Friday, 27 November 2009

University Challenge: Our first round match against RVC

I’ve been struggling to write about what happened in our first round match. A lot of the day was something of a blur, but thanks to re-watching the match and thanks to David Clarke from the excellent Life After Mastermind blog:
who gave me some helpful advice about writing about quiz experiences, I have managed to cobble together a vague account of what happened.

So, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

The day started like a military operation. Adam had taken the day off work to be able to attend the match. My dad was in such a nervous state that he drove up from Blackpool to be with us by 10am. My mum was on holiday in Portugal so it seemed sensible for him to come and spend the morning with us instead of fretting on his own at home! As I mentioned in my previous UC blog entry, it was partly because of my dad that I’d applied to be on the show in the first place, he was so excited that I was going to be on the show but he was also extremely nervous. So, I left Adam to look after dad while I went to have my hair and nails done. I wanted to make sure my hair was as bright as it could be for filming as if the pink has started to fade I’m sure my brain doesn’t work as well, the Samson effect I suppose, though I don’t think his hair was pink! Anyway, I needed all the help I could get!

Anyway, I left the hairdressers, went home and got changed in record time. I had planned my outfit carefully. Though the BBC obviously doesn’t allow product placement I cunningly managed to sneak the Cherryade logo in by wearing a dress and accessories covered in cherries!

Then we set off into town, picking up Anna on the way and, for once, arriving at Granada in time!

I waved goodbye to Adam, my dad and Anna as they went off to the audience door while we were ushered past security and into reception. From there we were taken to our dressing room and then given the much coveted lunch vouchers! Though having a dressing room was very nice, I have to say that we didn’t spend any time in there, just dumped our stuff and went off to explore the culinary delights of the Granada canteen where we all stretched our lunch vouchers to the limit (I kind of understand how politicians can get carried away with expenses now!) We sat eating our subsidised lunch while looking for celebrities to spot. We met Jeremy Paxman while we were queueing, he was a gent and let us have his tray. We also saw the actor who plays Norris in Coronation Street. I must say that I get on really well with my team, they’re great guys, and so we had a nice chat over lunch before being whisked off to make-up, where we were all dolled-up ready for the cameras. The make-up artists are amazing, really lovely ladies and it was so interesting discussing their job with them, I learned that as well as doing standard make-up for shows like UC they also do special effects make-up such as fake blood and bruises for soaps like Hollyoaks. She also told me they’re often given scripts in advance so they can pre-plan make-up based on the character’s personality and situation and the conditions of the scene being filmed. I had no idea how specialised and intense make-up artistry was.

Anyway, after that we went to the green room to relax and wait for our match. At this point we found out who we would be playing. UC matches are filmed in blocks of two, they ask the four teams in a block to arrive together, but as ours was to be the second match, we got to sit in the green room with our first round opponents, The Royal Veterinary College (a college of the University of London) and watched live footage of the match before ours, between Edinburgh and University of Central Lancashire, which was shown on the screen in the green room. The green room was lovely, lots of food and drink (tea before the match and alcohol after!) and was very relaxing. It was nice to be playing the second match as we got to relax, have a nice chat, fuel up on caffeine and get a look at what the filming process involves but from the comfort and privacy of the green room!

The match before ours was over far too soon though and the nerves set in as the production team came to take us to the studio for our match, the walk down the corridor was terrifying, I had butterflies for the first time. We hadn’t had time to talk to our opposition before the match so we were very nervous as this was the first time we met. UC is filmed in front of a studio audience and the set, albeit quite basic, suddenly seemed quite big. Each team were announced in turn by the warm-up man (who I recognised because of his 2-part BBC 7 series ‘Moths Ate My Dr Who Scarf’ and from appearances at the Comedy Store but annoyingly I can’t remember his name) and we walked on from the wings to applause. I hadn’t expected this because we’re obviously not being filmed at this point but it did make it feel like an event! We got settled behind our desk and did all the preparatory house-keeping stuff like testing buzzers, having last-minute make-up adjustments, etc. Then there was some discussion about the fact that I’m much shorter than the rest of the team and that this was going to look a bit weird on tv so a runner was dispatched to find a cushion, eventually I was raised up to an adequate height and we were set. The team then had to explain that the picture rounds would work a bit differently due to my Braille cards which would have to be changed between picture rounds. Matches are usually recorded straight through, unless there’s a technical problem or disputed question or something, but to take away the first set of cards and replace them with those for the second picture round would require stopping filming for a moment but it was done very quickly and worked out well and I must thank the production team for being so helpful with this and making the picture rounds so accessible. Once this was done we were able to take stock of the fact that we were actually sat behind one of the hallowed desks with a buzzer in front of us and Jeremy Paxman sat behind his desk ready to grill us for 26 minutes under the bright studio lights while being watched by a studio audience, it didn’t seem real somehow, but it was and it was too late to turn back!

