johns diary

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thursday 29th June.
It's been a while...............SORRY.
It's 2.50pm and i am at The Crown Plaza Hotel in Liverpool. The sun is shining on the Mersey and the skyline is filled with cranes working on all the new buidings for 2008. I'm really glad for the people of the city and there is a real buzz to the place.
Last night was the first night in 5 days that i haven't been effected by jet lag. Up to then i had been waking up at 4.30am like clockwork which is very annoying. This is quite a daunting diary entry as have done so much in the last few weeks with really interesting trips to Vietnam and Thailand as well as monitoring a rather dull world cup. Forgive me if i don't fit it all in in one entry. (if you'll excuse the expression)
We travelled to Bangkok from Heathrow withThai airlines. Plenty of leg room and immaculate, attentive and polite staff but a 12 hour flight tests my patience to the limit because i can't sleep on a plane for some reason. When we did get there and we walked down the steps the heat and humidity was literally like walking into a sauna. The trip to the hotel was alien eastern world that i had only seen in films. The amazing juxtaposition of skyscrapers and bamboo. Hundreds of street food vendors selling many strange offerings and tragically the golden arches of Macuknowwho. The Siam City Hotel was very impressive and luxurious and again, the staff where genuinely serene and polite and they mix you a mean cocktail....i recommend the aptly named 'One night in Bangkok.' We had a mission, and our mission was to find somewhere to watch the England game, so off we toddled into the balmy night and into the big city where we made our first mistake.......asking a stranger to recommend somewhere to watch the game......."Follow me, this 1 minute.....only 1 minute..." 10 minutes later we are in the seediest part of town down back alleys and the female members of our party are not happy........"1 way.......1 minute" 10 minutes later we arrive at a bar with a porch filled with very young prostitutes! Me and the rest of the party are not impressed and now haven't got a clue where we are. It's a nightmare getting rid of our adopted guide so i slip him a few Dong and off we go and it's now passed kick off time! Everywhere we try says yes the football will be on but after the programme showing ceremonies celebrating the Kings 60 years on the throne.........bugger (the situation....not the King).......and so our first night in Bangkok we end up where..........Yes! An Irish bar!!!! and to top it off England are crap! So not a great start, but all that was about to change as i spot a seedy looking food emporium in an alley on the other side of the street. "Follow me" I say, enthusiastically and a less than enthusiastic but too knackered to resist group follow me. Well, we orered a few Changs! (beer making sponsors of EFC which i dutifully adopt as my drink of choice) and then order the food and very quickly, the most beautiful, authentic, tasty, fresh Thai food arrives......Gigantic prawns, hot spicey fish soup and sticky rice...absolutely perfect and totally last i was a happy bunny! We all were.......Welcome to Thailand!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

2nd June

I seem to be waking up every morning about 5am...........can't sleep.....lots of stuff going through my head so i go into the garden and then into 'The Doghouse' (my writing/recording room) and i get into bed there, (yes there is a bed) leave the door open and lay there looking at the trees and listening to the birds and that seems to help me to sleep a bit.I really enjoyed last nights Boy on a Dolphin gig at The Grange. The band was very relaxed with lots of positive banter and lots of people were very supportive, especially the staff and of course Frank who promotes the shows. So a big thank you to you all and a happy birthday to Jon! It's our second night there tonight.The sun is shining out there in the garden so i may take a drive down to Rother Valey Park next to the lake and do some writing down there and get some sun on my body ready for next week when i fly to Bangkok.
So, what have i been up to since my last diary. Well, on tuesday we went to Old Trafford to watch Engaland v Hungary. England games have an atmosphere all of their own, so different to the intimidating atmosphere of the 70's and 80's when there was always that ugly violent tension there. Now it is very much a family affair and the flag of St. George seems to have been liberated from the hands of right wing nutters and suddenly it's not frowned upon to be proud to be English. As for the game, most of you will know we won 3-1. As usual, an England manager has waited until just before a major tournament to mess about with the formation.......but enough of that.Wednesday Steve B and i spent the day in the recording studio working on a song from The Personal Demons musical that we are working on. We invited some kids in to play electric guitars and bass and they did a good job and seemed really happy to experience wotking in a top class studio. I'm sure that some footage will be on the PD website very soon ( i don't think i can waste any more of this sunshine so i think i'll venture out. Speak to you all soon. Let's hope for a grat performance tomorrow from England against Jamaica and no more missed penalties and if Owen doesn't perform again let's get him swapped for Andy Johnson.

