Regular readers may remember that I pledged that in 2014 I was going to go and see a lot more live stuff, at least every other month. And so far I have been keeping that up.
Earlier in the month Miss Tokyo and I went to a “different” show, a live performance of “Slap Talk” an interesting live show based on the way boxers promote their shows which was quite funny, and not really like anything I had seen before. I was also supposed to go to the theatre but annoyingly had to cancel due to a near death experience after I had contracted a terrible strain of bubonic, Ebola infused, mega tonsillitis (Hypochondriac? Moi? Geddout o’ town!).
On Friday just gone I went to see Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip at the Anson Rooms in Bristol. It was an interesting gig (I might blog about it separately) but one of the things I got to thinking about was the way bars are run at gigs an events.
I’ll be honest the principle thing I was thinking is what an utter ball ache it is trying to buy a drink at a gig (TBF this is true of plays, comedy shows, even at Football matches) most of the time. One of the things which regularly pisses me off about live music venues (or anywhere really) and also bemused my brother and his ex who were at the gig with me is why it’s always such a pain in the proverbial?
So twice my brother said “I’m going out and I may be some time” (or maybe something about the bar) and embarked on a desperate mission to the bar to get a round in. Unlike Oates he did manage to return (though he seemed pretty dishevelled) but on both occasions he had given up after queuing for ages and making no progress. The moral of the story is the Anson Rooms clearly had nay enough bar stuff on, and you need to be prepared when trying to reach the South Pole (Not sure if these two things are really linked!)
Surely, surely, as well as pissing off the punters this can’t actually work for the venue? I mean they presumably want to make “cash money money” out of the gig and if people are waiting too long to buy drinks, or even leaving the bar out of frustration that can’t add up for the venue?
I’m no business man, but I am pretty sure that lesson 101 in basic business is make it as easy as possible for customers to give you their readies. Feels to me like most live music venues are more like Bernard Black in the way they treat us customers!
I decided that I reckoned I could work this out with some mathematics, this therefore is utterly scientific and indisputable fact. And it is definitely not based on back of a fag packets dodgy assumptions or anything. No siree bob!
So here find my equation that proves that music gig venues should almost certainly be employing more staff during gigs.
So in this equation:-
A = Average profit made per order
O = The number of orders per hour
P= Hourly wage rate of each staff member
T= T, NI and other overheads per hour of employer
$$ = Is the venue making money from extra staff yay or nay and how much
The average music venue I go to charges pretty premium prices for drinks, regularly pushing four quid for a 330ml bottle of lager or a shot with mixer. I’m going to assume an average order of two drinks per punter, and three quid profit per serving (I reckon this is conservative.).
I’m going to say that one punter can be served every six minutes. Meaning; for the purposes of my sums, 10 orders per hour. Again I reckon this is possibly on the careful cautious side.
So in this I’m going to assume that most venues are paying minimum wage (6.31). And I am going to add 25% for tax, insurance and overheads (1.57).
So based on my “back of a fag packet” calculations I reckon the venue would be making a not insignificant extra profit at the bar per hour with each member of staff at the bar whilst it is busy. Still leaves a reasonable amount of scope for profit to be less, fewer orders per hour and better wages p/h or more overheads and still represent a profit to the venue. And the corollary would be that also entirely possible to serve more drinks per hour with a higher profit margin and make more money.
Now clearly this equation would have diminishing returns if too many extra staff were employed, if staff sitting around doing nothing then no profit per hour. But usually at these sorts of gigs , I’m waiting ages between drinks because of stupid queuing times. I can’t be the only one who finds this irritating?
I’d imagine there is a degree to which venues would be wary because there are times (say in run up to main act) where the bar is busier than others, and that hiring someone for the night means commitment to pay them all night, which is fair. But there must be some scope for the work up to main event getting paid on a shorter, with free entry to main event type deal (like the Workers Beer Company, or Charities at festivals) that would appeal. Particularly I’d say, in a student union venue, like the Anson Rooms. And if you are making 22 quid an hour and only paying minimum wage a few busy hours is more than going to pay for a couple of quieter ones at the end.