Before filming starts, there’s a ‘knock-about’ game where Roger Tilling (the inimitable voice of UC) asks a couple of starters and sets of bonuses to give the teams a chance to get familiar with buzzing in and conferring and talking into the mics, this only lasts 2 or 3 minutes and also gives teams the opportunity to practise their introductions, this is more difficult than it sounds as you have to decide how you’re going to introduce your course (do you say reading or studying and if, like me, you’re doing a PHD in DIY music since 1995 in the UK and USA, do you say that and risk the audience at home sputtering over the rubbish they let students study now’ or do you, as I did, choose to say something vague like “I’m studying for A PHD in English and American Studies. Then there’s the controversy over where you come from. I’ve lived in Manchester for three years now but some people who saw our first round match asked why I didn’t say I came from Blackpool where I grew up, despite the fact I haven’t lived there since I went off to uni in Lancaster in 2003. So I think I was right to claim Manchester as my home town!). Then, without further ado, we’re into the game.

The distinctive theme music starts playing, this is really it, we sit there terrified as the music stops, Roger Tilling welcomes the audience at home and introduces our host and the studio audience claps. We have a quick breather while Jeremy makes his usual urbane and witty introduction to the show and then to our opponents (they get introduced first so we have a little breather as the camera focuses on them, but I’m too nervous to concentrate on what Jeremy says until he introduces us with some kind comments. We manage to get through our introductions without anyone forgetting their name or course, and, without further ado (Jeremy actually says he’s not going to explain the rules because we must all know them by now!) we’re off. First starter is one of those ‘which word connects…’ questions, this one is asking after a five letter word that is an archaic word for a sailor’s turn at the helm, a feat of magic, the cards played in a single… at this point I find myself buzzing in,before I really knew what I was doing, then Roger Tilling is saying Manchester Neiman and I’m saying ‘trick’ and it’s right, I can’t quite believe it. My main worry was going home without having answered a single question correctly, this can’t possibly happen now, no matter what happens from now on, I am very relieved and settle back into my chair for a bonus round on inscriptions on £2 coins which requires very little knowledge of the coins themselves, just a working knowledge of a few well-known facts, we duly breeze through the bonuses with a clean sweep. Next question is on a German composer and is quickly picked up by our captain Jakob who knows it’s Wagner, good stuff! We then have an odd bonus round on spots, another clean sweep, Jakob and Nick recall Bowdler’s objection to the Macbeth quotation ‘out damned spot’, I remember that the spots on a John Dory were said to be the fingerprints of St. Peter and Nick and Jakob remember Hogarth’s use of beauty spots to denote lysentiousness. RVC get off the mark by identifying a vandergraff generator in the next question and getting a clean sweep on constellations to close the gap. Tom impresses by a lightning quick recognition of a cultural cringe and we are offered a very tasty bonus round on pairs of words formed with the addition of an s. These are some of my favourite kinds of bonuses as I love word play and can actually be of some help! So, we get our 15 points without much ado! With considerably more ado we turn our attention to the first picture round. I must say at this point that I held out no hope of being any use to my team on the picture round as my Braille reading is appalling (I only learned it when I was 18 and have never really used it properly cause I read everything off the computer) and it was going to take me half an hour to read the few words on the card! The picture round involved identifying a poem by the last words of each line of one stanza. Tom had a guess which seemed fair enough but all credit to RVC who, to Mr. Paxman’s great surprise, identified it as Tennyson’s work. Unfortunately they were unable to identify the authors of the three poems in the bonus round, it was very tricky though!

