I’m married to a guitarist who loves Joe Bonamassa so our annual vacation has been the Keeping The Blues Alive at Sea festival for the past two years. I’m way more of a metal fan than a blues fan but I love the festival because I love being around people who love music, on a massive floating luxury hotel, with unlimited ice cream. I even got some heavy metal highlights this year, which shouldn’t surprise me, since metal evolved from the blues.
So, in no particular order, here are my heavy highlights;
It was great to hear Black Country Communion on the pool deck stage and in conversation. I love that Glenn Hughes has chosen deep purple as his trouser colour. I also liked it when he said we’re all on a journey together because we actually were, from Miami to Jamaica, rather than the more metaphorical one he usually means. The last time I saw him I was on a journey from Wolverhampton to Oxford. It wasn’t mystical but I did enjoy Warwick services.
I got to hear a snippet of The Hunter (I know it from Danzig, but it originates from Albert King) during Joe Bonamassa’s Led Zep “How Many More Times” cover on the pool deck stage.
Larkin Poe did an awesome cover of War Pigs in the cosy Bar City stage on Thursday. Horns were thrown by many members of the audience. I met them in the corridor and they happily posed for a photo with me and made my day.
Toronzo Cannon is not just an amazing story telling blues man from Chicago, he’s also a bit Spinal Tap. During the song Fine Seasoned Woman he talked about a marshmallow test he does to check the lady he’s going to give his attentions to has the cushion for the pushin’. He won’t do the dirty with women under 31 years old, which is quite specific. Also he claims to keep his marshmallows in the fridge.
Finally, the ship is very heavy, it weighs just over 93,500 gross tons, see the Wikipedia entry for the Norwegian Jade here. Its beautiful carpets are worth a mention, the masks one reminds me of Motley Crue’s Theatre Of Pain album cover and the dragons one makes me think of Dio and The Clash.
It’s been a big weekend for Terminus. They stepped in to two last minute gigs in the cesters of Tow and Bi. Friday night saw them in Towcester, at the Towcestrians Rugby Club, supporting fellow covers band Crimson Monkeys.
Both bands played Free’s “Wishing Well” and a sort of Wishing Well off was had. Seeing the Crimson Monkey’s Ro singing it, while wearing her fabulous high heels reminded me of the quote “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels”. I feel until I’ve seen Terminus’s Dean sing it in high heels I can’t decide whose was the best version. The rugby club is notable for still having poinsettias alive in February, which is quite a feat because they don’t like draughts and are sensitive to variations in temperature*.
Highlights of Terminus’s set were Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction’s “Prime Mover”**, Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law”. The song “Sweatmeat” is on the set list, but this is actually Rose Tattoo’s “Sweetmeat”. Sweatmeat sounds a bit horrible.
The Crimson Monkeys played an eclectic mix, highlights of which were “Mustang Sally” (popularised by the film The Commitments but first recorded back in 1965 by Mack Rice, who is also notable for his collaboration with Tommy Cheese, the two men together inventing Mac ‘n’ Cheese, a dish still enjoyed to this day), Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing In The Moonlight”, Bryan Adams “Summer Of ‘69”, The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Woman”, The Small Faces “All Or Nothing” and the Tom Robinson Band’s “2 4 6 8 Motorway” which had the crowd counting along, mostly correctly. A big happy birthday to the bass player of the Crimson Monkeys!
On Saturday night Terminus played their second ever gig at The Bell, Bicester. When they played back in October they had a cracking night so spirits were high (I had Malibu). A new mike stand got its first outing (excellent arts and crafts work by Annette).
I went to the nearest kebab shop before the gig (yes, you do get to enjoy all the glamour when you hang out with Terminus), and they still had some tinsel and baubles on the counter. The tinsel was brown. I have only ever seen brown tinsel once before and this was in the Delight Kebab House in Cowley. Is the Kebab Marketing Board sending a memo to all kebab shops telling them to use brown tinsel?
Terminus had the crowd dancing from the off. They played two sets, giving the crowd literally all they’d got, and then had shouts of more! There was nothing more in the Terminus trug of tunes so they played The Cult’s “Lil’ Devil” again. I’ve noticed that people love this and Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name” on a Saturday night, it’s enlivening. Having a Saturday night steam let off and shouting “Flump you I won’t do what you tell me!” with your mates is ruddy great fun.
