untruths 2018

Ian Edmundson

A happy new year to those (probably) very few people who actually bother to read any of my deranged mutterings.

Still alive? Well done - you are doing better than some.

Yesterday I ventured up to the excellent Promenade Music store, way up North in Morecambe, to try and then to buy this rather spiffing Vintage Midge Ure signature guitar.

I'd never visited the shop before. They have a huge and stunning stock of instruments of all types. I was quite amazed by the place. As for the Vintage MU itself, it's a Les Paul styled guitar, obviously. After a quick remedial setup in the shop, which worked a treat, I parted with my sheckels for this lovely instrument.

The story behind me going miles and miles for this particular guitar?

It's quite simple. I went to see Ultravox on their reunion tours in 2010 and 2012 and Midge Ure used two Vintage Les Paul type guitars on the latter tour. They sounded unbelievable. Midge Ure is an absolutely impressive guitarist and as a result of the second show, I convinced myself I needed a Vintage Les Paul type guitar, pretty much in the same way that I needed oxygen. The signature model wasn't readily available to purchase at that point.

Not too long after the gig, I went to Reidys in Blackburn and all of the Vintage brand guitars they had in stock were nearly unplayable, but then so were a lot of their other guitars. They just stick them on the shelves and don't check them over. Rather a poor place to buy from... I was very nearly put off Vintage guitars - for life.

I then went all the way to PMT in Salford and spent comparatively silly money (about 4 times as much as the eventual cost of the Vintage signature model) on my genuine Gibson Les Paul Traditional guitar. It turned out to be a fantastic investment and it really made me take my guitar playing a lot more seriously.

More recently I bought a Radiotone LP goldtop replica guitar at a guitar show and I thought I was 'there' as far as Les Paul guitars went. Then, the inevitable happened... Ian - the guitarist in my band, The Three, turned up at a recent gig with a standard Vintage LP goldtop and handed it to me to try out. It felt great and I started to get the bee in my bonnet again.

This Vintage brand guitar plays wonderfully. The pickups sound great and once I have played it in a bit, I am quite sure that I will use it regularly. It is a convincingly weighty guitar, compared to the standard Vintage LP-type goldtop model, which I also tried at the store (and which Midge Ure also used on the tour). It is fitted with P90 pickups and a Vibrola arm.

Midge ure signature guitar

Midge Ure photographed by Ian Edmundson

It really looks The Business and has a great sound. I have told my long-suffering wife - many times - that each guitar I have gone out and bought was the last one, sometimes even believing it myself. Then the next thing has come along. This brings my guitar and bass total to 50 and I REALLY don't want any more. It's the end of a glorious and expensive era.

In other news: Today, I went for the second injection in my course of hormone treatment, which is aiming to help reduce and defeat my prostate cancer problem. The needle was bloody huge and I was not too brave about it. But it is done now. Back in three months (at the end of March) for another dose of the same.... I will probably be having radiotherapy to nuke the general area at the same time. I'm not happy about the expected side effects, but it's all better than 'the altenative' by a long way.

Also today, this video mysteriously turned up from July 2014...

January 8th 2018:
The chest infection that was laying me low for the last month has just about gone. It has been just a bit of a bugger and destroyed our Christmas and New Year, as my good lady also was down and deflated with it. Even now as I type, she is still coughing away.

January 10th 2018:
Ian and Graham appeared in a couple of scenes in episode 1 of ITV's GIRLFRIENDS TV show at 9pm last Wednesday. It's on again this evening and I'm not sure of any of us are in this episode, but on the 17th, episode 3 is showing and The Three (supplemented for the occasion by cast member Gerard Fletcher) will be doing a song in the show. Watch it if you can. No doubt I will find a way to get some video onto our gorgeous website afterwards. The Production company chose the song from the very bottom of our set list.

The Three ITV Girfriends Kay Mellor 2018

January 17th 2018:
Donald Trump is upsetting various countries by insulting them and causing a world-wide mixture of horror and worry. I am not going to do the same, but there are some venues I have personally decided we will not be returning to this year, or in the future.

Their landlords are either insulting to the intelligence of the bands that play there, too ignorant to respond to messages, or confusing us with other bands when they do condescend to talk to us. They are not 'doing us a massive favour' by booking us. Some offer a fee that is below our minimum. Some are too cheap to even offer the band a drink after we have done two hours work for them and kept their punters in and made their profits go up.

One particular venue in Harwood - The Seven Stars - discriminated against us recently by telling us that, because we were unable to play at their October charity event, (Graham had life-saving surgery two days before the event), we would not be able to play at their venue in 2018. We played their 2017 event - the cause that we supported at the event we played was Macmillan - and two of the band are currently affected by cancer. However, other bands have contacted me stating they didn't play the charity event either and that they still have gigs there. One band we know even offered to pull their gigs there in solidarity with us and in total disgust at the landlady's brazen cheek. I just don't have enough time left to deal with shits like that venue.

Our episode of GIRLFRIENDS aired tonight. We were not on screen for ages, as we were not central to the plot, but we played our song well and it's one for the CV, as they say.

