Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Pole

Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Some things just go together: Wellington boots and Glastonbury; Lennon and McCartney; hangovers and fried egg sandwiches.

Jase & Me and DIY, however? A less effective synergy you will not find, if you had every available resource in the universe at your disposal. We can’t build anything. We can’t fix anything. We can’t create anything (eclectic mix CDs, our two children and a mean thai curry notwithstanding, of course.) Our entire house is held together with Blu Tac, No More Nails and tape. To our credit, sometimes we vary the type of tape: gaffer; masking; electrical; what have you. But that’s basically it. Flat pack furniture drives us perilously close to the divorce courts. Hanging pictures yields anxiety of nostril-flaring-teeth-grinding-under-breath-swearing proportions. We collect minor household DIY jobs like some people collect thimbles or postcards or porcelain figurines, and once every 18 months when my Dad comes over from Canada, we welcome him to our home, make him a cup of tea, make enquiries pertaining to the details of his trans-Atlantic flight (Nice meal? Plenty leg room? Overweight luggage penalty? ) and then promptly give him a list of things to fix.

However – around about a month ago, the curtain pole in our living room showed signs of imminent collapse. “But your Dad won’t be here until September,” Jase says to me, panic behind his eyes. The pole is attached directly to the wall, and the screws and plugs that are holding it up are starting to come out. We’re basically doomed.

For a few weeks, we have enjoyed a nightly ritual of coming home from work to inspect the status of The Pole. Before we even put the car keys down, we inspect the progress of The Pole’s demise. We agree: “Yes, it still looks shit.” We concur: “It isn’t getting any better, actually, is it?” We rejoice: “It hasn’t fallen down yet!”

But tonight we decided we had better intervene, lest The Pole come clunking down to dent the skull of either one of our children, or the cat, or whatever. So on the way home from work, the plan was to go to the hardware store near our house to try to procure some supplies with which to carry out a repair. Shouldn’t be too hard, I think.

We do some preliminary Googling to work out how to fix The Pole. The consensus is generally that we fill up the holes, and screw a long piece of wood to the wall. We paint the wood white, and then screw the curtain pole to the piece of wood.

I do a bit more reading on my lunch break at work today. “So, apparently we need to get a plinth as opposed to a batten,” I try to sound like I know what the fuck I’m talking about as Jason gets in the car. “That’s what Google says we need.”

“But I thought we were going to get a piece of wood?” he asks.

I sense the whole thing is going to be a spectacular non-starter.

Undeterred, we go to B&Q. We manage to get a trolley, and we manage to choose some paint, some poly filla, and a scrapery-fillery sort of tool. We have even – wait for it – measured the width of our window IN ADVANCE so we know the correct dimensions for the bit of wood we need to buy instead of having to guess.

This would be a useful time to tell you about the last time we had to buy something for that window: the curtains. We weren’t sure of the correct length. Because we didn’t measure. So we guessed – and so the living room curtains billow prettily on the floor about 3 inches. Which does, surprisingly, give off something of a designer-ey-ish feel, but unfortunately it means people step on the curtains. Which pulls on The Pole.

You can see where I’m going with this.

Anyway – there we are in B&Q, looking obviously uncomfortable and painfully out of place, walking to and fro trying to find an appropriate bit of wood. We find one through a combination of bloody good luck and process of elimination. We are proud of having found an appropriate bit of wood! We feel peculiarly triumphant! And, Jason looks GREAT carrying it (though I do have to remind him to keep it up-and-downy instead of side-to-sidey so he doesn’t trap himself between two aisles of the shop or inadvertently thwack some random orange-tabard-wearing shelf stacker from Decor back to Garden Tools.)

Fuelled with new-found confidence, we try and get the piece of wood cut to the right length, in a corner of the shop under a sign that says “FREE TIMBER CUTTING SERVICE.” We press a button on the wall for some assistance, and someone comes to help us. But lo! Our bit of wood is “too thin” according to an Orange Tabard (I’ve never been THAT before, I joke in my own head) and Jason makes a feeble jibe about timber discrimination and the unfairness of the cutting service on our not-fat-enough bit of wood. The joke, like The Pole, is pathetic and limp.

