[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Keep Schtum, cushty?
A sudden flurry of thrills has fluttered across my MIND SCAPE today, but gentle reader I fear I am not at liberty to disclose full details of them to you yet. For instance, this morning I was alerted to a VIDEO that somone has made of one of our songs. It's not finished yet, so I can't show it to you, but it looks ACE, and it was done by someone who runs one of my favourite sites on the interweb, completely out of the blue. I feel HONOURED and full of GLEE to see such a thing, and as soon as I'm able to can BETCHA I'll be putting a link to it right here, as it is LOVELY.
Similarly, I'd love to share with you the PROOFS to the EP artwork, but I think the manufacturers might object to the BANDWIDTH useage. Yesterday i very nearly got far too overexcited and stuck our new press release up here too - it's both impressive AND true, which is something of a first for us - but it isn't quite finished yet, and I would hate for you, gentle reader, to see something Shoddy or Incomplete on these pages. I'd ALSO very much like to go on about some possibilities arising for Actual Publishing, after my RANT last week about PRS, but as nothing has actually happened yet this would, perhaps, be a little presumptuous. I mean, in my BRANE I have dominated the Ivor Novellos, reformed the PRS from within, and built an extra WING onto my MANSION as a direct result of Actual Publishing but, alas, the real world trails sadly behind my BRANE as usual.
So yes, there is much POTENTIAL in the air at the moment. This weekend I intend to ADD to that by putting sticky labels onto the ENORMOUS PILE of jiffy bags i bought yesterday, ready for the Great Posting that will occur when the EP goes off to The Media. I hope not to gibber and froth with excitement all over the carpet too much, but i promise nothing.
Thick Thin Thick Thick Thin
Now, I know this isn't REALLY very exciting, but it is to ME, so here we go: I just spoke to our manufacturers, and we now have a BARCODE for the album!
What's that you say? "But I thought you said it WASN'T exciting?" I know, I know, i like to tease you gentle reader. Eh what Pardon? "What is it then", you ask? Oh go on then - the barcode is going to be 501 623 519 2422. By GOLLY, that's a beauty isn't it? What it MEANS is that the stuff i sent off yesterday got there safely, and even now the gigantic machines of production are being prepared to roll "Shed Anthems" off the conveyor belts. WAHEY!
I'm not sure if I've put this up before, but just in case, here is the running order for our new EP, "Shed Anthems", which will be available in SHOPS and ONLINE from June 7th:
Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)
The Fair Play Trophy (again)
Billy Jones Is Dead
The Primal Rhythms Of The Bolivian Nose Flautist
Let The Weird Band Win
... plus nine various alternative versions of the main EP tracks and 14 (fourteen!) otherwise unreleased tracks on the multimedia section, alongside the usual lyrics, loveliness, and full annotations, all for around a fiver. VALUE-RIFFIC!
Ignite The Engines Of Production
I am RATHER EXCITED at the moment, as I have just got back from the Post Office, from whence I sent the final mastered version of "Shed Anthems" to the manufacturers. The artwork's done, the multimedia's finished, the songs are sequenced and all that (hopefully) remains between me and the finished product is 10 Working Days. WAHEY!
It's strange though, because we've been labouring away on this for such a long time (well, not compared to how long it took to do "This Is Not A Library", but anyway), and I've had it all planned out so much in advance, that to actually reach a major Signing Off Point like this has taken me by surprise. Somehow having thought about it, planned the timing, and worked away at the artwork and web stuff for WEEKS has obscured the actual AIM of the whole thing, so that this afternoon the realisation that, hey hey, we've got a new EP coming out, has LEAPT out at me from behind a WALL of Organisation, and said "KER-ZANG!"
The EXCITEMENT has been enhanced also by me FINALLY listening to the EP as a whole. Until now I've only had the five new recordings on CD in the order they were mixed in. Earlier on today I created a CD of the whole thing, in the correct order, and with "Things'll Be Different" in its rightful place at the start, and GOOD GOLLY but it's a ROCKING PACKAGE. No, really, I know I say so myself as shouldn't, but it's BLOODY GOOD STUFF. I feel that, if you enjoyed "This Is Not A Library", you will enjoy this one ALSO. Because it's ACE.
Wahey! Now to spend a fortnight worrying about press releases, mailing lists and envelopes!
