Sunday, 23 September 2007

You have to see this - Matt Shulman

Matt is an interesting, clever and nice person. And now he has released a trumpet video on YouTube which has melted my socks with sheer delight. Please go and watch it:

Ah yes. Really very very nice.

... and here is Matt:

... and this interesting and ingenious thing is him too:

... and here he is on something called MySpace which I understand is enjoyed by certain persons under 50 years of age:

He is, in fact, The Man.

(Yes, I am still on a break)

Blog on official go-slow ... plus Gig-a-Blog-in-passing™ (Haydn Chamber Orchestra, St John's Wood Parish Church)

I now need to devote a serious chunk of time to the screaming nightmare that is my trumpet editing job. (More on this some other time, perhaps.) As a result, there might be less going on here for a bit. There are a few pieces more or less done and nearly ready to post - mainly St Anne & St Agnes Gig-a-Blogs™, and a few firm ideas for things I want to write about, but these will be appearing gradually rather than, er,  all in one strand (as the deeply unpleasant and unrepeatable joke puts it).

I currently have rather a lot on at work, and also imminent are a Salomon Orchestra concert and a trip oop t'North to retrieve my dear Mama from those icy wastes and return her safely to the balmy shores of, ah, Chichester.

So I am a bit of a stretched-many-ways bunny (eeeuuuwww nasty mental image) at present and even the time it takes to put blog entries up can be difficult to find. And yes I still write them mostly on the Tube or on the Wagn railway (or whatever they are calling it this week) but putting them up and making them nice (or nice-ish) can take a wee bit of time, though not always. So I must ask my many thousands (hem hem) of enthusiastic readers to please bear with me till I find a bit more of the said time.

The good news in all this is that I do sort-of get a couple of days off. The trip to Northumberland is simply too long to just drive there and turn straight around, unless in emergency, which this is not. So I have taken Thursday and Friday off and I will drive up there after work on Wednesday night. We can then do touristy things and go out for nice meals on those two days before the Saturday, when we'll bid a regretful farewell to the lovely village and head for Chichester (which is quite a long way). The bad news at that point is that I cannot then stay the night - there is orienteering on the Sunday morning in Ally Pally and it would be a huge shame to miss it, and then there's a Salomon rehearsal in the afternoon anyway. This means that when we hit Chichester on the Saturday I will certainly stay for a cuppa or two and make sure Mum is OK but then I really have to drive back, no matter how little I feel like it! Ah well, it is a small price to pay for a long weekend in an exceedingly  nice neck of the woods.

In other (brief) news: an excellent Haydn Chamber Orchestra concert in St John's Wood last night. I was very very excited and pleased because my wife, Mrs von Neustadt to you, came along, which is not usual and was very much appreciated. I played in Brahms Symphony No 1, which was great. (I used to detest Brahms symphonies, but they seem to have grown on me, along with whitening hair and several stone in extra weight.) However the actual reason I was there was the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. I couldn't bear to think of not being in an HCO concert containing this most perfect of works, even though the trumpet part is notable for its really very sparse writing. (Goak here.) Despite this terrible oversight by Ben (yeah right, we were on first name terms) it affects me more than most other music. It was played utterly fabulously by my friend Keith Maries (odd link, yeah I know) and gorgeously sung by Allan Clayton (somewhat rough link, sorry, could find no better) whom I loved though Deb was (slightly) less taken with him. Something about his vibrato in the Dirge, which I am one day (when I have time) going to obsessively compare on x different recordings till I see what she means. I thought it was wonderful, vibrato and all. Tsk. The conductor was the highly wonderful Robin Ticciati who though seemingly about 11 (from where I am sitting anyway) has a very, very wise musical head on those youthful shoulders and clearly will go spectacularly far. Oh and Mr Clayton looks engagingly much like a Hobbit, which I feel can only be a very good thing.

Oddly, the concert flyer names Robin and Allan but not Keith. I find this surprising - I wouldn't buy a recording of it (and the Lord knows I have bought plenty) with an anonymous horn player. Oversight or policy? Your guess, my guess > equal worth.

Aside: the Serenade is the only piece of music where I find it necessary to pronounce the punctuation, thus: Serenade for Tenor Comma Horn and Strings, although I am not sure how common is the misunderstanding which I am ostensibly trying to avoid. Maybe, like so much else I say and do, it is just a joke which is starting to wear a bit thin. Or maybe I really did hear it the wrong way the first time: I am not sure. The number of people who "get" this may in any case be vanishingly small.  

