The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth 2020

In which I try to write something new every day for a change.... 

Monday January 1st:
Happy new year. I spent an amount of today with my band, firstly finishing off our sold-out New Year's Eve gig in Lostock. Then we all went home, got a bit of sleep and then we were all back out again and off to Tyldesley to do the jam night, which lasted 4 hours, finishing at 10pm. We are value for money.

New Year's Day is usually a day at home with family for most people, but my lot don't seem to do family stuff at Christmas. I have been away to Egypt and Austria over Christmas and both were superb. The best Christmas I've had at home for a few years was - bizarrely - when we had had a power cut for a few days and my son Paul (who was living with us at the time) was there with us as we struggled to get through it was given the choice of going elsewhere, where it wouldn't have been so makeshift. He stayed with us. I love him for that. Rachel always goes to her mum's on Christmas Day, without exception.

I pretty much hate Christmas-time and if I could go away every year and ignore it, I really would. When I am not in a band anymore, I am going to make sure that I go away over Christmas every year and avoid it all.

Thursday January 2nd:
Today, after several attempts over the last week, I managed to get to Bolton tip to get rid of a load of cardboard. Everyone in Bolton seems to have had the same idea for the last week or so. I was greeted at the tip by the lovely chap who gets up at our jam night to do an Elvis song. A nice suprise.

Friday January 3rd:
The ridiculous workload of the band has taken its toll on Ian, our guitarist. He has arranged cover for the jam, as he is exhausted. He's working as well as doing all of the gigs, so it is no wonder he is worn out. Christmas and New Year were tiring.

Saturday January 4th:
The Bank Top Tavern, Oldham. I was feeling knackered in the run up to the set. I was so utterly dog-tired that, when we sound-checked with Are you ready? by Thin Lizzy, I had trouble even getting the bass rhythm. The crowd thickened up a bit for when our gig started and I got a bit of adrenalin from somewhere.

Sunday January 5th:
As mentioned, Ian, our guitarist, wasn't at the jam today, so we had the pleasure of playing with Steve Mulvaney, the excellent guitarist I was in The Kerbcrawlers with. I put him to the test on a number of songs (that I pretty much dropped on him out of the blue) and he did brilliantly well, considering how long it had been since we played some of them. Versions of Alice and Sylvia's Mother were included, seeing as Alice is definitely expected. I was told that I did Alice very well. A good evening.

As I type, I am, co-incidentally, listening to a live recording of The Kerbcrawlers at the Town Hall in Eccles from May 2005. We were a good little band.

Monday January 6th:
Out of bed very late. Exhausted. An evening of TV. Dracula.

Tuesday January 7th:
Out of bed very late. Exhausted. Spent the afternoon doing some serious writing for a book. I also edited another photobook that I am working on a little. More Dracula in the evening.

Wednesday January 8th:
Not one of my best days.

Alan Mosiezny's funeral at Radcliffe Crematorium. Nice weather for it, but I sat at the back in the crem, close to tears. His lovely wife Sue, spoke very fondly of his love for his family and their love for him, enduring his love for aircraft, amongst other things from all of their years together. She showed great strength and love to do that for him.

Some years ago, Alan joined a secret society with codes and odd handshakes - DWP.

I first met Alan when we both trained on Jobseekers Allowance at the old Bury office some years ago. He was a brand new entrant and I had just gone from working on IT support to paying benefits, after managing really well to avoid it for many years. We both struggled with the training and supported each other through it all and afterwards. We became good mates and socialised a bit outside work, when he came to my gigs and we went to the pub at lunchtime at the drop of a hat.

Alan was always the most patient and easy going fella. He saw the best in everyone and, when Alan was put on a team with the well-known and much-hated office f*ckwit, lots of people warned Alan about him. Alan refused to believe that anyone could be as spiteful and as buggardly as they all said, until he almost provoked an apopoleptic Alan into spreading him all over the wall of his office. The f*ckwit would delight in playing mind games with people and Alan, having the patience of a saint, was something of A CHALLENGE for him. The office f*ckwit was left under no delusions that he was down the road if he kept winding people up and he was moved away from Alan and watched closely.

We had the same sense of humour at times. One office dress-down day, we decided it would be a hoot to both come in wearing formal dinner suits, wing-collar shirts and bow ties. He would play Santa at Christmas, wearing the Santa suit, which had been previously vacated by the office paedophile, who moved abroad. It was probably newly-fumigated, so Alan could wear it.

Alan's retirement, several months before my own retirement, prompted me to think quite seriously about whether I could afford to do it myself. Like myself, Alan had had enough of all of the daily petty foolishness. He had worked in very responsible roles in industry in THE REAL WORLD and the ridiculously futile Civil Service brand of foolishness, in the most foolish office in DWP did not suit him that much. He said he had had enough of us all being needlessly treated like school-children. He went and he left a big hole.

Without Alan there, to keep us all amused (and vice versa) it was nothing like as much fun and all of us Union Reps were being harrassed and battered by management. I started to plot my own escape. I did the math and then, after an imbecilic acting line manager tried to bust me after taking time off for necessary recuperation from a hospitalisation and operation, I started working harder on getting out than staying in.

Alan had been fumbling on guitar - his words, not mine. He said he had 'sausage fingers'. So he moved onto drums and was doing reasonably well at learning to play and he came along to brighten up our jam night a few times.

