A few photos from Bentley

I know it was over a week ago, but it’s taken a while for these to come in.

Mostly camera phone photos I think, but it just goes to show you how the cameras built into our phones have really come on – especially when you look back through my blog (which now goes back 15 years!) and see some of my early photo entries.

At the time I started this blog I was taking photos on one of these, with it’s only camera having a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.

Nokia N9500 Communicator

Fishy Happenings

My third gig with Strangefish last night. It was a long day…

I started at 7:30am – I had planned to be at the venue at around 10:30 and with a 2 hour journey ahead I needed to be ready.

Freshly showered and breakfasted I set off – only to make much better time than originally planned. Aren’t the motorways dead on a Sunday morning (apart from the mandatory middle lane owner’s club).

My route took me down the M6 Toll… And since I was on the “posh road” I thought I’d call into the country’s most exclusive service area. Only because you have to pay a toll to stop there.

Norton Canes Services. Britain’s most exclusive motorway services.

After a brief stop I carried on to The Robin, arriving there at about 10:15. The organisers and sound guys were already there so I loaded my gear in (my bass amp was being used for all bands).

The rest of the morning was pretty much spent waiting for the rest of the guys to arrive, and since we were partaking of a full soundcheck (our gear was being used by a few bands) we were rather lucky!

The rest of the day was pretty much spent fooling around and socialising, although I did have a walk into Bilston in an attempt to find a sandwich of some variety. I failed. It was closed. All of it.

Mexborough or Bilston? It’s hard to tell. One has trams…

Come 6 o’clock we started getting ready for our performance. That, of course, involved blowing up inflatables (we have a thing about inflatables in this band)

Bob found the golfing supplies…

The gig itself was superb. I’m sure more photos will be coming soon, but for the moment all I have is a few camera phone ones. There were some seriously good cameras in there though.

We take our bows.

New Year’s Eve

New year’s eve this year was a gig in Gainsborough. The last gig arranged by our current agent before we go freelance and head to pastures new.

Sadly, because of the timing of everything it’s left us with a rather large 4 month hole in our schedule now, but that works great for me as it lets me give my Strangefish material a lot more time. I suspect stuff will come in though, it’s just the air has to clear first.

We’re now freelance but we have two agents booking gigs for us already and May onwards is looking pretty cool now. I think we’re going to sort our own new year’s eve though.

The gig, however, was superb. I really liked the club. It was a private member’s club which always means you’re going to get an element of filtering. They had booked “an evening with” type of thing and got us and a DJ.

£20 a ticket with a buffet! Can’t be sniffed at.

So we arrived. Loaded in (a nice flat load) and set up. The onstage sound wasn’t good though, mostly due to the corner stage, but it’s something you learn to deal with.

The place filled up. Really filled up.

So the first set arrived at 9pm. I suited up in my blue suit, which I thought would be tight and actually wasn’t – that 3kg on the scales is all lies! And we played our hearts out.

The new song (Lady Gaga’s “Shallow”) was rather epic! The audience really went mad at that one. I suspect being brave and doing such an out there and new song earns respect.

The second set at 10:50 took us up to about 15 minutes off midnight. Great for the DJ to take us through the bells.

This set I was a little more conservative in my looks than I’ve been at previous gigs. Absolutely no shiny trousers this time, just skinny blue jeans and a blue shirt. It’s a very slimming look and I have to say I look rather good in it!

Once midnight was out of the way we packed down and headed home. It was just before 2am hometime. Not bad for new years eve.

It’s strange and fishy

I’ve joined a third band! It was about a month ago when it happened but it started with a message and phonecall out of the blue… And ten minutes later I’m in a band!

A band I’ve followed for a long time have asked me to join. I feel very honoured, especially with how at the end of Manning I felt really low and quite depressed.

Last week’s FIA course in Bolton gave me the first chance to have a band meeting with them. I was staying in a hotel…

Doing a course…

Facing a boring night ahead… Until I mentioned to the guys about it. They couldn’t wait.

At about 7 they arrived at the hotel.

We drunk… ate… and made merry.

Gigs and rehearsals were discussed, and I officially became the newest member of the band Strangefish

Another gig weekend.

A very strange weekend.

Friday night was a late one for me. Hannah was in Bridlington and I was called out. A great but busy finish to a hectic week.

Saturday

Saturday was somewhat of an unusual day. A weather bomb was set to hit us from about 2pm, and sure enough it did. Rarely for this country we were forecast freezing rain and snow. We went to see mum. Her dogs are bonkers!

I had to go shopping for groceries before the weather bomb hit, and as I was on the way home it stated to drizzle. The roads became very slippery really quickly.

Thank God I got these…

Luckily we didn’t have to go anywhere else – although I had contemplated Asylum (our local fetish venue and a bit of a haunt for me), but the weather put me off. In the end I watched Krampus (great Christmas horror) and had an early night.

Sunday

Sunday, Unusually, was gig day. It’s very rare we gig on a Sunday with the covers band. This week’s club was local to me (Firth Park).

Not a great load – upstairs – although there was a small lift. It helped a lot, but it could only take one speaker cabinet at a time so the load in and out took a long time but wasn’t too tiring.