Oh and we did the Brahms on interesting German/Austrian rotary-valve trumpets, because my good friend and 1st trumpet bossman John Parker likes them and has two. I played John's Monke Bb and he played his incredibly exquisite Schargerl C. Great fun, weird, educational, etc. We do this quite often: I like it.

Afterwards we went to a very nice party at Phil and Mourijn's, which I enjoyed. I had a great chat with people I hardly knew, about jazz, coincidentally enough a subject I hardly know. But hey. Suddenly after yet more splendid chatoidalness (basically, everyone we know was there) I realized that I was going to fall over quite soon, and so I went home and Deb followed a while later, which was all very fine and civilized.

And that's it for now. More soonish, but please don't hold your breath. :)

Friday, 21 September 2007

Patronized-to-the-point-of-despair-a-blog™, or, Welcome to Virgin Active

Third time lucky I hope (two previous attempts totalling around 1500 words have both been abandoned as too mad and too angry). It's pretty much a sad rant of the sort that makes people say why don't you just get a grip/life/large whisky? so please don't read it if you are feeling fragile. Tell you what, I'll rant for a bit then shout "moo!" when it's over. OK?

As briefly as I can manage:

  • I swim every morning of the working week at what used to be Holmes Places Barbican. Holmes Place was bought and became Virgin Active.
  • New owners = new signage, natch.
  • Some of the new signage is OK, but some of it, especially in the pool, is dreadful.
  • Specifically, it has terrible design and features twee, cutesy, jokey little straplines. Nothing is too trivial to have some appalling kindergarten motto affixed to it. I wonder what they think our average age is? I'm guessing around 8 or 9.
  • To be honest, it's nauseating, patronizing, half-witted cack. (Oops how rude of me.) The people responsible should be ashamed, but they won't be: they are probably quite proud of it. Actually they should have given it to the Year 10 work-experience kid to do, as they would have got more integrity and common sense that way.
  • I just have to put up with it. Complaining there doesn't usually (with certain honourable exceptions) help much and they will have invested tens of thousands nationally in the design and production of this infantile garbage. So its annoying me is not likely to play a major part in their calculations.
  • I know I should get a grip and not let it get to me but I used to come out of the gym most mornings feeling happy and refreshed and now I sometimes come out feeling angry at being a 50-year-old bloke getting spoken down to by an uncaring monolith. An uncaring monolith that thinks it's cute!! An uncaring monolith in pink fluffy slippers!!! The feeling of impotent anger that this engenders is not nice.
  • At the moment it's 50/50 between getting so angry that (a) I just have a heart attack right there in the pool (oh the irony) or (b) I give in to Sprengel, the evil imp of the left shoulder, and start on a programme of creative vandalism. (Note to lawyers, gym staff and police orficers: goak here.)
  • Oh yes. By dint of being careless and stupid and not really paying the pool too much attention, they have managed, in deploying this nauseating, patronizing, half-witted cack (oops!), to screw up a practical issue in the pool. They don't know they have done it yet, but when/if they do realize, or punters realize, or something, it will be interesting. I won't write more on this aspect as I can feel my blood pressure soaring to lethal levels, but suffice it to say that if their ignorant mismanagement actually leads to a fist fight in the pool, I may write about it for your delectation.
  • I'm not a happy bunny. Yes, of course I should get a grip, but strangely enough, being told to get a grip just makes me even angrier. Even if it is me, myself and I who are doing the telling. I'm paying a fortune for this club: I'm hacked off. I suppose I am hoping that ranting about this issue will perhaps help exorcise it to some extent, and having yelled a bit and taken some deep breaths I might learn to ignore the irritants more frequently and get back to enjoying the swimming as before.
  • Sigh.

Some time I might come back to some other Virgin Active annoyances, though if I do, I must remember in the interests of fairness to also write about some of the reasons why it's great and why I've gone there for the last eight years and will continue to do so, despite the nauseating, patronizing, half-witted cack (oops!) that is the new signage. Balance is all, Tamsin.

If you work for Virgin Active, or if you go there and know the new designs I am talking about, especially in the pool, I would love to hear your comments. I would be especially interested to hear from VA why they think it's any good, and whose bright idea it was to talk down so appallingly to their members, and how they think this enhances the Virgin Active Health Club Experience yay woo. Life's more fun when you move, it says here. Well, er, yes.


Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Bother! (Double-booked-o-blog)™

Übermanager Anna just rang to say did I want to do another GoodBooks gig tonight. Well yes please, I do actually, but am already booked for a rehearsal. Bother. Bother bother. Bother bother bother.

I even rang the other trumpet to check he was going (because if not I would have been the Lone Trumpet in an Intended Multi-Trumpet Environment, and this is Not a Nice Thing, so I might have bailed out) but, bless him, he was going. So I am too. Bother.

