BACK STAGE AT PEPPERMINT IGUANA HQ: Gigs, Festivals, Parties, CDs, Books, Protests, travels, photography and Cardiff City FC

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

CARDIFF 1: MILLWALL 1: Another two points dropped

City again threw away points that should have been in the bag tonight. After going ahead from a Cameron Jerome first half goal, City continued to dominate the game but a careless mistake let Millwall back in to grab their share of the points.

Despite the frustrating result it was an end-to-end game with plenty of action, City created lots of opportunities but, apart from the goal, failed to capitalise on them. If we are going to go up this season, we cannot afford to be losing to teams at the bottom of the table, like Millwall currently are.

PUNK ROCK IN THE 21ST CENTURY: What is the point in that?

Johnny Rotten AKA John Lydon... a man who knew when it was time to move on
30 years since punk, quite frightening really. What is really amazing though is that it is still regarded as musical force today and people are still listening to the original first wave of punk… well, some of us are anyway.

The fact that the Damned have just issued a box set of their Stiff Records releases and we have not long had the 25th Anniversary edition of the Clash’s London Calling must mean that I am not the only one still buying the old stuff (or in some cases re-buying on CD). And then of course there's the gigs with all these old bands still treading the boards!

I find it strange going away with the City on RAMs busses to travel all the way to Leeds (or wherever we are playing) with a punk rock sound track. I am sure that would not have happened 30 years ago!

30 years… the thought of listening to 30-year-old music (Vera Lyn?) back in ’76 would have been just unthinkable. As a young punk the thought of listening to music ten years old seemed outrageous (although my record collection now contains large quantities of ‘60s music).

What exactly was punk though? I am sure many would argue that punk was a musical movement that hit the UK in 1976/77 that burned like an exploding star and soon found itself destroyed by its own success when the big record labels jumped on the bandwagon. To a certain extent that is true, but if that were all it was we would not still be feeling the cultural shock waves of the movement 30 years on.

Punk was about more than just music, it was about attitude, it was a rejection of everything stale about society, it was about taking control of things yourself with a strong emphasis on DIY ethics and it just happened that it manifest itself in musical form. There were the fanzines, movies, books, independent record labels, art, poetry… the list is endless.

It was not long before the whole thing spiralled out of control and a lot of people lost the plot, with the original idea of outrageous DIY clothing soon giving way to the uniform of leather jackets, spiky hair or Mohican, safety pins etc. I have to confess; I got caught up with this myself for a while.

Bands started conforming to a set formula of what a punk band was supposed to sound like, giving rise to bands like the Exploited, GBH and Peter and The Test Tube Babies. They were not all dreadful, some of them were actually quite entertaining (which in itself was a justification for existing), but most were completely missing the point of what punk was about.

Many of the original punks moved on, charting new waters and experimenting with new styles or mixing and matching a variety of old styles. The Clash, for instance, flirted with dub, hip-hop, and jazz; The Damned started leaning towards the psychedelic; and Joy Division turned into the disco beast that is New Order.

As the music industry smothered punk almost before it was born, many bands went underground and took things even further. Bands like Crass, Conflict, Poison Girls and countless others took things into their own hands and ‘Anarcho Punk’ was born. This attitude helped to revitalise the free festival scene, which spawned the outdoor free parties that would come to be known as ‘Rave’.

The music that the ravers were getting into was possibly more punk than punk, stealing samples from wherever they felt like, chucking in noises made by the new generation of synthesisers that was starting to emerge, doing it all in the bedroom, very often with few or even no ‘proper’ musicians being involved, releasing the records themselves and putting on parties away from the traditional live circuit… basically controlling everything, from the creating of the music right through to the selling, promoting and performing.

Although the seeds of punk were sewn in America with bands like the Ramones, New York Dolls and the MC5, UK punk managed to turn it into something meaningful and then sold it back to the US, and the rest of the world. A recent visit to Prague revealed that Punk is alive and well over there pogoing on the ashes of communism.

In the 1990s, bands like Nirvana and Green Day, together with the ‘Brit Pop’ and ‘Cool Cymru’ scene, many of them not even born when punk first landed, were banging out hits that owed more to the original punks than your average teenager will ever know.

