Australia Day 2011

We had a terrific Australia Day this year with a bunch of friends at the Huntsbury hotel. It could have been a disaster since we’d organised for the day to be at our regular haunt, the Lewisham Hotel. Yoda and I had to go to IKEA first thing in the morning and, with luck and some amazing public transport connections, we managed to get to the Lewisham way ahead of the 1pm scheduled start time.

Only to find it was closed. You can’t imagine a hotel being closed on a day when everyone wants to drink and celebrate but you probably can’t imagine a hotel like the Lewisham!

I had to madly sign into the net via my mobile and send group text messages to everyone to let them know of the change of plans. We discussed which pub we should go to instead and the Huntsbury seemed the logical choice since it was only 10 minutes walk and most of our group knew where it was.

The two most difficult people to get a hold of were the two who the get together had been organised for – Cathy, who was coming down from Newcastle for the day and Donna. Donna had her mobile phone switched off (arghhh!) and Cathy didn’t hear hers.

We also worried about Big Dave since isn’t contactable and we didn’t know what time (if any) he would show up. Luckily that problem was solved when he turned up exactly at 1pm while we were in the middle of the chaos. I decided we needed to leave a sign on the pub door for Cathy & Donna to tell them where we were…but there was no sticky tape. We had pen & paper but no sticky tape.

I quickly trundled down to the nearby servo and all they had was electrical tape. It would have to do. We threw together a sign for anyone who we hadn’t been able to contact and bit off lengths of electrical tape to stick it to the Lewisham’s door!

Then we marched down in the humidity to the Huntsbury. Thank god they were air conditioned! These last-minute change of plan things can either go really bad or really well. Luckily, the day went brilliantly. Everyone managed to get there – and Cathy & Donna did see our sign on the Lewisham’s door. God knows what the pub manager thought when he arrived at 3pm (when the Lewisham was finally due to open!)

In the end, it didn’t matter….even baby Liam (who was the star of the day) caused an issue when he arrived since he wasn’t allowed in the main bar of the pub. We promptly picked up our stuff and moved en masse tot he bistro area and put a couple of tables together to accommodate our large group.

Throughout the day people kept turning up…James arrived from his trip to Canberra, Vanessa, Judy & Greg and, of course, baby Liam along with Mum & Dad! It was a really fun day and a great way to stay out of the heat and humidity!

There was a man there (see video) with a rather controversial T-Shirt. I just had to take a photo of it. It said “This is Australia. We eat meat, we drink beer and we speak fuckin’ English!” Ooh, a tad racist but he didn’t seem to be causing any trouble. Just another local I suspect!

Tonight, I’ve finally thrown together a quick slide show/video of pics of the day. The quality of the photos is awful because most were taken using the tragic camera on my Nokia e63. And because they were taken into the light, half the faces are in shadow. Oh well, that’s life – enjoy the vid!

(if it doesn’t play in this window, just click on it and watch it on Youtube)

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I’m over putting things together

Everything has to be assembled thesedays. Self assembly is the way of the lord. Since I moved it has been about putting crap together – crap from Officeworks, Fantastic Furniture and, naturally, IKEA. I’m not really wanting to see an Allen key again.

IKEA's Evil Instrument

I’m over it. Majorly. Why can’t you just add water and these things just pop up and assemble themselves?

I’m flatpacked to buggery. And I still have 8 IKEA Benno CD towers to do.

This weekend has been about the big blue Billy bookcase for Yoda’s room and then the monolithic “Expedit”. That took two of us a couple of hours of sweat, sore knees and general exhaustion. Not to mention major confusion. IKEA’s instructions are all drawings and arrows. Which mean mostly nothing. We had to consult the interweb and look at videos of way-too-clever handymen putting these things together in 2 minutes. Bastards!

We put our own video together of the Expedit assembly – with photos taken using the crapulent camera on my Nokia e63. If only the real life process was as quick as the bloody video!

I HATE SELF-ASSEMBLY!!!

Melodifestivalen is imminent!

Melodifestivalen 2011

It’s all about to happen again for another year!

The Swedish national competition to select the country’s Eurovision Song Contest entry is about to begin. In Sweden, Melodifestivalen is bigger than Jesus…it’s a national obsession.

