rashbre central: November 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008

wet musical interlude

christina in the rain
An early start today, meeting (Yay!) christina for some musical exploits. Regular rashbre central readers will know this has been a long and somewhat intermittent project as fledgling tracks emerged from the nott/rashbre collaboration with various others helping along the way.

For arcane reasons we were in a small and vaguely proper looking studio instead of the usual home made arrangements with macs and lots of cables.

I'd got to the venue at the appointed time but it was all locked up. No sign of Christina so I headed around the corner towards Oxford Street to get some breakfast. Then I spotted Christina under an umbrella staring somewhat blankly at the statue of Freddie Mercury outside the Dominion.

Christina has been in Amsterdam and New York and regaled me with the various stories of both the music and some rather intriguing sub-plots. Best left over on her site though. Some of it wasn't quite so 'workplace friendly'. I'm sure there'll be more as we get closer to a CD full of tracks.

Saturday 29 November 2008


Traf Sq
Late Thanksgiving evening, several of us in an American diner snacking on barbecue foods. Ancient American feelgood rocknroll playing and then later a strange feeling of a cold version of Florida as we left, before returning to a post apocalyptic car park on the South Bank.

Friday 28 November 2008

Dylan Moran at Indigo

Dylan Moran at Indigo
Yesterday's flaming penguins parachuting into a sea of crisps set the agenda for we Londoners.

Chocolate chewing Dylan explained that we needed to get out more. Turning up late for a gig used to get some sham cowering. In London people flaunted their texting as they took seats half way through the opening paragraphs. Not enough time for everything. Go to Stoke or Hull, he advises. Of course it was their loss.

The rapid-fire story-telling, the instantaneous sparks from the audience made what was probably a carefully prepared show look edgy and suitably chaotic.

I'll still sit and watch a whole DVD's worth of Black Books at a sitting and mourned the temporary loss under a cupboard of Volume 2, when I'd only got as far as the underfoot squishies that invaded the shop.

I think the tour tickets are all long gone. Ours were from May and entirely worth the wait. DM4DW.

What it is.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen - a slight return

We don't have Thanksgiving here in the U.K., but best wishes for those who do celebrate today's neighbourly and family occasion. Here's a relevant Thursday Thirteen:

1) We don't get any equivalent time off here in England, except at Christmas, with Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
2) The Macy's Parade is well known here, probably also because of its appearance in several films.
3) The whole Pilgrim celebration also probably originates back to the UK Harvest Festivals, but in England that is back in September
4) Washington seemed to get interested in making Thanksgiving a Holiday after trouncing the Brits at Saratoga.
5) How do they choose which of the three turkeys presented to the President will survive? Thats the one that gets all of the press.
red vw microbus6) Some people like to listen to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant on Thanksgiving. I kinda know why. Oh okay, here's an interview with Arlo and the whole 18 minute song. Song from 14:30 in the realplayer stream.
7) The native Americans seemed to have a celebration already called Keepunumuk going back many many years.
8 ) Thanksgiving also seems nowadays to be major sporting occasion.
turkey9) The day after Thanksgiving holiday (Black Friday) appears to be the largest shopping day in the American year
10) The original feast was crow. This later changed to turkey. When there wasn't enough turkey the saying was 'let them eat crow'.
11) The USDA say that America consumes around 260 million turkeys per year averaging around 14 lbs, of which a decent proportion is consumed during Thanksgiving. That's around one turkey for everyone in the United States.
12) Luckily the Puritans brought a drink to America in the Mayflower. Beer.
13) Every long standing successful American TV series has a Thanksgiving episode.

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Wednesday 26 November 2008

retro gadgeting

eBay street shooter
Supper this evening in a pleasant restaurant; three of us without any customary reschedules. And we all had the inexpensive market menu which still included Roquefort soufflés and sautéed pheasant.

Along with comparing notes on who we knew and what we'd heard, we turned momentarily to the subject of gadgets.

"Any new gadgets recently?" Guy asked.

I couldn't think of any, but described my recent modest eBay camera acquisition. Not exactly a new gadget. But it sort of won. "Retro gadgetry" - retro is the new new.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

back to positive (in low budget mono)

Post Darling, recessionistas permeate mainstream rags and Conde Nast publishes thrifty hintsntips whilst speculating that runway designers will be supplying Costco.

Every retailer is mailing out their buster Friday offers. Wait for the internet to jam under the buying frenzy.

