Time off


The Rocker

It's a hard life, being a rocker. Once you've rocked, rolled, hung loose, hung tough, tuned in and dropped out, and done whatever else it is hardcore rockers fill in on their timesheets, you're pretty much at a loose end.

The Rocker - as it's appropriately called - is a light-hearted examination of the retired rocker's plight. Rainn Wilson (Dwight from America's version of The Office) plays burnt-out drummer Robert Fishman - aka the Fish - who's still smarting after being dumped by his rock band decades earlier.

Now, they're being inducted into the rock `n' roll hall of fame, and he's answering phones in a call centre. Not even that, after he gets fired he is forced to move in with his sister and her oddball son when he can no longer earn his keep.

Happily, things take a turn for the better when he joins his nephew's pop band, ADD, and they're signed by a major label, coincidentally also the company that puts out records for his former bandmates, Vesuvius.

What follows is an enjoyable underdog movie courtesy of Full Monty director Peter Cattaneo, in which Fish is forced to confront the devils that destroyed his past, and show that he can embrace the future.


Chinese Democracy,Guns N' Roses

It's been 15 years since the last album from Guns N' Roses. And with the original members driven out by an increasingly chubby and crazed-looking Axl Rose (seriously, picture a pit bull with braids), Guns have started to look like an empty and seriously expensive manger.

Geffen, the record label, is rumoured to have poured $13 million into the production of Chinese Democracy (due out this week), an album that's been on the cards since 1994, just before the original band split. But with Axl swallowing advance after advance, and regularly cancelling shows as part of his "I-am-an-artist-hear-me-roar" histrionics, the record's non- appearance has become such a joke that Dr Pepper promised to give everyone in the US a free can of drink if it materialised in 2008.

Against that backdrop, Chinese Democracy's scheduled release this week may seem too good to be true. But the album is known to have reached the production stage, and leaked songs - sounding like a more aggressive, less melodic Guns - have appeared on the internet.

Could this be the end of one of rock's longest-running no-shows? Who knows? But given the ambivalence surrounding the release, we'd like to suggest a slogan: "Guns N' Roses: what's the worst that can happen?"


Notting Hill Carnival, London

Ah, there's nothing like a quintessential English summer, is there? The cooing of doves. the firm smack of a croquet mallet against a wooden ball. the wails of gyrating schoolchildren as they bump and grind to hardcore dancehall on the back of a hastily decorated lorry.

OK, so the latter scene may never have featured in the opening passages of Cider with Rosie. But nevertheless, the Notting Hill Carnival has become as essential a part of the English summer as jazz music and heat rash - and a darn sight more enjoyable than either.

It kicks off for almost the 50th time this weekend, with children's day on the Sunday and the main event on Bank Holiday Monday, promising crowds of up to a million and serious amounts of jerk chicken.

The event has an intriguing history: it was launched in the Fifties as a celebration of black culture by Claudia Jones, the communist and black nationalist campaigner, gradually mutated into the popular and largely politics-free affair it is today and is now the second-largest street party in the world - not bad for a nation that once regarded fetes as hedonism's ne plus ultra.

Tips: bring beer, water, flat shoes, and don't even try to squeeze your way on to the main route on Ladbroke Grove unless you want to spend the whole day sniffing the back of a Japanese tourist's neck

Or you could.

Blag tickets to the Reading Festival. Watch Somers Town, Shane Meadows's new film. morris dance all night at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival.

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