Every year since 1981, there's been a festival in my hometown called Parkpop (because it takes place in one of the municipal parks). At first, and up until 2014, all bands performed on the Sunday and the entrance was free. That's how I came to see INXS, Blondie, Marillion, Sinéad O'Connor, Robert Plant, Kula Shaker and Robbie Williams; as well as the very first time I ever saw Paul Weller live on stage. From 5 years ago, the festival which by now had begun to attract half a million visitors, was spread over 2 days, Saturday and Sunday, and was no longer free: you had to pay for access to the park on Saturday when all the main acts play :-( Headliners have been Golden Earring, DJ Tiësto, Madness, and OMD. In 2017, they added the Friday night to the program as well, mainly for small local bands to be heard playing in a venue in the town centre. Entrance to the venues on Fridays and Sundays is still free.

This year, theheadline acts for me were:
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I met a couple from Las Vegas, who had travelled to The Hague specifically to catch Tears for Fear's gig. They were on a European holiday, and were staying in Budapest when they heard about their favourite band coming to perform a mere 1,416.5km from their hotel. That's fandom for you!

Skunk Anansie were the closing act, but after having spent 6 hours on my feet in a huddle in front of the stage in what is basically just an open field in 35C heat, I decided enough was enough and retreated to a wooded area where I could still hear the music but not see very much.

Two days later, I went to see Stray Cats on their 40th anniversary tour Amsterdam stop.
in the corner of your eyes

"I'm an instant star. Just add water and stir"

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It's as strange to see oneself on television as it is to hear oneself on tape.

Last night, I was in the audience for a Dutch live early evening talk show. One that I'd only begun watching 10 or 12 days ago. And that, completely out of the blue, a friend of mine then invited me to.

The experience of going into a tv studio was actually quite a pleasant one. The crew and host were chatty and super friendly -- prior to entering, we had been asked to switch off our phones and put our belongings in a locker, so the picture was actually taken by one of the cameramen on his phone and sent straight through. I was surprised by how small the studio was, in seemed so much roomier on the box! Saxophonist Candy Dulfer (of Lily Was Here-fame) and her band took care of the musical interludes, which was something of an unexpected treat; while discussions on the night ranged from what it meant to be Dutch (boring!) to the upcoming Democratic debates (less so). Afterwards, we were fed and watered; that is to say, we were treated to a lovely steak dinner, wine and coffees included...If the opportunity presents itself, I'll definitely do this again ;-)
guitar man

Rod Stewart, May 12th in Amsterdam

Some things never change, and gigging remains one of my favourite pastimes. In recent years, I've had the opportunity to see many bands and artists -- some domestic, some foreign; some well-known, some not so; and earlier this month, accompanied by my sister, I went to see Sir Roderick Stewart in concert.

Back in the 70s, we were fans, but somehow, always managed to miss him. That was never going to happen this time. He didn't disappoint: he sang all our old-time favourites, interspersed with light-hearted banter, and we came away buzzing.

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The present will not long endure

March 1st...not only does this date mark Manasse's 15th birthday, but also the beginning of my 6th month of unemployment. I had hoped to have found work by now, but must conclude I have not done enough to achieve or secure it. Of course, the whole double lung embolism-thing hasn't helped...

As to the birthday boy, his health has also been cause for concern lately, in that he has been losing weight steadily since Christmas, and over-grooming to such an extent that his abdomen, back legs and 'armpits' show raw, red, bald patches. I took him into the vets' on Monday who, going on the assumption that he's developed an allergy to house dust, has given him a long-lasting steroids injection. I must admit, I was sceptical at first; but I have noticed that since then, he's left his poor belly alone for most of the day.

Anyway, enough of this! I'm feeling a lot better now than I did 7 weeks ago, and so I will redouble my efforts as from today!

Back again!

I seem to remember that back in the day, I used to get notifications when someone commented on my entries...I wonder if they're going to the correct email address...I'll have to have a look.