I simply remember that there is fun going forward. The future's so bright you gotta wear shades.
future - timbuk3

Monday 24 November 2008


Survivors_Logo 1970sI watched the first episode of Survivors late night on TV Replay. It occurred to me that that much of the weekend schedule is made of modernised replays, with even this series scripted from a 1970s drama of the same name, updated for cellphones and the interweb.

Survivors is about an apocalyptic pandemic flu virus and the stories of a few with immunity. I'm guessing that the first episode has tracked the old storyline, albeit with modern numberplates. I also speculate the scale of deserted motorways and lensbabied citiscapes would have been difficult in the 70's version.

There is a BBC look to the production which also reminds me of some Doctor Who episodes. All the more interesting when the rumoured new Doctor Who turned up part way through, driving a Land Rover. And then at the end of the episode a secret location where the men in white coats look mysterious with lots of flashing lights.

It will be interesting to see if this can recreate some of the 'shared experience' viewing from the days of only four channels. I shall continue to view.

Sunday 23 November 2008

VAT cut latest

King Charles Street
The lights have been on all night at the Treasury, where calculations for Chancellor Darling's next steps are being processed in large spreadsheets. The word is that VAT may be reduced along with some other measures.

A VAT reduction from 17.5% to 15% would remove the "temporary increase" made in 1991 to compensate for the Poll Tax debacle. Thats a reduction on a £9.99 VAT-ed item to an amazing £9.87, which I somehow think gets lost in the noise.

Such a reduction of some 2.13% in the price of an item requires spending of £469 a week on VAT-able items (eg not food) to save £10. It may chop cash from the Exchequer, but it doesn't make a lot of difference when even a £600 telly would still be £587.23 after the adjustment. The £13 is probably not the dealbreaker.

Let's try 12.5% VAT, a reduction of 5%. That's more of a 'UK Economy Winter Sale' level, but still requires the traders to pass on the savings, rather than have reasons to somehow round up ticket prices. That £9.99 becomes £8.50+1.05 = £9.55. When retailers are already knocking off 20% in pre Christmas sales, the 45p does not seem all that exciting.

How about a present? A Christmas Xbox would make an interesting example: A few weeks ago they were £169, then all the retailers passed on the manufacturer reduction which saw the price drop to £129 - forty quid less. A VAT reduction of 5% (ie to 12.5%) would take another circa £6 off of the price. Not enough to even change the second digit - £129 becomes £123. Hmm.
Having just flitted through Heathrow, the effect of pseudo 'No VAT' is more pronounced. The same item would become around £109 - see tourists buying up cheap items in the airside stores.

I suppose in the absence of a December VAT holiday, we will have to find other ways to amuse ourselves with the remaining banknotes.

Saturday 22 November 2008

why am I who?

aeonflux pj
"Aeon Flux Guy" as the next Doctor Who after the imposter doctor has been trounced?

I still prefer the "Dylan Moran for Doctor Who" campaign and notice rashbre central started to get a lot of hits about it again.


During the London Bloggers' meetup our general chatter turned to the topic of 'marrying abroad for papers'.

So when I stopped by Peter's excellent site later, he had a click through from his recent time in Paris, which led me to Katarina Radovic.

Katarina, as a photo project, decided play a young woman from Eastern Europe in search of a 'convenient' husband in Paris.

She spotted possible partners asking them to pose for a snapshot as if a couple. Not every type of “marriageable material” would do; the selection of candidates was to create an aspirational intersect, whilst creating the look of being 'in the hurry' to get it done.

Worth a click through to the project.

Friday 21 November 2008


Sitting in the Giraffe Bar at airport rejigging computers.

One of us charging a PC from a nearby power socket and the other stamping out unexpected side effects of a recent software install. Half expecting dark clothed people with baseball caps to swing in on ropes through the windows because the recharging PC is about 3 metres from our table. In direct line of sight though.

The juice tastes good.

Thursday 20 November 2008

cut price designer gowns from the financial pages

designer FT
Today's papers are all full of stories of retailers' sales in the run up to Christmas. The M&S one day 20% Sale seemed to provoke the headline although the journalists took the easiest route to reporting it as further signs of doom and gloom.

I listened to Sir Philip Green (He of Arcadia & BHS) this morning and thought he expressed well the retailers' talking up of the situation about giving customers something and owing it to staff and the economy to try to keep things running. Its good to hear some positive spin alongside all the negatives.
couponThe deregulation of money markets ten years ago (Chancellor Brown, by any chance?) allowed banks to gamble twice the prudent level of debt creating much of the current deficit.

