Open Mike #5.

Gah, me and my pledges. I’m feeling knackered and flat today, after staying up too late last night, and the night before, for no good reason other than not wanting to go to bed.

Actually, that’s not quite correct. I was on gig-reviewing duty last night, and so had to suffer an hour and a quarter of an amiable but dreary performance by Amp Fiddler, down at The Social. This started promisingly enough, but quickly sank into blandly noodling retro-funk tedium. Too limited in musical and emotional range, too reverential to its roots, and just too damned cosy by half. Dude needs to take some risks.

Nevertheless, this gave my plenty of material for my review, which I rattled off fairly quickly when I got home. (I used to spend up to an hour and a half, agonising over every word. These days, I can think them through on the walk home, bash them out in 20 minutes, edit them in another 10, and they’ll be much better pieces for it.) Trouble is, even once the review is done and dusted, I’m still left saddled with a surge of residual energy, despite the inconvenient lateness of the hour.

So I’ll generally pour myself a “well earnt” beer – always the third of the night, as I only ever allow myself two at the gig – and settle down to some “relaxing” web-surfing. And then, before I know it, it’s stupid o’clock, and I’m shame-facedly sliding into bed and trying not to wake K in the process.

In which case, let’s fulfil the “one post per day” pledge by means of a quick Open Mike session. This should also help to get the brain juices flowing before I head out later, for my office-buddy JP‘s “farewell” drink. (He’s back off to Hangzhou for a few weeks.)

Please leave me a question in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer it. One question per person, and I’m only going to answer the first five. OK Go!

1. Will asks: Which is the best/your favourite ABBA album track that was never a single?

It might surprise you to know that I only own one Abba album that’s not a compilation: 1974’s Waterloo, which I bought at the time. I came quite close to buying their next, self-titled album, and have clear memories of fingering it wonderingly in the record department of Boots the Chemist in the Doncaster Arndale Centre – but teenage rock cool eventually got the better of me, and so we parted company for a few years. By the time we were fully reconciled, their recording career was over.

Anyhow, there can only be one answer, so thanks for the easy lob: it’s “The Visitors” from 1981, which I first heard on a Hi-NRG compilation album in 1984, and haven’t stopped enjoying since. Brooding, epic, explosive and deliriously, deliciously paranoid.

2. Joe.My.God. asks (although he’s having to shout to make himself heard above Abba’s “The Visitors”, which is playing right now, very loud): If not K, then who?

An even easier lob! Bless you!

I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. Of all the people I’ve ever met (and, for that matter, “met”), could one of them ever have graduated to the status of Life Partner, if I had never met K?

It’s an intriguing thought – not least because I have been prone to the occasional crush along the way. Sometimes, it has been quite a strong crush. But every time, without fail, the crush has faded within a few months at most. And, despite their occasional intensity, no crush has ever encroached upon the feelings I have for K.

That’s partly because my feelings for K exist in a different dimension, and partly because crushes are, by their very nature, transitory and illusional. To experience a crush is to be temporarily captivated by your idealisation of someone. Or rather, by the ideals which you project upon them. The longer you know them, and the better you get to know them, the less able you are to sustain the idealisation.

I couldn’t imagine ever sustaining a successful long-term relationship in a parallel universe with any of my crushees. That’s partly because, trust me, I am very high maintenance, and most people wouldn’t put up with it. But that’s also because – and I’ve said this before, and I meant it then, and I mean it now – K is, in my objective judgement, the most wonderful man I have ever met. Indeed, I work on the implicit and only partially delusional assumption that everyone who meets him is silently kicking themselves for not getting in there first.

So, if not K, then quite probably no-one. My love life was disastrous before I met him, and I suspect it would have been equally disastrous without him.

(Incidentally, and lest you think otherwise: he gets crushes too, and we chat about them quite light-heartedly. Jealousy, you say? Darlings, we just don’t do jealousy.)

3. diamond geezer asks: You’re secretly enjoying this “having to post every day”, aren’t you? Even though you’re pretending not to.

Well, if anyone should know about the pleasures of daily posting, it would be diamond “hardest working blogger in the business” geezer. Yes, I am enjoying it – because I’ve successfully imposed an external discipline upon myself, which seems to be working. I work best under duress. Too much freedom makes me flabby. And when I get flabby, I get miserable, and progressively more unable to fight the flab.

Having said all that, I opened Blogger with a heavy heart this evening. Oh, must I? The feeling lasted at least halfway through the second paragraph.

4. z asks: You seem to have your dream job. Is it, or is there a sneaking ambition for something else, or something more?

Yes, z, you are quite right. IT consultancy is indeed my dream job, and the fact that I get to work in CICS/COBOL on an IBM mainframe is merely the icing upon the cake. What more perfect a match could there possibly be for my skills and talents? Why, I couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else. And the fact that members of my company’s management team regularly read this blog has no bearing upon my answer at all, no sir!

(The serious answer: it’s far from my dream job, but it’s comparatively stress-free, and it pays OK, and I can do it, and it doesn’t leave me so spiritually sapped that I can’t do anything else outside work, and none of the people I work with are w@nkers, far from it indeed, and there are no crappy office politics to deal with, and my current clients are the most professional outfit that I have ever worked for. But I can’t see myself still doing this in ten years’ time, for all sorts of reasons.)

5. patita asks: Looking forward to any new music this year? CDs or live performances.

The easiest of all lobs! For upcoming live performances, all you need to do is scroll down until you find the “we’re seeing” section in my sidebar. The list is automatically generated by, and I am most diligent at keeping it up to date.

(Yes, the inclusion of last year’s X-Factor finalists Journey South is a little weird, but I have a morbid curiosity and am hoping to fashion an interesting review from the experience. Getting someone else to accompany me might be a little tricky, though.)

Looking through the full schedule, I am particularly looking forward to the Hidden Cameras and the Scissor Sisters, both of whom I shall be reviewing. All of which handily provides the answer to the other half of the question, as I cannot wait to get my clammy paws around Ta-Dah and Awoo.

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