About Me

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Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom

I'm a former hospital radio/club/mobile DJ, avid record collector and amateur musician (playing guitar, keyboards, recorder, harmonica and percussion.) I've even filled in on bass guitar for a couple of local bands as well (although that was quite a few years ago). Also interested in Motorsports, Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts and Classic Television and Radio from the 1960s - 1980s.

Why am I on here? Well, I'm just trying to make some sense of life before it's too late...but who cares anyway?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Pre Christmas Catch Up...

It’s been a while since I last posted anything on here - truth be told, I’ve been extremely busy with a combination of voluntary work (two mornings a week at About With Friends) and what seems to be a never ending round of job hunting activities.  The last Jobcentre-backed course at Avanta in Norwich shut down at the end of November due to funding issues (surprise, surprise), so for the last few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of my job search at home (mostly via Universal Jobmatch).  Still no luck as yet but with talk of training being offered to the over 50s - and yes, I will fall into that bracket in a couple of months’ time - I am still hopeful of finding something that I can do before too long.

Then there are health issues to deal with as well - after a particularly bad panic attack last month, the paramedics who helped me suggested that I get a blood test at Cromer Hospital - as they thought I might be diabetic.  Anyway, after recovering from a flu bug which I had for a week or so, I duly went over to give the sample.  A visit to the doctors’ a week later confirmed the paramedics’ suspicions - I have type 2 diabetes.  In a strange way I was relieved - at least now I know what I have to deal with, so I can adjust my lifestyle accordingly.  I’ve also got a few check-ups to attend as well in the next month or two, so I’ll be learning more about how to manage the condition, having come to terms with the fact that I’m diabetic.  I’ve even had some moral support from the folks at AWF, as I discovered that some of the members are in the same situation as I am, so I might be able to get a few pointers as well. 

I’m not sure about what I’ll be doing over the Christmas period, but I can say this - after what’s happened this year, I have a feeling I could be about to turn that elusive corner.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Will The Real UB40 Please Stand Up...

Interesting discussion developing on Twitter tonight stemming from the fact that there are two different line-ups of UB40  on tour at the moment.  The question that's being asked though, is which version of the band is the genuine article?

To understand this situation we have to go back to January 2008 when lead singer Ali Campbell announced his departure from the group having been with them for 30 years.  Originally it was stated that this was to enable him to continue his solo career, but it later emerged that Campbell had cited management and business disputes as the reason for his departure.  Keyboard player Mickey Virtue left the band soon after due to the same issues.  The remaining members brought in Duncan Campbell (Ali's elder brother) on lead vocals, and this new line-up released "Labour Of Love IV" in 2010, and recently put out a country-influenced album, "Getting Over The Storm".  In the meantime, Astro had left the band citing (among other things) the "serious lack of communication between the band and management", and the country-orientated direction of the new album.  He went on to join Ali and Mickey, and the trio have been working on new material for a new album which (from what I understand) will probably be credited as an Ali Campbell album, and should be out around October this year.  By the way, what does Ali think of his replacement?  Well, he hasn't been too complementary to say the least, having been quoted as saying  "I sat back for five years and watched my brother Duncan murdering my songs."

Anyway back to the Twitter debate - here's my take on things...

I see a few similarities in this situation to the one involving OMD when they first split back in 1988.  In that case, when Paul Humphreys, Mal Holmes and Martin Cooper left, they wanted to continue with the OMD name, but Virgin (their label at the time) felt that as Andy McCluskey was perceived as the band's lead singer, he should be the one who would be allowed to carry on as OMD.  Anyway the issues were resolved with McCluskey getting the rights to use the name (releasing three albums during the 1990s) while Humphreys, Cooper and Holmes went their own way as The Listening Pool.

As for Ali, Mickey and Astro, they're touring as UB40 Reunited while the Duncan Campbell led line-up are trading under the old UB40 monicker.  Here's the thing though, Ali was perceived as the lead singer of the original UB40, so shouldn't his group be considered as the official UB40?

I rest my case.....

