Feel I have been disconnected in recent weeks until my brother-in-law Steve streamed this video on his TV this afternoon. #PatelWilliams now that is just pure genius! Well done to Ali for another fantastic performance!
Stumbled onto this video while switching over from the football on ITV HD. I know I should be more dedicated and sit through all seven hours of the annual BBC telethon but some years are better than others. The first edition away from Television Centre was always going to be interesting and I am surprised they selected Eltree Studios. (However it worked out well, with Strictly Come Dancing being based in Blackpool this weekend) Although it was poor excuse for international football on the other side (even if it is watching England lose!)
Hats off to Harry Hill for coming up with such a brilliant concept and casting each part perfectly. I have to say I miss his Saturday early evening TV Burp show. Just a shame I got into it rather late. Oh well, only a month to go until his movie is released in cinemas.
Whenever I go to get my haircut at 2 Geezers on Slough High Street they are listening to local radio station Time 106.6. As you can probably imagine, this “All Time Favourites” local radio station has staple songs and by some strange coincidence they are always broadcast while I’m waiting to get my haircut. On Friday, I left work at 5pm sharp to ensure I got into town to get my haircut before they close at 6pm sharp. The last few attempts I have made to get my haircut had all ended in failure and my hair was now just a big mess and now desperately needed to be attended to. I knew I was unlikely to find the time on Saturday.
Perhaps the only time I appreciate commuting to the office by train rather than car as when I worked at Microsoft, I did not have to worry about parking my car and ensuring the ticket would last long enough. I park in the Herschel Car Park behind the High Street and it is just a short minute walk to the barbers. However, I was caught out on Friday 16th September when I got a parking fine for overstaying. Even though I had the change for two hour slot, I only bought an hour ticket. My mistake, I would never do that again but low and behold, a mere month later I was in the same predicament. However as all the lower decks are marked for Monday to Friday only I had to drive up to the sixth level and this was perhaps my saving grace. I had the change for a two hour slot but the machine would not accept five pence pieces. I was stuck. I paid for over an hour but only got an hour ticket (as I was ten pence short). While I waited in the long queue at 2 Geezers I resigned to the fact I was going to be getting another £25 parking fine.
Back to the local radio which played Yah Mo B There by James Ingram and Michael McDonald and 1980s hit Hold On by Wilson Phillips. Only when I go to get my hair trimmed do I go into a time warp of the last last thirty years.
Back in July my friends planned a trip down to the seaside to visit the O2 Academy in Bournemouth. The dance venue, formerly known as The Opera House was hosting the final night of Slinky before the global dance brand closed its doors for good. While the date for the first weekend in October, seemed like an age away, I put my name down as one hundred percent confirmed. While I would perhaps not have planned for a weekend away, I decided to book a cheap hotel and kill two birds with one stone by also seeing my old school mate Steve and his ten month old son Theo. Extended the social gathering to a full day allowing me to catch up with my mate who I had not seen for over two years. The last time I was in Bournemouth was on Wednesday 15th April 2009, when I drove down to watch the Champions League Quarter Final second leg of Arsenal v Villareal.
How time flies, it was over seven years ago since I was last at this venue, seeing Dutch DJ Tiesto perform in early August 2006. The place has been completely refurbished since my last visit and the upstairs balcony now only accessible to those with a VIP bracelet. Back in my carefree single days, the weekend I recall being mega packed with clubbing in Bournemouth on Friday night and then driving straight up to Leicester for my friend Sachin’s engagement party. That was just the way I rolled back in the day. Driving to all locations when now I would prefer to catch the train. I caught the train down to Bournemouth, using the time to catch up on my podcasts and two episodes of Eastenders on the BBC iPlayer I had pre-downloaded onto my Nexus 7 (2012). How times have changed indeed!
A great night had by all. I wish I could say, that I stayed out until I was thrown out of the club at 5am. The reality is that was never going to happen. Being now, such an old timer, I lasted until 2:30am with my friend Paul, when we decided to leave and head back to our respective hotels. I believe the hardcore few, including Kevin stayed until closing time.
We live in a connected world. The news story I will see presented by George Alagiah on the 10 o’clock news on BBC One will feature in print media such as The Daily Mail and on the radio in heated debates on BBC Radio Five Live. Therefore we have to be selective on the news we do decide to consume. I have streamlined my podcast diet down to just three main regular slots. The fantastic ArseCast by ArseBlog every Friday during the EPL season. The Consumer Panel featuring multimillionaire Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis (there is an oxymoron in there somewhere!) Finally Let’s Talk About Tech presented by the delectable Chris Warburton. These two weekly podcasts from BBC Radio FiveLive, Thursday lunchtimes and Saturday evening respectively! I still need to get some partizan teach news so listen to The Engadget EuroCast but the broadcast of this is sporadic, usually once a fortnight but weeks can go past with no edition due to the tape recorder having chewed the cassettes. Rather a feeble excuse for a tech journalist website owned by AOL.
