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

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

STRIKE ONE: Over a million workers on one day strike, but this is just the beginning!

Picket outside Sardis house, Pontypridd (Ironic, as it was once the HQ of the National Union of Mineworkers)

Today was the big day, the biggest strike in the UK since the General Strike of 1926. I was up early and headed off to do my bit on the picket line.

Rhondda Cynon Taff had been pretty accommodating and supportive of the action (which is aimed more at the Government and the local Government Association than individual authorities). They agreed to shut down almost entirely, except for a hand full of workplaces which were kept open for those that felt the need to go in to work and break the strike. On the day only a hand full of people crossed the lines and even Councillors joined us on the pickets.

Mid morning the pickets were called off and we headed down to Pontypridd for a rally with speakers and then marched through the town with what seemed like the whole of the Welsh media in tow.

On the whole, it was a good-natured affair and a very successful day with very few breaking the strike, but unless there is a miracle this is just the first shot of the war and it is possible it could turn very messy in the coming weeks.

For more, see the UNISON website.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A CRISP MORNING ON THE BARBICAN: Whiling a way a few hours before heading home

I have been visiting Plymouth off and on for 25 years and have grown quite fond of the city. There are a few areas of interest and it makes a good base for checking out the Devon coast. With our time in the town limited though, it had to be the Barbican for us on Sunday Morning.

The area bleeds history, The Mayflower sailed from there in 1602 taking the Pilgrims, the first permanent settlers, to new England; the Tolpuddle Martyrs returned there from Australia after being pardoned and half a mile up the road on the Hoe, Francis Drake played bowls while waiting for the Spanish Armada.

These days it is tourist central, with gift shops, a huge glass shop, a gin distillery and the National Aquarium all nestled within and expensive marina with luxury apartments on the other side of the harbour.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0 CARDIFF CITY 1: Points and pints on the south coast

I love seeing Plymouth Argyle away on the fixture list, me old mate Stockwood lives down there so it is an opportunity to make a weekend of it.

We travelled down on Friday Night and got stuck into an evening of nostalgia, beer and listening to punk classics. Despite the late night we were up and off (reasonably) fresh for a few pints for the game. We called into a local social club, which appeared to be filled almost entirely with people wearing Argyle shirts. After a few pints we mingled with the locals and wandered down to the ground which, apart from one end, is only 3 years old.

I suppose I should be happy that the one City goal was enough to secure three points, but it was not a particularly exciting game and quite painful to watch on times with neither side displaying much talent.

We were held back after the game to try to avoid confrontation with the home fans, then we were off back to the club for a few more beers, then back to base for a quick freshen up (and a few cans), then down to Mutley Plain for some more beer. All in all a good day out, with no trouble whatsoever.

Devon and Cornwall Police preparing to escort the supportes coaches all the way home with no stops.... why?

I accept that Cardiff have had a bit of a reputation in the hooligan department for a good few years now, but that is pretty much history. Inevitably there a few firms with similar reputations that want to have a go to prove a point (Wolves, Millwall, Leeds, Stoke, West Ham) but the vast majority of clubs we visit are not a problem. Plymouth, on the whole, is one such club. They have a firm, ‘The Central Element’, but they have never been considered a proper firm and there is no real rivalry or history between Cardiff and Plymouth. The reason I am mentioning this is because it makes the Devon and Cornwall Police’s attitude towards us incomprehensible.

As I say, we mingled with the home fans and had a great time, but those that travelled by bus found themselves escorted all the way back to Wales, without stopping. Last year the escort went as far as Cardiff! There is no logic to this treatment and all they have done is ensure that next time we play them no-one will travel by bus and the law will have their hands full trying to deal with 2,000 city fans making their own way to the ground, by train, car and van… a recipie for old skool agro if there ever was. Totally unnecessary.

Anyway, as I say, we had a great time!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

CARDIFF CITY V LEGGS 11: Cardiff City 4 Cardiff City 1 (???)

Tonight we went down to the legendary Ninan Park for a testimonial game for Andy Legg. It was basically the current team versus a team made up of ex City stars, plus a few other Welsh ‘super stars’.

5,700 turned out to watch the game and all in all it was a pleasant evening, it was nice to see stars like 'Earnie' and 'Kav' back at Ninian Park, even a slightly heavy Jimmy Gilligan (that takes me back) but the lack of anything riding on the game and no away fans made for an evening which lacked any REAL excitement. Called in for an curry on the way home to celebrate the birthday of The Artist Formerly Known As Ginger. An altogether civilised and relaxing evening.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

REVOLVER: Guy Ritchie loses the plot

I have just watched guy Ritchie’s latest movie, ‘Revolver’. All I can say is “What the f@ck was that about?"

Guy’s two previous films, ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch’ have to be two of my all time favourite films. I love the way the plots jump about all over the place but at the end everything suddenly falls into place and it all makes sense… similar to Quentin Tarantino’s work.

So I forced myself to watch, waiting for the pieces of the jigsaw to all fall into place, but they never did. At the end of the film I just sat there thinking… have I missed something? Unlike his previous films, it did not even contain any humour.

I looked it up on the net to see if I could find out what other people have said about it. It seems like I am not the only one that was confused. There is an interesting article on The Guardian website analysing how the Sun quote "Brilliant ... Guy Ritchie back to his best!" came about, which is quite a bizarre story. I love the quote “The critical reaction to Guy Ritchie's Kabbalah-infused gangster flick Revolver has been rather like watching a car crash in slo-mo. The film is, by common consent, not merely a turkey, but a squawking, gobbling prize Christmas clunker of a bird. For the Daily Mail's Christopher Tookey, "Ritchie tells his story so incoherently and indolently - and with such an alienating air of self-congratulation - that Revolver becomes first annoying, then exasperating, and eventually unbearable." In the Daily Mirror, David Edwards dismissed the picture as "so incredibly, absurdly, breathtakingly awful, I wanted to buy a revolver so I could shoot the projectionist before turning the gun on myself."

I have to say, it is quite an interesting film, the acting is good, the camera work is eye catching and it is very stylish and cool…. But what is it about? I would recommend it, it is definitely worth seeing, but don’t expect to be able to follow it, it makes Kill Bill look like Coronation Street. You will feel the need to watch it intently and work out what is happening, and you may even work it out, but if you do you are better than me! Post a comment if you can explain it.