Friday, 28 June 2013

Bruuuuuuuce take 2

So, what do you do with a spare Thursday evening? You go to Coventry on a whim of course. D rang in the morning and asked if I fancied going. It all seemed a little mad! But off we went to the Ricoh Arena to see Springsteen for the second time in a week. With any other band it would all be a little boring but, of course, Bruce played a totally different gig. He was amazing and the sound was definitely better than Wembley.

Friday, someone (who will remain nameless) did very well in his exams so I celebrated by taking a day of annual leave and taking him to see 'Man of Steel' at the cinema. Verdict? Very enjoyable if a little perplexing. I couldn't work out who was dead (if anyone) nor really what they were fighting for. But Henry Cavill is great (and physically impressive) as Superman. Well worth it just for him. We also enjoyed dinner at our new Lincoln hang out Ribs and Bibs which is a very welcome America-influenced addition to our rather lean local scene. I had the smoked chicken salad (they smoke their own meat) and it was super delicious.

Since then it has been exam boards and writing. The book is coming on well, although progress has stalled slightly because of all the other wee projects I have on the go right now. Today I've been trying to throw a conference paper together. On Tuesday I travelled down to London for a jolly day out at the National Theatre, meeting new folks and seeing some suffragette plays. Life is certainly varied and interesting. Having spent this morning on the conference paper, this afternoon I am going to do a little reading and spend a bit of time on the book. Fridays always seem like chill out days, right? I think another cuppa will help me to get to grips with Alexander Blok's 'Puppet Show', my play of the day. Have been thinking quite a bit recently about reading schedules. I'm pretty good with writing schedules and even with research schedules but my reading schedule is very up and down. To be honest I read when my brain can't write anymore! Certainly worth considering a proper summer reading schedule.

And with that, I'll depart. Summer is full of trips, holidays, conferences and writing. All we need is sunshine and it'll be perfect.


Monday, 17 June 2013


So, what a weekend we had. After an odd, up and down sort of week (which culminated in some very exciting publication news that I can't share with you yet), we picked up our camper van Olive and drove down to Buckinghamshire with our buddies. We arrived at 4 in the morning just as the sun was coming up. Seriously long drive in the rain but the boys drove amazingly and we only stalled once on a wet track. D saved the day by bump starting dear old Olive. We stayed at a campsite in Seer Green and, after hanging about in our van eating brioche for the morning, got the train to Wembley Arena to see Bruce Springsteen. I had been excited about this trip for weeks and weeks. We did our usual queuing. At one stage the rain was as bad as it had been when we saw Bruce in Manchester last year! Was once again grateful for my plastic poncho. Eventually we got in and found ourselves a great spot just near the mixing desk which means that you don't get bumped about too much.

Well, what can be said? Bruce was awesome. He played almost every song I wanted and did some super obscure ones as well. We jumped about, sang along and had a great time. One of the things I love best about Bruce is that he is a total perfectionist and yet doesn't mind getting folks up on stage or letting the audience play his guitar. For me this suggests the perfect balance of total dedication to his music and chilled out love for his fans. His music seems to connect with people in really interesting and unique ways.

We drove back yesterday and I was super sad to hand dear Olive back. We had an amazing weekend and I just feel incredibly fortunate to be able to enjoy such brilliant days. The whole three days made me feel super thankful (for our friends, for new experiences, for music, for too much Haribo) and inspired to achieve excellence in the things I do too. As Bruce so eloquently puts it 'it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive'. True that!


Monday, 10 June 2013

Gigs galore!

As usual at this time of the year, I flit between end of term admin (never-ending!), lovely days of writing and fun little excursions. So over the past two weeks I have finished all the material for our external examiners, completed a book chapter and added 5000 words to dear ol' MAG (my EUP book who I haven't really said 'hello' to all term) and have been to two gigs with a third on the way.

The gigs in question were Mark Knopfler at the Royal Albert Hall (for me) and Rush in Sheffield (for D). Both were spectacularly wonderful in their own ways. We have seen Knopfler before but I thought he played better than ever this time and the whole experience was made all the more joyous by being right at the front! He played a lot of lovely folkie stuff just for me and at the end we all rushed the stage and danced along with 'Local Hero'. The Rush gig was definitely more for D who simply loves this band. There was a particularly humorous moment when D and the three random guys next to him played a remarkably accurate drum quartet. Getting your paradiddles right is super important at a Rush gig! However, even though I always think Rush doesn't play my type of music, there were loads of things I really enjoyed about the evening: a) Having read Neil Peart's (drummer) wonderful books over the past year, I feel I have a new appreciation of him, the band and his lyrics. He is a remarkably learned, intelligent and literary guy b) they are just three nice blokes. It helps a lot when you enjoy music from guys who aren't jerks c) there is a lovely geeky element to them. I really love the way that geek culture in all its forms is quite cool right now. Given that I have always been a bit of a geek (in a loveable, non-weird way), it is great to watch a band that embrace that side of themselves and aren't afraid to be perennially uncool! d) I have written about this before on this blog, but they are a band who take risks. Their music is constantly risky and difficult. I just love meeting/watching/being around folks who are awesomely talented and brilliant at what they do. Somehow it makes me want to be better at what I do too e) actually I secretly like their music but don't tell D.

I won't tell you how excited I am about this weekend's gig extravaganza!

The writing is going well, as is my Insanity fitness programme. I have just two weeks left of the latter and have definitely noticed a difference. It has been hard...very hard...but I certainly feel stronger and absolutely love the challenge of pushing my body. I haven't yet made it all the way through the power jump section, but I live in hope! In our spare time (between D's mammoth revising sessions) we are enjoying Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States which we recorded on our Skybox. I'm finding out about a heap of folks I've never heard of and learning more and more about a country we really love.

Anyways, a BBQ beckons tonight. This will be our third in four days! Steak all the way tonight. D's steak is seriously the best in town.