Summer’s end

It was good to get out and have a walk today.  Geth and I finished packing up his office fairly quickly, and after bringing his work essentials home, we headed back into town to go for lunch and a couple of pints.  Now having a fairly relaxed evening, starting to catch up with some of the Marvel Universe films we’ve not seen.

Just under two hours to go until meteorological autumn.  I’m very excited!

OOTD 31st August 2018
OOTD: a nice walk in the sunshine on the last day of meteorological summer! Sunglasses Boots (2013), jacket Mercy (2007/2009, due to a complicated story that I’ll tell you someday), bag CXL by Christian Lacroix (2018), jeans Levi (2018), trainers Reebok (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Hot Chocolate – It Started With A Kiss
Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life
The Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Tears For Fears – Shout
Matt Terry – When Christmas Comes Around*
Duran Duran – A View To A Kill
Queen – I Want To Break Free
Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know
Bananarama – I Want You Back
Final Fantasy X – To Zanarkand
The Beatles – Ticket To Ride

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Puretone – Addicted To Bass

*I want to emphasise that this was because there was a poster in the Metro station advertising Matt Terry’s role in a musical at the Sunderland Empire, not because I’m thinking about Christmas already!  I have a whole autumn to enjoy first 😀

Very nearly caught up…

…but not quite.  I got all of this week’s work done, but I now have some more for next week.  Still, being a freelancer, I can’t complain about work coming in, even if I do kind of wish it would be more balanced throughout the year.

Geth is now Netflixing Robin Hood: Men In Tights, one of the many films I have never seen before.  It’s fairly amusing.

Change of scenery tomorrow because I’ll be helping Geth pack up his office (the university is moving staff around its buildings, as universities tend to do).  It’ll be nice to get out of the house!

OOTD 30th August 2018
OOTD: workday as usual. Jumper Topshop (2003), jeans H&M (thrifted from Steff 2016), shoes Primark (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bananarama – I Want You Back
Prince – Kiss
Mesh – Friends Like These
Steps – One For Sorrow
Paul Young – Come Back And Stay
Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Pop Will Eat Itself – Def Con One

Phone Box Thursday: Upper Street, London

Yup, we’re still on Upper Street (aka. the A1) in Islington, which is a great street for phone boxes!

Red phone box
Red phone box, Upper Street, London, 12th November 2016.

(Coordinates 51°32’6.0″N, 0°6’16.3″W.)

This one is a K2 model rather than a K6 – you can tell by the more bulbous top.  As ever, the Wikipedia page has some good pictures illustrating the differences.

Love those autumn leaves too!

Light at the end of the tunnel

Another productive work day today – just one more tomorrow, and I should be fully caught up with work for the first time in weeks.  There have been a few clients making queries about availability next week, but hopefully – hopefully! – I will finally have a bit of time for getting on with house stuff again.  I have so many plans, and it’s frustrating that I don’t have the time to carry them out right now!

Other than work, it’s been a fairly sedate evening with a bit of writing and a lot of getting excited about autumn.  I can almost taste September now.

OOTD 29th August 2018
OOTD: bit of a pastel-y day. Jumper Yessica (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), jeans Zara (2018), shoes 1st Position (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Culture Club – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?
Fleetwood Mac – The Chain
Whitesnake – Is This Love?
Lady Gaga – The Edge Of Glory
The Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination
Disney’s Peter Pan – Your Mother And Mine
Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Plains Of Eternity
Duran Duran – My Own Way
Mesh – Last One Standing
Björk and David Arnold – Play Dead
Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
The Human League – The Lebanon
Duran Duran – Rio
Sash! – Ecuador

(Um, yes, the last few may have got into my head while I was having a good gaze at one of my globes.  It’s been that kind of evening.)

A productive Tuesday

A proper full day back working today, and it was super productive and very interesting.  Maybe I should go to four-day festivals more often!

Or possibly it was due to the ongoing soundtracks of Geth’s videogaming.  He’s finally finished Final Fantasy XIII-2 and has now moved onto Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Even though there’s a lot of good story in most videogames, I actually find them less distracting than having the Now! ’80s channel on TV, probably because I end up watching half the videos and/or singing along to the songs.

Same again tomorrow, hopefully!  If I’m really productive work-wise I may even have time for some writing in the evening as well.

