Back again

And what better way to kick things off again than with a fresh new look courtesy of the good people at, and an illustrative photograph?

This is Eshaness, in Shetland, on the most magical of days.

Blue skies; jade, emerald and turquoise seas; and an eloquent grandeur to the destructive power of the ocean. And that white speck on the clifftop grass is indeed a person.


Santa Claus Is Coming To Town…

… So you’d better be good for goodness sake, yeah. Have a good one, one and all!

In the meantime, this weekend marks the end of the fourth week since my rural Perthshire village last saw bare ground. And even the burn – usually quite fast moving at this bit – is beginning to ice up; its deep-voiced roar in full spate reduced currently to something akin to a timid whisper. Further downstream, where the flow of the water is calmer, it is completely frozen over.

Hoping for a trouble-free trip down from the North Pole for Santa – but then his journey is reindeer- rather than horse-powered so he stands a better chance of getting around than most Brits…

Stern’s goes to the dogs

Or to the horses. Or to the signs that tell you ‘A £10 bet wins you £150 if Drogba scores the last goal in a 2-0 win to Chelsea’.

Yup. Stern’s is now a bookies.


No-one asked me. Sure, you can still buy online but part of the beauty was wandering into the store, flicking through the racks and – frequently, in my case – buying whatever CD it was they were playing in the shop (most recently, the Afia Mala avec Orquesta Aragon album – now on some sort of DVD, I see, but still no CD – which I would never have had a clue about had I not been in the shop that day). If I can’t hear it, I can’t buy it – and, in that sense, the closure of the shop is part of the wave of closure of independent record shops which have led to the Record Store Day initiative to help save those that remain. In Stern’s case, I hope that the closure of the shop doesn’t have an impact on the new releases that Stern’s has been promoting (in its label and distributor capacity) of beautifully put together double CD compilations of soukous greats such as Franco and Tabu Ley Rochereau.

At least they’ve fixed the pop-up player on the site so you can still hear something – provided of course you know what you’re looking for. Other than that, the lesson remains – use it or lose it; and that applies to your favourite record shop as much as anything else.

Here we go…

… and welcome.

I’m Calvin Allen – yes, I believe in real, proper names in a grown-up Web 2.0 world and not in hiding behind a keyboard – and I’m a researcher with a large UK trade union, where I deal with pay, pensions and regulatory and policy affairs in and around the communications industry. I’m also a dedicated homeworker.

However, this is not a professional – or, rather occupational – blog (I hope at least it is professionally written – Ed) but one that focuses entirely on the personal.

To some degree, I’m still working this out and, as the muse descends, the blog should take on a life all of its own but, in following a completely serendipitous modus, you can expect to see some entirely random notes and thoughts about current affairs; football – especially Reading FC – some reviews of music I’m listening to or books that I’ve read; and some notes on the madder (and the not always madder) bits of my working world.

And the title of the blog? Well, not ennui with the state of the world, but a reflection of the universal desire to assert, to be in control, to overcome those odd scenarios that mysteriously repeat themselves. Of course, as usual, The Boss best provides the call to arms…