19th March

On site all day at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane for the Fleet News awards. I’m filming and editing a video to be shown at the end of the night. The first element of which is the time lapse I mentioned yesterday so I get there at 10:30 after having just missed an earlier train due to one of Ben’s teeth falling out!

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It was a massive event – 1560 people, a huge wide screen. Kate Silverton was the presenter ans a lot more pregnant than the last time I worked with her! In fact she ended up missing the second half of the show as she was taken ill and left in an ambulance! Judith Chalmers was there to speak for the charity and the cabaret was Jimmy Carr although I only got to listen to most of his half hour set as I was frantically editing behind the set! And of course no big awards ceremony would be complete without Alan Dedicote – the voice of the balls!

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I think though that the night will be memorable for something else – probably the worst crew meal we’ve ever had. I’m not sure what it was, it was pretending to be Shepherd’s Pie but what the meat in it was was subject of much speculation! I suggested that it was probably what was left over from the last 3 crew meals all mixed together! This place really does treat the crew with disdain – even locking almost all the toilets lest we soil them with our presence! I dread to think how much the client had to pay for the pile of slop they served up!

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18th March

This morning by the time I had got up showered and shaved, did the student’s breakfast and packed lunch, our lunches, chased the students to be ready on time (they weren’t) driven them to the coach (which looked as if it was about to leave without them!)and driven back to get Sarah, Ben and the guinea pigs – I’m actually shattered already and I’m only locking the front door to go to work!

At work today I set ta camera in my room to do a test record of a time lapse for a job tomorrow. I leave it running for about an hour and get about 9 seconds of video. When I play it back I’m amazed to see how often I stroked my beard during that time!

Also my copy of Tales from Topographic Oceans had arrived as has my limited edition cassette copy of the new Sproatly Smith release. However like a complete idiot I manage to leave them at work at the end of the day!

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17th March

Don’t get me wrong I do like the French but sone of them can be so infuriating! Especially when it comes to time keeping. One of the students we currently have staying with us, the one who was sick in the bin last night, is driving me crazy already. I told them this morning that we had to leave in 20 minutes so what happens. ….he finally comes downstairs 20 minutes after that.  So I say to him “do you want breakfast because we really need to go” no was the reply.  So I go into the kitchen to get him a glass of water so he can take his medicine and when I return he’s eating a bowl of dry cereal!

Then he opens the other box and has some more!

Eventually after much cajoling he goes upstairs to get his things but again he is taking his time about it much to the embarrassment of the other student. Eventually we set off 25 minutes late meaning I don’t have time to come back and give Sarah a lift to Ben’s school.

In the afternoon Sarah picks Ben up from school and when he comes out he is holding his arm and looks in pain. Apparently he has fallen over at lunchtime and landed badly on his hand. He was given first aid but he says that he’d told his teacher about it hurting twice but she had just told him to get on with his work. Sarah’s not happy and says she’s going to take him to casualty to get it checked.

So I have to leave work early to pick up the students who are scheduled to be back between 6 and 6:30. Needless to say they don’t turn up till 7 and by the time I’ve waited for the aforementioned student who is literally the last one to get off the bus and then having to sit in a traffic jam to get through the lights I’m absolutely bursting. So imagine how bad I was by the time I had driven back and been stuck at the level crossing for ten minutes!

Thankfully they think Ben has only badly sprained his arm so he needs calpol and to rest his arm (no PE!) – oh and a happy meal too!

16th March

Back to Halfords this morning to pick up those clips armed with the product number this time! I look on the shelves again but to no avail and while I’m standing there one of the assistants comes along. He looks but can’t find them either so we go to his computer and he checks, then back to the shelves and eventually he finds them behind another design of trim clips! Yesterday when I was looking I saw a sign saying from £1.99 above the windscreen wipers and I know I need a new rear one so I go over there next. I look along the racks and the cheapest I can see is about £9! I’m standingthere thinking where’s these ones for £1.99 when I spot the sign says fitting from…..

So I pay for the clips and leave. I leave the car in Halfords car park and nip along to Wilkinsons where I buy a windscreen wiper blade for £2! Anyway when I’m fitting the blade it takes about 15 seconds so it gets me to wondering how much Halfords charge by the hour!

Windscreen wiper fitter:

15 seconds + £2 so that’s £8 per minute which equates to a whopping £480 per hour!

Car stereo fitter:

7 minutes = £30 which equates to (by comparison) a meagre £257 an hour!

After driving home and wrestling the trim back onto the side of the car door the rest of the day is spent sorting out Ben’s room. It’s a complete disaster area with tons of old or broken toys on, under and around his bed. We end up throwing away 3 black bin bags of rubbish out of his room and find quite a few things that didn’t actually belong to him like a box of staples that were his sister’s! Under his bed we find lots of rubbish and curiously what looks like a pile of plaster of paris in the corner! At first I thought that his wall was crumbling but then we remembered the plaster mould set someone gave him!

