Monday, July 31, 2006

Old Misery Guts

They're few and far between now, our visits to pubs.

There was a time when I'd enjoy being in these joyless, characterless shitholes. I'd enjoy meeting up with friends, enjoy a creamy headed pint of Guinness or five, enjoy the conversation, the catching up, the odd laugh.

And I'd also enjoy the goodbyes at 11.30 and the see you soons.

That was when friends were local.

Now, apart from the fact that beer is too belchy and voluminous for me, because friends aren't local, a night out is once in a blue moon and is followed by after hours drinks in front of the telly or stereo. And here I'm struggling.

I keep going because I always drink until the night peters out. So I'm drinking lager at 2.30 in the morning, outstaying my welcome, fed up with myself, fed up with other people, knowing I'm going to get four hours sleep, wanting my own comfortable bed 160 miles away, two hours ago. Wanting a belly nicely warmed with red wine rather than full to bursting with gassy beer.

I'm just not a social animal. I'm a good listener, yes. If you've got a story or ten to tell me, I'll listen and maybe even remember some of them the next day. You just won't get much out of me. The more I drink, the less able I am to tell my own stories. My vocabulary shrinks. I stop talking and carry on listening.

So when this carries on after midnight, I want my daddy to ring on the bell and take me home in his car. But my daddy's dead and he wouldn't be able to take me home if he was alive because if he was alive he'd be more pissed than me.

And he would've been drinking alone.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Gut Reaction

I like my gastroenterologist. He must be in his mid 60s now, a very tall man, impeccably dressed in pinstripe suit and very shiny shoes. Extremely friendly. I hadn't seen him for a couple of years until yesterday and he hasn't changed. Lovely man.

Though I did once see him outside the consulting room environment. In 1998 when I had the endoscopy. He was dressed in a bloodstained butcher's apron and had an evil grin on his face as he forced the 3 inch diameter ribbed rubber hose down my throat with demonic glee.

Admittedly I was under giggly anaesthetic at the time.

He's now trying a new drug on me. Not that he wants to, but the antipsychotic which has calmed my digestive system for the past 6 years is no longer in production. The company that manufactured it don't think it's making enough money for them. So they're producing a completely different, more profitable drug at the factory instead.

So for the next few weeks, please be gentle with me. I'm to do cold turkey for three days next week, followed by the introduction of new foreign matter into my system.

The new stuff's a more recently developed drug and hopefully won't make me so drowsy.

The only question is, as it's not a drug designed to deal with digestive disorders, will it do the job we want it to?

So I'd be most grateful if you all would stand up and give a big cheer for Duloxetine 30 mg. Maybe with the encouragement of good people like yourselves, the little guy will perform.

Altogether now...

"We love Duloxetine, we do! We love Duloxetine, we do! We love Duloxetine, we do! Oh, Duloxetine, we love you!"

And no fucking Mexican waves.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Just a little something from BBC's History of Light Entertainment which I should be writing about because this is a TELLY blog after all.

The next time someone uses the word "Oxbridge" I'm going to call the police and get them arrested.

Stephen Fry says "Oxbridge educated Smith and Jones blah blah blah..."

Unfunny sick face Smith went to Oxford and unfunnier halitosis face Jones went to Cambridge. They did not go to "Oxbridge". "Oxbridge" doesn't exist.

As far as I'm aware a double act from Yale and Harvard aren't described as "Yarvard educated". A double act from Liverpool and Manchester Universities aren't described as "Manpool educated".

Who do they think they are, these "Oxbridge educated" show offs?

Do they think they run the country or something?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thank You For The Music

ABBA Gold is playing on the CD player. This is a new development.

"There are some more CDs in that top drawer over there."

I take a look.

ABBA, Simon Webbe, Take That, Will Young, The Carpenters...
Middle aged women's music. I don't mind so much. I'm partial to ABBA and The Carpenters.

Could be worse. Could be a lot worse.

Could be...

Coldplay, Keane, The Feeling, The Kooks, Athlete...
All that indie shit.
Whatever "indie" means nowadays.
Independent of what exactly?
Independent of life?