Sigh. At the moment I would very much rather be doing the band than Ravel, Rachmaninov and Magnus Lindberg. Of which more some time, I hope. Ho hum.


I am not in a good mood this morning so I am wasting my time and yours grouching about trivia.

Huge ad in the Metro today, full colour, double pages, for New Capital Quay which is a Thames-side development in or near Greenwich.

In large text it says (inter alia) this:

London's new waterside village on its own gated peninsular

- Gak!!!!

Visiting the parent company's page about this development my eye is drawn millimetre by painful millimetre to this:

This property has it's own microsite.

- and to this:

... enhancing the Thames frontage with active waterbourne installations

I really don't get it. When people are not sure that something is right, why don't they check? How long would it take or how difficult would it be? Or are they just always sure they are right, and it would be too time-consuming or expensive to have someone else look at it? And if it's a case of predictable ignorance, what would be wrong with sticking a notice on the office wall that says "Don't use it's unless you mean it is or it has" or "Attlee is spelt thus and no other way"? Gak, gakk, and aaargh I tell you.  

I mean, come on ... this, that you are reading now, is just a blog. I am a careless writer: I make mistakes all the time. So what? But I am not being paid to do this, and I am not publishing it in front of millions of people, many of whom I wish to spend money on my product, or believe in my government (haha same thing!), or whatever. If one of those were the case, you'd hope I might put more thought/time/effort/money into mistake-avoidance, wouldn't you? Yes? No? What??

Once again I have to wonder: is it just me, and should I really try to get some medication in the hope of avoiding the life-shortening effects of all this rage? Mind you I did just this weekend get a very nice bottle of Rioja for helping out at a gig (more of which later) and that has much the same effect.

Ooh yes, while I am at the Galliard Homes site, let me just pick out for you a couple of gems:

Build elements are arranged around a series of homezone entrance courtyards...

... The arrangement also enables strong visual and physical permeability across and within the site.

Who writes this stuff? What does it mean? Does it actually mean anything, in any language, anywhere? Could it perhaps have been written in English instead? Hmmm.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Turnin German?

I am touch confused. I do not think I've changed any settings, but just at the moment, when I click "publish post", Blogger responds:
"Your blog post published successfully!"
- and offers me the options:
"Blog anzeigen (in einem neuen Fenster)"
Erm. Thanks!

Oh, and I've got new option reminders down at the bottom of this editing screen:

"Tastaturkürzel: drücken Sie Strg zusammen mit: B = Bold, I = Italic, [...]"

OK and fair enough. Tschüss!

Attlee spelling update

On 6th September I complained about the inability of the 10 Downing Street website to spell Clement Attlee's name. Or is it Atlee or Altee? The next day I received a reply from their webmaster, or "Web Master" as they quaintly put it, telling me they'd fixed the errors.

Well, yes and no. What they had done, in fact, was to fix the specific errors that I had listed for them: in other words, as long as I was actually doing their job for them it was fine. On the other hand, one wonders if they might perhaps have taken the initiative a little and looked for other instances. Er, no, they had not. Indeed, I had mentioned that it might be instructive to search the whole site, and when I'd listed specific instances I had said things like "at least two places". However, these rather broad hints do not seem to have constituted doing their job quite enough for them, so they didn't bother.

Earlier this week I wrote again, trying hard to be polite, and pointed this out.

The current state of play is that they have now fixed all the screaming, horrible, obvious errors, so you can't find a misspelling of "Attlee" directly visible on any page nor in the filename of a graphic. Which is good. On the other hand, they still haven't checked comprehensively, as the spelling "Atlee" is still used, twice, in the meta data for the "Arabic Clement Attlee" page. So at the time of writing if you go there and do "View Source" then it's still in there, spelt wrongly. Not major (haha, no Attlee pun intended), but wrong and annoying.

Ah yes, and in this horrible sentence on the main Attlee page:
"He developed an interest in helping a Stepney boy's club sponsored by his old school, and through his work there he discovered the reality of poverty, unemployment and squalour in Londons working-class East End."
- they've now fixed one apostrophe problem but ignored the other, and haven't bothered with the spelling of "squalor". This seems like a fairly sad performance to me.

