Calamateur gig in Dunfermline

Calamateur in concert, Andrew on acoustic guitar and Mark at keyboards
Calamateur in concert, Andrew on acoustic guitar and Mark at keyboards.

This evening Valleyboy Rich, the lovely Jane and I popped over to The Vine Church, Dunfermline to see our long-time Inverness-based friend Andrew Howie’s band Calamateur gig at the Vine Café.

The venue was contemporary, and not at all church-like, which suited the gig perfectly. Punters were seated around polished chrome tables drinking hot chocolate and eating fudge doughnuts, the lighting was dimmed, with candles placed strategically to enhance the mood. At the front, to the left of the stage, a huge back-projected screen showed cityscape images, similar to those produced by One Small Barking Dog.

Calamateur this evening consisted of Andrew Howie on acoustic guitar and vocals, with the odd finger used to press play on what I presumed was some kind of MIDI system that produced backing percussion and various other sounds; Mark Someone was on keyboards, providing a beautiful accompaniment to Andrew’s delicate guitar and haunting vocals.

Believe it or not, despite having known Andrew for about five years or so, this was the first time I’d seen him playing live and one of only a handful of times that I’ve seen him with a guitar in his hand! They played for about 35 – 40 minutes, which was over all too quick.

The set was a combination of quiet, delicate songs about hope, interspersed with darker, heavier material about betrayal, revenge and eventually murder! My only criticism was that the sound could have been better, there was a poor balance between instruments and the EQ levels didn’t sound right — it all sounded a bit lo-fi from where we were sitting. I’m not entirely sure whether this was down to our location near the front or the folks on the mixing desk.

But at the end of the day it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the gig. Andrew rocked, his performance was solid, and the songs and lyrics quite, quite beautiful.

I thoroughly recommend that you at least download Son of Everyone, and his two free albums Tiny Pushes Vol.1 (How to be Childlike) and Tiny Pushes Vol.2 (All the Wrong Buttons). It may convince you (quite rightly) to part with your hard-earned cash on The Old Fox of 45 and The Son of Everyone EP.

John Peel played him on his late night BBC show, back in the day, you know. And that man was rarely wrong about a good tune!

Scotland 18 – 12 England

Scottish Rugby Union Calcutta Cup winners image
If I just make a few changes I’m sure no-one will notice.

First of all I’d like to say that my Dad was an Englishman — an Englishman who supported the Scottish Rugby Union!

Did you see it? Did you?! What do you mean “what?”?! I mean Scotland trouncing England at Murrayfield! If you missed it you can read the match report at the Official Website of the RBS 6 Nations.

I’ve not watched a Scottish game where Scotland played with such passion and gutted determination for years, and where I was leaping up from my seat every few minutes shouting at the TV. “Come on…! It’s not a quiz…! Drop him …! Yes …!!”

They are beginning to consistently get things right, they are getting the basics of play right, they are making tackles, catching and passing well, and are putting the ball between the posts when called to. I’ve been saying for years that if they can’t get to the line then they need to go for a drop-goal to get points on the board. At last, they are doing it.

It was such a delight to see Frank Hadden smiling from ear to ear. That man is a Scottish hero. He’s obviously getting something right. And more to come, I hope.

We watched the game at Potting Shed HQ with Eddie and Rebecca (and Owen), Camella, and Valleyboy Rich. As the final whistle blew Jane and I leapt out of our chairs — well, Jane did as I was already standing — and hugged each other, “Happy New Era,” I said. And I believe that it is.

Katiepie Designs — a tale of lovely people on the Internet

Owen name print from Katiepie dot co dot uk
Name print for Owen by Katiepie Designs.

Have you seen the AOL /discuss adverts on TV? There are two — you can watch them online too or read the scripts — asking “Is the internet a good thing?” or “Is the internet a bad thing?”.

It’s a genius piece of advertising. We’ve all probably had both good and bad experiences of using the Internet. Here’s one of my good experiences:

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Helen Barnett who runs Katiepie Designs. Helen emailed me, having found the information on my website about PDF creation software, to ask for my recommendations about a suitable application to convert an advert to PDF for print; seemingly the magazines that she wanted to advertise in required submissions in PDF format. (PDF is clearly the way forward!)

As a thank-you for my help, and having been reading my blog, Helen offered to make me a name print for my nephew, Owen. Which she did, posted it and I picked it up from the Royal Mail sorting office on Thursday morning.

As you can see from the photograph above Helen has made a wonderful job of the handmade name print. It has:

  • O for Octopus
  • W for Whale
  • E for Elephant
  • N for lizard newt

And at the bottom it reads:

Owen Thomas Saunders, born 14th January 2006, weight 8lbs 5oz

in the most beautiful handwriting. (I hope those details are correct!)

Anyway, what a lovely, lovely person. If you have any newly-born nephews, nieces, sons or daughters, then visit Katiepie Designs now and buy one. In fact, they are so lovely if you have a name why not buy one for yourself!