Or it could be...

Jack Johnson, Paolo Nutini, James Morrison, James Blunt, Corinne Bailey Rae...
All that new singer/songwriter shit.
Tasteful, soulless bollocks.

But there's only one more Top of the Pops. I need TOTP. I don't want to get out of touch. I don't want to be one of those middle-aged men who doesn't know what young people are listening to. I don't want to be hard at work as in the background the new number one is on the radio and I don't recognise it.

I don't want to sit there with nothing to annoy me. I want James Morrison to really get on my tits. I want to feel something nasty bubbling up through these damn tranquilisers.

I don't want to end up in an old people's home with Robbie Williams playing on a loop and sit there not minding. Just sit there through Robbie Williams album after Robbie Williams album and not putting up a bloody good fight but accepting this is the way it is until my eventual happy release.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Rocky Mountaineer Is Better Than The Ear We Had

This is the corner of our fridge (freezer section). You can keep a cow or a sheep in here for 7-9 months. A goat will last a year.

As you can see, the outside is tastefully decorated with fridge magnets, mementoes of places we haven't been to. Look, there's a San Francisco cable car. It would be nice to have Karl Malden's autograph on it but you can't have everything.

And below that, to the left, there's a Spanish pepper. We've been to many areas of Spain but none where you can get a Spanish Pepper Fridge Magnet.

Above the pepper you can just about see, glinting in the sunlight, a bespectacled German crow. He's looking at the top of what I can only translate as a Bovril cube. Has he eaten it and put the packaging back together? Or is he just savouring his lunch-to-be? "...der richtige!" means "...the straight tip!" I am none the wiser.

The magnet to the left of our feathered friend is useful in that you can hold a whole notebook in its claws. So you will never be short of paper to write things like "Don't forget Willie's PE kit" and "And God said, Let the earth sprout tender sprouts, the plant seeding seed, the fruit tree producing fruit according to its kind, whichever seed is in it on the earth. And it was so." The magnet is from Vancouver and displays the Canadian flag in all its glory.

We have never been to Vancouver and we have never taken the Rocky Mountaineer tourist train from Calgary to Vancouver. But look, there on top of the fridge proudly stand our two new mugs, an embossed, patriotic, naive bear waving to us from the front of the mug and an illustration of the train itself clickety clacketing through the mountains, looked over by the omnipotent Mountain Goat God who could strike me down with lightning if he/she could be arsed.

Friday, July 21, 2006


2003 - "You've got to keep yourself busy in retirement, Geoff. Got to keep your mind and body active. Bowls is brilliant, you're out in the fresh air, you get a bit of exercise. Keeps you young you know, does bowls."

2004 - "You can always come along for a roll up, Geoff. The club's always looking for new blood. Go on, just think how good you'll be by the time you retire."

2005 - "It's old Ernie's funeral tomorrow. 85, he was. Didn't look it. Lovely man, he was. Cheeky sense of humour."

2006 - "Every time we come back from holiday it seems another one's gone. Big man, Tom. 6 foot 6. Very young and healthy looking for 78. Didn't look his age. It was a happy release only 4 months after he was diagnosed. We're all looking round now, wondering who's next."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Message Of Unity From The International Union Of Working Bloggers

So another blogger has been "dooced".

Hey, that's nothing!

Today in the office, I was douched.

And very pleasant it was too, in this absurdly hot weather.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dumbing Down Again

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

Lord Byron

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

Sir Winston Churchill

You're beautiful, it's true.

James Blunt

All three of the above were pupils at English public school, Harrow.

No-one can doubt their mastery of the English language.

But now Harrow, frankly disappointed with the atrocious standard of spelling amongst its pupils, is to give all its new A-level students a simple literacy test. Any pupil who fails will have to take extra classes in his own time until he is a master of basic spelling and grammar.

In a survey carried out for Geoff Polls, would you believe that 90% of 16 year old boys at Harrow could not spell a simple word like "privilege"?

And that 99% of these kids did not know the correct definition of the same word?