Taking Off A Rucksak
This weekend was the Artists Against Success Away Day weekend i.e. me, Mat and Rob when to Hathersage in the Derby Dales to have a Board Meeting and then discuss the future of the label in an unfettered fashion. Coincidentally, we did this in a PUB.
Actually, we did most of it outside of a pub, as it was a beautiful day, and it was GRATE. We had a LENGTHY discussion which produced a rather GRAND and FUTURISTIC idea for a new offshoot label to provide FREE music, which will doubtless be discussed here a lot more in future. The credit for this goes largely to Mr Whitaker, whose RADICAL ideas at one point made it seem like our Heritage Acts (i.e. me and Rob) might get SACKED!! This was neatly sidestepped, and we came up with something Rather Exciting. You can see a photograph of the three of us looking pleased about this on the AAS Website.
After that we celebrated with a RATHER posh meal, which led to a bit of a Rock & Roll Fracas back in out "suite". Suffice to say, half a bottle of mineral water ended up being spilled. I know. We are mad, bad and dangerous men.
There must have been something wrong with what we ate, however, as the next day we were all feeling under the weather. Things weren't helped when we got to Derby to find that Midland Mainline were on STRIKE, so BIZARRELY I had to travel to Sheffield and then DONCASTER in order to get to London - it took bloody AGES and by the end I was feeling a bit tired and sorry for myself... so I wrote a NEW SONG all about it, which I must say is rather nice.
It's called "Dino At The Sands" and it sounds a bit Frankie Machiney to me (INDEED, another Francis Albert gets mentioned in the lyrics) which isn't surprising really as I'd just been listening to the BRAND NEW Frankie Machine album, which is UTTERLY BRILLIANT. I'd heard rough mixes of some of the tracks a while back, which were good, but put all together and finished off it sounds AMAZING, just really really lovely and yes, even better than the first album. It won't be out for several months yet (we're just about to start pushing his American Singles Compilation - yes, I know, GET HIM!), but the wait will very much be worth it.
I also got the mastered version of OUR EP, and I would tell you how groovy that's sounding, but obviously modesty forbids, hem hem. Still, with Frankie AND Johnny Domino forthcoming with new material, it's going to be a GRATE Summer for AAS! GO US!
More Exciting Packages
There was another little package of THRILLS waiting for me when I got home last night - a copy of Sandman Magazine (Hull Version), which included a rather ACE preview of our forthcoming GIG there in a couple of weeks:
Oh, what a joy it was to have this CD drop through my letterbox, and the best bit is we get to witness this madness for ourselves. Currently dripping in acclaim MJ Hibbett and The Validators have just recieved album of the year from Rolling Stone magazine (mad but true) who describe Hibbett as an "insanely prolific, remarkably witty bespectacled thirtysomething comic book geek from the Midlands". It doesn't stop there, Steve Lamacq's new year guest (well, I imagine they'd make a terrible mess and steal all your booze!) was most popular unknown act of the year. Lyrically superb, The Streets beware, this is actually how you're meant to do it. This is a real modern day poetry to music. Tickets are a complete steal at £4/£3 as this will be one gig to remember.
Cool, huh? My only worries are 1) that we'll actually be OK after such BUILD UP and 2) that people won't start throwing things/leaving during the support act... because the support act is going to be ME! I've had a request for a couple of songs I haven't done live in AGES ("Say It With Words" and "Call The Lyric Police"), so I've been relearning them, and I'm going to do quite a few new ones, thus i am AFEARED. I'm doing a DIFFERENT set! EEK!
Quick, The Drawbridge
When I got home from work yesterday there were TWO exciting packages waiting for me. One was a tape of mine and The Hector Collectors' gig in Glasgow (which I haven't fully listened to yet), the other was my PRS Statement.
For those who have no reason to know, PRS is the body which collects money from TV, radio, films, venues, shops etc for playing music. Any public place that plays music has to pay for a licence, and it's the PRS's job to collect this money, and then distribute it to all those who've had music played publically according to how many people are likely to have heard it. Thus, if you have a song played five times a day on Radio One for a week you'd expect to get about 1500 quid (ish), whereas if you have a song played once on Radio Bedroom you'd get about 0.2p. Now, as I may have mentioned off-hand, just in passing, on this page in recent times we've had quite a LOT of radio play this year, not just on that nice Mr Lamacq's show, but also on several BBC local stations, commercial radio and a whole bunch of other places, and so I was hopeful of getting a Fair Bit of CA$H. Indeed, between picking up the envelope in the hall and getting it into the kitchen I was GIRDING myself to have my life changed forever by the millions of QUID$ lurking in the envelope! How much could it possibly be eh?!?
