Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Last night went to the Pavilion Theatre to see African band Kékélé. They must have started on the dot of 8pm, cos they were in full flow when I arrived at 20.05! Three singers, backed by a very laid-back pair of guitarists (using acoustic guitars), a conga player, tenor saxist, drummer and electric bass. As predicted, we couldn't keep still, and a couple of lady stage invasions livened up the proceedings! The Pav served Dark Star at £2.90 a pint, which was a nice surprise, and it was all over, with one encore, by 9.45! If you want to have a great night out and be home in time for cocoa, you can't beat a rumba band from the Congo!

Bulleid weekend at the Bluebell

Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Last Sunday I cycled down to Pool Valley to jump on a vintage bus taking me to Sheffield Park and the Bluebell Railway. It was their 'Giants of steam' weekend, to celebrate 40 years since the end of Southern steam. It could have been called Bulleid weekend because there were four of his pacifics in attendance: three Spamcans and one rebuilt West Country class loco, plus assorted others. Arriving on my not-so-vintage bus, the train at the staion I jumped on was being pulled by BR tank 80151, ah well. But then a train double-headed by West Country class 34028 Eddystone and visitor streamlined West Country class 34007 Wadebridge thundered in. Whoopee! I travelled 3rd class to Horsted Keynes, where the idea was to get a pint of Harvey's and check out the trains! First was 21C123 Blackmoor Vale in Southern Railway Malachite Green and Sunshine Yellow livery heading back to Sheffield Park, followed by SR U-class 2-6-0 1638 (no name). Terrier 55 Stepney running as a Brighton Works shunter in Stroudley's famous 'Improved Engine Green' (aka baby-shit brown), was tootling up and down pulling a guard's van. The Harvey's had run out and there was a queue at the bar so I hopped aboard the double-header to Kingscote, the end of the line, saw the engines change ends and came back to Sheffield Park, where I had a wander round the sheds. The 4th Bulleid pacific, visiting Battle of Britain class 34081 92 Squadron, in British Railways Brunswick Green livery with orange and black lining, was in the yard but didn't seem to be in steam. All around were other locos, silent and at rest. I watched Wadebridge go out again, on its own this time, and saw Blackmoor Vale come in, noticing that on the other side the nameplate said O.V.S. Bulleid, then it was off home on a proper red vintage bus. Next weekend I'm off to the East Lancs Railway at Bury for their steam gala.


Where has our tree gone?

Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

One of the delights of living where I do are the trees lining Clyde Road and Ditchling Rise. OK they drop leaves (and conkers) and disrupt the pavements, but as a devout tree-hugger, I worship them. But what happened to a younger tree outside the Duke of York's cinema? Marks around the base seem to imply it was a Council job, but why?



Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Londoners! How do you put up with it? I've done my time in the Big Smoke, having lived there four years and commuted there and back for many more. But I'm glad I only have to endure it rarely these days. Yesterday I had to go see my publisher Laurence King at Angel Islington. Getting there was fairly straightforward: the Thameslink to Kings Cross then a bus. The 10.04 (the first train I could use my railcard on) was rammed and I felt sorry for the American family with two kids, a baby and huge amounts of luggage who got on at Gatwick and detrained, like me, at Kings X Thameslink, a station with lots of steps and no lift. I don't know their ultimate destination, but could hear them given much misinformation from other passengers. After the meeting I headed south to see the Millais exhibition at Tate Britain. I was laden down with heavy books so decided to take the bus all the way to Victoria. Big mistake - on Theobald's Road the driver advised us it'd be quicker to walk! What with roadworks and selfish drivers blocking junctions, the whole of the Holborn area was in gridlock. I had to walk all the way to Centre Point on the Tottenham Court Road before I could rebus. At Victoria I grabbed a sandwich from M&S and headed to the Tate on the C10. Millais is my least favourite Pre-Raphaelite, and this was confirmed by this exhibition. Apart from his early paintings, they look overworked and murky, the faces sometimes seem like porcelain plaques collaged onto the freer painted canvas. Even the later Scottish landscapes look better in reproduction than in the flesh. It was worth seeing, however, and I got in free thanks to Amanda's friend of Friend card. Great to see the drawings - and his palette and brushes - and how some of the paintings, ie The North-West Passage, are enormous! Roll on the Holman Hunt show! I had a quick look at the Turner Prize Retrospective show and Hockney on Turner, but by then was cultured out! Bought a couple of badges: one by Jake and Dinos Chapman saying 'I've been bad' and one by Sara Fanelli saying 'Future artist'. Back on the C10 to Victoria and a fast train home, covered in aches and pains.


The Curst Sons

Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Sorry Pog I missed the gig last night - too cream crackered from the Clarion bike ride to Worthing and back. But looking at your MySpace site I see it was cancelled, so I don't feel so bad! I did go see the excellent Asbo Derek and The Curst Sons, a hillbilly threesome of banjo, guitar and rhythm stick/washboard, at the City Gate Centre on Saturday night. There was a different sort of clientele that night, a little less dapper, a little more crusty! But a yee-har dancin' good time was had by all. Hear them here. They were joined by a very competent father/daughter country/folk duo in need of a fashion makeover called The Joneses (from Wales). Then I trod the familiar path to the Duke of York's for a screening of the 1921 silent film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari accompanied by the Radio Reverb Orchestra, starring my old celebrity chum Gus Garside. I'd not seen the film before and loved the amazing Expressionist sets and titles, but the arts of acting and storytelling have improved somewhat since it was made! And I got a free badge from Anna Moulescoomb! I wasn't going to bother - and I needed an early night - but it was free and just round the corner, so what the hell. This week I shall be staying in a bit more.