The Three ITV Girfriends Kay Mellor 2018

Happy birthday to Julie x

January 24th 2018:
A new recording of an old song - Things we said today - here.
Recorded just to keep my hand in with the 24 track recording gear.

February 1st 2018:
I have just started selling some of my guitars. I don't really need the money, or even the extra space in my storage area, BUT.... I just started looking at some of my guitar cases, just wondering what was in them and then, on opening them up, I started to think that a guitar or three may be better employed by someone else who would enjoy it more than me.

I had reached 50 guitars and started to think that some of them wouldn't get played again and so what was the point of keeping them all?

A new cover-version song - Ticket to ride - completed today - here.
Recorded to keep my hand in with the recording gear.

February 15th 2018:
I have got the dates and times for my radiotherapy treatment at the Christie in Salford, from March going into April. I am not looking forward very much to the actual treatment, but I have no real choice. The hormone treatment is playing hell with my core temperature and I haven't had a good night's sleep for a while. Still..... I have it to do. No getting out of this.

I recently had this lovely Dean Stage Acoustic guitar fixed and made lovely to play with a really good set-up by Jack's Instrument Services in Manchester.

DEan Stage acoustic Ian Edmundson

Facebook is full of keyboard warriors nuts who like to mouth off from the safety of behind their screen. One such dick who loves the sound of his own voice and has to see a pile of tripe that he posts, decided to call it ugly and then harp on for ages. Too much coke, Thom. I don't have time for those fools. I'm going to be reducing my activity on there from the beginning of March, apart from doing absolutely necessary band stuff.

Vintage Mick Abrahams SG

Also, on the prior subject of me parting with guitars, I bought the Vintage MIck Abrahams signature SG guitar (above) the other day. It seems to be a nice case of three steps forward, one step back...

February 17th 2018:
Ebay has provided... And now the fun starts....

Ian Edmundson

February 20th 2018:
I love my job....

Being as lazy as I am, I haven't been keeping up with my blog here, anything like I should have recently. I will be writing something most days over the next month, as I go through my 20-day course of radiotherapy treatment. Keep your eyes peeled for several inanities.  

March 12th 2018 to April 25th 2018:
My daily radiotherapy blog, covering this period of my life in excruciatingly boring detail, is here.

I have ended up going back in and amending a bit of the last day of my Radiotherapy blog. I have tempered my comments about certain people's heavy-use smoking habits. The person concerned thought that some of my blog readers would be able to identify them. My blog is about my thoughts on cancer and I thought that my entry may help others, including them. They have not taken it that way and have asked for it to be removed.

We all have a right to do whatever we want to do, though. That includes others smoking if they want to.
It also includes me trying to look after others. Or keeping my mouth shut and just letting them get on with it.

My last word on the subject: Cigarettes are not really very good for you. They are not health-improving. We all know that. I am scared of the things now, for myself, and also on behalf of other people because I care about them. If people want to smoke, they can, but they have caused cancer in at least two people that I know of and, while I would not wish it on anyone, I do believe that smoking when dealing with cancer yourself is not the way forward.

I am going to continue my blog back here now, though it will not be in the same irritating detail as it was on the other page. You'll have to guess what time I take my bath in future.

Something from the weekend....

Fame at last?

Fretwank magazine

The guitar in the photo below turned up a few days ago. It is a replica of Prince's purple Cloud guitar, as used on stage by the man himself. Mine is not one of the half dozen that Prince actually owned personally that keep coming up for auction and reaching stupendous prices. Nor is it one of the very small run of authorised Schecter replicas, also very rare.

I happened across an advert for these guitars online. It was relatively inexpensive, so I thought I would take a punt. The guitar turned up a few weeks after being ordered - from a company in the USA - and was shipped to me quite quickly - from China - and straight out of the box, as you can see, it looks great. Fairly convincing.

Cloud guitar by Sunfield

Looking great is good, but playing it straight out of the box proved just a little bit difficult. I carefully lowered the bridge to get the strings nearer to the pickups and neck and found that some notes choked if I bent the strings.

For that reason, the guitar has gone straight into the very capable hands of my good friends at Jack's Instrument Services in Manchester, where it caused much delight when they saw it.

It needs a fair amount of remedial work, (new bridge support posts and fret leveling) which was an extra expense that I hadn't banked on, BUT as the guitar wasn't that expensive to start with, I took that on the chin.

I ordered a case with it, which didn't arrive. That is now on its way. Their customer service by email is very attentive. I could have bought another case for it here, but it is an awkward size and shape and it doesn't like going in some standard cases.

I will report back when I get it back.
The future is Purple.

I went to see the superb Sparks in Leeds last night with my daughter Rachel and her bump. All fantastic.

My cancer has been a total pain in the arse. Not enjoyable at all in any way. Unsurprisingly. It has left me feeling quite down about a number of things. Some of the people I have dealt with have been great and some others not so great.

I was operated on at The Christie in Manchester and following a few (favourable) quarterly reviews, I decided to lighten their caseload a little by having my reviews at Royal Bolton Hospital, which is ten minutes walk from my house. This turned out to be a huge error.