On top of the extra wedge for the venue I’d say there must be a reputational thing here too. It is frustrating not being able to get a drink at a hot and sweaty music venue. That’s the kind of thing that would put me off going to that particular place again in the future. (As it happens in the Anson rooms it was the ludicrously terrible sound quality/mixing that did this but I’ll probably touch on that in a subsequent blogpost.). Knowing as well as a good gig, the bar is run properly at a particular place must have some cachet for punters? Surely?
So then what do folks think? Have I just Victor Meldrew-ed it up to the Maxx, showing my age and grumpiness? Or is there something in this? Should music venues (and theatres, etc) make sure they have some redundancy at the bar to ensure a better night and more fun for the attendees (and maybe make some more wedge)? Or is this all pie in the sky thinking?
And a bit of Pip and DLS if you don’t know them:-
So obviously I had made a helluva lot of noise about #GetRalphADate at the end of last year, lots of blogs, lots of tweeting and that. And to be honest I have been pretty quiet of late. A fair few people have been asking me “why?” and “what’s going on?” etc etc; so I probably ought to write something rather than just rudely ignoring the questions….
I think I flagged up in an earlier blog that quite possibly me conducting “dating business” in the public sphere on twitter in front of loads of people might not be entirely to every potential dates tastes (apparently not everyone is a vainglorious attention seeking extrovert). And lo it came to pass. When I was arranging to go on a date with Miss Tokyo (decided to move away from the letter pseudonym!) She made it clear she wasn’t too keen on me detailing blow by blow accounts of the process on the public internet. And whilst I don’t have a great deal of recent experience on dating prior to GRAD I am aware of the rudiments of when to “shut up” hence my recent wee bit of radio silence.
But things have moved along a bit and Miss Tokyo is now happy for me to post a little bit of an update, and in truth I am rather keen to write this as well.
So anyhow shortly after new year I had arranged to meet Miss Tokyo for a date, went pretty well (though I’m beginning to think bringing up what one would do in an “Alive plane crash scenario” probably not the best first date conversation piece!) and we ended up getting chucked out of the coffee shop because they wanted to close and we had been there for hours and not realised how much time had passed.
I took this as a “good sign” and tried to build up the courage to ask her out again (much harder IRL than on twitter I have discovered) and unfortunately instead of coming across as some super suave guy, the kinda cat Richard Gere would have played in an early 90s movie, I instead morphed into Jeremy Freedman (aka Squeaky Voiced Teen from the Simpsons) and promptly fluffed my lines rather spectacularly.
Luckily though it seems I had done enough right on the night and Miss Tokyo was prepared to forgive my ham-fisted terribleness and gave me another chance (I suspect I have been given a rather wide degree of latitude and a feline number of lives here)! Though I was warned that in future I wouldn’t get another “free dice roll” by text on the “asking out front”! Phew, it had felt like I had dodged a bullet there!
Now I wasn’t entirely sure on the rules here, insofar as GRAD was concerned? Donna had said “Three Dates in 6 Months” so I was now wondering would a second date with Miss Tokyo, on top of my one date with Miss X mean that “Jobs a good un”? And if it didn’t then what was I to do if super keen on Miss Tokyo and that keenness reciprocated? Not sure most (any?) girls would be cool with me saying:-
“Hey sweetie! Even though things are going well between us I just need to go out on one more date with another girl to satisfy an internet campaign.”
So, at end of date “número dos” Miss Tokyo was happy to agree to go on a third date with me, yaya! Though I discovered that doing a fist pump and a five minute victory dance at the news, in public, is not considered good form, can spoil a romantic moment, and seriously jeopardise prospects of future dates….. Who knew?) Apparently I seemed rather too smug to pull off “Charmingly kooky”
So I think the decision was made. As far as I was concerned it was three dates in six months and three dates had happened. Once it was clear that Miss Tokyo was keen on continuing I had absolutely no interest in dating anyone else, so I’m counting GRAD done, dusted and entirely successful! I think I owe Donna a pint, or a bottle, or whatever poison is her current fancy (tries to hide existence of fancy Port bottles from Donna…..)