It truly beggars belief.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Why We Don't Go To Festivals

Watching the Julien Temple Glastonbury documentary, I was thinking to myself, "there but for the grace of God go'd I."

Because if I'd had more outgoing friends, who knows, maybe I'd have spent some time at festivals, getting no sleep and throwing up my guts as I tried to hold my breath during my daily motions. And of course wanting to murder about 90% of the people on the site.

I wasn't surprised by the images we saw on the doc:-

Keith Allen playing the wanker as usual
Billy Bragg being deadly dully earnest as usual
Joe Strummer acting the BIG man - ooh, I'm so much in awe!

And even more sick-making, the close-ups of the poo-suctioning as three brave men empty the lavs. Yuck!

But the most interesting question brought up by this visual history of the greatest festival in the world was posed by Betty.

"Why do hippies have so much pubic hair?"

They're dancing around, stark bollock naked, but you can't see anything rude because of the barrier of an enormous thatch of thick, black, greasy hair.

And the men are just as bad with their penises seemingly being strangled by a hairy lava that's spewing from the volcanic mouth of the navel, suffocating the bollocks under a pillow of pubes.

Friday, July 14, 2006

25 First Lines


Thank you, everybody for an overwhelming response. The phone lines are now closed and the winner is....


I know you all think he's an irritating know-nothing tosser but he really does know his stuff. He got the last two right and knew every other one, too. His knowledge of popular music is second to none (well, maybe Fearne Cotton runs him close). He is an expert on Black American Music 1957 - 2003. In fact that's the title of his doctorate, although I know he's been too shy to make this known publicly. But after the press leak revealing his £600,000 salary I'm sure you'd all like to know a bit about the real Chris and judge him for his knowledge, not for his wanky persona.

Everybody's doin' it, doin' it, doin' it.
Everybody's doin' 25 first lines.
(e.g. Billy and Patroclus)

But of course I haven't got the readership to do it.

But bollocks, I'm going to do it anyway. Come on, I must have at least 8 readers, three songs each?

I've listed the first lines (or more or less) of 25 songs. All you've got to do is tell us the names of the songs and the performers without googling for them. Come on, it's only a game. You're not all cynical bastards, are you?

Some of them are easy, some of them are hard. Some of them I hate but most of them I like. I haven't got that many songs on my mp3 player so I can't do a random play and make this the real thing, but these are some songs that are in my mind at the moment.

The person who guesses most right gets to wear a smug smile like the one currently on my face. I'll get back to everybody when I can, work and shopping permitting. I will also write a little bit about why I like or hate each song. So you see, this post could run and run. But probably won't.

So without further ado, here goes...

1. In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream...BORN TO RUN BY BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. Identified by Kapitano.
This always, always makes the hairs on my neck stand to attention. And it's not even from Bruce's best album which of course is Darkness on the Edge of Town.

2. Start spreading the news...NEW YORK NEW YORK BY FRANK SINATRA. Identified by Patroclus.
Yes, I hate this song for one reason. Wedding receptions. Say no more.

3. You're everywhere and nowhere, baby...HI-HO SILVER LINING BY JEFF BECK. Identified by Occasional Poster of Comments.
I should hate this song for one reason. Wedding receptions. But I don't. I love it.

4. Step right up, hurry hurry...Before the show begins...My friends...Stand in line, get your tickets, I hope you will attend...It'll only cost you fifty cents to see...What life has done to those like you and me...See the man with the broken heart, you'll see that he is sad, he hurts so bad (So bad, so bad)...See the girl who has lost the only love she ever had...There's got to be no sadder show to see...No doubt about it, satisfaction's guaranteed...SIDESHOW BY BARRY BIGGS. Identified by Chris Moyles (see comments).

5. When the night has come...STAND BY ME BY BEN E KING. Identified by Patroclus.
I know this is a classic 'n' all but I have an irrational dislike of it. I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's because I'd rather have a nice sit down.