The reason we are tidying is that we have a couple of French students staying there and as the attic already has a French student in it we’re having to put them in Ben’s room! They arrive at about 6:30 and they’re called Oscar and Victor! Shortly after presenting us with gifts of chocolate and chicken rillette (a kind of pate and a new one on us present wise) one of them announces that he is not very well. A few minutes later he presents Sarah with his mobile phone and suddenly she is having facetime® with his mum in France! Apparently he has a fever and has been given antibiotics and would like to go to bed as soon as he has eaten. We explain that the food is almost ready so that’ll be fine.

We serve up the spag bog we’ve prepared and after they’ve eaten they go off to bed. About 10 minutes later the other one comes downstairs and tells us that he has been sick………in the wastepaper basket!! Luckily for us it was one that had a bin liner in it so it was easy to empty down the toilet – as I went to do so I found an unflushed poo grinning at me – oh the glamour!!

15th March

This morning I tried the new razor I bought. I’ve always fancied a straight razor but before dashing off to buy an expensive one that would need a leather strop as well I decided to try a shavette which is the one where you put half an old fashioned razor blade in – the type they use at the hairdressers. My first attempt didn’t get off to a great start as I nicked myself almost immediately! After another couple of attempts and with blood now running down both cheeks I decided to finish off the shave with my old razor as I was now too stressed to continue! I haven’t given up on the idea though!

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Decided to buy a new stereo for the car so spent the morning looking at the Halfords website. I narrowed it down to 4. There were several things I thought would be ideal – I’d like to keep the steering wheel controls if possible, DAB would be nice as would a USB input but an aux input was essential so Sarah can plug her MP3 player into it. The four I had narrowed it down to had some but not all of these requirements – they also had the most important requirement i.e. they were cheap. To get all of the above I would have to spend at least twice the £60 maximum I had set myself.

We headed off to Halfords and I asked the lady behind the counter which of the four would be compatible so she looked up my car on the computer. It turned out that for any of the four I would need to buy extras on top of the cost of the machine. In order to keep the steering wheel control it would cost me £23 for the adaptor and another £5 for a lead – so at a cost of £30 it meant that wasn’t an option. Especially when as a minimum I would need to buy a facia adaptor* and aerial converter plug which were £16 – so all together the costs virtually doubled what I wanted to spend. It’s all a bit of a con really and I told them so!

Talking of cons _ I enquired about the only DAB radio in my price range. It said on the website that the DAB receivers needed an additional aerial and I was interested how the lead would come out of the fitting. I didn’t even get to find out because she told me that the aerial would cost £20. I pointed out that the £50 one included an aerial and at first she denied it but when I pointed it out on the card she said that they didn’t recommend those aerials as the ones that cost £20 were better – did I mention a massive con?

So faced with paying more than I’d bargained for I decided to go with a radio that hadn’t even been on the website that was the cheapest one they had at £49 but included the aux and USB inputs. I asked he to pull the bits together while I went to the cashpoint.

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When I got back I looked to see if I could find the clips I needed to fix the door trim back on the car – it fell off in Tesco car park when the strong winds caught the door and ripped it out of my hand. It looked awful without it and I wasn’t convinced that the holes that it exposed would do the door any good when the rain was going through them! I’d seen the ones I needed on the website but couldn’t see them in the shop. The assistant helpfully suggested that I go home and get the number off the website so they could see if they had any in! I would have looked it up on my phone but realised the time and we had to get back for Sarah’s eyebrows!

When I came to pay the lady told me that she couldn’t find the box for the one I’d chosen but that it was all sealed up just missing the box. She said she’d knock a couple of quid off – I was going to push for a fiver! However she actually knocked £9 off which meant that in total it came to just over £55 which was what I’d originally planned to spend! Result!

Once we got home I set about fixing it into the car. I took the old one out and the new one slotted straight in. I did have to take it out again when I realised that the facia needed to go in first (or at least it seemed to work better that way) but even so the whole process took about 7 minutes and to think Halfords would have charged me £30 for that!

It sounds very nice and I like the USB thing as you can just put albums onto a stick and plug it in. You can then scroll through the albums till you find the one you want. It also support track info on CDs (or at least the ones that have that info) and even better if you switch it off mid CD then it starts again from where you left off – unlike the old one which went back to the start every time. The lack of box also meant no manual but by the time I’d found one on line I’d worked out most of it anyway! The one thing that threw me was it switches on automatically when you upen the drivers door so the first time that happened I thought it had stayed on especially as it doesn’t go off straight away either but instead switches off a few minutes after you remove the key – all very odd!

*This turned out to be a pathetic piece of plastic which was purely cosmetic as far as I could see and which frankly for £11 I could happily lived without!