As it happens a fair few more have happened and gone pretty well, so I am now “seeing” Miss Tokyo. And all it took was an international media campaign, if only I known it was so simple. And although it is early days and I shan’t chicken count (Well I’m a dreamer and inveterate chicken counter really, just pretending not to be in order to not seem “too keen”!) it does rather seem that #GetRalphADate #GotRalphAGirl !
Fair to say I’m delighted! I am somewhat punching above my weight; Miss Tokyo is independent, intelligent, and an absolute smokin’ hottie (though annoyingly she is better than I am at chess…. Harrumph! Though I’m not such a bad loser that this constitutes a deal breaker ) . So I’m really hoping that she doesn’t have a WTF moment and realise she has made a terrible mistake. I guess I’ll just have to try to be extra specially charming and amazing, I’m planning to use my legendary and world renowned modesty to achieve this.
So I obviously won’t really be blogging about this stuff directly much, not really appropriate and frankly I don’t want to jinx things. I suspect though that I will want to blog on some of the things I have been getting up to (which has been difficult when trying to maintain radio silence on blogging front). So there might be the odd oblique reference to things.
So I reckon this constitutes a pretty “happy ending” to the whole #GetRalphADate thing, whatever happens between Miss Tokyo and I (and I’m hopeful of good things!). And although she wishes to maintain anonymity she did ask me to include a quick quote in this blog:-
“Ralph is the most amazing guy ever! A real Dreamboat”
Whaddya mean that isn’t what you said?!?!?! Ok… So I might have made that one up Bona Fida Miss Tokyo quote is:-
“*Blows raspberries* That is for all others who thought they’d get a date with Ralph. You are now well and truly ‘out of the game’. ”
I reckon that means she is hopeful of good things too!
So having bored those foolish enough to read to tears with my valedictory 2013 in review blog, I thought I’d go all in and try and crank up the boredom to 11 with my what is effectively a “New Year’s Resolutions 2014” post (NYR posts are the new holiday slides surely?). And sorry if the title has misled. I’m planning my actual 2014 assassination targets post later in the month.
I figure I might as well put this one in right at the top for the amusement of those of my friends, family and readers who have a slight bent toward an occasional bout of pedantry. I have no doubt that despite this plan for 2014, even at this early stage, I will let slip an enormous number of typos, spelling mistakes and heinous grammar crimes.
But, what with events in the latter part of 2013, I came to remember how much I enjoy writing. Now I’m not going to do anything so foolish as to pledge to write to any sort of a specific schedule or anything. Blogging becoming a chore was what kind of put me off for a bit in the first place. Having said that, I am planning on writing more frequently, insofar as I retain my current levels of enjoyment whilst doing it.
I am though a terrible, TERRIBLE, proof reader. Particularly when it comes to my own work (true to a certain extent of all of us I suspect). And as someone who is a massively hypocritical pedant myself (do as I say, not as I do) I really ought to do a bit more work on this area. Also I realise that spending a bit of time editing and re-editing your stuff immeasurably improves your writing. I reckon I have at least a wee smidgeon of skill in the area, but, I know I could get a lot better if I spent a bit more time subbing my stuff before hitting the “send into the Interwebz wild” button. So I’m going to try to say that 2014 will be a year in which I prioritise quality polishing over swift publishing!
Feel free to point out my “Deliberate Mistakes in the comments or better still publicly on Twitter!
Get some dates/Find love.
I guess I kinda need to cover this off. Even though I am getting a little bored of writing about it. I think the lesson for me from #GetRalphADate ought to be that however the actual Twitter campaign pans out (who knows maybe I have met Miss Right through it and I have just not discovered yet?) I ought to take something from all this.