29 May 2006

Good afternoon! Not been up all that long after a very late night and long day yesterday. Had a gig in Oxford but had to set off at 12 noon yesterday and didn't get back til 4am! We did get a chance to look around the place and i really liked it. It has a great mixture of beautiful, old, dignified architecture and a vibrant, young, intelligent, cosmopolitan student population. I would like to go back and stay for a couple of days and take a more leisurely look around. We had dinner in a bar which i recognized from an episode of Inspector Morse. I had a 'POSH FISH FINGER SANDWICH'I've got so much to do in the next 10 days before we go away. I really do have to get stuck in and get my head down or i'll be away worrying about things not getting done. Before i know it i'll be on a plane to Bangkok. I'm taking Vitamin B Complex tablets which are supposed to ward off One thing i know that they do, though, is turn pee bright yellow, which can be quite embarrassing when having a Geoff Hurst in a urinal trough in a busy pub..........'YELLOW RIVER, YELLOW RIVER!'I have also just taken my first Malaria tablet. Oh goody! I've just read the long list of side effects, some of which i would like to share with you. Here we go.Upset stomach/Nausea/Stomach pain/Heartburn/Diarrhoea/Difficulty swallowing (great considering i'm going there mainly to experience their cuisine)/Sore or painful tongue or mouth (double Wammy)/Loss of appetite (oh great!)/Flushing..?/A ringing or buzzing noise in the ear/Soreness and itching of the rectal and genital area........WHAT! .....I think i'll stop right there before i cancel the trip. When we do get there we have a few hours to get sorted in the Hotel and then find somewhere to watch Englands first world cup game. After 3 days in Bangkok we fly to Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam and after 3 days there we fly to Phuket for a week of horizontal relaxation. I will update the diary when i am away and post up photos when i get back. Talking of England: Tomorrow, four of us are going to Old Trafford to see Englands world cup warm up against Hungary. Sven has said that he will be playing his strongest team from the beginning but i'm hoping to get a glimpse of Theo Walcott at some stage. Great news that Everton have bought Andy Johnson for 8 & half million. If Rooney's scan on 7th June shows that he cannot be fit then i think Sven will pick Johnson. So, back to the here and now. It's 3.50pm and i'm going to force myself to go to the gym for an hour. Catch up with you later! SUBWAY TRAIN
Their legs touched on the subway
He smiled......................strangers.
Back to back, standing , swaying with the train,
two people read the headlines near a young man holding a large bunch of carnations and tiger lilies above his head to stop them from being damaged in the crush, his clean white collar dusted with yellow pollen.
Three old ladies with matching handbags chatter, laugh and giggle like teenagers on an outing, disturbing a grim faced man who is trying to read Cannery Row. He looks like he's eaten something sour!
The subway train takes a corner and a bottle rolls from one side of the carriage to the other, clanking into the door. Heads and eyes move in unison to the bottle like spectators at a tennis match........and then slowly back to their books or magazines, except for the sleeping man in the boiler suit and welders cap who stirs, but not enough to wake him.

24 May 2006

It's 8.30 pm on Wednesday and i'm sitting at home watching Donnie Darko again. I love this film. I love it's pace and the score is fantastic. A movie you can watch over and over again.The sky is beautiful tonight. I can see it reflecting in the front window from the back window as if it's projected. Blue, pink and purple.
Singer in the back room.
.............and then someone sang, out of the silence.
A song about a boy sent off to war.
We knew he'd never come back,
It was a folk song!
They never come back.
We sang along 'bout the lonely girl who waited and missed her youth and the mother who stood on the shore waiting, every day 'til she died.
We sang and laughed and drank some more.
He never came back.

