Friday, September 29, 2006

My Prog Roots Are Showing

Classic rock guitar hero, Jan Akkerman

Another post inspired by a podcast.

This time, a big up to The Rockmother and her impeccable choice of the Dutch medieval banquet of prog that is Focus.

But hold on a minute, RoMo! Focus are MINE. I discovered them. ME!

All mine. The classic rock guitar hero that was Jan Akkerman. And the controlled lunacy of Thijs Van Leer, his flutey noodlings, his blood curdling yodelling....


A fresh faced Geoff heard Focus and knew he wanted to buy his first LP. My mum didn't have the first idea of where to buy a Focus album but she was determined to buy me one. She's good like that.

Walking past our local music shop, I saw Focus in the window.

"I want it, Mummy."

The next day she bought it for me.

It wasn't an LP, though. It was a book of Focus sheet music.

We got our money back, and of course we did work out that in order to buy a Focus LP, one goes not to a music shop but to a record shop.

Happy days, aren't they, your twenties?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Far From Good

Modern films are rubbish.

If I were even more of a ponce I'd say "modern film is rubbish".

The evidence stacks up year after year.

Blockbusters are shit.

American 'independent' films made by music video directors are shit.

Contemporary European art house cinema? Oh come on, you can't compare it with the films of the 60s, 70s, or even 80s. Kieslowski was the last great Euro giant who died too young - ooh, now I'm getting poncey.

OK, there are a few good Iranian films but...

Why watch a film you'll only watch once and react by saying, "Well, that was alright, I suppose."?

Because film critics are still around saying things like "a tour de force" and other such codswallop.

Far From Heaven is a homage (an homage?) to All That Heaven Allows by the great Douglas Sirk.

In the Time Out Film Guide, reviewer Geoff Andrew creams his corduroys about this film.

I say it's as tame as Cindy, my deceased bitch.

Far From Heaven is set in late 50s New England - in the autumn of course, so the colours are really really sumptuous and gorgeous and out of this world.

The man of the family is a top salesman who shags men in secret. His housewifey wife finds this out and simultaneously falls in love with the family's black gardener who happens to be cultured (i.e. white, middle-class cultured).

The husband falls in love too, with a young blond man. He leaves the marital home.

"Society" won't allow the nice housewife to get together with her potential lover.

God, I'm bored describing it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

By Popular Request (So If It's Shit, Don't Blame Me) - The Moment Bands Decided On Their Definitive Names: Number 2 - Genesis


GABRIEL: Pass the cucumber sandwiches, old chap.

BANKS: Peter, old chap. I was lying in bed last night, fully awake. Desperately trying to think of a name for the band...

GABRIEL: Oh, fiddle de dee. I've dropped my crust in the water.

BANKS: 'There's Always Been Ethel' just sounds a trifle too wordy, Peter. Besides, people may confuse us with The Enid.

GABRIEL: I don't see why. Enid and Ethel are completely different names. I should know. My nanny was called Ethel. And I had an Aunt Edith.

BANKS: I think we need a one-word name. Something easily remembered.

GABRIEL: 'Ethel', then.

BANKS: But then people would confuse us even more with The Enid. And they might start calling us 'The Ethel', Peter.

GABRIEL: Oh, fiddle de di, Tony. What in heaven's name are we to call ourselves?

BANKS: That's it, Peter! You've got it! What in heaven's name!

GABRIEL: 'What In Heaven's Name'? Sounds like we don't know ourselves, old chap.

BANKS: No. Something Biblical. A new beginning. From out of nowhere. A new kind of music. Rock but not as we know it. The birth of a new...


GABRIEL: By jove, I think we've got it! I can see us now! Thousands of teenage A-level students watching us give the show of a lifetime! Costume changes galore! Lights, greasepaint and honest sweat! A theatrical and musical tour-de-force! Teenage boys singing about being lawnmowers!

BANKS: I'd sit down if I were you, old chap. Low bridge ahead.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Trench Song

"It's like Fred Karno's army."

That was one of my dad's stock phrases, along with...

"Horses eat it, pigs shit in it," whenever I said "eh?" instead of "pardon?".

