Mancrush Friday – Ryan Gosling.

I have such a thing for Gosling that I’m amazed I haven’t written about him before and if I have then he deserves two. I made the foolish mistake of thinking of him as just a romantic lead, incapable of what is humans call emotions but oh no, he is much more. I make this mistake often, I remember thinking the same of diCaprio early on. Oh hindsight you temptress.

I think what won me over was seeing footage on YouTube of Ryan Gosling breaking up a fight on the streets of New York. He was just out being sexy in a vest or something and came across these two guys duking it out in the middle of the street so broke it up to the applause of a growing audience. What a guy.

He’s also a pretty solid actor and that’s the point when that’s his profession. His performances in Fracture, The Ides Of March and Crazy Stupid Love are enjoyable but Drive is where you really see the dark side and that’s where the magic is.
I’m reading 50 Shades at the moment (for research before you ask) and the thought of Gosling existing in this world does more for me than that book.

Gosling is also an avid guitarist and musician, which I’d like to see some output from aside from the occasional YouTube live video. He can literally do anything and make it effortlessly cool, sort of a Clooney in that respect.

All I ask is that you don’t overlook him just because every girl in the office has a picture of him pinned to her desk, there’s more to him than that and it’s worthwhile.

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Reiny daze.

It feels weird going back to work as a peasant when yesterday I ate like a king. For those who haven’t seen our constant reminders of that via various outputs Kate and I went for afternoon tea at The Ritz. It was amazing.

I appreciate that there is a level of decadence to it but the fact is that there were people there who obviously took the whole experience for granted, as though they were just sat down the local ‘caff’. It was a real treat for us, and one that I won’t forget any time soon.

The building and the decor are worth the visit alone, the whole place is quite incredible to behold, and I constantly felt at threat of being discovered and turfed out like Chaplin’s Tramp. The staff were so courteous and helpful though so this notion was entirely of my own making.

We were seated and offered tea from a menu. A fucking tea menu. I didn’t know it came any way than in a bag (that is mostly a joke). Kate had the Ritz special blend and I had the Darjeeling (yes, because of it’s association with Wes). We were brought a cake stand with some of the best sandwiches and cakes I’ve ever seen on it.

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We were then offered more cake from a selection on a tea tray. I think Kate was sure she had died and gone to heaven. Every now and then as we were talking the waiter would come round and check if we were okay and check if we needed more tea, but it didn’t feel intrusive or annoying, it seemed like a genuine regard for customers.

It was really nice to be treated that well, to be waited upon, but I don’t think I could ever get use to it, I’m not the waited upon type. It was like stepping back in time which we are obviously both a fan of and I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to do something special for a celebration.

After tea we headed past Buckingham Palace and over to the National Gallery, and National Portrait Gallery. We were the best dressed people there, no question.

Here we are huddled under my jacket from the rain:

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Putting on the Ritz.

So today is quite exciting. I’m going for afternoon tea at The Ritz. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. I bought Kate a voucher for tea for two for her birthday back in May and this was the soonest we could get a table, obviously the bourgeoisie love a scone. We’ve got to try and be on our best behaviour. Kate and I are prone to pulling faces and putting on silly voices at the dinner table and have been trying to get that out of our systems before today, although it would be quite punk to get booted out of The Ritz.

I’ve just looked outside and it’s burning sunshine, how am I supposed to wear a suit in this? I only wear suits for funerals and job interviews, this will be something different.

Through a fault entirely of my own the phonecall I was waiting in all day yesterday actually came into my inbox at 12:11 so I spent time being pensive and anxious when I don’t need to. Lesson learnt. It wasn’t good news, their loss.

Right, I need to shave and pretend I’m a nice person, catch you later.

Newsweek.

I’ve spent the last couple forays feeling neurotic as hell. The fact is that I’m waiting on other people, waiting on news that could alter a lot of what I’ve got going on, and today is the first of two days this week when I am supposed to hear back regarding one of them.

I’m not going to publicise this post in the way I usually do because if I don’t get my way I’m liable to kick off and delete it anyway but if it is good news I will post it here and reveal why I’m being so cryptic.

I hate waiting on other people, they never seem to grasp the utter emergency state that is my realm and take their precious time.
Pleasssse just let it work out.
I’d really like this.
I need out.
Please.

Bank holiday Monday freeform jazz odyssey post

I’ve got some raisin toast and black coffee at my side, I don’t have a top on and I’m ready to do some writing. By that I don’t just mean a blog post, I’d like to finally get the first in a long line of short stories completed, it’s been kicking about at the four thousand word mark for weeks now, and I’ve just got to close the thing off and then I can move onto something else and not have to be so concerned all the time.

