Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Time For Bed, Children

I knew Children's tv was all too nice and middle class before I started to watch this week's BBC4 series. Even the bullies of Grange Hill weren't convincingly menacing.

But as with that Seven Ages of Rock shite, they're messing with my head.

Growing up, at bedtime us kids were told by our dad it was time to "go up the wooden 'ill."

Going "up the wooden 'ill" linked us to a proud history of working class people, generation after generation coaxed by fathers to get up those bleedin' stairs. Maybe not as working class as those kids who went "up the old apples and pears" but proudly working class all the same.

But what do we get from the BBC?

Apparently in the early days of children's tv, the BBC didn't broadcast for an hour after the kids had stopped watching their programmes so that these kids could be taken...

up the wooden hill..

to Bedfordshire!

Bedfordshire is pronounced "Bedfordshur", as the Queen would say. Not "Bedfordsheer" as you or I would say or "Bedfordshyre" as in the venacular of the common country person.

Going up the wooden hill is my heritage. We knew we were going to bed, we didn't need to be told we were going to an unremarkable county in the heartland of England.

"Bedfordshur" would be a place where the child would be read Beatrix Potter or Rupert the Bear before going sleepy byes.

Or maybe middle class kids didn't go sleepy byes, maybe they went to the land of nod on a cushion of clouds, dreaming of being Peter Pan or Wendy.

I have cause to visit the real Bedfordshire now and then. And do you know what?

I never get a good night's sleep.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Seven Ages Of Rock: Art Rock

Art Rock apparently started in the 60s with Pink Floyd in England and The Velvet Underground in the States.

Who took the baton in the 70s and ran with it? Bowie, Roxy and Genesis!!! That's who!

(Nobody else).

This selective categorising shit is doing my head in.

Still, we did get to hear Roger Waters' logic behind The Wall stage show where the Floyd were bricked up. It was because the lads' audience were beginning to FREAK him out by behaving like this...

Yes, like this...

Pretty damned scary, eh?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sheer Heart Attack

Yesterday was UK Day on Heart 106.2. They restricted their playlist to songs by UK artists. Of course this meant a hell of a lot of George Michael and Elton John and Shine by Take That getting at least double its usual 54 plays in the day.

The morning's Guess the Year spot featured the year pop music got really shit. Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo, Karma Fucking Chameleon by Culture Club, the beginning of the slide towards shitness for David Bowie (Let's Dance) and the Human League (Keep Feeling Fascination).

Yes, it was 1983.

Sometime during the morning they announced that sometime during the day there would be four songs in a row by artists hailing from England, Nothern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, respectively. The first person to ring in with the correct identities of the artists would win £1,000!

This was really going to brighten up my day.

I made a game plan. The English singer or group was going to be the most difficult one. England has produced so much crap pop music over the years, the list would be longer than my arm.

Northern Ireland is a different matter. Not a lot of rubbish coming out of Northern Ireland that gets in the charts. What about songs that I'm really sick to the back teeth of? Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. Yeah, it had to be one of those two. I'd go for the Morrison even though I hear the Patrol's song at least ten times a day.

What about Scotland? There was only one contender, only one Scottish band who were shit enough for this competition. No, not the Proclaimers or Texas, shit as they are. No, it had to be the Wets. Fucking Wet Wet Wet, bane of my fucking life. They take a great song like Love Is All Around and make me hate it. Scum.

Wales? Tom Jones? Sex Bomb? No, I hadn't heard that for a few years. Charlotte Church? Nah, haven't hear her much either. It had to be old croaky voice herself, Bonnie Pissing Tyler.

Cut to the chase.

It's 3 p.m. and no sign yet of anything from Northern Ireland. Take That are all over the radio like a rash. Here come the Pet Shop Boys.

Snow Patrol! This could be it! Pet Shop Boys, Snow Patrol...Come on, come on!

Simply Fucking Red!

Lemar, English. Sybil, English. Queen, mostly English. Singer with the eye patch, Gabrielle, that's her name, English. Paul Young, Jesus save me, Paul Young, English...