OOTD 28th August 2018
OOTD: it’s cold enough for the first jumper of the nearly-autumn! Plus we’re back to the daily reflection of Geth in the patio doors. Jumper unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), jeans Vivid (2018), trainers Reebok (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Spice Girls – Too Much
George Harrison – When We Was Fab
Duran Duran – Tel Aviv [AIR Studio Version]
Joy Division – She’s Lost Control
Robbie Williams – Let Love Be Your Energy
New Order – Temptation
David Bowie – Life On Mars
Scissor Sisters – Filthy/Gorgeous
Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Post-festival travel home

Back in Newcastle post-Infest.  The trains this morning were fairly straightforward, and we’ve had a good relaxing/productive afternoon and evening (Geth playing Final Fantasy XII-2 and watching YouTube, me working).  It’s nice to be home again, and given that Infest was the last of the summer events, we should be home for a good while now.  I’m looking forward to autumn so much that I don’t even mind the crappy weather.

A nice normal week coming up, followed by a quiet weekend.  I’m so excited!

OOTD 27th August 2018
OOTD: we took about five photos and I look four-day-festival tired in all of them. This was the least awful. T-shirt Smartwares for Chrom (2014), jeans Levi (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Sting – Englishman In New York
Shakira – Gypsy
The Beatles – Nowhere Man
George Ezra – Shotgun
Baddiel & Skinner and The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions
The Birthday Massacre – Lovers End
Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Crazy Chocobo

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Animotion – Obsession

Infest day 4

As we hadn’t been too late back after day 3, Geth and I managed to be awake mid-morning, and after a couple of hours getting ourselves together, we headed to Frankie & Benny’s for our annual ‘final day of Infest’ carb-loading session.  For the last few years, Infest Sunday has started like this…

Pizza
I think I’m looking better and better as I age.  Must be all that pizza.

…followed by changing into a nice comfy Sunday outfit that comfortably accommodates any festival bloat and allows for lots of dancing without getting achy feet.

OOTD 26th August 2018
Sunday OOTD: tired, but determined to dance. Necklace unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2016), t-shirt Gildan for Deviant (originally early 2000s, thrifted from Geth and modified 2015), trousers Bat Attack (2009), boots Carefree (2017).

We made it through the rain to the venue, where we attended the charity tea party for the eating of delicious cake, and then went through to the sports bar to grab a drink before the first band.

Band 16: Promenade Cinema

Promenade Cinema are amazing on record – gorgeous cool ’80s-style synthpop – and they played beautifully, helped along by the lovely pink and blue of the stage lights (props to whoever was doing lighting).  Unfortunately they fell victim to the poor sound treatment that, as often happens at Infest, plagued the whole festival.  There was a lot of weird stuff going on with the vocals, including a lot of reverb that meant you could still hear the lead singer’s vocals loud and clear even when she passed the mic to the audience, which gave the impression she wasn’t singing live, even though she was (it didn’t help that she was sometimes miming to the keyboardist/backing singer’s vocals as well).  At one point, the sound cut out and the lights came on, so there was clearly some mismanaged sound setup going on somewhere.  It was a shame, and it kind of spoilt the performance for me.  I’d like to see them again sometime with less problematic sound.

When we came out of the stage area, there was a guy hanging around in an Alt-Fest t-shirt, which is brave at Infest.  I actually very nearly ordered an Alt-Fest t-shirt before the festival was cancelled, but I don’t think I’d ever have had the balls to wear it if I had got round to it in time!

I should point out at this juncture that the atmosphere on Sunday – both in the sports bar talking to people and in the stage area watching the bands – was very, very sleepy and low-energy.  Four days turns out to be very long for a festival, and people really seemed to be flagging.

Band 17: Massenhysterie

The immediate striking thing on stage was the singer, who looks a bit like a ’60s girl updated with blue hair and PVC.  The other guy on stage was playing a keytar, which I always appreciate.  Music-wise it was nice danceable electro, but pretty generic, and the visuals were a bit disparate and random – sometimes medical-themed, sometimes military, and it seemed like they didn’t really know what their theme was.  At the end, there were more flags, which has definitely been a running thing at this year’s Infest.

Band 18: Valhall

Very pretty synth soundscapes, but the music was far too slow for my liking.  The two musicians sang pretty much equally, and while the female singer’s vocals were beautiful, I found the male singer’s vocals a bit too semi-harsh for my taste.  The stage show was again very slow and sleepy, which I don’t think helped with the general lethargic feeling of the day.

Band 19: Elegant Machinery

More synthpop – should be right up my street, yes?  Well, it was perfectly serviceable and danceable, but the tunes were very forgettable – I can’t remember how any of them go at all – and so I found myself zoning out quite a lot.  There was a good bit of energy from the band on stage, but nothing really interesting happening.  At one point, there were a bunch of people (presumably Swedes) waving a Swedish flag in the audience, and I found myself more interested in that than in what was going on with the performance, which is not really a good sign.