This year’s dates are:

Saturday February 5 2011 – Heat 1, Coop Arena , Luleå
Saturday February 12 2011 – Heat 2, Scandinavium , Gothenburg
Saturday February 19 2011 – Heat 3, Cloetta Center , Linköping
Saturday February 26 2011 – Heat 4, Malmö Arena , Malmö
Saturday March 5 2011 – Second Chance, Nordic Hall , Sundsvall
Saturday March 12 2011 – Final, Globen , Stockholm

Of course we’re all “rooting”(!) for Eric Saade but also loving the fact that A*Teens Sara Lumholdt is in the contest! Not only that but fellow A*Teens member, Marie Serneholt is co-hosting!!!!

Sara & Marie

Not to mention the fact that the redoubtable Shirley Clamp is back again but this time as part of “Shirley’s Angels” (could she be any camper!)

Shirley's Angels starring Shirley Clamp

Swedish Television – svt – have their usual website to follow the competition: http://svt.se/2.148322/melodifestivalen_2011 or you can follow all things Scandinavian & Pop at http://www.scandipop.co.uk/ Scandipop also has the complete photoshoot that Swedish Gay newspaper QX did for this year’s Melodifestivalen. It features some of this year’s acts dressed as TV characters…

QX goes Melodifestivalen 2011

As I’m feeling very Scando, very pop and very nostalgic at the moment….here’s Lena Ph with “Det Gör Ont”(It Hurts) the 2004  winner…

From the “No Wonder I’m Gay” department…..

It’s no wonder I’m Gay when there are guys like Eric Saade out there posing for pictures like this…

Eric Saade - he sings too!

…which reminds me….Melodifestivalen 2011 is about to kick off. And Eric has a song entered. We’ll have to wait for 19th February for Eric’s heat…but the song is rumoured to be amazing. It’ll have to be to beat last year’s “Manboy”.

Eric currently has a new single called “Still Loving It”. He’s trying to go for a more “international” sound this year to broaden his appeal outside of Sweden.

Moving Day….again

Moving Day

…or perhaps I should say “Moving Day 2011….#1 of 4”  Because there’ll be 3 more moving days over the next few months to finally get everything into place.

The good news is that I am finally sleeping on a real bed after suffering a series of inflatable mattresses over the last 6 months. I say a “series” because there were 4 in all. Starting off with quite expensive down to absolute cheapest. The first three failed when they developed punctures…only the fourth survived (and it was the cheapest one!)  All were uncomfortable.

Stage 1 of moving took the removal guys 4 1/2 hours and that’s with Yoda & I helping. We didn’t expect to have to do that but we’d majorly underestimated the time this first move was going to take. And as the hours ticked by, the cost kept increasing. So we pitched in and did what we could. Of course, it began to rain half way through the move. It was just that kind of day.

After a brief lunch and a visit to the $2 shop to get some of those accoutrements you always forget you’re going to need immediately you move into a new flat…it was time to get stuck into cleaning the shower and bath. If moving is something I hate, cleaning bathrooms is something I loathe. The lesbians who rented the flat before didn’t do a particularly thorough job cleaning the place when they left so it was time to get out the cleaning chemicals and go wild.

By the end of the day I had a clean shower and bath…the rest of the bathroom and Yoda’s ensuite would have to wait for the weekend. I was absolutely knackered. After having about 4 hours sleep the night before and being up for a 6am start…well, let’s just say I don’t have the same energy I did when I was 18! In fact, come to think of it, I don’t think I had that energy when I was 18 either!

Last Sunday was all about more cleaning of bathrooms and kitchen cupboards. The Spray & Wipe almost asphyxiated me. And there’s still so much more cleaning and organising to do in the next few weeks. Months even!

These are my sworn enemies!

In positive developments, there are now curtains of sorts in 2 of the rooms. Via Spotlight and Bunnings Warehouse and about 10 bus trips! The curtain rod sort of bows in the middle but it’s holding and that’s all we can ask.

As of last night, there is an internet connection! Yay! I changed providers and now have ADSL2 which is soooo much faster than 1.5mb ADSL. And no off peak/peak restrictions either!

The new Bosch washing machine was delivered effortlessly by Appliances OnLine and is fantastic. How wonderful it is not to have to traverse a flight of stairs and have to go outside into a car park every time you need to do a load of washing. The Bosch even tells me how long each load  is going to take. Can’t say fairer than that!

A friend from overseas is going to be staying for a couple of weeks next month and will be acting as “inspector” of the new flat. So we’re on a deadline to get the place looking vaguely organised. There’s still a couple of things that have to be ordered from IKEA before we can do this. And some assembling of course. Ergghhh!