I’ll leave you with a bit of Terminus philosophy. In their van hangs an air freshener that reads “You’re never too old to be immature”. Wise words indeed.
*Sorry, this isn’t Gardener’s World.
**It could be sung as prime mower, if this was Gardener’s World.
This week has included pancake day and Valentine’s Day. Snaggletooth has eaten chocolate hearts, pancakes, fig rolls and posh chocolates. He isn’t giving anything up for Lent. If you look closely at his pancake you can see it likes having syrup on it.
This week is still very much eating things left over from Christmas territory so Snaggletooth has had after dinner mints (at lunch time, he doesn’t stick slavishly to convention), tasted the dark rainbow of darkside Skittles, munched the heads off some Festive Friends biscuits and nibbled a big bar of Galaxy chocolate.
This weekend you can download a free ebook of The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard 1997. It’s a voyage backwards to when mobile phones were new, we were dialling up the internet if we were lucky enough to have it at all and Cadbury’s were still making the Spira.
Here is the start of January, February, March, April, May and June. I hope some fond memories get jogged.
Some people like to download the book just to read whatever the entry was for their birthday! Happy reading and thank you if you have chosen to pop back to 1997 with me.
Today (6th January) is National Shortbread Day so Snaggletooth is enjoying the buttery sugary combo of flavours. He’s also recently eaten jelly baby snowmen, dark chocolate with marzipan and tomato ketchup flavour crisps. He has no plans to start a healthy diet in 2018.
If I had a magic wand in December is the last story in my Christmas stories book. It’s actually more of a list. Anyway, if I had a magic wand in December I’d make every Christmas morning white.
Glitter would stay where it was first put.
The end of the sticky tape would cooperate rather than hiding.
There would be three things, instead of just two, that are actually wanted in a three for two price promotion.
Queues would be patient and tut free.
Postage stamps would feature Roy Wood and Noddy Holder.
Weight loss diets would not be mentioned.
No one would refer to Christmas as the C word.
Velvet dresses would not attract fluff.
Flatulence would smell of cinnamon.
No-one would catch a Santa smoking in a car park behind his sleigh.
Blown up balloons would be easy to knot.
Factory workers would make paper snowflakes to decorate the windows.
The tuneless would be able to sing carols well.
We’d write a letter to Denmark thanking them for creating Danish butter cookies.
Pop up Christmas markets would be less like a budget shed showroom (I’m looking at you, Milton Keynes).
Cream would be offered with everything sweet.
Sage and onion stuffing would be offered with everything savoury.
Hats from crackers would be adjustable for those with a non-average head circumference.
No-one would draw attention to someone else’s non-average head circumference.
Fortune telling fish would tell everyone they were passionate (and so they would be, who argues with a plastic fish?)
Accounts departments would take disco dancing lessons.
Everything would come with batteries included.
Balloon phobias would resolve.
Sequin dresses would not shed their sparkly discs.
Everyone would find time to light an advent candle and be still for five minutes, appreciating the season.
Vivienne Westwood would make a wearable, affordable Christmas jumper.
Scoffed chocolate Christmas tree decorations would reappear every morning.
Jeffrey would work on the till in Toys R Us.
Either Nigella’s Christmas or Delia Smith’s Christmas would be on every day.
Only the people who like figs and dates would actually buy them.
Fairy lights wouldn’t tangle.
Woolworths would reopen and the Woolies Winter Wonderland catalogue would be distributed to every home in the land.
Traffic wardens would be excused their usual duties and would instead hand out chocolate coins to motorists.
Hangovers wouldn’t happen.
My spontaneous jokes would get a warm reception. Sample joke: Who is the Queen of Soul at Christmas? A-wreath-ra Franklin!
There would be a TV channel dedicated to people opening advent calendar windows.
Everyone would wear red silk underwear. The first day of wearing it would be known as winter draws on day.
Things that are better left unsaid by elderly relatives would remain unsaid.
Municipal Christmas lights would be switched on by a proper celebrity (not someone from reality TV) or a good old fashioned Mayor or Mayoress complete with gold chain of office.
Doctor Marten boots given as gifts would fit comfortably and wouldn’t need months of wearing in.
When making a Blue Peter advent crown the coat hangers would readily take on the shape required (and safe baubles would be used instead of fire risk candles, have a word with your dangerous nineteen-seventies self).
The Christmas pudding flavour Kitkat would be made again.