I had two phone calls today, as I have requested to go back to the care of The Christie. After over an hour's discussion, I have opted to go under the care of a Urology nurse who has always impressed me, as she is one of the very few people who walks round the place with an air of authority and of knowing exactly what she is doing.

I love my job.


The Cloud is back and it's great. Thanks to Jack's Instrument Services for working their magic on it.

Prince purple Cloud guitar

A short while since I have blogged. Sorry. I am a bit lazy in that respect. The band have had a short time off while our guitarist Ian has been on holiday and we have just recommenced  gigging. I have had some awkward problems with reliability with some bass gear recently, which is mortifying  for me and which I am in the process of sorting out. I have not been recording, as I am waiting patiently for some inspiration to hit me. Plus, I have wanted to spend the time off away from my instruments, while I have a chance.

I have been working on a version of the lovely BLACKBERRY WAY by The Move. I recorded two almost finished versions of it and in the middle of doing the work, I scrapped them both, as the drums were too weak and so I decided that I wouldn't get a decent mix in the end.

The hot weather and some very badly interrupted sleep patterns have currently stopped play on this recording, as I have to conserve my limited energy and more to the point, my limited voice, for band work. I daren't do vocals onto disc if I am singing the same evening.

Snippet from the dumped version. Apologies for poor video sound quality.

A couple of new songs coming up for the band, too. I am force-feeding myself repeated plays of  (I just) died in your arms tonight, by The Cutting Crew, a song which I used to play with Ian in Mother's Ruin, back in the 90's. I didn't sing it back then. I am listening to the track while singing and playing bass along with it, so I can get the words into my head.

We are also doing You give love a bad name by Bon Jovi. It's a great tune, but the words are a bit meh, so I have to use a cheat sheet onstage at present, until they sink in. I am pretty terrible at learning new words. I was like this with Highway to Hell by AC/DC for a long time, too.

My first PSA test following the radiotherapy was in mid July and the cancer showed as less than 0.01, which equates to undetectable. I am cautiously pleased with this result, but every time I have a PSA test, I know that there could be a small trace reading, which would be a sign of trouble.

A few name bands are currently parping on nostalgically about having played this venue or that venue on their short run of dates a few years ago, with  sort of tired "Oh, we have worked so hard for you" air about their pronouncements. Some other name bands seem to get very tired very easily - another band stated that they have (gasp) done thirty shows this year and that they are apparently well and truly knackered.

Maybe these name bands should try doing well over 120 shows a year, doing their own driving and carting their own gear around and setting every little stick of it up themselves - as well as playing, then dismantling and carting it back to their car and driving home - and maybe even holding down a day job, to remind them of their extreme good fortune.

The only name band I know who can escape ridicule for saying how many shows they play is Cheap Trick, as they play a huge number of shows every year, all over the USA, and wear their hard work as a badge of honour - no complaints of exhaustion, even though they are (ahem) clocking on a bit,

It's been a funny old week. On Tuesday, while out walking my two dogs, I spotted a little girl, quite some way off in the distance, chasing a dog that was running loose a short distance from my house. As I got home, I saw the dog going up our street, with the little girl still in pursuit. When I got home, I let the dogs in and walked down the street with a lead and harness. The girl had stopped the dog and I was not very prepared for what I saw. He had obviously been hit by a car and was limping on his back left leg and bleeding profusely from his mouth. Really bleeding.

He went into the harness without argument and I got him back to our house, rang the local vets (then the RSPCA for a reference number, as the vets needed someone to say they would pay for the treatment) and into our car and straight off to the vets. He was seen very quickly, as an emergency case. The dog was quite placid throughout all of this - He must have been well in a state of shock. The vet looked him over and said it would be antibiotics, then an x-ray. He thought his jaw may be broken.

The dog was not chipped and neutered. The vet sees this a lot. It irritates me. People can get this done free or very cheap. I took a photo that did not really show how bad he looked and put it up on Facebook. It got just over 200 shares and everyone pulled together to find the dog's owner.

It worked. The dog's owner has been in touch with me to thank me (not required) and told me that Harley has had some bandages on his legs, a tooth removed and some stitches in his mouth. I have asked to see the dog again when he's up to it. We look to be getting together at some point next week. Looking forward to seeing him fit and well. He's quite a lucky dog that his injuries were not more serious than they were. He had walked a long way from his home in that state.

Wednesday, I was going to go to the jam night in Hindley in the evening, but fell asleep after our evening meal and only woke up 20 minutes before it started, so I cried off.

Thursday morning saw me wake up with a blinding headache, so I went back to sleep and got up quite late. The day was basically totalled. I did quite an amount of admin work for my band and took some bookings for next year. We have a landlord who has 7 or 8 pubs, who has promised to put us on at all of them. Getting him to respond to my emails is a day's hard work on its own. I am not going to rely on him to come through for us.

I bought another brand new Fender bass yesterday.
I've been thinking a lot of the day about why I have still been buying so many guitars this year.

Did I really want it?
Did I need it?
             No, not really. Buy it anyway.

I think I may be depressed.

