web analytics

July 2016

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2016.

20160724_192556My enthusiasm and regard for the talents, oeuvre and achievements of Mr. Peter Gabriel will be familiar to those who know me even a little and have been well flagged previously in these jottings. Posts acclaiming the London concerts at the commencement and the culmination of the 2013/14 tour celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his seminal album – ‘So‘ – can be found here and here.

For several years prior to that particular odyssey I had been venturing the opinion that – since Mr. Gabriel was no longer a ‘spring chicken’ – each time a fresh concert series was announced it might well be his last. Each time he contrived to confound this uncharacteristically (for me) pessimistic view. Finally – upon our departure from my native shores last year – it seemed probable that we had indeed now attended our last Peter Gabriel performance, since previous tours which encompassed Canada had tended to include only one or two concerts within the country, and then usually only in the east.

Then earlier this year – to our great surprise and unconfined joy – the man announced a new tour… of the North American continent. Though sadly neither Vancouver nor Victoria were to be on the schedule Seattle, Calgary and Edmonton would all be within reach.

To our even greater joy we learned that the tour was to be a collaboration between Peter Gabriel and Sting! Wow!

By now even the most casual reader will have registered (pace my previous post) that this was the second objective of our recent visit to Edmonton. (The Seattle show had already sold out by the time we looked for tickets and given the choice between Calgary and Edmonton we chose to go to where we could combine the concert with a visit to dear friends).

Well – concerning the show, what can I tell you? I went to my first gig at the age of sixteen and I have been a pretty consistent attendee – at a wide variety of events – ever since. So – when I tell you that for me this was most probably the Best. Gig. Ever! – you’ll get some idea of just how highly I rated the show.

Had either star simply supported the other the night would have been magical. In the event they played a single seamless two and three quarter hour show. They played each other’s songs – they alternated verses and sang harmonies for each other – they interspersed songs, each climbing a little higher than that which went before… they were both in great voice and were clearly having fun! The two bands of massively accomplished musicians mixed and matched from track to track, regardless of to whose band they belonged. Given the extent, quality and familiarity of each artiste’s back catalogue it was little surprise that there was scant requirement for inter-song introductions – the audience duly went berserk as each much loved number became apparent.

We danced – we clapped – we whistled (well – the Girl did!) and we sang ourselves hoarse. A splendid, splendid night!

“Rock, Paper, Scissors”? – the name of the tour…

Tags: ,

To Edmonton for a long weekend – on an excursion with two objectives. The first of these – and the subject of this post – was a visit to long-time friends who previously lived in Victoria. It was lovely to see them and they spoiled us rotten – plying us with all manner of sweetmeats and tinctures and laying on the most excellent and generous entertainment (even if the price thereof was having my a*se kicked at street-hockey by our friends’ ridiculously talented six-year-old progeny).

With my Canadian experience limited thus far to British Columbia (it is a very big country!) all that I really knew about Alberta beforehand was that it was flat – relentlessly flat – and that this is not the best time to be in oil! This first visit confirmed that it is indeed flat (with impressively big skies) but also that there are numerous other places of interest in and around Edmonton – a fact to which these photographs will attest.

At Elk Island National Park we had the truly magical experience of being able to get up close and personal with the splendid herd of plains’ bison. It was possible – if only for a fleeting moment – to gain some sense of what this country must have once been like.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

It is also possible to get a sense of the past at Fort Edmonton Park, where the history of the city is brought to life in a series of recreations of the townscapes of different eras.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

Tags: , , , ,

1280px-PandemoniumA little under four years ago the United Kingdom was picking its gingerly way through the mongrel days of the final run up to the 2012 London Olympics. It is fair to say that a great mood of cynicism – even pessimism – hung heavy in the air. The world financial crisis was at its height and it seemed somehow perverse to be spending a fortune on a festival of sport in such straightened times.

Perhaps worse, there was a very real fear that the country would wake the morning after the opening of the Olympiad to find itself the object of ridicule and derision for what many people believed was going to be – particularly by comparison with the lavish state-devised extravaganza from Beijing four years earlier – an amateurish and embarrassing debacle. On the night of the opening ceremony at least one UK journalist – submitting copy to catch the early editions before the event had started – penned a devastating critique along just such lines.

It took less than ten minutes for the great majority of those watching to change their minds utterly.

My post to this journal of the following morning included this:

As you may have deduced – I spend Friday evening watching Danny Boyle’s bizarre, amateurish (in the best sense), messy, insanely brilliant opening ceremony. I fell off the sofa laughing. I howled like a baby – at some points so hard that I could scarce catch my breath. In the kaleidoscopic whirl of layered references (oh what delight – an Olympic opening ceremony incorporating subtlety and ambiguity, whilst at the same time displaying complete self-confidence!) I repeatedly heard and saw images and ideas in the magical musical and visual smorgasbord that made me cry out, “Yes – that’s us… and that… and that…”

The gentle reader is most probably by this point scratching his (or her) head and wondering what could have triggered this brief exercise in nostalgia. The answer is – of course – the recent BBC documentary in the ‘Imagine’ strand entitled “One Night in 2012“. I am not ashamed to report that viewing this one hundred minute documentary – for which pretty much the entire creative team for the ceremony had been re-united – rendered me helpless all over again. On this occasion I was moved not only be the heart string-tugging moments from the show itself (though that did indeed happen) but by the stories of its genesis and evolution.