We kept in touch and still had occasional lunch meetings, but with Alan's freedom came the chance to go plane-spotting a lot more, so bless him, he went to the airport when he could. When I left, we continued to meet some of the guys from work. I was fairly regular, once a week, but Alan less so, as when Sue retired, they spent lots of time together.

Recently we saw him a lot less, as he became afflicted with motor neurone disease, which, as illnesses go, is about as cruel as it gets. It, at first, mildly affected his co-ordination, but then moved onto his speech. It must have been beyond awful for such a well-spoken, intelligent and life-and-soul-of-the-gathering type chap.

He considered and sometimes discussed his own mortality a lot when we saw him and he then went a bit radio-silent for a long while, but I managed to arrange to go to see him at home, a couple of weeks before Christmas with another friend and I was saddened to see how the disease had prgressed. He was in good spirits but struggling. I said was going to get Christmas out of the way and then go back to see him again, with a couple of work mates that he would have loved to see, but he didn't make it into the new year. We lost him on Christmas Day morning. It was quite a shock. But at least he is not struggling anymore. Considering how much he must have hated how his health was, I can live with that.

Good turnouts at a funeral are not the measure of a man, even though lots of his friends were there (not so much from work, as he'd left a few years ago and the joke is still told about problems getting time off, even for your own funeral). Some of us who were closest to him at work turned up to see him off and I am glad I was there for him, even though it was extremely sad.

In the car on the way back, I muttered something about my own personal wish for a wicker coffin and playing a few songs that everyone wouldn't like. "Everyone?" joked Lynda, caustically, gently mocking my natural assumption that anyone would come to my funeral. I might not even get the time off to go...

Thursday January 9th:
After we got back from Alan's funeral, I had several glasses of wine and, for a nightcap, I had a large measure of toffee vodka. The glass it goes in is deceptive. I was in a poxy mood before I went to bed (very early hours) and when I woke up I felt so rough that I have sworn off the toffee vodka for a while.

I had to go into Bolton at lunch to meet Mike and Steve. I ended up having one solitary pint of Fosters, as that was enough for me. I'd have been happier with a coffee, really. Two at lunchtime is too much for me anyway.

Friday January 10th:
Tired out, but set off for the gig in Romiley, bright and early and was there for 7.45. We were due to start at 9pm, so I was set up pretty much before the others arrived. Graham was generally first to arrive at gigs, but since he moved house and teaches drums Fridays and saturdays, I now beat him to the venue, not every time and not always by much, though.

We played a decent show and there was some rather good punterage entertainment for the band while we played. We went down really well. Nice venue, nice landlord and land lady. Back there once more later this year. I am now looking at the diary and feeling like calling it 'full' for this year. One Saturday left in July and I just want to blank off that weekend. Next year will have even more weekends off built in. We are all getting tired.

Saturday January 11th:
Up very late after last night's exertions. Ignored alarm at 10am. Lynda came back to bed and we both just decided to sleep again.

Spent a good amount of the day updating the Slade book, THE NOIZE, which I wrote with Chris Selby, for the forthcoming 2021 second edition. There will be lots of new articles to go in. More illustrations, more reviews and quotes, more details. All done to improve it and keep it as the book we would have wanted to buy. I have a fantastic cover design done and ready to go. It was originally designed for the 2019 Convention edition, but when we talked about what could go in a second edition of the book, I decided that I had to do another new cover for the Convention book and save the unseen new cover for that new second edition.

Tonight, we played at The First and Last bar in Leigh. Our first time there and we went down quite well with the crowd. A fairly easy load in and out, though parking nearby isn't as easy as it could be. We got our first and last drink free, seeing as we were playing there, which was very hospitable. People were filming us. I can never seem to find the footage. I wonder what they do with it?

We got the gig through a recommend from our friends The Hats. That same night, they played a pub in Bolton where the DJ plays music at a dangerously high volume, while the band sets up and between sets and while we are breaking the gear down. It makes us sound puny. We have taken a couple of gigs there this year (and turned a couple more dates down, once we found out that DJ is still there). It is a horrible experience and last time we were there, I nearly asked for the accident book.

I don't want my tinnitus to go out of control. It's down to cymbals. My ears have a noticeable audible whistling sound going on all of the time, as it is. I can just about tune it out but it does annoy me sometimes, especially when it's time to go to sleep. Ian Hunter has put his music career on hold because of it. People have taken their own lives because of tinnitus and to inflict that kind of volume on people is just plain dangerous.

Thinking what to do about those dates. Earplugs, for a start.

Sunday January 12th:
My wife Lynda is feeling quite down at the moment. She absolutely hates winter and long nights and dark days. She got up early and took the dogs out, then came back to bed. I stayed in bed awhile, mooched around then came back to bed 'til early afternoon. Luxury. I cheered her up by saying we will take the dogs out tomorrow to Heaton Park in Prestwich to give them a proper outing.

We did our jam night and had a very good turnout. Quite a few players and a pleasant evening was had by all. It was good to see Bill come back, though he clearly still isn't match fit. We did Sylvia's Mother again and it wasn't anything like as good as last week.

We don't have an alternative venue for the three weeks off that are coming up, due to building work at the venue. We were told somewhere nearby may be able to take us on for those three weeks but that didn't come off. I wouldn't mind a rest for those dates. it would be nice to be able to do what other people do on Sundays - like meeting friends for a curry.

After the break, the venue is starting to do food and we will have a slightly later start and finish. This means I will possibly get my tea with Lynda - usually, it's too early for her to eat with me, before I set off at 5pm. There are some people the slightly later start will not work for, as they have early starts the next morning, but we intend to make the jam go no later than 9.30pm unless we have to.