"Don't tickle it, it won't laugh," whenever I didn't kick the football hard enough.

And it is, indeed, like Fred Karno's army...

We are Fred Karno's army, we are the ragtime infantry.
We cannot fight, we cannot shoot, what bleeding use are we?
And when we get to Berlin we'll hear the Kaiser say,
'Hoch, hoch! Mein Gott, what a bloody rotten lot, are the ragtime infantry'

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Classified Results

The Office 6, Extras 8

Ex-public schoolboy Joe Strummer 2, Ex-public schoolboy Nick Lowe 8

New Labour 1, Lib Dems 1

Liverpool 2, Man U 5

Atheism 10, Agnosticism 4

Work 3, Home 10

Prague 7, Bruges 9

Tea 7, Coffee 0

Wool 8, Polyester 0

Trifluoperazine 10, Duloxetine 0

Sherlock Holmes 10, Doctor Who 0

White Wine 7, Red Wine 10


Listening to Bob's Cod Pod Cast (I know, Scritti Politti are too classy to be cod reggae)......

(By the way, I STILL don't know where the "cod" comes from in cod reggae. I know cooked cod is white, but is there any black fish to contrast?)

......I am inspired to reminisce about a man from my past.


He was a small man. A bespectacled Ronnie Corbett-like who was married to a friend of my mother's. He was probably about the age I am now. I think the couple were childless. Just like us.

'Ronnie' was a friendly chap. He took me to play golf. And he invited our family round for afternoons in their fashionable seventies living room, possibly with drinks for the adults, I can't remember.

But I do remember his record collection.

He had every Judge Dread (I hope you're mature enough to keep your eyes on the audience in this video) album, and nothing else. This probably meant only a few records, but I remember it as a substantial collection.

He would play them to us. And laugh. Tears of joy would roll down his face at each double entendre, at each blatantly rude verse. Because Dread was rude. And little 'Ronnie' had a rude sense of humour.

We were not an uptight family. But suddenly the visits stopped.

Had 'Ronnie' suggested a more adult party without us kids? A Judge Dread themed party? With shed keys thrown in the middle of the room?

I don't want to know.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lavas' Retreat

We've got the travelling bug.

Today, I booked next year's holiday.

We're going to Moulton-Under-Foot, famously known as the Pompeii of the Cotswolds.

We will be staying in a lovely little 15th century cosy cottage with a 'wood burning effect' stove and a 5" Four-Poster Bed.

The owners live at the bottom of the garden in a brand new complex.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

To Lovers' Island and Back

Think of the greatest love stories the world has ever seen, and try to imagine what kind of a world it would have been if these men and women had not exchanged bodily fluids:-

Taylor and Burton

Moss and Doherty

The Krankies

Llanddwyn Island is not really an island. It is a peninsula, named after St Dwynwen, patron saint of Welsh lovers.

Dwynwen was chaste. She was chased round the island by horny old Prince Maelon.

"Come on darling, just a quick one while he's away."

"There is no 'he'. And anyway, who do you think you are, Pete Townsend?"

"If you want me to be. And you can be my Princess Margaret."

"Oh do bugger off, you old goat. I'm going to live by 'ere as an 'ermit."

"I'm off to blimmin' Bangor then. At least the women put out there."

"Even the blimmin' sheep won't have you. You reek of cider and B.O."

Llanddwyn Island is beautiful. When the sun's out, the walk from Llanddwyn Bay to the edge of the peninsula is the most beautiful walk in the world.

And then you're on it, on the island, heading towards the edge of the world.

Which, to leave you in suspense, will be posted on Betty's site in the near future.

How To Get There
As you enter Anglesey, turn left towards Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. That's Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. Don't ask any locals the way. Continue along the A4080 till you reach Newborough. Now you're lost. Ask someone in the street (not one of the hard looking teenagers sitting on the low brick wall opposite the pub) how to get to the beach. They will tell you to turn at the road next to the White Lion. Drive up this road till you reach the toll for the car park. You'll need two pound coins and Bob's your uncle.