Denmark would write back thanking us for our thank you letter and sending us a tin of cookies big enough to use as a swimming pool once all the cookies have been eaten.
Hairdressers would be able to book you in the day before the big party rather than the day after.
All pastry would be light and crisp.
One hit wonders The Sultans of Ping would rewrite their hit to be about a Christmas jumper.
Putting mistletoe under your pillow would allow you to dream of the person you’d kiss next.
News bulletins would end with Boris Johnson reading Christmas cracker jokes.
Grown men would get the train sets they had always wanted.
Grown women would get the train sets they had always wanted.
Donkeys in churches would behave well.
Tights and stockings would not ladder.
Satsumas would be wrapped in bright tissue paper.
Josephs would not go missing from nativity scenes (this happened to me so I replaced him with a Count Dracula of about the right size).
Poinsettias would be hardy.
Nesselrode pudding would be in every supermarket freezer section (Google it, it sounds yummy).
Office managers would stop work early to read stories to their staff.
Everyone would be allowed a day off for Christmas shopping.
Satsumas would not be aggressively squirty.
Party dresses bought online would fit.
No one would wet themselves during a nativity (even if frightened by a Count Dracula).
Homemade gifts would turn out as imagined instead of looking like the work of a slapdash, badly co-ordinated six-year-old child.
Brazil nuts would be easy to crack.
Cats would sleep peacefully under Christmas trees instead of leaping up them to attack something invisible once every four hours.
Wives would smile indulgently at husband’s novelty ties.
No hamsters, rats, gerbils or other family pets would die.
Stomachs would not require Rennies.
People who like Marmite or Guinness would receive Marmite or Guinness rather than some coasters or an apron with the Marmite or Guinness logo on.
Nail varnish would not chip.
Octagonal boxes of Turkish delight would come pre-gift wrapped.
Russ Abbot’s “Atmosphere” would be played in shopping centres.
Noggs other than egg would be available for vegans (Veggnogg?)
Everyone would take a turn at working in a shop.
Carol singers would know the second verse.
Battenberg cakes would be seasonally altered. They would be red and green sponge squares with white marzipan.
The Queen’s speech would have a couple of good jokes and Prince Phillip would appear at the end in a party hat.
Gloves would remain in pairs with the strength of childhood sweethearts.
Everyone would believe in Father Christmas.
Grown women would get the rainbow legwarmers they always wanted.
Grown men would get the rainbow legwarmers they always wanted.
No one at a work do would resort to the safe but dull topic of work.
Free parking spaces would be available for late night Christmas shopping.
All drinks would have a mulled option.
Everyone would have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.
I chose this book as my third Christmas read because it would be easy to pick up and put down in the busy week leading up to Christmas. The full title of the book is Once Upon A Christmas – Memories And Recipes From Your Favourite Celebrities. It was published in 1996 to raise money for the ChildLine charity and it’s got a real mix of people and writings in it. This book drew my eye because it was displayed in the window of the Mencap charity shop in Salisbury where I was having a festive day out. It is signed by Esther Rantzen whose work on the behalf of vulnerable young people and old people, and kind heart I admire.
As you’d expect, this book was very varied. The strangest celebrity inclusion was Mr Blobby. However this book was published when Blobbymania gripped the UK. Also included was a story from Jeannette Charles who is Her Majesty The Queen’s lookalike!
I enjoyed Martin Jarvis’s memory of visiting a Father Christmas in Croydon with his son. I liked Doc Cox’s coining of the phrase “peppermint sheep” as a synonym for “Bah! Humbug!” Toyah Wilcox’s contribution ended beautifully with these words; “Christmas to me, is a place where I wish time itself would stand still and embrace us all, for ever, in that feeling of love, security and happiness”.
I haven’t yet decided what will be my fourth festive read. Perhaps I’ll go right back to Dick Bruna’s The Christmas Story, which was my first ever Christmas read.
Whatever you’re reading, I wish you a cosy, wordy Christmas!
Christmas 2017 is approaching fast and Snaggletooth looks forward to some decadent foodstuffs over the next week or two. This week he’s eaten earl grey tea, Turkish delight (this is also one of my mum’s favourite nibbles), a fairy cake decorated with a jelly snowman and some jalapeno and lime flavoured cheddar cheese. The cheese was purchased from a stall at Salisbury Christmas market named “Cheeses of Nazareth”.