Band 20: Strvngers

I only stayed for one song by this lot, as the music really wasn’t my thing at all.  The first song involved a lot of doom bells, clanging guitars, and orgasm noises (the last of which you’ll know is a real pet peeve of mine if you’ve been reading my Now! reviews), and there was yet another flag on stage – a Canadian one this time, as this was the second Canadian band of the weekend.  There were also some masks going on, which was at least interesting.  While I wasn’t impressed, Matt absolutely loved them and stayed for the whole set, and he said the music did get poppier at some points, so maybe I’ll give them another listen sometime.

Band 21: This Morn’ Omina

Lots of drumming, lots of dancing, lots of flashing lights.  Good set, and it actually woke me up a bit.  Surprisingly, they played One Eyed Man, which is one of their most popular songs, in the middle of the set.  As such, Geth and I felt able to leave the stage area early and enjoy the rest of the performance from the merch area.

One of our Infest traditions is to enjoy a spirit and mixer (or three) at the end of the Sunday night, usually while listening to the last band if it’s someone neither of us are too bothered about seeing.  As such, Geth got the drinks in, because the Sunday headliner…

Band 22: Aesthetic Perfection

…was Aesthetic Perfection, and while I like their music, I’ve seen them at enough festivals that I didn’t feel the need to go and stand in the audience this time round.  I did nip in for half a song, just to see what was happening on stage, and it was claustrophobically packed in there.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that Aesthetic Perfection are shouty, high-energy, and great to dance to, after four days most of the audience were no longer capable of dancing, and the huge crowd looked very subdued.  Great kitschy outfits on the part of the band though.

I went back to join Geth for a couple more vodka ‘n’ apple juices, and we headed to the Escape Bar after the bands had finished.  While there was some good music being played, it was clear I wasn’t going to get the Soft Cell track that was the only thing that would have got me up dancing, and so after a quick selfie:

Infest Sunday 2018
I’m sort of getting better at taking these. Maybe.

…we got our stuff together and left Infest for another year (or several, depending on how we feel in future) to go back to the Jurys Inn and bed.

Slightly long ramble about ideal festival length:

It’s funny, because three-day festivals have always left me wanting more, so I really did think that a four-day festival would be the perfect length.  That was not the case.  I did feel pretty tired on Sunday evening, and even if I hadn’t done, I think the fact that everyone else was clearly tired would have brought me down anyway.  Bod mentioned on the Thursday night that he thought what they should have done instead was have a full day on the Friday (the Thursday and Friday were both half days with four bands, the Saturday and Sunday full days with seven bands, and the usual pattern is Friday half day, Saturday and Sunday full day), and I have to say, with hindsight, that I agree with him.  Probably the only time I’ve ever felt a festival was the perfect length was after Beautiful Days introduced Thursday camping – so you arrive on the Thursday, have three full days of music on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then leave on the Monday.  It’s a four-night holiday, but only three days of bouncing around.  Maybe in the future, if I’m feeling flush enough to spring for an extra night at the hotel, I’ll consider travelling to Infest on the Thursday evening.

Anyway, that is not something I need to worry about right now.  I had a great time this weekend, and I know I’ll be back again.

Infest day 3

Yesterday morning, as we usually do on the Saturday of a weekend away, Geth and I got up early and went parkrun touristing.  As I mentioned yesterday, we’d saved up plenty of sleep and got a relatively early night so it wasn’t too painful!

After we got back, Geth went to meet Matt and John for curry, and I had a nice relaxed couple of hours with music in the hotel room.  A can of cider and some room service pizza later, I was able to get ready for day 3, which was the first full-length day of the festival, with bands starting at 4pm.

OOTD 25th August 2018
Saturday OOTD: why, hello there, 1983. Necklace unknown brand (1980s, have owned since early childhood), t-shirt Gildan for Preverse (2015, modified 2018), skirt Asos (2018), boots Primark (2017).

When we arrived at the venue, I went straight to the stage to catch the end of the first band of the day.

Band 9: Flesh Eating Foundation

I wasn’t expecting much, but this was quite a show.  There were four dudes on stage, but only one of them was actually playing an instrument.  The band’s look involved lots of neckties, plus one guy rocking the eldergoth grey ponytail look, and of the three who weren’t playing instruments, one guy’s job seemed to be to hold up lots of signs that were vaguely related to the lyrics of the songs.  Music-wise, when I walked in they were doing a song with the repeated refrain ‘are you having fun, boys and girls?’ sung in the most ominous way ever.  They followed that with So Yeah, which I recognised from the first Beat:Cancer compilation, and finished with another song that involved a lot of sign-holding.

I had a brief sit down in the bar and a quick chat with friends before we all headed to see the next band.