A lot has changed in my life since I was diagnosed with cancer. I don't have survivor's guilt about where I am with my cancer, as I am really only my next blood test away from possibly being told again that things are not going well. I worry a lot about that. I'm tired a lot. I don't sleep well. My body has changed and not all is as it was - some things present difficulties to me.

My wife is also rather unwell, which is sometimes really disturbing to me. I don't see my children, or my stepdaughter, anything near as much as I'd like, but they have their lives. One of our cats doesn't seem to like us. Most of the things that gave me joy in my life have gone by the wayside.The bottom has fallen out of a lot of the rest of my life, so I compensate and fill the hole by buying guitars, both as tools and as an investment.

My day job and former purpose in life and that identity has gone. All that I do that actually pleases me now is go out and play bass with my band, or at some jam nights. That is my identity now. I am a professional musician. I am a bass player and the singer in a band. I bring home the bacon and tip up my earnings and keep some spending money. I keep all of my reciepts for the taxman for the annual argument. He is not going to like me this year, with all of these guitars arriving.

The buzz of playing a new guitar or bass in my studio room is - I suppose - the equivalent of what some shoplifters say they get from their criminal acts. Having respect for property after working all fo my adult life for all that I own, I think shoplifting is irresponsible, unfair and reprehensible in my 'old age', so out I go buying the damned things. I do like to haggle and price match wherever I can. I do get some small pleasure from the thrill of the chase, then playing the new shiny thing at home and looking at it on a stand, admiringly and putting it on the website and Facebook and seeing if there is any reaction.

I have thought several times about of going to therapy and talking to someone impartial in some depth about my life, but I think I would bore the analyst to death. I went to RELATE for so-called marriage guidance, some years ago, which I reckon was a farce that only made things worse. Say what you think and get it off your chest and the other person then resents you even more for your honesty, because you are being critical of them and their dishonesty and bad behaviour that is slowly killing you. It didn't help.

This blog entry is not in any way a cry for help. It is me thinking out loud while working through my problems. If my buying guitars to enjoy is a problem, or just not having ever grown up, I don't really know. No-one can tell me, either.

And therapy costs a lot of money with no promise at all of working things out.
I might as well spend the money on guitars.

My state of mind?

Ian Edmundson

We played a pub gig last night. When I arrived at 8 pm, the stage area was (as usual for this venue) totally full of tables and I was prepared for the usual battle of wits with the landlord about getting them moved. I took all my gear in and placed it in a huge mound, between various tables, next to where I was going to set up in the corner. I smiled at the couple sat at the next table, but they just looked at me with big eyes and a look of total dumb incomprehension.

When I took the covers off the amps, they seemed to finally get the picture and moved a couple of tables away. The landlord saw me setting up without moving any tables at all and was, for once, shamed into asking if we needed some tables moved. 'All of these that are in the stage area' I said. So, with a look of sadness and bewilderment, he moved all of them a few feet forward, except the ones where the couple were now sat, leaving no room for our guitarist and still not much room for our trio.

Our drummer was at his wife's (significant) birthday bash, so we used a very good stand-in for the night (Steve, who covered for Graham's absence last year, after his operation). When he turned up, the couple looked alarmed, but stayed put. Up went the kit. Then our guitarist arrived. I got his amp into the room and put it right in front of one of the couple sat where he needed to be, on the floor by the blokes foot. They took the hint after a pile of equipment came in and was placed all around them, so they moved once again. It astonishes me how utterly dim some people are.

As to the what I will laughingly refer to as 'the crowd' that night, they sort of looked at us as if we all had two heads for most of the first half. They didn't seem to undertsand what two guts with guitars and a drummer were doing there, or even clap when we finished playing songs. The atmosphere was totally flat and to be honest, I was dreading the second half, until a few people wandered in. Their faces lit up when they saw us and they sat to watch and actually reacted to what we were doing, unlike all the unresponsive in-breds that were there.

The second half was much better, thanks to the handful of people who took us on while we played, but we only have one more gig there this year and to be honest (again), I think it will be our last one. There are far better places to play. I wish we'd gone to Graham's wife's birthday bash instead.

We were talking to one of our friends last night about our mutual dear friend Margaret, who had been admitted to hospital when another woman driver (I'm not being sexist, it was just a woman driver) rear-ended her stationary car at high speed and pushed it into the back of another stationary vehicle, destroying the car completely. She had to be cut from the wreckage. The photos I have seen of the car are terrifying. Marg had a broken vertebrae and her future mobility was in question. What a senseless thing to happen. Geoff had been talking to her earlier in the day and she sounded tired but on the up.

Sadly, she had some setbacks during the day and her relatives were called to the hospital. She passed away at 6am this morning, We got a call at 8.20am and I knew what it was about as soon as the phone rang. I straightaway got a migraine attack and later on, when I was at the hospital for an x-ray and appointment with my surgeon concerning my shoulder, I started to feel really violently sick. We will miss her dreadfully. This is so very sad. She was one of our very closest friends. Sleep tight, Marg.

Ian Edmundson

Geoff, Marg and Lynda outside my favourite pub.