On our way back from Anglesey, we stop off at our second favourite place in Wales: Thomas Telford's enormous erection, Pont-Cysyllte aqueduct.

Picture not author's own. What do you think I am, a fucking bird?

Doesn't that get Jeremy Clarkson creaming his jeans? Why not walk along it and enjoy the view!

Don't jump in the water.

It's a long way down.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Moment Bands Decided On Their Definitive Names - The First In A Series

As Blogger's being naughty and not allowing me to upload pictures of our few days away, as a little stop gap here's the first in a series, The Moment Bands Decided On Their Definitive Names.

Today, the Climax Blues Band.


BLUES BROTHER NUMBER ONE: I've got it! I've got a new name for the band!

BLUES BROTHER NUMBER TWO: What's wrong with The Stafford Chicago Blues Revue?

BLUES BROTHER NUMBER ONE: The lads wanted something more punchy, more in yer face.

BLUES BROTHER NUMBER TWO: Go on then. I'm all ears.

BLUES BROTHER NUMBER ONE: Alright. It's something your missus doesn't have.


BLUES BROTHER NUMBER ONE: No. Not bloody coffee. What is it she doesn't have, no matter how hard you've tried to give her one?


Friday, September 15, 2006

I'll Be Right Back

We're off for a short break tomorrow. And I was going to leave you with a picture of the sad closure of Samantha's, a local clothes shop for skinny young women with erect nipples, if the shop window dummies were anything to go by. It was going to be such a poignant image, but today I'm afraid the shop is completely empty.

Another wasted opportunity.

While I'm away from Blogworld, I feel I have a duty to direct you to the blog of someone who has been a good friend of mine for many years. I first met him in 1996 when he introduced himself to me as the last person to see my father alive. In fact, he introduced himself to the whole congregation as the vicar pushed the button to consign my father to Hell.

He really is a lovely chap, so much more so than me, and I'm sure he'll give you a warm welcome. Well he would, only I've just noticed he'll be away for the next few days, himself.

So hello to Giles, and welcome to the world of blogging, my friend.

Au revoir.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Twit

We've been watching Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Brilliant acting by thespian God Guinness and the rest, great claustrophobic smoky atmosphere, perfect length of episodes...

But what the bloody blimey are they on about? I was fine for the first two episodes, but then I found myself in a fog of Witchcraft and Merlin and Operation Testify and which one is which out of Alleline, Haydon, Bland and Esterhase, and which adverts did the bloke with the nice voice do voiceovers for?

Halfway through the final episode I consult Wikipedia's plot summary which helps a great deal but still leaves me wanting to read the book.

Of course it's not in the library so we head to our local cheap but crap bookshop. I forge ahead to the "L" section, on a mission.

And there I see several copies of the book pictured above.

"Ooh, look," I say to Betty in a silly, high voice. "It's Abi Titmuss!"

Betty doesn't reply. I turn as a woman walks closely past me, avoiding eye contact.

And I see Betty, ten yards away, over by the Classics.

There is no le Carre.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Q & A


Sir Percival was born in Norfolk in December 2004. He left his home and family the following January. He now lives in a community of swine on the Isle of Wight.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Solitude. Tranquility. A babbling brook.

What is your greatest fear?

What is your greatest extravagance?
I buy a lot of art. I have put a lot of this in my other extravagance, a 14th century house in France...Only teasing. I'd say my greatest extravagance is probably ASDA Smart Price Vanilla Ice Cream.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My bum.

What is your most treasured possession?
As a Christian and a Socialist - I'd have to say my soul and my brain.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Farting in the farmer's face.

What is your favourite smell?
Truffles. I've only smelt them once and they drove me wild.

What is your greatest pleasure?
Farting in the farmer's face.

To whom would you most like to say sorry and why?
To the child I made cry last week. I should have been a good piggy.

Which living person do you most despise and why?
As a Socialist and a Christian, I'd have to say George W Bush.

When did you last cry, and why?
Yesterday. Sir Arthur stepped on my trotter. Sir Arthur is an extremely clumsy, heavy pig.

How do you relax?
Sleeping and eating.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It's what's inside that counts.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Typical Man

Another two weeks off?

