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Recent front page messages:

Hmmm...

(Thu 24th Sep 2009, 18:12, More)

But why???

(Thu 13th Mar 2008, 17:09, More)

Bloody thing pops up everywhere...

(Thu 5th Jul 2007, 16:17, More)

Been done before, shoooorly...


EDIT: Wahey! First ever FP! I thangyu.
(Fri 8th Oct 2004, 15:52, More)

Best answers to questions:

» Clubs, gangs, and societies

Bassists
Sorry, Last Club...

I guess the only collection of people I’ve ever been regularly involved with is bands – or groups, as we used to call them – and there’s one thing that has been constant throughout the 20-30 odd years I’ve been doing this and that is that Bassists. Are. Trouble. If you’ve ever been in a band (I can only speak as an amateur, but something tells me this transcends any musical status) and you’re not a bassist, you will know this to be true. If it isn’t true at the moment, believe me, it will be. If you’re a bassist and you think it isn’t true, it is. This is because either your bandmates have been too polite to tell you, or they have told you and, being a bassist, you chose not to listen. Choosing not to listen appears to be the bassist’s default position.

Bassists are always the last to confirm availability for rehearsals, gigs, booze ups, in fact everything. They have not yet registered that a mobile phone can work for sending as well as receiving. However, the one thing they really excel at is moaning. O God, yes. Olympic Gold Standard. One band I was in had a bassist whose template for a rehearsal (when they finally worked out there was one) was moan, whinge, moan, play, stop, moan, whinge, repeat. Even when he wasn’t moaning, he was thinking about moaning. You could see it in his eyebrows.

And another thing. Unlike a lot of other instruments, in a crappy pub with a crappy PA your bass is still going to sound the same old shit whatever you play and whatever piece of boutique American wattage you put it through. No need to bring the original Japanese Squier Precision, the US Fender Jazz AND the (albeit beautiful) ‘80s Ricky and swap ‘em around every other song. All you’re doing is telling lots of disinterested people that you have a lot of guitars. Not a collection, just a lot. And whatever you play, it will still sound like a broomstick. No, it will. Those knobs on the bass and the amp are for decoration only. They don’t actually do anything. At least not at this level. Maybe when you’re playing the O2 (if you remember to acknowledge the text) and you have crystal clear sound, maybe – just maybe, twiddling the knob that says ‘Tone’ will have an effect. Until then, just concentrate on the one marked ‘Volume’. Yes, make sure you turn it up. ‘Up’ mean fully on so sound comes out. And while you’re at it, check your amp’s not still on standby. That also makes sound come out.

And please don’t get your bassist to suggest covers as they will invariably be some crap ‘80s sub-Nile Rogers thing that they can show off their slap bass technique to. By ‘slap bass technique’, I obviously mean ‘ruler on desk sound’. And root notes on the beat are fine. No, they are. No, they’re a staple of some fine music. Keep away from the 12th fret – like knobs, that part of the neck is for cosmetic reasons only to make you look like a proper guitarist.

All this I know to be true because when I first started playing, I were one. I shall now don my tin hat and scarper.
(Thu 28th Jun 2012, 13:51, More)

» B3TA Most Haunted

The only one I know
Here’s the only ghost story I’ve had any connection with, purely because I knew the people involved at the time. Please feel free to tl:dr as it’s a bit of a long one. Let’s go back to 1978….

Me and a friend of mine were fresh faced freshers going out into the big wide world at Manchester Polytechnic – me doing photography, her doing drama. The drama course at that time was based around the old Granada studios in Didsbury, a proper old theatre of a building. While she was there, ‘L’ started going out with a guy called ‘P’ – another drama student – and it’s him that this story revolves around.

Towards the end of the first year, L and P’s class were working towards some kind of end of term production which involved late night rehearsals at the theatre. One night, P was in the green room below the main stage when he heard what sounded like a siren going off. He walked out of the room, up the stairs and along the wings to look out onto the stage. Everyone else seemed to be carrying on as usual so P just presumed it was someone mucking about with a fire alarm or something. He turned to go back down to the green room and that’s when he saw him. A man in a pin stripe suit, the lower parts of his legs apparently sunk into the floor, looking up at P and pleading ‘Help me’.

They found P in the car park in a state of shock an hour or so later. When he told everyone what had happened, it struck a chord with one of the lecturers who recounted the story to his wife. A few days after the incident, the lecturer’s wife gave him a photo to show to P. When P saw it, not surprisingly shaken, he said ‘Yes, that’s him’.

It turned out that the lecturer’s wife used to work as a make up artist for Granada and specifically on a series that ran from the 50s to the early 70s called ‘Armchair Theatre’. In the early days, a lot of the AT broadcasts were live and came from the studios that were now the School of Theatre. During one production she worked on in the 60s, an actor had unfortunately suffered a fatal heart attack half way through the broadcast but, being live, a decision was made to carry on and improvise around the actor’s part. The actor was, as you’ve guessed, the one that P reckoned he had seen, dressed in costume and standing on the original wings floor before it had been built up.

Naturally, when I first heard the story from L and P, I was suitably sceptical. Then, a while ago in the just-pre-Internet days, I saw a documentary on 'Armchair Theatre' that included a section on this broadcast (google "Armchair Theatre” Underground). The play was about a potential nuclear attack with a group of people gathered together in an Underground station and was punctuated with the noise of air raid sirens throughout.

Not sure what to believe nowadays but it makes a good creepy story when I can find someone who I haven’t told it too before.

EDIT
Oooh. Just done a bit of googling and it seems the unfortunate actor died in make up.
(Thu 20th Sep 2012, 11:11, More)

» The B3TA Detective Agency

Les villes Frenchoise
This has mystified me for years...no, let's be honest...decades. Why do we (i.e. certainly me and I 'm sure a lot of others) pronounce 'Paris' to rhyme with 'Harris' (rather than 'Harry' with the emphasis on the second syll...oh, you know what I mean), when we seem quite able to pronounce nearly all the other French places the same way as the French?
(Thu 13th Oct 2011, 14:26, More)

» That's me on TV!

Not the most hilarious story, but
I was on the first series of 'Ready, Steady, Cook' back in the mid-90s. There had been hardly any male contestants so it was a bit of a shoo-in, I guess. Nothing much else to say except:
1) You don't select or bring the stuff yourself - they choose it and get it for you (or used to) from a supermarket at the back of the studio.
2) The main cooking bit is done in real time; the top and tail have a long-ish break so the chefs can work out what to do.
3) Fern Britton was absolutely lovely.
4) So, believe it or not, was Ainsley Harriott. Even when I made the mistake of asking him what he did.
5) Brian 'I'm from Yarkshar, me' Turner, however, was an utter cnut.
6) I didn't win the first prize (a set of posh knives) but I did win the CASH. Yeah! Take that, The Man!!
7) The production team spent a lot of time worrying out loud whether they'd get a second series. I seem to remember they did. And possibly a third, but I'm not sure.
8) They also got me to do a live one at the NEC shortly after (again, believe it or not, but Anthony Worrall Thompson was really nice and charming).
9) A few months later, the production team asked me and mrs sponge if we wanted to go on a new series they were doing about decorating houses. We declined. Not sure what happened to that one either. Called something like 'Changing Rooms'...?
(Fri 12th Jun 2009, 13:07, More)