June Round Up

I pinched this format from my cousin’s daughter, Becky and I’ve tweaked it to fit my needs. Hopefully it will serve as a much-needed kick up the backside, and encourage me to keep up with my blog posts.

So here goes…

Financial status: Money continues to trickle in and gush out of my account on a regular basis. Fortunately I tend to eat food that was destined for bins, avoid contracts wherever possible, avoid buying “stuff” even more, wear charity shop finds, read second-hand books, and earn just enough cash to cover my half of the rent, contribute something towards the utilities, and still have a bit of brass left in my pocket for “essential treats”

Jobs done: My regular day and a half a week spent working on  the community radio station I’m setting up here in Bethesda, Pesda FM.

There were also two Life Modelling Sessions; one in Gerlan, one in Bangor. I struggled to come up with 10 two-minute long, off the cuff poses during the busy Bangor class.

There were two washing up gigs for Moel Faban Suppers ; and I’m still not being given enough tea towels and scourers to do the job properly by my boss (AKA “The Girlfriend”)

Another call to do some extras work for Rownd A Rownd This time I had to walk into the shop and pick up a basket. Judging from the decorations in the window, you’ll be able to see the scene sometime this Christmas. I don’t think it’s as big a storyline as the last scenes I shot for the show, not too long ago.

Writing done: I revisited one of the short stories I wrote when I first considered taking my writing more seriously. I wrote “The Woman Who Yelled At Puddles” about a decade ago. There were plot chasms and clumsy sentences everywhere. I rewrote it, and got it down to 1000 words, gave it to my manager to read, argued with my manager about her editing suggestions, kissed and made up with my manager (AKA “The Girlfriend”) and am now going to make most of the changes she suggested, and then submit it for a competition.

I also submitted four poems to 3 sites; in a variety of combinations. Oxy Bloody Moron I Love (Dot Dot Dot) Victor’s Secret and Blue Girlfriend Blues (note to self: post Victor’s Secret and Blue Girlfriend Blues on here).

I made a little more progress on a “work in progress” I’ve been working on for well over two years now; it’s gone from a novel to a short story to a collection of short stories over a 30 month period…it’s progressing, slowly.

Mostly wearing: I’ve rediscovered my “Don’t Let Your Tongue Cut Your Throat” T-shirt. And I recently dug out my Captain America T-shirt; since it turns out he’s been a sleeper agent for Hydra all these years.

I struggled to remove all the old gold glittery nail varnish from my toenails; before the new bubblegum pink varnish was painted on (hashtag it’s a long story)

I also cut up a pair of ripped blue denim jeans, in order to make a new pair of shorts to wear,during the recent heatwave.

We’re still looking for my wedding dress; for our cross-dressing, cross-gendering wedding at Shambala Festival later this Summer. The groom…erm…bride…erm…Denise is considering wearing a frock coat, with pin striped trousers; hipster style, with full beard. I’m thinking traditional bridal gown for me.

Mostly eating: I’m being encouraged to eat more salads; in order to lose the “cake belly”. Fortunately, living with a chef means salads aren’t boring and tasteless. We’ve been treating ourselves to ice-cream since we found a freezer to put in the garage; and the weather turned warmer…for a while, this being North Wales. There was also a delicious duck dish, left over from one of the Moel Faban Supper wedding gigs recently.

Mostly drinking: Still switching to de-caf coffee around 4pm. There’s an opened bag of the Moel Faban coffee blend in the cupboard at the moment; 60% Columbia/40% Sumatra, blended by Poblado Coffi and I was allowed to use a bit, as a treat. We’re out of Grapefruit juice again though; it never lasts long, because I often gulp from the carton. I know.

Mostly buying: Two notepads from charity shops. One is a large, ledger type hardback, with glossy pages. I’ve had to buy two special pens, so I can write in it. The pens cost more than the pad.

I also found these beauties in a charity shop, as new, £1 each

 

 

Major events: June was spent mostly coming to terms with the fact that I had recently held the hand of a man I hardly knew, while he took his dying breaths. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone die. I felt…human.

