It’s becoming a bit of a theme with my blog that posts should be as rare as a Loch Ness sighting or as infrequent as the passing of Hale Bopp but alas, here I am again, albeit with no hollow promises to pay more attention to this sites upkeep.
So where have I been? Well, things have been a bit grim, not only did I safely return from Chernobyl (that’s a sort of grim that can be classed as “a good time”) but I’ve also settled in to a two-day-two-night-four-days-off work pattern (mental). When I thought everything was grand, I was completely shot down by something I sort of expected but didn’t expect so soon – the passing of my grandfather. You’ll have to excuse me if the next part is too in detail, it’s sort cathartic for me to write it as I’m not very good with speaking my feelings.
On Friday 3rd of June, 09:45, at the untimely age of 71, my grandad George James Bunkin passed away – comforted by the fact that nearly all of his family were around him. Having spent years in the Royal Navy as a CPO, exposure to asbestos and a case of emphysema had finally taken its toll on him and he reached a point where he could not breathe without the support of a machine.
The Sunday night prior, with his lungs beginning to fail, pressure began to mount on his already-dodgy heart and his renal system began to fail. It was only at this point that he accepted that he needed to go to hospital. Despite the fact we’d been telling him for days he remained a fairly stubborn individual which wasn’t something I looked down on but rather admired him for – even if in this case it was a bit silly.
Monday I visited him in the hospital, as I did every day following and in my mind I was positive that this was just a blip on the timeline of life and that’d he’d soon be better, or at least not in the hospital. Everyday he told me he felt a bit better, but by Thursday he began to seem exhausted every time he spoke and by Friday morning I received the call I’d been dreading. Despite the fact he was only moments from death, when my mum told me to hold his hand he responded with “As long as he’s not gay”, which cracked me up. Testament to the fact that he was a consistently funny and caring guy. The doctors gave him some sedatives and soon he’d passed away peacefully, but whilst it looked agonizing, he would of stopped feeling the pain long before his heart finally stopped. For me, the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed is watching a loved one die slowly and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the fact that he was laughing and joking one minute then gone forever the next.
He was a rock to me and I regret so much now, If I’d have known that the Friday before would have been my last day with him walking about and doing the things families do, I’d have treated it so differently, but alas this is one of things I can’t dwell on. For me, he was as good as a father figure as I’d ever have – my father and mother split at a young age and I’ve never really regained any ties there – and I owe him everything. I’ve so many memories of being a child and him taking me for days out on the back of his motorcycle, so many memories of us going for breakfast or tea somewhere (even just recently), silly things really that mean so much more to me now he’s gone.
For those that knew him, he spent many years after leaving the navy running Ridewell, where he taught countless amounts of people how to ride a motorcycle including many friends of mine. I distinctly remember one Christmas when I was very young that someone had bought their son a moped and he did their CBT for them on Christmas day, not for any money – not even because he needed the money – just because he was that sort of bloke.
As chairman of the Royal Navy Motorcycle Club, he arranged numerous rides for Children in Need where they must have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the year and some how he also managed to blag a TV spot on BBC most years. They also arranged easter egg runs for Southamptons Children’s ward - I always remember his car being filled with easter eggs to give to all the kids every year. Judging by how many of the RNMCC’s members came to see him, he was a much loved and hopefully very missed character – I’m sure the new chairman will see fit that he is well remembered.
The guy worked hard nearly every day of his life and only enjoyed (I use that term loosely as years of riding a bike, ironically, ruined his legs a bit) a few years of retirement before an awful disease took him away. I’m so grateful for the time I spent with him and the things I’ve learnt from him, I wish everyone had such great ties with their grandparents like I do. I literally could go on for days about the little things that stick in my memory, but perhaps many are best kept to myself.
His funeral is on June 23rd leaving from HMS Sultan and going to Portchester Crematorium at 15:30. He specifically asked that no one wears black, unless it’s bike gear! Family flowers only and because of his touch with cancer a few years ago, he’d prefer that donations were made to a cancer charity, which I believe is something being arranged by the RNMCC.
