After a break of a few days I’m back with news of a band who have been away for 27 years! I have been on the Isle of Wight at the festival – It was my 10th year. The first year I went really to see Bowie – but this year there was a special surprise.
The Boomtown Rats had re-formed. ALthough it was a relatively short set (which Geldof over-ran as you might expect), they played as well as any of the previous dozen or so times I have seen them. The first time was back in 1979 a few weeks after ‘Mondays’ had been at No.1. Geldof was resplendent in a snakeskin suit – the material for which came from Nottingham!
They romped through stuff, mostly drawn from the early years – the set list was:
I Never Loved (Eva Braun)
Do You In
Someone’s Looking at You
Looking after number one
I Don’t Like Mondays
Mary of the 4th Form
She’s So Modern
Geldof was suitably ‘adult like’ in language terms. We all needed to go and do something to change the world. But the real message in here was an interesting one. He wrote Mondays and Someone’s Looking at You 35 years ago. Mondays was famously about 16 year old Brenda Ann Spencer who shot at Schoolchildren in California. Geldof recounted a recent story of a similar shooting in Ohio recently. In the introduction to “Someone’s Looking At You” – he suggested that matters may now be worse – if you go to London you have your photo taken around 3,000 times in a day! His song was a bout him being photographed at a protest march for GreenPeace!
I was never going to dislike the gig – they played stuff I grew up with. Geldof sounded great – irreverent as ever! Le Frondeuse? Don’t take my word for it – the Telegraph review is here.
And great news – they will tour in October. I can confirm I’ll be there!
The mud has long since been forgotten. The persistent rain is a distant memory. The tent is in tent heaven…
I posted my top tips at the end of the show last year – you can read them here.
Today I head south to that little Island in the Solent – where I get to spend the next four days in the sunshine watching a number of bands. without doubt the highlight will be The Boomtown Rats on Sunday!
But there’s a few others as well – Stone Roses, Ian Hunter, Laura Mvula, Happy Mondays, T’Pau (!!), The Killers, The Script, Bon Jovi and Blondie…
The blog may go quiet for a few days, but I’ll be back next week – probably with some news on who was good and who was bad…
I had lunch last week with Team Nottingham and our guest was Lilian Greenwood – MP for Nottingham South. Lilian is in the shadow Transport team and has specific responsibility for rail. That is clearly a really interesting gig – especially with HS2.
But we did have a discussion around more pressing things about rail. Notably the service from Nottingham to London on East Midlands Trains. I use the service a lot. In fact this blog post is (slowly) being written in Carriage G!
Many of the group in Team Nottingham have the opportunity to use the East Coast Main Line – and rave about it. It is quicker, cheaper and has brilliant wifi.
I wouldn’t suggest for one moment that EMT is cheap – unless you book in advance. And booking in advance takes away all flexibility. So if I miss my train that’s it – the ticket is worthless. It’s ok for EMT to be 5 minutes late but it’s not for me.
But my real issue is the wifi – which in first class if free. But free shouldn’t mean useless? The service is woeful. It is slow and frequently drops. Sometimes it’s better to tether to my iPhone. Except that the phone signal is equally poor. EMT have a quiet carriage where phones are banned, in my experience most of the carriages are quiet – because phones don’t work…
I know that technology moves quickly and it’s easy to get left behind. But wifi is now such a critical part of business that this is a top priority! It’s not just about trains, it’s actually about our cities. We need to make sure that people can connect and work almost anywhere. I wouldn’t dream of booking a hotel now unless it had free wifi.
One of life’s essentials?
The Centre for Retail Studies have just issued their report on the next 5 years for retailers. It’s not pretty.
The background is that Store vacancy rates (according to the Local Data Company) across the country have increased from 5.4% in December 2008 to 14.1% in March 2013 , a rise of 161%. Nottingham has had its fair share of bad PR about this.
But the CRS are suggesting that the vacancy rate by 2018 could be 20% They also anticipate:
* store numbers will fall by 22%, from 281,930 today to 220,000 in 2018.
* Job losses could be around 316,000 compared to today
* The share of online retail sales will rise from 12.7% (2012) to 21.5% by 2018
What is certain is that our city centres are changing – as our methods of shopping change.
It is clear that we have too many shops. But it is difficult to coherently close sections of our high street in a change of use. Dead frontages are bad news.
Whoever comes up with an answer to all of this is going to be a hero. We have to find a way of making our shopping interesting again. It has to compete with on line – or offer a different experience. Experience shopping will be key. It needs to become a leisure activity.
When I was in New York a few weeks ago it struck me that a lot had changed in a year. Shops had closed and others had opened. The changing backdrop makes for an interesting experience. The monolithic monster boxes of ‘we sell everything to anyone’ are surely numbered? Thank goodness.
It’s a amazing to think that there are over £44m of unclaimed prizes in Premium Bonds. 900,000 prizes have remained unclaimed! Two of them are £100,000 and one is a £25 prize from 1957…
I have checked my numbers and NS&I don’t owe me £100,000 – although if they need a good home, I can provide one.
When I was in New York a couple of weeks ago – there was a aging debate about the subway system. They, like in London, have pre-paid tickets. But they time-expire. In fact I am such a victim – having monies on the ticket but unable to use it.
The value of lost, expired or unused Metrocards over the course of a year adds up to $52 million. That’s each and every year! The new cards are not time limited, but the subway operators manage to trouser that much money for doing nothing!
To try to stop this happening again (it must be a real headache!) they now charge you $1 for the card.
