Time for another grouse. For about a year, now, I have elected to receive information from a crowdfunding company called Indiegogo. I eventually elected to put some money into a company called Amaryllo, who produce a security camera called iSensor. I 'invested' $99.The company received all the money it was seeking and much more. The problems started when it came to distribution. Because the offer was oversubscribed, the company experienced big delays in delivering the product to the customers. After complaining on the website devoted to the product I received the camera. I can't complain about first impressions. It was neatly packaged and looked the dogs bollocks. It was also reasonably easy to set up and use. The only thing I was disappointed in was that it often seemed to take still shots (which it store on a third party server) of nothing in particular. If a car shot past or somebody walked part the house it didn't seem to regard that as an event and didn't take a photo! Anyway, to cut a long story short, on the 5th January, I disconnected it in order to plug it into a different socket. Unfortunately, that was the last time it ever worked. From then on has followed as nightmare of customer support. Numerous e-mails to a pair of characters called Ray and Mike Chen has resulted in no progress. I even wondered if they even understood what I was talking about because their command of the English language was so bad. Their last request was for me to take a video of the camera (I ask you)! Anyway, more than a month has now elapsed and I am no nearer to a resolution. I can safely say that this experience has put me on my guard when it comes to crowdfunding some untried product. I notice that they are now trying raise funds for another product via Indiegogo. Caveat emptor I say!
Thought I would just post this to my blog. I see that two more fake anti-aging companies have just appeared and will offer 'free' trials in return for taking large sums of money out of your account. They are called DermaJuvenate and Veloura. I previously came to grief by believing the bullshit of 2 companies/products called Sky Vitalyze and Sky Sylk. I would not be surprised if the same shysters are not behind both of these offerings. Don't touch them with a bargepole.
I can't believe that two and a half years have passed since I last created a blog entry. I suppose it reflects my interest in responding to a lack of interest in my blog! having said that, 3 blogs is realyy not enough to establish a readership, I guess. Well, I'm sitting here on an extremely overcast day (as one expects in mid June), trying to rid myself of a nasty cold that thrust itself upon me a week ago. I need to do this in order to participate in the Chiswick Great River Swim on the Thames this saturday. I was advised, on Facebook yesterday evening, that I should face my demons, which were obviously causing this upset. The demons, I thought, were just the prospect of a very cold river but it may be that, in fact, the MOT test facing my Renault Kangoo might be to blame. What else is there to say? The days have started getting shorter again! Not too quickly, please!
Well, it finally arrived. Today, the world's greatest record label celebrates 50 years of its existence. the celebrations have already been going on for a month judging by the ouput on TV and radio stations but today is the day! What am I talking about - well, in a word, 'Motown' or what is known in the UK as Tamla Motown but what in the US consisted of 5 record labels, Motown, Tamla, Gordy (after Motown's founder Berry Gordy), VIP and Soul. The magic, in my opinion, started to fade round about 1966, 43 years ago and the greatest songs were written during that period reaching a peak in the years 1964-1966. Motown's move from Detroit (the 'Motor' city that gave its name to the recording studios) to Los Angeles in 1972 didn't really help either. Now, it is part of a greater conglomerate but I prefer to remember it from its glory days when no self-respecting discotheque could afford to do without the sound that would blow the roof off the place.
It wasn't easy though, being a Motown fan. It had its detractors, certainly in my school, who were convinced that Bob Dylan and Donovan were more cerebral and who were put off by Motown's slick dance routines. But the message was the music and not for nothing did the Rolling Stones and the Beatles cover Motown songs in their early days (Rolling Stones sang Marvin Gaye's 'Can I get a Witness' and the Beatles covered the Marvelettes' 'Please Mr Postman', Barrett Strong's 'Money' and the Miracles' 'You really got a hold on me'. But this was really the great crossover period as white kids started to listen to black American music, which would no longer be called 'race music' and it's been that way ever since.