Band 10: Adam Is A Girl

Adam Is A Girl do a lot of slow chillout synthpop, which is more Geth’s thing than mine, but the tunes were really nice – it was a great set to zone out to.  It did get more upbeat as it went on, so I was able to have a good dance towards the end.  Definitely a band to add to the playlist.

We headed back to the sports bar to catch up with people again, but unfortunately at that point some inconsiderate person persuaded the bar staff to turn off the nice background chillout music and put the football on (seriously, pal, just watch it on your phone – don’t spoil everyone else’s festival atmosphere).  It was fairly unbearable, so Geth and I wandered through to check out the shopping area.  I’m a bit done with clothes shopping at the moment as I’ve bought a LOT of clothes in 2018 due to my weight loss, so I wasn’t really interested in any of the clothes racks – they’re the same every year, and I got an Infest 2018 t-shirt on Thursday that will do me fine as a souvenir – ditto jewellery.  The one thing that did catch my eye was a vinyl copy of And One’s Bodypop that they were selling on the Beat:Cancer stall, but I should probably wait until we actually have a record player before starting that particular collection!

In order to avoid the football, we settled down in the seats opposite the merch stall.  I nipped in to see the next band…

Band 11: Yura Yura

…but it was just a solitary boring-looking guy standing behind a laptop, nothing interesting to see on stage at all, and the track he was playing at the time sounded exactly like a cement mixer.  I went back to sit with Geth in the merch area, from where we could hear the rest of the set anyway.  The cement mixer track seemed to go on forever, but at least it was better than listening to the football.

We joined friends again before going to see the next band.

Band 12: Actors

It was great to hear some post-punk at Infest!  Actors are a Canadian three-piece with some nice stage energy.  The tunes were very nice, but I could have done with some more memorable hooks.  Still, I’ll definitely be adding them to my playlist, so I expect I’ll grow to like the songs more as I become more familiar with them.

Another in-between band bit that followed the ‘sports bar, drink, chat to friends’ pattern!

Band 13: Liebknecht

I popped in briefly to see this project.  Repetitive beats, lots of wub, lots of dull slowed-down vocal samples.  Visually, it was a cross between Iszoloscope’s purple haze and Yura Yura’s boring, but there was at least some head-nodding happening on the stage.

We had a good catchup with old friend Teresa in the bar, before the highlight of the evening.

Band 14: Mesh

We all trooped in to see Mesh, along with most of Infest – it was a pretty packed show again.  Luckily, this time we headed in a good while before they started, so we were able to get quite a good spot.  They did a great festival set with lots of classics, and as we were quite close to the front, I broke my rule about gig pictures:

Mesh at Infest 2018
Still not a great picture, but at least you can tell it’s a person this time!

For the traditional fan picture montage for Friends Like These, Infest had asked for submissions of pictures from past festivals through the years.  I’d submitted a few pictures and was thrilled to see them all featured.  I took a very blurry video of the montage, but you can’t really make anything out (how I love my crappy phone camera), so instead here are the actual photos that I managed to get into the montage:

Infest pictures
It was awesome to see these up on the screen!

Other high points of the performance were Little Missile, which they’d apparently played when they were last at Infest in 2002(!), and Taken For Granted, which if you know the drill for a modern-day Mesh gig requires a lot of singing of the refrain on the part of the audience to get them to come back on for an encore.  The encore featured Born To Lie, which is a great daft dance-along song that has grown to become a favourite of mine.

Not quite as good as Peter Hook & The Light, but definitely the second-best band of the weekend so far!

Band 15: Sarin

A strange pattern for Infest this year, on both the Thursday and Saturday, has been to have an extra band playing AFTER the headliner.  Apparently this is due to both Peter Hook & The Light and Mesh having tight timescales and needing to leave earlier in the evening.  As such, the final band of the night was Sarin, and again I only nipped in to see them for a short time as it wasn’t really my thing.  More repetitive wub, with lots of tweety bird noises for good measure.  The sole interesting thing on stage was that the dude was wearing a balaclava, but at least there was an attempt at visuals, even if they were a bad rip-off of the famous 1960s Doctor Who howlaround title sequence.

As such, I was quickly back in the sports bar, where I took this nice picture to celebrate Geth and Matt’s long friendship of mutual manly grumpiness.

Matt and Geth
Such love.

Geth and I did check out the DJing in the main stage area after Sarin had finished, but it was a bit uninspiring and my runner’s knee was playing up, so we decided to head back to the hotel.  I will note, though, that as we left, the food/smoking area was playing the Vengaboys’ We Like To Party! (The Vengabus), and there was a lot more dancing going on out there than in the main stage area.  That’s clearly where the party is!

