Welcome to SpaCeMonKeY UK, the blog of Helen Wells (nee Berrington, aka FieryFred) since 2002.





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SpaCeMonKeY UK

Saturday, January 29

I have now listened to 'Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One' (1970). I guess you'd have to have been living under a rock not to know the song 'Lola'. But in many ways it doesn't fit with the theme of the album. There are some great songs on here about the music industry, including one that unflatteringly mentions some of the Kinks managers. I think 'Denmark Street' is one of my favourite tracks on the album - a song about getting a record deal. The mix of styles on here, including the scariness of Dave Davies' songs, makes it have even greater depth than it would have done. And yet it all works together in one album! :)

There never was a Part Two, if you were wondering. They were planning one but ended up making 'Muswell Hillbillies' instead...

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Thursday, January 27

Meant to go swimming but I have a headache. Getting them quite a bit lately. Ho hum. Anyway, that means I can blog while my bath is running!

I will do an Album Project update! (Big surprise!) Today I listened to the seventh studio album by The Kinks - 'Arthur or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire' (1969). This is a marvellous album full of all sorts of things that give the British their identity (including the hope of a new life emigrating to the colonies!). It's an album full of songs about the working man, war, class, hopes and dreams and everyday life. It's an album full of emotion. It's brilliant stuff, even though you may not have heard any of the songs on it before. Perhaps you've heard 'Victoria'. But chances are it would all be new to you.

The album was written for a TV project, though Granada pulled out and in the end it was only released as an album. The project featured a man called Arthur. The original story of Arthur (from the album cover) is as follows:

Arthur? Oh, of course, England and knights and round tables. Excailbre, Camelot. "So all day long the noise of battle roll'd among the mountains by the winter sea". Sorry, no. This is Arthur Morgan, who lives in a London suburb in a house called Shangri-La, with a garden and a car and a wife called Rose and a son called Derek. Derek who's married to Liz, and they have these two very nice kids, Terry and Marilyn. Derek and Liz and Terry and Marilyn are emigrating to Australia. Arthur did have another son, called Eddie. He was named for Arthur's brother, who was killed in the battle of the Somme. Arthur's Eddie was killed, too - in Korea. His son, Ronnie, is a student and he thinks the world's got to change one hell of a lot before it's going to be good enough for him. Derek thinks it's changed a bloody sight too much - he can't stick England any more, all these bloody bureaucrats everywhere, bloody hell, he's getting out. Ronnie and Derek don't exactly get on. Arthur wasn't named for Arthur of Camelot and all that, he was called after Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and Earl of Sussex, because Arthur's parents knew their place, and children ought to be named in honour of Queen Victoria's children, and Prince Arthur, you know, he was her third and married... Arthur has spent most of his life on his knees, laying carpets. Oh, and he had his plans, he was thinking very seriously indeed about setting up on his own, only he hadn't much in the way of savings and there was this Hitler and... it all seemed a bit risky. There were the children to think of, weren't there? Arthur doesn't like risks, he never has. He bought a car instead, and took the kids out on Sundays. Things aren't exactly easy now he's retired, but he owns his own house, and most of his car. You've got to be careful. But you don't want to worry too much about the world, the way Ronnie does, or complain all the time like Derek, you're not going to get anywhere like that, you know. You want to take things as they come.

Things have been coming at Arthur all his life. Arthur's life, and the life of millions of English people like him, is shown through the songs Ray Davies has written. The Granada TV story in which they're set all takes place on Derek and Liz's last day in England. Nothing happens very much - everyone has Sunday dinner together, then Ronnie turns up and the men go to the pub where Ronnie gets all worked up about The System, while Liz and Rose talk about the past, and then Arthur takes them all to the boat, and they have a picnic on the way, and all the time Arthur's remembering his life and... It's been a sad day for Arthur, seeing them off. People haven't been nearly as nice to Arthur as he's been to them, and... What's it all about, then? Is this what he's lived for? He's got the house, hasn't he? And the car? It's been a good life, hasn't it? Well, hasn't it?

(By Julian Mitchell)

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Wednesday, January 26

Ok, there we go, watched some TV and ate dinner then listened to the 15 track version of 'The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society' on CD, rather than the odd 15 track mono/stereo mix I seemed to have on my iPod! Feel much better now.

I remembered one thing that has happened to us recently - Rob and I are no longer church homegroup leaders... It was our last homegroup meeting last night. It was a fun evening, lots of lovely food and entertaining company. It won't be the same being in another group. It wasn't like it was our idea to stop, but it is probably a good idea. Ho hum.