Next starter is about a biblical tribe, Jakob has a guess at Philistines it’s wrong and is passed to RVC, Tom Shaw buzzes in and correctly identifies the tribe in question as the Hittites. RVC are given a particularly nasty bonus round on famous people from Gibrolta and unfortunately fail to convert any of them. Here comes a starter on a surname, ‘Which surname connects a serial killer executed in 1953, a writer of mystery stories…’ I go for the buzzer, I know this, if I don’t get this I’ll never live it down, it’s one of my specialist subjects, ‘Manchester Neiman’ for some reason I say ‘is it Christie?’ but I’m sure it is. Agatha Christie is my favourite author, I am obsessed with her work, I was hoping for a question on one of her novels, something to showcase my Christie fandom but this name question will do! We’re rewarded with a horrible round on opera. I know nothing about opera, we’re all looking at Jakob, our classical music expert, he makes educated guesses (more than I could have managed, but unfortunately none are right, still, we’re doing ok. Nick and RVC’s Hannah bones both have a stab at identifying a Thomas, both are unfortunately wrong, Jeremy was looking for Thomas Walsingham so we’re offered a new starter. Both Rvc’s Sid Sudunagunter and I have a stab at the next starter asking after a book in the Old Testament, once again we’re both wrong, Judges was the answer. So, another starter, someone’s got to get this! Tom duly identifies the Italian word being looked for is ciao and we have a set of bonuses about Canadian history which don’t exactly suit us and we fail to add to our point score. So, halfway mark and both RVC and us are putting points on the board. The halfway mark is, as always, signified by the music round, oh goody, it’s classical music, I’ll sit this one out! Luckily Nick is able to identify an extract of Holst’s planets in what seems like an indecently short amount of time, very impressive! Hooray, our bonuses are other extracts from The Planets and our job is to name the planet in question. I don’t think any of us were that familiar with the suite but we made educated guesses based on the mood of the music and thus were able to identify two out of the three planets correctly.

A starter on literary husbands is looking for Thomas Hardy, Tom has a stab at Yeats though so another starter goes begging. On the next starter we’re back to the planets a question about what’s missing from a planetary nemonic. The answer is Pluto and Nick once again picks it up to give us a bonus round on Shakespeare’s problem plays, we get Troelus and Cressida but fail to identify the next two from their convoluted storylines, Jeremy quips that he can see why they’re called ‘problem plays’! Nick’s on the case again with the definition of the law of diminishing return and we polish off a nice set of bonuses on WWII for another 15 points. Tom knows that Kubla Khan is the answer to the next starter and we’ve got a set of bonuses on sound in diagnosis, we manage to get two of them right so not too bad! Oh dear, a science starter, I zone out, RVC’s Tom Shaw buzzes in and gives the answer ‘entrapy’, Jeremy asks him to repeat it, apparently it’s not right, Nick buzzes in with ‘enthalpy’ which is right. Apparently ‘entrapy’ and ‘enthalpy’ are different things, but as I have no idea what either is it all seems very clever to me! Unfortunately our transport related bonuses don’t cover us in glory and we get a round 0! Ah, here’s the second picture round. I turn over my card and start to read. But, hang on, something weird has happened, I have finished reading this Latin phrase, I know what it means and nobody has buzzed in yet, this shouldn’t be happening, I go for the buzzer and offer my answer ‘love conquers all’ and it is, hooray! Our bonuses are more Latin phrases (I knew that Latin GCSE would come in handy one day!) Nick and Jakob deal with the first phrase ‘an ornament and a shield’ while I’m still reading, the second card is taking me so long to read that I’m forced to wave the white flag and the rest of the team aren’t having more luck with it, the last phrase ‘caput inter nubila’ is pored over for a bit, some jokes about nubile’ are duly made then I realise what it means, ‘head in the clouds’, I’m so excited about this breakthrough that I embarrassed myself by sounding a bit over-enthusiastic, Jakob takes my answer and offers it to Jeremy, it’s right, I’m pleased!