It has been a kick up the arse. I realise that I don’t want to be perpetually alone, and whilst I’m never going to be some silver tongued Lothario, confidently approaching girls left right and centre, I can probably take at least some rudimentary steps toward meeting people.
At the same time I think I am going to have to make sure I don’t get too disheartened if things don’t work out straight away…. Schedule for the construction of Rome and all that! I need to be positive, keep an open mind, approach correspondence with a view to making friends and if something more develops then great. And if all else fails I can always try the normal stuff like dating websites huh?
Slay my inner hoarder.
Last night I had an interesting Twitter discussion with @SarahLouLouLou about the sinister nature of Dolphins. Now I obviously realise with hindsight, that the correct witty retort would have been something about “sinister” meaning left handed, and Dolphins being sadly lacking in arm/hand department. At the time it passed me by and even having slept on things my comedy chops can’t quite come up with a good gag…. (Answers on a postcard any reader funnier than I, so basically any readers! )
I think dolphins look a bit sinister.
— Sarah McDowell (@SarahLouLouLou) January 2, 2014
But discussion went off on a tangent and got me thinking about my nature as an inveterate hoarder. My last house move was traumatic in the extreme due to the volume of crap I had accumulated. I was astonished at how much stuff I had to throw away. On the other had I was also astonished at how cathartic it was to rid myself of so much useless stuff.
So even though every instinct of mine is to keep that “Buckaroo box” with half the contents missing, I have in new gaffe periodically ruthlessly purged the stuff I don’t need. And with only minimal Gollum like gnashing of teeth!
In truth sometimes this is actually good fun. Unlike my gradual move up the clothing sizes, my gradual movement down them has utterly delighted me! Replacing a wardrobe with smaller clothes, and getting rid of all my stuff in “Medium family tent” size required very little effort on my part to throw the old gear away; I was basically jumping for joy.
But the Smaug in me remains, confined mostly to my cavernous “Big cupboard of crap”. Basically it has been a sink hole for stuff I didn’t want to chuck but wasn’t sure if I needed. My tools are in there and mostly unobtainable due to being under stuff. And all important documentation stored there in no particular order meaning it is impossible to find anything.
So I reckon this year I must conquer the cupboard, sort it out, organise the paperwork. Be once again able to access my tools. And throw away the rubbish I don’t need. This one will be tricky, but I’m going to have to do it.
Obtain more hats.
Now I realise that this is one will rather contradict a resolution about sorting out a hoarding instinct, what is the fun in consistency eh?
Earlier this year I finally got around to watching the wonderful “Miller’s Crossing” which I had inexplicably overlooked up to that point. As with any period piece I, as a massive hat lover, couldn’t help but admire the hats. And that a hat was an important plot device has been gnawing away at me. You see I find myself with not nearly enough hats.
I think wearing varied and silly hats whilst having a drink with friends is one of the great pleasures in life. A wee snifter of fine vintage port will always be improved if wearing a Deerstalker. Rye whiskey should only ever be consumed whilst wearing a Coonskin cap and pretending you are at the Alamo…. All sorts of possibilities. I currently no longer have a single comedy drinking hat. And that is a situation I fully intend to rectify in 2014.
And if you have not seen Miller’s Crossing then for pities sake watch it straight away. Unless you don’t like the Coen Brothers. If you don’t like the Coen Brothers then what the bleeding heck is wrong with you? I order you to watch The Big Lebowski on repeat drinking White Russians until you gain a proper appreciation.
Do a proper Triathlon.
Now don’t get me wrong I am really proud of myself having done a Sprint Tri last year. Coming “off the couch” when unable to swim, to completing a Tri in a respectable, if not a good, time in only 4 months isn’t bad. But at the same time I don’t think I will really have scratched this itch until I do a Tri that contains some sort of an open water swim.
I am realistic, whilst it is one thing swimming 400 meters in a 25m swimming pool, doing a full Olympic Triathlon right now is going to be beyond me. I just can’t see me swimming 1.5K, let alone doing that and climbing out of the water to carry on going for north of two hours. But I am sure I can do an open water Tri (750m) and then work toward doing a full one later in the year or early next season.
