Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Richard Ashcroft is the New Robbie Williams


Hello, Leanne. It's Chris Cockerel from Capital FM.

Hello, Chris!

What about this Darren, then? Is he gorgeous?

He's lovely, Chris.

And you get on well? You're getting good vibes?

We really click, Chris. We have a laugh. There's a real chemistry between us.

How long have you known each other?

Six months.

And you fancy the pants off him?

He's gorgeous, Chris.

And you've never been able to pluck up the courage to ask him out?


And you want me to ask him out on your behalf?


Because you're scared of him turning you down?


Then why don't you ask him yourself?


And if he says "no"?

He wouldn't dare, Chris. He'll say yes to anything you ask him.

Why's that?

Because you're great. We all think you're great. Everybody in the office thinks you're great.

Why am I great?


You like Richard Ashcroft?

I love Richard Ashcroft. We all love Richard Ashcroft.

You know what?


I'm going to play you a Richard Ashcroft song. Then I'm going to speak to your man. Is Darren listening?

Course he is. He loves you, Chris.

Darren...Are you there?


Darren...Do you like Richard Ashcroft?


Darren...I'm going to play you a Richard Ashcroft song. Then I'm going to ask you whether you fancy a date with Leanne, all expenses paid, at a top restaurant...this Friday.


Don't tell me your answer. I'm going to ask you the question after THIS Richard Ashcroft song...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Boiled Beef and Triffids

I am currently reading John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids, and lovin' it.

But I've come to an impasse.

On page 42 of the Penguin paperback, the second full paragraph, on the subject of the triffid, starts thus:-

But there were features of it to be less casually dismissed. On its origins the Russians, true to type, lay low and said nuffin.


Is this...

a) The narrator showing the first signs of the disease now known as "mockney"?

b) Wyndham slipping in a rogue working class word to make sure that we, the reader, are awake?

c) A sly dig at the elocution skills of the proletariat?

I can't go on unless I know which.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mind The Gap

"My mum used to say they're trouble coming and they're trouble going."

Wise words from a work colleague. But was she implying that mine could be on their way out?

I've had the same dentist for thirty-five years. Thirty-five years of fillings and re-fillings and the odd extraction. He's never hurt me and he's never had bad breath or smelly aftershave or nostril bogeys.

But he must be nearing retirement now as he's cut down to four days a week and he has started taking long holidays with only emergency back up. And of course his winding down is coinciding nicely with my teeth beginning to play up.

"Have 'em all out," said another work colleague. "The army fucked mine up. I had 'em all out forty years ago. I haven't looked back since, although I had to have a metal plate put in as I've got a strong bite and used to keep breaking the plastic ones."

He showed me his plate. It looked nothing like Jaws' (from the Bond films). But I don't particularly want false teeth because that would be admitting defeat. The army didn't fuck up my teeth, I fucked them up myself.

I've always got by with the odd filling and no pain. Until seveteen months ago when I got an infection just before we were due to go on holiday and my dentist was on one of his sabbaticals.

My stepdad steered me in the direction of a beautiful young woman who he said was really gentle. So I lay back as she leant over me and told me I needed extensive root canal work at a cost of over £300.

And now, after six months of back and forth to my dentist, after three separate infections, and finally a filling falling into the sink just as my dentist is away for a month, I'm wondering whether I should leave my man and take this woman up on her offer. I don't want to pay through the nose for my teeth, but should I bite the bullet?

I've read about root canals on the internet and frankly, I'm scared. They trap bacteria which leads to arthiritis and heart disease. A root-filled human tooth which was inserted into a rabbit's mouth gave the rabbit arthiritis. The rabbit then died.

Before I go ahead I want to see more evidence. I want to see thousands of rabbits with root-filled human teeth, whole mouths of them. I want to see if the rabbits' life expectancies are drastically cut, and if not, do they have as good a quality of life as they would've had without a mouthful of human teeth?

Some times Google isn't helpful enough.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

16 Reasons Why Most Physical Comedy Just Isn't Funny

1. Clowns - Scary, yes. Funny? You're having a laugh.

2. The Greats of the Silent Screen - Bring on the talkies, Mr Jolsen! Stop eating that bleeding shoe, Charlie!

3. Jacques Tati - Un homme et un bicyclette avec pipe et imper = Flasheur.

4. Funny Walk (Max Wall/John Cleese) - Funny walk? You want to see a funny walk? Try the penguins at the zoo.

5. Jack Douglas' physical jerks - Disturbing, yes. Funny?

6. Norman Wisdom's physical jerks - Puerile, but your kids won't laugh at him. He's 90, you know. And never had a funny day in his life.