This weekend The Three are playing a show on The Great Lawns at Rivington. The show is being put on to thank the absolute heroes of the Fire Brigade for their work putting out the fires in that area, that could be seen and smelled from all over Bolton. They had 34 fire engines on the job at one point.

Over 2000 tickets have been sold and the event is being filmed. Better polish a couple of basses.

I generally need a couple of projects to keep me busy.

* The band is already approaching 3/4 booked up for next year.
* The band is also doing a side project (GLAMM) which will hopefully take some of our schedule up.
* I am doing two college courses, related to Photoshop, up to July next year.
* I am writing a Slade book with a friend.
* I will be doing a photobook about my guitars.
* I also have songs that need recording.
* My memoir needs looking at again, too.
* My daughter is expecting her own daughter in September.
* And I have dogs to walk.

The Big Thank You gig at Rivington was quite an adventure. The highlight was probably being taken up to the concert site in a trio of jeeps and then coming back down, all squashed together into one. We played well enough on the day and had a crowd exceeding 2000 people. Yes, we DID play 'Fire Brigade'. Obviously, they were not all there just to see us, but everyone seemed to have a great time and we were really pleased to be part of it. We arrived late and exhausted at The Old Three Crowns in Bolton, but played a full length show to the smaller crowd there and had another different good time. A good day.

Another interesting gig for the band, last night.
We played as support to the excellent QueenEsque in Bolton. I think we did a convincing enough set on the night. We picked some of the strongest numbers from our first set, including the big medley (the Ace up our sleeve) and finished with a couple of 70's glam tunes. We seemed to go down quite well with the crowd, which included a few of our supporters. Thank you for turning up, guys.

I sometimes have issues with some tribute bands. They either don't look or sound like the original band and Queen - along with Slade - are surely one of the very hardest to get right. QueenEsque seem to be picking up a lot of festivals and looking at the effort they put into their show, you can see why. Going off what I saw, they sound very creditably close to the real thing. They don't all try to look exactly like the original line-up, but their Freddie is bob-on and even has his own moustache. Their set list was cracking. I really enjoyed them. We'd happily play with them again.

Our beloved Tilly has been missing for six days now and we are at the point of fearing the worst. I held her when she was a few days old and have adored her from the very first second I saw her. I wake up in the night worrying about her and in the morning again worrying about her. I have walked the streets calling her in the early hours, hoping she has only just strayed a little further than round the corner at a neighbours house.

Tilly is still missing and a dead cat was apparently found down the road on the day that she disappeared, so reluctantly we are doing the math and thinking that it may have been her. I am still looking at people's windows rather than the road, when I drive near our house, in case she is peering out at me. I miss her horribly. Early morning sunshine meant she would chase the reflected sun off my phone. That's my mornings ruined, now.

35000 words into the Slade book now and still a lot more to do. It's fun, but tiring.
I am also having fun (if that's the right word), once again, dealing with the licensed trade.

One venue we played at underpaid us earlier this year and they wrote in the diary that they would pay us the balance next time we played, as 'the till had gone upstairs'. On reminding them of this (their mistake), a frost fell over proceedings. Trying to get them to respond over next year's bookings is now an adventure.

Another landlord, who is actually keen to book us for his 7 venues, doesn't have time to look in his diary. I have an impressive email trail back and forth with this chap. It makes comical reading.

I am nearly on a two week break from the band. I am not going to pick up a diary, a phone, or a guitar, if I can help it.

Not last night, but very recent. A pub landlady in Horwich texted me and asked if we could move our gig from Saturday to Friday, which worked for us, as we had been offered a better playing gig in Liverpool, which I was about to have to turn down. So our free Friday (which was due to a cancellation) was now filled and we now had a much better gig on the Saturday. All good. Mmmm...

So... We played on the Friday... to a considerably disturbing smaller audience than we usually would have got there on a Saturday. Our usual crowd probably came along the night after to swell the audience of her favourites, as it was done to us at very short notice. We played to a nearly three-quarters full pub and went down really well. I reminded the landlady that she had underpaid us in January and that she had made a note of it in her diary, as the till had gone upstairs and she couldn't pay us the balance at that time. She blew up a little at this awful accusation and then stomped off to get her diary. There it was, written down... in her own fair hand. She slowly calmed down. She said she would be in touch about next year's two dates (lots of bands, so only two dates). We had already been texting to and fro and she wasn't getting the diary out. I smelled a rat weeks ago.

I texted her for some return dates in 2019 and there was no reply. I then saw she had put my rather tepid old band in three times. I called in, later in the week, on my way to somewhere else, seeing as I was passing. She told me that we had 'lost the crowd because of the songs we play' and that she wasn't having us back. 

Being too much of a gentleman to point out that she moved us to the shitty slow night and also being slightly relieved, as I have never liked the load in and out, the beer, or some of the punters (who like to knock the band's PA sysytems over and throw drinks around the gear), and beamed at her and said "absolutely no problem". It was one of the venues I wanted to dump next year anyway. We played to 2000 people in Horwich a couple of weeks ago and didn't lose the crowd. Personally I am pleased to lose the venue. We've only done it because our drummer's wife is matey with some of the people there. That's a bit of a cock-up on their part..