It was 6 pounds 55 pence. This was all due to the song "Last Orders" being played in the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on the 28th December.
Now, I must say, I was a bit peeved about this. I then looked through the guide book, and found that all our radio plays had been completely missed because of the way PRS work things out. You'd think, in this day and age of (especially on commercial stations) hugely computerised playlists, online broadcasting and playlists for all, they might be able to get a fairly exact count of who's played what, but no. What they do is monitor certain stations for a few days (or in some cases hours) a year, and then extrapolate from there. Thus, if you have a song played once and it happens to be in the small sampling window then you'll get paid as if it was played hundreds of times, but if your song WAS played hundreds of times and it doesn't get into any of the tiny windows, you get nothing at all.
If things were done properly, of course, this wouldn't really happen - hey hey! I WORK in statistics, I Know These Things. Much larger samples of output could be taken from the stations themselves, with random monitoring used to _check_ that these samples tallied with what was actually being played. If they did this they could redirect much much MORE cash to the vast majority of PRS members who only get a few plays a year. PRS always bang on about wanting to encourage more people to join up, and try to do this with "showcases", but maybe they might encourage more people to pay the 100 quid membership fee if there was ever any chance of them getting it back?
I doubt it'll change in the near future, however. Last time I read the PRS Yearbook (*ahem*) it seemed that something like 60% of members have never received ANY money at all. The official line on this was that they couldn't afford to improve their sampling methods, as it would be so expensive that it would drastically cut the amount they could give out - a rather academic viewpoint for those who get nothing anyway. The trouble is you're only allowed to VOTE on PRS issues if you've earnt over a certain amount of money through them, and the amount of votes you get is related to how much money you've made. THUS those with a vested interest in keeping the current corrupt system (e.g. PRS top earners like Phil Collins, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and all those other dynamic young up and coming songwriters PRS want to encourage) are the only ones who would ever be able to effect any change in the system.
And when I say "corrupt", I do not excuse myself. I would bet the WHOLE of my £6.55 on knowing EXACTLY who wrote down "Last Orders" on the random PRS form he'll have been handed, and I'd bet the same again that he only did it because I'd sent him the album and he liked it, rather than because he actually PLAYED that song.
I WOULD bet it... except that PRS don't pay out sums that small, so it gets to sit in their bank account accruing interested with all the other millions owed to their members all over the country. GRRR!
Live Unfettered Hector Action
I've just been looking at the Hector Collectors' video for their new single, "Opposites". The song's ACE and the video is GRATE - it's at www.forestofblack.co.uk, go see. Now you too can play Spot The Person I Was On About A Few Months Ago, you lucky people!
The song previously known as "Not Not For What It Isn't" has been REVISED and is now to be known as "Mental Judo". Revised descriptions are now in the Song Blog and Annotations - it may not seem to have changed that much to AVID readers, but honestly, it's much better this way.
And while I'm here - hello Ninja Tunes people! It seems that SEVERAL of you have been coming here to listen to "Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time" over on the sampler pages, and I WELCOME you to our abode.
Unless, obviously, you are a student of Brunel University.
What's To Do?
Finally, a second Bad Review of the album! Written by a student (reviewing a copy sent to Brunel University Students Radio, it would appear) who seems never to have seen a book and doesn't therefore realise what the "review" on the back's about. Still, nice idea about the Pink Socks for the next album - let's DO it!
Whilst constructing and filling my new CD tower I listened to a brand NEW record, so new that it hasn't even come out yet - it was "Solid Ground", the forthcoming album by Johnny Domino. For MONTHS now they have been sidling up to me, in person and via interweb, and saying "You will like it", and do you know what? They were DAMN RIGHT. It's utterly UTTERLY fantastic - I mean, I love all their records, but this is the BEST yet. If you're interested you can download the first two tracks, "Solid Ground" and "Vocodamol" from their website, but these give but a tiny idea of what a MASSIVE and EXCITINGLY FRIGHTENING album it is.
