selling my flat

November 28, 2011

Technically since getting married 9 months ago ‘my’ flat is actually ‘our’ flat but it is hard for either of us to think of it that way since I’ve lived here for 10 years and a lot of D’s stuff had to go into storage rather move here (my stuff got thinned out too, but that’s not the same).  So from the start the plan was to move as soon as we could.

It took a few months to get organised, throwing even more stuff out or hiding it with parents and friends until the flat was clear(ish) of clutter and in a condition that we thought would help to sell it.  In the mean time we started tentatively trying to figure out where we wanted to move to and what type of property we would like but perhaps that is for a different post.  We had to decide on who to market the flat through, and the main decision appeared to be whether to use a solicitors firm, or an estate agent (who often also have solicitors).  To be honest I’m still not entirely sure what the difference is but from viewing lots of properties and from our experience of selling I would highly recommend going with an estate agent rather than a solicitor.

The actual process of selling the flat was (in retrospect) fairly straight forward.  We had a visit from the estate agent, an estimated valuation, then parted with some money.  Then a surveyor comes in to do the home report stuff, from which we get the actual valuation, and then a price is agreed for it to go on the market.  At that point you sit back nervously and wait for viewers.

The current economic climate is not great for selling property.  The market is apparently very slow, the media tells us there are no first time buyers, the banks aren’t lending and no one wants to buy at this time.  However, we were selling in a prime area of Glasgow – Woodlands.  The property here tends to move faster, due to proximity to the Universities and City Centre.  So we hoped it wouldn’t be on the market for months or years as we keep hearing about.

In the end we had a fairly steady stream of viewers which just meant having to keep the place tidy for them.  After only two and a half weeks we had two notes of interest and then a verbal offer came in.  This drove us to go to closing and accepting an offer just three weeks after putting the flat on the market.  Happy days!

Selling the flat suddenly made the need to decide where we were going to move to much more urgent……

gig: Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad and The Lovely Posse

May 26, 2011

I never thought I would see Adam Ant on the road again.  But here he was on Monday night playing Glasgow’s O2 Academy with a line up known as “The good the mad and the loveley posse” (with ‘the mad’ referring to himself with his mental health issues).  I actually found myself blown away by how good this concert was, simply one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen, and I’ve found it difficult to put into words why, perhaps it is the concert that I grew up listening to in my head.

The opening song “Plastic Surgery” starts slow with sustained chords and drums but then suddenly takes off to a frantic pace (around 2:10 in this good quality video from the Glasgow gig).  The next five songs came so fast I couldn’t take my eyes of the TWO drummers who must have been exhausted already, but the pace didn’t let up through  – Dog Eat DogBeat My Guest, Kick, Cartrouble, Zerox … then Adam was joined on stage by two dancers / backing singers for Deutscher Girls, then Stand and Deliver, and so on

It was around this point that I started to actually notice what was going on.  There wasn’t new material (though apparently there is a CD ready for release), also this wasn’t exactly a retrospective of hits but rather it felt like a back to the roots kind of set.  Adam wasn’t going through the motions by trotting out the big hits but was playing mostly early tracks from the punk days and B-sides.  Some songs were slightly re-interpreted but mostly they were having fun and it showed.  They even played a YMCA spoof called ANTS which was released as a ‘flexi-disk’ 7″ single mounted to the cover of ‘Flexidisk’ magazine (I know because I had it!)

The first gig I ever went to was Adam and the Ants “Prince Charming Review” at the legendary Glasgow Apollo in 1982.  I was about 15 and hooked up with my first real girlfriend during the interval.  Yes there was an interval in a music concert – mainly to give time for the stage to be re-set and Adam to change persona from Pirate to Prince Charming.

However, even though I first discovered Adam and the Ants from their Kings of the Wild Frontier phase withAntmusicDog eat Dog, and Kings dominating the charts in ’80, ’81 I then went back to the earlier line up of Ants for the ’79 LP Dirk Wears White Sox.  This opened up a different world for me, instead of listening to the Sunday night Radio 1 chart count down I started discovering music for myself.

Adam Ant was involved in the beginnings of the early Punk rock scene in London in the late 70s, I came to know the Sex PistolsSiouxsie and the Banshees, Roxy Music, The Clash, etc. through finding out about Adam Ant.  Monday’s concert was how I imagined those early concerts might have been, rebellious, singing songs that Radio 1 would have banned.  The sound was very heavy, with screaming guitar and the inescapable roar of two drummers thudding through your chest as much as your ears.  A fantastic night and a trip back to my childhood (in a good way).

gig: Milton Jones

May 20, 2011

Milton Jones at the Pavillion Theater.  Milton’s style of comedy is fast one liners and puns, meaning that you leave a gig after laughing uncontrollably and can’t quote one funny thing you heard.  Well, almost, I can remember one example at the moment:

” My Grandad achieved his lifetime goal, to become a Lion Whisperer… just before he died. “

All I can say was it was a great night and I do hope more of those jokes keep popping into my head for the next few weeks.