Monday January 13th:
Another particularly grey and nondescript day. Our trip out to Heaton Park with the dogs didn't happen. Lynda said it was too dull to go out. Did some writing and played an amount of Super Challenge Freecell. It is grim out there.

Tuesday January 14th:
Grey again. Lynda spent most of the day in bed.

Wednesday January 15th:
Vincent and Edward - our beautiful brothers from Bosnia.

Vincent and Edward

Thursday January 16th:
At last.. Heaton Park with Lynda and the dogs in the morning. I got told off for parking on a heli-pad and had to move the car. Lynda got a bit breathless, so we only went for a shortish walk and got back to the car. Lunchtime in Bolton with the chaps. Curry in the evening with some very good friends of ours. Excellent food and excellent company.

Friday January 17th:
A day spent mainly lazing around doing very little. My late wife Julie would have been 58 today.

Saturday January 18th:
The Royal, Farnworth. We didn't have much of a crowd, as it's not been the payday after Christmas and New Year yet, but those that were there paid attention and clapped in the right places. We played well. Our mate Donna got up and joined us for one song at the end.

Earlier in the day, Facebook reminded me that it was exactly one year ago that I ordered the first proof copies of THE NOIZE. Crikey. It's been one hell of a ride.

Sunday January 19th:
Jam night again. Again, a good turnout and we over-ran the finish time. My car was jam packed full of gear and as I was tuckered out before setting off, getting all the gear in wore me out and I was struggling a bit during the jam itself. It was great fun, though. Looking at some photos taken during the evening, I look absolutely dreadful in them. Quite ill.

Ian Edmundson

Monday 20th January:
I am listening to the Listen like thieves album by INXS. Tom is looking up at me. First from the left of me, then from the right. He is totally fascinated by the small plate I have in front of me. It had a wrap on it a few minutes ago. It doesn't now. I ate it. He jumped up at it when Lynda was handing it to me at my studio desk. I wasn't impressed. Tom got a little tiny scrap of it when I had just about finished it. It went down so fast that he couldn't even have tasted it. I don't encourage him to watch me eat. I can't enjoy food if he is trying to get on a chair arm or, worse still, my knee, to look at what I am eating, or to beg a bit from me.

Five minutes later.
Tom is now two feet away from me, quietly refurbishing himself. He has not given up on the plate, though. He seems quite obsessed by it, which will do him no good at all. He is staring at the plate. There are a few drips of hot sauce on it, which he wouldn't enjoy at all. I know that when I get up, he will have a go at getting to the plate, unless I get up facing away from him.

Tuesday 21st January:

Shopping in Farnworth. Missed parcel delivery. Bugger. Form left for me to collect it from Bolton tomorrow. Good job I am in a car.

Off to the hospital to have my shoulder looked at. The doctor told me (from the scan that was taken last September, that they never called me back two weeks later to discuss, like they said they would) that my calcium buildup in my left shoulder - I am crumbling due to my age - is worse than my right, which i already knew. I am being referred for physio excercies on my damaged shoulders, rather than corrective surgery.

I stopped physio to go back for the hospital to sort my shoulder out. They seem reluctant to do anything until I go through physio and get referred back to them again. (Bangs head against wall). I feel very badly like I am being fobbed off. I do like the physiotherapist that I have asked to be referred to, so I will discuss it properly with her. She managed to get my arms going quite a bit after my surgery.

I think that she will be slightly dismayed that I stopped a round of physio to go back to the hospital, who have scanned me and just sent me back for physio.

Wednesday 22nd January:
Picked up the parcel from the sorting office in Bolton. Nothing interesting. Spent most of the day messing about on the net and doing some new graphics for my websites. Also assembling new playlists for the PA at gigs. I think we are all bored with what I normally play.

I have a 'bad taste' playlist, which I wish I could use more often. Here it is:

XTC's 'Pink thing' isn't actually that bad)

Thursday 23rd January:
Went into town to meet the chaps. Had a couple of pints of HAGGIS HUNTER. Quite a nice beer that I will probably never encounter again. Called in at the charity shop with some swag that Lynda had bagged up for them.

An evening spent catching up TV. New Amsterdam is a current favourite and we are really enjoying His dark materials.

Friday 24th January:
Up very early. Off to college for a 9.30am start on my photography course. That finished at 12.00. I was quite surprised that some of the people who were meant to be on it didn't turn up for the first class. They will be the ones who are not paying for it, of course. One particular guy's attendance was really patchy on the beginner's course. He was the one who always asked the tutor for a pen, turned up with a camera with a flat battery and never ever had a folder for his work. he will turn up next week and take up time catching up and distract everyone all through the class.

After that, I nipped home and went to Ray's mum's post funeral wake in a club near me. Freda was lovely, she was mad about Quo and turned up at a number of our gigs and we always had to play Quo stuff for her. She's with Ray now. If you believe in all that. I didn't stay long at the wake. I sat down and nursed a pint. A few people said hello and then sat elsewhere. A guy from a local trib band said hello, sat one seat away from me, with his back turned to me, gabbing with his mates. After half an hour of being ignored, I went out and got something to eat. Sorry, Freda.

I had a rest in the afternoon and pulled myself together. I quite fancied another drink while I relaxed, but I had some stuff to do which involved driving.