Reading done: 

 

 

Nod was engrossing. I picked it up in the hospice I was spending a lot of time in, and read it in snatches over the next few weeks. Plot aside, the author’s personal story and the circumstances in which I found the book added poignancy to the reading experience.

Secret Invasion I read in two days; another charity shop bargain at £1.50.

I recently started to buy Private Eye again. I was a regular reader for years, and there’s a collection of the annuals in one of the toilets at home.

The Gaiman is autographed by the man himself; from when we went to listen to him speak with Stephen Fry, at the Hay Literary Festival in May.

Films watched: Revisited Turner and Hooch. Watched it with “The Boy” (my girlfriend’s 14-year-old, flakey minded, long-haired, multi-instrument playing, skateboarding, zombie loving geek of a son). He enjoyed it. I wept at the end…again…every time, every time I watch it.

I endured Step Up 2 while down in Dartford, and was duped into watching Grease while there too.

We were also misled by the promo picture and blurb accompanying a Scandinavian film called Girls Lost we watched last night.  We expected a relatively lightweight movie, and were traumatised by the end.8EgUVp2T

Mostly growing: I received a free pack of wild meadow seeds from the Wildlife Trust at the end of May; as part of their Go Wild In June campaign. I planted them on a patch of ground in the back garden. Within a week there were shoots appearing. Eventually I hope to have a patch of garden containing these wild beauties; alongside all the wild strawberries we have growing there already: Lesser Knapweed, Meadow Buttercup, Meadowsweet, Red Campion, Ribwort Plantain, Self-Heal, Teasel, White Campion, Yarrow, Corncockle, Cornflower, Corn Chamomile, Corn Poppy, Ox-eye Daisy, and Lady’s Bedstraw

 

 

There’s also the plant pot in the conservatory, but there’s no sign of life there yet. And growing my own mushrooms is still high on the To-Do-List.

Right, that’s it. I’ve probably gone on too long, and broken a number of blogging cardinal rules, but what the hell.

See you at the end of July…but probably before, if the manager dangles the right carrot, or swings the most effective stick.

 

 

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Oxy Bloody Moron

I can understand why a grieving parent,

Would insist on a bloody revenge.

I can see why a tree hugging, blissed out old hippy,

Would spend solstice camped out near Stonehenge.

It’s obvious to me why a tired out child,

Falls asleep while you tell them a story.

But there’s one thing for sure,

I just can’t comprehend;

That’s the mind of a working class Tory.

They’re turkeys pining for Christmas.

They’re cricket fans praying for rain.

They’re early worms searching for hungry birds.

They’re masochists hiding from pain.

They’re china shops looking for bulls to set free.

They’re Marmite fans spreading on jam.

They’re virginal sluts wearing chastity belts.

They’re buying an ice cream,

And letting it melt.

They’re not taking sugar,

Then adding two lumps.

They’re a broken suspension,

Driven fast over bumps.

They’re reading a book,

Without checking the cover.

They’re finding a soul mate,

Then taking a lover.

They’d saw through the branch of a tree,

That they’re sat on.

They’re never the pigeon,

They must love being shat on.

I bet they look for Lego they can stand on,

But take care to take their shoes and socks off first.

Then fill their mouths with a dozen cream crackers,

In a feeble attempt to quench their thirst.

They’re a fart inside a diving suit,

And a chocolate fireguard.

They’re “Congratulations” written,

In a “Deepest Sympathy” greetings card.

They’ll tell you a tale,

With no sign of a story.

They’ll cheat playing football,

Then steal all the glory.

They’ll tell you they’re vegan,

Then eat your baloney.

And that’s why you can’t trust,

A working class Tory.

 

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PESDA ROC 2017

This recent Bank Holiday saw the return of Bethesda’s annual celebration of live music, “Pesda Roc” at Neuadd Ogwen.