I'm glad to have witnessed some of its acts whilst they were still alive, because a great many of them are no longer with us, not least because of the curse of the music trade - narcotics. I remember taking a train from Derby to Leicester back in 1966, I think, to watch the Four Tops at the De Montfort Hall (also the venue of several Latvian song festivals!). I had taken along a girl from the local grammar school who had a reputation for loose morals and who, at weekends, used to visit motorcyclists (or 'rockers' to use a more accurate term) in the caves at Matlock. I thought I would try and impress her but she was way out of my league! On another occasion, in 1968 I think, I went to see the great Junior Walker and his All Stars at the legendary (yes, everything in my life is 'legendary') Twisted Wheel Club in Manchester with a friend living in Rochdale. Now Junior is dead and so are 3 of the Four Tops. Detroit had declared June 6th to be Levi Stubbs day but that doesn't make up for the loss. In honour of Motown, I've added a track to my music page. It was very difficult to decide what to feature. I thought that I should go for somebody who is still alive this time. So, the honour went to the Miracles with "My Girl Has Gone", still featuring Claudette Rogers alongside Smokey Robinson ("America's greatest living poet" - Bob Dylan) at this stage and backed by the Fabulous Funk Brothers although they were never credited with it at the time. There is no familiar Motown sax break in the middle but that's how it is. So, Motown, onward and upwards but my memories are from the sixties.
Stop press 'My Girl Has Gone' won't play According to Youtube 'A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation', so I've substituted the Four Tops 'Baby I need Your Loving'.
Finally managed to catch the 'Cold War Modern' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum before it takes off for Vilnius, which has just started its year as European capital of culture (along with Linz, Austria). The exhibition's theme was 'Art and design were not peripheral symptoms of politics during the Cold War: they played a central role in representing and sometimes challenging the dominant political and social ideas of the age.'. I was worried about how genuinely felt this was considering that one of the items displayed in the exhibition's publicity was a Vespa scooter. In fact, I didn't know that the Vespa was developed from something used by American parachutists during the second world war! However, I did find the link between design and politics rather tenuous. In fact, very often the results were similar despite the political system. Le Corbusier's 'streets in the air' influenced housing development both in the east and the west. Also, modern design was also something pursued in both camps. Modern materials in the form of plastics were popular on both side of the curtain. I was bemused to see a 1952 poster by the Polish film director Walerian Borowzcyk scorning US aid to Europe after the war. By 1959, he was living in Paris! The inclusion of material about architects Peter and Alison Smithson's 'House of the Future' was ironic too. Not long ago, their notorious Robin Hood Gardens housing project in Poplar, East London was turned down for listing and is scheduled for demolition in the future. The P70 East German sports car, predecessor of the Trabant was a fascinating object and I would not have been embarassed to have owned one.
All in all, I felt that the exhibition was a collection of some very disparate objects and ideas all bundled together and searching for a real theme!
My Jamaican/Greek plumber/electrician Lee came over at lunchtime to discuss the installation of a new boiler. The prolonged cold is playing hell with my heating bills and the current boiler has done its time. Unfortunately, he can't start until February when the traditional British mild winter might have returned. Discovered some amazing facts about heating systems - balanced flues are defunct! Ah well, you live and learn. He also hummed and haahed about the water pressure but I think I've just about got enough. We discussed politics, economics, state of the world as is also our habit.
Other than that, on a much more serious note, I was grieved to hear of the death of Rob Gauntlett in an avalanche in the French Alps. I had not even heard of him until today. He was the youngest Briton ever to climb Everest (two years ago at the age of 19, in his gap year). Even younger than Bear Grylls. Not satisfied with that, shortly afterwards, together with his climbing chum James Hooper, he set off on an epic journey from the North geomagnetic Pole to the South geomagnetic Pole using entirely human and natural power (22,000 miles). He died at the age of 21 having squeezed more into his short life than most us of us do in a lifetime. That reminds me that I still haven't been to see the film North Face (or Nordwand, to give it its original German title).
Time for bed.
Well, this is a first for me. My very own blog on my very own website. Will I be talking to myself or will people come and look and wonder? Well, got up today just before 9, as usual. Shaved and cleaned my teeth in preparation for meeting with potential client, who may provide me with some drawing work (now that I have become a wiz at obtaining planning permission in Hackney). Went to see client just on the other side of the park. He had repeatedly tried to obtain planning permission for a loft conversion but had been thwarted by the bureaucrats of Hackney Council. We left it that he would approach them again and see if we could set up a meeting to include me to discuss what was permissible (as opposed to them simply turning down everything out of hand).
Going to go to see Mother Goose at Hackney Empire later on with Nina and Ellis. It has had rave reviews and it was difficult to obtain tickets. Maybe try and catch a Wetherspoon's curry first (it's Curry Night).
I know it's a day later but I was saddened to hear about the demise of the company Viyella. When I was a lad, my mother bought me Viyella (and their derivative Clydella) shirts on special occasions. They were a wool/cotton mix and wore out quite quickly at the elbow and collar. They were also favoured by the landed gentry. Maybe my mum wanted me to join their ranks.
Well, lunch is calling!