I started my Photoshop course at Bolton College today. I couldn't find the centre that I was going to, so I ended up ringing the main office. They said my course was taking place in the main sixth form college and that I should park on the NCP multi storey car park behind the college. So I drove down. Parked up. Went to the information desk and they said my course was taking place at a centre, just over half a mile away from the sixth form college. I walked up to the proper centre at a rapid pace, fuming, without time to collect my car, getting to class about five minutes early.

Classic. It happened to other people too. So, the totally inept member of college staff I spoke to got me to go to the wrong centre and also got me to pay out £3 for parking that I really didn't need to. Perhaps she works for NCP?

I remember that educational courses tend to start with a little bit of a meet and greet and equality preamble, but starting the first session by filling in a booklet several pages deep about health and safety with in-depth questions about fire extinguishers and escape routes nearly had us all walking out of the door. Bolton College has signed up to an interesting scheme called PREVENT which aims to stop us all from being radicalised and joining ISIS while studying we are studying Photoshop. We baulked about being lectured on this rubbish and said can't we just cheat? None of us have become terrorists.

The last third of the session consisted of us actually looking at Photoshop. Most of the students were unfamiliar with the concept of folder management and working on networks and didn't listen, so the lecturer - Dan - ended up saying everything three times. It didn't help that the version of Photoshop we are using is Photoshop CC, which has a lot of features CS3 - the version that I use - doesn't have. After spending too much of my evening looking for a way round this, I ended up signing up with Adobe for the latest 2018 CC version, which is licensed to the user for about £10 a month. When you stop paying, it goes.

Adobe really have got rather mercenary. I will still have CS3 at the end of all this and I will use that.

5th October 2018:
The last week or so has been a bit of a blur, so I will write it up quickly here.

First of all, welcome to my beautiful new grand-daughter, April Grace Whelan, born on 27.09.2018.

April Grace Whelan and proud grandfather  April Grace Whelan

My PSA reading is undetectable again at less than 0.001.
The Slade book is on about 71000 words.
The Kerbcrawlers have started rehearsing for the two gigs in November.
My Photoshop course continues.

7th October 2018:
Current listening:

1982 / Back to back / Never too late / In the army now / Ain't complaining (Status Quo remaster CD's with bonus discs).

15th October 2018:
Work on the Slade book gathers steam. Myself and my writing partner have been furiously bashing away at it, banging out as many words as we can about each release. We have broken 80,000 words and it's looking good, so far.

16th October 2018:
Today was our little mate Margaret's funeral, down in Woking. We ended up not going, but we thought about her at home at 2pm, when the funeral would have been taking place. She was a very good dear little friend and meant the world to us, so why didn't we go?

Margaret was of what I shall call 'diminuntive stature' and after her sad passing - caused by a road traffic accident and operation in hospital (back in early August - can you believe it?), we made tentative plans to let her friends buy a privately-produced photobook of photographs of her friends with her (from their photographs), with absolutely all profits going directly to Woking Cat Protection.

These plans were objected to by her family, even though Marg volunteered very actively for Woking Cat Protection and she was on her way home from a morning of kitty cuddling there, when the road traffic accident that led to her death happened. It would have been a nice thing to do, but they were not very happy about it. It was their decision, though and we respected it. Then... a needless right royal stink kicked off.

Why did her family object to the book? Marg's diminutive stature. Something that was not an issue to any of her many friends who knew her and spent their time with her, but which must have been a source of embarrassment to her family who didn't. Her family seem to have seen her many friends as just 'virtual friends'. They did not want a book of pictures of 'a little person out there'. And people laughing at her, apparently.

The book would have only been privately available to a few people who had sent in photos for it, via a private link. It would not exactly have been in WH Smiths everywhere. None of us ever laughed at her and we were not embarrassed by her. Thinking about people who thought of her like that, who were supposed to love her, makes my skin crawl.

Her relatives didn't ever go to China or Lanzarote, or for a week in the Cotswolds with her. They didn't speak to her for an hour on mid-week evenings, when she was all alone and fed up because none of her relatives ever came to see her. They only turned up when they wanted a convenient crash-pad, close to London.

Life is too short for bitterness or recriminations about everything, but when people who don't know their relative enough to know anything about their lives manage to piss that relative's friends off to the degree that very few of them attended the funeral, it just goes to show that they have done her an enormous disservice, because of their ignorance and because they didn't care enough about her when she was alive.

I will treasure the times that we all spent together with Marg and the opther friends that we all shared and will raise a glass to her, while the relatives empty the house. Marg would have been livid. She would also have been livid that one person who called herself a friend and who had always promised to take in her cat Daisy, in the event of such utterly sad circumstances welched on the agreement. In fact, Marg would have been a little bit more than livid about that.

28th October 2018:
Well, what has happened altogether, since I last blogged?

Half term, so no college.