7. Wrestling - Overgrown schoolboys, aged 7. This includes women wrestlers and "the great" Andy Kaufman*.

8. Benny Hill chases - Benny Hill was (probably still is) massive in France. My sister once had a French penfriend who said to me, "Did you know Benny Hill is French?" Nope, he's ours I'm afraid.

9. Michael Crawford, on roller skates, hanging off the back of a Routemaster bus - Ooh Betty, shoot the bastard, will you?

10. Rod Hull/Bernie Clifton - Nice try, but we know it's you making that bird do those stoopid things.

11. Ennio Marchetto/Andy Kaufman* miming to records in costume - Ok clever clogs, I'm impressed. I'm not laughing, though.

12. Del Boy falling through the bar - "It makes you cry with laughter every time you see it even though you know what's coming." Does it, fuck!

13. Lee Evans' sweaty monkey face and body - Lord, give me strength. BACK TO THE ZOO.

14. Dawn French sticking out her tongue - Overgrown schoolgirl, aged 3.

15. Ricky Gervais' dance - The only crap thing about The Office. Seems to go on for ever.

16. Matt Lucas getting up out of his wheelchair again and again and again and and again and again and again and again and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again and and again and again.

* I only know Andy Kaufman from his silly voice in Taxi and the film Man on the Moon in which he was portrayed by the awful Jim Carrey.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How Could You?

It's ten years since my dad's funeral. A little over ten years since he was found alone in his house, slumped in his armchair, wearing a pair of Wellingtons.

I've got one regret. Not that I only saw him three times in the last 14 years of his life. Not that we didn't make it up and become great mates.

My one regret is that we didn't bury him and inscribe the headstone with the words...

"He died with his boots on."

Mile High Club

I've just booked some flights on flymonarch.com. Extras available (at a price) included:-

Your own choice of seats

An extra six inches legroom



Golf Clubs

I'm looking forward to playing a round with the Captain at 30,000 feet.

Home on the Range

I've got a week's holiday and this week and I'm taking it easy. No rushing up to London to see something arty or to spend too much money in Fopp. This week I'm relaxing and reading.

Remember reading? Books? The dead things we used to read before the living web became so much a part of our lives?

You've got to make the effort, haven't you? But I'm not used to reading at home. I'm used to reading on the train, to a background of chatting and coughing and whoo-whooing and chuf-chuffing.

I can't have silence. But I can't have distractions. Daytime telly is too distracting. There's so much on!

I need music. But music that doesn't need the attention of the whole of my brain. No words for a start. If there's a beat, it's got to be a slow beat. Nothing that makes me want to move my feet like Booker T & the MG's or Jackie Mittoo.

Dub reggae is good. Ambient house, too. Pan Pipes, Richard Clayderman, James Galway, Mary O'Hara...Go to any market and you'll find hundreds of albums which will perfectly accompany any book from Harry Potter to Wilbur Smith.

But my personal favourite, one which I go back to again and again, which I can't recommend highly enough...

Brian Eno's Music for Crematoria.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Brits 2006

Before watching this I had already mentally prepared what to say. I was going to say how ironic it is that in a show called The Brits, the only sign of any talent is demonstrated by two Americans, Prince and Kanye West. I was going to say how sick I am of seeing the Khazi Chiefs, KT Tungsten, Jamie Blunted - I saw enough of these jokers on New Year's Eve on Jools' Wankananny.

I was going to say how I'd just about had enough of having to fast forward through yet another teeth-grindingly mammoth performance by Green Fucking Day (little did I know that they couldn't be there so we had to put up with Coldplay doing a lamentable U2 impression).

And as for Weller and his award for his major contribution to musical conservatism...

But after watching The Brits, I'm just reminded that it's now two years since I started blogging. I started off with fourth form poetry. A year later I was in the sixth form magazine.

And now? I've no idea. I can only judge myself with the benefit of hindsight. What I do know now is that The Brits are a waste of breath. But I've now got almost a handful of readers and each of you has impeccable taste in not just music, but film, tv, clothes, and shoes.

And when you've finished reading this, just take yourself over to the nearest mirror and take a good, long look. Do you see what I see?


You're beautiful.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Fish Continues

"Excuse me? Can you tell me the way to St Martin's Lane?"

I have to think about this one. I can tell her. I've been there many times. It's only five minutes walk away. I almost step into a puddle.

"I know where it is. I just can't..."

"You know. Where J Sheekeys is. The fish restaurant."

Shit. Yes, I know where J Sheekeys is. The fish restaurant. She's off to get her Omega-3s.

"It's...it's...not the first right..."