Yesterday I got to visit my godson Toby and his doting parents Will and Chloe who I lived with while I was at University. He’s a right little tearaway now, I haven’t seen him since his first birthday and while he hasn’t mastered the complexities of saying my name yet, he has learnt to open doors and store food in his chubby little cheeks so he can compost it down to mulch and then expel it to the carpet whenever he chooses, he’s adorable. It’s really nice to spend time with Will and Chloe because they remember what I was like at Uni better than I seem to myself, I had such a brilliant time while I was living with them and its nice to get lost in those memories for a while, and for Kate to realise that I’m actually a lot better, and that she’s lucky she didn’t meet me during those hedonistic times because I was a self centered little creep and for the majority not all that fun to be around. Regardless of that I still maintain a brilliant friendship with Will and Chloe who prepared for the arrival of their child by looking after me, ensuring that I was put to bed, up in times for lectures and eating properly, they’re naturally attuned to looking after a baby, because they had me first. They’re brilliant parents.

I’m going to get on with some work now, too much to do on a bank holiday, which is a bit depressing, but maybe tomorrow will bring a change of plan, or the news I’ve been waiting for, and everything will just work out for me. Here’s to hoping.

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Reading on review.

Morning.
Or if it isn’t morning, where have you been?
I feel I need to clarify a few points before I write this post.
The first is that despite what I am due to say I very much appreciate the opportunity to see live music, I feel privileged to get to enjoy the music I like, and to spend time with a good friend.
The second is that if you recognise yourself or your characteristics in the people I describe then that’s fine.

Yesterday I got to spend the day with my friend James, I hadn’t seen him in about a year and while I know that he follows this blog fairly religiously (he pointed out the link to it on the homepage of his iPhone to me yesterday) I don’t think I’ve ever written anything about him, and I know this causes him more pain than when we discovered Burger King was shut at one o’clock this morning. When I was fresh out of Uni I got a job as a ‘data entry’ clerk in a bank, it was supposed to be a stop gap, but it lasted nearly two years, and just led me to the job I’m in now. On my second or third day I got in the lift after a cigarette break with who I thought at the time was the coolest man I had ever met. He had the skinniest jeans on you can imagine, a deep V-cut t-shirt and an oversized beanie holding back his mane of curly dark hair. We have talked about our meeting since and it was pretty much exactly the same as when Summer and Tom meet in (500) Days of Summer. I was wearing a The Queen Is Dead t-shirt and James said:
‘you like The Smiths?’
and the rest, as they say is history. This was a big deal for me. James was the first person in that office to take the time with me, and in a way that will make me cringe (and probably make him laugh) he served as a big brother character.
Two years ago; and with his hand forced slightly behind his back, James moved to Birmingham for work (despite the fact I repeatedly told him he would get stabbed) and my visits up there, and his visits home have been sporadic at best so it was nice to spend yesterday with him. That’s a bit of backstory for you. Onto the main event…

We arrived at Reading at about twelve, having been caught up in traffic for about two hours, and taking in the brilliant new Bloc Party album Four alongside Scroobius Pip and Jack White. Trying to find a cashpoint I couldn’t help but notice the ‘scene’. Rather than it seeming like everyone was in their disposable dusty t-shirts it seems a trend has arisen for ‘festival wear’. This basically means boys in vest with bold kaleidoscope triangle prints, skinny jeans or skinny shorts and boots and girls in high waisted shorts, t-shirts promoting bands they have neither heard of or intend on hearing, and wellies. It’s a bold look when there are several thousand of them queuing outside a petrol station and it led me to tweeting that it looked like the worst episode of skins imaginable.

When we got onto the site we headed to the Main Stage and caught Blood Red Shoes set which had a lot of heart considering its slot, and had an impressive haul of fans stretched out across the front. After that I got my one and only cider of the day and we settled in to watch Mystery Jets on the barrier, by this point my level of disdain for the majority of the people at the festival was rising, like that moment before The Hulk starts lurching forward in agony and fucking shit up. Mystery Jets were very good, as they have been each time I’ve seen them, and the songs on Radlands fit comfortably into their set. In a move that I don’t think I will ever fully understand Odd Future were on after Mystery Jets. For those of you who don’t know (and up until yesterday I’d have probably been writing this for me if that were possible) Odd Future (or to give them their full title Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) are an American alternative hip-hop collective from Los Angeles (yes, I did take that from Wikipedia). Their leader Tyler, The Creator is a fan of controversy and his lyrics have caused a stir for their homophobic and mysoginistic views. The set was one of the weirdest things I had ever experienced, and people went absolutely fucking crazy for it. There were; by my count, eight people onstage and they rap over each other and over the kind of deep bass grime thing that I don’t really good. They were entertaining though, constantly diving out into the crowd, miming sex moves on the security staff and generally just seeming a lot cooler than I’ll ever be able to comprehend, eventually the sound was cut on them for overrunning their set and I was left with the feeling that I was missing out on something (rather than my usual feeling that everyone else had it wrong).

