I’m so worried about the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7317352.stm

“… I’m so worried about the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow” – I’m So Worried from the albums Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album and Monty Python Sings.

I bet Terry Jones never saw that one coming!

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Mike Hailwood Memorial Run

Took part in my first organised motorcycle run today to commemorate the motorcycle racer and F1 driver, Mike Hailwood MBE GC.

It was 27 years ago (1981) today that Mike’s life was cut short in a motor accident involving a flatbed lorry between Birmingham and Redditch and the Birmingham Testers group organised a run to commemorate the anniversary from the former Norton Works in Bracebridge Street, Aston, Birmingham, to Tanworth in Arden, Warwickshire, where he is buried.

I didn’t know anything about Mike Hailwood before this event, as I’m not interested in motor sport particularly, but having looked at his achievements in motorsport, even I recognise that he was something special. The run was recommended to me by Rod, the bass player in the band, to whom in turn the run had been recommended by a friend.

In the event, it snowed this morning, and so many people, having looked at the weather at around 8:00 this morning, chose not to come along. There were approximately 50 of us in all who set off on the relatively short journey down the M6, M42, and A435 to Tanworth in Arden. There was a great variety of bikes present, from vintage models to modern-day bikes. Rod was going to come along on his 1949 Vincent, but, having seen the roads, decided to spare it the salt and come on his Honda Transalp instead.

As it turned out, the weather was quite nice, albeit a bit on the chilly side. There was no rain, but there was a lot of salt on the roads, as was evidenced by my bike when I got home, so it had to have another wash today (I washed it only yesterday).

Once we arrived at Tanworth in Arden, we made a quick visit to the grave. The fact that his daughter, who was born three days before me, was also killed in the accident hit home while we were there. I thought about all my memories from back then and what I had done since and considered all the things that the poor girl had missed out on. Very sad.

We walked back from his grave and found that of another famous Englishman, Nick Drake, an acoustic artist who has a very loyal fanbase and is hailed as one of the top songwriters of the last 50 years. His story is equally sad, as commercial success eluded him until after his death in 1974, aged just 26. I had briefly seen a programme on Nick Drake, but will have to have a listen to some of his work.

Before we left Tanworth in Arden, we headed across the road to the pub for a couple of coffees and had a chat through a few band things before heading home. By early afternoon the sun had well and truly come out and the ride home was very enjoyable.

Baby scan, car, and garage door

Had the final baby scan today before the big event at the end of next month. All is well and the baby is growing exactly as expected. We even managed to come away with a scan picture (unusual at this stage of the pregnancy). We asked for the doctor to confirm what sex the baby was, and she confirmed that it is a boy, as we had been told at the outset, so at least I’ll have some backup at home now when the girls gang up.

Car went in for and failed its MOT on a front nearside spring and faulty number plate light. Not a major job to fix and get through, but more expense at a time when we could do without it.

The garage door broke towards the end of last week. It’s an up-and-over design and has always been a bit temperamental, but this time it really ballsed up and I had to come home from work to sort it out. Having pondered having an automatic roller door, I organised for a local company to come in and quote for such a door today. They seemed pretty much the best price wise and seemed like nice enough people, so I went with them. The new door won’t arrive for another three weeks, but they’re going to fix our current door free of charge. Looking forward to being able to just press a button to open and close the door. It should offer better security and be much easier when I’m on the motorbike and want to get in and out of the garage easily.

Busy weekend gigging

Had quite a busy weekend with a couple of gigs; one with Ministry of Beaver in Northampton, at the King Billy, and on Saturday I sessioned for the Malc Evans band at Acoustic Amnesty 6.

The Beaver gig was my fourth with the band and it was the first time I felt happy playing without my cheat sheets on standby. We debuted three new songs: a rocked up version of Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf; Run To You, by Bryan Adams, and the Green Day song, Jesus of Suburbia, which is a nine minute ‘progressive punk’ (‘prunk’, as I call it) piece. The Green Day song was also the first Beaver song to feature my SPD-S drum pad sampler unit, which is more affectionately known as ‘the machine that goes ping’.

Our occasional sound engineer, Paul came along, because we decided to pull out all the stops and use the monster P.A. and did a great job of the live mix, from what I could hear and from what people said. A good, enjoyable gig, although on the way home I noticed that I was extremely tired and I was quite concerned about falling asleep at the wheel.

Saturday’s gig with the Malc Evans band was quite a contrast from the Beaver gig. Malc is one half of Coventry acoustic duo Beneva; a couple of very talented tunesmiths who I finally got to see recently, having known of them for some time. Malc got in contact at the start of the year and asked if I’d be prepared to session for Beneva and Malc in his own band he was putting together to perform his music in a band context.

I went to see Beneva with fellow former BAiTer, Chris, and had a good chat with Malc and pretty much decided on the spot that it was something I’d be happy to do. The snag was, that on top of the thirty songs I’d learnt for Beaver, I now had to learn another twenty or so. Argghh! I only hope the Homer Simpson theory about new information into the brain pushing old information out isn’t true.

So, Saturday saw the Malc Evans band play its first gig. Between us, we had Malc on vox and acoustic guitar, a cellist, keyboard player, Steve ‘Skidders’ Skidmore on bass, and me on drums and backing vox. We played about ten songs in a church hall in Allesley, Coventry, as part of the Acoustic Amnesty 6 gig. The other acts on where all excellent and then we went on last to finish the evening off. There was a certain amount of ‘winging’ going on by all of us, but it all came together pretty well. Malc, Steve, and I had only had three brief rehearsals and we’d never played with the other two at all, but it all worked out fine and there were some nice comments afterwards.

More Malc Evans and Beneva gigs are in the pipeline, so I need to brush up on learning the material.