The weather today looks to be glorious, and I'm stuck indoors :-(. I'm awaiting a delivery -- the hoover gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago, and I've only gotten around to ordering a new one when the dust build-up got too much even for me to ignore. I need the place ship-shape before too long, because I have plans: to rip out the kitchen and replace it with a brand new one. I want it to be beautiful. I've been living with the kitchen that was in my property when I bought it, and come July, I will have lived here 21 years. That means it must have been in here for 30 at least; and it is dire! No really, it is the worst kitchen you ever saw. The doors to the units are all uneven. The fronts of the drawers have come off in places. So have he handles. The units used to be white, but...well, I'm not a housewife, am I? To cut a long story short: I need a new kitchen. But I can't have workmen over until the rest of the flat looks remotely presentable. Hence the stuck-indoors-waiting-for-the-new-hoover-to-be-delivered-thing. I do hope they deliver soon...First ray of sunshine in bloody ages and I can't go out and take advantage of it!

Obviously, today's Valentine's Day. That date in itself doesn't mean anything to me as a dyed-in-the-wool singleton, except that this year, it marks a month since my diagnosis. I still don't know how I feel about having blood clots, or blood that has a tendency to clot, and that has to be treated with anti-coagulants. I know that I'm a very bad, impatient patient -- this is nothing new. The doctors told me to take it easy, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to. It's a stressful enough situation I find myself in even without being ill: I have a mother who's lost her mobility and is slowly losing her marbles to boot. I'm unemployed and need to find a job. I can't be ill! I just can't be! But then I keep running around, after my mum; pushing myself to go to interviews where I end up wheezing my way through them (no wonder I can't get hired); and it's enough to sap most of my strength and almost all of my enjoyment out of life. I say 'almost' because there's plenty of enjoyment still around, if I'm honest. Take this weekend: my friend David Berkeley is playing in Rotterdam this Sunday, as one half of the Son of Town Hall project with his mate Ben Parker; and I think it's been 3 years since I last saw them.

Actually, speaking of gigs: I've been going to quite a few in recent years. The usual suspects: Paul Weller, Depeche well as my childhood heroes Queen, and Sweet. But also quite a few I only saw the once (so far): Paul Simon, Santana, The Decemberists, Rick Astley, OMD, Bryan Ferry...the list goes on. Next up: Tears for Fears, Chic, and Stray Cats :-).

Common Rotation are on hiatus; have been for a number of years. I don't know if they'll ever get together again. And my cat Leila died 2 1/2 years ago.

Well, this is awkward...

...seems my last entry dates from 2 years ago (or almost).

Facebook reminded me that it had been 10 years since I'd set up my account. I know that for a time, I didn't use it; but for years now, it's been my primary social media outlet -- even though I fully recognise it leaves quite a bit to be desired. The thing is, the vast majority of my friends and family (both online and real-life) are there, so it's simply the easiest way to stay in touch with everyone (or almost everyone).

So, what's been going on with me, then?

I'm unemployed again, my 6th such period since my being made redundant from hp coincided with the global recession which is now, we are told, coming to its end. At the same time, I might add, as being told that the next one is just around the corner. The last 10 years have not been easy; holidays and travel have come to a standstill, but I still have a roof over my head and food in the larder, so it's all relative.

Mum has just celebrated her 85th birthday, though she doesn't believe she has much to celebrate there. She's been diagnosed as being in the early stages of dementia, hates the fog of confusion that descends on her at irregular intervals, and has difficulty walking and keeping her balance, so spends most of her days sat on the couch watching television. I take care of her the best I can, dropping in 3 or 4 times a week, doing the groceries, looking after her financial affairs, and trying to keep her entertained; but she misses her sisters and her friends who have all died, leaving her alone and lonely.

My own health has taken a turn for the worse as well: three weeks ago, I was told the coughing, shortness of breath and pain in the side was caused not by a persistent cold as I thought myself, but by lung embolisms in both lungs. Which I and my doctors still don't know how I could have gotten: I have not been on a long-haul flight, nor have I had any abdominal surgery in recent weeks. I don't suffer from varicose veins, or thrombosis in either legs or arms. I don't engage in sports or work out, but neither am I completely sedentary: I cycle and walk long distances. Finally, I do not appear to have breast or intestinal cancer. Anyway, I'm on blood thinners now, likely to be for the rest of my life; and slowly but surely, I'm getting my strength back.


Not dead

How long has it been? Two years? Three? Too long, I think must be the answer. I wonder if anyone's still here...Things do look different to how I remember them, but I'm sure I'll find my way around again soon enough, if I can stick with it. We'll see.
70% off

Some things never change

I'm procrastinating in the worst possible way. I actually logged on this morning to do my annual tax self-assessment, which is due in by the 1st of May; but as you can see, other sites hold much more appeal for me than that of our equivalent of the UK's HMRC or US' IRS, de Belastingdienst.