The weekend kicked off on Saturday night, with intimate sets from Lastigband, Argrph, Phalcons, and Dj Delweddau Hen Dduwiau in the bar; but there was a definite buzz surrounding Sunday’s upcoming climax of the two day festival; local legends Maffia Mr Huws were back.

Brython Shag opened the Sunday night; not an easy band to pigeonhole. Opening number “Bywyd Ei Hon” (“Life Itself”) could be an eighties alt-rock anthem, but before you know it, you’re deep in Ian Dury/Blockhead territory; Deian Jones’ funky bass pumping up the crowd on the dance floor.

Vocalist Ceri Cunnington meanwhile, wanders the stage like a man with no control over his limbs. It’s a captivating, if chaotic performance; at one point, during a delightfully new wave/punk pop, Summer infused “Sana Gwyn A Sandals” (“White Socks And Sandals”), Cunnington almost cuts off the start of a sparkling solo from guitarist Gai Toms.

Sadly, their set had to be cut short; there were three bands waiting to play. They closed with “Dwnsia Ne Granda” (“Dance Or Listen”), and this reviewer was left wishing there had been more time available to do both. They are most definitely on the “Listen Again” list.

Next up were Radio Rhydd. In these days of X-Factor/No Talent nightmares, let’s be grateful there are still angry young men like Radio Rhydd making real music; and urging us to smash up and burn our TVs.

Vocalist Cai O’Marah embodied the bands’ passionate outrage; rasping and ranting and rapping his way topless on stage, singing like a man on a mission to spread the word.

The fact that they grew up listening to and being inspired by Maffia Mr Huws is beyond any doubt really; although they do add their own white, urban hip-hop touch to the punk and reggae mix of their local heroes.

A furious “Bernard Bancs” kicked off the set; Radio Rhydd meant business.

Four songs in, and Brython Shag’s Ceri Cunnington is invited back on stage for “Cariad a Chymuned”, and the audience goes wild.

Drums ticked like a Doomsday Clock approaching midnight, during closing number “Croeso Ir Apocalypse” (“Welcome The Apocalypse”). Radio Rhydd were having a blast, and so were the audience. But there was still one more band to go before the much anticipated return of Maffia Mr Huws.

That penultimate band being Ffug.

The band opened with the spindly instrumental “Be My Friend”, before things turned heavy glam with “Anorexic Alcoholic”. By the time “Love Is Stupid” kicked in, three young skateboarders were leaning against a wall to one side of the venue, nodding their heads in time to the frantic beat, while a group of middle aged men jumped up and down across the room like it was 1977, and a woman shook and swirled around in the middle of the dance floor. Ffug, it appears, have something for everyone who likes their music heavy and loud. It’s hard to imagine such a large noise is coming from the four slight and skinny lads on stage.

Vocalist Iolo Seyfl snarls like Cobain one minute, before switching to a sneer that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Japan album.

Billy Morley’s guitar sleazed and seduced during a slinking, mid set “Speedboat Dreaming”, whilst Henry Jones (bass) and Joey Robbins (drums) smashed their way through “Are You With Us?”; the kind of song you can imagine hearing while the credits roll, at the end of a particularly fast and furiously explosive action movie.

But now it was the moment everyone had been waiting for; Maffia Mr Huws were ready to rock, and the crowd were ready to enjoy. No one was disappointed.

The band hit the stage running with “Newyddion Heddiw” and the crowd went wild; not least the singers of Brython Shag and Radio Rhydd, who stormed onto the dance floor, along with the rest of the fans.

This was old skool punk rock, with a heady dose of reggae thrown in.

When the band started playing “Yr Addewid”, Radio Rhydd’s Cai O’Marah could no longer contain his enthusiasm and climbed on stage; the mic being handed to him by Maffia Mr Huws’ lead vocalist, Hefin Huws. The mic could have been a baton of musical heritage, being passed on from one generation to the next.

