Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

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Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Posted @ 18:00The Beat Goes On...

Need to catch up, so a long post.

Thoughts from a plague zone

I've been suffering from recurring lurgy and plague for the past week or so and, as a result, haven't paid much attention to keeping this blog fed with the social observation, current affairs and dubious puns which it richly deserves.

A correspondent (which I will identify only by the sobriquet "My mate Ian who isn't really the alcoholic that the incidents in these chronicles seem to imply") writes: "I have Avian 'flu, or SARS, or the Marthambles or plague or something (why do women only get "Colds"?).". The answer to this question lies, I believe, in the fine structure of the language centres of the human brain. Males have a highly developed disease morphology, enumeration and categorisation centre; in females this construct is either absent or astonishingly small. Hence females get "colds" and males get "the gut destroying, life threatening, totally horrid plague".

This has been a public service announcement.

Acoustic Nights

Two "Acoustic Nights" last week and one this week. Such a proliferation of wealth needs reporting, analysing and making fun of.

Tuesday, 22nd February 2005 saw the monthly "Acoustic Culture Night" at the Tap & Spile. Despite the weather (cold, white stuff from the sky and winds that were frozen solid), there was a good turn out.

I was not well. I was suffering beyond all belief. I needed lots of sympathy. I was so ill, I didn't even take my guitar. I suspect that I had contracted italics.

Eddie was off doing his best as Grimsby Town's most loyal (only?) supporter (and they won!), so Roger B was MC for the evening, performing with his usual flair. Apart from the usual confusion about which direction to orbit the proceedings, it all settled down rather well. The Genetically Modified (sorry, Grimsby Millennium) Folk Group were there in force and majesty. Richard Papps was his usual, elegant, self. Jim White and John Sullivan gave us some poetry to remember. Minger played (this is to be the subject of a major novel). Paul & Keith were stylish and it was particularly enjoyable to hear the menu of the Tap & Spile set to an (improvised) song. And, by the way, if you weren't there, you won't know that when the world ends we all need to go round to Keith's house.

I - eventually - forswore my death and managed to grab a couple of ditties from the hell hole of my health. I am not going to mention anything about that song that Rob L played: it was not amusing.

The next night (23rd February) it was off to Swigs for their inaugural "Acoustic Night". It was again not the best of weather: for some reason the usual Mediterranean climate of Grimsby has been absent for a little while during February (in cosmic terms, several million years is just "a little while") and has been replaced by gusts of wind which feature armour piercing hail and rainwear piercing sleet. Despite my obvious incapacity to function as a human being (I'm sure I was dead), I managed to struggle my way there.

It was a great night with Stu and Chris doing a great job of organising it in such a small venue. Tim & Jen (and big Steve) banged and clacked and encouraged the beating of tables, the clapping of hands and abuse of bar staff (one of these is a lie). Nadia (in just her second public performance) was delightful. Fil was there, mandolin loaded and locked: he really got the place jigging. Rob L was there and, for some reason, thought it would be funny to play that song again. Now, I'm an easy going guy and I do have a sense of humour and I am tolerant of anyone who wants to make me the butt of their jokes: I just can't believe that anyone could find such a song funny (during Rob's performance someone released a large quantity of laughing gas into the room which took some time to clear). Angie sang beautifully.

What was great about this night was that they weren't trying to imitate the nights at the Tap and were obviously intent of developing a "house style": in addition, the eclectic nature of the music inspirations and sources made the evening thoroughly representative of the throbbing [ooh, err, Misses Miggins] live music scene in this town. It even persuaded Steve G that he might consider picking up a guitar again after 7 years abstinence.

Yesterday (2nd March 2005) there was another "Acoustic Night" at Swigs: they're trying not to conflict with the weeks when there's things on at the Tap, so they'll be approximately fortnightly from now on. [By the way, Ian, have you noticed that I haven't mentioned you drinking anything yet? Not that you were or are teetotal: but I've been very good and not mentioned any vast consumptions of Scrumpy Jack which may or may not have happened to you.]

I'm in the terminal stages of extreme lurgy and deadly plague, so the continuing lack of Mediterranean weather in these parts is causing me some distress (I did have somewhat of a remission over the weekend, but this turned out to be short-lived and probably designed to lull me into a false sense of feeling quite good).