I mustn't rant too much and it is probably better for my health to give up right now and go to bed. But in closing I just wanted to say:
  • I do not claim to be so wonderfully great at my job that I am above criticism. Far from it. Indeed, quite a lot of what I do is probably a bit rubbish despite (or because of?) my best efforts.
  • However, if you wrote and pointed out that I had, say, a key word from the history of my site's subject wrong, or, I don't know, some medical term or historical figure or something ... well, I'd be pretty ashamed, and I would act pretty fast to make sure I had tracked down every instance of the wrong spelling, and a few variants besides. You'd go back 24h later and I promise you would not find one place where it was still wrong, because I'd have been devastatingly embarrassed and I would have made very very sure that your criticism was dealt with. You would not have needed to write again. You would not have been able to write a blog entry like this where there are still uncorrected errors more than a week later.
  • 10 Downing Street did not behave like this ...
  • ... but maybe this just proves they are better-balanced or busier than I, or both?
  • I wouldn't like to speculate about their motivation, skills, attitudes, workload or anything else much. All I can say is that from my uninformed position, their performance in this matter seems to have been pretty pathetic.
  • Maybe it doesn't matter. Attlee's just some old dead guy after all, and even though their own site says "In 2004 he was voted as the most effective British PM of the 20th century in a poll of political academics", maybe spelling his name correctly in this, ah, thrusting new era just isn't that important. I think it is, of course, but your mileage may vary. I think that their having it wrong, and then their failure to deal properly with it, has a broader meaning. But you may not.
I don't think I will bother to write to them again. Maybe someone from the site will see this blog and comment on it one day. I would be interested to read that, and if I have been unjust then I will apologize most prettily. Till then, I remain annoyed by this sorry performance from the very heart of government, and by its implications.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Mini-Gig-a-Blog™ (GoodBooks album prelaunch acoustic instore thingy, Pure Groove)

Friday, 27 July 2007

On the "social notworking" site Facebook we received an invitation from supermanager Anna G to attend a pre-launch event for GoodBooks' album ''Control" which was coming out on Monday 30th July. Naturally we went. How could an album successfully be launched without the entertainment gossip columnists noting the presence of "Muswell Hill's coolest daughter/father trumpet section"? Oh alright I'll stop now, sorry: early morning, no breakfast, low blood sugar.

Where was I? Oh yes. On the way to the launch thingy. I am in danger of running out of time so let me summarize:

  • Pure Groove: absolutely delightful - a proper, independent, loveable record shop with enthusiastic handwritten recommendations all over the place. Makes we want to browse in there for hours and come out with dozens of CDs. Please go there immediately and spend lots of money. Thank you.
  • It's at the top of Holloway Road (number 679, just a block or so south of Archway tube).
  • GoodBooks did a short acoustic set of songs from "Control" including, naturally. Passchendaele. This was excellent.
  • It was nice being there as a punter but I'd have preferred to play.
  • It is, however, a rather small shop and the audience was already spilling out onto the pavement. The band was operating at a somewhat minimalist level. I am not sure where a horn section would have fitted in unless on flying wires like Peter Pan. Wheeeeeee toot toot splat ouch.
  • Much though it grieves me to admit it, they sounded great anyway and the Passchendaele trumpet solo works just fine as a guitar solo chiz chiz. Of course (before I get hauled up before one of the Guild's notorious Secret Inquisitorial Hearings) I must emphasize hastily that it's better on trumpet, good Heavens yes! But its being played on guitar did not, despite expectations, cause the universe to melt or anything. Truth to tell I knew this already, the Acoustical Performance Variant being one of the many downloads over which I'd already lined the pockets of MSN Music UK, iTunes, and, no doubt, the band itself.
  • Just to clarify, here's a Goodness Hierarchy for that solo:
    • Perfectly acceptable: played on guitar (but slightly sinful and not to be overindulged-in).
    • Better: played on the trumpet, as nature intended, by, for example, er, me. Ahem. Yes.
    • Best by a mile: played on trumpet by Ollie Beer, as on the CD. At this point I do have to crush my natural jealousy and childishness and admit (albeit through gritted teeth) that Ollie plays it absolutely beautifully. There's no questioning the Gold Standard for this tune! (Chiz.)
  • When it came to the solo, Max looked over and kind of twinkled at me, the winsome young thing (steady Vogel steady). It's very Sad-Old-Gittish of me to even mention it, but I have to confess that this made me feel a bit better about standing there in a rather less trumpetistical state than I'd have liked.
  • We bought another two copies of the album. Soon we will have enough to open our own shop.
  • I'm 99% sure I saw Christopher write something amusing and trumpet-related on a sleeve for us. It didn't, however, show up in the post at Schloss Neustadt. I conclude that someone Out There is a little confused by the sleeve that they received!
  • Middle-aged people were not strongly in evidence at this minigig. I felt as if I could have been everyone's Dad! Aaaargh.
  • The poor band were rushing off to do a gig, in Cambridge I think.
  • I should not give the impression that this band does only one tune, Passchendaele. Remember that I see it through a certain kind of filter (egomania, I think it's called). They actually did a very nice set and it just sounded terrific in there. Obviously very different from when they are electronically tooled-up and coming over at a zillion megawatts, but actually a very good way to hear them in an alternative voice.
  • There was a good friendly atmosphere at the shop, and infusing the pavement outside: it was a lovely evening too. A splendid way to spend an hour on the way home even if I did not, as it were, get my horn out.
  • All very very nice.
  • Vogel out.