Maybe it’s something in the Bethesda water, because towards the end of the set, both O’Marah and Brython Shag’s Ceri Cunnington were back on stage with the headliners; hijacking the mics, while Huws proved that original punks still know how to rebel with style. He lit a cigarette and stood back; allowing the young ones another chance to shine. The crowd lapped up every moment.

The night ended with Maffia Mr Huws, the crowd, and the supporting acts all leaping around, having a whale of a time, and singing along to the motoring fury of “Gitar yn y To”.

Here’s to “Pesda Roc 2018”. This reviewer can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Live Music, Neuadd Ogwen, Pesda Roc, Punk, Review | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why I Am Not A “Philistine Yorkshireman”

My girlfriend has just uploaded a blog post she wrote about our recent trip to Barcelona.

https://moelfabansuppers.com/2017/04/19/an-art-and-food-lovers-guide-to-barcelona/

In it, she accuses me of being “a philistine Yorkshireman”. Here’s why I don’t think I am.

I am justifiably proud of my Yorkshire heritage; it is after all the best county in England, but “philistine”?

Me?

Really?

Considering the fact that Melvyn Bragg quoted me this month, in a speech he gave about culture, I would argue that this is debatable. I do concede that I have an uneducated palette, but the thing is, I know what I like; it’s as simple as that.

More to the point, I know what I don’t like.

It’s not that I refuse to try out new food. I mean, I’ve eaten oysters! And as we all know (or rightly suspect) eating oysters is akin to swallowing a salty, chewy, slimy glob of lumpy snot; but in a nice way.

And so, in response to my darling girlfriend’s “art and food lover’s” review of our trip to Spain (and her false accusation that I am a “philistine”) here is a cultured Yorkshireman’s take on our foody time together in Barcelona.

The trip was a tick off of Denise’s bucket list. I’ve been to Spain a couple of times before, but that was way, way back in my early twenties; when my only priorities had been sea, sun, sand, sangria, San Miguel, and the rest.

Denise was in charge of where we would visit while we were in Barcelona; it was one of her landmark birthdays we were celebrating after all, and I wanted us to do what she wanted us to do. I knew this meant a lot of art, a lot of architecture, and more than likely a fair few tiny portions of fancy food would be on the agenda.

She did insist on me having an opinion once or twice, and refused outright to let me get away with “I’m happy with whatever you want, darling, it’s your birthday”, but I was able to keep my input to a minimum.

We relied almost entirely on Denise’s little notebook while we were in Barcelona; in which she’d usefully pencilled in places for us to visit, places where we could eat, and how we should get to them.

Getting to places in Barcelona involves navigating the wonderfully reliable and relatively simple Metro system there, plus a lot of walking. Barcelona is big!

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good stroll as much as the next lazy sod, but I’m more of a moocher myself; whereas Denise is most definitely a marcher. We walked 30k in three days! And a lot of that was getting from one platform to another on the aforementioned Metro. If you want to explore Barcelona, then my advice would be to wear comfortable shoes; and train well beforehand.

We didn’t get to do everything Denise put on her To-Do-List, but I suspect this was more of a deliberate ploy on her part; in order to have an excuse to return at some point in the future.

I’m from Leeds; home to Leeds Kirkgate Market. Kirkgate was once a glorious landmark of the city; filled with colours, scents, sights, and sounds that captivated the senses. La Boqueria reminded me of how Leeds Kirkgate Market used to be.

There was plenty of food on display in La Boqueria that I didn’t recognise. Some of the food was labelled; but with words I didn’t recognise either…even the ones written in English. Like I said, I’ll admit to having an uneducated palette.

Denise mockingly chided me for choosing Empanadas to eat as a snack later.

“Typical Yorkshireman, choosing a pasty” she said, as I browsed the variety of fillings available, in the selection of small, delicious looking, exotically sounding…pasties. But these weren’t just Cornish Pasties, or Cheese & Onion pasties, or even your common or garden vegetable pasties. These were fancy pasties! There was even a wild mushroom and spinach empanada!

