Don’t forget your shovel/harness!

OJ went to his first gig on Wednesday; Christy Moore and Declan Sinott in the Millennium Forum in Derry.

I had the day off work to use up some annual leave, so I walked to town, got the bus to Derry and visited the RNIB blind centre until Fionas bus got in from Belfast. OJ hadn’t seen her before but liked her straight away because she made a big fuss of meeting him. Usually he hates people walking beside me, and especially people he doesn’t know but he was fine with her. We had coffee, walked around, and spent a long time trying to find lifts to toilets in Foyleside. We had food in Beckets while OJ entertained the children who were there. We went to the forum at 7.30. Our seats were in the end of a row beside the door, which was perfect for OJ because it was nice and cool. The staff brought him some water too.

Christy and Declan came on stage soon after 8 and played for almost two hours. It was my third time seeing them, and as usual they were fantastic. Christy seemed totally relaxed, absorbed in the music and happy to let the duke box in the audience influence the set list (well most of the time anyway!) He had the usual banter with the crowd. Someone kept shouting requests, and his reply once was: “we’re only 16 minutes into the gig and i’ve a pain in my hole listening to you already!”
His voice is perfect – it sounds just how it does on early recordings from decades ago, and he doesn’t have to be dramatic, or have big crescendos or loud guitar playing in his songs to convey emotion. My personal highlights were ‘smoke and strong whiskey’ and ‘little musgrave’, and ‘sunny’ brought back memories of me learning it on the piano when I was small.
OJ had his own personal favourite song too. He lay quietly through the whole gig, popping his head up sometimes when people cheered. The only time he really reacted was when Christy began to play ‘don’t forget your shovel’ He jumped up wagging his tail, and started biting me and giving me his paw, wanting to play. The people beside us were laughing at him, and I don’t think some of them realised he was there until he stood up. When the song finished he lay back at my feet again and didn’t move until the gig was over.
I mentioned OJ’s fondness for the song in a message on Christy’s guest book, and his reply was “I’m glad OJ recognised the song. It has always been a canine favourite…” Now no matter how much you know about Christy and his music I bet you didn’t know that.
Don’t forget your harness if you want to go to work…
We want to go to heaven but we’re always digging holes…

Catching up

I could have posted this last week, but I wanted the OJ/frames post to stay on top a bit longer!I took OJ to the vet last Friday. He had a bald patch under his front leg (like the dog version of an arm pit) and also on his back leg. I noticed what felt like a cut last week but he wasn’t itching it and I didn’t want to be running to the vet straight away in a big panick if it was nothing. It didn’t clear up, and the alopecia seemed to be getting worse. the vet said it looks like a skin infection. She gave him an injection and 2 weeks of tablets and anti-biotics and some cream to put on it. She did a good checkup and said apart from that OJ is very healthy. He has had an infection before, and she said his skin is very sensitive, so the slightest cut that a person wouldn’t really notice can get infected very quickly. He seems to be at the vet so much because of minor things, nothing that can be avoided or prevented, but its very frustrating. He is lively and happy, and worked perfectly after the vet. I walked him on his lead to teach him a new route to the bus depot, then decided to do it in harness as he seemed very alert, and he was brilliant. The kennel supervisor at IGDB recommends giving him evening primrose capsules in his food daily (evening primrose if you don’t mind!!) I can’t tell him that’s what they’re called or he’ll refuse to eat for me. My aunt is going to test him with homeopathic remedies and see what turns up there.I spent an unexpected 50£ at the vet, then went to buy dog food for the 2 dogs. The pet shop didn’t have one type, so we went to a different shop where I could buy both types of food, and they were both on special offer! I bought them some new toys with the money i saved from the dog food. Not such a bad day after all!
The vet told me that the tablets that OJ is getting will make him very thirsty. More water = more peeing, and more walks to the grass during work. Unfortunately I wasn’t always quick enough, and as I was putting OJs harness on yesterday he almost flooded the place! Thankfully he can hold it in when you shout at him, because if he did what he did on the grass (the longest dog pee ever) I would have been sacked from work yesterday!
I recorded another interview for my documentary today. I also contacted one of the assistance dogs owners, so hopefully I’ll meet them soon. It will take a while to make, but I want to do it properly, so it will probably mean taking a trip to Tory Island and to guide dogs HQ in Cork in the new year.
I have to sell tickets for an hour in Letterkenny tomorrow for the Donegal centre for independent living, who fund my PA. I couldn’t be bothered but it has to be done. I can’t really take OJ because people will think it’s a fundraiser for guide dogs, even though they would probably give us more money!
The Swell Season gig from Belfast that I went to is on for download. I think you pay about 10 euros for the gig and the money goes straight to the artists. This way you get decent quality recordings and its not like your steeling the music. They will hopefully put the Letterkenny gig there soon. Can’t wait to hear the gigs again. They are playing a fundraising gig in Vicar Street for people with intellectual disabilities on 8th December. I’d love to go as I’ve lots of annual leave to use up before Christmas, but I’ve nobody to go with and nowhere for OJ to stay when I’m at the gig. Colm’s solo album is seriously making me think about learning violin again.
Currently listening to: The Hare’s corner – Time will tell

