A.J. Walker


A Different Three

Enjoyed playing the open mic at the Keystone this week. And in a shocking turn up I played three different songs from my usual three. I noticed that at the last three open mics I've gone to, at the Keystone and the Angus, I'd played the same three songs: 'Oh My Sweet Carolina', 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn', and 'You Couldn't Get Arrested'.

So I ended up playing: '
Somewhere Down the Road' (Chuck Prophet), 'Down By the Water' (Decemberists), and 'Whiskey in my Whiskey' (Felice Brothers).


Remembered nearly all the words and chords; with just a pause playing some extra chords in Down By The Water whilst I tried to remember the next verse. Who'd have thunk it. So maybe next time I'll play a different three again. That'd be nine different songs then: almost a gig's worth.

There were loads of great players/singers there once again. Not sure how many but it was in double figures. John Witherspoon hosts a really is a top night - guaranteed. Made up to see he's supporting Ian Prowse at one of his gigs. Boss news.

Rock on!

The Stress Of Moving

Farewell Motorola, Hello Apple again.

Had a bad issue with my
Motorola G8 over the last week after it broke itself. It was a bizarre thing to see happen in real time. I'd been scrolling through Twitter (not an unusual happening) when I suddenly heard a crack and felt it in my hand: a crack had appeared across the screen. The phone had not suffered a drop or knock. It was quite puzzling.

I need the phone for work – and especially for navigating – and a cracked screen is a worry at the best of times. And if it cracked itself once when could it do it again? It happened last week and it was only when I was at the open mic at the
Angus and put the phone face down on a table I saw that it was bent. After looking at it closely it wasn't so much bent as twisted! For a purportedly solid object it was a wtf moment.

I tweeted about it (of course) and Motorola noticed. They pointed me towards where their phones could get repaired. The entire phone was twisted so it would not be a question of replacing the screen, but the body too: basically a new phone. After my Motorola had evidently become possessed and buckled under some strange movent in the air there was no way I was going to pay for a repair for something I'd have no faith in (and I dare say would be as expensive as the phone is). In any case I've lost my faith in Motorola as a brand because of it. It was a shame, because before it had become a telephonic screw I'd had no problems with the phone at all.

So I had to get another – and not a Motorola. I decided to return to an
iPhone after years away. I'd always loved them but didn't want to pay a massive monthly debit for one or pay the high price for a new one. I did some google research over a few days and ultimately decided to go for a Refurbished iPhone X. There are several places to find them and I went for Back Market.

The phone arrived quickly (although DPD did make it a lot more difficult than it should have been). I had issues with the iOS migration not working properly and so had to download all the apps I needed individually. This meant that there was the usual issue of 'Oh God, what's the Username? What's the Password?' etc. I'd purposely left it until I was off to move from the android to the iPhone in case there were any issues. It was a wise decision. It proved to be a little painful with the whole '
Forgotten Password' button and cross referencing to Keychain on my mac taking more minutes than they should. I got there in the end though,

I've ended up having to put a lot of Google stuff on, which I'd rather not in some respects, but it's needed for the navigating for work (I've over 100 locations on the maps currently and wouldn't want to look all that up again for the Apple Maps app). Will give the Apple Maps app a go a little though to see how it has changed in the intervening years between iPhones. The Google account also meant I could seamlessly sync my contacts and calendars which I was thankful for.

I think it's all sorted now. I dare say I've forgotten something though.

I believe I can pay using my phone now using Apple Pay/Wallet rather than digging out my debit card. I don't think I'd use it that much, but I'd probably give it a go on the bus. I've never used this method before – I'll be getting into the 21st century eventually. I'll probably have to see how to do it on YouTube first! My Motorola had finger print log-in, whilst the X uses Face ID. Seems to work okay, although finger print works at night when you're logging into to look at Twitter in your bed, whilst Face ID can struggle (cos it's night and the camera can't see your face properly). Looking forward to getting out and about with the X and seeing how the camera is.

Fingers crossed that the phone lasts a few years – and doesn't become twisted by some malevolent being.

Back at the Key

Great to reappear at the Keystone this week after a month or so of missing it (largely due to Liverpool playing multiple matches on Thursday nights). John was the hoster with the moster once again. Always a pleasure to talk to – and to listen to play his beautiful songs. We'd moved from the front room into the adjacent one between the stairs and the conservatory which worked really well. There were plenty of performers there again and so everyone had a maximum of three songs when up there.

I think I was about the fourth or fifth up. I'd purposely held on to my pint glass tightly to that point so that I didn't knock back too many before getting up – one glass too many and the risk of forgetting words or muddling up is greatly increased. Despite this I'd still had about four pints before getting up and was at risk of issues. But as it happened I performed three of my usual songs as good as I ever have (I think). The usual were:
'Oh My Sweet Carolina', 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn' and (as requested by John) 'You Couldn't Get Arrested' – same as last week at the Angus.


Really enjoyed playing and watching everyone – and the pints of Chapter Brewing 'Tenta Temos' and 'Mahog'un' – there was a fifty-fifty mix of regulars and newbies. A most enjoyable evening. Of course, I keep saying it but yet to do… I need to write a song or two to perform and/or do some new covers. It WILL happen. Honest.


The Keystone Quartet at the Angus

Went to my first open mic for about a month yesterday in the Angus. I was off today to attend my first ever meeting with my MS Doctor (I'll write up something for that in the Health section), but it meant that I was able to go out last night for a song and a chinwag without worrying about work the next day – I'll have that problem today instead.

As I was walking up I bumped into one guy making his way up the road with a guitar. It turned out to be Guy who I have seen regularly at the Keystone open mic. When we got in we saw another couple of Keystone OM regulars. It appeared we were on an inadvertent gig tour - or at least an away day. In any case I would be missing the Keystone today anyway as Liverpool are once again on the TV with their match against Leicester in the Premier League.

The open mic was hosted as ever by
Ali Horn, who played a lovely trio of songs before opening it up to the floor. Two of the Keystone regulars went up first before me. I did my usual standard three songs: 'Oh My Sweet Carolina', 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn', and 'You Couldn't Get Arrested'. Went okay in the main (despite a few wrong chords). Then it was Guy up next to make the first four up on the night the entire Keystone Quartet. After that it was several guys and gals who I hadn't seen play before. As ever everyone was really good and the audience attentive (other than checking out the footy scores on FotMob).

Really enjoyed playing again after my month sabbatical. Will no doubt be back playing at the Keystone soon before too long – as long was it doesn't clash with the footy.


Fifty Can Wait

I can't tell you if I achieved my accidental quest in January as I never had a goal in mind; other than to get around a few places I haven't been to at all lately (in some cases for many years). Anyway other than the most churlish outsider looking in I've done more than enough – quest or no quest. At one point (even up to the last day of the month) I thought the quest could have become "50." After all everyone likes round numbers but I thought about it and decided not to pop out to get there as a last minute goal. Forty eight seems round enough.

I may do a write-up of the month's adventure at some point. Indeed I could add a pub & beer section to the website. In the meantime though here is a table showing every pub I visited in January in the order they were visited. Fifty can wait.

I'll definitely add a couple of pub crawl maps here. I produced them on an earlier iteration of the website.

The Forty Eight Pubs of January 2022:
48 Pubs