Van the fucking Man! Brown Eyed fucking Girl! Van, You The Man! Game on!

Come on the Wets. Come on you wank stains! Paul Young, Van The Man, The Wets! It's...

The Wets! Game fucking on! That £1,000 (well, £500 as I'm sharing this with my work colleague who's going to make the phone call) is going to sit very nicely in my pocket.

Shut up Wets. Get it over so we can make the phone call. It's going to be gruff-voiced Tyler. It's going to be Tyler it's going to be Tyler it's going to be Tyler. It's...


Quick, phone! Dial that number dial that number dial that number!

Engaged? What do you mean engaged?

After all that it turned out there was something wrong with the phone lines and nobody got to win the £1,000. It's being saved for another day, another competition.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

For Weddings And Blue

Heart are playing my daily dose of Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations.

I can't stand this song. It makes me think of a wedding reception with some wanker of a pissed up uncle embarrassing himself on the dancefloor. Just horrific.

On further investigation I discover the song was a highlight in the film There's Something About Mary. You know, the one in which Cameron Diaz uses semen as a hair gel. Hilarious!

It's a shame this fashion didn't catch on: rampant, unemployed teenage boys could have been utilised by barbers to shoot the contents of their loins into freshly cut boyband hair.

Just think of the benefits to the environment!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner

When I was a nipper,
We went to see the clipper.
Now I've burnt her bits off,
Cos she bored me fuckin' tits off.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Seven Ages of Rock - Part One: The Birth of Rock

Rock began with The Who. There'd never been that kind of showmanship before, such wanton onstage destruction. Hendrix took Townshend's guitar bashing and made it his own. Ooh look, there's Jimi setting light to his guitar at Monterey!

Back in the USA, Hendrix loved those white guitar players from across the Atlantic. Beck and Clapton were taking the blues and making them accessible to a British audience. Their guitar heroics were wowing the kids.

Big Chas Chandler brought Hendrix to England. Hendrix blew away those white kids. He got up on stage with Cream and played so brilliantly, Clapton was left speechless and shaking in the dressing room.

Let's hear what Jeff Beck said about him in one of the programmes old pieces of footage:-

"The fact that he was doing things so upfront and so wild and unchained and sort of...that's what I wanted to do, but I'd been British and a victim of the class system and whatever, you know, the poxy old schools we used to go to. I couldn't do what he did. And I just went away from there thinking I'd better think of something else to do."

Sorry, Jeff. You can't blame your lack of genius on your upbringing. Maybe if you'd joined the Air Force like Jimi you would have turned out wild and untamed? No, I didn't think so! You're a decent guitarist. Let's leave it at that, shall we?

Hendrix was so enamoured by Dylan, he took Blowin' in the Wind to a Harlem discotheque. The dj put the record on and Jimi was chased out of the place.

He didn't really belong in discos. He belonged with the white kids who couldn't dance to save their lives. Actually, is there any evidence that Hendrix himself could dance? Although in his early career he played backing guitar for various blues, soul and R&B bands, there's no evidence that he knew how to strut his stuff. Maybe his two left feet led him to play with the English boys.

This programme, the first in a series of seven, is a pretty earnest opener. No wonder when it is overseen by and features many earnest quotes by Charles Shaar Murray. A very serious rock journalist, Mr Murray. No room for fripperies here.

Tragically, when the drugs and the darkness took over, Jimi couldn't hack it and choked on his own vomit.

I suppose they had to bring that up!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Confessions Of An Armchair Football Fan - Part Two

Before I start boring you to death, just a word to say that Search Me is back. I will try to update it regularly from now on whilst trying to coax Betty back to do a few posts. She's got so much into the Atwood that her hair's turned all long and grey this week and she's started knitting me an itchy jumper which I don't want. This reading isn't good for us. We need to be at the coalface of blogging, continually failing to get shortlisted for Post Of The Week.

Ah, the football...

