Tuesday 25 July 2017

Effete worse than death

There's a full-body gesticulation that you sometimes see when someone is talking about sliding or drifting a car. Take hold of a small imaginary steering wheel. Twist your hips to the right (as though your arse is trying to overtake you on the left), drop your left shoulder and turn the imaginary steering wheel quickly to the left (into the skid).

At the weekend I was asked about my track day at Mallory Park and I involuntarily made this gesture. Unfortunately I'm one of those grotesque individuals with a shy little finger. If I pick up a pint of beer, cup of tea, dart, clarinet (or anything you hold that way round), and I don't think about what I'm doing, then the object will be between my thumb and three fingers and my little finger will be extended away from whatever I'm holding.

The gesticulation in my story about Mallory Park had my little fingers held daintily away from the wheel, so it looked more like I was black-flagged at a tea party at Buckingham Palace. The mickey-taking and laughing-at was so thorough that I don't think I ever finished the story.

Richard "Chinese Pen Grip" B

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Thank You, We'll Let You Know

This weekend I was running sound for an Oasis tribute band and I witnessed the most impossibly thorough and harsh audition process.

Bass players are notoriously unreliable and the band are looking for a new one. They rehearsed with a young lad three times and then had him play fourteen songs at a large free public show. The show was on the green of the Exmouth Pavillion, there were at least 200 people on the grass listening (including his mother who was beaming with pride) plus every tourist who walked along the seafront. To really add to the pressure, this was the first time he has played in front of anybody except once –at school- for a music lesson. He's an accomplished bass-player and he played well. He did make a couple of mistakes, but he didn't freak out and rescued himself each time. If it were up to me I would have marked him down severely for going home before we'd packed all the drums, pa and heavy stuff back into the cars.

The sad thing is that he neither got, nor failed to get the gig. He's still in the running. I think it would be like asking somebody to go on a date and them saying "Well lets move in together, have a couple of children, see how it goes for a decade and then I'll let you know..."

Richard "our rider was chips and sandwiches" B

Tuesday 11 July 2017


Years ago my friend's nephew seemed to have called a pet rabbit "Hop-Steve". Sadly someone had misunderheard him and the rabbit was called "Hopsie". Last week I talked about a brewery hiring a hop-genealogist and wondered how many of them there are (I'd now guess that they make up about a quarter of the population). This week, completely randomly, my sister introduced me to "Hop-John" a retired hop farmer, breeder, and genealogist.

He's charmingly eccentric, bewilderingly upper-class and incredibly knowledgeable on beer and brewing. He dismissed the Hog's Back Brewery's re-introduction of the Farnham-Whitebine and "mainly a PR exercise". He works with one of my most local breweries and urged me to re-evaluate the slop that they produce saying it is "much improved of late".

In a couple of weeks I've got a man-date in North Dartmoor with a hop genealogist!

Richard "meet in a public place, tell a friend where you're going." B

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Glorious Goodwood

On Friday I was taken by a generous friend to the Goodwood festival of speed. Despite its name it's got nothing to do with horseracing or amphetamines, it's all about fast cars. We didn't have tickets to the grandstand and Lord March hadn't invited us to use his balcony so the racing was actually quite hard to see. I was most taken with all the things that were for sale and how badly they had estimated my disposable income. The first thing I saw was an aeroplane with room for 8 of my friends and my crew that has a cruising speed of 320mph. I was also sorely tempted by a pair of handmade Japanese driving shoes with such restrained styling that they would have suited Jeremy Corbin.

If you believe Adam Smith, then the reason we're all so well fed, leisured and rich compared with our ancestors is the division and specialisation of labour. My favourite economist was in raptures about the progress we've made when he found out that "Pasty Crimper" was a real full time job. I was on a brewery tour on Saturday and the story of the brewery involved ringing up a hop-genealogist and finding the most direct descendants of the extinct Farnham White Bine. A hop-genealogist note, not the hop-genealogist. How many of these people are there? Are there half a dozen in the back of every yellow pages?

Richard "let your finger do the walking" B