On top of this, there are bands out there that have taken on the best elements of punk and mashed them up with everything else they see around them, like hip-hop, raga, rap, ska and dub, to create brand new original music that is far more than the sum of its parts; bands like Asian Dub Foundation, Inner Terrestrials, Transplants, Spanner, Fundamental, King Prawn… the list goes on.

If that was not enough, the spirit of punk has also resulted in people giving their music away fro free in the form of MP3s… now there is a whole blog post on its own!

So, 30 years on the aftershocks of that first punk explosion are still reverberating. Without that brief period of intense creativity 30 years ago the music scene would look completely different and no doubt rugby players would not be spending hours making their hair look uncombed and unmade beds would not be on display in the Tate Modern.

The only thing that has had as big an impact since punk was rave, and it could be argued that was just punks with new technology. Surely we are due for something as explosive, new and original new soon? My musical tastes have broadednd way beyond punk since those heady days, my record collection covers just about everything from blues, soul, dub and jazz to techno, metal and space rock. Despite this I still enjoy listening to punk, it is lively, shouty, energetic and at its best thought provoking. Some purists would argue punk died in 1978, but its spirit certainly lives on.

Perhaps much of the above making out punk to be some sort of pure form of rebelion, is the reason it has so many critics, because it will often fall short of the ideals it sets out to achive; if some band signs a major label deal then they have sold out. No-one complains when some amazing dance act signs to a major label. At its most basic level, it is still music, which after all is only a form of entertainment. And for me it still entertains... so rock on!

Sites that may be of interest

Sunday, January 29, 2006

CHASING SHADOWS: Trefil Quarry in the winter sun

With the winter sun hanging low in the sky I went on a mission today to get some photos of shadows. As part of this mission I found myself up at the site of the abandoned Trefil Quarry.

The Romans, the 19th iron masters and the 20th century steelworks got their limestone for smelting metal from the quarry. The Chartists of the 1830s plotted their insurrection and practised their arms drill on this ridge – and they stored their weapons in the quarry caves. The young Aneirin Bevan, the political genius of the National Health Service and post-war house building programme, walked these hills reciting Milton and Shakepeare to fight his stammer. Bevan’s ashes are scattered on the moor near by.

The site is massive, and the baron moonscape left following the end of quarrying has an unexpected rugged beauty to it. The fact that you can look around 360 degrees without seeing pylons or any other tell tale sign of civilisation resulted in it being used as the home planet of the Vogons in the recent movie adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.

Today was a bitterly cold afternoon with the pond in the middle and all puddles frozen. There was not a cloud to be seen in the winter sky.

The remains of the quarry actually look natural in places, like some coastal cliff line. There were however one of two obviously man made remains from the old quarry, the perfect canvas for graffiti artists well away from the eyes of the law.

Its distance from civilisation has also made it a favourite venue for sound systems putting on free parties, able to punp up the volume without worrying about disturbing the neighbours.

On the outskirts of the quarry dozens of dirt bikers and quad bikers tear around the area practicing their jumps and driving through puddles. It was a bit like a family day out with dads showing young sons how to handle their machines and even mums sat in camper vans drinking tea.

I eventually had to give up because my hands were becoming so cold I could not change the settings on the camera, but could not help stopping several times on the way home when my eye was caught by the sun playing with the leafless trees.

I think I am going to have to get myself an SLR.

Friday, January 27, 2006

30TH ANIVERSARY OF PUNK: Upcoming gigs in Birmingham and Newcastle

Just found the above gig on Conflict's website. Mixed feelings about this, could be a laugh or could be hell on earth!

2008 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW: Some nice trips in the pipeline

All the way to Poland to watch Wales play.... on the telly in a pub 400 miles away from the actual game (World Cup qualifier Sept 2005)

The draw was made for the 2008 European Championship this morning. There a few interesting trips away in the pipeline, but qualifying for the finals does not look too promising. Our group includes

Group D
Czech Republic
Republic of Ireland
San Marino

for full draw... click here

Thursday, January 26, 2006

MOLARA SPREADS HER WINGS: Zion Train vocalist leaves band

Molara, the much respected and loved Zion Train vocalist has decided to leave the band and concentrate on her solo work. She will be greatly missed and we wish her luck.