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Well, not much has happened to me of any interest. Feeling kind of bleugh, but I have the evening to myself now so I shall go and do some interesting things in a minute. :)

I have now listened to one of the best albums of all time - 'The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society' (1968). The only downside to this album (in the form I listened to it in) is that is has some rather odd stereo treatments. But, well, what can I say that hasn't already been said about this album? When you work in the 'heritage sector' it's still very relevant. Trying to save the old when everyone wants the new. It's an album full of reminiscences about the way things used to be. And the weird thing is that you probably won't recognise any of the songs unless you're a big Kinks fan. Listen to it in its entirety and it's a wonderful concept album. And I think it's the first Kinks album I bought. Must be 10 years ago now. Hooray!

Ah, when I say you are unlikely to recognise any of the songs, you might recognise 'Picture Book' since Hewlett-Packard used it in one of their adverts. Amazing.

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Tuesday, January 25

The Album Project continues... I have now listened to 'Something Else by The Kinks' (1967). I didn't enjoy this quite as much as 'Face to Face', though it ends with the iconic (is that the right word?) song 'Waterloo Sunset'. Possibly one of the best songs ever written. :)

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Monday, January 24

So, I have now listened to The Kinks' fourth album, 'Face to Face' (1966). It was a joy to listen to - lots of wonderfully crafted songs full of social comment. And some fantastic harpsichord, too. :) Song you're most likely to recognise? 'Sunny Afternoon', I think. (Probably worth mentioning that 'Dedicated Follow of Fashion' was only released as a single, it wasn't on an album...)

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Sunday, January 23

Today, as part of my Album Project, I listened to 'The Kink Kontroversy' (1965). I first started listening to The Kinks because my Dad said that, like Blur, they wrote songs to tell stories. This is the first Kinks album that has story-telling songs on it, like 'The World Keeps Going Round' and 'I'm on an Island'. It's also the first Kinks album to have keyboards. The song you're most likely to recognise on it is 'Till the End of the Day'.

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Saturday, January 22

Album project update! (That needs a catchier name.) I have now listened to 'Kinda Kinks' (1965). There's no harmonica. No Beatles-esque harmonies. This is an album that sounds like The Kinks. Hooray! It's likely, however, that the only track you'd recognise is 'Tired of Waiting for You'. And also the cover of 'Dancing in the Street', which is a little messy compared to the rest of the album...

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Thursday, January 20

I decided I'd have a project this year. A fun project, but still a bit of a sad, geeky one. I was thinking about all the CDs I have, and I thought that it's a shame I don't really listen to albums any more. I tend to just hit shuffle on my iPod. I used to lie in bed with a CD player and headphones and focus all my attention on the music... Ah, those were the days...

Anyway, so, here's my plan: I'll listen to all the studio albums by various artists in chronological order. (Perhaps it's just a sneaky way for me to justify filling the gaps in what I own - I couldn't possibly comment.) Where possible I'll listen to them properly, though I expect I will listen to some on the bus. But the main rule is that I have to listen to the whole album in a day, with no shuffling. (So if I don't manage to finish an album on the way to work I'm allowed to finish it later. And I'm listening to reconstructed versions of the original releases (a lot of the CD re-releases have extra tracks).

The first band I have chosen is The Kinks. I was very excited to find out that they re-issued a lot of their albums last year, so I could finally get my hands on them. Sadly, they haven't re-released their last three, Think Visual (1986), UK Jive (1989) and Phobia (1993). I guess I am let off listening to those, since I can't get them at the moment. (Perhaps if I became obsessed I could get a record player and look on eBay, but...) This leaves me with, I think, 20 Kinks albums to listen to. (Hooray!)

And so, I started this musical adventure by listening to their self titled album, released in 1964. The stand out song on this album, and indeed the only track most people would recognise as being by The Kinks, is 'You Really Got Me'. It's fairly different to the other tracks, a lot of which weren't written by The Kinks. The album really sounds like the 60s - lots of Beatles-esque harmonies and rockin' harmonica. The album doesn't include their other big 1964 hit - 'All Day and All of the Night' - which was only released as a single. ('You Really Got Me' went to #1 in the UK, whereas 'All Day and All of the Night' only reached #2.)

So, that's the first thing I've listened to following this mad idea. I'm really looking forward to listening to things I haven't heard for ages. (And the new things I've bought to fill the gaps!) I'm thinking David Bowie, Blur, The Police, Muse, Billy Joel, hmm, there are so many things to listen to! Maybe there are some other people out there who will join me in this quest.

Incidentally, I don't think it's just me who's become a little saddened by the almost disposable nature of a lot of music these days. Albums are finely crafted works of art, not things where you pick out the couple of tracks you like and ignore the rest. When I make mix tapes (I say tapes, CDs?) for friends I spend ages figuring out what order to put the tracks in. I was heartened to see this article on the BBC website: Are record clubs the new book clubs?. I'm not going so far as to buy £12,000 speakers, but what a great idea! :D

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Tuesday, January 18

Salt that tastes of things other than salt? Who could THINK of such a thing?! Salt that tastes of chicken? The STANDARD seasoning at takeaways? WHAT?!!??!? Australians!!!!!