No Kerbcrawlers rehearsals at any jam nights last week. I am getting rather nervous about these gigs now. They are not far away. We have had seven years off, so it's not going to be an easy ride. We have had going on for a year to get some songs rehearsed and three of the four of us have got on stage only three times together recently. We used to be the best band I had ever played in. It's a very big ask to re-heat that.

The Slade book is almost at 100,000 words and there is still lots to do. I am a bit mashed with the long writing sessions, so I have been dropping some illustrations in. It's going to be great when it is done.

A significant birthday. The actual morning of my birthday, I went to a guitar show in Manchester and came away with nothing at all. It's been hard to find something that I really like, which isn't just another one of something I have already got.

30th October 2018:
Our beloved Tilly went missing on September 5th and we have been really upset ever since. She was taken into our local vets today by some very kind people. The vet called us and we now have her back. She was only five minutes walk from our house. We are so very very grateful that she is safe and that we have her back with us now.

We have already ordered a catio - an enclosed exterior cat run that opens into the house - and we are going to secure our drive, so that our cats can't escape, but at least they will still have a small outside area they can go into.

November 11th 2018:
The Slade book has gone over 100,000 words now. And yes, there is still lots to do. We are sticking a bunch of interesting and rare illustrations in there.

The Kebcrawlers gigs were on Friday and Saturday of this weekend.
We had a small room at a sports club on the Thursday night for a run through of a lot of the songs. It was not a very good omen when my bass combo died at this absolutely critical rehearsal. I plugged into the PA and we carried on. The evening was a joy. Everyone's grasp of the songs after all of these years was pretty good. We came to do the shows with some confidence that we knew the songs.

The Friday gig at the Boulevard in Wigan was well-attended and it was great to see some of our old pals from Rent-A-Crowd, who used to come to all of our Wigan gigs, for the first time in years. We also had a lot of friends and family and it was a really attentive, listening crowd. Everyone was there to see us and we played well over an hour in the first half and about the same in the second half. A magical night, but the filming failed. Some audience footage turned up, but I am hidden behind a column... Typical.

The Saturday gig in Tyldesley was shortened by severe time constraints. It was nothing at all like as well-attended as it should have been and was a bit of a damp squib for the band to finish on, to be honest. But we really enjoyed playing together. Again, the filming failed, but there should be some audience footage that we can source from the night.

12th November 2018:
I have arranged the return of some bass amp equipment to Blackstar amplification and, after an eventful six months of use of their U500 and U250ACT bass amp products, I am now no longer an endorsing artist for the company's Unity range of bass amplification. I'd like to thank Blackstar Amplification for the excellent opportunity and for their assistance.

16th November 2018:
A bit of footage from Todmorden.

18th November 2018:
We know how to have fun. A rare sighting of Alice.

November 27th 2018:
I have just been down with another bad case of man-flu after last year's bad patch. A couple of band gigs had to be pulled last weekend as a result, and my voice is still a bit shot at present. Not much new work has been done on the Slade book. College on Mondays continues and I am enjoying the course.

My Dreamweaver web design software has stopped working, which is a total pain in the arse. As CS3 is no longer supported, my serial number will not be accepted by Adobe for validation. So I am temporarily using a new and different web page editor. I have also had to start using a different file transfer program to get the files up on the web. I hope to get a new version of Dreamweaver that doesn't need to go through the whole online verification thing shortly.

December 10th 2018:
Manflu and work on the book. That's my excuse, as well as Adobe disabling my Dreamweaver software, as it is an old paid-for version that they can't screw any more money out of me for.

The band had to pull a couple of shows at the very beginning of the month, as I had no voice and was just about falling over. I am still having trouble with my throat, two weeks later, but I am a lot better than I was, apart from some muck on my chest that makes me cough - too much information.

My college course finishes next week and I have already signed up for the follow-up course, which will now have more of an emphasis on Graphic Design, rather than just Photoshop, which was what I wanted. Hey ho, it will still be useful.

December 13th 2018:
Well, the year is heading towards its close now. I don't get to many gigs, as I am always out playing myself. But when my favourite band, Cheap Trick, come over here, I make sure I can go to see them.

They played in Manchester last night and performed an excellent 45-minute support slot before the utterly turgid Def Leppard came on - by which time, I was outside the arena buying a drink in a bar. Click pics to view full size.

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick 

Cheap Trick 

Cheap Trick

December 17th 2018: 
Last night I got my ears blown out by Cheap Trick at the Cavern, Liverpool. Quite an event and the band were thrilled to be there and the show was filmed. Their lengthy setlist spanned a lot of their albums. Up close and personal. Click pics to view full size.

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick  

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick  Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick

and.... NOT my footage...

23rd December 2018:
If you are here looking for the Cheap Trick concert photos, they are in the blog post above this one.

Some spooky wierdness with a venue recently. They had booked us ages ago for a return appearance and cancelled it with a week to go - no footfall over Christmas. Oh well....

Our weekly jam night has been cancelled on the evenings of 23rd and 30th December, but our mates from the Lottery Winners offered to let us cover theirs tonight, so we did that. We played well, but won't be going back to the venue as our Saturdays have nearly all gone.