Zion Train were the first band I interviewed for Peppermint Iguana back in 1995 when the idea of a fanzine was a mere thought in my head. I could not have picked a better band to set me on my way; their warmth, inspiration, love, generosity and positive vibrations gave me the confidence to realise the only limits are the imagination and if you want to do something, you can do it.

The Train are more than just a band, they are almost a whole music scene on their own; running their own Universal Egg and Deep Root labels and providing a platform for all things rootical and dubwise.

I can remember now, the first time I heard them. It was on the John Peel Show (bless him) and was the first time I had heard (what I now know to be) ‘digital dub’. It blew me away and sent me on a mission to get my hands on the album Passage To Indica (not the first or last time Peelie had that affect on me). This led me on adventure discovering dub all over again with bands such as the Bush Chemists and Children of the Bong.

Not content with being Zion Train, members of the band have also worked as Power Steppers, Tassilli Players, Abassi Hi Power, Love Grocer and much more; like an extended family that have grown up, and done their own thing but know they can always call the Train their home. And beyond this extended family is an even bigger circle of friends that goes way beyond the label mates, with roots spreading far and wide into the festival/sound system scene.

After that first meeting for the interview our paths crossed on many occasions, and each time they have taken the time to send love vibrations in our direction. Our paths have crossed less frequently over the last few years, but when we met in Bristol’s Trinity Hall last year, the first time for about three years, it was like bumping into old friends.

When I first met them they were all London based, but now they are well and truly implanted in West Wales on their own little ‘farm’, from where the label is run and Dubwaves are broadcast to the world.

Zion Train are a beast that rule the soundsystem world with bass that can bring down armies but rhythms that would move mortal enemies to dance together in harmony. Molara was the princess that soothed the savage beast and radiated love to all around, they will not quite be the same without her, but I am sure they will keep fields and dancefloors resonating to the beat nicely. In 2006 Earl 16, Kenny Knots, Dubdadda and Brother Culture will perform as vocalists.

Molara may have left the Train, but she has not left the scene, she will be performing solo, with the Power Steppers, running her Dub Port project with partner (and fellow Train geezer) Colin. I personally would not be surprised if she also occasionally turned up on stage with the Train in the future.

Bless you Molara, one of these days I am going to take you up on your many offers to come down to the farm for a visit.

Monday, January 23, 2006

SEPERATED AT BIRTH: Top ten political lookalikes

Just found a cracking page with political lookalikes on, bightened my day up!
Go to

Saturday, January 21, 2006


It is easy to take things for granted when they are on your doorstep. Zoë Iguana was not interested in looking around Caerphilly Castle today; she was more interested in her impending trip to New York. No doubt there are people in New York who have no interest in the Empire State Building and would love to have one of the largest castles in Europe 8 miles down the road.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

BULLSHIT ART? or art bullshit?

Tonight we went along to the opening night of an exhibition by our mate Dave Garner, acclaimed artist, activist and all round good geezer. Dave’s work usually has a political edge to it, and tonight was no exception.

The above piece is called ‘When The Sh*t Hits The Flag’. Basically, it is an American flag literally covered in bullsh*t, collected locally from the farm behind Dave’s house. Over the top of it is the Abraham Lincoln quote “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. To the side of the flag is fan, ensuring that it is flapping in the wind at all times. Pretty self explanatory really; simple, yet profound at the same time.

The installation above, ‘They Shoot Children Don’t they?’, is the centrepiece of the exhibition. It is not really possible to do it justice in words, but I will try to explain what it is… sort of. It is based around a steel globe frame, the bottom of which is wrapped in rope which then runs out across the floor; inside the globe, are items of children’s clothing splattered in blood; hanging from the top of the globe is a TV/video playing a loop of young Palestinian children talking about the motivation behind becoming a suicide bomber and finally, behind the TV is what could only be described as a suicide bombers vest. (Sorry if I have oversimplified this Dave).

I had a long debate with The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger about what it meant; was the rope unravelling or in the process of being wrapped? Would it have been better to have some sort of explanation of what it was or to leave it to the ‘viewer’ to make their own mind up? Personally, I think the fact that we were having the debate may have been part of the point of it, to get people thinking about it both in terms of as a piece of art and the political statement of it.

