The Amazing World of Si Hart

Amazing insights into my mind as I battle against the inefficient world of the library, moderate a message board, write Doctor Who audio adventures and try and stay sane!

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Our rabbit, Charlie died this morning.

When he arrived with us almost two years ago, we didn't expect him to be with us all that long. Even then he was an old dwarf rabbit- his brother had died a year before and we really thought we'd only have him with us for six months or more.

But he went on and on!

You couldn't say he was an affectionate pet. He didn't like being held very much, he didn't even much like being stroked, but that was Charlie. We knew that and let him do what he wanted to do, which mostly seemed to be flallop around the garden, sit under the bench next to the pond, eat or glare at us from his litter tray. He was old, and grumpy, but we loved him.

So, today, about 6 months from his 10th birthday, he died with Steve cuddling him. I think I knew it was on the way. He didn't eat very much yesterday which is unusual and when I came out to feed him last night he let me pick him up and cuddle him.

I'll miss him. Miss chasing him round the garden in the morning before I head out to work, miss him clawing at the mesh as we go to feed him or let him out and miss him chasing the Robin (his arch enemy!) out of the garden.

RIP Charlie. xx

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Chance Encounter

As some of you will probably know, one of the TV shows I adore is Secret Army. It's BBC drama of the 70s at its very best. It's one I've been revisiting recently and I greatly enjoyed watching series 2 while I was unwell the other week. For those that don't know (and really if you haven't seen it, you should try, I promise you won't regret it) it concerns the work of Belgian evasion line trying to get stranded RAF men to safety from under the eyes of the occupying Germans.

Anyway, this afternoon I met a real life WWII evader. He came to Birch Hill Library to do some photocopying. He was a sprightly 88 year old (and he really didn't look that old) who had come in to copy some forms in order to get hold of a disabled badge for his wife who is now wheelchair bound. I gave him a helping hand with the copier and got chatting to him. Anyway, we got chatting and he showed me what it was he was photocopying. A photograph of a rather gaunt, earnest young man. He explained that was him, on discharge from a German Prisoner of War Camp. He was in the RAF. His plane was shot down over France, and he was picked up by the French resistance. They made him false papers, gave him a French name and clothes and were helping him escape back to England, when he was caught by a German patrol. He was captured, as it turned out he couldn't speak French, and taken to the POW camp where he was imprisoned until the end of the war and the camp was liberated. As he;d been in civilian clothing rather than his uniform he was imprisoned as a spy.

One of the documents he was photocopying was the false papers he'd been carrying when he was captured, along with the documents typed by the Germans when he was imprisoned that he;d kept all these years. They were amazing to see.

What got me was how matter of fact he was about it all. It was something that happened to him, but nothing amazing. He was just doing his duty and doing what he could to survive. I found that incredibly moving.

He finished his photocopies and went on his way, but shook my hand and thanked me for all my help. Somehow I felt that it was me who should have been thanking him for all that he did- him and others like him that fought for us in WWII.

So that was one of those chance encounters that happen when you work with the public, but something I shan't forget.

I hope he gets his disabled badge without any fuss.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I'm part of a clique apparently. This is something of a first for me, having usually been an outsider, someone who tried hard to fit in and failed miserably for the most part. From the outside though, who can say what is a clique and what isn't it? Personally I just think it's some strong friendships that other people find challenging. My ex-boyfriend had this problem and couldn't accept that I had friends who I liked to talk to and spend time with. He was the one missing out there, anyway, that's not a story for now.

So yes, the old thing about cliques has come up for the umpteenth time this week. I'm so sick of it. Sick of having to justify my place in the world and the places of my friends. It's all so damn tedious. So I said nothing, even though it kind of upset me. I do sometimes think that perhaps I should speak out and say the things I think, but I have this odd thing where I try not because I hate upsetting people, but then I think other people come in and ride roughshod all over people's feelings so why should I worry?

Well I do worry you see. I hate to think that something I'd would hurt someone I think of a friend, but then you see I don't think this friend has an empathy. He doesn't see that what he says might upset someone else- he's been hurt so he lashes out and damns the consequences. I have something in me that makes me think before I do that. Something that makes me stop and think about what the outcome might be of speaking out, because most of the time the things you want to say in the heat of the moment don't need to be said. If you stop, clam down and think about it, then more often than not you can avoid all the nonsense.

But what if I did? What if I posted this blog? What would be the outcome? I mean, I can see exactly what the outcome would be- I'd be knocked down by him all the way across the planet, just for saying things how I see them from my perspective. I got hit by that before, when he made me so made I went round kicking things at work in a way that I never do. I was really hurt about the treatment I got from him- and again he twisted it round in a way that made him the injured party in all of it. That takes a particular kind of egoism.