Another high street retailer was front paged as on sale for one pound today and further illustrates the cavalier consequences of captains of industry rewarded with multi million bonuses last year who looked the other way whilst the bad betting occurred.

I'm sure Gordon can't just be deflecting attention from his own part in the deregulation, blaming America, attempting to gain tacit international profile and coming up with some pre-election giveaways? Surely not.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

blogladi bloglada

fakeplasticnoodley goodness
After a diagnonal hike across the city we found John waiting outside the Corney and Barrow with cellphone poised and so three of us entered and disappeared underground into the smart subterranean world of arches.

We quickly found the roped off area for the Blogladi Bloglada session and said "Hi" to Andy Bargery who had performed another selection of genius as well as co-ordinating around 80 free sprits who had said "Yes".

Also a chance to say "Hello" to Melanie Seasons, who I had last met at the Camel and Artichoke soon after she had first begun her UK adventure over from the USA.

Time to hit the bar and remake a few acquaintances as well as to say hello to new London Bloggers making a first appearance.

A tipple or two later, Melanie was up on stage to talk entertainingly about her experiences and contrasts between US-based PR blogging and what she had found in the UK.

Let's just say the Brits came out quite well and sort of catching up with the US-scene, although the whole vertical categorisations, PR links and monetisation of blogs seemed to be more prevalent in the States. Brits clearly like chatting in pubs and the blogging is the camouflaged reason.

I liked that Melanie explained that she had set up fakeplasticnoodles.com more as a networking tool than with any thoughts of any great commercial advantage. It had certainly worked and she was well linked and twittered in to the UK scene.

Animated questions - even supplementaries and some practical advice about remembering to leave comments when wandering around the blogosphere.

The session ended with plenty of warm applause.

The evening was a well balanced blend of chatter, networking and an interesting presentation. Altogether well run - thanks to Andy, Melanie and of course the great gang that attended.

My moo cards runneth over.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

wait zone

the meeting place
This is the 'before' end of an evening, when I'm supposed to be meeting outside Costa Coffee at Waterloo station right by the post box. The designated meeting spot.

A few minutes later I'll be told by a taxi driver that its impossible to get to Aldgate this evening and then a few minutes after that I'll be on the Drain heading to Bank, from where I can walk along Leadenhall Street to this evening's destination.

But more of that when the beer has worn off.

Monday 17 November 2008

one dot fifty

All that money we're throwing into the economy seems to be worth less every time I look at it.

If Gordon threw in £200bn, it was worth $400bn around a month ago.

Now its worth $300bn.

That's another $100bn that has disappeared in a matter of weeks, yet we are not supposed to talk about it.

No wonder I need one of Linda's excellent cushions to rest my confused head.

Sunday 16 November 2008


I did visit Linda's fine art collection during Saturday afternoon.

I had to fight past a line of people all admiring various works in order to say "hello". About fifteen minutes later Rob showed up too. Linda has always been interested in textiles, photography and fine art including time spent at the prestigious St Martin's along the way, so I knew it would be special.

I selected a fine cushion to add to the rashbre central collection, although I'm wondering if it should really be in some sort of display area. Linda's work is very eye catching and original using silks, velvets and satins with designs that move from photography or sketches through various computerized processes in her studio and eventually become the designs which people were clamoring for today.

I know every piece has a story and the suitably improbable sounding one for the piece I have is actually based upon the work of a manhole cover designer, who also produced other metalwork for gullies and similar. You'd be hard pressed to know that by the time its been reworked by Linda and although the back story has suitably quirky appeal to me, I'd made a selection before I heard the tale.

In between the crowds of happy viewers, we also caught up on many other events even including Rob inspecting my fingers for any signs of guitar playing or similar mischief.

Alongside Linda's more exquisite pieces, she has developed an affordable line, which is proving popular with the upcoming festive season. Of course I also had various marketing suggestions to help Linda spread the word about what she is doing. Its at times like that I find my friends "tolerate" my enthusiasm, so I have to sometimes dial back the setting.

Please do click here to show support and request one of Linda's lovely brochures by email.

Saturday 15 November 2008


bridge3The rashbre central parking lot is filled with convertibles today as Julie and Andrea marshall people for their next great tour with the band. I think tonight its York on the way to Newcastle and then some zig-zagging around the Northern reaches of England. I'm sure they will be all of a twitter about it later.

This originally gave me a clear run at the weekend, as one of those left behind, but a little leaflet dropped through the door this morning from the unexpectedly early Saturday postman.