6. Goodbye England's Rose...CANDLE IN THE WIND (SONG FOR DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES) BY SIR ELTON JOHN. Presumably identified by everybody but I'm sure nobody would want their name against it.
We want a song for Diana's funeral, Elton. Can you write one?
I'll ask Bernie....Bernie? Can you write some words for Diana?
Diana who?
Our friend Diana. Princess of Hearts.
The football team?
Now you're taking the piss.
OK. But it's going to take some time.
We've got 24 hours till the funeral.
I'll come up with something.
You'd better.
I've never let you down yet, Reg.

7. I can't seem to face up to the facts...PSYCHO KILLER BY TALKING HEADS. Identified by Billy.
I love the first four albums by Talking Heads so much. 77 was the first alternative type album I ever bought and look at me now. The indie King! Remember the South Bank Show feature on the Heads? No sign of head shitting there, was there?

8. I was lost, lost on the by-pass road...HOMETOWN UNICORN BY SUPER FURRY ANIMALS. Identifed by Billy.
From the first album by the best band to come out of the Britpop era by a country mile. Melodies and singing that Damon Albarn could only dream of.

9. Beat-up little seagull, on a marble stair...BALTIMORE BY RANDY NEWMAN. Identified by Hannah.
My number one favourite lyricist. There is a superb reggae version of this by The Tamlins (as introduced to me by Betty).

10. Girl I can understand how it might be kind of hard to love a guy like me...I don't blame you much for wanting to be free...I just wanted you to know I've loved you better that your own kin did...From the very start it's my own fault...What happens to my heart...You see I've always known you'd go...DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO BY THE FOUR TOPS. Identified by Chris Moyles (see comments).

11. Well I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused...THE ANGELS WANNA WEAR MY RED SHOES BY ELVIS COSTELLO. Indentified by Patroclus.
I loved Elvis throughout my twenties and early thirties. Now his voice mostly annoys me but I do still like about 15 of his songs, this one included.

12. In a little while from now, if I'm not feeling any less sour...ALONE AGAIN, NATURALLY BY GILBERT O'SULLIVAN. Identified by
Morrissey likes Gilbert and so he bloody should. So should everyone. This is a very sad song and it makes me cry.

13. Shame on the man who pursued her, the villain who viciously wooed her...THE TATTOOED LADY BY PETER SKELLERN. Identified by Molly Bloom.
There's nothing I'd like more than to be able to walk out in the evening to nice country pub, have a few drinks and be entertained on the piano by Peter Skellern. It's not going to happen, though - it would more likely be Richard Stilgoe.

14. Well I was looking at a movie on the tv last night...Then I had a very funny notion, yeah! I really had to write a song about it...KING KONG SONG BY ABBA. Identified by
I love the ABBA women but you've gotta give Bjorn his due as a singer, too. And as we say in this house, he does have a hot little ass in those trousers.

15. A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace, and rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace...CLOSE TO THE EDGE - THE SOLID TIME OF CHANGE BY YES. Identified by Heather.
I told myself I must hate Yes for 23 years after loving them in my teens. I've just bought 5 albums by them. Oh dear.

16. Well I went to a party at the local county jail...RUBBER BULLETS BY 10CC. Identified by
They showed 10cc live from 1973 on BBC4 last week. The audience were dead. But the band were HOT! Whatcha gonna do about it? Whatcha gonna do?

17. Uh, what's happening CC? They still call it the White House but that's a temporary condition, too...Can you dig it, CC?...CHOCOLATE CITY BY PARLIAMENT. Identified by D. Prince.
"And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House...Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure...Richard Pryor, Minister of Education...Stevie Wonder, Secretary of FINE arts...And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady"........."God bless Chocolate City and its vanilla suburbs." I should really have been going to see George Clinton in the late seventies instead of Rick Wakeman and Rush.

18. When I wake up, in the morning light...JEANS ON BY DAVID DUNDAS. Identified by Kapitano.
David Dundas is a real Lord. And this song was used to advertise the great BRUTUS jeans which I loved. I love the song, too.

19. I'm the shy boy, you're the coy boy...HOMOSAPIEN BY PETE SHELLEY. Identified by
Pete did do some good work outside the Buzzcocks. And this was it. Great jumping around music to a rythmic acoustic guitar. The 12 inch single rocks.