You got 3 small empanadas for one euro fifty; a pick ‘n’ mix, and a bargain! I picked three weird combinations. I enjoyed two of them; the third was spoiled, when Denise’s slice of melon leaked onto the crust of my Wild Mushroom and Spinach.

In her Blog post, Denise says this about La boqueria. “There is definitely something for everyone despite my partners [sic] singularity in his choices.”

I object!

Here’s how a typical conversation with my girlfriend sounds, regarding my diet.

HER: You’re impossible to cook healthy food for! You don’t like vegetables! You don’t like salad!

ME: I like some salad! I just don’t like tomatoes. I like onions, and cucumber, and carrot…

HER: You said you didn’t like carrot!

ME: I said I didn’t like boiled carrot, or steamed. But I like it roasted with marmalade, or raw.

HER: You don’t like pasta!

ME: I know I don’t, but I like potatoes. And I like seafood, and I LOVE mushrooms! And don’t tell me again that you don’t count potatoes as part of my five a day! And what about mushy peas?!!! They’re vegetables too! You can’t pick on me, just because I don’t like courgettes!

…and so on.

You see, Denise is a chef who loves to eat healthily, whereas I like big portions of food that tastes nice. And she can’t lecture me about how chips are bad for me, then gobble down bowl after bowl of the things herself; but say that it’s OK, “because these are patatas bravas, not chips”.

The French for potato is pomme-de-terre; which translates literally as “apple from the earth”. It’s a poetic name for a potato, but if you slice up an “apple from the earth”, and then fry it, you’re left with chips. And that unpronounceable dip you’ve been dipping your chips in; the one made of mayonnaise and garlic, that wouldn’t be garlic mayo by any chance, would it?

Besides, how I can I be accused of making singular choices, when one night I didn’t order chocolate for my pudding; opting instead for an almond tart with ice cream. The fact that they drizzled chocolate sauce on it, not mentioned on the menu, is irrelevant.

Denise on the other hand ordered crème brulee…again, and again, and again. But this wasn’t just any old crème brulee of course; this was “Catalan Crème Brulee”. And Catalan Crème Brulee is obviously so amazingly awesome, that experimentation with desserts goes out of the window…actually, that’s a touch unfair.

Denise suffers from a number of food intolerances and allergies, so her options are often limited. But I think the fact that I chose Ice Cream and tart, over chocolate one night, proves that I’m not as predictable as Denise makes me out, in her blog.

And this is why I refute the charge that I am a “philistine Yorkshireman” with singular tastes. Now, about this Gaudi bloke!…

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An art and food lovers guide to Barcelona

This gallery contains 34 photos.

Originally posted on Moel Faban Suppers:
Barcelona has been up at the top of my wish list of places to visit as long as I can remember. As an art lover with a particular attraction to Art Nouveau, Modernism, Picasso,…

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Independent Music Venue Week: Neuadd Ogwen

Music lovers in North-West Wales were treated to a trio of bands performing live last night, as part of Independent Music Venue Week; and all for the price of a couple of High Street coffees. The independent music venue in question was Neuadd Ogwen; situated in Bethesda, on the edge of Snowdonia. It’s a tiny town, surrounded on all sides by mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes.

A handful of stragglers missed the start of a captivating opening set from Belfast based septet, Documenta; including four guitarists who blended together gracefully; the instruments caressing each other, creating a shoegazing soundscape awash with atmosphere and melodious noise. Documenta cherry pick from (and experiment with) everything from Can to The Beatles, and it works perfectly.

They opened strongly with “Idle Hands” from the album “Drone Pop #1” and from that moment on, the audience were theirs for the taking. Five tracks from the album were included in the set; as well as an as yet untitled song. A 12” EP is in the pipeline, which vocalist Joe Greene promises will be even more experimental. They closed their set with the grooving beat of “Gentle’s Yard”, from the album, and left an appreciative crowd hungry for more.