Review of the final day coming tomorrow.

parkrun touristing: Horton Park

As part of Infest day 3, Geth and I got up early and went to Horton Park parkrun – a nice convenient parkrun that’s only a twenty-minute walk away from the Jurys Inn, where we stay for the festival.

I did Horton Park for the first time last year, with friends Ruth and Mark (Geth was recovering from injury so didn’t join us).  Ruth drove us last year, so the walking route wasn’t familiar to me, and Geth was having some trouble with Google Maps so it took us a while to find the parkrun and we only just made it in time for the run briefing.  That’s why you leave in plenty of time when parkrun touristing!

Horton Park is quite a tough route.  It’s a three-and-a-half-lap course, with four downhill stretches and three uphills, so not at all a PB opportunity.  Still, I got 32:20, which is a big improvement on my 35:44 from last year, so I was very happy!

It’s also a very pretty course, and the multiple laps make it feel quite quick.  Definitely my go-to parkrun now for whenever I’m at Infest.

Infest day 2

After Thursday’s opening night, Geth and I slept for a surprisingly long time yesterday morning.  We hadn’t been super late on Thursday night, but I guess we needed the sleep.  It was well-timed, though, because it meant we had plenty of sleep in the bank before parkrun today.

Because it was another day where the bands weren’t starting till 7.30pm, we were able to be really relaxed for most of the day – just chilling out in the hotel room.  At 5pm, we went for pizza in the Jurys Inn bar, where we were joined by Matt and John, and then got ready before heading over to the venue for the first band.

OOTD 24th August 2018
Friday OOTD: we’ve worked out that my phone camera refuses to focus when I’m smiling, so I went with this goth pout instead. T-shirt Stella Stanley for Beauty Of Gemina (2014), skirt unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), boots Asos (2018).

Band 5: Def Neon

I’ve seen Def Neon quite a few times now, and their performance keeps getting better and better.  The energy on stage is great, and their electro rock sound is right up my street.  They finished with their usual fabulous cover of Killing In The Name, which I never get bored of hearing.

After that it was back to the sports bar for a catchup with old friends Tori and Mike.  I did briefly nip in to see…

Band 6: Siva Six

…this duo, who had matching hair.  I explained yesterday why I’m not doing gig photos, so instead, here’s Geth and our friend Dave modelling matching hair in 2005.

Matching hair
Not Siva Six.

Siva Six’s matching hair was more of a mohawk ponytail thing, and the general look was kind of skeletal goblin.  It was quite cool!  Unfortunately the music was not at all my thing – it was very generic-sounding EBM with what I’d call ‘semi-harsh’ vocals – so I only lasted about half a song before returning to the bar.

Geth wasn’t interested in most of the bands last night, so was doing a good job of keeping a table.  We had another chat with Matt and John, and I headed in with them to see the next band.

Band 7: Iszoloscope

I wasn’t quite sure what the point of this performance was, because 99% of the time you couldn’t see anything because of all the smoke on stage – it was just an opaque purple haze!  Very occasionally, I caught glimpses of a personable-looking bearded guy dancing behind a laptop, but those were few and far between.  Music-wise it was repetitive dark dance, which again is not really my thing, so I only gave it one track and then went back to sit with Geth in the sports bar again.

We then had a catchup with Kirsten and Jacquelyn before everyone (and I mean pretty much everyone at the festival) headed back to the stage for the last band of the night.

Band 8: Cubanate

It took a while to find a spot to stand, because the place was so packed – it really did feel like everyone at Infest had crowded into the room.  Similarly to Zeitgeist Zero the day before, I found the music very danceable but a bit forgettable.  It was a very high energy show, but unfortunately at the back we couldn’t really see what was going on, and I was getting fed up with people bumping into my rucksack as they went past.  We had planned to watch the whole set, but about two tracks in, Geth suggested going home early in order to get a good night’s sleep before parkrun.  I was tempted to stick around for Oxyacetylene, but as that was almost certainly going to be their final song, we would probably have been waiting over an hour, and I don’t love it quite that much, so we decided to call it a night.  We did seemingly manage to convince the student union staff member who was in charge of chivvying people through from the sports bar to watch the bands that ‘Cubanate’ is actually pronounced ‘Queue-ba-NAH-tay’, Spanish style, so frankly I think our work here is done.

On the way out, we had a quick chat with Dave and Yuliya, who had also found the venue too crowded, and then we headed back to the hotel.  We both made it to bed by midnight!  Post-parkrun, we’ll be ready to party properly for the rest of the weekend though.

Day 3 review tomorrow!