This piece above, ‘Pockets of Resistance’, is made up of, well.. pockets, lots of ‘em, all sewn together to make one big pocket. Over the top is a woman’s face and the names of various resistance groups. When I tried explaining the piece to the boys in work they said “you mean terrorists”, but that is half the point, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger seemed to think the woman depicted was a famous suicide bomber, but I have not seen her… but then is he is right she wouldn’t be on the telly much these days. Perhaps Dave can put us right when he reads this.

The exhibition will be open until 17th February in the Ty Crawshay Building (odd that anyone would want to honour Crawshay by naming a building after him) from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. I think I might pop back and have another look when there are less people about, if you are in the area it is well worth a look.

It is art (i think... but what exactly is art?) and it is definitely contemporary; but if you want art bullshit you need to go to the Tate Modern, this is something far more profound, meaningful and original than your Tracy Emmins , it is bullshit art!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

HERE COMES THE SUMMER! Start planning your festivals now

The weather outside is raining..... but to warm you up, why not start thinking about which festivals to go to this summer. Before you start practicing your juggling and go looking for that stupid foam top hat, here are a few suggestions:

ASHTON COURT: Long established and well respected festival in Bristol, takes place mid July every year, no camping but well worth the £5 entry fee (now sponsored by Orange :-( )
BEAUTIFUL DAYS: Old skool estival run by the Levellers each August in Devon
BIG CHILL: Big rip off
BESTIVAL: Smallish thing on the Isle of Wight with a half decent line up
BIG GREEN GATHERING: its a gathering, its big and its green
BLISS FIELDS: family friendly thang in Hampshire
BLOODSTOCK: metal for muthas
BULLDOG BASH: Biker heaven
CARLING WEEKEND: Mean Fi**ler commercial nonsense for kids to line Vince Powers' pocket
CREAMFIELDS: superclub in a tent
CROWPOINT: Don’t know much about this, but it will be in Newport and will be 20,000+ capacity
DOWNLOAD: Noisy mutha, held on the site of Donnington racecourse, take ya ear plugs and sleep with one eye open
DEEPLY VALE: leftfield event oop north
EARTH WISE: Green eco-event
ENDORSE IT IN DORSET: Festival in, you guesed it, DORSET, run by those nutters Pronghorn
GLADE FESTIVAL: Loud banging techno fest every july run by the people who run the Glade area in Glastonbury (with connections to the old Megadog events me thinks)
GLOBAL GATHERING: Glowsticks, whistles, bandanas and prancing about doing the ‘big box little box’ thing.
GREEN MAN FESTIVAL: Held in Baskerville Hall, Haye on Wye every August. Little known event with no 'big' names but always sells out early
GOSFORTH GATHERING: New punk/metal/indie event
GUILFEST: Festival for Radio 2 listeners who do not like campfires and late night music, but do like propper bogs.
ISLE OF WIGHT: The festie famous for the Jimmi Hendrix appearance in the '60's has been back for a couple of years, Jimmi don’t play no more though
LARMER TREE FESTIVAL: Well run civilised little folky/world music event in the Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset every July. Excellent facilities, and usually has a few good names on the bill. Ideal festival for people who do not like festivals. ALWAYS sells out and always has pronghorn close on the Sunday night.
LOST VAGUENESS: Once a cool little secret area of Glastonbury, now so poupular it has its own festival. Excentric to say the least, with a thirties ballroom/casino vibe.
OFF THE TRACKS: Nice little gathering held twice a year in a hotel just off the tracks of Donington Race track. Choose their campsite or stay in the hotel! 45 real ales in the barn.
OXYGEN: Big event with big names over in Ireland
REGGAE FESTIVAL OF WALES: It's a Festival, with lots of reggae, and it's in West Wales!
ROSKILDE: Denmark’s answer to Glastonbury
SECRET GARDEN PARTY: Shhhhhhhhhh! It's a secret
SHAMBALA: Wicked little funky festival in Devon every August, but don't tell anyone 'cos you will spoil it.
SHEEP MUSIC FESTIVAL: Funky global roots event on the Welsh Border near Hereford every July
SMALL NATIONS: Global beats in Mid Wales
SOLFEST: Event with a cracking line up in Cumbria on August Bank Holiday
SUMMER SUNDAE: Indie thing in Leicester
TARTAN HEART: Nice little'un tucked away in the Highlands of Scotland
V FESTIVAL: Nasty commercial thing in Staffordshire
WOMAD: World Of Music Arts and Dance festival, holds events all year round all over the world, but main event in UK is in Reading at end of July
WYCHOWOOD: Low key but classy event on the site of Cheltenham Race Course.