"The next right?"


"Thank you."

Shit, it's left. I'm sure it's left. I'm not shouting after her. I'm not running after her. She'll suss it out. And I'll never see her again.

I buy some smoked salmon and a bagel.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fish for Brains

You can't get enough Omega-3s!

That's what the guardian says. Most of us eat far too many Omega-6s and not enough Omega-3s. A diet which is saturated in Omega-6s makes your brain run like a 386 processor with its memory full to capacity with blurry images of fat men shitting. A brain full of Omega-3s however, runs like a Pentium 4 with Windows Media Center and incredibly high resolution graphics showing young, lithe, athletic bodies, running, jumping and somersaulting.

So I try to up my Omega-3 intake. Oily fish. Sardines on toast for breakfast. Boneless sardines in a rich tomato sauce. If I want a brain like Einstein's I've got to eat them at least twice a week.

Mmm. Do cats really like this stuff? Cold, oily fish. Don't think about it Geoff, just chew and swallow, don't think about the taste.

Jesus, it's only ten to seven in the morning, what am I doing? Cold, oily fish. Cold, oily sardines. Just be grateful they're boneless and you haven't got their little spines to negotiate. And look, there's no mound of roe seeping from their guts. Don't think of what could have been. Their heads. Their eyes. Their hard little tails. Their silver skin...no wait, there's their silver skin under the tomato sauce. Just close your eyes and chew and swallow. Think of something else.

Mmm, this toast is nice. All I can taste is the toast. Lovely, wholemeal toast. None of that slimy tomato sauce or those wriggling little cold, oily fish.

Wriggling? They're not wriggling, are they? Don't open your eyes, just lift the fork and move your mouth over the prongs and chew the toast. The dry, flavourless toast. So dry, you have difficulty swallowing it. Chew! Chew, chew, chew and swallow! Swallow, damn you! Get down, you cold, oily fish in a rich, thick tomato sauce.

What a price to pay. Did Einstein really go through this twice a week or more? No wonder his hair grew the way it did. "Get me away from that fish!" it said. "Christ Albert, that stuff makes me shudder. It's like an electric shock to the system."

Bollocks to it. No more sardines for me. I'm going to stay slow and bovine and count my small change at the front of the supermarket checkout queue and get it wrong.

It's the hare versus the tortoise, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

In The Dentist's Waiting Room

Where is she?

She's coming.

She's going to bring the bubby, isn't she?

She's just got to drop something off.

She's got to bring the bubby.

I've got a picture of her on my mobile.

The bubby? Let's have a look...Aah, isn't she beautiful. Jessica Katherine...Isn't she just like her mummy?

Hi ya!

Where's the bubby? You're not welcome here if you haven't brought the bubby. You can get out right now if you haven't got the bubby.

She's on her way. Kelly's got her...I've got a picture of her on my camera.

Let's have a butcher's...Aah, isn't she beautiful? Jessica Katherine...Isn't she like her mummy?

Hi ya!

Aah! Here she is! Here she is! Here's the bubby! Isn't she beautiful?


Isn't she beautiful? Isn't she a beautiful bubby? She is. She is. Just like her mummy. Isn't she? Isn't she?

* The tv in the waiting room is showing The Jeremy Kyle Show

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Who Do You Think You Are? - Jane Horrocks

A few years ago there was a great series on Channel Four hosted by Lisa Tarbuck called Without Prejudice, in which several members of the public with different backgrounds competed with each other for the prize of £50,000. They each gradually revealed more of themselves as a panel of extremely prejudiced nobodies voted them off the show, one by one. I loved it as it showed the nasty bastard British public at their very worst.

Who Do You Think You Are? could do with a similar panel. As each celebrity delves into their family's past, the more they reveal about their own character. And we could do with a good argument between a couple of idiots, one who says "I used to hate Jane Horrocks but now I'm really warming to her" and one who says, "I used to quite like her, now I can't stand her."

Apart from the bloody annoying voice, she's never really crossed my radar apart from the Mike Leigh film where she played a girl with a bloody annoying voice. Apparently she is now famous for being in Absolutely Fabulous and the film Little Voice, both of which are not really suitable viewing for any man, let alone one of my arty persuasions.

But now I cannot bear the woman.

She starts out by 'pegging out' on a Monday morning. "I learnt how to peg out on a Monday morning from my mother, she learnt how to peg out from her mother, who learnt how to peg out from her mother..."

You might think that 'pegging out' was something complicated and took years to master, passed on from gifted mother to gifted daughter.

No, to peg out is to put the washing out on the washing line, a task that can be performed by anybody with at least one arm and half a brain. Maybe Jane is trying to show us her hard working credentials, eh?