22 May 2006

Take this on.
Lesson 1 is the hardest one to learn!
Don't go back! - Enough said!
Yours truly,
Pheasant plucker.
And so to Eurovision! Did you see it? It is now The Eurovision dressing up like a twat contest! Finland - Schminland! Still enjoyed the mad campness of it all.......and Wogan hilarious!
Demolished a huge quantity of Pinot Grigio with our guests and had a really good night.
Went to see The Da Vinci Code on Sunday. The film is very true to the book but the lack of depth in the main characters hampers the movie. Tom Hanks plays such a lame part. I've never known a story with such a boring hero!
Was reminded by Steve in the afternoon that The Average White Band were playing at The Boardwalk the same night so I decided to go.....Man dey r funky! And very relaxed. They only played for an hour and a half including the encore though. Came home, had a Caesar salad and a beer and watched Village of the dammed and then some major league baseball. New York Yankees v The Mets. It's 1.50am so I think I'll go to bed in a mo........after this.

Stingray and me.
In the shallows a stingray glidesbeneath the light of an old wooden pier and a million stars in the heavens shine and one of them will be mine when i fly there. I will choose one star from the sky and make it mine and I will fly there. I will sit on my star, looking down and wave to the stingray.....and he will stop for a moment and look up to the sky,Then glide.....glide......glide away....

So, now it's 10.30 am. on a miserable, grey, rainy dayin Sheffield. The contrast between days when the sun . shines and when it's like this is immense and it effects everyone's mood. You can see it in the faces of people on the street. The smile counter ticks sluggishly along and people hide their faces in hoods and brollies and stoop when they walk as if that will keep them drier.
It was good to see so many familiar faces at The Boardwalk last night. It was very much like the last Friday in the month when the Angels play there, so it was interesting to be a spectator for once. The venue seems to be doing really well which is great. Every city needs a thriving venue of that size and it's a shame that so many cities have lost theirs.
In last night's dream I was driving a giant hedge, cut into the shape of a train through fields of corn that swayed in the wind like waves. Men on tractors waved and suddenly a bright blue sea appeared on the horizon. I could smell summer! Freshly cut grass and ice cream.
..............they're coming to take me away, ha ha, he he, ho ho!

19th May

Greetings everyone. I'm looking down over Rother Valley Park from my lofty perch on a blustery day. Clouds are scooting across the blue sky from left to right as if they are late for an appointment. I have some of those part baked bread rolls in the oven which will be done in 10 minutes and i've just read my mail. I was sent a dvd of a dance routine that has just been put together to go with the Demon song that Steve B and i wrote for the musical we are working on.........looks quite promising but i'm no expert in the balletic arts!
Another strange dream last night. I looked up and saw two crows grab a seagull in mid air, then all of a sudden loads of seagulls came to it's rescue. The sky above was filled with seagulls and crows......the crows outnumbered though, then it started raining bird poo! and me and my sister Eileen got covered (not sure why she was there)Oh the glamour of it all!Anyway! Back to reality.......ooh this hot bread is good! So we return to The Pheasant tonight after all these years. It's going to be a strange feeling with all those memories from when we started and i've no idea if it will be busy or not as we've not advertised it but i mentioned it at The Crucible. I learned so much from our regular stint there. I remember being really uptight and nervous before and during every gig and singing every song as if my life depended on it. I remember the landlady Lorraine throwing rolled up wet dish cloths at anyone who would stand on the chairs. I remember being alone in the concert room just me and her as she lay in her coffin. She had a Frank White T shirt on and photos of me and the lads in the coffin with her. After the funeral a fight broke out in the bar and i stood on a chair and told everyone off. Telling them they should all be ashamed. The room fell silent. I walked to the bar feeling quite proud of myself and then suddenly it all kicked off again..........i'm obviously not cut out for a top United Nations post.
So, what's on the cards for the rest of the day? I've got some gear to pick up to take to The Pheasant, i'm going to the gym and i am going for a massage in the afternoon, then showered, changed and off to the Pheasant and what ever that may bring........don't think i'll be driving though, if you get my drift!
Japanese Girl.
There was a Japanese girl sitting in the bar
Waiting for a friend.
She had a book,
A paperback book, with a picture of a scorpion on the front.
Her friend arrived...........a Japanese boy.
He held a magazine about cycling or motorbikes.
He said something, they laughed and he ordered two beers
and she took tiny sips and held the glass in both hands.
It looked so big in her small hands.
She saw me looking, she smiled, and bowed....And so did I.

