One of my photos

2019 Wrapped. A few surprises

December 7th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Spotify have this ‘wrapped’ feature where they tell you what your most listened to songs and artists are for the year. A bit premature when there is nearly a twelfth of the year left, but it is what it is. My bedtime habits do rather influence the results though. I have 30 or so playlists of about 90 minutes each for going to sleep to. They contain nothing too energetic or loud. Given that I will be listening to each playlist about 10 times on average throughout the year anything that is on one of the lists is going to skew the results a bit. It probably shouldn’t count that a lot of the songs I play I do not hear because I am asleep! [Read more →]

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The great car mystery

October 23rd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

In an effort to get more steps under my belt I have been walking a lot around the Manor Royal estate. It is supposed to be an industrial estate but the definition of industry is quite loose because you soon notice that a lot of it is given over to retail, specifically the retail of motor cars.

Just within the BID area we have main dealers for Ford, Suzuki, Mazda, VW, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Hyundai, Lexus, Kia, Nissan, Caterham, Vauxhall, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover, Toyota, Citroen and Tesla – sort of. Tesla burnt down but might be back. Elsewhere in town we have a big BMW dealer in Three Bridges, Audi in Maidenbower, and Honda in Northgate. If four wheels is too many then there is also P&H who are main dealers for Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Ducati and KTM motorbikes. I may have missed one or two.

And what is the big mystery? There are at least 21 makes of car with a main dealer in Crawley. Fiat is not one of them, so why the bloody hell is it that you can’t cross a road without seeing one of those horrible Fiat 500s every time?

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Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

October 10th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Last month I snapped up Trevor Noah’s autobiographical book, Born a Crime while it was the 99p Kindle deal of the day. I kind of regret that because it is very much worth the full price – currently £4.99

The book has two big things going for it: a remarkable story to tell and a very readable writing style. Part of the story is the background situation and Noah does a good job of explaining some of the details of apartheid, which are truly shocking. Obviously I remember all the fuss about apartheid in the 80’s, and probably took part in demos about it (there were so many marches and demos then it is hard to remember exactly which I was at) but now realise that I didn’t know a lot about the nitty-gritty details of it, and certainly not the human dimension that this book brings to the topic. [Read more →]

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And another thing. Or four.

October 2nd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Following on from last night’s moan about the Guardian’s 100 best TV shows, I remembered a few other shows that really should have been in there:

Elementary – An alternative to Sherlock with a few twists: being set in New York, Doctor Watson being a woman, Moriarty also being a woman, and Sherlock’s dad heading up an evil empire being the most obvious. Decent plots, likeable characters, and the central performance from Jonny Miller being absolutely fascinating, plus some humorous touches. Best of all, there is a lot of it, rather than the measly three-episode series that Sherlock had.

Fargo – Can’t believe I forgot about this. Excellent characters and an escalating plot worthy of the film, plus some world-class psychos.

Death in Paradise – A gentle whodunnit series which survived the replacement of all the cast over time, largely because the true star is the location.

Hannah – Can’t compete with the film in terms of visuals, but extended and expanded the story very well. Did a much better job than Dusk Til Dawn which started well but then went over-complicated, getting ridiculous in season two, in the same way that Hannibal and Westworld started well but soon got bogged down.

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Best TV of the 21st Century?

October 2nd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

The Guardian has been running a series about the so-called best culture of the 21st Century. One of the articles is about the 100 best TV shows of the 21st Century. Now I am no expert in TV and I know this sort of list is designed to stir up controversy, but even so I am completely baffled by it. [Read more →]

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Holiday post mortem

September 29th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Technology

This week we returned from a 10-day visit to Crete. It was the most boring holiday Jayne and I have ever had, but that is not a bad thing. In the past we have rented a car or quad and gone out around the island, visiting the many and varied archaeological sites, but this time we deliberately opted to just stay at the hotel and do nothing, as part of my slow recovery from that big get-rid-of-the-cancer operation. It was so tempting to just get a pair of scooters and hit the road and it took a lot of willpower to not do that. [Read more →]

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Some selected quotes

September 28th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Politics

I just had a look at the ‘My Clippings’ section on my Kindle and seen all the bits of text that I have highlighted over the years. Some of them are quite random, but a few are worth dwelling on. [Read more →]

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A sign of the times

September 12th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

I saw one of these in a car the other day…

On the one hand its a clever way to mount a phone in your car, using the now-redundant CD slot to hold it. on the other hand it just makes me feel old. It only seems like yesterday that CDs were the future and getting a car that had a CD player instead of a cassette player was cutting edge.

It is a cruel irony that the CD slot is now being used to hold the thing that has largely made them redundant. [Read more →]

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Desert Island Stuff

August 11th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I have spent an inappropriate amount of time thinking about this. The more trivial something is, the more thought I give it for some reason. I have bought houses and cars almost on a whim, but spent months comparing specs before buying my first DVD player and MP3 player. In the old days I could walk into a record shop with a fiver and spend an hour deciding what to spend it on. [Read more →]

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New Age Steppers

August 1st, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I was dead chuffed yesterday when I stumbled across New Age Steppers on Spotify.

I used to have a 12″ single of theirs back in 1981. It got played a lot, but I never really knew anything about them. I just liked the single, which I only bought unheard because it was going cheap. My vinyl collection has long since gone, so it was a real treat to hear the two tracks I already knew, plus a few albums’ worth of other tracks.

Back in 1981 I knew very little about reggae, except that I liked a lot of what I heard. I certainly didn’t have much knowledge of the different types of reggae. I’m still no expert, but I do know a bit more now and can understand why the record appealed to me back then.

The track My Love was a bit of an obsession for a while back then. Listening to it now I can hear the clash of upbeat lovers rock and dub reggae, which shouldn’t work but somehow does. I’m still not sure who exactly was singing on it. I now know that Neneh Cherry was involved, but it could have been Ari Up or Viv Albertine, who were also part of the collective. Regardless of who is singing it is a marvellous and epic bit of British reggae

The B-side was Love Forever, which didn’t get played as much, and usually at the wrong speed because, for some reason, it was 33 1/3 rpm while the A-side was 45 rpm. It has the same lovers rock + dub vibe but is less upbeat.

Generally I have few regrets about getting rid of my vinyl, but this was one of them and now I know I can hear it whenever I want I am happier.

Come to think of it, most of the vinyl I regret letting go relates to singles and EPs. For example, the Girls At Our Best EP, the Kraftwerk Showroom Dummies 12″ single, the Genesis Spot the Pigeon EP, to name a few. The biggest single regret now is the 12″ EP of four Ian Dury & the Blockheads tracks remixed by Paul Hardcastle, which I don’t think made it to CD, and is not available to stream, although there are some uploads to YouTube.

Anyway, I have enjoyed wallowing in the nostalgia of it all, and played the New Age Steppers’ Action Battlefield album through the car stereo on my drive back from Guildford hospital today.

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