Our evening's gig was in a village pub to the NorthEast of Rochdale. It's a gig I don't really look forward to that much, because we turn up and the stage space is never ever cleared for us. Even though I got there later than usual, I was still the first there. For a change, I decided not to go ask the bar staff to clear the space and did it myself. It only took a couple of minutes, but it's stuff we shouldn't have to do. We're not paid for it and, with two knackered shoulders, moving tables and chairs around and stacking them just doesn't work for me. It hurts afterwards. The venue always have to be reminded what our fee is.

We had a natter at the soundcheck. Our guitarist Ian is mindful of how long the Roadhouse Blues medley is and wants to cut how much we play of School's out down (again) in what is a long medley. Both Graham and I think it's the best part of it, but I was tired and just said cut it out altogether, then. I'd like to do it complete - as a song on it's own. I have been lobbying for some time for us to put No more Mr Nice Guy in the set, as I've done it before . There is some discussion about new songs. Sure fire cracking rock songs don't make the cut because the other two don't know them. The audience probably would. Suede's Can't get enough is a great song - fantastic riff, charted etc. If a band doesn't change its set, it becomes a museum.

We agree to try I can't take my eyes off you again. We have attempted it before at jam night and never quite got happy with it. Jet took us two and a bit years to pull together. I resolve to re-learn it at some point before Sunday afternoon. Probably on Sunday morning.

The crowd were a bit dead, as crowds go. One of our supporters turned up with a friend and danced around a lot. The rest of them were not whipped up into any sort of frenzy by Diane doing the twist all over the place. I introduced the band after five songs like I usually do, but I pointedly said "We are The Three and we are here to entertain you tonight... or die trying." It was lost on them.

Playing two sets of going on for an hour each when you are bone tired and not in the mood for it is a skill. I really exercised that skill tonight. When we finished at 11.30pm, I put a few songs on the PA and then, as we packed up, we watched as a loud girl decided that she wanted another drink. Last orders had already been called a while before and the till had been taken out from behind the bar. She got really snotty with the bar staff and they asked her to leave. She wouldn't. In desperation, they called her Dad. I've never seen that done before. The scene played out again when he wandered off back home. She got in a taxi with some mates and they presumably went into Rochdale to find somewhere that would let her in, to finish off getting totally hammered.

I was unable to give a chum a lift to and from the gig, as I had said, my route to get there didn't start from home, so I had a quiet drive home, and was able to unwind properly. If I get a quiet drive home, I can go to bed and get to sleep pretty much on my arrival at home, as I am then tired enough to be able to just nod off. I do like company on a long drive, but I like to get proper sleep even more. I always like getting into my own bed and dropping off ASAP after a gig.

Playing somewhere a distance away from home and then sleeping somewhere else is worse and means means I get a rubbish night's sleep. I avoid that whenever possible.

Saturday 25th January:
A bit of a lie in. I am better after a good night's sleep. Didn't do very much during the day. I was in a better frame of mind for tonight's gig, because I had rested properly the night before. I'd also had a lie down late afternoon.

Our evening gig was at the Duke of Wellington in Lostock, where we have a gig booked most months of this year. It's a small set up area at the end of the bar. It makes the sound a little difficult for me, as the bass tends to boom a bit and I am very conscious of that and so I have to keep adjusting my sound to try to stop it. Tonight a bunch of young lads were sat along the end of bar with their backs to us while we set up. They did move along a bit when we had to put our vocal mics in place. People were watching the band through them. There was a 40th birthday party going on, so it was packed.

Graham had said he also wanted to keep School's out in the medley, as he watches the crowd and they prick their ears up at that. So it remains in the medley for now.

Some friends turned up to watch us and - following a conversation I'd had with someone else recently - I asked how much of my own book they'd actually read. Not all of it. Not that it matters. I think a number of people simply humoured me by buying it. I'm not that interesting.

We started a bit early at 9.15 (though it said 9pm on the venue posters). Usually it's 9.30. And our first spot was a good 50 minutes. We had a break and started the second spot with us singing happy birthday to a nice young lady called Caroline, who also got the chorus of Caroline  Because we'd started early, our second spot looked like finishing a bit early, so the landlord kindly offered us some extra dosh to keep going 'til midnight. We are always willing to oblige and a few 'emergency songs' crept in - Summer of 69, I saw her standing there, Fire brigade, Honky tonk woman and Alice were slotted in.

I was home a little after 1am and went straight to bed.

Sunday 26th January:
Up at 10.30am. Our kitten Baby was nowhere to be seen. Panic stations for me. She has started going over the fence to next door's garden shed roof on little adventures, but she always comes back. I had a look round for her later and she was snuggled up to Lynda, who had gone for a lie down. Sent some of the morning running through I can't take my eyes off you and writing catch-ups on this blog.

Jam night at 6.30pm: I can't take my eyes off you went reasonably well. I will need the words, or a prompt for a while. My fingers know where to go when I am playing that one, which is the most important bit for me. That comes first when I have to sing and play. I am a bassist, first and foremost. We also had a go at Battleship chains by The Georgia Satellites, again with me singing. I've done it before, but not singing it. It's not going to be hard to get together. We are also looking at Saturdays night's alright for fighting, which I have sung before. That will be good if we get it right.

The rest of the jam was really excellent, with good attendance and participation. One woman (you can always tell when they are going to be trouble) came up to the front when one of the acts was about to start his econd song and demanded that she get up and sing. We said it was this act's turn at present. He'd only just started, and so we'd get her up shortly. If she went to see our guitarist, he'd talk to her about what songs we could do with her. That wasn't good enough. She got stroppy. This is a jam night, so why weren't we getting her up to sing? Graham tried to contain himself. She left in a huff. An obvious not-right. She will no doubt reappear in a couple of weeks and do the same thing again.