I reckon it will take a good six months to have the place 100% as it should be…remembering that during the week, after work, I’m usually too stuffed to want to start on being a “happy homemaker” so it’s all down to the weekends.

If only there was a magic cleaning and organising fairy.

If only.

My heart goes bang bang, bang bang

Phil Harding's insider view of PWL

I’m going through somewhat of a large Stock/Aitken/Waterman resurgence at the moment. Partially because of new CD reissues of classic SAW artists like Sonia, Big Fun & Boy Krazy. But also because of new book I’m reading by PWL (Pete Waterman Ltd) mixer Phil Harding. The book is called “PWL from the Factory Floor” and is an inside account of those crazy SAW years in the 80s/very early 90s.

Phil Harding along with his partner Ian Curnow did all those fantastic HARDING/CURNOW remixes for SAW songs. Phil describes Mike Stock and Matt Aitken as the “A” Team at the studio and he and Ian as the “B” team. If you think about some of those wonderful 12″ mixes like Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” Murder Mix and the 12″ mix of “Venus” by Bananarama…well, Phil’s work speaks for itself.

The 12″ Murder Mix of  “You Spin Me Round” didn’t leave my turntable much for about 9 months in 1985. And the 12″ of “Venus” was magic – to see the look on the faces of people when DJs would play this at – for example – the Newtown Hotel – was incredible. The mood of the place changed instantly. It was as if everyone had suddenly taken an “upper”! 😉 And then it was a rush to the dance floor. Even people (like me) who wouldn’t normally dance.

Phil Harding’s book is a great read if you’re interested in the history around SAW & PWL. And it is written without a lot of ego and big-noting which makes it different from other books written about the same subject matter.

The whole SAW/PWL era had such a profound influence on me – I couldn’t even calculate how much money I spent on their records (and still am with all these CD special edition reissues!) I am always eager to hear stories of what really went on behind the scenes and all the characters who made up the PWL team back then.

The SAW/PWL wasn’t as much of a phenomenon in Australia as it was in the U.K. It has been difficult, over the years, to have anyone understand what I’m talking about when discuss my enthusiasm/obsession with Stock/Aitken/Waterman. Yeah they know Kylie and they know Jason and they maybe know Dead or Alive…but they don’t have any idea how all these iconic records came together or why. If I said “Today’s Sound, Tomorrow’s Technology” or “The Sound of a Bright Young Britain” to someone here, they’d think I was nuts.

So that makes “PWL From the Factory Floor” even more special to read. Someone who was a key part of the whole thing telling the story – and someone who gets it, someone who REALLY gets it!

Phil talks about how a lot of the iconic songs were created originally as 12″ versions and then cut down for the 7″ single/radio versions. This makes perfect sense to me because some of the 12″ versions just seem so perfect and complete. “Venus”, “You Spin Me Round” and “You Think You’re A Man” being excellent examples of this. I always think of the 12″ versions when I remember them. “Venus” even had a 12″ film clip (video) which was quite revolutionary at the time.

Dead or Alive were an early act to come under the SAW umbrella. The classic “Youthquake” LP produced “You Spin Me Round”, “Lover Come Back To Me”, “In Too Deep” and, of course, “My Heart Goes Bang Bang”….

(links below may require you to click through to YouTube depending on where you are in the world)

Thank you Phil Harding (& Ian Curnow) for being such an essential part of this magic era and helping produce this music that has stayed with me for the last 25 years. And thank you Phil for writing the book and giving the view from the Hit Factory floor!

They say time heals everything but I’m still waiting

With a story about (yet another) “possible” reunion of a certain Swedish band hitting the mainstream Aussie press yesterday, Grant and I were contacted by friends (again) about it.

It’s been 4 years now since the ugly incident with those Swedish c**** and their record company and yet people think we’re still “fans” and that we would still be excited about a possible concert tour.

You can’t be rude to friends who, after all, are just showing a genuine interest in you. But it does make us shake our heads sometimes and wonder “don’t they get it? how could they not get it after all this time?”

Always a lover of the shock one-liner, I texted back a friend last night, “the only reunion of those people I’m interested in is six feet under!” 

Anyway, as this reunion rumour brought everything up again, I was reminded of a song I played a lot during that whole ugly legal situation…it seemed to sum up my feelings and situation pretty well. The lyrics don’t exactly match of course but, overall, the sentiment is spot-on for how I feel. Who knew the Dixie Chicks would end up giving my so much solace over the last few years!

You may have to click through to watch this video on Youtube [thanks to yet another s***house record company 😉 ]