In Let’s Talk About Tech they feature new music every few weeks to keep the format fresh and appeal to a wider audience. Remember it is broadcast during prime time on a Saturday night. Last week I listened to the podcast some twelve hours after initial airing in the gym around 11am. I liked the band Chvrches and their slice of 1980s electronic synthesized pop on single The Mother We Share. The song was predicted to chart somewhere inside the Top 40 later that afternoon. I downloaded the song later that evening but it was news later in the week which came to both shock and dishearten.
I missed the bands performance on Jools Holland but some kind soul had uploaded to the segment in full onto the interweb so I was able to download and enjoy the understated but enigmatic performance of their song. While at work I noted an article by lead singer Glaswegian Lauren Mayberry on The Guardian website. People think they can hide behind the cloak of anonymity on the internet. Feel they can defend their position under the law of freedom of speech and expression. However words on the screen have a powerful impact on people in the real world. In particular impressionable teenagers, some of whom have tragically taken their own lives as a direct response of online abuse so called cyber bullying. Something has to be done to change the sentiment that anyone and anything is fair game in the wild west of the world wide web. Perhaps prominent figures, such as lead singers in indie bands speaking out, naming and shaming the offends will be a good place to start.
How did we identify songs before the mobile app Shazam? Well you would have to remember a key lyric in the song, ideally the chorus. In most cases you would just have to record those words to memory, rather than write them down as a note in your smartphone. We are talking about the pre-smartphone era, so before the middle part of this decade. I can recall many a time searching for lyrics in Google, hoping the correct song with artist name and song title would appear in the results. Ideally the official music video, which you can then watch on YouTube. In modern times, there is no need to go to such great lengths.
While in H&M in Westfield yesterday afternoon, I heard a song come on the in-store radio system. Instantly I thought the artist was Rihanna, the song had her signature vocal all over the thumping beat. I could even make out what I thought was the title, War Child. I was actually wrong on both counts. I opened up Shazam on my smartphone and identified the song within seconds. It was actually called Wild Child by Australian prodigy Elen Levon. On tagging the song and artist, I quickly share this information with Wunderlist, my To Do List application which records the details under a section called music. Wunderlist has been a revelation for me as a “list” person. Available as an Android app, Windows app and online via the web, I can see my to do list wherever I am. I have a long list of songs I have heard on television, radio or just out and about and need to download.
Over three years ago, in the same store but in a different city, I heard a song but had to wait until I got home to work out who it was by and what is was actually called. Life is so different in this world of instant gratification. I am in my office gym this morning and have listened to the song six times back to back. To be honest, I am glad to finally give my music collection a refresh. My gym playlist has been very stale of late and at time become very repetitive. My podcast diet has been reduced down to mere two weekly podcasts, both from the Beeb. I no longer have the luxury of a two hour commute each day to fill with radio goodness. Listening to Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com on BBC Radio Five Live, while on the treadmill and I try to listen to the Let’s Talk About Tech (the Joy Of Tech was considered too risqué a name for the BBC and although the file name is still referred to by the old moniker) every Monday as that is recorded on a Saturday evening. I tried one of the American gym workout podcasts, GetFitPod last week but just could not get offer some cheesy American DJ, Skip Orem trying sooth me from his warm studio and I’m sweating it out on the rowing machine. I gave up (on the podcast not my workout) after about ten minutes. I did not like his choice of music in any case. Never trust a man with the name Skip.
Shazam can even save the tag, if no internet access is available at that moment in time and identify the song once you are back on the grid. As was the case in point for a song I had tried to identify in HMV a little later on this Saturday afternoon. It was not until later I could identify the song (while identify another song) that the artist was The 1973 – Settle Down.
Beyoncé Gisselle Knowles-Carter, even the full name oozes show business sex appeal. This is the exact phrase I used when partaking in some twitter banter with my colleagues Priyam and Imogen at Microsoft. There were 48 sleeps to go until the Mrs Carter Show World Tour starring Beyoncé would be ending its six day run at the O2, Greenwich Peninsular, London. We would be there along with almost twenty thousand others.
Let me first underline my disappointment that I was not attending this concert with my dearest colleague Harps. He is probably the biggest Beyoncé fan I know but he had not been able to secure tickets. In fact, his plans for the entire Bank Holiday weekend were up in the air. Not only was it is birthday weekend (28 years young now?) but it was also his last day with the company. Talk about planning your exit!