Or why not be adventurous and check out what is appenin’ in Europe


SUNRISE SOLSTICE CELEBRATION: A wicked looking gig at a secret location ‘somewhere in Somerset’ (site revealed when you buy ticket) over the summer solstice. Excellent line up.

WORKHOUSE FESTIVAL: Nice little shindig in a beautiful location in Mid Wales. Zion train, Shooglenifty and Tony McPhee all on the same bill and it’s only £30 [just got MY ticket ;-)]

And…. In my previous listing (which can be found HERE) I did not mention the STRAWBERRY FAIR cos it is only a one dayer with no camping, but SAT has brought it up, so I will give it a plug. It has been around for years and pulls some nice bands in..and it is FREE. Never been myself, but it has a tremendous reputaion.


Monday, January 16, 2006

THE DAMNED: Thanx for the memories

The Damned, circa 1976
I have now opened me Damned box set thang, and have to say it is a bit special and has brought back some memories.

I would like to be able to say that I bought The Damned’s New Rose, the first ever official UK punk single, the week it came out, but the truth is by the time The Damned came across my radar in late ’77 they already had two albums out and were on the verge of breaking up. By the time they got back together in early ’79 I was a massive fan and had got my hands on most of the stuff they had released on Stiff records (the subject of this box set).

The set also contains loads of demos, peel sessions and live tracks never previously released. It is quite understandable why the Mont De Marsten festival thing has never been released before, it is dreadful; as an item of ‘curiosity’ though, it is perfect.

When the come back single, Love Song, was released the Damned were in a position of already having a massive fan base, myself included. From then on, I went to see every Damned gig my limited budget would allow, sometimes travelling considerable distances. There were nights spent sleeping in bus shelters, in squats and on the floors of student digs; there were long hours on the side of the motorway with my thumb out, or jammed into the back of over packed transit vans and nights driving half way accross the country in cars that we were not sure would get us home.

There was a time I could count the number of gigs I had been to by individual bands; I have long since given up counting such things but I do remember there was a time when I would say that I had seen the Damned over 60 times… that was a long time ago and the number has no doubt increased since then.

There was a period when we used to get backstage through the various Welsh lads that drifted through the band, in particular Maesycwmer boy Roman Jugg, who played keyboards for them for a while. I remember them being larger than life, Captain Sensible being every bit as animated off stage as he was on, Dave Vanian being the perfect gentleman and Rat Scabies being, quite frankly, an arrogant t@at.

They kept at it for a good many years, mutating as they went. With the Black Album they dared to mix psychedelia with punk and it could be argued that they influenced the birth of ‘Goth’, but they never really got bogged down with that label themselves.

Somewhere in the ‘90s they lost the plot a bit with Captain wandering in and out of the band, and (for me at least) became a bit irrelevant. I confess there is a period where I lost track of the band almost completely, Captain was concentrating on side projects, Rat was being a tw@t about money (he is no longer in the band and the band want nothing to do with him) and somehow they managed to release an album 'I'm Alright Jack and the Beanstalk' which Dave Vanian did not want released; indeed the band have now disowned the album completely. But then I remember catching them in Butlins and somehow everything had changed.

A gang of us went to a punk weekend in Butlins in Minehead. If this sounds cheesey, let me assure you it was. For a mere £35 we had three nights accommodation in a chalet and in the region of 60 punk bands to keep us occupied. At that price we had to go, we might even hava laugh while we are at it!

Many of those that had turned out looked as if they had been wearing the same t-shirts and listening to the same music for 25 years, I could not help but think they had somehow missed the point of punk. Many of the bands were stuck in the same time warp and we stood there in amazement as Chelsea appeared to be doing the exact same set as they had when we first caught them two decades earlier. Not all the bands were living in the past, Slaughter and the Dogs and a few others had moved on a little… and then there was the Damned.