Jane and her mother and her mother's mother and her mother's mother's mother are part of a long line of strong women who do things their way no matter what the consequences. A long line of strong, hard working, temperate, Methodist women. God help us.

But as always with families, there is a secret. Jane's aunt has always believed that Jane's great grandmother was left orphaned to bring up her two younger brothers at the age of twelve. But Jane learns that she was actually left orphaned to look after the boys at the age of thirty-one! And that she also failed to mention that she had four other brothers and sisters, including Ernest, the black sheep of the family who emigrated to Australia to become a very non-temperate billiard marker and gambler. The ring that Jane's religious aunt wears contains an opal which Ernest probably won by gambling.

It's incredible how some of these celebrities really connect with their unseen ancestors. Jane still really knows fuck all about her great aunts and uncles but she is still able to pontificate: "They were all good and clever and brilliant except for Ernest who was the black sheep of the family." Good and clever and brilliant just like you, eh, Jane?

It gets better. When Abraham Lincoln blocked cotton exports as he took on the South, there was no work in the Lancashire cotton industry. No work meant poverty and death, and death happened to one of Jane's great uncles at the age of three.

Jane the nutter stands by Manchester's statue of Lincoln and bleats, "I feel so proud that my ancestry believed in something so strongly that they were willing to die for it."

So a three year old boy lay down his own life in Lancashire so that slavery in America could be abolished? Christ Almighty!

How about Jane's father's family? Could they by any chance be related to the Horrocks' cotton dynasty which got rich on the backs of black slaves? You can see Jane's eyes light up as she says, "I could be rich!", as if she isn't fucking rich enough already.

Of course there is a link, but Jane's Horrockses branched off to become poor cotton bleachers. The other Horrockses were the biggest darn cotton folks in the country, until they lost it all.

Jane meets a direct descendent of Mr Cotton Horrocks. She condescendingly says, "Now we are on a similar standing". That's Jane the rich actress descendant of poor bleachers, and the descendant of the broke cotton family, standing there with his pint of lager and his coat of arms.

We are not told what he does for a living.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


In the shop window there’s a Valentine’s card with an illustration of a really crap cartoon cat. The cat’s licking its lips and is surrounded by pink and purple hearts. The only words on the front of the card are ‘BIG GROWLY HUBBY’.

And hubby must be a big fucker because of the size of the card: about 3ft x 2ft. Only a really big fucker needs a card that big.

And he’s growling? No surprise really when his wife wastes good money on shit like this.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Ladykiller

"My sister reckons he's got a harem in there."

Mrs Next Door is serious. I started the conversation because I didn't know what else to talk to her about. Apart from the weather or her ailments.

She said, "You may hear some banging in the next few days. I've got a man coming round and he may be banging."

I said, "We're used to a bit of noise round here." Meaning the man below her's son and his late night indoor football.

"My sister reckons he's got a harem in there," she says.

"We don't really hear that much. Just a dull thud now and again." I don't want any trouble.

"God knows what he gets up to," she says. "At all hours of the day and night."

What on earth is he doing? How many women has he got in there? Is it like the cover of Electric Ladyland? How come we never see women going in or coming out? Surely there's not the room for any more than a couple of women. It's a small one bedroom maisonette. And what sort of noise are they making that carries upstairs in the middle of the night? I'd always assumed harems to be pretty quiet when the man's at home.

"I reckon he's drinking," she says.

That's funny. I think he reckons I'm drinking. Maybe she's drinking.

"The police came round the other night," she says. "Just at the time when everything was all quiet."


Monday, February 06, 2006

I Love Blogger


I just wish they'd stop us from attempting posts when they're doing their maintenance work. Block me, Blogger. Stop me typing up all this crap three times on a Saturday (actually once typed by Betty as I dictated whilst I sat on the arm of the settee like some slimy boss).

But Saturday wasn't my day, was it?

It's the MVC Closing Down Sale. Great! Lots of Van Der Graaf Generator albums at half price, Heaven 17, a Todd Terry 3 cd compilation.

And a Jah Wobble 3 cd Anthology.

"Oh, no!" says the young man on the till. "I wanted that!"

"I'm sorry," I say. "I'll record it for you."

"No, it's all right. Oh no!"

OK, I know home taping is killing music but I am truly trying to do something good for another human being.

We get home and discuss our purchases. What about the Best of The Durutti Column 2 cd compilation? Yes, we should have bought it. And today's the last day. They're closing down.

