of what I can best describe as bullying at gigs. Without exception it always involves people who are my age (thirty-five) and older, and a majority of the time it is men that behave this way. It’s also worth noting that I only ever see and hear about women being on the receiving end of this. During the day I am sure they are all utterly polite and hold a door open for a colleague, step aside when someone says excuse me. At gigs this all goes out the window.  Let me give you a few examples.

Recently at a Matt Berry gig a woman who I’d guess is in her late thirties was so incensed at a girl of about seventeen wanting to squeeze past just to take one photo that she screamed “obese bitch” at her and refused to move. At a polite girl young enough to be her daughter who made it clear it was just to take one photo and she’d be gone. Friends suffered men constantly, and on purpose, crushing into them at an Arcade Fire gig whilst being told to stop pushing them.

At Glastonbury I was told I wasn’t allowed to stand here by a man who was actually in front of me which I am still puzzling over. I had an experience so awful at a Battles gig with my friend Priyam that I still frown about it two years on. Men in their forties were stood behind us on the balcony. When I went to the bar they barely let me past, when I returned they formed a solid wall and refused to let me through despite the fact that I asked politely to get back to my friend, even strangers asked them to let me past and they refused. At the end of the night one of them pushed me in the back of the head with force. For no reason.

Last night at Public Service Broadcasting my bladder gave out after too many pints so I decided to run to the toilet. A relatively short dash in the intimate upstairs of the Lexington. Grown men crossed their arms and adopted a military stance. I had to squeeze through gaps a mouse would have problems getting through.

Let’s be clear. When you buy a gig ticket you are not paying to rent an exclusive square metre. I understand that views can be frustrating but I’m talking about scenario’s when someone is trying to dash to the bar quickly, not suddenly arriving on stilts in front of you.

Music is actually like a religion to me (without the wars). Going to see a band should be a shared experience, one of those oh so rare moments that you can look around at everyone and think “we’re all here for the same reason”. When the entire crowd sank to their knees during Foals singing Spanish Sahara at Glastonbury in anticipation of the song building up I felt like I utterly belonged. These were my people. Sadly there seems to be a growing minority of adults who seem to think they’ve paid for a private experience and are disgusted other humans are in the same room/under the same sky wanting to have fun. The only person’s night that’s being ruined is those guilty of behaving this way. They always look so miserable.

When an unstoppable force (my need for a pint or a wee) meets an immovable object (an adult refusing to budge even an inch to let me pass) chances are I will be tempted to lightly touch your back on my way back through to wipe a boogie on you. Karma is unkind. What can I say.

Written by Anon PA

July 18, 2013 at 10:57 am

Sunday Swoon. July 14th 2013.

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1. The original Sugababes line up, now Mutya, Keisha, Siobhan have released the full length Dev Hynes produced track Flatlines to the world. My pop tart side definitely coming out.

2. Leaving aside the fact that the video creeps me out slightly Julia Holter has released another clever and complex track In The Green Wild.

3. Phoenix were a Glastonbury highlight for me. I couldn’t have asked for any other band to officially close the Sunday night and if I tell you how many times I’ve watched their set back on iPlayer in the space of two weeks you’d worry. The video for Trying to be Cool gets the point of the track entirely.

4. Time to bring out the inner hipster. Ariel Pink featuring Jorge Elbrecht track Hang on to Life. Track of the week for me.

5. I’m not a fan of the Manic Street Preachers but adore their latest track Rewind the Film featuring Richard Hawley (that man probably being the reason why I’ve connected with this). The video is beautifully shot, bleak and melancholy.