The Damned far and away stole the show, blowing everyone off the stage. They still had that old energy but the music had progressed, in keeping with a band that now had twenty odd years of constant gigging and recording under their belt. Perhaps most importantly, the Captain was back. They were tighter, sharper and slicker than ever before. I think one of the reasons they were so good was that they have managed to keep the ‘spirit’ of punk going but have not been caught in a rut and have progressed to something much slicker than punk ever could have been , or would ever have wanted to be.

I was firmly back on board and got back into checking them out on a regular basis again.

Official Damned website
The Captains (B)Log
Another Great Website from The Damned (fan site)
One Way Love (fan site)
Sugar and Spite (on-line fanzine)
Totally Damned (another fan site!)
Eternal Damnation (blog)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

US BOMBS PAKISTAN: Whitehouse a law unto themselves

I woke up in the early hours to find I had left the TV on and was greeted by news 24 informing me that the Americans have bombed Pakistan in an attempt to kill Al Qaeda suspects. Needless to say, they killed 18 civilians and a grand total of zero terrorists.

At first i thouight it was a cheese induced dream, but looking on the web I can see it is actually true. I am struggling to find words on this. What planet is George and his cronies living on? Who on earth do they think they are that they can go around bombing other countries at a whim? Even if they had killed the intended target, who gave them the right to do that? If this suspect were in Europe, would they have bombed him here? Do they not realise that the only thing they have achieved is adding fuel to the terrorists fire?

George Bush is without a doubt the best recruiting sergeant the international terrorist movement has ever had.

Just when you think the world cannot get any madder, they turn the insanity up a notch

Saturday, January 14, 2006

DIGITAL METAL DUB CELT: Failed atempt to stay out of record shops in cardiff

Headed down to the big smoke today to buy a camera from Zoë Iguana’s birthday.. and some how managed to come home with CDS and books.

My first CD shopping expedition of 2006 netted me a bit of a mixed bag.

MONSTER MAGNET: Dopes to infinity: Grungy metal in a similar vein to Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction
ELECTRIC WIZARD: Dopethrone: Scary, heavy as f*ck 21st Century answer to Black Sabbath’s Maters of Reality period.
DREADZONE: Once Upon A Time: Dubbed up digital funky beats from the band that where there when dub and digital dance first collided.
AFRO CELT SOUND SYSTEM: Anatomic: Pioneers of the Afro Celtic sound clash stylee, which has been copied by so many but rarely matched.

Also, although I was determined not to buy any books, I could not leave ‘The making of The Stone Roses’ by Nigel Cawthorne and ‘Passion Is A Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash’ by Pat Gilbert sitting on the shelf with £2.99 stickers on them.

As for the original aim, managed to pick up a nice little Olympus Miu at a bargain price (it had been a demonstrator model). I was a tiny bit p*ssed off though, got talking to the guy in the shop and discovered that my Fujifilm Finepix F10, has been replaced by the F11. I love my F10, but the only fault I can find with it is that there is no manual shutter speed or aperture adjustment, needless to say the new F11 has these features. Inevitable they would do it I suppose though. Such is life.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

PLAY IT AT YOUR SISTER: Delayed Damned Christmas present arrives

Been trying to hunt down 'Play It At Your Sister', the Damned box set for a while now, but it is so limited usual sources have proven useless. Today it finally arrived.

Basically it is a box set containing everything the Damned ever recorded for Stiff Records, including demos. In addition there is a previously unreleased CD of the 1976 gig at Mont De Marsten festival in France and contemoraneous Peel Sessions. It also contains a 130 page book giving the history of the early years of the Damned, with a foreword by the late great john Peel RIP.

It is limited to 5,000 copies and I have not seen it in any shops, not even the legendary Spillers of Cardiff. I eventually tracked it down by ordering from the amazing Freak Emporium; even they had difficulty, it was ordered ages ago, but they have come through in the end (as they always do!). Not going to listen to it yet though, it was going to be a Christmas present from me mate squirrel, so i have promissed not to play it until we get together on the weekend for a feast of cider and old skool punk. Thank you very much Squirrel!