UPDATE:  I'm now seeing reports on Twitter about several people considering demanding refunds after discovering that a UB40 gig advertised for November (can't remember the exact venue) doesn't feature  the original singers in the line up - the person posting the tweet being quoted as saying that if you have tickets for any of the UK dates in October and November, they're for the "karaoke band"

It's always sad when a once popular band decides to split up.  But it's sadder still when you get two factions (for want of a better term) claiming that their line up is the definitive version and that the other side is just a mere knock-off.   Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, I haven't heard "Getting Over The Storm" yet, so for the time being I'm prepared to keep an open mind until I've had a chance to listen to this new line-up.  Then (and only then) will I be able to form a definite opinion.

At least I have the records....

Friday, 2 May 2014

Can It Get Any More Frustrating?

That's a question I've been asking myself after the latest round of Jobcentre visits and website browsing.   Normally when I go to sign on or attend an appointment with the JCP advisor, it's been just him checking my jobsearch log, saying "OK, you're doing enough", giving the odd heads-up about some vacancies which might be of interest, and that'll more or less be done and dusted, apart from the odd outside exercise.  No problem.

Well that's how it's been for the last few weeks.  After visiting one of the employment agencies in Norwich to get my CV appraised yesterday, and get any suggestions on how it could be improved (the consultant basically said the CV was fine and needed no changes) I was hoping the jobcentre advisor would be OK with that assessment when I signed on earlier today.

It seemed to go as per usual.  Jobsearch log OK? (check.) - Fortnightly payment released? (check.) - Next appointment booked in and reminder card issued?  (check).  Seemed straightforward...

The next thing he said was unsettling to say the least:

"You're making the effort and putting the applications in but you're getting nowhere.  I don't want to make this sound like I'm giving up, but I just can't think of anything else I can do to help."

Well, I hate to say this, but to my way of thinking it does sound like he's giving up.  After two fruitless years on the Work Programme during which time I was basically ignored and let down (and let's not forget being deemed too old by an advisor who declared that I wasn't "eye candy"), followed another year and a half (and counting) when I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder after a disastrous interview (mentioned elsewhere on this blog),  the only advice this bloke has given me has been to "change what you can and accept what you can't".

And that's only part of it.  I've also been doing a bit of checking up on some of the applications I've been putting in via Universal Jobmatch in the last day or so.  It appears that while a few on the list had been seen,  the vast majority of the applications simply WERE NOT VIEWED AT ALL.  No wonder I'm not getting anywhere with my jobsearch.

I just don't think I can do anything else....

Friday, 24 January 2014

Onwards And Upwards….

Haven’t I used that title before?  Oh well…

Christmas is now just a distant memory.  Not the most exciting of times this year admittedly, but the break from all my regular stuff like the job hunting seems to have benefited me.  Well that’s the conclusion my therapist came to when I saw her last week.  I won’t mention anything else that was discussed - but I will say this - just having the chance to get my problems off my chest in the first place was somewhat liberating to say the least.  As for what might happen in the future - well, I’ll just have to take things a day at a time.

I’ve had loads of people giving me support recently, not just the crew at About With Friends (where incidentally, I’ve now started working two mornings a week), but also from some unexpected folk as well, one of which I’ll never forget.

It all started inconspicuously enough a couple of days before New Year‘s Eve, when a woman called Camilla posted on Twitter “What's everyone's New Years resolutions ? Anything good ??”  I saw people posting the usual stuff, giving up smoking, losing weight etc. etc.  Anyway, I finally plucked up the courage and typed as a reply, “To try to build up my confidence when I'm in large crowds (I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder by the way)”, and left it at that.

I wasn’t expecting a reaction to that tweet, but you can imagine my surprise when the following message came up on my timeline around ten minutes later…

“that's a fantastic and very brave one x wishing u best of luck and I have every faith in u x”

I was gobsmacked.  To get that sort of encouragement from someone who’s never met me was, if I’m being honest, a real boost, especially after all I’d been through the previous couple of months.  Since then, things have slowly started to look up for me.  And with my last therapy session with the NHS Wellbeing service coming up next month, I’m regaining that self belief that I had a while back.

I don’t think Camilla will see this blog, but if she does, there’s just one thing I’d like to say to her - thank you for your kind words.   I will cherish them always.