Up next were Manchester’s Horsebeach. Manchester isn’t renowned for it’s sunny climate; neither is North West-Wales for that matter, but from the moment Horsebeach kicked off proceedings with “A Place Like This”, you could easily imagine you were sitting on a warm summer beach, sipping a cold drink, and contemplating a siesta before going out to party; no mean feat considering this was a cold, wet, and dark Saturday night in January.

The set was a mix of tracks from the band’s prolific back catalogue, plus three new songs from their next album, due out in March.

Ryan Kennedy’s dreamy, hazy croon dripped like melting ice cream, and you could see the enraptured audience swaying along to songs like the sublime “It’s Alright”, as though they didn’t have a care in the world. Reminiscent of Aztec Camera at times, Horsebeach took us elsewhere, and Neuadd Ogwen basked in the warm melodies the band created.

Last on stage were local band Yucatan. Being on home turf (vocalist Dilwyn Llwyd runs the venue) they were received with rapturous applause from an anticipatory crowd; and rightly so. The band seduced the audience with songs that felt almost hymn like at times. Minimal, soothing, ethereal, almost childlike, Yucatan’s set seemed to reflect the stark beauty of the area that surrounds Neuadd Ogwen; one suspects this is what heaven might sound like if it was a band, and Yucatan’s ability to enthral an audience looked almost effortless at times.

The fact that the lyrics were sung in Welsh didn’t distract at all, and a number of non Welsh speakers hearing the band for the first time were overheard raving with surprise about how amazing they were; quite right too, because Yucatan are startlingly good.

From the moment the drums pounded the intro to “Ffin”, you knew you were in safe hands, and hearing “Cwm Llwm” felt like The Velvet Underground singing you to sleep.

They finished the set with the crowd pleasing “Un Cyfle”, which is the only point where the laid back Llwyd finally becomes animated. The song starts slowly but surely, and finishes with a squall of noise as the band exits.

At the end of the gig, one audience member was seen taking a photograph of the empty stage. As this night was a part of Independent Music Venue Week, it seemed appropriate to do so. After all, this week has been an opportunity to celebrate the smaller, intimate, independent music venue, and when all is said and done, it is Neuadd Ogwen that the audience was there to celebrate.

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Naked Freelance Writer Earns Money

When I was offered the chance to be a Life Model for an Art Group, my first concern was that I might be compared unfavourably to previous models…in the trouser department I mean. Reassurances from my girlfriend that I was “a grower, not a shower” didn’t help; the last thing I wanted was to grow, mid pose.

As it turns out, the size of my equipment was the least of my worries.

For a start, coming up with eight different poses was hard enough.

“We require five 5 minute poses from you, two to last 15 minute each, and one you can hold for an hour…with a 5 minute break half way through, should you require it” said the lady in charge.

Another worry was the itch on my nose, which started halfway through the first of my 15 minute poses.

Then there was the wind…not the gale force one blowing outside (they’d provided a wall of heaters for that), but the one threatening to explode from my backside; as I knelt on the floor, with my bum in the air, and my back to the artists.

There was a spot of bother “down below” at one point, but it was due entirely to the coffee I’d accepted, halfway through the session; and not because of any dimensional deficiencies, or unwanted expansions on my part. In short, I was desperate to pee. I managed to hold it off until the end of the session, and it was a blessed relief when I finally let go.

And so I stood, and I knelt, and I lounged, and I hugged myself for two hours; striking poses like a pro (because I’m also an actor, there were a couple of dramatic stances on display too that morning).

At the start of each pose, I would find something new to stare at; anything to help me stay perfectly still; and distract from the fact I was stark bollock naked, in front of a dozen women and three men, halfway up a mountain in North Wales, in a bleak midwinter.

And so my advice to any man considering Life Modelling is:

pre-prepare some poses,

practise staying still for prolonged periods,

politely refuse any drinks offered to you during any breaks,

avoid beans, eggs, curries etc. the night before.

Most of all though, don’t worry about your tackle. Because if you’re lucky like me, you’ll come away with a bit of spare cash, a new profile picture, and a nice piece of material for a new blog post.

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