If you’ve come across this page because you know him and you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
A semi-obligatory update before I walk in to what I will describe as the mouth of hell.
End of last year I managed to write off a Macbook with water damage. A few months of rubbish with the insurance company, I manage to write off replacement Macbook. With water damage. Sans laptop, sans software, sans life. So there you go, that’s my tardy apology for lack of my 2010 retrospective and any additional vinyl updates – don’t worry, there’s plenty of them still to come.
So the main thing going on in life is that my trip to Chernobyl which I’ve planned for years has finally come to fruitition and on the 22nd of April, I will be going to Kiev and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. I’m pretty much ready to bite my arms off in anticipation – it’s probably one of the more ridiculous ideas I’ve ever had and it’s definitely not everyones idea of a holiday, but for me it’s an incredible story to tell and time to get my photographic nerd-on.
The repeat question I’ve had is “why would you go?” or – in full – “Why the fackin’ ‘ell would you go there, that’s fackin’ morbid, are you a fackin’ weirdo or sumfin?”. Simply the answer is yes, to all the above.
So photography nerd time – here’s what I’m taking.
- Canon EOS 500D
I’m fairly new in to the DSLR foray, so I’m taking my trust Canon EOS 500D with me – it would have been nicer to upgrade to a full frame sensor before the trip, but the 500D is not to be sniffed at as it’s a very nice mid range camera.
- Canon 18-55 EF-S F3.5/5.6
Admittedly this is the stock lens for the EOS 500D but for day to day stuff it’ll do the trick. In low light it struggles and the auto focus is hardly incredible but it’ll do for a case of point and shoot.
- Sigma 75-300 DL Zoom F4/5.6
I won this on eBay for a princely £36 and there’s a reason for it. The auto focus is shit and it won’t work on the EOS 500D A DEP setting unless you get it re-chipped by Sigma. Anyway, fuck that, for manual focus for long range, it’s nice. I’m hoping that I will have the leisure of setting up on my trip, it’s not going to be a rushed affair.
- Canon 24-105mm EF F4 L IS USM
Did I drop £1400 and buy this? No, I went to Lenses for Hire, who I used for my Canon 70-200mm EF 2.8 at Sonisphere last year. This is fantastic, it’s really going to blow my mind and is going to be the lens of choice for the whole of the Chernobyl trip. Awaiting delivery of it later in the week but expect a run down of that as soon as.
I’d planned to do a Top 10 album review but frankly, I just cannot think of enough decent music to fill that list. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been some fucking blinders come out (there’ll be more on that later on), but there’s also been enough average bollocks to make me hate life itself. Rather than bore you with the in’s and out’s of music you’ve probably already heard – chances are, that’s how you’ve ended up here – I thought I’d give you a retrospective run down of the last year: What it means to me, what it means for everyone and where the hell we’re going next. By all means feel free to disagree, but if you do, you’re probably the sort of cunt I’m raging against.
In to the Eye of the Shit Storm
Or the coalition government as it’s known.
The hot thing on everyone’s lips was the worn and tattered Labour party losing the General Election to, well, nobody. Out of the chaos of scandals surrounding a poor voting system and every sane person in the country (who isn’t a blue-blooded raging Conservative) demanding a rethink on the voting system, it seemed a pretty bleak future from my eyes. Hell, I’m a worker. I’ve not come from a rich family so I don’t expect anything from the state other than a kick in the arse. I stood by my ethics and voted left. Labour may not be the current party of choice, but I’d sooner take them than anyone else.
People who I knew to regularly vote left suddenly swayed right, which was understandable given the state of the, err, state. Most worryingly however, they didn’t understand WHY they voted right, but rather just regurgitated the same old “It’s time for a change” spiel. I get it, you can read propaganda billboards. Other people who I would class as ‘workers’, voted right and in some cases even far right, all of which are now suddenly shocked that some of their previous benefits have disappeared and cuss the Tory name. “Damn you Etoooooooooon!!!”
I can’t help but lend an “I told you so.”
