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

Monday, March 15, 2010

1234 : Tales of young love and rock and roll dreaming

1234 trailer

1234 the movie | MySpace Video

New British Cinema Quarterly is a scheme that is, in its own words, “Taking the most distinctive and original British feature films and filmmakers from the festival circuit and bringing them to the UK's flagship independent cinemas”. Chapter Arts in Cardiff, presumably, must be a ‘flagship independent cinema’, because this is where we headed tonight to catch the first film to get the NBCQ treatment, 1234.

1234 is a tale of young love disguised as a film about a young indie band dreaming of making it big – but it might possibly be the other way around. Bespectacled guitarist Stevie (Ian Bonar) together with his mate Neil (Matthew Baynton) attempt to break out of the hum drum existence of working in a call centre by forming a band. First they recruit the slightly older and more experienced Billy (Kieran Bew) and slightly scatty bassist Emily (Lyndsey Marshal) - who moonlights as an artist, making sculptures out of hair and creating maps based on a day following strangers around.

The band rehearse in what appears to be a church hall, play gigs in pubs, lay down a demo and send it off to every record company they can think of – then build up a collection of rejection letters from said record companies.

Stevie falls in love with Emily, who in return likes him back – but she has a boyfriend, so the course of true love is not a straight one.

The film is not a Guy Ritchie movie, not a Huw Grant Movie and not even a Billy Elliot move; it is a tale of people having a laugh and making the most of things while living a mundane life but living in hope. There is no happy ending, but at the end we do get a tantalising glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, in more ways than one; you are left with a feeling that maybe things do work out but there is enough of a question mark at the end to generate a warm grin as the credits go up.

This is a directorial debut by Giles Borg, who cut his teeth making music videos. The film was actually made back in 2008, with a little bit of help from the wallet of Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, but is only now getting big screen space due to the New British Cinema Quarterly project.

As part of the NBCQ tours, films are followed by a question and answer session with someone connected with the film. In Cardiff we get the endearing Matthew Baynton, a young and refreshingly honest and down to earth character who gives us a little insight into how the film was made, tales of playing in his own band and a few thoughts on young love.

All in all a thoroughly wholesome and heart warming evening.


Sunday, March 14, 2010


PIC: John sicolo hanging out with John Peel

John Sicolo, owner of the legendary TJs in Newport passed away this morning. BBC story here

Newport will not be the same without him.

Friday, March 05, 2010


If you want to find a pissed off anarchist with a liking for ska-punk and black hoodies, you wont go far wrong by going to a No Borders benefit gig. For some time now the more active anarchists in Cardiff have been focusing their energy on No Borders Wales and tonight they have gathered for drinking of beer and grooving to loud shouty punk rock.

Prior to the event the Promised Land was described to me as “a hot new venue in the centre of Cardiff”. On arrival I realised I had been there before but it had not clicked because it is not new and not particularly hot. Come to that, I would hardly describe it as a venue, more – well – a pub! Enough of the semantics though, good gigs can happen anywhere and walking towards the ‘venue’ it soon became clear that at the very least we were in for a night out surrounded by old friends.

Now I like a bit of shouty punk as much as the next man, in fact probably more than the next man, but I am into moderation in a big way. A spoonful of shouty punk can add energy and sweeten proceedings; two spoonfuls of shouty punk can be harmful to your teeth and three spoonfuls can be undrinkable – which is a shame.

Each of the bands on the bill tonight are capable of putting on a good show and in different circumstances probably do, but for me I like a bit of variety. I don’t like bills that are single genre, whether it be a terabyte of techno, a bong full of reggae or a tankard full of diddly, but an overdose of hardcore punk is probably the hardest to swallow.

Now it could be argued that there is variety on the bill, the publicity says:

Expect hard sounds and hard politics from these outspoken bands. There will be crust-punk from Jesus Bruiser, anarcho-punk from Filthy Habits, and hardcore-punk from The Shortcuts”.