Yes, I'm at home again and sharing a computer with the missus. Which means that when one of us is inspired to post something, the other is hogging the limelight.

I also feel really guilty that I didn't sort out our internet connection earlier. When Orange took over Wanadoo, the first thing that happened was they made our download speed much quicker. We couldn't work out why our connection kept disconnecting, and the voice on the phone helpline just understood that some of us were having problems but not to worry because everything will be sorted out soon.

Last week I'd had enough and got through to a human being who said our modem wasn't up to the job of handling the new speed. So we are waiting for our new livebox. And swearing out loud like Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral every time we are disconnected. Which is about every 3 minutes at the moment.

Today it is dreary and overcast. Yesterday was beautiful.

Yesterday we went to Deal. Apologies to Mig as I know I promised you more pictures of the Deal Fish Statue but we didn't go near it. We will next summer, cross my heart.

We parked as usual in the Deal Castle Car Park (a green field). We walked for an hour along the coastal path to Walmer. We walked back. There were lots of pensioners on bicycles riding in the cycle lane. A few mothers with young children. And an abundance of all sorts of variety of dog and owner, excepting the hard sort we get at home.

After spending an hour and a half on the beach, reading and sleeping, I fancied a cup of tea to perk me up for the drive home. They serve hot drinks in the gift shop of Deal Castle.

"Can I help you? Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"Er, tea, please."

The pleasant woman goes to the vending machine and makes me a cup of tea.

"Seventy pence, please. The tea whitener is here."

"Have you got a toilet by any chance?"

"We have but we usually only allow people who are visiting the castle to use the toilet."


"But since you bought a coffee, it's straight through that door and to the left."

I leave Betty to a long embarrassing silence, legs crossed, with my brewing tea for company.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Where's You Bin?

These are bins for compostable waste. We used to have one. We used it once, then it disappeared.

These two bins are in two parking spaces in our cul-de-sac. They are there to stop parents parking as they drop off/pick up their children at/from the primary school 100 yards away.

The bins have become a constant feature, taking up space designed for cars. The cul-de-sac itself was constructed in 1992, from land previously belonging to the council as part of the school's playing fields.

The ex-footballer Gavin Peacock went to this school and may well have honed his skills near where the bins now stand. Maybe he should take a nostalgic trip and have a kickabout with me, using the bins as goalposts.

Don't worry about the school, by the way. They've still got a reasonably large playing field and their playground has been recently tarmacced. The boys play football on the now dry tarmac with light, airy, fluffy balls which they kick over the fence on purpose whenever an adult passes by on their way to the shops.

I'm in an awfully wistful mood today, which I am blaming on the new antipsychotics and my current listening choice of Francis Lai.

I'm listening to Francis Lai and I think I'm going to cry.

Boo hoo.

Hoo boo.

Boo hoo hoo.

Hoo boo hoo boo.

Boo hoo hoo hoo.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Till Death Us Do Part

As Sir Anthony Blair's Grand Guignol Socialist Experiment draws to a tragic end, it's time to assess just what his achievements have been, especially in those three crucial areas of education, education and education.

The state of British Education has never really interested me. The recent developments of league tables and "choice" for parents just completely baffle my old bonce. Never having wanted/produced any kids, any opinions I have about education come from my own pre-New Romantic society experiences 30-odd years ago.

But it's good now and then to get actual real-life stories from the horses' mouths, i.e. from grandparents whose grandaughter is currently having private personal tuition to hopefully get her through the 11-Plus. Yes, we do still have the 11-Plus in Bexley, there will always be an England here.

So Tony, the problems with education (bless you), education (bless you), education (bless you), are:-

"Even if she does pass her 11-Plus, there are no Grammar schools for girls in the family's catchment area for her to go to. The only schools she can attend are rubbish schools with histories of achieving poor results and employing poor teachers. The standard of teaching is so poor nowadays unless you get your child into a good school. It stands to reason that all the good teachers go to the good schools (it's only human nature), leaving the not-so-good schools with all the bad teachers. Really, what sort of choice is it if hard-working parents cannot send their hard-working children to the best schools? Sorry Tony, it doesn't add up. We need more good schools!"