"We need to buy a saw, I think,” one of us says, so away we stomp, to the area where all the tools are. Me with the giant DIY-store sized trolley containing the tiny pot of poly filla, the fillery-scrapery tool and a small tin of white paint, and him with the bit of wood (“Up-and-downey, up-and-downey!” I remind him every few feet -- we are a hopeless, helpless sight to behold.)

“Which one of these,” Jason gestures with a nod of his chin, “is for cutting a bit of wood like this?”

As if I’m supposed to know. “Oooh, here – but this one is blue!” I helpfully contribute.

“This one looks like it wouldn’t even be able to cut through a piece of cheese,” Jason offers. We stand there, and after a while I put the blue one in the trolley.

That was about 5 hours ago. The enormity of this series of transactions has exhausted us, physically and mentally. In a few days, we will have a go at cutting the bit of wood. We will argue about whether or not to paint it before or after we fix it to the wall. I might hem the curtains to prevent the whole sorry shite state of affairs from repeating itself in another six months. But for now, it’s all in the garage. The bit of wood and a bag full of £27 quid’s worth of pole-fixing related provisions – INCLUDING A BRAND NEW TUBE OF NO MORE NAILS (you know... just in case) – waiting for us to be brave enough again, or for my Dad to arrive in September – whichever happens first.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Subways - Inside Out, Darlington, 7 June 2011

Thursday, 9 June 2011
I'll make no bones about it and make a bold statement about this gig straight away:


In fact, I'll throw an imaginary blogger's gauntlet down and challenge any (like they'd even read this!) of the bands for whom I've got tickets for the duration of the year to impress me as much as The Subways did on Tuesday night.

If you don't know them already, this is the song that you might just recognise:

There -- now, have I got your attention?

Now then -- a word about the venue:  Inside Out in Darlington... took us about an hour to get there after work from Newcastle.  What a cool little place!  Couldn't believe my luck when I rocked up to the car park outside and saw how TEENY TINY it was -- and I knew right then we were in for a good night.  While we waited for the main event to start, we spent a happy hour or so outside:

I Tweeted this picture of the back of the bus to @billysubway saying, "I can see you!!!"
I was twitching to hear some new material -- following the band on Twitter I knew that they'd recently finished recording and they didn't disappoint - they played three tracks and if they are anything to go by, it's going to be a cracking collection of tunes come September.

What I really like about The Subways (I've seen them once before in 2008) is that it's obvious straight away that they live to perform.  Their on-stage presence and energy is so palpable; they are three people truly living their dreams and it takes about 4 seconds into their set before you can't help but get carried away on their buzz.  Their vocation is unmistakable; they will make sure everyone has a great gig experience -- from the school kids' parents at the back, to the partying students whose Tuesday nights are barely distinguishable from any Friday or Saturday, to the too-cool apathetic girly-girls dragged there by their wanna-be-rock-star boyfriends... to me -- trying not to think about the fact that I was already in high school when most of my concert-going-comrades were born.  But the band made, for me anyway, the whole experience so transporting; sure, they only have a couple of records, but they are both  real track-for-track hard hitters, and Tuesday night's (shortish) set was one punchy/poppy/punky/jumpy/bangbangSMACK after another and I couldn't give a monkeys that I was pogoing a little more than my 35-year-old knees deemed necessary.  Lots of between-song banter as well, which I totally love.  Add all this to the fact that Inside Out was about the size of my back garden... I was one happy lady -- even if it kept me up way past my bedtime on a school night. 

I shot a little bit of video -- it's surprisingly not too distorted despite my filming it on my iPhone... it's about 30 seconds of one of my favourite tracks from The Subways first record - 2005's "Young for Eternity" -- a 'hidden' track called "At 1am" (which is supposed to sound like this):

Anyway -- eleven out of ten from this mama... now if you'll excuse me, I've got sleep to catch up on, and the good books of my husband to get back into, who -- bless his cotton socks -- had to handle our two boys all on his own whilst I was gallivanting round the North East letting loose the repressed rock chick he married a hundred years ago. 

CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEW RECORD!!!  Roll on September.