It was James’s decision to watch Odd Future, and as I said yesterday, I’ll always try and see bands at a festival that I wouldn’t usually see just for the experience of it so that’s fine, but I got to see The Shins after who have been a firm favourite since the exchange about them in Garden State. They played a set that was completely parallel to the one I saw at the HMV Forum earlier this year but that’s in no way a dig, because it was very well done, and covered all four of their albums nicely. After The Shins were Enter Shikari who I cannot condone in any way shape or form I’m afraid so I went to get some noodles and took James to see the end of Miike Snow’s set. We arrived just in time for Animals (which I suppose is the song isn’t it? From there we slowly made our way back to the Main Stage and accidentally caught the last song of Enter Shikari’s set. We then waited for all the clones of my youngest brother to clear from the front of the stage and that got settled in for The Vaccines. It was an odd experience, because I felt a bit like Dorothy amongst the Lollipop Guild (what a fruity example, please excuse me). It didn’t help that all of the boys seemed to be dressed like this:

I began to grow very aware of how much older than everyone else I felt, James and I spoke about it afterwards and concluded the best word was surreal. While we were waiting I was scanning around the audience trying to work out a way to describe them. You know how in Less Than Zero everyone is described by Clay as being ‘tan, blonde, dark glasses’, it was like that, there as such a mould to everything and I started to get pissed off about it. Twenty years ago Nirvana played on that stage and here we were with a bunch of clones dressed like little Topshop mannequins. Then something strange happened. The Libertines was blasted out over the PA and every single person in the audience sang along, then Cage The Elephant was played, and every single person in the audience sang along, and it happened a couple more times and I had this incredible revelation that it didn’t matter, that the majority of them were here for the music, that they wouldn’t have crammed themselves in around us if it wasn’t for their love of music and that perhaps the reason I was so pissed off with them is that they represented a part of my life that had long since gone out of the window, I have (albeit very few) responsibilities now, I think in logical terms all the fucking time, I don’t really do reckless (although I seldom ever did) and I was jealous of them all. With that in mind I enjoyed The Vaccines set with renewed vigour, and have to say that I’m looking forward to how songs like Ghost Town sound on the new album because live it sounded incredible.

After The Vaccines sweatfest we wandered around waiting for The Cribs to start on the NME/Radio 1 stage. James and I have been long serving fans of The Cribs, I remember them being one of the first bands we discussed together as we prowled around in circles figuring each other out. Their set was incredible (as they always are) and the songs from In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull sound better live than they do on the record. We left after Be Safe (a personal favourite) to catch the Main Stage headliners Kasabian, and they absolutely pulled the place apart. It’s hard to describe the atmosphere surrounding the headline set at a festival, there is such energy that can never be explored or contained and when the band took to the stage people just went absolutely crazy, it was brilliant. Usually I get to a point in any set beyond an hour where I start to wonder how long it will continue for but it felt like I didn’t have time to check the time before they were walking off again, it’s easy to forget just how many belting crowd-pleasing songs they really have, it was an attack and they had an excellent strategy.

What I will say of the day is that it has confirmed I couldn’t camp at Reading again, the sites and smells of the campsite are different to any other I have experienced and it would take an incredible across-the-board line up for me to consider staying there overnight but the snatches of the festival I do get, the Saturday of indie brilliance, is something I adore, and I hope that it will long continue, hopefully with James by my side.
The good ship Albion sails on course.

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Swapping reading for Reading.

I’m off to Reading within the hour. It’s my first journey back to the festival in two years (I did go to Glastonbury last year), since Arcade Fire and The Libertines played and they had to scrape me off the metaphorical ceiling at the end of the night. I was in love and I was a mess.
Today it’s Kasabian and Florence and the Machine on the main stage although I’m more tempted by At The Drive In and The Cribs, for two reasons apiece. I have this rule that it’s always best to go and see the band that you are least likely to see again (this theory got me to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on Sunday last year for Beyonce). I only know a few At The Drive In songs but can guarantee they put on an amazing show. My second reason for wanting to go and see them is that I can be sure it will rile up some jealousy in some of my closest friends who have followed the band for as long as I can remember (and once smashed my living room door off its hinges dancing to them). My reasons for wanting to see The Cribs are exactly the opposite, I’ve seen them thrice before (?) and I know that they always get an incredible reception. The last time I saw them they had Marr in tow and I wonder how the newest album (produced by Steve ALbini) is shaping up live. I’ll have to see where the day takes us.

I’m also interested to see what kind of creatures inhabit Reading Festival now. When I first went in 2007 it was the pure love of music and alcohol that drove people there but each visit since has shown a shift in the focus, it now seems to be more about looking cool, chino wankers and girls in daisychain straw fedoras getting fucked up on their parents money before they go back to Wherevershire to be a burden on the general populace. I hope this is just me getting older and being jealous of the hedonism of youth because I would hate to think that people aren’t going to music festivals for the music, it would be like walking up to an ice cream man and asking for a doctorate in psychology. All I can hope is that everyone stays safe, and has a good time, and doesn’t mind me flailing about to The Shins this afternoon.