18th May

Tough on Arsenal but the best team won on the night. Went for a curry with Steve before the game. T'was rather good. I have decided to add some of my strange musings to my diary as i go along if that's ok with you. Maldivian Lizards.
Today was a good day.Reef sharks in the shallows.Warm wind and waves,and nothing to get me down.No phone pulling me back home.Reading my book - swinging in the hammock.Great wings of the fruit bat over Gotham Island.Hermit crabs moving house and mosquitoes away on holiday..................keep away.Even the Lizards made eye contact.If we were staying longer they could be good friends.One could sit on my head keeping lookout!
Do Lizards have Lizard families?Mum and Dad and the Lizard kids?Do they go to Lizard church on Sunday to pray for the souls of African Lizards?Do they talk of tiny relatives in Blighty?Pond dwelling newts - small but very posh.
On Sundays they take the kids and use frogspawn like bouncy castles when the giants aren't watching.Sadly, the English newts can't travel to visit their colourful cousins......Anyway, the heat is too oppressive, and they, as yet, don't have any credit cards or passports, and they would only complain about the heat and the food,But not for long because they would be eaten very quickly as they lagged behind their rapidly fleeing cousins.
"Wait for me old boy!"

17th May 2006

I am in Birmingham with Steve Beighton being creative. We are staying at The Beaches in Bournville so i visited Cadbury World this morning and walked out with enough chocolate to feed Dawn French for a decade.Tonight it's The Champions league final featuring Arsenal, who are the French champions, and Barcelona. My prediction is 2-0 to Barcelona.Still smarting from Evertons crap season made worse by the success of the team from the dark side.As i have mentioned before, i have been working on songs for a musical and it has been a revalation. Check out the website Did a gig at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago. Champagne in the trophy room and all's a very impressive gaff though and the Angels went down a storm.Thanks to all the people who came to The Dolphin gig at The Crucible. The response has been great, especially about how well Steve and Liz worked together on Sax and Violin. On Friday (for old times sake) we are playing The Pheasant in Sheffield. Some of you will remember the wild nights we had there years ago and, of course, Mad Mick the landlord or effin' Mick as my family call him. This Saturday i am holding a Eurovision party. I love it. It's so crap that it's brilliant. Shockingly, brilliantly, bad........marvelous!

Wednesday 1st March.

This is my third day in York. I'm here in my capacity as creative guru for eminent doctors and surgeons, which is very challenging but great fun. I try to release their suppressed creative juices in a series of tasks, which are well outside their comfort zones. I was originally asked to do this by Dr. Jenny Simpson OBE as a one off. It all went very well and I was asked to do many more all over the country. So here I am in York and I'll be in Northern Ireland next week.
Although the flu like symptoms of the virus I had have subsided, I still have no appetite or, strangely, any wish to touch alcohol....Man that's a first! Also I feel like I'm on a real downer and can't sleep, but I'm reassured by other people who have had it telling me they went through the same thing. After the groups made their presentations to me today I nipped off in the freezing, biting cold to The Minster and just sat there for a while. There is something very calming and humbling about magnificent churches and Cathedrals. Their size somehow make your troubles seem smaller, if that makes any sense?
The Dolphin gigs at The Crucible and Doncaster Dome are now on sale but I'm a bit worried about next weeks gig in Holmfirth, which hasn't really been advertised. Someone dropped off a DVD of The City Hall Concert, filmed by a loan-wandering cameraman. It's really very good for what it is and I'm sure we'll be able to use some footage on the website.
I left a message on the guestbook after I dropped in to The Pheasant Pub in Sheffield, home of Boy on a Dolphin's early gigs and some very wild nights. I'm still in 2 minds as to whether to do a gig there for old times sake but the response from you good people seems to be 'YES PLEASE' so I better get it sorted.
England v Uruguay tonight. My prediction 2-1 England, Bent 1 st goal.
OK. Thanks for listening I'm off to drink a hot Lemon and Ginger Tea.