It would be disingenuous not to admit that at this point we were pretty confident that we were going to win the game. There were only a few minutes left and we were quite far ahead but RVC were putting up a good fight and the next question is about the founding of a newspaper, Tom buzzes in with News of The World, unfortunately the answer is The Times which is identified by RVC Shaw earning them a difficult set of engineering bonuses, unfortunately they fail to convert any of them. The next starter, asking after an industrial port goes begging again. The next question about a liquid measurement is incorrectly answered by RVC Shaw before Jakob buzzes in and identifies it as a pint for quite a pleasant round of bonuses on comparing land areas of countries to Wales, France = lots of Waleses, 7 Rhode Islands would fit in Wales and you’d squeeze one and a half Wales into Belgium! RVC Shaw fights back by identifying the Bernese Alps but the team fail to identify any of the academy award winning films that make up their bonus round.

My most embarrassing moment of the match follows as I answer a question on Katie Melua thereby giving the (entirely eronious) impression that I might actually like bland rubbish like that (like listening to paint dry), I didn’t really need to buzz in, we’d won already at this point but pointlust got the better of me! Anyway, we got a question on peristalsis, which we got then our second bonus on something complicated and sciencey but the gong went before we could have a go at answering it. At the gong the score was 235/60 to us. Jeremy tells RVC that it’s not the worst score they’ve had and that they seemed to enjoy themselves. I’d like to pay tribute to RVC who were a better team than their score suggested and who were very good contestants indeed, we greatly enjoyed playing them!

I’d also like to say that I think the rest of my team are awesome, really great people who are a pleasure to spend hours at Granada Studios with as well as being a very clever bunch! Their knowledge of such a wide range of subjects is astounding.

We had our photos taken with Jeremy behind the desk then went back to the green room to celebrate our victory with BBC wine, lovely stuff! We had a lovely chat and then eventually went off home. I was actually djing in Leeds that night so didn’t get much of a rest! Still, it was an amazing day!

Our second round match against Kings College London is scheduled for broadcast on BBC Two at 8pm on Monday Dec 21st. I’ll post an account of that after it’s happened!

Rach Cherryade xxx

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A Very Cherry Christmas volume 5

Cherryade is delighted to celebrate reaching its 30th release with the fifth in our annual ‘A Very Cherry Christmas’ festive compilation series.

The previous 4 volumes have featured specially recorded seasonal tunes from some of the best bands around, including A Smile and A Ribbon, Das Wanderlust, The Bobby Mcgee’s, Misty’s Big Adventure, The Lovely Eggs, Little My, Dawn of the Replicants, Paul Hawkins, True Adventures, Fever Fever, Applicants, Hotpants Romance, The Deirdres and many, many more. Over the last four years, ‘A Very Cherry Christmas has become something of a festive institution, with tracks from every compilation receiving extensive airplay from the likes of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Rob Da Bank, Steve Lamacq and Bethan Elfin, 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and Mark Riley and XFM’s Jon Kennedy, as well as a number of other dj’s all over the world and reviews in Plan B and The Independent.

So, A Very Cherry Christmas vol. 5 has a lot to live up to, and we’re delighted to say it doesn’t disappoint! Boasting 25 festive treats from some of the best bands around today, 21 brand new tracks and 4 favourites from the first 4 volumes, including The School, Das Wanderlust, Persil, Shrag, Allo Darlin’, The Bobby McGee’s, The Lovely Eggs, Mia Vigar, The Gresham Flyers, Foxes, Sparky’s Magic Piano and many, many more, it may be the best in the series so far and is sure to still sound as fresh and exciting in July as it did on Christmas day, and it’s a bargain too, beats novelty socks and jumpers any day!

You can order A Very Cherry Christmas 5 now direct from us at:
The album will also be available to buy in all good record shops and on Itunes (distributed by Cargo) making it the first volume of A Very Cherry Christmas to be available outside the Cherryade website. However, the Cherryade website is the only place you can buy all 5 amazing compilations together for the bargain price of just £18 + £2 p and p!