So this bloody thing with his story wanders on and on and is never, ever going to be forgotten. I'm sick of hearing about it. Sick of the whinging. Sick of the bloody mess. Yes it was my fault for bringing it up and breaking the news in the way it was done, but I misjudged his fragile ego. We've all apologised, we've all done all we could except make the bloody thing, and the funny thing is, the more it's mentioned the less inclined anyone is to want to have anything to do with the thing. It'll never be made now. Too many bridges have been burnt for that to happen.

So there we are. I've said it. Will I press the submit button? I'll have to think about that...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

50000 People Singing in a Field- Blur in Hyde Park

It didn't bode well. The day started overcast; grey clouds hanging in an gloomy sky and compared to the previous few days, there was a slight nip in the air. Were shorts still going to be the best option? Should we pack the waterproofs just in case? After our last experience at a concert in Hyde Park it might have been the prudent thing to do if we looked back at the torrential downpour that ended the Crowded House set a little earlier than planned...

But it all worked out fine. It was still overcast as we set off, but wasn't looking too bad as we met up with Neil and Kate (lovely to finally meet her!) at Green Park and then as we walked in Hyde Park patches of blue were evident in the sky. By the time the first band came on, Deerhoof, the sun was shining and it stayed that way for the rest of the evening! I'm rather glad we weren't there the previous day when the sun was strong and the temps reached 31 degrees- it would have been uncomfortable to say the least. Our afternoon was far more bearable, though I did wear my hat to keep the sun off. I don't do that often!

Anyway, the Hyde Park experience is one we've done before. Simon and Garfunkel pretending to be Old Friends in 2004, REM rocking in 2005 (just after the 7th July bombing) and the afore-mentioned The Feeling/ Crowded House and Peter Gabriel gig in 2007. It's like a mini-festival and there's always been a good atmosphere there before. I have to admit though that none of them have close to the sense of occasion that was palpable yesterday. Seeing Crowded House play again was definitely a magic moment for me, but it wasn't on the scale of yesterday. In fact I don't think I've ever been involved in a concert that's felt as awesome as this one did.

I'm one of the Britpop generation. There's no denying it. I went to uni in September 1993 and by the end of my first year it was all kicking off- Blur's Parklife was the album playing all over the hall of residence I lived in, and I bought it and fell in love with it that summer- sadly a bit too late to see them play the Octagon Centre at the end of the second semester. They became my band for the next few years... everyone else left them behind for the Oasis experience, such as it was, or other bands like the Manics or whatever, but Blur were mine. I loved their music hugely and had a HUGE crush on Damon Albarn! Oh my yes... Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape were the soundtrack for the rest of my time at Sheffield. Their songs continued to have a big impact on me after uni too, with Blur being an instant favourite once I got my head around Beetlebum sounding so different, and 13 being the actual soundtrack to a nasty evening breaking up with Paul... and finally Think Tank being the first CD I bought out shopping with Steve (it was a buy one, get one half price offer... he only paid for the half price CD!).

And then they stopped. They just stopped- no break up, but no new album. Nothing. It seemed like a sad way to go, but there was always the albums to come back to, and a great body it is, but it's not the same... gradually new bands come along and take your affections and I although I never stopped listening to them, I didn't listen to them nearly as often as I used to.

Then, they came back! The shows were announced last December, and having wisely joined their mailing list ages before, we were able to get tickets to the first show of their comeback before they went officially on sale and suddenly they were back! Graham and all!

As is sometimes the way of things, this original first show of their comeback (if it is a comeback... the programme says we should think of it as a pick up after a break or something like that!) now turned out to be the last show in the UK of their reunion, so it was lovely when a little way into the show Damon said thank you to us all for being their and for being the first people to want to see them.

The gig itself was amazing. I've said that about lots of gigs I've been too, mainly because there's something special about hearing live music- the way you get dragged along by the music and all that... but this was on a different scale to anything I've experienced before. Right from the get go- as the first notes of She's So High started the whole of the park seemed to erupt into song and jumping and all that- 50000 people all joining in (well aside from the miserable two in front of us who moved aside pretty quickly) is something quite spectacular. You can't help but be dragged along with them (not that I wouldn't have wanted to anyway!)... needless to say the atmosphere was just fantastic!

I was hoarse by the end of the night from singing along but high on the atmosphere and the joy at hearing so many favourite songs played so well over the couple of hours they played. Parklife got a good showing with 8 of its tracks played, with 5 from Modern Life, 3 from Blur and 1, and two a piece from Leisure and The Great Escape and just Out of Time from Think Tank (sadly) and Popscene. There were some tracks I'd loved to have heard, some I was surprised to hear (Trimm Trabb was never a favourite) but that's walys the way when you've got a band with a huge songbook to delve into.

