Yes, let’s squeeze another gig in, why don’t we?
Following Queen’s regal offering on the previous evening, pop punk-alternative rock-pop rock-punk rock-skate punk-emo pop-post grunge-emo band, Good Charlotte went at their set-list with renowned vigour, and not a little mascara. The gig was at the 02 Academy, supported by Against The Current.
After more than two decades on the scene, Good Charlotte proved they’re still relevant with lots of younger fans singing and dancing around to their hits. There were also some significantly older fans that should have known better – dad dancing is not a prerequisite when attending these sorts of gigs.
The Maryland band, formed around the Madden twins, opened the sold-out show with hit The Anthem, which had even the oldest members in the crowd jumping around like teenagers (like I said: dad dancing!!!)
This song was followed by The Story of my Old Man, My Bloody Valentine, and Boys and Girls – which every Good Charlotte fan knows the words to (but I don’t, as I’m busy googling this set list).
The final set hit its stride with Dance Floor Anthem, I Just Wanna Live, The River, and finally Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous.
The final bird trip of the year was to Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire (loved for the biggest skies and the tiniest creatures).
Wicken Fen is one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves, and has been a National Trust property since 1899.
We first visited this site a few years ago and, despite seemingly having no shortage of wide open spaces and reed beds, we saw very little of note.
It seemed a similar story this time around although there were plenty of Kestrels about but not a great deal else.
Pete and I took an extra long walk that took in the Reach Lode, before doubling back into the reserve and checking out The Mere and Sedge Fen.
It was towards the end of the day, with dusk pooling, that we saw the first Marsh Harriers homing in on their roost for the night. Top sighting though was the male Hen Harrier, which elbowed its way over the fen before settling down and going to reed bed. A splendid view of a splendid bird (as can be seen from the RSPB’s ID guide above).
An evening of laughs with the Wax Elephant comedy night was to be had at a new venue – the Dark Horse in Moseley, with Craig on the bill with Jack ‘n’ Andy and Paul Tonkinson – plus a guest appearance from Joe Lycett. The club had a very friendly atmosphere, and was held in rooms above the pub. Further ale and banter was to be had downstairs afterwards with open mic entertainment that took us sailing past midnight (rebellious or what?)
It seems to be all about gigs at the moment, and next up was a return to the 02 Academy for a stonking show by The Darkness.
The Blackfoot Gypsies did a decent enough job as warm up before Darkness took the stage, the shy and retiring Justin Hawkins kept his appearance pretty much low profile with a sparkly, spangly cape and tight turquoise cat suit.
The Darkness are good fun to watch but they also have the necessary hard rock credentials to strip away any pretensions of a novelty act. Justin Hawkins is an engaging frontman – few can shriek as fetchingly as he – and he obviously enjoyed the banter with the sell-out crowd.
It was interesting (to me, at least) that the drummer of Darkness was Rufus Taylor, the son of Queen stickman Roger, who I had seen hitting the drums just the other week in the Birmingham Arena.
The hits were belted out (if there was a ballad in there too – it was also belted out) – I Believe In A Thing Called Love, One Way Ticket and, of course, Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End).
Before the Film Club, it was time to off-piste and watch something totally mainstream. Justice League…
…before the Flat Disc Film Club reigned us in for more challenging reels. This month’s festive feature was Home For Christmas, a Norwegian yuletide yarn that Wikipedia will now explain:
The film follows several different Christmas celebrations in the small Norwegian town of Skogli. Paul is a thirty-three-year-old labourer who marches into his doctor’s office demanding a prescription, then proceeds to lay bare all his woes. The doctor is beleaguered by his own marital and financial difficulties (he’s left his upset wife to work emergency calls on Christmas Eve). There’s also an elderly man preparing an esoteric ritual, a vagrant who runs into an old flame, a middle-aged couple in the throes of passion, a boy hopelessly in love with his Muslim neighbor, and a young émigré couple whose car breaks down as the woman goes into labour.
A short feature, Every Day Except Christmas, introduced the characters, and sights and sounds at London’s Covent Garden market in a bygone era (1957). The style of the documentary was ground-breaking at the time, showing working class Britain in the 1950s going about their business in a style which modern reality TV owes much to.
Paul H led the next walk – to the Malvern Hills – and here’s the usual lead-up:
Parking and start:
Quarry car park between West Malvern and Upper Wyche. GR 767448. Above the Spout marked on the OS map: OS map: Explorer 190
The walk can be flexible depending on how the weather is (it was crap!). The plan is to meander around North Hill, then drop down to St. Anne`s well for a cuppa (it was closed!). From here to Wyche cutting and the pub, The Wyche Inn.
After the pub we can climb Worcestershire Beacon and down to the cars via the Quarry.
A little more walking – and a heap more drinking with a Boxing Day wander around Sutton Park:
Of course, a New Year will need to be celebrated in time-honoured fashion (alcohol, friends, family) so we took ourselves off to Matlock in readiness to ring in the new, and to wring out the old.
But first, this little gem from YouTube: “Fairytale of New Street”: