Friday, December 30, 2005

Wall Ball

Christmas Day

Out for our afternoon constitutional, we meet the moany old woman who lives in the upstairs maisonette next to our house. There's no "Happy Christmas" from her, just a good old moan about another of our neighbours, the man who lives below her. She has got a council form to fill in. She's just about had enough. She's confronted him about it and he was rude to her. She's spoken to the landlord who won't do anything about it.

Christmas Evening

The man next door has one of his children visiting - the boy with the football. The boy begins to play football indoors, against the wall. We hear the usual dull thud in the background.

A few minutes later we hear loud banging from next door upstairs. Loud banging which reverberates around the whole block. The old woman has been driven to bitter, wild retaliation.


I am about to get on my treadmill, the first chance I've had in a few days to sweat off the festive fayre. Before I begin, I decide to take out three empty beer cans to the recycling bin at the front of the house. Not wearing my glasses, but wearing shorts, teeshirt and trainers, I stagger into the cold dark.

The man next door gets out of his car, accompanied by the boy with the football. The dad asks me if I've had a good Christmas. He looks at the beer cans and says that he sees that I've had a good time. He says he noticed that I had a few too many on Christmas Day. I am caught in the glare of his headlights.

I hadn't seen him on Christmas Day. He must think it was me who was making all the noise. I don't know what to say. He says he doesn't get the chance to drink as much as he would like nowadays, not with four kids. The boy with the football glares at me.

I go inside and get on the treadmill.

The dull thuds commence.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Coronation Street Christmas Pantomime

It used to be a tradition in panto to have the leading male character played by a young woman, usually Anita Harris. So Anita was Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick of Dick Whittington, and The Prince in countless other shows.

These pantos were love stories and the boy (girl) always got the girl (girl) in the end. More recently the lead male has been played by Darren Day, famous for being blond and crap and for treating his celebrity girlfriends like shit. But he's popular amongst a large section of British women and of course he was on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Outtahere.

I'm disappointed to see that in this version of Cinderella the lovers aren't played by Violet and Frankie. Just a pure, sweet, innocent kiss between them would've made my Christmas.

Or alternatively, Hayley as the Prince. A woman who plays a woman who used to be a man playing a woman playing a man might be too much though for viewers pumped up with Cava and turkey additives.

No, instead we've got Frankie as Cinders (a bit old for the part but she wears the costume well), and Danny as the Prince. You couldn't get much further from a young fresh-faced girl/boy than Danny Baldwin, a grizzled middle-aged bloodshot borderline alcoholic. More of a real prince than a fantasy one, then.

I've never watched Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes but Corrie actors always seem to be on it (Shelley as Dolly Parton, Les as Dean Martin, Janice as Bjork). So this is my first chance to see the guys and gals outside of their comfort zone.

This panto looks like it took about five minutes to write. That doesn't matter as it's really mainly a showcase for the multifarious talents of Corrie's stars. Bradley Walsh is not just a mediocre footballer, comedian and actor. He's a piss poor singer and dancer, too.

So what happens? Well, a pissed Frankie bangs her head on the floor of the Rovers and has this dream, you see.

Frankie must've had something slipped into her wine because her dream is very very strange. Her Street mates play all different types of characters from lots of different pantomimes. But the basic story is the old Cinderella one.

There are a few scenes where we see what could have been done if the writer's rather than the actors' ego had been satisfied. There is a little bit of Dickens where Chesney as Tiny Tim is lying in his sick bed. Looking through the window at him are Dev-Eneezer Scrooge and a cranially damaged Tommy Harris as the Ghost of Christmas Past. And then there's Ugly Sister Norris's boast that he is wearing a new perfume: "Kabin Fever from the Rita Sullivan Range".

More! More!

But, no. We get a string of show songs sung by amateurs seemingly chosen to please Granny who is sitting in the corner of the living room farting and snoring her way through Boxing Afternoon.

So, Ladiees and Gennlemen. I give you the songs:-

1. It Ain't What You Do It's The Way That You Do It (Shelley, Sean and Fizz)
Trouble is, that ain't the way to do it. Little Chesney gets to do the line "and then your tribe will swing" in a deep grown-up voice. Hilarious.

2. The Stripper (Roy and Norris)
An instrumental featuring a strip by the two Ugly Sisters. Probably the best performance as there's no amateurish warbling.

3. Good For Nuthin' Liar? Double Crossing Liar? (Jack and Sarah-Lou)
I don't know this song but it features Jack and Sarah as a raunchy married couple which is enough for me to sick up my cashew nuts. Bill Tarmey is the only professional singer on show. It doesn't show.

4. We're A Couple Of Swells (Kirk and Les)
This utterly shite performance thankfully doesn't erase the sublime Judy Garland/Fred Astaire classic one from my memory.

5. All I Want For Christmas Is You (Frankie)
This instantly forgetable performance unfortunately doesn't erase Mariah Carey's purely evil one from my memory.

6. There's No Business Like Show Business (Fred, Cilla and Bev)
Like watching sumo wrestlers attempting ballet.

7. Moondance (Danny Baldwin)
Danny begins to take over with this reading of the Van Morrison "classic", full of sweaty bollocky Cockney Soul.

8. The Way You Look Tonight (Frankie and Danny)
Frankie too thin, according to my mum. Danny old and haggard, according to me.

9. The Sunny Side Of The Street (The Whole Ensemble)
Fred puffing like a buffalo, Warren Baldwin miming because he doesn't know the words, Blanche not keeping up, hobbling along with the aid of her walking stick. An extravaganza. There's even time for a short Bhangra section by Dev to get Granny's blood boiling so that she's awake for the real thing: Boxing Day Corrie.

10. The Party's Over (Danny)
As they are left alone, Danny sings to Frankie. A real tearjerker as he leaves her alone to wake from her dream and walk back into the Rovers to throw up in the Ladies and drink another bottle of wine.

Can't wait for next year.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Legends. James Last. (BBC4)

I don't remember ever seeing my dad listen to music. There were a couple of Beatles singles in the house, a couple of Stan Freberg 78s. Then in the seventies, some James Last LPs. But I don't remember him ever listening to anything.

Music was my preserve. It was MY music centre in the corner of the living room where I could put on my headphones, close my eyes and escape. I even tried listening to a James Last LP. All I can remember is applause and whooping, then the Simon and Garfunkel song Cecilia played by about 1,000 instruments, then more applause and whooping.

I remember this correctly as this is the James Last formula: a string of popular songs knotted together by a pissed audience having a GOOD TIME.

James, or Hansi as he's known by his fans and family, is the second biggest selling artist after Elvis. He's recorded over 100 LPs. He gets the best musicians to work for him and he treats them well. He's no James Brown.


Paul Morley says that James Last music is music for people who don't like music. They take a holiday in popular music, get to hear it in bite sized chunks, each and every one of them believing that Hansi is the genuis, the great creator.

I don't think so. What nails Hansi's appeal for me is when Malcolm Laycock says his stuff's a fresh take on Big Band Music. I know that my dad was a big Big Band fan. He would stand at the front at a Ted Heath show, drink plenty of beer and nod his head like a chicken. Like Big Hansi, Big Band was big and loud and brassy with simple melodies, perfect drinking music. And you'd certainly need to be pissed to enjoy James Last.

Nowhere in this documentary however, is German Oompah music mentioned. If Hansi's roots aren't in that thigh-slapping bollocks, then I'm Father Christmas.

But Hansi's rich, happy, with a much younger wife. The critics can go stuff themselves because he knows what the people want.

Because at the end of the day...

He who laughs, Last laughs longest.

Friday, December 23, 2005

All I Want For Christmas....

No, it's not one of my front teeth that's gone, it's a side molar.

I still have marks from the dentist's knees and toenails on my chest and thighs respectively.

The pain's intermittent and I will survive.

Instead of putting the tooth under my pillow in return for a sixpence from a friendly fairy, I have cut out the middle man and placed the tooth straight into the Christmas pudding.

It'll be my own bit of Christmas Day magic as someone takes a bite, thinks they've lost a molar, then discovers with relief that they haven't.

Christ, it's dragging this year.......

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Three Wise Men...

...each of them filled with cocksure Christmas spirit, three examples of white, English heterosexual man at his finest. I feel so proud I have goosepimples.

Wise Man Number One: He's been at the office party. He's on the phone to his mate. Yes, he was on a promise tonight, but he couldn't exactly take her home with some other bird's knickers all over the bedroom floor, could he?

Wise Man Number Two: He's been to his office's Christmas meal. Three of his co-workers didn't turn up. So today, he's eaten four Christmas dinners. Yes, FOUR Christmas dinners.

Wise Man Number Three: He's in the pub with his male employees, six suited men together. He shows the arselickers a picture on his mobile phone. It's of his 19 year old daughter. Proud as punch of his attractive, sexy 19 year old daughter, showing her off to leery men fired up with beer and Christmassy sex hormones.

Gold, frankincense and myrrh?

Or shit, shit and more shit?

Monday, December 19, 2005

To Dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we like to do

The British public love a good soppy song. Robbie Williams' Angels, Robson and Jerome's Unchained Melody, Westlife's Flying Without Wings. Good funeral songs for dead people.

And this Christmas we have the ultimate in marketed soppiness. We've been told that The JCB Song is a tragic thing about a dyslexic boy who gets bullied at school and skives off to be with his dad who drives him round town in a JCB. The boy imagines his dad is dead kung fu film star, Bruce Lee. Heartbreaking, eh?

Trouble is, in the song itself, the "bullies" at school are only mentioned in passing. The dyslexia isn't mentioned at all. The song is much ado about nothing, but the nation is crying at a story which doesn't exist in the song but in the hype around it.

And call me old fashioned, but if your dad is Bruce Lee you don't want him driving you round in a digger truck like some twat out of Trumpton, thereby giving the bullies more ammunition to take the piss out of you. You want your dad to kick seven shades of shit out of the bullies' fathers.

Or preferably your mum.

And she's Uma Thurman.

There's No-one Quite Like Grandma

The illustrated nanny goat stares out at me from the packaging. She has a benign smile on her face. Her large ears stick out at right angles from her narrow head. Her little eyes are expressionless. She wouldn't do me any harm.

Underneath her face are the words, "The REAL alternative to cow's milk". Above her face, "Packed full of goodness".

I know cow's milk ruins my digestion. But I'm a bit bored with soya. And there's no denying that dairy gives me a boost. I feel stronger and more awake when I drink it. But with cow's milk, the minuses outweigh the pluses. But Nanny wouldn't harm me, would she? I take her home.

Nanny's milk is very white. Brilliant emulsion white. It tastes slightly sour. I pour it on my cereal. I lap it up. I feel strong. Stronger. Christ, I could climb a mountain if I didn't get vertigo.

But as the day goes on, the milk doesn't go down. It sticks in my gullet (the old reflux). I start to cough. I feel breathless. Here we go again.

I go to the fridge. I pick up the carton and Nanny smiles at me. There's something cruel in that smile. Why didn't I see it before? Why should she like me when cows don't?

And cows are more even tempered than goats, aren't they?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Whistle While You Work

As Chris de Burgh rears his ugly Christmas head through the office stereo, from the gap in my open window I can hear a man whistling the tune to one of the following:-

a) Socialist anthem, "Keep the red flag flying high".

b) Chelsea FC anthem, "Keep the blue flag flying high".

c) West Ham United FC anthem, "Stick the blue flag up your arse".

I am taking bets. To which group of humankind does the man belong?

The odds are:-

Chelsea Fan 7 to 4 favourite
West Ham Fan 20 to 1
Labour Cabinet Member 40,000,000 to 1

A time transported gentleman, an early pioneer of the Labour Party, would shake the man by the hand and say, "Good to hear a friendly sound, brother...on these cacophonous streets."

And the whistling man would most likely reply...

"Are you Chelsea?"

There's Only One. Tel

The One. Tel British TV Comedy Awards sponsored by telecommunicatons company One. Tel.

Including the renaming of the award for best comedy writer. It is now called the Ronnie Barker Best Comedy Writer.

Of course the award goes to those Little Britain boys in homage to their stupid, crude humour which is to Ronnie's writing what Robbie Williams' stage presence is to Otis Redding's.

One. Tel must be an absolutely fantastic company to work for as all its employees at the bash seem to be having a superb time a-whooping and a-hollering along each time the name "One. Tel" is mentioned by host Jonathon Ross.

Maybe it has something to do with the free vodka jelly and gin blancmange they seem to be quaffing by the gallon.

I bet Mr Bubbles the balloon bender goes down a storm at their Christmas party.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Brace Yourself, Nigel

My train is cancelled and the next train is one of those new ones. I like to read for half the journey into work and sleep the other half. But these new trains make sleep impossible.

I can sleep through the woman's voice which has to say "the next stop is..." every three minutes.

I can sleep through the usual gum chewers, the snot sniffers, the really important phone callers.

But I can't get any sleep on these new seats.

As soon as I begin to drift off, I get thrown forward into the brace position. My ageing spine tells the working part of my brain that it would be more comfortable at 30 degrees than bolt upright against a surface that only a Pilates black belt or former 400 metre runner Michael Johnson could tolerate.

"Just checking for dust, sir?"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I am 44. So neurgh!

Eleven fours. A football team of four year olds.

"Joshua! Joshua! Get your arse back! Go on, Jordan! Go on, my son! Oh, yes! The vision of that boy! Back door, James! BACK DOOR! Man on, Daniel! Give it, Thomas! Not James! Joshua, you lazy, fat...Get your arse in gear! Go on, Jordan! Go on, my son! Go on, Jordan! You little genius! You beautiful boy! Oh, yes! What a goal! WHAT A GOAL!...What? Foul? Foul? What foul? Referee? You wanker, referee! You fucking wanker! Don't you fucking book my boy! Don't you fucking dare!"

Eleven fours. And I'm still getting cards with footballers on the front. And trains. No racing cars this year, though. That was last year. I've never been that bothered about trains and cars. They get me from A to B. And B to A.

* * * * * * *

I sit in my office lightly tapping the keys of my calculator, organising my days in my desk diary. I look forward to going home to play with my birthday presents...

1. My new pocket calculator.

2. My new pocket diary.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas Babble

We go for a curry to celebrate my forthcoming birthday. It just so happens that the restaurant is packed to the rafters with parties of people in party mood. They aren't here to celebrate my life.

But some of them are here to talk about cars.

Apart from an ejaculation of "BHP - BRAKE HORSE POWER", the loudest sentences tend to include the words, "Jeremy Clarkson said..." or "Jeremy Clarkson's favourite..." I think the man is in love with Jeremy Clarkson as he seems to be having a bit of a rocky spell with his wife who he brings into the conversation only to demonstrate how she doesn't understand him.

We are spoilt by a Christmas hits soundtrack, although the Mud track they play isn't Lonely This Christmas, but Tiger Feet. Your usual Wizzards and Slades are present, along with your Mariahs and your Eltons. Two young men exit the toilets together, each clutching a false moustache/beard combo to his face. As they walk past me I expect to hear howls of laughter from the enormous party behind me. I hear nothing but babble.

* * * * * * *

Trousers are a problem for me. They just don't fit. I've got a couple of pairs of Primark combats which I wear for all occasions, but with the festive season now upon us I feel I ought to have a smarter pair.

So here I am trying on a pair of £32 M&S combats. 34 inch waist, 31 inch leg. They seem to fit but they don't. There's a drawstring inside the waistband which seems pretty pointless as you either tie it too tight or too loose. Too tight and my ropey digestion starts playing up. Too loose and they fall down to my hips. So I try on a pair of £32 moleskin trousers. 34 inch waist, 29 inch leg. They're cotton of course, not real mole. And Christ, they're tight. Hug me round the middle with a tape measure and I'm clearly 33 inches. How can 34 be too tight?

I leave the changing room, put the trousers back, and a small dog who is accompanied by a well dressed middle-class man looks up at me with pity in his eyes.

His owner's trousers fit like a glove.

* * * * * * *

In Wilkinson's, looking for cheap, tacky Christmas decorations made in Chinese sweatshops, we notice a £20 yeti. "Press here," it says on its chest. I press there, nothing happens. I press again, nothing happens. A seven year old child muscles his way in front of me and presses there.

The yeti begins to sing and gyrates his hips in a lewd fashion. The seven year old walks away. I am left watching the abominable Elvis with a man in his sixties.

He turns to me and smiles.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Bored With Telly?

No, not really. Just a bit fed up with writing about it. Christmas is coming and I don't want to spend the whole festive period slagging off things. I don't like being nasty all the time. I wanna have some fun for a change. I want to walk in the air, play amongst the moonlit clouds.

Take me up, Jesus.


You buy six bottles of red wine in ASDA so's you get 10% off . You make sure one of them is corked and tastes fucking foul. You drink half of it anyway cos you're a pisshead. You take it back to ASDA. You say "This bottle of wine is corked and tastes fucking foul." They say "Do you want a new fucker or do you want a fucking refund?" You say "I want a fucking refund." They give you the FULL price of the original bottle of wine. You come out having made 50p and a half full belly of corked wine which went straight to your head.

Quality Street?

I don't want to step on Frank's toes, so I won't go into the storyline of last night's Corrie.

But I just wish I could warn the producers just in case they didn't watch it.

We expect preposterous plots from Corrie. It's all part of the fun. But the characters are always true to themselves, and the script is invariably sharp and funny, never getting above itself.

But last night it did. The writer Stephen Russell is an old hand whose first script was transmitted in October 2002, so all I can assume is that he's got a grudge against someone and last night was his attempt to lose viewers. Fred Elliott is allowed to be stagey,that's how he is. But last night we had Eileen, Steve, the whole bar staff of the Rovers, the Websters...(yes, even KEVIN) hamming it up like a drama group in Surbiton. And all because the script was fucking diabolical.

Please, Stephen...if you've got a grudge, don't take it out on us. Put laxatives in someone's drink or something.

Either that or head for the stage.

If the play's the thing, darling.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Spiders From Mars

Tears are falling from my left eye as little baby wolf spiders hatch from their mummy's eggs. I'm a sucker for baby animals and now it looks like I'm a sucker for baby arachnids, too.

How can you not love these beautiful creatures? You've got a phobia? I'm sorry. Perhaps you love baby humans? Those horrid ugly, big, bald, crying, scary things which usually grow up to be much better looking? Each to their own.

Snakes scare me. The reptile house is full of beautiful lizards and horrible snakes. A house full of snakes and baby humans would be just too much for me to take.

Thank you, David Attenborough and the life in your underpants. I heart spiders.

And this morning tears are falling down again as I listen once more to Grace by Jeff Buckley. Everybody says Hallelujah is a religious experience, but no, its the least brilliant thing on the album. Not only is it written by cold fish Leonard Cohen, but also whenever I hear it I'm reminded of the version by foghorn leghorn Rufus Wainwright. I spent most of the eighties listening to stuff by singers putting on a voice and I've had enough. Tom Waits doing his drunken tramp. Nick Cave doing his junkie preacher. Elvis Costello's new wave vibrato. If I'd continued in that vein I'd now be listening to Mr Wainwright and wounded polar bear Tony Johnstone of Antony and the Johnsons. Instead of a beautifully natural voice like Jeff's.

Musicians' sons are usually crap musicians. The Lennons, Rolan Bolan, the Marleys. But Jeff was better than his dad. Listen to Lilac Wine or Corpus Christi Carol and try not to cry. And he could kick ass like Kunt Cobblers could kick ass.

He went out with Elizabeth Fraser for a while.

He died young, falling into a fast moving river.

I want to pull him out of the river. Pump his chest till he coughs up the crap that's in there. Lead him to the altar with Elizabeth and ask them to sing their vows. Live happily ever after, not having to sing any more...

...just sit there having a laugh at Thom Yorke.

Kiss of Death

Yes, that's me.

Recently, whenever I've put a comment on somebody's blog, nobody else seems to follow suit. I know I smell but surely you can't smell me from there.

So I would be grateful if fellow bloggers would sign their name in the comments below if you do not wish me to comment any more on your blogs.

I'll understand.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

There's Something About You...

Congratulations are due to David Cameron on his election as new lead singer of rock band INXS. The post has been vacant ever since a tragic auto accident killed the band's previous frontman, Michael H.

But can our David cut the mustard?

Last night on the local news, he was said to possess "that all important tingle factor". "Whatever that means," said the presenter.

I thnk we all know what it means.

And this morning I'm sure I heard the announcer on Radio 4 say that the rise of Mr C has caused a mass debate in the country.

Good grief. If Michael H was reputed to be in the possession of the Taj Mahal of crotches, one can only imagine what wonders lie below young David's 42 inch cummerbund.

Monday, December 05, 2005


This weekend, we have been watching films.

Two films, both with brilliant soundtracks. Le Feu Follet, with music by Eric Satie. And Superfly, music by Curtis Mayfield.

Le Feu Follet is a classic film about alcoholism, despair, and suicide...which leads us nicely into the festive season.

Superfly is enjoyable tosh about a drugs dealer who wants to get out of the game by making one last deal which will make him a millionaire, not realising he will have to deal with corrupt police. It stars Ron O'Neal, a name which puts me in mind of former Norwich goalkeeper Kevin Keelan for some reason.

Ron gets to wear some snazzy clothes, sniff half a bucketful of cocaine, have some soapy, sensual sex in the bath, and fight a few fights.

The best lines (heh heh heh), however, go to his sidekick when Ron first says he wants out of the coke business:-

"You gonna give all this up? 8 track stereo, colour tv in every room, and can snort a half a piece of dope every day. That's the American dream, nigger."

And in 1972, it was.

Young At Heart

Bloggers past a certain age worship different cultural icons. They run the gamut from Sigur Ros to Jimmy Clitheroe. I've sampled both in the past 24 hours, trying to discover which side of the cultural fence I should be sitting. I've liked the Ros's for well over a year and a half, but what about Jimmy? Am I missing something?

I've had enough of comedians impersonating teenagers with crap catchphrases; "bovvered?" and "Yeah but no but" spring to mind. But that's just crap, not disturbing.

Disturbing is where you get adults acting as children. A regular nightmare of mine is the image of Colin Welland and Michael Elphick in shorts in Blue Remembered Hills. Then there's Terry Scott, Jeanette Krankie...And the original Clitheroe Kid.

We've started to utilise our telly to record the radio. Five hours of Edwin Drood this, of course we fucking won't. No time, mate.

There's the John Lennon interview on Radio 4, 15 minute Oscar Wilde and DH Lawrence short stories on BBC7...ooh, I'm feeling all Christmassy already.

And there he is, slap bang in the middle of the BBC7 schedules, The Clitheroe Kid.

So, for some of you bloggers out there who may not be old enough, and for those of you old enough but whose memories are shot due to a lifetime of overindulgence in drink, drugs and wild wild women/men, here's a sample of the dialogue from The Clitheroe Kid:-

Have you put your conkers in my drawers again, Jimmy?
It weren't me, Mam. It were Grandad.
You lying little fooker.
Fook off, Mam.
No, you fook off, Jimmy.
No, you fook off, Mam.
Grandad! He's telling me to fook off! And he said you put conkers in my drawers!
I'll tan the little fooker's hide.
No you won't, Grandad. You fooking old twat.

So get out those protractors, get out those compasses, get out those slide rules. For...

The Clitheroe Kid is strong and tough,
And only the worst is good enough,
The sauciest words,
The most insults,
The evil that's in Clitheroe.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sinatra at the London Palladium

No telly tonight as I've been bullied by my mum into buying tickets for Sinatra at the London Palladium. I'm not paying but I'm doing all the donkey work.

As far as I can deduce from the description of the show, there will be a sepia hologram of Frank at the front of the stage, performing his usual dance steps and body gyrations, while behind him Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra will be belting out Frank's classics in their own inimitable style.

My mum's been a Frank fan since she was a bobby soxer aged 2, which means she's waited 72 years for this moment and I feel proud to have been able to pay her back in a tiny way for the years of toil and hardship I've put her through.

Start spreading the news...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Backlash: Kids! Who Needs 'Em?

Double buggies are such a menace in Islington. You can't move for double buggies.

How come I've never heard of the Islington twin explosion? Is Islington the new Midwich?

Me, I don't dislike children. It's just that I don't want to spend any of my time with any of them. I didn't much when I was a kid and nothing's changed over the past year. But would I feel differently if I had children of my own? Yes, then I probably would dislike them.

This programme shows a nice restaurant in a nice town which has banned children, a nice pub in a nice part of London which has banned children, and a nice caravan site in a nice part of England which has banned children.

I don't want to spend my time in the company of children so why don't I sample these places?

Because I'd rather spend my spare time in local adult-friendly establishments where the chance of getting battered is pretty high if you make eye contact with one of the ubiquitous local drunk psychopaths.

And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Friday, November 25, 2005

George Best Dies - 2

By an unhappy coincidence, I was once in a hotel room one morning, lying naked on the top of the bed, fast asleep, an empty whisky bottle and a picture of Olive from On the Buses by my side.

The chambermaid shakes me awake.

"Mr Geoff, where did it all go wrong?"

George Best Dies

Ok, I haven't seen it on telly yet, but I've got one thing to say.

If you don't feel sad, you don't like football.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mark E Smith Reads The Footbal Results - Part 2

Ah, so I get to see it, do I? Thanks to the wonders of broadband and Real Player.

I thought it was going to be another tribute to John Peel:
"Peel always wanted to hear Mark Smith read the football results. We thought this would be a fitting tribute to the great man," says a 47 year old man with a tear in his eye.

But I was wrong. It happened because the producer of the BBC's interactive Saturday afternoon football show is a Fall fan and the theme music of the show is, surprise surprise, by The Fall.

So, the great man (Smith, not Peel) reads the football results.

Of course, he is funnier in five minutes than a whole series of series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. 47 year old men have tears of laughter in their eyes, mixed with tears of sorrow as they're always reminded of Peel when they hear the voice of the great man (Smith, not Peel).

"Tottenham Hotspur Postponed, West Ham 1H"
"Milton Keynes", not Milton Keynes Dons.
"Bristol", not Bristol Rovers.

He's riffing.

But it's over so quickly, no Conference, no Scottish leagues. A little bit of chat where he insults Ray Stubbs' hair.

And then off for a few seconds of Mick McCarthy who is a rabbit in the headlights, wondering how Sunderland can walk the Championship, then a few months later playing the same kind of football, head back down towards it again.

Tottenham Hotspur Postponed.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mark E Smith reads the Football Results

Highlight of the week and we missed it. Happily asleep, recording Final Score, not realising you could only view it live by pressing the Sky red button...

Oh well, there's always the guardian's list of "the top 250 humorists in the British Isles" to read. By "top" I presume they mean "best paid", as I can't see any of my fellow bloggers in this list.

The idea of the list is to create a humour map of Britain, based on where the boys and girls were born and brought up. Funnily enough, London is the funniest place with 57 out of the 250 jokers. Who says the Media is up its own arse?

The two nearest comedians to me are Linda Smith and Mark Steel. Not surprising as they both have the same strange faux working-class accent. The problem is, nobody else around here speaks like that. NOBODY.

Friday, November 18, 2005

UK Music Hall of Fame

Given an ego-boosting introduction by ex-punk Sir Bob Geldof and eulogised by ex-punks Sting and Tony Blair, Eurythmics claim their rightful place and are incarcerated in the Hall of Mirrors.

"Dave and I have a passion for music and a shared insanity. And I think we all know what that means", says Annie, and I'm not one to disagree.

The tragically blind duo then play Don't Mess with the Michelin Man, their vicious satire on Corporate France.

The Mirror cracks.

Geoff's Thumb Rating: Very poor toilet tissue.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Take That - For The Record

I think Betty's going to do a post on this so I won't say anything apart from...

Gary Barlow's songwriting ability knocks spots off Guy flaming Chambers'. How many more times in my life will I have to listen to bleeding Angels?

I'm off work for a few days and my time off neatly coincides with us getting a new boiler put in. A chance to watch a bit of telly and do a bit of reading and blogging.

Off to the library this morning to take back the Wyndham recommended The Midwich Cuckoos. Very enjoyable it was, too. I've now started reading Michel Houllebecq who seems a nasty little man and should be right up my street.

So, back from the town centre and its gallapagan coffee drinkers and its Woolworths playing I Want to Break Free on a crackly sound system to miserable shoppers on the cold pedestrianised street, I decide to have a nose into my stats. Just what sort of people are reading my blogs?

Draw your own conclusions from the following search words:-

1. geoff love westerns.
2. england poland 1973 commentator.
3. geoff the.
4. hans link.
5. dog fouling.
6. gilbert harding.
7. jimmy savile.
8. sir geoff the badger.
9. never mind the buzzcocks dressed as a woman.
10. gay shag fest.
11. nasty watches with naked women on it.
12. naked girls crapping.
13. oldest woman fucking.

The last one is my favourite as I was only number 38 on the search list, beaten to number 31 by what I would have thought was the far more apt 'fat grannies mature anal - grannies sucking cock'.

But then I see the excerpts from my blog and all is clear:

'Geoff's Dream Blog...laughs in a high pitched screech at the least fucking thing. The man on my right reeks of...a barley field eating garibaldis with the oldest woman I've ever seen'.

I really am a filthy old bastard, aren't I?

Geoff's Thumb Rating: Plenty of soap and water.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

G8: Can You Hear Us?

We all want to make poverty history, don't we?


We don't want to pay for it, do we?

Fuck, no!

How are we going to do it?

Wear a little white wristband!

Or we could...

1. Be a clown, be a clown. Be an anarchist clown.

2. Ride our bikes and eat fair trade chocolate and bananas.

3. Hawk our communist newspaper to the ignorant masses.

What a ridiculous distortion of the truth. Where are the ordinary people? The people who watched Live Aid with tears of joy and sorrow? Where are Sir Bob's Caring Army? The three car families, the Queen fans, the inheritance tax taxpayers?

Come on! Let's be 'avin' you!

Geoff's Thumb Rating: Thumb up the arse of Capitalism.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Girls and Boys: Sex and British Pop - Wannabe

Aah, the nineties. The decade of people power. When anybody who pleased the eye of the British public could become a star. Sexy Take That. Sexy Spicy Girls. Nice faces, nice bodies. Except perhaps for Gary Barlow, but one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl.

Of course it all started with Ecstasy and raving rock musicians driving round and round the M25 until they saw a field with a couple of cows who looked like they needed a bit of company. The Criminal Justice Bill in 1994 sorted out all that nonsense.

Ecstasy made everybody who took it 'loved up'. Best men would hand it out at weddings. Pall bearers at funerals. I remember being so loved up at the council tip that I rolled on the ground with a dirty old vacuum cleaner.

Then Brit Pop came along to put the mockers on things. Androgynous leather jacket, Brett Anderson started it all. "The initial vision for Brit Pop that Suede had was akin to a Mike Leigh film," he says in his eloquent Hayward's Heath drawl. "And I think it was hijacked by various crap bands who turned it into a Carry On film." If anybody could explain any of that to me, I would be most grateful.

And Brit Poop begat Blair. Brett's old girlfriend, Justine Frischman says "Whatever you think about Blair, I like the fact that he'd been a bass player in a punk band. He had a genuine interest in music."

Sorry, Justine. Margaret Thatcher's favourite song is Telstar which trumps Blair's dodgy taste in crap hairy seventies rock far too easily. Cool Brittania? The man couldn't even out-cool a 150 year old woman.

Finally, the decade ends with Robbie and Kylie. Sex and pop has come a full circle. And I'm worn out just thinking about it.

How about driving and pop, next?


Geoff's Thumb Rating: Up for unmentioned Dance, Down for BritPop.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Later with Jools - Bettye Lavette

I'm warming to Jools. He seems to have stopped playing his boogie woogie piano which always added a little too much to his guests' performances. And even better, Jools' heavy handed big band haven't yet made an appearance in this series. And now we've stopped watching it as it is broadcast, we can fast forward through all the crap and pick out the artists we really want to see.

The series hasn't been bad so far. Arctic Monkeys, Editors, and this week's must-see Sigur Ros who must have felt like babies amongst all the pensioners on the show.

Then, of course, there's always the chance we might find something we've never heard before which makes us go out and spend some money.

Jools' pensioners are usually past their best if they ever had a best to begin with (e.g. Weller and Santana this week). But Bettye Lavette is something else. She is bloody good now at nearly 60. Just imagine what she was like 30 odd years ago. She is raw. And you can't beat raw.

So when this album is released tomorrow in Britain I can add it to my collection alongside Bettye Swann.

I know of only two Bettyes. And they're both absolute stars.

Geoff's Thumb Rating: Up for Bettye, Up for Sigur Ros, Up for Sky Plus.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Please Enter Your PIN

I have a problem with Sky+. Now, you cannot playback a programme before the watershed if it was recorded after the watershed, without entering your PIN number.

I can't remember my PIN number so I phone my seven year old who is at some party or other at his nan's.

"You really are a forgetful old fucker," he says. "How many fucking times do I have to tell you, the numbers are the same as my fucking birthday: 1011."

"Oh, Christ. Happy birthday, son," I say.

"It's a bit fucking late now," he says.

Geoff's Thumb Rating: Thumb down.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Wonderful World of Dogs

1990 quirky (silly) Australian documentary. Actually more about the owners of/people who come in contact with the dogs than the dogs themselves.

We have:-

A man who lets his dog roam by itself during the day, annoying the locals.

A woman who spends all her waking hours thinking of ways to stop dogs fouling the strip of grass outside her front gate.

A woman who can't get over the death of her dog, the dog who said goodbye to each and every one of his human family as they lay in bed on the night he went to sleep forever.

The woman who showers with her dog. As she towels herself down, she asks him to shake.

Geoff's Thumb Rating: Horizontal

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Girls and Boys: Sex and British Pop - Tainted Love

In the early eighties, I had a gentlemen's bet with a friend as to who would be the more successful of two fledgling pop bands: ABC or Haircut 100. I nailed my colours to the jumpers round the shoulders wearing boys from Beckenham. He championed the slim Sheffield lads in their cycling chic. Who won? We didn't really know and we didn't really mind. They both made good pop records and that was all that counted.

And there was a lot of good pop in the eighties. The Human League's Dare should have been the biggest pop album in history. It should have appealed to everybody. It didn't. What's wrong with people?

But the eighties were blighted. Alice Nutter of Chumbawamba blames Thatcher and materialism. She says WHAM's Club Tropicana is typical of those greedy times. It would be no use arguing with her and saying that George Michael is one of the good guys and that the song was taking the piss out of a certain lifestyle. Because Alice knows her mind. Anyway, who the blazes is Alice?

Midge Ure says, "It wasn't just the guys on tv or on stage who were making money. Everybody seemed to be doing quite well." Stick to feeding the world, Midge.

But away with politics, what about the sex? Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran says, "We thought we were going to get an art school audience. Suddenly all these girls were screaming at us." Of course, they were. They'd rather hear themselves screaming than have to listen to Duran Duran. But enough about Duran Duran. What about the sex?

The Blitz Club

The New Romantics had lots of sex. Boys and girls, boys and boys, girls and girls. Naughty Steve Strange would tease the delicious young hetero Martin Kemp. Boy George would rather have sex with his drummer than a cup of tea. Oh, the glamour! The make up! The nookie! All to the soundtrack of ridiculous white funk band, Spandau Ballet.


Even more sex, except this time the participants are all men. Shocking, I know. And the music is hi-energy, not British pop. Which must have been a blessing.

The Suburban Nite Club

Not mentioned on the programme but massively popular. Oops Upside your Head, the song which inspired a million long trains of simple people sitting on the floor and swaying from side to side in an idiot longboat. Plenty of dancing to Luther Vandross and Alexander O'Neal. And the climax of the night, the erection section (the slowies) where a male and a female get it on to the sound of Fat Larry's Zoom. No "Do you come here, often?" I'm afraid.

The Indie Nightclub

The only indie person mentioned on the programme is Morrissey. He's seen as an outlet for frustrated young outsiders. But we couldn't get our rocks off to Morrissey, of course. We had to try the indie nightclub where people stalk around the room to The Cure's Love Cats, pretending to be cats, pretending not to take themselves too seriously, pretending that members of the opposite sex aren't in the room, wishing there was a band onstage to take them away from the brutal fact that nobody's ever going to find them attractive.

But sex and British pop would never be the same after the eighties. For a spectre loomed and it stopped sex in its tracks. A spectre that haunts me even to this day when my mind drifts during quiet moments, day or night. I have to keep myself busy or the terrifying memories come flooding back...


Friday, November 04, 2005

Question Time - David Davis v David Cameron

Possibly good news for us sufferers of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

My mother says, "There was an article in the Mail about that thing you've got".

The article is retrieved from the recycling box, and it's all hail the Mail!

The Plicator is a clamp which squeezes stomach tissue together to make a tighter valve, preventing the contents of one's stomach from lurching up into one's oesophagus. The device is a new alternative to surgery which has always been a last resort. David Blunkett had the operation a couple of years ago.

Millions of us throughout the developed world could be freed from reliance on expensive acid suppressant drugs which are limited in their effectiveness as they only stop our poor little gullets from being damaged by our nasty old stomach acid. They do not stop the feeling of regurgitated discomfort that's a way of life for us poor old sods.

But now, who knows? In a few years' time, I may be able to lie flat on the ground and stare at the clouds without a horrible feeling rising up towards my throat, the sort of feeling I may have got if I'd watched this television programme.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Girls and Boys: Sex and British Pop - Oh You Pretty Things

From David Bowie on his knees, licking Mick Ronson's guitar, to David Bowie's Swinging Boys, this was David Bowie's decade. It was a decade when a hell of a lot of music got made, the most musically diverse decade in pop history. And it was a decade of sexual experimentation...Excuse me?

Ok, pop stars were shagging left right and centre, as they've always done, but what about the music fans? Tell us about the music fans, Geoff.

Well, I can only speak for myself...

Prog rock is anti-sex. The grammar school boys who didn't get any. The bands too ugly to write about it, apparently. Poor Rick Wakeman had to write about King Arthur for God's sake. And Rick Wakeman performing King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table Thankfully Not On Ice was my first gig.......No sex.

Five years of gig-going. Seeing prog rock bands, heavy rock bands, pub rock bands, new wave bands.......All with no sex.

Heavy rock discos...No sex. Just one big-legged pissed up woman reeking of patchouli oil freaking out to Hawkwind surrounded by a bunch of complete and utter useless specimens of young manhood. And me.

So, no sex when I was accompanied by my male friends. Would I have any luck by myself?

A rock disco deejayed by Little Nicky Horne. A Norwegian sailor starts talking to me and suggests we approach the two free women in the place. They want to dance to Smoke on the Water. How the fuck? How the fuck do you dance to Smoke on the Water? Without an air guitar. I jump aroud a bit, make my excuses and get the last bus.......No sex.

The Seventies. Sex and British Pop. This is a strange programme. Made especially strange by the talking heads' lips not synching with the sound. You can't cram seventies pop into one hour. There's a whole series to be made. But we get:-

Marc Almond who's learned his lines since his accident. Apparently when Bowie put his arm round Ronson's shoulders on TOTP it was a liberating moment. Christ Marc, how many times have we heard that one before?

There's the Led Zep orgies...wheel on Pamela Des Barnes and Cynthia PlastercasterFasterFaster once again who are into their second decade of lying down.

There's the young girls' idols, David Essex and the Rollers. Girls screaming as they did during Beatlemania.

There's sexless old prog.

And then, blasting everybody out of the water, there's that revolutionary women's movement: Punk. Young women dress up in bondage gear, empowering themselves in the process. Toyah Wilcox sees a naked boy for the first time on the set of Jubilee! She blushes. Captain Sensible gets laid!

But wait. Gary Kemp says punk is not a working class movement. Soul boys is where its at. Ooh, but aren't there so many tribes? And dear old Robert Elms has been a member of each and every one of them. He goes where cool takes him. From skinheed moonstomping all the way to gay discos "because that was where all the best dancing and the best music was". You cool dude, Elmsy.

Hmm...Disco music? Soul music? Aren't they American? Aren't we getting a bit off track here? Shouldn't this be about British music? And sex? Toyah, Kemp, Hadley, Elms? Is it possible to get any more sex less?

Thank Christ Bowie's back at the end, in his make up, still swinging after all these years.

You've still got it, David.

You naughty boy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Never Mind the Buzzcocks

Did any of you four see Never Mind the Buzzcocks? What? No? You missed a CLASSIC.

God, it was funny.

Lamaar was so bitingly caustic, possibly more so than usual. I don't know how he gets away with the things he says.

Jupitus! What a wit! The guy thinks on his feet.

Bailey? The guy is 100% looney tunes. I don't know where he gets his ideas from, but they're not of this planet.

Holly Willoughby? What a babe! I phoned my grandad straight after the show. "What a babe," he said. And my grandad doesn't say that about every young woman. He's been dead 30 years.

So you four didn't see it? Busy blogging, were you?


Monday, October 31, 2005

The Missouri Breaks (1976)

So Heimat's over, we dry our tears and try to get on with our lives.

We've got a backlog. And to celebrate our clock going back, we put the extra hour to good use and watch a Western. I love a good Western, and this is a good Western.

It has Jack Nicholson doing a Jack Nicholson so much more convincingly than Christian Slater does. Jack's the leader of the gang, he is, he is. He looks like a horse thief and he is, too. Real rugged, like. And there's his sidekick, Wild Billy Childish, played by Harry Dean Stanton.

The local rancher has hired regulator Marlon Brando to make sure no more of his stock of horses git stolled. So Marlon is the murderous nutter with right on his side. There's Method in his madness as he hunts down the horse thieves. Like all good Westerns, there's revenge, revenge, a bit of love, more revenge, and more revenge. And in the end, Jack's the last man standing.

Unusually for a Western, we're taken over the border to Canada where Harry Dean Childish and his fellow rustlers rustle up a heck of a lot of Mounties' horses while the hunky chaps are singing their Sunday hymns in church. The Mounties are so God fearing that they leave their stock of horses completely unguarded.

Sadly, several horses were injured in the making of this film, and one drowned. And one hare either died or was a bloody good actor.

But as any huntsman knows, you can't make a cheese omelette without grating some cheese. Can you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Heimat 3 - 6/6: Goodbye to Schabbach 1999 - 2000

Slade say goodbye to Jane. I say goodbye to Schabbach.

The turn of the century. An anticlimax. Where once we thought it would be Prince, it ends up Robbie Williams. The excitement of everybody's got a bomb, we could all die, we might as well just becomes a shit Bond theme pastiche.

1999 is also the year of the solar eclipse. Another anticlimax. In London it's "Wow, it's really dark". Wow.

In Germany, though it's a different matter. Thousands of people flock the streets of Munich to watch the eclipse. And here's blond Gunnar, squinting into the sun, on his way to prison to serve a six month sentence for drunk driving.

Remember Gunnar? The man who lost his blonde family to a man who is rich and has nose bleeds? Well, Gunnar thinks fondly of the days when he first left East Germany for the West to help build Hermann and Clarissa's house. And since he's made a fortune on the stock market, he now wants to celebrate the millennium by paying for a massive party at the house in Schabbach. There's just the little matter of his jail sentence to negotiate. Otherwise he won't make the party.

Gunnar turns up at his estranged family's home. And while the other adults are out, after three bottles of wine, wearing only his red y-fronts, he bonds with his two daughters. But the next morning, the condemned man has to leave. And off he goes to jail to share a cell with a neo-nazi fitness fanatic. Gunnar reads Harry Potter and plans the reunion party. The neo-nazi does press-ups.

So poor Gunnar pays for the party, and of course he doesn't get let out of jail early for good behaviour.

The party itself is not one I'd wish to attend. The electronics/computer whizz plays his saxophone? clarinet? Can't remember, but it isn't very good. Clarissa, now healthy, sings "Maybe This Time". She puts her all into it. I wish she wouldn't. A man dressed as a woman turns up with other men dressed as women and says, "It can't be a surprise, you must have all known how I was". I don't know who he is let alone how he was. Hermann and Clarissa go for a romantic walk. She tells him her plan for the future is to "stay healthy".

Someone who isn't staying healthy is an old friend of Lulu's who has Aids. Of course, he is gay. The first gay character in 85 years of Heimat. Lulu visits him on New Year's Eve and tells him she doesn't love the man she is planning to spend her life with.

And all is quiet on New Year's Day. Bono is presumably asleep. And Lulu enters her father's house. The party-goers are asleep. Her young, precociously talented son is playing the piano. And Lulu is sad. She is sad for her dying friend, she is sad for herself, she is sad for her son. Her son has Simon blood and you can be assured that he will live a very affluent, mostly happy life. The tears roll down Lulu's face. They roll down mine, too.

The tears roll down Lulu's face as she looks out of the window. The screen, slowly but surely, turns blue. Lichtblau. Is the telly on the blink?

No, this is Heimat.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Girls and Boys: Sex & British Pop - Love Me Do (The Sixties)

First of all, I feel I should apologise for my last post. It wasn't big and it wasn't clever.

Of course we've got a lot to thank Nelson and Jools for. If it wasn't for Nelson, I'd be eating snails stuffed with frogs' legs in a creamy white wine sauce and I wouldn't have washed my armpits since last Christmas. If it wasn't for Jools, Beverley Knight and Sam Brown would be on the breadline and Tom Jones would be in a home.

So Trafalgar 200 and its finale of Brittania ruling the waves and three cheers for Nelson and his column (about time he got himself a blog), neatly flows into sixties sex and pop.

Of course, they wheel out the obligatory Philip fucking Larkin poem, this time the one about sexual intercourse starting in the sixties, not the fucking one about your mum and dad fucking you up which was in the fucking Darcus Howe documentary last week.

Sex all starts with the sexual explosion that is Elvis. Bill Haley is too pug ugly to get Cilla Black's juices going, but Elvis? What a man!

So "young aspiring Elvises roamed the coffee bars of London" like sexed up zombies . And here is Larry "Mr" Parnes "Shillings and Pence" taking the best looking ones under his wing: Billy Fury. Joe Brown!

And from now on, the sixties is one big shag fest. For musicians and their groupies, that is. The same old stories are regurgitated. Marianne Faithfull and her fictional Mars Bar. Super Groupie, Pamela Des Barnes. The woman who still polishes her plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix's cock. The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals, Cynthia, Yoko, Rosie Boycott, blah blah blah. Dusty is a lesbian, shock horror. Drugzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Cream with Eric Clapton. A nice cup of tea with Eric Burdon. The pill revolutionizzzezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..............sorry, did I fall asleep there?

Best footage is of a 17 year old David Jones (now Bowie) who is self proclaimed chairman of The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long Haired Men. Apparently, the cruelty involves members of the public taunting the long-haired men with the word "Darling" and the question "Can I carry your handbag?"

"It just has to stop," says David.

Bring back National Service, I say.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Very British Olympics

1948 London.

It is a very British Olympics, probably because it is done on the cheap. Athletes stay in PoW camps. PoWs help with building the infrastructure.

It is the first Olympics since the 1936 Berlin Games. 1940 and 1944 were cancelled, politics once again interfering in sport.

An innovation of the Adolf Hitler Games was the transportation by foot of the Olympic Torch from Greece to the city where the fun takes place. In 1948 London, the Olympic authorities are keen to continue this new tradition. And the man who carries the flame into the arena would not have looked out of place twelve years previously. He is tall, blond, gorgeous, with a very upright gait. He is chosen in preference to a skinny, balding, bespectacled little man who happens to be the best British male middle-distance runner of his generation.

The Games themselves are a success. The USA wins most medals and Sweden come second!Great Britain are the first hosts to finish outside the top ten. And the USSR snub the whole event.

The US male swimming team are a curiosity. One of their members has an elephantine member, himself. The other members of the team club together to hire him a prostitute on the prerequisite that they watch the action. The sensible lady refuses to accept such a large package. And probably such a large audience.

Which leaves me wondering. If I had a overly-endowed friend would I want to watch him in flagrante? Or would I hope that he wore a generously cut trouser, and when I went for a piss he wouldn't say, "I'm bursting meself, Geoff"?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Face to Face - Gilbert Harding

Gilbert Harding, Chairman of the Brains Trust, Quizmaster of the Round Britain Quiz, and outspoken What's My Line interviewed/psychoanalysed by John Freeman.

It is 1960.

"Alcoholic, homosexual, and irascible, Gilbert Harding became a household favourite...", begins the introduction.

A housewife in a grocery store in Dartford picks up a packet of Stork margarine and says to her friend, "I do like that Gilbert Harding. He's so irascible."

"I've heard he's an alcoholic and a homosexual," says her friend.

"Yes, so have I. Isn't it wonderful?"

Monday, October 17, 2005

Heimat 3: 5 of 6 - The Heirs

The Hairs? How they get Hermann's hair to go grey/blue and now recede? How they get Clarissa's hair to get more luxuriant, then fall out, then grow back?

No, the heirs. And Clarissa's having chemotherapy. I've always thought she's needed some kind of therapy but this is going a bit too far.

It's 1997. And it's Ernst's turn to die. Yes, they're coming thick and fast now.

Oh, but you've got to laugh. Ernst is feeling broody. Not that he wants a baby, he wants a fully grown heir. (Unlike that on top of his head). And he looks at teenage Matko, the son of his Yugoslav ex-housekeeper who is now living it up in Bosnia. Ernst thinks Matko's a great kid. Matko rides a scooter, he tries to flirt with a grown woman, he wants to be a pilot just like Ernst, he nurses an injured pigeon back to full health. Matko's an annoying twat. But Ernst likes him. He'd love to have a son just like him.

So Ernst goes to a private detective who specialises in finding the offspring of men who have spread their seed all over Eastern Europe. Ernst hands the dick a photo album of smiling young women. The dick flies away. He'll be back.

In the meantime, Ernst is really hoping the Schabbach authorities will authorise the building of the Ernst Simon Museum. Ernst wants to be the big "I am" and take his works of art from out of his batcave and into the public arena. The council say "no". And Ernst kind of flies aimlessly over the Rhine in his new Cessna light aircraft, the plane loses a bit of power, and Ernst flies into the side of a cliff. Boom.

The dick comes back from Bosnia, claiming that Matko is Ernst's heir. Matko, a simple soul, is more interested in his ailing pigeon. He gets called names at school and stones are thrown through his bedroom window. His pigeon dies. He is dragged for a blood test, runs away, and jumps off a cliff. He really is not made of stern stuff.

Oh God, what else happens?

Clarissa comes back home after her therapy. Her singing hasn't improved.
Hermann's smirking.
Lulu is big friends with Hermann and Clarissa and seemingly in charge of all building work in the Rhineland.
Hartmut has lost everything: His business and the unexplained disappearance of the Russian woman.

And the twist at the end?

The blood test proves that Matko is not Ernst's son.

One more to go, and I don't know about you but I'll be glad when it's over.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Searle's Progress (A Profile of Cartoonist Ronald Searle)

If you'd have asked me last week, these three things I thought would never happen to me:-

1. I never thought I'd like the flipping Bee Gees, but this week I've been luxuriating in their baroque pop.

2. I never thought I'd see a man reading a Tony Parsons novel but this morning, there he was, sitting next to me on the train, bold as brass.

3. I thought I was too old to discover new heroes. No, not Tony Parsons...

Ronald Searle.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Match of the Day - England v Poland

Whenever we play Poland, the commentator without fail mentions 1973. In 1973, England needed to beat Poland at Wembley to qualify for the 1974 World Cup Finals. Before the match, Brian Clough had called the Polish goalkeeper, Jan Tomaszewski, a clown. Of course, Jan went on to play a blinder, the score ended up 1-1, and England were out.

Tonight, we get our revenge...Again.

Every match for England is revenge for something. And every time we've played Poland since 1973 its been revenge for that fateful night. In 1974 and 1982, Poland came third in the World Cup. Which suggests that they may have been a better team than England in both those campaigns. Don't you just love the word "campaign"?

But just as the Germans' most important match of 1990 was the World Cup Final (not the Gazza tears semi against England), I wouldn't have thought the Poles quite remember 1973 as vividly as 1974.

Except of course for Jan Tomaszewski. The clown. Who is here tonight at Old Trafford. Old and bald. And not smiling. Not entertaining children. Not wearing big shoes. No face paint. Not squirting water from a plastic flower into Bobby Charlton's face. But sad, yes. Ah, the tears of a clown when there's no-one around. Just wait till he's back in his hotel room. With nothing but memories of how he kept at bay the English with their flair and their hair and their blood sweating for their country. Nothing but memories of that night. Nothing.

John Motson reminds us of 1973 and the clown.

"The older generation amongst you might remember..."

I remember, alright. Make us a cup of tea, love. I think I'd better give up this bowls lark, soon. My back's killing me. Is it me or is it cold in here?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Very Social Secretary

I suppose I laughed a couple of times. 3 out of 10.

Not tragic enough to be a tragedy.

Not comic enough to be a comedy.

Blunkett's personal life?

Couldn't care less.

Noo Labor? Christian Democrats doing what's "right"?

So? What do you want me to do about it?

There wasn't enough of the dog in it.

I liked the dog.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Heimat 3 : 4 of 6 - Everyone is Doing Well

1995. After 13 years without a girlfriend, I meet the woman I want to be with for the rest of my life. Amazingly, the feeling is reciprocated.

Please don't throw up.

In 1995, blue-grey haired Hermann and black-haired Clarissa are still not really together. He's a rich stay at home failure. She's a rich success, travelling the world, performing to people with shit in their ears. She comes home, he greets her with sunflowers, she says she's off for another 8 months, touring with her fucking awful classical/free jazz ensemble. And of course she has a lover, a weighty, arty so-called jazz singer.

So off she goes on tour, and Hermann is left trapped in the Hunsruck nest. He steps into an animal trap. On his return from hospital, there is a robin in the house. Yes, free-spirited Hermann, a man whose instinct it is to always run away, is like a trapped bird.

But what of the other Simons?

Ernst continues to live the solitary life. His art collection is sealed in vaults in Batman's cave but he has plans to open a gallery in his grounds.

Anton watches his semi-pro football team, FC Schabbach, win another trophy. He has a heart attack and dies at last at the age of 70.

Hartmut, his conscience seemingly clear after killing Lulu's boyfriend, is still with his young Russian woman. He is waiting for his divorce to go through, and he is suing his father over the future of Simon Optik. When Anton dies, Hartmut takes control of the company.

Lulu, ungrateful bitch, is living in a flat with her young child. She is a single mother as the father of the child was murdered by Hartmut. Hartmut gives Lulu money each month, but obviously not enough to free herself from a flat where she's surrounded by drug addicts and unfriendly neighbours. When Hermann visits her to inform her of her half-uncle's death, she says she has changed her name as "Lulu is a prostitute's name." Hermann, with typical self-loathing and consideration for others, walks away without talking to his daughter, and immediately goes to a brothel where he receives a hand-job for 200 marks. How does his mind work?

One last twist...

Hermann arrives home to find Clarissa's bags and then Clarissa crying her eyes out on the marital bed. Apparently she's sick...Oh dear.

And she may never sing again...


BBC Early Evening News - Nick Park

Aardman Animations' warehouse has burnt down. Its entire history has been destroyed.

Nick Park is pictured holding his best loved creations, Wallace and Gromit. All three faces have their usual expression.

The reporter says of Nick, "Characteristically, he's putting a brave face on things."

The spirit of Ronnie Barker lives on.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What's Going On: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

Marvin, in drugs hell in Hawaii, living in a bread van, is saved by an Englishman who brings him back to England to play in front of Princess Margaret.

It's 10.30, Margaret is tired and leaves the auditorium. The rest of the audience follow.

Marvin turns up, out of his head, sits at the piano, and sings to a cleaner.

He leaves England for Ostend, Belgium, where he boxes and plays darts.

What's going on?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Heimat 3: 3 of 6 - The Russians are Coming

1992. I'm a playwright! The fruits of my labours appear at the Mandela Theatre, London. The great man isn't there himself but he doesn't know what he's missing.

It's the last night. The Director is laughing like a drain, desperately trying to get the audience on our side. I'm sitting in the gods, cringing at the hackneyed lines. We all go to the pub afterwards. We have a plot, to leave the Director and his Play Factory. We're going to branch out by ourselves. My play has been a triumph and it's no thanks to the Director who has recently behaved like a spoilt child. We tell him our decision. The Director makes a dramatic exit. As he is about to leave the pub, he collapses on a table, drinks flying everywhere. He has put his all into my play and how do we treat him? With no respect. He made us what we are. He made me what I am...

If only I hadn't started that sketch. Just a sketch with two brothers and a girlfriend. And it all got blown out of proportion. And a play was developed by The Play Factory: The Director and his class of '91. And the play moved on, minute by minute, in the same stifling room. The words were all mine but I didn't know what the play was about, only that the TRUTH was important. And I didn't know what the TRUTH was. I only wanted to write a funny sketch. And the play was written and rewritten and rewritten until I'd used a tree's worth of paper. And we all laughed at the same lines over and over again.

And everbody clubbed together. They gave up their spare time to put on MY play. Backstagers, set designers, actors, REAL actors, and the Director. They all gave up their time. And was I grateful? No, I was confused. I didn't know what the TRUTH was.

"Geoff, love, you've got to find the truth."

I apologise to you all, especially to you, Mr Mandela, for letting you down.

Heimat 1992. "The Russians" are tens of thousands of people of German descent who are leaving the former Soviet Union in search of a homeland. Many of them arrive in the Hunsruck to move into flats which have been vacated by American military personnel. And not a few of the Russians are accompanied by Ernst. Yes, drat!...Ernst is back.

Ernst wasn't shot down by the Soviets. Booo! But he was captured and imprisoned. Hurray! But after two years, the USSR is no more and Ernst is free. Booooo!

And here he is, bringing men and women of good German stock back to their homeland, their Heimat. Ok, they were born in Kazakhstan, can't speak German, but they've got that German blood. And German blood is important to Ernst.

Ernst's first mission when he gets back is to track down Hairy. He finds him working with a nutty land-art artist, suspending cars and horses over a river. He can't convince old Hairy to continue where they left off, ripping off the East for real art, proper paintings. So Hairy stays with his hippy friends and Ernst goes back to his home alone with his tail between his legs.

The Russians are here. And don't you know there'll be tragic repurcussions.

For Anton employs a young Russian woman as domestic help. And Anton's 42 year old son, Hartmut, falls in love with her just as his 42 year old wife becomes pregnant. What a man. He even pays for the young woman's husband to have an operation to cure his dodgy shin. So magnanimous.

In the meantime, Hartmut has started a company in direct competition to his father's, with a little help from the increasingly hermit-like Ernst. A family at war, eh? Top hole!

So, fast forward to 1993. Hartmut's baby is born, is baptised Matthias Paul Anton after his great great grandfather, great grandfather, and grandfather (nice man, not so nice man, and not nice man) who we have seen through three series of Heimat. And Anton, by now in very poor health, signs a document in front of the whole family to bequeath all his worldly goods to the new baby when he reaches the age of eighteen, the baby being his only male grandchild 'n' all. A big "fuck you" to the rest of his family, except for the baby's mother who I reckon is shagging Anton anyway, as we see her giving him a foot massage for his fucking heart!

Cue, tragedy...

Clarissa develops tinnitus and buys some ginkgo biloba to cure it. She and Hermann perform a song together, the lyrics of which are the words on the information leaflet that comes with the pills.

NO. That's not tragedy. That's farce. I should know.

Cue, tragedy...

The young Russian woman leaves her husband and his sexist Russian family for Hartmut. They drive off into the night in his sports car, brrrrrrmmmm, happily in love. From another direction, heading towards Hermann's home, comes Hermann's only daughter, Lulu. She is in a taxi with her boyfriend and another male friend.

Of course, the two cars are on collision course. The taxi driver swerves to avoid the sports car, hits a tree head on, and Lulu's boyfriend is brown bread.

And it's all her cousin Hartmut's fault!

The twat!

What will Hermann say?

Will he ever grin again?

Bet you can't wait.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Top of the Pops - Jeremy Bowen

Yes, we still watch TOTP. Just in case we miss something good. It would be simply awful if a good single were to sit there at, waiting for us to come and get it, and us not turning up for the party.

One of the singles of the year is Daddy Yankee's Gasolina. It was on TOTP the day Jeremy Clarkson co-presented. And Jeremy hated it. Jeremy likes the Floyd (post-Syd, presumably), and The Who. He is a middle aged man who knows what he likes.

TOTP is now presented by Fearne Cotton and a middle aged man. The middle aged man changes every week. Fearne just ages.

This week's Jeremy is BBC News Correspondent, Jeremy Bowen. Perfectly pleasant. Listened to Peel as a teenager. Likes Teenage Kicks. Likes Squeeze. I'm sure he must like the obligatory Clash. Would be a perfect guest for Jools' Hootenanny. Maybe drinking a bottle of Becks on a table with Phil Cornwell. Maybe a few nuts. I don't know. You never see what they get to eat.

Like all Jeremys, Jeremy has always wanted to present TOTP. Ever since he was a little Jeremy.

Oh, and TOTP's executive producer is former children's tv presenter Andi 'the guv' Peters.

Someone, somewhere, is taking the piss.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Arena: No Direction Home - Pete Seeger's Dad

It is the Newport Folk Festival. 550,000 quiet, gentle men are crying at songs of social injustice sung by quiet, gentle men playing acoustic instruments with gentle amplification. Pete Seeger's dad turns up his hearing aid to its maximum volume so he can cry along.

Dylan comes onstage carrying an electric guitar. He is accompanied by more young men with electric instruments and a rock drummer. The band play fucking loud.

Pete Seeger's dad is getting distortion. He thinks capitalist aliens have landed and are taking over his mind. Dylan's voice sounds to him like Cadbury's Smash men imploring him to buy their capitalist reconstituted potato.

Gentle Pete turns into a raving avenger. He picks up the axe he uses for chopping his organic firewood and heads for the stage yelling, "I'm gonna cut the motherfucker's cables! Nobody's gonna brainwash my daddy!"

Of course there would've been a simpler solution. Pete's dad could've turned the volume of his hearing aid down to zero. And all those arseholes who later went to see Dylan knowing full well he was going to play rock music but just went along to boo him and call him a traitor when there were presumably real fans of Dylan who couldn't get tickets...

Well, I suppose they're all now in an old folkies' home, hearing aids turned up to 11, huddled round an old gramophone, crying tears of rage.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Arena: No Direction Home - Paul

Albert Grossman, the Colonel Tom Parker figure in Dylan's career, is described as a genius. He knew how to make money out of his singers. He also managed Peter Paul and Mary. He changed Paul's name to Paul from Noel.

That's genius. He sat down with Paul and convinced him to change his name from Paul to Noel, then back to Paul.

Heimat 3: Part 2 of 6 - The Champions

1990. Come on England! Love's got the world in motion! Waddle, Beardsley, Lineker, GAZZA!

Football genius Bobby Robson is persuaded by football genius Don Howe to play the sweeper system, utilising Mark Wright in a Beckenbauer role. And England are going to beat the world.

We are in a pub in Newcastle, watching a tiny screen half obscured by the reflection of a lightbulb. England are playing Cameroon and the geordies are singing "We've got the best keeper in the land", as 63 year old Shilts makes yet another cat-like save, banishing memories of that hand of God goal four years previously.

Then home for the semi against West Germany and penalties...Penalties against West Germany? Is there really any point in taking them?

So, 1990. West Germany win the World Cup. And Hermann and Clarissa invite friends and family to celebrate the completion of their nest high above the Rhine. High, high above the Rhine...our hearts did entwine, where she carved her name and I carved mine.

The house is completed months ahead of schedule, thanks to the sterling work of the hard-working boys from the East whose pay packet is a fortune to them but a bargain to Hermann and Clarissa.

And two of these boys is what this episode is about:-

1. The Blonde Builder - Hermann's rich, nose-bleeding manager has captured the blonde wife and daughters from the blonde builder of Leipzig, leaving the blonde builder understandably upset at the prospect of sharing celebrations with his family and the man who stole them. But when they turn up, he doesn't dress up as a superhero and climb up a pylon. He wears a West German football shirt and gets pissed. Which, of course, is how a real man should behave. He has a bit of a tantrum, gets in his VW and drives to Berlin where he begins to make his fortune by selling a million pieces of the Berlin Wall to Warner Brothers of The USA...Oh, how bitterly ironic.

2. The bearded, long-haired engineering genius who was responsible for the house being completed so quickly, is taken under the wing of Hermann's eccentric aviator brother, Ernst, who wishes to add to his rich collection of art by flying into the Soviet Bloc and ripping off the locals. On the way they take the piss out of an East German general, and the bearded long-haired draft-dodging engineering genius susses that the Russians might be informed that Ernst and Hairy will be flying over naughty areas during the USSR's World Cup match. And Ernst and Hairy may well be shot down. So Hairy buggers off back to Schabbach with a statue of Lenin and leaves Ernst to his flight to oblivion. Let's hope so, anyay.

Neither of these stories affect Hermann and Clarissa in the slightest as they're quite happy to have their house built at a bargain price and can't wait for their friends and family to piss off so they can continue with their lives of music and lots and lots of love on the brand new wooden floors and milking their newly acquired goat. And if Ernst goes missing? I doubt it would trouble Hermann that much. Because he's been asked by the broadcasting companies and the Music Council to write a reunification symphony. Which is only right because the bloke's a 24 carat musical messiah. Whaddya mean you haven't heard of him? HERMANN SIMON. Christ, I thought everbody had heard of HERMANN SIMON. The 50 year old who looks 25. With perfect grey hair. With a face you want to punch. Yes, that's the one.

And the football? Throughout the episode we see people watching the World Cup, some supporting West Germany with a passion, others not really caring very much.

And the semi-final? The big, big match (as Arsene Wenger might say). England? Gazza's tears? The tears of the world?.............................................

Not even mentioned.

Arena - No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

Please give me your precis,
Mr Scorsese.
All those talking heads
Just drive me to bed.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Newsnight Review

Someone's accessed my dream blog by searching for Michael Owen Penis. Not Michael Owen's penis, but Michael Owen Penis. Ok, I did a post about Michael Owen, but not about the Michael Owen Penis, one of a range of FA approved vibrators. The Michael Owen goes down in the box, the Wayne Rooney shoots on sight, the David Beckham curls in from the right, the John Terry comes up from the back...

No, I have never mentioned Michael Owen and Penis in the same breath. Michael is affectionately known to us as 'little shit', ever since Cup Final Day in...oh who cares? We were sitting in the back garden and we heard our neighbour who doesn't talk to us loudly exclaim "You little shit!" as he scored for Liverpool against Arsenal. How we laughed. And now, when he plays for England, he's our little shit.

My cold's getting worse. I'm coughing uo what look like small baby frogs. And I'm back to work on Monday so I'm in a bad mood. So there'll be less for you to read here and less of my embarrassing comments on your blogs.

I know I was going to write about Status Quo's visit to Coronation Street, and their meeting with Les Battersby. But I now see the meeting for what it really is, a double anniversary celebration. ITV are 50. The Quo are 60. The Quo were delisted by BBC's Radio 1. ITV didn't get where they are today by delisting The Quo. So they cock a snook at the BBC. And ask Corrie's writers to somehow fit The Quo in during all the Shelley/Charlie business. To lighten things up. Ha Ha. I still love you Corrie, but please don't bring any more real life 'celebrities' to the Street. You're better than that.

So, Newsnight Review. Our favourite Friday night half-pissed wine goggles programme. Pretentious, nous?

This week's is a music special. The Scorcese Dylan documentary (no, not the Magic Roundabout one), an atonal opera version of Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, an updated version of the musical Hair, transplanting hippies to 2005...

And Franz Ferdinand. Who do not belong on Newsnight Review. They are a Pop Group. Mark Lawson, Grayson Perry, Paul Morley do not like Pop Music. They like Dylan, Cohen, and Joy Division. Pop Music belongs on Channel 4's Popworld. Where nothing is taken seriously. Which is how it should be.

But we're watching this programme mainly to see the novelist Lionel Shriver, whose name has been mud in our house for the past week. In last Saturday's Guardian, she was feeling guilty. White, middle class women of European ancestry like her, women with gene pools to die for, have let down the future of the human race by living in the present and not giving birth to extremely intelligent, white middle class children of European ancestry.

I want to see this intellect, this genetic superwoman, at work. What does she say about Franz Ferdinand?

"If you had played that album for me in 1972, uh, I don't think that I would've said, oh, you know, wow, is that from the future? I mean, it it it would've fit right in, and I, it wouldn't have especially stood out, either. It sounds so, you know, it's got elements of The Clash, but not so iconoclastic, it's obviously got strains of the Beatles...I've heard it."

1972? The Beatles? The Clash?
The Beatles? The Clash?
The Beatles? The Clash?...Franz Ferdinand?

Lionel, Lionel, Lionel. Stick to your books, you iconoclast, you.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Coronation Street

I'm nearing the end of the second and final week of my holiday. I have a cold and a toothache. I've just been to the dentist for the second time this week. He's filed my teeth down again and prescribed me some antibiotics.

I always seem to store illnesses up for when I'm off work. I am a model employee. I don't see why my work should suffer just because I do. Isn't that a very 21st century attitude?

So I am waiting at the dentist's and the receptionist is explaining to someone on the telephone that the dentist who does NHS work only works on Wednesdays. And that he is not in again until a week next Wednesday. And that she finds that Nurofen Extra is the most effective painkiller.

And I feel gulity because I've been with my dentist for 38 years. And I'm NHS and he doesn't take NHS patients any more. 38 years? Christ, he must be 90. He looks about 55.

And I'm lying in the chair and he says, "Are you allergic to any tomatoes?"
"Sorry?" I say.
"Are you allergic to antibiotics?"

So, Coronation Street. In the slim chance that there's any Corrie fans from Canada reading this, don't worry, I'm not going to give away any big storylines, the big serious things that matter. Besides, Corrie isn't about the big serious plotlines, no matter what TV Choice, TV Quick, TV Now!, TV Yeah!, TV Cor!, TV Wow!, TV Great!, TV Uh? say. Corrie's about the little things that make it the best comedy on the telly.

Little things like Kirk's photograph of Jimmy Savile jogging in the Red Rec. Except it's only Kirk who thinks it's Jimmy Savile. Because to anyone who's frequented the £1 shop in the precinct, it's clearly a photograph of the woman who works in the £1 shop in the precinct. But Kirk is convinced it's Jimmy Savile. In a police line-up including Jimmy Savile and the woman who works in the £1 shop in the precinct, Kirk would point to Jimmy Savile and say, "It's him". And of course it would be him: Jimmy Savile.

I know this post isn't going to get any comments. If I was to write about Star Wars or Doctor Who, however...
Who was the best Who? Who indeed? Maybe we should look in Who's Who? Who do you think? Come on, bloggers, who the fuck do we think was the best Who? Who who who to wit to who? Come on, bloggers. Bring it on!

This post is not about last night's Corrie, however. It's about tomorrow's. And it will be concluded on Saturday. Why tomorrow? Because tomorrow The Mighty Quo visit The Street.

The Quo are Les Battersby's favourite band. They were the favourite band of the hardest kids in my school who lightly bullied me for a short time in my early teens. But my school wasn't hard and the hardest kids in my school weren't hard. So I had it pretty easy, really.

A few years ago The Quo were banned from Radio 1 for being too old. That was when Britpop was at its height and the future looked bright for bright young shit-hot bands like Sleeper and Menswear.

But The Quo had the last laugh. Britpop keeps going but the bands are ten a penny. None of these young bucks will last as long as The Quo.

60 years! 60 years at the top! And to celebrate, last week they played their latest single on Top of the Pops, something about them still rocking after 60 years. And tomorrow, they meet their most famous fan. Les Battersby, Coronation Street's resident working class oik.

Will Francis and Rick enjoy a pint in The Rover's? Will they enjoy a line of coke with Steve and Dev in the bogs?

When two institutions clash, anything could happen. And probably won't.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Heimat 3 - Part 1 of 6: The Happiest People in the World

Barely two weeks after I came off my bike after the longest journey of my life, I'm back on it. Hallelujah! It's Heimat 3. And only six episodes? Booooooooooo!

It's 1989. 1989? A full nineteen years since Hermann left Clarrisa again and went home to his mummy. What's happened in the intervening years?

Well, basically he's junked all that electronic music nonsense and become a famous conductor travelling from city to city. And his hair has aged. He now has distinguished grey 49 year old hair. On the head of a 25 year old.

So Hermann is alone in yet another city: Berlin, on the day the wall begins to fall. He goes into his hotel bar to watch events unfold on tv. And who should be in the same bar watching the same telly? Fuck me if it isn't Clarissa!

She's wearing more make-up, has bigger, presumably dyed (i.e. undyed) hair, and is now a famous singer travelling from city to city.

And absence makes the heart grow fonder. Neither are in relationships (not that that stopped them before) and they immediately go to bed:
Hermann: I've just conducted Schubert'.
Clarissa: 'I've just sung Schubert'.
So they have a Schubert dip.

They decide to spend the rest of their lives together. And buy a house in the Hunsruck together. And live happily ever after.

Well, this is the plan but I'm sure Hermann will run away at some point because that's what he does, useless human being that he is.

So it's back to Schabbach for Hermann and reconciliation with his half-brothers, the wild-card eccentric aviator Ernst, and evil bastard owner of optical instrument multinational Simon Optiks, Anton. Hermann can feel Anton sucking him back into the bosom of his family immediately.

But bollocks to the brothers, they're from the first series. We're dealing with artists now. And Hermann and Clarissa are busy little bees. They've spent too long on the road. They need a nest to be themselves and shag on the floor.

And Clarissa has in mind a desolate old haunted ruin of a building on a precipice overlooking the Rhine, inside the military security zone of an American nuclear missile base. And they buy the house. And Clarissa meets some out of work stage hands in Leipzig. And she brings them to the West to rebuild the house at a rate of 10 West German marks per hour. Which is worth 120 East German marks. And the stage hands' families come over from Leipzip at Christmas. They all go off to the Alps for a break. And one of the poor stage hands' wives falls in love with Hermann's rich, nose-bleeding personal assistant.

Oh, Christ. Here we go again.


A sketch show showcasing bright new talent.
Grotesque, perverse women with a Kings of Leon soundtrack.
Homophobic black/black wannabe youth, a necrophiliac police pathologist, a bare-arsed middle-aged middle-classed embroidery circle, a mad East European cleaner, a mad East European plastic surgery victim.

BBC3, eh? Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Fucking Crisps. Little Fucking Britain.

Fuck off the lot of you. YOU'RE NOT FUNNY.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The White Diamond

Virgin Money are offering me another great investment opportunity. Apparently, because I've invested with them in the past, I know a sweet deal when it falls in my lap. Apparently, heads I win, tails I get my money back. Apparently, I can invest from as little as £3,000 to a COOL £1 million.

Now, a million pounds might be cool to Richard Branson, but to me, an Equitable Life investor, a lump sum ISA investor at the peak of the stock market, who would not know a sweet deal if it dropped in my lap and a bear began licking my genitals, a million quid looks like crazy money. But I suppose Richard thinks its cool to be rich because he wants to be seen as being cool. When in fact he's about as cool as Jeremy Clarkson. Or Tony Blair.

But having crazy money does make some people crazy. Hence Richard's space balloon adventures. He might say it's fun. I might say it's a rich man with a death wish.

He would do better to give a substantial amount of money to the subject of this Werner Herzog documentary. Graham Dorrington does aeronautical research at London University. And he aims to build an airship which will float above the tops of jungle trees where he believes lie the answer to many of mankind's ills. And who's to say he's not right?

The film is not about the tops of trees in the Guyanan jungle, though. It is about a man who believes he is responsible for the death of a German cinematographer in 1994. Because he let him fly alone, above the tops of the trees of the Indonesian jungle. He let him land in a tree. He let a storm come and dislodge his airship. He let him fall to his death with a terrible thud. He let him lose an eye but not his consciousness. And he let him die whilst Graham and his assistants carried him across dangerous terrain.

Of course Graham isn't responsible. Just as he isn't responsible for the welfare of Werner Herzog who demands to join Graham on the maiden flight of his new airship. They land safely even though the main engine pulls them backwards.

Graham feels responsible and he somehow wants to make it right. He wants to create the perfect gentle, safe flight. He wants his flying machine to float above the trees in silence. I'm not sure that he wants to come back to earth.

The documentary is also the story of another gentle man. Mark Anthony Yhap is a local man who has been hired to help out with the mission. His family have all left Guyana and his best friend is a cockerel named Red. Mark Anthony would like to fly away, too. To Malaga to see his mother. And he's hoping his mother will see this film and invite him over. He hasn't heard from his mother in years. He gets a ride in the airship but he ends up where he started.

If I was a man who is comfortable with hugging I would want to hug both men and tell them everything's going to be alright.

But I'm not that type of guy.

So I tear Virgin Money's letter into pieces.

And wait for the next investment opportunity.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Top of the Pops

Last night in our old people's home,
Doped up to sleep, no longer to roam
From bed to bog on our zimmer frames,
Or playing life-lengthening cognitive games,
We dreamt of James Blunt and his smug, gormless smile
And his best-selling album, so terminally vile.
The nasty young man so incredibly hyped,
That his number one album was constantly piped.
So that we wished for a quick, painless death,
Or maybe transferred to a home for the deaf.

At a quarter past seven our dreams went away.
Sweet nothing took over until the next day.
But the bastards in white shook us and woke us
For Streisand and Gibb in soft light and soft focus.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Family

The bathroom mirror in our holiday hotel was a magic mirror. I looked so handsome, I could look at myself all day. I wish we could have brought it home with us.

But one thing I could not bear, no matter how flattering the image, is to watch myself on the telly, interacting with other people. Even if the camera operator is as sympathetic and unobtrusive as Paul Watson.

An evening of BBC4 is devoted to Paul Watson, documentary film maker/nosy parker. Not that there's anything wrong with that, we all like a good nose, we all like to see how the other half live.

Paul disclaims any responsibility for the rise of the reality show, especially Big Brother. Which is fair enough as in Paul's programmes the people involved already either live with each other or are close friends. They're also not in competition with each other to win a prize. So it's a bit harsh to call him the father of the nonsense currently filling our screens.

Of course he's an artist, he's not just showing us the boring minutiae of life. The film-making is all in the questions he asks which we don't hear and in the editing, the juxtaposition of different scenes. We get Paul's version of things.

We get the grotesque real life soap that is Sylvania Waters, the harrowing effects of Alzheimer's on a relationship in Malcolm and Barbara: A Love Story, the puke inducing rich at play in The Fishing Party and the working class every family, The Family from 1974.

In 1974, they are just like us. We have broken marriages, we live together before marriage, we piss away state benefits into the pub urinal, we are a long way down on long council housing lists, we have nine people round a dinner table built for four, we buy beefburgers, cakes and tinned potatoes, we argue most of the bloody time and we don't watch the telly in the evening even though it's always on.

That was the way we was that was.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The 2nd Heimat - Part 168 of 168

We've done it! After 73 years of non-stop telly-goggling, we've made it to the end of the second series. And I feel sad. I'm going to miss these guys. It's like when you read a good long book and you want it to end but you don't want it to end. And when it's ended you pick up another book which turns out to be a pile of poo. But we've got the third and final Heimat to look forward to, so I don't feel too bereft.

Part 168 is loopy. It is 1970. A bemused 30 year old Hermann Simon goes on a train journey in search of the love of his life, complicated cellist/singer Clarissa Lichtblau. On the way, we meet his old friends in the unlikeliest of places. One performs erotic cabaret to businessmen, one performs acrobatics in a circus, one has joined the Bader-Meinhof gang, one dies an alcoholic. It makes me feel glad I'm not one of the arty set.

Hermann finally tracks down Clarissa in Amsterdam. She is singing in a show about witches. Her American friend/girlfriend? plays trombone in the show. And the show seems to take up half of the programme so I'm quite glad I'm half-pissed and time is not an issue.

Do they make sweet love? Of course they do. The nearest they'd got before was on Clarissa's stairs 8 years previously when Hermann ran off sniffing with her knickers after a fumble on the stairs of her apartment building.

Of course we don't see them in the act. But the aftermath shows them laid out naked on the floor of Clarissa's Amsterdam hotel room, Hermann pointing his feminine arse to the camera and Clarissa showing a complete lack of armpit hair.

Of course, Hermann can't handle too much love and he fucks off to Mummy and the Hunsruck.

The End.

God, I hate these people. But I'll miss them so much.

Arena - My Way

I suppose I've done things my way. Although, may I say, mostly in a shy way. So you won't get me singing Paul Anka's words in your local karaoke pub. In fact you won't get me performing anything because I'm too scared of taking the blows.

The tune to 'My Way' originally had different words. But they were in French and sung by Claude Francois, who we see being introduced by the great Vince Hill.

Of course, not understanding French, Paul Anka thought the lyrics were a load of old shit. And messing around with the tune one day, thinking of Frank Sinatra, he came up with the most egocentric song in human history. Even Henry the fucking Eighth wrote about love.

Frank's, of course, is seen as the definitive version. The great Welsh rugby player Barry John chooses it as his first Desert Island Disc. So that's final, then.

But Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey, Vera Lynn, Dorothy Squires, and probably Don Estelle could lay claim to it being their song. Because everybody in show business has sung it at some time. But the words were for Frank and Frank is the best and if anybody disagrees wiv me I'll break yer legs.

Actually, the best thing about the song, and the best thing on the programme, is Sid Vicious' two fingers to the world, just after shooting his audience. Now that's what I call classic.