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.