Monday 27th January:
Up reasonably early. Something to eat and then off to my physio appointment at the hospital. The physiotherapist is quite nice. He went through my shoulder's history - five or six years of problems. Shoulder op on right shoulder a couple of years back, physio, then back to hospital, then more physio, then back to hospital, MRI last september - no follow up meeting, now they are trying to avoid doing anything invasive, so I have been referred back for physio on what I consider to be a compromised shoulder.

We have agreed that what I need to do is build up the muscle strength on my shoulders, as they are quite wasted and my shoulders feel quite boney. I have been given a basic simple exercise to do to start with, a couple of times a day.

In the evening, we watched the 'Michael Hutchence Mystify' DVD that I got for Christmas. It is quite tragic that he isn't here now. How he went is beyond tragic and what happened to him in his last few years was utterly awful.

Tuesday 28th January:
Up at 10am. Not bad, seeing as I finally went to bed at 2.30am. Lynda has not been well today and has spent a lot of the day in bed. She's been getting some crappy headaches.

Called round to my mate Dave's house in the afternoon for a quick visit. It was fun to horrify him with a bit of rock music from Supergrass. The music is tremendous, but some of it is a bit rowdy for Dave. Seeing as he has spent a lot of money on various guitar distortion pedals, it's funny to see him disturbed by a distorted guitar.

Lynda didn't eat very much of her evening meal. I ended up resorting to a takeaway curry at 8pm, as she had gone back to bed. After she picked at her bit of it, she went back to bed.

I found myself channel-hopping and watching some of the TV awards show, which is generally pointless. Jodie Comer was pipped to the post for her award for Killing Eve, by Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy. I suppose he was the only one who could have taken it from her.

Ant and Dec took the annual award for the best show hosted by Ant and Dec and I ceased to care what was happening. Emmerdale won best soap for the fourth year and I started to nod off. Dogs out and then lights out and off upstairs to play Super Challenge Freecell.

Starting with a shitty cold. Worried about my voice.

Wednesday 29th January:
Some really bad family news which I can't go into, but which caused me something of a sleepless night.

Thursday 30th January:
Into town to meet the guys... well, Mike, as Steve is is the USA at present.

Friday 31st January:
College at 9.30am. A morning of general confusion and apertures.

Lynda has another heart operation scheduled for 8am on February 21st. In Liverpool.

The afternoon was made interesting by our central heating boiler deciding to pack up and go on strike again, when i went for my pre-gig bath and so i found the water to be freezing cold when I put my foot in it. I was not impressed. We tried various things to resurrect it, but to no avail. I rang the heating guy who sorted it last time and he said he'd pop round early tomorrow morning if he could to have a look at it. Amazing. He said it would probably be about 8.30am. Not as amazing, but if I have to get up to get the heating sorted, so be it.

I washed my hair in the kitchen sink, using a kettle and a jug and guessing temperatures, which was also not amazing, but at least I went out with nice hair, instead of looking like Wurzel Gummage.

Our gig was intersting. My head was all over the place, with various family worries and residual panic about the boiler. I messed up songs throughout and my recall of lyrics was a joke. I forgot where I was on I want you to want me and it was pure comedy.

On the drive home, I decided I'd call in at Macdonalds in Haslingden, rather than coming back via my outward route, up the M61. Mistake. The motorway was closed and I had to come off at Edenfield and drive down A roads into Bury then across to Bolton. I hadn't even bothered with Macdonalds after all that.

We have done a bit of juggling on a gig, so I could go to watch Sparks in Manchester in October, seeing as I managed to get two tickets.

Another venue cancelled us by text message for a gig we had booked with them in April, as they were having a party with entertainment already provided. It is one of my least favourite and rubbish-paying venues and it is a real pleasure not to play there. It's a long way to go for little money and play to a small, but not mentally-formed audience. If we can lose the other one later in the year, my life will be complete. Bed after 2am.

Saturday 1st February:
Up at 7.45am when the doorbell rang. I got dressed and struggled downstairs. Our central heating was fixed quickly and cheaply and I could now relax. I ended up going back to bed after a while. I slept a lot today.

We went to pick Kay up as she and Lynda were coming to watch us play at The Veterans Garage at Manchester City airport. Once we shoehorned her into the back of the car with all of the gear, we made very good time getting to the gig.

The gig itself was an absolute pleasure - apart from the stairs to get up to the room we were playing in.... We don't usually do stairs. We were told there would be bikers around to help us in with the gear. Where were they? Anyway, the room we played in was really nice and we were pleased to see that we had some supporters there. We fixed up a gig in April, to replace the date that we lost at the other venue (thanks to Eloise asking, as I didn't know who to chat to about it). I only got lost slightly in one song, because I got the giggles at one point. A fun evening.

The Three

Sunday 2nd February:
Up late. Updated the website with various gigs added and subtracted. I have a bit of a laze around watching some TV then at 5pm, I set off for the jam night. It's a 15-minute drive at most, with hardly ever any traffic. Parklng when I get there is either dead easy or a total pain.