The concert ended with The Universal and we left Hyde Park somewhat dazed- well I did anyway. What the future holds for them, I don't know, but I hope this isn't the end. I hope there's loads more to come yet. I hope the love for their music that poured out from the audience last night was enough to convince them they're still important to us fans. But if it is the end, what a glorious way to go out.

Now I await the CD to arrive so I can hear them sing properly!

Friday, June 26, 2009

I kind of do and don't want to comment on Michael Jackson's death. I don't because I've never really been a huge fan and it'd be hypocritical to start saying I was and talk about him like I was some kind of expert, but I do because I've found the reactions to it rather interesting. Anyway, it's probably best left alone. So I'm going to say nothing.

I'm sorry i haven't updated this for ages and ages. It's not that I haven't wanted to, it's just that there's so much going on all the time and I'm just tired and in need of a break. I just need a few days to recharge, but they never seem to come. Lot's of things need doing right now-I've got a script that I'm finding problematical (but that's because I don't want to sit down and plot it properly) and loads of ideas that seem to want to take priority to it. Perhaps now isn't the time for me to write this story? Maybe it needs a bit more time?
I think I just need to stop doing everything for a while and relax and come back to everything refreshed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Short Circuit: The Radiophonic Workshop live at the Roundhouse

I have mentioned more than a few times before how much I love the music of the Radiophonic Workshop. It was the soundtrack to much of my childhood, without me really realising at the time and of course being a Doctor Who fan you grow up with a real awareness of their work. How can you not?

Anyway, last summer we were lucky enough to get tickets for the Doctor Who Prom, and very enjoyable it was too. That I thought was that. It was great to hear some Who related music played live, but I never for one moment thought back then that I'd have the chance to hear the stuff I really loved played live. The Radiophonic Workshop in concert... pah! That'd never happen!

And then it did! And we had to go. And so we did. Last night!

I was very excited about it. I'd seen the website promoting the show promising stuff from Doctor Who, Hitch-Hikers and kids TV. That was enough to make me happy and I'd probably been content with just that, but what we got was so much more than that. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

First we met up with Ant and Andrew (who it is always good to be able to spend time with) and after a much needed cup of tea, we went to the pre-concert talk with Dick Mills, Peter Howell, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb and Mark Ayres. It was really rather good. They were all really entertaining and had loads of great anecdotes and stories to tell and not just Doctor Who ones either! I was very pleased to have asked them a question too (as did Steve) even if I rather stumbled over my words as I did it (I had a shy moment) but I did it and got some marvellous answers to my question about what pieces of work they were most proud of. They were all really amusing and there was a real sense of their long standing friendship shining through the whole discussion.

After popping out for something to eat, we met up with Stuart in the auditorium and the Andrea Parker set. It was very bleepy. And weird.

Then at around 8.15, they came on stage, dressed in their Radiophonic Workshop lab coats after we'd all been wowed by a simple light display with a mirrorball creating stars all around us that just seemed perfect for the musical accompaniment- a race through space. What followed was a great mix of the familiar and some unfamiliar peices- I didn't really know the Sea Trek (not Star Trek) stuff at all, and very good it was too, and the new piece was very well done indeed.

I liked the way it wasn't them on the vintage synths all night- they had a band playing with them which added depth to the music (and bass- as they said in the talk half the stuff they'd done was heard without the bass coming out of tinny 70s and 80s TV speakers and was mostly hidden behind words and sound effects) so it really was like you'd never heard it before.

I think overall they had an excellent stab at recreating the music. The hours of practice they put in really paid off. The expansion of tracks like Zizwih Zizwih Oo Oo Oo with the band playing along to Delia's track was really good (as was the jazz accompaniment to John Baker's New Worlds) and the frequent places with the remixed tracks heard loud and in surround sound was amazing- truly like you've never heard them before. I liked the tributes paid to some of the members mo longer with us- Desmond Briscoe, John Baker and Delia. Lovely moments.

So the highlights? The Words and Pictures theme made me smile (and a great many other people of a similar age around me!), The Greenwich Chorus was truly wonderful, as was The Astronauts and the wonderfully accurate recreation of the Southend (not Brighton!) Pier sequence from Hitch Hikers.