Here is the track listing:

1. The School - Let Me Be the Fairy on Your Christmas Tree Tonight

2. Das Wanderlust - Someone To Pull Crackers With

3. Allo Darlin’ - Space Christmas

4. The Lovely Eggs - Tyrannosaurus Rex For Christmas

5. The 10p Mixes – Christmas Number One

6. Fever Fever - Little Drummer Boy

7. Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies – Unhappy New Year

8. Sparky’s Magic Piano – The Escape From Aled Jones

9. Persil – Dear Santa

10. Mia Vigar – What The Hell

11. Tiger MCs – The Way That You Arrived

12. Hearts!Attack – It Was Christmas That Killed Us

13. The Gresham Flyers - Mistletoe Misadventure

14. Foxes – Christmas Songs

15. The Bobby McGee’s - Sub Santalales

16. Shrag - Stop the Revelry

17. The Hi-Life Companion - Brockweir Winter Reverie

18. Doris and the Jumpers - Murder under the mistletoe

19. Humousexual - Come Take My Hand In Winter

20. Shrieking Violets - Jethro (Song For)

21. Rebecca Willmott - A Christmas Echo

22. The Pocket Gods - KFC (kentucky fried christmas)

23. Master Solo - The last Xmas of Achiebald Sterling

24. Everett True – A Christmas Tale

25. Marble Krusher – Summer Toys (Winter version)

To celebrate the release of the album we will be hosting a very special Christmas party at Cafe Saki (in conjunction with Under Achievers Please Try Harder' on December 12th from 9pm with live performances from The 10p Mixes:
a solo set from Jimmy from The Bobby McGee's:
and Shrieking Violets:
plus a santa's grotto with Cherryade goodies for everyone who attends, the return of Christmas song bingo, an all-night Christmas disco and lots of mince pies, candy canes and other goodies, absolutely not to be missed!

What reviewers have said:
‘Continuing a welcome tradition from the mighty Cherryade Records, it now feels like Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without this annual compilation.’
Martin Kendrick for Noize Makes Enemies

‘This compilation is the best thing to happen to Christmas since sprouts – I should point out that I love sprouts!’

‘It’s that time of year again when the people at Cherryade reach into bulging Santa’s sack and pick out assorted shiny aural trinkets. This DIY music compilation of fiercely independent artists is the perfect gift for kids who miss John Peel’s Festive Fifty.’
God Is In The Tv

‘You’d have to be a very hard-hearted Scrooge McDuck not to welcome the arrival of the annual Christmas compilation from everyone’s favourite DIY label Cherryade Records.’
Lobster Quadrille

‘Probably the most indie label in Europe, Manchester-based DIY-label Cherryade Records have got into the spirit over the last 4 years with A Very Cherry Christmas, an annual compilation that brings together some of the most DIY and indie performers who, in a parallel universe, would be no. 1 on Top of the Pops.’
The Independent

Trapped in my flat: A dream come true...

This is the first in a series of (totally self-indulgent and of no interest to anyone but me) posts which will profile some of the lovely things which I have squirrelled away in the kingdom of kitsch that is Cherryade Towers! Just to explain, our flat (Cherryade Towers) is the first 'grown-up' home I've ever lived in, the first place that wasn't my parents' house, or a hall of residence or a house I shared with friends. It belongs to Adam Cherryade and I and we are very proud of it. Despite the felling of maturity that owning your own home is supposed to bring, Cherryade Towers is essentially decorated in the way the seven-year-old me would probably have wanted it to look. It's very colourful (mostly pink!) and gloriously loud and mismatched. The lounge, in particular, is the focal point of the flat, I treat it as a kind of living museum, it's full of lovely things and I do find myself wandering around it sometimes just looking at all the stuff, the wonder still hasn't worn off! But, like a museum, the lounge is not really meant to be used. When we have guests round we take them in the lounge but it's not a room we use every day and I get very annoyed if Adam tries to eat biscuits in there while watching tv! Our lounge is certainly not minimalist, there are ornaments and knick-knacks everywhere you look, little miniature collections of My Little Ponies, plastic cakes, pictures of cakes, fairies, Hello Kitties, porcelain shoes, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Baby Cham glasses and plastic deer, snow globes and loads more. Then there are individual items such as the beautiful cocktail cabinet with lamp attached, the man painting a glass of wine on an easel and encased in a bottle of mysterious booze, a lamp in the shape of a cocktail glass, a pineapple ice bucket, a 1950s chrome electric fire in the shape of a yacht, a pink keyboard I'll never be able to play, a Tiffany-style glass lamp with strawberries on and so much more (which I'll discuss in future blogs). Essentially Cherryade Towers is full of the kind of things nobody else would probably want but which make it feel like my home, like somewhere I belong, and, even if it's not to everyone's taste, visitors certainly seem to enjoy looking at all the stuff too! My only worry is that my inability to get rid of anything, plus the fact thatboxes of records are steadily taking over what bits of the flat aren't already full of brightly coloured bits of plastic, might mean that I may one day be buried under an avalanche of treasures, ah well, it'd be worth it!