Thanks Ross & Leigh for the birthday present.


gig: Blind Boys of Alabama

January 26, 2011

The Blind Boys of Alabama at the Concert Hall as part of Celtic Connections. First formed at the “Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind” in 1939, they did the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums, and stadiums across the country. Influential for many gospel, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll artists The Blind Boys have been recording and touring for more than 60 years.

In the 1990’s they received two Grammy nominations and performed at the White House. In recent years the Blind Boys were awarded five Grammy Awards and their musical brethren have paid homage to their legacy and their continued relevance by asking them to contribute and collaborate on new projects.

Seeing them being led onstage to their microphones starts to build anticipation, but when they start to harmonize together to the blues rifts of guitar and bass the magic really happens.  As a show, it is fairly simple, three vocalists, keys/organ, a blind drummer (which is a first for me), fantastically talented guitarist and the coolest Bass player I’ve ever seen.

I love the sound of the Blues, I’m not too up on old time Gospel but I do like the Blindboys sound and their sound is the sound of the blues.  A fantastic night as part of the Celtic Connections, probably the only gig I’ll get to Celtic Connections this year and worth it.

wedding – food – music – busy Saturday

October 10, 2010

To the SECC for the Scottish Wedding Show!  For some reason people seemed surprised that I would be interested in going to this at all.  I wasn’t the only ‘groom’ in the room but I do think D might have gotten more out of it if she was with her bridesmaid(s).  Lots of cars to sit in and try to have an opinion about, many cakes, dresses, wedding bands, photographers, etc.  what there wasn’t much of was things that are a little out of the ordinary or quirky – so I don’t think we came away with any new ideas.  There really is a massive industry built around weddings and I don’t think I saw anything today about making your marriage last after that one day, or the commitment involved in the sacrament of marriage, which is a bit sad.  Perhaps there is room for a christian marriage preparation course to market itself at an event like this.

After an exhausting afternoon going up and down the isles of this exhibition we had a bit of a rush to get into town and had to grab some place quick to eat before the concert.  We almost walked past Dragon-i, but had a quick check of the menu and from then on everything was quick – and excellent!

Dragon-i is on Hope Street (across from Theater Royal) and is a modern fusion Asian restaurant with influences from Chinese, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. The pre-theater menu (at £12.95 for two courses) had more than enough choice for us and we had hardly started our complementary crackers before the first course arrived.  Between the two of us we had nothing bad to say about anything we ate.  The service was quick, friendly and efficient, the garlic rice was lovely and flavorsome.  We were slightly rushed but I would certainly like to go back to Dragon-i – my new favourite Asian restaurant!

Lastly, the slight gamble of the weekend was a surprise for D, we went to an RSNO concert in the Royal Concert Hall.

Nice’n’Easy was billed as a celebration of your favourite hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s by such songwriting greats as Bacharach & David and Henry Mancini.  …Music to Watch Girls Go By, Soul Bossa Nova, Do You Know the Way to San José?  The Girl from Ipanema, Strangers in the Night, etc.  This was a fantastic evening of great performances and lots of fun.  Most of the music was nice and familiar with a few new arrangements of songs.  There were lots of nice highlights in the evening but the standout performance was certainly from Peter Grant, check him out if you like that style of music.

By the way – I found out about this concert and got two tickets for the price of one through the 5pm email list!  5pm often has good deals worth being reminded of.

gig: Barenaked Ladies – Academy 24 Sep 2010

September 28, 2010

This was only the second time I’ve see the BNL live and they were great. It is hard to describe a BNL concert because so much of it is about the characters of the band members, the patter between songs and the atmosphere in the crowd – and on top of that there is the music.

There are of course a few iconic songs that lots of people know and many others that you sort of recognize or know the hook but not all the words. Probably the best example of this is the theme tune to The Big Bang Theory: (did you know there was more to the song than the first bit?)