Or, as I'm sure we will be saying in the press release, "It shits on Franz Ferdinand from a massive height." In a very good way indeed, obviously.
I bought a new CD tower at the weekend - yes, you are correct, my life IS a whirlwind of thrills and danger. It was EXCELLENT, as I spent a happy half hour playing with screws, pegs, glue, bits of wood and screwdrivers, imaging myself and Hardy Artisan and being surprised to find that, when it was all finished, the MIGHTY CONSTRUCT completely failed to fall a) over and b) to bits. Well done me!
Conforming merrily to gender stereotypes I set about re-ordering my CDs. There've been many ructions in my Music Collection in recent years, largely due to moving house - I now have about half the CDs I used to have, having sold loads on Ebay and Amazon and given away a TON to charity shops, not to mention chucking away 2 bin bags FULL of cassettes about 2 years ago - but one thing has remained constant for over a DECADE: all my CDs have been sorted into Young People's Music and Albums By Old/Dead People.
The main problem with this, I discovered on Saturday, is that the boudaries between the two are BLURRING. For instance, when I instigated the system "Songs For Drella" by John Cale and Lou Reed had just come out, and I had a taped copy of it from my friend Chris. All of us in our Social Millieu at the time LOVED this record, as it is BLOODY GRATE, and the other week the Gravy On My Potatoes bought me it on CD as an Easter Love Gift. Bless. It still sounds BLOODY GRATE, if you've not got it then, honestly, go out and buy it as you will not be disappointed. Indeed, why not buy copies for several of your friends? That way you too can spend the next ten years or so occasionally saying to each other - "I hate Lou Reed, I really doooo" or "He got mad and he called me a RAT!" or "It's just WOIK! The most important thing is WOIK!"
I'm really selling this album aren't I? ANYWAY, the point is that at the time of release, this album unequivically belonged in Young People's Music, but NOW it resides very much in Music By Old/Dead People. Similarly, Nirvana, and many many more former youthful HEROES of my CD collection... and so I was forced to come to a RADICAL DECISION: I ALPHEBETACISED them, willy nilly!
Well, it was exciting for me anyway, and now I delight in Interesting Alphabetical Connections like Elvis Presley nestling next to Prolapse, Gorky's next to Go-Kart Mozart or, perhaps more predictably, The Thrills being as close to Teenage Fanclub as they possibly can be.
My Bristol Uncovered session on Star 107.2 FM with Gary Smith (the one we recorded in my hotel room, where i did "Evergreen") was repeated on Sunday - thanks Gary! For some reason he doesn't seem to have played that mighty version...
There's a new GIG in the gigs list - I'm playing in Brighton on June 12th with Anal Beard and The Lovely Brothers. This is wonderful in SO many ways - a gig in a new place! a gig with The Lovely Brothers! massive showing off possibilities in saying "I'm supporting Anal Beard"! massive family-perplexing possibilities in saying "I'm supporting Anal Beard"! RESULT!
My gig in Winchester has changed, I'm now NOT playing on April 29th (Chris The Promoter tells me the pub got a "better offer"!), but AM playing at some point on Sunday 9th May at an all-dayer to get a new Land Rover motor for the local hunt saboteurs.
I went to see "Shaun Of The Dead" at the weekend. It was utterly utterly BRILLIANT, especially the bit where they meet the "other team" of people, that was FANTASTIC!
BLIMEY, is it back at work time already? Easter ZAPPED by at furious speed, as i was WORKING on the EP pretty much the whole time. The Futuristic Multimedia is all done and is looking pretty flipping GRATE I must say, especially "The Lost Tape", which is 10 songs from about 1997 which got discarded and mostly unheard by human ears. It looks really nice and works really nicely, I am CHUFFED. Similarly the cover is looking groovy too - I had a bit of a panic about the old version of the cover, and so got Mr Fleay to take a picture of his SHED. Beautifully he furnished me with a picture of TWO sheds, and these form the design MOTIF. I'll try and get a picture of it up for tomorrow, so that you ALSO can feast upon its MAJESTY.
Less jolly was my attempt at MASTERING the album - i spent pretty much ALL DAY on Tuesday labouring over this, and got precisely NOWHERE, leading me to have to BEG the aforesaid Mr Fleay, who also did "This Is Not A Library", to do this one for me too. Oh the ignominious indignity of it all! Also, oh the annoying waste of a day's holiday!