I also didn’t try to raise any money for “charidee” as I was only doing a titchy training wheels Tri last year. And in all honesty I was terrified I wouldn’t finish and would let people and charity down if I’d have got sponsorship. I do really think I’d like to try and raise some money for a good cause if I was doing a more substantial Tri next year.
With God’s help I’ll conquer this terrible affliction.
Now I have never taken Crack, Heroin or Meth. But I can confidently state with all the power and force of a polemicist powered by anecdote that my crippling lifelong addiction “Champ” is worse than any of them. It is also worse than “Clarkey Cats” and “Cake”. For those of you not in the know “Champ” is the street name for a terrible addictive drug known to the authorities as “Football Manager”.
Like most chaps of my vintage who combine an interest in both Football & video games I have devoted far more of my adult life than is healthy to, as my kid brother used to call it, “Playing spreadsheets”. I have actually been mostly clean for the last few years. Every now and again the addiction breaks through though.
So 2014 will be a year in which I don’t touch the “Champ”. Not even a little bit. No matter how low I sink, or how badly things go. I’m not gonna touch that shit ever again!
Watch live stuff.
I recently went to see Stephen K Amos live whilst up in Bristol for a meeting and I was pleasantly surprised at how side splittingly hilarious he was (that sketch show he had on TV recently didn’t do him justice). As I almost invariably do after such things I wondered why I don’t watch live stuff more often?
I always have a great time, I always think I should do it more often. And frankly unless there is a lot of travelling involved it isn’t really all that expensive to be honest. Given that I am, through work and play, a reasonably regular visitor to both London and Bristol I can’t even use the excuse that Plymouth doesn’t really have a great deal going on.
So I’m going to try and pledge to myself that I am going to go to a music gig, or a comedy show or suchlike at least once every other month in 2014.
I Heart Vietnam
I often have little fads, where I get terribly into something for a while. But my fad for Vietnamese food shows no sign of dimming after a couple of years. I just can’t get enough of it. When in London for work I always want to head out east to Nathan Barley land so I can get some nice Pho. And I will during the day go hours out of my way to get some Bahn Mi for lunch (my current favourite place is Bahn Mi Bay on Theobolds road).
Unfortunately, for me and for the denizens of my home town, there are no Vietnamese restaurants down here. None at all. Gosh I hope that changes…
So I make a heartfelt plea to the people of Vietnam, the wider Vietnamese diaspora, and frankly anyone with a skill for professional catering who is good at coking Vietnamese food; Please, pretty please, open a Vietnamese food place in Plymouth. I beg you….
Now I can’t promise that Plymouth is the most happening place in the world (We don’t even have a Vietnamese restaurant !). And frankly thanks to the earnest efforts of the Luftwaffe the city is pretty plain. But we are near the sea, Dartmoor and most of Cornwall are beautiful and easy to reach, and we are home to the world’s greatest Football team. We even have a giant metal prawn.
On top of that Plymouth has a huge student population who would no doubt welcome a Vietnamese place, and I for one pledge to spend a significant proportion of my income at any Vietnamese gaffe should they be able to sell me nice Bahn Mi for lunch, Pho for dinner and Vietnamese coffee whenever!
So I’m thinking I need to get Donna to use her Social Media-Fu to launch #GetPlymouthAVietnameseRestaurant though I suspect the that ship might just have sailed…..
Failing this happening, and I suspect I shouldn’t hold my breath, I guess I had better make a pledge for 2014 that I am finally going to crack cooking Vietnamese food. Been trying to get the hang of it for a while, and got a pretty boss book about it just before Christmas. So hoping to become a demon at cooking it over the course of the next year.
So that is eight aims, with varying degrees of seriousness. At the very least should give me something to write about next year for my 2014 in review blog post! Looking at the word count perhaps “understand concept of brevity” ought to be something I am looking to do at some point!