Confirming once again my view of Danny Boyle’s genius, we heard how the very impossibility of competing with the huge sums of money and military organisation that the Chinese had thrown at the Beijing ceremony had led to the decision being taken very early on that this show would not only be about ordinary people, but that it would feature them as the main element of the performance itself. To that end a huge army of volunteer performers was auditioned and cast as actors, dancers, musicians and stagehands.

I was touched deeply to see how the artistic team set about moulding such a vast company of amateurs with widely varying skill sets into well-drilled teams who not only put on the performance of their lives but also clearly loved every precious moment of it. The producers and directors, community choreographers, composers, drum tutors, costumers and technicians who helped to give this gift, not only to those involved in the show but also to the 80,000 in the stadium as well as to the billions watching on TV, were truly inspirational – in every sense of the word – and I doff my toque to them.

One delighted performer described how he had taken part in the show expecting to spend the evening applauding others – the athletes, dignitaries and so forth – but instead found himself part of a team that were themselves being widely and rightly lauded.

After watching the documentary I was moved once again to search out the film of the ceremony on the InterWebNet. I simply cannot get through it without dissolving. The climax of the opening Pandemonium sequence (which is, I think, exquisite in its entirety) as the newly forged Olympic rings come together above the stadium and burst into fire – leaves me gutted and gasping for breath every single time!

Kudos once again to all involved – and it still is not too late for the knighthoods!

Tags: , , ,

image“Isn’t it crazy how we can look back a year ago and realize how much everything has changed? The amount of people that have left your life, entered, and stayed. The memories you won’t forget and the moments you wish you did. Everything. It is crazy how all that happened in just one year.”

Author unknown

Were one to scour the InterWebNet (as did I earlier today) searching for a suitable quotation, an appropriate apothegm on the subject of ‘anniversaries’ – one might well discover (as, again, did I) that all such wit and wisdom that is to be found online concerns exclusively the matter of matrimony. Further, not one example actually concerns the business of marking the day itself – instead all exclusively wallow in the warm waters of the well of love! Rightly so in normal circumstances you might think, but connubiality is not on this occasion the subject of my discourse.

In the circumstances the unattributed passage above was the best up with which I could come.

In some ways it is actually quite fitting (though perhaps something of a truism) for today marks the first anniversary of my arrival on these fair shores – of that ‘first day of the rest of my life’ – of my landing in Canada as a Permanent Resident. It is therefore absolutely the case that in this brief span my life has changed utterly and completely – and in what feels now to have been the blink of an eye.

Where did that year go!

For sure, on reflection it is clear that the Kickass Canada Girl and I have achieved a great deal since the day a year ago that we arrived in Victoria bearing our lives in a small number of suitcases. Yes, there is much yet to achieve – but that is as it should be. We have not – after all – either of us reached to point in our lives when we are prepared to sit back, gazing out to sea and reminiscing on our past lives as seen through blush-tinted spectacles.

There is still ass to be kicked!

We will hold back the celebrations themselves as there are yet more anniversaries to be considered over the coming weeks, but we can at least raise a quiet glass in honour of this particular landmark with a certain degree of satisfaction.

Tags: , , ,

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
“The day you hear someone call me captain will be the day I buy a boat.”

Guy Lafleur

To all those gentle readers who were way too polite to enquire just why I had suddenly taken to posting the lyrics to songs by mid 80s Glaswegian ‘Big Music’ bands (ignoring the fact that you were probably not the slightest bit interested!) – here is your answer:

…after a year of living on these glittering shores I have finally purchased a boat! Here she is…

For those who like to know these things she is a 20ft Double Eagle Sedan built in 1978. She has a Volvo Penta 350 5.7 litre V8 inboard motor and an 8HP Yamaha kicker. She’s no spring chicken but the Kickass Canada Girl and I both recognised her immediately as the boat for us. She was pretty thoroughly checked out – a marine survey and a mechanical inspection – and she is now up at SeaPower Marine in Sidney having some bits and pieces tidied up before we put her in the water for a sea trial.

Most exciting!

The Girl was very keen that she be called ‘Boaty McBoatface‘ – in honour of the splendid(!) eccentricities of the British peoples – but she was out-voted and the ship will indeed be called ‘Dignity‘.

God bless all who sail in her.