My own plans were a logistic nightmare to resolve. I was going to be over three hundred miles on a boys weekend in Newcastle. I could not rely on them driving me back to Reading in time for the evening show, (plus I would still need to get myself from Reading to the other side of London) so had booked a flight back. With hindsight, it probably would have made sense to book the flight up there, as we had a catalogue of issues which ended with me having to book a last minute train instead.
I got up early on Sunday morning, got ready and headed out the hotel at 8am sharp. In the early hours of Sunday morning, security had been called to Pav and Ben’s room due to noise and the boys told to go to sleep. I had sneaked off to bed a few minutes before the reprimand and saved myself the embarrassment although with all the hotel rooms booked under my name I perhaps should have been worried. I headed back to the station and got the Metro. I bought a ticket which cost about three pounds and worked out my route to Newcastle International Airport. The tube in the North East was relatively busy for a Sunday morning with people heading to work around the city. As I made my way out into the suburbs and beyond, the number of passengers tailed off with just a few of us left for the final stop at the terminal. I made my way to the check-in kiosk and put in my credit card to verify my identification. It was at this point my Barclaycard was eaten by the machine. In a mild panic, I headed to the information desk to a helpful chap to explain what had happened. It was only then I realised why my card had been eaten by the kiosk. In my haste to make this booking, I had made a minor typo on my surname, “Tegal” instead of “Tegala”. Was this going to cause a problem on a domestic flight? Thankfully the airport employee went to check and it was not going to cause any problems whatsoever. He retrieved my card for me and waited to ensure I printed my boarding pass before wishing me a safe flight back to London. I now had plenty of time to kill before my flight. I wanted to get something to eat first of all before killing time listening to music and using my tablet. Priyam had a countdown running on her iPhone 5 and she had sent me a screenshot of the image, which I promptly uploaded to FlickR and created a quick post onto my blog. Probably the ideal moment to have used Tumblr for such an update. (I joined the service towards the end of the month)
Now I had several hours to kill before my flight, so decided to make use of my tablet as much as possible. I read the news, caught up on some blogs, checked my social media and was listening to my mp3 player at the same time. While I had some breakfast and a extra large mug of tea, Beyoncé’s Sweet Dreams came on either the radio or internal PA system. In some nine hours time we would be watching the superstar before a sold out crowd. Until then I had quite a long journey via plane, train and tube to the venue.
My flight was less than an hour but taking into account boarding and disembarking and taxiing to and from the terminals, as well as being stacked to land over Heathrow it was perhaps nearer to two hours in total travel time. I had to wait several minutes for my luggage to arrive at the carousel. I had opted to put it in the hold to make life easier while around Newcastle airport and not having a bag to worry about or carry around. I was then making my second trip by train. I caught the Heathrow Express to Terminal Four and from here got the slower Heathrow Connect to London Paddington. An American got onto the train near me and was asking me why it was so busy on a Sunday afternoon. I explained to him that it was a Bank Holiday Weekend and we had an extra day off (Monday). He nodded and sat down, busy with his smartphone checking up on work or perhaps his weekend plans.
Once at Paddington, I had to wait for Michelle, whom had caught the slow train from Slough. Once she arrived, we would make our way to our hotel in Strafford before grabbing a quick bite to eat in Westfield and heading straight over to the O2. We got there early because, as usual I was over eager. To the point I accidentally joined the VIP security queue at the entrance only to be directed by the security guard to the next queue for standard ticket holders. We made our way up the escalators, got a drink and headed for our seats. The guy at the snack kiosk had informed us that Beyoncé appears around 8pm and James somebody was the support act. We took our seats and waited for our friends to arrive.
Priyam with her twin brother Dipen, fellow MS employee Imogen and Priyam’s friend Kavita arrived casually just before 8pm. They had been for food at one of the restaurants in the complex and planned to head back into the West End after the show.
What can I say? This was an awesome show. Beyoncé was full of so much energy, passion, enthusiasm and gave such a wonderful performance, I am lost for words on how to actually describe the experience. The whole show surpassed my expectations. The constant costume changes, the high tempo dance moves, the band playing at full pelt, a group of dancers at the top of their game. A personal highlight was when Beyoncé came across to the middle of the audience to perform Love On Top – one of my favourite songs.
There is always the anti climax as you live the O2 at the end of a gig. The realisation that the event you had waited for several months for was over and you need something new to look forward to. I should have gone with Priyam and co to Leicester Square where they bumped into Beyoncé’s backing dancers out for the evening to celebrate their final date in London. Michelle and I had headed back to our hotel but had to stop off at the only fast food restaurant open in East London for a bite to eat. I was surprised at the amount of people around at 1am in the morning, including a group of guys roller blading in the old shopping centre.