20. I was born in Stratford, in nineteen thirty-four...

21. T! R! E! X!...THE GROOVER BY T. REX. Identified by Tim Footman.
No, it's not a margarine. It's the name of the band. The best of glam. There was once a fight at our junior school between two boys, because one liked Marc Bolan and the other liked Gary Glitter. I think if the kids could've joined in then, the Marc Bolan boy would've got his head kicked in. I don't think there'd be the same result with the same protagonists now.

22. Forgot my six-string razor...ALL THE WAY TO MEMPHIS BY MOTT THE HOOPLE. Identified by Heather.
You've gotta love Mott The Hoople and you've gotta read Ian Hunter's Diary of a Rock 'n' Roll Star if you want to know how things really are on the road.

23. Tell her try your best just to make it quick, whom attend to the sick...NIGHT NURSE BY GREGORY ISAACS. Identified by Molly Bloom.
NOT a song about the famous cold and flu remedy, although Gregory does need something for that throat of his. I've loved this song for a very long time.

24. When you first left me I was wanting more...but you were fucking that girl next door...What'd you do that for?...SMILE BY LILY ALLEN. Identified by Nibus.
Yes, the current number one single really starts like that. And our children are buying it! If she thinks she's Althea and Donna mixed into one, she is seriously deluded.

25. I was working part time in a five-and-dime...My boss was Mr. McGee...RASPBERRY BERET BY PRINCE. Identified by Patroclus.
See Elvis Costello - used to love him, now like about 15 songs. This is one of his best.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What a Tuna Smith

A heartwarming tale for a change.

Remember the exploding tuna incident? Well, I wrote to Sainsbury's to explain exactly what had happened. I'd been advised not to complain but just to state facts and this seemed to work as I received an apology and a voucher for £20 to spend in any Sainsbury's store.

Naturally I was very happy about this and I spent the extra money on some CDs in HMV, as I usually spend more than £20 in Sainsbury's on a Saturday anyway.

The company were really apologetic and described exactly what had happened to the tins of tuna...

"The tins of tuna in spring water were recalled because there was a sealing fault during the manufacturing process. This meant that bacteria could enter the product and cause a build up of gas, which meant that the tins were exploding."

Well, it sounds like I had a lucky escape.

And to demonstrate how happy I am that I survived this ordeal, I've written a little song that Sainsbury's may or may not wish to use as part of their next advertising campaign. I'm not so vain as to wish to appear in the video, complete with exploding tins of tuna, but I would suggest they use the St Winifred's Male Voice Choir to sing the song. I can hear it in my head and I'm sure you will if you can remember the tune...


Sainsbury's, we love you
Sainsbury's, we do
Though you may be far away
We think of you

My tuna in spring water
Exploded over me
I smelled like shit and had to have
A bath at three thirty
The walls and sink were covered
With bacterial stink
It made me sick to contemplate
Even one meal or drink

Sainsbury's, we love you
Sainsbury's, we do
Though you may be far away
We think of you

I wrote to Sainsbury's pronto
They gave me 20 pounds
I spent the extra spondoolicks
On hip and trendy sounds

Sainsbury's, we love you
Sainsbury's, we do
Sainsbury's, we love you
Sainsbury's, we do

There's no one quite like Sainsbury's
A love we always share
At party time and Christmas too
We know it will be there
There's no one quite like Sainsbury's
It always has a queue
It never hurries us along
And gives us cash back too

Sainsbury's, we love you
Sainsbury's, we do
Though you may be far away
We think of you

And one day when we're older
We'll look back and say
There's no one quite like Sainsbury's
It made our fucking day

Sainsbury's, we love you
Sainsbury's, we do
Sainsbury's, we love you
And we know you love us too

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My World Cup Overfloweth

I don't know about you (well actually I do know about a couple of you) but I don't know who to support in tonight's final. I loved the way France beat the massively overrated Brazilians and I could watch Zinedine Zidane all day. By the end of the day I'd probably even believe that this is how a beautiful man should look.