Next up was the student riots, born out of numerous factors from the new coalition government but mostly to the minority share of the Lib Dems – the student favourite – not keeping their promise in not increasing the cost of student fees – wow, that’s a fucking surprise, a party lying. A large majority of students showed themselves up as being brilliantly resilient with some good old fashioned protesting whilst a minority showed themselves up as bunch of cunts who jumped on the lefty band wagon with all the wrong ethics and subsequently got charged at by a police horse. It’s dodgy grounds between students, universities and police – all have questionable motives over the last few weeks. That’s my bias.
Regardless, I’m not a Daily Mail-reading, knee-jerk reactionist, nor am I lefty, socialist scum as I’ve been called on several blogs and sites, but I know a good arse fucking when I see it and this is one of them. If you’re not a student, it might be of little concern to you, if you are a student, it’s a massive deal. To call students work shy, lefty scum as implied by some of this countries hateful tabloids (and even broadsheets) is an insult, lest we forget that many journalists have already paid for their degree (media, pff), but more importantly the ethical questions it raises. In the ‘free’ world, why should only the rich be entitled to that further education people seek? Admittedly, I don’t personally see the benefit in many degrees now aside from the obvious career choices where it’s required. The degree system is old and flawed but everyone should be entitled to learn.
Topped off in the recent weeks round of protesting, a disabled protester being dragged from his wheelchair by the police, a fucking disgusting act regardless of circumstance and worse, follow ups from such heinous cunts like Richard-fucking-Littlejohn who compared the protester to Andy Pipkin from Little Britain. Oh Littlejohn, you’re another one of those sanctimonious cunts who really should be lined up and shot, but even that’s too good for you. “Yeah I know”.
A scarily large proportion of an idiot country
Ironically, The Daily Mail will be first up to complain about a comedian like Frankie Boyle crossing the line (that man’s also worn thin over 2010 – cunt) but feel no shame in publishing a biweekly, insidious column by a hack columnist who feeds on the fears of idiots. Unfortunately in the times we live in, with the strung-out, nervous, fence-sitters who aren’t sure if they’re meant to be friends with the blacks, gays and jews or if they’re meant to be fighting them, a prick like Littlejohn finds his true vocation as the voice of hate and scaremongering. The asylum seekers ARE going to get us y’know. And steal your wallet. And ejaculate gay semen in it. Then paint it black.
On a similar stupid cunt note, in Portsmouth, we finally had our run in with the “EDL” or “E E EDL” as they kept reminding us. The constant chanting made it hard to differentiate whether they were freedom fighters or pissed up football hooligans with little-to-no-tolerance or any sign of sticking to their manifesto. Considering the “E E EDL” (I’ve heard the L stands for Lout, but I reckon LOL) policy is against Islamic extremism (which is fair enough as ANY extremism is NOT COOL), they lose the plot by chanting “paki” and “Allah is a paedo” and the real creme de la creme, throwing missiles.
The best part was when I was told by some fat chap in a flat cap (I lol’d), that I was dole scum, then his mate squaring up to a group of us and asked – with no irony, mind – “If you students like the paki’s so much, why weren’t you protesting yesterday?!” The obvious, salient response was “I was at work”. He couldn’t say what sort of job you need to have to prioritise your workload in order to attend E E EDL rallies, but I’m assuming it’s one that a) doesn’t exist or b) dole. Fnar fnar fnar.
I’m not a student. I’m not in the UAF
Ah yeah, work. Well, I’ve managed to finally bag myself the promotion I needed to bring my motivation back up to scratch and as of January the 1st, I’m a trainee manager for the port, dealing with the distribution of cargoes in. Thrilling no? Well thankfully, it’s on a great rota shift system, comes with a sweet pay rise and gives me something to sink my teeth in to as frankly, the change of scenery is needed as I think I’ve reached a plateau in my current role which really can’t get any higher.
It’s hard work being a dole scum, student, account manager.