In the olden days there was Match of the Day on BBC and The Big Match on ITV. I'd avidly watch both these highlights of Saturday's matches. I knew every player in every team. I even quite liked some teams other than West Ham. I liked Burnley as they played in claret and blue. I liked Stoke City because we had a classic League Cup Final against them when Bobby had to go in goal. I liked Tottenham Hotspur because Martin went there and they played entertaining football. I remember one match with Spurs I saw on The Big Match which was full of mud and rain and great football. I had two posters on my bedroom wall, one of West Ham, one of Spurs. We both played the game it was meant to be played. We were the entertainers.

I suppose I stopped watching the football highlights of matches not involving West Ham in 1982 when my dad had a phone call in the middle of Match of the Day from his secret fancy piece. All hell was let loose and I missed the rest of the football. Other teams didn't seem to matter anymore. I have only ever watched matches involving the Irons from then on.

Rupert Murdoch's Sky has, of course, revolutionised the way we watch football. There are highlights of all Premiership matches and several live ones. Yes, live ones! There is even a new viewer called the "neutral". You will often hear a Sky commentator say, "that was a great game for the neutral."

The neutral will watch any old shit, all two and a half hours of action and analysis of a match he is not emotionally involved in. Highlights I can understand, if you've got the time. But a neutral can watch and enjoy a whole game of football, dispassionately.

I've nothing against neutrals. They're decent men in the main. It's just not for me. I need the sweating, the shouting and the heart rumbles. I need to roar like a lion when my team scores. I need to shout obscenities at the referee and opposition players, manager and especially chairmen. Especially chairmen like Dave Whelan of Wigan.**

If I did all this at a live match I'd be banned. I wouldn't do it. In company, I'm a civilised member of society. At home, though, I am a beastial real man, an Iron John.

And it's all thanks to Rupert Murdoch.

** Admittedly I'm the same when I watch Later With Jools.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Confessions Of An Armchair Football Fan - Part One

I inhabit a strange world.

What did you do on Sunday afternoon? I bet you didn't spend what should have been a relaxing afternoon with sweaty armpits, a shaky leg and a loud, foul mouth in front of an unsuspecting television set.

Such is the life of an armchair football fan.

I say "fan" rather than "supporter". A supporter spends big money going to the matches and cheers on his or her team in the flesh. I've probably been a supporter less than 30 times in my life and then I've always been too self-conscious to swear or sing. If every supporter was like me, players would turning to their managers and, like actors, asking "what's my motivation?"

I may not be a proper supporter but I am a "fan", as in "fanatic". My waking hours are always being invaded by thoughts and worries about my team. The worry seems to have got worse as I've got older. And watching my team in important matches, like on Sunday, I am a nervous wreck.

Yesterday I was asked why I support who I do. I don't really know. It started so long ago and I was so young.

As a teenager, my dad used to go and see Charlton play, but he never really had any strong feelings about any team. He was not a fanatic. So it wasn't as if when I announced to him I was a West Ham fan he disowned me or anything. Besides, I was only 4 at the time.

It was the World Cup in '66. Bobby was the captain. Geoff and Martin scored the goals. Geoff was a "Geoff" and so was I. There was really only one team to follow.

The above is not what I remember. It may not have happened that way. But this is the only logical conclusion my grown up mind can come to. This is what I assume happened to my vulnerable infant mind.

To be continued (if you're unlucky)...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rock Gods Go Shopping

Rob Tyner and Fred "Sonic" Smith are in Asda, Heaven branch.

SMITH: I quite fancy getting some strawberry and some raspberry.

TYNER: Fine, Fred. I like both those.

SMITH: Then again. I do like blackcurrant. Maybe one strawberry one and a blackcurrant one.

TYNER: Whatever, Fred. I ain't that much of a raspberry lover, anyway.

SMITH: Or apricot. What about an apricot one and a blackcurrant one?

TYNER: I thought you wanted strawberry!

SMITH: Can we have three, Rob?

TYNER: Fuck man! Do what you fuckin' like! Just do what you fuckin' like, man! Just pick out the jams, motherfucker!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Excuse me, second homers. I'm trying to sleep on this train

We're off to the South of France next week. Just 5 days away. Easyjet flight down to Nice airport. We've got our own place there. It's beautiful. So peaceful. We were there at Easter.