And Italy versus Germany was the best match I have seen in a very long time. The Germans have really played above themselves in this tournament, really had a go. And that's all down to Jurgen Klinsmann's intelligence and enthusiasm. Yes, that's both - you can't get by on just the latter, Mr Keegan.

But Italy were something else. The perfect team performance.

So I'm going to sit down, relax, and cheer the team that plays the best on the day. Not really an ideal way to watch a football match, as I'm not going into it with the prejudices which you need to get yourself on the edge of your seat. So come on, Fritaly!

Of more concern to me is which channel to watch it on. The BBC coverage has been really getting on my tits, what with "dream team" Motty and Lawro talking shit throughout the matches then Lineker and Shearer moaning how the tournament has been negative since the Group stages. Of course this is only sour grapes because the BBC got the crap matches (i.e. the ones involving Portugal).

But Martin O'Neill does make the BBC worth watching. The man who should be England Manager (mentor Brian Clough) tells it like it is. Previewing the France Portugal game, after Hansen and Shearer had stuck their pennyworth in, O'Neill says truthfully that he has nothing to say as Hansen has spoken about Portugal and Shearer about France. There are only two teams playing and there are three pundits. And at half time in last night's third place match, he called it the "most meaningless game in football history." Squeaky bum time for Lineker.

By the end of the match, he was quoting William Goldman...

O'NEILL: Has anybody seen a film called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?

SHEARER: I'm only 35.

O'NEILL: The writer William Goldman wrote a book in which the most famous line is "No one knows anything."

There then ensues a bit of an altercation with Shearer who can't believe that no one knows anything. The dialogue ends thus...

O'NEILL: Well, maybe you should go out and watch a few films instead of going home and...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mourning Has Broken

Sad news that after 76 years, the popular BBC situation comedy The Vicar of Dibley is to end. The situation comedy, written by 4 C*nts and a Funeral's Richard Curtis and starring the face of Chocolate Orange, Dawn French, has been a good, trusted friend to many of us, old and old.

Samaritans groups are at the ready to man phonelines as expected suicide attempts by vicars throughout the nation is expected to reach epic proportions.

"I'm long enough in the tooth to remember the end of Yes! Prime Minister," says Good Samaritan Rodney Pewes. "Conservative MPs were dropping like flies, sucking up oranges laced with strichnene like there was no tomorrow. Yes!! Prime Minister was their programme and I'm really dreading the possible effect the ending of The Vicar of Dibley could have on the vicar community."

"The Vicar of Dibley has been a real friend to vicars over the past 76 years," says Arthur Font, the Vicar of Dobley. "Dawn French has given me so much pleasure. Often I've been taking a wedding, closed my eyes for the hymn, and seen her frankly fucking gorgeous face up there in lights like a fucking beacon, shining God's light down on the poor bastards taking their worthless vows. I'm totally shocked that her life is near its end."

"I'm doubly shocked," says Jonathan Eyles, the Vicar of Dubley.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kids Say The Funniest Things

As we all know, kids say the funniest things.

They say things in all innocence that make us adults crease up.

No matter how good a joke or an aside or a pun thought up by us adults, a child's funny, spontaneous question or reply beats it into a cocked hat. There really is nothing funnier than a four year old coming up with a one-liner to make us adults stop in our tracks, drop all our cares and woes, lean forward from the waist, and give an enormous guffaw, helplessly under the power of the little one's pure comedic genius.

And this morning on the station platform, I overheard the following conversation which quite literally made me piss myself with laughter, causing me to run home to change my underpants and trousers.

I warn you before you read it, you too may piss yourself. So it's probably best to read this on an empty bladder as this is proof that KIDS REALLY DO SAY THE FUNNIEST THINGS...

BOY: Mum?... Mum? ... Mum? ...Does our train go underwater?