I have been jumping about to punk rock since the heady days of 1977, but I am not entirely clear what the difference between hardcore punk and crust-punk is, judging by tonight, not a lot.

Okay, time to stop whinging, cos in fairness the bands don’t deserve it, they all manage to harness an energy and anger that is just a distant memory to this ageing punk – and perhaps more importantly they manage to turn the upstairs of a pub into a hot (if not new) venue. But to paraphrase the t-shirt, this old punk will never die; I just stand by the bar.

The event was a benefit for No Borders, an organisation I support, but it was not that support that dragged me into town tonight, it was an appearance by Bristle ska-punk outfit, Spanner. Yes, another punk band, but Spanner are an uplifting, double- caffeine and guarana cup of punk stirred with a brass spoon that will wake up the tiredest of old punks.

Spanner are not just punks that have latched onto the anarchist image, they are direct action veterans that happen to also play in a ska punk band. Having been around the block a few times these guys are tight and tonight they wake up all but the totally wrecked (and there are one or two of those around) and get them up and dancing. Well worth the wait.

As for the totally wrecked? ..... Not a good idea to fall asleep at a punk gig, as the guy in the picture below found out

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010


There are very few locations in the world where tidal bores can be seen, but one of the most spectacular bores occurs just up the road on the River Severn, which has the second largest tide in the world. Creating a wave up to 2m high, it is by far the largest bore in the UK.

The Severn Bore occurs to some extent throughout the year, but the really big ones happen around the equinox, particularly the spring equinox. They are caused by high tides (hence the connection with the moon) rushing up the estuary causing a tidal wave on the leading edge. A lot of factors come into play, such as the amount of water coming down the river and the wind.

Bores can range between one star, caused by a tidal range of 4.5m (14.8ft) to 4.6m (15ft), and five-star, caused by a tidal range of 5.4m (17.7ft) and above. On 2nd March the river experienced its first five star bore since 2002 and dozens of surfers gathered to ride the wave up to three miles up river (BBC Report and video). Armed with his tide table Crispy assured me that there ought to be a similar spectacle on the 3rd.

And so it was, using up the last of my leave for this financial year I jumped in the Crispmobile and we set off up the banks of the Severn to the appropriately named Severn Bore pub. Our timing was perfect, within a minute of arriving the bore came around the corner, splashing against the banks and upsetting a few horses. As a lone surfer rode the wave I was overwhelmed by the silence of the crowd gathered in the car park. Unforetunately the silence was not awe, but disapointment. This was my first time, I was losing my ‘bore virginity’ and it was, to put it mildly - an anti-climax. I could not work out what all the fuss was about, but looking at everyone else’s face I could see I was not alone. I looked at the crisp, a veritable bore stud, his face a picture of puzzlement. “Well, that was – erm – boring!”

We hastily jumped back in the crispmobile to race the wave to a bridge on the outskirts of Gloucester and tried to analyse what had gone wrong. The tide was the same height, there had been no rain to fill up the river, so the only answer must have been the wind. Yes, that was it, the wind was blowing in the wrong direction.

We arrived in Gloucester and I ran up the path to the bridge, expecting the bore to be just behind us. But with all the meandering and travelling at just 10pmh, it was at least half an hour before it reached us and disappointed a whole new set of bore watchers. I had been hoping the wind had changed direction, the river had narrowed or even that there had been an earthquake, but no, it was just as boring up river. Next time eh.

Part of the package deal for the lift in the crispmobile had been that we then had to, for reasons I will not bother you with now, go and sit in the car park of a trading estate in Solihull for an hour, then go and look around charity shops in Solihull town centre for an hour. Eventually we finished off the day with a pleasant bar meal in the Masons Arms and, whilst you poor citizens of Solihull may feel your town is boring, I can confirm it is not as boring as a Severn Bore with the wind blowing in the wrong direction.

*in fairness, even a mini-bore is a little bit impressive and I will be back again hoping to catch it in all its glory next year

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