But, of course, the Doctor Who stuff too was wonderful. Saved until the end of the show, we had the original theme played loud and proud which sent tingles up my spine, followed by a well chosen montage of sound effects and music from 1963-1989... before an unexpected recreation of one piece of music by each of the musicians there that evening... we got several minutes of the end of Logopolis recreated leading up to the regeneration (and it was powerful and spine tingling), Nyssa's theme from Roger Limb and a suite of music from The Five Doctors (it was great when we heard the horn of Rassilon sound in The Roundhouse) and finally the end of Curse of Fenric played heavy. Not content with that, later on we had a recreation of the Peter Howell theme with Peter playing the main melody lines live! Wow! Followed up by a full on rocky-radiophonic new version of the theme, which was superb. Puts Murray Gold to shame!

The encore was lovely. Dick Mills with a tear in his eye welcoming back on stage his old friends to play Radiophonic Rock before Padyy Kingsland got the last words "I've been waiting for months to do this... Thankyou and good night!" and with a bow and a huge round of applause they drifted off stage.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunny days in Sheffield

Sometimes as life goes on, it becomes far too easy to leave people behind. Friends sometimes come and go and I've lost many along the way as our social circles move on, as we fall out (for many, many reasons) or as new ones arrive and life moves on again. It's too easy to lose contact, to forget to answer people's emails, to never call back... all too easy.

This weekend has been a reminder of some great times and how two very good friends have remained very good friends, despite at various times us falling out of touch with each other. Steve and Neil were two friends I lived with for two out of three of my university years. At times they drove me mad and equally I drove them mad too, but we came away from University good mates and through the years since (13 years since I left Sheffield) we've met up fairly often, but as the years have gone on, these meetings have become fewer and less frequent. The last time the three of us had met up was way back in 2002. This year we decided it was time to rectify that and so we organised a bit of a reunion back in Sheffield.

It wasn't so odd going back. What amazed me was the change in the city. It looks fabulous these days- the city centre especially so. So much has been knocked down, refurbished and rebuilt that in many ways it's not quite the city I remembered. On Saturday we walked round the city for a few hours before meeting with Steve and Neil, with me pointing out all the things that have changed since I was there. The rebuilding has given the city centre a different feel, but it's not bad at all. I think it looks great- all the fountains and glass and attention has been really worthwhile. It still felt like the same city though, which was reassuring!
Broomhill never changes much, which is good. The shops are mostly still there- though what will the students do without Somerfield? And there's a wonderful cafe on the corner that's well worth eating in. The student areas are almost completely different though. When we visited in 2006 the flats at Endcliffe Crescent were still standing, but Earnshaw and Sorby were a pile of rubble and a shell respectively. Now the flats have gone too, replaced by much lovelier new builds forming part of the new student village. Stevo is still reassuringly the same though.
The walk was great, but left us tired, so we headed back to the hotel for a cuppa and a sit down until we met Neil and Steve.

The call came at 4, and we met outside the shell of the old Virgin/ Zavvi. A bit older but still instantly recognisable! And the best thing was that within minutes it was like we'd only seen each other the day before. That's the mark of a good friendship I think. I'm not sure if we reverted back to old roles from back in the day, but it was just great to be spending time with them both again. The conversation didn't stop all night. There was lots of reminiscences and stories for my Steve to hear for the first time, and so many little things I'd forgotten along the way that came flooding back as we chatted. Plus of course, all the stuff we've all been up to since we last met up. It was a bit of a shame that Kate, Neil's girlfriend and Sarah, Steve's fiancee couldn't make it along too, but I'm sure I'll get to meet them both sometime. Maybe at Steve's wedding next year... who knows?

The pubs though seem to have been devastated though! We went in one of the newer bars on West Street which was OK (prices are cheap still, which is good!) and then on a bit of a pub crawl. The West End, next to my department had been gutted and looked rather nice inside, but the beer was cack. The Star and Garter once the pub of choice for SubOrbital was a real dive, with loud R&B music, so we didn't stay. The Springfield Tavern was still fine, well, until they put on Karaoke right in front of us, so we headed up to The Crooked House for another pint and two long games of pool- me and Steve lost! And finally we ended up at the Weatherspoons in town for a last drink before heading off back to our respective hotels.
It had all gone very well and far too quickly and we've made a plan to do it again- more frequently this time! I'll be looking forward to that.

I must mention the other friends we met up with this weekend too. It was very good to catch up with Chris in Derby on Friday night. The few hours we spent there went far too quickly, but it's good to see he's doing OK up there, and to chat about all the music that's come out since we saw him at Christmas.
We went up to Bradford yesterday to see Muz and Nic and to meet Kasim their 10 week old son. He's very cute, and despite being tired and not going to sleep, he seemed really good natured. It was ever good to see them as a family together and to catch up on things since November when we last went up. Hopefully it won't be long before we see them all (and Chris) again.

A truly great and very enjoyable weekend! :)