The Slade book is going slowly at present - real life is getting in the way a little bit - but I intend to do some more serious writing sessions shortly. You will be pleased to know that I have finally steeled myself to do it and have now managed to write about their You boyz make big noize album, which was poorly received by the world at the time - despite there being a few really good tunes on it. The book is shaping up nicely and is not a long way from being complete. Here's a teaser image.... Click on it to see it 'in big'. Good, eh?

Slade book

29th December 2018:
Reflecting on the year:

On a personal level:
Good news - My gorgeous grand-daughter April joined the family. Rachel and Chris are fine. Tom has just had his first Christmas with us too. Tilly was returned to us after an absolutely awful 8 weeks of being missing. My son Paul has moved back to Farnworth. Susan and Andrew are great too. It's been great to see some friends who I haven't seen for a while during this year. The loss of our little mate Margaret, also known as Daisy, has been a body blow to us both.

Healthwise, the year has been a bit of a rollercoaster. My cancer came back, or rather some remaining bad cells began to show, so I ended up having radiotherapy and hormone treatment, which has been a bit of a drag and has caused me all sorts of difficulties, leaving me exhausted a lot of the time. I can't thank The Christie and the NHS enough. In the USA, I would probably be looking at being unable to afford all of the treatment I've had. Lynda has her heart problems and I worry about her and we are going to have to severely bug the doctor and complain to get something done. My mate John is having his heart rebooted next month. He must have spoken to the right people. A number of my friends have also been through absolutely shocking health problems - four of them have had cancer issues - and have had treatment which still leave them debilitated. I think I've been 'lucky' (if you can call it that) that the cancer that I got was prostate cancer, as it is at least treatable if caught soon enough. Get checked out, guys...

If you have got your health, friends, you've got everything. Look after yourselves.

I still haven't bought my 'significant birthday' present to myself, though I did upgrade my phone for Christmas, as my old one was a waste of time. That was funded (and then some) by returning some sub-standard bass guitar amplification for a full refund. Watch this space for some possible slight guitar purchase debauchery in the New Year. I look on the net, but there are very few things that actually make me want to buy at present, so we'll have to see what makes me crack. Maybe nothing will. I don't actually NEED anything..

We seem to have played well all year - I would say we have been playing quite consistently and so we haven't done a bad gig yet. We have certainly been doing some cracking shows in the last month or so - the type where you feel like you've really shifted up a gear and the crowd is all with you and you sort of coast along in what seems like a cloud of errrm, 'temporary fabness'. Of course we have to pack up and carry out all of our own crap to the car at the end of the night, which brings us right back down to Earth with a bump, but it's a good feeling to win one at a venue with a very good crowd. Thanks to the venues and crowds.

We are looking forward to next year very much. We have a lot of work booked and have just got a few new songs in. We have got rid of a few rather dodgy venues that we didn't like. Just look which Bolton venues we are not doing in 2019, that we did in 2018 (no name and shame from me, sorry). There are a couple of other venues that are just a little slow when it comes to replying about re-bookings. They have other things to do besides dealing with pests from bands and I haven't got the time to keep chasing them. Nobody likes a nag. We are pretty close to full and more gigs will come in anyway. I have gone back to our favoured venues and the rest can see if they can get us later.

Gonna do it:
I intend to start the New Year with some sustained work on the Slade book. I intend to get it finished shortly and then check out ways of self-publishing to get it out there. Then I am going to do the photo book about my guitars. I have a second college course on Mondays, starting in mid January. I will probably do something else at college in September as well. I like being a student.

I have booked tickets for gigs by Kiss, Suede and Joe Jackson in the new year - which maybe won't come anywhere near to the recent brilliance of Cheap Trick at the Cavern, but I will enjoy them.

This evening saw the band play at a venue in Romiley, Cheshire. It was funny being back there, as the last time I played there, it was discussed and mutually agreed that I would be leaving my old band after Christmas in 2016. As it turned out, I really hated playing with them so much that I ended up leaving them a very short time afterwards. The best thing that I have done for years.

The evening's gig was spent trying to reach a crowd that wanted to hide away at the far end of the pub and listen from a safe distance, as if we were going to bite them. They were all getting into it, but stayed at a safe distance, away from us. The REAL people congregated round a table not far from the stage area and we had some pretty groovy dancing going on.

The venue is going down to one band a month - all the mass of DJ equipment at one side of the stage was a clue. Venues that have a band every month don't support live music - the band allows the DJ to either do a moonlighting gig, or to go out and get pissed instead of working. They fail as venues as they are not consistent and then the DJ drives the punters out and they wonder where their takings are going to come from. Then someone else takes over the pub and they may try to be a venue again. Seen it loads of times. We play a much nicer place just down the road. That will do nicely.

31st December 2018:
Tonight, my band finish the year off with a gig at The Duke Of Wellington, Lostock (near Bolton). It's a nice little place and the landlord likes us. It's a ticketed event. No riff raff.

Crikey. That year went by quickly.

In case I don't see you loitering about in some seedy place any time soon, have a marvelous and healthy 2019.
Take care of yourselves.









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