The jam night ran pretty much as usual. Graham and I arrived at 5.15pm and loaded in and set up. Graham set up his drums and I set up the PA and chased some electricity over to the stage area from behind the DJ booth in the corner. Then I put the PA cabling in and power up the PA and play some music instead of whatever noise it is called that the bar have on. Graham plays totally unrelated drums over it. Then it's set up my mic, a guitar amp and my bass rig, check the sound balance on Graham's drums, tune two guitars and two basses. Ian usually turns up at around 6.10pm as he has quite a long drive to get there and is pretty much plug and play, ready to go. We sometimes start a couple of minutes late, as I am still running round doing stuff - I have been working at fever ptich for over an hour, non-stop.

I hate the jam night setup, as it is the hardest work I do all week and we do it every Sunday. It is a regular weekly absolute ball ache. I'm getting too old for this shit. There you go. I finally said it. If it wasn't such an enjoyable evening, once that hardwork was done, I would opt out of it.

Despite the calls for us to play Busted, or Freebird, which we cheerfully ignore, we start the jam night off with a couple of songs that we need to get into the set - Battleship chains and Saturday night's alright for fighting. They go fairly smoothly and we pat ourselves on the back. Next weekend we have to use a dep drummer (Redders) for Friday night at the beer festival, as Graham is doing a reunion gig with his old band. Redders plays a bunch of songs with us that he thinks he needs to check are right. He's played with us before, but it's a while ago. They go quite well.

We get various people up. I change my mic for a spare, so I don't get anyone's lurgy. At one point, I change back to my own personal mic and this guy down at the front asks if he can come on the mic. I say no, because I'm on it, it is my own personal mic and I can't change it while I'm playing. He ignores me and comes on stage anyway. Fortunately, I have a third mic. The same guy decides it would be nice to play guitar with one of the regulars, to save me the job. I like playing guitar at jam nights, but it's not MY stage after the first few songs, so I happily plug him in and head off to the bar. My first drink is free and one of the guys from one of the bands buys me one.

The regular guy's face is a total picture as they go through the songs. It's errrmmm... different from what he was expecting. He does like it to be fairly consistent every time. I tell him afterwards "I like to see you suffer!". That's the great thing about jam night. It should never be the same. I personally like it when it gets a bit mixed up at jam nights. Anarchy is good for you. You learn from it and improve. At one point I sneak out, go a few doors down the street and get myself a portion of chips. 

I used to know a local band who lost their own jam night, as they wouldn't get other people up. That's NOT us at all.

We jog on with the evening, giving all of acts their turn and, of course, we usually run well past 9pm and we are still getting people up. All this unpaid overtime.... Graham has done a sterling job of organising who gets up next during the evening. The last couple of people to get up onstage come and go and the crowd start shouting for us to play Alice and Purple rain. We have run really late, so I stick some music on the PA instead. Not every week should be the same, nothing should be taken for granted. Always leave them wanting more.

After the last song, I always put the PA music on for 3 - 4 songs and then everything's off. In the meantime, while the said music plays over the PA, I am frantically breaking gear down and packing it away. Graham also gets on with it. There are always people who want to chat to us after we play and I always politely pass, as I have to get away. Ian has to be up at 6am for work. The bar staff want to get away, too. I am also very mindful of that.

We should have finished at 9pm. Allow 30 minutes to get the gear in the car and 15 minutes to get home. Of course that doesn't happen. I get home around 11pm. In April, the jam night will be starting a bit later. It will finish right on the dot every time from then.

Monday 3rd February:
I ignored my 9.30am alarm, as I am still knackered from last night's exertions. I really do feel it these days. Up ridiculously late - 11.30ish. I go out with the dogs for a good walk round the local lodge to clear the cobwebs. Three Gaz Coombes albums have arrived for me to listen to. Probably not all today. Lynda is doing a serious battle with defrosting the freezer, so I do have a limited window of opportunity. I catch up my writing on this page for the last few days and edit a couple of previous entries.

I get a phone call from a friend with close connections to various Slade members. Jim Lea has had his black Fender Stratocaster (Contemporary Japanese HSS model) stolen, somewhere in central London. So, we have to make the media explode with calls for the return of the guitar. I do the necessary on the website.

I spent the evening catching up TV with Lynda and missed the REAL Slade explosion of the century. Dave Hill has sacked Don Powell from the band by 'a cold email'. Those two had been together in bands since 1964. Now, while Slade may not be the name on everone's lips today, for some of us, this is a bit of a milestone and it is certainly a shock for Don. I had been emailing him over recent months and I got the feeling that something was amiss. Certainly, he wasn't speaking fondly of Hill.

On Facebook, Slade fans reaction varied between astonishment, outrage and also calls for a full reunion (from the particularly dim ones). That has been off the cards for so many years it is a nonstarter today. Hill has not come out of it well at all. It is their personal business, but I think Hill has made a mistake. The internet loses interest in Jim Lea's stolen guitar, as Slade are over.

Tuesday 4th February:
Dave Hill responded to Don's announcement with a 'not accurate' response. The small corner of the internet that Slade inhabit was still going mad and the press had got hold of it and had asked Noddy Holder for comments. I emailed Don Powell to offer some support and web help.

Lots of TV. Bed.

Wednesday 5th February:
Edward managed to get himself hurt. He came into the house with one of his rear paws bleeding and a hole in his onther rear leg. Off to the vets. We don't know what has happened. He ended up with painkillers and sedatives.

On top of this, our central heating boiler packed up again. I tried to get the heating chap to come out, but he is mad busy with work.

Thursday 6th February:
Into town at lunch to meet with Mike. Took a carload of cardboard boxes to the tip, as Lynda is re-doing the kitchen so that everything in it is red. Chased the heating chap, but he's still busy. He said he may be able to come on Saturday.