The Swell Season

What a weekend!
I got up early on Saturday and walked OJ before me and Tash got the bus to Belfast. It was great to see Margaret cos I hadn’t seen her in so long. We went for a drink in Auntie Annies, then bought food in Tescos and she cooked us a yummy dinner, which was accompanied by nice music and her drooling over a picture of Leonard Cohen (you had to be there!)

We got to the Opera house at 8 and met Fiona. Colm and the Hare’s Corner played first. For anyone who doesn’t know, Colm is the violin player in the frames. he recently released a solo instrumental album that I’d definitely recommend. The set was beautiful and i really could listen to that violin all day!
We met some friends and frames board people during the interval. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the gig, but when the Swell Season came on I was transfixed. The band featured frames members Glen, Colm, Joe and Rob, along with Marketa and Graham Hopkins. They played mostly songs from the Swell Season album and Once soundtrack, with a couple of frames tunes (which sounded great with piano in them) and a brilliant cover of astral weeks. Glen was very entertaining as usual, imitating the Belfast accent, and asking if the Ulster Hall was being refurnished or had it been blown up. My sides were sore laughing at one point.
A group of us went to Lavery’s after the gig, where some of us drank pints of fanta! Yum! I eventually got to sleep back at Margaret’s after being freaked out by all the teddies, but that’s another story. Mags you are a brilliant hostess really. Cheers!

On Sunday evening I took advantage of our guest list tickets and went to An Grianan with Laura. Thanks so much Claire for making it happen. Peter Delaney played as special guest this time. We only heard two songs but he sounded good. This gig had a similar set list, with an amazing version of Tim Buckley’s buzzing fly and a song from the Wickerman. Colm played a solo piece, accompanied by his imaginary band (the pedal!) There was a bottle of whiskey (thanks to Sandy from Atlanta) that got passed around onstage and then around the audience. Very entertaining! We were in the very back row so it had no chance of reaching us. The atmosphere and audience were much quieter than the previous night, but that’s one of the things I love about the theatre.

The Swell Season played for just over two hours. My parents came to collect us and took OJ, as he had been on his own for most of the day. There were lots of people waiting upstairs so we knew Glen and Marketa would come out. OJ got petted when we were waiting so that kept him happy. When they did come out everybody cheered. A really sound man let me skip the crowd and get some pictures. It was embarrassing at the time, but great because we would have had to wait for ages and we really didn’t have time.
Glen gave me a big bear hug. I always think when I meet him that I’m not going to start rambling about how brilliant the gig and the music was, but I can’t help it. He was just like “tanks. Tanks” and when I mentioned Belfast he was like “You went there too!” and did his Belfast accent. I’m not sure what he thought of my sarcastic sense of humour (which really has to stop) but he laughed anyway. He and Mar both petted OJ and were impressed with how gentle and quiet he was. I explained that he’s like a different dog when his harness is off. Glen: “Oh so he’s in work mode now then?” I told them he couldn’t come to the gig because he is afraid of drums, and that if they ever play in Cooldiscs again he could go. That is probably just wishful thinking. My mum congratulated them both before we left, and they were very humble and grateful.

This weekend was tough for personal reasons, and I had to go to a funeral today. There were times that I wasn’t sure if I would go to either or both gigs. I’m glad I did now. I think that’s part of the reason that meeting friends, new people and Glen and Marketa was extra special.

Say It To Me Now video from Belfast:

Belfast Set List:
Colm/The Hare’s Corner

The Ghost of Pickering Forest (new)
Emer’s Dream
Thought No 3
Blue Shoes
Second Wave
The Red Road
Thou Shalt Not Carry Timber
Time Will Tell
Set List for The Swell Season
This Low
The Moon
When Your Mind’s Made Up
I have love you wrong
Falling Slowly
Say It To Me now (unplugged)
Astral Weeks (1/2 unplugged due to technical difficulties and a touch of Lou Reed’s Take A Walk on the Wild Side)
Go With Happiness
Maybe I Was Born to Hold You in these Arms
Low Rising (an homage to Van the Man)
The Hill (Marketa solo)
If You Want Me
People Get Ready