One of those 'burning bridge' moments.

Last Friday we'd been at the Michelle Shocked gig, where Michelle spoke of the old song which talks about 'walking across that burning bridge' to keep friendship with someone who had moved to Alaska. Turns out that was 25 years ago and the kid in the song is now 6 feet tall. However, Michelle had recently returned from visiting the friends who now live in Missoula, Montana - which I guess gets nearly as parky as Wassila in Winter.

So, the point? The little hastily scribbled postal leaflet was from Linda, who turns out to be in the area doing some sort of arty thing -er- today. Now I haven't seen Linda for quite a long time either. Not in the Shocked realms, but maybe ten years.

"Take me to the bridge", as they say in Anchorage.

Friday 14 November 2008

glory hope mountain

glory hope mountain
A surprise CD by The Acorn blopped through the letterbox today. Its a proper 'concept' CD; a genre less commonplace nowadays.

Penned by Canadian Rolf Klausener, and with a narrative that weaves through all of the tracks. Its quite a chilled kind of sound, good musicans who sound as if they could play the whole album without needing a stack of retakes and fancy mixing. Oddly, for a Canadian, the singer somehow reminds me of George Harrison.

It actually arrived with a second mini album from an Acorn London gig, which illustrates their performing abilities well. The sleeve notes of Glory Hope Mountain indicate a dedication to the lyricist's Honduran mother and I'm guessing that the narrative of floods and reconstructiion is biographical.

When I first heard Neutral Milk Hotel's Aeroplane over the Sea, I knew it was one I'd return to fairly often and this has some similar tonality, perhaps more laid back than Jeff Mangum's churning acoustic but with similar need to get out some reasonably intense lyrics. There's plenty enough instruments, guitar, cello, banjo, slide, and some very gentle percussion.

Something for the early end of a mellow evening.

Thursday 13 November 2008


wholly toady
Corporate eating for the last few days. Not all in one place, but a random selection of coincidences which have led me to have suppers, breakfasts, lunches and so on in various meeting situations.

In amongst the posh food was a 'toad in the hole' lunch option served yesterday as part of a meeting interlude. "C3" they are calling it. "Credit Crunch Cuisine".

"Gravy" optional?

Wednesday 12 November 2008


Surprised to see this little gadget pop into my eye- line a couple of days ago. I noticed the movement first and thought it was a flag or something, but no, it was a little pop-up camera complete with a motorised wiper.

Now I know I may occasionally get up to some mischief, but I thought this level of cross checking was perhaps a little extreme.

Anyway, I sidled over to the window and found the stealthy truck to which the camera was attached. Its here

Monday 10 November 2008


More West End zapping yesterday stopping for agreeable Italian food and then a show.

Taxis were somewhat rare, but I guess the area had extra people from the various events during the day and the evening rain didn't really help.

So we did one of those "share a taxi to multiple destinations" things and sort of passed the money forward to the last person sitting.

Sunday 9 November 2008


I spent part of the weekend staying in a room by the embankment near Temple tube. So what? I hear you cry.

Well it just happened to be right by the side of both the Lord Mayor's Show on Saturday and then overlooking the barge with all of the fireworks for Saturday evening.

I wish I could say we'd planned it that way, but it was just pure co-incidence. I must admit, when I spotted a few Roman soldiers running past the windows and then a large straw version of Gog and Magog, then I realized something was happening.

It turned out that the very road was being used as the halfway house staging post for the procession and then in the evening the whole stretch of the River Thames was packed with people wanting to see the fireworks show.

I simply moved to the window to look across to see everything.

Saturday 8 November 2008

TX5F taxi

Well, the new design TX5F London taxis are going to be easier to spot in the street.

Apparently tourists were complaining about the visibility of black cabs and cyclists have asked for a softer exterior to taxis (and buses) as part of general improvements to London road safety. The high visibility roof extensions are multi-purpose, containing a GPS radio system, Wifi linkages which extend between similarly equipped vehicles and also provide another aid to spotting taxis in busy streets. Original criticisms about wind resistance have proved unfounded, because taxis have an average speed of 8.3 mph in the central area.

This prototype was sighted at the rainy Lord Mayor's show on Saturday, as was this gentleman trying to hail one of the more conventional designs.

Friday 7 November 2008

Michelle Shocked - keep on rockin 'Shel.

Michelle Shocked - Union Chapel
A perfect evening; We were with a favourite troubadour artist at a favourite venue. Michelle Shocked at Union Chapel.