Still, it should hopefully all be done and off to the manufacturer's by this time next week, all ready for Official Release on June 7th, and (hopefully) a whole BARREL of Exciting Things to follow!
You find me hard at work, halfway through the preparation of the EP. The futuristic multimedia aspect is looking pretty DARN good, and if not quite as futuristic as the last one, it is fairly multimedia this time. I've still got some stuff to put on it, plus the cover to finish, and then mastering, so it's a busy Easter for me. However, after much listening, I can confirm that the EP as a whole sounds GRATE!
FACT about how it's sounding
I headed off to Leicester once again on Tuesday lunchtime, to Memphis Studio, wherein I met with Mr K Reverb for the purposes of finishing off our new EP.
It all went rather well.
Things started off slowly - "The Fair Play Trophy (again)" required some guitar, a keyboard solo, backing vocals and mixing, and somehow this took over four hours to do. I've no idea how this happened - OK, there was some shilly-shallying with setting the guitar up, a long time spent trying to work out how to make the guitar sound good (the correct answer, of course, would have been to get someone ELSE to play it), and then some Experimentation with keyboard sounds, but it all seemed to go awfully quickly. BEST bit was when Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey arrived, and we effected a Terrace Chant by double tracking me, him, and aforesaid Mr Reverb BELLOWING. Kev got really into it, it was ACE, although Dave did look a bit stunned by the experience. It sounds BRILLIANT though! And I have to say, there's a LOT of stuff on the track, and Kev had already spent an evening EDITING... so maybe four hours isn't actually that long, is it? Possibly other ARTISTES take a bit longer?
HA! That is because they are RUBBISH! Our lean mean mixing machine then hit the TURBO button, and AWAY we went. "City Centres" was soon sorted out and sounding ace - ooh, that end coda, with the multi-Emma's and the Lesley-fied Tom, it is SMASHING. "Let The Weird Band Win" also came out sounding RUMBUNCTIOUS, with all the overlapping bits, and soon we found ourselves contemplating a SIMPLER life.
I thought the last two songs would be peasy, tho Kev doubted this, as he QUAKED before the prospect of COMPING (studio talk!) three recorder tracks. He needn't have worried, they all came together beautifully, even allowing us DOUBLE TRACKED RECORDER in places. Be warned though, the POWER of the double tracked recorder is MIGHTY, and should be approached with caution. That was "The Primal Rhythms Of The Bolivian Nose Flautist" sorted out, after which "Billy Jones Is Dead" was a breeze. Indeed, we were all moved to note how light and poppy it sounded, being an almost entirely "as-live" recording (but for an extra Emma), lacking the usual string, brass, woodwind and SWIRLING CALIOTROPE sections that usually furnish our efforts.
It was a very very happy Hibbett INDEED who bade farewell to his colleagues that night. I tell you what, dear reader, I CANNAE WAIT for you all to get a chance to hear it, it's BLOODY GRATE!
And The Award Goes To...
Talking of futuristic multimedia, I just saw that we won "Best Packaging of 2003" in California's IndieShop show round-up of 2003. COOL. They also declared Giles Domino's art for "No Sales: NO SELLOUT" to be their favourite on-CD art, and who but a fool would disagree? It's LOVELY!
I FINALLY got to grips with the multimedia extravaganza for the "Shed Anthems" EP over the weekend. I've known what's going to be on it for ages - demo versions, lyrics, Annotations and all that, like on "This Is Not A Library", plus some extra songs - but I have been WRACKING my brain to think of how it'll look, but I think I've got it now. It's going to look OLD SKOOL, basically, almost all text, dead simple, but NICE. I think so anyway.
Whilst working on this yesterday afternoon (and listening to the new Divine Comedy album, it's dead good) I got a phone call from Mr K Reverb who, God bless him, was in doing some extra EDITTING on the EP, and wanted to check something. Mr Reverb, I SALUTE you! We're both in the studio tomorrow afternoon and evening to finish the whole thing off, so hopefully on Wednesday I shall be able to pass on some FACT about how it's sounding. ZANG!