I run most of the way to MVC. The cd's still there. I purchase it and rush homewards. I break into a run because it's time to eat my sandwich. Ha ha, I avoid some dogshit. I slow to a walk and thank my lucky stars. I break into a jog. I pull a calf muscle. My nose starts to bleed.

Today Blogger has a scheduled outage at 7.00 PM PST. Why they're whispering it, I don't know.


I'm going to copy and paste this post somewhere safe just in case.

N.B. MVC Sale did not end at the weekend. There is still 1 day to go.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Why We Don't Go To The Cinema Much Any More

...or is it 'the movies' nowadays? I know you're not asked to take your rubbish or your litter with you when leaving, but your 'trash'. And most 'movies' are trash, but they're not my trash. My trash is the wrapping around the sandwich which I smuggle into the 'movie theater' to eat whilst the trailers are on. I think 'trailer trash' is the correct term.

It was so different in the eighties, when I haunted London's independent cinemas. It was so pleasant and middle class, not at all what I was used to in my local smelly Odeons.

In the eighties, on a Sunday afternoon, or during the week after work if I was feeling awake, I would head off to Camden Town, King's Cross, Covent Garden, Bloomsbury, Hampstead, Soho... Christ, there were so many of them. I bought my ticket, sat in a comfy chair with a piece of carrot cake and a nice cup of filter coffee. Or maybe a stem ginger and vanilla Loseley ice cream in a tub. Sat down and read my book or my copy of City Limits or Time Out or NME, sitting there like Little Jack Horner, all quiet and satisfied.

I would choose my own seat, making sure I didn't intrude on anybody's space as I settled down. I drank the dregs of my coffee as the few trailers played. The film usually started pretty promptly. I read the subtitles, watched the action, read and watched, read and watched, eyes down and eyes up for a very pleasant hour and a half, maybe the odd tear or two as I read the credits all the way to the end so that no one could see my red eyes.

Now, in these days of DVDs and widescreen tvs, we can't be bothered to traipse all the way up to London to one of the few independent cinemas that are left. But a couple of times a year, we still go to the cinema...the multiplex.


We go to the local in-town multiplex. We're going to see the sensitive gay love story, Brokeback Mountain. They take our money. They don't care where we sit. We sit through twenty minutes of trailers and the film starts. There are some teenagers smoking. No one says anything. On the screen, two men kiss. The teenagers say "Fucking queers" and start playing up. Nobody says anything to them. There is no security. The film is ruined. SO WE DON'T GO TO OUR LOCAL IN-TOWN MULTIPLEX.


We go to a multiplex we have to drive to get to. We pay our money. Once our tickets are collected, we're on our own. But because everybody's had to drive there, there aren't gangs of fourteen year olds hopping from screen to screen. We walk into darkness. We are supposed to sit in seats J17 and J 18. We can see the numbers on the seats but we can't see which row is which. It's too dark. We are at the head of a queue to find row J. We ask a seated customer, "Which row are you in?"
He says, "M. Row J is two rows down."
We take his word for it even though we work out that row J should be three rows down. We lead the pack and settle down in the seats.
"Excuse me," says a customer shining his own personal torch. "You're in my seat."

Now in the real row J, we settle down to thirty-five minutes of trailers of films these jokers think we'll be interested in. All introduced by the same deep American voice which has been doing the voiceovers for trailers since the dawn of celluloid. These knobs must all be from the same family, like the Lassie dogs.

And then the trailer for the film North Country...



"ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE, WOODY HARRELSON!" Never mind, Woody. Better luck with this one.



We laugh out loud. We are the only ones in the cinema to find this funny. Old Brokenback Mountain's going to be an anticlimax after this.

And it is.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bad Bowie

I love Bowie. I love his Alvin Stardust phase, his Great White Shark phase, even his Laughing Policeman phase. In fact, I love every phase he went through before Let's Dance (his biggest selling album, and the beginning of cack-Bowie).

But at the weekend, Bowie had me seething.

Transferring CDs to Windows Media Player is usually a piece of piss. Apart from Windows occasionally not agreeing with the CD track listing, that is. But Bowie's CDs are a different kettle of fish.

Because every CD you try to rip comes with a BowieNet program which, if you don't go into it and see all that David has to offer, freezes your computer.

So a program that David developed in his Swiss hideaway laboratory in 1991 makes what should be a simple operation a pain in the arse.

Why, David? Why do you have to have your multimedia empire and sell us outdated software? You don't get other has-been rockers like Macca or Jagger or Dave Grohl at the forefront of yesterday's technology.

The Bowie net I'd like to have seen would have been a nice strong one that covered him in 1981 and only let him out for interviews and copulation. He might have grown fat but at least he'd have all his own teeth.