Image from Pixabay

There’s a man I meet, walks up our street
He’s a worker for the council, has been twenty years
And he takes no lip off nobody and litter off the gutter
Puts it in a bag and never thinks to mutter

And he packs his lunch in a Sunblest bag, the children call him Bogie
He never lets on but I know ’cause he once told me
He let me know a secret about the money in his kitty
He’s gonna buy a dinghy, gonna call her Dignity

And I’ll sail her up the west coast, through villages and towns
I’ll be on my holidays, they’ll be doing their rounds
They’ll ask me how I got her, I’ll say, “I saved my money”
They’ll say, “Isn’t she pretty, that ship called Dignity?”

And I’m telling this story in a faraway scene
Sipping down raki and reading Maynard Keynes
And I’m thinking about home and all that means
And a place in the winter for Dignity

And I’ll sail her up the west coast, through villages and towns
I’ll be on my holidays, they’ll be doing their rounds
They’ll ask me how I got her, I’ll say, “I saved my money”
They’ll say, “Isn’t she pretty, that ship called Dignity?”

And I’m thinking about home and I’m thinking about faith
And I’m thinking about work and I’m thinking, how good it would be
To be here some day on a ship called Dignity
A ship called Dignity, that ship

Ricky Ross
Deacon Blue

Tags: ,

Image from PixabayThe trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.

Abe Lemons

On July 4th last year I posted this joyous missive announcing that I had – finally – retired from the world of work. The astute amongst you (all of you, naturally!) will observe that this means that I have now been retired for a year – the first of a number of such anniversaries over the next few weeks of events from a year ago.

Last July’s celebratory post included the following observation:

The obvious question – to which I am immediately subjected – is naturally:

How does it feel to be retired?

The answer, of course, is that I have no idea. I left work on a Friday. It is the weekend. It could – in fact – be any weekend, except that I don’ t have to go to work next Monday.

Well – it is high time that I took another crack the question – so here goes…

The short answer is:

It feels great!”

… followed rapidly by:

Every day feels like Saturday!

(This is not entirely true, of course, but it is too good a line to waste.)

The longer answer, unfortunately, has a strong whiff of cliché about it and kicks off with:

You know – looking back now I have no idea how I ever managed to fit a job in as well

…which has become a cliché because (virtually) every retiree says it (actually – I guess that makes it a truism, but I’m sure you get the point). There is clearly something about the change of pace of life upon retirement that gives one the impression that one is busy, busy, busy – even if one is in reality patently no-where near as occupied as one was before.

Take my case for example. Until this time last year my working week comprised, on average, ten hour days. In addition I would sit in the car on the way to (or from) work for up to four hours a day. The Girl and I contrived still to enjoy a social life (though somewhat wearily at times) – I managed a modicum of creativity and we found time to eat and to sleep (though actually there was not very much sleep, truth be told!).

So how have things changed? Well – I do get to sleep more (hooray!). I also have become a reluctant gardener. We shop considerably more frequently than our erstwhile weekly dash round Waitrose. We do our own cleaning (at least for the moment).

Lest this sound all rather prosaic… I am delighted that I can finally devote serious time to creation – easily spending much of a day in the studio working on something or other. I also have the time to exert considerable amounts of energy on the planning and preparation for our new theatrical adventure. I can read more books and study more, and I am doing more exercise than I have done in many a long year. We get to spend more time with friends and, above all, I can give time to exploring this amazing place and learning how everything ticks.

I think that what I am stumbling towards saying is that the dial of work/life balance has been swung back firmly into equilibrium…

…and it feels good!

Tags: , ,

There is so much to see at Butchart Gardens that I thought the gentle reader might indulge me were I to share another batch of images from last Saturday evening. Hope you don’t mind…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

Tags: , , , ,

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidLast Friday was not the first Canada Day that I have enjoyed in the country (I arrived for a visit on July 1st back in 2012) but it was the first such that I have experienced here as a resident. We duly made a weekend of it.

Sidney spreads its celebration over two days and features a firework display on the night before Canada Day itself. At the last minute we decided not to attend – both being somewhat weary from our busy weeks – and reasoning that we could probably see the display from our windows anyway – which we could. We thus also saw the results of the ‘computer glitch’ that fired half the display within the first ten seconds – followed by a lengthy pause before the rest of it carried on as it should have. Glad we didn’t venture forth for that!

Our dear friends in Saanichton hosted a barbecue for the day itself which was lovely for all sorts of reasons – not least of which was meeting his father (a most redoubtable gentlemen) for the first time. At the end of the evening they announced that they had some spare passes for the following night (the Saturday) for Butchart Gardens. Summer Saturdays at Butchart mean live music and – yes – more fireworks… so we did get to see some after all.

The traffic queues to get into and out of the gardens on a summer Saturday night are all too reminiscent of some of those in the UK. If, however, one has a boat conveniently moored in a nearby marina – as do our dear friends – one can sail the short hop across Brentwood Bay and up to the Butchart back entrance off Tod Inlet. To my great delight this was indeed the plan and we duly puttered our way over in style.

Boats – music – picnics on the lawns – a stroll round the fabulous illuminated gardens – fireworks! It doesn’t get much better…

Here be a handful of random images:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid


Tags: , , , , , , ,