I really must get around to finishing off the Iguana website, at which point i will upload a review of the album, together with the interview i did with the band a while back.

UNLEASH THE BEAST: Grange End fence comes down

Plymouth's 'The Central Element' wave hello through the Grange End fence

The fence that seperates the away fans from the Grane End Massive has been taken down today, recognition that the violence problem at Ninan Park has been virtually eradicated. All that will seperate the fans now will be a line of coppers.

It could go one of several ways, there could be massive rucks with fans trying to get at eachother, or the kids that stand next to the fence goading the away fans will wise up with the prospect of the away firm taking up the offer to 'come and join us over here', resulting in a bit of common sense prevailing.

No doubt there will be a few people put off going on the Grange End now, while a few 'unsavouries' will find it more attractive!

I must say, the timing is a bit odd, our next four home games are Burnley, Millwal, Stoke and Hull, all firms that have 'unfinished business' with Cardiff's Soul Crew.

Should be interesting.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Dear Muppet,

Stop hacking this site. If you have a problem with me, then you are more than welcome to post comments (as I suspect you already have). I am not into censorship so unless you go over the top your comments will remain.

Anonymously hacking this site is just cowardly and pathetic. I have no idea why you feel the need to do this; from your comments you obviously do not know me. If you have a problem with me you feel you need to discuss then e-mail me; alternatively do yourself a favour, stop sneaking about messing about with other people’s blogs and get your own life.

You might not like me, what little you know of me, but I don't really care. I know life is full of compromises but I have learned to live with it and get on with my life the best I can, so you aint gonna wind me up; but I could do without having to check this whole site to see what changes you have made.

I could call you a sad and lonely t*sser, but that would be jumping to conclusions ‘cos I do not know who you are (just like you have jumped to conclusions about me). What I do know is that you are a coward and do not have the bottle to come out from behind your anonymity and debate with me properly. Feel free to prove me wrong.

That is my rant over, I shall now go back to not knowing or caring who you are.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

ARSENAL AWAY: FA Cup 3rd round... a distraction from the serious football.

City fans mingle with the forces of darkness in front of the building site that will next season be the new home to the gooners
It is a long time since City has played a club as big as Arsenal, and tickets were fiercely fought over. Fortunately I managed to get me hands on one and today was the big day.

There had been a lot of arguing about how to distribute tickets, some said that those that travel away most regularly should have first option, others came up with all sorts of methods, but in the end they went on sale to Season Ticket holders first and then… well no-body really, because despite the fact that only 10% of Season Ticket holders travel away every single one of them bought a ticket for this game. I managed to get a ticket of a season ticket holder that was not going (I am only a ‘member’) so I was OK, but there were an awful lot of tickets finding their way into the hands of people who never watch the City and I could not help feeling sorry for the boys who go away regularly that had to miss out because some season ticket holders nephew was getting a ticket for Christmas… or whatever…. rant over.

The night before the game I actually found myself getting excited, I cannot remember the last time I got excited about anything. I think I felt how Tara iguana must have felt on Christmas Eve. The excitement made sure I did not sleep late, but getting up in time to be on the platform for 6am meant that reality kicked in and my feet were firmly back on the ground.

I would normally have travelled with the Valley RAMs, but they have fallen foul of the law, meaning their busses were going to be alcohol free, so I opted for the train. Typical style, as soon as the train companies realised there would be loads travelling by train they banned alcohol on all trains between Cardiff and London for the day. I was on the platform in Cardiff before they started searching people going on to the platform so I had no problems smuggling enough cider onto the train to last the journey; but despite the fact that they started searching everyone, just about everyone seemed to have beer with them so the searches could not have been very thorough.

I met up with a gang of mates on the platform and Dangerous Dave joined us at Newport, we then set about consuming our ‘refreshments’ undeterred by the fact that we would normally still be in bed at this time on a Saturday.

Some how, our little gang got split up as soon as we arrived in Paddington, but Dave and I are quite capable of finding a pub ourselves.

Much had been made of City being allocated pubs to drink in to avoid us mingling with Gooners, but as Dangerous Dave and I got off the tube at Highbury there was a pub next to the station which appeared to be serving anyone who wanted a pint (and everyone who wanted a pint seemed to be getting on without resorting to fisticuffs), so we called in and drunk beer.