We set up in plenty of time to rehearse the new song (Pink). We did it so quickly we actually managed to put it in as an encore!

The bad thing about Sunday gigs though is that all the members of the band appeared to be loaded up with sprouts. It was very windy backstage!

To wrap up a long evening, I arrived home at 1am to find a dickhead had parked overlapping our driveway by a good 18″. I consider myself to be quite good at reversing and I struggled with this one.

Fishier Times

So I’ve joined Strangefish. It’s now public knowledge and has even appeared on a few prog news sites.

Tuesday night was my first proper meet up with the guys – after all I was staying in Bolton at the Holiday Inn (my FIA course location).

We had a meal and a drink, and chatted about the future. It’s looking good!

As for the course, well it was incredibly difficult I have to say – I do find the problem with the FIA courses is they are very lacking in course content so you can’t go in there pre-armed, all the content is cram learned in a day and a half.

I passed with a nice margin, although the group pass rate was less than 50%. I knew two of the guys would fail from the off. It was their dad’s company and I don’t think they were really interested in being there.

Of the 7 there, 3 passed.

An 80th Birthday

It might seem unusual to have a rock/pop band for an 80th Birthday, but the birthday boy has followed us for a number of years now so it seemed apt.

The hotel it was held at was a great place. Top end of Heckmondwike; a place called Healds Hall.

It was an early start as we had to be set up by 6. The load in was quite easy although I think the staff were very surprised when we kept loading more and more boxes into the place though.

Setup went well. It was the first full length gig for a while so we ran through a few of the songs we’d not played to just brush them up. Strangely, the last few gigs had all been around an hour performance time. We had to be silent at 6:45 as the special guest was arriving for a “meal in the restaurant” but he was then told the restaurant was very busy so they were in the back room…

Surprise!

The first set was a blue suit set. It felt a little tight on me and even though the scales show my weight hasn’t changed I need to keep an eye on that. It could be that my newest jeans all have stretch in them and I’m not used to a rigid waistband? After all the waistcoat and shirt felt fine.

In-between we had food. That, for me, wasn’t great. No detriment to the food, but as a vegetarian any mention of buffet or hot buffet fills me with dread. If it isn’t the mixed sandwiches cross contamination hell, or the “has it got meat in it” roulette with quiche, it’s the hot buffet “that’s your entire vegetarian choice” which contained aubergine. I don’t like aubergine.

The chips were nice though.

For the second set, after much threatening and teasing I wore the PVC suit. Dennis had been searching for one for himself and like many others who weren’t quick enough when I told them about it, he’d missed the boat. He then ribbed me about it onstage… Twat.

I combined with with the new shirt I got from River Island.

I looked good. Kinky good.

Sadly that’s where the good ends, as I’ll never wear that suit onstage with Face the Music again. 45 minutes in a plastic sauna suit under hot lights… Nope nope nope nope nope.

I suppose the one amusing thing was the stereotyping thing… Apparently shiny suits like that are usually worn by gay men.

Yeah whatever…

I’ve got thick skin. I don’t actually give a toss.

So, back to normality for a few weeks. And next time it’ll be back to normal jeans for the second set.

Lifestyle change is the key.

I’m hardly the perfect advocate, but you know when you see those photos online of before and after? Well these are mine.

It’s just over 12 months since I began my lifestyle change from an unhealthy fat potato with plantar fascitis & knee pain to become what you see on the right.

It was the photo shoot for the covers band on the left which horrified me. I looked disgusting! I was enormous and in an ill fitting suit which at the time I actually thought looked quite good.

Now I can shop at normal shops, delve into the middle of the rack, and when I see something really unusual like the PVC suit from ASOS I can actually buy it off the peg.

It’s not a diet that did this; it’s a lifestyle change. Less food, more exercise. For me it’s about the high fat foods. I now have them as occasional treats and only then as a small portion.

This photo was the shoot taken with my folk band a few weeks ago. The transformation is unbelievable!

Double Banger again.

Bank holidays seem to have this strange ability to become two gig weekends, this was no exception.

Saturday was Ingoldmells – a tediously long drive out there, followed by a rather questionable gig, followed by a tedious drive home and a 3am bedtime.

The weather was beautiful though, we sat outside until after 7.

The stage backdrop was rather cool.

A rather beautiful moon graced the sky.

Sadly, the respect we received wasn’t good. Firstly we were told to arrive by 6, and yet we weren’t allowed to set up until after the football had finished on the main stage screen.

Then, setting up behind the children’s entertainment was not entirely safe.

Finally, not being allowed to soundcheck until 15 minutes before stage time wasn’t professional.

I didn’t enjoy the gig.

Sunday on the other hand was a total flip. A great club, well thought out, decent staff, easy load, and customers who dance!

The journey up was fuelled by coffee. A big coffee.

The stage looked great lit by a star cloth.

First set. They don’t dance during the first set.

A much better experience which totally undid all the bad feeling from the night before.

Double gigger

Friday and Saturday was a double gigger. It’s a while since we’ve done one of those.

Friday was a private function in Hessle… A wedding.

Saturday was a typical club gig, although this club was rather good. A nice easy load, great staff, nice and clean, and a half decent chippy across the road.

It even had a church next door judging by the half deflated balloon found in a puddle.