I headed down to the other end of the Victoria Line last night to Bar Lorca, for Kooba Radio's first "Brixtonka" night. It were dead good - I only got to see the first band, The Love Spuds, but they were ace, if a bit BIZARRE. You know the general issue Sixth Form Pop Punk band that you get a lot of nowadays? Sort of like that, but with a BRASS SECTION. How on earth does that happen? "Hey! Let's play short, funky songs - they're easy to write, easy to learn, and fun to play too!" "GRATE! I'll get me trombone!"
It perplexed me, but it was GOOD. It was also quite lovely to see the band themselves very aware of this, and also surprised by it too, bless. It filled me with pleasure to see them, even though I did think "It must be GRATE to be 17 and have loads of GURLS dancing to your songs", curse them. AND they did "Living La Vida Loca" fantastically too. GRR!
There's been a smattering of radio play around the funky edges of radioland just lately - apparently Andy Richardson, from Radioactive Withernsea 107.3 has took a liking to "Praise the Traffic warden" off of Milk & Baubles (which he got from our Northern Ambassador Mr E Bewsher) and has been playing it on his show. Thanks Andy! Also it seems that we've made it into ANOTHER chart - "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" was the 93rd best song of the year in Eddie Curry's top 100 for Phoenix FM in Brentwood. Thanks Eddie!
I love this sort of thing - knowing that all over the place there's people like Andy and Eddie who are SO ENTHUSIASTIC about music and playing it that they get themselves on air in local stations and play it AT people, especially when (as seems to be the case with Eddie's show anyway) they have to go in for the late night shows just to get the sort of music that they like played. I've met LOADS of people like this in my Travels In Rock, the local radio stations fighting lonely battles against the schedulers who want them all to play the same songs, often clinging on for dear life in the form of centralised SONG TUBES. Ladies and Gentlemen of Local Radio, I SALUTE you!
I mean, I'd write a song about it, but that'd seem like CREEPING, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it?
Concept album featuring several library themed songs
Eddie Curry, Phoenix FM - Solic
posted by MJ Hibbett, (click here for permanent link)
Stick It Through The Lesley
I was in Leicester yet again last night, to do some more WORK on the new EP... although "work" doesn't really describe what we did.
It's rare in adult life to have pure unadulterated FUN-style fun, but we had quite a bit of that last night, it was ACE. It was a Totally Tom night, so we did pretty much JUST Violins, with only my vocal on "Billy Jones Is Dead" and Tom's on "The Primal Rhythms Of The Bolivian Nose Flautist" breaking up the STRINGS. "Billy Jones" sounded LOVELY, and we did "Let The Weird Band Win" in two sections (so that the violins overlap each other in the same way as the vocals do - you'll see what I mean when you hear it, honest!), but the MOST BEST thing we did was get the LESLEY out!
For those unaware of such things, a Lesley Speaker is a GIGANTIC thing originally designed for use with Organs. It's basically a valve amp connected to a rotating speaker - it LOOKS like a piece of furniture from 1930 (Kev's is HUGE, HEAVY, and appears to be made of solid OAK), but it SOUNDS like a message from the future. We stuck the violin in and Kev miked it up at two corners, so we got STEREO, and then Tom just WENT for it - it sounds AMAZING. We just did it on "City Centres", which, also having Emma's CODA on it now, is shaping up to sound GRATE. I am quite excited about it.
Apparently, Kev says, there is a rule that says you're only allowed one go with the Lesley per week, and as I trust him implicitly I did not contest the matter... although next week I'm doing the "Fair Play Trophy" organ part through it, and he DID suggest providing an alternate mix of the whole EP... by putting the whole THING through the Lesley! YEAH!
Anyway, we moved on and put a LOAD of strings onto "Fair Play Trophy", the beginning bit of which is sounding ESPECIALLY delightful. It's funny with this EP - we've done it at breakneck speed but also hyper-efficiently, as the six of us have got quite used to working together by now, and do it in a Funky Manner. The last album was put together like a collage, this one is coming together like a GIANT ROBOT - each added section suddenly shows the rest into sharp relief, as all at once the whole thing takes on a new, more DEADLY shape!
OK, maybe not "deadly" exactly, but you know what I mean. Afterwards Tom and I "finished off the packet" of his Whisky selection, and agreed with each other how very GRATE we, The Validators and co, are. I still agree with him this morning!