Friday 7th February:
Edward limping miserably around the house. His rear paw is still giving him a bit of gyp. My son Paul popped around, which was nice - we haven't seen him for a bit.

Philip Schofield, the TV presenter, bravely came out as being gay on morning TV. Cue a much bigger Internet explosion. Frankly, it is a matter that really only needs to be shared between himself and his family. But, however he feels the need to deal with it is up to him. I really don't feel the need to go round announcing to random people that I am straight, because what I get up to into the bedroom is nobody's business but ours. Public figures always seem to torture themselves over this kind of thing. Needlessly.

In the evening, the band played at the 31st annual Bent and Bongs Beer Bash. We went down really well and we look set to be back on there next year. We play stuff everyone knows and can do the jukebox of hits as required. Nice work, when you get it. Steve Redmond helped us out on drums, as our own drummer Graham was otherwise engaged with playing a theatre reunion show with his old band, Shabby Tiger.

Hartke rig

After the gig, we managed to get a couple of free drinks, very nice too, but having to drive back home means having to avoid the strong stuff and keep it to a legal amount.

Saturday 8th February:
Woke up early, feeling rather rough (I'm tired, not hungover) after last night's exertions. I woke up thinking about the damned central heating boiler. Spoke to the heating chap again. He got me to order the sensor part for the heating from Ebay. That's going to be another couple of days now without the central heating. It's cold and Lynda is getting quite fed up. I want a warm bath more than anything else in the world.

I get myself a shallow bath ready, using a kettle, but it's not a good soak in the bath. That's what I really need. As well as for the heating to be working. Lynda is going quietly mad about all of this.

I had some more very stressful bad news before our gig at The Hulton Arms in the evening and I played the gig in a total fog. I just wasn't into it, because of that. On top of the stress about the boiler, I was left in such a low state and feeling rather sick that I just functioned, rather than performing. There was quite an amount of talk to punters going on after we finished playing. I packed my car up and spoke to Graham and just went home, rather than waiting around.

Sunday 9th February:
Woke up feeling hideous. Stress manifests itself as nervous stomach with me and I just feel sick. Spoke to Lynda about everything that's going on. I'm just dismayed by it all. I checked Ebay. The boiler part is probably going to be posted on Monday and will be due here on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The jam night in the evening was quite decent. Graham on good form. Lots of people showed up to play and watch. Funnily enough, some of the guys that normally play were gigging across the road, so we sneaked in and did the last song of the night for them with their bassist 'Reluctant John', singing Elvis as only he can.

Monday 10th February:
Central heating part in the post. Boiler guy advised. Rest of day spent watching TV, walking dogs and stuff and in the evening I went for a takeaway curry, but :Lynda retired ill to bed. Later on, we watched JOKER. What a superb and odd film.

Tuesday 11th February:
Started on Season 5 of The Wire, from the box set. I watched the other seasons and have left it a year or so to come back to it. It is REALLY BLOODY SLOW. But then again, so is police surveillance work. The main event of the day though, for myself, was getting the heating boiler back on at 9.30pm. The amount of utterly needless unpleasantness in my household surrounding its failure can't be described in mere words.

Wednesday 12th February:
The main event of the day was having a long soak in the bath. Did an amount of web work and some new writing for the 2021 update to THE NOIZE. Walked to the hospital and back. Physio appointment at 5pm. Two more exercises. Caught a lot of TV up in the evening. New Amsterdam and The Good Doctor. Both are capable of bringing me near to tears.Just remembered I haven't watched any of the last season of The Walking Dead yet. It has not changed my life.

Thursday 13th February:
Woke up in pain from new exercises from yesterday. Still did them all again today. Met Mike in town. Steve wasn't there today. Ged has given up drinking til Easter to save money and his liver. Did some shopping on the way home, then some more writing when I got home. Hope to put some proper recording time in next week. Watched two one hour shows about Universal Credit - they actually made me start feeling anxious. I always felt for claimants who were in dire straits. I cannot understand a society that has to have food banks. The funny part was where the man in charge of Jobcentres magicked some recruitment up for Toxteth Jobcentre after a visit. Just like a fairy tale. Hoorah. That's not just for good press, is it? Other Jobcentres will be ripping if they don't get some more staff.

Friday 14th February:
Valentines Day.
Yeah right.

College in the morning. We look at posting to the college forum and the rules for doing that. Then we look at various aspects of Photoshop.

After college, we take Edward to see the vet to have two staples removed from a wound on his leg. The Vet doesn't find them. He thinks Edward has taken them out himself. He is still limping on his other leg and we are told that if we areinsured an operation will cost £1500, but that he will be recovered in a while anyway.

The evening's show was in a lively enough venue in Lancaster and we usually enjoy doing it, but I wasn't in a great mood all day (for a change) and when I got there first and set my gear up, I at least felt a bit of peace. Then the others turned up. Eloise cam ewith Graham bearing an acoustic guitar. Time was tight and I fretted about timings.

We started later than we should have for an 11pm finish and so, the acoustic slot became out of the question. As the gig went ahead, there were some problems with the sound balance. I couldn't really hear what I was singing. I boosted my voice in my floor monitor, but I got told off for doing that, as the stage is the size of a postage stamp and any increase in sound fills the stage. Down it went again. Someone actually came up while we were playing, to try to help and fix my mic by taking it off the cable and putting it back on again while I was singing into it, or by messing with the desk, as my voice couldn't be heard out front. I don't want anyone touching the band's gear when we are playing, but thanks. I just like to hear what I am doing. Other people may have perfectly valid objections to prominent volume - so do I - but I wasn't too loud at all. My monitor doesn't affect the out front sound. It's for me. Other stuff threw me and I didn't enjoy the gig much.