Lovely part of the world.

We're just 25 minutes from Nice airport.

That's good, isn't it?

Never any trouble with Easyjet. Straight through. Couldn't say the same about British Airways, though. Wrong terminal with BA. Easyjet, just straight through, 25 minute drive from Nice airport to our place.

My parents are at the foot of the Pyrenees. Lovely situation, overlooked by the mountains. They're country people. They like the country. More so than the beach.

Never any trouble with Easyjet. Straight through. Just a 25 minute drive from Nice airport and we're in a different world completely. We're renting it out this year. Not strictly renting. More lending it to friends and family. We're not looking for an income from it, just enough to keep it ticking over.

We've got a little place down on the coast - Broadstairs. We had a lovely week at Easter. The kids loved it. Superb weather. It was a real English seaside break.

I like Broadstairs.

Broadstairs is nice.

Oh, here we are. Waterloo East.

This is me. Great to see you again.

Yes, you too. Take care now.

And you, old man.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bend Over And Kiss Your Balls

Last night we watched a documentary on Saki. I haven't read any Saki for 25 years and the Complete Saki is waiting for me in the bedroom as soon as I've finished the Complete Sherlock Holmes and the Complete MR James Short Stories - bloody hell so that means I'll be reading it in 2012 then.

After Saki, we watched Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul which forces the odd laugh from our miserable mouths.

After Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul, we watched the majority of Greg Rusedski's interview on Jonathan Ross. Wossy likes to think he's a tennis player as do a lot of these rich celebrities with nothing but time on their hands and money in every orifice. Well let me tell you, if I had as much time and money I would thrash Wossy and his mate Cliff Richard with one hand tied behind my back. You can't buy talent, matey.

After Greg Rusedski, we watched a bit of Later With Jools. We were beginning to fall asleep as Tinariwen strutted their stuff and Betty continued to sleep for the next hour.

I woke up in the middle of a fascinating Snooker World Championship Semi Final between John Higgins and Stephen Maguire. These guys nowadays certainly know how to sink their balls. As with the tennis, however, the personality seems to have gone out of the sport. Higgins and Maguire are efficient machines. Yes, the nerves are there but none of the excitement.

I once saw Graham Miles play an exhibition frame at a Warners holiday camp. The sexual tension was there for us all to see as he almost humped the baize in his tight trousers, the light from above glinting on his balding pate. It was a religious experience for me and for the next week I wanted to be a snooker player when I grew up with all the glamour that entailed.

Graham Miles (left) - for MJ

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Blue Is The Colour (Stick Your Blue Flag Up Your Arse)

I hope you'll all be voting tomorrow. We Londoners will be going up the old apples and pears without having put our crosses on any bits of paper as we're not included this time round.

On their route to winning the next General Election, the Tories need a good showing tomorrow. According to today's Today show on Radio 4, 40% of the vote isn't enough. No, they need to be aiming for 42, 43, 44, 45% of the vote. To achieve this, David Cameron "has to break out of the wine bars of Southern England."

Silly me. I was under the impression that wine bars died out at about the same time that Sade's pop career took a nose dive. I didn't realise there was a thriving wine bar scene and that these establishments were hotbeds of political discourse, where discussions about that bloody socialist Gordon Brown's "stealth taxes" raged into the night. Where battle plans were drawn up to fight New Labour and the Lib Dems on the Green issue, aided by the pamphlet "How to save the planet by making the rich richer and the poor poorer."

I must get out more.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

From The Heart

Toby Anstis, my old friend at Heart 106.2, has just found out that "LOL" doesn't mean "Lots of Love". It means "Laugh out loud".

Actually, although I'm LOLing at his naivety, I also originally interpreted it in the very same way the first few times I saw it on my computer screen. It took me some time to work it out, I just thought people were being extra friendly due to an excess of Ecstasy tablets or something.

It disappointed me that crude, cynical humour rather than beautiful, spiritual love was being spread over our brave new technological world.

Surely there should be a "lots of love" type sign-off for non-misanthropes like me and Toby?