14th March

Very bitty day at work doing odds and ends of jobs including a five minute job that took 2 hours! Lots of rendering so lots of time for other things.

As I said I’d dug out Pink Floyd’s The Wall the other day so I got to thinking about that. I went to see them perform it at the original run of shows at Earls Court back in 1980, we didn’t have great seats so the band were distant ships, smoke on the horizon but from where we were sitting we could take in the huge magnificence of what was probably the biggest theatrical rock show of the time. If you think about it for a band of Floyd’s status to say “we’re doing a show where all we’re going to play is our new album” could have been asking for trouble – other bands or artists I’ve seen do this usually resort to doing a few greatest hits as an encore but not the floyd! So just The Wall, no Animals, No Wish, No Dark Side! And it was brilliant!

So I remembered that ages ago I found out that a video of the shows had been recorded but never released – I’d managed to get hold of a bootleg copy but hadn’t watched it. I got to wondering if it might be on youtube and found it albeit with Italian subtitles.

So ya
Thought ya
Might like to go to the show.
To feel the warm thrill of confusion
That space cadet glow

This was the only time I saw the Floyd with all four members –  I would see them again without Waters at Wembley Stadium and would see Waters at Glastonbury but watching the videos (well the first two which was all I had time for) something struck me (apart from how young Waters and Gilmore looked!). I was amazed how different to the album it sounded. The other two times I heard Floyd songs played live they were very faithful to the originals but listening to the 1980 performance I heard subtle differences particularly in the instrumental section at the end of Another Brick in the Wall Part 2. There seemed to be a jazzier feel to it rather than the hard edged rock of the album version. I decided to burn the live version from Is there anybody out there? onto CD to listen to in the car.

So I set off home and put the CD into the player after PM on Radio 4 finished – frustratingly the disc jumped for most of the first 5 songs, this bloody CD player is getting on my nerves. We had to glue it last year when the front broke off it – I’m guessing that it’s on it’s last legs. I’ve been considering buying a new one for age – maybe the time has come!

13th March

I was struggling for something to say about today and at first the best I could come up with was that our French student was starting to annoy us. When he arrived on Sunday he told us that he would be leaving for work at 7am so we’ve been trying to work round that but he hasn’t actually left on time once. It was 7:10 on Monday having only come down for breakfast at 6:50. The following day it was about the same but yesterday he didn’t leave till 7:20. Last night he went out saying he was going to the cinema and would be back around nine and a half! It was nearer to eleven and a half when he did come in. This morning there was no sign of him until about 7:30 when we heard him going in the shower. He still hadn’t come down at 8:30 when we were due to leave so I went up. When I said his name he suddenly sat up from the bed looking rather rough. He said he was going to work so I asked him to make sure he locked the doors behind him! It’s going to be a long four weeks!

I rediscovered an album today by Michael Chapman – can’t remember how I got to looking for the song Dancing the pride of Erin but when I found it I remembered it was from the album The man who hated mornings by Michael Chapman. I hadn’t heard that album for years and although it wasn’t on Spotify it was, if you see what I mean, as part of a CD called originals which includes 3 complete albums including The man who hated mornings. I gave it a listen and remember what a fine album it was – I also had a look to see if I could find a copy and there were a few for sale but the cheaper ones were from Europe and it was something like 2.50 euros for the album and 7 euros for the postage!

Footnote: I succumbed the next day and bought it for 9.50 euro which is about £8!

12th March

A really enjoyable day working for Coca Cola – just for a change! I’m at their Uxbridge offices again filming and editing.  The only downside is the travelling which takes 3 hours to drive the 80 miles there and another 21/2 on the way back.

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I listen to the whole of Yes’s Tales from Topographic Oceans on the way there. I bought a vinyl copy of it off eBay last night. I’ve got it on CD but really wanted the vinyl – not just because it’s a fantastic album but the Roger Dean cover is a work of art on it’s own. I used to have a copy, well my brother and I used to have a copy and as it was technically his he ended up with it when we split up our records. If I remember correctly we bought it in Comet back when they used to sell records upstairs in Sunderland – bet it cost us less than the £6.60 I paid for the second hand copy!

On the way back it’s the Wall by Pink Floyd.

10th March

Client in at work today – one of them flew down from Glasgow. I thought they’d be coming with some idea of what they wanted but they wanted to watch the footage from their conference and pick bits out. It was a two day conference and you’ve allowed half a day to review the footage? It’s not going to work now is it?

Also they’d decided to shoot a time lapse of the conference but our guys have set it up to take a picture every 15 seconds over 2 days so imagine how many images that came to! And it’s not that time lapsy anyway – bet I end up speeding it up!

There’s an awards ceremony at the end of the first day which I just no the client isn’t going to be happy about because of the way it was shot – I didn’t shoot it, nor did I brief the cameraman- so why do I feel guilty about what we’re able to do? Probably because I know where the flack will land!