The night was reasonable but seemed to be a little fragmentary (probably because it was only a week since the last one). Some new players (Dave and Danielle; Simon) and Angie got up and sang again: once her confidence matches her voice she'll be a real knockout. Stu and Chris delivered sterling service despite - and I was glad not to be alone - suffering from the worst plague that anyone has ever had. And, yes, Steve G "picked up his guitar and played, just like yesterday".

Rob Lowdon at the Tap & Spile (Friday, 25th February 2005)

As this post is (deliberately)not chronological, you will no doubt guess that Friday was one of my "days of remission" from "the extremely unpleasant and mortally threatening plague which is the curse on all mankind because of doing naughty things". And Friday was Rob's stupendous performance at the Tap.

I arrived around 20:15. Not many people in to start with (but Seany is there). Sat with Rob L, Tina and Rob (sound man) & Rachel H while we waited for the punters. Ian arrived and drank some Scrumpy Jack: he is later to drink more of these, just in case you're wondering. Eventually the place fills up and the evening really rocks.

Rob advertised this as "the funky gig" with the unstated intention of doing a wide range of songs (some with guests).

Rob played his own stuff, Irish folk music (very ably assisted by Rachel H on whistle and vocals), Scots folk music, blues (assisted by Tim B on harmonica), contemporary rock, 60's contemporary folk, loud stuff, quiet stuff, instrumentals and songs. The range of material and the quality of the performance were staggering: in some small way he also reflected the catholic tastes of the Grimsby music scene. We don't wish to be drawn into long debates about whether the "best" sort of music is Country & Western, Blues, Traditional Irish, English Folk, Pop, Rock, Punk… We are content to listen to enthusiastic people giving their all and getting up and sharing their music. Keeping in real, keeping it live.

Rob has changed the words of that song: it is now very funny since it no longer mentions me. I'm sure my intelligent and articulate literary criticism is responsible for the new lease of life an otherwise boring and unamusing song.

Ian's Birthday and other Sunday stuff @ the Tap & Spile (Sunday, 27th February 2005)

Well, it's just about 2 years since Dave & Rose took over the Tap & Spile. Without their support for pool teams, football teams, netball teams, darts teams, goof food, good beer and live music the pub would be a vast echoing room with a few morose buggers bemoaning the standards of play in the Premiership (come to think of it, there are some Saturday afternoons when…). Sunday was an informal party to celebrate this anniversary. It was also Ian "I drink Scrumpy Jack in a Stella glass 'cos I don't want people to think I'm a wuss who drinks cider" O's birthday.

Naturally we met up in the Tap at around 16:00 (Ian had been working). I'll get the obvious slurs on his character out of the way now by assuring you, my humble readers, that Ian did indeed have copious volumes of Scrumpy Jack to quaff (in addition to several neat Jack Daniel's). And, indeed, he was a little inebriated by the evening's end. Well, more than a little. Quite frankly, children, he was drunk. Incontrovertibly. I, of course, was as well (but I don't drink Scrumpy Jack at all, let alone from a Stella glass).

On Staurday, I'd helped Roger B with the research for his new self-help blockbuster: "How To Get Lost On Grimsby Docks". Nice to see he & Julie, Richard & Nikki and Bob & Marion.

And then Ian invented a wonderful new game of dropping Maltesers in people's drinks and then expecting them to drink and eat the Malteser. He also invented the games of dropping lots of Maltesers on the floor and that eternal favourite, letting your drink slide off the bevelled edge of the table so that it makes a wonderful noise as it smashes the glass on the floor and scatters alcoholic beverage over as many people as possible. He cannot claim to have invented the game of "let's all have lots and lots to drink so we're all outrageously drunk": several of those in attendance had already played that one before (and probably will again).

During all this celebration, food was served (a wonderful buffet despite Craig's "accident" with the sausages) and Dave announced that he and Rose were getting married.

Let's finish there: all the best Dave & Rose.


Blogger Seany said...

Mammoth post there Woj - nice one!
Get well soon mate

Fri Mar 04, 10:55:00 am GMT 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My precious little first-born, you have clearly been at death's door but no-one told Mummy that you were suffering.

Glad to read all your OTHER news, though. Had a good giggle about the book title. Keep up the good work, and best regards to Steve G.

Lotsaluv, Mummy
Wed Mar whateverdayitis

Wed Mar 23, 07:52:00 pm GMT 

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