Addendum: summary timeline-o-blog-orama index thingy

Right, now my "OCD" (or not) is giving me trouble. My habit of writing things up weeks or months after the event, though mostly unavoidable, has some odd consequences, particularly when things are in some kind of sequence and I have inadvertently trashed it. So here (now linked below as the GoodBookDex™) is a sort of summary which, if only for my own benefit, lists what happened when. Someone please put me right if I have messed this up!

    Gig-a-Blog™ (Mary Pells & Martin Knizia, St Anne & St Agnes)

    Monday, 10th September 2007

    Huzzah! The lunchtime series has restarted and I am, like, well chuffed. This was an exceedingly pleasant recital of music for viol (Pells) and harpsichord (Knizia) which fitted well with the sunny, smiley afternoon into which we emerged afterwards.

    All four works were sonatas, all fairly short, light and relaxing on the ear. Not, then, a concert of high drama, but why should it be - this was just brilliant anyway. Pells and Knizia have a great partnership, very very together and superbly balanced.

    Two sonatas by Abel, and one each by Schaffrath and CPE Bach, had me making notes like "poised, graceful, light" which seems about right, especially as I'm running out of writing time and have no profundities to offer. A delightful way to start the lunchtime concert season. Singable tunes to sing on the way back to work. What more could one want?

    Sunday, 9 September 2007


    A number of good things happened this weekend. I might scribble more about them some time but not right now, so this is just an aide memoire
    • We went out to dinner with Katie L and her mum. Very very nice.
    • I went orienteering (I was worried I had given up)
    • I did a trumpet news story (ditto)
    • We went to look at a site-specific art exhibition in Queens Wood - it was great: see (not that good) pic of beautiful little "sea urchins" on a tree, which you could blink and miss, so it felt like a reward to find them
    • Lunch with the in-laws, very pleasant
    • We gave away a ton of books by the out-on-pavement method and as a result I got to talk to a very nice young German mum and her kids
    • I got Martha's blinds put up (with much swearing) and her room looks even cooler
    • Erm
    • That's it

    So none of this is earth-shattering but it was all perfectly good stuff. Oh and one wonderful thing happens tomorrow:

    Thursday, 6 September 2007

    Clem Attlee (is it just me?)

    Is is just me in full OldGit™ mode, or is there something a bit shameful about the official Downing Street website having difficulty spelling Clement Attlee's surname correctly?

    I know it is an often-misspelt name - but then it's the Downing Street website. I mean, if it was, say, a cookery site, Wikipedia, or someone's blog about pine cones (no offence intended) then sure, but surely for Downing Street this - Prime Ministers in history - is or should be their stock in trade, their ne plus ultra, their raison d'être? Or maybe not and I am just over the top as usual and should get a life, a grip, or some other desirable thing that I so often seem to lack. Gah!

    For the record, it goes:

    • A
    • Two Ts
    • L
    • Two Es

    thus: A T T L E E

    - it's not that difficult, is it?

    Anyway, if you hurry to their page about film coverage of Attlee in the USA, then, right now at least, you can see it spelt correctly, and also as "Atlee", and "Altee", all there on the same page.

    Doing a site search would reveal more errors, even on their main Attlee page.

    OK, it is not the end of the world. I just think it's a bit sad. Would you like a ramble about the Decline of Something-or-Other? A how-is-this-possible and how-could-it-be-avoided-o-rama? I thought not: so I will desist. But really.

    Tuesday, 4 September 2007

    Compostition and Leanring

    I am delighted to see that Royal Holloway, University of London, is advertising, on, a Lectureship in Compostition. (At the time of writing it is still there, but I suspect it may not be for too much longer.) This sounds very interesting - does it have something to do with throwing old ideas on the heap and hoping that after having rotted down for a while they will perhaps provide nourishment for new developments? I have written to enquire.

    Not far away, and still on, it appears that the School of Arts at the very lovely City University would like to appoint a Leanring Support Officer. Again, I feel that this ad may well have the status "click now or miss it". I am sure that you are relieved to hear that I have no cheap-shot jokes to offer about this vacancy. Ahem. Yes.