MUM: Eurostar!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


My mum and stepdad are in Canada, visiting old friends. They're staying in Calgary, as they've got tickets for the Stampede (see picture above). They're going to dress up in Cowboy gear for the Stampede (see picture above). But for the rest of their stay, they're going casual. They've been advised to wear "sneakers" which I believe us Brits know as trainers. My mum hasn't got any trainers, old skool or new. But she can dress casual. Smart casual.

They're spending ten days in Calgary, then they're to take the tourist train to Vancouver. It's bloody expensive but supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. There is an upstairs and a downstairs on the train. The upstairs costs twice as much as the downstairs. The upstairs is covered by glass so you see everything. You get special meals and presumably special treatment. My mum and stepdad are downstairs but they get to look out of the window and say "ooh look, there's a bear!" and they are included in the party which stops to take in a show, presumably the local mounties' performance of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

The family they're staying with are the family of my dead dad's dead friend from way back. Strange how things work out.

The initial friendship was between two boys, my dad and his friend. My dad's friend had the get up and go, the gift of the gab, and made something of his life. He took his family to live in Windsor. We visited them. I had a smooth ride in their Jaguar, sliding on the leather seats, feeling extremely car sick as I wasn't used to a smooth ride. They were out of our league. My dad's friend smoked fat cigars, did scarily loud impressions of Donald Duck, had a finger missing, an attractive wife and two attractive daughters. One of the daughters looked like Kiki Dee and I inevitably had a bit of a crush.

My dad's friend's gift of the gab and get up and go took him to Holland to work and eventually to Canada to live for good.

The invitation was there to visit but my dad still didn't have the gift of the gab or the get up and go to earn enough money for the trip. For any trip. He never went abroad in his life, and as far as I know he wasn't in touch with his old friend at the time of his death.

I think they'll be sharing a few memories in Canada.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

No More Heroes

I did try to like The Clash. I had a few of their albums on tape and I played them over and over again, trying to connect. I didn't get it, though. It just sounded like so much barking, heavy-handed bluster.

John Cusack has never really crossed my cultural path. Was he in that bollocks about John Malkovich's head? That was utter bollocks, wasn't it? And wasn't he in some Nick Hornby tripe that I never saw? Or did I see it? Playing some wanker who works in a record shop, some anal retentive who's had at least five girlfriends in his lifetime. Oh yeah? Dream on, buddy boy!

But recent blog reading has alerted me to the possibility that Mr Cusack is some kind of sex symbol. And then I am nudged in the direction of his blog which includes this little gem from November, a transcript of a speech he made at a Joe Strummer tribute in Scotland. Now this is absolutely hilarious...

"There was no one like Joe Strummer. There is a lineage, of course.

Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan...I was always staggered by his voice. It was like a shaman should sound. If Roy Orbision sang for the lonely, Joe sang for the hungry.... His voice was liquid desire and it ignited as it left his mouth, his body shaking to contain the heat, like a rocket in the first phase of lift-off.... He was a pioneer who demanded art and politics be fused in the interests of humanity and truth. Often the truth was painful, just as often it was liberating, transcendent, and just plain fun. He was an icon of unrivaled integrity... Billy Brag said if it weren't for The Clash, punk rock would be just a sneer, a safety pin and a pair of bondage trousers... it sounds right to me... It's been said Strummer reinvented rock. That sounds right too. I know for certain he challenged, inspired and demanded us to think and feel in ways we hadn't before... demanded we use rebellion and anger as fuel for the journey to other, better worlds, never as an end in itself. Demanded we reach for the transcendent in everything and everyone, and to never suffer those fools who will not think and feel their way home. He was a guiding light and he got us out of many a tough jam. Knowing him, I was always humbled by his grace and intelligence, his passion, and the sheer ferocity of his will... and Jesus Christ that man could fucking rock."

I mean, I'm sorry he's gone and all but Strummer was shit, wasn't he? I bet poor old Bon Scott doesn't get such a hagiography anywhere and he was just as shit.

And I'm so glad that "Billy Brag" is quoted. Of course if it weren't for The Clash we'd only have had the Pistols, the Buzzcocks, the Banshees, Wire, The Stranglers, The Ruts, The Skids and many other British punk bands who could hold a tune.