22 Feb 2006.

No breakfast yet. Just a mug of INSPIRATION TEA, made with Lemongrass, Orange and Peppermint. Last night in my dream, from what I can recall, I was given the task to guard a cake made by Muslims, which was being kept in a garden shed overseen by a nun. Anyway at some point the cake was vandalised with messages written on it and the last thing I remember was that I was helping them to smooth over the icing so the messages could not be read.
Yesterday ended up being a bit of a pain as I didn't get the chance to meet up with Andy and James so I went for a drive in the country instead, then watched the first half of the Arsenal v Real Madrid game at The Bull and the second half of Liverpool v Benfica at home and yet again went to bed before midnight. I am just getting over a nasty bout of the virus that is going around. It grabs you first by the throat and makes you feel like you have been hit on the head with a baseball bat. The good thing is that you lose your appetite, so at least I've lost a few pounds, which I put on over Christmas.
I'll be doing some research on the net in a bit as we have just booked to go to HO Chi Min City (formerly Saigon) in Viet Nam.
We are staying there for 3 days, then 3 days in Bangkok (or is it the other way round?) then a week in Phuket. I am a big fan of food from this region and can't wait to check out the local markets, although I know I will have to steel myself for some shocks as there concept of animal welfare is vastly different to ours. We, of course, hide our animals away so we don't equate a fluffy lamb with what is nestling on our plate next to a roast potato. So who is right?...not for me to say.
Talking of food, (my appetite is back by the way) I'm taking a break from writing to cook some breakfast. Will report back in a mo!
* A MO*
OK, what did I do? ("Who cares" I hear you say...well tough)
I finely chopped some leak. Skinned a tomato and chopped it, adding salt and black pepper and mixed in some Florida hot sauce.
I chopped some good ham. Not that awful stuff that's full of water.
Put a small frying pan on a high heat with some olive oil. When it began to smoke I threw in the leaks pretty wet so they cook very quickly in the steam and oil. After 1 min, in went the toms and ham, lowered heat a little and left for another min or so then took pan off heat cracked in two medium free range eggs, a dash of milk, a little English mustard and quickly mixed it all together.
Put it back on heat for another min then covered it with grated double Gloucester cheese and slid pan under very hot grill until cheese bubbled and toasted a little. Served folded on a plate with toasted granary bread and butter. Very satisfying, even if I say so myself.
Now back to business. So the plan now is to get showered and head off to Cary's house to work on a couple of new songs for tomorrow in Doncaster and Friday at The Boardwalk. Then see if Steve fancys an hour tarting up the recordings we did last week cos I'm taking them into a school tomorrow to see if the kids there can come up with some lyrical ideas for Marias song and Danny Boys song from the musical I am working on.
I've just realised that there is so much that has happened in the last 2 years that I haven't told you about and that seems quite daunting. Well, from producing the big Charity show at The City Hall for the likes of Dolphin, Def Lepard, Paul Carrack and many more, to visiting the wonderful Paradise Island in The Maldives, and fulfilling a lifetime ambition of performing to a full house at The Royal Albert Hall..well it seems I'm going to be busy.
Speak to you later... off to get showered!

21 Feb 2006.

Took a bowl, and stressed by all the choice i proceeded to fill it with Alpen, Pecan and Maple Crisp, Kelloggs fruit 'n'fibre and some other stuff that looks like mini wheatabix with nuts on. Chucked on some milk and peeled a see I was still in a bit of a tiz having woken from a strange dream where I decided to float away an a calm current of dark water with a bunch of crows and a few mermaids with normal legs.........Anyway! I'm back.
My brain closed the exit door about two years ago, not long after we lost our Dad, and I have been in creative limbo ever since, but lately I've heard the hinges creaking and managed to lift the lid and take a look at the world with my own eyes instead of a periscope.
So! Today is rural sports day in India where cows do hurdle races, jumping over bicycles...true ....just seen it on Sky news. Oh and a man having his arse run over by a tractor.
Bird flu! Not reached our shores yet but it's inevitable.
Anyway, what I'll do is fill you in on the last couple of years during my new entries and of course it wont be in a normal diary format but a mixture of muse and ramblings
which best sums up the contents of my head. Oh yes! And photos.
Today I am working on a song for a project that will eventually be a musical. Having read the first part of the script of 'Personal demons'I immediately could see it working as a musical and suggested it and was soon commissioned to write five songs for it. I have enlisted the help of Steve Beighton and will be working with kids from different schools on the creative process. Check it out on the website
Also later today I will be meeting Andy Needham who has been working on our song THE BELL OF HOPE with James so I'm looking forward to hearing what they've done with it.