I was thinking about this as I have a Starbucks card in my wallet – I think there might be a few pounds on it. I don’t miss the pennies really, but if everyone does the same, they are sat on a very nice healthy balance – which is helping fund their business? The latest information I could find is that in 2011 $1.5bn was loaded onto the cards. There are ‘several million cards in existence’. The money washes in and out – but it’s a great way for us to fund their already successful business?
Who is the fool here?
It’s local elections in my constituency. We are being bombarded with leaflets. The Labour folk want to dismiss our Conservative councillors – if they do so then we’ll just about have 100% Labour and no opposition…
But an alternative has arrived – who I think may just have it.
Grumpy Old Elvis might just be on the wrong side of the sanity line, but he’s got some great manifesto points. Anti-HS2 won’t get my vote, but his second manifesto point must surely be a vote winner. He wants my local pub to stop ripping us off – £1.51 for a half of John Smiths compared to £2.49 for a pint. He’s written to the brewery, but is waiting for a response. Odd that. Guess they hear a lot from Elvis.
I can’t subject you to his you tube video – because it is so bad, but there is a beautiful poem on it, which I hope he’ll appreciate me sharing with you, it goes like this:
Us rabbits like bonking in our underground property,
If your train spoils our fun,
We’ll come to your garden and eat all your broccoli.
This squares with his policy on ‘Alien animals’. The truly superb solution, “nothing at all apart from sending poodles back to France if they haven’t got a job“.
This is just what what we need in Nottingham.
It’s a long way to go, but near to Madison Square Garden in New York is probably the biggest and best photo shop in the world! It is known as B&H.
This is boy-heaven.
Every time I have been to New York I have been to the shop – it really is a mecca for photographers and film makers. They literally sell everything to do with photography and film.
The staff are clearly all enthusiasts and are extremely knowledgeable. I had a half hour conversation with one – a Canon expert on where my hard earned cash should go! He was objective and helped me make a tough choice! It is fair to say he knew his stuff!
I then traded my old camera in and they gave me a higher price than I anticipated. We haggled a bit as I didn’t have the battery charger! But the whole episode was done with good grace and humour.
I left a happy chappy – with a new toy – which is completely awesome.
But the real part of this story is that I had a survey arrive as I got back to the hotel. I don’t normally bother as I suspect no one reads them (I filled one in when I bought a car recently telling the dealership how appallingly we had been treated and have never heard anything!). But B&H are different. Last night I had an email. From the Store Operations Manager – thanking me for my feedback about the location of the trade in counter (which was outside!) – he explained why – and that they were hoping to resolve this. He then thanked me for my positive feedback – of which there was plenty!
Blimey – someone actually reads the surveys.
Well done B&H. Highly recommended. And I will go again. Soon?
It’s a great word – and one I hope you can use today – and for the next few days.
The definition is ‘an element in an object’s design that’s no longer functionally necessary but has been retained anyway for ornamental purposes‘. Like a belly button you’re probably thinking?
But actually this all about Apple and cool designs. Take the calendar in Apples suite – the picture above clearly shows a ripped element of a page. But is it necessary? It does give us a 3D sense – but it goes against the grain really?
It is known that (Sir) Jony Ives dislikes Skeuomorphs. They do rather go against the clean lines of Apple design. And there is a move in the industry to ‘clean up its act’. The new windows system apparently (I don’t do windows) has no skeuomorphs.
I think there is something rather quirky about these artefacts – they give, as much as an inanimate object can give, a bit of life?
It is never good when my colleagues email me from another of our offices early in a morning. Either they want something urgently – or they have seen something that they know will ruin my coffee. Last Friday I was greeted with the BBC story of Nottingham: Britain’s poorest city! It ruined my coffee.
Green Street – The Meadows
The Gross Disposable Household Income measured by the Office for National Statistics was the lowest in the UK. The average for Nottingham was £10,834 pa. The UK average is £16,034.
Whilst I have no reason to doubt the Governments figures I do take exception to the way in which the BBC report. Firstly is this the only story with gritty and grainy black and white photographs to illustrate the story. Then we have the acre-mongering writing technique – which reads more like a thriller than a piece of articulated journalism – “Picture, if you will, a loan shark. A hard-faced, big-booted, macho male perhaps? On the contrary. The one I am looking at is attractive, in her late twenties, with shoulder-length blonde hair and enough brassy confidence to be talking loudly to her boss on the phone.” It could easily be Dan Brown?
The piece highlights The Meadows – an area known, in part, for social deprivation. But also an area which is changing. Look at the Blueprint Green Street development here. Or Julian Marsh’s house I blogged about here.
I suspect if you went to any large provincial city you could find this sort of story?
Yet again though we are portrayed as a sort of rag bag of northerners who rob each other blind?
We have so much good news, this is not the news we need to read over one’s morning coffee…
Apparently it’s Father Day soon and for those doting dads (my kids are bit big for this) I have found what must be a perfect gift.
Amazon are selling a Swedish Doctor approved – no recommended device! It’s aptly titled Nosefrida : The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator. it’s just over $12 – and must be bargain of the year.
Although I couldn’t see specific instructions I’m guessing that you will work out that the tube goes in your mouth and the other end goes in the kids snotty nose. Then suck.
Or something like that.
I can only imagine you do this to your own kids?
You have to be a seriously doting dad to run (sorry) with this? If you think I’m making it up, I’m not! But if you really want to laugh – read the reviews – over 1500 of them!
I have found something much better to put on the wish list. This Zombie Annihilation kit here is simply a must have. Sadly you’ll need a mate in the USA as they don’t seem keen on shipping it to me?