The Barenaked Ladies were of course fantastic, playing the usual mix of upbeat, slow, poignant and funny songs. Between times telling of the connections they have with Glasgow and Scotland, playing Proclamers tracks and generally having fun. A BNL gig is an experience and one that should be repeated as often as you get the chance. There has been some change in line-up recently but they haven’t lost any of the fun, energy or quality. Long live the naked-ladies!

theatre review: Valhalla at The Tron

July 10, 2010

It was after one of those “what do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” conversations that I started googling for what was on at the Theatres on the off chance, and saw something called Valhalla at The Tron (a theater I’ve never been to).  All the info we had to go on was…

“As camp as Carry On, as outrageously funny as Cooking with Elvis, as historically accurate as Blackadder, the Tron Theatre Company invites you to enter the glittering halls of Valhalla this summer. Cast includes Johnny McKnight and Joyce Falconer”

Not much to go on, but the tickets weren’t too much, so worth a punt.  Also since we had an hour and a half to get there just time to squeeze in a pre-theatre meal if only I could get parked in the busy Merchant City area.  I got parked right outside Maggie Mays, we had a fabulious (quick) meal there and crossed Argyle Street to The Tron, all very handy.

Valhalla, has a difficult to describe plot which follows two different characters Ludwig, prince of 19th century Bavaria and James Avery a cowboy in 1940’s Texas. It follows them growing up, discovering their sexuality (sort of) until the camp prince becomes a camp King and James and his friend get called up for world war II.  As the 19th century king grows in his obsession with Wagnerian opera and a love for building fairytale castles, the two soldiers parachute into Europe and eventually discover the greatest folly that the king built centuries before – Valhalla.

However, none of the actual plot really matters much because of the pace at which the one liners and visual jokes take place the show doesn’t give you a chance to think about actual plot too much.  Just before going in we saw a warning about the language, content and ‘some nudity’ but by then it was too late to find out more so we went for it (and I’m glad we did).  The content that people may be offended by is very brief full frontal male nudity and the homosexual storyline.  However you may also be offended by hump-backed princesses, southern Baptist preachers, opera or sea-men jokes.

The production is very good with a stage extending into the audience, ‘stage hands’ stumbling into view, very clever usage of set and lighting to switch between the time periods and locations where the action was taking place.  But ultimately this show is all about the laughs which were so fast flowing I felt I was constantly laughing through the whole show.  If anything detracted from the overall experience I though the climax was a little weak, but hey I’ve got to pick something not to praise.

Valhalla is playing at The Tron till 24 July 2010.

food: Hillhead Bookclub

June 28, 2010

{hb} hillhead bookclub

“One of the best bars and restaurants in Glasgows stylish west end. Whether it’s quality pub grub, cheap cocktails or a pub quiz night, this is the place to be.” as it modestly claims on its own web site.

Popped in hear on Saturday afternoon for some lunch when we noticed that it had changed-hands or re-branded (again).  This is the old Savoy … a restaurant for some years but I do remember going here to the cinema when I was a student.

The place is much nicer than I remember for whenever I’ve been in before.  It still has tables on various levels inside and there are still some nice original features from the cinema especially in the roof.  There are a couple of caged in play rooms in the balcony which I’m sure are used not just for kids during the day but I would have a go at the playstations and table tennis on a night out.  But, what about the food?

There are a few different menus on the board outside, I think, called ‘brunch‘, ‘lunch‘ and ‘dinner‘ and we weren’t sure which we would be getting (especially since a burger is £5 on the lunch menu and £7 for brunch!)  It turned out we were there for brunch menu from which we ordered two £7 burgers.  To be honest there wasn’t a massive variety of choices, pancakes, ‘something with eggs’ (which is a section of the menu with of things involving eggs), full breakfast, burgers or fish and cocktails(!)

Not a great photo, but a fantastic burger – possibly the best burger I’ve eaten in the west end – The salad accompanying it wasn’t great being one lettuce leaf and a slice of tomato.  The coleslaw was nice, but nothing to write home about, however the burger itself was sheer perfection and I had it with both red onion relish and bacon.  It was well cooked and utterly delicious.  The chips were closer to potato wedges and again lovely!

I would highly recommend giving this place a try!

gig: Paul McCartney Hampden Park 20 June 2010

June 23, 2010

What can you say about a legend like Paul McCartney.  Well for a start you could continue to spread the rumour that he died in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike (here, here, here),  but lookalike or original you can’t argue that he is an extremely talented man!

First, however, I feel the need of a short rant about why I do not like stadium gigs!  They are just too big – you can’t see the band – there are too many drunk people around (well in a standing gigs at least), the sound isn’t great, they charge laughable prices for poor quality food and drink… etc.  I promised to myself after a disappointing Red Hot Chillies gig in Hampden Park last year to avoid these at all costs.  Since then I saw U2 last yearSnow Patrol last week, and when you score free tickets for a Beetle you just can’t say no!