I drove home in a bit of a mental fog. I stopped at a MacDonalds for fries and a vanilla milkshake, just outside Lancaster and cooled down as I drove. In and straight to bed.

Saturday 15th February:
I should have got up earlier, but I was home in the early hours of the morning from Lancaster and I felt like total rubbish. I didn't want to wake up and have to think. Last night's bad mood was still hanging over me and I was really tired.

Anyway, I got up quite late today and sulked around the house awhile. Nothing much to do. I caught up some TV and messed around with various cats. Cleo - in particular - sometimes seems a bit lonely. Lynda has noticed that. The dogs tend to take over being in the front room with us and various cats spread out in various other places around the house. I always fuss Cleo whenever I pass her or when she appears, though she seems doubtful of being around the dogs sometimes.

My mate Kevan rang me. He is DJ-ing at the private party we are playing at later. He's getting his gear to the venue later this afternoon. Do I want to take my stuff down and get it into the venue? I said no at first, then I thought it was a good idea, rang him back and agreed to meet him there.

1.45pm - The place had stairs. Steep ones. Very steep ones. They were not very safe-looking. I made several trips up and down them with all of my gear, except for my basses, which would arrive with me. We discussed where the band should set up and I opted for a place near the entrance where we wouldn't have to cart gear through any seating. Tables were moved around and I got everything I could done, finding power points and laying on mains power, setting up my bass gear and what I could of the PA, including trailing the cables ready for plugging in, so there would be little left for me to do later, except help the others in with their gear and finish off connecting the PA system. It would be a rush to be ready for 8 otherwise.

I got there just around ten to seven and it was pitch-black, really windy, and the rain was lashing it down mercilessly. The doors were still closed and some young kids wearing hardly anything stood in the pouring rain with purses held uselessly over their heads. The others arrived and we got the gear in. We did manage to set up for an 8pm start but actually started a little bit later. The party was for a 76 year old (who we had a nice chat with about his Shadows guitars and about music gear in general) and also for a 15 year old.

Kevan introduced us as "that band from TV".
It hasn't changed our lives.

Kevan played music for all ages. We didn't. In front of me, a table full of stick-thin young girls, all dressed in the tiniest skirts imaginable, with 'interesting' eyebrow designs and made up in their mid 20's, but probably still grappling with puberty, looked miserably at their phones, while we clattered through some Status Quo and Who numbers. The older folks all got it. The kids just ignored us. Even our party songs were far too old for them and just went over their heads. One girl started making DJ requests while we were still playing. "Death by a thousand cuts,"  I said to Graham and Ian afterwards. At least the sound was not a problem. Full marks for having cheese pasties in the buffet. The little girls probably don't eat solids, so there were loads left over. Once we finished, Kevan played some absolutely awful stuff that had been requested and the kids all started waving inflatable guitars around to music that was probably made by some retarded 8 year old on a laptop, rather than people playing actual guitars.

We were away at around 10.30pm. Home and bed early. Lynda has found the two staples that the Vet had said had come out and we grappled with getting them off Edward's leg ourselves.

Sunday 16th February:
Up late again. I really need my sleep these days. Lynda seems to think I just like rotting in my bed. She gets up earlier than me every day. She might be right, but the morning after a gig night, I am usually truly knackered. I couldn't do this AND a 9-5 job anymore. Slack living.

Storm Dennis has done a couple of things in our back garden, so I go outside and sort them out. I catch up writing my blog for the last couple of days, while Tom barks at anything and everything, including the Amazon delivery guy and take the dogs for a good walk.

I expected the road to be flooded again when i got to the deep dip in Mort Lane. It wasn't. The sky was an odd, dark metallic grey on the drive there and it looked like it was going to heave it down the second i got there. The landlady let me in after a minute or two from when I arrived at 17.10 and I got straight on with setting up.

The jam night tonight was mad busy. Everybody in the bloody world turned up to play. This is good, right? Graham counted 8 drummers. We ran over by an hour and, despite Graham's best efforts as ringmaster this evening, we found out afterwards that we hadn't got quite everyone up. A snotty comment on the page and a string of Facebook messages complaining about a drummer's omission from the running order have gone down as you might expect with us.

We do our best. We are human. We can't be 100% perfect all of the time. We are not the jam night that the drummer mentioned that don't let him up. We are the one that does let him up. Tonight he didn't get up. Some full bands arrived. We can't split them up to let other people in. We do our best. Gimme a break.

Off to bed. The bed was full of dogs and cats and I had very little room and was too hot.
No sleep.

Monday 17th February:
I was still awake at 5am and nodded off again, probably around 6.30am. I got up around 10.45, after Tom decided to bark at everything in Farnworth, while a couple of feet from me. I felt sick-tired, so left coffee til just after noon. An amount of writing. My bass rig wasn't working properly at the jam - one of the output jacks is damaged, but I assembled the bass rig in the house, used a new cable and it works ok, so I taped the cable firmly in place inside the rack case. I had visions of having to drive to Warrington to get it sorted out and then again to pick it back up - and the expense involved. The time taken would be more of an issue than the money, though. An afternoon killed going and another coming back with it.

Also I haven't seen Tilly for a few days, so I popped round to Bill's house, which is just round the corner, twice - and there she was. Phew.


2019's garbage