[an update - way, way, way overdue in 2011]
I’d planned to post another article concerning the better things of 2010, such as the music and arts but unfortunately my laptop died mid December and I’ve literally just got a replacement today (March 10th, 2011) so that’s all, well, irrelevant. I promise I’ll be better to you, my lovely blog :(.
Oh man, I looked at my previous entry before my Faith No More post, the last post date was September 24th 2010, so where the fuck have I been?
Well first thing’s first, I’ve managed to blag an occasional review job for Punktastic which is great, I get to hear some great and frankly shit things and that’s all groovy with me.
Secondly, I’ve been taking a load of pictures at shows, which is more hobby based than anything but a great release I guess. You can see some of that work here on my Flickr page.
Finally, it’s all work, work, work as I’m in the yearly seasonal busy time in my job. Hopefully that’ll tail off soon with some greater prospects for the job down the (hopefully short) line.
I’m not neglecting, I’ve got LOADS of vinyls still to add, so stay tuned!
When I hear “Midlife Crisis”, I think of the 90′s, as a kid, y’know when MTV used to play music videos still and shit. It pretty much sums up decent music that I remember as a kid but, y’know as a kid, I was a bit of a musical retard, until I hit my teens and found out what FAITH NO MORE were really all about (but that’s a story for another day).
Mike Patton delivers a menacing growl of disenchantment, backed by some super eerie synth and that rumbling, budumpahumpadumpa bass line that we love/loathe. “You’re perfect, yes it’s true” howls the chorus and for me they are – “Midlife Crisis” is essential Faith No More.
In my opinion, this is miles better than “Epic” (the staple track of a bullshit alternative night out) and really sticks up there with “Everything’s Ruined” and also the novelty of Lionel Richie’s “Easy” cover.
Label - Slash
Release Date - May 26th 1992
1. Midlife Crisis
3. Crack Hitler
4. Midnight Cowboy
If you live near/know me then chances are I’ve probably chewed your ears off over joining this group.
If you don’t already know the Southsea Photographic Society is a celebration of all forms of photography in the regio. With the chance to take part in monthly photo challenges and the prospect of meet ups (read: pub) its a great way to push your skills and meet like minded individuals.
Seriously, blurb aside, fucking join it.
When Brand New had released Daisy in late 2009, I found it hard to believe that it was nearly three years since The Devil and God… had been released. My time flies when you’re having fun/a mental breakdown. Suffice to say, Daisy actually made it to vinyl way before this album due to some artwork problem relating to the cover.
For me this album marked a shift in the maturity that Brand New possessed, it was always there and prominent at times and scathing in its deliverance but by the release of this album, it had become a focus point. Jesse Lacey had become a man: pop-punk was growing up, now it’s time to become a latter day priest in the church of Morrisey, a compliment I’m sure he wouldn’t hate – or would, ironically.
The album is a more grown-up, more personal entry and when side-by-side with Daisy is not as abstract in its story telling but it’s rammed to gills with imagery and emotion. Stand out tracks like first single “Jesus” are full of personal questions and torment and although it’s probably just for dramatic effect, it is what makes this song/band/album.
So let’s talk shop about the wax. It’s been a long time coming (nearly as long as it took me to write the draft of this article) and as such Brand New have celebrated it with a variety of different releases. The copy that I’m looking at is the plain white version which was limited to 3000 copies and is most common. The band had also released the record on translucent red and gold vinyl albeit in more limited quantities, the latter of which I’ve seen go on eBay for several hundred pounds.
This is not to mention there are several pressings available on Academy Flight Song but some of which that haven’t yet seen the light of day and if this first press is anything to go by, who knows when they’ll appear?
This album is about putting things to rest or forgetting about it and it sounds like a closer, like maybe this is a send off album (the Wembley arena show in early 2010 certainly seemed that way). It’s a fantastic,dark record and a milestone in Brand New’s career.
Label – Interscope, Tiny Evil
Release Date – November 20th 2006 (Vinyl releases March 23rd 2010)
1. Sowing Season
5. Limousine (MS Rebridge)
6. You Won’t Know
7. Welcome to Bangkok
8. Not the Sun
11. The Archers’ Bows Have Broken