So, the first item in this virtual tour will be the latest additions to our collection. My dad found them in his shop and wanted to get them out the way and figured they'd be perfect in our flat (this is the way we acquire a lot of our junk, er, heirlooms!). They are two of those machines you used to put 10p in as a kid and get a plastic ball out of which would have a plastic ring or a wonky model of a horse or soldier in garish colours in them, remember those? Well, I do, and then imagine if you'd been given an entire one of these as a kid and could undo them and take out as many of the balls as you wanted, my childhood dream come true! I must admit, I'm perhaps not as enthusiastic about the contents as I would have been as a kid but they still look fabulous in our lounge, they're a bright red with a yellow flap where the toys come out, and with all the different colour balls inside they do look very in-keeping with the rest of the room! So, welcome to Cherryade Towers brightly coloured plastic ball machines that I don't know the proper name for, you'll never leave!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Out and about in Manchester (long post alert!)

Hi there!

I've been neglecting this blog as I've had lots of work on but I'm going to make up for it with this epic blog! So, highlights of the last couple of weeks (only just got round to writing them up) plus some great events that are coming up:

Monday (26th October)
Los Campesinos! Live at the Deaf Institute in Manchester
Ah, Los Campesinos!, a band to restore your faith in the record buying public (kind of!) They played Manchester Academy 2 last time we saw them so I was a little surprised to hear they were playing the smaller(though definitely much nicer) Deaf Institute this time around.The Deaf Institute is fast becoming the new Night and Day, it’s much nicer, like an old theatre, drinks aren’t quite as expensive and the toilets less disgusting, plus, unlike Night and Day, the room is just a much better shape for watching bands in.

So, we got there at 9pm, thinking that would give us loads of time since LC were headlining but when we arrived the roo was already full to bursting (we knew it had sold out some time ago and were glad we bought tickets early) but were still surprised that it has filled up so fast. It soon became obvious why as when we walked in the band were already setting up on stage! I’d like to thank the lovely doorman who found us some seats upstairs, we’d both have liked to be down the front dancing but there was no way of getting down there and mot much of chance of dancing with everyone crammed in! So, we had to watch the show in comfort from seats with a great view of the stage where we didn’t get to be pushed about and try to avoid crowd surfing, guitar playing band members! It’s a hard life, we did get to wave to our friends from our balcony seats!

Anyway, enough about the venue, how were Los Campesinos!? I hear you ask, well, they were, of course, utterly amazing. I’m not a music reviewer so I won’t go through a song by song account of the gig, suffices to say thatLos Campesinos! Are as magical live as on record, watching them is a very intense experience, one of those bands that sonically recreate the simultaneously magical and stomach-churning feeling of falling in love for the first time. The xylophone sparkles, the violin shimmers, Gareth’s vocals send shivers down your spine, just beautiful, really beautiful. The new songs are fabulous and I can’t wait for the third album to appear! Their new vocalist is fabulous too! They really are an extraordinary band, capable of invoking joy and melancholy, hope and despair all in the space of one song and with a warming sense of humour too! If you haven’t seen them please remedy it asap!

Long live Los Campesinos!

Afterwards we indulged in one of our new favourite hobbies, standing outside venues talking to people before the door staff shoo us away! Anyway, due to the fact that our friends officially have the most awesome music taste ever ever, loads of them were of course at the gig, more might have been there but as I said tickets sold fast! So we saw lovely Ros and Rose (Hug Party, Manchester’s premier hip pop duo and absolutely fantastic people!) and waved at Beck and Gaz from a distance before making a hasty exit, as I wanted to get home for Apprentice USA (yeah, I know…) but when we were leaving we saw the fabulous Kirsty Under Achievers doing some flyering outside (she and Dave really do work hard!) and of course we wanted to stop and chat, then Hannah and Dan from Pull Yourself Together appeared and we all chatted for ages, eventually the cold made us disperse. I missed the first episode of Apprentice USA, but it was worth it!