"Then there is the immigration problem. What once was a good Catholic school is being destroyed by a policy of admitting foreign pupils who do not speak English! Good teachers at this school are being made to compete with their hands tied behind their backs, as not only are they having to teach the kids the 3 Rs but they are having to teach our native language to non-natives of this country! The white kids are not able to fulfil their potential."

"And did you know immigrants can get free English lessons in this country, but if an English person in their own country wants to learn Spanish, they have to pay for it?"

Sometimes I want to be a

and not have to think about anything other than where my next bamboo shoot is coming from.

Friday, September 08, 2006

An Open Letter To Jools Holland

Dear Jools

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to both yourself and to your employer, The British Broadcasting Corporation, for what has been a pathetic campaign to attempt to reduce the hours you appear on our tv screens.

Over the past couple of years, on every blog I have started, I have mercilessly slated you time and time again, using the same old unoriginal put-downs which I will not repeat here because I am trying to make a fresh start free from petty name-calling.

My latest diatribe (see previous post) was merely a knee-jerk response to watching you present the Mercury Music Prize for what seemed like the 100th year running. I know it wasn't because, as you said on the show, you were born in 1958.

After reading my post, my good friend Alan Yentob immediately summoned me to my second brunch this year, which I attended this morning at Simpson's in The Strand. Yenty has now totally convinced me that you, Jools, are the man for the job.

There is nobody else who could front a music show with such humour, with such enthusiasm, and most of all with such an inside knowledge of what makes crotchets and quavers tick to make a good tune.

Yenty showed me a couple of performances from your Rythmn & Blues Big Band on his beautiful little Apple Mactop, namely your jams with the late, great Desmond Dekker and my favourite pop trio, the Sugababes.

"Music is music, after all," said Yenty. "Desmond was initially wary about playing The Israelites with a big band. Even during the performance you can see him looking to the wings, worried that the fun might not be translating to his fans. But when he saw the rushes, Geoff... He loved it. LOVED it. And as for the Sugababes: Keisha told me it was like a dream, like being in the Andrews Sisters. Imagine, the Andrews Sisters! They'll never forget performing with Jools, Geoff."

So you see, Jools, Yenty won't have a word said against you. And what's good enough for Yenty is good enough for me.

I promise from now on you'll only read good things about you on this and any other blog I decide to start in the future. In fact, I hope we can be mates. It would be lovely to see you at the Little Britain party on November 5th.

Yes, I'm going to become a real writer. Dave and Matt brought me in to work on a new sketch they were having trouble with. I think I did a good job.

In the sketch, Andy pretends to have TB. It's fucking hilarious, Jools. He's in his bed, coughing up fake blood in front of Lou. When Lou pops off to the bathroom to get a wet flannel, Andy jumps out of bed, abseils down the drainpipe, runs down the street, buys a packet of fags in the corner shop, smokes them all in a Benny Hill speeded up type of way, runs back home, climbs back up the drainpipe, and jumps in bed seconds before Lou reappears from the bathroom with the flannel. Then Andy continues to cough up more fake blood!

Anyway, enough about my success. It would be really good to see you at the party, Jools. Rowland Rivron and Phil Cornwell are going to be there so you won't feel left out.

All the best, boogie-mate,


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sir Simon Rattled

The BBC today announced that it will not be broadcasting this year's Last Night Of The Proms and will instead show a live performance by Jools Holland and His Rythmn and Blues Orchestra recorded at the Croydon Fairfield Halls in October 2002.

Jools is joined by Sam Brown, Beverley Knight, Chris Difford and Suggs for a high octane mix of rythmn and blues, soul, and country. The performance highlights include Difford's slow, sensitive version of Squeeze's Cool For Cats, Sam Brown's 1988 white soul chart success, Stop! and an upbeat ska skanker specially written for the show by Jools and Suggs, Night Train To Chelmsford.