After a short walk to the ground we split up, Dave being told by some jobs worth Steward that his ticket meant he had to use a different entrance to me. Once in the ground I seemed to bump into someone I knew every 30 seconds, so soon had someone to ‘hang out’ with during the game.

Apart from the drink related matters, another issue that much had been made of was that everyone would have to sit in the correct seat on their ticket, and everyone would have to sit down. The Stewards were, to be frank, out of their depth. I have no idea why this is, surely they deal with big passionate crowds week in week out, if this is how things are every week I am surprised there has not been a major incident before now. I went up and stood with two mates I have known since school, and never really found out where I was supposed to be sitting. There may have been people who actually sat during the game, but they would have been either at the very front with no one in front of them, or would have not been able to see any of the game, ‘cos as far as I could see everyone stood for the entire 90 minutes.

Highbury is one of the few grounds in London I have not been to (younger readers might find it hard to believe, but there was a time when high flying Chealsea were in the old second division!), so it was nice to be able to visit it before the Gooners move to thier new ground next season. Before going up a mate of mine, an Arsenal fan as it happens, had told me they call it Highbury the Library, because of the total lack of atmosphere. He was right. Despite the fact that they have been one of the most successful teams in Europe over the last few years the home crowd made as much noise as drying paint. This was more than made up for by the 7,000 passionate City fans who were ‘singing’ their hearts out. Even when the Gooners were two up, all that could be heard through the ground were chants like ‘Two nil, and you still can’t sing’, ‘shall we sing a song for you?’ and the classic ‘we’re gonna win 3-2’.

Despite the fact that we could not put our best team out (we don’t ‘own’ Jason Koumas, he is on loan and WBA did not want him ‘cup tied’) we gave them a good run for their money and casual observers would not have known that they are a league above us. Eventually Cameron Jerome banged in a consolation goal, which sent the clock end wild and had everyone egging the boys on for an equaliser. It never came, but I think everyone came away satisfied that the boys done good, it could have been a lot worse. Even Reading put 5 on us on New Years day.

Outside the bumping in to old mates continued until eventually our gang was complete again and we headed off to the pub. As we sat with our pints we watched the impressive sight of 63 busses full of City fans heading for the M4 with a police escort. I was quite happy to not be on one of those busses though, cos we had some drinking to do. We eventually got on our train in Paddington long after the busses had arrived back in the Mother Land, well oiled and well happy; thinking thoughts of more serious football, the type that matters… concentrating on promotion.

MMMMM someone hacking my blog... i am flattered

Looks like i am going to have to spend some time undoing the damage done by this bedroom warrior. Once I have done that i will get around to blogging events ove the last week or so.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Scary monsters wandering around the Shambala Festival in the middle of the night

So, what will I remember when I look back on 2005.

Being in Scotland for the Anti G8 protests, including the momentous morning when the summit was disrupted by every single road to Gleneagles being shut down by Anarchists

Four days in Poland to watch Wales playing football, even though we only watched it in the pub.

Visiting Auschwitz. Part of the above Polish trip, but deserves a mention on its own. A day that will live with me forever.

Leeds United away. One of many away games in 2005, but this will stick in my memory for the RAMs being so organised getting around the booze ban and the riot that went on outside when the ‘Service crew’ were trying to get at us.

Shambala Festival. An old favourite comes up trumps with a cracking weekend (again). The line up is somewhat irrelevant at this event; the vibe is so laid back and cool. In danger of becoming a victim of its own success though.

First visit to the Off the Tracks Festival. Cracking site and facilities, will keep an eye out for this in the future, but will only go if there is a decent line up.

Spending 5 months doing a job I actually enjoyed doing and got excited about going to work.

Zion Train in Trinity Hall, Bristol. Still rockin’ tha block after all these years.

Okupational Hazard Squatfest. ‘Ardcore and old Skool. Carlsberg don’t do parties, but if they did ….

Baka Beyond in the Fiddlers, Bristol. One of the most talented bands in the universe.

Me new Fujifilm Finepix F10.

Plus some stuff I have no intention of putting on the net ;-)