Tuesday 27th October
In the early evening I presented a short paper about my PHD, thanks to everyone that came along and asked some really insightful answers, one on inclusion and exclusion in DIY music, in particular, has really got me thinking (and writing!)

Tuesday is, of course, Fuel quiz night. Team Cherryade was a bit different as Grant was busy rehearsing for what was likely to be one of the musical events of the year (more about that later) but we were joined by our Norwich friends James and Christa and half of Lancaster legends Cogna, in the form of Alan! This week we were up to w and x in the alphabetical questions series, the x round was very science based, less said about our performance the better!

Wednesday 28th October
A lovely relaxing evening spent at Pull Yourself Together at Common. Hannah and Dan organise a really lovely night where you can sit and listen to great records (they have impeccable taste!) in a really nice venue, chat to friends and flick through the latest edition of the truly excellent PYT zine. James and Christa came along and we had fun chatting about Norwich and stuff. Hannah and Dan have asked If I’d like to write an article about Christmas music for the December PYT zine, which I’m really excited about!

Thursday 29th October
Stayed at home and got some work done.

Friday 30th October
Ah Kissing Just For Practise, the monthly Belle and Sebastian disco at the Star and Garter, always a joy, an indiepop fan’s wet dream really. Maybe give it a miss if you don’t like Belle and Sebastian (and, frankly, shame on you!) but thankfully I love them, so a night of B and S treats interspersed with heavenly indiepop beauties from the likes of Bearsuit (swoon), Hefner, Los Campesinos!, Magnetic Fields, Bis, Kenickie and so much more, flawless really! No wonder everyone we know seems to go! So glad it’s monthly now, it went through a stage of being every three or even six months, grrr!

Saturday 31st October
Whooo! I actually enjoy Halloween more as a (theoretical) adult than I did as a kid, better parties are probably the main reason! This Halloween was a corker. We’d released our first ever Halloween record this year, a very limited edition super-spooky Twin Peaks themed single by one of the greatest bands of all time (I’m not exaggerating, visit if you don’t believe me!) by Lancaster heroes The Lovely Eggs entitled ‘Haunt Me Out’. The cd was printed with one of Agent Dale Cooper’s fave donuts and came with a Laura Palmer half heart necklace and the whole package was beautiful as those of you who bought it will know, for those of you haven’t got a copy, I’m afraid it’s totally sold out though you can get the three tracks on Itunes.

Anyway, The Eggs were on a mini UK tour promoting the single and our lovely friends at Manchester’s officially friendliest and most fun night out Under Achievers Please Try Harder, were able to put the Eggs on at their super Halloween party. For those of you who’ve never been, Under Achievers is held over two floors at Café Saki in Rusholme with djs upstairs and bands (and later djs) downstairs. Anyway, this was an even more special night than usual since it was of course fancy dress, I must say that so many people had made such an amazing effort, I felt a bit bad that my only real concession to the spookiness of the evening was to forego wearing pink for the evening! Well, I kind of cobbled together a costume out of a Victorian style black frilly skirt, a black top with spiderweb sleeves, a spider necklace, black pointy shoes, black fingerless lace gloves and a black feather and net fascinator which I thought looked kind of funerial… Christmas is more my fancy dress season, time to dust off the fairy outfit I think! Anyway, others who’d made an amazing effort included Rebecca in a fabulous pumpkin outfit with pumpkin top hat, Catriona dressed as a giant bee, Vic, Beck, Jenny and others as a brace of Freddy Mercurys in that video where he wears a dress (I’m not a Queen fan so don’t ask me which song it was!) but needless to say some impressive moustaches were in evidence, Dave Under Achiever as Meatloaf (after the diet) and Natlie Shrieking Violet as a gargoyle.