I hadn't realised it had been a couple of weeks since I posted my last message here; I thought it had been just the other day, but I'll try to cut down on my absences from now on. LJ certainly has changed its appearance since I was last a regular poster, and I'll have to find my way around again, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it soon enough. If only I can think of something to write about! Hang on, I know: Poldark!

Back in the 70s, there was this TV series starring Robin Ellis and the late Angharad Rees, of which I had (and still have) fond memories. Now, the BBC have remade it, updated it for a modern audience. The pace has picked up, and there are far more scenes shot outdoors than I remember the original ever showing, and I do like to tune in every Sunday night for another episode...though I think I somehow do still prefer the original. Robin Ellis has a bit part in this series as a magistrate Poldark runs into now and again, and every time he's in shot, I squeal delightedly; but judging from the news I've read online, I seem to be missing the point of this televisual offering entirely, which is: to perv on Aidan Turner. It seems every UK news site I turn to (to check on the latest re: the various parties' election campaigns) these days is devoting an inordinate amount of print to the main character's appeal to the ladies...and to his woefully inept way of scything. Even though we only saw him engaged in this activity once, and for less than a minute, the picture of it is plastered everywhere. And I'm mystified as to why this should be, when Mr. Turner has appeared on our screens for years, and been pleasing to the eye for all that time. It's not as if in Poldark, he's taken his top off for the very first time, either. I've actually seen him butt-naked in Desperate Romantics, as well as in Being Human, but I don't remember the press getting hot under the collar in those instances...

Some things never change, and whilst I've been away from LJ, I have been adding to my shoe collection, although not as much as you might suppose. What with me having been in and out of work repeatedly, the last few years have been difficult financially, and I've had to curb my spending on non-essentials. So I've bought a few pairs of trainers (for everyday wear), and a few pair of dress shoes (for interviews), but nothing really fun - and crucially, nothing expensive. I have become a bargain hunter! Traditionally, I have always marked and celebrated the getting of a new job by getting a new pair of shoes:

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and, in November 2013 when I got the news I would be working for NHR and go to California, I bought these:

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You want to see the pair that will forever -in my mind- be associated with receiving my first pay from where I am now? Alright then:

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Cheap, cheerful, have the mighty fallen!

It's been a while, hasn't it?

So...I started in a new job a little over a month ago. It's another of those 6 months contracts, and even though my manager has already asked me if I'd like to stay on IF a position opens up within the company, I'll probably be jobless again by September. Until then though, I'll just give it everything I have; while applying for other jobs outside of the company in my spare time.

I'm working as a training coordinator for a marketing analytics company, and the clue to my job description is in the title: I plan and coordinate the training sessions for our partners and clients in the EMEA region, so that they can become certified (super)users of our marketing and business analytics software. Once they've reached that status, they'll be able to measure and weigh the reach and effectiveness of their online presence and campaigns. Our clients are mostly publishers, media agencies and broadcasting organisations, but there's also a few charities, non-profit health organisations, and even a cruise liner company that want to find out whether their investments in online platforms are paying off. The trainings can be delivered online, through open enrolment, or in company as a live classroom session, and can last from a few hours to a few days. It's an interesting new area for me, and I've taken a few online courses myself to familiarise myself with the product -- but mainly I'm just there to look after the organisational and administrative sides of things.

David Berkeley visited The Netherlands in the last week of March, and I took some of my erstwhile colleagues at Curvature to see him in Amsterdam. I was a bit nervous about bringing them, but I needn't have been: they absolutely loved him. Note to self: you have got excellent taste in music, so by all means, share it!
gamiila sig #2

2014 Booklist

Last year, I read a disappointing total of 33 books, which is about 20 less than my usual tally. This year, I'm behind on my reading as well - what's the matter with me?

1) Sarah Gristwood, Arbella: England's Lost Queen - non-fiction I'd heard the name Ar(a)bella Stuart before, but I never knew who she was or that she had briefly been in the running to succeed Elizabeth I on the English throne. She doesn't seem to have had much of a life, though.

2) Marion Davies, The Times We Had: Life with William Randolph Hearst - non-fiction I picked this up at Hearst Castle - Marion Davies, silent movie star, reminisces about her life at San Simeon (which IMO, was distinctly meh).

3) Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - pensioner Harold Fry sets out to post a letter, then decides to deliver it himself by walking from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed. An utterly moving story of love and loss.

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