And don't even get me started on BACON SALT!!!! Americans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 13

Today the catering department is serving 'Nut Roast With Accompliment' - almost makes me want to go down there and see what that is exactly. Either they've mispelled Accompaniment or they're giving people Compliments. I like to think the latter. :)

Wednesday, January 12

Just spend over 2 hours making .txt files of all my old Stargate fanfic so I could put it on Rob's Kindle. Do you think he'll notice? Mwahahaha...

Wednesday, January 5

Spent hours this evening sorting out my iTunes library. It was a mixture of bad tags, iTunes being stupid and a mix of aac and mp3 files that were the problem... It was much easier in the old days, just had to keep my CDs alphabetical. Though I suppose the 10,000 songs are slightly more portable on an iPod. ;)

I synced it all to the external hard drive and everything. Now I can put my new Christmas CDs onto the computer! I did just order a bunch more Kinks CDs as well, don't tell Rob. I'm filling up the house with CDs. How terrible. I'm sure a lot of the Kinks one were unavailable last time I looked - perhaps they've been re-issuing them. Hooray!

Monday, January 3

I will blog in the vain hope that I will manage more blog posts this year - terrible that I haven't blogged since September! I kept meaning to but then more and more things happened and I couldn't be bothered to write the masses it would need to cover it all. Now I've forgotten so much of it that I figure it's safe to post. :)

Last year some pretty rubbish things happened, some of which I've managed to get over, some I haven't (not completely, anyway). I had my first tooth filled. I guess I'm 31 so that was going to happen at some point. But hey. It was overly sensitive and I went back a few times. It still pains me, but I don't want to have to spend ages getting it re-filled. It seems to only be worth if it the pain's unbearable. I know I'm not alone in hating dentists... Other rubbish things, well, I hurt my back, and the second time it happened (whilst making tea!) I ended up being driven home from work and having to take a few days off. The physiotherapist gave me stretches to do and I've now been discharged, so hopefully it won't happen again. Sitting at a computer all day is, apparently, bad for you. Who'd have thought?

As Leicestershire's HER officer, I was asked to send some data to the team making Michael Wood's Story of England, and it was interesting to see the end result on the TV. I also went to a Time Team dig, the second one I've been to, so that was kind of cool. As an archaeologist we all like to make out that we hate Time Team, but it's a sort of love/hate thing. We love it for the brief moment of publicity it gives us. And in the current climate, we need all the help we can get. 2010 was also the year we found out our small team of ecology/archaeology/historic buildings specialists would be cut by 80%. Scary. No way of knowing how many of us will be left by the end of 2011...

The Formula One was very exciting - I was cheering for Mark Webber but Sebastian Vettel probably did deserve it in the end. Hopefully this year will be as good!

We just had our front room (dining room) totally replastered and decorated. It's looking very posh. The carpet should arrive tomorrow, following two previous attempts to get it put in. It's the first major thing we've had done to the house since we moved in and it was a lot more work than we thought it'd be. It was more work than the builder thought it would be, I think! 3/4 of a tonne of plaster fell off the ceiling. Wow!

I suppose a major thing that happened in 2010 was us getting a new Fiat 500. I think Rob is still happy with it. I've driven it, hmm, twice maybe? I know, I should drive it more. Hmm.

I've bought a lot of Batman graphic novels, and some other interesting ones like FreakAngels. Rob is trying to convert me to a Kindle but I'm not going to be easily convinced. Besides, graphic novels need to be in colour. I still buy my music on CD, there's no way I want an e-reader!

Christmas was good, my Mum and Dad and brother John all came to Leicester to visit. John's only just gone back to Southend this evening. I'm having a nice long break, using up some of my holiday. Don't have to go to work until Friday. Hooray! I think I may play quite a bit of Assassins Creed Brotherhood tomorrow, since it's the only day I have of my holiday where I'll be alone. Yay! Yay for the shiny black PS3!

Ah, whilst thinking of games, I should mention my favourite game of 2010 was Red Dead Redemption. Brilliant storyline! Very sad. And my least favourite game, or at least the most disappointing, was Fallout New Vegas. I have never played a buggier game on the PS3, and I'm actually now scared to play it since it crashes fairly regularly. So it's not just the annoying bugs like people getting stuck running into mountains, etc, it's crashes that could be hurting my PS3! How they took Fallout 3 and made such a buggy game out of it, I do not know.

Other favourites, hmm, Castle has been a must see. And Sherlock was brilliant.

There were probably loads more things I've enjoyed about 2010 but, well, I'll leave it here.

Wow I have a lot of episodes of Neighbours to catch up on... *sigh*

He has a bowler hat, go figure.


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