Blog of Getting Around

I reckon that as a species, we’re missing a trick with how we get around. I am tapping this out on the 18.58 from Stanmore on my way into the nightly Xmas office party knees-up at a well known supper and jazz establishment in the Docklands, and fearing that I was running a bit late, I actually had to force myself to indulge in the supreme discomfort of running for the train. Furthermore, my bloody body, with whom I have at best a tenuous relationship, had declared a state of mild man-flu upon me and so after about four steps into the run I was all prepared to throw the towel in and watch the red tail lights of the 1996 stock driving car rattle off to Canons Park. However, in the nick of time, the brain leapt to my defence, and in one of those odd episodes where time slows right down so you can have a ponder while, in this case literally, on the hoof, I remembered a good bit of ill-informed ranting I’d been the a author of in the boozer not so long ago when I’d been airing for discussion the notion of skipping, and why it’s not OK for adults to skip when it is so patently a better way of getting about fast on foot than its more glamorous cousin, running. I can remember, when I was eight or so hurtling around the playground at Park Hill Junior, Mixed and Infants, South Croydon while skipping for hours on end without even breaking a sweat, which as you may know is no mean feat for me, even eight year old me. I’m the only person I know who can break a sweat lying down in snow. In just my Speedos.
Back to the tube emergency, and my slow motion brain had dredged up the whole pub debate- ran it through the “How much of a tool am I going to look” software and had reasoned that it was worth appearing as the big fat bloke on the “Skegness-It’s so bracing” poster for about twenty seconds in order to get the train. The skip drive was engaged, and to the bemusement of my fellow passengers I was effortlessly gliding up Platform 3 faster than I could ever sprint, and I made the train. No panting, no thirty gallons of sweat and faster. It is quite clear that skipping has many substantial advantages over running, and now I’ve solved a bit of an emergency with it, I’d like to do it some more. What lies in the way of this is the social stigma, and possibly the wear and tear on the Doc Martins, but I do exhort you to have a go if you’re in a fix for time- perhaps fashion can be changed and we can all freely and drily skip our way about without fear of persecution, or at least pitying looks. Let’s face it- if fashion can make it not only acceptable but actually desirable for every young chap in the Shoreditch area between the ages of 19 and 27 to sport ridiculous facial hair which would be more at home on an Open University physics lecturer circa 1973, then I’m sure a bit of light skipping could catch on here and there.

Thus far, December’s been a bit like that bath you get in that’s much too hot- by hanging on in there it becomes bearable over time, and, if I’m to own up to dark secrets, there’s a certain Catholic pride in enduring the searing of the bum, with the concomitant purification of the soul. I don’t think my job has ever consistently kept me on the go as it has over the last three weeks in my entire history, but in one of the very curious paradoxes that is life as a modern urban music biz magnate such as me, although I’ve been flailing away as a chap with a fear of sharks would had he been dropped in a shark tank, I can’t really report anything of note. There’s been so much stuff going on, nothing has really happened.

At least, nothing earth-shattering. By day I’ve had to write music for the big new-years knees-up in Monaco, and as already implied, by night I’ve been tubing it off to the nightly Xmas office party knees-up at a well known supper and jazz establishment in the Docklands. Although there have been some small personal breakthroughs in all of this, such as learning how to arrange Ziegfield-style introductions for Broadway show tunes, and how to nail the flute solos in Fly Me To The Moon up an octave on the dusty end of the tenor sax. It was never my intention when I started doing blogging to turn myself into an online version of that bloke you avoid at parties who just craps on and on about his work. The main thrust of this is to say that since touching down on the Tarmac at Luton the other week from our holiday in,er, lovely sunny Lanzarote, a pie chart of my hours would consist nearly entirely of work and sleep, with small segments for hobbies such as eating and addressing the thunderbox. You can imagine my dismay, therefore, at the beginning of this week, when I’d planned to have had all the daytime work done and dusted, so that I could crack on with a bit of festive Seaplanes Of The Axis Powers diorama fun that the body decided to reign in all the fun and turn me into a snivelling snorting snotty heap.

In fact, the alternation in the daytime activity between toil and illness has as yet precluded that warm festive feeling we all strive for at this time of year permeating life at The Gables. Although there have been nods in the direction of Xmas glee such as putting a bottle of Advocaat in with the shopping, the full force of Saturnalia has yet to bring itself to bear, and I am concerned that before I know it, it will have come and gone and I’ll be on the plane to Monaco. This was brought home the other day when I was filing away the music we’d played at Ronnie Scott’s last week for the Big Band Xmas gig. Something about putting away the arrangements of Sleigh Ride and Frosty The Snowman really struck a chord, that I was now preparing the Gables Music Library for Xmas 2015, and I hadn’t even had a single snowball, or Meltis New Berry Fruit, let alone gorging myself on Matchmakers whilst watching re-runs of Eric & Ern.

There was an amusing feat of vocal virtuosity performed by one of the diners at the nightly Xmas office party knees-up at a well known supper and jazz establishment in the Docklands a couple of days ago. Towards the end of the show, brave boy singer Iain MacKenzie steps off the stage with the walk-around mike during the sing-along breakdown bit in “Suspicious Minds”. He then enlists help from “Volunteers” on the dance floor to sing the chorus, you know, the “We’re caught in a trap” bit. If we’re lucky, what comes down the mike can be cheerfully beerily approximate Elvis impersonations from the chaps, or Merlot-fuelled X-factor ululations from the ladies. If we’re not so lucky we get barely audible squeaking, but never mind, either way, it gets the party going. This time, we were in for a real treat- coming in loud and proud from Tash from Accounts was a version of Happy Birthday, sung without any reference to the key, tempo or harmonic structure of the music. For Tash from Accounts, background music must be such a constant, that on the odd occasion when it becomes foreground music it still only registers as background noise. Sometimes when I contemplate the viability of trying to extract money from the general public for music in today’s world I get really really scared.