Sir Simon Ohm, the UK's leading conductor of his generation, told Talksport Radio this morning, "I am extremely disappointed that the BBC should pull the climax of the Classical Music Season from its schedules. They say that our music does not get the audiences any more! But tell me, would the people of Britain really rather see poor imitations of black American and Jamaican music played and sung by a bunch of overpaid middle-aged pub-rockers? Once again this is the decision makers at the BBC riding roughshod over those of the Great British Public with discerning musical taste. In short, they are treating us like cunts."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Isn't Alan Partridge Rubbish?

Recently I've been having a lot of fun with The Satanist's Big Bumper Book of Fun 1954 Summer Holiday Annual. It is crammed full of puzzles and games to play on the beach/khazi. Completing the Quik Crossword yesterday during a bout of diarrhoea, I was alarmed to discover what you get when you reverse the words 'LIVE' and 'LIVED'.

It really doesn't bear thinking about too much, does it?

Neither does the BBC's latest episode in the series The Story Of Light Entertainment. This week, we heard all about The Chat Show.

I have four things to report from this programme:-

1. That Was The Week That Was was even more prevalent in the history of all types of light entertainment than The Music Hall which was surprisingly NOT a precursor to The Chat Show.

2. If I were to become a Chat Show Host, the presenter I would most resemble would be Eamonn Andrews, what with his constant nerves and extreme sweating under the studio lights, next to his famous guests.

3. If you invite a crazy alcoholic such as George Best, Oliver Reed, or Cliff Richard onto your chat show, there is really only one possible outcome...Clips of the interview will be shown for ever more.

4. I am reminded of just how much I miss Caroline Aherne on our small screens and of how much I fancy her when she is playing Mrs Merton. If I had a psychotherapist, they would have a field day. If my psychotherapist was dressed as Mrs Merton, so would I!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Radio Times - Part The Two

What's going on with Me and Mrs Jones?

Heart 106.2...

...favourite radio station of women in offices and Martin (17) and Ronnie (20), air conditioning installers to offices staffed by women, of course...

...plays this song at the same time every day, afternoon tea time, when the ladies have a little time to dream of a naughty six-thirty mug of skinny latte at Starbucks with George Clooney or Bill Ward.

To dream of coffee whilst drinking tea.

Does the DJ listen to the records he plays? Is he dreaming of an extra-marital assignment with our office Mrs Jones, you know, the one with RSI, HRT, and a golf-obsessed husband?

Or is he re-reading those notes he made all those years ago, the notes that keep him on the straight-and-narrow-deejaying track and stop him mutilating the Heart studio and its hundred CDs, the notes that tell him it's only a job, it is not a prison and he's getting paid damn good money for such little effort and thank his lucky stars he's not nine to fiving for a living?

Me, me and Mrs, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones, Mrs Jones,
Mrs Jones got a thing going on
We both know that it's wrong
But it's much too strong to let it cool down now

Drink it while it's hot, then.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Radio Times (Part The One)

There is background to my days. There is traffic noise, human noise, and radio noise.

The traffic noise is fine. The human noise is OK, I mean I'm not working with annoying children or screaming babies.

Then there's the radio noise. The radio is tuned to either Heart or Capital. Two seriously shit radio stations, both aimed at women in offices. Luckily, I am able to concentrate on my work and my mind registers the stuff as background musak. As if there is a tiny James Morrison or James Blunt singing into a tiny microphone which plugs into a tiny amplifier, all of whom and which I could crush with a gentle stamp of my delicate foot.

So it doesn't bother me that much.

But of course now and then I have to say something, for I am an arbiter of good taste and I feel I have a duty to impart some of my vast knowledge of popular music and thereby improve the lives of my fellow human beings.

"If you were at home every day, and you didn't have access to a radio, you surely wouldn't play the same few CDs over and over again, day after day, the same songs every day, day after day, over and over again, every day, the same songs by the same artists, day after day, the same songs every day for every day of the year. Would you?"

"I've probably got about five CDs that I play at home."

"I've been listening to Elton John at home these past couple of weeks. Going through his late sixties to mid seventies albums. When I've finished with them, I probably won't listen to him for about a year. Except for Are You Ready For Love? and Step Into Christmas which they play on Heart over and over and over again."

"I can't stand Elton John."