Mentioning that we got these tickets for free does let me continue to moan a little bit more about stadium gigs – firstly the view from this distance and angle is ‘limited’ and we weren’t in the worst seats and the sound was fairly disappointing from where we were with audio dropping occasionally, lack of any distinction and a tinny quality… hard to describe exactly but overall disappointing.  So I can honestly say that the tickets were worth every penny we paid :-/ but I wonder what the face price was.

I also don’t understand how places like Hampden can get away with enforcing a policy of not allowing and food or drink to be brought in and then charge £4 for a very low quality burger and £4 for a small glass of wine or pint of beer.

Right, now that is out of the way – Paul McCartney.  He is incredibly good at his job!  Switching between many different guitars, mandolin, ukulele, pianos and playing songs from the Beetles, Wings, some songs from John and George – it would be very easy for someone with a career like Paul McCartney to have turned into a parody of himself playing all the same old songs but he has managed to avoid that.  When playing early Beetles songs with the gathered voices of the Hampden choir somehow it didn’t feel like a nostalgic moment but more of a party.  You have to pinch yourself occasionally to think that this isn’t just anyone singing these standards but one of the guys who actually lived through it all.

Of course there were also many non-Beetles songs and I have to say the way the set was put together was a great mix (see the setlist from Glasgow below).  The only Wings songs I really know are Jet and Band on the Run and they were good of course, but Live and Let Die was incredible with a full on rock-show firework finale – speaking of ‘finale’ there were at least two Encores according to the setlist below but an Encore to me means one more song… Paul just kept playing!

One of the many highlights of the evening (IMHO) was Mull of Kintyre when the band were joined by a school pipe band – and the massed voices of Hampden Park, really a great and moving moment which I have struggled to upload to youtube (is it just me or is youtube getting harder to upload to):

All in this was a fantastic way to spend a lovely summer evening in Glasgow, and it was the sun gradually setting over the stadium which made this photo look like everyone was standing to salute Sir Paul McCartney, after all he did deserve it!

Glasgow Setlist – Sunday 20th June 2010.
1. Venus and Mars / Rockshow
2. Jet
3. All My Loving
4. Letting Go
5. Drive My Car
6. Highway
7. Let Me Roll It
8. The Long And Winding Road
9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
10. Let ‘Em In
11. My Love
12. I’ve Just Seen A Face
13. And I Love Her
14. Blackbird
15. Here Today
16. Dance Tonight
17. Mrs Vandebilt
18. Eleanor Rigby
19. Something
20. Sing The Changes
21. Band On The Run
22. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
23. Back In The USSR
24. I’ve Got A Feeling
25. Paperback Writer
26. A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance
27. Let It Be
28. Live And Let Die
29. Hey Jude

30. Day Tripper
31. Lady Madonna
32. Get Back

Second Encore
33. Yesterday
34. Mull Of Kintyre
35. Helter Skelter
36. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End

gig: Snow Patrol Bellahouston Park

June 13, 2010

Some months ago some good friends suggested getting tickets to the Snow Patrol.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, I had heard of Snow Patrol but couldn’t actually have told you any of their songs.  Since agreeing to go I had spent some time on Spotify trying to get to know some Snow Patrol songs only to discover that I really can’t get into any of their stuff.  Honestly, I did try but I just seemed to zone out or even leave the room and find myself trying to figure out what I had been listening to and why.

I’m also not a big fan of outdoor or ‘stadium’ gigs because you rarely get a good view and people tend to be even drunker, more out of control and obnoxious.  So, off to Bellahouston Park on a sunny evening, we found a nice little spot near front-of-house and settled down to wait…  the first band after we arrived was Band of Horses, who were interesting enough at first but then all their songs started to meld into a very similar sound, they struck me as sort of 70s hippies out of time.  After some time, the Editors (or perhaps it is just Editors with no ‘the’) came on, and they were really fairly boring, I have nothing else to say about them – they came, they sang, they went…

Eventually Slow Patrol came on.  Many more lights were now used, more big screens with very good camera work(!) on a few songs I could also say that there were some extremely well thought out visuals to complement the music.  However (In my opinion) this might have been be because the tech’s get so bored with the long slow tedious songs they have to find something to do during a gig.

Basically Slow Patrol aren’t for me.  Their songs are repetitive, melodic, but with few real hooks.  Performance wise they seemed to have a good time with what I think they said was their largest crowd of around 25000 people, but even still there wasn’t much of a vibe coming from the stage (again – in my opinion).  Still had a good time, circling the crowd, watching from different angles, etc.  an OK night – but I really did notice how much better and stronger the first song I heard in the car was.