Anyway, enough about costumes and on to the bands. One of the most eagerly awaited events of the night was the return to life of Michael Jackson to play at Under Achievers for one night only, well, ok not really MJ, but something even better! Our friend Grant, star of radio and of many tribute bands as well as a great singer/songwriter in his own right and general all-round renaissance man was due to unveil his performance of Michael Jackson’s thriller. Expectations were high and Grant and Kirsty (who proved her versatility by being both the scared girl in the video at the beginning and later a zombie) and James, who also made a fabulous zombie had had to put in a lot of rehearsal for this special occasion. It was worth it, everyone loved it, those that arrived too late missed a treat! The choreography was fantastic! MJ lives!

Anyway, The Lovely Eggs also had something very special planned (though every Eggs gig is a special occasion) as they took to the stage in Twin Peaks costume with David dressed as Laura Palmer and Holly (terrifyingly convincingly) as Bob, did I mention how amazing they are? Well they are and they played a remarkable set as usual, kicking off with Twin Peaks Halloween single Haunt Me Out and blasting through a totally spell-binding set that left the audience panting for more. There were also lots of TP fans in the audience who seemed to appreciate all the Twin Peaks banter! It was great to see so many people singing along to Digital Accordion at the end too!

Under Achievers is a truly special night where we always feel safe and welcome and that always seems to be full of friends, ah! Can’t wait for Dec 12th when Dave and Kirsty are kindly letting Soph and I take over the downstairs for A Very Cherry Christmas Cherryade party! More about that very soon!

Holly and David Lovely Eggs were staying over with us after Under Achievers so we stayed up and chatted for a bit even though Adam had to be up at 7.30am for work!

Sunday 8th November
Went to the Manchester Art Gallery to check out the two new exhibitions The Angels Of Anarchy female surrealists exhibition including work by celebrated artists such as Frida Kahlo and Dorothea Tanning and lesser known work by equally exciting artists, a fascinating repost to the male-dominated surrealist movement of the early 20th century. Other exhibition was of three sets of Goya’s prints, strangely both dated and timeless, and very powerful. I think it is the universality of the allegories used in the prints which make them so powerful.

What’s coming up over the next week or two:
Can’t wait to have The Lovely Eggs back in Manchester for the brilliant Asparagus Next Left at the Star and Garter on November 20th. Also, the next Under Achievers is on this Saturday (14th November) at Café Saki as usual, get there by 9pm to catch Grant doing a short set! Also this weekend, an absolutely essential gig for any indiepop fan is the Nottingham indiepop all-dayer featuring performances from Tender Trap, The School, Of Mice and Mental Arithmetic, Allo Darlin’ and many more!

Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s nearly Christmas, hooray, I’m so so excited (I love Christmas, just thought I’d better mention that in case nobody had noticed!), only 42 days to go! The German Christmas markets will be open soon, Manchester is very beautiful at this time of year! Oh, and we are going to the Nightmare Before Christmas All Tomorrow’s Parties at Minehead, some great bands playing, I’m usually put off ATP by the beard-stroking seriousness of a lot of the bands that play, but this one has got some great bands like Pastels, Pains of Being Pure At Heart and Buzzcocks playing, should be amazing, hope there’s a tv in the chalet though!

Phew, that was a long post,
A post will be up about the much anticipated Very Cherry Christmas vol. 5 soon!

Rach xxx

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Please vote in the Dandelion Radio Festive Fifty

Hi, yes, it that's time of year again, the time when seemingly everyone is coming up with their end of year lists. So, if you've been thinking about this already (or even if you haven't) then you can help to ensure that your tracks of the year make it into the only end of year chart that really matters, the Dandelion Radio Festive Fifty!

Dandelion Radio is a fully licensed online radio station dedicated to seeking out new and exciting music, inspired by the spirit of John Peel and we've been hosting the Festive Fifty, the annual chart voted for by listeners which John had hosted on his Radio 1 show for many years until his death in 2004, since 2006.

You can vote for your three favourite tracks released this year by visiting:
it only takes a moment and you don't have to register.

Voting is open now but closes at 12am on December 1st. The chart will be broadcast on Christmas Day and repeated once a day for the rest of December and January.

Happy voting!

Rach xxxx