We met across the road from the Chapel. In the Library, which, of course was really a pub serving Belgian Monks' beer. We sat outside so that we could watch for the doors to open.

By 7:15 pm we were in the line, speculating about the support act named Shelly, whilst fireworks flashed in the November skies. We bagged some prime seats and left coats sprawled whilst we exited through a side door to the adjoining bar (no drinking of alcohol in the chapel). No alcohol allowed in the chapel
We sipped Red Stripe, until they announced the support act was ready to start. Not everyone watches support acts, but I usually do, so we headed back into the pews.

Some surprise as a hoodied figure was already singing and playing guitar. 'Shelly' was actually Michelle Shocked, doing the support act herself. Older songs in a plain acoustic style, homage to the Campfire Tapes. Already excellent and with a fine violin accompaniment.

A short pause and then Michelle returned, minus the hooded tracksuit and now with a small band. A mix of songs, some new and plenty from the formidable back catalogue.

Michelle Shocked is a great performer, with a blend of stories and songs; plenty of narrative and good ways to relate to the audience. The band 's musicians are all highly accomplished too, and the performance has spontaneity and sufficient confidence to veer from a set list as the evening's mood dictates.

Michelle Shocked's career spans from the 1980s through to now. For this show it was great was to see the energy, enthusiasm and connection with the audience throughout the performance. Beyond simple professionalism, here is a performer who has experienced plenty and has produced an accompanying soundtrack. Always fiercely independent, convinced of her causes and creating messages within her lyrics, Shocked was on top form for this gig.

We all left the gig with big smiles from an excellent evening. It goes into my top gigs list.

Thursday 6 November 2008

re think

Locked away with piles of work papers today and surviving on cups of tea.

Harrogate's finest.

I seemed to finish yesterday evening at about 02:30 and then started today at around 07:30. I reckon I have another 3-4 hours tonight and then I'll be around where I need to be with this piece of work. I spotted one of my earlier notes which said "may need rethink".


I hope not at this stage.

Wednesday 5 November 2008


...the beginning of change. 77 days left, George. Just don't touch anything else.

And heres a little fireworks song as its the 5th of November.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

US election result : Obama Landslide

You should see the look on George's face as he tosses the keys to Barack.

A smirk.

He's trashed the joint.

Not just the White House. America. And as much of the rest of the neighborhood as he could get his hands on.

Fortunately, rashbre central has poll-free advanced notice of the final outcome.

But for traditionalists there's music from Wonkette to accompany the incoming official results.

Tunes with the word 'change' seem appropriate.

And winking.

Don't forget.

Post early and post often.

Like Homer here with the voting machine.

And here's the entire Dixville Notch, New Hampshire voting process. 2 mins 35 seconds from vote to result

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Monday 3 November 2008


DSC_0630 (1)
There's no 'luck of the draw' with parking in central London. You have to know where the meters and car parks are, the right zones and have that phone system set up for around Westminster. I have a few favourite places to park if I need to leave the car in the central area, but every so often will come unstuck.

Last Sunday it was Camden that caught me when I'd parked to load a big bag into the car. I'd parked in one area, got out, checked the signs and it said 'Residents Only'. So I moved to another bay further away which said 'loading 20 minutes'. It was around the corner from where I needed to pick up the bag - a two minute walk each way.

A casual look for a non motorised warden - none to be seen. A speedy return trip with the bag.


In about 6 minutes.

I did protest on the web form to Camden, but they just let it run until I phoned them.

"If you are loading, it has to be clear to the warden that you are doing so, you need to be going back and forth to the vehicle.", they explained. It amounted to pay now at half price or argue more and eventually pay the full fine. So I paid the £60. Ten quid a minute.

Still - it would have been £20 a minute if I'd continued the argument.
DSC_0632 (1)

Sunday 2 November 2008

breakfast concept

Sunday, slow start, newspapers. breakfast. Sometimes so. Today, hurried because of a rather busy schedule.

It started with visitors who have had to move out of their house after the unfortunate incident with the toaster.

Lets say the loss adjuster has suggested they take at least four months rental at alternate premises whilst the damage is fixed.

And in parallel with that we had the arrival of large quantities of luggage requiring repacking and transportation around part of London. And the reappearance of the still waterlogged Ka.

At least the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was relatively quiet during the evening whilst I scooted around on errands.

Saturday 1 November 2008


Graphite skies and orange mornings. Must be November. I like to think of it as 'my month'.